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.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Musings ~ An honorable man

Until last Thursday, my mother still had her 4 siblings.  They range from 98 to 79 (my Mom is the baby!)  They are a remarkable bunch -- Nell, Jean, Allen, Ruth and Ann.  Allen passed away last Thursday, just 9 days before his 90th birthday.  He had diabetes for many years and lived a long, remarkable life in light of that.  His obituary was filled with all of his accomplishments and acts of service.  He was a remarkable man by any measure.  I did not get to go down to Texas for his funeral.  I struggled with that all weekend but know that I can honor him and his memory wherever I am.

What an obituary can not cover is what he meant personally to so many people.  He was an amazing father - raising my wonderful, beautiful, amazing cousins - Leslie, Laurie and Meredith.  He was married for 65 years to my aunt Betty.  I have so many memories of spending time at their house growing up.  They lived on the same big lot of land that my grandparents lived on.  I could run from house to house.  I was always excited to see them all each time I was in Livingston.  He worked at the bank with my grandfather.  I loved to go to the bank and see them both.  They always welcomed me with open arms and made me feel very special and important.

My Uncle Allen always had time for me.  He wanted to know how I was doing and what I had been up to.  He genuinely cared about my life.  As an adult, I always looked forward to a chance to see him.  He had a remarkable memory and would ask me about specific things I was involved in that I had mentioned in a Christmas letter.  He would always make a point to encourage me in my spiritual walk.  He showed such joy at hearing about a mission trip, a class I was teaching or some way I was serving in my church.  He loved hearing about the things my girls were doing also.

He was a great story teller and his face would light up as he spoke about his travels, his family or something currently in the news.  He was interested in so many things.  Talking with him was always fascinating and fun.  He loved to laugh and he had eyes that danced.

He was one of the kindest people I have ever known.  He cared for others deeply and was always willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others.  He exemplified a life of service and made quite an impact on his hometown.

He suffered, physically, from the impact of diabetes.  To talk with him, you would have never known.  Eventually, you could see the problems that he had with his feet and legs, but his attitude and outlook on life remained joyful.  He was positive and upbeat, always.  He loved Jesus and that allowed him to trust his Savior with each day, always looking for the good.

He was beloved by his wife, daughters, son in laws, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  He was loved by his sisters, brother in laws, nieces, nephews and their children as well.  He will be sorely missed by all of us, but he leaves behind a legacy of hard work, laughter, faith, family and just a bit of mischief.

Thank you, Uncle Allen, for the great love you have shown me my entire life.  I love you and miss you already!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thursday's Thoughts ~ Test Yourself

Self assessment is an epidemic in our culture.  You can come across a test for just about anything you can imagine.  You can go to the gym for an assessment of your physical condition.  You can find tests to tell you what city or country you should live in, what career you should pursue and who you should date.  You can find out what actress or actor you most resemble and even what Disney tune is your lifesong.

But how often to we step back and assess our walk with Jesus?

"Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith.  Don't drift along taking everything for granted.  Give yourselves regular check ups.  You need first hand evidence, not hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you.  Test it out.  If you fail the test, do something about it."  2nd Corinthians 13:5-8 MSG

You could find yourself falling into legalism very easily . . . so don't go there!  Certainly looking at time spent with God, your prayer life, your giving and serving along with your obedience will be indicative of your relationship with Jesus, but as we know, those things can be present but perhaps not heartfelt. 

Have you ever been surprised when someone comes to you truly struggling and it seemed like all was well, even great?  I have!  I'm sure I have given the impression that I'm doing great also, even when I am not.

Paul exhorts us to test ourselves to make sure we are solid in the faith.  He warns us to not take this gift we have been given for granted (relationships need tending to!) and to not just drift along.

Drifting along is deceivingly dangerous.  It could look like (but not limited to!) just showing up at a church service or Bible study and listening to a message thinking, "that was nice," or getting through a  Bible reading just to check it off a list.  Perhaps you have missed a week or two or three of fellowship with other believers and the longer you stay out, the easier it is to drift away.

What if we ask ourselves  . . .

if Jesus is such a part of our lives that He is on our minds throughout the day?

if He is in on our decisions, conversations and Lord over our schedule?

if He frequently comes up in everyday conversations with others?

if we hunger and thirst for His Word?

if we love talking with Him about everything?

if we are looking to Him for direction continually?

if we are listening to His voice and obeying, even if it seems a bit crazy?

if we can't help but talk about Him because we love Him so?

It is a heart assessment as much as anything.  

Ask someone who lives every day life with you where they see Jesus in your life.

If you find that you are not where you desire to be, Paul tells us to do something about it.  Don't allow yourself to drift away ever so easily.

Take it before the Lord, first!  Confess that you have been drifting or taking His gift of salvation for granted.

Ask Him to draw you back to Himself.

Check on those spiritual disciplines and shake them up a bit.

Read scripture from a different version and/or read it out loud.  Write out your favorite passages and keep them with you.

Pray out loud and/or write your prayers down in a journal.

Serve!  Do something for somebody else.  Look for a neighbor that needs some help or encouragement.  Volunteer in your church.  Reinvent your every day tasks by remembering that everything you do can be done for Jesus' glory.

Give!  Stretch yourself.  Do the unexpected.  
Trust God with something scary.  Take a risk.

Tell someone else of your struggle and build in some accountability. 

Everyone struggles.

You are not going to freak someone out.

Step out in faith.

Dare to dream big dreams.

While we are assessing everything under the sun, 
let's not neglect the very thing that matters most!

Be encouraged.  God is for you.  He wants you to grow in your faith and in your love for Him and others.  You are not alone.  
He will honor the heart who seeks after Him.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A few thoughts ~ hope amidst devastation

What do we do with devastating news?  

What do we do when someone we love is hurting?  

What do we say when someone's world is rocked beyond their control?

A friend of mine if hurting today.  It has been going on for a little while but I just learned of it today and I am devastated for her.  

I don't like seeing someone I love . . . hurt.

Sometimes, the pain of this world just seems to be too much to bear.

Sometimes it seems that evil is winning and goodness is losing.

Hope seems distant at best 
and the crushing weight of the present situation looms large.

I can't fix it.

There really isn't much I can do to make it better.

So - what do I do?

I have to take it to the Lord.

Only He can make a difference.

Only He can move in hearts and minds in such a way as to 
change the course of events.

"The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord
He turns it wherever He wishes."  Proverbs 21:1

Only He can give wisdom.

"If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously
 and without reproach, and it will be given to him."  James 1:5

Only He can restore what is broken.

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and 
saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Psalm 34:18

"Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth.
Will you not be aware of it?  I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, 
rivers in the desert."
Isaiah 43:18-19

He is not unaware of our pain and suffering.
He inhabits it.

We are not alone.
He walks beside us.

To my sweet friend, I would say~

You are loved.

You are valuable.

You are beautiful in every way.

In Jesus, there is strength, hope, wisdom, joy and peace.

This story is not over.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday's Thoughts ~ Glory beyond all comparison

Blogging and being in TX just don't mix!  I have been having the best time this past week while staying with Ashley, visiting with Heather, holding sweet baby Cooper and hosting a baby shower for Ashley.  I have been able to see friends and family.  It has been an incredible week.  I am actually heading back to Chicago tomorrow morning.  I left there on May 29th!  Guess it is time to go home!

Time off from blogging does not equal time off from the Word!  I wanted to share my thoughts on some amazing scripture in 2nd Corinthians 4.

Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing in us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison while we look not at the things seen, for the things seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

I have always loved this passage.  It is so full of hope!  I have had 3 friends lose their fathers in the last couple of weeks.  It's true -- our earthly bodies are decaying. What this passage offers is perspective.

Physical pain and broken bodies are real.

Affliction and suffering are real (remember that these words are written by Paul as he refers to momentary and light affliction -- the man who was beaten, imprisoned, persecuted, nearly drowned and continually risked his life for the cause of Christ.)

But, Paul reminds us that this is not all there is.  No matter how bad things are, they are nothing in comparison to the eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison.

The here and now is temporary.

*Don't be fooled by what you see

*Don't be fooled by what you feel

How difficult it is some days to keep our eyes on the eternal 

to trust God's plans and the bigger picture 

to remember that we are here but a short time
and that eternity sprawls out before us

I get so caught up in the temporal
but I desire to live for the eternal

Do I trust God with all the temporary 
while walking with Him toward the eternal?

Do I really believe that there is more than the here and now?

Do I trust Him with the suffering, injustice and death around me?

Can I rest in His promise and provision for eternity?

We do not grieve as those with no hope.

He is good.

He is real.

He is eternal.

I will not lose heart.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thankful Thursday ~ Reflections on Colorado

I realize what a gift from the Lord and a privilege it is to spend the better part of 6 weeks in the mountains.  It has been a wonderful summer and I cherish each moment.  I can't sum it up any better than offering a few pictures of the highlights.

Mom and Dad's visit

So many deer this summer - absolutely beautiful!

Alan got to do a lot of fishing while he was here.

Surrounded by such incredible beauty.

Some stunning sunsets this year.

A visit from my beautiful, Ashely, and soon to be grandson!

A visit from Whitney.
Heather and precious baby Cooper!
This smile  . . .
Cooper and Heather

Vallecito Creek Trail

The sheer creative power of God.

My constant companion -- the Quinster!

It has been an amazing summer in every way.  I have loved the quiet and the noise!  I have loved some alone time and the company of family and friends.  I have soaked it up and I will save it up while I am away.  I am so very thankful for this place.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tuesday's Thoughts ~ Written on my heart

The Lord just has me in a tender place this morning.  I had an idea about something I wanted to write about, and He just completely changed it as I read 2nd Corinthians 3. 

You are a letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 
being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, 
cared for by us, written not with ink, 
but with the Spirit of the living God, 
not on tablets of stone 
but on tablets of human hearts.

Beside this passage in my Bible, I have written "the heart of ministry."  I think it is also the mystery of ministry.  The Lord places people in my life - whether they are family, neighbors, small group women, church friends, teachers, workout buddies or chance encounters that become friends and He writes their lives and their stories on my heart.  Those stories then are reflected in my own life.

It isn't casual - it isn't compartmentalized.  

It isn't a day at the office.

It is a caring that seeps into my heart and my bones.

The Spirit actually writes these names into my heart and soul.

Just as the 10 commandments were written by the finger of God on the stone tablets, these people are carved eternally into my heart.

It is wonderful and sometimes terrible.

It is filled with laughter, love, fun 
and tears, criticism and suffering.

It is exhilarating and disappointing.

It is hopeful and heartbreaking.

It is easy and it is hard.

It is joyous and painful.

It is natural and it is contrived.

It is free and it is costly.

It is smiles and proud moments and it is heartache and frustration.

It is athletic events, plays, choir concerts and 
rehabs, mental hospitals, planned parenthood and jails.

It is elation and the pit of despair.

It is being understood and misunderstood.

It is light and it is darkness.

The hope and mission is in verses 5, 6, 17 and 18.  
It is about the Spirit.  He is the source of our adequacy - not ourselves.

He gives life, freedom and transformation.

Ministry is life and life is not about me and it is not about you.

Life is about the Spirit.

Life is about Jesus and we get the privilege of entering into the wonderful, messy business of changed lives.

So many names are written on my heart over these last 37 plus years of the Lord inviting me to join in on His mission.

In the world's eyes, I certainly do not have a perfect record --- far from it!  In fact, it is pretty messy and I've made a lot of mistakes.  

But in that imperfect love, the Spirit has done some amazing things and there are many stories that are still being written.

Like initials carved in a tree, those imprints and even scars remain.  They are my treasure, my pain, my joy, my sorrow, my gift.

It is the core of who I am in Jesus and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thursday's Thoughts ~ Just read the directions

First Corinthians 16:13-14 is one of those jewels in Scripture where living life is summed up very succinctly.  We can make it very complicated when it is perhaps simpler than we think.

"Be on the alert, 
stand firm in the faith, 
act like men, be strong.  
Let all that you do be done in love."

Be on the alert.

Pay attention!  Certainly be on the alert for our true adversary.  We are told that he is always on the prowl. (1st Peter 5:8)
Be alert to the whispers, shouts and leading of the Holy Spirit.

Be alert for opportunities to love, serve, share, encourage and bless others.

Be intentional.

Stand firm in the faith.

I don't know when we have needed this more.  The pressure and temptation to be "less so" in our beliefs and actions is pervasive.  There is pressure to back off, fit in and shut up.  Jesus calls us to be kind but courageous.

Act like men.

Well, this is a little problematic for me!  In this context, I'm thinking it relates back to being alert and standing firm.  It is a call to step it up -- to live boldly and with purpose -- to be decisive and lead where God calls.

Be strong.

Boy, most days I feel weak, not strong, but the good news is that the Lord is mighty in my weakness.  So in those times, I need to be strong in my resolve to lean into His strength.  I rely on Him for the strength to be His woman in each and every situation.

Let all you do be done in love.

This is the umbrella over every thing that has been commanded here.  ALL is pretty ALL encompassing - isn't it?  How would my life change if I allowed this to always be my first thought - the filter that every word and action must go through before it takes place.

The Lord knows this is challenging.  In some ways, the other things seem easier, but without the love, they don't amount to much.  The heart of the gospel is love and only through the power of Jesus can we live that out.

I'm not that great with directions, but I want this passage to direct my steps each day.  I am thankful for the Word and how very down to earth with a heavenly touch it is.  I'm thankful that the Lord gives us direction and then gives us the power to follow it.