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, September 30, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Tender hearts

The state of our heart is so central to our life.

Hebrews 3 has one of my favorite passages about our hearts.  It contains both warnings and encouragements.  God cares about the heart. 

In fact, there are 805 references to the heart in Scripture.  


They start in Genesis and end in Revelation.  That tells me that my heart and its condition are a very big deal.

Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 4:22-24
It's all about the heart.
Take care, brothers, that there not be in any one of you an evil, 
unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.  
But encourage one another day after day, 
as long as it is still called, "Today," 
so that none of you will be hardened 
by the deceitfulness of sin.
Hebrews 3:12-13

The word for encourage can also be translated exhort or urge.  We are to always be helping one another grow up in our walk with Jesus.  Sometimes, that involves pointing out what we are not doing well and at other times it is just encouraging each other as we seek to follow Jesus.

We are warned against an unbelieving heart and against a hardened heart.  Both take us to a difficult place.

That got me thinking about what we can do to help each other have a tender heart toward the things of the Lord.

It also got me thinking about what we should avoid doing so that we do not contribute to someone's heart becoming hardened toward the Lord.

I believe that hard hearts can be a result of our own sin, rebellion and selfishness.  I also think they can come from criticism, negativity, judgment and discouragement.

As a heart becomes hardened, the ears become a bit deaf.  The voice of God is easily drowned out and eventually becomes silent.

Now, don't misunderstand me.  God's voice is still there, but we tune it out to the point that we simply do not hear it anymore.  
I'm not sure anything frightens me more.

How do we guard ourselves against a hardened heart?
We confess sin.  
We commit to see our sin as God sees it.
We seek to have encouragers in our life that build up our faith.
We stay in the Word and are continually filled with the Spirit.
How do we encourage others to have a tender heart?
Affirm it.  
Any time I get a chance to tell someone that 
God loves their tender heart ~
I do it.
Encourage others in the ways that they are like Jesus 
in both their actions and their character.
Be willing to speak up if you see that crusty edge appearing on someone's heart.  It is the kindest thing you could do for someone else.  
Let's love one another - one tender heart to another.
God loves a tender heart.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ Strangers on a train

I saw the face of Jesus.

No - not that Sunday School picture of Caucasian Jesus :-)

I had an interesting experience on the Elevated Train here in my fair city that I felt like I needed to share.

The train . . . there is nothing quite like it!  It is amazing to have public transportation and it is something that we have loved here in Chicago.  Of course, you have to take the bad with the good. 

There are some unique smells.  There are a lot of interesting people.  There is a lot of noise.  Some rides are silent with everyone on their phone.  Others have a group having a loud conversation or someone talking on their phone to a person that is apparently very hard of hearing.  There are those that have been riding the train all night right beside businessmen and school children.  It is a sampling of the City.

Did I mention that you are very close to complete strangers?

Yeah - there's that too.  Rush hour rides are a true phenomena.  You are sometimes right in someones face - literally an inch apart and somehow, it works.

I was riding the train back from downtown after meeting a friend for lunch.  It was around 3:30 in the afternoon so the train was only moderately crowded.  It was a typical ride - nothing too unusual until just a few stops before mine.  I was sitting next to a man who got on with a guitar and an ipad.  He was quiet and into whatever he was doing on his ipad.  We came to the Fullerton stop and a young guy got on to our train car. 

It was apparent that he was agitated as soon as he got on.  He was dirty and angry.  He began addressing the whole train car in a very loud voice. (This is a bit unusual!)  He started to tell his story.  He had recently been released from the hospital with a foot infection.  He showed us his infected foot to make sure we would believe him.  (Yikes) He needed money to get his prescription filled.  He made a lot of statements, such as

"I know you don't believe me."  

"I just need some help."  

"I'm homeless and no one will help me."  

"People won't listen to you when you look like me."  

"At least no one is cussing me out."

He was covered in tattoos and had a pretty wild look in his eyes. He had the look of someone who had traveled a very lonely and dark road.  One man gave him a dollar and then the man next to me and I gave him some money.  He sat down across from us and started telling us his whole story.  It was a story of gang activity, loss of a sister, jail time, being cut off from his family, regret, shame, being down and out with no where to go and no where to turn.

The man next to me was so compassionate.  He listened and nodded.  He empathized.  He looked him in the eye and carried on a conversation with him.  The young, troubled man got off at the next stop.

I turned to the man next to me and told him that he did a really good job of showing this guy true compassion and care.  He smiled and said that too often, we don't treat people in that situation like they are human - like they matter - that at least we can listen and empathize.  

We talked about the plight of the homeless in the City and the role that mental illness plays in it.  We talked about how overwhelming it is - but that even the small things we do matter. 

We don't know if that young guy used the money we gave him to get his antibiotic.  Perhaps he didn't.  I noticed him talking to himself and gesturing wildly as he got off the train and walked down the platform.  The man next to me and I decided that it didn't matter. We couldn't control what this young guy did with the money, but we could do what we could to let him know that we cared about his story.

I was so touched by the gentleness and caring spirit of my fellow train traveler.  I don't know if I will ever see him again, but he truly touched my life and increased my awareness of taking a risk on a train and reaching out to a hurting soul.

Thank you, Jesus, for showing up in the face of a stranger today. 

One stranger who was down and out . . .

                          one stranger who dared to care about him. 

I saw You in both faces.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Pathways

 What is your path like right now?

Is it dark and just a bit scary?

Is it light and welcoming?

Are you at a crossroad - wondering which path to choose?

I think I have spent some considerable time on each one of these paths.  Sometimes - I can see far ahead and am super excited about what is coming.  Sometimes, things are so dark around me, that I can't even imagine taking another step forward.  At other times, I am totally confused about which path to take and just a bit frightened about choosing the wrong one.

So - again -- what is your path like right now?

Some days, I've started out on a light and breezy path only to suddenly find myself tripping over a hidden tree root and sprawling out on the ground.  Things are not always what they seem - are they?  My vision is limited.

I think that is why the Lord always encourages us to take one step at a time; always depending on Him fully. 

He promises to meet our needs DAILY.

He promises to give us the words to say AS WE NEED THEM.

He promises to give us the strength we need for EACH SITUATION.

He promises His presence right by our side EACH STEP OF THE WAY.

He promises to supply our needs according to HIS RICHES.

He promises grace that is SUFFICIENT.

I am a huge fan of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  He is one of my heroes.  I was reading a devotional by him today and loved His wisdom on this subject.

Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows where the path will lead. 
But we know that it will be a path full of mercy beyond measure. 
Discipleship is joy.
No matter our path at the moment, we have His assurance of mercy.  No matter our circumstances, we have His gift of JOY.  
Do not despair . . . you do not travel alone.  

He knows our path and ultimately, He is at the end of it.

Your Word is a lamp unto my feet
A light to my path.
Psalm 119:105

Friday, September 20, 2013

Thankful Friday: Too busy to blog!

I don't in any way believe that people are waiting by their clock for my blog to pop up - but I do enjoy keeping up with it.  It is such a great way to process my own thoughts and growth.  But . . . occasionally, life is moving at the speed of light and it just doesn't happen.  This was one of those weeks!  I got to go to Texas to celebrate my MIL 80th birthday and spend some much needed time with my girls.

There are no words to say how thankful I am for my family and how much I love hanging out with my girls.  It is a gift I do not take lightly.  I thought I would share the week with you in a few pictures.  I hope they bring a smile to your face as they do to mine.

Hug someone you love today!

The Goad Clan (missing Cooper!)

Our mighty men

The Birthday Girl - Lyla

My favorites!

Precious Head Start kiddos

Heather is such a wonderful teacher - I love watching her with these kids!

It is hard to be far away from those you love but it is sure a sweet thing when you get to spend time with them.  I am grateful that the Lord has each one of us exactly where we need to be.  We are all embracing life and serving Him with great JOY and an occasional tear.

Life is good . . . indeed.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New Mercies

It is good to be back in the City!  It was wonderful to be back at my church among such amazing people.  The scripture focus on Sunday was Lamentations 3:22-24.  It is fairly well known and beloved - especially by me.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His mercies never fail. 

They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”

Remembering 9/11 is so heart wrenching.  Anyone that was at least of school age can probably picture exactly where they were when they heard of the attack and first saw the coverage.  I remember just being in disbelief.  We just had not seen anything like it.  I imagine it was similar to those who witnessed the Pearl Harbor attack.  It just defied logic.  It simply seemed unreal.

There is no denying that there is evil in this world.  No one country or people group owns it.  It crosses all lines.  It can be very discouraging and frightening if we allow it.  

I choose today to look toward my God and rely on Him.  I choose to remember that this is not all there is and that one day, He will make all things right.

I choose to honor those who lost their lives that day and those who continue to grieve that loss.  It was a dark day and at the same time, an amazing show of heroism.  

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.


His faithfulness is evident in my life.

He is my portion.

My hope is in Him - not in this world.

My hope is in Him - not is a tenious peace among the nations.

My hope is in HIM.

His love never ceases.  His mercies are new EVERY morning.

His love is

     never blocked

                   never taken down to even a trickle.

His love is sure

               He is always faithful.

Nothing that happens in this world can touch what is true in the next one.

My hope is in HIM.

Great is Thy Faithfulness is a great old hymn.  I think the words are very appropriate for today.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changes not, Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed, Thy hands hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine with ten thousands beside

May His enduring love, 
faithfulness and 
encourage your heart today.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Summer Reflections

Well - I have arrived back in Chicago and haven't sat still since!  Nothing like diving back into the deep end!!  Of course, I wouldn't have it any other way.  Before life moves ahead at a rapid pace, I wanted to pause and reflect on the summer. 

*June began with a week long visit from Ashley.  What got to spend some great time together and do some painting to bless another family. 

*South Carolina Vacation.  I already wrote about that - but it was a fantastic week of fun and family.

*Colorado - Take 1.  We drove out and enjoyed several weeks together in the mountains.  During that time we had two gatherings with your neighbors, a few days in Crested Butte with Alan's parents and a visit from my parents. 

*Two weeks in Texas to go to a wedding, see dear friends, travel to see my aunts, uncle and grandmother, hang out with my parents and spend time with my kids. 

*Colorado - Take 2.  Visits from the Caubles, Cofields, Thornes, Peoples, Cunnighams and the Ramseyers.  Some random meetings and new friendships.  Lots of hiking my favorite trail and just gazing out at the mountains.  I took hundreds of pictures of rocks, water, trees and sky.

*I got to spend time in Bible study and fellowship with the Lord.  It was such a sweet summer of hearing from the Lord and just soaking up His Word.  It is all about relationship and I loved every minute of it.

*We drove the long haul back to Chicago.  Summer is wrapping up and bits of fall are already showing themselves.  A new season is coming in the weather and in life. 

I love these transitions. 

I love knowing that the Lord is right in the middle of the unknown.

I love anticipating what He will do as new small groups come together.

I love that wherever I am - He is at work in my life and 
in the lives of those around me.

I love that there are surprises awaiting me that I can not even anticipate!

What are you anticipating this fall?

Are you assured that the Lord 
has good things in store?

If not, I want you to know that you can be.  Even if your circumstances are difficult and your heart is aching - He is there and He is at work.

He will never abandon you.

Let's embrace these transitions in life and step ahead confidently with the Lord right by our side.

Full steam ahead . . .