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, January 31, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts ~ Holy Moses

As you might be able to guess, my reading is taking me through the life of Moses this week.  I think that Moses is one of the most interesting people in Scripture.  His life is full of extraordinary events and incredible encounters with God. 

He is born at a time when all Hebrew baby boys were to be killed as soon as they were born.  God intervened by instilling the fear of God into the Egyptian mid wives who would not take the lives of these babies.  Isn't that interesting? 

So in reality, Moses should not even have survived, but he was protected by his mother and then placed in a basket in the Nile where he was discovered by the Pharaoh's daughter.  He was rescued by her, nursed by his own mother and then raised in the palace.  That is a pretty amazing start.

Moses experiences the inner conflict of growing up Egyptian with a Hebrew heritage which leads to his killing of an Egyptian guard who was beating a Hebrew slave.

He flees to Midian and marries into a family, becoming a shepherd.

THEN . . . he encounters a burning bush and life takes a very unexpected turn.

Instead of shepherding sheep . . . Moses is told that he will shepherd a nation.

Instead of being a slave of his past . . . Moses will be God's instrument of freedom for the Hebrew people.


What can we learn from Moses, so far.

**God's choice does not always seem logical to man.  Moses certainly doubted his abilities to do what the Lord was asking of him.  The Lord knew exactly what He was doing!

**You never know where life will take you.  No one could have predicted what would happen with this little baby floating down the Nile.  Get excited!!

**The Lord doesn't waste anything -- all of Moses' experiences and education would be utilized in God's bigger plan.  The Lord doesn't waste anything in your life either.

**A big task is about a big God -- not a big man.

**The Lord is with us in our calling.  He doesn't give us marching orders and then turn his back on us.  He is right beside us.

I am so thankful that the Lord sees my potential even in my weaknesses.  I am thankful that I have such a BIG GOD and that He is sufficient for every task.  I am grateful that I never know where life will take me because it is such a great adventure.

Holy Moses . . . Holy Expectation . . . I can't wait.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Intentions

What a great week of revisiting the life of Joseph.  I could not end that time without writing about Joseph one more time!  

When the book of Genesis is wrapping up, we find that years have gone by, families have grown and everyone has prospered.  Jacob comes to the end of his life, dying in peace as he sees his family doing so well.  After the burial and mourning, we find Joseph's brothers getting VERY NERVOUS.

 After burying his father, Joseph went back to Egypt. All his brothers who had come with him to bury his father returned with him. After the funeral, Joseph’s brothers talked among themselves: “What if Joseph is carrying a grudge and decides to pay us back for all the wrong we did him?”So they sent Joseph a message, “Before his death, your father gave this command: Tell Joseph, ‘Forgive your brothers’ sin—all that wrongdoing. They did treat you very badly.’ Will you do it? Will you forgive the sins of the servants of your father’s God?”

Once a schemer - always a schemer?  Or maybe it was just hard to believe that someone could really be that forgiving and gracious.

I love Joseph's response.  May it be our response as well.

Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I’ll take care of you and your children.” He reassured them, speaking with them heart-to-heart.

Joseph has had a real change of heart over the years.  It is fun to see how much he has grown and matured as a man, and in his faith.  

He has the ability to step back and look at the bigger picture - which, let's face it - is really hard to do.  He sees that through his brother's hateful actions, God was always at work and in fact, was using that situation to bless many, many others.  

What kind of trust do you have in the Lord?

I asked myself that question.  I would like to believe that I could have that kind of faith and trust because the Lord has shown me His faithfulness in so many ways. 

Payback can look inviting at times -- but it really only imprisons us all the more.

Joseph was all too familiar with prisons.

He shows us that true freedom comes through forgiving others and trusting the Lord in all things.

Are you struggling with a prison of your own making?

Are bitterness or unforgiveness robbing you of your freedom?

Learn from Joseph . . . Freedom awaits. 


Friday, January 25, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ Not Forgotten

I think everyone has had the experience of being forgotten ~ feeling left out ~ feeling unappreciated ~  It is NOT a good feeling.  In my reading this week, I have been camped out in Genesis reading about Joseph.  I wrote about him on Monday, too, because his life has so much to teach us!  In my reading today, Joseph is feeling very much forgotten.

While in prison (after being unjustly accused), Joseph rises to a place of leadership within the prison.  When the Pharaoh's cup bearer and baker are put in prison, Joseph is in charge of their care.  Each of these men have a dream that they can not figure out.  They ask Joseph about it and he tells them that God knows what dreams mean and that God can tell him the interpretation.

The cup bearer gets a favorable interpretation and the baker ~~~ not so much.

In verse 14, Joseph tells the cup bearer, "Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this place."

The cup bearer is restored to his position in the Pharaoh's court.

In verse 23, we see that his gratitude to Joseph is short lived, indeed.
"Yet the chief cup bearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him."

I don't know if there is a lonelier feeling than being forgotten.  Joseph was not only lonely, but suffering from a grave injustice.  He just wanted someone to notice him and lend him a helping hand.  Perhaps that phrase, "No good deed goes unpunished," originated here!

It would be 2 years before Joseph comes to the mind of this cup bearer.  That had to have felt like a LONG time.

But he was not forgotten . . .

God was at work and His timing was perfect.

"Can a woman forget her nursing child? And have no compassion on the son of her womb?  Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.  Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.  You are ever before me . . ."
Isaiah 49:15-16

What an encouragement!  Even when you feel like

           no one notices

                                       no one cares

                    no one remembers

It isn't true.  

The God of the universe is mindful of you ~ your pain, your hurt and your loneliness.  He is working behind the scenes on your behalf.

Hang on

You are not forgotten

You are His beloved

His treasure

His child

Today, I am thankful that I will never be forgotten by the Lord.  My name is inscribed on the palm of His hand.  My heart overflows . . .

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Musings ~ About that coat . . .

My reading this week is taking me into the life of Joseph - one of Jacob's 12 sons.  He is one of my all time favorite people in the Bible and there is so much to learn from all aspects of his life.  My reading today was that truly life changing event that sends Joseph on a path that he could not have predicted.  Here is the beginning of some trouble in Genesis 37.

This is the story of Jacob. The story continues with Joseph, seventeen years old at the time, helping out his brothers in herding the flocks. These were his half brothers actually, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. And Joseph brought his father bad reports on them.

Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was the child of his old age. And he made him an elaborately embroidered coat. When his brothers realized that their father loved him more than them, they grew to hate him—they wouldn’t even speak to him.

Ummm . . . not good.  We start out with tattling, favoritism and an in your face gift.

It gets worse.

Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said, “Listen to this dream I had. We were all out in the field gathering bundles of wheat. All of a sudden my bundle stood straight up and your bundles circled around it and bowed down to mine.”  His brothers said, “So! You’re going to rule us? You’re going to boss us around?” And they hated him more than ever because of his dreams and the way he talked.

Maybe some dreams should be kept to ourselves?

With all this, it is not too surprising, although very sad, that we see this happen next.

They spotted him off in the distance. By the time he got to them they had cooked up a plot to kill him. The brothers were saying, “Here comes that dreamer. Let’s kill him and throw him into one of these old cisterns; we can say that a vicious animal ate him up. We’ll see what his dreams amount to.”

Not good.  Not good at all.

Well, lucky for Joseph, they ended up selling him as a slave to a caravan of Ishmaelites and he was hauled off to Egypt. 

What can we learn from this?

*As a parent, I learn to never show favoritism.  For me, this is easy because I think both of daughters are amazing - but I have seen favoritism displayed and it is ugly.  As a parent, we want to seek out those unique things about each child and appreciate them for who they are.  We relate differently to each child because of their unique needs and personality.  This can look like favoritism to the others, so we must be very intentional about giving each child their special time and attention.  All children need love, encouragement and fussing over!  And for heaven's sake - do not give one child out of 12 a beautiful, colorful coat!!

*Tattling leads to big trouble.  Why do we tattle?  Generally, it makes us feel better about ourselves.  We exalt ourselves by putting someone else down.  BOO  No good at all, but very tempting just the same.  We need to recognize when this is happening and be intentional about resisting that temptation.  

*Don't shove your problems down a cistern.   Although the brothers rid themselves of Joseph for the time being, he would show up later in ways they could never imagine.  In the meantime, they had to lie to their father and deal with his weighty grief as well as some guilt of their own.  Those things that we shove down a cistern tend to bubble back up.

Where are you showing favoritism?  
At work, in your home, your church or among your friends?

Who are you tattling on?  
If you really need to tattle, tattle to the Lord.  
He can take it and He can take care of you.

What are you doing with the problems of today?  
Are you shoving them down a cistern or 
are you looking to the Lord to see His solutions and His purposes?

I have a few things to ponder . . .

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts ~ Adversity

I read this illustration this morning, and thought it was a great one to share.  I know that a lot of people are experiencing difficult circumstances - some in their own family and some in the lives of their friends.  There are job difficulties, parenting challenges, financial woes and health concerns.

Life can just be plain hard.

So - what do we do with that?  I love this story.  I hope you do too.

 *A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, "Tell me what do you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft.She then asked her to take an egg and break it.

After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked. "What's the point,grandmother?"

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity--boiling water--but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her granddaughter.

"When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?

Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ and manifest through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place."  2nd Corinthians 2:14

Now, for that cup of coffee  . . .

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Begin well, End well

I have been reading about Noah this past week.  It is such a fascinating story - like watching one of those Lifetime movies!  Noah was no doubt an amazing man. He was beyond faithful and saw truly miraculous things from the Lord.  With that, I would say that the last thing we see of Noah is kind of sad!

In Genesis 9, we see that Noah planted a vineyard and then had way too much of its produce in the form of some homemade wine.  He was drunk and then passed out.  In this situation, one of his sons looked upon him with a sinful intent and that third of his family went down a sad and downward spiral.  

These readings that I am doing are about different people of the Word, so as I am reading, I'm looking for character traits that I would want to emulate and those that are a warning to me.  I so appreciate the Word of God that is so honest and real.  It builds my faith in the accuracy of God's Word when such an embarrassing story is included about one of God's finest. 

What did I learn from this?

I don't just want to begin well . . .
 I want to end well.

I'm at mid life (if I live to be 106 :-)).  As the years go by, I want to remain faithful to God in every way.  I wonder if Noah lost sight of God's plan for him after the ark.  I mean, that was a big deal, so maybe he retired and took it easy.  Who could blame him?

Doesn't it seem like we get through the really tough things and then sometimes, the relatively easy times trip us up?

Here is the deal - we never retire from God's call on our life.  We are his from our first breath to our last breath and then we slide right into His presence.  There are no vacations from God, no holidays off and no last day of work.  

But . . . the retirement plan is out of this world (literally!)

Certainly, over the years, what God's call on my life looks like has varied, but the heart of the mission is the same.

How can I guard my heart as I grow older?

I must stay in the Word.

I need to be open to change.

I must keep a tender heart toward others.


Be obedient in both the big and small things.

 Keep the Lord in my conversations with others.

Always keep an eye out for where God is at work.

Seize the opportunities He puts before me.

I want to end well.  I want to live every day for my Savior.  I pray that the Lord will guard my heart from spiritual laziness.  I pray that He will keep me on my toes - energized for Him.  I want to serve Him every single day of my life until that moment when He brings me home.

How about you?    


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ Christmas

I have not even been home for a week yet, but Christmas seems like such a long time ago!  We had such a great 3 weeks of traveling and spending time with family.  I wanted to share some pictures of that time together because they communicate how very thankful I am for this blessing.

My parents were able to join us for Christmas.
We had awesome icicles all over the house.

Our home away from home in Colorado.

Breathtaking views of God's creation.

God's very own Christmas trees.

Snow that hangs like ribbons.

Quincy having fun in the snow.

My loves -- Ashley and Heather

Family fun.

Always ready to make a funny face.

Our annual coloring extravaganza.

No lack of Santas around here.

Our family snowmobile trek.

I do not take any of this for granted.  Each picture represents a gift straight from the Lord.  It was such a fun time and a great time of family togetherness.  I am so thankful for times like these.  I am thankful for each person in my family.  I am thankful . . . just very thankful.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Noah

Whew!  These last three weeks have been a whirlwind!  We drove over 4000 miles - went through 6 states and got to see a whole lot of great people.  It was a wonderful Christmas and New Year - now back in Chicago ready to jump back in to my regular life (although my regular life is anything but regular!)  I decided to do a different Bible plan this year - the first 2 months are on people of the Bible.  I'm excited to look at scripture from a little bit of a different perspective.  Today, I read about Noah.  Very familiar story - but loved looking at it as it particularly pertains to the man, Noah.

But Noah was different. God liked what he saw in Noah.
This is the story of Noah: Noah was a good man, a man of integrity in his community. Genesis 6:8-10 MSG

 Yes - that Noah.  The one with the ark.  The one who built a huge boat when very likely, no one had ever seen rain.  

But he was also the man that God characterized by these words:
DIFFERENT - Noah didn't blend in with the crowd or the current culture.  He stood out as a believer in the one true God.
GOOD MAN - Maybe this is hard to define, but we know it when we see it.  When I think about my husband, Alan, my Dad and my father in law - something that always comes to mind is that they are good men.  They are the total package of all these characteristics that the Lord values.
MAN OF INTEGRITY - I love that this phrase goes on to say, "in his community."  That tells me that he stood out and that his character was recognized by others in his community and as we know, most of them did not follow God.  People of integrity are valued by others.  People of integrity communicate the character of God.  Integrity is defined as:  
The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. 
The state of being whole and undivided.
Not a bad way to be described!
WALKED WITH GOD - Noah's heart was with the One who mattered most.  His time was invested in spiritual things.  He was willing to be obedient at any cost.  He trusted the Lord and had tremendous faith.
GOD LIKED WHAT HE SAW - Oh, for that to be the Lord's summation of my life!  Moses was an obedient servant who was not afraid to look like a fool in the world's eyes. He was singularly focused on God's mission.
When I look ahead at 2013, I can not imagine anything that I would like more than to be characterized as someone who is different, a good woman, a woman of integrity, one who walks with God and is pleasing to the Lord.
Are you different?  Do you stand out in our current culture or do you easily blend in?
What does it mean to you to be a good man or woman in a godly sense?
Are you a person of integrity?
Do you desire to walk with God above all else?
Does God like what He sees?
Good questions to ponder.  Don't ever lose sight of the fact that God's grace is sufficient in our weaknesses.  This is meant to encourage you to strive to be more Christlike this year - not to depress you!  Noah certainly had his struggles, too. 
I am so inspired to be a godly woman as I look at the life of Noah.  May his life inspire you to be everything that the Lord has for you.  Let's flood our culture with His love.  Let's be bearers of peace in a tumultuous time by holding out an olive branch to others.  Let's be known as people of integrity where we live, worship and work.   
Let's be known as those who "walk with God."


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

2013 - Hard to believe!  Our 2012 started out really rough with Quincy being attacked by a dog on New Year's morning and then my tumble down the stairs later that month, breaking my foot.  Looks like 2013 is already starting out a bit smoother!  I am thankful for that!

I love fresh starts . . . "The Lord's mercies are new every morning.  Great is His faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22-23

When I look back over the year, I was certainly not faithful 100 percent of the time.  But the good news is that God was faithful 100 percent of the time.  I learned so much over the last year about loving people, living out my faith, giving, listening, serving and being obedient.  The year was full of many great things and an even greater sense of the Lord's presence when times were hard.

What will this new year hold?  I have NO IDEA.  I kinda love that.  I trust the Lord with each new day.  I believe that He has a plan for this year of my life and I want to do my best to seek after Him and that plan each and every day.  I want to grow closer to Him - look more like Jesus - and make a difference where He has me. 

I want to LOVE big.

I want to SERVE whole heartily.

I want to EXTEND GRACE  at every opportunity.

I want the JOY OF THE LORD to be evident in my life.

Here's to fresh starts and a new year.

Every year gets better.