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, December 30, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Hector the Collecter

Okay - I'm just going to admit it.  God is using Shel Silverstein to teach me a lot right now.  I'm reading through Where the Sidewalk Ends and spiritual truth is popping into my head as I read.  I'm really loving it!  So, my lesson for today is brought to you by Hector the Collector.

Hector the Collector

Hector the Collector
Collected bits of string,
Collected dolls with broken heads
And rusty bells that would not ring. 
Bent-up nails and ice-cream sticks,
Twists of wires, worn-out tires,
Paper bags and broken bricks.
Old chipped vases, half shoelaces,
Gatlin' guns that wouldn't shoot,
Leaky boats that wouldn't float
And stopped-up horns that wouldn't toot. 
Butter knives that had no handles,
Copper keys that fit no locks
Rings that were too small for fingers,
Dried-up leaves and patched-up socks.
Worn-out belts that had no buckles,
'Lectric trains that had no tracks,
Airplane models, broken bottles,
Three-legged chairs and cups with cracks.
Hector the Collector
Loved these things with all his soul--
Loved them more than shining diamonds,
Loved them more than glistenin' gold.
Hector called to all the people,
'Come and share my treasure trunk!'
And all the silly sightless people
Came and looked ... and called it junk. 

I had so many thoughts running through my head after I read this.  Here are a few - and I'll warn you -- they jump around a bit!

* One of my first thoughts was God's ability to take what appears to be junk -- all our brokenness and junk -- and call is good and make it a treasure.  Oh, how I am grateful for this.  Who but Jesus could scoop up our brokenness and junk and fashion into His image?  2nd Corinthians 4:7-10 says:
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;  we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body."

* I also thought about all the time and effort we put into things that are temporary.  Now - that is part of life.  Groceries have to be bought, homes are made nice and comfortable, clothing is essential, and so many more things . . . but it is always a good reminder that all of these things are "junk" in comparison to all that is of eternal value.

* I also thought about the quote, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."  How we see and value what is around depends on our perspective.  I always ask the Lord to give me His eyes to see the people and situations around me.  I know that my own vision has such great limitations.  I need His unique way of viewing others to truly see them.  I don't want to be one of the sightless who can not see the treasure for the junk!

*I was also reminded that this perspective is not the norm.  Others may look at how I spend my time, or what I am investing in, or how I dress or how I act and it may seem very silly.  I, like Hector, may fall under some judgment as it appears that I am not doing something terribly important.  I'm okay with that.  When I look at that illustration of Hector all slumped over and sad because no one seems to understand, I think back on times when I felt that very same way.  It's okay.  This life is about being obedient to what the Lord calls you to do - not about having the approval of everyone else. 

* I was also reminded of Matthew 6:19-21.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth
where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven
where neither moth nor rust destroys, 
and where thieves do not break in or steal;   
for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I want to make sure that I am focusing on, investing in, striving toward and soaking in all the right things.  I want to collect only that which the Lord wants to write on my heart - those things that will make me more like Jesus.

What are you collecting?

Where are you investing?

Where is your treasure? 

Let's start out the year with our focus where it needs to be.

Happy New Year! 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts ~ Hug O' War

My sweet brother in love ~ Brad Goad ~ gave me a book of Shel Silverstein's poems for Christmas.  I was reading through the book this morning and came across a poem that describes my philosophy on life pretty well.

Hug O' War

I will not play at tug o' war
I'd rather play at hug o' war
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug
Where everyone kisses
And everyone grins
And everyone cuddles
And everyone wins

I am definitely a hugger and not a fighter!

Now, there have been times when I have had to be fighter and the Lord is good to equip me for that battle and there have also been some battles that He has simply fought for me as I waited per His instructions.

But, at the heart of it, I am a hugger.  

Is there anything quite like a good hug to 
just lift your spirits and warm your heart?

Isn't there a certain measure of encouragement that 
just comes in that form?

Can't a hug make such a difference?

Can't a hug turn things around in an instant?

There are only a handful of days left in 2013.

Who do you know who needs a hug?

Let's send 2013 out with a hug and ring in 2014 with love.

Catchy, huh :-)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Merry Christmas!

I have been a very delinquent blogger!  Of course, being too busy traveling around the country and spending time with those you love seems like a pretty good reason.

I am now in the mountains of Colorado  - waiting on my in-laws to arrive and looking out my window at some snow.  I love this time of the year.  
I love this place.

We got to go to The River Church yesterday.  We love our church here and look forward to actually being able to be involved in it one of these days!  Mark gave a great message on angels and the different responses of those that experienced an angel encounter in the Christmas story.

Zechariah responded in disbelief as the angel told him that his wife would have a baby boy.  It was a lot to take in!  Suddenly, an angel appears and then delivers some news that seems preposterious!  They were older and had not been able to have a baby (I wonder if he thought about the story of Abraham and Sarah!)  He won the prize of being silent until the baby was born 
and named John.

Mary was also visited by an angel.  She, too, was very surprised!  She took in what he said and then asked, "How can this be?"  After all, she was a young woman who was engaged, but had never been with a man.  As the angel gave her a few more details, she responded with acceptance, awe and belief.

Mary walked out Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will make your paths straight.

Such trust . . . such leaning into the Lord . . . such faith and obedience.

Joseph was also visited by an angel.  
Unlike Zechariah, he was visited by an angel in his sleep.  
(God often speaks to me in my sleep - I think because I'm still and quiet!)  

One can only imagine how he was feeling as he laid his head down that night.  He has just been told by his beloved that she is pregnant but she has not been unfaithful to him.  Okay . . . sure.  I'm sure he was heavy hearted as he thought about the choices that he had ahead of him.

But, after the angel spoke to him, he immediately believes and obeys.  How critical that would be at that moment and in the future when the angel again came to him in a dream and told him to flee to Egypt with his wife and baby.

From the earliest days of Jesus' earthly life, he has both of his parents setting the example to listen to God and to obey what He says.  

The shepherds also had an angel encounter.  Theirs was quite dramatic!  We are told that a heavenly host of angels appeared and sang!  I'm pretty sure that they were freaked out, at least initially.  

I love that the angels came to those who had time to hear them.

These shepherds had the privilege of knowing about this good news before anyone else did and they also responded in obedience as they went to seek out this baby King.

How will you respond to the good news of Jesus this Christmas?

Will you continue in disbelief?

Will you respond in faith?

Will you share this news with someone else?

Will you be obedient to God's call?

I am so grateful for this good news.  

I am so grateful that God became flesh and dwelt among us.

I am so grateful for the life that He gives me 
and offers to each one of you.

Merry Christmas, indeed.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday Wanderings ~ The Alpha and Omega

Well - since my last blog, I have truly been wandering!  I braved the winter storms and left Chicago on Sunday, driving through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.  It was a bit dicey at times but I arrived at James and Ashley's house safe and sound.  Ashley skated out in her snow boots to greet me!

It has already been a great time of painting kitchen cabinets and visiting with friends.  I'll be making my rounds and then meeting up with Alan to head up to the mountains of Colorado.

I was taking a moment this morning to do my daily Bible reading in Revelation 1.  Revelation is such an amazing book and I love the descriptions of Jesus in this first chapter.

"John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from 

Him who is and who was and who is to come

and from the seven Spirits who are
 before His throne, and from Jesus Christ,  

the faithful witness

the firstborn of the dead

and the ruler of the kings of the earth

To Him who loves us and
released us from our sins by His blood 

and He has made us to be a kingdom

priests to His God and Father—
to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 

Behold, He is coming with the clouds

and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; 
and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen."
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” 

says the Lord God

who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. 
And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;  
and in the middle of the lampstands I saw 

one like a son of man,  

clothed in a robe reaching to the feet,

and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 
His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow

and His eyes were like a flame of fire.  

His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace,
and His voice was like the sound of many waters.  

In His right hand He held seven stars, and  

out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; 

and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. 
And He placed His right hand on me, saying, 

Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 
 and the living One;

and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore

and I have the keys of death and of Hades. 

What description is your favorite?

For some reason today, (maybe it is the sunshine that is melting all this ice!), I was particularly struck by the phrase "His face was like the sun shining in its strength."  I think about how hard it is to look right into the sun because of its intensity, but how the sun warms us and gives us light.  I love that description and and I think it speaks to how impossible it was for John to put what he is seeing into words.  "Sun shining in its strength" is a phrase that I think I understand and then when I read it again, I realize that is speaks of something so amazing that it defies words.

There is something comfortable about God as an infant.  There is something nice about Christmas lights, nativity scenes, pretty packages and trees that sparkle.  I actually love all of those things, but I never want to forget just Who that infant was and is and will forever be.

When I read that passage and those descriptions of Jesus, I am just in awe of the power and might of our Lord.  I am humbled that this Mighty God came down so that I could have life in Him.  This warrior was willing to war on my behalf.  

May the power of that babe in the manger be very real to you this season!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ Unexpected Friendships

I had a normal kind of busy day.  At the end of the day, I was scheduled to ride the train downtown and meet a couple who are in Chicago for a short stay and need some help.  Did I mention the windchill was somewhere in the teens?

I knew their names and a little bit of information about them.

I knew that the wife has MS and they were in Chicago for a trial treatment.  They had just traveled here and bless their hearts, arrived on the Sunday night after Thanksgiving (such horrible traffic to greet them!) 

I knew that they were Christians, but they were weary, lonely and in need.

What I didn't know was what a blessing it would be to meet them.  They are such a sweet couple who have been dealing with this devastating disease for the last 7 years.  They are diligent about being educated about the disease and about all the available treatments that are out there.  They are seeking to get the best care possible.

They are also trusting the Lord through it.  I appreciate the husband's honesty as he talks about what a struggle it has been. There have been a lot of ups and downs. He has experienced anger and resentment.  His faith is real and it is raw.  But - he continues to seek the Lord in the midst of the struggle and faithfully serves his wife. They continue to be hopeful while accepting whatever path the Lord takes them down.  They are living out their vows to love one another "in sickness and in health" to the fullest. 

Why did they reach out to my church out of all the churches here in Chicago?  How did we get connected?  I would have to say it is completely the Lord.  He led them to us and He brought us together. 

I am thankful for the bigger picture of God's plan and the faithfulness of His children.  There is just something so encouraging about seeing someone who is struggling and suffering choosing to trust the Lord and be His witnesses. 

I am thankful for unexpected friendships. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday Musings ~ Wrapping it up

This week ends a semester of small group time.  
We have been doing Jennie Allen's study called, CHASE.  
What a fantastic semester it has been!  
We have spent time studying David's life, 
his amazing writings in the Psalms 
and his relentless pursuit of our Almighty God.  

It has been a wonderful, sometimes difficult, gut wrenching, 
hopeful, amazing journey to share with 11 wonderful women.  

This week is one of those "wrap up" weeks which 
seems appropriate with Christmas coming.

I love wrapping packages and piling them under the tree.  
I love finding the perfect gift and watching 
someone open it up and smile.  

For me, that is exactly what the Lord has done with this study.  
He took me on a journey that ended with a beautifully 
wrapped up package that He chose especially for me.

Here is a peek into some of that gift and what I have been learning.

What has most convicted you while studying the life of David?

For me, I found shades of legalism and performance mentality that linger.  Oh, how I would love for those two things to disappear.  Of course, becoming aware of them has to happen first!  I also found that I can be guilty of an attitude of entitlement and putting my hope in this life instead of the next.  I am not entitled to anything in this life. God does not owe me.  I know this is my mind, but I don't always exhibit it in my attitudes and actions.  I want my hope to be solely in the Lord Himself - not in anything else.

What did you discover you believed about God that was incorrect?

I don't know that I discovered something new here - but I was reminded that He is not placing check marks by my name for good behavior.  He is not impressed when I perform.  He loves me and He values my obedience because that obedience is an expression of my love and trust in Him.

What have you learned about His character?

I love to sit back and marvel at the character of God!  He is good, just, merciful, gracious, kind, loving, giving, forgiving, powerful, refining, trustworthy, faithful and more than enough.  

How do you want to live in light of this?

I want to live in such a way that no one can deny God's power and presence in my life.   I want His goodness and His character to be seen so that He would be glorified and lifted up as I live in obedience and trust.  I want to place my hope in Him alone and live like I truly believe that Jesus is real and heaven is coming.  I want to make a difference while I am here and I want to be completely spent when I enter into His presence.  

No holding back
no fear of the future 

no thought for myself 

I just want some serious Jesus 
oozing out of every part of my being.

I want to CHASE after the Lord every single day of my life here and chase after Him right into eternity.