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.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Musings - Celebrating Others Gifts

I love how God will surprise you with something when you least expect it.  Let's be honest - when  you are reading through the Bible and you land in Numbers, it can be rough. After all, you have just read Leviticus.  But, God says that all of His Word is valuable, so you push through.  Then . . . you come across hidden gems that teach you so much.  So here is one of those gems.

Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake?  Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them."  Number 11:29

What??? What is so awesome about that?  Well, here is the background on this event.  Earlier in this chapter, the Spirit of the Lord had come upon the 70 elders of the Israelites and they had prophesied.  This gift of the Spirit was for a specific purpose and for that specific moment.  However, on 2 of the men, Eldad and Medad (looking for a baby name?), the Spirit remained and they were prophesying in the camp.  Someone came running to Moses to "tattle" on them.  Joshua immediately gets defensive of and apparently for Moses.  After all, Moses had been the only one to exhibit this kind of gift.  I think that Joshua's motive was to honor Moses and keep him in this unique place of high esteem.  He saw the gifting of Eldad and Medad as a threat to his mentor.

I LOVE Moses' response.  "Are you jealous for my sake?" We all do this.  We get jealous for someone else and it generally is NOT helpful.  We are particularly vulnerable when it comes to spouses and children.  Do we want our children to win the contest or receive the honor that another child received?  Do we think our spouse deserved the promotion more than another?

Moses could have said to Joshua, "Yes!  By all means - restrain those guys.  I'm the only one that gets to exercise the gift of prophesy - I'm God's man."  But, instead he says, " Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them."  

So counter-cultural.  When it comes to giftings of all kinds, it is easy to be jealous of another or threatened by another.  Our own insecurities rear their ugly heads and we don't want to be outdone or shown up in any way.  Maybe we just want to have the gift that someone else has -- we are sure we could do it better.

I want to respond like Moses.  I want to rejoice that the Lord has gifted all His people. I want to embrace the way the body of Christ works and be thrilled that He has equipped many to serve.   

This is not a contest - this is a collaboration.  

There is more than enough ministry out there for everyone.  Let's cheer on our co-laborers and rest in the Lord's value of each one of us, His calling on each life and His wisdom in placing each one of us exactly where we need to be.  

Let's be about raising up followers of Jesus, 
not followers of self.  

Let's point each one toward the Lord Jesus.  It is critical that jealousy, competitiveness and criticism stay out of the body.  They can literally kill the ministries of the church.

What if we chose to champion one anothers gifitngs? 

What if we pray diligently for others 
with our same gifting?

What if we chose to learn from and in turn 
mentor others with our same gifting?

What if jealousy gave way to encouragement?

What if competition gave way to collaboration?

What if insecurity gave way to true belief 
in our value to the Father?

Wow . . . What if?

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

Rest assured, God knows what He is doing.  He gifts every believer.  Seek to know what He has given you and use it for the common good of the body.  You will find more joy and fulfillment than you can imagine.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thankful Thursday - The Hughes Family

Well - it has happened again.
One of my neighbors moved this week.  

It is so hard to see people go - especially these neighbors that I love so dearly.  I met Ryan and Michelle a year ago November at a party I had trying to meet my neighbors. They were the only people who came from their building and I am so glad that they came.  I loved them immediately and from then on, we had dinners together and got to know one another better and better.  In February of 2011, Michelle gave birth to Hannah.  Now I love Ryan and Michelle, but I am hopelessly in love with Hannah.  I got to be her first baby sitter and be there for all her significant steps this first year.  She started standing up and taking a few steps before they left this week.  

Ryan, Michelle and Hannah

Daddy and Hannah

Sweet Hannah

I always say that when it is hard to say goodbye - you know you have been loved and loved someone well.  When you choose to invest in people, it hurts when you are separated, but isn't that what makes life rich?  

I wish I could be close to Hannah as she grows up but I will always cherish this time I got to see her grow into such a beautiful toddler.  Michelle and Ryan will forever have an imprint on my heart.  We became family and therefore, we will always be family.   

I am very hard to get rid of

So, on this thankful Thursday, I am grateful for:

*having Ryan and Michelle as my neighbors
*their willingness to let me be a part of Hannah's life
*lots of great conversations and laughter
*the privilege of investing in the lives of others
*My Heavenly Father - who is the giver of all good and perfect gifts


Hug a neighbor today :-)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Musings - Waiting

Waiting is so hard.  I have never heard anyone say, "I just love having to wait and wait and wait . . . "  Yet, it is a concept that the Lord gives us over and over again in His Word.   If you do a word search on the phrase "wait on the Lord" - there are 861 verses where it appears.  Whoa - apparently, this is important.

Let's face it - we don't like waiting in line, waiting on the phone, waiting at a restaurant, waiting on an internet search, waiting at the doctor's office, waiting at the airport and waiting on someone to come home!  In Psalm 25:1-5, it says:

To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.  
O my God, in You I trust,
Do not let me be ashamed;
Do not let my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;
Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.

Make me know Your ways, O LORD;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day. 

Waiting has always been hard and God's children have always been asked to do it.  We see long periods of waiting all throughout Scripture.  Waiting may be even harder in this instantaneous culture we live in.  We are used to obtaining information in seconds and food almost that fast!  Perhaps the art of waiting on the Lord has been somewhat lost in the busyness of our lives.  When I was reading this Psalm - these things stood out to me.

*Waiting involves TRUST -- We are not just waiting on anyone - we are waiting on God, Himself.  He is trustworthy.  He is never late.  He is faithful.  He cares.

*Waiting will not bring us shame.  Don't we spend a good deal of time worrying about what is to come?  When will this happen?  Why isn't is happening faster?  Perhaps the Lord is protecting us.  Perhaps there is crucial timing at stake here.  He will not put us to shame.

*Waiting is active.  I am to "know" God's ways. This involves studying His Word, spending time talking to Him and spending a lot of time listening.  He says that He will teach me and that He will lead me.  Often, these times of waiting are some of the richest in terms of learning and growing in the Lord.

*Waiting can take a while!  I know that seems a little redundant - but the Psalm says, "For you I will wait all day."  I don't really think this means a simple 24 hours.  I think the idea here is that no matter how long it takes, I will wait.  God is not restricted by the clock or by the calendar.  I need to let those restrictions go as well.

How often have you gotten yourself 
in trouble by waiting?

If you are like me, not very often.  I am more likely to get myself in a mess by being impulsive.  I have acted too fast, spoken too quickly and made important decisions in haste.  Learning the discipline of waiting is HUGE.  It is key to maturity in Christ and is indicative of our trust in Him.  

What are you anxious about?

Are you waiting on the Lord and the wait seems too long?

Are you feeling anxious in your waiting?

You are among good company.  This would be an excellent time to read over Psalm 25 and take a deep breath.  Remind yourself of God's faithfulness in the past and that His timing is always perfect.  Our vision is so restrictive and our knowledge so narrow.  He sees it all - He knows it all - He cares more than we can imagine.

Lord, grace us with the ability to wait on You 
and please grow us up in the process.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday's Contemplations

My Thursday turned out to be packed out - so I thought I would give myself until today to write.  I have been learning so much that it is actually hard to choose.  About a week ago, I read Psalm 19.  I love this Psalm and it is one of those that sings the praises of God's Word.

I have to tell you, I love my Bible (you may have heard that before).  If I had to name the one thing that the Lord has used to sustain me throughout my life, it would have to be His Word.  You know that age old question about, "If your house caught on fire, what is the one thing you would grab (besides the other people in the house)?  My Bible always comes to mind first.  I could get another Bible - true - but what I treasure about my Bibles over the years is the notes I have written in them, dates I have placed beside treasured promises and encouragement and all that underlining.  It is a testimony of the journey that the Lord has marked out for me and walked with me.

Here are the verses that I focused on:

 7The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
13 Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. 

God's Word and my relationship with Him can not be separated.  He speaks to me in such a strong way through His Word.  It is like opening a conversation.

* God's Word is perfect.  It is exactly what I need.  It is sure, right, pure and enlightening.  It endures forever.

* It restores my soul - there are so many times that NOTHING could bring me peace or settle my heart - except for God's Word.  The way the Word impacts my soul can not be measured.  It restores me to that steadfastness of Christ.

* God's Word makes wise the simple (YEA) Anytime that I need advice and certainly, anytime I give it -- the Word is central.  There is no true wisdom apart from God.

* God's truth makes my heart rejoice - His words bring me deep, abiding JOY.

* God's Word enlightens my eyes.  I can only see rightly and clearly in the light of God's Word.  It has to be the lens that I see everything else through.

* God's Word is the only Righteous Judge.  Only God can truly judge with Righteousness.  Judgment is not my job.  All I can do is point others to the Word.

* God's Word is valuable.  It is compared with gold and the sweetness of honey.  Maybe today it would be compared with having stock in Apple or fine dining - you get the picture.  It is far beyond the most valuable thing that you can imagine.

* God's Word Warns - If I stay in it, read it, study it and commit myself to it, God will send up red flags when I am straying or when my thinking is being compromised by my own sin, my culture or my pride.  It points out my errors and brings to light my hidden sins (they are certainly not hidden from God.)

* God's Word keeps arrogance from creeping in - from my own sense of right to rule over me.  I only want God to have authority over my life.

* I long for my life to be pleasing to the Lord - in my words and my thoughts - and then evidenced in my actions and more importantly, in my interactions.

O Lord, my ROCK and my REDEEMER

I love the end of Psalm 19.  I am so thankful that the Lord is my ROCK and my REDEEMER.  He has redeemed me from a life that could have been completely selfish, self focused and sin driven.  He has redeemed my mistakes, my shortcomings and even my foolishness and used it for His good. 

Oh, how I love His Word.  

Keep me thirsty for it, Jesus.  

I want to know you more.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Musings - Prisons

Well - that is a pretty interesting topic, don't you think?  Prisons are fascinating to me.  I like to watch shows on The History Channel about prisons and I've been to see Alcatraz.  I lived in Ossining NY where Singsing Prison is located, just up the river from NYC.  In fact, that is where that saying originated - to send someone "up the river" meant they were going to prison. There is a very chilling museum there where you can hear the sounds of prison life.  It is just an interesting sociological study on behavior and community. 

God has a few stories about prisons in His Word.  I think about Joseph being thrown in prison after being falsely accused by Potiphor's wife. There were prophets who were thrown in prison for sharing a word that the King or religious leaders of the time did not appreciate.  John the Baptist was put in prison by a political leader who didn't appreciate his observations either.  Two of my favorite New Testament accounts are Peter's imprisonment, recorded in Acts 12 and Paul's imprisonment in Acts 16.  I wrote about Peter's imprisonment in 10/24/11 (  I was reading in Acts 16 this week and came across an account of one of Paul's imprisonments.  

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

Paul is well known for his encouragements, maybe challenges, to be JOYFUL in all circumstances.  In this passage, we see him practice what He preaches.  He and Silas have been severely beaten with rods and then put in prison.  They were then thrown into the inner prison and their feet were fastened in the stocks.  Not only that , but the charges against them were false and motivated by greed.  It's one thing to be accused of something that you know you did (still not fun) but to be accused unjustly is truly gut wrenching.  If anyone had reason to complain or withdraw into a pouty silence, it was Paul.  But . . . here he and Silas are -- singing and praying -- at midnight no less.  They had the attention of the other prisoners and apparently the guards.

When the earthquake hit, their chains fell off and the doors of the cells opened.  But, unlike the earlier account of Peter's dramatic prison release, Paul and Silas did not leave the prison.

"When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.'"

Why did Peter get to walk out of prison and Paul chose to stay?  Well - God was up to something different.  The jailers life was spared and he came to know Jesus as his Savior - he and his household.  

So - it begs the question  . . . 
Can you be in a prison inside 
or outside of the prison walls?

Paul and Silas were free whether they were inside or outside of the prison.  The guard, who had the freedom to leave after his shift, was actually the one who was captive.

Paul's willingness to stay in prison and share the message of the gospel brought freedom to this guard and his household.  

I love how the Lord turns things upside down and inside out.  I love that captive men can be free and free men can actually be captive (and then be set free).  

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted and to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners."  Isaiah 61:1

Are you captive or free?
Are you captivated by Jesus or a prisoner of this world?
Are you in a prison of your own making?
Are you a little too comfortable in those chains? 

Perhaps you are in a prison that is not of your choosing - whether by circumstances or an illness.  Maybe you, like Paul and Silas, have to choose to praise the Lord even in that hard place.  Be guaranteed that the Lord will use that, just as He did in this account.

No matter the answer to these questions, 
Jesus can set you free.  

Not only can He, but He longs to set you free.

Life awaits you . . . just outside those walls.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thankful Thursday - Feet

 Feet - we all need them - most people don't love them!  They start out so cute and small when we are babies and then life happens . . . and well, feet don't always stay so cute!  I am an observer of feet.  I always notice when someone has cute feet.  

I do not have cute feet.  I'm one of those people who just knows that all that chatter in the nail salon, that I can't understand, is about my ugly feet!  Okay, maybe a bit paranoid, but it is a real possibility!

I had a doctors appointment today with my foot dr. - Dr. Kaleta.  She is such a cool lady and I feel really fortunate to have her.  She was making plaster molds of my feet today for some orthotics to battle my foot problems resulting from standing on ladders for many, many hours!  She took the plaster material, got it wet and molded it onto my bare feet.  After they set, her assistant came in to take them off and clean my feet off.

I don't know about you, but there is something a little unsettling about someone having to touch your feet.  Some people are very ticklish and others just can't handle the idea.  Others love pedicures and foot massages.   Because of the bone fracture in my left foot, I was a little tense about this whole process.  Dr. Karleta's assistant was very careful as she gently cleaned off the plaster.  I didn't think a lot of it at the time, but later, it struck me how like Jesus she was as she knelt down and washed my feet.  I was very humbled by that.  Let's face it, cleaning off someones ugly feet can not be fun and yet she took great care in that job.  

So, today I am thankful for plaster molds that promise pain relief in the future - for Dr. Kaleta and her assistant, who took the time to wash my feet.  

I am most thankful for a man named, Jesus, who washed His disciples feet with love and care.  Jesus, who modeled what it means to serve others. Jesus, who calls me to walk in a manner worthy of my calling.  

There are two young women in whom my heart is ever intertwined who have a tattoo on their left foot that references the verse that follows: 

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation and says to Zion, "Your God Reigns!"  
Isaiah 52:7  

I am thankful to my Savior who sees my 
feet as beautiful.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Musings - Got some skills?

I have been journeying through Exodus and have come to the point where Moses has been given the instructions for the tabernacle, including the structure, furnishing, utensils and clothing.  If you have ever wondered if God is a God of detail . . . wonder no more.  There are a lot of specific instructions here!

In Exodus 35:10 it says, "Let every skillful man come and make all that the Lord has commanded."
35:21 says, "Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the Lord's contribution for the tabernacle."
36:1 says, " Now, Bezalel and Ohdiab and every skillful person in whom the Lord has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work in the construction of the tabernacle, shall perform it according to how the Lord commanded it."

A lot of materials and skills would be needed to build the tabernacle itself, the furniture, utensils and garments. 

This is what I love . . .  
God could have spoken all of this into existence, but He chose to use the offerings and the skills of His people.

They needed to own it -- not just attend it.

He gave each craftsman the ability to do what was needed - painting, carving, building, forging, sewing and more.  He gave the people the desire to give of their resources.  There were very specific plans, specifications and order that had to be followed.  It would take everyone doing their best work and being willing to work together for this to happen.

Isn't that so like the church today?

God is still gifting individuals to serve the body.  He gives particular skills and gifts and He expects us to use them.  He even gives the gift of giving.  When all those gifts come together, the body works.  Needs are met.  Ministry happens.  Lives are changed.

We need to own our church -- not just attend it.

What has the Lord given you to contribute to the building of His church?  Do you really think He has gifted everyone except you?  


These craftsmen did not do this on their own.  The Lord equipped them to serve and He is doing the same thing in  your life.  If you are sitting on the sidelines, you are missing out and depriving others of your gifts.  

Are you going to own your church?
Are you only going to attend it?






Honor God

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thankful Thursday - The boot

Well - I got the boot today.  No, I wasn't kicked out of anywhere.  I literally got the boot.  I mentioned in my last blog that I fractured a bone in my foot when I took a tumble down the stairs.  The doctor put me in a boot to help the healing process and keep me from having to have surgery if that piece of bone decided to move around.  I said, "Absolutely" to that one.  

How does this figure into Thankful Thursday?  Let me list all the things that I am thankful for in this predicament.

*I didn't hit my head - pretty miraculous really. When I see where I fell and where I landed, I really do not know how I didn't hit my head.

*I didn't break anything - just a fracture.  My legs and my arms are good to go. 

*I can still somewhat get around in this boot.  It is protecting my foot.  That is a good thing.

*I have met some really nice people at the doctor's office and they have given me excellent care.  I have a new internist, foot doctor, x-ray technician, blood drawer and many really nice nurses.

* I have had some amazing time with the Lord since this happened.  I am forced to be still (at least more so than usual) and I have used that time well.  I have enjoyed long, lingering, quiet times, prayer times and Bible study. 

*I love having people over to my house . . . perfect.

*I am having to carefully measure my steps - every step counts -- maybe I should do that all the time (maybe?) 

No matter what the circumstances, there are always many things to be thankful for.  Sometimes, we are just thankful for what didn't happen.  

I am eagerly anticipating what the Lord is going to do with this time.  He is whispering to me that He has some things to tell me and to teach me.  I'm embracing that with everything I've got.

I'm thinking that what I learn during these next few weeks will be really important for all those things I will be getting back to when I have two well functioning feet.

I will have to agree with Paul, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am."  Well, maybe that should be "I am learning . . ."

So - this Thankful Thursday - I am truly thankful for the boot.