My {Dad} – The Shepherd

The other day, as I walked to Black Forest Academy, I noticed that the sheep were down the hill and along the fence.

I have often seen these sheep wandering the nearby hills… and the city-girl in me delights in quaintness of life now lived.

We aren’t so disillusioned with life through the fast-paced technology and feed-me-now imagery that we can’t also enjoy a few bleating and wandering sheep.

A sheep on my walk to BFA 🙂

It made me think back to all the stories my dad has told me about his own life as a shepherd.

Yes, in addition to all of his other amazing professions and attributes… he is a shepherd.

And he’s taught me quite a bit about sheep. And what it takes to care for them.

So I thought about this post and debated telling this story… then today I arrived at my Moms in Prayer group. Sat down. Opened the Word. The leader said, “Today we will be celebrating God as our Shepherd.”

Isn’t He so ironic?

Confirmed that today I’d be writing about my shepherd father.

The sheep on a hill across from BFA… as I walk by 🙂

Who breathes every waking moment the air of sheep.

Which, if you’ve passed by any, isn’t always that pleasant.

He’s spent endless waking hours looking over their safety, their provision, their comforts.

When one wanders away… he secures the others and goes after the lost one. Even one will send him on a search.

Because it matters to him.

They all do.

Because he wants to eat them? Use their wool? Drink their milk? Make cheese?

No.

Because sheep are kinda… well… dumb. And without a guide, the scatter and fall off of cliffs or get eaten by wolves. They have no survivals skills of their own.

And my dad is compassionate.

To see such a lost and hopeless creature and it’s depravity without a leader… has brought him alongside them. No matter the color of their wool, their gender, or how they can  provide for him.

He’s there.

Sometimes, he’s told me, a sheep that continues to wander requires a little extra attention. And he (along with other shepherds) will gently break the leg of a sheep  in order to keep it close for awhile. So it gets to know him, trust him, and love him. And ceases its wandering ways.

I love this image… of a shepherd risking his life for a lost sheep…

He’s also found that sheep do not like to be alone. So he keeps an entire flock… builds for them a community, if you will. Because they like it that way. They are not lone creatures.

He uses oil to heal them and protect them. After carefully inspecting each sheep, my dad applies oil to any bruise or scratch. He knows the insects that can literally pester one of his sheep to death… and rubs its snout, head, and horns with oil as a bug repellant. Finally, he uses oil to slicken snake holes in order to prevent the traction of snakes hoping to dart out and bite a sheep.

Ah yes, he must be ever attentive to their surroundings… (hills or flat, cliffs nearby? water? predators?)

To their provision… (has the cold winter left them without food? Are there thorns among their food? Other dangers? Places for rest ?)

To their emotional and physical needs… (is there a pregnant sheep or one with young lambs to care for? loneliness? illness?)

How like his sheep am I!

Offering little and needing much! My eyes see the grass in front of me, the sheep next to me… he sees the whole of the hills and the predators that are housed within. Sometimes moving me to a new pasture when I think the one I am in is just fine. Sometimes I follow willingly, sometime I need a nudge of his staff… and other times I need a broken leg.

If I am to be a sheep…. how grateful I am that he is my shepherd.

That he is my dad and I am his daughter.

That I am not his only daughter or child… that he can be your shepherd too…

This could have been a pic straight out of our local woods… <3

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil; – for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!

Psalm 23:1-6

To learn more about 31 Days in 2012 or view other 31 Dayers blogs, click here.

I’m spending 31 days writing about my confessions and the lessons {Dad} has taught me. This is day 30 of 31 Days in 2012.

{Dad’s} Lessons in the Waiting

The more I get to know my dad… the more I’m learning to endure the need to wait.

As a child, the thought of waiting was unbearable. My little mind could understand nothing but immediate self-gratification. Any pause on my desire was unthinkable. Cruel.

I learned to make up for his delays by doing things on my own. Why wait for dad’s wallet to open up when I have my own? And it buys what I want more quickly?

Only to come home and find a wrapped gift on my bed… just the thing I’d been pining away for… and bought on my own.

If only I’d waited…

I noticed how often his heart was to bless me with my heart’s wishes… but in his time, in his way… small surprises of delight in his daughter. And I was good at ruining it.

So I decided to try this whole “waiting” thing out.

I waited until he approved of the man I’d marry. And I’m so glad I did… no broken hearts, no ex-relationships to haunt me, minimal regrets.

Then came a halt to my life abroad. A time of waiting. Rooting. Things I’d never done.

My dad has raised me to love people, cultures, languages, new experiences.

Then told me I couldn’t do any of it… for an indefinite amount of time (which turned into eight years!)

I was obedient… albeit depressed and grieved… and took to figuring out this whole “rooting” thing.

One of the best things I’ve ever done.

Because he asked me to wait.

And I did.

Now here I am.

Living in Germany… the life I’ve been waiting for.

And oddly enough, there are still things he has me waiting for.

Our empty parking space… also waiting. 🙂

A car.

He told me he’d buy us the perfect car when the time was right.

He’s never ever lied to me, so I know He will.

And now we’ve been here two and a half months.

It’s pouring rain and I have two toddlers to take on a fifteen minute walk… in the downpour. Twice.

I’m tired of waiting.

I toy with the idea of getting it myself. Shop around. Count the change in my wallet.

And keep waiting.

Because by now I know the gift is just around the corner. And there is so much I can learn from this moment.

  • The generosity of car-endowed friends and the rides they offer.
  • The clean, fresh air detoxifying my lungs.
  • Watching him provide the things that only a car can get us… in other ways.
  • The time with my children… hopping through puddles, peeking down at creepy crawly worms, conversations about life.
  • Rainboots, umbrellas, and rain coats… all things my dad has given us while we wait for our car.
  • The exercise we get walking up and down all of Kandern’s hills, together.
  • The mental map of all of Kandern’s back alleys, side roads, and walking bridges… only known by my wandering feet.
  • “Hallo”s and “Guten Morgan”s exchanged with the many other walkers in Kandern’s keeping.
  • The new gratitude I’ll have for the gift of our vehicle when it’s given… a pleasure not taken for granted. A gift to share.
  • My brothers and sisters, near and far, asking dad to help us out, offering him their time and resources to make it happen.
  • The pure joy of seeing my daddy respond to my heart, know my needs… and provide.

All things I’d deny myself if I rushed through the moment, submitted to the immediate self-gratification of my childhood, and distrusted my dad.

Who has been so faithful to me… discerning between the wants that would harm me and the wants that would grow me.

While lavishing his abundance all over my life… and the life of my brothers and sisters… each in their own journeys of waiting

and trusting

and seeing.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Romans 8:24-25

To learn more about 31 Days in 2012 or view other 31 Dayers blogs, click here.

I’m spending 31 days writing about my confessions and the lessons {Dad} has taught me. This is day 10 of 31 Days in 2012.

Wanting What You Didn’t Want

I looked my sweet daughter in her big brown eyes today. My own filled with tears. She is among the most precious of my earthly treasures.

Immediately my mind flashed back to almost exactly three years ago.

I was pregnant. I was angry.

I miscarried. (read the post for details of that journey).

Three weeks later… to the day, I found out I was pregnant again.

I didn’t feel any more ready to be pregnant. (Mind you, we were actively working against pregnancies from occurring! Obviously with little success that’s a whole different blog). My son was only ten months old. Ah! But miscarrying Zoe had been a real heart-cleanser.

I took the news of this new baby a little better. It was clear that God had a plan bigger for my life than I did… and that it involved another child.

I was not ready. I would not have chosen it. I wouldn’t have picked that timing. I thought I didn’t want this… but was willing to embrace it.

Now I gaze into her precious eyes. Her infectious smile warms my own. Her giggles and glee echo through our home. Her tight-hugged affection and constant kisses fill my life with a void I didn’t know I’d had.

I didn’t know, then, that I wanted what I want now! I’ve heard it so many times… the child that you weren’t ready for ends up being completely irreplaceable. It’s true. I mean, all of my children are irreplaceable. But she is the topping on the cake that finishes it off with decor and flavor.

It’s true.

Okay, she’s only two. And she’s really loud. And messy. And wakes up WAY too early. I’m not saying she’s perfect. But boy does she have an ability to make this momma’s heart tender!

Are there things in your life that you don’t want? What is coming your way that you’d rather didn’t? A child? A job? Broken relationships? Identity crisis?

Sometimes we really need the things we don’t want. Sometimes we end up wanting those things… once we let go of our own selfishness and embrace the gifts God hands us. At least, that was my journey.

What’s yours?