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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday Thoughts: Leadership

In my daily readings - I am in 1st Thessalonians.  In reading chapters 1-3, I was struck by all the descriptions, advice, exhortations and encouragement to leaders.  Let's face it - we are all leading someone.  You may not be leading a Bible study or a small group - but you are leading.  You are influencing the people around you in many ways so this really applies to all of us!

When I read this - I was thinking that leadership and shepherding have a lot in common.  They really go hand in hand.  Here are some great guidelines for those of us (that is all of us!) that are leading or shepherding others.

1st Thessalonians 
1:2   Pray for those the Lord has given you consistently and fervently.
1:3   Appreciate what the Lord is doing in their lives.
            work of faith ~ labor of love ~ 
          steadfastness of hope in the Lord
1:4   Remember that they are beloved by God - His choice.  There is something about the word beloved that is just another level beyond loved when I think about how the Lord feels about each one of us!  Love that. 
1:5    Recognize that the power for your teaching, your influence and the power for change is ALL the power of the Holy Spirit (in other words, it is not about your own power - praise the Lord!)
1:6 - Remember that it won't be easy - they will receive the Word with tribulation and yet with JOY
1:7  Their lives will be an example to others!
1:8   God's Word will "sound forth" from them - I like to say that it will bubble up!  As they fill their lives with His Word  - it will bubble up in the way they speak, think and respond to others.
1:9   They will "turn from idols" to serve the Living and True God (I really loved this because I am leading a study right now about turning from the idols in our lives and making room for Jesus to reign in our hearts!)

This continues in Chapter 2 with some good words for leaders, shepherds and those who influence (Yeah - that is everyone!)
2:4   As a leader - you have been approved by God - entrusted with the gospel- your goal is to please God, not men for God will examine your heart.  Wow - that is a huge responsibility and a huge blessing all in one!
2:5-7   Characteristics of a leader are given here:  
have integrity
lead with gentleness
hard working
exhibit loving concern
2:8   This is the heart of ministry - I so love this!
. . . to impart to you not only the gospel, but also our 
own lives, because you have become very dear to us.
If you think that leading ends when you walk out of a study or a classroom - you will most likely be very surprised.  You will be imparting your very life for others.
2:12  Our hope and prayer as leaders 
that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory

For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation?  
Is it not even you, in the presence of 
our Lord Jesus at His coming?

3:8   Is this your heart as a leader?
But now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.

Being a leader in any capacity - being an influence in your family, among your friends, in your workplace - these are all positions of great joy and great responsibility.  Sometimes it is hard - sometimes it is tiring - sometimes it is discouraging.  These verses were such an encouragement to me and really a call back to what it is all about.  Take a look at the closing prayer at the end of chapter 3 - I think it says it all.

May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all people - that He would 
establish your hearts without blame before
 the Father when Jesus comes.

Where has the Lord given you leadership responsibility?
Are you empowered by Him or are you trying to muster up your own power and strength?
Are you faithfully leading and influencing and trusting Him for the outcome?
Are you praying for those that the Lord has given you?
Are you allowing the Lord to give you His heart, His eyes and His love for each one?

Embrace the privilege . . . depend on Him . . . be faithful.  You will not believe all that the Lord will do in and through your life when you do.  
All praise to Him.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday - On Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving - how I love Thanksgiving.  I have truly wonderful memories of Thanksgiving from as far back as I can remember.  This is one of the years where my birthday falls on Thanksgiving!  My birthday celebrations have always been special because it always falls around a holiday spent with people I love.  It was extra special to celebrate year 52 with all my kids here in Chicago - and some really dear friends that joined us.  I love cooking for everyone!

It has been fun to look at the posts over this last month on facebook as people have been recounting all the things they are thankful for.  I try to make it a habit to do this often -- to soak up every days blessings and to approach each day with a grateful heart.  Since I just turned 52, I thought I would post 52 things that I am thankful for - and then I thought how very long that post would be and I would lose most of you quickly - so I'll do 24 for the 24 days of November.  If I live as long as the list of things I love - I will live to a very old age!

1.   My Savior - Jesus.  Without Him, I wouldn't have this life that I am so thankful to live.
2.   My husband Alan - my closest friend and my favorite person to hang out with.  He is faithful and he loves me so unconditionally.
3.   My daughter, Ashely - my first born - who makes my life so rich.  She loves the Lord and she makes the world a much brighter place.  Spending time with her is amazing.
4.  My daughter Heather - Joy personified - she lights up a room when she walks in and she makes me laugh hysterically all the time.  Any time spent with Heather is a great time.
5.   My son in law - James - Ashley's husband.  If I could have ordered a husband for Ashley, it would be him.  He loves the Lord and he loves Ashley.  What more can I say?
6.   My son in law - Cooper - Heather's husband.  Cooper is a passionate guy about all of the things he loves - including Heather.  I appreciate his sense of humor and His love for the Lord.
7.  My parents - I feel so fortunate to have such amazing parents that are happy, healthy and a whole lot of fun. 
8.   My in-laws - they raised a mighty fine man that I am married to.  They are kind and giving.
9.   My out-laws - in other words, my son in laws' parents!  James and Sharon Thorne - Dan and Julie Brenton - Amazing people who have blessed me so much.  It is so wonderful to know that my daughters are a part of these great families.  
10.  My church family -- this includes people that I am still close to from First Baptist Arlington, Westchester Baptist in NY, Karl Road Baptist in OH, The River Church in CO, Destination in Chicago and the two churches that I grew up in - Willow Meadows and Tallowood.  Churches full of people who have shaped me and continue to do so.
11.  Young Life - without this ministry, my life could have taken a much different path.  I will be forever grateful for the volunteers and staff that saw something in me worth investing in!
12.  Kim Talley - I can not make a post like this without being thankful for Kim Talley - that YL staff person who was Jesus with skin on to me.  Eternally thankful.
13.  My dog Quincy - my constant companion.  
14.  My home states -- TX, NY, OH, CO, IL
15.  My mentors - Mom, LaVon, Ann, Rosemary and Doris - godly women who have showed me what it is to walk with Jesus at every stage of life.
16.  Teenagers - I have had the most amazing experiences with teenagers over the years in teaching high school,  YL and in church ministry.  
17.  Mountains - I love Colorado and the mountains speak to me in a way that no other terrain does.  It is as if the Lord is whispering my name as soon as I see those first snowy peaks.
18.  Cities - that's right - I love the mountains and I love big cities.  Living in Chicago is such an incredible experience.  I love the variety of people, the neighborhoods and all the ethnic food.  
19.  Working Out - I love to exercise - running, spinning, lifting weights, hiking . . . I love all of it.
20.  Friendship -- I have had the privilege of walking through life with some of the most amazing people on the planet.  
21.   Bible study - I love studying the Bible on my own and I love small group Bible studies.  God's Word is endlessly fascinating and dear to me.  My Bible is my most prized possession.
22.  Neighbors - I LOVE my neighbors.  They are my Chicago family and they bless me so much.  
23.  Music - I love to listen to all kinds of music.  Music touches my soul like nothing else.
24.  Grace - my favorite word - my driving passion.  Without the grace of Jesus - I would be no where. 

If you have not come up with a list for today - take time to do so.  Your heart will be overflowing with all the good things in your life - even if times are hard.

I am thankful for those of you who take the time to read City Chat.  It has been a growing experience for me and I truly appreciate your encouragement.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Musings - How do you smell?

Aromas  - they elicits memories (cookies after school) - they arouse hunger (dinner in the oven!) - they can make us smile (greenery at Christmas) and they can even make us nauseated (that awful airport and bus smell).  Smells are powerful. Think of all the words that are associated with smell -- from aroma and fragrance . . . to stink and stench.   I believe that 2nd Corinthians 2:14-15 addresses this!

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.  For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing."

So - how do you smell?  

Not that we are literally going to smell like Jesus - but that my life, hidden in Christ, draws people to Him - just like that smell of chocolate chip cookies baking or that brisket roast that has been slowly cooking all day in the oven or fresh baked bread.  People tend to gravitate toward those kind of smells.  

My life should carry the scent of my Savior.  How does grace, mercy, love and forgiveness smell?  I'm not sure - but I know it when I smell it!  Just as the stench of death is unmistakeable - Jesus is the unmistakable aroma of LIFE.  

We are assured that it is God who leads us in triumph - He is the One who manifest Himself in this "sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him".  There is not a body spray to buy or a perfume to dab on. No one can conjure up the aroma - only the Holy Spirit can do that.  

Join me in praying that the Holy Spirit will clean out the stench of sin from our lives and replace it with 


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Eternal Perspective

Sometimes, I see all the things that are happening around me, or I watch the news or see internet headlines and I am just overwhelmed by all the hard things that people experience.  It breaks my heart and I feel helpless.  It can all feel like a heavy burden.  So much sadness, so much grief, so much heartache - when will it end?

I was reading in 2nd Corinthians yesterday, and I was really struck by the hope in this verse (4:16-18)

Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 

There is no doubt that my outer body is decaying - things wear out faster and heal slower - but I just can't get over the joy of knowing at the same time -- my inner spirit is being renewed day by day.  Just as surely as I feel my aches and pains - I feel my spirit growing healthier and stronger.  The longer I live, the more in love I am with my Jesus and the sweeter life is.

When things happen that just make me gasp - I have to remember that this is not all there is.  Although our afflictions do not seem "light and momentary", the truth is that in light of eternity, they are.  I love that we are promised that these struggles and sorrows are producing in us "an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison."  What I see now - what I experience now - is temporary.  There is so much more!  

So today, I am thankful that in Jesus, I can have an eternal perspective.  When I feel discouraged or disheartened, I can say to myself ,"This too will pass."  

I can live out each day in the JOY that I possess in my relationship with the Lord.  Truly - walking each day with Jesus is my greatest honor and what I am most thankful for - everything else pales in comparison.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Musings - Mirrors

Is anyone else like me?  You look in the mirror and you say, "Who is that?" because in your mind you are still 25? 

Mirrors have some interesting qualities - for the most part, they show you how things really are.  Of course, there are some mirrors that are intentionally made to distort.  I'm also convinced that some dressing rooms have mirrors that make you look thinner.  When I get home and put that same thing on - it never looks quite as good!  Mirrors also reflect light beautifully.  They can make a space seem larger and bring the outside into a room.

One of my favorite verses is 1st Corinthians 13, verse 12.

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, 
but then face to face; 
now I know in part, 
but then I will know fully 
just as I also have been fully known."

There is something so comforting to me about reading that verse - I sometimes audibly sigh!  It is encouraging to me to know that I can't see everything for what it really is.  I can't know what the Lord is up to when things do not seem clear to me.  I look at a situation and it seems fuzzy - it seems distorted - or even looks like one of those old mirrors where the silver is worn off in spots and it has a foggy look to it.  

Even those days when my insight seems keen - it is still a dim picture.  My mind is only capable of absorbing so much and it pales compared to the Truth.  

Every time I read this verse, I am so encouraged.  My heart leaps at the thought of seeing Jesus face to face.  I will know fully - EXCITING - but I also rejoice that even now, I am fully known by Jesus.  When you move around a lot - it is so grounding to know that Jesus fully knows me, even if no one else does!  My heart rests in the fact that He fully knows me.  He knows everything about me.  


My heart rejoices as I try to imagine the day that I will see Jesus face to face and truly grasp all that He is.  In the meantime - I am praying that each new day will bring a new revelation of Who Jesus is.  I am praying that in the mirror - I will see the reflection of my Savior and that in turn - that mirror will reflect His image to the world around me.  A world that desperately needs to see His reflection.

What do you see in the mirror?
Is it the reality of who you are in Christ - 
or is it a distortion that is standing in the way of 
all that He could be doing in and through you?

Rejoice that you are made in His image and that one day - we will be seen as we truly are - we will be know the One who loves us most for who He is.

Rejoice that even now - He knows you fully and 
He loves you just the same.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Celebrations

I started my morning at home in Chicago - with some snow flakes falling and the temperatures dropping.  I then got on a plane and I am now in Texas!  It is hard to believe that all this has happened in one day!  

I flew down for a number of great celebrations this weekend.  

*Friday - I'm helping to host a bridal luncheon for Blair Bishop - the daughter of one of my dearest friends, Dana Bishop.  What fun to be able to do something special for Blair (whom I have known since she was in the womb! - Dana and I were pregnant at the same time and Blair and Heather were born 3 weeks apart.)

*Friday night - a family get together at Alan's parents' place - good food and good times.

*Saturday - I am helping to host a wedding shower for Drew and Kate.  Drew was in youth group when Alan and I were leaders.  He was also good friends with both of our daughters.   He spent a lot of time at our house and we had so many great shared experiences.  I love him like my own and it is so fun to get to meet the woman that has captured his heart!

*Saturday night - Blair's wedding!!  This will be so special for so many different reasons.  I can't wait to see how absolutely beautiful Blair will be - and I also excited to get to share this time with so many close friends.

*Sunday - I'm heading down to Waco to see my Mom and Dad - and my grandmother.  I can't wait to sit on my parent's porch and just RELAX.  

All the while - I will also get to be with Ashley, James and Heather (Cooper has something else going on this weekend or he would be here too!)  

I am so thankful for the privilege of being involved in these fun events and having people that are this special in my life. 

I can't even believe all the awesome people 
I get to know.

So - I'm thankful for this weekend away and the opportunity I have to be with friends and family.  I'm also thankful that on Tuesday - I get to head back to Chicago to people that make my life so very rich there.  

But most of all, I am thankful for Jesus who fills my life with more JOY than I could have ever imagined.  

He knows my heart and He delights in filling 
it with all the things I love.

I am so very THANKFUL.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Musings - IKEA

Monday morning started out with a trip to IKEA with Ashley Cauble.  FUN  We trekked out to a Chicago suburb and entered the welcoming doors of IKEA.  We knowingly entered the maze and began the feast of eye candy.  Model rooms . . . kitchens . . . hardware . . . lighting . . . dishes . . . linens . . . rugs . . . frames . . . beds . . . desks . . . tables . . . chairs . . . an endless array of color and creativity.

IKEA really is a maze.  They are smart marketers and they wind you through the store so that you see everything and decide that there are some things you surely can not live without.  Around every corner is something new and fun. This is not a place for a quick run in and buy.  Get comfortable - you will be here for awhile. 

BUT . . . there are short cuts.  Every so often you see an opening to go directly to a different part of the store without walking all the way around.  It's tempting - you can cut straight through to find the bed of your dreams or just the right kitchen.  

Sounds great - but what are you missing?

I think the Christian life is a lot like that.  There are sure times when a short cut sounds good.  Lord - can you just send me straight to godly character with a side of JOY?  Could you give me patience - IMMEDIATELY!  Can't I know your Word and have Your wisdom without studying and developing a daily relationship with You?

We are on a journey that takes us on a long road.  Along the way, there are some great things to see and experience.  There are life changing moments and incredible opportunities.  There are some hard things too.  There is pain and suffering that we would not choose.  Character is built and integrity is tested.  BUT - there is beauty, there are promises and encouragements in the Word, there is friendship, there is family, there is purpose, there is ministry and there is Jesus - who ties it all together.

So - take your time.  Walk slowly and soak up all that the Lord has for you.  Allow Him to fashion you into His child.

  Turn the corner with anticipation. 

There is more than you could ever imagine ahead.

1st Corinthians 2:9

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful Thursday - November

I love the month of November - it is all about being thankful!  Of course, we get to the ultimate Thankful Thursday on Thanksgiving!!  Can't wait!

The leaves are falling of the trees here - some rain and wind is hurrying up the process - but wanted to post a few pictures so you can see what I am seeing - truly awe inspiring!

I am thankful to live among such beauty in the middle of a big city.  Pretty amazing.

I am thankful for a new opportunity that I have to paint at another elementary school - Prescott Elementary.   Only God could have brought this about and I am looking to Him to see what His purposes are in placing me in this new spot.

If there is ever a Chicago Public School Bathroom Tour - I predict I will be famous (HA)

It is fun getting to know another school, another courageous principal who is making a difference (hats off to Mr. Roche) and hopefully brighten up someone's day - even if it is while they are washing their hands!

I hope that you can look around today and just soak in how many things there are to be thankful for - even if life is hard at the moment.  God is good - He is faithful in all circumstances.  He is the giver of LIFE.

All praise to Him on this thankful Thursday!