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My heart aches this morning as I scroll through my news feed on Facebook.  So many people that I know and love are hurting.  I see so much heartbreak and pain and confusion.  I desperately long to hold tightly onto the shoulders of each person that is broken and look deeply into their eyes and tell them of the hope they have in Jesus.  He's the only thing that makes walking through the trials bearable.  He's the only constant and steadfast hope that I've ever found.  He's the only one that will never ever fail.

If I were with you right now and I knew that your heart ached for something better than this world can offer, that is just what I would do.  I would lovingly tell you that this world can be hard and God never promised that living in it would be easy.  I would tell you that although He doesn't offer you a life of ease, He does offer to make life a little easier by shouldering some of the burden for you as He walks with you through your trials.  He promises to be a comfort, a friend, and a constant companion to all who trust in Him.  He is good no matter the situation.  His love endures no matter where you are.

I would encourage you to turn to Him and to seek Him and I would do by very best to point you towards Him.

That desire spurred this prayer in my heart this morning.  I shared it with my Facebook small group and I felt led to share it here as well in the hopes that it might be a blessing to a hurting heart.

Love and blessings,

 Bobbie

31 DAYS OF CHANGE GROUP Day 26: Prayer: Father God, Help me to have a heart for your people. Give me eyes to see them as you do. You see the affliction of your people. You hear their cry and know their suffering. You feel the weight of their burdens and you long to redeem them. Your desire is that your children would know you, love you, trust you, turn to you, and be restored to you. You gave your only son, Jesus Christ, for that purpose. You love your children that much. Father, help me to look at my brothers and sisters, and all of the people of this world, and see them as you do. Fill me with love for people. Open my eyes to see those around me who are hurting. Break my heart for the broken. Give me a tenderness and a compassion for people, but Lord, I also pray that you would give me the ability to be a help and an encouragement to them. Fill my heart with prayer for them so that I can lift them to you. Let me be a witness of your saving grace, and of your love, compassion, and mercy. Help me to act as your hands and feet while I'm on this earth. Help me to be compassionate and merciful to others because you've been compassionate and merciful with me, Lord Jesus. I know that this world isn't an easy place to live. You never promised a life with our trials. In fact, your Word tells us that we go out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Yet, you still call us to walk in love. Give me discernment so that I can be as wise as a serpent but as harmless as a dove. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me a sensitivity to respond to its' stirring in me. Fill my heart with your love and my mouth with your words in the specific moments that I need them. Work through me to show your love to all that I encounter. In Jesus precious name, I ask these things. Amen. Bible Verses: Exodus 3:7 Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings. Exodus 6:5-7 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. Psalm 55:17-18 Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. James 5:11, 15, 19-20 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. Matthew 10:16-20 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Discussion Question: How can we be more aware, sensitive, and compassionate to those who are hurting that God has placed in our lives
  This article was originally published in Faith Filled Family Magazine Just this morning I was sitting down to have my quiet time and my phone buzzed with an incoming message.  It was a dear friend who is walking through something very difficult.  My heart just ached for her as I tried to think of ways to help her through this trying time. I’m just little old me and I’m not really sure what I can do to help anyone. Have you ever felt that way?  Have you ever felt like you were too small or too insignificant to make a difference?  Have you ever wondered if the things that you are doing really matter?  Friend, they do. You are a salt shaker.  You are a shining light.  Each and every one of us has the ability to make a difference in this world.  We have each been placed in our particular set of circumstances with our particular group of family and friends because we have the ability to make a difference.  We are called to be salt and light. In the Message version of the Bible, Matthew 5:13-16 puts it very plainly in a way that really hits home.   “Let me tell you why you are here.  You’re here to be salt- seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.  If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness… Here’s another way to put it:  You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.  God is not a secret to be kept.  We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you?  I’m putting you in a light stand.  Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand- shine!  Keep open house; be generous with your lives.  By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” How?  How do we make a difference?  How do we bring out the God-flavors of the earth?  How do we bring out the God-colors in the world?  How do we shine? I’m glad you asked? I’ve got a few fool proof methods that always seems to work for me.  When someone comes to me with a need, I know I can’t rely on myself.  I would probably let them down.  Instead, I do my best to shake a little salt and shine a little light.  Here are three ways I believe we can do that no matter how small or insignificant we feel.   THREE WAYS TO SHAKE A LITTLE SALT AND SHINE A LITTLE LIGHT
  1. Pray
My first response is always to bring any situation or any person before the throne of God and cover them in prayer.  He can do more to help in a situation than I could ever dream of doing.  Prayer moves mountains, friends.  James 5:16 CEB says, “…The prayer of a righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve.” Matthew 18:20 CEB reminds us that “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.” It is powerful.  Don’t ever underestimate the value of praying for someone.
  1. Use Life Giving Words
This life can be a hard one and there is no shortage of trials, but when someone comes along and lifts you up with an encouraging word from the scripture, things seem just a little easier.  There is so much power in our words.  They have the power to hurt or to heal.  They have the power to lighten a load.  They also have the power to point someone to Jesus.  Have you ever been really struggling and someone spoke life right into your weary heart? When I don’t know what to do or what to say, I just use scripture.  I’m notorious for texting or messaging scripture verses that relate to a situation and can give peace and perspective when my own words would fall short.  Hebrews 4:12 CEB says that “God’s word is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword.  It penetrates to the point that it separates the soul from the spirit and the joints from the marrow.  It’s able to judge the heart’s thoughts and intentions.  No creature is hidden from it, but rather everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of the one to whom we have to give an answer.”
  1. Be Real
C.S. Lewis’ quote on friendship is a favorite of mine.  He says, “Friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another, “What!  You too?  I thought no one but myself…”  This world is full of the fake and the edited.  We often only see the very best of a person. People can easily get caught in the trap of comparison.   It can be disheartening to someone who is struggling.  Counteract this.  Be real, open, and honest about your life and your struggles with the people in your life.  Help them to see that they aren’t alone and that they have a true friend in you. These three tips have been tried and true ways that I’ve found to make a difference in the lives of others.  I pray that they are helpful to you!  I hope that you will use them and go forth and shake a little salt and shine a little light! Love and Blessings, Bobbie
Have you ever felt like you didn't quite fit the mold?  Have you ever felt like you didn't fit in?  I had the wonderful opportunity to share at iBelieve.com about how I've felt that way and what I've learned about being a part of the body of Christ. Read more at iBelieve article
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.
2016-04-20 07.21.00.png I'm a work in progress.  God is continually refining me and I'm grateful for that.  I love that He is working on me, pruning me, and helping me to grow.  I don't know about you, but it seems like, for me,  one of the areas that requires the most refinement is parenting.  Being a mom is a  challenging job.  It requires us to be selfless, patient, loving, generous, tender, and all of those other wonderful qualities that seem to go against all that is natural in us.  For me, there has been a learning curve with this.  My boys are 13 and 9.  I was kind of hoping I'd have it all together by now.  I don't.  I love my kids and they know this, but I also make some mistakes parenting.  My kids know this too.  We are on a journey together and they know that we are all growing and learning through the process.  Tonight I learned some things and I thought just maybe someone else might find them meaningful too. These lessons came after a rough start to our bedtime routine.  (Please tell me you've been there and that this doesn't only happen in our home.)  It was going so well, and then, all of a sudden, it wasn't.  Meltdowns ensued.  Consequences and corrective conversations had to happen.  The correction wasn't really very sweetly given and even less sweetly received.  Earlier in the evening, the boys had asked to sleep in my room, but I had taken away that privilege as a consequence of the craziness that we had all just participated in.  Tears were shed.  By the time I had both kids in bed, we were all a little frazzled. I was frustrated and worn, but was trying to bring a little peace back into our night before we all went to sleep.  I asked the boys to sit beside me in Gavin's bed, and I reminded them that today had been a little rough and we needed to all work a little harder at being loving and respectful tomorrow.  I pointed out some of the areas that we struggled with throughout the day and mentioned that we all should try to do a little better tomorrow.  The list wasn't a short one.  It hadn't been our very best day and I wanted to use this as a teaching opportunity so that we could all improve in the areas that were problematic for us.  I wanted to drive this lesson home so that it stuck because I wanted tomorrow to be better for all of us. My tender-hearted and wise-beyond-his-years 9 year old stopped me and said something that has been on my mind ever since.  He looked at me with very sad eyes and said, "Mommy, really, it has been a pretty good day.  There was way more good than bad. Right?" You know what?  He was right. It actually had been a pretty good day.  It wasn't perfect, there was way more good than bad.  However, in my frustration, I was focused on all the bad moments that had happened.  Not only that, I made sure we were all focusing on them.  I was wrapping up a pretty good day together by dwelling on all of our mistakes. Don't we all tend to do that sometimes?  We forget about the day's blessings because we let ourselves be consumed with the frustration of the moment. I am all for looking at the areas we struggle in and finding ways to improve in those areas.  We all need to do that from time to time.  It is an important part of the growth process, but there is also a lot to be said for extending a little grace and mercy sometimes too.  God does that for us so often.  I am afraid that I don't do it nearly as often.  I thought of the verse that I had read earlier that morning in Romans 2:4b that says that God's kindness is meant to lead us to repentance.  Maybe a little kindness sprinkled in with my correction would do more to encourage a repentant heart in my kids than my list of wrong doings.  Hmmmm, God, are you trying to tell me something? I finished tucking in my boys and then jumped into the shower to just physically and literally wash away the day.  Some of my best thinking happens in the shower, and tonight wasn't an exception.  I couldn't get Gavin's words out of my mind.  I was reminded of my tendency to look at the frustrating moments and forget the bigger picture.  I was also reminded of God's mercy and grace, and especially His kindness.  I thought about the times my heart was most often turned toward repentance, and I saw that it was most often due to His kindness.  He doesn't throw my mistakes back in my face and make me confront them over and over again.  When I've asked for forgiveness and owned my failures, He forgets them and loves me like they never happened.  He's way better to me than I deserve.  He is so patient and longsuffering with me. I finished my shower and went back into my kids' rooms.  It was obvious that both boys were having a hard time falling asleep after the emotional evening.  I told the boys what the Holy Spirit had pressed upon my heart.  I told them that most often, when we need God's kindness the most is when we deserve it the least.  We had obviously had a rough night, but what we all needed was a little grace, love, mercy, and some kindness. So, here I sit, typing away.  I've got one boy curled into his sleeping bag on the right side of my bed.  The other is sprawled across the top of his sleeping bag at the foot of my bed.  My heart is full as I reflect on the pretty good day that we had.  We definitely had a few hard moments, but, those few hard moments allowed us all to be reminded of the grace, love, and mercy that is always there waiting for us.  Those moments reminded me of God's continual kindness that draws me to repentance.  Those moments, the words of my sweet boy, and the Holy Spirit,  taught me a lesson tonight that I hope sticks with me for a long while. Love and blessings, Bobbie