2015-12-11 08.41.49 Today would be my Dad's birthday.  Mine is right before his.  This is a picture of us celebrating together a few years ago.  He's been gone now for about a year and a half.  It sure doesn't seem like that long, but at the same time, it feels like forever since I've seen him.  I miss him often, but especially today. I don't understand why God allowed him to die.  I don't understand how taking him was a better plan than doing a miracle of healing.  I still struggle with that.  Honestly, there is only one way I know to deal with that kind of pain. This morning, with a heavy heart, I prayed a version of the same prayer that I pray every time I feel a little overwhelmed by the grief. "Father, God, I don't understand your ways.  I hurt and I miss my dad terribly, but I'm choosing to trust you in the midst of the hurt.  I know you are good.  I know you are love.  I know that you see the beginning and the end and that your plans are greater than my own.  I don't understand why God, but I understand who you are.  Help me to trust fully in your character and in who you are in spite of how I feel.  Fill my hurting heart with peace. Amen." That prayer gets me through the things I can't understand and the things that aren't easy.  I'm hoping it can help someone else today. Love and blessings, Bobbie    
image There is something beautiful and powerful about a light shining in the darkness.  I'm guest posting over at From His Presence today and sharing about a time recently when God really impressed something special on my heart when I looked out the window of an airplane and saw the twinkling of lights below me.  I'd love for you to read Light It Up! and see the way that God has called me, and calls each of us, to shine! Read it here:  Light It Up! Love and Blessings, Bobbie
2015-12-11 08.41.55 It is Father's Day, Dad.  I've been thinking a lot about you lately as this holiday had been drawing near.  I've been remembering some of the times we spent together and some of the things you taught me. Do you remember the time I was in middle school and you were driving me home?  I was complaining and sassing and just having an all-around ugly attitude.  You sat silently, driving the truck, while I went on a teenage hormone infused rant about the unfairness of life.  When we turned onto the gravel road that we lived on, you quietly pulled over and told me to get out.  You suggested that I use the time it would take me to walk the mile and a half down the dusty road to our house to think about all of the things I had to be grateful for.  Then you drove away and I was left to start walking and thinking. That was a good one, Dad.  I used that recently on my teen age son while I slowly drove behind him as he walked the block and a half to basketball camp after he gave a particularly surly tirade about my driving and time management skills.  He was right, but he was disrespectful. You weren't a fan of disrespect.  I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.  Thanks for teaching me to be grateful and to be respectful. Do you remember that time I was a 20-year-old newlywed and had made a string of really bad choices that had turned my life from good to bad very quickly?  I was in a tail spin and had pushed everyone that I loved away so that I could just keep on going on down the slippery slope I was on without having to hear from everyone what a mess I was making of things. In the midst of all of that, you drove an hour up to see me.  We went to a park and we just sat side by side in the grass.  You didn't ask all of the details.  You didn’t blame, condemn, or shame me, but you didn’t coddle me either.  You lovingly and firmly told me that I couldn’t ride the fence between teenager and adult any more.  You made me take responsibility for my decisions and called me out to make a choice to be better than I had been.  You were a rock for me when things were in chaos. That was another good one, Dad.  You always had a way of knowing just what to say and how to say it.  It was just the kick in the pants that I needed to see what a train wreck that I was.  I am already trying to teach my boys how to own up to their mistakes and look at the consequences of their choices.  I hope I never have to help my kids really see and understand the mess they've made of their life, but I’m filing this little memory in the mental rolodex of stellar parenting moves just in case because it meant the world to me.2015-12-11 08.41.49 Don't forget about the time I came home at nearly 30 because marriage and family were so much harder than I ever imagined they would be.  I wasn’t sure how on earth I was supposed to do and be all that I was supposed to do and be.  I sat curled up on the couch in your living room tearfully telling you how things were just too hard sometimes.  You sat across from me, wrapped in a blanket in your favorite recliner, and shared some of the times that you had felt the same way.  We laughed and we cried and then we watched Gunsmoke. I’m going to remember that one too, Dad.  I know there will come a time when my boys will feel overwhelmed by all of their responsibilities and will need a soft place to land.  They will want me to nod my head in agreement and then comfort them with some quality time together.  I want to remember to always be that place that they can come back to when they need encouragement.  Thank you for teaching me to take the time to listen and to care. I won't ever forget how hard you worked when you were in physical therapy all of those months.  You would get so frustrated at having to learn to do things that were once so simple for you.  You hated having to re learn how to pick up a spoon.  Learning to walk again was so difficult, but you kept pushing until you got it.  I've never seen perseverance like that before. That was amazing, Dad.  My boys were right there.  They watched you try and fail and never give up.  You taught them about hope and hard work and fighting through every obstacle. We probably looked a little crazy that one day when the boys and I were down sitting with you when you were really sick.  I was making Christmas ornaments out of paper and hot glue.  It was ridiculous.  It took forever and I was constantly burning my fingers. You just sat in your wheel chair and giggled at me as I growled and rolled my eyes.  After a few hours I had made a handful of beautiful ornaments to hang in the booth I was renting at a local antique mall.   You relentlessly teased me about all of that time and labor plus the money I would need to spend on band aids for my fingers. We both got tickled when you said that I would only end up making about a quarter an hour after all of that.  We laughed until we cried as we looked at my poor blistered fingers and the piles of supplies around me. That was a good one, Dad.  That still makes me smile.  Thanks for teaching me to laugh at myself.  You could always take any situation and make it a reason to smile.  I loved that about you.  My boys are going to need to know that they don’t always have to take themselves so seriously. You passed away before Christmas that year and I hung one of those paper ornaments on my tree last Christmas to mark the second Christmas that you had been gone.  I miss you every day, but especially on Father’s Day.  You were such a good man. There are so many stories, Dad.   There were so many little things that made you so special.  The thing that stands out the very most was how much you loved me.  You loved me when you didn’t have to and you loved me when I was very hard to love. 2015-12-11 08.38.03You weren’t my biological father.  You married my mom and automatically became a step parent to a child who wasn’t entirely sure she needed or wanted you around and wasn't afraid to make that abundantly clear.  Despite all the ways that I pushed you away, there was never a single moment that I felt like anything other than your dearly loved daughter.   Even when I was too young and too immature to see it, even when I doubted it, even when I didn’t understand it, you were always pouring you heart and soul into loving me as best as you could. Out of all the things that I remember, Dad, that is the thing I will remember most.  I always knew that I was unconditionally loved.  That is also the thing that I most want to pass down to my children.  It taught me about accepting a love that I did nothing to earn and didn’t really deserve.  Your love for me opened the door for me to begin to understand the kind of love God has for me.  I want to show that kind of love to my boys every day. Thank you Dad.  That was a good one. Happy Father's Day.  I miss and love you more than you know. Love and Blessings, Bobbie Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there.  May your day be filled with love and may you leave a strong legacy for your children.
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
image One of my favorite weekends of the entire year has come and gone.  The Inspire Heart Retreat always seems to rush past me in a blur of emotion and activity.  It drew to an end way before I was ready to let the messages and the images from those sweet days leave my thoughts. I have spent any quiet moments that I could claim today just sitting and reflecting.  I let the images from this weekend run through my mind like an old film reel.  I closed my eyes and remembered the feelings and let them sink deep into my heart.  The presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable throughout our praise and worship time.  It engulfed me.  With a heart full and hands raised, I closed my eyes and let my voice join in with the sound of over two hundred women raising their voices to praise our Savior. Our speaker, Nicole Johnson, delivered messages that were like a balm to the aches in my heart!  My eyes were continually brimming with tears of laughter, tears of brokenness, and tears of healing.  Her authenticity was refreshing.  Her willingness to join into our little community and minister was inspiring.  Her ability to point out our need for God's healing and His love in the broken and hurting areas of our lives was just simply beautiful.  I could feel my Father calling out to me through her words. The entire weekend was just enveloped in Christ's love, grace, and mercy.  I got teary eyed as I moved throughout the weekend and caught glimpses of His pure love in action.  Going though the foyer, I glanced out the glass of the front doors and saw two friends huddled close and deep in conversation.  On my way down the stairs I watched a group of ladies sitting cozily in arm chairs sipping coffee and sharing their lives.  In the kitchen I saw our speaker bowed in prayer over a tearful woman.  During one of the messages I looked to my left and saw a woman protectively place an arm around the shoulders of her friend as she wept.  I watched friends taking selfies to capture cherished moments together. I witnesssed women giggling with each other over a meal.  I saw strangers becoming friends during a game.  I saw women standing in unity during an ice breaker game and realizing that we have so much more in common than we think.  I listened to women talk about staying up late into the night with friends and sharing their hearts. Everywehere I looked this weekend, I saw examples of the kind of real, authentic connections that we all long for.  I saw women showing each other Christ's love, mercy, and grace.   The walls that we, as women, tend to put up were crumbling because of all of the love shown in that place.  That kind of love only comes because of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  He knit our hearts together all weekend long.  He forged new friendship and strengthened old ones.  He filled our hearts with love and He reminded us that when our focus is on Him, we can be vessels of love.  He healed broken hearts, broken lives, and broken relationships.  He encouraged and strengthened us.  He gave us faith in the power of our supernatural sisterhood. Nichole Johnson used her last message of the weekend to talk a little bit about the separation anxiety that she gets as these types of events come to a close.  That resonated deeply with me.  I hated to see our Heart Retreat weekend come to a close.  I knew that the moment that I stepped back into the busyness of real life, I would miss that sense of being enveloped in such a loving community of women.  I would miss those intimate times spent engulfed in Christ's presence.  And I would miss the times that I simultaneously spilled tears of laughter, brokenness, and healing. This morning was a little bittersweet when I woke up in my own bed.  I was so grateful to be back at home with my family.  It was wonderful to wake up to my husband and my boys and to jump back into the frenzy of everyday life.  However, I wasn't quite ready to let go of the beauty of the weekend, so I sat down and I journaled. I wrote down some of the things I learned about myself and my Savior this weekend.  I acknowledged the areas where I felt the Holy Spirit's stirring.  I poured out my brokenness and described how He administered healing.  I confirmed some of the decisions that I had made.  I put all of those beautiful memories down on paper so that I could reflect on them and store them away like the treasures they are.  I didn't want to forget.  I wanted to hold onto those sweet memories as long as possible so I wrote every single one of them down. I built myself a little memorial with words.  My journal is now a place where I can go to remember the work that Christ did in my life this weekend.  I can look there and let those feelings be stirred any time I need a little rekindling. I can return to it when I need the encouragement that these memories will provide.  I can go there and be reminded of His love when I am discouraged or hurting or just apathetic. When we have those types of beautiful encounters with one another and with God, we need to be able to go back and look at them and remember.   All throughout the Old Testament, men of God built alters to remind themselves of the work that God did.  Often they returned to these alters to worship God for what He had done in their lives, to remember, and to be encouraged. I challenge you to do the same.  Build a little alter with your words.  Create a way to remember the work God did in your life this weekend.  Create a way to hang onto those sweet memories.  While they are still fresh in your minds and in your hearts, I encourage you to write them down. Process through the events, the memories, and the feelings from those precious times with God and with His daughters.  Recall the sense of peace and love you felt when you rested in His presence.  Tuck them away like the little treasures they are and pull them out when you need encouragement.  When real life is roaring around you, let them be a reminder to you of a time when you felt totally engulfed in God's love! Love and blessings, Bobbie