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, December 21, 2012

Thankful Friday ~ SNOW

Well - as usual, during a holiday, I have no idea what day it is so Thursday just passed me by.  No problem, though, because I am just as thankful on a Friday as I am on a Thursday! 

I have been in the mountains since Sunday night.  Can you say BLISS?  I thought I would share a few pictures of the snow here.  It is truly spectacular.  I am so thankful for our very Creative God - who delights in showing Himself through His creation.

There is just something about a Colorado blue sky with snowy trees that I just love.

Our house in the snow

This is my backyard - oh my goodness

We have some huge icicles

I love the way snow looks on fences.

God's Christmas Tree

My view as I walk down my street

Looks like marshmallow fluff!

Another fence  :-)
I love this time of year - I love Colorado - I love snow - I love time with family (my Mom and Dad got here today and both of my girls and their hubbies get here this weekend!!!!) - I love how the Lord reveals Himself through such beauty - I love that even though hard things are going on in this world, we get to pause and celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.

I am so very thankful . . .

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Heart Utterings

There have been days in my life where I have heard news that is so devastating that there is a part of me that wants to just shut down.  I clearly remember the day that Kennedy was shot (I was really young but have a very vivid memory of this), the day the Space Shuttle blew up, 9/11, Columbine shooting and the shooting in Newtown yesterday. 

This one hit me in so many different ways.  My daughter, Heather, is a school teacher and she taught 2 years of kindergarten and now teaches in the Head Start program with a classroom full of 4 year olds.  Her class is on the corner of the building right by the outside door.  While I grieved for these families in Newtown, I found myself feeling great relief that Heather and her students were okay.  Such strange feelings of horror and relief all at once.

I saw this post today of a message sent out by Max Lucado.  He is such a great pastor, teacher and writer and His words were very comforting to me.  He often writes what my heart longs to utter but I simply don't have the words.  I hope it brings you comfort as well.

"Dear Jesus,
It's a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were night shift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod's jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won't you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us."

Thank you, Max.  Even in such darkness, there is hope.  Even in such devastation, Jesus is present and walking beside each of these families.  Their cries, sobs and words of anger, grief and disbelief do not go unnoticed.  God came near so long ago and He still comes near today.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted 
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.  
Psalm 34:18

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday ~ Gifts

I am a gift giver.  I LOVE buying presents for people.  I LOVE surprising someone with that "perfect" gift.  When I read the book, "The 5 Love Languages" I was not surprised to find that giving gifts in one of my major love languages.  I love birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, valentine's gifts, Easter gifts and especially "just because" gifts.  I am so excited by the time I give the gift that I think I might explode!

As you can imagine - I'm a big Santa at Christmas.  I love having family gathered around and exchanging gifts, but of course, the older I get, the more I know that the real gift is those people sitting around that room. 

"Every good and perfect gift comes down, from the Father of Lights, in whom there is no variation or shifting shadow."  James 1:17

The gifts I am most thankful for this Christmas are my family and amazing friends - my church - my neighbors - the opportunities that I have here to serve in different ways - Bible study - music - my dog, Quincy - this beautiful City and the beautiful mountains I will journey to - but without the greater gifts of Grace, Mercy, Love, Salvation and Forgiveness, I would not be able to enjoy any of these gifts.

What gifts are you most thankful for this year?

Let's remember to express our love and appreciation for the gifts that we have been given even as we are getting ready to hand out a few more!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Musings ~ Empty

I've been doing a study on Philippians this fall.  We are moving through the book VERY SLOWLY - as in we are still in chapter 2 on lesson 10!  It has been awesome, though, and truly wonderful to ponder all the wealth in this book.  In my Christmas frame of mind, I took great delight in reading chapter 2, verses 3 - 11.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

When I think about Christmas, I really never get over the fact that Jesus chose to empty Himself - chose to leave heaven and enter our world.  He even chose to enter this world as an infant, growing up just as one of us - experiencing the same emotions and struggles yet without sin.  

It is the most extraordinary event in history.

God came near.

He humbled Himself.

We are told to have this same attitude of humility - this same lifestyle of servanthood - this same mindset of putting others first. 

This goes against everything that this world tells us.  

                 ME FIRST

                                                      DO WHATEVER YOU WANT TO

                                  BELIEVE WHATEVER YOU WANT TO

                             AND BY ALL MEANS . . . YOU DESERVE IT AND ARE

                                                    ENTITLED TO IT

                                               PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE.

What did Jesus' humble, sacrificial life lead to?  Death . . . death on the cross.  

But ~~ that isn't the end of the story.







So, this Christmas, as you look at the nativity scenes with sweet baby Jesus in the manger -- remember that He gave up everything to be there.  Remember that He humbled Himself and chose to serve others.  Remember that this birth lead to a death - death on a cross.  Remember that this is the true gift of Christmas!

Because He chose to be EMPTIED -- we can choose to be FILLED

Now, that is a gift, indeed.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Thankful Thursday ~ Christmas in the City

Chicago is such a beautiful city.  The city decks out our streets, lamp posts and trees with lights, greenery, ribbon and berries.  I love how the whole city is transformed.  I thought I would share a few photos from this year.  No snow yet :-(

The season starts out with the Santa Hustle 5K.  Alan ran this with his team at work this year.  I think CPA's make pretty good Santas!

The City joins in with many of the buildings sporting red and green.

The City Christmas tree in Daley Plaza.

The trees are all lit up on Michigan Avenue.

With limited space - outside decor is on the balconies.

The City changes out these planters with each season.  They are on most main street corners.

More Christmas cheer in my neighborhood.

Other than waiting on the snow, it is very festive around here and I love to see all the lights.  I am thankful for the way the whole City joins in.  I consider it a gift to me!

I am thankful for the greenery and lights that remind me that Jesus, the light of the World, is what this is all about.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Musings ~ Making a list . . .

I should know that any time I make a grand statement about something, it will probably change!  My thoughts today have a Christmas theme - but it might be considered a bit of a stretch :-)  I'm still going with it!

Matthew 19:16 - 22

Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.”  The man asked, “What in particular?”  Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.”  The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?”  “If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”  That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.

This story of the rich young ruler is a sad one, indeed.  He knew all the commandments and believed that he was following them.  He made a list and was checking it twice!  What more could he do?

Jesus told him to sell his possessions, give to the poor and follow Him -- maybe one of the single greatest invites of all time and yet he walked away grieving because he owned much property. 

Why did Jesus ask him to do that particular thing?  Because He knew that this man's heart was tied up in his possessions.  Following the rules was fine . . . but meaningless without a heart for Jesus driving that obedience.

I'm leading a group through a study on the book of Ruth by Kelly  Minter.  There was a quote last week that immediately jumped in my head as I read this passage.  

"I'm not sure there is any more important move in our life with Christ than our total surrender to Him.  Yes, this can be scary.  Yes, it can be costly. But . . . the earthly and eternal blessings of submission to Jesus are unparalleled.  What He can do with a willing life surrendered at His feet is more than we can comprehend.  I just know I don't want to miss it for whatever I'm clutching in my hands."

Are you making a list and checking it twice?

Are you relying on being "nice"?

Or, is your heart fully invested in your relationship with Jesus?

Are you following Him at any cost?

What are you clutching in your hands?

What do you need to let go of in order to enter into 
a life of spiritual abundance?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful Thursday ~ He is Faithful

Are you in the Word daily?  I hope so, because the Lord has something every day as a gift to each one of us.  I was reading in 1st Thessalonians this morning.  Chapter 5 is one of those chapters that I love to camp out on.  Here is a gold nugget of truth toward the end of that chapter -- verse 24 to be exact!

"Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass."

WOW!  I am so thankful for that!  Are you ever in that place where you just can't see how this is all going to work out?  No matter what you do - what strings you pull - even applying your highest level of thinking and reasoning, it just doesn't make sense?

Not a bad place to be, actually.  WHY?  When I am facing a situation like this, I MUST rely on the Lord, which is what I should have been doing in the first place.  God will not call me to something without providing a way to fulfill that call. 

Does that mean that it will run smoothly and that all the pieces will simply fall together?  Sometimes, it seems to happen that way, but at other times, the struggle in the journey is even more important than the outcome.

"He will also bring it to pass."

Ultimately, it is His work that brings it to pass.  I want to be obedient in the process.  I want to wait on the Lord when I need to.  I want to step out in faith when the Lord nudges me to do so.  I want to rely on His faithfulness and also rest in His faithfulness.

I am thankful for a God who calls and equips - a God who is faithful in initiating the process and completing it.

Rejoice with me today in our FAITHFUL GOD.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Musings ~ Joseph

Thanksgiving has come and gone and it was GREAT.  I love Thanksgiving and I enjoyed every minute of it.  But . . . Christmas is coming!!  YAY!!  

 I'm reading through Matthew right now and it occurred to me that reading through the gospels is much like unwrapping a gift.  Let's unwrap a few packages during these weeks leading up to Christmas. The first gift is the obedience of Joseph.  His story begins in the the first chapter of Matthew.

Matthew 1:24  And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife.

Can you even imagine what this felt like for Joseph?  He hears that his betrothed is pregnant.  He knows it isn't his baby.  He prepares to quietly divorce her as to bring her the least amount of attention and shame and THEN he gets a visit from an angel who enters his dreams.  The angel tells him that this baby is from the Holy Spirit and that he should go ahead and take Mary as his wife.  He awoke  . . . and he obeyed.

Matthew 2:21  So Joseph got up, took the child and His mother while it was still night and left for Egypt.

In another dream, Joseph learns that the baby is in danger and that he needs to immediately take his family to Egypt.  Egypt?  Are you kidding?!?!  I'm pretty sure that is the last place that Joseph was thinking about traveling to, but again, he gets up and takes his family to Egypt.

Matthew 2:23  He came to live in a city called Nazareth.

Once again, Joseph is told in a dream that he can head back to Israel.  Just as he is thinking about settling down in his hometown, he hears that there is still a danger in that area, so he heads to Nazareth.  

Let's face it -- Moms get a lot more press than Dads for the most part.  Professional athletes are always waving and speaking to the camera saying "Hi Mom!", "I love you, Mom!"  It isn't that Dads are not important.  In fact, having a good father is critical and the lack of one very hurtful.  Reading through this passage reminded me of how God used this very ordinary, Jewish carpenter, to be the earthly father of the Messiah.  Joseph must have already had a very close relationship with his God.  God spoke to him in dreams.  He listened and he immediately obeyed.

This was radical stuff too -- marrying a woman who was already with child?  remaining sexually abstinent until after the birth of the baby?  Moving to Egypt - back to Israel - settling in Nazareth.  All of these changes initiated by God through Joseph's dreams.  Each warning and instruction taken to heart and immediately obeyed.  This could not have made sense, and yet Joseph obeyed without hesitancy.

Will I listen to the Lord as closely as Joseph did? 

 Will I obey immediately, without hesitation? 

Can the Lord trust me like He could trust Joseph?

Joseph was an ordinary man entrusted with an extraordinary mission.  His major qualification was his willingness to hear and obey, trusting this God that he had come to know.

May I be found so trustworthy!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday ~ A cheerful heart

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope that this year finds you with friends and family, enjoying the day.  I don't know what this past year has been like for you.  For many, it has been a good one and for some, it has been a really difficult one.  I also recognize that sometimes, holidays are hard.  They can stir up memories that are sad or remind one of losses.

That leads me to believe that celebrating Thanksgiving is more of a choice than a given.  Today - I choose to be thankful.  I choose to recognize that "every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, in whom there is no variation or shifting shadow."  

I am thankful for my family - my precious daughters and the husbands that the Lord so perfectly provided for them.  They make a great team.

I am thankful for the family I grew up in.  My parents are amazing and my brother is the best.  His wife and family are additional blessings in my life.

I am thankful for the Lord's leading in my life - the places we have lived, the ministries we have been able to be a part of and the many people we have been connected with in all these places.  I can not imagine life lived any other way.  

I am thankful for my relationship with the Lord - His Word - His continual work in my life to make me more like Jesus.  It's a slow process . . . but I'm walking in the right direction.

I am thankful for God's creation - His mountains, His lakes, His oceans, His trees, His skies -- all of creation sings His praises.

I am thankful for my church and the amazing people that I get to grow and learn along side.  

I am thankful for my neighbors.  They have become like family to me here in Chicago.

I am thankful for TX friends who live in Chicago - for Ashley, Aaron, Stacie and Beth.  We could have never dreamed that we would all live in this city at the same time!

I am thankful for the hard times over this past year.  Difficulties, trials and even sufferings allow me to identify with my Savior and to lean into Him all the more.

I am thankful for the chance to write down my thoughts each week.  I don't know if it benefits anyone else, but the Lord uses this blog to allow me to pull together what He has been teaching me and I cherish being able to look back at all He has done.

I could go on and on.  

On this Thanksgiving Day - may your heart be cheerful and may you continually feast.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Musings ~ Camping

I have been reading through 2nd Corinthians this week.  As I was finishing up chapter 4 and moving into chapter 5 - the Lord got my attention with 4:16 - 5:1. 

"Therefore, we do not lost heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day."

So . . . there is absolutely no doubt that my outer body is decaying!  I'm about to turn 53 - ancient to some, but a baby to others.  I'm not complaining.  I'm in good health with minimal aches and pains, but there is no denying that the aging process carries on.  The good news is that my spirit grows stronger with each passing 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, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

This passage encourages me to look beyond the troubles of this world, both big and small, and realize that if my sufferings and afflictions were put on one side of a scale and the weight of eternal glory on the other -- there would be no contest.

My afflictions on the left - the eternal weight of glory on the right!
Things eternal trump things temporary every time.

"For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

 In 5:1 - our bodies are described as our earthly tent.  Paul was a tent maker - so he chooses this imagery intentionally.  I like to imagine Paul in the midst of working on a tent when the Lord tells him -- this is a picture of your earthly life!  Tents are temporary.  Camping can be fun, but who doesn't begin to long for a hot shower and a comfy bed eventually?  This tent of our body is wearing out, but the good news is that we have a building from God -- a house not made with hands -- eternal in the heavens.

When you are suffering, experiencing discouragement and difficulties, troubled,  or simply exhausted -- keep your eyes on the eternal.  When illness or age is depleting your body, remember that your spirit is being renewed day by day.  I have had the privilege of being with some dear friends when they were nearing their death and I can testify that as their bodies wore out, their spirits were so strong.  It was as if they could just glimpse their heavenly home and they were preparing to take down those tent pegs.

This camp out will come to an end.  This tent will be replaced by a room in a mansion built specifically for you with a feast to boot.  

Life is just plain hard, sometimes.  Jesus knew it would be because He has been here.  He knew that we would need this encouragement to keep our eyes on Him.

I was reminded in a sermon yesterday on Revelation 21 and 22 that all things will be made new.  All this temporary will be replaced by something more wonderful than our finite minds can even comprehend.

Let's make the most out of this camping adventure while always keeping in mind that heavenly hot shower and comfy bed. S'mores, anyone?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday ~ We will be changed

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed.  
1st Corinthians 15:52

We will be changed . . .


Don't you just want be changed?  Can you imagine what it would be like to no longer battle sin?  to no longer deal with health issues?  to no longer have any broken relationships?  to truly understand the "whys" of life?  to see perfect justice and boundless grace?

Don't get me wrong . . . I love my life and I love that the Lord uses everything in my life to shape me into the image of His Son, but when I read that verse, it reminds me that there is so much more -- that all this striving will cease and all things will be made right.

One day, this old body will fall away and all things will be new.  

And we will be changed . . .


I am thankful for all that I have and all that this life is and I am truly thankful that there is so much more to come.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Musings ~ Labor

I'm back in Chicago after the "friendship tour" that I took through Ohio and Indiana.  I didn't get to see everyone that I would have loved to have seen - but we did a pretty good job!  It is one of those times when you pause and think about how many fantastic people you know and how extremely blessed you are to know them.  Among the friends that we saw, we got to visit with two families that have had babies recently.  We got to hear their labor stories - which I have to say, is one of my favorite stories to hear.  As a woman, it is our greatest story!  I have recounted mine many times to my girls and to other Moms.   

Just a few weeks after Heather was born.  I know, I know.  I promise it was decade appropriate!

It is just fun and always a reminder that waiting, pain and suffering can produce great joy.

As the Lord would have it, I was reading in Galatians this week and I came across Galatians 4:19.  

My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you. 

Labor - there really isn't anything quite like it!  Even when you go to those birthing classes and read books, nothing can truly prepare you for the reality of the experience.  This is a picture of what it is like to invest in others in ministry.

Whether you are on a church staff, or involved in a para-church organization, a volunteer, a parent, a neighbor, teacher, friend or co-worker -- if you are a believer, you are in labor until Christ is formed in those the Lord has given you.  Sometimes that labor comes hard and fast, but more often, it is slow and a bit painful.  There are also cases where all that labor ends in devastation.  That is a part of that ministry experience as well.

We labor in time, prayer, teaching, grace, mercy, pain, heartache and suffering. Labor is hard - but it is worth it.  Having spiritual children is both a hardship and a huge JOY.  I wouldn't trade my labor over so many kids over the years for anything.  Many of them are walking with the Lord today and then there are quite a number who are struggling, still.  I love them all just the same and continue to labor in prayer over those who are still wandering away from the Lord.

The Lord labors over us as His children, and in turn, He asks us to labor over the flock He has given us until Christ is formed in them.

Now that is a labor of love. 


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday ~ BSF

How is your thankful Thursday going?  I have had a fantastic day.  I'm in Columbus visiting my friend, Aimee, on my way to a whirlwind tour through northern Ohio and Indiana.  Today - I was able to attend the Bible Study Fellowship class that I was a part of when I lived here.

Let me tell you a bit about Bible Study Fellowship.  I first attended a class when I lived in TX.  My girls were 2 and 4.  We spent the year studying Genesis, and little did I know that the Lord was going to call me out of my familiar surroundings just like Abraham.  It was a pivotal year for me as the Lord used that study to prepare me for a cross country move.  I just ate it up - every week of lessons and lecture.  My girls were able to attend the children's program and their little minds and souls began to understand the truth of God's Word.

We moved to NY and I attended a class in CT for two years.  It was fascinating to study the Minor Prophets when I lived in a heavily Jewish area.  The words on the page came alive.  When I moved back to TX, I did another year there and then we were transferred to Ohio by my next year.  All of those years were huge for me - but the Lord really got a hold of me in Ohio.  We had barely gotten settled into our home when the BSF study was gearing up.  I found where it was located and got signed up.  Just a few weeks after the study began, I was asked to be a discussion leader.  What an amazing and maturing experience.  I learned so much from the other leaders, the women in my group and our teaching leader, Connie.  I grew leaps and bounds and the Lord used that time to prepare me for what was next.  I was able to serve in that role for 4 years and it was a huge blessing.

It was a sweet thing, this morning, to sit in that same church, listening to Connie lecture on Genesis - right back where I started!  The Word was rich with truth and both encouraging and challenging.  It blessed my heart to look around the room and see so many women who were hungry for God's Word.  

I have had the privilege of sitting under many great teachers and studying the Bible in a lot of different ways. There are so many great studies out there and they all offer something just a little different.  When I look back over the years, I find myself very thankful for those years in Bible Study Fellowship.  I am thankful for Ms Johnson's obedience in developing this method of study and pioneering this work.  I am thankful for the many volunteers who put together materials and faithfully serve those attending.  I am thankful that every week, the name of Jesus is lifted up all around the world in BSF classes.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Musings ~ Listen to Me

Are you one of those people that others love to talk to?  tell you their problems? or ask you for advice?  If so, you will love this selection from Jesus Calling

"Learn to listen to Me even while you are listening to other people.  As they open their souls to your scrutiny, you are on holy ground.  You need the help of My Spirit to respond appropriately.  Ask Him to think through you, live through you, love through you.  My Own being is alive within you in the person of the Holy Spirit."

What an opportunity and a privilege to listen and love others on behalf of Jesus.  It is also a great responsibility.

"If you respond to others' needs through your unaided thought processes, you offer them dry crumbs.  When the Spirit empowers your listening and speaking, My streams of living water flow through you to other people."

We can not minister to others out of our own strength.  All we have to offer on our own is dry crumbs.  Only through the Spirit can we truly minister to others.  He knows each need and how to best meet it. 

"Be a channel of My love, Joy and Peace by listening to Me as you listen to others."

I think that we often think about the Spirit empowering our words, but not so much our listening!  Both my listening and my speech must be infused with Holy Spirit power.  I want to share words of life that guide others toward the Lord.

I don't want to offer crumbs.

I want to be a vessel used by my God to bless others.

I want to listen.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful Thursday ~ November

November is a fun, fall month.  It is a month where we all make more of an effort to step back and be thankful.  I always loved making pilgrim hats and having a feast at school.  I loved studying about the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and the Indians.  I love candy corn and everything pumpkin.  It is a great month, indeed!

I want to encourage you to write down something that you are thankful for every day this month.  I am making a thankful tree again this year and I will be adding leaves to it each day to celebrate all the many blessings in my life.

 I did this last year.  I cut out leaf shapes on cardstock paper and then punched a hole and put ribbon through each one.  I had these available so that anyone who came over could write down what they were thankful for and I put it on the tree.  As you can see, you can just pick up fallen branches in your yard and put them in a vase with rocks or something else that will hold them steady.  It looks cute and it is a daily reminder of how much we have to be thankful for - even if it has been a rough year.

Let's make November famous for 
praising the One who gives us  
every good thing and every perfect gift.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Musings ~ Say that again?

One of my favorite accounts in the book of Acts is in chapter 16.  I saw something new when I read this the other day.  

"But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them."

This did not take place in a church or on a camp out!  This scene took place in a prison.  I'm thinking that singing and praying were not the norm and certainly not an expected reaction after a severe beating and imprisonment.  Paul and Silas CHOSE to respond in this way.  Mind boggling!

And guess what?  The other prisoners were listening.  

I have always been amazed at the choice that Paul and Silas made to praise the Lord and in the events that transpired, but this time I was struck by the fact that the other prisoners were listening to them.  

Someone is always listening.  
Someone is always catching our 
response to our hardships.

We may not know who is listening.  We may never know what kind of an impact those words have on others.  

How am I responding?

Complaining comes easy.  We are all champs at complaining and focusing on the negative, particularly when there is a lot of negative!  If we are going to have a different reaction, we will have to be very intentional about it.  Complaining is our default setting!

People will be listening, either way.

What will they hear from me?  
Will my response draw them to faith?  
Will my response reflect my trust in my Lord?  
Will my response be filled with the kind of joy that can only come from my confidence in Jesus?

What will they hear from you?  

Your words may very well be the cry of their heart.   


Friday, October 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday ~ Dave, Molly and Isaac

My inability to remember what day it is messes with my Thankful Thursday post - but believe me, I am just as thankful on Friday!  When I was pondering about what to write about, my dear friends Dave, Molly and their son Isaac popped into my head.  Let me tell you a bit about them.

I first met Dave when he was a college student at Huntington University.  He was a Youth Ministry major and needed a summer internship.  I had an intern from Huntington the precious summer and fall, so fortunately for me, Dave was familiar with my church.  I lived in Columbus OH at the time and was the Youth Minister at Karl Road Baptist Church.  Dave came that summer to work with me.

Hands down, I have never seen someone so natural and so gifted in Youth Ministry.  We had a great summer of loving on students and doing all kinds of crazy and fun things.  It was a rich summer of fun and digging into the Word.  Dave did a fantastic job and made such an impact on our students in a short time.  He continued to join us for retreats and other events while finishing up his degree and working with Youth For Christ.

After graduation, Dave stayed in Huntington IN and joined the staff of Youth for Christ.  He did an amazing job there and along the way, met a very beautiful woman with the same heart for ministry -- Molly.  Molly was in Denver working with Youth For Chirst's camping ministry.  Dave ended up moving to Denver and after some dating and getting to know one another well, they decided to get married.  Alan, Ashley and I were able to fly to Michigan and be at their wedding.  It was one of the sweetest, most God honoring weddings I have ever been to. 

Dave and Molly continue to live in Denver with Dave training Youth For Christ leaders all over the country and Molly working in the camping ministry.  About a year and a half ago, Isaac entered the world.  He is an amazing little guy.

I am so thankful for people like Dave and Molly, who have such a heart for Jesus and for reaching students.  There influence literally spans the country.  The difference they have made in the lives of so many has eternal significance.  The friendship they offer me is a true gift.  Our hearts are forever entwined by our love for Jesus and students. 

Dave and Molly -- thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus where you are.  You are making a difference for eternity.  I know it isn't always easy.  Thank you for the sacrifices you make and the LIGHT that you share. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Musings ~ Job

I have been reading through the book of Job this past week.  Always an interesting read - to be sure!  I wrote two journal entries this week about some scripture in that book and they ended up going together so  I thought I would share them with you today.

Job is a mysterious book.  We see Satan having a conversation with God about Job.  Well, that right there is pretty interesting!  The events that follow are somewhat puzzling but there is a lot to be learned.

In Job 2:10, it says, "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?"

No one really enjoys adversity (have you ever heard of someone doing an adversity dance?)  No one likes to experience injustice or disrespect.  And yet, these experiences are real life.  We are not entitled to anything - NADA - nothing.  We are not entitled to respect, or justice or smooth sailing.  We are not immune to pain, disappointment and even tragedy.   

God uses adversity, injustice and even disrespect to chip away at anything in my life that holds on to entitlement.  It is easy to see entitlement in someone else but I can be blind to it in my own life.  Warning phrases:   I should . . . I deserve . . . That shouldn't be . . . I can't believe . . .

I have chosen to give up my rights as I give over my life to Jesus.  I must accept adversity along with the good knowing that I can trust Jesus with all of it.

In Job 5:17-18, it says, "Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.  For He inflicts pain and gives relief.  He wounds and His hand also heals."

The whole picture of God - or maybe the spectrum of His hand is just a hard thing to get your mind around.  Being joyful in the midst of discipline is certainly not a natural response.  Accepting God's hand of discipline and the pain that often follows must be done with the same joy that His relief and healing brings.

How is that even possible?

   He is God.  

                     His love is perfect.

      His motivations are always pure.

                          He is always for me.


                Without any exceptions.


     His only agenda is making me more like Jesus.

I must let go of my ideas of entitlement.  I must embrace the work that Jesus in doing in my life right now.  Like Job, I want to grow to understand my Heavenly Father more deeply through life's experiences.  

In Job 42:5, Job makes a statement that really struck me.
"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You."

Oh, how I want to see Jesus more clearly.  Let's hang in there!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday ~ Home

It is always evident when I have been traveling for a good while.  I can not ever remember what day it is!  I arrived back from TX on Monday afternoon and haven't really known what day it is since!  It is good to be home - even when I am missing my girls and the mountains - it is good to be home.

I am thankful for:

safe travels - I had 3 deer step in front of my car on my way to Tyler and  I had to swerve to miss them.  It was one of those moments where things could go either way and I ended up okay.  I don't take that lightly!

Beauty - I had such a beautiful drive home.  The fall color is Missouri was breath taking.  It was like a gift directly from the Lord.

Fall - yep - it is fall here in Chicago and I get to continue enjoying the beautiful color that surrounds me every day.

Hamilton - It is so good to be back painting at Hamilton.  As soon as I walk into that building, I feel like I have come home.  I love the people there and I love serving there.

Matt - My neighbor, Matt, got engaged to his beautiful girlfriend, Kristin!  We are very excited for them!

Working Out - back to working out with my dear friend, Marifran.

Stacy - Stacy is living with us right now and it is such a treat to have her here.

So many things to be thankful for!

What is on your list today?