Psalm 95:7b-8a “…Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” One thing that I am constantly trying to do is to listen to that still small voice that stirs my Spirit.  I’m trying to be attentive to its’ whispering.  I’m trying to keep a tender heart that is willing to obey. Do you want to hear a “true confession”?  Before I became a Christian, when I heard someone say something about the Holy Spirit, I thought they might be just a tad on the crazy side.  It all sounded a little too far-fetched for me.  Even early in my Christian life, I never fully understood the Holy Spirit because I leaned too heavily into the rules and the law.  They were black and white.  I could understand them easily and they left little room for interpretation.  Honestly, I was a little uncomfortable with the freedom the Spirit gave me.  I didn’t trust myself enough to let go of all of the rules and rely on the Holy Spirit. The longer I’ve been a Christian, the more I’m learning to listen to, to appreciate, to trust, and to obey that still small voice that stirs my soul.  I’ve learned that it isn’t about trusting myself, but about trusting Him.  I’ve also learned that it is very easy to harden my heart because those little promptings of the Spirit nearly always push me outside of my comfort zone. My friend Jodi Snider at www.Overwhlemedwithgrace.com and I always tease that we are going to have t-shirts made that say: “Jesus always got me like 😳" I’m not sure I can even begin to count the number of times that I’ve felt the Holy Spirit asking me to do something that feels a little uncomfortable.  Writing is a good example.  It’s a little bit awkward to just type out your deepest thoughts about what Jesus is laying on your heart and throw it out into the world for anyone to see.  Leading groups, teaching breakout sessions, participating in ministry; they are all things that push me a bit outside of my comfort zone. I’ve learned something, though.  Every time I obey the Spirit’s prompting, I am blessed.  The blessing may not always look like I expect it to, but listening to that still small voice helps me to trust, to press in to Jesus, to rely on Him instead of on myself, and it usually blesses me in an unexpected way. One example of that was this weekend.  I was teaching a breakout session at a women’s conference.  After my second session, I stood in the room as the women filtered out.  I chatted with them as they headed into the last session of the conference.  When the last woman left, I pulled out my phone to quickly check in with my family. After the call, I didn’t put away my phone.  I checked Facebook for a minute or two and then was going to log into Instagram when I heard that still small voice.  “You aren’t here to be on your phone.  You are here to build relationships.  Go out and talk to people.” Honestly, I would have rather just stayed in the quiet room for a few minutes.  I knew very few people at the conference and was content to stay tucked away for a little longer.  That’s not what the Holy Spirit was prompting me to do, though. I put away my phone, grabbed by bag, took a deep breath, and headed out into the main area where everyone was browsing vendor tables, getting snacks, and socializing before the last session.  There were three ladies standing in a group talking and one stopped me to comment on my session.  That comment led into a discussion that lasted long enough that we missed nearly all of the closing session. We had a deep and much needed conversation for both of us.  We prayed together and had a time that really ministered to both of our hearts. I am a relationship person.  Quality time is a love language of mine and connecting with people in a meaningful way fills my heart. I would have missed that opportunity if I would have hardened my heart and been unwilling to get just a little uncomfortable.  I can tell you story after story like this one.  I could share how I met some of my dearest friends by obeying the Spirit’s prompting to reach out or be vulnerable.  I can tell you about time after time that He asked me to get a little uncomfortable and the result was a beautiful, unexpected blessing. Unfortunately, I can also tell you about time after time that I hardened my heart and was unwilling to step outside of my comfort zone.  I wonder how many opportunities have passed by or how many unexpected blessings I’ve missed because I didn’t listen to the Spirit’s prompting. Maybe you can relate?  Maybe you’ve felt your heart stirred or have heard that still small voice, but have been afraid to trust it and obey it?  Maybe getting a little uncomfortable isn’t always easy for you either? Will you join me today in praying for an attentive and tender heart that listens and responds when He speaks?  It’s worth it.  Obeying that still small voice is always so worth it.   Father God, Give me a heart that is attentive to your voice.  Keep my heart tender to the Holy Spirit’s stirrings. Help me to recognize your voice, to listen, and to obey. In Jesus’ name.  Amen   Love and blessings! Bobbie
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.png *This blog post was originally posted at Bronwyn Lea's blog (www.bronlea.com). I had the wonderful opportunity to guest post on her blog yesterday. She's a wonderfully talented and inspirational writer!  You will love her blog! That's Not My Name Posted by Bronwyn Lea Please welcome Bobbie Schaeperkoetter to the blog! Maybe I’ve let myself be defined by the wrong names for long enough. And maybe you have too. Unworthy. Unloveable. Unattractive. Selfish. Spoiled. Out of touch with reality. Irresponsible. Snob. Untalented. Liar. Cheater. Judgmental. Failure. I’ve been called these names and many more. These, and others, are words that I’ve heard spoken about me nearly all of my life. They are words of hurt and pain. They are words that cut deep. They are words that I’ve felt have left a scar on my poor tender heart. Sometimes those words were spoken by others. Sometimes I just felt them because of a person’s attitude of actions. Most often though, the words that have cut me the deepest, are the words that I’ve spoken to myself. The worst names are the ones I gave myself. This isn’t the regular state of my heart, but I have been my own worst enemy at times. I’ve doubted my heart, my worth, my skills, my actions, my looks, my motives, and my talents. I’ve focused on my negative qualities far more than my positives. I have let fear and doubt rule me for so much of my life. I’ve stood in my own way far more than anyone else ever has. I’ve let my past, my failures, my mistakes, and especially my sins define me for far too long. I’ve been a slave to the names. I’ve often felt locked in the prison of these words. I’ve let myself believe them. I have believed that I am unworthy and unloveable. I have believed that I am a cheat and a liar and a failure. And for some reason, I’ve never fought back against those names. Maybe I kept letting myself be defined by those names because a small part of me believed each one of them for one reason or another. Maybe it is because no one knows me like I know myself. No one knows every detail of my past and every struggle that I have walked through or every mistake that I have made. But just maybe, I have listened to the lies that the enemy has whispered into my ear for far too long. Maybe I’ve let myself be defined by the wrong names for long enough. And maybe you have too. This morning, I woke up to a text from a dear friend who is in the middle of a very difficult situation. She is feeling defeated. She is feeling defined by her circumstances and her situation. She is believing the names. She is believing the names that others have called her, but most often, she is believing the names that she has called herself. And my heart broke for her. And it broke a little for myself because I have done the same thing so often. I have so many friends and family members who are in the middle of very difficult situations. Some are there as a result of their own choices but some are just a victim of circumstance. Regardless of how they got to where they are, many of them have one common bond. They’ve let the names they have been called define them. They have believed the lies too. They’ve believed the lies that they are their circumstances or their situation or their mistakes. They’ve believed the lies that they are their sin or their faults or their failures. They’ve believed the lies that they are what other people have said that they are. They have let those names define them just like I have. That is not the case for them, it is not the case for me, and it is not the case for you sweet friend. I am not unworthy, unloveable, unattractive, or untalented. That is not my name. I am fearfully and wonderfully made by a Heavenly Father who specifically designed me for a purpose and with a plan. (Psalm 139:13-14) I am not a cheater, a liar, or a failure. That’s not my name. I am redeemed and forgiven. I am a child of my Heavenly Father and I am loved beyond measure. He has taken my past and nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 1:14, Colossians 2:13-14, John 3:16) I am not selfish, judgmental, out of touch with reality, spoiled, or a snob. That’s not my name. I am learning to walk in newness of life. I’ve laid aside my old self and have been given a new heart. The road may be a little bumpy and I may fail sometimes, but my Father is patient and loving. (Ephesians 4:20-32, Ezekiel 36:26) I am not those names that others have called me. I am not those names that I have called myself. I am not those names that the enemy has whispered in my ear. I am not defined by my past or even my current situation. And neither are you. If we are a follower of Jesus, then those names do not define us. His name does. We are defined by a God who loves us more than we can even begin to fathom. We are named by the one who calls us chosen, loved, redeemed, beautiful, precious, forgiven, and new. Let go of those old names and embrace the name that Jesus has given you! Blessings and Love, Bobbie