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 25, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Just a glance

I've been reading about David this past week.  There is just no one in scripture quite like David.  He has such high highs and low lows.  He is described as a man after God's own heart and yet he stumbles face first, flat on the ground.  Maybe that is why I love him so.  He is very real.

My reading on Friday was the story of David and Bathsheba.  It is a puzzling story - a huge indiscretion by such a great king.  David - that man after God's own heart - crosses the line.  He actually plows across the line far into the distance!  We look at this story and wonder "How could he do this?  How could he fall into such sin?  How could he then further his sin by trying to cover it up with more sin?  One action lead to another and we ended up with a stacked sin sandwich of sorts.

It starts with one decision - perhaps just a glance that turns into a look.  Then that look turns into a thought and that thought turns into a desire.  At that point, what would have to happen for that desire to fulfilled did not even matter.  David went from an indiscretion to a murder.  His heart became hard as he lived with that sin.  9 months later, the Lord sends the prophet Nathan to confront David.  David confesses his sin and he is restored in his relationship with the Lord, but not without consequences.

I asked myself, "What can I learn from David's mistakes?"

*Stop at the glance.  We can not always avoid what we see at a glance, but we can stop it there.  Don't let that glance turn into a look.

*Always separate my needs from my greeds.  Just because I want it doesn't mean that I need it or that I should have it.

*When I find myself slipping (or jumping) into sin, I want to recognize it immediately and confess it - allowing the Lord to give me the strength to turn from it.

*I want to recognize, that like David, my sin never only impacts me.  It will always harm innocent people that are connected to my life.  There is no such thing as solo sin -- even if we are alone!

*I want to accept the consequences or discipline from the Lord and turn toward him, praising Him for His goodness.  That is what David did and God graciously continued to use his life and walk with him.

Temptations are all around us.  Every direction that we glance can be a potential pitfall -- whether it be a physical temptation or one that just settles down in your mind.  Sometimes the ones that are not so visible are the hardest to deal with.

I can choose to redirect my gaze and change my focus.  I can choose to stay in God's Word and dialog with Him all day long.  The closer I stay to Him, the less likely I am to stray.

Never get too comfortable, thinking that you are above a particular sin.  That is a dangerous place to be.  I want to stay on my spiritual toes and honor the Lord with the choices I make.

Let's allow our gaze to settle on the Lord, His goodness and His grace.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ Cindy Wheeler

I couldn't get my self together to sit down and write yesterday  - so I will have a thankful Thursday on Friday!  Perfect timing, actually, because today is one of my oldest (as in how long I have known her) and dearest friend's birthday.  Seems like a great day to celebrate how thankful I am for her!

I met Cindy when I was a sophomore at Baylor.  We had actually gone to the same high school, but Cindy was two years ahead of me so I didn't know her.  I met her when I was a volunteer leader in Young Life in Waco.  Cindy was a senior and had been leading Young Life all during college.  I instantly felt connected to her and after a few weeks, I asked her if she would disciple me.  Unknown to me at the time, that totally freaked her out!  Fortunately for me - she agreed - and what began was an amazing friendship.

This is at my rehearsal dinner!

 I have learned so much from Cindy over the years.  She is passionate about her faith and her love for Jesus.  She taught me how to minister to youth and then how to minister to women.  We learned a lot about parenting along side each other and more than a few things about the tricky business of being a wife and a mother (at the same time!)  We have visited each other in all the different places we have lived and have inside jokes going back many years.  (What's a Goad?  DAAAAGGGGEEETTTT, Cindy Sellie)

We have faithfully stood by each other through some pretty scary haircuts and clothing styles!

We have laughed with one another and shed some tears also.  We have never really lived close to each other since college, but I know that if I needed Cindy, she would be by my side in a minute.  She is that kind of a friend.

Sharing some time in Colorado.
Did I mention that she makes me laugh hysterically?  She is so fun and funny.  No matter what, we have each other laughing almost instantly.  We share a rich history and I am so thankful for her and for her friendship.

We have been friends for 33 years.  There is just nothing like that kind of heart connection.  Cindy - I am so thankful for you and I love celebrating you today on your special day.  Thank you for loving me and being just the kind of friend I have needed for all these years.  Jesus loves me through you.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Heart Matters

 It will come as no surprise to everyone that how we look is a really big deal in our culture!  Even when we are trying not to succumb to this -- we can't help but worry about our weight, our hair, our clothes and yes, our shoes.  We hear ourselves thinking - Am I looking older?  Am I attractive?  Do other people notice me?  What can I change?  As much as we fight it, it continues to be a struggle.

Pretty is as pretty does.

You are beautiful inside . . .

This next diet will . . .

Plastic surgery is not out of the question . . .

It is a trap that we can easily fall into.  Of course, it doesn't stop with our concerns about ourselves.  We can simply see another person for seconds and make all kinds of judgments as in -- they could sure dress better, weigh less, get a hair cut, shave, learn to use makeup, get a job, get a new boyfriend, work out, eat more, eat less, be kinder, get over themselves . . .  That list could also go on and on.

In reading this week in 1st Samuel, I was struck with how the Lord knows our tendencies and gives us wise counsel over and over again.

You may remember that Israel longed for a king.  They wanted to "look" like all the other nations.  They were weary of God being their leader.  They wanted a leader that they could see and touch and follow.  Samuel plead with them but to no avail.  God answered their cries and Saul was anointed king (after they found him hiding in the baggage!) 

Saul was tall and handsome.  He looked like a king.  He drew others to himself with that natural kind of charisma.  Unfortunately, his character was lacking and he turned out to be a selfish and undisciplined king.  God withdrew His spirit from him.  Things went from bad to worse.  Samuel was sent to anoint a new king.

Samuel resisted.  Saul was his man.  He had poured a great deal of himself into Saul and his reign.  He was also a bit fearful that Saul would react violently.  He had reason to worry about that!  Yet - he obeyed, although his heart was broken to see what had become of Saul.  Here is God's advice as He sends Samuel on his way to anoint this new king.

But God told Samuel, "Looks aren't everything. Don't be impressed with his looks and stature. I've already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart." 

Do you ever wonder how very different the world would be if instead of seeing each others outward looks, we could see right into their heart?  For some, their beautiful outsides would match up perfectly with their beautiful heart.  For others, their outward beauty would disappear as the true nature of their heart was revealed.  Those that may be overlooked in our culture due to their outward appearance not matching up with our current definition of beauty, may, indeed, have the most beautiful heart that you have ever seen.  It would be interesting, to say the least.

Maybe, like me, you spend a good deal of time trying to exercise and eat well to take care of your body.  That is a good thing.  But I began to wonder if I was taking such care to tend to my heart?

The word "heart" is used in scripture 805 times.  There are hard hearts, tender hearts, hearts of integrity, hearts of darkness, hearts of wisdom . . . this would make a really interesting study in and of itself!

I want to run a check on my heart for service, my discipline of prayer and Bible study, my interactions with those I know and those I do not know, my love for Jesus and how I am nurturing that love.

How I long for the Lord to see beauty when He looks inside of me!

The good news is that when the Lord looks at me, He sees the righteousness of Christ.  He sees me as His beautiful child.

With that gift, I should be able to extend that kind of grace to others.

I don't want to stumble over someone's outward appearance, whether it be one of perceived beauty or not.  I want to see their heart and appreciate them for who the Lord made them to be.  When I see a dark heart - I want my first response to be one of prayer and my actions to be ones of grace and kindness.  I want to respond to darkness with the same grace that the Lord shows me in my darkest moments.

As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man. 
 Proverbs 27:19

May our hearts reflect the beauty of our Savior.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ Love

Valentine's Day -- a much loved and much hated holiday!  I always find the different reactions interesting.  I have always loved Valentine's Day.  I know there were times I didn't have a boyfriend or anyone special to send me flowers or a card, but there is just something about that day that I have always loved.

Remember those boxes we made in elementary school so that each of our classmates could put a valentine inside of it?  There were heart shaped cookies and pink cupcakes . . . and chocolate, of course. 

Over the years, Valentine's Day really became more of a celebration of friendship that just a romantic holiday.  I have given many Valentine Brunches over the years and have taken that opportunity to let other women know that they are loved and cared for -- that they matter a lot. 

This year, at the brunch, we made Valentines for an assisted living facility and the children's hospital here in Chicago.  It took that love we have for one another and moved it outside of our world into the world of those that could use some Valentine love.  It was a great experience.

Of course, there was food!

 There was laughter, fun and new friendships.

 Everyone was able to get their Valentine crafting on.

 We ended up with so many Valentines that we were able to send them to two places.

Love can be expressed in so many different ways.  Valentine's Day just gives us one more way to do that.  

So, today, I am thankful for LOVE.  I am thankful for the love of family, the love of friends and the love that we are able to express to others.  I am most thankful for the love of God, expressed in Jesus.  Without that love, all other love would not exist.  It is in Jesus that we are loved fully -- accepted just the way we are -- cherished beyond our wildest dreams and given life.

Happy Valentine's Day!  You are loved.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Water, Walls and Worship

My readings this past week have been about Joshua.  He is one of those men in the Bible that displayed so many great character traits.  I put together a list of the things I admire about him and would love to emulate in my own life.

*He was the ultimate optimist!  I am very optimistic and I love knowing that this is a godly characteristic.  As people of faith, we have every reason to be optimistic.  When the 12 spies were sent out to look over the Promised Land - only Joshua and Caleb came back with a faith filled report.

*He had a big faith in a BIG God.  So can we!  Our faith is not based on good luck or just a nice, happy feeling inside.  It is based on a big God that is very capable of handling anything that comes our way. Joshua knew that and it made all the difference.

*He wasn't afraid to fill some big shoes.  How would you like to be the one to follow in the footsteps of Moses?  YIKES  But Joshua had the assurance from the Lord that the Lord would be with him.  God says over and over again - Be strong and courageous.  I will be with you wherever you go.

*He was filled with the Spirit of wisdom.  Joshua had a huge job ahead of Him.  He relied on the wisdom of the Lord to do it.  Do I always draw on this resource that is just as available to me?

*He obeyed immediately.  God said it - he did it.  Oh, the lessons I can learn from that one!

*He was courageous.  He was asked to do things that most of us would have considered ridiculous and impossible.  Joshua just went ahead and did them.

*He wasn't afraid to appear foolish.  I think about the Battle of Jericho.  Joshua had instructions to march around the walled city 7 times - while musical instruments were playing and horns blowing.  REALLY?  I'm sure that more than one pair of eyebrows were raised at this one - but Joshua went ahead and did it, foolish looking or not - and the victory was won!  Those walls came tumbling down.  Am I afraid of looking foolish?  Are there walls in my life that need to come tumbling down?

*He asked the sun to stand still.  WHAT?  The only time we see this.  What amazing faith in our Amazing God who answered that prayer to give Joshua more daylight to finish up a battle.  Do I ask God for those things that seem impossible or am I making my God too small?

*Joshua stirred up the faith of his people every time they were up against a challenge.  He always pointed to the Lord and the victories of the past to encourage them in the battles of the present.  I want to be someone who can do that for others.

*Joshua ended well.  Some of his last words to his people still ring true today --

“If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.”
Joshua 24:15

Who will you choose to serve?  It's true - if you decide that you don't want to worship God, then you are choosing what your alternative worship will be. We were created to worship and if we reject God - something else will take His place.  

I choose to worship God.  How about you?

Will you be strong and courageous? 

Will you choose to be a faith filled optimist?  

Will you practice immediate obedience? 

Will you stir up the faith of others?
Will you step into God's calling on your life, 
trusting that He is big enough for the task ahead? 

Will you end well?

Joshua inspires me to be a faithful, servant of the Lord.

How about you?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ Guess who?

I was so busy being thankful yesterday that I didn't have time to post this until this morning.  Guess who arrived in Chicago yesterday?

My Mom!!!

It is always a treat to have my Mom here.  She is not only my mother, but my very best friend.  I couldn't ask for a better Mom.

After all, she has been with me from the start.

And she is still giving, loving and adding a lot of fun to all of our lives.  
I love this three generation photo.  
What a difference my Mom makes.

I'm excited and thankful to have her here for a week.  I am one blessed daughter.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tuesday's Thoughts ~ Fierce Love

I struggled yesterday to try and write my blog.  I had the scripture but I just couldn't get rolling on what the Lord wanted me to say.

It is a familiar story to many - the story of the 12 spies that went into the Promised Land to scope it out.  When they came back, 10 of them gave a negative report and 2 of them gave a positive report.  There are so many lessons about faith, trust, perspective and attitude in this passage, but that just didn't seem to be what God wanted me to see.

As I went to bed last night, I laid there thinking about this passage and something came to mind -- Moses' love for these people.  Take a look at Numbers 14.

"Just then the bright Glory of God appeared at the Tent of Meeting. Every Israelite saw it. God said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me like dirt? How long refuse to trust me? And with all these signs I’ve done among them! I’ve had enough—I’m going to hit them with a plague and kill them. But I’ll make you into a nation bigger and stronger than they ever were.”"

God had had His fill of the stubborn, faithless, Hebrews.  He offered Moses a fresh start.  This is what the Lord pointed out to me.

“Now, please, let the power of the Master expand, enlarge itself greatly, along the lines you have laid out earlier when you said,
18 God, slow to get angry and huge in loyal love,
        forgiving iniquity and rebellion and sin;
    Still, never just whitewashing sin.
        But extending the fallout of parents’ sins
    to children into the third,
        even the fourth generation.
19 “Please forgive the wrongdoing of this people out of the extravagance of your loyal love just as all along, from the time they left Egypt, you have been forgiving this people.”

Moses chose to intercede on behalf of his people.  It wasn't that they were perfect or that they made his job easy.  In fact, reality was the opposite of that!  He had given everything for them and they very rarely had a thank you for him.  But the Lord had given him a fierce love for them.  He was wholly devoted to their well being.  He loved them unconditionally.  The Lord honored this request and He spared the people, but their actions led to 40 years of wandering the the wilderness.  

Who has God given you a fierce love for?  Who would you do anything for - no matter what?  Who has He called you to love this way?

We are all told to love - but I really believe that He gives us each a fierce love for particular people.  How can you tell that your love is fierce?  You probably look pretty ridiculous to others.  People might not understand.  But you can not help it - because you love with a fierce love. 

Fierce love for




the orphan

the poor

the lonely

the needy

the mentally ill

the homeless


young adults

the elderly

foster children

rebellious teens

college students


maybe it is a particular country

maybe it is simply the world

Whatever it may be -- it is a calling.  That fierce love serves to propel you into ministry and to communicate  God's fierce love for us.

That fierce love that drove Jesus to the cross and kept Him up there.
That fierce love that empowered Him to rise from the dead.
That fierce love that offers you salvation simply based on grace.

Let's be fierce.