The Good Shepherd


I love owls. All kinds from feathered to figurines. My house is a veritable parliament of owls, of the Harry Potter owlery variety (minus the owl droppings, of course). My hubby has placed a strict owl ban on our home. In his best Severus Snape voice, he announced, boldly, I might add, “No owl of any kind shall enter this domicile by order of the Husbands Against Owl Decor. If a new owl breaks through the restricted barrier then it shall suffer my wrath.” He crossed his arms, threw back his head and exhaled his hearty, “Mwahahahaha.”

I’ve been good about honoring the ban. Sort of. My office at work has, cough cough, a few owl things. But, shhhh, don’t tell my hubby.

I blame my love for owls on my mom. She, too, had an affection for the wide-eyed creatures. Her owls, though, screeched 1970s Home Interiors. Think macrame and metal in the not-so-lovely shades of burnt orange and split-pea-soup green.

I blame another owl addiction on my mom. We are both night owls. We love the night life. Not so much to boogie. But to read and think. My mind is most alive when the rest of the world slumbers peacefully. Lately, however, I’ve lost my ability to stay up late. I’ve been utterly exhausted. I don’t know if it has to do with the sickness I’ve been battling for two months, the weather, stress, or a host of other things. But last night, Lady Di and I discussed the importance of rest and what it can do for our health—physical, mental, and spiritual. We talked about how Jesus is our Shepherd and how He is corralling us into His pen early every night so He can watch over us and take care of us.

As I crawled into bed at 8:00 last night (yes, 8:00…don’t judge!), God planted the word “shepherd” deep inside my heart. Like a metronome, it penetrated the depths of my sleep, ticking off God’s perfect beat to His most perfect Word. My dreams carried me over fields and into flocks and promised me rest. Sweet, God-given, much-needed rest.

Until, of course, my cat with excruciatingly painful halitosis chose to lick my nose. The bad breath is her thorn. She would be too perfect otherwise.

As I crawled out of bed, God spoke Psalm 23 to me. One verse at a time. He paused after each thought and waited. He waited for me to respond. So I did. We conversed Psalm 23. And it was precious and eye-opening and beautiful.

I’d like to share with you a portion of our conversation.

Psalm 23 (NIV)

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd

You are my Shepherd, Lord. That means I am part of Your flock, not the world’s flock. Oh how easy it is to see the other flock and yearn for its seeming “betterness”. But the world doesn’t care about me. Not like You do. You take care of me and watch over me.  I know You are my Shepherd, because I hear Your voice because I know Your voice because I know You. Thank You, Father, for choosing me to be Your sheep.

I lack nothing.

That’s a sobering thought, Lord. Especially in light of these past couple of months. They have been brutal. The waiting, specifically. But see, I’ve been waiting for answers from doctors and not from You. When I look back on all the pain and sleepless nights, You were there, pulling me through, guiding me to trust You, showing me that I truly lack nothing. You provide for ALL my needs. Needs that are as small as a smile from a stranger on a tough day to a big one like the doctor saying, “It’s not cancer.”I have a home, a loving husband (even if he is anti-owl), a generous family, a good job, food in my belly, clothes on my back, and medicine that is slowly healing my physical pain. And of course Jesus. I have Jesus. Jesus is all I need.

    He makes me lie down in green pastures,

Father, that’s what you’ve been doing these past few nights, huh? You’ve been forcing me to rest in the green, comforting pastures of my home. Because you know my mind never quits and that I try to fix who and what can’t be fixed. You know I am always thinking of what I should have done, should have said, what needs to be done, what I can’t do or don’t want to do. Or won’t do. You know the innermost workings of my heart and mind and that I ache to spend time in Your Word even though sometimes the most I can do is change into my pajamas and sit in my chair. You know the source of my pain even though the doctors don’t. Because You knit me together. You want me to rest so You can be You and I can be me.

he leads me beside quiet waters,

You lead, Lord. I follow. It really is that simple. Yet, I find it so difficult sometimes. When You called Your apostles, You gave them three words: “Come. Follow me.” And they did. They dropped everything and trusted You to lead them. And they encountered so many storms. Some literal, some metaphorical. But when they kept their eyes on You and trusted You, You quieted the storm and made the the waters quiet. You’ve been leading me through a storm lately, Lord. And when I stopped clinging to the boat and focused on You, you quieted the waters. And You know how I love the quiet.

    he refreshes my soul.

Oh Father, how you have refreshed my soul! I was feeling world-weary, weak-willed, and Word-wanting. You held Your staff, called my name, and drew me back into Your shelter. You cared for my wounds, healed me with Your Word, and lulled me to into heavy sleep with the warmth of Your embrace.

Thank You, my Father, for being my Shepherd. My Good Shepherd. Thank You for knowing me better than I know myself. For knowing when I need rest and then loving me enough to give it to me.


I need a booster shot


I hate shots. I put needles in the same category as Teletubbies, clowns, and the Burger King guy. Pure evil. Cause for simultaneous fleeing and screaming. With the possibility of changing zip codes. I will, however, succumb to the torture and get a shot when sickness is involved. Not just sniffle-and-chill sickness. I’m talkin’ head-in-a-vice, put-me-in-an-ice-bath sickness. When it’s that bad, I don’t care about shots or Teletubbies. I just want to feel better. The last time I incurred the wrath of the syringe, I had an über bad case of bronchitis. The needle was the length of a yardstick and plunged through my tuckus and came out clear on the other side. OK. Not really. But that’s what I kept imagining. I honestly didn’t feel it. I’m pretty sure the nurse was wearing a cape. Either that, or my bronchial delirium was messing with me. The doctor, who seriously looked like a white-haired William Shatner, prescribed meds, rest, and lots of liquid. Within 24 hours, I was breathing out of both nostrils and shedding my quilt cocoon. Sometimes it takes physical illness to appreciate good health.

Thanks, Cori, for this nightmare-inducing picture.

Thanks, Cori, for this nightmare-inducing picture.

I remember getting booster shots as a kid. Since playgrounds were veritable petri dishes of pure-dee yuck, the immunity elixirs were probably a good idea. A weak immune system makes you more susceptible to the pure-dee yucks of this world. And there are some yucks I just don’t want.

It’s no different with spiritual immunity.  A man, who was a leader in a small home-church I no longer attend, once told my grandmother that when it comes to my spiritual life, I am like a fishing bobber, going way down deep for a spell and then popping back up when I’ve lost my footing. Yes, his comments hurt. Yes, I wanted to yank out his eyebrows one by one. In all of his (un)intended cruelty, he was right. My life has had moments of deep, meaningful spiritual health followed by shallow, surface-skimming weakness. But see, I don’t want to be that person anymore. I don’t want to doggy-paddle my way through life. I don’t want to get caught up in the driftwood.

I have discovered that just as I need a doctor when I’m physically sick, I need one when my spiritual immunity is weak. But not the kind with a stethoscope and bad penmanship. I need THE Doctor, the One whose wounds healed me. His orders? First, I need to rest, and not just on Sunday, but I need to rest in Him. “My soul finds rest in God” (Psalm 62:1) for “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40:29). God tells us in Jeremiah 6 that to find rest for our souls, we should “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it.” His second prescription is to drink plenty of fluids, for Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37), for “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again” (John 4:14). I have certainly been tired and thirsty. I think it’s time I followed Doctor’s orders.