Life is all about change. When you trust an unchanging God - you have the ability to embrace change and trust Him in the midst of it. Join me as the Lord leads me through a new phase of my journey.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thankful Thursday: More of the Mountians

Happy Thankful Thursday!  I hope that you can pause today and think about all that you have to be thankful for.  Even in the most difficult times, I am amazed at how focusing on what is good in my life always wins.

I am continuing to enjoy being in the mountains of Colorado.  It has been a sweet time of rest, projects, Bible study and fun.  The beauty around me is a moment by moment reminder of my Creator.

I took a drive up to Silverton on Tuesday.  It had snowed the night before we went so we had the privilege of seeing fall color and snow!  I got some beautiful shots and I would love to share them with you.  

 I don't know about you, but when I look at the sheer beauty of God's creation, I am overwhelmed by His goodness.  He didn't have to create these trees to change into beautiful colors before their leaves drop.  He didn't have to create majestic mountains for us to enjoy.

He chose to express His attributes through His creation.  I am so thankful for an artistic Creator who delights in beauty and chooses to share it with all of us.

I am thankful for my Awesome God

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who announce peace and brings good news of happiness. Who announces salvation and says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"  Isaiah 52:7

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Musings: Dead Man Walking

Greetings from Colorado!  I woke up to a beautiful, sunny, 38 degree morning.  Have a mentioned how much I love it here?  The last week has been busy.  Today is a lazy morning that I can sit back and just drink in the Word.  I was reading in Luke 7 this morning and came across the account of Jesus raising a young man from the dead.

Luke 7:11-17 Not long after that, Jesus went to the village Nain. His disciples were with him, along with quite a large crowd. As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession—a woman’s only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her, “Don’t cry.” Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, “Young man, I tell you: Get up.” The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother. They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful—and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves, “God is back, looking to the needs of his people!” The news of Jesus spread all through the country.

This is such a rich passage and tells us so many things about Jesus.  On a side note - I think it is so important that we read the gospels over and over again (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).  We need to keep our picture of Jesus accurate and fresh all the time.  Yes, these passages are familiar, but there is newness in them as the Holy Spirit continually teaches us and deepens our understanding and love for the Savior.

Here are some things that struck me this morning:

*Jesus took notice - Even in his own busyness and in his own crowd, He took the time to notice this funeral procession and to pay attention to it in a detailed way.  He then went out of His way to enter into the woman's pain.

*Jesus felt compassion for her.  At a time when women went fairly unnoticed and overlooked, Jesus' heart broke for this woman.  Radical.

*Jesus touched the coffin. WHAT?  Let's just say that flew in the face of all kinds of legalism.  I wouldn't be surprised if someone in the crowd fainted just to see such a sight.  You just didn't do that!  But Jesus wasn't just anybody.  Nothing is beyond His touch.  It is no surprise that the pall bearers came to a halt.  I'm sure they were stunned.

*Jesus spoke to the dead man . . . inside the wrappings . . . the man that was dead . . . No one is too far away or too far gone for Jesus' words to reach them.  Don't you know that people were looking at Him with completely puzzled looks on their faces?

*Jesus' words spoke life into this man.  WOW  Jesus' words spoke LIFE into this dead man.  This same Jesus who spoke creation into existence spoke life into a dead man.  He is powerful.  Is anything too difficult for Him?

*He gave this son back to his mother.  She was a widow and would have been left with no means of support.  She would have fallen on hard times and been at the mercy of others.  Jesus really gave her back her life as well.  

I think that Jesus always delighted in the unexpected.  He delighted in turning what had become a very complicated and convoluted religious and social order upside down.  He delighted in restoring a son to a mother - in bringing what was dead back to life.  It was indeed a holy mystery.

He still delights in these same things.  

Do you feel like no one notices your pain?  Jesus does.

Do you need someone to come beside you in your hurt and despair? Jesus' heart breaks along with yours.

Do you need the touch of Jesus on something dead in your life?  Jesus is willing.

Do you feel so far away from Jesus that you can not hear him?  There is no distance too far - no pit too deep. His words will reach you. His words bring life.

Do you need words of life spoken over the deadness that you feel?  Jesus' words have that power.  Nothing is too difficult for Him. 

Is there something that has been dead or dying in your life?  Maybe it is your own joy.  Maybe it is a relationship that seems to be dead and gone.  Maybe it is a need that is so deep it seems unreachable.  Perhaps it is a burden that you can no longer bear.  Perhaps the nails have been driven into the coffin and you have lost all hope.

Do not despair.  Jesus in in the business of bringing dead things back to life.  He delights in doing the unexpected.

He knows.  He sees,  He acts.  

Beloved, you can count on Him.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Fall in Colorado

I've been busy doing projects and getting our house back together after some remodeling.  In the midst of that, I have been oohhing and ahhhing over the Colorado fall.  Here are some pictures from our time here so far.  

My heart skipped a beat when we entered my beloved mountains.

So majestic!

Can you imagine what it was like the first time some pioneers got a glimpse of this?

The trees were in all different stages of turning.  Amazing.

Spots of color everywhere I looked.

Our car was very full - but we managed to squeeze Quincy in.

More bright spots of color.

Wiener dog cloud :-)

Sunrise on my way to take Alan to the airport.

I have to say that the Lord is very real to me every day, but it is a special treat to see His Creation calling out to me in these mountains.  I believe they are His most beautiful creation (other than my daughters, of course.)

Taking bookings for next summer now . . .

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Musings: Who is He to you?

I have arrived in paradise . . . no, not heaven . . . no, not Hawaii . . . COLORADO.  Check back on Thursday for some amazing pictures of the fall color.  How I LOVE this place.

When I was thinking about what I would write about today, I camped out on Psalm 145.  I read it yesterday and have been thinking about it ever since.  It has multiple names of God and descriptions of Him in it.  Here they are:

My God, My King
     Great is the Lord
                 Unsearchable Greatness

Doer of Mighty Acts
            Glorious Splendor of His Majesty

Wonderful Works
                Awesome Acts
 Abundant Goodness
                Righteous One
Gracious One

Slow to anger . . . Great in lovingkindness
      Good to all


The Lord  Sustains 

He is Righteous, Kind and Near
         He fulfills my desire
                  He keeps me

As I looked over that list, I was most encouraged today that the Lord sustains, nourishes, satisfies and restores.  That is just good news to my soul today.  He has me covered in every way.  In Him, I find true nourishment (the food of His Word and the water of the Spirit).  Only in Him can I find true satisfaction.  He satisfies my soul in ways that nothing else and no one else can.  He has restored the broken places in my life and given me abundant JOY.

So, I'm wondering what calls out to you today?  

What do you most appreciate in these verses?  
I'd love to hear about it.

All praise to the One who Restores my soul.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday: The Bigger Picture

Hello Thankful Thursday.  One of my favorite days.  Don't you just love a thankful Thursday?  I have to admit that one of the things I am most thankful for at the moment is that we are leaving early in the morning to head to Colorado.  How I have missed my mountains.  I CAN NOT wait to be there.

More about that next Thursday . . .

I have been reading through the book of Daniel this week.  I LOVE the book of Daniel.  It is so rich and there are so many lessons about life on each page.  Daniel and his 3 buddies are some of my greatest heroes.  They challenge me to live a life that has a godly influence.

Since I spent the summer studying Nehemiah, it is so much fun for me to read Daniel again with that context in mind.  Daniel was among the first captives taken from Jerusalem to Babylon.  He was among a group of Jerusalem's finest -- choice picks to be trained for the king's service in Babylon.

I love that even though Daniel was young, he was so determined to live a life devoted to God.  I think this is the reason that the Lord used Him so mightily in the midst of a pagan culture.  Right away, Daniel and his 3 close friends were challenged to keep themselves eating "clean" rather than eating the king's choice food.

*Daniel was always respectful - he sought permission to eat food other than the king's food.  He never made demands.

*God gave him favor through this process - with the officials and in his superior physical appearance at the end of the food challenge.

*God gave him knowledge and intelligence -- visions and dreams.

*God gave him a position of tremendous influence for 70+ years.

I love that God had a plan in the midst of what was seemingly a huge tragedy.  Daniel rose to the occasion, trusting the Lord even in this period of captivity.  It may have appeared that Daniel was cooperating with Nebuchadnezzar, but in reality, God was the One working His plan.  

God wants to do the same thing now.  He longs to use His people in the midst of their families, neighborhoods, workplaces, cities and nations to be a godly influence.  He grants favor and opportunity.

I am so thankful that the Lord has a plan for me.  

I am thankful that I have the privilege and opportunity to be a godly influence where He has placed me.

I am thankful for the opportunities that come my way - those disguised as difficulties and those that jump out at me as obvious opportunities.

I am thankful for a God that ALWAYS sees the BIGGER PICTURE.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday's Thoughts: Looking back

Are you one to look back or one to look forward?  I think people have a bent one way or the other.  I also think that we all have a tendency to look back when things are hard.

Doesn't the past look rosier when the present is difficult?

That is where the people of Israel are in Jeremiah 42-44.  They are being told that they will be in captivity in Babylon but that the Lord will be with them, save and deliver them and they will eventually get back to their homeland.  Now, there is some good news in there, but most of us would get a bit overwhelmed by the first line and find it hard to hear the rest.

Now, the Lord knew their tendencies and their wandering hearts.  He specifically told them "Do not go back to Egypt . . . if you do, you will die there." 

Why did the Lord not want them to go back to Egypt?  It had been a while and these people did not know this from first hand experience - but Egypt was a place of slavery and torment.  These stories of slavery and stories of God's miraculous deliverance were told and retold down through the generations.  This was a GIANT step backwards in their walk with God.  

Why did they want to go back to Egypt? 
Perhaps stories had been told that glorified some aspects of Egyptian life?  Maybe they preferred a known enemy.

They were at a crossroad of trust where even the dark past looked inviting. 

Why do we, as God's people, return to places of captivity?  to places of our sinful past?  to places of hurt and defeat?

Why are we just more comfortable in our known misery?

Maybe this is one reason that keeping a journal is wise.  This is why sharing our story with others is important.  It reminds us of just what we have been saved from and what we are moving toward.  

On Saturday, I saw an older man, dressed as a woman, walking down the street.  Now, in this part of Chicago, that is not terribly unusual.  My first thought was just sadness, then I thought how sin disguises itself to look like something else.  The past can dress up like a pretty lady when the reality is that it is an old man with nothing to offer you any more.  What was destructive in your life then is still destructive.  What enslaved you then could still enslave you now if you allow it.

The Lord wants us to follow Him.  We have to be moving forward to do that.  I want to keep my eyes focused ahead of me, even when it is scary or doesn't make sense.  I don't want to glorify past relationships or situations that were ultimately, not for my good.  I don't want to be trapped by my enemies and sins of the past.

The Lord promises to walk beside me.  He promises that He has a plan and that He will bring me life.  

That is my Jesus, whom I want to follow every step of the way.  I want to learn from my past, remember His faithfulness but always be looking ahead.

I'd rather be in Babylon with the Lord's presence than in Egypt sitting by the Nile in disobedience.

Are you looking to go back or are you looking to move ahead?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thankful Friday: The Goad Invasion

Alan's family is here with us this week - his mom and dad and his brother, Brad and his wife, Rainy.  It is so much fun to have them here with us.  I am fortunate to have a family of believers that love each other.  

We got to go on the Architectural Tour yesterday.  We were on a boat going through our beautiful city.  I thought you would enjoy seeing some of the beauty here.  Chicago is truly an amazing city and I have grown to love it, dearly.  

At "the bean" - Brad, Rainy, Lyla and James (ignore the random people to the right :-))

Caught this butterfly visitor in Grant Park

Alan's home away from home

This city has beautiful architecture

I am fascinated with the underside of bridges - 

I love our glass building that reflect the older, more ornamental buildings

This building is curved to go along with the curve of the river - love the reflection

The brand new and the old side by side - Trump Tower and the Corn Cob

The corn cob up close - pretty amazing

This is the view as we headed out toward the lake

Looking back toward the city

It was a great time had by all.  I am thankful for my family and for the opportunity I have to live in this great city.  Anyone want to come visit? 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Musings: A New Heart

It's Labor Day - so I have been laboring out back painting the stairs that go up the back of our building.  It was a relatively mindless task, which was a good thing for today.  It has been a busy week and next week will be busier - so it was nice to just have a do nothing kind of weekend.  

I'm reading through the book of Ezekiel right now.  He is right up there with Jeremiah as far as having a very hard job.  He was continually having to deliver bad news to the people of God (who already had a lot of bad news.)  When something encouraging comes up, it stands out.  Ezekiel 11:19-20 is one of those shining moments.

"And I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them.  And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them.  Then they will be My people and I shall be their God."

Don't you long for all of God's people to have one heart?

Wouldn't you love it if everyone had a new spirit?

Wouldn't it be great if our hearts of stone were replaced with hearts of flesh that beat for God Himself?

Wouldn't it be great to have a heart that longed to walk in obedience to the Lord?

Wouldn't it be great to be God's people?

Well - we may have to wait for heaven for some of that, but the truth is, much of this is available to us right now.  God can bring unity.  He gives us His Holy Spirit.  He replaces our selfish, sinful heart that claims to not need God -- with a heart of flesh that is tender to Him.  He gives us both the desire and the strength to walk in obedience to His Word.

I am so thankful for this transformation that takes place.  I am so thankful for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and His continual softening of my heart.  I am so thankful for my Jesus who has labored over me to complete that work that He began in me long ago.

Happy Labor Day, indeed.