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, June 27, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ Kevin and Jamie

It's happened again . . . another neighbor moving!  This time it is one of our building mates!!  I am so SAD!  All three units in our building moved in around the same time.  We formed our own family here at 3247 N Clifton.  It has been such a sweet time for all of us to love and care for one another and see each other through some big transitions.

Kevin is seriously one of the nicest people I know.  He is warm and friendly -- you just want him to be your friend.  He works hard - he plays hard and he always has time to help.  He has been our official snow shoveler and deserves some kind of medal for that even out there shoveling during the blizzard!  He is always smiling.  He always has a kind word.  He will be greatly missed!

Jamie is so special to me!  I got to see her go from a special ed aid position to a teaching position in a very trying year to this year where she found her perfect fit as a kindergarten teacher.  She is such a wonderful teacher and she gives 100% to her kids.  She even started a running group for the girls at her school this year.  Jamie is an accomplished triathlete also - very impressive indeed!  I always love the chance to talk with Jamie.  I'm going to miss that so much!

I can not forget to mention Chance, the wonder dog.  He has been Quincy's barking companion.  Quincy will be on the lookout for Chance's return!

Jamie and Kevin -- we will miss you so much!  We do know how to find the suburbs, so we will see you again but I want you to know how much we love you and how much we have enjoyed being neighbors.  You two are a huge blessing in our lives and we thank the Lord for the opportunity to form such a sweet friendship.

Wishing you all good things as you make this transition to the burbs - your new house - your new neighbors and this new phase of life. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Awe and Wonder

I took a week long break to be at the beach with my family last week.  It was a wonderful, relaxing, fun, sweet time.  We all live in different places - so these times are rare and especially sweet! 

Alan and I drove down - going through Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. In addition to that, we went through Tennesee on the way home.  There was so much beauty along the way.  We rented a house on the beach with incredible views of both the marshland and the beach. 

I'm really more of a mountain girl at heart, but I loved every minute of being at the beach.  It was like a wonderland!  The ocean, like the mountains, just screams of God's majesty.  The neighborhood we were renting in had a private beach front - so it was sparsely populated and very peaceful.  We got to do some amazing exploring at low tide and see a very high tide roll in.  There were several rain storms so we got to see the water level go way up in the marsh and the high tide rush up to the boardwalks.

We had one morning when we got to explore at low tide.  We found many treasures!

We saw many starfish.  They are truly amazing creatures!


hermit crab -- we got to watch him for quite a while. 

I never cease to be amazed at the Lord's creativity in nature.  There are endless treasures to explore!

Here is that same pier at high tide -- truly amazing!

Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.  Psalms 42:7 

God's splendor was on display every where we looked.  His gifts to us in His creation were a reminder of how vast He is - how infinite and powerful. 

And yet - He is near.  He knows and loves each one of us.  He makes Himself available at every moment.  He draws us to Himself.

I am awed by that.  I am reminded of David's words in the Psalms, "Who is man that You are mindful of him?"  Indeed.  It is startling, and yet it is true.  We are His treasures.

I was blessed to spend time with my greatest earthly treasures.

Where do you see the Lord today?  He can display His splendor just as well in the city as He can at the beach.  I assure you that He is all around you if you dare to look.  Enjoy His presence today.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

I've been on the road for the last several days making my way to South Carolina for a week long vacation with our kids at the beach!  It is very beautiful here and trust me, you will be seeing some pictures of it!  I wanted to pause and take a moment to write about Father's Day.

Good friend, follow your father’s good advice;
    don’t wander off from your mother’s teachings.
Wrap yourself in them from head to foot;
    wear them like a scarf around your neck.
Wherever you walk, they’ll guide you;
    whenever you rest, they’ll guard you;
    when you wake up, they’ll tell you what’s next.
For sound advice is a beacon,
    good teaching is a light,
    moral discipline is a life path.
Proverbs 6:20-23

I've been reading through Proverbs and when I came across this the other day, I thought is was very fitting for Father's Day.  I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful father.  I'm sure if you asked him, he could think of mistakes he made along the way.  (Those jump out at us as parents!)  I can tell you that they were few and far between. 

My earliest memories bring back feelings of love, safety, security, and fun.  I had a healthy fear of my Dad as a child which I deem as a very good thing.  He disciplined me when I needed it but it was never mean spirited or out of anger.  I know I got spankings when I was little, but Dad really only needed to speak in a stern voice for me to straighten up.  He never yelled - He was never harsh.  He only disciplined me for my benefit.  How like our heavenly Father that is!

Dad is always a good source of advice.  He gave me the gift of wise words all through my growing up and he still does if I ask Him.  He gave me the freedom to make my choices and learn from my mistakes.  He was always there with an encouraging word when I needed it.  He still is.

The greatest life lessons that my Dad taught me were by example.  I have watched him live a life that honors God, benefits man and blesses all.  I have watched him deal with life's disappointments and struggles and still come up smiling.  He has a heart as big as Texas and is the most generous man I know.  He is always looking for ways to help others and make things better.

I don't know what this day means to you.  For some, it is sad as they miss their dads so much and mourn their loss.  For others, it is sad because they do not have an earthly father that is loving, kind, caring and present.  I grieve with you.  I encourage you to look to our Heavenly Father for He is such a good father.  He is ever present and He parents perfectly.  The Lord is good to put other men in our lives to help fulfill that role.  I know - it isn't the same, but one day, all things will be made right.  There is such hope in that!

I am thankful for men who model our Heavenly Father and point us to Him.  I am thankful that our Heavenly Father can fill those places where earthly father's fall short.  I am thankful that out of sheer grace, I was given my Dad.  It is a blessing I do not take lightly.

I love you, Dad.  I am so thankful for you.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Wisdom

"Make your ear attentive to wisdom.  
Incline your heart to understanding." 
 Proverbs 2:2

Who doesn't want to be wise?  Surely, no one seeks to be a fool.  

I couldn't resist this Mr. T flashback

 We all want to make wise decisions for ourselves and give wise counsel to others.  Proverbs 2 gives us a wealth of information about wisdom.

God is the only source of true wisdom.  We can acquire information and knowledge apart from Him, but it takes a relationship with God to take that and fashion it into wisdom.

Wisdom = Knowledge + Discernment

"For the Lord gives wisdom."  Proverbs 2:6

The following verses describe to whom the Lord gives wisdom.

     *those who are willing to receive it -- It's a choice.  We can choose to turn our head or cover our ears.  The Lord is willing to give it - but are you willing to receive it?  What if it flies in the face of what you, in your human nature, want to do?

     *those who treasure it -- We are to search for wisdom as someone would search for hidden treasure - with both intensity and expectation!

     *those who listen with their ears as well as their hearts -- This quest must completely engage us - body, mind and soul.  It is of little use if we hear wise words but do not allow them to affect our hearts and actions.

     *those who are sincere -- This passage tells us to cry out, lift our voice, seek and search.  It is a very active process.

Wisdom gives us many gifts.

     *It is a shield to those who walk in integrity -- Have you ever noticed that those who are seeking to walk in integrity are often attacked?  This shield is a gift!  The fiery arrows of the enemy can not penetrate this shield.

     *It guards the paths of justice -- The Message puts it in a way that I can really relate to -- wisdom is a rich mine of common sense!  

     *It preserves the way of the godly ones -- It is a personal bodyguard to the candid and sincere.

The Lord gives us wisdom, knowledge, discretion and understanding.  How important it is for those four to be in harmony!  The Message sums it up like this:

"Lady wisdom will be your 
close friend and brother 
knowledge your pleasant companion.  
Good sense will scout ahead for danger, 
insight will keep an eye out for you."

Lord - how desperately we need wisdom.  How we long to be wise in our own lives and to have your wisdom and discernment to offer others.  Make our ears attentive and our hearts inclined to Your Word.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ Saying Goodbye

Chicago is a very transient place!  I have had to say goodbye way too many times already!  I wanted to write a special goodbye to my sweet friend, Beth.  In God's providence, He saw fit to bring Beth and I to Chicago in the same summer.  Beth was in the youth group in Texas when I was a youth leader.  We knew each other from that but really had not seen each other in almost 10 years.  After I moved here, I contacted Beth and we got together.  We have been spending time together ever since!

My first year here, Beth and I spent almost every Friday together exploring the City and trying out new places to eat.  I called those special days, "Beth Brown Fairweather Friday."  They were sweet days, indeed!  We did a lot of walking, even more talking, some good eating and great discovering.  Beth was always willing to come help me when I was giving a party or had some other big task to complete.  She has such a sweet servant's heart.

Beth's law school load got much busier and she began in internship - so I didn't get to see her as often but any time I could -- it was always fun!  Her husband, Morgan, was doing his residency at Rush Hospital while Beth was attending DePaul Law School.  Let's just say they were pretty busy!  Beth was an amazing support and encouragement to Morgan.  He is now finished with his residency and they are moving to Texas.

I'm really proud of them both.  They have worked hard and truly deserve to have a somewhat "normal" life (as is regular hours and time together!)  Morgan took a job at Scott and White Hospital in Temple, TX.  That just happens to be the hospital that saved my life when I was in a horse accident - so I'm loving that.

Beth - thank you for your steadfast friendship.  You have been such a sweet friend to me and you have blessed me in so many ways.  I love your sense of adventure and ability to flex with any situation.  I have loved sharing our Chicago life and I wish you and Morgan the Lord's richest blessings as you move into this new phase of your life.

I will miss you!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Dig Down Deep

Does God ever give you a picture in your head that seems truly out of the blue?  You hear Him and you wonder, "WHAT?"

God often speaks to me in pictures.  He knows that I am a visual learner!  Sometimes, He gives me a picture for someone else.  That happened this weekend and it was such a sweet experience.

I was sitting in a service at Mosaic Church in Chicago.  We were there for their 2nd Anniversary to celebrate with our friends Scott and Ashley Venable and Aaron and Ashley Cauble.  As we were worshiping, God gave me a strong image of an offshore oil rig.

Hmmm . . . strange.  Actually, my brother is a Pretroleum Engineer and he has had a lot of responsibility over these rigs.  I have learned a bit from him over the years but this is not an image that routinely pops into my head.    As I sat in worship, the Lord continued to bring that image into my head, and then He began to speak to me about what it takes to keep that rig steady when the winds blow and the storms rage. 

Those rigs are sunk into the bedrock.  They drill down and put those pillars in the bedrock that can not be shaken.  They can withstand a tremendous amount of stress.  The Lord wanted to assure Mosaic that He has been drilling down deep in that body of believers.  He is building His church by plunging them into the deep.  As a result of that, they will see growth up on the surface - in ministry, in service, in numbers, in effectiveness and in influence.

It was such a joy to share that with the church body.  Isn't the Lord good to encourage us through one another?

Would you stand up and share if the Lord asked you to?

I have to admit, I was pretty hesitant to get up and speak.  I'm not generally nervous about speaking in front of groups, but my legs were shaking.  It was so obvious to me that the Holy Spirit was doing the speaking.  Certainly, not everything the Lord tells me is to be shared in a large group but if He tells me to - I sure want to be obedient, even if my legs are shaking.

What is the Lord whispering in your ear, or illustrating in your mind?  Are you paying attention to the creative ways that the Lord may bring His message to you?

Are you allowing Him to dig down deep?

I want this image of the oil rig to resonate in my own life.  I want the Lord to continue to drill down deep into my life - even if it comes with struggle, trials and some confusion.  I want Him to take me to that place where I will not be shaken, even in the strongest storms. 

I want Him to continue deepening my walk with Him and thus produce growth in all areas of my life.  I know that I can serve Him best when I am abiding in the depths.

I'm digging down deep.  Won't you join me?