This is Easter a few years ago with my sisters. Who even knows what I’m laughing at, but these two bring out the laughter in me!

Joy.

If I sit and think about what joy should look like, my mind wanders to those memories that I’ve tucked away where I feel blissfully happy.

Like snapshots, I thumb through them.  I see the places and the people that I love the most.  I see birthday parties and anniversaries and holidays and celebrations and family gatherings.  I see the grins of my boys and the smile of my husband.  I hear the laughter of my family.

A smile spreads across my face as I recall those moments, but a twinge of sadness shadows them because all they are now is just that.  Moments.  I’ve tucked them away and can turn to them for a smile and the warm, fuzzy feelings that they bring, but the experience of them is in the past.

Memories.  Moments.  Fleeting.  Temporary.

That’s when truth glimmers and hope pushes in.  I’m reminded of what I’ve come to know to be true.  Those feelings aren’t joy.  They are happiness.

The two are different.

 

Those feelings aren’t joy.  They are happiness.  The two are different.

 

What’s the difference?

I’m glad you asked.

Webster says that happiness is:  a : a state of well-being and contentment b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience.

A state.  An experience.

Joy is defined differently.  Webster gives one of the definitions for joy as : a source or cause of delight.

Joy is a source.  Joy is a cause.

 

That is what I was to dig into this month.

Joy. 

Joy that lasts.

Joy that endures in hard seasons, in sadness, in trials, and in struggles.

Joy that is present in good times and in bad, in plenty and in want.

 

But how is that even possible?  How in the world can we have that kind of joy?

We can have that kind of real, deep, soul penetrating, enduring  joy because Joy is a source.  Joy is a cause. And we know what the source and cause of joy is!

Habakkuk 3:18 NIV reminds us of the source and cause of our joy, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:18 NIV

 

 

Let’s dig in to how this kind of joy looks in our everyday lives.  Let’s see how knowing that this kind of joy is available to us changes everything, because we all want happiness in our lives, but what we really need is JOY.

 

We all want happiness in our lives, but what we really need is JOY.

I’m excited to really dig into the theme of joy this month!  I hope you’ll join me over on Facebook, on Instagram, on You Tube,  and here on the blog!

Need some resources to help you dig into joy?  Subscribe to my newsletter HERE!  I’m going to be sending out some things that may help!

 

My friend, Lauren Gaskill will be joining me as well!  You’re going to love her!  You can get to know here HERE.

This month, let’s really explore how to Honor Him through JOY, even in the Craziness of our lives!

 

Love and blessings,

Bobbie

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mini blog:
Lessons about Faith that I’ve learned from Rosie: Back to his Feet
* Rosie is about the orneriest little sweet thing ever. She’s a handful and doesn’t know her manners or the rules very well, but she’s learning. Mostly. She’s a boundary tester. A natural wanderer. We have that in common.
*One thing that Rosie does know is right where I am. All of the time. If I’m in the bathroom, her furry little paws are stretched under the crack of the door. When I’m in the shower, her little black nose is pressed right against the glass. If I stand still for longer than a second, she curls herself up into a little ball and lays right at (or actually, ON) my feet.
*She’s never far from my side. Even though she gets herself into all sorts of situations when she wanders, she knows that the best place for her to be is right at my feet. It’s the one place that she isn’t getting herself into trouble. It’s a place of peace, safety, and love.
*That is a lesson I’d do well to remember sometimes. Wandering is problematic for me. For all of us. When we wander we often find ourselves getting into trouble, but when we plant ourselves right at the feet of our Father there is peace, safety, and love.

Did you know that I post daily inspiration just like this over on my Instagram and Facebook page?  I’d love for you to join me there each day to take some time and honor Him in the craziness of our daily lives.

 

 


I don’t know about you, but I am so glad that I am no longer who I once was.  I was recently reminded of this as I waited to board my flight at the airport.  I walked away from my husband in search of a piping hot cup of coffee and returned to find him chatting with a man at our gate.

The man was an old high school acquaintance of ours.  I recognized him immediately even though it has been more years than I care to admit since we all went to high school together.  He looked exactly the same.

It took him a little longer to recognize me.  The years have definitely changed me.  I don’t look much like I did in high school.  I’ve lost the pony tail, bangs, and cheerleading uniform that were so familiar back then.  My hair is cut short now and, thankfully, I don’t have to wear that cheerleading skirt anymore.

After a brief time to catch up, we parted ways to catch our flight.  As the plane took off, so did my thoughts.  I began to think about just how different I am from that girl that I was in high school.

The difference is actually pretty shocking.  The biggest changes, though, are probably not ones that my old high school acquaintance could even see during that short encounter.  Sure, my appearance has changed, but greater still is the change that has happened in my heart.  It is unrecognizably different.

I’m reminded of Colossians 3:9-10 ESV that says …”seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”

The next verses in Colossians say that after we’ve put off the old self, there are some things that we need to put on.  Colossians 3:12-17 ESV tells us that our new self wears the knowledge that he/she is holy and beloved.  The new self that we put on when Christ moves into our hearts changes us.  We become compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, forgiving, loving, peace filled, and thankful.  Verse 17 says that whatever we do in word or in deed we do in the name of the Lord Jesus.

I’m glad that my old self has been put off.  She wasn’t always kind, humble, meek, patient, or forgiving.  She definitely didn’t have the love and peace of Christ in her heart because she didn’t even understand who He was.   That is the way we are before Christ intervenes.

That moment we accepted Christ the old self died and the new self, with a new heart, was born.  Everything about us is changed in that instant that we believe in Jesus as our Savior.

That doesn’t mean that our new self is perfect.  I’m going to be honest.  I don’t look like that high school cheerleader anymore, but I don’t look exactly like that person described in those verses from Colossians either.  Like most of us, I am learning to intentionally put on the new self each and every day that bears the image of my Savior.  Every day I look more and more like Him as I learn to love, follow, and obey Him.  He is constantly at work in me and He is constantly at work in you.

This side of Heaven, none of us will be perfect.  But, we do have the promise of Philippians 1:6ESV that says that he who began a good work in us will bring it to completion.  As we continue to grow in Him, we will continue to look less and less like the old selves that we used to be.

Honestly, I hardly recognize the girl that I use to be.  That is because I have been changed from the inside out.  I am a new person with a new heart.  I may not look like a cheerleader anymore, but I look a whole lot more like my Savior and I think that’s definitely progress in the right direction.

*This article is featured in the June issue of Faith Filled Family Magazine as

Out With The Old Man In With The New Creation

You can read the article or see the whole magazine here:

https://indd.adobe.com/view/befd5796-7daf-48ba-9a0e-2acdb904229e


“Reaching my hand into the dark soil, I could feel that the roots had gotten deep. I had to put my weight into the pull to unearth something I had spent weeks tending. I felt a little discouraged; I’d invested my time and attention into something that had proved to be working against the growth I was seeking the whole time. I also felt a little frustrated that I’d been so easily deceived.”

God is constantly teaching me valuable lessons through everyday life experiences.  I had the opportunity to share a particularly powerful lesson that I learned recently at iBelieve.com about recognizing spiritual weeds in my life.

Pulling out that weed and the others like it that day in my garden caused a slew of thoughts to start circulating around my mind. As Christians, how many weeds have taken root in our lives? How many things have we poured our time and attention into that are choking out the Spiritual fruit we are trying to grow? How can we tell the difference between a weed and fruit when it is so easy to mistake one for the other? Am I watering weeds?

Do you want to know how to recognize spiritual weeds in your life?

Join me over at iBelieve.com by clicking the link below to read the full article!

http://www.ibelieve.com/faith/how-to-recognize-spiritual-weeds-in-your-life.html

Love and blessings,

Bobbie


If you don’t already know her, I am so excited to have the opportunity to introduce you to my sweet friend, Katie M. Reid.  She is someone you will want to get familiar with.  Her encouraging words and practical teachings have quickly become a favorite of mine!

She has become a very dear friend and someone that I just love talking to because her heart for God and for people is just impossible to overlook!

Today, in her guest post, she is sharing how we, as Christians, can have hope even in the hard days.  I know that you are going to love her and her words as much as I do!

Hope for the Hard Days

By: Katie M. Reid

 

Where do you turn in times of trouble? How do you excavate hope in the midst of sinking sand? When the earth seems to give way to fear, how do you find the strength to stand?

 

Besides eating copious amounts of ice cream, hiding under layers of covers, or putting our heads in the sand—how do we uncover light to pierce the darkness?

 

How do we adopt hope in uncertain times, when the world seems to be spinning out of control?

 

Through Jesus, by faith, we hope.

 

My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.*

 

 Jesus.

 

The Son of God—fully man, fully God—came to bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the restless, and peace to the chaos by bringing salvation to the sinner.

 

Faith.

 

Faith is not a weakness, band-aid, or fluffy ideology. It’s hope with skin on—skin and bones that came to walk the planet** so that we wouldn’t be suffocated by dread or buried in darkness.

 

When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.*

 

Hope.

 

Hope is the assurance that comes from knowing that even if it gets darker, Jesus has already overcome that which threatens to take us under. We rise. We stand. We follow the lead of the One who sits on the throne.

 

Our faith isn’t flawed, fake, or fandangled.

 

It is the lifeline that is thrown when we are in quicksand. It is the anchor that holds us steady in the midst of wind and waves. It is the breath in our lungs, the song on our hearts, the comfort that upholds us.

 

His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.*

 

Where do we find hope? Upon the Rock.

 

Isaiah 44:6-8 The Voice (VOICE)

 

6 The Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies,

King of Israel, who paid their ransom, has this to say:

 

Eternal One: I am at the beginning and will be at the end.

There is no God except for Me.

7     If you know any God like Me, tell it now.

Declare and demonstrate any who can compare to Me.

Or if you know and have announced events before their time,

told what is to come, then speak so now.

8     Don’t be afraid. Let your minds be clear of fear.

Haven’t I announced events and revealed what is to come?

From the earliest days, I have done so. You know it—you have seen and know.

So, go ahead, My witnesses: is there a god out there other than Me?

Witnesses: There is no other rock like God. I don’t know a single one.

 

These are not fighting words, these are cool cup of water words. These are not burning coal sentiments, they are a roaring blaze for those groping in darkness. These are not weak words, these are words to bolster and provide balm for the hurting. These are not words of judgment, they are words of life, of grace, of freedom.

 

The world cries out. The people mourn.

 

O God, may You excavate hope in the midst of sinking sand. Like you called Lazarus from the grave, may You call forth Your church to rise from the ashes and come forth, as gold. Like You were raised from the dead, may we witness the resurrection of Hope.

 

You don’t change. You don’t leave. You don’t abandon us. You don’t lack. You Are. You remain. You dwell within. You are enough.

 

Jesus, we desperately need You, every moment—good and bad. Forgive us for turning against one another. Forgive us for misplacing our hope. Forgive us for throwing stones and bypassing grace. Forgive us for being wise in our own eyes and misrepresenting you to a hurting world.

 

God, we need You. Set us straight with Your Word. Purify our lips with Your Truth. Deliver us from apathy, prejudice, and complacency. Return our hearts to Yours.

 

Restore our unity with You and one another. Heal our land. We have dirtied ourselves with blood, pride, and idol worship.

 

Lord, help us! We have turned our back and we feel the harsh reality that comes from distancing ourselves from You. Help us remember Who You are. You are Love. You are Peace. You are Holy. You are Just. You are Perfect. You are able to do anything!

 

We take a moment and bow before You Jesus.

 

We stop.

 

We turn back to You and we find hope.

 

It might just be a glimmer at first, but as we return, like the Prodigal, the light of Home becomes brighter as the Father’s arms open wider and we find Grace in the eyes of the One who calls us His own.

 

When He shall come with trumpet sound, oh may I then in Him be found. Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.*

 

Now, let’s go forward…through Jesus, by faith, with hope!

 

*”On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” hymn by Edward Mote.

 

**I heard this phrase “Jesus put skin and bones on and came to the planet” on an album of Judah Smith’s messages.

 


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


I need to tell you about my sweet friend Katie Reid. I haven’t actually met Katie in real life yet, but we are social media besties.

She reached out to me a couple of months ago on voxer and we chat All The Time.  She truly is a gift and has been such an awesome encourager, a listening ear, and a sounding board for all of my dreams and plans.

Not only is she an amazing friend, she’s an inspiring writer, a talented worship leader, and singer, as well as a hard working mama!

I had the privilege of guest posting on Katie’s blog today.  I was able to share what grace looks like to me and how I’m learning to recognize and even seek out grace in the everyday.

I’d love it if you would pop on over to her blog and see how you can see grace in the everyday moments of your life.  While you are there, say hello and browse her blog.  I know she will be an encouragement to you!



Sometimes doing wrong isn’t deliberate. Sometimes it is simply the lack of focus on doing right. At least that is usually the case for me. I don’t know about you, but I don’t often set out to make a slew of bad choices, but occasionally (or often, depending on the week) I find myself in a place where I am standing, dumbstruck, wondering how I ended up in the situation that I am in. Does this just happen to me?
I think it is safe to say that it probably doesn’t. I found the explanation for it this morning in my Bible reading in 2 Chronicles and it hit me like a ton of bricks. 2 Chronicles 12:14 ESV says, “And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.”
This verse is talking about Rehoboam, King of Judah, but it might as well have had my name in the text. Maybe yours could have fit there too? I think this is a truth that applies to all of us because we don’t typically end up in a mess because we plan to. We usually end up in our messes because we forgot to seek God in certain situations and followed our own way instead. We didn’t set our heart and our focus on staying on the right track so before we knew it, we were on the wrong one.
Man that sounds super familiar! I can tell that I have gotten on the wrong in a few areas in my life lately. It reminds me of what I’m always saying to my boys. When they get a little out of control and are headed toward bad choices, I’m known to say, “Rein it in, boys!” They know that means to check their behavior. I can feel God telling me to “Rein it in, girl!” in a few areas in my life.
1. Being Content
Way too often, I just forget to be content with what I have. Everything that I have, everything that I am, and everything that I do is a gift from God. It is evidence of his grace poured out in abundance in my life. In turn, I should be grateful for all he has given me. Instead, I’ve continued to strive for more instead of being content.
I add more to my schedule. I add more to my closet. I add more into our budget. I add more into our lives and I often do it without even stopping for a second to consider God at all in those decisions.
Here is a very embarrassing example. I felt like I really needed to declutter, simplify, and cut out the excess. The place I decided to start was in my closet. I love to shop. Like, I really love it. It is usually at thrift stores because I love a great bargain, but it has gotten a little out of control. My closet was prime evidence of that. I’m not even going to shame myself by admitting how much has amassed in my closet.      That isn’t good stewardship. It is excessive and wasteful and selfish. I need to reign in my desire for more and learn to be content with all that God has already blessed me with.
I’ve really felt convicted this year to focus on the amazing grace that God has lavished on me in every situation and circumstance. If I’m focused on his gift of grace then being content and being thankful comes as a natural result of that. It has really helped me to see that I have all I need.
2. My Words and Attitude
Here is another not so flattering truth I’m seeing about myself these days. I am not sweet and loving and kind by nature. I’m just not. I know this about myself. I tend to be a little sarcastic and snarky. I’ve always just kind of chalked that up to my personality. I’m not mean and I am usually pretty funny, so it all balances out, right?
I’m not so sure. God’s grace is so evident by the amazing people that he has lovingly put in my life. I’ve been feeling very convicted for my words and attitude to match my gratitude. I want to show just how blessed I feel to have these wonderful people in my world. I’m a work in progress. We all are, but I truly desire to do a better job of building up, encouraging, and loving. I want my words and attitude to reflect a heart overflowing with thanks for these gifts of grace.
3. My Time
Oh man. At the risk of sounding like a total slacker, I will share this last area that I want to rein in. I’m turning into a recluse. I could easily stay in my house, in my pajamas, on the couch, with a good book for days. I don’t do that. Much. But I could. Very easily.
I really enjoy being at home and homeschooling my boys, but without a real effort on staying involved with people and with the work God has called me to, I could very easily just keep my focus on what is right in front of me in my own home.
I know in my heart of hearts that isn’t what God wants for me. I firmly believe He has called me into relationships, into community, and into works that He has chosen specifically for me at this time. My time isn’t mine to hoard and use in whatever way pleases me the most. It is a resource and a tool to do the work God has called me to and I want to be a better steward of the time God has blessed me with.
Getting off track in these areas wasn’t deliberate. It was simply a lack of focus on seeking God and doing the right thing. I took my eyes off of God and put them on my own ways for a while and before I knew it, I felt God saying, “Rein it in, girl!” 2 Chronicles 12:14 was like a palm to the forehead. What a call to refocus and put God back at the front and center!  What a gift of grace that He allows us to see our messes for what they are and gives us opportunities to change them!
Are there any areas where you feel God asking you to rein it in and put your focus back on him? I’d love to hear from you!
Love and blessings,
Bobbie


 

Honestly, I’ve never really paid much mind to the weeks of Advent.  I knew that in the liturgical calendar they celebrate the coming of Christmas, but aside from that and the recognition of The weeks of Advent at church, I haven’t really given Advent much attention.  Maybe you’re the same way?

That’s something that I’m changing this year.  It’s so very easy to get caught up in the festive holiday spirit and put all of my focus into gifts, meals, parties, and family celebrations.  Those things are all wonderful things, however, if they are all that I’m focused on in the weeks leading up to Christmas, then I’ve missed the whole point!

This year I am choosing to use the celebration of Advent as a time to focus on God’s word, prayer, and a real celebration of the reason for the season – the birth of Jesus Christ.  I hope that you will join me.  Together we can really get to the heart of Christmas and truly appreciate the gift of our Lord and Savior.

I had the wonderful privilege to write four Advent prayers for iBelieve.com.  There is one prayer per week with scripture reflections to dive into throughout that week.  I will be posting the prayers each week, and my hope is that you will choose to follow along with me.

Let’s not miss it this year.  Pray along with me.  Dig into the scripture with me.  Click the image above or copy and paste the link to your browser and let’s get to the heart of Christmas together!

http://www.ibelieve.com/faith/advent-prayers-week-one-the-hope-of-advent.html

Love and blessings,

Bobbie

 

 


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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


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I think something that I just absolutely LOVE about our Father is that he never ever gives up on us.  Even when we deserve nothing but his judgement and anger, he offers us forgiveness, restoration, and matchless grace, mercy, and love.

I’m currently doing a Facebook Group where we are focused on committing to 31 Days of Change.  We are reading and praying God’s word every day this month.  I am just loving all that we are learning and the community that we are building.  (You can learn a little more about that at this link:)

Change Is In The Air: 31 Days Of Change

I had something different written to post today, but during my quiet time in prayer and Bible study this morning, I felt led to share this instead.  Maybe you need this reminder of God’s desire to draw you back to him.  He’s ways seeking your restoration.

Here is today’s FB post for the group

31 Days of Change:  Praying and Reading God’s Word

Prayer:

Father, God
You are a mighty redeemer. So often I’ve chosen my own way and my own path. I’ve sought after my own heart and not yours, yet you always offer me the chance to turn back to you. You are so good, so merciful, so forgiving, and so loving God. You are always seeking my redemption and restoration. You never give up on your children.
Father, I want to choose you. I want to seek your heart the way you diligently and relentlessly seek mine. Help me not to turn aside after empty things that will not and can not profit or deliver. God, you are what fills me and gives me purpose. Turn my heart fully towards you.
Help me to stand still and trust in you.
Quiet my spirit when it’s turbulent and give me the peace to know that you are doing great things even if I can’t see them.
I know you will not forsake me, Lord. You are sure, strong, and steadfast. Help me to seek you in prayer and through your word. Instruct me in the good and right way. Help me to love you, serve you, and follow after you with all that I am.
God, you’ve been so good to me. Thank you for your love. Thank you for never giving up on your children. Thank you that you seek to restore me and draw me close.
In the name of Jesus, I pray.
Amen

God’s Word:
1 Samuel 12:14-16, 20-24

If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well. But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king. Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.

Discussion Question:
These verses were written in the Old Testament to the Israelites when they rebelled against God and looked for a King, yet he still offered reconciliation, redemption, forgiveness, and blessing.
Have you seen God’s faithfulness in your life when you’ve rebelled, yet he was still faithful to offer you a chance to come back to Him and be fully restored?

Love and blessings,

Bobbie


Does your life ever feel a little bit small? It’s a good life and your grateful, it’s just not quite what you expected. In general, you are happy. Life is just a little less glamorous and a little more ordinary than you thought it would be. You know you felt the Holy Spirit’s insistent tugging on your heart. You knew that God was calling you to rise up and step into something, but you just weren’t sure what it was. You knew one thing for certain though, it felt BIG. Now you look at where you are, and you wonder...Is this all I will ever be?

 

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


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There are days that seem really long and my patience is running really short.  My attitude isn’t right and I just don’t feel like being in a good mood.  Things quickly turn ugly and I find myself in far different situations than I had originally hoped to be in when I planned my day.

We all have those days, right?

That is when we need a do over.  We need to be able to hit the restart button and just have a new beginning.  I found myself in that place, that place of just really needing a do over, a couple of times this week.

I needed a do over with my husband.  We had been planning a date night all week and I was so excited for the opportunity to get away and spend some time together.  All was well as we were preparing to head out the door, until he said something that just rubbed me the wrong way.  It wasn’t intended to be hurtful, and truth be told, I was being far too sensitive and getting upset over nothing.  It didn’t feel like nothing at the time though, and I was mad.

My husband is pretty amazing at reminding me that we shouldn’t get upset over little things and apologizing and moving on.  I’m not.  I tend to stew.  So I did what any mature Christian woman would do when he suggested we just start the evening over.  I pouted and sat there with my arms crossed over my chest as we drove to dinner.

Gently, my husband said, “I don’t want this to ruin our time together.  I’m trying to save our evening and let this all go, but it doesn’t seem like you are.”  He was right.  Our evening needed a fresh start.

I took a deep breath and reached for his hand, and took the opportunity to claim a do over.

Something similar happened with my kids this week.  A late night last night meant tired and grumpy boys this morning.  I had planned a fun day for the three of us to take advantage of these last few days of summer vacation.  However, the kids kept arguing and complaining and whining.  The morning wasn’t going well for any of us.  A big part of me wanted to just scrap the hole day and send them to their rooms to go back to bed.

Instead, I thought about what my husband said last night.

Maybe instead of just continuing down the wrong path, we could just hit the restart button on our day.  We could all take a do over.

I called the boys in and sat them down and shared this all with them.  I told them that one of the things that I love most about their daddy, and one of the things I love most about Jesus, is that they both offer the opportunities for do overs when we need them.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says that his love and compassion are new every morning.  Ephesians 2:4-5 reminds us that God is rich in mercy because of His great love.

Another great verse is 1 John 1:8 that tells us that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.

Do you see that?

He just asks us to confess and repent and all is forgiven.

It is an opportunity for a do-over.

My kids had already come to me and apologized.  They knew what they had done wrong and we had discussed it.  I took a deep breath and looked into their discouraged faces.

And I gave them a do over.

Just like Jesus has done for me COUNTLESS times before. 

Just like he does for me every time I mess up.

No matter where you are or what kind of sin is in your life, there is always an opportunity for a do over.  There is always a chance at a fresh start.  You can never be too far gone that you can’t come to Jesus with a heart of repentance and confess and ask for a clean slate.

We can, and should, do it with the big things in life as well as the little day to day things.  If you need a do over today, just ask.  He is faithful and just to forgive and his mercies are new every morning.

Love and blessings,

Bobbie


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To the Woman Who Feels Alone,

On the outside things looks just fine.  No one knows the hurt that is constantly bubbling just under the surface.  No one understands just how hard you have to work to keep it hidden.  Your smile is firmly in place but your eyes show a tenderness that I recognize.

I see how you keep your friendships superficial so that people can’t get too close.  People seem safer at an arms’ reach, but I remember the loneliness that kind of distance creates.  It feels like it should be freeing to not have anyone really know you, but after a while the solitude begins to feel suffocating.

Maybe your business or your marriage or your dreams have failed.  Maybe you have some shameful secret that seems to be consuming you.  Maybe you are just desperately insecure and fearful.  Maybe you’ve been hurt one too many times in the past.  It could be a multitude of maybes.

Whatever the reason, you have been hiding behind a mask and it is wearing you out.

The loneliness and the hiding is exhausting.

It is time to shake off the shackles.  Don’t let them weigh you down anymore.  Shame and guilt have no power over you.  Insecurity and fear cannot hold you down.  You were not meant to carry that weight.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Romans 8:1 “So now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

No Condemnation.  None.

If you are a sinner saved by His boundless and abundant grace, you are no longer a slave to all of those old things that use to weigh so heavily of you.  You have complete freedom to live a life released from sin’s bondage. 

Come out of hiding. 

Live in the light.

1 John 1:7-9 CEB tells us “But if we live in the light in the same way as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin.  If we claim, “We don’t have any sin,” we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.”

It sounds like it’s too simple to be true, but dear woman who feels alone, it isn’t.

 It really is that easy.

 And it is less lonely than you think because the Bible says we’ve all missed the mark and fallen short.  Every one of us.

Matthew 11:28-30 CEB says “Come to me all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Put on my yoke and learn from me.  I’m gentle and humble.  And you will find rest for yourselves.  My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.”

Easy. 

Light.

Doesn’t that sound so refreshing?

If you haven’t ever trusted Him as your Savior, what is holding you back?  What do you have to lose by letting go of it all and trusting in a God who loves you enough to give His Son as payment for your sin so that you could walk in Freedom?

Galatians 5:1 says that Christ has set us free for freedom. Therefore, we are able to stand firm.  We don’t have to submit to the bondage of slavery again.

Think about it for a moment. 

Wouldn’t it feel so good to walk in the light?  Wouldn’t it feel so good to stop struggling beneath the weight of it all.  It would feel so freeing to hand your burdens and struggles and sin and shame and pain to the only one who can help you bear it. 

Christian woman who feels alone, release it.  Claim your name.  You are Redeemed.

Lonely woman who doesn’t know Jesus, meet him.  He is the game changer.

I see you, woman who feels alone. 

Because I’ve been you. 

But now, I’m learning to choose freedom.

Love and blessings,

Bobbie

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Life is full of trials, stuggles, and stress.  It’s so easy to get bound up in all of the things that are out of our control and to just anxiously toil and struggle our way through.

This morning, while reading in Exodus, I was reminded, yet again, that isn’t God’s plan for His beloved children.  He has a better way for us.  He calls us to trust in His plan, to rest in His provision, and to believe that He is working on our behalf.

I know not everyone is as in love with the Old Testament as I am, but, trust me people, it is so full of applicable truth and encouragement!  Stick with me for a minute and listen to this example.

My reading this morning was centered around the time when the Hebrews were fleeing from Egypt under the leadership of Moses.  It must have been chaotic.  The people left in a hurry without much time to prepare.  It also must have been terrifying to leave all that they had ever known for an unknown wilderness.  In the midst of all of that, their enemies, the Egyptians, were in hot pursuit of them.  Fear and doubt were running high!

Have you been there?  Maybe you’ve not been feeling from your enemies into the wilderness, but I’d be willing to bet that you’ve experienced fear and doubt.  I would guess that you’ve felt like you were struggling looking for answers.  I’m sure you’ve looked into the unknown and wondered how on earth God could have led you to the place you found yourself and how in the world you could safely make it through the trials you were facing.

The Hebrews sure felt that way and they let Moses know about it.  Yet, right there, in the middle of the chaos, God gave Moses a simple command for the people.  It’s one that’s just as applicable to us today.  He said, “Fear not.  Stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today…The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

That’s about as simple as you can get, yet it’s one of the most difficult things to do.  It must have been so hard to trust God and walk across that sea, but as always, God came through.  He stood between the people and their enemies.  He provided an escape.  He crushed their enemies.  He kept his promise and fought for them.  All they were required to do was to trust Him and obey His command.

Lord, help us to be able to do the same.  Help us to be able to claim that promise in the middle of seasons of chaos, fear, and doubt. Calm our hearts.  Help us to cast out cares at your feet.  Remind us to not be fearful but to stand firm because we know that you fight for us.  Give us the wisdom to not anxiously toil and struggle, but to be silent and trust in you.

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


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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

 

 


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Have you ever been in a funk that you just couldn’t seem to get out of?  I’ve spent the last several weeks in a fog that just hasn’t seemed to want to lift.  I’ve had some little health stuff going on and had to have a couple of little medical procedures done.  There are a few more little procedures on the horizon as well.  This has all left me feeling just plain worn out physically, but it has all left me feeling emotionally spent as well.

Have you been there?  Maybe it wasn’t a health related issue.  Maybe it was a relationship issue, a work issue, or just circumstances in your life that had you in that funk.  Whatever it is that put you there, Funkytown is really not a great place to visit and it’s even worse to settle in and dwell there a while.

And that’s what I was doing.  I was dwelling.

I was totally content to just sit in that foggy, hazy Funkytown and dwell there.

Last week I started to realize just what I was doing.  I started to realize that I had set up shop in Funkytown and gotten pretty comfortable there.  (Really folks, it shouldn’t have taken me so long to see the error in my ways.  A couple of weeks in, I went 8 days without putting on real clothes or leaving my house.  Which felt glorious at the time, but, looking back, might have been a tad much.  Not to mention that I binge watched a ridiculous amount of Netflix.  Which also felt glorious at the time, but wasn’t even remotely productive and kept me from doing the things I should have been doing.)

I knew I needed to pack it up and leave Funkytown, but it was just so comfortable there.  So, I did the only thing I knew to do to make a change.  I went back to God’s word and prayer because they are the things that have always brought me stability, strength, conviction, and  encouragement. I moved off the couch and back into my regular Bible study and prayer time (which had been mostly set aside for Netflix and naps).

And in his usual, glorious way, when I started moving back towards Jesus, there he was, just waiting for me.  Arms open.  Ready to draw me closer.

This morning, while I was reading my Bible, I came across something beautiful.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells three parables about someone being separated from something and diligently seeking it until it is found and restored to its’ rightful place.  He tells of a shepherd who lost one sheep out of a flock of one hundred, yet the shepherd left the others and went after the lost sheep to bring it back into the fold.  Next he tells of a woman who lost a silver coin and turns her house upside down to find it and add it back into her purse.  Then he tells the story of the prodigal son who left his father and lived a wild lifestyle, only to be brought low and return to the father seeking mercy.  The father lovingly welcomes the son back and restores him to a place of honor.

And God’s word remind us that He does that for us.

Separation.  Seeking.  Restoration.  It is kind of His thing.

I know these parables speak of Jesus seeking the lost, but today when I read these they had new applications for me.  Today they reminded me that no matter how discouraged I feel, or how deep into a funk I am, I’m never far from Jesus’ love.  When I feel discouraged and distant, he is right there seeking my heart and waiting for my return.  He diligently longs for me and doesn’t want me to be separated from him.  Just like the wandering sheep, the lost coin, and the wayward son, when I am separated from him, he is seeking me and wants my restoration.

So, today those parables have a new meaning because today the fog is rolling away a little and I’m leaving Funkytown behind.    (Not that I’m giving up naps and Netflix, people.  That would just be plain silly.  I will how ever be enjoying them in much greater moderation than I have been over the last several weeks. )  If you need me, you can find me back at the feet of Jesus.

Love and blessings,

Bobbie


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*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


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I’m a home school mama. (Yes, that’s me in all my yoga panted, head banded, hoodied glory on a typical day.)   I have two sweet, wild, chaotic boys that I am beyond blessed to spend my days with.  Every Day. I love it.  Really, I do.   But, can I be honest, just like any other job, sometimes it is HARD WORK!

These boys refine me and test me and try me.  They challenge me and make me a better person, a better mom, and a better Child of God.  They question me… about EVERYTHING… and make me really think about things.  They stretch my patience to the limits.  They make me laugh and sometimes they even make me cry, because being a mama is a tough job!

Can I be honest again?  Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing it right and if it’s worth all the effort.  I know I fail a lot.  I know I get a lot right too.  I hope that the scales balance and that these boys get the best I have to offer more often than not.  These challenging and amazing fellas have been trusted to me by my Father and I desperately want to do right by them and by Him, so I just keep pressing on and praying hard and leaning on God for my strength.

But did I mention that it is hard work?

Things that matter typically are hard work!  Things that are meaningful take a lot of effort. They are difficult because they are shaping us, growing us, and challenging us to be and do better.  They require us to lean into Him for encouragement, support, and help.  I think that is kind of the point.

Do you know what I just love though?

When things get tough and I get weary and begin to question myself,  it is just like my loving Father to send me a little “hang in there girl, you’re on the right track” message.  He did that this morning.  (He does it a lot, but sometimes I’m too caught up in the craziness to notice.)

I was sitting at my usual morning spot, reading my Bible and writing out a verse in my journal that spoke to me, Zechariah 13:9 ironically enough, when my sweet 9 year old walked in with his Bible and sat down beside me and began reading from his.  He didn’t interrupt me.  I got a quick smile from this dimpled cheeked, bed headed cutie and he opened God’s word and dove in.  It was just what I needed this morning to give me that boost to keep on keeping on!

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Zechariah 13:9 “And I will put this third into the fire,and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested.  They will call upon my name, and I will answer them.  I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

So today, whatever it is that you are pushing through, whatever work God has called you to be faithful to; I just wanted to give you a little encouragement.  It can be tough.  It can make you weary and you may question yourself.  It is hard work and it is suppose to be.

Hang in there.  You’re on the right track.  Keep your eyes open for little messages of encouragement from God.  Keep on keeping on because he is refining you, growing you, stretching you, shaping you, and teaching you to lean into Him.

Love and blessings,

Bobbie

 


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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

 


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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