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, December 23, 2010

Thankful Thursday - It's Christmas!!

I love Christmas.  I love everything about Christmas.  I love the music, the movies, the decorations and gift giving.  I love seeking out that one gift that will be a surprise.  I love watching my loved ones open those gifts and feel loved.  I love cooking for everyone and spending time just being together.

I love the story of Jesus' birth.  It is not your typical birth story which seems so very right to me.  I love that there were common shepherds that got to be the first to see this baby Jesus - the promised Messiah.  I love that Jesus was born in a lowly place among His creation.  I love that Mary pondered these things in her heart.  I do a lot of pondering myself, so I can relate.  I love that the Magi were seeking after this promised Messiah and were willing to dedicate a good portion of their lives to finding Him.  I love that they brought gifts.  I love giving gifts too.  I love that as a boy, Jesus had to move a couple of times.  I love that He followed in both of His father's footsteps.  I love celebrating the human entrance of my God.  I love that God came near.  I love that He walked among us.  Emmanuel.  He knows, He understands, He cares and He supplies everything that we need to walk in this same world among very similar people.  

Christmas is about gifts - getting them, giving them and celebrating the ultimate Gift -- Jesus Himself.  I like that the first Christmas gift was a wrinkled, crying baby who came to save mankind.  Who but God could arrange something like that!

Merry Christmas to all of you -- may the ultimate gift of our Savior Jesus fill you with JOY unspeakable.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thankful Thursday - Three Aunts in the Woods

I am having a great time in Texas seeing both friends and family.  I am very blessed with both!  A highlight of each December is a trip that my Mom and I take to see my three aunts in the woods.  I headed down to Waco on Monday afternoon and then headed to Livingston on Tuesday for a quick, but fun visit.

My Mom is the youngest of 5 children.  She has one brother, Allen, who is 86 - and three sisters - Nell, who is 94 (turning 95 in January); Jean, who is 93 and Ruth who is 81.  My Mom is the baby at 75.  You would never guess any of their ages.  They are the youngest senior citizens you will ever meet!  

Nell, Ruth, Allen, Ann and Jean

Why, do you ask?
*They have good genes - you just can't deny that.  My grandmother died at 79; my grandfather at 95 and my great aunt at 98.  People live long lives on both sides of my family.

*They never have slowed down.  They remain active in their community, in their church and with their family.

*They keep their minds sharp.  They watch tv, read and do puzzles.  They know more about what is going on in the world than I do.  You can have a great conversation with them on almost any subject.

*They love the Lord and have amazing faith.  They trust Him with their futures.  They have lived their lives for His purposes.

*They have positive attitudes.  They have been through a lot and all of it has not been pretty.  They have had family tragedies and heartaches - just like everyone else.  Not everything has gone as planned, but they are always looking for the positive and believing the best about people and situations.  When life knocks them down, they just get up, dust off and go on.

*They have generous hearts.  They are extraordinarily kind and generous with their time, their talents and their resources.  They care about others and always want to do what they can to help.

Ruth reading to my girls.
 *They have great senses of humor.  We laugh so much when we are together.  They are always telling funny stories from growing up and they love to tattle on each other.  

Ruth and Jean have lived by each other their whole lives.  I have wonderful memories of being at their houses when I was little.  They lived 2 houses apart.  I would run back and forth and spend time with both of them.  Their houses always felt like home.  When we went to see my grandparents, the highlight was always to go see Ruth up in her room.  She was a school teacher and she always had loads of interesting things in her room.  She did a lot of fun things with us and spoiled us to death.  My Uncle Allen and his family lived in a house right behind my grandparents so we got to spend a lot of time over there too.  I loved my cousins.  So many great memories.  My three aunts live on the same dirt road in the woods.  They watch out for one another and take care of each other.  My uncle lives in town, but they see each other often.

Spending time with these precious aunts and uncle is a gift.  They have loved me well for 51 years now.  They are modeled how to live a life of significance.  They have cheered me on - visited me all over the country and been a huge support in my life.  I truly aspire to be just like them.  

Nell, Ruth, Ann and Jean

So today, I am so very thankful for my three aunts in the woods (and my sweet uncle!)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thankful Thursday on Friday -- Traveling Mercies

My Thursday was one long day!  I got up at 6:45 to get ready and load up the car.  I backed out of my garage in Chicago at 8:20 and headed to Lake Shore Drive to connect with I55 heading south.  I started in snow and 16 degrees and ended up in TX at 56 degrees!  In between - a lot of miles (about 1000!) and a lot of countryside.  

I drove through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.  I went through a few big cities and a lot of small towns.  I got to see a lot of Christmas decorations and the lights as it got dark.  I ate some pretty bad food and made really quick stops so that I could make it here in one day.  It took 15 hours - so I arrived at Ashley's apartment at 11:20.  I had thought I would stop and spend the night somewhere, but once this Momma got on the road heading for her baby girl - there was no stopping me!

Time in the car is good for reflection.  I thought a lot about how much my life has changed in the last several months.  I live in a new city, go to a new church and have a lot of new friends.  Basically, everything about my every day life is completely different than it was at the beginning of August.  When I stop and ponder all that has happened, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness.  

God has been so very REAL and so very PRESENT in every moment.   He has blessed my life in so many ways that I stand in awe of His goodness.  As I drove, I thanked him for so many people that have been added to my life.  I prayed for them by name and just gushed with thankfulness.  I prayed for a friend's son that is trying to get his life where he wants and needs it to be when I drove through his hometown.  I thought about God's character and all the ways that WHO He is makes my life complete.  As if God was spurring me on, I got to see an absolutely gorgeous sunset as I was driving into Oklahoma. (Yes - I did take this while driving with my phone camera!)

I listened to music off my ipod function on my phone the whole way down.  I listened to a mix for a good while, then to some great worship music and wrapped it up with Christmas tunes.  Quincy was navigator and traveling companion, although he slept most of the way!  He was one happy puppy when he was able to get out of the car and run around!

I was thankful for safety.  I had one trucker almost run me off the road (I was halfway on the shoulder!) - but I was okay.  I stayed awake and alert without any problems.  My car did great.  These things are important when you are traveling by yourself.

Arriving in Texas and seeing Ashley and getting to talk with her until the wee hours of the morning - a priceless treasure.  

Has God shown up in some unexpected places today? Has He blessed you in ways that you could not have imagined?  Here's hoping that you too will be gushing with thankfulness.  Blessings friends!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Musings - SNOW

I love snow!  We got our first snow of the year on Saturday.  It came down most of the night and then a good part of the day.  We ended up with 4 - 6 inches.  Why do I love snow?

*It transforms everything! Even a pile of junk looks beautiful covered in snow.  Bushes, trees, grass, rocks, buildings - all enhanced by white, fluffy snow.

*It makes you feel child-like.  Snow really brings out the kid in me.  It makes you want to run and jump.  It inspires awe and wonder. 

*It beats the heck out of cold and rainy :-) and Quincy loves to play in the snow.

*Snow screams Christmas!

 *Snow highlights God's wonders.


*Snow reminds me of God's amazing work in my life.  

"Come now, and let us reason together,"Says the LORD," Though your sins are as scarlet,They will be as white as snow;Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.  Isaiah 1:18

I grew up in Houston TX so I didn't see snow until I was a senior in High School.  I just couldn't believe how beautiful it was!  It gave me a whole new appreciation for the wording in that Isaiah passage - whiter than snow.  Snow is WHITE!  Even white things don't look white in the snow.  God is doing a powerful work when He takes our sin stained lives and makes them as white as snow.  

So - next time you are annoyed by snow (you know who you are) just remember that it is a continual message from the Lord that His mercies are new every morning.  He is ready to forgive and to cleanse us as white as snow as soon as we bring our sin to Him.  Just as each snow flake is unique - so are each one of you and God has a plan to use your life in a unique way.  
So . . . let it snow!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thankful Thursday - My Baby Brother

It is always hard for me to decide what to write about on Thankful Thursday because I have so stinkin' much to be thankful for!  I've been missing my brother, Kevin, so I decided to write about him today.

I have one brother.  He is my my oldest and dearest friend.  I have known him since the day he was born :-)  I'm not sure how I made it my first 2 years and 2 months without him!  I don't remember a time when I didn't absolutely adore him.  We played and played together as kids.  We dressed up, rode bikes, climbed trees and played games.  No matter what, we always had each other.  

Kevin is a great athlete.  He could play any sport once he gave it a try and he was always good.  I couldn't beat him at so much as a game of checkers!  He played football, baseball, basketball and soccer.  He even did a little track and field!  His real love was basketball and that is the sport he chose in High School.  I loved getting to see him play.  I spent a lot of years at all kinds of sports fields watching my brother play and I was always so very proud of him.  He went to Temple Junior College  for one year to play ball.  After that year, he transferred to Texas A&M and was a walk on for the basketball team.  It was a great experience for him to play a year on a Division I team.  He was a Petroleum Engineering major - so studies overtook basketball after that year.  

Did I mention that my brother is really smart?  Well, he is.  He made great grades and seemed to be able to figure out just about anything.  He has always been a hard worker and highly motivated.  After graduation, he moved to New Orleans to work for Chevron.  We got to share some great times together in High School and during our college years.  Life was always more fun when I got to hang out with my baby brother.  

One of my favorite memories is when he was 18 and I had gone back home for a visit.  He went and saw Friday the 13th with some of his buddies.  I was already asleep when he came in.  My door opened and there was my big, hulking brother (did I mention my baby brother is 6'5"!) coming in with his pillow and slept on the floor right by my bed.  He knew I would protect him!

It has been my privilege to watch my brother grow in to a man, get married and raise 4 kids.  He is a man who loves the Lord and loves his family.  He is there when anyone needs him and has such a generous heart.  He is a good man.  He is gentle and he is incredibly strong.  He is someone that I admire and adore.  

Kevin lives in Australia now and I don't get to see him very often.  I miss him but know he would be here in an instant if I needed him.  I am so thankful for my baby brother.  I see Jesus in him.