How to herd cats … or sheep

Have you ever heard the phrase herding cats?

Herding Cats… brings to mind activities like: elementary school field trips, toddler playgroups at the playground, taking Preschool VBS kids to the gym, pep rallies…

My friend Karen just shared this memory with me and my first thought was the chaos and noise of that bailey bear boogie pep rally .. in fact, I carried ear plugs with me after that day 

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and as a photographer… group photos.

In fact, I have an album on our Swim team site that I named Herding cats and other shenanigans… img_5566

 

Now sheep sound somewhat more peaceful, right?  … you know… those fluffy white guys you can count when you can’t sleep.  So Sheep herding should be less chaotic, right?

Have you ever taken a personality test or a spiritual gifts test?

Well, one of my gifts is Shepherding. Yep! Sheep Herding.

 {okay… i just went down a rabbit hole…I remembered that Hope Church used to have a test on the website… and guess what, It’s still there! so if you are interested… here is a link: Spiritual Inventory from Hope Church Memphis}

As far as shepherding goes, it does sound natural to me. I don’t imagine chaos. I love to gather groups of people. To connect on a deeper level. To care for one another.  That is my basic view of it.  Here is the definition I just found in the rabbit hole:

SHEPHERDING

The gift of shepherding is the special ability to nurture, care for, and guide people toward on-going spiritual maturity and becoming like Christ. The person with this gift enjoys spending time nurturing and caring for others, and enjoys giving guidance and practical support to a small group of people. (Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Peter 5:1-4 John 10:1-1)

Yep! I do enjoy it!

Do you ever find yourself exhausted from nurturing, caring an guiding others?

I do!  I can get a little overwhelmed and worn out. Whether in parenting, marriage, extended family, friends or ministry. It happens.

But God has shown me some answers.

It started with me looking for something descriptive on the Hope website about Moms at Hope {pm}  (which is one of the groups that I enjoy… and I get to be mostly a sheep in there) but clear as day was another class that God had picked out as an answer to prayer after a long day of bearing others burdens…. this was the class description ——>

God’s Word and our own experience of the Lord’s Spirit, teaches us we are to “love one another” and “bear one another’s burdens.” This six-week seminar will give our Hope community an opportunity to understand and improve the quality of care we share with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and customers. Understanding how to give care allows us to grow in our ability to reach out to others with Christ-like compassion.

Bingo…. I thought improving my skills was perfect… something I could DO!  But it’s not really all about DOING!  But it was still clear that this was where I was supposed to be.

Yesterday was the 2nd session and we were to read scripture and identify how Jesus showed compassion. Our group was assigned  Mark 6: 30-34  It is the beginning of the familiar story but these 4 verses had a different highlight for me.

30The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
32So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Jesus makes clear:

  1. When we are weary, we need to be with Him in a quiet place and rest.

  2. The crowd is still there but we are equipped to show compassion and be a shepherd and/or a teacher after we “land”.

 

The picture He gave me was from that very morning. Before Moms groups begin, we have a leaders’ prayer time. 30 minutes in a quiet room in His presence preparing for the day. A time to breathe and lower our heart rates. At the final Amen, we have landed. We head across the hall to “munch and mingle” with the large crowd and His presence goes with us. And His love abounds.

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4 things I learned today about being a brave parent

Today I began the study of the book of Joshua. I must admit, I still have a New Testament bias and I have less enthusiasm for an OLD testament chapter.  I don’t like old in general… no antiques for me and as for my body getting old …that’s no fun either  (I have a milestone birthday coming up so I may have that on the brain…that is for another post.)

But once again God’s Word, even the OLD, has a fresh word for ME today. And maybe for you as well.

In Joshua chapter 1, Joshua is being given direction on leading God’s people into the promised land after the death of Moses.

I saw several truths that apply to the challenges of parenting.

For me, I am in the stages of: launch (college sophomore)  and prepare to launch (11th grader). But this could apply to many stages and challenges.

#1   ————–>

Be Strong and Courageous!

It is repeated 4 TIMES in this chapter!!  It must be important! Not just for the Israelites but for us too in our daily lives.  Being strong and courageous as we embark on the journey as Mothers. And as our kiddos become adults,….whew…  it can be a scary time of letting go. We want to have an eye on them.  A few days ago, a photo showed up on my Facebook memories from Jack’s first day of High School. I wanted to have an eye on him, I wanted to go out to the bus stop and take a photo, but I didn’t. I resorted to being a stalker Mom in a not so courageous fashion. Here is the photo to prove it:

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My letting go skills have improved but I’m still crazy about photos.


From verses 5 and 6

… As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”
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#2

Trust God’s promises.

God promises never to leave us. (verse 5) And that means our kids too.  He has got them. He is present. He will not forsake us. …. I didn’t have a clear picture of “forsake”… here are some synonyms:

abandon, desert, leave, leave high and dry, turn one’s back on, cast aside, break (up) with

well then… not forsaking is even better than I thought because those are some of my fears/wounds.  In fact, yesterday, I admitted to my husband that I have mixed feelings about how to celebrate our 25th Anniversary that is coming up. My parents renewed their vows at 25 years and we threw them a party. It was a very happy day. But later that year, my Dad moved out. They separated. The word doesn’t sound as harsh. It sounds mutual. But it wasn’t mutual. The truth is, my mother was cast aside. It was devastating. And it wounded me. I have allowed God to heal the wound. But I guess you would say there is a scar. a reminder. And the words “25th Anniversary” poked at my scar.  And all these words are spilling from my fingers. …. Back to the promise….

People may leave us and forsake us but God will NOT!!

#3

We are to help in the right time.

from verses 14 and 15:

You are to help them until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.

But more specifically I got a picture of us helping our children until God gives them rest and He gives them their own “land”.  Albeit their own “land” may look like a cramped apartment with several roommates. But after that we can settle in our empty nest facing the sunrise!  And speaking of sunrise… I saw the most beautiful sunrise photo on Facebook…

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photo credit to: Jayne Manetz

These are girl scout seniors that were woken up early for a candlelight ceremony. And treated to this amazing sunrise. The sun looks like an eye. Yes, I believe God has an eye on these teen girls.

(the one in the football jersey is the daughter of old friends. I was there for her baptism when she was a baby, I have prayed for her, and see her live bravely and do her own thing.)

#4

Meditate on God’s Word and it will lead you to obedience

Verse 8:

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Yes…another reason I love day one of a reading a new book of the bible. It guides me in meditating on it.

…………………I took a break from finishing this post……..I was interrupted with life ….. I got a text from a Mom with a heartbreaking situation with her teen. And I felt a burden…. to pray…not in a nice churchy way…but in a cry to God way asking “Why?”  I didn’t have a nice encouraging reply to give to my friend.  But as I cried to the Lord with my head in my hands, I looked down and saw what I had been doing…meditating on the Word. It wasn’t specific to this situation but it is where God lead me.  His answer to my cry and my text to my friend:

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This morning I have been meditating on Joshua Chapter 1.

4 times he says Be strong and courageous!

Motherhood requires it.
I am clinging to the promise that He will not leave us and will be with us wherever we go. Even in our battles or our teens battles.

 

Things can get tough in parenting but we can be strong and courageous. We do not need to be fearful or dismayed!!! We are not alone! 

 

AMEN (and goodnight)

 

Here is all of Joshua Chapter 1 if you would like to read it.

“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’ ” But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.” Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!””
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:1-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬
http://bible.com/111/jos.1.1-18.niv