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  
image.png Good morning friends! This morning I was reading out of the book of Daniel and a sweet little nugget of truth just jumped out at me!  It was an encouragement to me and I wanted to share it with you. Daniel 3 is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Most people are familiar with the story of King Nebuchadnezzar, the big golden idol he created, and three Jewish  friends who refused to bow down and worship it.  Most people are also familiar with the story of how the King threw these three into the firey furnace and a fourth man with the appearance  of "a son of the gods" delivered them from the fire with out even the smell of smoke on them or a hair on their bodies singed. I love this story for so many reasons, but this morning I thought about it a little differently.  This morning my heart picked up on the important message that God is showing us about the value and influence of good and Godly friends. These three men stood strong and untied against a King who wanted them to renounce their God.  Their lives were at stake, yet together, they had the courage to stand up for right and truth.  We have so much power when we join together with other believers. Matthew 18:19-20 says, "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”  He definitely  showed up for these three friends! One of our greatest and most underused weapons are our brothers and sisters in Christ.  They are our adversaries who should come along side of us and encourage us to stand strong.  Together, we can have such a beautiful influence for God's kingdom. Just look at what happened when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood together.  They changed the heart of one of the most powerful kings ever.  Their influence was amazing!  Daniel 3:28 says, "Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God." This morning I am so thankful for the community of believers that God has put me in. They lift me up, strengthen me, encourage me to stand strong for Jesus, no matter what is going on in this world.  If we all looked at ways to do that for one another, we could be a powerful influence for the kingdom! Love and blessings, Bobbie
  imageI'm a little bit of a country girl at heart.  We always had some type of livestock that we were raising when I was a kid living at home.  I can remember having cows, hogs, chickens, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, and more.  I grew up in the country where raising and caring for animals just kind of came with the territory. We never owned sheep, that I can remember, but I imagine it is much like owning other livestock.  When you are responsible for the care and well being of livestock, they are completely dependent on you for all of their needs. I can remember my Dad and my brother getting up early and going out to feed and water in the mornings before school.  Before dinner, they would make another round to tend and care for whatever animals my dad was interested in raising at the time.  (Side note on my dad:  He liked to hop around from one animal to the next depending on the year.  One year he might raise hogs.  One year he wanted cows.  We almost always had horses, mules, and chickens.  We even had a little pot bellied pig that lived in the house until it ran away!  But I digress.) The animals required continual attention for their provision and their protection.  They depended on my dad and my brother for every aspect of their care and well being. This morning I was reading in Ezekiel.  Most of chapter 34 is written to Ezekiel telling him to speak to Isreal and remind them that they are God's sheep and He is their shepherd.  Much like my dad and brother (and even more so since my dad was a little wishy-washy as a farmer) a shepherd's priority is provision and protection for his sheep.  God was judging those people who had led His sheep astray and was telling them that He would be their good shepherd and was giving them a promise for their future. I just selected a few verses from This chapter to give you an idea of what God is saying here: Ezekiel 34:4, 11-12, 16, 31 "You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally."  "For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice."  "You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’” Wow!  I was a little overcome as I remembered my dad and my brother chipping away ice from the horse trough on a frigid winter day, or cleaning the barn in the brutal heat on a humid summer day.  No matter the conditions, with no regard for their own comfort, they cared and tended their animals.  Because that's what a farmer and a shepherd do.  They provide care for the livestock in their possession.  How much more so will our good shepherd care for us?!? Father God, Thank you for being the good shepherd.  Thank you for understanding that I'm a little sheep easily led astray and prone to wander.  Thank you for your loving guidance, your tender care, and your divine provision and protection.  Help me to trust you more and to fully rely on you as my shepherd.  Help me not to stray, but to stay safely by your side.  Father, I look to you for my needs.  I know that your love for me is true.  You truly are the good shepherd and I'm so thankful to be a sheep in your pasture!" Amen! Blessings and Love, 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