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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Another great week - so many things to be thankful for so here is a list of my blessings in the last week.  

*beautiful fall weather - one tree on our street has decided to change colors.  You know, there is always one :-)
*spin classes at the gym - so good!
*bakery cupcakes
*being able to walk most places
*how easy it is to ride the train when I can't walk somewhere
*new friends - meeting so many fantastic people
*having ladies over for brunch this morning
*phone calls with my girls
*getting to paint some walls and make this place my own
*long time friends who are so faithful and encouraging
*the fact that I have driven places, gotten back and successfully parked in the garage (come and visit me and you will know how amazing that truly is!)
*God's faithfulness - His Word - so precious to me.

What are you thankful for today?  Make a list and go ahead and count those blessings!  Woo Hoo!  Our God is Mighty.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Musings - Everyone Has A Story

I am one of those people that just evokes lots of personal information from people - seriously - I don't even have to ask!  It is also not necessary for me to know the person.  People just like to tell me things.  I have to say - it makes life very interesting.  I get to know the most interesting people and the phrase "never met a stranger" should probably be tattoed on my body somewhere.  Apparently this is genetic since my Mom and Dad have this same tendency as do my girls.  

Actually, I don't mind it at all.  I think that people's stories are fascinating.  Everyone has a story and I like to see what makes people tick.  At any given moment, there is so much going on with people that we are unaware of.  Some years ago, I had a friend lose her precious one year old to cancer.  I will never forget going to the grocery store after leaving the hospital and just walking up and down the aisle trying to figure out how I could go home and cook dinner as if nothing had changed when I felt like everything had changed.  No one in the grocery store knew what had happened - no one knew that I could erupt into sobs at any moment.  It just struck me that I had no idea how many others in that store could be going through something very difficult as well.

In some ways, that experience changed me forever.  I see the impatient driver, the rude salesclerk or sharp tongued check out girl in a very different light.  Generally, I believe that there is something going on under the surface and I want to show grace in that situation.  I have seldom had someone refuse to let me pray for them or encourage them.  Sometimes just showing interest is mind boggling to someone who feels like no one cares.  People are overwhelmed, sad, lost and confused.  As a followers of Jesus, we can offer peace, a way to make order out of chaos, joy, salvation and clarity by sharing the love of Christ.  This approach requires that we step back, get out of our "self" focus and tune in to what is going on around us - a huge challenge at times!  

I got to have three really great conversations with people I was just meeting for the first time yesterday.  I just asked a few questions and I learned a lot.  Who doesn't like to have someone show interest in them? I know all about the guy who installed our surround sound who immigrated here from Romania 10 years ago.  I have had so many people ask me, "Have you met your neighbors yet?" meaning the people in my building.  Wow - are you kidding me?  I had them over for dinner and absolutely love them!  

I will admit that talking to strangers is not natural for everyone.  Not everyone has the gift of hospitality or a listening ear - or even a schedule that lends itself to doing that.  But - this I know.  We all need to be aware of those around us.  We all need to be willing for the Lord to interrupt our schedule and put someone in our path who needs those very things.  We all need to look below the surface when others behavior annoys us.  We all need to be willing to listen, to slow down and to be used in even a small way to bless someone.  

Have you allowed God to reorder your day?  Have you had someone just start pouring their heart out to you?  If you haven't, you probably will!  How will you respond?  Are you just too busy or in too big of a hurry to slow down?  Are you so busy doing things for the Lord that He doesn't have much say so in what that looks like?  Are you remembering that being (abiding) is as important as doing?  Only by abiding will we be aware of these opportunities when they come.  Keep those spiritual eyes open and you will be blown away by the ways the Lord will use you to bless others.  Share your stories - I would love to hear them.  Blessings!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thankful Thursday on Friday -- Friendship

Friendship - what a tremendous gift from the Lord!  God could have created us to only need Him or to be self sufficient to the point of not needing others - but in His wisdom He created us to be in relationship with Him and with one another.  

I happen to think that I am blessed beyond anything I could have hoped for in the area of friendship.  I have had wonderful friends as far back as I can remember.  One of the things I love about moving is  arriving in a new city with no idea who my friends will be -- and then watching God steer me one direction or the other and seeing all the people He puts in my path.  Who will my new friends be?  Who is going to change me in some way forever?  Who will I be able to love and encourage?

This week, I have had the privilege of having one of my very best friends here visiting me in Chicago.  Aimee and I met when I lived in Columbus, Ohio.  We met at church and we both worked with the youth.  We just have a great heart connection and love so many of the same things.  We both love the Lord, the lost and ministry of all kinds.  Aimee played a huge part in helping me raise my girls when we lived in Ohio.  She was another caring adult and good sounding board for them.  Her genuine love for them has had a lasting impact on both of their lives. 

I think the Lord knows how precious friends are to me and He is always faithful to give me close friends wherever I am.  I have lasting friendships from each city we have lived in.  Friends keep you sharp - they encourage you and challenge you.  They love your family and help you with your children.  They listen when you just need a listening ear - they offer words of advice and even the occasional snap back to reality challenge.  My friends make me better.  They call out the best in me.

When I look back over the last 50 years at all the amazing people that have been in my life, I could not be more grateful.  Being a friend and having a friend is one of life's greatest privileges.  I think we need friends who are younger, friends who are older and friends who are in our same season of life.  We learn so much from all of them.

Thank you for being my friend - for how very rich you make my life.  Thank you God for choosing to give me such wonderful friends who point me straight to You. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Musings - Transformation

I love ministry, working out and painting.  What do these three have in common, you ask?  Transformation.  

Painting:  I have done a lot of painting in the last 20 years or so.  I have painted rooms, painted furniture, painted murals and I even got to paint Big Bird on the wall of a playroom once.  You just try to have a bad day while you are painting Big Bird.  It is impossible!  I have had the privilege of painting in 5 countries and had a boatload of fun doing it.  I love starting with a plain white room and watch it come alive all day long.  For very little money, paint can completely transform a room.

Working out:  I actually love to work out.  I love working hard, getting sweaty and seeing results. I love it when I only have to compete against myself.   I love to feel like I'm doing something good for my body and my soul.  I love building relationships at a gym - probably America's biggest mission field!  While bodies are being transformed - so are lives.  

Ministry -- I love ministry.  I have been a Young Life leader, a Bible study teacher, a youth minister, a mentor and even a preschool choir teacher!  I have loved every minute of it.  Again - it is the process of transformation.  Of course, in this case, it is the Lord who is doing the transforming and I just get to be a small part of the process.  I can not even count the lives I have seen transformed over the last 38 years - including mine.  There is new life - new desires - new relationships - new purpose.  

Transformation.  That is what the Lord is all about.  From the day we say "yes, I believe" until our last breath, we are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus.  That really is the Lord's only agenda in your life.  Sometimes it is really fun - sometimes it is really hard, but when I keep before me continually -  His purposes - I can do it.  When it is all said and done, I just want others to be able to say, "Wow - she looks a lot like her Father - see the family resemblance?"  

Transformation.  Where are you seeing it in your own life? Where are you a part of it?  Let's be about the business of the kingdom.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thankful Thursday - My Dad

It is so hard to choose what to be write about each Thursday, because I have so many choices!  Since I wrote about my Mom, I decided that I should give my Dad equal time.  I will be forever thankful that I had a godly Dad growing up.  What a difference that makes!  So - let me tell you a few things about this amazing man.

My Dad grew up in West Texas - born in Snyder and lived in Seminole, moving to central Texas when he was older.  He graduated from Flat High School with 3 other seniors!  He worked as an adding machine salesman and put himself through school at Temple Junior College and Baylor University.  He came from humble means and he worked hard to get his education.  He took a job with Arthur Andersen in 1956 right after graduation.  Now my Mom was a Baylor at the same time -- but they never met :-)  They met in church choir in Corpus Christi where my Mom was teaching school and my Dad was working on an audit (he was based out of Houston at the time.)  They married in 1958 and I came along in 1959.  I love to look at pictures of me and my Dad when I was little.  You can tell I adored him from the start!

My Dad worked a lot and traveled, but I don't ever remember him missing a big event.  He always made time for my brother and I even if it meant going back to work later or working at home.  As I grew up, I began to understand just how influential my Dad was in the lives of so many people.

There are a lot of successful men in the business world and there are a lot of ways to go about that - my Dad was a man of impeccable character and integrity.  My husband is the same way - gotta love that.  My Dad has a long and very successful career - 40 years with the same company.  This is admirable - but all that he has done since then is even more impressive!  Since retirement, my Dad has worked at Baylor University, retired again and been serving on the Board of Regents at Baylor.  He has such a servant's heart and is always looking for ways to help others.  He has poured a lot of energy into what he does and into those he loves.

When I think of my Dad, the word generous always comes to mind.  He loves to give to others, whether it is time, money or advice.  He is a tireless workhorse when it comes to helping his grandkids move in and out of their apartments!  He put my goddaughter through Baylor - something she could not have done without that help.  I will forever be grateful to him for that incredible act of generosity.  He has mentored so many people that I couldn't even make a list.  He is always ready to give a big hug, a listening ear and an encouraging word.   He is strong and he is gentle - a winning combination in my book.

Much of what we initially learn about the Lord comes from our interaction with our earthly father.  This is not a good beginning for everyone.  I know people that have spent years overcoming some horrible experiences with their earthly fathers.  I am so thankful that I learned early what a father's love and care should be like.  I think that is one reason that I was able to commit my life to the Lord at an early age.  I knew that a perfect Heavenly Father had to be wonderful because my earthly father had pointed me in that direction.

Dad - thank you for always believing in me and loving me in so many ways.  I am so blessed by you and so is the rest of my family.  You are my father and my trusted friend.  I love you Dad.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Musings - Faithful or Foolish

The more that I have been talking to people - the more I realize how foolish some of the things we have done in the last month must appear!  

*We made a move across the country away from our family, our close friends and our church.  To some - that is just a head scratching decision!  Why in the world would you do that?  
We are always willing to go when the Lord says "go" - we always have been and I hope we always will be.  The Lord uses Alan's company to move us around the country and so far - we have loved every minute of it.  Each place has been significant - each place has been home.  We wouldn't do it any differently.

*We bought a place in an area of Chicago that we knew little about.  We have been asked several times - why didn't you rent?  How did you know where to live?  How do you know you will like condo living?  
Well - we were prayerful about it, we looked at apartments to rent and felt like buying was the right decision.  We trusted God to point us to the area of town He wanted us to live in.  The decision was still difficult and we were a little uncertain, but the Lord has been good to affirm that decision constantly since we moved in.  We are exactly where we need to be.  I really never pondered whether I would like condo living - I just knew that I would love wherever I lived!  We do hear the boys above us walking around - it can be a little loud at times - but I decided that every time I hear them walking - I'm praying that they would walk with the Lord.  It has been good for my prayer life!  I love these boys too - so the sound of their footsteps is becoming sweet to me.
*You just moved here - how are you already having groups of people over?  
We have been here 4 weeks today.  We have had 4 parties Seems good to me!  I think that filling a house with people, good food and fun are what makes a house a home.  It isn't perfect - there are still some random things around and unfinished projects but hopefully that makes other people feel comfortable when they come over.  Hospitality is not about perfection - it is about the heart.

*You already joined a church?  Are you sure you looked around enough?  How did you know where to join? 
Having a church home is so important to us and the Lord knows this.  We also had some friends praying that we would find a church to serve in quickly.  Alan visited a church a couple of times when he was here by himself and we visited another one the Sunday before our furniture got here.  Our first week in the house, a friend gave us a print out of information on Lakeview (the area we live in) and there were some churches listed.  One of them was Destination Church.  I thought that sounded interesting - so I went out to their website.  It was just down the street from us meeting in a comedy club!  Now - I was really intrigued! The month or so before we moved here - the Lord spoke to Alan and I individually about our ministry here.  He told us we would be investing in young adults.  Well - this church is a group of young adults!  We left that first Sunday and really already knew that was where we needed to be.  The launch for this church plant is October 17th.  We are so excited to be a part of it.  Can't wait to see what God is going to do!

But how about that winter that is coming?  Yikes!  Aren't you going to hate that?
Actually - no.  We have lived cold places before and I actually love cold weather and snow.  I'm sure it will be uncomfortable at times - but so is a 106 degree day of a TX summer!  I think I'll just like all kinds of weather and roll with the punches.  We are already having some beautiful fall weather and I'm so excited about the leaves changing colors.  Bring it on!

When it comes down to it -- we all choose who to live our life for and how to live it.  We can live it for ourselves and call all the shots or we can give it over to the One who created us and knows the plan.  I decided to live my life for the Lord because He paid a high price for it.  It is His to do with as He pleases.  Along the way - this approach has brought me a lot of adventure and some heartache.  I would still choose it.  I trust the Lord - He has always proven to be Trustworthy is every circumstance.  Every  single day - we choose what kind of attitude we approach life with and it really does make all the difference.  I have my days when I forget that - when I get tired or lonely or sad - but on the whole, I have to say that I wake up with anticipation and holy expectation.  I am rarely disappointed.  I guess it is all in what we are looking for and in Whom we are looking to.

So, here's to adventure, to faith and to looking foolish.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I hardly know where to start because I have so many things to be thankful for.  This week has been full of blessings.  Since last Thursday:

*Alan and I spent some really fun time exploring our neighborhood
*3rd Sunday at Destination Church and lunch with some of the great people there afterwards
*Our "unitmates" - the other people who live in our building - came over for dinner (We love them!)
*I joined a health club near me and met a really great lady who is in charge of membership there - Stacey
*Had lunch with a new friend, Amanda and her 2 1/2 year old daugahter, Emily
*Went to a Rosh Hashanah celebration dinner at my friend Barbara's house - such a great time and I got to meet two of her good friends - Leslie and Laurie
*Met my friend Sheryl out at an Equine Therapy Center - got to see 2 boys with downs syndrome riding horses and getting so excited about their accomplishments 
*I conquered the Chicago freeway system for a trip to the country (Whew!)

I am just overwhelmed every single day by the Lord's goodness to me.  I feel a hyper-awareness of the Spirit and such an openness to what the Lord wants me to do.  It is a great time and I want to soak up every minute of it.  I am thankful that I am in a relationship with a God who loves me and is intimately involved with my every day life. 

No one is going to write a screen play about my day to day activities - but to me, living a very ordinary life with an Extraordinary God is action packed and sweeter than anything I could imagine.  What are you thankful for today? 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Memorial Box Monday - Psalm 37:4

"Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart."  Psalm 37:4  I was thinking back on this verse that has become so precious to me over the years.  I think it is interesting how we view a verse differently sometimes with time and perspective.  The Word doesn't change - but my understanding of it certainly does!  

The first time I remember reading this verse was my junior year in high school when I really started to read the Word for myself.  It caught my attention immediately!  Wow - God will give me the desires of my heart!  My life had just taken such a dramatic turn - that I was seeing this fulfilled in very dramatic ways!  I was delighting in the Lord and life was good.

My freshmen year in college, I hit some major bumps in the road.  It was an adjustment being away from home and my friendships and other relationships were in the process of change.  It was an unsettling time in many ways, and although I loved college, I found myself pretty unhappy with some of the relationship changes that had taken place.  I thought about this verse a lot and just didn't understand why God was not giving me the desires of my heart.  I felt like I was delighting myself in the Lord and maybe He just wasn't doing his part (a little naive :-))  

I graduated from college, got married, had two children and moved to New York.  So - let's fast forward about 8 years.  One day, I was just thinking about this verse.  It was still one of my favorites and yet I had still been puzzled by it.  Like a lightning bolt - it hit me and all made sense.

Back in college, God has not given me specifically what I wanted - what I perceived as the desires of my heart.  What He told me that day in New York was that I needed to trust Him with the details.  When I really thought about it - the desires of my heart at that time were to have a husband that loved me more than any other person in the world, a loving marriage, children, a home, family, ministry, friendships and JOY.  As I looked back over the last 10 or so years that I had been wondering about this verse, I realized that the Lord had fulfilled every one of those desires.  They just didn't all look exactly like I had pictured them!  They were actually much, much more. 

No matter how much we mature or grow - we can never have the perspective, insight and foresight of our Heavenly Father.  I have noticed that as I grow in my faith and trust in Him, my desires align much more with His.  I have learned to let go and allow Him to provide all the details as I lay before Him the desires of my heart.  I have watched the Lord move in my life and take me places that I could have never imagined.  When I was doing all this pondering as an 18 and 19 year old, I had no idea what all would take place over the next 31 years.  I'm sure glad that the Lord didn't give me everything I thought I wanted because He knew exactly what I needed.

Are  you stuck in a place where you just don't understand why the Lord isn't cooperating with all your plans?  Are you indeed delighting in the Lord - or are you delighting in your desires?  Do you trust Him to take those desires and align them with His?  Will you let Him fill in the details?  

Truly - making our goal each day to delight ourselves in the Lord would be a full time job and take the focus off of us entirely.  I wonder if that is the key to having the desire of our hearts? Hmmm . . . .

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thankful Thursday

There are so many things that I am thankful for today - so here is a list of both small and huge things that are blessing me right now.

*my neighbor's dog walker - He let me in my building this week when I was locked out!
*my new car that fits into the garage!
*a surprise visit from Aaron Cauble - huge blessing!
*our new church home Destination Church
*my new friend Amanda
*reconnecting with my friend Beth who is now living in Chicago!
*the encouragement of reading God's Word
*reminders of the precious gift of life - missing my friend Jill who died in a motorcycle wreck - but thankful for her life and her friendship and all the memories flooding through my mind this week
*the elevated train here in the city
*facebook and email - love staying in touch
*the really great grocery store I found!
*my GPS
*walking Quincy and the beauty that surrounds me on those walks
*living here in Chicago with Alan - my best friend
*the confidence and encouragement I receive from having a relationship with Jesus - He is Trustworthy

What are you thankful for today?  Make a list and then just sit back and smile.  Was this a perfect week?  No - but anything tough always gets put in perspective when I think about the many blessings in my life.  My heart overflows with JOY.  Wishing you a grateful heart and overflowing JOY today.