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
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
Man, sometimes life can be difficult!  It seems like so many people that I love are under attack right now.  I've been under attack.  Sometimes things get hard.  It can be easy to feel a little overwhelmed by the chaos and strife that is just an ugly part of life. Sickness, loss of loved ones, hurt, discontent, job loss, distraction, discouragement...  The list can go on and on.  And it often does.  Sometimes the casualties of life just pile up and we lose heart a little. I was reading in 2 Samuel today and just felt really connected to David.  He just struggled sometimes.  This poor guy has gone through it all. He came from a poor family.  He spent the better part of his life under attacks from his king, his enemies, even his own family.  He failed God is some pretty big ways and had to deal with some pretty big consequences as a result.  He lost loved ones.  He was shamed and ridiculed and his people turned against him.  He just seems to be constantly dealing with life.  He had every reason to get discouraged and lose heart.  But through it all, God stood beside him and walked him through his trials.  God loved him, disciplined him when necessary, and blessed him when he did right.  And through it all, David kept his eyes on God and never forgot who He was. This morning as I was sitting here just honestly feeling a little overwhelmed, I came upon 2 Samuel 22.  Phew!  If you ever need a little pick me up or some encouragement, read it and let it remind you who God is. David reminded me this morning that God is flawless.  He is my rock, my shield, and my salvation.  He is alive!  He is my savior who delivers me and preserves me.  God is mighty.  He arms me with strength and stoops down to make me great.  He is God and He is worthy of praise. He is my fortress, my refuge, my support, my stronghold, my salvation, my rock, and my shield.  He rescues me from my enemies. He is faithful.  He is blameless.  He is pure. With My God, darkness is turned to light.  With Him, I can advance.  With Him, I can scale the walls that hold me back.  He avenges me and gives me victory. He reached down from on high and took hold of me.  He drew me out of deep waters .  He rescued me and delights in me.  When I call out to Him, He hears me. God lives.  He is my rock.  He is exalted.  He is my savior.  He shows me unfailing kindness. When I sit and read 2 Samuel, I'm reminded that He is in control of the chaos.  He brings beauty from ashes and He works things for my good because He loves me.  He is on my side and fights for me.  That discouragement and distraction that I was feeling just flee in the face of who He is. Love and blessings, Bobbie