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, 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.