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.

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 


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


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











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.


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.