Life to the Fullest – John 10:10

I'm Coming Back

John 10:9-11

I am the door.  If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.  10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  11 I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

I have been longing for a simpler life lately, a return to a time in my life where summers meant no school, very little work, and lots of long days playing outside and longer nights sipping tea on the porch and talking to my family.  I’m sure it wasn’t really as great as I remember, but it did all seem easier back when I was younger and had less to do.

It is in that mind set that I read these words of Jesus and am struck by…

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Deception by Sheri Rose Shepherd



My Daughter,

The world you live in is full of lies to cause you confusion about your faith. Deception is the weapon sent by Satan to deceive on all of my daughters. This trap was set on my first daughter Eve and she fell for it. Deception is dangerous and I want to protect you my daughter from a life filled with pain from poor choices. However, without my word hidden in your heart, you will not have the wisdom to know the difference between right and wrong or truth and lies. Carve my truth into your character and it will become to be your guard, your guide and your gauge to keep you from falling away from me!

Your King, Your Wisdom

For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. – Proverbs 2:6-8(NIV)


Celebrate You – Mary Southerland


Today’s Truth
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10, NIV).

Friend to Friend
As a high school junior, I decided it was time to take Homemaking 101. I can still see Mrs. Johnson’s face as she naively gazed at her new students. Bless her unsuspecting heart! She had no idea the challenge I brought to that class or to her career as a teacher. For weeks, I muddled through each lesson with a respectable, but less than stellar performance, until we hit the section on sewing. It would prove to be her undoing where I was concerned.

Being the veteran teacher that she was, Mrs. Johnson took a deep breath and doggedly plunged ahead in determination, vowing she could teach anyone to sew – even me. I decided to make a blouse, and chose what I thought was a simple McCall’s pattern. Mrs. Johnson was thrilled with my selection, competent that even I could make a blouse requiring approximately seven straight seams.

The pattern looked so simple and even pretty in the package. Then I opened it, gingerly unfolding and carefully arranging each delicate pattern piece, staring at the foreign documents before me. They were simply beyond human comprehension. I concluded that the pattern was actually a sinister trap of some accomplished but sadistic seamstress, and quickly stuffed the flimsy entrapments back into their package. After all, I was creative. I didn’t need a pattern. I knew exactly what I wanted to make. How hard could it be? Ignorance really can be bliss.

When I presented the completed blouse to Mrs. Johnson for a grade, her eyes widened as she stared in silence at my first and last attempt at sewing. “Interesting,” she muttered, obviously in shock. I made a “C” in her class, a sympathy grade if there ever was one.

And the blouse? I buried it in my back yard – literally.

Since that day, I always make sure I have at least one friend who can sew and the name of two seamstresses on hand at all times. However, in all my years of ministry, I can truthfully say that my inability to sew has never hindered God’s work in my life.

Some have even dared to suggest that since I have a daughter, I should not only sew, but that I should teach her to sew as well. Danna is a very bright and talented young woman, but sewing is not on her radar. So I buried that proposal like I buried that dreadful blouse I made.

Another line of thinking proposes that because I am a pastor’s wife, I should drag out my silver (if I had any) and host dinners and teas for the women of the church. Please know that those of you who actually enjoy these tortuous events have my undying admiration and respect. Seriously!

In our first full-time church, I actually invited the entire church to our home for a Christmas open house. Since there were several hundred church members at the time, I concluded it would take three nights to accommodate them all. Looking back, my only defense is a complete loss of sanity.

My family eventually grew to hate the month before the first open house. They had good reason. I put them all to work, cleaning and scrubbing every square inch of the house. I bought and hoarded food, and threatened to hurt anyone who even thought about infiltrating my “stash.” I even managed to destroy Thanksgiving weekend by insisting that we decorate the house, inside and out, for Christmas – not in anticipation of celebrating Christ’s birth, but in preparation for the “open houses” to be held the following weekend.

For three years, I tried to be the “hostess with the most-ess” until my husband put a stop to the madness by asking one simple question, “Honey, why are you doing these open houses?” The answer that popped into my mind and out of my mouth was absurd. “Because that’s what pastor’s wives do!” I feebly responded. “Where does it say that, honey?” he asked. Dan went on to set me free. “We have done our last open house. Please don’t ever do anything else as a woman in ministry because you think it fits the man-made profile of a pastor’s wife. Do what God has gifted and called you to do – period – and never apologize to anyone for doing so.” I do not have the gift of hospitality, but in every church we have ever served, there have been women who do and delight in using that gift for Him.

What do you love to do? What energizes you? What is your heart passion? What gifts and abilities do others see in you? What did God create you to do? Ask Him to make His plan for your life clear. Trust Him with all your heart. Submit your will to His, and choose now to walk through the doors He opens.

Let’s Pray
Father, I praise You because I am made in Your image. Please help me live my life on the basis of that truth and not on the lies of the world. Teach me how to see myself through Your eyes. 
In Jesus’ name, 

Now It’s Your Turn
Here is your assignment for the week. Read Psalm 139 at least one time every day. In your journal, write each verse in your own words. At the end of the week, set aside time to celebrate who you are in Christ. Have a praise party – just you and God – or invite a few girlfriends to join you in celebrating how special you are to Him.

More from the Girlfriends
I have struggled with my identity and value for years. Fear of failure once kept me from dreaming new dreams. No more! My dreams seem to get bigger with every year of life that passes, and I really believe it is because my new perspective of who I am is more accurate than it has ever been. I am a daughter of the King. I belong to God and He loves me. No one can take my place in the Father’s heart, and I am indispensable to no one but Him. That is my prayer for you, girlfriend, that you will know and live out the truth that you are special in God’s eyes.











Today’s Word With Joel &Victoria Osteen – Move Forward

Today's A New Day


“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
(Isaiah 43:18-19, ESV).


Oftentimes, people get stuck in life because they’ve been hurt or betrayed, and they end up settling where they are. They allow the disappointment to keep them from the divine appointment. Don’t let that be you! Don’t let what somebody did or didn’t do for you be an excuse to live sour. Don’t let a bad break, a divorce, a betrayal or a bad childhood cause you to settle where you are. Move forward and God will pay you back. Move forward and God will vindicate you. Move forward and you’ll come into a new beginning.

Nothing that has happened…

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He should have never let her into the apartment

He should have never let her into the apartment. Adam groaned inwardly as Emma took the photo albums that lay on the desk. There were some embarrassing pictures of him – like the one taken when he was three and he dressed up as a girl and put his mum’s pink lipstick. There was also a picture he took when he went for a holiday in Saudi Arabia with his dad when he was five – in this picture he was hugging Lalitha tightly, an Indian girl, who was his first crush, with his dad and Lalitha’s dad in the background laughing.

As Emma saw these pictures, a smile crept over face and she seemed to relax. Adam sighed with relief. He wasn’t sure how to cheer her up. He had suggested they go out for a walk in the park where Emma likes to hang out all the time. But, Emma wanted to stay inside and talk. Not that Adam had a problem listening. It was just that he didn’t know how to cheer girls up. With guys, it’s a different story. You just have to offer them a solution. But, girls liked to analyze and discuss and criss-cross everything.

But, all his female friends told him he was such a good listener. And that they felt a heavy load lift off them after they talked to him. He liked that in himself. Even Lucy, his half-sister rang him whenever she had trouble with Luke, her husband.

Adam quietly sat beside Emma as she was still going through the old photo albums. Emma had just broken up with her two-timing boyfriend. Adam knew from the start that Stephen wasn’t a good guy. But, he never said anything to Emma. Mainly because there was just nothing to say. It was just this odd feeling he had when Emma first introduced him to Stephen in the university cafe. It wasn’t anything specific. It was a strong feeling about him, something that said this guy is trouble.

The funny thing is Adam had this feeling about Stephen whenever they met. After a few times of feeling this way, Adam knew it was his gut instinct telling him to back off and trying to warn him. So, when Emma had planned on numerous occasions to invite Adam along with her and her boyfriend, Adam made one excuse after another and didn’t go along with her. He felt bad for not being entirely honest with Emma. But, how could he explain to Emma what he was feeling?

Yesterday, in the town centre, Emma had seen Stephen kissing Azza, one of the University Student Ambassadors. Turns out, Stephen and Azza had been seeing each other behind Emma’s back for over 2 weeks now.

Poor Emma, Adam thought sadly. She deserved better. In a rom-com, this would be the ideal situation for him to show her his feelings. But, no. Adam, nice and sweet Adam decided against it. He didn’t want Emma to think he was taking advantage of her situation. He loved her, since the first day he met. Okay maybe not since the first day. But, there was something there – on the first day, a connection he felt towards Emma. Her innocent smile and laugh. How she laughs at every minute incident. How she has a smiling face. As the days went by, they became close friends and seemed to desire and enjoy each other’s company. He started noticing all the cute little Emma-details.  How she wears matching scarves and jewelry. How she waits for him outside the lecture theater for them to go in together.

As he developed romantic feelings toward Emma, he wasn’t scared or doubtful of them. He felt comfortable about them and decided that if these feelings persisted till the end of the first year of University, he would tell her how he felt.

But, three months after the semester began, Emma had met Stephen. Oh how Adam’s spirit was crushed the day he was introduced to Stephen.

Well, it just wasn’t meant to be, Adam had consoled himself.

He had never admitted to anyone but he felt quite envious of Stephen. How lucky Stephen was to get someone good-hearted and innocent like Emma. But, Stephen didn’t deserve Emma. He was an idiot for cheating on such a wonderful girl.

Adam wondered whether Stephen cheated because Emma didn’t wear make-up. Emma was always neat and tidy, very presentable in her appearances. She wore the latest trends, but at the same time mixed her own unique sense of style into it, by wearing mismatched clothes, which Adam thought was very cute, clever and different. Emma straightened her hair everyday, but she never wore make-up. Azza on the other hand, wore tons of make-up. Adam had seen Azza once without make-up. Azza looked entirely different, no one would say it was the same girl.

As Emma put the photo albums back on the desk, she asked Adam what he was thinking about.

“Nothing, I was just thinking how Stephen didn’t deserve you,” Adam replied.

Emma smiled and said, “You know Adam, from the moment I met him I knew he wasn’t right for me. I don’t know how I knew that. I just knew. I had this bad feeling about him. But, I ignored it. I was so intent on finding a boyfriend.”

Adam was shocked, he wasn’t expecting that.

Emma looked up at Adam. They gazed at each other in silence.

“You know Adam, from the day I met you, I had a crush on you. I brushed those feelings away. I didn’t want to ruin a good friendship. I wanted to tell you so many times about how I felt. But, I was afraid I wasn’t good enough for you.” Emma’s voice cracked.

Adam couldn’t believe this. Was this really happening? Or was he dreaming? His mouth froze.

Emma mistook his silence and felt embarassed. “I am sorry Adam. I didn’t mean to tell you all that. It just came out. Don’t think I am looking for Boyfriend No.2.”

Adam didn’t know what to say. Would Emma believe if he told her that these were the words that Adam was aching to tell her? That every time he saw her with Stephen, he wanted nothing more than to punch Stephen in the face and make Emma his own?

Emma got up to leave and as she did so, she knocked over a KUONI travel magazine. As she bend down to pick it up, a few drawings slipped out from the magazine. Adam’s face froze. There was a drawing of Emma he did the night before, and he also has a habit of writing captions for each of his drawings.

As Emma’s eyes scanned her own beautiful portrait, her eyes widened at the writing below the portrait.

To Emma, when will you realize how much I love you?

“Adam?” She looked at him, confused.

Adam’s face was still frozen and he was tongue-tied. In a rom-com, he would have told her how he had feelings for her from the very beginning and how he was planning to confess his love towards the end of the first year of University.

But, this is real life. So, real life Adam stood up, his whole body shaking and took her face in his hands and kissed her.

Well maybe it wasn’t so bad, letting her into the apartment.



Energy theft: toxic forms of shame and guilt by Marty Cooper

NOTE :I DID NOT WRITE THIS POST. THIS ARTICLE IS TAKEN FROM THE WEBSITE: http://www.psychedinsanfrancisco.com/energy-theft/

Democracy is coming] From the homicidal bitchin’/That goes down in every kitchen/To determine who will serve and who will eat. 

—Leonard Cohen, “Democracy”


Sarah, 27, who is about to finish graduate school with a PhD in engineering, hates to call her mother…and does so, dutifully, and with dread, every week. Saturday mornings come with a call that her father always picks up. “Hi Dad, how are you?” She’s not close with her father, who has never seemed that interested in her. “Well,” he says, “Retirement is better than not. Doing some golf. Things are going ok,” this being a version of what he always says before, “Oh, here’s your mother. Be well.” She wishes him well as her stomach knots and her mother gets on the phone. “Hi, honey.” “Hi, Mom, how are you?” “Well, you know, it’s not easy getting older and your father is watching too much TV, and your brother never calls. I just can’t believe how he can treat his mother that way. His mother! I’m glad you’re such a good daughter…” Sarah goes silent as her mother complains and gossips about her life, until Sarah, after an hour of little speaking (and not being asked about herself), reaches that dreadful moment: “Mom, I have to get going,” and then the silence, the pause, and the, “Oh, really? So soon?” Sigh. “Well, I guess you have your own life.” This plays out each week, and the few times when Sarah couldn’t call were met with the basic message of, “What, are you like your brother, selfish and cruel?” And the other time or two when Sarah has challenged her mother to be more positive, or to recognize her own needs, have been met with, “You need to just listen to me and stop being so selfish, critical and judgmental!” Feeling no win is possible, Sarah has sunk into resignation.

Human relations are, to say the least, complex, and one dimension that often is submerged under the more obvious features (e.g., typical arguments, desires, boundaries) is that of “energy.” We usually think of energy in terms of physical systems: gas in our car, electricity for our appliances, food for our bodies. But there is also the energy of human relations: does someone induce stress in us by being abrasive? Does a loved one give us a hug or a criticism? Do we feel unsafe with a certain person, and not with another? Does a certain belief system, as enacted in a group, support love and growth, or fear and frozenness? All of these have energy aspects and consequences, which, if we ignore or miss them, can have dire consequences, especially when it comes to depression (see the last two articles: here and here).

So in this article I’ll focus not on the healthy version of energy relations among humans-where there’s a give and take, a mutuality, and respect of and for each others life energy, and a basic trust that there’s enough energy to go around-but on the much more problematic way in which energy can be taken, or stolen, from each other. Two primary ways in which individuals and groups do this is through manipulating guilt and shame.

Shame and Guilt

As short definitions:  shame is that experience of “I am bad” that tells us we are on the margin of what is acceptable to our tribe (here is a past article on shame). Guilt is that experience that “I’ve done bad,” that tells us that we have broken codes (ours/our groups’).

Basically, every emotion and emotional state are there to tell us something, and orient us to something. Sadness lets us know we feel we’ve lost something; anger tells us we are registering our boundary being violated. So too with guilt and shame: they serve to signal us about when we are out of alignment with our group, and to repair relations. Given that we “grew up” as a species in small hominid bands, we had to be tightly wired to each other to survive, both outside threats and intra-tribal conflicts. How our tribe saw us, what they thought of us, and our relative status (determined by the mores of the group) was literally a survival issue. Get tossed out of your tribe for bad behavior and you had hostile tribes and predators to get snapped up by.

However, emotions, as with all communications systems, can break, can go haywire and send too many, or the wrong, messages. And they can be hijacked by others who want to manipulate us towards their own ends. There’s nothing wrong with guilt and shame per se, since they give us valuable information about something very important: how am I misaligned with my group, and what do I need to do to repair those relations (restoring safety)? But their problem is that they are very hard to hold as neutral information, because their power in aligning us with our group is in their ability to reach in to our sense of self, our identity, and scorch it. I analogize shame to one of those electric dog collars: when we get too close to the perimeter of what’s acceptable, we get shocked (our self is threatened with “badness” and abandonment), and thus we learn to not go there.

Healthy and Toxic Shame and Guilt

That powerful access of shame and guilt to our core sense of self is what makes it such a powerful sculptor of behavior, both for the positive and the negative, for social cohesion and self-growth, as well as for exploitation and predation.

For instance, if guilt is authentic, meaning that the rules we are breaking are actually our own, our core ethics, then to feel guilty is to actually tell us we’re out of alignment with our own integrity. Which is pretty useful to know (similar to a chiropractic problem, when we are not aligned with our core, it throws our whole system off). Or with shame, as the philosopher Ken Wilber points out, if we don’t have it early in our development (regardless of our age), then we don’t have the information we need to be a functioning member of our group, knowing the rules and able to integrate, and can get stuck at a “pre-moral” stage of development. Which is miserable for everyone involved.

However, these same useful (if painful) mechanisms can be turned against us by others who know (usually unconsciously) how to exploit them, and serve to drain off our own energy for their use. Guilt can be, then, inauthentic, like a computer virus, which hijacks our own circuitry for its purposes. Or shame becomes triggered not when we are doing something inherently anti-social, but rather when we are doing something that runs against the particular needs of an individual/group/family to have us hew to its rules, in order to have us accessible as an energy resource. In other words, the shame is not signaling that our behavior is anti-social (against social connectedness and cohesiveness), but rather is a chain that’s being yanked to keep us in line with another’s needs.

Sarah and Mom:  Energy Theft

Take the vignette with Sarah-how is this “energy theft” happening? Well, Sarah, as evidenced by her dread in calling each week, does not get much out of the calls to her mother. Her mother, on the other hand, gets to monopolize her attention (attention is a form of energy for our nervous systems), and download her complaints and discontents into Sarah, which frees up energy, like offloading heavy packages to someone else. Which is not a problem per se, except that it has not been negotiated on the basis of respect for Sarah’s energy (which would sound like, “Sarah, do you mind if I vent for a while?” and then Sarah gets accepted whether she says yes or no). I.e., it’s not consensual. Instead, the access to Sarah’s attention and energy is maintained by threats to her sense of self. Basically, Mom has learned to hold a dart gun to Sarah’s self, filled with the toxic versions of shame and guilt; if Sarah moves in a way that Mom doesn’t like-meaning that makes Sarah less available as a source of energy-then Mom pulls the trigger, leaving Sarah writhing in guilt and shame.

Now, admittedly, this is a fairly stark and ugly way of breaking down the exchange that happens between Sarah and her Mom, but if you use this as a template to do an “energy audit” (like the electric company might do of your house) of your own relations, you are more than likely to find instances of this kind of “energy theft.” Maybe not as severe, but there. As part of what we humans do, we look for “free energy” and finding a way to secure it, and when we’re living under a sense of threat (external or internal), we become less and less ethical in grabbing it. Sarah’s mother, for whatever historical reasons, apparently doesn’t feel she has enough energy, in herself or in the world, and so justifies herself stealing it from her daughter, through manipulating the behaviorally modifying mechanisms of shame and guilt, and then blaming her daughter.

Ugly as this mode of human relations is (especially among those who are supposed to have our best interests in mind), it has to be seen and assessed if we are to live full, authentic lives.

Energy Theft and Depression

This is especially true when it comes to depression, which (as I described in the last newsletter, here) has an essential function of monitoring our energy levels and, if it sees us not responding to diminishing/excessive energy, will shut us down. If our relationships are perpetually draining, in which there is a theft going on, a taking without giving, then depression will likely come in to balance the equation. Ironically, depression, if actually listened to and studied, will point us (like some kind of gas-leak detection device) to where energy is leaking out of our systems.

Sarah, who has settled into a resigned, and at times depressed, position in relation to her parents and mother, has to learn to protect her own energy if she is to avoid depression. Given how we’re built, and the “energy regulating” function of depression, it’s simply not possible to keep bleeding energy, or allow others to steal our energy, without triggering depression. Depression is trying to tell us where our energy balance is untenable, and if we don’t listen, we will suffer.

As usual, if we don’t manage ourselves consciously, depression will do it unconsciously.

(As a final note: this focus on energy and social bonds, and theft, is very complex and multifaceted, with huge issues around culture, developmental maturity, ignorance vs. sociopathy, etc. Who owns an individual’s energy is going to be answered differently in different cultures and families. So, not denying this complexity, nonetheless, in relation to depression, we can hold a belief that our family is owed our energy, but if that energy is not balanced by a sense of social belonging, or duty fulfilled, i.e., if there is a net loss of energy, depression usually comes calling. At this level, it’s much more an issue of physics than culture.)


5 Big Love Lessons for 2013


I wrote a newsletter about this time of year, shortly after my husband was killed on July 25th 2010.  I hadn’t written anything in nearly six months to my friends and clients.  I kept wondering, what will I write about?  I finally decided.  I wanted to share the five big LOVE lessons I have learned from my experience of being in love and married to Keith and then having to start my life over without him.  This was before I started my blog.  Recently, several clients have requested that I post it in my blog.  So here goes, with some slight changes. (Yes, I am still learning.) At this time, I am in love with my boyfriend Patrick and I believe that these love lessons have helped my find this amazing man.

Each opportunity in life gives us an opportunity for growth. Sometimes the experience SUCKS rotten bananas, but painful experiences…

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