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, July 25, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ Heritage

I have had an amazing couple of days visiting with my aunts and my uncle. 

What is so amazing about that?

My grandparents had 5 children.  All five are all still living ~ and I mean LIVING.  They are spunky and smart, hilarious and kind. 

Pictured is my Aunt Nell (97), my Mom (78), my Aunt Ruth (83), my Aunt Jean (96) and my Uncle Allen (88).  What a sweet blessing for them to all still have each other.  I imagine that has a lot to do with their longevity (well that, and some good genes!)

It was so much fun to spend time talking with them, listening to stories, laughing a lot and just being challenged to embrace life to the fullest with every single breath.

Between them, they have raised 10 children, doted on 23 grandchildren and a continually rising count of 9 great grandchildren.  They have loved on many, many more children through teaching, ministry and friendship.  They all have incredibly generous hearts and have made such an impact on their communities.

I fell particularly blessed to be their niece and daughter.  To have so many adults invest in you over your lifetime is a gift that is beyond description.  I have literally hundreds of memories that involve these special people.  They have all shaped who I am in numerous ways.

They have loved on my girls and given me incredible support and advice.  They have given me more than I could ever repay ~ so I choose to pay it forward.  To love others big and to live each moment of my life with great JOY. 

What a beautiful heritage 
I have been given. 

I am truly grateful!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Musings ~ The Lord is my Shepherd

Psalm 23 is a very familiar passage even if you are not a believer.  These words are spoken at funerals and other somber occasions.  They are comforting and reassuring.  They are spoken as an encouragement. 

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 As I was reading this passage, I saw it with new eyes as the Lord's complete provision was laid out in these verses.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want (Contentment)

He makes me lie down in green pastures (Rest)

He leads me beside still waters (Refreshment)

He restores my soul (Salvation, Restoration)

He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake (Guidance)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil (Safety, Security)

For you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me  
(Companionship, Comfort)

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies 
(Sustenance, Honor)

You anoint my head with oil (Healing)

My cup overflows (Joy)

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life 
(Goodness, Mercy)

And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Home)

I was overwhelmed by such gifts that the Lord freely gives to me.  

Here is the kicker . . . we only need to Abide.  These riches are at our finger tips as we rest, abide and trust in the Lord.  

He is the Good Shepherd.

He knows His sheep and His sheep know His voice.

Rest in His bounty.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thankful Thursday -- Chin Up!

I was reading in Psalm 3 the other day and I had the sweetest picture come into my head when I read verse 3.

"But You, O Lord, 
are a shield about me ~ 
My glory and the 
One who lifts my head."

When I read that, I thought about the tender touch when we are downcast, and someone gently places their hand below our chin and turns our face upward.  There is something so comforting about looking into the eyes of someone who cares.

I remember doing this often when my girls were little.  They may have been mad, hurt or pouting, but when our eyes met they saw how loved they were and that everything was going to be okay. Momma couldn't always make it right, but they knew I would try!  There was a safety and security in that touch and eye contact.

I picture my Heavenly Father's hand cupped under my chin - gently lifting it up so that my gaze is turned upward. 

Everything looks different when I am looking up at Him.

That gentle touch puts everything else in perspective.

There is no comfort like the comfort of the Lord, Himself.

I am grateful for a God who notices my downcast eyes and quickly comes to my aid to lift my chin up and fix my eyes on His. 

In The Message, Psalm 42:11 says this . . .

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.

Chin up, friend!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Musings ~ That sinking feeling

Don't rock the boat . . . we are in the same boat . . . whatever floats your boat . . . row, row, row your boat . . .

"Then He got in the boat with them and the wind stopped and they were utterly astonished."  Mark 6:51

The disciples had gone ahead of Jesus to cross the Sea of Galilee.  A storm came up suddenly and they found themselves in a frightening situation.  They were straining at the oars, trying to keep the boat afloat, when they see Jesus walking on the water about to pass them up!


Oh yeah, Jesus was fully God and fully human.

They call out to Jesus and He steps into the boat and all is calm.

Just like that -- all is calm.

What kind of boat do you find yourself in?

Are your seas calm or stormy?

Are you straining at the oars?

I can choose to struggle on my own, insisting that I can right the boat on my own OR I can choose to invite Jesus into that boat and allow Him to take control of that boat. 

I am very limited   ~  He is not.

My strength wanes  ~  His does not.

I can't bale water fast enough ~ 
He banishes the water from the boat.

I can't see beyond the waves ~ 
He is the Master of the waves.

When I was thinking about the boats that I try desperately to keep afloat -- I thought of the boat of my future -- the boat of my children -- the boat of ministry -- the boat of relationships -- the boat of my shortcomings and failures and even the boat of my hopes and dreams.  Sounds like I have a harbor full! 
I choose to allow the Lord to come on board and calm the seas. 

“Now then, Pooh," said Christopher Robin, "where's your boat?"
"I ought to say," explained Pooh as they walked down to the shore of the island, "that it isn't just an ordinary sort of boat. Sometimes it's a Boat, and sometimes it's more of an Accident. It all depends."
"Depends on what?"
"On whether I'm on the top of it or underneath it.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh  

 I'm going to allow the One who walks on the water - the One who calms the seas to direct my boat.  I'd much rather be on top of it than underneath it.

How about you?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ Fulfillment

I was reading Psalm 4 this week and it seemed an apt description of what we see all around us today.  Apparently, things haven't changed a whole lot since the time of David.  Actually - things have changed, but people have not!  In verse 3, it says:

How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?

This verse is a picture of what I see day in and day out - proudly displayed in my Chicago neighborhood and in our culture todayI can not even tell you how much brokenness I have seen in the last 3 years.  How much time and energy do we put into things that are worthless and how vulnerable are we to deception? 

Proverbs 12:11 tells us that "He who pursues worthless things lacks sense."

Deception . . . it is everywhere.  What is considered fun ~ right ~ acceptable ~ good ~ worthwhile ~ it boggles my mind.  Lives are filled with emptiness, much like a helium balloon.  It looks pretty and for awhile, it floats in a celebratory way. 

But . . . it can't last.  It begins to deflate and the true nature of it becomes apparent.

 Or, perhaps something happens and it pops.  The delusion is revealed and we are left just holding a string.

The good news is that we do not have to live this way.  Ephesians 2:10 says:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Matthew 6:33 says:

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

I looked through my Bible to see what we are supposed to pursue. 
We are to pursue:









gentleness and


When we pursue the things of God, we will find fulfillment as we follow His lead.

I am so thankful that I don't have to lead an empty life.   I am thankful that I have the truth of God's Word to alert me to deception.  I am thankful for LIFE.

What are you pursuing?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Sons of Thunder

This has been a week where I look back at my journal and I could write 4 blog posts - at least!  I love it when the Lord opens my eyes and teaches me so much in a week.  What a rich time.  I finally landed on a passage from Mark 3.

Jesus climbed a mountain and invited those he wanted with him. They climbed together. He settled on twelve, and designated them apostles. The plan was that they would be with him, and he would send them out to proclaim the Word and give them authority to banish demons. These are the Twelve:
Simon (Jesus later named him Peter, meaning “Rock”),
James, son of Zebedee, John, brother of James (Jesus nicknamed the Zebedee brothers Boanerges, meaning “Sons of Thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew,Thomas, James, son of Alphaeus,Thaddaeus, Simon the Canaanite, Judas Iscariot (who betrayed him).

This is an account of Jesus calling His twelve disciples - the men He would spend the majority of His time with and train to lead the emerging church.  This is an important list!  When I was reading through this, I was struck by the nicknames given.  Simon's name is changed to Peter, meaning "rock" and James and John were given the nickname, "sons of thunder."

If I was leading a small group of youth, I would have had the "sons of thunder", I guarantee you and I would have LOVED them.  My favorite.

There is something so powerful about a stormy sky!

I love that Jesus used nicknames.  There is something really endearing about that.  He could look at James and John and call out their boisterous personalities -- this thunder that would rumble throughout the ages as a call for others to follow Jesus.  

I think that thunder is an amazing sound.  It speaks of power.  It rumbles in the distance and as it gets closer, it roars and shouts to get our attention.  The accompanying rain and lightening add to the symphony of sound.  It stirs everything up and brings about change as a result of its presence.  

This was true of James and John, as well.  We know a lot more about John as he lived the longest life of all of the disciples.  He continued to be a powerful influence in the church.  We see his tenderness along with his thunder as he addresses his flock as his "beloved" over and over again.  His letters and the book of Revelation show this amazing combination of rumbling thunder and booming thunder!

So - I asked the Lord - what is my nickname?  

What immediately came to mind was 

"daughter of grace."  

Grace is absolutely my favorite word and my identity is very wrapped up in God's grace.  Along with daughter of grace - I'd love to be a messenger of mercy.  

What is your nickname?

I would love for my life to demonstrate that I am a daughter of grace.  I long for my words and actions to be an extension of God's grace to others.  Even when I stumble and fall - grace prevails.  

May my name and your name 
ring true with resounding thunder.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ Freedom Isn't Free

Happy 4th Everyone!  What a great celebration of the freedoms we enjoy in this country.  I am so grateful.  A couple of weeks ago, we were able to go to Patriot's Point in Charleston, SC.  We walked through a submarine and toured an aircraft carrier.

I am always moved by the things I read about the ship, the crew, the missions and the lives that were lost.  It is humbling and it gives me such a grateful heart.

Remnants of a hard fought battle.

Comfort and privacy given up for our good.

 There were chaplains who risked their lives on these ships and submarines in order to minister to the crews spiritual needs.  What an intense calling!

 The torpedo crew.

 This recipe made me smile.  Can you even imagine the memories that the smell of baking chocolate cookies evoked?  It must have given each man a little sense of home.

  On the aircraft carrier, there were displays of photographs, flags and other momentos from other submarines and aircraft carriers.  The stories were so inspiring and moving.  Such courage and bravery on display.

I have always loved the flag.  It stirs up such a sense of patriotism and thankfulness.  The sacrifices that others have made and continue to make are just so humbling.

 I especially loved this war torn flag.  I think it really says it all.  

Freedom isn't free.  It is costly.  I am grateful.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tuesday's Thoughts ~ Messy Ministry

When I get to Colorado - I have a lot of trouble remembering what day it is!  Monday just passed me by, so I thought I would sit down today and write down a few thoughts.

I'm reading in the gospel of Mark right now.  I just love watching Jesus in His day to day.  Such remarkable and practical lessons for each one of us.  Mark 2:13-17 was my focus and this is what jumped out to me ~

It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.  
I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

Ministry is messy.

There, I said it.

It is the truth.

Ministry was messy when Jesus walked the earth and it is messy now. People that are sick need care.  People that are emotionally distraught need comfort.  People that are mentally exhausted need peace.  People that are spiritually depleted need faith.  

Jesus spent a lot of very long days ministering to the needs of the masses.  On top of that, He was trying to train a rowdy group of 12 to continue sharing the gospel after His death and resurrection.  To say that most of the people around Him didn't "get it" would be an understatement!

Jesus spent a lot of time being misunderstood and His actions misinterpreted.  If He hung out with sinners, He was judged by the religious.  If He healed someone on the Sabbath, He was considered to be breaking the law.  

Does the messiness of ministry ever just exhaust you?

Are you sometimes misunderstood or misinterpreted? Criticized?    
Talked about? 
Worn out?  

I have certainly felt this way at times, but that feeling always points me straight to Jesus.  

If I am exhausted, then I must count on His sufficiency.  

If I wonder what kind of a mess I have gotten myself into, I am reminded that He orchestrates my days.

If I have no idea what to say or even how to begin to offer comfort, I am reminded that He is the God of all comfort.

If I am witnessing the lowest of lows and the heights of anxiety in the life of someone I love, I am reminded that Jesus, Himself, is Peace.

How good of God to show us that ministry is messy through the earthly life of Jesus.  We see Jesus serving, loving, caring, confronting and being utterly dependent on the Father for every word and ounce of strength that would be called upon.  

Ministry will always be messy because we are a sinful bunch.  We are sick and we need a Savior.  Jesus has paved the way for us to be His hands and feet during our brief stay on this earth.

Look at the heartache behind every need.  

Sin is the qualifier . . . 
not the obstacle.

Jesus did not come for the righteous, 
but for the sinner.

He came for me.

He came for you.

What a privilege to love on others in His Name.

Ministry is messy, indeed.  

What a lovely mess.