The Smell of Sheep


My husband and I leave in a couple of days for Cyprus. I am feeling overwhelmed a bit by trying to prepare once again for another international trip. Don’t misunderstand. I love it once we get there, but getting there… the cleaning, washing, packing, setting things in order. so we can leave… The task seems daunting right now.

In fact, I feel like I am standing on the threshold of the whole year, looking down the narrow tunnel of what I know. It is like looking through a telescope that is not very powerful and colored with dark glass. I see a trips to Ethiopia, Cyprus, Israel, Germany, Kazakhstan, Italy, Syria, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. I imagine myself preparing for all those trips, making the long flights, dealing with jet lag, listening, reaching, teaching, praying, and then finally the reward… connecting with the precious people. 

There is great joy in all of this. Still sometimes I long for another life. One that would allow me not to travel so much. At heart, I really am a homebody, and there is nothing I would rather do than stay in my home and write, do stain glass, cook, entertain, and make jewelry. I also take great pride in the art of homemaking and all that entails. I love my friends here… the community that surrounds us with love.

Traveling disrupts all of that.

I know it is selfish and silly, but today that is how I feel.

And in this singular selfish thought I am pondering a line I heard from a preacher once. He was praying over a pastor and his wife. He said, “The smell of sheep is upon you.” That statement really hit home with me. I could identify with that.

There is a separation that takes place when we are committed to the ministry and to pastoring in particular. Our goals must benefit the sheep. We must spend time with them and care for them. Our lives are intertwined with them.

In real life, I am sure shepherds smelled of the sheep and the outdoors. When they got around others, this could be offensive. Maybe it would be something a shepherd would be embarrassed of… after having been with the sheep all day and night… to come in and smell like sheep. But that smell meant he was putting his heart and soul into his task.

Tonight as I write this, I feel the smell of sheep upon me. I am separated from the world. I can’t live a life of luxury or just doing my own will. I must think about the sheep that I am called to… in other lands… where God has opened doors for us.

I must not be embarrassed that this smell is upon me. It is a sign of my calling. And as I pack my bags again, even though I feel faithless at times, I must press on as the Good Shepherd who cares for my own soul, without complaint or withdrawal.

15 thoughts on “The Smell of Sheep

  1. Bonnie ,
    I know a tiny bit of what you are talking about after 25 years of dealing with delinquent children ,and by the way ,I would not trade a minute of it ,except the times when I wasn’t as thankful as I could have been , but “YOU GO GIRL” and God be with you and Wayne .
    P.S. I will say one thing about smells . Your house smelled soooooo good while you were cooking for shabatt last week .

  2. The smell of sheep. Bleating hearts. See that! I answered with only one simple, easy pun. That is a record.
    Keep us up to date Bonnie. Find time to rest in every country you visit . . . and new ways to do so.

  3. Bonnie it is so much better to have the smell of sheep on you than the smell of goats. So funny you wrote this because last night i dreamed of goats and I knew the Lord was dealing with something I was being stubborn about. At the end of the dream I sang the first line of the song, God rest you merry gentlemen. Let nothing you dismay. Of course it is was the Lord speaking to me about resting and not being stubborn about it. I spent the whole day doing nothing and letting every thing go . That is hard for me. So girl i agree it is your calling, but the Lord will also give you times of refreshing where you will be restored. His gentle but heavy hand is upon me as I speak. You are a blessed woman to have good friends and fellowship. Still there is always the sacrifices that separate our flesh from our way to His greater and higher levels of being and doing. I am proud that you are one to embrace it even though there is a cost. That is what makes its so beautiful. Your life will flavor many nations as you choose willingly to serve in His glorious ever spreading garden of His delight.

  4. Bonnie,
    As always, your writing ignites all of my senses!! The rewards far outweigh the sacrifice. Just know that when you are away, that sweet fragrance of you and Wayne linger in my heart and the Holy Spirit reminds us to keep you lifted before the Throne for His strength, health, grace and wisdom to endure the race before you.

  5. Dear Bonnie,
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and vulnerability with me and others. Your article really touched me, especially the part about being a homebody and “I love my friends here… the community that surrounds us with love.” That is what I miss the most: the closeness of friends, like you and Wayne.

    We are scheduled to sign a contract on a house today and I have spent the morning praying and wrestling with God. Finally God reminded me of the prayers I used to pray when I was single and uncluttered. My prayer back then was “God send me to the hardest place, where no one else wants to go”. I used to think that was Africa, but now I think that is Europe. With the decline of the dollar and the stubbornness of the hearts, most people avoid Europe. Meanwhile, Africa is in revival.

    The cost of obedience… I ponder that a lot lately. I am grateful to friends like you and Wayne who have paid the price and who serve as examples of lives given over to the Kingdom. Thinking of your days in Myaki, Ukraine humbles me. Take courage, dear friend. Your life counts and I am one of the smelly sheep who is thankful for your sacrifice.

    Be blessed and refreshed as you travel.

  6. Emma,

    You, who have selflessly traveled the world, are an inspiration to me!

    Look forward to seein you soon.


  7. Dear Linda,

    Yes, the reward far outweigh the cost. I need to remember that all the time.

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Linda. You are in our thoughts and prayers.


  8. Dear Maggie,

    You are missed here! But you are becoming part of a new community and fellowship that will surround you with love. Your sacrifices are so eternally valuable.


  9. Dear Serah,

    You and Matt are two of our heroes, and the smell of sheep is certainly upon you! Thank you for laying your life down for so many, like your parents and others who have gone before you.

    See you soon,

  10. Bonnie,
    I just love your writings. I hope I don’t get fired reading them. When I am at work and click on I can’t seem to click off. Great stuff.

    Have a great trip, know that our prayers go with you daily.


  11. Thank you Bonnie, for giving your life unto HIM, unto the precious people that HE sends you to, and unto US as you share your life in these pages.

    Much love


  12. And here I sit, wishing I could join you on one of your adventures. To be able to sit at yours & waynes “feet” & glean from you.

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