Sunday Sheep Ponderings – January 29,2017

Pondering today on being rigid or flexible.
RIGID (def.) – deficient in or devoid of flexibility.
FLEXIBLE (def.) – capable of bending easily without breaking.
For most of my adult life, I was the queen of “rigid”. I thought I had all the right answers when it came to just about everything. I grew up in a denomination that had all the right theological answers, my way of parenting was the right way, my political views were the right ones, my analysis of any situation I encountered was the right one. My views, my theology, my opinions were all the right ones. Oh, I masked my rigidness under words like “passionate “, “conviction”, “determination” but the truth is, I was “deficient in and devoid of flexibility” and the ugly root of all that rigidness was “control”. In a world that is full of chaos and uncertainty, we try to find our peace by controlling everyone and everything in our little corner of the world. 
But here’s the rub….control never brings real peace… and Love is the tool God uses to “bend us without breaking us.”
The love of God does not snap our rigid selves in half, His love does not shatter us into a million pieces. The love of God is gentle, intentional and is softly rubbed into our rigidness. The process is often very time consuming but He is ever patient and steadfast in His work. As His healing oil is massaged into the dry, hard places, we slowly become more pliable, less resistant…softer. 
So today, with all the rigidness filling the airways, social media and conversations ….what will you do? Will you stand hard and firm and try to control those you don’t agree with OR will you allow love to bend you towards others so that you can actually get close enough to hear their heart beat? 
Don’t be so RIGID about being right…that you loose the FLEXIBILITY to love. I have finally been softened enough to “bend without breaking” and I can stand on the other side of “control” and earnestly and honestly tell you that PEACE is far superior. 
Here’s to loving well and bending to hear the heart of others. Happy Sunday my friends! 

Sunday Sheep Ponderings – January 22,2017

Pondering today on being a human. 
I know as I type this, that some of you will “like” it and some will “unfollow” me. That’s ok. From the very first #sundaysheeppondering, my motive has been to bring life to those who read it. To bring life by telling you over and over how valuable and treasured you are by your creator and by exposing lies that others have heaped on you or you have heaped on yourself. Today will be no different.
Human beings are ALL made in the image of God, male and female, black and white, short and tall, creatives and analyticals. WHY, WHY, WHY are we so obsessed with our differences? It’s like we are talking out of both sides of our mouths. One side says, “I want equality. Everyone should be treated the same.” And the other side of our mouth says, “My people deserve special treatment because we are different.” Ok, I know that history has not been kind to women, blacks, certain social classes, certain religions. I hate that! I wish I could erase it! I wish I could right those wrongs! 
Today, we have a constitution that clearly states that women have the same rights as men, Blacks have the same rights as whites. We have freedom of religion. Hard work and diligence has no social class barrier. 
Are there some women who have encountered sexism? Yes! Are there some men who have encountered sexism? Yes! Are there some blacks who have encountered racism? Yes! Are there some whites who have encountered racism? Yes! Are there some Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. that have encountered religious persecution? Yes! Are there some Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. that have persecuted others faith or beliefs? Yes! Are there some who work hard and don’t see much in return? Yes! Are there some who barely lift a finger but seem to get all the breaks? Yes! 
“Life is not fair” and “hurting people, hurt people”! BUT just because there are some ignorant, messed up thinking, hard hearted people in the world doesn’t mean ALL are that way! Stop generalizing entire people groups based on a few! Women and Blacks are just as guilty of sexism and racism as Men and Whites. Don’t repay evil with evil. Two wrongs don’t make a right. If you are not part of the solution, you may be the problem. 
It’s time for people to take personal responsibility. It’s time for people to stop taking their personal hurts and projecting them on society. It’s time for healing! It’s time for serious personal analysis. 
Are you just joining in with the crowd to yell, complain, vent your frustrations, vilify an entire group of people who are different than you? OR…..are you ready to take a stand for something that brings life?! Instead of telling republicans or democrats how bad they are….try listening! Instead of telling other religions how wrong they are…try understanding! Instead of measuring a person up by the amount of pigment in their skin…try seeing their heart! Instead of seeing the differences in male and female as a problem…try seeing the way they compliment each other! 
We are ALL the same and yet so beautifully unique! We ALL are created in God’s image and likeness! We ALL have His life in our very breath! We ALL were knit together by Him in our mothers womb! We ALL are loved equally, fully and perfectly by Him! When you finally get that, When you finally see that, When you finally understand that…you don’t need the government, the schools, the religious leaders, the media, Hollywood or ANYONE else to determine your value. Then, YOU ARE FREE to love others as you love yourself. Then, YOU ARE FREE to treat others as you want to be treated. Then, YOU ARE FREE to value the differences in others while celebrating the “oneness” we have with all Gods creation. 
Come on friends! Let’s shine! Let’s love well! Let’s be instruments or peace! Let’s join together in unity and sing the song of our Father’s heart. No more punches, digs or jabs. Let your compassion and kindness run like a river and let your words be salt that enhance and heal each person they fall on. 
Happy Sunday! 

Sunday Sheep Ponderings – January 8,2017

Pondering today on the process. 
We’ve often heard things like, “I’m a work in progress” or “Be patient, God’s not finished with me yet”. 
I’ve been working all week on growing a natural yeast starter for my homemade bread. I’ve had to feed and monitor my starter continuously and I’ve learned way more about the science of yeast than I care to know. While diligently going through the “process” of growing the yeast…I began to ponder.
There was a beginning to my natural yeast growing process. The beginning was full of questions like, “Am I doing this right?”, “This doesn’t look like I thought it would” and “So what now?”. I think those are some of the same questions we ask ourselves when we embark on this process of “discovering God”. We have way more questions than answers and most of the time we wonder if we are doing it right. We are what they like to call, “spiritual babies”.
A few days into my yeast growing process, I had some setbacks, was pretty sure I was going to have to start over and really wanted to take the easy way out and go buy some processed, store bought yeast. Our journey, or process of discovering God, can feel the same way. We may fall short of “being a good Christian” or we may decide it is too hard to live up to these expectations we and others have put on us. We may feel like we will never get it right and we just quit. Challenges of life come along and we think to ourselves, “this isn’t working”. This is often referred to in religious circles as “spiritual backsliding” but it’s really a performance treadmill we were never meant to get on.
Four days into the process of growing my natural wheat yeast starter, I tried to use it to make a loaf of bread. It tasted ok but the texture and consistency was all wrong. It didn’t look like it was supposed to. It didn’t look like everyone else’s that were “experts”. How often do we compare our journey or our process with those around us? How often do we compare our “spiritual maturity” with others?
Six days into the process of growing my natural wheat yeast starter and I am so excited! I woke up this morning to a jar of beautifully bubbly yeast starter! It doubled in size while I was sleeping! We are finally ready to make some bread that not only taste delicious, but has a desirable consistency. The funny thing is…I feel like this is where I am personally in the process. I’ve learned to rest and let go of trying to “be” something. I fought the process for so long but now I embrace it. I don’t have to know all the answers anymore and as a matter of fact…the mystery is exciting! It’s like the yeast, I’m filled with life and it just oozes out without effort. God is living in me. He is doing the work of giving life. I “knew” that in my mind for a long time, I could quote the verses and I even had experiences that confirmed it …BUT it was still about me and my effort to be “like Him”. 

Looking to the future, I hope to report that I finally have a loaf of delicious bread! I may be tempted to say things like “I stuck it out”, “I fought the good fight”, “I finished the race”. I may be feeling pretty proud of myself, a little cocky, and all together full of myself. “I did it!” Sound like some “Christians” you know? Well, I used to be one of those “spirituality arrogant” people. I thought I had finally done enough of the requirements, finally learned the “right” way of thinking and speaking to get closer to God and silence the enemy, I knew the scriptures inside and out, I taught classes, led the prayer team…I had “arrived”. 
So what did I learn in the “process” of making my natural yeast? Well, I learned that “I” didn’t make anything. A natural process occurred between wheat flour and water. I learned that this process has been going on since the beginning of time and I just finally joined in on it. I learned that each step of the process was important. I learned that a lot of things were going on inside that mason jar that I didn’t understand or see. I learned that the process is actually fun and each step is really cool. 
And that’s not the end! I get to feed my yeast everyday to keep it healthy and thriving. And that’s how it is with our spiritual journey. We don’t arrive at an end. We are continually growing, changing, learning, unlearning. The process is ongoing and the results are beautiful. 
My friends, enjoy the process. It’s not a process of becoming something…it’s a process of discovering… who you really are and who He is that lives in you. You may not care about yeast, you may be learning a little about yeast, you may be trying to be perfect yeast, you may have given up on yeast, you may think you are an expert on yeast…it doesn’t matter where you are, because yeast “is what it is”, no matter where you are in the discovery process. God has always been, still is and will always be “God”. It is our JOY to discover His unconditional LOVE and then it is our DELIGHT to feel His LIFE bubble up inside of us! 
Happy Sunday my dearly loved friends! 

Sunday Sheep Ponderings – January 1, 2017

Happy New Years! Pondering today on “where you are”. 
I had a dream several years ago and in this dream I am in a house. I’m in a large,open concept family/kitchen/dining room with lots and lots of people. It’s loud, crowded and a little overwhelming. I want to find a QUIET place, so I go wandering. I find myself in a long hallway with a door to the left and a door to the right. The door to the left leads to a standard square bedroom with beige walls, carpet and a pair of windows. The door to the right leads to a room that is light and bright with white painted wood walls, ceilings, and floors. It contains lots of unusual roof lines, nooks and architectural features. Both are blank slates.
So I know I have a choice to make. Which room do I want to enter? I could go with the traditional room or I could try something “unique”. 
I IMMEDIATELY know that I want the “unique” room. The creativity and potential flood my senses. I get giddy inside! BUT… I can’t go in yet. Either the room is not ready for me, I am not ready for the room, or both. 
I must wait in the hallway. Really? There was nothing in the hallway. No pictures, no seating, no windows…just a hallway. Dream ends.
This dream was given to me at a time that I was in a leadership position at a mega church and world wide ministry (the large crowded room). I had been serving long hours, lots of people and with all my heart. I had experienced many moments of joy and purpose. BUT I knew in my “knower” that the season was changing and that still small voice was calling me away to a quiet place. So as I leave the large room (the mega ministry), I go searching for a new room, the next season. And while I’m given a glimpse of what the next season could be (behind the doors), I can’t yet go…I must wait in the hallway until the doors are opened. 
My friends, I lived in the hallway for a couple of years. At first, it was super frustrating….no purpose, no vision, no one but me. I was confused and even disappointed. Why would He lead me from a place of such influence and purpose to a place of “nothingness”? And then it started to happen, the hallway started to feel more comfortable. It was quiet, no distractions, no outside voices, no jobs to do, no windows, no mirrors, no people, no books, no demands, no performance, no internal politics, no striving…just me, alone with my Father. He began to teach me, or in my case, “unteach” me. He began to strip away all the layers of influence and thinking that the world, religion and others had heaped on me. The hallway had become a safe haven for my mind, my heart and my very spirit. It was truly a place of transition and transformation. It was exactly where I needed to be.
Today, I am in the “unique” room. It is a room filled with curiosity, creativity, dreams, potential, passion, giddiness and most importantly…peace. It is a pure place. It is home. It’s a place that I was always searching for but couldn’t seem to find.
My dearly loved friends, as we enter this new year of 2017, you may find yourself thriving in a bustling family room, you may find yourself in a quiet, isolated hallway, you may find yourself in a place you always longed for ….or even a place I haven’t mentioned; a wide open field, a warm bathtub, a dining table filled with wonderful food, a library filled with books, a valley filled with obstacles or a mountain top with an amazing view. WHEREVER you find yourself this year, you can KNOW this…your Father is with you. You may not understand and it may feel uncomfortable but He is with you. He is in you. He loves you. Try to resist the human urge to run to the next place, the next season, the next stop on your journey. Spend some time in the hallway. Stop along the path and rest. Hide away for a bit in His arms. Get quiet and listen as He whispers in your ear….words of life, sweet affections, mysteries revealed. The hallway can be more than you ever imagined or dreamed of. 
I will share about how each of you are a part of the wonderful, “unique” room I am in now but that’s enough pondering for today. 
My hope for myself, my family and for all of you that I consider friends is this….may you always know that you are loved, valued and treasured by the One who thought you up, created you and lives in you. May you stop striving to be accepted or blessed but may you find rest in knowing you are His and nothing and no one (even you) can ever separate you from that love. (Romans 8:38-39) 
Happy New Year! 🎊