Sunday Sheep Ponderings- November 27,2016

Pondering today on “walking in someone else’s shoes”.
With all the election drama that has transpired over the last few months and with all the extended family togetherness the holidays bring, I find myself wondering. 
I wonder why some people see things as black while others see them as white? I wonder why some people rejoice while others are so downcast? I wonder why some people are so passionate while others are so passive? Why do some see the glass half empty while others see it half full?
So I ponder. What is it like to walk in their shoes? What joys and hurts have shaped the way they see life? What victories and defeats created their insecurities? What cultural practice or religious lense do they see life through? 
In general, many of us are quick to judge others. 

We jump to conclusions and try to read a book by its cover. We attach broad, generic labels to people who are intricately unique and valuable.
But people are worth the benefit of the doubt. They deserve 2nd and 3rd and 4th chances. We are all making our way through this journey called life. Some of our journeys look like a stroll in the park, some look like a marathon run, some a roller coaster ride and some seem to be climbing Mt. Everest and feel like they will never make it to the top. No two journeys are alike and it’s for this very reason that we should be “quick to listen and slow to speak”. We should take the time to read the book and discover the whole story.
What if…we took our shoes off and tried someone else’s on for a few steps? What if…we took a detour and walked beside someone else for a bit? What if we saw what they’ve seen? What if we felt what they feel? What if we learned what they know? What if?
I’m so thankful that the love of God can transform us from “Judge” to “Advocate”. Mine has been a long journey of judging, sentencing and punishing people. I sat on the bench ruled by religious arrogance, personal insecurity and closed mindedness. I missed so many opportunities to love others and to extend compassion and empathy. BUT that’s not the end of my story. I’m so thankful for a God who loves us unconditionally. I’m so thankful for a God who has walked EVERY step of my journey in my shoes with me. I’m thankful for a God who does not judge as people judge but sees our heart. Hearts that have loved and hearts that have lost. Hearts that have been full and hearts that are starved. Hearts that have been nurtured and hearts that have been stabbed. Hearts that He alone will revive and restore. 
So next time we are tempted to judge, label, or criticize…let’s stop, ponder, and try on a different pair of shoes. Happy Sunday my friends! Love well. 

Sunday Sheep Ponderings- November 13,2016

Pondering today on sovereignty. A fancy way of saying “God is in control”.
This pondering may ruffle some feathers and I can say that because it ruffled mine. Please remember that my Ponderings are simply that…my questions and the limited revelation I have today. We are all learning and growing and that is one of my favorite things about this journey called life. I share my Ponderings to simply provoke thought in you. AFTER pondering on what I write, you may agree or you may disagree and that is ok…just don’t argue here.
I would say, that for most of my life, I would have said “God is sovereign” or ” God is in control”. There was supposed to be comfort and reassurance in those words but for me….it made me doubt his love. So, a 5 yr old little girl is raped and murdered…but God is in control? Hitler rises to power and brutally murders 11 million innocent people…but God is in control? I could list example after example of heart breaking situations that people claim God to be in control of. If this is true, is God really love? That is the dilemma I have quietly struggled with for many years…afraid to say it out loud for fear of all the judgement from my fellow Christians and, dare I say it, even possible judgement from God.
But the season of the journey I have been on for the last several years has brought peace and understanding. It has removed all fear of judgement and replaced it with an exciting anticipation of what beautiful truth I will awaken to next.
So where have I landed on the sovereign question? I have landed with this…God is ALL powerful, ALL knowing, and ALL LOVE. He never promised to “control” and his desire is not authority or supremacy. His promise was to be with us, to be in us, to love us. His desire is relationship. 
Scriptures draw a picture of this relationship as the love of parent and child. A parent teaches. A parent guides. A parent shares wisdom. A parent celebrates your victories. A parent holds you in your defeats. A parent treasures you. A parent desires that you soar in freedom and confidence. A parent loves unconditionally.
Scripture also tries to explain this relationship as the love of a beautiful marriage. A husband encourages. A husband empowers. A husband enjoys your presence. A husband knows you intimately. A husband values your thoughts and ideas. A husband makes your victories taste sweeter. A husband makes your valleys not so dark and lonely. A husband loves passionately. 
If this is your understanding of this relationship that God desires to have with you …you find way more peace and comfort knowing “God is with you” than “God is in control”. 
I don’t believe God controls this world…I believe God loves this world. I don’t believe God has a master plan that includes all kind of pain and evil. I believe God will hold me as I walk in a world full of pain and evil. 
And I hope that I will always give God the benefit of the doubt when things happen that I don’t understand. And I hope that I will always error on the side of “God is love” when life hands me pain and suffering. And I hope that I will always believe in God’s goodness, over every thing I hear or see to the contrary.
Happy Sunday my friends! 

Sunday Sheep Ponderings – November 6,2016

Pondering today on relationship. 
I think that we, as humans, tend to relate to God in the same way we do to other humans. I mean we say that He is far greater than us, that He is “other”, that He is “God” but don’t we pull Him down to our level when we try to relate to Him?
I think most of us see this relationship as a “give and take”. If I do this, then God will do that. If I love Him, He will love me. If I give to Him, He will give to me. If I serve Him, He will serve me. If I do “right”, He will accept me. If I do “wrong”, He will reject me. If I believe correctly, He will save me. If I don’t believe, I am dammed. 
Don’t get me wrong, I related to God this way for 40 years BUT no more my friends. You see what I believed was “good news” for most of my life, wasn’t really good news at all. I was trying to have a “relationship” with God that was far inferior to the the “relationship” He wanted to have with me. I just didn’t see it. I just didn’t get it. I just didn’t understand it. 
GOD IS LOVE! EVERY THOUGHT HE HAS TOWARD US IS LOVE! He doesn’t have a hidden agenda. He isn’t keeping a record of wrongs. He has no expectations of you. He doesn’t need you to “do”, “believe” or “serve” in order to be accepted by Him. There are no “ifs” in this relationship! It is not a “give and take” and it is so extremely one sided that there is no way you could tip the scale! Ever! 
You are completely and perfectly and extravagantly loved and nothing you can do or say will stop it! His love is not dependent on you! His love is all Him! 
We all have a choice. 
We can reject His love and wander through this life without peace, joy and hope. We can reject His love BUT that does not mean His love rejects us. He just keeps pouring it out, expecting nothing in return. (Don’t get your religious feathers ruffled hereπŸ˜‰)
The other choice is to accept His love. To just “be”. Be held. Be accepted. Be adored. Be comforted. Be encouraged. Be amazed. Be loved. 
Our choice doesn’t change Him…it changes us. 
If there are “ifs” in your relationship with God, you may want to ask Him about those. If there are requirements in your relationship with God, you may want to ask Him about those too. If you are using scriptures to support these “ifs” and requirements, you may want to ask Him if you are reading those in their proper context and translation. And after asking Him, listening for HIS answers and not religions answers….you may just see things differently. I did and it it has changed me forever. I have found a love like no other love, a God like no other being and a relationship that far exceeds what I could have asked or hoped for. 
Happy pondering my friends!

Sunday Sheep Ponderings – October 30,2016

Well, it’s actually Saturday night as I write this…it’s been a hard day. We lost our sweet Munson today and my heart is all torn up. So I’m pondering tonight on heartache.
My oldest child, Christian, got Munsy Man while he was in college but lived in our home. Munson was the reason I got the name “Grammy” 5 years ago. Munson adored my Christian and my Christian adored Munse. When Christian and Bry got married, Munson left our home and lived with his mommy and daddy BUT he came to “Grammy Daycare” most days of the week. He was my “little man”, “the president” and “the perfect one”. Anyone who ever had the joy of knowing Munsy Man would tell you, he had a way of looking deep into your soul and his gentle eyes would say back to you, “it’s all going to be ok”.
Tears have been flowing for hours and it’s hard to type this because they just keep pouring out. I weep because I already miss him so but my heart aches for my son. To experience loss is hard but to watch your child hurt, it rips your heart out. No wonder Jesus taught us to see God as a loving Father! He knew that the depth of parent/child love was as close, as we could understand, to the depth of love He has for us. How tender He is. 
Through all the tears and sweet memories that have been flooding my heart tonight, I pondered. I pondered on my Daddy God. I pondered on His deep and perfect love for His children. I pondered on a Parent who watches his children’s hearts break. I pondered on a creator that sees His precious creation die. I pondered on the one who gave us the capacity to love. I pondered on the ONE who restores all things. 
As I pondered, as I wept, as I watched my child’s heart break … I had many questions that there were no good answers to. As I held my adult son in my arms … I felt helpless BUT one thing I never felt … was alone. I knew that right there in me and right there in Christian was the holder of our tears, the healer of our hearts, the comforter. The ONE who could hold my child even better than me. 
You see, while I used to believe that He would come to us in our time of need, I now believe He is ALWAYS there. While I used to believe that He watched from above, I now believe there is NO DISTANCE between us. While I used to believe he would hear our prayers and send comfort, I now believe He inhabits our prayers and saturates us with His comfort from within. While I used to believe He looked down from heaven and was sad when we hurt, I now believe He is within us and feels our hurt with us. 
While today was full of pain and sorrow…it was also full of Him. While today was full of questions…there is an answer I know to be true…God is love. 
Just know this …no matter if you are hurting or soaring through this period of time called life…God is not distant and faraway, He is as close as your very breath. Some seasons of life appear sweeter and some harder but you have a promise from the One who created you…a promise to NEVER leave you or turn His back on you. You can laugh, you can dance, you can cry so much that you can’t breathe but you are held and loved in all seasons. 
When we love deeply, we grieve deeply. We are grieving deeply … at the loss of a friend, a gentle soul and a piece of our hearts. Munson, you were so very special and you loved us so well. We will miss you “little man” but we know that since God holds ALL of creation within Himself, you are just on the other side and we will join you someday. Thank you Sweet Boy for the extra kisses you gave me this week…I think you somehow knew I would need them. Thank you “little man”.

Sunday Sheep Ponderings – October 23,2016

Pondering today on “IN Him” and “Him IN us”. 
The scriptures say that “IN HIM,

we live, 

and move, 

and have our being”. 
The scriptures also tell us that Jesus revealed a great mystery to us. That mystery is that “Christ is IN US”. 
Hmmm…so we are IN HIM and He is IN US. We may say these things flippantly but do we really comprehend them?
One day last year, I was pondering on this very thing and I saw a picture in my mind’s eye. I’ll try to explain it with words so, if you can, draw what I describe so you can SEE it too. 
I saw a large circle that was named “God”. Inside that circle was EVERYTHING that has ever been created. Within the large circle was a small circle named “time”. Now the walls of “time” were not solid walls but clear walls. Some of creation was within the walls of “time” but most was not. 
This is what I heard or understood from the picture. YOU were IN HIM from the beginning. You have NEVER been apart or outside of God. It is IMPOSSIBLE! At some point in eternity, you were placed into a realm called “time” BUT He is also in the realm of time with you! He holds “time” within Himself. As you journey through this life, or this season of eternity that you are held within “time”, you are still IN HIM but He is also IN time and IN you! 
I still don’t fully comprehend what I saw but this is my revelation as of today. YOU came from Him. YOU have ALWAYS been IN HIM. YOU were chosen to inhabit time at this point in eternity. Time may seem to limit you but it actually has a purpose. He is IN YOU for this journey called “life” or “time” and you are ALWAYS IN HIM. The walls of time are not solid and impenetrable, they are clear and full of opportunity to see His purpose and will within “time”. The light of His countenance is always breaking through the walls and barriers of humanness. He is not only IN all of creation that surrounds you but He is IN YOU as you experience this season of “life” or this season of your “journey”. You can NOT exist outside of Him! You can NOT exist without His life IN you. You can “feel” separated because you think the wall is solid. You can “feel” like He is not with you because you don’t understand that He NEVER leaves you, He is IN you. But the GOOD NEWS my friend is that “feelings” are temporary and TRUTH is eternal, “feelings” are subject to change and TRUTH never changes. 
I hope this was not too confusing and that my words were adequate to describe the beautiful vision of His love that I saw. I hope that you take comfort and great joy from knowing that YOU ARE IN HIM AND HE US IN YOU! And that NOTHING can change that TRUTH. Take off the dark glasses and SEE through the clear walls of “time”! SEE that He IS love and feel the warmth of that love shining through the walls of time and on you! 
And when this season of eternity called “time” is concluded for you, you simply continue to be IN HIM for all eternity. You came from Him, you are In Him, you are forever His. YOU are His treasure of greatest value! 
Happy Sunday my friends! 

Sunday Sheep Ponderings – October 9,2016

Pondering today on “Life BEFORE death”. In the denomination I was raised in, most of the focus was on getting people “saved” from a place called “hell”. Most messages from the pulpit focused on “life AFTER death”. I have done much pondering on all of that but today I’m pondering on life in the here and now. 
“Life” was what Jesus was all about! Life in the now was His priority! Jesus said things like, “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly”.  
So are you experiencing life abundantly? Or are you barely getting by? 
I remember a season of my life that was crazy! I had 5 kids, ages 7 and under, my hubby traveled most of the time, our finances were stretched as thin as they could get, and I was a perfectionist. The perfect storm. I was very active in our church, led a Bible study, was part of a scripture memory group and strictly listened to Christian music and read Christian books. You would think with all that “Christian” stuff I was feeding on, that my life would have been abundant, peaceful, joyful and compassionate but it was far from it. My life was a constant treadmill of striving. Striving to balance all the demands of home while striving to be a good “Christian”. Truth be told, I was dying inside. 
Fast forward to today. I still have 5 kids and they are much older and less physically demanding. But for anyone who has older children, you know the challenges can be much harder and with much greater consequences. We still have financial strain with several kids in college and private school. But instead of slowly dying inside, I am FULLY ALIVE, filled with peace, joy, love for myself and everyone around me. 
How did I get to this abundant life? 
I finally let go of striving. I let go of trying to “be” a good Christian. I let go of judging myself and everyone around me. I let go of a god that others had created in their image. I let go of seeing scripture through denominational and religious lenses. (Anyone singing “let it go” in their head yet?)
I let God speak to my heart directly. I listened as He poured out UNCONDITIONAL LOVE on me. I melted into His arms of ACCEPTANCE. I let HIM teach me. I listened, pondered and I came alive! I woke up and realized a bunch of the religious crap I had been clinging to was suffocating me. I let God love me. His love has overtaken death and brought life…just like He said. 
So my hope for you, my friends, is that “you may have LIFE and have it abundantly!” If the god you are clinging to is not bringing abundant life, maybe, just maybe, you need to let go of that god. Happy Sunday!