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.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday's Words ~ 10,000 Baby Steps

HA - what do you do when things are so busy that you miss Monday Musings and you are not quite to Thankful Thursday?  You combine them into Wednesday's Words!  So many thoughts have been rolling around in my head of late that I just haven't been able to put them down in a way that makes any sense.  God has been stirring me up in many ways.  He is speaking and transforming and challenging and loving me in such huge ways.  I'll do my best to try to communicate something that makes sense!

I have changed.

I am different.

I will never be the same.

These phases have been echoing through my head over and over again as of late.  It's funny - I didn't see it happening.  In some ways, it snuck up on me!  
It just dawned on me like one of those 
light bulbs lighting up over your head.

The Lord has had such purpose for me here in Chicago.  I could tell you story after story about amazing opportunities I have had and the many ways that I have seen the Lord work in people's lives all around me.  It has been one of the most incredible times of my life.

I just didn't realize that perhaps what the Lord was really up to was changing me.  

He has grown me up.

He has broken down places in my life 
that didn't "need" Him.

He has done a work in my heart, 
my mind and my soul.

Honestly, I'm pretty astonished.  I shouldn't be.  
He is only doing what He says He will do.

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."  Philippians 1:6

He is getting bigger in my life and 
everything else is getting smaller.

He is digging a well of trust in my heart and 
it is getting deeper and sweeter as time goes on.

He is assuring me that there are big things in store for me.  I have no idea what that means or what it may look like -- but I am beyond excited to see it.

It has taken a 10,000 baby steps to get here, but I have moved forward without even realizing it.  That happens when my focus is on Him.  As I take one step at a time, I eventually find myself many, many steps down the road.  


What a faithful God to continually be transforming us into His likeness.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I have a long way to go.  My portrait only has the faintest hint of the image of Jesus at this point, but it is clearer than it was 3 years ago.  I am so grateful for that.  

I so desperately want to be more like Jesus.

I so desperately want to fulfill my purpose here and to honor the One I love most.

He is changing me.

I love the saying, "You can't step in the same river twice."

Things are changing around us all the time and in turn, we are also changing.  You may be in a very similar set of circumstances or in the same town that you have been in for quite some time -- but it is not the same.  You are not the same.

“Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert."
Isaiah 43:18-19

Jesus is always doing something new.  

Will you not be aware of it?

How are you changing?

Where do you see the Spirit working in your life?

Is God getting bigger and everything 
else getting smaller?

I love my journey of baby steps with the occasional giant leap.  I love waking up each morning with the question, "Who are you going to live for today?" gently whispered in my ear.

I love that I have a plan for the day, but it may not end up looking like that at all because the Lord has something better and more purposeful for me to do.

I love that I have so far to go - 
but that I am not who I used to be, either.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ What we didn't know . . .

Alan and I celebrated our 31st anniversary this week.  To some of you, that sounds like forever and to others, you are thinking, "just babies!"  To us - it seems a bit surreal.  In some ways, it seems we have always been married and in other ways, it seems such a short time!  Alan had a business trip to New York City so I got to come along so we could be together for our big day.

Saturday, May 22nd, 1982.  What we didn't know . . .

 We didn't know that I would never look this serious or composed again . . .

We didn't know that the 80's styles wouldn't last . . .

We didn't know how this little one would change our lives.

 We didn't know that you should never have a family photo made at Olan Mills!

We didn't know that two years later, we would add another precious daughter . . . and that quilts look better on the bed.

We didn't know that we would make a cross country move, 
not just once, but four times in 8 years

We didn't know how sweet it would be to be in youth ministry,
 share mission trips and go to Youth Camp with our girls. 

And move again . . .

We didn't know that we would gain these two wonderful sons 
and enjoy our adults kiddos so very much!

 We didn't know what an adventure big city living would be.

We didn't know how the Lord would use us to challenge, encourage, shape and make each other better followers of Jesus.

We didn't know we could love each other so much more than we did
on that day in 1982.

We spent some time at our anniversary dinner
talking about our favorite memories 
over the last 31 years.

It was such sweet conversation.

We both got teary talking about all that we have shared.

It hasn't always been easy, but it has always been worth it.

Alan Goad -- thank you for loving me so well.

Thank you for dreaming big dreams with me.

 Thank you for listening to my heart even
when I can't find the words.

Thank you for sharing in the adventure of all
that we didn't know . . .

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Musings ~ BIG love

I have had a very full and fun week.  My Mom arrived in Chicago on Tuesday night and we have been having a blast together ever since!  We left on Thursday for a road trip to Pennsylvania to see a friend's son get married.  Of course, there were a few antique stops along the way!  Pennsylvania is so beautiful with rolling hills, and every color of green imaginable in the landscape.  There were beautiful farms with giant silos and dairy cattle. 

It was a privilege to be at the wedding of Adam Baltz and Hannah Gilmore.  Their ceremony was a true testament to the Lord's goodness in their lives.  They are both passionate about their faith and the Lord was truly lifted up in every aspect of their ceremony.  It was a sweet celebration for both families.

I have been to a lot of weddings!  I have enjoyed them all.  This one was no exception.  In fact, the youth pastor who did their ceremony had such good things to say that I found myself taking notes!  He talked about 1st Corinthians 13 which is an often used passage of scripture at a wedding - but he did it a bit different and I loved it!

He talked about worldly love as opposed to the love that Scripture talks about.  Worldly love focuses on our own feelings -- in other words -- the other person makes us feel good or makes us happy.  The focus of 1st Corinthians 13 is on the other person. 

It says - love is - not loves feels.

It takes the focus off of us and puts it on the other person by reminding us that love is about being, not about feeling. 

It is a commitment to be patient, even when we feel as if we have arrived 
at the end of our rope. 

It is about being kind even when we don't feel like it.  

It is about being happy for your loved one instead of jealous of their success, attention or accomplishment. 

It is about looking to the others needs rather than demanding our own.

It seeks the good of the loved one before the good of itself.  

It is not easily offended even if it feels offended because it assumes the best of one another.  It assumes the best of motivations, the best intent of 
the words spoken and the actions that took place.  

Only a love that is rooted in Christ could bear all things, hope all things and endure all things.  It stands its ground, no matter what.  

It looks ahead and refuses to bring up things in the past.

It is a tall order, but it is possible when you have a giant of a God living in you.  

I think there is so much emphasis right now on our feelings and our rights.  As far as I can tell, this is completely contrary to Scripture. 

Each day, we have to choose to be "love is" rather than "love feels."  This is much bigger than marriage.  It should overflow into every relationship and encounter we have each day.  Just imagine what a difference we could make if we allowed the Lord to love others through us in such a way! 

Let's renew our vows . . . not our marriage vows . . . but our vow to commit ourselves to the Lord -- to be His hands and feet --  
                to love BIG and  

Thank you Adam and Hannah, for reminding me of the great love Jesus has for me and by displaying that so beautifully in your wedding.

Let's restore marriage to a picture of Jesus and His Church.  Let's seek to love others as love is -- not loves feels.

Won't you join me?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday's Thoughts ~ Side by Side

God has been speaking to me about this message since last week.  I'm pretty excited to be able to sit down long enough to write it!  It is one of those things that has been knocking around in my head and coming at me from all directions.  I'm honored to share it!

Scripture tells us to in Romans 12:15 to "Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." 

Seems like a no brainer - right?

And yet, I am seeing a lot of things out there that just don't match up to this.

Since Mother's Day just happened, I'll speak to that, but it is much bigger than that.  Mother's Day is very difficult for some.  Perhaps they had a hurtful relationship with their own mother or are longing to be a mother.  Perhaps they have lost a child or are waiting to adopt. Perhaps they have given a child up for adoption and the pain of that still stings.  I saw several posts and blogs ranting a bit about the celebration of Mother's Day and how it demeans women who are not mothers or puts too much emphasis on this role.


Don't get me wrong, I am not insensitive or blind to the pain associated with that, but it struck me how this passage in Romans needs to be lived out in all aspects of our life.  It is pretty easy to rejoice with someone when we like them and can identify with them.  We are happy to cheer, clap and give a slap on the back.

But what about someone who is rejoicing over something that we wanted?  How about the family whose child wins the award that you feel like your child deserved or is chosen for the team that your child didn't make or got into the college that yours did not?  How about the woman who has children when you so desperately want them?  How about the one who got the promotion that you thought was yours?  How about the girl who just got engaged when you so desperately want to find your soulmate?  How about the person who has treated you unkindly who won the big prize, bought the big house or received accolades from others?


That is much harder . . . and yet we are called to rejoice with those who rejoice.

How about weeping with those who weep? 

When someone we love is hurting, we can come right along side them with tears, hugs and assurances.  Although stepping into their pain is not fun, we can choose to do just that.  God uses us as His comforters.  We offer strength where our friend or loved one is weak.

But what about someone who has mistreated you?  Can you weep with them when they weep or do you inwardly rejoice that they finally got what they deserved?  Do you think "what goes around comes around?"  Does their suffering somehow bring you comfort?  Do you feel like this payback is justified and right?


We certainly do not like to see ourselves in this light.  I am sorry to say that I have stumbled in both of these areas.  I have been jealous of others successes and discontent with what I have been given.  I have been caught in a cycle of comparing myself to others and lost sight of who God has made me to be.  I have found my self stewing over accolades bestowed on another when I thought perhaps, I or someone I knew should have them instead.

It's ugly.

It's a giant red flag.

Rejoice with those who rejoice.  Weep with those who weep. 

You may notice that there are no conditions put on these commands.  It would be rather nice if it said, "Rejoice with those who you believe deserve it and weep with those who didn't deserve to suffer." 

But it doesn't.  Our call is much bigger than that.

Our call is to celebrate Mother's Day for all the moms out there, even if our own experience has not been what we had hoped for.  Our call is to celebrate a birthday even when someone we love won't have one this year.  Our call is to rejoice with those who are promoted, chosen, elected and honored, even if we see it differently. 

Our call is to weep with those who suffer, are discouraged, disappointed and troubled.  Our call is to come along side those who are grieving and allow our tears to minister to them . . . even if they have been unkind or even down right cruel to us.

Even if they don't deserve it.

Because, you know what?  We don't deserve it either.  

We don't deserve anything and yet we are given so much.  We can afford to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep because it comes from the overflow of God's grace in our lives.

How well do you celebrate others successes?

How often do you compare yourself to others?

How often are you thinking of the next thing you want?

How often are you grateful?

How quickly do you respond to people in need?

I want to rest in what the Lord has chosen to give me.  I want to live life out of my contentment so that I can truly rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep because it will not be about me . . . it will be about them. 

I trust the Lord to make all things right, eventually.  I don't need to see that now.  I just need to be obedient to this command that seemed so simple when I first read it.

It's not easy, but with God's grace,
 it is simple.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ Momma Love

"It's all about the momma."  Alan says that a lot - sometimes he is referring to our dog, Quincy and sometimes he is referring to our kids!  With Mother's Day coming up, I've been thinking a lot about mommas.

I am so thankful that I have a wonderful mother.  I have learned so much from her.  I will be having a conversation with someone and all of the sudden, I will realize that what I am sharing with them, I first learned from my Mom.  She has taught me to be a better friend, a better wife and a better Mom.

I have also had many wonderful ladies pour into my life and "mother" me when I was physically far away from my Mom.  I could not be more thankful for their influence and their support.  My mother in law has modeled so much for me as a wife and as a servant.  She has such a kind heart for others.  She did an awesome job raising my husband and for that, I will be forever grateful!

I also have the privilege of being a "chicago momma" to many.  It is one of the most wonderful, humbling things that I get to do.  I get to see so many lives change.  I get to walk beside women as they go through tough times and I get to rejoice with them when they experience victories.  They hug me, talk with me, love me and bring me a tremendous amount of joy.  I get to be the momma of my building here, also.  Such a gift!

I also have many other "spiritual daughters" from years of youth ministry and loving on my kids' friends.  There are some amazing "spiritual sons" also.  What would I do without all those boys?  Although I did not birth any biological sons, He has blessed me with many boys over the years.  I will be forever grateful.

My greatest JOY in life is being a Mom to Ashley and Heather.  There are really no words to describe what it has been like and meant to me over the last 28 years.  The Lord has used motherhood to shape me in a thousand ways.

When you get to the end of your strength, your ideas, your energy and your patience as a Mom, there God is to work in your 
life and heart and make you more like Jesus.  

I have to say that having an adult friendship with my girls is a HUGE blessings in my life.  They are my favorites.  They are the first people I think of when something exciting happens and the first ones I call when I need to talk.  I'm so thankful to be their Mom.

I'm a mom-in-law now also - or as I like to refer to it, a mom-in-love.  My son in laws are amazing men.  I am still learning how to be a mil - and they are very patient while I am figuring it out!  Again - so grateful for Cooper and James and how the Lord teaches me and shapes me through my relationship with them.

Who has been a momma influence in your life?  It may be your biological mom, a friend's mom, an adoptive or foster mom, a teacher or youth leader, a neighbor . . . the list goes on.  Let that person know that you are thinking of them this weekend.

Who can you be a momma to?  You may or may not have children of your own, but I guarantee you that there is someone out there who would love to have your momma love and influence in their life.  

And to Ashley and Heather . . . thanks for making me a Mom.  
I love you with all my heart.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday's Thoughts ~ so much more

Do you remember when you first came to know the Lord?  when you first read a scripture and you just "got it"?  when you first understood what God's grace means in your life?

I have had the enormous privilege of hanging out with some baby believers in the past 4 months.  I mean - they are coming out of the woodwork and literally landing on my doorstep.  The Lord is taking the truths that He is teaching me and giving me opportunity to immediately put them into action.  It is seriously one of the most amazing times of my life.

I think that when you have been a believer for a long time, you sometimes forget just how amazing the saving act of God is.  Our baseline changes.  We start to focus on the problems that are around us instead of the joy that is within us.  We, in some ways, start to take the grace of God for granted.  Complaints come easy and we get wrapped up in the injustices and disappointments of life.

Hang out with someone who doesn't know the Lord or someone who is just beginning that journey.  It will put your life right back into focus. 

There is something about sharing the basic truths of the gospel and talking about the freedom that you have in your walk with the Lord that builds this crazy kind of excitement where you wonder if you are just going to JUMP out of your own skin with tremendous JOY.

I'm meeting with several different groups/people right now.  I'm spending a lot of time covering the foundational truths of the faith.  Let me tell you - camp out on the foundation of your faith.  It is so encouraging!

Talk about what the Lord has done in your life.  

Take time to reflect on how He has changed you over time. 

Listen to yourself as you tell someone else about the goodness of God.  

I promise you - your excitement will be impossible to contain.  I find myself talking faster and louder :-)  Don't you wish you could hang out with me in a public place?  I think I've shared my faith with a lot of strangers just because they were in the vicinity!

There are times when more knowledge is just heavy.  Watching the news can be down right depressing.  Knowing all the details of someone's struggle can be weighty.  But knowing more about Scripture and more about the Lord is so freeing!

You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.  John 8:32

I have seen that one scripture come alive these past four months.  I am seeing the weight of sin, disappointment, bitterness, stress and grief being removed from the shoulders of these beautiful women.  I'm seeing a huge chandelier's worth of light bulbs come on. 

I am seeing their countenance change.  Seriously - some of them just look different. 

I think it is JOY.

There is so much more to this life.  There is a richness, a deeper joy, a lighter heart, a hopeful future, a scandalous amount of grace, a bounty of forgiveness, an overflowing bucket of mercy and a mountain of hope.

If you know this, but have perhaps forgotten, just soak that truth in today.  If you are curious about this - wondering if there really is more for you -- please let me know.

There is so much more.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thankful Thurday ~ Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

So - over the years, there have been a lot of "get rich quick" schemes out there.

There have also been inventors, investors and perhaps a crook or two that have made their millions.  Now - I'm not sneezing at making a buck at all, but I wonder - what kind of wealth should we be pursuing?

I have been overwhelmed lately by all the rich relationships that I have.  I have come to realize that I am relationally - a millionaire.  I am rich beyond my wildest dreams in family and friendship.  I've been earning a lot of interest on this account and the Lord keeps depositing new relationships in there.  The dividends are staggering.  The return is out of this world.  I am beyond grateful.

How do we become relationally wealthy?

There are all sorts of books out there that tell you how to become financially wealthy - how to double what you have, invest it wisely and sit back and watch it multiply.

I have a book, too.

It was written by God and He happens to be the expert on relationships.

It is much simpler than we imagine.

It says things like ~ do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit ~ love one another ~ forgive one another ~ put others first ~ seek the kingdom first, and all these things will be added to you ~ humble yourself ~ judge not ~ share with others ~ think of others ~ do not be easily offended ~ squish your pride ~ love with abandon ~ be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger ~ pray for one another ~ be kind to one another ~ serve one another  . . .

Keep your spiritual eyes open for those that the Lord brings across your path.  

Hold to people loosely but love them fiercely.

Make time to spend with others . . . make it . . . do it . . .

Be an initiator.  If you are lonely or feel as though you do not have many friends - I challenge you to go out and make one. 

Go deeper.  If you are feeling that your friendships are superficial, I challenge you to go deeper.  You will have to be vulnerable.  You may have to ask some better questions.

Be fearless.  Are relationships risky?  Absolutely.  Will you get hurt, let down or disappointed?  Absolutely.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely. 

The Lord is a steadfast friend.  When you are grounded in Him, you can take risks.

So, who wants to be a millionaire?