image.png I have a fun little herb garden out by the side of my home.  It's made from old pallets and leans back against the house in our flower bed.  My hubby built it for me last spring and we filled it with lots of fun little herbs.  Last year I enjoyed fresh basil, dill, mint, and oregano.  It was wonderful to go out and harvest all of these fresh little herbs to add into some of my favorite recipes.  I enjoyed it so much that when winter rolled around and all of my little herbs died off, I was a little sad. I had a little surprise though, because when spring came around again, so did my mint.  It came back tall, and strong, and abundant.  In fact, it has out grown its little pallet planter and is spreading out into my flower bed.  I've even got a few little shrubs that have sprigs of mint peeking through their branches.  They are like little ninja mint shoots that are popping up in rather unexpected places. My mint has already gown so much that I had to prune it.  I climbed into my flower bed one day and began to pull up some of the plants that were intermingling with my flowers and shrubs.  As I pulled and tugged on this hearty little herb, I began to expose this vast system of roots that had spread through a fair amount of my little bed. You see, during the season when it looked as if my mint had withered and died, it was busy doing something meaningful and productive that I couldn't see .  Down deep, where important things happen, my mint was growing roots.  Because of these well established roots, I had a rather had a hard time loosening their hold on my flower bed.  I would tug and pull out the little green herb and then up would come what seemed like an endless root system.  They were stronger, stretched out farther, and were much tougher to unearth than I would have imagined. In fact, after some serious labor, I thought I had taken care of them all, only to look a week later and find new shoots springing up from the ground.  The root system was established so even when I pulled up most of the plants, they were still able to keep growing.  It almost looked as if the pruning had made the herb stronger.  The fresh, new shoots were popping up everywhere. Can you see how this really isn't about mint? This morning I was reading in my Bible in Colossians 2:6-7 "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, ROOTED and BUILT UP in him and ESTABLISHED in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving." As I read this verse, thoughts of my mint and its root system flooded my mind.  This isn't about mint at all, its about being rooted, built up, and established in our faith. Do things to grow roots.  Establish a habit reading God's word.  It's like fresh water and fertilizer.  That habit will help your root system be strong so you can stand firm.  Pray.  Connect with a good community that will help build you up.  Get established and keep growing stronger. Harsh seasons may come but as long as we are growing those deep roots, we will be hard to unearth.  We will come back even stronger that before.  Not only that, but as we grow and  establish our roots, we may start to influence those around us.  Maybe our faith will spread and pop up in unexpected places as well. Love and blessings, Bobbie  
File Mar 16, 9 03 31 AM Have you ever been in a funk that you just couldn't seem to get out of?  I've spent the last several weeks in a fog that just hasn't seemed to want to lift.  I've had some little health stuff going on and had to have a couple of little medical procedures done.  There are a few more little procedures on the horizon as well.  This has all left me feeling just plain worn out physically, but it has all left me feeling emotionally spent as well. Have you been there?  Maybe it wasn't a health related issue.  Maybe it was a relationship issue, a work issue, or just circumstances in your life that had you in that funk.  Whatever it is that put you there, Funkytown is really not a great place to visit and it's even worse to settle in and dwell there a while. And that's what I was doing.  I was dwelling. I was totally content to just sit in that foggy, hazy Funkytown and dwell there. Last week I started to realize just what I was doing.  I started to realize that I had set up shop in Funkytown and gotten pretty comfortable there.  (Really folks, it shouldn't have taken me so long to see the error in my ways.  A couple of weeks in, I went 8 days without putting on real clothes or leaving my house.  Which felt glorious at the time, but, looking back, might have been a tad much.  Not to mention that I binge watched a ridiculous amount of Netflix.  Which also felt glorious at the time, but wasn't even remotely productive and kept me from doing the things I should have been doing.) I knew I needed to pack it up and leave Funkytown, but it was just so comfortable there.  So, I did the only thing I knew to do to make a change.  I went back to God's word and prayer because they are the things that have always brought me stability, strength, conviction, and  encouragement. I moved off the couch and back into my regular Bible study and prayer time (which had been mostly set aside for Netflix and naps). And in his usual, glorious way, when I started moving back towards Jesus, there he was, just waiting for me.  Arms open.  Ready to draw me closer. This morning, while I was reading my Bible, I came across something beautiful. In Luke 15, Jesus tells three parables about someone being separated from something and diligently seeking it until it is found and restored to its' rightful place.  He tells of a shepherd who lost one sheep out of a flock of one hundred, yet the shepherd left the others and went after the lost sheep to bring it back into the fold.  Next he tells of a woman who lost a silver coin and turns her house upside down to find it and add it back into her purse.  Then he tells the story of the prodigal son who left his father and lived a wild lifestyle, only to be brought low and return to the father seeking mercy.  The father lovingly welcomes the son back and restores him to a place of honor. And God's word remind us that He does that for us. Separation.  Seeking.  Restoration.  It is kind of His thing. I know these parables speak of Jesus seeking the lost, but today when I read these they had new applications for me.  Today they reminded me that no matter how discouraged I feel, or how deep into a funk I am, I'm never far from Jesus' love.  When I feel discouraged and distant, he is right there seeking my heart and waiting for my return.  He diligently longs for me and doesn't want me to be separated from him.  Just like the wandering sheep, the lost coin, and the wayward son, when I am separated from him, he is seeking me and wants my restoration. So, today those parables have a new meaning because today the fog is rolling away a little and I'm leaving Funkytown behind.    (Not that I'm giving up naps and Netflix, people.  That would just be plain silly.  I will how ever be enjoying them in much greater moderation than I have been over the last several weeks. )  If you need me, you can find me back at the feet of Jesus. Love and blessings, Bobbie
image I don't often write "How To" posts, but I've been repeatedly asked how I do my quiet time and how I make time to write.  This always makes me smile, because I love a good, well laid out plan for some things.  I also really enjoy the chaos of flying by the seat of my pants.  And I'm a little bit of a drama queen.  My quiet time just happens to be an interesting, quirky mix of those characteristics. As a warning, before I share my morning game plan, I want to point out a few obvious things. First, I'm not any type of professional at Bible study and prayer.  Secondly, what works for me, may not work for you.  And Third, I know that this is going to sound a little odd, so just humor me and go with it. Ok.  Here it is.  My game plan. The Night Before: As I mentioned, I'm an odd combination of OCD, chaos, and drama.  The OCD in me really enjoys an organized, regular, predictable plan.  I love lists and journals and organized approaches in some specific things.  I like to start my quiet time in a very predictable, well planned out way the evening before. Before I go to bed at night, I lay out all of my materials.  When I have my time in the morning to study and pray, I like to have my journaling Bible, my binder, my journals, my pen, and my coffee.  I have one of those amazing coffee pots where you can make your coffee the evening before and set it to start brewing at a specific time.  I set mine for 5:10.  That's 5 minutes before my alarm goes off.  That means that when I wake up in the morning, I can already smell that delicious Three Story Coffee percolating in the kitchen.  It's pretty glorious! Those are my necessities.  They each have a purpose that facilitates my time and how I use it.  When they are all lined up like that on my kitchen table, they are very hard to ignore in the morning. The Drama: Here is where my drama queen tendencies really help out my morning routine.  It's also where I start to sound a little crazy, but hey, we all do what works best for us.  I like to imagine that I have a little coffee date with Jesus in the morning.  I've set my spot up and I picture his spot right there beside me.  I know he really does meet with me there each morning, so I go ahead and take the liberty of imagining that it's our daily little coffee date.  (I don't think He minds.) I set three alarms five minutes apart.  5:05, 5:10, and 5:15.  (I really like my sleep, ok?!?)  when my last alarm goes off, I tell Jesus good morning and that I'm on my way. I am aware that all sounds a bit silly, but here is why it works for me.  I am a super relational person.  Friendships and relationships are supremely important to me.  I would NEVER make a date with a friend and not show up.  I want to be a good friend, and Jesus just happens to be my best friend.  I dare not miss our morning coffee dates! How I Study: As I said, the OCD in me loves to wake up to a perfectly laid out table and a steaming coffee pot, but the chaos in me like to have a loose approach to the way that I actually do my study time.  There are a few standards that I like to follow, but my actual routine is flexible. I always begin my time praying.  It's not a big, deep, scholarly prayer.  Most often, my prayer is often just a little "thank you for meeting me here again this morning Jesus.  I'm ready to listen to you speak". After that, I dive in to my Bible reading.  Currently I'm reading the Bible through from front to back, so I just pick up where I left off the day before. I like to use a journaling Bible so I have space to underline, jot notes, ideas, and verses.  Beside my Bible is my journal.  I keep it open and as I'm reading through my Bible, I like to write out specific verses that jump out at me.  Reading them and then writing them out really helps me to to solidify them in my mind and store them in my heart. I learn best by doing, so I write a lot as I study. I don't like to have a specific reading schedule.  I read until I feel like God has spoken something to me.  When He has, I stop.  I make notes in the margin of my Bible.  I think on it a bit.  I write out the specific verse that struck me in my journal.  That's it.  It's not rocket science, but it has been what works for me.  Sometimes I will read chapters and chapters before something specific really grabs at my heart and sometimes it's much shorter.  I try to just be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading.  When He prompts me to think about something, I take the time to really consider it and then I process through it by writing out notes. That consideration usually culminates in my prayer time.  Along with the OCD tendencies, I've got some serious ADD tendencies as well.  I get distracted easily and prayer can be difficult for me.  My mind wants to wander.  My solution is to write out my prayers.  It keeps my mind more focused.  I simply flip to the next page in my journal and write out whatever is in my heart.  It's like my coffee time conversation with Jesus.  I write it as a letter to Him.  I have found that it is the easiest way for me to have focused prayer time. I also keep a journal of prayers specifically regarding my hubby and my boys.  When there is something that I feel like requires specific prayer on their behalf, I pull that journal out and pray for those needs there. The Rest of the Plan: I'm a fan of lists and I love my handy dandy binder.  It's like my little organizational hub.  I keep our weekly and monthly calendar in my binder along with our dinner menu, our weekly chore charts, info on work and homeschool projects, and my ever important to do list.  After my quiet time, I like to take all of this before God.  I thumb through my plans and look them over to get my bearings for the day.  Then I flip to a my blank To Do List for today.  I say a quick prayer asking God to give me a vision for what I need to do and then I jot down my priorities for the day. Writing: This is may all sound a bit out there, but it's how I like to start each morning.  I intentionally get up a couple of hours before my kiddos and even before my husband.  I spend some focused time alone with Jesus and then I plan out my day.  It is what works for me and it seems to bring the level of crazy in my day down to a more manageable level. I also have a hard and fast rule that I force myself to stick to.  I don't allow interruptions during this time unless it's an emergency.  (That's easier to enforce because everyone in my house is often asleep.). I don't look at my phone until after this time is over.  I don't check Facebook or Twitter or my email or anything else until I've had my quiet time in the morning.  After I finish my quiet time and my to do list, then, if I feel inspired, I write.  That's when I may log in to Wordpress and blog.  I might log into Facebook and post on one of the ministry sites I help manage.  I may log into word swag and create some memes for social media ministry. My creative juices are usually flowing after some sweet time with Jesus and my mind is calm enough to write after I've tackled my daily plan. The Challenge: I'd love to encourage you to make your own game plan for each day.  I'd also love to hear about how you spend time with Jesus and how you start your day. Love and Blessings, Bobbie
image Today's blog post is a little different.  I want to talk about plugging in to a community today and give you some practical ways to connect within a body of believers.  I don't know about you, but community is so very important to me.  Having good, godly, like minded people in my life who help point me to Christ is a big priority.  It's been one of the things that has brought about huge growth in my life.  For a long time, I didn't really have a community and I felt a little lonely in my Christian walk.  I went to church and I read my Bible and had prayer time, but I didn't really have much in the way of authentic Christian connections.  I knew something was missing. God created us to function within a community or a body of believers.  It's really lonely and even a little disheartening to live out your faith alone.  Obviously God gives us everything we need to be able to love Him, honor Him, and live for Him, even if we don't have that community for support.  He is enough for us.  He is our friend, our Father, our comforter, our help, and our rock.  He is all we really need. However, He wants us to join together within a body of believers to be an encouragement to one another and to lift each other up.  If you are in that place where you are walking with God, but you are doing it solo, I want to give you some practical ways to look for ways to plug in and connect with other believers. One of my favorite ways to do this is though small groups.  Small groups are a huge passion of mine.  I co lead a small group with one of my sweet friends locally on Wednesday evenings.  I also participate in a family oriented small group through our church on Thursday evenings.  I'm looking at doing some online small groups with The Women In My World as well.  Small groups are my favorite!  If you find a good one, they are a place where real, authentic, friendships can be built and can grow.  I can't even tell you how much I love these groups!  Leading small groupsjust fills my heart to overflowing!  I'm always awe struck by the way God can unite a seemingly random group of women and weave them into tight knit community.  Small groups often get together to study a book, the Bible, or watch book study videos together.  Look around in your city to see what's offered.  Often local women's ministries will offer small groups that you can participate in.  (The one I lead locally is through Inspire.). If you can't find one, grab a few friends and get together for some regular prayer and study time.  I'm not a great teacher or leader, but you don't have to be to lead a small group.  Small groups don't have to be super formal.  All you need is a group that will commit to creating a safe place where you can openly and honestly communicate about your Faith.  It's a lot less awkward than it sounds, I promise!  ;) If small groups aren't really your thing, there are other ways to connect.  (Although, trust me, you are missing out on something spectacular!)  Look at local churches and see if they offer programs within their ladies ministry like Apples of Gold, MOPS, or other larger women's ministries.  These can be a little less intimidating than small groups because there are more women and a little less intimacy.  I've participated in both of the above groups and have LOVED them.  They were a great way to kind on dip my toe into women's ministry. If these kinds of groups are still a little to intimate for you, then look for a larger women's group.  Locally, I am on a women's ministry team called Inspire.  It's insanely amazing and I adore this ministry.  It meets quarterly and has a yearly retreat.  The meetings have had anywhere between 150-400 people.  We invite in a guest speaker and work diligently to create a place that is welcoming and loving.  We have an online and Facebook presence as well.  These larger women's ministries are amazing because they allow for group connection and create that community that so many women long for, but they do it in a way that isn't intimidating. In this digital world that we live in, there are endless opportunities to connect online as well.  I work for a team called Fit Revival that is Dallas, TX based. It's on Facebook and has a website that allows women to connect over fitness and faith.  It is a huge encouragement to me as I try to live out a healthy lifestyle in a way that honors God.  It's pretty awesome too and something you should check out if fitness and faith are something you love. I am the Director of Ministry and Creative Branding for a Hollywood, CA based women's ministry called The Women In My World.  I love the close knit community that is building on our Facebook page.  Shari Rigby is the founder and leader and she has a heart of gold!  Her passion to serve and connect women is inspiring.  It's a beautiful thing to share blogs, prayer, encouragement, and friendships with women across the world.  I'm always so excited to watch God bring women into this group and see them lifted up by this ministry.  I'm also really excited about the plans The Women In My World has in the future to create real life opportunities for connection as well.  I would love for you to head over to Facebook and like our page.  Share it with your friends and be a part of our community.  This is your invitation. ;) Link up with some of these online ministries and use them as a community to learn and grow in.  They are valuable tools in our Christian lives and are so easy and convenient to participate in. Friend other Christians on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, watch their interactions on periscope or blab.  Read blogs that will encourage you and point you to Christ.  Follow them so they contact you directly.  (hint. HINT!). That's a great way to get frequent interaction.  I've made some very dear friends online that have helped me grow so much. Technology has made this world such a small place where connections are limitless.  Use these social media outlets as a way to build up your faith and to connect. Ladies, there are so many amazing ways to join in a faith based community.  There are so many wonderful, God honoring communities to be a part of.  I really encourage you to check into some of the things that I've listed above and plug in.  You will be so pleased with the way these communities Can foster growth and connection!  God didn't create you to walk alone.  Find a community to walk arm in arm with and get plugged in! Love and blessings, Bobbie
I often find such encouragement when I read my Bible.  Honestly, this is a new thing for me.  I use to look at Bible reading more as a chore.  It was just another thing to check off of my Christian to do list. Read a chapter or two from my Bible today.  Check.  Next? But a while back, I felt convicted to really get back into God's word in a more serious way.  I love to read.  You can almost always find me with a great Christian book.  I've got a crate of them beside my bed.  They are stacked in piles on my desks.  My easily distracted self prefers to have a few of them going at a time so that if I hit a dry spot in one, I can stick in a book mark, and pick up where I've left off in another.  I study these books.  They are a wealth of knowledge.  I love how writers have the ability to take lofty Christian principles and put them into terms that I can relate to and easily understand.  The authors feel like friends to me.  They just get me. The book pages are pen marked.  The pages are dog eared.  The covers show wear because of their constant handling.  I pack them to read on trips, tote them along in my purse, and keep them handy in case I have a few spare minutes to read. Can you see how much I love them?  On our trip to California last week I packed six.  I was feeling ambitious and Heaven forbid that I not have just the right one to fit my mood.  As a matter of fact, I spent the better part of two days alternating between the couch in a hotel bathrobe and my bathing suit on a lounge chair in the sun, all the while with a book.  It was heavenly! There are many books that I've read this year that I love!  Some of my most well loved books sit on a desk in my kitchen because I enjoy referencing them again.  I love to pick them up, turn to a page that's worn and underlined, and find a nugget of knowledge that relates to exactly what I'm feeling or thinking or dealing with. These books are so great!  God has divinely spoken through some amazing authors and I've been so blessed by their work.  Please don't misunderstand me in this.  I adore Christian authors and the way they put pen to paper to flesh out stories that truly speak to me! But, I had let these books replace my time in God's word. The Bible was a little hard for me to understand.  I just couldn't bring myself to mark up these holy pages.  I didn't know how to study it.  I didn't think I could relate to it.  The language and even sometimes the principles were lost on me, so I had set my Bible aside in search of easier reading. Until about eight or ten months ago.  I'm not really exactly sure of the date, but I remember the situation.  I was struggling with the passing of my dad.  It was brutally hard.  I remember realizing that I was seeking wisdom, comfort, advice, and guidance from Man instead of God.  And honestly, it wasn't working out too well for me. For some reason, it hit me like a brick, that  what I really needed to do, was get back to God's word. It was the best decision I've made in a really long time! I pray each day over my Bible.  I pray that God will speak to me through His word.  I pray for wisdom to understand His truth.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to see His character and open my heart to receive His teaching.  And I pray for people and stories that I can relate to. I can't honestly say that every time I open my Bible, I am awe struck by what I read.  (Some of those genealogies are a little long.). However, I can tell you that God's word has come alive to me in a way that I couldn't have imagined before.  Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and David have become like dear friends to me as I've studied the Old Testament.  Their stories resonate with me in such a real way.  We share some of the same struggles and I'm encouraged as I see God's faithfulness to grow them and use them.  I'm moved to tears by His unrelenting grace and mercy towards a people that continually fail him.  I see a parallel there and am awe struck that He shows the same grace and mercy towards me. This morning I littered the book of Ezra with underlines and notes.  Who would have thought that I could relate so much to this man of God?  Who would have known I could find so many answers to the questions that trouble me today in these pages penned so long ago?  Who would have known that these heroes of the Bible struggled with so many of the same things that I do? I just want to take a minute today and encourage you to go back to basics.  Don't give up all of the amazing books that God is using to reach you.  They have an awesome purpose and are instrumental in our growth.  But, turn back to that old black book too (well, mine is actually hot pink) and see what truths it holds for you.  Find comfort, wisdom, encouragement, and guidance in its pages.  Understand that God's word is alive and active and still so applicable to us today.  Ask the Holy Spiri to give you understanding and immerse youself in conversation with the Father.  Allow Him to speak to you through His word.  Find what you're looking for there. Love and blessings, Bobbie