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?