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, January 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Alan

I love my husband.  He is such a good man.  I think about that a lot because really, it doesn't see to be terribly common these days.  

Even apart from being my husband, just objectively, Alan is a man of character and integrity.  He is trustworthy and he is faithful.  He works hard and he loves to help other people.  He is extraordinarily kind.  He is fair and he is always willing to go the extra mile for someone else.  He is humble and quite unassuming, but don't be fooled - he is very smart and very capable.  There is a lot going on behind that very calm and somewhat quiet exterior.  Alan is very funny - but you have to pay attention to catch it all.  

Alan is creative.  He comes up with some really great ideas and solutions.  He is musical and loves all kinds of music.  He is a good dancer and I have really cramped his style over the last 28 years.  He loves to travel and see new places.  He loves to fly fish, play tennis and run.  He completed his first marathon last year.  He is determined and very disciplined.  When he sets a goal, he works very hard to achieve it.  

Alan is a good father.  He loves our girls and he has always made time for them and their activities.  He is a great husband.  He makes me feel loved and cherished.  He puts my needs before his.  He takes good care of me.  He is such a great friend.  I think that is a real bonus when your spouse is also your friend.  I just enjoy Alan for who he is as a person.  He is a lot of fun and really interesting.  I love spending time with him.

Above all - Alan loves Jesus.  In reality, that is what makes all these other things true about him.  He reflects Jesus in the way he parents, the way he works and the way he loves me.  I thank God for giving me Alan.  He knew that he was the man I needed.  We work and we work better together than we do apart.

Thank you, Alan, for loving me all these years.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Musings - Kay

Fun day for me - my dear friend Kay Steiger came into town.  She got in this afternoon and I survived my trip out to O'Hare and back.  

Everyone needs a friend like Kay.  Why, do you say?
*She loves me - I mean really genuinely loves me.
*She asks me lots of pondering questions and we pretty much solve the problems of the world.
*She loves Jesus - and her love for Jesus energizes my love for Jesus.
*She loves my girls - she prays for my girls.  That is a priceless gift.
*She and I laugh a lot - I mean a lot!
*She and I have a lot of fun together - and we can have a lot of fun doing absolutely nothing.  Two very easily entertained people.
*She and I share a brain - well, not technically - but we complete each others thoughts and can take care of most things if both our brains are present.  Since I have moved away, we are both suffering from only having half a brain.
*She is a doer.  If you need it done - ask Kay.  She'll take care of it.
*She is an encourager.  She believes in me even when I'm quite unbelievable. :-)
*She and I have shared so many great experiences.  We have been in ministry together, gone on mission trips and hiked the trails of Colorado.  

Kay and I in Colorado - our home away from home.

We have been friends since we were in our early twenties.  We have both moved around and even ended up in the same city on one of our moves.  Sometimes we just didn't think that one city was big enough to hold us both - but we got to share the last 10 years together in Arlington and that was a very sweet time.  We both have places in Colorado and look forward to a lot of time together in the future.  I hope you have a good friend like Kay in your life.  Whoever your Kay is - give her a hug and thank God for His love, His nudge and His friendship expressed through one of His earthly children.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Chicago

After 5 months of living in Chicago - here are some of the things that I am thankful for in my new city.

It has so much to offer!  
In any direction I can find stores, restaurants, museums, sports stadiums, and a lot of coffee shops.
Shedd Aquarium

Wrigley Field

Art Institute of Chicago
Public Transportation 
Love taking the EL all around town along 
with the occasional Taxi.

On any given day, I hear numerous languages and see all different kinds of people dressed in all 
different kinds of ways.  You really never know what you are going to see next!

The skyline
So beautiful.  I am in awe of it.  What a spectacular city!
Our gorgeous skyline

Lake Michigan  
Again - incredibly beautiful with so many 
looks depending on the weather and the wind.  
It is truly majestic.

City Streets 
They have so many different looks.  I love seeing all the different kinds of housing, shops, and restaurants.  Every neighborhood has its own personality and look.  It will take me years to explore all the different areas.
I love living somewhere where it snows.  Snow is magical to me.  Now ice is another story - but I do love seeing it snow.  It makes me smile.

Cold weather
Now it is going to be below zero tonight and tomorrow and this is a bit extreme, but I really do love the cold.  It is energizing - of course they may just be that you 
HAVE to walk faster!

Filling up with gas
No - not the prices (yikes - $3.59 a gallon today) but the fact that I only fill up my car about every 
6 weeks to 2 months.

Destination Church
God has been so gracious to us to give us such a wonderful church home here.  We love our new church family and all that the Lord is doing in this place.  It is indeed a privilege to be a part of this body of believers.

The People
  I love the people of this city.  The people in the stores and the restaurants are so nice.  I have met so many great people since moving here.  People are helpful and generally very kind.  I moved to a city of strangers 5 months ago and I now live in a city of friends.

I am so very thankful for Chicago.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Musings - Just a Monday

I love how very much a day can hold.  My day started out with a spin class with my friend Marifran.  I didn't even know Marifran until about 6 weeks ago and now I go to the gym with her 4 times a week.  We have been to brunch, to lunch, shopping and to an art exhibit.  I am enjoying my friendship with her so much.  Who knew?

After cleaning up, my neighbor Rebecca (sweet 25 year old school teacher) came over and we went out to lunch and then shopping for things to redo her room.  I'm going to get to paint it!!  I'm so excited about doing this for Rebecca and was so blessed by spending the whole afternoon together.  Who knew?

Last Sunday night, we had our neighbors over to celebrate Jamie's birthday and Jamie and Kevin's engagement.  Jennifer, Matt, Jeff, Michelle, Ryan, Jamie and Kevin came.  We were all standing around in the kitchen and I looked around at these people who have become so very dear to me and thought "I didn't even know these people 5 months ago!"  Who knew?

Well, obviously - God knew.  These friendships were in the works long before we knew that we would live here.  God has a plan and He has placed us exactly where we need to be.  It has been amazing to see how everything has come together and how the Lord is bringing people into our lives to love and care for.  

I love waking up each day with anticipation of what the Lord is up to.  Every day brings surprises.  Every day is another opportunity to grow and learn.  It was just a Monday, but it sure was a good one!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Hamilton Elementary

One of the great blessings and surprises of this move is the chance that I have to paint at Hamilton Elementary School.  I went out on the Chicago Public Schools website to look at schools in my area that might need some help.  When I went out to Hamilton Elementary School's website, they had a wish list.  On that wish list was a request for someone to paint.  Well - that was as close to a neon sign as I was going to get!  I contacted the principal and we had a great meeting about all the areas of the school that they he wanted to see spruced up and made more inviting and fun for the kids.  

Here are some pictures of the boy's bathroom:

A really fun flying something  . . .

My killer bee!

The dreaded chinch bug!

Here are some pictures of the girl's bathroom:

Bumblebee ballerina

Another flying something . . .

Seeing the kid's smiling faces and hearing their hilarious comments is so much fun.  I am painting in the library next and I am really excited about that.  

I am thankful for Hamilton Elementary and their principal James Gray.  He loves this school and is committed to turning it around to benefit all of his students.   Our church here has adopted Hamilton and we have already done a service project there.  We will do another one this February.

I love how God brings together our desires and anothers needs.  I love to paint and I love this school.  It has been such a blessing!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday's Musings - Ephesians 3

I love the book of Ephesians.  I have been reading through it this past week.  There are many things to write about, but I thought I would land on Ephesians 3 today. 

Paul speaks about his "stewardship of the gospel." What a powerful phrase! We are given the gospel to give it away wisely. How am I doing that? I always feel that I am not bold enough about doing that. But, I am seeking in my own way to dispense the gospel of grace by befriending, loving, hosting, listening and giving.  How are you handling your stewardship of the gospel of grace?

I also love how Paul gets so excited about being given the privilege of sharing the gospel with the Gentiles. We forget how very radical that was! God - the One True God - belonged to the Jews! They did not in any way intend to share Him! Going to the Gentiles was a precedent set by Jesus Himself and then the apostles (not without some issues!) carried that out after the crucifixion and resurrection. Paul was absolutely the most unlikely person to be chosen for this task - but isn't that just like the Lord! He loves to choose someone naturally ill equipped or unlikely for a job. His power and His purposes stand out all the more! Verse 12 reminds us that only because of Jesus -- we have access to God. Only because He chose to die for me do I have access to the Father.

So here is my all time favorite prayer in scripture (no offense to any other prayer!)
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being (strength that is dependent on HIS riches - not mine!), 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (Jesus lives in me - seriously amazing!) And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love (the foundation of everything else), 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (still trying to grasp that one!), 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (the Lord surprises me all the time!), according to his power that is at work within us (again - HIS power), 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

That is such a beautiful prayer to pray over others. Obviously Holy Spirit inspired and it also conveys the tenderness in which Paul views his flock. He loves these people. He wants the very best for them. He is willing to sacrifice and even suffer for them. How much am I willing to suffer for the flock that the Lord has given me? I don't think I give up a lot to do that.  I surely hope my heart is willing to do that when called to do so.  How much are you willing to sacrifice for the flock that the Lord has given you?

I would encourage you to pray this prayer over someone you know this week.  It will certainly be a blessing to them.  Every day in the Word is a good day. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Quincy

Lessons I've Learned from my Dog:

Celebrate Everything!
Quincy is just as excited to see me if I have been gone for 5 seconds, 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days.  Every greeting is as if I have been gone for a long time and we are celebrating our reunion.  Quincy gets excited to go outside, to get up on the bed, to get a treat and to even eat the same food day after day!  He loves when people come over and greets everyone as if they are the most important person in the world.  He always looks like he is smiling.  Even strangers can't resist smiling back when I am walking him.  He exudes joy.  Do you exude joy?

Get along with everyone!
Quincy is such a nice dog.  He loves other dogs and he actually loves cats - although they do not always believe this!  He was big buddies with our cat, George, that we had several years ago.  They would actually sit out on the driveway side by side.  He also loves people.  Quincy makes people feel special.  People are a challenge - but I believe that in most cases, we can figure out a way to get along.  Look for the best - choose to be kind and thoughtful.  Don't react - but act instead.

Only eat what you need!
Quincy amazes me in this area - maybe because it is such an area of struggle for me!  Quincy only eats when he is hungry.  He can have his food sitting in the bowl all day and leave it until he needs it.  If he does a lot of running or hiking and is extra hungry, he asks for more.  I don't ever have to worry about him overeating.  He exercises regularly and he eats right.  Hmmm . . . sound familiar?

Quincy knows how to relax!

Be present!
Quincy is very sensitive.  He knows when I am not feeling well or I am down.  He comes and snuggles up against me or sits beside me.  He knows that it is enough to just be there.  I think we could learn from that!  Maybe we don't always need to figure out what to say - perhaps just being present is enough!

I had not had a dog since I was a kid - so when we got Quincy 5 1/2 years ago, I had no idea how much I was going to love this little puppy!  He has been such a great addition to our family.  I am thankful for the gift of Him.  I think the Lord knew that when my nest emptied - I might need a little furry friend to live life beside me.  He is a faithful friend indeed and a good companion as Alan travels and works a lot.  So, on this Thankful Thursday -- I am thankful for my dog, Quincy.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday Musings - Pondering 2010/Contemplating 2011

Back to routine life today - whatever that is!  I have been nonstop busy all through the holidays, so today is really my first day to get back to spin class and have some time this afternoon to think about 2010 and 2011.

Pondering 2010:  What a year!  Key Word:  Process!
*It began with some serious wedding planning and Heather's wedding in April.  Such a fun process for she and I and a wonderful event.  Such a sweet part of the process was the generosity and kindness of so many of our friends who hosted parties and just loved us through the process.  Maybe the Lord knew that things were about to change . . .  Wouldn't trade that sweet time with friends for anything!  The year ended in a very similar way - Ashley got engaged to James and we are in the process of planning another wedding!  Woo Hoo!

*March began the proposal for Alan and the possibility of moving to Chicago.  It was just an idea - a maybe and huge unknown.  We prayed and we waited and the Lord opened the doors wide for us to make that change.

*May started the process of getting our house ready to sell and then finding a place in Chicago.  Fun  - not so much!  But we got our place in great shape and it didn't stay on the market too long.   We looked for a place in  in Chicago in mid June and started that process of getting the loan etc.  Fun - not so much!  But we found a great place - totally God ordained.  He has affirmed us at every step of the way.

*Colorado!  I got to spend a lot of time during the summer in my beloved Colorado.  I sure miss it but know that I will get back there not too far in the future.

*Friends - life has been full of new friends and new experiences that we could not even have imagined last January.  I love how the Lord surprises us all the time.  We have made wonderful friends here in Chicago.  We just can't imagine if we had never met these wonderful people!

*Faith - what a year of going deeper with the Lord - trusting Him more and depending on Him every step of the way.  What a year of seeing His hand in every aspect of our lives and seeing blessings come from unexpected places.  What a year of experiencing the JOY of following His lead in so many different ways. 

Contemplating 2011? 
I'll borrow a phrase from Ashley . . .
Key Word:  Holy Expectation!
 I can hardly wait to see what is in store for us.  

*Wedding fun!
*Working out with Marifran  to get in wedding shape!
*Continuing to see our church grow and enjoy getting to know others in small group.
*Continuing to meet neighbors and love on them.  Such an incredible privilege!
*More painting at Hamilton Elementary
*Trips to TX and CO
*Faith stretching experiences and lots of opportunities - keeping those spiritual eyes open!!

I know that in reality, I don't have a clue about what 2011 holds.  But - I do know who holds each day of the coming year in the palm of His hand.  I can rest in that and anticipate each day with JOY from simply walking with the Lord through each one.  He is good - He is trustworthy and He is Enough.  Wishing you a wonderful year ahead.