Life is all about change. When you trust an unchanging God - you have the ability to embrace change and trust Him in the midst of it. Join me as the Lord leads me through a new phase of my journey.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tuesday Thoughts ~ Suit Up!

My small group is wrapping up for the semester.  We are discussing chapter 6 of Ephesians tonight.  What a joyful journey it has been to study this incredible letter of Paul.  I have studied it many times - and I learn something new and am challenged and encouraged in amazing ways every single time!  I gave out an assignment this week to think of a personal/modern day way to communicate the armor of God.  I thought it would be fun to share what I came up with this time around.  You might be able to tell that I am in Chicago!

Here is the scripture:

Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

When I thought about how I could tell someone else about this with a picture that would make sense here in my city - I thought about being prepared for our very cold winter!

Girding your loins with truth (don't you love that phrase!)  became putting on that long underwear or leggings.  It is foundational.  On our coldest days, winter clothing alone is not enough.  You need that long underwear as a foundation under your clothes to truly stay warm.  God's truth is foundational to everything we are about.  We have the truth of the gospel as a solid foundation in our lives.

The breastplate of righteousness became those other warm clothes. It is about building layers of warmth.  Those individual lighter layers give much more warmth than one thick layer.  They protect from the cold.  That breastplate of righteousness protects our heart.  Those layers of the Righteousness of Christ protect my heart from the damage that the enemy would like to inflict.

Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace becomes my snow boots.  Good snow boots are essential here in Chicago.  You are going to have some very cold feet without them.  They also give you traction on the slippery sidewalks.  Understanding the gospel and being prepared to share our faith is truly the "feet" of our faith.  Knowing those things is great - but if we are not willing to put those shoes on and walk it out among our coworkers, neighbors, friends and family - it is of little use.  I think one of the qualities that stands out most when you meet a believer is peace.  The gospel brings peace because it reconciles us to God.  

The shield of faith becomes my Patagonia coat.  This coat is amazing.  In fact, it is so warm that I have to take it off immediately when I go inside or I will start sweating!  It is a long coat that comes below my knees.  To say it has been a life saver during this extremely cold winter would be an understatement!  Just as it shields me from the extreme temperatures and frostbite, that shield of faith is my weapon against the attacks of the enemy.  My faith is growing all the time as the Lord demonstrates His great love for me and His steadfastness.  I have learned that He is indeed trustworthy and with each experience, my faith is strengthened.

The helmet of salvation becomes my hood or hat.  I can tell you right now that if you only have your coat on and do not put anything on your head, you will be cold.  Body heat escapes through our head.  If you put up your hood or wear a hat, you keep that heat in your body and it helps to keep your core warm - not to mention your ears!  How essential this helmet of salvation is to our faith.  It protects or mind.  The knowledge of the reality of salvation in Jesus covers me and allows me to share that truth with others.  Just as Jesus is the head of the body, I am covered head to toe by His salvation, righteousness and truth.

The sword of the Spirit becomes my gloves.  Again, even if you have your coat on, if you don't have gloves on you will be cold!  Our fingers don't have great blood circulation anyway - so when they are exposed to extremely cold temperatures, it only takes minutes for them to actually hurt from the cold.  It is not a good feeling!  But, if you have a good pair of gloves, you can stay warm and your hands are equipped to function and work in the elements.  The sword of the Spirit - which is the Word of God is what equips us to live out our faith.  It is essential.  Knowing God's word supplies me with everything that I need to live out my faith and to share His Word with others.  God's Word is my weapon against the attacks of the enemy. God's Word brings life.  I want to be well trained and equipped to share it.

I am so grateful for a God who equips me for everything that comes my way.  He doesn't throw me out there without giving me everything that I need.  Of course, I have a choice when it comes to arming myself.  

I see plenty of people running around Chicago without the proper winter clothing.  Most of them have access to it - but just don't want to wear it.  Maybe it is a hassle or seems unnecessary, but I see them shivering and know that they made a reckless choice! 

I want to be intentional about arming myself each day with all that the Lord has so graciously provided me with and use it to His glory.

I'm going to choose to SUIT UP!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thankful Thursday ~ Random Thanksgiving

Right now, I am thankful for ~

grandbabies on the way

temperatures over 30 degrees

workouts with Marifran

fun days with Ezra

my neighbors

good friends near and far away

small group

God's Word

laughter

surprises

music

my sweet, hard working husband

big parking spots

phone calls with my daughters

my church

chocolate

chocolate and peanut butter

coffee with lots of cream

warm blankets

baby clothes

smiles

painting

Hamilton Elementary

big cities

family

crazy Chicago driving

lake Michigan

text messages

missionary friends

adoption

riding the EL (well, most of the time)

my neighborhood

Jesus - who gives me all of this and more.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Musings ~ In Him

Well - there are the slightest whispers of spring here in Chicago.  I know we could still see some snow, but these glimpses of sunshine and a bit warmer temps are truly welcome.  It is amazing how warm 30's and 40's feel after the winter!  I have been enjoying spending my days with precious Ezra Cauble.  Quincy is a big help as well!





This time with Ezra is so special.  I'm truly enjoying every minute. 

I have also been marveling at all the Lord has been up to in my life and in the lives of those around me.  I was reading in Acts 17 this week and came across verse 28 and this phrase jumped out at me.

". . . for it is in Him we live and move and exist."

I just sat back and soaked up those words.  

I often hear people say that they are hesitant to believe in and follow Jesus because they just don't think that life will be good.  It will somehow be less.

less fun

less exciting

less fulfilling

They fear losing who they are  - becoming some kind of Christian robot.

This passage reminds me that we can only truly find life in Jesus.  We only live, we only exist because of Him.  Anything less than that is but a cheap imitation of what life can truly be.

And, as far as losing who you are, you will only be the truest version of you when you are in relationship with your Creator.  He made you with your unique personality and traits, funny quirks and all.  

Sin distorts that.  

In Him, there is wholeness of body, soul, heart and mind.  

The true you can be known, matured and used to truly make a difference.

Don't let those lies about life, fulfillment and identity rob you of the best experience you could possibly have -- walking with Jesus.

"For it is in Him that we live and move and exist."

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Musings ~ Oh, my, my, my

Well - I promised to chat about my two weeks in Texas but I waited until today so I could share all the news.

This news is bliss times two.

This is about a Mimi that is looking forward to 2 -- yes that's right -- 2 grandchildren entering the world in 2014.

Heather is due June 3rd and she is having a baby boy.  Part of my two weeks was painting the nursery and helping to get it ready.  It was so much fun!  I got to hear the baby's heartbeat and hang out with Heather during all her doctor stuff.  I got to go to a shower that Heather's school gave her and it was such a sweet time.  It is fun to see my baby move into this new stage of life.  I am so proud of her - for the amazing woman that she has matured into and for the mom that she will be. 




AND AS IF THAT ISN'T ENOUGH TO CELEBRATE . . .



Ashley is having a baby, too!!!!!!!!!  She and James are expecting their first baby on October 2nd.  Here is his or her first picture.



Yes -- I'm going to get to welcome two grandbabies within four months of each other!

Alan and I could not be more excited.  What do you think about Mimi and Pops? 

I have to admit that I am blown away by God's goodness to me 
every. single. day.

But this, THIS

is just so much fun

so unbelievable

so sweet

that I hardly know what to do.

Ashley and I got to shop for some maternity clothes and start dreaming about a nursery and all the fun things we will do over these next few months preparing for this arrival.  Ashley will be such a wonderful, sweet Mom.  I can't wait to see it!

Did I mention my son in loves?  Both Cooper and James will be such great dads.  They are men who love Jesus, love their wives and will seek to be godly fathers.  It is such a blessing to see these two families grow and see the Lord working in each of their lives.

So - double bliss it is.  

WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday Musings ~ Perfectly Imperfect

I have had a great week and a half in Texas.  I'll write a post next week with all the happenings, but I'm too busy to do that now!  It has been a great time of serving, loving and learning.  I saw this quote this morning, and it seemed to sum up what I have been thinking about.


A beautiful disaster!  Seems to sum it up!  Being back in familiar places is always a reminder of what I have learned.  I have grown over these past few years . . . a lot . . . some of it fun and some of it painful.  I am reminded that the Lord is always, ALWAYS still working on me, in me and because of His grace, through me.

I think about Paul saying that He will boast in nothing except the cross of Christ and I think that the longer I live, the more I understand that statement.  There is such weakness in me - sin that has a party - thoughts I don't seem to have any control over and a critical spirit that likes to rear its ugly head.  

But . . . slowly, Jesus is making a difference in my life and I continually learn to yield to Him and trust that He is always for my good.  He is always working to make me more like Him.  He is always calling me nearer to Him, abandoning all that I think I need or want, to the GREATER that He has in mind.

It's true.  

I am broken.

I am imperfect.

I am full of flaws.

I am a disaster.

BUT

Jesus is Truth.

He is Complete.

He is Perfect.

He is flawless.

He is in the business of making much out of seemingly disastrous people.

For this, and so much more, I will indeed PRAISE HIM.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday Musings ~ A Worthy Manner

I am studying Ephesians with my small group this semester.  I have loved every minute of it!  We are in chapter 4 this week, looking at it in bite sized portions.  This is my jewel from the first 10 verses.

"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  Verses 1-3

What is my call?

To follow Jesus - to obey Jesus - to become more like Jesus.

What does it mean to walk in a manner worthy of my call?

walk with humility

walk with gentleness

walk with patience

walk with tolerance for one another in love

walk with diligence to preserve the unity of the Spirit

Seems simple enough - doesn't it?  
I mean, it is right there in black and white!

These things are actually very difficult

No let me say - they are impossible

without Jesus.

My natural self is more about:

pride

harshness

impatience

and

judgment.

Unity takes a lot of work.  
Everything in us fights for our own way at any cost.

It is going to take a lot less of me and whole lot more of Jesus.

Jesus is our peace.




Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wonderous Wednesday ~ All things wonderful

I have fallen off the blog wagon.  My life has been so out of sync that I don't seem to be able to get back in the groove of Monday and Thursday.  Alas, it doesn't really matter!  So - here is a little catch up on all the fun I have been having and all the sweet blessings along the way.

I spent the last 5 days in Columbus, OH seeing dear friends!  We lived in Columbus from 1993 to 1999.  It was a truly important 6 years in our lives in so many ways.  I love when I get to go back and reconnect with such significant and influential people in my life.  I spent time with my two closest friends - Aimee and Ann.  I got to see a lot of other wonderful people from my time there.  I got to laugh a lot, share what God is doing in my life and hear what He is doing in the lives of others.  What a treasured time!

I've also been busy painting up at Hamilton Elementary.  Here are three projects that I have been working on.



I was asked to paint this picture of Carl Sagan in the Science Lab.  Not really one of my favorite quotes . . . but I will say that if we are made of starstuff -- God still made the starstuff :-)

This is going to be an honor tree that will have the names of the Peebles Award winners for each year.  The Peebles Award is given to 4 adult volunteers each year.  I still have some work to do on this one - but it is almost finished!  Here are some details of the flowers.  The entire painting is about 9 feet by 6 feet.







My favorite comments by students are:

You are doing such a good job!

and

Wow - you are really good at staying in the lines!

Finally, one of the truly fun projects -- Just follow the elephant out the exit door in case of fire!


Mr. Gray, the principal at Hamilton, loves this quote.  He has literally turned this school around in the last 5 years - so I can see why he likes it!  It describes his approach to transforming this school!

Between spending time with lots of wonderful women, traveling, painting and holding babies - the writing seems to have dropped down in priority, but I'm pretty sure that is exactly how it has needed to be.

Have a wonderful week and bloom where you are planted!