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.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