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.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Thankful Friday :-)

I spent all day yesterday - literally all day - getting back to Chicago.  I left Tyler at 8 am and got to Chicago at 11 pm.  Quincy was a great travel companion - although he does not say much!  The drive was nice - a beautiful day with some really pretty scenery.  I went through Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois.  I felt like I had done all that by the time I got here!  I was thankful for a safe, easy drive. 

Needless to say - it would not have been wise to try to write my blog at the end of all that!  So - here I am.  I have had such a sweet last week of my time away spent with my girls.  It was so fun to be with Ashley and James in their home.  They are deliriously happy as newlyweds.  Ashely just started a new job in Design.  They are at such a fun and exciting new phase of their lives. When I figure out how to organize their wedding pics, I'll get some up on the blog! Loved every minute I got to spend with them.

I headed to Tyler to help Heather get her new classroom together.  She is teaching Headstart this year.  It was a JOB but we had a great time together getting it together.  Here are a few shots of her room.


Of course, the time spent with her was the best.  Those kids have no idea how very fortunate they are going to be when they walk into that room  Heather will do a great job giving them a good start to their education.  I'm so proud of her.

Quincy and Miles had a great time together - but Quincy was really worn out playing with a puppy. 

Finally, I am grateful to be back in Chicago.  This is where the Lord has me for this season and I want to embrace it with everything I have in me.  I am thankful for a life that is not a random cluster of events and places - but rather a life that is orchestrated by my Loving, Good, All-Mighty Savior.  Embrace today.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Musings - King

I apologize for being a rather spastic blogger this past week.  Between traveling from Colorado, spending time with Ashley and James and then traveling to see Heather and Cooper - it has been a little hectic!  Spending time with my girls and their guys is my favorite thing!  I have loved it.  Even during these hectic times - God gives me messages that cause me to pause and to think.  This Sunday was one of those times.  I went to Ashley and James' church and heard a speaker that I really enjoyed and learned from.  His thoughts sparked my thoughts as I continued to ponder what I had heard.  Here is some of those thoughts that the Lord impressed upon me.

Vision is always impacted by two fundamental desires:  our desire to be significant and our desire to be comfortable.  I squirmed a bit when he said this - but I know that it is often true.  We talk a lot about getting out of our comfort zone - but I believe we spend very little time doing it!  We all like to think that we make a difference - that our life is significant.  And -- it is.  Our significance comes from our identity in Christ and yet we are often searching for ways to make ourselves seem more significant and that gets expressed in what we do.  We have a vision for our life - for our work - for our family and for ourselves.

Here is a huge difference -- God has one vision.  It is to redeem and restore all of Creation through His Kingdom.  To transform reality until it is exactly how He intended it to be.

I guess the real question is - 
are we going to pursue our vision or His vision?

Every kingdom has a King - the Kingdom of God is no exception.  We Americans do not like Kings - we fought for our independence from a King.  We don't like to be told what to do and we do not like to owe our all to a King - to be under his Lordship.

This makes it very hard to be a part of God's vision.  He is KING - we are not.  We must grasp that before we can even take baby steps in the right direction.

When you look at scripture, Jesus was really a very likeable guy.  People enjoyed hanging out with him.  He was the life of the party a time or two.  He walked on water.  He healed the sick.  He was a friend to sinners.  He was a great teacher.  Everyone (well, almost everyone) enjoyed His teaching.

It was the KING JESUS that caused such problems.

Even today, we hear very popular and influential people talk about Jesus being a good man, our friend, a prophet or a great example to follow.  Those sound like nice words - but they completely miss the point.

We didn't need a kind, good, well spoken, good buddy Jesus.  We needed a Savior.  For Jesus to be Savior - He had to also be KING.  Teacher Jesus was not the one that everyone wanted to crucify - it was Jesus -- King of the Jews.

*It made me pause and think - am I representing all of Jesus when I share Him with others? 
*When I lead Bible studies - do I gloss over hard passages that make people feel uncomfortable? 
*Is it about my comfort or is it about Jesus? 
*Have I allowed the Bible to become about principles to live by and promises that I can claim - or do I recognize it as the story of my KING?

God does not need us to join Him in this vision that He has.  He is perfectly capable of accomplishing it without us.  But . . . He invites us to join in and have the experience of a lifetime being a part of the greatest story ever told.

How is your vision these days?  Is it about you - or is it about Him?  How does this look in your own life?  Are you searching for significance and comfort - or are you up for the greatest adventure that you can imagine?

In the words of one of my favorite Young Life songs - I'll close with this:

King Jesus is All
My All in All
And I know that He'll answer
Me when I call
Walkin' by my side
I'm satisfied
King Jesus is all
My all and all

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Musings - The Tour de France

Well, my  Monday Musing almost turned into Tuesday's Thoughts!  I have been enjoying the week in Colorado with my parents, Heather and Cooper.  It has been such a great time.  So - I've been a bit distracted.  One of my distractions has been watching the Tour de France bike race.  This race began in 1903.  A truly amazing event.  It is on each morning when I get up.  I am fascinated with this race for several reasons:

*Sheer Athletic Ability - this race runs for 22 days with 2 rest days.  They cover an average of 2000 miles including some extremely difficult mountain stages.  They ride in any and all kinds of weather and they ride hard!  It has been compared to running 2 -3 marathons each week for 3 weeks in a row.  Let's just say - it is very difficult!  These guys are in tremendous shape - lean, strong and cardio kings.

*There are 22 teams this year - with 9 riders on each team.  That is a lot of men out there at the same time!  I get nervous when I'm riding with just a few other people!  How they go at the speed they do (last year averaged 40 miles an hour) in a crowd like that I do not know.  Their skill is truly admirable.  Some excel at sprints and some excel at climbs. The winner needs to excel at all of it!

*It is dangerous.  4 riders have died during the race.  Many more are injured and have to drop out of the race.  With 198 riders, there are the inevitable crashes that send men flying through the air - sometimes over fences and sometimes down ravines.  It is not a pretty sight!  There are cuts, scrapes and broken collar bones.  There is equipment failure and lots of flat tires.  

*It takes a village.  Each team has a team car that travels along with the race carrying extra bikes, medical supplies, nutrients and any other kind of help they may need.  They can also communicate by radio to let the riders know where they are in the group and what they need to know.  These cars often have riders all around them as they follow their team.  It is a crazy looking situation.

*It takes the team.  Really, this is the most fascinating thing about this race.  This team of 9 men are really all working toward one of them winning the race.  They decide before the race who their best rider is - and everyone works toward that one man's success.  I can't really think of any other sport like that!  This is HARD.  To do this for someone elses glory - WOW
     *I've seen riders hang back to get water for the rest of the team from their team car - and then ride up to the others to hand out all the water.  They lose time and it takes a lot of energy to catch back up - but they do it.
     *I've seen riders give up their bike to a teammate who has a bike problem - then they wait for the car to bring them a new bike.
     *I've seen riders take turns at the front - leading out - which is the hardest position - so they can better position their team's best rider.  Several of the team will rotate this position.  After leading for a good while, they will drop off because they are spent on behalf of another.  Many of these riders will not even make it to the end of the race due to injury.
     *Most of these riders will never get any notoriety.  Their man may win the race, get a great prize and his picture on the cover of magazines and yet their name may continue to be completely unknown.  That just amazes me. 

There is not an earthly example that you can really follow all the way through for a spiritual application.  They all seem to break down at some point, but I think there is a lot to learn from this one.  Here are some of the lessons I am learning.

As the body of Christ, we may need to make sacrifices for one another.  What are you willing to do to further someone else's faith?  Are you willing to take a backseat to promote the leadership of someone else?  Are you willing to keep your opinions to yourself instead of always sharing them?  

Are you willing to serve others even if no one else sees it?  
Even if you never receive any praise for it?

Are you willing to lead out simply so someone else can 
come along side you and take over?

Is it all about the team - or is it all about you?

How's your endurance?  What kind of spiritual shape are you in?  
Can you go the distance?

We have a God who has sacrificed everything for us.  Jesus went the distance.   He endured more than we can imagine and He took the lead in the hard places so that we could receive the prize.  He gave it all.  

The least we can do is live in such a way 
that He receives the GLORY.  

Just once, I'd like to see the guy who sacrificed it all, so that his team could triumph, on the cover of a magazine.  "Jean Claude flies over a fence after handing out water to his team and is given the purple heart of cycling!"  Who knows - maybe it will happen.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Who God Is

I was thinking about all the things that I am thankful for and when it comes right down to it, I'm most thankful for Who God is - for His character.  Here are some aspects of God's character that I am especially thankful for today. 



What I have learned over the years is that this list is inexhaustible.  God is everything that I need when I need it.  He is enough in every circumstance.  He is the reason for living in this life and in the next.  All of the things I am thankful for in my life stem from this TRUTH.  Jesus is Lord - but what changes everything is that Jesus is MY Lord.  It's personal.  It's relational.  It's life giving.  And for that, I am so very thankful.  

If all you had today was what you thanked the Lord for yesterday, what would you have?


Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Musings - Are you clothed with the right stuff?

I just started reading a book by Kelly Minter called The Fitting Room.  I have only read the 1st chapter, but it has already got me thinking - so here is what God is already teaching me.  God generally starts teaching me about something and then gives it to me from all different angles.  Here is what He is stirring up.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,  
humility, gentleness and patience
Bear with each other and forgive one another
  if any of you has a grievance against someone. 
Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all 
these virtues put on love, which binds them 
all together in perfect unity.   
Colossians 3:12-14

I love the concept of clothing ourselves in Christ.  Let's face it, we spend a lot of time shopping, picking out our clothes and trying to put some kind of look together.  Now, some people care about this more than others, but we all have to care about it to some extent!  

So - what if we cared even more about our spiritual wardrobe 
than our physical wardrobe?

Suppose you woke up every morning and thought about putting on your shirt of compassion, your pants of kindness, your jacket of humility, your shoes of gentleness and your hat of patience?

Or - are we more like the emperor in the Emperors New Clothes?  Remember that old story?  The Emperor wants to have the most beautiful clothing - to be admired by everyone.  He gets taken in by a tailor who is sewing him the most beautiful clothing - it just happens to be invisible!  He keeps telling the emperor how great he looks and how nice the clothes are  - making him believe it!  Now the emperor can not see anything, but he doesn't want to admit it - no one else wants to admit it either.  So . . . he ends up walking out into the town in parade style without anything on!  Only a small child is willing to tell him the truth.

I wonder if we are just a bit like that emperor.  Spiritually speaking,  we study the Bible and listen to great sermons - we know all about these traits of Christian character, right down to their dictionary definitions.  And yet, we walk right out of the door spiritually naked!  No one else may want to point this out.  Let's face it - that is not fun.  So, there we go, like the emperor, prancing around town without our essentials on!

So, how do we clothe ourselves with things like compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility and patience?  Well, I haven't gotten that far in the book, but here is what I've learned in my own life.  

*You have to be intentional about it.  Just like we choose what we are wearing each day, we must choose to clothe ourselves with these things. 

*Jesus is the tailor!  These are His character traits and we can not adorn ourselves with these without Him! 

*It is not a matter of will power - it is a matter of the Holy Spirit's power.

*Dirty clothes need washing.  If you find yourself in short supply of these virtues, you may need to go to the Lord and confess your struggles.  He is faithful to cleanse us from all unrighteousness!  (1st John 1:9)

*Life will be richer and much more satisfying if you choose to clothe yourself with compassion, humility, gentleness, patience and kindness.  Such outfits as indifference, pride, harshness, irritability and cruelty do not flatter!  They will only bring you and those around you heartache and despair.

*One of the hardest parts of fashion is pulling that look all together in the end.  In these verses, we are told that LOVE binds all these virtues together.  So don't forget to put on LOVE before you walk out the door.  We don't want parts of our outfit randomly falling off - do we?  Talk about a wardrobe malfunction!!

What is in your closet?

How carefully are you choosing your spiritual wardrobe?

Are you dressing for success (so to speak?)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thankful Thursday - So many things . . .

Spending time in Colorado is always good.  I love it here!  I had a really fun July 4th week and got to spend it with some good friends here.

Larry and Rocket are our neighbors in Colorado.  Our time here is always better if they are up here too!  They are such great people that we love to spend time with.  They inspire us with their running, bike riding and swimming - triathletes!  

Karen and Steve are our good buddies in Chicago.  We are each others peer group in an area where just about everyone is in their 20's and 30's.  They are a lot of fun and we enjoy every minute we get to spend with them.  We are so grateful that the Lord brought us all to Chicago at the same time.  What a blessing!

It was also my niece's birthday this week!  Hannah Cunningham is 22!!  Hannah is such a sweet girl - so full of JOY and FUN. Hannah makes a difference wherever she is and whatever she is doing.  I am so thankful for Hannah and the blessing she is to my life as well as to so many others.  Love you Hannah!!
Happy Birthday!

I am thankful for this time in the mountains.  God's creation is so amazing - I love seeing the big city of Chicago and I love being smack in the middle of the mountains.  Every bit of creation speaks to a different part of our Creator.  Here is some of what I am seeing.

Where do you see the Creator today?  It may be outside of your window - or it may be inside your window!  Look around.  His imprints are everywhere. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Thoughts: Freedom

We had such a great 4th of July weekend.  The weekend started out with our annual meeting and neighborhood cookout.  It is always good to see our Colorado neighbors.  We love them and really enjoy our time up here with them.

Our good friends, Steve and Karen, came to visit us from Chicago.  We started our time together by going to Church in the Park - The River Church always has church in the park around the 4th.  It was a great service - very different!

It was a beautiful day.  We started out with singing and then Dwight gave a great message on the freedom we have in Christ.  Then to our great surprise - he performed a wedding!  

How fun is that!  Chris - the groom - had become a Christian that week.  His girlfriend had been a believer for about a year.  Once he accepted Christ as his Savior, he wanted to make things right by marrying his girlfriend.  Well - there is no time like the present!  In his freedom - he made the right choice.

Freedom - that word means a lot of different things to different people.  On July 4th, our minds immediately go to the freedoms we enjoy in this country and to those who fought and those who continue to fight to give us that freedom.  We are deeply grateful.

But - if that is the only freedom that you know, you are missing out!  There is greater freedom to be had in Christ.  When you give your life to Christ, you gain the freedom to live without fear, to fully develop your gifts and to discover your purpose.  Most importantly, you have the freedom to choose. 

We all like to have choices.  Who likes to be told what to do?  Not anyone I know!  But in that freedom - there is room to make life giving choices and life debilitating choices.  

I have the freedom to live in obedience - or not.
I have the freedom to love others - or not.
I have the freedom to be selfless - or selfish.
I have the freedom to trust the Lord - or go my own way.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.   Galatians 5:1

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  Galatians 5:13

Our country's freedom came at a high cost and is certainly maintained at a high cost.  My freedom in Christ came at a high cost too.  So - I choose to live in freedom - but in that freedom I choose to follow Jesus.  

To be free in Christ is to be free indeed!