Sunday Sheep Ponderings – August 21,2016

#sundaysheepponderings
Pondering today on “keeping it real”.
In this age of social media, we are all letting the world have a glimpse of who we are…or who we want them to think we are. This creates some very interesting dynamics that the psychologist can analyze better than I. What I’m pondering on is this….what is real? Who is the “real” you? Do you even know?
You may start to define yourself with terms; introvert, extrovert, sensitive, stubborn, creative, decisive, serious, carefree, short tempered, patient, grumpy, friendly, etc. Ok, some of these may indeed describe your personality but do they define the real you? I would even offer that in the same day, you can be both serious and carefree or patient and short tempered. Do you see what I’m saying? Words maybe describe your behavior but they don’t define you.
I’m pondering these things because I believe we have a real identity crisis. We’ve let the world, our friends, our parents, our spouse, our kids, our employer, our church, the media, “define” us and we are constantly either trying to live up to that definition or trying to prove them wrong. We are on a constant hamster wheel of performing. 
What if we got real? What if we sorted through all the labels and got down to the truth. What if we threw off the chains of “being a perfect mom”, “being a good wife”, “being a church volunteer”, “being ___________”, you fill in the blank. What if we sifted through all the rocks to find the gold? 
You, my friend, are the gold! You may not believe it, you may not see it, you may not feel it but that’s the REAL you! You are wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God. You are more than this temporal body of flesh and blood. You are full of wisdom, power, and love because He lives in you. You are one with your creator and you can not be separated from him. You, my dear friend, are the gold. It’s ok if you don’t believe it because eventually you will see it. It’s ok if you don’t feel it because eventually you will know it. Wherever you are on the journey to finding the real you…we will all arrive at the same location….LOVED. When you get to the end of striving…you will find rest. Happy Sunday!

Sunday Sheep Pondering – July 31,2016

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Pondering today on transformation. 
For most of my life, I felt like I didn’t measure up. I’m not talking about measuring up to other people or “keeping up with the Jones” kind of stuff. I’m referring to measuring up as a “Christian”. I had heard all of my life that what was important to God was first, “to LOVE the the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul and mind” and second, “to LOVE your neighbor as yourself”. 
Well, I don’t know about you but boy did that cause some shame and frustration for me. 
Let’s start with the first requirement. I “loved” God the best I could. I tried to be a good person, follow the law, go to church, read my Bible, pray. So much effort to try and “love” this God that I could not see. I believed in Him, I was grateful to Him, I worshipped Him, but “love”, that was hard. I begged Him to change me, to make that love that I professed real, to help me to be a “true” Christian and not a hypocrite. 
Now, let’s look at the second requirement. Love my neighbor as myself seemed a little easier. After all, my husband, my kids, my family and close friends, they were my neighbors and I loved them. Then I read this scripture in Luke 6, where Jesus basically says, if you love those that love you…that’s no big deal but if you love your enemies and do things for people who don’t help you back, now that’s a big deal. So once again, I fell short and the shame began all over again. 
You see I could put on a good front but I knew my thoughts, my motives, my failure. 
BUT GOD.
This journey of awakening to who God really is, to who I really am, to who my neighbor really is…it has finally brought me to a place of LOVE. Once I began to unlearn the religious teaching I had been learning for years, once I began to shed years and years of expectations that had been heaped upon me and that I had heaped upon myself, once I began to rest instead of striving …the love just miraculously showed up. Well, truth be told, it had always been there, it was just buried under a bunch of junk. 
Some would call this being “transformed” but I call it being “awakened”. Transformation implies that I was one thing but now I’m another and that is not true. I have always been His masterpiece, His image and likeness, His dwelling place in this physical realm. I have always had His life flowing through my being, just as every created thing does…I just didn’t know it. I thought His presence would come and go and that when I felt spiritual, He was close. 
The good news my friend is that my story is your story. The details may be different and the journey may look different but the truth is the same. Wherever you are on your journey, He is in you. Life can not come from any other source than Him. I pray that you awaken to who you really are, to who He is, that His very life and breath has been breathed in you and that you are SO much more than your thoughts, feelings and actions. I pray that you awaken to LOVE. 
Happy Sunday my dear friends, may it be full of eye opening moments!

Sunday Sheep Pondering – July 24,2016

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Pondering today on seeing our reflection.
I had a dream last night that I had a baby, which at my age, would be more like a nightmare. In my dream, I catch a glimpse of my baby girl in the mirror and what I see takes my breath away. I look into her big blue/green eyes and I see…myself. I see the eyes that have stared back at me in the mirror for 50 years. I see myself in her but I see more than that, I see myself without all the “stuff”, without all the “baggage”, without all the insecurities and false identities I have believed about myself. I see myself in its truest form…beautiful, peaceful and fully loved. It literally touched something so deep in me, something I am just beginning to rediscover, that thing that just knows this is of God. 
So as I ponder and reflect on that image and as I long to go back to sleep so that I can hold that little baby again, an awareness settles into my spirit…this is how my creator sees me and every other human that he created. God sees our truest form, the masterpiece He painted so intentionally, the sculpture he so carefully designed, the vessel in which he has chosen to dwell in. 
I long to see myself as He does. I long to shed every layer of clothing that I have put on myself or that others have put on me. I Iong to be naked and unashamed as I was always designed to be. I am on a journey back to my true self, and while I have not fully arrived there, I am beyond grateful for the shedding of each layer that weighs me down. I rejoice seeing each layer burned up by His fire. God’s fire is not a retributive or punishing fire that destroys and brings death but a purifying fire that restores and brings life.
So, can this pondering go even further? Is there something for you and I to learn that can help us to love better? Of course there is….if we are brave enough to see it.
What if? What if we could see EVERY human as God sees them? What if we could travel back in time and watch as he lovingly designed and formed their being? What if we could watch the story of their life unfold? What if we could watch as every experience, every teaching, every hurt, every piece of heavy clothing is heaped upon them? Could we still hate them? Could we still judge them? Could we still really believe that same creator would send them to hell? 
Those are questions you have to ponder for yourself. I pray that I can see everyone as they were created to be and I pray that I will be filled with compassion and love for ALL humanity…especially those who are weighed down the most. 
Happy Sunday my friends! Love well!

Sunday Sheep Pondering – July 17,2016

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Pondering today on loving your enemies.
It doesn’t take much to look around the world today and see a lot anger, pain, and suffering. It appears that in every country, every society and every culture that division and conflict abounds. This has me pondering… is there an answer to all the troubles of this world?
I hear a lot of well-meaning people say “Jesus is the answer” or “This world just needs Jesus” and while I too have said the same things, it doesn’t seem to be working. 

My pondering has led me to propose a different thought, “we don’t need Jesus, we already have him”. God already entered our world, in time, became flesh, and revealed and destroyed the lies we believe about ourselves. Jesus revealed Christ to us and then blew our minds by revealing that this Christ lives in us. 
So I propose…rather than telling people they need Christ and trying to convert them to your religion, why don’t we try looking to the example of Jesus. Are we jumping on the division bandwagon? Do we see those who inflict these evil acts on humanity as different than us? Do we see ourselves as above them or better than them? They too were created in the image and likeness of God but they don’t yet realize it. I often become overwhelmed with gratitude that I was born in a country, culture, and society where I am free to think for myself. Where information and teachings are freely available so that I can draw my own conclusions and beliefs about anything. But many in the world, especially in the regions that seem to be inflicting so much of this evil, do not have this freedom. For generation after generation after generation, from the time they are born, they are only told one way of thinking and believing. The lies that entangled and held their parents and grandparents hostage are the only way they know. This makes me ask myself the question, if I had been born into that culture, would I be any different than them? 
See I don’t believe Jesus came to make us all “Christians “. I believe Jesus came to destroy the lies that humanity has created and believed. He came to reveal a mystery that had seemed to be hidden, the truth of who we are. So if you believe that Jesus is who he says he is…follow his example…reveal truth! Don’t offer your religion, your set of do’s and dont’s. Don’t offer them your “right” way of thinking and believing. Don’t offer your judgement, condemnation and arrogance. 
Offer what Jesus offered…

Acceptance

Compassion

Understanding

Wisdom

Mercy

Grace

Kindness

Hope

Unconditional love

Unity
OFFER TRUTH that sets people free!
Our goal should not be to “change “people, our goal should be to love people where they are, yes, even our enemies. To enter into relationship with them as equals and in unity. Only then, will lies be exposed for the evil they are and only then will we have the opportunity to offer truth in the posture of humility. After all, isn’t this what Jesus did? 
So the next time I start to bash, vilify or broadly label a human being, instead I hope my heart will be flooded with gratitude that my eyes have been opened to love, knowing full well that “but for the grace of God, go I”. 
Happy Sunday my friends! Love well! 

Sunday Sheep Pondering – July 3,2016

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Pondering this morning on Independence.
This political season has left me scratching my head and thinking “really? This is the best we can do?”
I will start by saying that I have been a life long republican, at first because my parents and grandparents were, but later because I believed in small government, the balance of powers, the wisdom of the constitution and the concept of personal responsibility. 
All that to say, I’m seeing some parallels in my journey of spiritual freedom and my journey of political freedom. I lived for many years on the “us” and “them” bandwagon. My denomination verses yours, my political affiliation verses yours. As the barriers of man made theology have crumbled around me and brought me into a place of spaciousness that is grounded in love rather than performance, so the barriers of strict party affiliation are beginning to crumble as well. Oh, I’m not jumping ship from republican to democrat, after all, I am a math brain and I know that the numbers don’t lie, free stuff isn’t free. Instead, I’ve decided that I am an “INDEPENDENT”, not bound by theology, doctrine, church membership, political party, performing, conforming, belonging, fitting in, measuring up, and all that “us” and “them” stuff. I am a free thinker, an individual, a woman who is wise, thoughtful, intentional and compassionate. After all, look at where all the political division has led us, candidates who are rude, untrustworthy, condescending and narcissistic. By the same token, look where all the church division has led us, congregations who are more focused on numbers, programs, money, buildings and converts. (I know all do not fall into this category πŸ˜€)
So on this INDEPENDENCE DAY WEEKEND, I encourage you to lay down the labels, the clubs, the membership, the categories, the biases, the endoctrinations, the negativity, the divisiveness and be an INDEPENDENT. No more “us” and “them” but a “we”. Let’s treat everyone as we would like to be treated. Let’s respect opinions different than our own. Let’s remember while we are each independent people, we are called above all else to LOVE one another. Let’s stop rejecting differences and start valuing them. We are not robots or “cookie cutter” creations…we are beautifully diverse and unique and yet all united as one in our creator. He sees our individuality and our oneness. Let’s see everyone through His eyes, the eyes of love. Freedom was His idea! The road less traveled is not the road of self righteous morality, the road less traveled is the road of love and acceptance. Which one will you choose? It’s a choice that will make all the difference. 
Happy INDEPENDENCE day my friends! Celebrate, be thankful and love well! πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

Sunday Sheep Pondering – June 19,2016

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Pondering today on Fathers. Throughout scripture God is portrayed as a man. Jesus takes this a step deeper and portrays Him as Father. (God is spirit and is the fullness or male and female attributes in oneness. Pondering for another day) Some of us have kind earthly fathers and some are cruel. Our personal experience and our religious mindsets can have a critical influence on how we perceive God, the Father. Let’s ponder on these perceptions.
Do you see God as the disciplinarian father in heaven, watching to see if you’ve been naughty or nice? Do you see God as the absentee father, far off and distant and separated from you? Do you see God as the practical father, guiding, correcting, rewarding and treating everyone as they deserve? Do you see God as the doting grandpa that you go to when you want something? 
Is God good? Is God mad? Is God pleased? Is God in Heaven? 
My pondering has led to more questions but only one answer. GOD IS LOVE. My earthly experiences and my faulty theological mindsets may have told me otherwise but they are distorted and warped. They are “truth” according to my opinion. 
If a knowledge and acceptance of Jesus is the only way to heaven…do babies go? How about people with mental illness? How about people who have never heard of Him? Would God create a child in its mothers womb knowing that that child would spend eternity in hell? 
WHAT KIND OF FATHER DO YOU BELIEVE HE IS? 
I am speaking from years of believing things about God that didn’t reveal Him as a good father. I believed things about God that made Him out to be worse than the cruelest earthly fathers. I blindly believed because I was taught by the church AND because rather than ask the hard questions, I was a “good little Christian” and played along. 
Again I ask you, WHAT KIND OF FATHER DO YOU BELIEVE HE IS? 
My pondering has led me to this….God is a father that gives LIFE. He sees every person that HE CREATED through the lens of unconditional love. He doesn’t extend grace to us, GRACE is who He is. He doesn’t extend love to us, LOVE is who He is. He doesn’t just forgive us, He forgets. He doesn’t observe us from a place called heaven, He lives IN us. He didn’t make a mistake when He created us, He said His creation was “VERY GOOD”. He is not watching to see if you are naughty or nice, He has declared you redeemed. He isn’t deciding whether to give you something based on your behavior or your prayers, He has “ALREADY given you everything you need for life and godliness”. He is not fickle, moody, angered or pleased by you, He is steadfast love and acceptance. 
So my friends, maybe some pondering of your own is in order. Maybe on this Father’s Day, you may need to dig a grave and bury your perception of God. Maybe it’s time you met your TRUE Father….He’s the best there is and you are one lucky child! 

Sunday Sheep Pondering -May 8, 2016

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Pondering today on some of the things I’ve learned.
If I could go back 25 years and talk to Wendy …what would I tell her? 

She’s is about to give birth to her first child, excited, nervous, organized, and in control …or so she thinks. She thinks she knows it all and her way is the best way.
Fast forward to 5 children, ages 7 and under, a husband that travels often, and she is a perfectionist. She appears to hold it all together beautifully. Her home is pristine, her children all match and are smart and attractive, her husband is an amazing father and she has lost all her baby weight. On top of that, she home schools. Super woman for sure!
But the reality is…she was barely keeping her head above water.
What would I say to her if I could?
I would say…PLAY more! Enjoy the little people God has placed in your care. Realize that playing is not a lesser activity but the greater.
I would say… LISTEN more! There will be plenty of chances to teach and guide but listening is how you learn. You learn what their hopes and dreams are. You learn how they are uniquely created. You learn who they are and not who you want them to be. 

I would say …SEE ALL THE COLORS, not just black and white. The beauty of this life is found in the different colors, the uniqueness of each soul, of each snowflake, of each sunset. That things are rarely as they appear at first glance or should I say, first judgement. Everyone has a story, that story is worth taking the time to read, so don’t judge a book by its cover.
I would say …FREEDOM is way better than control. Control is an illusion and eventually is exposed for the lie it is. Freedom, on the other hand, is a truth that is always there but sometimes takes a long time to see. Choose the way of freedom early…choose it for yourself and freely share it with others. 

I would say …LOVE is the answer. Life is full of questions and for most of my life, I have thought there is a “right” answer and a “wrong” answer. I was firmly convinced that my way was always the right answer. Now I see that the right answer is always the same…love. This was hard for a perfectionist…to realize everything was not always a neat and tidy package, that life was messy and “right and wrong” made little difference to clean up the messy. However, Love transforms the messy into beautiful. 
I would say …LIVE now. Don’t spend your life looking forward or backward. You have one life on this earth and make the most of it. Do what YOU are created to do, be who YOU are created to be and shine how YOU are created to shine. YOU are who He says you are …His work of art. 
Being a mom teaches you more about the unconditionally, fully exposed and wide open love of God than any book, teacher or preacher ever could …and for that, I am beyond grateful.
Happy Mother’s Day my friends! Love well