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, October 31, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ Two Wedensdays

Konnichiwa!  Greetings from Japan.  I had a fantastic 10 days seeing a beautiful country and spending time with a precious missionary family - the Towerys.  I will be talking a lot more about this trip in the weeks to come.  Here are a few highlights.

Best of all - Yu, Luke, Logan and Michael Towery.

They are an amazing family who love Jesus in a big way.  They love and serve the people of Japan both tirelessly and selflessly.  They are a light in a country where very few have heard the gospel. 

They challenge me to be bold 
in my own part of the world 
and to love others with abandon.

I'd have to say that the children of Japan stole my heart.

Seriously - Are they not adorable?  We got to play with them, sing with them and teach them a little English.  They are precious.  They are Japan's hope for the future.

I was a bit sad about not being able to go to Colorado this fall.  
Well - the Lord had a HUGE surprise for me!

Fall in Japan

Can you even believe that?  It was hard to capture it in a picture.  It was breathtaking (and did you notice the snow :-))  It was a sweet smile from the Lord as if He was saying, "Chrisann - just take a look at my beauty.  It is all over my creation."

And then there were the three people that I traveled with, prayed with, talked with and worked with.  They are a HUGE blessing in my life.  My life is richer for sharing this experience with them.  They each bring something unique to the mix and if I say so myself, we made a good team.  Hats off to Jerimiah for leading us well.

Jerimiah, Deanne, Mary and myself
My life will be forever touched by their faith, humor, energy, passion and gifts.

Two Wednesdays? 

Yes - We left Japan on Wednesday at noon and landed in Dallas on Wednesday morning at 9:00 (hard to wrap your mind around that one!)  I then flew back to Chicago, had small group and crawled in bed around 11 (at the end of my second Wednesday!)  I was awake for about 29 hours, so I thoroughly enjoyed both.

Today - I didn't make much sense, but I enjoyed today too!

I can't wait to share more about the trip as I process all that the Lord did with that time.  I learned a great deal and shared in so many great things. 

Pondering . . .

Until then.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tuesdays Thoughts ~ Window Shopping

I thought I would try to squeeze in a post before I take off for 2 weeks on my Japan adventure.  I'm looking forward to writing about that experience and all that I know the Lord will do.

In the meantime, I thought I would tell you about a brief conversation that my friend, Stacie, and I had the other day.  It was early morning, last Thursday, when Stacie and I were walking to Illinois Masonic Hospital for a day surgery on Stacie's knee.  As we walked down Belmont (a major street by my house), we commented on the window display in a store called "Something Old, Something New."

It is an interesting shop, to be sure, but we both agreed that the best things the store has were typically in the window.  Once you walked in, there wasn't much else to see.  In other words, the window dressing didn't accurately represent the contents.

Well, that got me thinking.  Nice window displays are great but they don't mean much if there is not anything great in the store. 

Wait a minute . . .

Have I been guilty of that very thing myself?

Are some of us trying to fool the world with some pretty window dressing that lacks substance?

We learn to make the outside look good.  We know the right things to say and how to smile even if our insides are crumbling.  

We can be pretenders.

What if we stop it?

What if we choose to be authentic?

What if what you see is what you get?

The world is all about window dressing without substance. 

Let's be different.

Let's be real, and honest, and unafraid.

Let's allow God to be BIG in us and through us.

Let's introduce the world to a relationship with substance.

Let's show others our loving, gracious, forgiving, ever present Jesus.

Let's have a window display that includes pain, despair, disappointment, confusion, forgiveness, mercy, grace, love and hope.

That would be real.

What is in your window display?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ October

I love the month of October.  It is a delightful time here in Chicago.  The temperatures are dropping, the leaves are turning beautiful colors and gang activity slows down (seriously - colder weather has its perks!) 

Small groups start back up at church.  Now - I know I have written about small groups before, but just let me say it again.  I LOVE SMALL GROUPS!  I have a group of 13 women and we are going through a study by Jennie Allen called CHASE.  We are already being challenged and encouraged.  I already LOVE these women.  They are from different places, of different ages and in different points in their walk with the Lord.  It is so much fun to see them already growing to love and care about one another. 

October brings the Chicago Marathon and my hubby is running in it this year.  He has worked hard and I'm proud of his dedication.  I know he will do well.  One of his closest friends, Greg Creasy, is coming to run it with him.  Should be a great experience for them to share.  I'll be happily waiting at the finish line.

October also brings a trip to Texas to celebrate with my parents as they are honored at Baylor University.  I can't say enough about my parents' generosity and service to Baylor and its students.  They are amazing people who have made such a difference in so many lives.  I've known how fantastic they are all along - but it is fun to see them honored in such a wonderful and well deserved way.

October also brings an unexpected opportunity to go on a mission trip to Japan!  I'm heading to Japan on Oct. 21-30.  This truly came out of the blue and I am excited to see what the Lord has up His sleeve (so to speak!)

October seems to stand for opportunity this year.  

I am thankful for all that the Lord is up to this month and the privilege of being a part of it. 

Embrace what the Lord has for you in the coming weeks!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday's Thoughts ~ Invisalign your Life

I am wrapping up 6 months of invisalign braces.  I never had traditional braces, but I could probably have used them!  By the time someone suggested that, I was graduating from college, and teaching High School with braces on just didn't seem wise.  These days, I would venture to guess that almost all kids have braces at some point.

Straight teeth are a luxury and not something that I had to have ~ but something I always wanted to have.  Of course, straight teeth are good for dental health, but I really just wanted to look in the mirror and see straight teeth.  Alan was kind enough to go along with this indulgence!

It is a process that involves a series of plastic trays that gradually move your teeth to the right spot.  It is done by subtle pressure .  You wear them all the time with the exception of eating a meal.  You brush your teeth many, many times a day.  As you switch out the trays every two weeks, they, step by step, move your teeth to proper alignment.  It is a pretty amazing process.

So - why am I writing about invisalign braces?  

Have I become a spokesman for the company?


As I was finishing up this process this week, it made me think of that gradual work of spiritual formation in our lives.  I thought about Derek Webb's song, Crooked Deep Down.

good lord i am crooked deep down
everyone is crooked deep down
but good lord i am crooked deep down
everyone is crooked deep down
everyone is crooked deep down

I have to agree. 

We all need spiritual braces.

We are a crooked bunch.  We struggle with selfishness, a slew of crazy thoughts running through our minds and a desire to simply fulfill all our desires!

Sin runs deep.

The most amazing thing happens when we submit our crookedness to the Lord.  Much like my dentist, He accesses the situation and prescribes the solution.

He takes those areas of our lives that are truly crooked and begins the process of bringing us in alignment with His Word, His character and His desires.

Much like my braces, it is a gradual work of the Spirit.  As we seek after God, allowing Him to have His way with our crookedness -- He aligns our spirit with His and before we know it, we begin to look like our Heavenly Father.

And as you can imagine . . . we smile.

My braces were a bit painful at points.  That pressure was occasionally uncomfortable and I even had a few headaches.

There were times when I wondered if the hassle of the invisalign was worth it.  I grew weary of the process at some points and had to remind myself that the outcome would be worth it.

The same can be said for spiritual formation.  The changes that the work of the Spirit brings in our life are sometimes difficult.  There are moments that are very uncomfortable and even painful.  There is routine and discipline that is not always exciting, but much like my braces, the outcome will be worth it.

There is great joy in aligning our life with the life of Jesus.

In fact, there is no greater joy.

May the Spirit continually be aligning your life with the life of Jesus.