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.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fragmented Friday ~ Lacking

Apparently, the days of consistent blogging and any sort of routine are over.  I can't seem to fall into a rhythm.  Life is fragmented but wonderful at the same time.  My heart is strewn all over the country and my time follows suit. 

These days are crazy and wonderful and unsettling.

I'm loving them and occasionally weary of them.

I felt that the Lord had a message for me when I was reading Matthew 15.  In that chapter is the account of Jesus feeding 4,000 men plus women and children.  He asks the disciples a very simple question.

How many loaves do you have?

I love that question.  We spend so much time thinking about what we don't have -- our lack of (fill in the blank!)

Time
Skill
Money
Intelligence
Status
Energy
Widsom
Patience
Love
Talent
Opportunity

Perhaps you would choose a different word. 

We all find ourselves there from time to time.

I feel like the Lord is constantly encouraging us to look at what we have and to simply be willing to offer it up to Him.

It is a change of perspective and a change of focus.

It is allowing Him to take our little and turn it into much.

We are limited -- He is not.

Seven loaves of bread and a few small fish feed thousands.

What was the bridge between the little and the much?

Jesus' touch

Jesus' thanksgiving

Jesus' breaking of the bread

Our little touched by Jesus.

Our lack turned into praise and thanksgiving.

Our brokenness touched by our BIG God.

Only He can take the fragments of our life and turn them into a balm for the hurting.

Only He can take our little and transform it into more than enough.

What I lack, He fills.

I think I'm going to be alright. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Musings ~ Criticism on a Platter

Today is my birthday.  Birthday's have always been huge celebrations in my family.  I may have been an adult before I realized my birthday was not a national holiday.  Of course, every 7 years it falls on Thanksgiving, so occasionally, it is!  I celebrate my 55 years because the majority of them have been lived walking with Jesus.  They have been good and they have sometimes been hard, but I wouldn't trade a moment of those years.  So - I celebrate my days that are behind me and eagerly anticipate the days to come.


I think I'm going to need a bigger cake!

I read a very familiar passage this week but as the Holy Spirit works, got a completely different message from it than any other time I have read it.  I love that about the Spirit -- He makes familiar things new all the time.  My reading was in Matthew 14.  It is the account of John the Baptist's death.

Herod and his sister in law, Herodias, were having an affair.  John called him out on it, never hesitating to speak the truth, and needless to say, Herod did not appreciate it.  Neither did Herodias.  They wanted what they wanted.  Herod had John arrested but feared harming him because he was popular with the people.

Then . . . Herod's niece had a birthday.  A party was thrown in her honor.  She danced before Herod and he was so carried away by her performance that he promised to give her anything that she asked of him.  I don't know what she was thinking, but she decided to consult her Mom.

Herodias knew exactly what she wanted.

The head of John the Baptist on a platter.

Herod was not pleased, but he had backed himself into a corner and did not want to be embarrassed in front of his guests.  The beheading was carried out and the head of John the Baptist was presented to Herodias, on a platter, as a gift from her daughter.

Who wouldn't be mortified by that?  This account is full of all kinds of wrong.  It has adultery, pride, vengeance, and murder.  To top it off, a young girl is made complicit in the betrayal of her father and the death of an innocent man.

Herod and Herodias silenced their critic.

Now, I'll admit that was a drastic measure to take.

But don't we all do this in our own way?

*We no longer call the friend who risked pointing out something that needs our attention.

*We stop listening to the pastor who speaks of sin and opt for a kinder, gentler gospel where life choices and relative morality reign.

*We lash out and counter attack.

*We ignore and dismiss.

*We drag others into our drama.

*We turn a deaf ear to the whispers of the Holy Spirit.

*We behead the entire criticism rather than look for the truth in it.

Taking criticism well has never been my strong suit, but I have grown tremendously over the years in my ability to do so.  I'm still learning.

I have learned to sift through what is said and seek the Spirit about the truth that falls through.  I want to learn and grow from the criticism of others.  I want to be teachable, pliable and ever changing in the hands of the Lord.

I have grown to appreciate those that love me enough 
to say something hard.

I have grown in my desire to be more like Jesus - 
even when words sting.

I have grown to embrace the refining fire 
of criticism, exhortation and truth.

I have read this account many times and there are so many lessons to be learned, but today, I had to ask myself . . .

Whom have I beheaded?

Why am I so angry about something that was said about me?

Am I seeking growth from both criticism and encouragement?

Am I turning a deaf ear to the Spirit in favor of my own agenda and comfort?

Am I saying "la, la, la" in my mind when I should be listening?

Certainly not every critic is someone to heed, 
but it is far too easy to dismiss them all.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Musings ~ One Day

Happy Monday!  Fall is on its way out and winter is on its way in.  Changing seasons are my favorite.  Fall leaves will soon give way to snow flakes.  Embrace it!



(Insert Smooth Transition)

Oh well, I'll just get to it.

 I was reading Psalm 84 today.  Verses 10-12 are some of my favorite.

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside.
I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
How blessed is the man who trusts in You!


 But, I have to admit . . .

Sometimes the things of this world look pretty good.

Sometimes it seems easier to stand outside the courts of God

   where anything goes,

         where self is god,

                 where morality is relative,

                           where sin is celebrated and even sought after.

Sometimes, it is tempting to just go on over to the tents 
of the wicked and relax for awhile.

But those moments fly by quickly.

God is my sun and my shield.

He is my light and my protection.

He gives me His grace and His glory.

He does not withhold any good things from me as I live for Him.

What are those good things?

health?

wealth?

possessions?

problem free relationships?

Well, no.

But they are better.

What are those good things?

His grace

His mercy

His love

His salvation

His provision

His guidance

His presence

His forgiveness

Himself

These are good things and they are mine -- no matter what -- forever.

I would rather experience and know God Himself 
than have anything else out there.

One day in His courts > than 1,000 elsewhere





Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tueday's Thoughts ~ Fitting In

I'm pondering on Tuesday this week since I had jury duty on Monday.  What an interesting experience!  I was picked for a jury first thing in the morning and the trial was over by the end of the day.  It was a good experience to be involved in that process but I was thankful it was only a day.  The justice system is amazing but it is tedious! 

I've been thinking about this post since I flew back from Texas to Chicago on Sunday.  When I boarded the plane from DFW to O'hare, I was seated by a very large man.  I felt for him as I got over to my seat.  He didn't fit in the seat very well.  He was pressing against me and had to ask for the seat belt extender.  I know that must be a difficult situation to find yourself in as our seats in airplanes, movie theaters and waiting areas are only comfortable for some.  I could tell that he felt awkward.  I felt a bit awkward too - for both he and I. 




It made me think about all the ways that we don't fit.

Maybe you don't fit in at a family gathering.

Maybe you don't fit in with your co-workers.

Maybe you don't fit in with your neighbors.

Maybe you don't fit in anywhere.

Maybe you just don't fit.

It is as if you are a square peg in that proverbial round hole.



There is good news.

You were created for God's good purposes.

You were created as a unique child of the King.

You were created to be part of a bigger story that is continually unfolding.

You fit perfectly in the Father's plan.

You fit beautifully into the body of Christ.

You fit securely into the righteousness of Christ.

You fit safely in the Father's hand.

In Jesus, you are just the right fit.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, 
which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10




Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday's Thoughts ~ God is in the details

There is a saying that goes, "the devil is in the details."  Now, I understand what this means.  Details are what gets us when we are running an event or doing a project.  I am not a naturally detailed person, so perhaps I can relate with that saying more than most. 

What I wanted to share today is how God is in the details. He is aware of every detail of my day and every obstacle that is coming my way.  He works in my every day in such an astounding way that I never cease to be amazed.  He knows and He cares.  He watches over me.

I left Ashely's house on a Tuesday morning about 10 am after staying up quite late with the baby.  I felt pretty good and the Lord was good to give me a boost of energy as I headed out.  I wanted to get as far as I could get on that 1st day of the drive.  As I headed from Oklahoma into Missouri, my oil light came on. 


I had intended to get my oil changed in TX before I left, but let's just say I had a lot of other things on my mind!  I debated about just making it to Chicago and then taking care of it there.  It seemed like such a hassle to try to stop somewhere along the way and I wanted to make good time!

I pondered and then decided that it would be better to see if there was a Honda dealership in Joplin MO.  I could make it there by 4:00.  There was one, but it was a bit off the highway.  Should I take the time to stop?  The Lord just kept nudging me to take care of it.  As I wandered down the busy street with  a lot of stop lights, I second guessed my decision.  This was taking more time than I wanted to spare!

I arrived at the Honda dealership and they could take my car immediately!  They were very nice, as they always are, and I used the time to take Quincy on a walk.  As they were finishing up, the repairman came out to me and said that my car wouldn't start back up.  What?!?! 

My battery was completely dead.
It gave its all!  My car does have 87,000 miles on it, so I guess it was time!  What amazed me was that it happened right there at the Honda dealership.  They were able to put my new battery in and I was on my way.  All of that took less than an hour.

What if I had been out in the middle of no where when that battery gave it up? 

I could have been stranded on the side of the interstate, calling a tow truck and had a huge delay. 

The timing had God's fingerprints all over it. 

I drove until almost 10 pm and got right across the Illinois border.  I was given a big room for a cheap rate and the guy decided not to charge me for Quincy.  Really?  Even those details were taken care of.

 The second day of driving was much harder.  That adrenalin rush had gone the way of my battery!  I was so thankful for God's loving care in the details as I made it home safely by 12:30 the next day. 

Am I making much of little?

I don't think so. 

I am intimately acquainted with my Heavenly Father who is mindful of every minute of my every day.  He is not just present for the big moments - but for all the small moments that make up a very ordinary day.

He gave me energy and watched over my fatigue.  He took care of my car when I wasn't even aware of the potential problems.

He brought me safely home.

Do you feel alone in your struggle?

Do you doubt that the Lord is aware of your difficulties and challenges?

Let me tell you, if you know Jesus as your Savior, you never have to doubt that the Lord is aware of all that is going on in your life. 

He is.

He cares.

He is watching over you.

God is in the details.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thankful Thursday ~ Need I say more

I am overwhelmed with thankfulness today.  I walked down the streets of Chicago, looking at the fall leaves and feeling the cool air.  I just soaked in the city and thought about all the things that the Lord has done in this place

Wow -- there is something about fall color that expresses the 
creativity and beauty of the Lord.

THEN . . . I thought about how much life has changed since May 
with the addition of two grandsons.

Cooper Wade Brenton, born June 4th, 2014.



Don't you just love baby feet!

Owen Jude Thorne, born on October 7, 2014.


There's those feet again . . .

Words can not express how thankful I am for the opportunity 
to watch my girls grow into women, 
get married to Jesus loving men and 
have these little boys.

It is a privilege and a gift.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Miraculous Monday ~ Owen Jude Thorne

Why is this Monday miraculous?  Owen Jude Thorne is 6 days old.  He is a bundle of joy and evidence of the miracle of life that our Creator has allowed us to experience.  I love being a Mimi to this precious boy.  This life of Mimi squared is God's grace poured all over me!


October 7, 2014
8 lbs. 9 oz.
21 3/4 inches long
Perfection

It is a very special time to share with Ashley.  Seeing your daughter become a Mom is very special.  Seeing her husband, James, leap into fatherhood with both feet has been so much fun!  He loves it and he is so sweet with this baby.


He is so content after nursing - a full belly and a snooze on his Mom.  The light was hitting him just right as it crept in through the window.


This photo was taken after his first bath.

He is already a ponderer.  He looks into your eyes so intently.  He is a little man of 1,000 expressions.  He is content.  He is JOY personified.

There are a lot of great moments in this life and I must say -- 
this is one of the best ones.

Welcome to the world, Owen Jude Thorne.

Your Mimi loves you to the moon and back.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday's Thoughts ~ Bad Math

Alan and I are finding ourselves with an unexpected few days in Colorado.  We had a great time in Minneapolis with our sweet friends, Ryan and Alison.  They are friends that are more like family.  Oh, how I love that.



We left Minneapolis early Sunday morning and began our journey to Colorado.  Boy, was it worth the drive!  I am looking out at the leaves turning and the first dustings of snow on the mountain tops.  We are on 24 hour alert for Ashley to go into labor - but enjoying these fall days here until then.



I have been reading through the gospel of Matthew.  I had seen this phrase on an awning over a salon in my neighborhood a couple of weeks ago and when I was reading Matthew 6, it reminded of it and how far off from truth this statement actually was.

beauty = confidence = power

I stared at the awning from across the street.  I even wrote the statement down in the notes on my phone because I just knew it was going to keep coming to my mind and I wanted to be able to think about it.

I'm not knocking salons and I do feel great when I walk out of one, but this phrase gave me the shivers . . . unless I look at it through the filter of what Jesus has done.

Matthew 6:25 caught my attention as I was pondering this strange equation.

"For this reason, I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth more than they?"

Isn't it hard to keep from getting all wrapped up in the basics of life?  Our culture has taken food, drink and clothing (the basic necessities of life) and elevated them to a whole new level.  Just take a look at the food network, the wine craze, the number of pubs in Chicago and the fashion industry.  We can be consumed by taking care of the basic needs on steroids -- even to our detriment.  

As I thought about that scripture and the equation that I saw, I looked at it in a new light.  

What if I took that phrase and thought about what Jesus has done?

Beauty ~ Beauty in God's economy is inwardly sourced and outwardly expressed.  

Proverbs 31:30 says, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

1st Peter 3:3-4 says, "Your adornment must not be merely external—
braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 
but let it be the hidden person of the heart, 
with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, 
which is precious in the sight of God."

Beauty is so much more than a good haircut, a great outfit or even a delicious meal.  True beauty begins with worship.  True beauty begins with knowing our Creator.

Confidence ~  Confidence must be based on my identity in Christ.  I am often told that I am a very confident person.  Truth be told - I am not!  If you see confidence in me, it is just the exercising of faith in who Jesus says I am.  I am His child.  He loves and cares for me.  He has plans and purposes for me.  I am enough in Him.

If confidence is based on looks, possessions, status, success, parenting, relationships or any of a number of other things, it is simply not supported.  Any of those things could go at any moment, but Jesus remains constant.

Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday 
and today and forever."

Power ~ The only true source of power is the Holy Spirit.  It is the power of Jesus dwelling in me to accomplish His purposes.  He shines through my weaknesses so that His power is evident.  If I am counting on my looks and my confidence to bring me power - what happens as looks fade and confidence wavers?

2nd Corinthians 12:9-10 says, "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

True power was modeled by Jesus as He served others.  

True power is confident enough to put others first 
and that, my friend, is beautiful.

beauty = confidence = power

So maybe, just maybe that equation could be 

redeemed 

if we look at it through the 

filter of the gospel.





Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thankful Thursday ~ Here and There

I am thankful for so many things right now.  I'm heading to Texas tomorrow - via Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado.  That's how everyone goes - right?  Ashley is due next week and we are making our way down to Texas while visiting friends and stopping by our Colorado house to winter ready it. 

All that being said - we could get a phone call at any minute and head directly to Texas to meet our sweet Owen.  We are ready when you are - sweet baby!!  Grandson number 2 on the way!  I'm glad that routine is not important to me!



It's an even sweeter deal as we also get to see Baby Cooper!!!!!!!!!





We are really going to miss so many people that we love 
here in Chicago as well.

It's fall - the loveliest time here in the City.



 We got to spend some great time with our dear friends, 
Aaron, Ashley and Ezra.




Our new neighbors, Janet and Josh, just had their first baby.

Welcome to Chicago, sweet Jackson!

This last month has been full of coffee dates and long conversations.
 
Babysitting and playing on the floor.

Dinner with friends.

It has been summer turning into fall.

It has been working out with Marifran and cherishing 
sweet moments of friendship.
 
It has been worshiping at Destination and loving our friends there.

I am so very thankful for life here in Chicago and the joy of journeying to Texas.

Life can be hard and so many I know are going through difficult things.

But always, in the midst of that, life is good because Jesus is good.

For that, I am so very thankful.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Musings ~ God with us

I had several things that I thought about pondering, but I felt the Lord nudge me toward my reading of Matthew 1 the other day. It is the beginning of the well known story of Jesus' birth.  It is so familiar to me that it is easy to skim over it and miss that detail that the Lord wants me to catch.  So . . . I forced myself to slow down and really. read. each. word.

 . . . and they will call His name Immanuel, which translated means, "God with us."

There it was, in the last half of verse 23.  Perhaps one of the most amazing truths that we have as a believer in Jesus but one that we often forget -- God with us.

It sounds so nonchalant -- by the way, His name will be . . . Immanuel (oh, and by the way it means, God with us.)

With us

Present

Walking among us

Living life beside us

Not distant

Not peeking at us from afar

Not a Creator unconcerned with His creation

A heavenly Father who chose and still chooses to enter into our world through Jesus - through the indwelling of His Spirit - to save us from an eternity of suffering - to give us life.

Perhaps today finds you

in despair

grieving

puzzled

joyful

hurting

confused

content

afraid

weary

overwhelmed

excited

looking forward

looking back

I don't know where you are today, but this I do know.

God is with us.

God is for us.

God loves us.

It is a remarkable truth that still amazes me every. single. day.

DON'T MISS IT.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Musings ~ An honorable man

Until last Thursday, my mother still had her 4 siblings.  They range from 98 to 79 (my Mom is the baby!)  They are a remarkable bunch -- Nell, Jean, Allen, Ruth and Ann.  Allen passed away last Thursday, just 9 days before his 90th birthday.  He had diabetes for many years and lived a long, remarkable life in light of that.  His obituary was filled with all of his accomplishments and acts of service.  He was a remarkable man by any measure.  I did not get to go down to Texas for his funeral.  I struggled with that all weekend but know that I can honor him and his memory wherever I am.



What an obituary can not cover is what he meant personally to so many people.  He was an amazing father - raising my wonderful, beautiful, amazing cousins - Leslie, Laurie and Meredith.  He was married for 65 years to my aunt Betty.  I have so many memories of spending time at their house growing up.  They lived on the same big lot of land that my grandparents lived on.  I could run from house to house.  I was always excited to see them all each time I was in Livingston.  He worked at the bank with my grandfather.  I loved to go to the bank and see them both.  They always welcomed me with open arms and made me feel very special and important.

My Uncle Allen always had time for me.  He wanted to know how I was doing and what I had been up to.  He genuinely cared about my life.  As an adult, I always looked forward to a chance to see him.  He had a remarkable memory and would ask me about specific things I was involved in that I had mentioned in a Christmas letter.  He would always make a point to encourage me in my spiritual walk.  He showed such joy at hearing about a mission trip, a class I was teaching or some way I was serving in my church.  He loved hearing about the things my girls were doing also.

He was a great story teller and his face would light up as he spoke about his travels, his family or something currently in the news.  He was interested in so many things.  Talking with him was always fascinating and fun.  He loved to laugh and he had eyes that danced.

He was one of the kindest people I have ever known.  He cared for others deeply and was always willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others.  He exemplified a life of service and made quite an impact on his hometown.

He suffered, physically, from the impact of diabetes.  To talk with him, you would have never known.  Eventually, you could see the problems that he had with his feet and legs, but his attitude and outlook on life remained joyful.  He was positive and upbeat, always.  He loved Jesus and that allowed him to trust his Savior with each day, always looking for the good.

He was beloved by his wife, daughters, son in laws, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  He was loved by his sisters, brother in laws, nieces, nephews and their children as well.  He will be sorely missed by all of us, but he leaves behind a legacy of hard work, laughter, faith, family and just a bit of mischief.

Thank you, Uncle Allen, for the great love you have shown me my entire life.  I love you and miss you already!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thursday's Thoughts ~ Test Yourself

Self assessment is an epidemic in our culture.  You can come across a test for just about anything you can imagine.  You can go to the gym for an assessment of your physical condition.  You can find tests to tell you what city or country you should live in, what career you should pursue and who you should date.  You can find out what actress or actor you most resemble and even what Disney tune is your lifesong.



But how often to we step back and assess our walk with Jesus?

"Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith.  Don't drift along taking everything for granted.  Give yourselves regular check ups.  You need first hand evidence, not hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you.  Test it out.  If you fail the test, do something about it."  2nd Corinthians 13:5-8 MSG

You could find yourself falling into legalism very easily . . . so don't go there!  Certainly looking at time spent with God, your prayer life, your giving and serving along with your obedience will be indicative of your relationship with Jesus, but as we know, those things can be present but perhaps not heartfelt. 

Have you ever been surprised when someone comes to you truly struggling and it seemed like all was well, even great?  I have!  I'm sure I have given the impression that I'm doing great also, even when I am not.

Paul exhorts us to test ourselves to make sure we are solid in the faith.  He warns us to not take this gift we have been given for granted (relationships need tending to!) and to not just drift along.

Drifting along is deceivingly dangerous.  It could look like (but not limited to!) just showing up at a church service or Bible study and listening to a message thinking, "that was nice," or getting through a  Bible reading just to check it off a list.  Perhaps you have missed a week or two or three of fellowship with other believers and the longer you stay out, the easier it is to drift away.

What if we ask ourselves  . . .

if Jesus is such a part of our lives that He is on our minds throughout the day?

if He is in on our decisions, conversations and Lord over our schedule?

if He frequently comes up in everyday conversations with others?

if we hunger and thirst for His Word?

if we love talking with Him about everything?

if we are looking to Him for direction continually?

if we are listening to His voice and obeying, even if it seems a bit crazy?

if we can't help but talk about Him because we love Him so?

It is a heart assessment as much as anything.  

Ask someone who lives every day life with you where they see Jesus in your life.

If you find that you are not where you desire to be, Paul tells us to do something about it.  Don't allow yourself to drift away ever so easily.

Take it before the Lord, first!  Confess that you have been drifting or taking His gift of salvation for granted.

Ask Him to draw you back to Himself.

Check on those spiritual disciplines and shake them up a bit.

Read scripture from a different version and/or read it out loud.  Write out your favorite passages and keep them with you.

Pray out loud and/or write your prayers down in a journal.

Serve!  Do something for somebody else.  Look for a neighbor that needs some help or encouragement.  Volunteer in your church.  Reinvent your every day tasks by remembering that everything you do can be done for Jesus' glory.

Give!  Stretch yourself.  Do the unexpected.  
Trust God with something scary.  Take a risk.

Tell someone else of your struggle and build in some accountability. 

Everyone struggles.

You are not going to freak someone out.

Step out in faith.

Dare to dream big dreams.

While we are assessing everything under the sun, 
let's not neglect the very thing that matters most!

Be encouraged.  God is for you.  He wants you to grow in your faith and in your love for Him and others.  You are not alone.  
He will honor the heart who seeks after Him.






Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A few thoughts ~ hope amidst devastation

What do we do with devastating news?  

What do we do when someone we love is hurting?  

What do we say when someone's world is rocked beyond their control?

A friend of mine if hurting today.  It has been going on for a little while but I just learned of it today and I am devastated for her.  

I don't like seeing someone I love . . . hurt.

Sometimes, the pain of this world just seems to be too much to bear.

Sometimes it seems that evil is winning and goodness is losing.

Hope seems distant at best 
and the crushing weight of the present situation looms large.

I can't fix it.

There really isn't much I can do to make it better.

So - what do I do?

I have to take it to the Lord.

Only He can make a difference.

Only He can move in hearts and minds in such a way as to 
change the course of events.

"The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord
He turns it wherever He wishes."  Proverbs 21:1

Only He can give wisdom.

"If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously
 and without reproach, and it will be given to him."  James 1:5

Only He can restore what is broken.

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and 
saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Psalm 34:18

"Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth.
Will you not be aware of it?  I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, 
rivers in the desert."
Isaiah 43:18-19


He is not unaware of our pain and suffering.
He inhabits it.

We are not alone.
He walks beside us.


To my sweet friend, I would say~

You are loved.

You are valuable.

You are beautiful in every way.

In Jesus, there is strength, hope, wisdom, joy and peace.

This story is not over.










Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday's Thoughts ~ Glory beyond all comparison

Blogging and being in TX just don't mix!  I have been having the best time this past week while staying with Ashley, visiting with Heather, holding sweet baby Cooper and hosting a baby shower for Ashley.  I have been able to see friends and family.  It has been an incredible week.  I am actually heading back to Chicago tomorrow morning.  I left there on May 29th!  Guess it is time to go home!

Time off from blogging does not equal time off from the Word!  I wanted to share my thoughts on some amazing scripture in 2nd Corinthians 4.

Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing in us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison while we look not at the things seen, for the things seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

I have always loved this passage.  It is so full of hope!  I have had 3 friends lose their fathers in the last couple of weeks.  It's true -- our earthly bodies are decaying. What this passage offers is perspective.

Physical pain and broken bodies are real.

Affliction and suffering are real (remember that these words are written by Paul as he refers to momentary and light affliction -- the man who was beaten, imprisoned, persecuted, nearly drowned and continually risked his life for the cause of Christ.)

But, Paul reminds us that this is not all there is.  No matter how bad things are, they are nothing in comparison to the eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison.

The here and now is temporary.

*Don't be fooled by what you see

*Don't be fooled by what you feel

How difficult it is some days to keep our eyes on the eternal 

to trust God's plans and the bigger picture 

to remember that we are here but a short time
and that eternity sprawls out before us

I get so caught up in the temporal
but I desire to live for the eternal

Do I trust God with all the temporary 
while walking with Him toward the eternal?

Do I really believe that there is more than the here and now?

Do I trust Him with the suffering, injustice and death around me?

Can I rest in His promise and provision for eternity?

We do not grieve as those with no hope.

He is good.

He is real.

He is eternal.

I will not lose heart.






Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thankful Thursday ~ Reflections on Colorado

I realize what a gift from the Lord and a privilege it is to spend the better part of 6 weeks in the mountains.  It has been a wonderful summer and I cherish each moment.  I can't sum it up any better than offering a few pictures of the highlights.

Mom and Dad's visit

So many deer this summer - absolutely beautiful!

Alan got to do a lot of fishing while he was here.

Surrounded by such incredible beauty.

Some stunning sunsets this year.

A visit from my beautiful, Ashely, and soon to be grandson!

A visit from Whitney.
Heather and precious baby Cooper!
This smile  . . .
Cooper and Heather

Vallecito Creek Trail

The sheer creative power of God.


My constant companion -- the Quinster!


It has been an amazing summer in every way.  I have loved the quiet and the noise!  I have loved some alone time and the company of family and friends.  I have soaked it up and I will save it up while I am away.  I am so very thankful for this place.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tuesday's Thoughts ~ Written on my heart

The Lord just has me in a tender place this morning.  I had an idea about something I wanted to write about, and He just completely changed it as I read 2nd Corinthians 3. 

You are a letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 
being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, 
cared for by us, written not with ink, 
but with the Spirit of the living God, 
not on tablets of stone 
but on tablets of human hearts.

Beside this passage in my Bible, I have written "the heart of ministry."  I think it is also the mystery of ministry.  The Lord places people in my life - whether they are family, neighbors, small group women, church friends, teachers, workout buddies or chance encounters that become friends and He writes their lives and their stories on my heart.  Those stories then are reflected in my own life.

It isn't casual - it isn't compartmentalized.  

It isn't a day at the office.

It is a caring that seeps into my heart and my bones.

The Spirit actually writes these names into my heart and soul.

Just as the 10 commandments were written by the finger of God on the stone tablets, these people are carved eternally into my heart.

It is wonderful and sometimes terrible.

It is filled with laughter, love, fun 
and tears, criticism and suffering.

It is exhilarating and disappointing.

It is hopeful and heartbreaking.

It is easy and it is hard.

It is joyous and painful.

It is natural and it is contrived.

It is free and it is costly.

It is smiles and proud moments and it is heartache and frustration.

It is athletic events, plays, choir concerts and 
rehabs, mental hospitals, planned parenthood and jails.

It is elation and the pit of despair.

It is being understood and misunderstood.

It is light and it is darkness.

The hope and mission is in verses 5, 6, 17 and 18.  
It is about the Spirit.  He is the source of our adequacy - not ourselves.

He gives life, freedom and transformation.

Ministry is life and life is not about me and it is not about you.

Life is about the Spirit.

Life is about Jesus and we get the privilege of entering into the wonderful, messy business of changed lives.

So many names are written on my heart over these last 37 plus years of the Lord inviting me to join in on His mission.

In the world's eyes, I certainly do not have a perfect record --- far from it!  In fact, it is pretty messy and I've made a lot of mistakes.  

But in that imperfect love, the Spirit has done some amazing things and there are many stories that are still being written.

Like initials carved in a tree, those imprints and even scars remain.  They are my treasure, my pain, my joy, my sorrow, my gift.



It is the core of who I am in Jesus and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thursday's Thoughts ~ Just read the directions




First Corinthians 16:13-14 is one of those jewels in Scripture where living life is summed up very succinctly.  We can make it very complicated when it is perhaps simpler than we think.

"Be on the alert, 
stand firm in the faith, 
act like men, be strong.  
Let all that you do be done in love."

Be on the alert.

Pay attention!  Certainly be on the alert for our true adversary.  We are told that he is always on the prowl. (1st Peter 5:8)
Be alert to the whispers, shouts and leading of the Holy Spirit.

Be alert for opportunities to love, serve, share, encourage and bless others.

Be intentional.

Stand firm in the faith.

I don't know when we have needed this more.  The pressure and temptation to be "less so" in our beliefs and actions is pervasive.  There is pressure to back off, fit in and shut up.  Jesus calls us to be kind but courageous.

Act like men.

Well, this is a little problematic for me!  In this context, I'm thinking it relates back to being alert and standing firm.  It is a call to step it up -- to live boldly and with purpose -- to be decisive and lead where God calls.

Be strong.

Boy, most days I feel weak, not strong, but the good news is that the Lord is mighty in my weakness.  So in those times, I need to be strong in my resolve to lean into His strength.  I rely on Him for the strength to be His woman in each and every situation.

Let all you do be done in love.

This is the umbrella over every thing that has been commanded here.  ALL is pretty ALL encompassing - isn't it?  How would my life change if I allowed this to always be my first thought - the filter that every word and action must go through before it takes place.

The Lord knows this is challenging.  In some ways, the other things seem easier, but without the love, they don't amount to much.  The heart of the gospel is love and only through the power of Jesus can we live that out.

I'm not that great with directions, but I want this passage to direct my steps each day.  I am thankful for the Word and how very down to earth with a heavenly touch it is.  I'm thankful that the Lord gives us direction and then gives us the power to follow it.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thankful Thursday ~ My BIG God

I was reading Psalm 57 this week and just had one of those huge sigh moments when you are overwhelmed by the enormity of God's love and care.  Be encouraged by our very BIG God.



He is seen in the details and in the big picture.


Psalm 57, verses 1-3

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me
(how desperately I am in need of your grace - apart from it I would be in big trouble!  I stumble around in my own struggles and sin - but your grace is bigger)

For my soul takes refuge in You 
and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge
(You are my safe place - I can crawl up in Your lap and You wrap Your arms around me.  I am safe and sheltered in Your shadow - protected and loved.)

I will cry to God most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.
(It is Him -- His might, His power, His plan, His strength!  He accomplishes all things for me - not just some things -- all things.  I can rest in that.  I can leave worry and stress behind.  I can trust in His plans and purposes. )

He will send from heaven and save me.
(Yep - I am that important to Him.  Seriously -- hard to wrap my mind around that one!  You are that important as well.    His eye is on you.  He is never negligent.  He is never late.  He is always for you.)

He reproaches him who tramples upon me.
(He has my back -- all the time.)

God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.
(What more could I need?)

My Grace Giver

My Refuge

My Safe Place

The One Who Accomplished All Things

My Defender

My Savior

I am thankful.



Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Musings ~ Every day is Thanksgiving




I've been reading through the Psalms and as I read through Psalm 50, I noticed a familiar theme.

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving. 
Psalm 50:14

He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me. 
Psalm 50:23

This Psalm addresses Israel's willingness to readily sacrifice bulls and goats, but neglect to do the very thing that God really wanted them to do -- have a thankful heart.

It is a good reminder that God does not need anything.  Everything belongs to Him.  He is not hungry or thirsty.  He is not looking for a need to be met.

He does, however, know what we need 
and in this case it was a sacrifice of praise.

It is not difficult to praise God when things are going well, although, we can forget to do so.  We can begin to think that we have achieved much ourselves.  We forget that every good gift comes from the Lord.  With that said, when things work out, go as we wished and come together, we find it easy to thank God.

During difficult times, we may instinctively turn to God, pleading for help, strength and peace.  It takes faith and trust to move beyond that place of pain to a place of thanksgiving and praise.

Psalm 51:17 says "The sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

Faith and trust are exercised in the midst of heartache and struggle

      in the midst of "I just don't understand this"

           in the midst of injustice

                in the midst of fatigue

                                      frustration

                                            difficulties 

                                                      and

                                                         confusion.

The ability to praise God in every circumstance actually lifts you up above it - where you will perhaps have a more accurate (if not heavenly) view of the situation.

Our praise and thanksgiving demonstrates our trust in a good, loving, all powerful, all knowing Father who is always for us -- continually forming His Son in us.

If only our most joyous moments and our moments of deepest despair would both direct us to look to God and offer Him praises of thanksgiving!

He draws near and we see Him more clearly.


And in that moment -- 
we become more like Jesus.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thankful Thursday ~ God's Majesty

I never cease to be amazed at the display of God's Majesty here in the mountains.  No matter how many times I trek down the Vallecito Creek Trail, I am in awe of the beauty of God's creation.  I am so thankful to have the chance to experience this and soak it in!  Here is a little thankful Thursday photo shoot.  You will see how God reveals Himself through what He has made!








They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

I tend to agree.

Have a blessed thankful Thursday!