image.png I saw this quote floating around on the Internet and I loved it for so many reasons.  A blank page, depending on your view point, can be a cage to imprison you or wings to give you your freedom. I love to write so I'm pretty familiar with the feeling of sitting down and opening up to a blank page.  Honestly, sometimes, I can let that page tie me up and hold me hostage.  It can be a little intimidating.  There it sits, a wide open space, just waiting for me to fill it with whatever I chose.  That blank page can be scary if I start to wonder what people will think about me and what I write.  I can let their opinions shape the words I'm putting on the paper.  I can start to feel insecure and limited. The pressure to make this blank space into something worthwhile and beautiful can weigh on me as well. I want to be relevant and encouraging. I want to show love and character.  I want my words and the use of this page to matter.  That beautiful blank page can become like a cage to imprison me, if I let it. Or I can shift my perspective. I can look at that beautiful blank page as wings to give me freedom.  That blank page is mine.  I can dream, hope, think, process, and connect with people through that page.  I can shake off the insecurities and the fears.  I can kick aside the expectations.  And I can just write about the things that I hold dear.  I can express myself and enjoy the freedom that comes from just putting pen to paper. Each time I open up my notebook to a fresh, new, blank page; I get to make the choice as to which perspective I will view it through.  In 2016, I choose to fill my blank pages with the murmurings of my heart.  I choose to not be improsioned by my own or someone else's thoughts.  I choose to use the blank pages as wings to fly! Love and blessings! Bobbie
The hospice chaplain just left my grandpa's bedside and I can't stop thinking about something he said in his prayer. He said "At the end of this life, Father, we only leave behind three things that matter: our faith, our family, and our friends." A dear friend of mine is also currently dealing with the loss of a loved one and when we were chatting on the phone last week, she also mentioned that she was struck by the truth that in this life we take nothing with us when we go.  The only thing that we leave behind is our legacy. That has gotten me thinking.  What kind of legacy do I hope to leave behind?  When I'm ready to go home to be with Jesus, who and what will I leave behind?  Will it have mattered that I was here?  Will I have made an impact?  When I meet my Jesus face to face will He be able to say "well done"? The chaplain's three things and my friend's observation combine to summarize the I hope to leave. I hope that the who and the what that I leave behind are wrapped in together beautifully in  the legacy of faith that I leave with my family and my friends.  I want people to say, "Man!  She did her very best to be the hands and feet of a loving God to everyone that she came into contact with.  She loved Jesus and she loved his people." My Grandpa did. He was a faithful man. He loved Jesus and he loved others. He was gentle and kind.  He was so sweet.  He always had a smile for everyone he met.  I can't recall him every saying a negative thing to anyone or about anyone.  He was truly a good man who walked out Jesus' love by the way that he loved people.  The legacy that he leaves is the same legacy that I want to leave. That sounds so simple, really.  But, we all know that it isn't.  Loving people means opening up to them and letting them into your life and your heart.  It means going out of your way to invest time and energy into building a meaningful relationship with them.  It means daily living in a way that brings honor to God and points people in His direction.  That takes real dedication.  Heaven, help me because I have so much need for improvement in this! I know with the Christmas season, we don't want to dwell on things like this.  But what if the gift we gave to Jesus this year was one of a lasting legacy of love to the people He loves?  What a difference we could make if we decided to take steps daily to leave that kinds of a legacy of faith and love! What if we each focused our energy, time, and attention to leaving a legacy of faith for our family and friends?  I don't know about you, but that is something I'd love to live out just like my grandpa did. Blessings and love, Bobbie    
Last week was one of those weeks that just left me reeling in exhaustion and emotion.  Have you had those?  Those are the weeks where, when they draw to a close, we look back and think 'How on Earth did I just make it through all of that?'  Everyone has those weeks, where you are pretty sure the world has slipped off of its center and everything feels a little wonky. I hesitate to lay out the details because I know that some of you walked through weeks that were so much more difficult than mine.  However, because I really want you to see what God is working on in me, I want to share some things with you. I am just starting to get over a bout with pneumonia.  Pneumonia is no joke.  I felt awful and so run down all of last week.  Some of that still lingers into this week.  Along with all of that, my grandpa, whom I've been in charge of caring for the last several years, is on hospice in the nursing home.  He's battled Parkinson's Disease and Dimentia for a long time and took a turn for the worse about 2 months ago.  It's been a very long battle and has been so very heartbreaking to watch. Just to make things a tad more interesting, all of this is happening on the same week that my Dad went into the hospital last year.  The one year anniversary of his passing is this coming Saturday.  That alone has been a very hard milestone to approach.  The emotion and the memories that just hit me out of the clear blue have been enough to knock me clean off of my feet at times. Needless to say, I've been a walking train wreck on the inside all week.  I'm physically feeling sick and worn and emotionally feeling very raw.  I've been trying very hard to take care of my family, move past my own health stuff, and be there with my grandpa.  I've been trying to keep everything running smoothly.  On the outside, things probably didn't look too bad, but on the inside I was a mess. The results haven't been pretty friends.  And would you like to know why?  Because I was trying to do it in my own strength and for my own benefit.  I was wearing myself into a frazzle trying to keep everything from falling apart all around me while keeping a smile firmly etched into place, because that's what we think we are suppose to do. Can I just be honest?  That's an exhausting game to play. Yesterday, I went to church and then came home and watched my boys decorate our Christmas tree.  When that was over, I packed my bag to go spend the rest of the day and evening with my Grandpa, by myself.  When I got into the car, I realized how tired I was, so I put on a podcast by Francis Chan to keep me awake and alert while I was driving.  It was so good.  I love when God just gives you this little random thought, like 'maybe I will listen to this to stay awake' and it turns out to be exactly what you really need to hear.  He's good like that. Anyway,  Francis Chan was speaking at a retreat for leaders in the church and asking them to quit trying to be something that they are not.  He was asking them to lay aside their phony facades of perfection and be real with their people.  He was calling them into transparency and authenticity because sharing our struggles is one of the most sure fire ways to help someone feel like they aren't alone in theirs.  Not only that, but it shifts our perspective from one of 'I must do all and be all' to one of 'God help me'. It was just what I needed to hear.  I had been running myself into the ground all week desperately trying to keep everything around me from plunging into chaos.  I hadn't asked for much help and hadn't wanted to even admit how difficult the week had been. So, last night when I pulled into the nursing home, I picked up my Grandpa's hand and opened my Bible and gathered as much wisdom, peace, love, strength, direction, correction, and inspiration as I could find. When my Grandpa's sweet nurse came in and asked how I was doing, I fell apart a little and told her how hard it was to watch this, especially after I sat in this same place exactly one year ago.  I readily accepted her hug and words of comfort.  I reached out to my personal friends and some of my sweet friends on Facebook and asked for prayers for comfort for my Grandpa and peace and strength for myself, and they responded in ways that bring tears to my eyes.  I came home and crawled into bed and was graceful to myself by letting myself sleep in a little later this morning because my body desperately needs the rest.  I've allowed my self time to read my Bible, reflect, process, and write this morning because that is the way I feel most connected to God.  I let go of the 'do all and be all' and starting saying 'God help me'. The weight of perception can be crushing.  Trying to keep all of the plates spinning in this circus act can be utterly exhausting.  We often refuse to give ourselves grace and mercy.  We don't want to take off the mask of perfection because it's possible that people will see that we really don't have it all together. Well, I'm here to tell you that I DO NOT have it all together.  I never have.  I'm sure I probably never will.  BUT yesterday and again this morning, I was reading through Isaiah and was so encouraged that I DONT HAVE to have it all together because I serve a God who does.  He is the beginning and the end.  He is my protector, provider.  His plans have been laid since the foundation of the earth and He never fails to keep his promises.  He loves me.  He has this whole great big world, and even my little tiny existence in it, firmly in His grasp. I have no idea why last week was so rough.  And it's entirely likely that this week could be equally as difficult.  But I know the one who created the moon and the starts and knit me together.  He loves me and my grandpa.  All that happens in this world and in my life will ultimately bring Him glory.  I know that I don't have to be perfect or understand His plans because He is perfect and His plans are perfect.  As much as I can, I'm going to rest in that this week when things get difficult. As much as I'm able, I'm going to leave my mask off and show that the only hope I have of making it through is by clinging to the one who loves me and has this all firmly in the palm of His hand. Isaiah 43:2-3a, 4a "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you..."
image Do you know what I just love?  I love authenticity.  I love it when what you see is exactly what you get.  I'm not a fan of false pretenses or underlying meaning.  I don't really like fake.   I like to be able to take things at face value and trust that something or someone is who they claim to be.  I kind of just like people to be real. Because of this love for all things genuine, I just adore Jen Hatmaker right now.  To be honest, I wasn't really familiar with her until last week when a friend mentioned that they were reading her new book and loved it.  The friend quoted some of her work on a Facebook post, and I was immediately hooked. I could tell that she was the real deal! I bought her book, For The Love, and I just LOVE it.  Jen is hilarious!  I actually woke up my son the other night because I was reading her book in the living room and was just laughing so hard.  Not only is she just really funny, she has a way of boldly and unashamedly  getting to the heart of a matter. Her manner is bold and brave but she is also very transparent and therefore very vulnerable.  She is a straight shooter and I very much appreciate that! I think I love that quality so much because God is such a straight shooter in His word.  He pretty much just tells it like it is.  He gives us some clear direction and clear commands in His word.  There are things that He leaves mysterious because we cannot understand His ways, but when it is time to lay out expectations, He takes most of the guesswork out. Not only is He clear, He is repetitive.  He knows that we need to hear things over and over for them to really sink in.  I've been reading through the Psalms over the last week and God keeps hammering in one clear message to me.  He used Jen Hatmaker's book to reinforce that message.  Like I said, he like repetition.  He's good like that.  He likes to give us the old one-two to really be sure we are getting what He has for us. He repeatedly showed me this week that He wants to use US to deliver HIS message to OTHERS.  He calls US to sing His praise, to declare His goodness, to speak of His might, and tell of His works.  He calls US to think on Him and share our thoughts with our children and our families and our communities so that we can make Him known. He calls US to extol Him.  I had to look that word up.  It appears in the book of Psalms a ton and I wasn't really sure what it meant.  It means to lift something up and praise it highly.  All throughout the Psalms, we are called to praise and extol Him. I don't think that God is calling us to a passive thing.  I believe He is calling us to take bold action.  He is calling us to stand for Him and tell the truth of what He has done for us.  He wants us to use our story to show Him to others.  He has given us each a specific story to share.  We get to be the connection for people!  Wow!  That's just plain crazy!  We have the privilege to introduce others to Him by sharing what He's done for us. Psalm 145: 4-7, 10-12 "One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom." That's kind of a big deal.  And it's not a responsibility that we should take too lightly.  It is a privilege and an honor.  Can I be honest?  It's also a little intimidating.  If I'm going to introduce people to Jesus, then I want the introduction to be a good one.  I want to share my story in a way that compels people.  I want to show other's how much Jesus has done for me.  I want to share His goodness, love, mercy, and grace.  I want others to be drawn to His saving power like I was.  But, that requires a lot of bravery and a lot of courage.  It requires me to be authentic and real and vulnerable. I can't really tell you of His grace and mercy without telling you what He's done for me.  I can't show you how He unconditionally loves me if I'm unwilling to show you how often I've failed Him and how often He extends love to me in the midst of that.  I can't really show you the power of His redemption unless you see how far He has brought me.  And I can't really show His strength until I show you my utter dependence on Him. To follow that call to praise Him and extol Him and declare His works, we must be uncommonly brave and bold.  We have to be willing to share.  And it's scary because being vulnerable is hard.  It's hard to just put ourselves out there for the world to see because the world can sometimes be a harsh and judgmental place.  But there is also a lot of love and grace and mercy there.  And there is freedom in the sharing because our boldness not only gives glory to God, it breaks down our own walls and it gives courage to others. My favorite quote from Jen Hatmaker's book addresses this specific thing.  She talks about telling our truth to the world regardless of our hesitations.  She says, "Just tell the truth because it sets us free.  This first domino unleashes a chain reaction of liberation.  If we tell the truth in the small things, our honesty is well-practiced when stuff gets dire.  This creates a sincere community for which the earth is starving.  In a world full of the fake, artificial, pretend, and superficial, we have the sustenance to nourish starving hearts.  I promise to be gentle with your truth-telling, and you've already demonstrated tenderness with mine.  And as we witness this beautiful community, we aren't just observing vulnerability but rather chains breaking, darkness receding, victory rising.  We are watching the light win truth by truth, and when enough bright places are created, the dark has no where else to hide.  Show up.  Be seen.  Tell the truth.  Be free." I seriously love that!  What a bold deceleration of our responsibility to share our story and to be the ones pointing others to Jesus!  This morning I prayed for a renewed boldness and strength to stand for Him.  I prayed that He would give me the courage to be authentic and to share.  I'm praying that for you too.  I'm praying that we all will take Jen's challenge To Show Up.  To Be Seen.  To Tell The Truth.  And To Be Free.  After all, I think God calls us to the same thing.  Let's Extol Him.  Praise Him.  And Declare His Greatness. Love and blessings, Bobbie
image Alright.  I'm warning you all in advance.  This post makes it sound a little bit like I've gone off the deep end.  That's my early disclaimer.  You've been warned. I didn't grow up in church.  Matter of fact, I didn't come to have a relationship with Christ until I was an adult.  I can vividly remember going to church every once in a while with my aunt when I was a kid and being more that a little intimidated by those people who were obviously sold out Christians.  They quoted God's word.  They prayed loud and proud.  They praised unashamedly.  Their lives were obviously different.  I can't even put my finger on it, but something about them was obviously different.  It was totally weird to me and a little scary. Even after I had come to know Christ in my 20's, that fully sold out approach to believing was a little strange to me.  I loved Jesus and was so thankful that He bore my sin and shame.  I gladly accepted His gift of salvation and did my best to repent and turn from sin.  I made some major changes to my life because I wanted to please my Heavenly Father.  But still.  Those fully sold out Christians weirded me out a little.  I wanted to love Jesus, but maybe not with everything I had.  I wanted to be set apart, but maybe not really far apart.  I didn't want to just go totally off the deep end! It has been roughly 14 years since I became a Christian.  And can I be really honest, here?  Up until recently (like really recently), those all in Christians still kind of weirded me out.  They intimidated me.  I just could not grasp how they could just live and love and praise and pray like they did.  It was uninhibited and bold. But then something strange happened.  Maybe it's the time that I've spent in my Bible lately.  As strange as it sounds, I've fallen head over heels in love with God's word.  He draws me to it like a magnet.  Maybe it's the amazing Sisters in Christ he has placed in my life who help point me to Him.  Maybe it's the books that some of these friends have recommended.  Maybe it's the time I've been able to spend engaged in small groups and in Church.  Maybe it is the powerful messages of healing and love from the retreat I attended this weekend.  Maybe it is that He has been at work in my heart for a very long time.  Maybe it's the community (real life and on line) that I'm beyond blessed to be a part of.  Maybe it is that I'm finally getting out of my own way.  I'm not even sure exactly what the catalyst was that brought about the change, but I think I'm becoming one of them!  AND IT REALLY WEIRDS ME OUT! What is even weirder though, is that it doesn't really scare me anymore. Strike that.  That's not entirely true.  It doesn't scare me, but not as much as it use to.  It still scares me a little, but instead of seeing it as weird, I see it as absolutely beautiful.  And, oddly enough, I'm kind of excited about going off the deep end. I can feel God calling me to go all in.  I can feel Him asking me to just close my eyes and not be afraid to jump off of the deep end.  Have you felt that?  (Please tell me I'm not the only one because then I'd have to really wonder if I am, in fact, a little weird.😉) I can feel His tugging on my heart to fully commit to the life He has called me to.  I can feel His urging me to turn over the things that I've been hesitant to let go of.  He wants those things that I've held on to a little too tightly because it might be a little uncomfortable to let them go.  He is calling me to give him the hurt from my past, my stored up pain, my heart that's been broken and mended, my time that I want to keep for myself, my present and the things I give myself to, my future and my plans.  Really, I can feel Him asking for my all.  And even though it may seem a little like going off the deep end, I'm going to just willingly hand it over. Because, I've not really done a great job managing those things all by myself.  Matter of fact, I'm kind of a hot mess.  If you get a grade for trying, then I'm an A+ student.  However, as far as performance goes, I'm more than a little lacking.  I still let my past tangle me up.  I still let this tattered heart lead me in more decisions than it should.  I still guard my time and my plans like they are my own to control.  I still cling to my own visions for my future.  And that's ok.  Because God works at His own pace in each of our lives.  Obviously, He knows I'm a slow learner and more than a little stubborn since I'm still very much a work in progress after 14 years.  That's what grace and mercy are for.  So, as much as possible, I'm going to get out of the way and let Him have control. Are you there too?  Are you feeling Him lead you just a little out of your comfort zone?  Is He calling you to step out of the norm? It's ok.  Just jump with me.  He's trustworthy.  He's faithful.  He's good.  He's true.  He's strong and powerful and Holy.  He loves us.  He has plans for us.  He's big enough to catch us.  He's great enough to lead us.  He won't fail us.  He's got this even if we don't. So, weird or not, I'm going all in.  See you in the deep end! Love and blessings, Bobbie