“The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures…” Psalm 23:1-2
Have you ever stopped to imagine what those green pastures would look like?
I’ve always imagined an inviting scene…beautiful, rolling hills covered in green, plush grass. A gentle breeze would be blowing, and you could see the waves of grass swaying back and forth. It’s a serene, peaceful, and welcoming image.
That was the picture in my mind…until one day when I watched this video. The image in my head was completely challenged…and changed.
This place called “green pastures” in Jerusalem looks much more like a dessert wasteland than rolling meadows. It’s a hillside covered in rocks. How could that be “green pastures”?
This is not the image I had in mind.
The guide explained that interspersed among the rocky hillside were moisture filled pockets where grass would grow. I watched as a shepherd led the sheep across the hillside right to the specific places where they would be able to eat.
The sheep had to follow the shepherd if they were to find the grass.
I was reminded of the Israelites who were given manna from God. He gave them manna each and every day with the instruction to take only what they would need for the day. They weren’t supposed to store it up.
I thought about the scripture that says His mercies are new every morning. We are given mercy for the day we’re having…right now.
Our Father gives us what we need for the present moment.
The guide in the video says, “Green pastures are not everything you need for the rest of your life.”
Life doesn’t actually look like frolicking around in a green pasture without a care in the world for the rest of our lives.
Life looks a lot more like needing a Shepherd to lead us to the nourishment we need.
Life looks a lot more like learning to trust the heart of our Shepherd. When we’re following him across a rocky hillside we need to trust that He’s taking us where we need to be.
“Worry is dealing with tomorrow’s problem on today’s pasture.” When we look ahead and wonder just exactly where the Shepherd is taking us…when we strain to see in the distance and, to us, it looks like there’s not a patch of grass to be found…we must trust the Shepherd. (A lot easier said than done…I know.)
“In the dessert you learn that the Shepherd will get you what you need for right now. Ten minutes from now…you trust the shepherd.”
Our Father takes joy in our trust. Over and over in scripture we see people in positions of dependance, trust, and reliance on Him.
The Shepherd wants to be followed. He sets the pace, and He names the destination.
If we find ourselves saying, “This isn’t what I thought ‘green pastures’ meant…” Hang on, trust, and keep following the Shepherd.
Okay. Here’s the deal. Sometimes you just get in a mood and you need to snap out of it. Anybody?
First, let me be clear. I am absolutely NOT talking about those who are fighting their way through depression, anxiety, or other mental health struggles. I understand that people find themselves in some very real and challenging situations. Please know that you truly are loved, seen, valued, and admired. My heart is full of tenderness, sympathy, and love for you. I am in your corner and I am for you. If that is where you find yourself today, hang onto hope and keep seeking help.
I am simply talking about the “I woke up on the wrong side of the bed feeling.” I think we know the difference … The I just feel down, frustrated, irritated, hormonal, annoyed, overwhelmed, etc…
I recently had a day like that. Seriously, a couple of weeks ago, from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed it was just one of those days. I let every single little thing get to me.
Any other day I would have laughed at the scenarios that kept popping up, but this particular day I didn’t find anything funny. (Okay, by bedtime it was starting to get funny but only because of the sheer number of things that had happened all day long.)
I was convinced the day was out to get me. Have you ever felt that way?
Have you had a day that it seemed like no matter what choice your husband made … it was the wrong one.
Or maybe you’ve felt like your kids very purpose for existing was to make messes while runing through the house screaming, “Moooooommmmmm” at the top of their lungs, 5,762 times in one 24 hour period.
It’s the kind of day that you suddenly see all the stuff around the house that “should” get done, and it’s mocking you.
The kind of day that isn’t really a two-steps forward, one step back day. It’s more like a one-step forward, two steps back day. Or maybe, more truthfully, it’s just a no steps forward, pushed down a flight a stairs instead day.
When you can normally roll with the punches, this particular day you’re just knocked down over and over again.
Again, I’m not talking about the truly difficult things we face … I’m talking about when we let the little things become the big things.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but if you’ve ever felt this way … it’s a good sign you’re in a mood. (Hopefully that’s not the kind of day you’re having now. Because the last thing we want on a day like that is to be told we’re in a mood.)
I remember a conversation my sister and I had several years ago. We were talking about these kinds of days (she’s had them too … and I’m pretty sure we’re not alone in that), and I told her, “I know I could snap out of it. I just don’t.”
It’s like, for just a moment, I had the ability to be on the outside looking in and I knew I was in a mood. I was also suddenly aware that I had the ability to snap out of it but, instead, I was perfectly content to stay stuck.
How ridiculous is that? Why do we do that to ourselves?
I’m writing this so the next time I have one of those days I can read it … and on the chance you find yourself having one of those days too, maybe it will be helpful to you as well.
First of all, snap out of it. Seriously. The day isn’t actually out to get you – and neither is your husband or your children. Don’t you feel better already?
You’re letting the little things become big things. Key words: “you’re” “letting“. How about instead of “letting” those scenarios dictate your day … you rise above and “let” yourself make a better choice. You can choose how the day is going to play out. Your response is your responsibility.
Write down ten things you’re thankful for and make sure two or three of them are things that were annoying you a minute ago. Turn “grrrr” into “grateful.” That mess of laundry that needs to be dealt with? Thankful for the clothes we have. Those kiddos who say “Moooooommmm” 5,762 times a day? They are gifts. Make the list. Do it now. Gratitude changes things.
If you have to … call your sister and say, “Tell me to snap out of it.” (It’s okay if you need a push in the right direction).
Laugh. Turn into the tickle monster and go attack your kiddos. Just watching them squeal and laugh will make you laugh! “A cheerful heart is good like a medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22)
Change your mind about your day! Remind yourself of truth. Get in the Word. “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118:24)
Let’s not stay stuck, friends. Don’t let circumstances (even on those crazy days) turn you into someone you don’t want to be. Be who God created you to be and snap out of that place!
Let’s talk summer travel! We recently got home from our big two week road trip! I wanted to share just a few travel thoughts for anyone else who has a big trip coming up.
- Slow down! And, I’m not talking about how you drive. Enjoy the moments. Savor it. Be fully present. I have found the best way to slow time down is to be all there…fully invested right where you are that second.
- Laugh a lot.
- Expect the unexpected. Delays, mishaps, traffic, missed exits, etc…It’s all a part of the adventure. (see previous comment…if you can laugh about it later, you might as well laugh about it now.)
- Skip the chains. Why go to the same restaurants you have at home? Find something new and local!
- The destination isn’t really what traveling is about. The memories made and the shared experiences are what’s most important. Who you’re with is more important than where you’re going.
There were also few things I came across that we just loved, and I wanted to pass on the info!
CHAT PACKS: These are awesome! We had A LOT of car time (it was a ROAD trip, after all). We pulled these out and, honestly, had hours of fun. My parents, Casey and I, and the girls all had a blast with these. Each card you pull out has a random question…everything from, “If you were a season what season would you be?” to “If you could instantly have back something you lost what would you want back?” It generated lots of laughs and great conversation!
PACKING CUBES: A friend of mine recommended getting these for our trip and I am so glad I listened! These were a sanity saver for me. If you’re like me, all it takes is getting into the suitcase ONE time to get something, and it looks like a tornado touched down! With these packing cubes, I wasn’t digging through suitcases to find things, and clothes weren’t spilling out everywhere. It kept the suitcase neatly organized as we were in and out of hotels every night. Seriously, get them. At first, I wasn’t sure what difference they would really make, but they were so useful. Especially when packing multiple people in one suitcase.
PARK SMARTS FOR KIDS: If you happen to be visiting any National Parks this summer check out this website and purchase the book for your location! You will get an instant download and can print the book. The kids loved the activities – fun and educational.
(Click image above to get your own Park Smarts For Kids book!)
A JOURNAL: Casey’s Aunt gave each of the girls a journal to write in. They spent time each day jotting down some memories from the day. Victoria, our oldest, journaled on her own. I helped Ellie with some prompts for each day. I went ahead and wrote in a space for her to put the best part of the day, worst part, funniest part, most beautiful sight, etc… That helped give her a starting place to gather her thoughts. I loved reading what stood out to them and getting their perspective on the day.
What are some of your favorite travel must-haves? I love hearing about new things! If it hadn’t been for my friend telling me about the packing cubes…I don’t want to EVEN think about the mayhem that would have happened getting in and out of our suitcases everyday! Share your faves with us!
To the Fathers…
We see you. We get busy and distracted and we forget to let you know it, but we see you.
We see the way you get up morning after morning and go to work to provide for our family.
We see the way you sacrificially love and serve, putting the needs of your family above your own.
We see you fall down and then we see you stand back up…over and over again.
We actually do see all the good in you…even when all you think we see are the flaws.
We see when you take the extra minute to snuggle the kids at bed time.
We see when you have work piling up but you’re outside chasing kids around in the back yard all giggles and laughs.
We see when you’ve had a hard day at work but still manage to make walking through the door the best part of our day.
We see you juggling life trying to not let anything drop, and we see you fighting to help us in our own juggling acts.
We see you at your weakest moments and we see you at your strongest.
We see who you are…a faithful husband, father, son, brother, and friend.
To the hero of our homes we say, “Thank you.”
The Third Sunday of June…Father’s Day. What really is the point of Father’s Day anyway? Is it just:
- The day when ugly ties and grill-tool sets make the perfect combo gift.
- That one day a year where men get to be selfish and feel good about it.
- That holiday when our wives and children use passive aggressive techniques to try to get us to do more of the things they want us to do.
- Or just a day that makes a matching set with mother’s day…just to keep things even.
I think there is, or at least should be, more to Father’s day than this.
However, I’ve always found it interesting that we spend mother’s day encouraging moms about the amazing job they do in the home, and yet we spend father’s day telling men how they need to work harder and become the man they were created to be.
Truth is: there is a time and a place for challenging and a time and place for encouraging both Mothers and Fathers.
Reality is also that one of the main reasons that our American culture is coming apart at the seams is the unraveling of the family.
And, one of the main reasons that families are being destroyed is that the the thread of fathering is weak or missing in so many homes across this country.
This is not about being perfect. If we wait until we are confident in our ability as a father, our children will grown up fatherless. No one has the perfect father…that includes you and your children, and it includes me and my children.
I know, it’s complicated. What about single moms, adoptive dads, step-fathers, foster dads, brothers and uncles… Focusing on the importance of one does not devalue another. Truthfully, there is more than enough need to go around.
Fathers give identity because fathers speak identity.
We are called to be leaders, providers, protectors, and servants. We are called to reflect the Fathering heart of God and point our children to Him.
Dads, this Father’s Day, let us look beyond our own needs and wants.
This Father’s Day, let us pray from Malachi 4:6 that God would “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” Remembering that this starts in our own hearts and toward our own children.