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, August 30, 2010

Memorial Box Monday - Part 2

Well - I already wrote a post today, but it has been a mighty strange day and I felt like I needed to include how God was all over my day today.  Hopefully, you will be encouraged to know that God really does care about all the details and does provide for our every need.

My day started out with taking Quincy on a walk.  One of the things that I have to get used to is always taking my keys with me when I walk out of the door.  I'm not used to that!  There is a door to our building that is always locked so you always have to have the key with you.  

Quincy and I had a nice walk and when I got back to the place, I realized that I didn't have any keys with me.  Yikes.  There is no way to get into this house.  A dogwalker had taken my neighbors dog out, but I figured he was long gone by now.  I waited and waited - just in case he hadn't already returned but he didn't come.  So - I flagged down a man that was coming out of the building across the street and asked him if I could borrow his cell phone to call Alan.  Alan didn't answer but I left him a message saying that he was just going to have to be my knight in shining armor because I could not get into the building and only he had a key - oh and he couldn't call me back because the man was leaving for work!  So, I returned to sit on the steps in front of my building to wait.  I waited about 20 more minutes and there came the dogwalker!  I don't know if I have ever been so happy to see someone I didn't know!  He opened the building door for me.  I told him he was God's provision for me.  He said,
"Well, what do you know."  I guess no one had ever told him that before!

After that, I got a call with some very tragic news about a good friend being killed in a motorcycle accident.  I was so stunned.  I have had friends die - but for the most part they were ill and there was time to say goodbye and to at least somewhat prepare for what was to come.  This was so sudden and so shocking that I was really shaken to the core.  My heart is so broken.  I completely trust the Lord with the situation but I still grieve the loss of my sweet friend Jill very much.  Such heartache.  Profound sadness.  I am thankful that as I grieve - I can grieve as one with hope. 

Just after that, I got a call from my friend Aaron.  He and his sweet wife Ashley had just returned from a mission trip to Romania.  It was so good to hear all about the trip and all that the Lord had done there.  I asked Aaron - so what is up next?  and He said - Could I come to Chicago?  I said sure!  He said - how about tomorrow?  Woo Hoo!  I'm so looking forward to his visit and the Lord knew just what I needed.  

Today was like a microcosm of what we know to be true - the Lord knows what is coming and He knows what we need way before we do.  He cares about all of it and He loves us beyond what we can imagine.  He has both comforted me and encouraged me today.  He is always reminding me of His sufficiency.  He is good - even in the midst of small annoyances and huge tragedies - He is good.  He is trustworthy.  He is Enough.

Memorial Box Monday - Grace

When I look back on my life - GRACE is the word that stands out.  I always say that I have 4 favorite words - Grace, love, mercy and forgiveness.  Without these, I wouldn't be here!  I had the good fortune of growing up with godly parents who loved me and nurtured me.  I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was 8 years old.  That was my first understanding of grace - Jesus dying on the cross for me and my decision to accept Him as my Savior.  I had pretty smooth sailing as a child until the 8th grade when I was extremely influenced by peer pressure and strayed off the path significantly for the next several years.  Pretty typical high school poor decisions - but foolish all the same. 

The summer between my sophomore and junior year - God tried to get my attention in several ways - both positive and negative.  I think that the crustiness that had been growing on my heart began to soften and I really began to question how I got where I was in my life.  It really wasn't me.  That fall, I was waiting outside of basketball practice for a friend of mine and a man I had never met came up to me and introduced himself.  He said "Hi, my name is Kim Talley and I am the new Young Life leader at your school.  Hope you will come check it out."  He looked me in the eye and shook my hand as he spoke to me.  That was it - basically a one sentence conversation but when I looked at his face, I felt like I was seeing the face of Jesus.  I said to myself, "Whatever that man has, I want it!" and that was the beginning of my true journey of Grace!  I had to trust the Lord to forgive all the poor choices I had been making and take my life and do something with it.  For some, their decision to follow Christ and make Jesus Lord of their life is simultaneous.  For me - there was an almost 9 year gap!  As I began to be involved in Young Life and began to really study the Bible for myself, my life began to dramatically change.  I have to say that life lived for the Lord was immeasurably better than that "great" life I thought I was living those years before.  I remember these heavy feelings of guilt being replaced by a grateful heart for God's love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.  I got to see the Lord do some amazing things in my High School over those next two years.  It was life changing and not a day goes by that I am not reminded of that.

I would say that ever since I was a high school student - I have loved students!  It has been 34 years since that life changing fall and the Lord has given me numerous opportunities to be involved with students.  Nothing gives me more joy.  So much grace has been poured over my life that I love to see that grace extended to others.  I have a frame with the word GRACE in it prominently displayed in my house along with a photograph I took of a Grace Court street sign in Brooklyn. They are constant reminders of what I have received and what I desperately want to give to others.  How can I not extend grace when so much as been given to me? 

There is an acronym for Grace that you may have seen:  God's Riches At Christ's Expense -- I don't want to ever minimize or forget at what a high cost this grace on my life came at.  This grace cost Jesus' death on the cross - and yet He lives as my Risen Savior and Grace abounds.  I don't have the words to express my gratitude.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:8-10

 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;  2 Corinthians 9:7-9 

 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness " Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  2 Corinthians 12:8-10 

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.  Ephesians 4:28-30

 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.  Colossians 4:5-7    

If you are a follower of Christ, grace should be over everything that you say and do.  Our actions, thoughts, speech and conversations should be flowing with grace.  Who am I to judge when so much grace has been bestowed on me?  I believe that others will be drawn to Christ because we extend love, mercy, grace and forgiveness.  Even the crustiest of hearts can become tender when grace is shown.

So on this Memorial Box Monday - I look back at all the ways that Jesus has shown grace to me and I am humbled beyond measure.  He is such a Gracious God and this girl is certainly grateful.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
2 Thessalonians 3:17-18 


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I love thankful Thursday - of course I like thankful Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday . . . You get the picture!  I think that having a grateful heart is so key to life.  We can choose to focus on what is wrong or at least not going our way or we can choose to be thankful in all circumstances.  I believe I'll choose that one :-) "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  1st Thessalonians 5:16-18  People are always wondering what God's will is - well, there you go!  There are so many things that I am thankful for but today, I'm going to talk about my girls.  It has been hard to move away from them but they are so close in my heart, mind and prayers that they seem near.  So these are just some of the ways that they are a blessing to me and to others.  

Ashley - in so many ways, Ashley is Alan made over.  She is so smart and analytical.  Physically, she favors her Dad with her brown hair and brown eyes.  She loves math :-) and she loves art.  She is so creative and so talented.  She can paint and draw just about anything.  She is one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know.  She puts the needs of others before her own and genuinely cares about others.  She is a true, loyal and good friend. 

Ashley is passionate.  She loves the Lord in a way that just inspires me.  Her heart is to please the Lord and to serve Him with everything she has.  She is in ministry with teenagers and she pours her life into them.  That passion carries over into every area of her life.  If she feels that there has been injustice -- she gets so fired up!  She doesn't even have to breath for minutes on end when she gets going on what is right!  We love a lot of the same things and share so many great times together.  I could not be prouder of the woman that she has become.  She makes a difference in this world!  She makes a huge difference in my world.  I love watching her life unfold and seeing all the the Lord has for her.  She brings me incredible joy and fills my life with wonder.  

Heather - my mini me.  Heather favors me physically and in many other ways as well.  We both have hazel eyes and can look freakishly alike at times!  When I think of Heather - one of the things that stands out is her ability to make me laugh!  She is really hysterical.  She has been since she was a little one.  Heather has a way of looking at the world that is so unique and so hilarious.  There is always laughter when she is around.  Heather is extremely loyal to her friends.  She has a heart for the down and out and always wants to help those who are struggling.  Heather has a beautiful voice and such a talent to write songs and to sing them.  I love to hear her sing.

Heather teaches kindergarten.  She is so amazing with little ones.  I got to spend a good deal of time in her classroom last year and it was pure joy to watch her interact and teach these precious 5 year olds.  She is very creative and very patient.  Wrangling a room full of 5 year olds is not easy!  Heather loves the Lord and that love is communicated in everything that she does - from caring about her little ones to loving her friends, her husband and her family.  She is always looking for ways to make someone's day better.  I love spending time with Heather.  We have incredible conversations and laugh a lot.  She brings me such joy and I am so proud of the woman that she has become.  I can't wait for all the good times ahead.

Who are you thankful for today?  Why not let them know.  Pick up the phone or send them an email or a text or even a handwritten note!  Let's make sure that the people we love know it!  Practice the art of having a grateful heart today.  If you are struggling with that and in a dark time --- sit down and make a list of the things you are thankful for.  It may be difficult at first, but as you start, I believe that it will start to flow.  You may have to start with - I woke up this morning - that is a good place to start!  A grateful heart brings joy.  You just can't be reciting what you are thankful for and be down and grouchy at the same time.  You will feel a smile start to creep up on your face.  Rejoice!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Memorial Box Monday

For my Memorial Box Monday, I'm going to talk about our current situation and all the ways that we have seen God move on our behalf.  Moving is always a huge undertaking but we know that the Lord is in control and it is always fun to watch Him work out all the details.

It really started with Alan being asked to be on this proposal for a client in Chicago.  It was a process that lasted several months.  We put out trust in the Lord that if He wanted us in Chicago - He would bring this about.  Well - He did!

Next - finding a place to live.  This is a big decision.  It shapes where you go to church and who your neighbors will be.  Your sphere of influence is greatly determined by this choice.  Again - we saw God's faithfulness as He gently led us through this process.  Now that we are here - we see how perfect His guidance was.

The last couple of months, Alan and I have both felt like the Lord was steering us toward ministry with young adults.  We live in a very young area of Chicago - we are the mom and dad of our street!  The other two units in our building are young people and the guy above us, as it turns out, works for KPMG also.  What are the chances of that!  

We had been given some information on the Lakeview area by a friend and in there was a website for a church plant in our area.  It turned out to be just a few blocks away from us.  We checked it out yesterday and both felt such confirmation about it.  It is in our neighborhood (something that we really wanted), it has about 35 young people and a young pastor and his family.  As we talked with the pastor after the service, he said that he and his wife has been praying for a mature Christian couple to come along that would mentor and disciple the young people of the church.  WOW  Is leaving the familiar, good friends and family hard? YES - but when you know that you are fulfilling God's purpose for your life, it is so very doable!

God is so good to give us confirmation after confirmation that we are following His path for us.  He doesn't have to do that - but He is just gifting us with this encouragement.  Every day is an adventure when you choose to follow Jesus Christ.  I love not knowing what is ahead but completely trusting the One who leads.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5-6

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I am borrowing another great idea from my friend Linn and doing a Thankful Thursday post.  Where to start!  Since my Mom has been here helping me this week, I think I will dedicate my Thankful Thursday to her this week.  

I am extremely blessed to have a wonderful relationship with my Mom.  I do not take it for granted.  She is my Mom and also my closest friend.  She flew in on Monday, arriving the same day that our furniture did!  What a trooper!  She has been helping me unpack boxes and get organized.  She has been a huge help and a lot of fun to have around.

My Mom has always encouraged me, believed in me and believed the best of me even when I didn't deserve it. I think that one of the things that really turned me around in my teenage years was wanting to be the person my Mom thought I was! So much of what I have passed along to my daughters comes from my Mom.  She has been a great role model as a Mom and as a woman through all the various stages of life.  She is a very young 75 and could literally run me into the ground with her boundless energy and enthusiasm.  She loves the Lord and loves to serve Him in numerous ways - helping with some aspect of Young Life - working at the Gospel Cafe - cleaning her church - playing the piano - encouraging students at Baylor - loving her grandchildren and just loving people in general.  She is truly amazing and I am so very thankful for her!

Maybe you are a Mom -- if so, encourage and love on your kids today.  Maybe you are not a Mom - encourage and love on someone else's kids today!  Love on whomever the Lord has put in your path.  We all need what my Mom provides - unconditional love and an abundance of encouragement. Let's be Jesus with skin on to those around us.  Thank you Mom for showing me how!  I love you. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Memorial Box Monday

In honor of my dear friend Linn Saunders, I am going to follow her lead by writing on Mondays about God's faithfulness both past and present.  It is actually Sunday night - but our furniture arrives in Chicago on Monday and I won't have internet until Tuesday -so I'm jumping in early this week.  I wanted to think back to one of my earliest memories of God intervening on my behalf.  So here goes . . .

When I was in the 5th grade, I was out riding horses at my grandfather's farm.  The lot was muddy and my cousin was sitting behind me.  The horse slipped and we both fell off in the mud.  I was still holding onto the reins and so the horse ended up going back over me.  My Dad and granddad hurried over and got both my cousin and I out of there.  I seemed to okay - just had a stomach ache and a sore leg.  It was Sunday, so my family headed away from the farm toward home in Houston.  As we were driving through Temple, my mom looked in the backseat at me and I was completely white.  She and my Dad decided to stop at the emergency room of Scott and White hospital to make sure I was okay.  As it turned out, my spleen was broken in half and I had been bleeding internally for several hours. They ended up doing emergency surgery to remove it - a truly near death experience.  I was in the hospital for about 2 weeks and remember receiving lots of cards and notes - especially from my home church.  I also remember seeing people in a lot worse shape than I was and being thankful.  What a great lesson to learn at the age of 10!

When I look back at that experience, I think how very easily my parents could have driven on and I could have died.  Apparently, the Lord had a plan and it wasn't my time to exit.  I remind myself of that often.  I'm here for a purpose and I want to live that out to the fullest.  I try to be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is saying each and every day. I don't want to miss anything.  I have had such a rich life.  I don't need an object to remind me of this event because I have a scar from my abdomen to my chest!  It is ugly - but is beautiful.  This scar is a sign of LIFE.  My Savior, Jesus, has some scars too.   Those scars are ugly - but they are beautiful.  Those scars are LIFE.  Thank you Jesus for sparing my life.  May I live it in a way that is worthy of your gift.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Journey begins . . .

Well - it seems that making a big change in life is a good time to start something new - so here is my first blog post.  It has been a whirlwind of a summer as we have been in the process of moving from Texas to Chicago.  I can't really believe that we are here!  We are not in the house yet - but should be by Monday.  We are thankful for our temporary housing that we have until then.

The drive here was a little brutal with more road construction than one can imagine!  Alas - we made it about 10:00 last night - a little weary but glad to be here.  Saying goodbye to our friends and family was tough.  We have such a great group of friends in Arlington and lots of family in Texas.  We are grateful for them and enjoyed every moment we got to spend with them.  Our hearts may be grieving but they are full of thankfulness as well.  I learned a great truth from a Bible study I did last spring on the book of Ruth.  We can weep and walk at the same time.  So - while I weep to leave such wonderful people, I walk forward into what the Lord has for me next.

With all that said - what is next?  I really cannot even imagine what my life will be like.  Everything will be new and different.  The good news is - I like that!  I am one of those people who enjoy change and new adventures.  Words like routine, the same and predictable don't seem to be a part of my vocabulary.  I believe that the Lord is the One who moves us from one place to another and He has work for us to do here in Chicago.  Alan knows what he will be doing, at least to some degree, but I have absolutely no idea.  I'll keep you posted as it unfolds.  I'm excited because the Lord has provided great friends and ministry every where that we have lived (New York, Ohio, Texas and Colorado!) - so I know that He will do the same here.  He is good - He is unchanging and He is Enough.