Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year’s Eve Eve! I have been on the go all day long. I spent time with each of the kids today and ran some errands. I did not finish, but I hope to finish before I go back to school on Monday.

We are leaving again tomorrow for San Antonio to spend New Year’s Eve with our oldest friends. We will leave tomorrow morning and return sometime on Friday. You know Texas is so big that it takes almost as much time to get to San Antonio as it does to get to Memphis.

Psalm 148: 1 says, “Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the heights!” 2008 is rapidly drawing to a close. The Chrystie Family has had a difficult year. It has not always been easy to praise God. Health issues have been at the forefront of our thinking in the past year. But as a devotion I was reading today said, “Nothing is healthier than a heart filled with gratitude.” Even though our hearts are broken with the loss of our son and brother, Casey, we are grateful beyond words for Jesus being our Lord and Savior and God being our heavenly Father. We are grateful for the time we had with Casey, and even though he will never come to us again, we are assured by the risen Christ that we will go to him and see Casey again.

We are grateful for all of the Christ-like love by which we have been surrounded through the different communities of church, Kairos, Happening, Via de Cristo, Walk to Emmaus, school, work and most of all family and friends. I am so thankful for God’s Word and how important it has become in my life. I am grateful for prayer. I am grateful for mighty prayer warriors. I am grateful for the internet and Caring Bridge. I am so very grateful for all of you who wrote such encouraging and kind words while I journeyed on the Caring Bridge. You walked every step with our family and our way was made easier with the love and support of friends and family. When I get down about the events of the last year, I try to remember to count my blessings and I always remember to count all of you among them. You have helped me to take joy in this journey.

So my dear friends and might prayer warriors, Happy New Year. May the new year bring all of us new joys in the journey.

Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Monday, December 29, 2008

We had such a great visit with Dale and Gayle. Their warm, loving spirits made us feel right at home and made us all wish we lived closer to each other. It was hard to say good bye. We hope to be able to get back together again soon. Thanks to cell phones, computers, email, text messaging and something called Skype, we can stay far closer than in years past.

We made it home around dinner time tonight. So, I made dinner. We had a wonderful trip home. Geni drove most of the way and did a great job. I graded papers all the way home. I have only now to post them in my grade book. I plan that activity for our trip to San Antonio on Wednesday. Our oldest friends, Carme and Dave Russell, Casey’s godparents, live there. We spent many of our years of early marriage each New Year’s Eve together playing games and toasting in the New Year. We are looking forward to spending time with them once again. On this trip, Geni has to work and Travis will go with us. I hope there is a trip to the Riverwalk on Thursday, our anniversary. I love the Riverwalk. We will come home Friday sometime. We have never travelled so much during a holiday. I am glad I do not lead this life all of the time. I love our family and our friends so very much, but I also love being at home too.

John 21:12 says, “…they knew it was the Lord.” The other day I was in Target with Geni and Travis. They were shopping and I was reading a magazine in the snack area. While I was reading, some friends I had not seen in a long time came up to me and said, “Gaylene?” I looked up and it was Les and Donna Abbott. We used to be neighbors across the street from each other. They had not seen me since I lost weight and stopped coloring my hair, which is why they did not recognize me at first. I looked up and smiled and then they knew it was me. We had a wonderful visit.

The disciples were in mourning. Just days before, their master had been brutally murdered on a cross. They were His followers. They were grieving and were in fear for their lives. And then they learned that Jesus had risen from the dead. They were experiencing fear, joy, disbelief and a whole range of emotions. So they decided to go fishing. Maybe working would help them sort all of this out. They sent Peter out in the boat and the rest remained on shore. The fishing had been pretty poor and suddenly a stranger appeared on the shore. This stranger told them to cast their nets again. As you know in this story, the catch was “miraculous.” The stranger stayed among them and did not speak. The disciples did not know Him until He sat with them around the fire and He broke the bread. The disciples saw His hands and they knew it was Jesus. They recognized Jesus in something as familiar as the breaking of the bread. They had watched Him break bread so many times. Can you imagine their emotions now? Here was their master in their presence sitting down to dinner just as He had so many times before.

God comes to us in the body of Jesus. We are called, “the body of Christ.” We are Christ to those are around us. How is Christ recognized in each of us? Christ can be recognized in a smile to someone who needs a lift. Christ can be seen in us when we visit someone who is ill and alone. Christ can be seen in us when we take Eucharist to someone who cannot be in worship. Christ can be recognized when we help someone we know or we help a stranger. We don’t have to quote scripture or invite them to church (even thought there is nothing wrong with either of those things!). We just have to be open to the leading of Christ and share Him with others. As Bruce so eloquently says and practices each day, “Preach Christ everyday. Use words if necessary.”

Take joy in the journey my friends. Love you, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.
Greetings from Memphis

Today we went to Elvis Presley Blvd and I went souvenir shopping. We had our picture taken in front of those famous music gates at Graceland. We had a fun time. Dale and Gayle’s children left to visit friends in Indiana today. They will be gone for the next four days so Dale and Gayle will be empty nesters for the next few days as we will be leaving in the morning for home. We ask that you pray travel mercy for all of us.

Luke 2:40 says, “the little child grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s goodness was upon Him.” As parents of a growing family one of the realities is that our children will grow and leave our nest. Geni is half-way through her college studies and Travis is a senior in high school. We have watched them grow since they were born. We have taught them many things. The most important lessons we have hopefully taught them are the lessons of distinguishing right from wrong, making good choices, being responsible citizens and most important keeping God first in their lives and treating others with kindness and acceptance.

With Bruce and I being 5’ 7” and 5’ 2” respectively that whole stature thing may not work out.(Lol) As we prepare for them to spread their wings and fly and live their own lives we pray that these lessons have been taught well enough that they will be successful, caring, responsible, happy people who have a heart for God and for His people. We knew that our children would not always live with us, as much as we love them and love being with them we know we must let them go so they may spread their wings and fly.

God came to earth as a person and lived with us for a while. Jesus experienced all of the emotions sadness to gladness, despair to joy and success and disappointment. God experienced all of these things through the life of Jesus. God knew what life on earth was like because of the life of Jesus. God did not stay a safe distance from us. God was no longer an observer of the lives of the people He loved, He became flesh and dwelt among us. God became one of us so He could not only live among us as one of us, but to be the model of the Godly life to us. Jesus paid the greatest price of all to be with us. He came to earth and grew up with a family in a community. He went to temple, went to Hebrew school and learned the Holy Scriptures. As Jesus grew, God blessed Him with His wisdom and His goodness.

What are we teaching our children? Our time to teach our children is limited. Have we taught them the Holy Scriptures, the creeds, the Lord’s Prayer and the practices of regular worship? Have we modeled the Godly life for our children? We must seek out God as we journey through the years we have and ask for guidance as we lead our children to follow Christ in their own lives after they no longer live with us. These are the things God calls us to do as parents.

What a journey we are on friends! Take joy in the journey (even when it is hard).

Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Greetings from Memphis.

We have had a wonderful day here in Memphis. My wonderful sister-in-law celebrated her 50th birthday today. She works in a veterinary clinic and is so great with all of the animals and their parents. I have watched her at home with her two dogs and two cats and today she fed treats to all of her animals and the neighbor’s animals. They loved “Mama Gayle” coming to give them a treat and just tell them how much she loves them. My brother-in-law Dale is a cyclist and rode a mere 57 miles today and all of it between the hours of 7:30 am and noon. Teague, our nephew, picked up his girlfriend at the airport today and we got to meet her. Chloe is a lovely girl. We have enjoyed getting to know her. Geni and Taryn and all of the family spent the day enjoying hanging out together. We have spent time late night talking and getting caught up. Graceland is planned for tomorrow. We are not going inside, just to the gates and to a souvenir shop or two.

Galatians 4:6 says, “Since you are God’s children, God sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, and the Spirit cries out, “Father.”

Scripture tells us that God sent Jesus to the earth and placed in Him His spirit. God placed in Jesus His very essence. “The Spirit became flesh and dwelt among us.”

God also placed in Jesus His plan and His will. Jesus knew that God was His Father. When Jesus needed guidance He called upon His heavenly Father. When Jesus needed comfort He called upon His heavenly Father. And when Jesus needed confirmation of His mission and knew He had to walk the road to the cross, Jesus cried out, “Abba, Father…”

God gives us, His children on earth, the same opportunity. God loves us so much that He places in us, by faith, His spirit. We can call on the power of the Holy Spirit at any time. When we call to the Father in faith and prayer, God listens because we are His children. Jesus cried out to God, His heavenly Father, in the garden of Gethsemane. His physical body would lose its strength as the days leading up to the crucifixion would prove. But the Holy Spirit, God’s pure essence still remained intact.

Remember that we are children of the King of Love. God has given us His Holy Spirit and we can call on Him anytime just as a child would call out to their parents in times of trouble. Remember when you were a youngster and you fell and scraped your knee? All you wanted was Mom or Dad to comfort you, clean you up, place a Band-Aid on the wound and hold you for just a bit until the pain went away. You believed that your parents would be there to care for you. God does the same for us when we call on Him. God is faithful to come to us when we call and meet our needs, all because we call Him, “Abba, Father.”

Take joy in the journey friends. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Greetings from Memphis.

Good morning (very early, it’s about 1:00 am). We had a wonderful trip to Memphis with only one stop at Wal-Mart. I forgot my toothbrush. I, who remind everyone to pack their toothbrushes; forgot mine. Oh well! Geni drove from Sulpher Springs nearly all the way across Arkansas. She did a super job. Bruce drove the last hour and a half or so.

We were greeted warmly by Dale, Gayle, Teague and Taryn. Tomorrow we will celebrate Gayle’s 50th birthday. She says no more after this one!! We will also get to meet Teague’s girlfriend, Chloe. I am in hopes of a brief visit to Graceland and a photo op in front of the music gates as well as a trip to a souvenir shop while we are in the area.

Isaiah 61:10 says, “The Lord makes me very happy; all that I am rejoices in my God. He has covered me with clothes of salvation and wrapped me with a coat of goodness, like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding like a bride dressed in jewels.” Ladies do you remember how it felt to be a bride? Gentlemen, do you remember how it felt to be a groom? I remember how it felt to be a bride. I remember waiting for Daddy in the bride’s room. I remember hearing the music and my heart beginning to race. I remember thinking that in just a few moments I would belong to Bruce forever; until death do us part. I remember feeling beautiful in the wedding dress designed by me and fashioned by my beloved Mamo. I remember Daddy placing my hand in Bruce’s hand and knowing that this was the right relationship and, even though being a bit nervous, I was at peace because I was with one with whom I would spend the rest of my earthly life. Bruce chose me and I chose him and we, for almost 28 years (in just a few more days) choose each other again each day. I remember the feeling of total happiness and joy.

Who brings happiness and joy to the heart of God? Who does God find as beautiful? Who has captured the heart of God? He did not choose His creation to bring joy to Himself. He did not create angels to be happy about. God’s heart is captured by each of us. He finds beauty in us when He finds the life of His Son being lived each day. He rejoices in the creation of new life in Christ when someone turns away from sin and chooses a life with Christ in their heart. God’s heart is happy and the angels rejoice when we are clothed by His grace in the robe of righteousness and we wear the crown of victory - when we surrender ourselves to the love and faithfulness of Christ our Lord.

My friends, walk down the aisle and meet Jesus. Clothe yourself in the contrite heart of one who has received salvation. God will clothe you the robe of righteousness and in His goodness. Jesus is waiting to take your hand and place it into the hand of the Father. God chooses us first. Let us choose Him every day.

Take joy in the journey dear friends. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Day to you all! May the birth of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ bring you great joy today and in the days to come.

I was the first one up this morning. I prepared a fresh coffee cake, scrambled eggs and sausage and then awakened the family. We opened our gifts, ate and readied ourselves for the trip to Mom and Dad’s.

Our day was spent with Mom, Dad, Ken, Sheena and the girls and my Uncle Gene and Aunt Imogene (when I was little I always thought that was so cool how they did that with their names.) We had a delicious lunch and a wonderful time together. After lunch we played bingo. It has become our tradition to play games after Christmas lunch and we had a great time. I must admit that there was a conspicuous absence of Casey. My heart missed him so much today.

John 1: 14 says, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” There were times today in which I felt I was just going through the motions of “doing” Christmas. I always love being with my family. I love seeing my parents, brother and his family and extended family. I love my own family so much and treasure every moment I am allowed to spend with them. I love the cooking. I love the wrapping. I love the music and the movies. And yet this year my heart was sad.

God did not “do” Christmas. He became Christmas. He became the Word made flesh and then he dwelt among us. He did not arrive in this world in a fancy hospital, or even a nice warm home, but in a lowly manger. Born in lowly surroundings and visited by humble shepherds. Jesus, His mother and father were not surrounded by royalty or the rich, but were visited by a bunch of shepherds. And God knew that even on this most blessed and sacred of nights that all roads now lead to the cross.

I praise God that He did not and does not go through the motions of loving us. God does not “do” love. God is love. God sent this precious child so that we could sing tidings of great joy. For unto us was born a savior, a savior who would bring light into the hearts of those who were walking in darkness.

Everyone experiences loss at some time or another. I am assured that God is with us in our sorrows and in our joys. God, through His Son, Jesus, surrounds us with His love and tender mercies all of the time. I miss Casey sometimes so much that it almost takes my skin off. But I know that the same God in whom Casey sees face to face is the same God who loves us enough to send Jesus to show how much He loves us.

Merry Christmas, my dear friends. I love you all.

Take joy in the journey. Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

PS We are leaving for Memphis, Tennessee in the morning and will be back on Monday. We are going to visit Bruce’s brother, Dale, and his family. Pray travel mercy for us. Geni will be travelling with us and Travis will remain here as he has to work. We will miss Travis on this trip. My next writings will be from Memphis. Have a great week. Take care as you hit the mall and Wal-Mart for the great sales and returns.

Love you, Gaylene.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.
Happy Christmas Eve! Has your day been as busy as mine? We made two trips to Wal-Mart. I finished the cooking and am ready to place it into ice chests and take it to Mom and Dad’s tomorrow. All the packages are wrapped and under the tree and placed in the stockings. I must admit that looking over at the mantle and seeing four stockings hanging makes me sad, sad, only because there are not five. But I give thanks that there are four. I am remembering to count my blessings. Bruce, Geni and Travis are my blessings. The stocking that are hanging are the ones we used in Casey’s room in Houston last Christmas.

We went to 8:00 worship tonight at Advent. Bruce played handbells at the end of the service and Geni and Travis were with us. It was a wonderful service. Lots of families and very excited children begging to go home and get to bed “uncharacteristically early” to await Santa’s arrival.

The opening song was O Come, All Ye Faithful. That song always gives me lump in my throat, but tonight it brought me to tears as we sang the third verse. I have sung that song a gozillion times, but tonight the third verse rang out; “Sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation, Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above.” Casey is singing in heaven tonight as one of its newest citizens. He is singing gory to God, glory in the highest. Geni with tears in her eyes whispered to me, “Mom, we are singing to Casey because He is in heaven with Jesus having Christmas.” Casey is in the highest place there is. He sings at the feet of the Father with that voice that was so excellent here on earth and now that voice is heavenly.

The story from Luke the second chapter is the traditional Christmas story we have all grown up hearing. I love hearing it every year. In case you need to look up the verses, it is Luke 2:1-20. Tonight Pastor Joel preached tonight on miracles. The birth of Jesus was a miracle. Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and became pregnant with the Son of God. Angels spoke with Joseph and told him to stay with Mary for the child she was carrying was one so special that not only was Mary chosen to bear and mother this child, God had chosen him, Joseph to be the earthly father of Jesus. But then a revelation came to me. (Realizing I am probably the last one to think about this.) Jesus was born of a miracle and He also died and resurrected as a miracle. Jesus came into this world the natural way babies are delivered, but He was not conceived in a natural way. Jesus, when it came time to die, died a horrible death. His body took all of the punishment this world could dole out until His body could no longer take the punishment, but then a miracle happened. He was resurrected by the will of His heavenly Father. Jesus came into this world by the will of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit and left this world in the same fashion. In Spirit He came and in Spirit He returned.

The best miracle of all is how much God loves us. He loves us so much, that after Jesus went to heaven to spend eternity with the Father, God sent back the love of Jesus to all of us in the transforming, loving power of the Holy Spirit so we can have the love of Jesus with us forever. I find it totally miraculous that it all started with a tiny baby in a manger and a God who loves us to much that He wants to live with us always. I wish you all Merry Christmas. May the babe of Bethlehem be born once again in our hearts this Christmas.

Take joy in the journey friends. Love you, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Christmas Eve, Eve!! Can you believe tomorrow is Christmas Eve? I am preparing the turkey for our family Christmas dinner this year. I found a new recipe that calls for onions, carrots, celery, apples, oranges, lemons, a variety of herbs and some garlic. You rest the turkey on the fruit and vegetables in the roasting pan and stuff the cavity with the fruit and vegetables. Then you make an herbed butter and rub in on the meat of the turkey not on the skin. I then poured a bottle of white wine in the pan and it is OMG good. Last year we ate the lunch prepared by the volunteers at MD Anderson Hospital.

Deb Koplen update: She had a chemotherapy treatment yesterday. It is her second treatment. She will have scans in about three weeks to see where she stands in terms of the cancer. She has been moved to Kindred Rehab Hospital. She is in Rm. 301 B. Geni and Travis went to the hospital and gathered all of the decorations from her room and took them to her new room across the street. They stayed and decorated the room. Miss Deb now has her pictures of Miss Chips, her beloved dog and all of her other homey fashions. The room looks really awesome. Go by and see her and the room if you get a minute. She loves visitors and a tall caramel macchiato from Starbucks if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

Hebrews 8: 11 says, “…for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest.” I spent a portion of my theology paper identifying who God was. As Christmas Eve is upon us I can identify God in the person of Jesus Christ; God in the flesh. Emanuel, God with us. And to whom did God announce the birth of His Son? He announced the blessed birth to a bunch of shepherds. Simple shepherds, doing their job, “keeping watch over their flocks by night”. Shepherds and sheep don’t get a holiday. And the angel chorus announced to them that a savior was born in Bethlehem. And then who else got the pronouncement? The kings from the east who followed the star also came to the Christ child. The lowly to the great come to know Christ.

I think most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. I am not a shepherd and I am not a king/queen. But I am Gaylene, child of God and daughter of the King of Love. God came to reconcile all the world unto Himself. He came for the lowly and the great and all in between. So if we are children of God that makes us brother to Christ. We are a part of quite a family!

God came to earth in the body of Christ so that all could know Him. Scripture does not say He came for some or a few or just the ones in a certain geographical area, but He came for ALL so that we might know Him. So tomorrow as you are preparing for the joy of Christmas, remember why and Whom we celebrate this wonderful season. When you look upon the gifts under your tree, remember Whom we adore, Whom we worship and Who came for ALL; Christ the Lord.

Take joy in the Christmas journey. See you in worship tomorrow night. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.
Happy Monday! On the first day of Christmas break my true love brought to me…a cup of coffee in bed. I spent the first hour or so of my holiday break sipping coffee quietly in our bed and watching Matlock. The kids were asleep and Bruce had to go to Tyler. So I had a few moments of quiet time to myself. Those moments were short lived, but very enjoyable.

I spent the next part of my day visiting our friend Deb Koplen. She is having her second chemotherapy treatment today. I took her a caramel macchiato form Starbucks and to my surprise her beautiful red locks had been shaved off and she was proudly sporting a new “do.” I scouted around and found her a turban like head cap and she looked simply smashing. Deb seems to be back to her bossy order giving self and it was nice to have her back after being so confused for so long. Her confusion reminded me so much of the times when Casey had chemo brain and had hallucinations. He always told me (after reassuring me he never took acid) that these hallucinations were what he thought acid trips must be like. He said the dreams were really awful. The doc has written orders for her to go to Kindred Rehab Hospital across the street. I think the decision is insurance driven. Anyway she still is in need of our prayers and visits. I will let you know when the move takes place.

I finished up Christmas shopping today. I also(figuratively) hit some brick walls today. It was an emotional day and I had to just keep walking forward and keeping my task in front of me. Between the mall and Target I cratered. As I was driving I asked God to heal my broken heart and help me find some joy somewhere. I began to count my blessings and by the time I got to Target, I was better. Not healed, but better. Travis invited two of his good friends over for dinner tonight. It was fun to have both Geni and Travis and their friends around the table tonight. It brought the joy I was seeking to my heart. Tomorrow I plan to roast a turkey for Thursday lunch, wrap gifts and go shopping with Geni and Travis.

Luke 1: 49 says, “For the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name.” I debated as to whether to share this moment with you tonight, but here goes. As I was leaving the hospital I stopped by the nurses’ station for a moment and looked down at the other end of the counter. There I saw a young man probably in his mid-twenties with short blond hair, husky build, wearing glasses, about 5’10-11’ and smiling. I called to Wendy, the charge nurse, to “come here!!”She quickly got up and I asked her to look at the young man. Her response was “Oh my gosh!” I then asked Penny, another nurse, to do the same and I thought she was going to faint. This young man was an ambulance driver there to pick up a patient and take them to radiation. He could have been Casey’s twin. It was such an emotional experience for me and it affected me for the remainder of the day.

I think it was this event that perhaps caused me when I was so upset between the mall and Target, to count my blessings. I began by thanking God for His Son. I gave thanks for the blessing of Jesus and the cross and not only covering my sins, but covering my sorrows and blessing me with great joy even when I have trouble finding joy, too. I gave thanks for the family who raised me; who loved me with unconditional love so that I would always feel secure in not only the love of a family, but to have a glimpse of what God’s love is like and to be able to always count on that love no matter what life throws at me. It was the love of God in my family expressed daily throughout my life as a young person and now as I am older and have a family of my own that taught me to love the family God gave me to raise with that same love. I gave thanks for Bruce and the courage he displays each day as he works with people and their homes and how he prays before each home he enters that he will be able to help them and that it will be a peaceful equitable experience. I gave thanks for Geni and Travis and the joy they bring to me. How I give thanks each time they come home or even walk into a room. They will never understand the depth of love and pride I take in each of them until they have children of their own. I am so proud of each of them and they are becoming the most amazing young adults as each one is beginning to find their way in this world. I pray they each look to God for guidance and ask Him for direction in their lives. By now I arrived at Target, wiped my eyes and braved the cold.

Do you suppose these are questions Mary pondered in her heart? Do you suppose Mary had any clue as to the fate of her Son? Do you suppose as she held her Son in those first few hours that she and the child that she delivered would also deliver her and the world? Those last words are from a song written by Mark Lowry called, Mary Did You Know? In the verse from Luke, the words are from Mary. She glorifies God as she is an unwed pregnant mother who courageously follows God’s will for her life and for the life she carries. In her despair over the situation she counts her blessings even when it is hard.

Count your blessings my friends. Hug your babies no matter how old they are and visit someone who cannot be at home for Christmas. Love you all so much, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Blessed Sunday to you all! I hope your time in worship today was anointed. Today Pastor Joel preached a wonderful sermon. The Praise Team sang a beautiful Chinese Carol titled “Who Would Send a Baby?” And we spent the evening decorating the Christmas tree. We located the ornaments and as they were being hung we each talked about our favorites. We remembered who gave them to us or where and the circumstances in which they came into our possession. There are all of the ornaments the kids made growing up in school that have their names and dates on the back. Great memories and the new ornaments of Elvis, a snowman that Travis received from Carter Blood Care for successfully donating his first pint of blood and a coffee cup ornament were added to the collection. Our tree never has a theme or looks very organized. We were married on New Year’s Day 1981. There was a bridal luncheon given for me and the gift was a Christmas ornament from each guest. That is how our collection got started. We have ornaments from Harry Potter and Hagrid to Elvis to angels and snowmen. Tomorrow we will get down the stockings and the tree skirt and the tree will be complete except for presents under the tree and they will appear soon. The crèche is on the mantle and we are getting closer to being ready for Christmas.

Luke 1:27 says, ‘For nothing will be impossible with God.” As we get closer to Christmas my thoughts often find their way to Mary. Ladies, can you imagine being Mary. First, she is really young and engaged to a man older than her. Then she is met by an angel who tells her she will be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and she will bear the Son of God. And then she has to tell her family this completely remarkable story.

In those times town’s people would ostracize or even kill those women who had babies out of wedlock. But Mary, after she collected herself and “got her bearings,” proclaims the greatness of God and surrenders to His will. The angel tells her to believe that nothing is impossible with God. Another angel tells a group of shepherds to “fear not” they were bringing good tidings of a great joy that a baby had been born in a stable in Bethlehem.

Mary did not conceive Jesus by the ordinary way, but in an extraordinary way. But Jesus was born in a stable, not a hospital, or a hotel room or even at home with her mother to help. It was just she and Joseph and God in that stable to bring that precious life into the world. I am reminded of a story about a young couple who were expecting their first child. It happened to be a pastor and his wife. He was determined not to be in the delivery room when the time came. He lost that battle and as he watched his wife struggle after hours of labor to bring their child into the world it suddenly occurred to him that here was a woman who was laying down her life so that another might have life. Do you suppose he thought at that moment after the pain a bleeding had stopped that he thought about the words of the Eucharist that say, “this is my body given for you?”

And 2000 years ago a young couple in a far less attractive place delivered their first child. Joseph under ordinary circumstances would not have been with Mary at the point of delivery, she would have been attended by her mother and a mid-wife. But this was no ordinary birth; Joseph did attend his wife and helped to bring Jesus into the world. And as Joseph watched his very young wife struggle through labor pains and finally deliver this precious child, do you suppose he thought, here is one who is laying down her life that another might have life? Did he think of his wife, “This is my body given for you?”

The life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph would never be easy. Our lives are seldom easy, but when difficult situations arise God tells us in His Word that all things are possible with God. Claim the promise of God. As Pastor Joel told the children today during Children’s time, “If God broke His promises then He wouldn’t be God.” Have unwavering hope in God for all things are possible with God.

Take joy in the journey my dear friends. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Saturday! We have a tree! It is still on the front porch waiting to be decorated tomorrow after the kids get home from work. We went to the Wall Tree Farm somewhere around Terrell. The hay wagon took us out to where the trees ready for cutting were and we walked around looking and talking a deciding on just the right tree. Geni called to us when she found a tree that was not too tall, not too fat, fairly straight and would hold lots of ornaments. We all agreed. Travis took the saw and cut down the tree. I think Geni even hollered, "Timber!" The tree farm had free coffee and cider and we had a great time.

Great news!! Allen High School Eagles are the 5-A State Champions!! We are so proud and excited for Ken and the football team!! Way to go Eagles!

I am preparing to teach our Sunday School class tomorrow morning with my own reflection on the 23rd Psalm. So tonight's journal is from an email I received today. In the hustle and bustle of this day and in the few days to come remember who really started Christmas. We love you all.

Take joy in the journey and see you in worship. Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

"Who Started Christmas"

A woman was Christmas shopping with her two children. After hours of walking down row after row of toys and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on the shelves, she finally made it to the store elevator with her two children in hand.

She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time of the year, getting that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and threats, making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.

Finally, the elevator doors opened revealing a crowd in the elevator.
She pushed her way in and dragged her two children and all her bags of stuff with her. As the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore and blurted out, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot."

From the back of the car, a quiet calm voice responded,

The rest of the trip down was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

Don't forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all would, just think how much better this world would be.

Jesus is the reason for the season!

Merry Christmas!
Happy Friday!! We made it to Friday at 3:00. After a full week of very excited first graders and then a day of extremely excited first graders, at 3:15 my classroom was quiet. I wished each and everyone a Merry Christmas and numerous times of telling them that they had at least two weeks off and that they were not returning to school on Monday, my break officially began. I, with the wonderful help of Stephanie Burns, loaded up my car and headed east to 811 Austin St.

We got some exciting news today. Travis text messaged me today at school and announced that he had been named to the first team, all district football team. I was so excited. District coaches nominate and vote on the players named to the team. We are so proud and very happy for Travis.

Also, speaking of football... My brother Ken, the superintendent of schools in Allen, Texas (I so love telling people this even if they have heard it a bunch of times) will be travelling to Houston to watch the Allen Eagles play for the state 5-A football championship. We are so proud of Ken and support the Allen Eagles. Go! Allen Eagles and travel mercy to all who attend the game. I also pray safety for all of the players on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

I got an A on my theology final. I was so excited. I have a chance of making an A in the class if I did well on my final paper. The grade for my final paper has not as yet been posted.

Psalm 144:15 says, “Happy are they whose God is the Lord.” Christmas is less than a week away. Are you ready? I get asked this question several times per day. My answer is, “no.” I don’t have a tree and have not bought a gift. But as I ponder this question on a different level, I re-ask myself the question; Am I ready for Christ+mass? I think I am more ready for the Christ child than I am ready for presents, a tree and cooking. The angels remind us that God is with us all of the time. We stress and purchase and bake and roast and wrap and stamp and mail to prepare for a day on the calendar. God wants us to prepare our hearts for His coming into our lives and into the world. God wants us to be prepared to live a life with Him everyday on this earth. So I ask you, “Are you ready?” Are you ready to receive the Christ child into your heart? Are you ready for this Child of wonder to grow Himself in you? Are you ready for this Child of Light, this Holy One to be the light in your life and then let Him shine in you and through you so that He truly becomes the light of the world? Is Christ the center of your Christmas preparation? Just some thoughts.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Thursday! Four down and one to go!! The week before the winter holiday break is always taxing and I think we are all, teachers, students, administrators, custodial staff and all school personnel, are ready for a break. Please pray for all teachers as we work very hard to stay calm on a day that is anything but calm!

We are looking forward to Saturday and finally getting a tree. And maybe just a bit of Christmas spirit. We are also planning to take a brief trip to Memphis, Tennessee to see Bruce’s brother and his family. So far, Bruce, Geni and I have cleared our schedules to accommodate the time frame needed for the trip, but as yet, Travis has cleared all but one day. I hope he can get his shift covered so he can make the trip with us.

Psalm 89:2 says, “I declare that your steadfast love is established forever,…” No matter what, God loves us. He established His love in many ways, but during the season of Advent, He established His love in the birth of Jesus. Jesus was born in humble surroundings and died in difficult circumstances. Remember who Jesus came for? He came for the poor, the outcast, the down trodden and for me, a sinner. He came for those in need of a savior. God’s love is never changing. His love is the same now as it was 2,000 years ago. If you or I had been the only person to ever grace the planet, then God would have still loved us enough to send Jesus to die for us. God loves us as much as He loves Jesus. Wow!! That is a lot of love.

Now that we know that God loves us so much and His steadfast love is established in us, our responsibility is to love others. God came to earth in the form of the babe in the manger, an unlovely place to show that His love goes to the lowest, unlovliest places of all. His love went from the manger to the cross; the journey of a lifetime.

As we rapidly approach the end of Advent and draw closer to the new birth on Christmas morning, let us have new birth in our own lives and love others as God loves us. May the love of the Christ child be born again in our hearts in this season of love and joy. The journey of a lifetime indeed!! Love and joy come to you…Take joy in the journey.

Love you all so much, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Wednesday!! Three down and 2 to go!! The kids are getting more antsy and more talkative by the moment. Please pray for all teachers and their schools everywhere. Believe me, we need it!!

We had Blue Grass worship at Advent tonight led by the Little Road Revival. It was really great. There were two guitarists, a mandolin player, a fiddle player, a banjo player and a harmonica player. They played and sang some traditional Christmas carols as well as some unfamiliar pieces. All were just wonderful.

Revelation 7:11-12 says, “All the angels were standing around the throne…saying, “Amen! Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honor, power and strength belong to our God forever and ever.” Do you suppose heaven celebrates Christmas? This morning in my prayer time I actually asked this question. I haven’t received an answer as yet, but I began to think that the residents of heaven must just praise God all of the time. But angels are God’s special created beings. Angels are messengers of God. It was an angel that announced gave the news to Mary that she was to bear the Christ child. It was the power of the Holy Spirit overshadowing her that transformed Mary from a maiden in Nazareth to the mother of God. It was a choir of angels that announced His birth. It was an angel that told Sarah that she would have a child in her later years.

When angels announce things to us they see the awe or disbelief on our faces. And when angels see the face of God they must be so humbly awed because when they see the face of God they know He is Lord of all. When angels see the face of God in all of His glory they bow down and worship Him. Angels see God in all of His beauty. Now they could look down and see amazing beauty in God’s creation, but they choose to focus their eyes on the glory of God. Do you suppose they looked down into a stable long ago and saw God as they had never seen Him before? They saw God as a baby.

They announced his birth to humble shepherds. What did the shepherds do? The shepherds left their flocks, went to the stable lit by a star and worshiped this precious life. Have you ever noticed that angels are never quiet? They are always singing, talking, announcing or annunciating about something. It is the job of an angel to be a messenger of God.

What is our job? Could we take a lesson from the angels? Our job may not be to sing, or announce, or annunciate about miraculous births, but it is our job to tell others that Jesus Christ has been born again in our lives and how the Holy Spirit has transformed our lives. We need to tell others how we are not perfect, but we are forgiven. We need to tell others about God’s grace and tender mercies. We need to tell others that (quoting Corrie Ten Boom) “No pit is so deep that His love is not deeper still.” And tell those who do not know that Jesus could have been born again a thousand times in Bethlehem, but unless He is born again once in our hearts then it is all for naught. We cannot be angels here on earth, but we can do the job of angels when we keep our eyes focused on the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Take care and stay warm friends and take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Tuesday! Baby, it’s cold outside!! And tomorrow it is supposed to get to 50 degrees. Go figure! I guess Daddy was right. The weather does change rather rapidly in Texas.

Two days down and three to go. Today we studied Christmas traditions from Germany. We talked about how the Christmas tree came from Germany and the origin of tinsel. I love teaching about where different traditions originated and how we have incorporated them into our own holiday celebrations. This year I think we are going to cut down our own tree from a Christmas tree farm and we will see how we progress from there.

Acts 4:4 says, “But many of those who heard the Word believed; and they numbered about 5000.” Last spring I was taking a “History of Christianity” course at Brite. We were studying the first half of Christian history dating from the early church up to but not including the Reformation. Anyway were discussing the martyrs and the persecution of the Christians during the time of the early church. There were members of the class who asked why Christianity continued to flourish and grow even though so many were being killed for their belief in Jesus and refused to bow to a man- made emperor declaring himself to be divine. My response to the question was, “well, we have the only God who came back”. There was a large silence in the room. Then, they actually asked what I meant. I replied, “Jesus was resurrected from the dead and empowered by the Holy Spirit”. There was another large silence.

I love the phrase, “But many of those who heard the Word… Is the Word amazing or what? Every day in my prayers I give thanks to God for His Word and what it has come to mean in my life. But as the first chapter of John says, “In the beginning was the Word…” God has always been present. I give thanks for God and His place in my life. God is there in times of celebration and in times of deepest sorrow. God is unchanging and unmoving. Once He enters your life He is there for keeps. But in order for God to be a part of our lives we must hear the Word. God gives the Word of invitation. God is polite and knocks first and waits to be invited. The Word that is given is “child of God I love you. You are my sons and daughters and I welcome you into the family of God.”

Let’s look at the verse in John 1; “In the beginning…” God was there at the beginning of the world. God was at the beginning of our lives and God was at the beginning of our faith. When God enters our lives He gives us the gift of faith. Faith is our connector to God. It is through faith in God that we can get through the most difficult of times and the deepest sorrows of our lives.

The loss of our son, Casey, to cancer could have completely broken our faith. In fact we have friends who do not understand why we still worship and love God in the shadow of the death of Casey. Their faith has been shaken. Yes, we hurt beyond words because of losing our son. Yes, we miss him terribly. The grief and sorrow is sometimes so deep that it almost takes our skin off. We do not have a moment waking or sleeping that does not have Casey in it. But, we also have the assurance that Casey is with God and lives in the perfect light of God’s love. Casey no longer has cancer. Casey’s last complete sentence to me was, “Mom, I just want to stand up.” Well, now he stands in the presence of God perfectly healed from all of the disease of this world. Casey is happy.

The promise of the Holy Spirit is there in spite of the seemingly insurmountable problems we face daily. As Bruce always says, “Gaylene, the sun will rise in the morning.” Well, guess what? The Son rose in the morning some 2000 years ago making it possible for our faith and assurance to grow like those early Christians.

Take joy in the journey of faith giving thanks for the rising of the sun each morning and the rising of the Son in our hearts each day.

Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Monday! Wow! What a change in the weather! Yesterday I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt with the doors open and enjoying the balmy air. And then this morning I was scurrying around trying to find a sweater, scarf and warm jacket! My daddy always said, “If you don’t like the weather in Texas just wait a little while and it will change.” It began to sleet while I was outside grilling tonight. Geni was working in Denton tonight and we really worried as she was going to have to drive home after 8:30. She phoned on her way home to tell us that I-35W had closed. But Praise God it is now 10:20 and she just walked in safe and sound. I applauded her entrance into the house and gave thanks for her safe return. Travis, too, got home safely even though it is only about 10 blocks from Starbucks to here.

The countdown for the holiday break at school is in full swing. One day down and four to go. We may all be cooped up this week as it is too cold for little ones to go out, not to mention their teacher!! We are working part of the day on curriculum lessons and part of the day on holiday activities. The week goes a lot easier if there are a lot of things to keep them busy, their minds occupied and their hands cutting gluing and glittering.

Psalm 125:2 says, “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people.” In my younger days I served as the youth and music director for a church out in Vernon, Texas. Only someone young would take on both of those jobs simultaneously for very little money. But none the less I took the job and was sent to Estes Park, Colorado on a youth minister’s conference. I fell in love with the mountains. I felt so incredibly safe and surrounded in the security of the love and protection of God through His amazing creation. It was in those mountains that I also discovered that youth ministry was not my calling. I came very close to calling the pastor I worked with and telling him to pack my office and my clothes and send them to me. I was ready to work at McDonalds if I could just stay within the feeling of protection and safety I felt being surrounded by God’s creation. It was sort of like being hugged by God each time I looked out of my window. (I am taking some inspiration today’s devotional reading from Today’s Word in Season.)

At the Celebration of Life Service for Casey I had a similar feeling except the hugs were given by friends and family; “God with skin on.” The Ministry of Presence was so strong as around 700 people came to celebrate Christ that evening. I have never been hugged so many times in my whole life and I loved every one. The Holy Hugs given that night were not just given by arms but by hearts. The Holy Hugs represented heartfelt love and compassion for a family whose hearts were broken by loss. God showed His compassion for our family in the presence of His children comforting and supporting out family and praising His name in worship.

Troubles happen. Tragedies come. Heartbreak is inevitable. And we will have to face our deepest fears. What we must remember is that God is with us. God will protect us and keep us safe. God keeps us surrounded by His love and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. He will send His children to give the hugs we all need. I would love for life to be smooth and without bends in the road, but since it is not going to be, when the hard times come God wraps His warm and loving arms around us and never lets us go. Stay warm tonight.

Keep warm tomorrow and take joy in the journey.

Love you all, Brue, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.
Blessed Sunday!! It has been such a blessed day. The Advent Festival Choir, members of The Advent Carrillion Handbell Choir and the Seguin High School Orchestra lead worship today. The music was so beautiful and worship was a wonderful experience this morning. Thank you, Noralyn, all singers, ringers and instrumental musicians for the wonderful music in worship this morning.

I finished my final Friday and submitted my final paper for Theology this evening. Yea!!! It feels good to have those things completed. Thank you all for your prayers as I continue this journey of faith in attending seminary.

Isaiah 40:9 says, “Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings,lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God.” Today, the opening song in worship was “O come, All Ye Faithful”. As we sang the hymn, up popped a memory from long ago. We used to attend First Christian Church. In that congregation it was the practice to begin the season of Advent with a pageant for the Hanging of the Greens in the sanctuary. One year when Casey was about 5 or 6 he was the shepherd boy who found the Christ Child and went to go and tell the other shepherds and bring them to the stable. Bruce was one of the shepherds. I can still see Casey in his shepherd boy costume running down the center aisle, stopping, counting to about 5 and then running back to get Bruce to show him the baby Jesus.

Do you find it interesting that God did not choose to announce Himself to kings, or town leaders or emperors? He chose to announce His coming and His identity to those He came to serve. Jesus came for the outcast, the poor, the down trodden and sinners. God announced His only son to a bunch of (probably) smelly shepherds. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” Jesus was born in a stable among the animals and into a poor family. He called and served with fishermen. He told the woman at the well He was the Messiah. He worked in the lives of those who were in need of a savior. And because of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, God continues to work in the lives of those in need of a Savior.

So as we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child, I am going to use the words we spoke in worship this morning. As someone who is in need of a Savior, I invite you to join me in saying, “YES” to the manger,” YES” to love in flesh, “YES” to the One incarnate for others and “YES” to the wholeness of God. Our Advent journey will end in a few short days so take joy in the journey and prepare your heart for the coming of Christ.

Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This is the "Casey tree" that Travis decorated this week. We wanted to share it with you.
This is not Gaylene. I have been asked to take over for her tonight while she continues to work on her paper for school.

How easy is it to get swept up in the rush of the season? This has been one of our busier weeks of the past month. There have been rehearsals for the Cantata. Gaylene has finished the test for her Theology class and is on the last part of her “My Belief” paper (thus the second-string writer tonight). Geni finished her semester finals and is home. Monday night was Cantata rehearsal, Tuesday night was the Lamar HS Holiday Choir Concert, Wednesday I was honored to be asked to be cantor at the Advent Taize service, Thursday evening choir practice, last night was the Lamar Madrigal Dinner Theater. This morning was the final rehearsal for the Christmas Cantata for me, while Gaylene continued to work on her paper. This evening we had been invited to an open house at the Hurta’s. So many events to prepare us for the season. All we have to do is allow our hearts to join in the celebrations.

There are so many things going on this season, how do we keep the true nature of the season in front of us? How do you keep yourself centered on God and His Word? What do you recite to yourself in times of trouble or times of short tempered-ness? What prayer do you pray, what scripture do you recite, what thought do you hold to see Christ working around you when seemingly the rest of the world rushes around trying to find the best sale of the season?

Having been surrounded by music my whole life, scriptures that have been put into musical phrases from various choir anthems and other musical works come to my mind – “for unto us a child is born – unto us, a son is given”, Isaiah 9:6; or “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” Ps 51:10-12.

Gaylene told me today that, in her studies, she discovered that Martin Luther recited both the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed every morning before facing the events of his day. She has begun that practice in her own daily journey. My reunion card from “Walk to Emmaus” asks what morning devotion I use to begin my day. If we begin our days with the Word of the Lord, doesn’t it help set in our mind that we should respond to the events of the day in a spirit of love?

The questions I ask are for you to answer only to yourself. We walk the same journey, hopefully to the same end, yet we are probably at different stages of our spiritual development. What aids do you use to keep you on the path? What will you use to remind you what the “reason for the season” is?

Take joy in your journey, my friends. Keep Christ in your life. Always. Love, Gaylene, Bruce, Geni, and Travis.

When we come to the edge of the light we know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, of this we can be sure ... either God will provide something solid to stand on or ..... we will be taught to fly.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My final test is done and I have one paper to go. I am glad to have this test completed. I will begin working on my final paper tomorrow. It is the one where I have to write my theological belief statement. Say a prayer that I can accomplish this before midnight on Tuesday.

Tonight Bruce, Geni and I went to the Lamar Madrigal Dinner Theatre. It was held at St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church here in Arlington. All three of the show choirs performed with the Madrigals performing last. All of the groups were just wonderful and the Madrigals were exceptional. Travis had a solo and he sang beautifully (would you expect anything less?). It was a wonderful evening filled with the sounds of the season. We had a really great time.

Philippians 3:13 says, “…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,…” Around our house we are all trying to get into the excitement of the holiday season. All of us remember that last year we spent Christmas in Houston at MD Anderson Hospital where Casey was receiving treatment for cancer. Bruce and the kids came down and we were all together for a change. I put up a tree in Casey’s room, hung stockings and bought a gift for everyone either at the book sale, online or at the gift shops that were in the hospital. They were just remembrances for everyone.

On Christmas eve, Geni stayed in the room with Casey while Bruce, Travis and I stayed across the street at the Rotary House. Early on Christmas morning we were awakened by a phone call from Geni that the nursing pod had emptied into his room because his heart rate and gone through the roof and he was getting sicker by the minute. It was the time he had pneumonia, an upper respiratory infection, RSV and mouth sores all at the same time. Even though I tried to make it a festive Christmas there was an element of fear because Casey was so sick. The volunteers provided a gift for the patients and a delicious lunch for patients and families. Casey was too sick to join us for lunch so we went down to Café Anderson and had lunch just we four.

We are all trying to put last Christmas behind us, but after losing Casey so recently, it brings back all of the memories of each holiday last year and how Casey was with us for all of the holidays. We are going to try to try and begin a few new traditions this year. Last week, Travis decorated the “Casey tree”, a live oak tree that Jana Hurta donated to our front yard in honor of Casey. Then, Travis and Geni set up three Christmas trees on the front porch and decorated those in their favorite colors. Next weekend we are going to cut down a Christmas Tree. And we will see what happens after that.

We know we will never forget the last year of our lives and the life that is no longer with us, but we are straining forward trying to get beyond the hurt and loss of our son, brother and friend. A light has gone out of our lives in the last year. And now we approach the time of year when scripture tells us that the light of the world is coming in the form of a baby.

Have you ever noticed that God announces things with light? When God announced Moses’ entrance into the world, the Egyptian ministers, sages etc…claimed that a star proclaimed the birth of Moses. The Magi followed the star in the east as it came to rest over the house where Mary, Joseph and Jesus lived. That star stayed in place a long time. The light of that star was the guiding light for the Wise Men. Even though the Kings were not present at the birth of Jesus they kept following the star until it led them to Jesus. The shepherds received the news of the birth of Jesus by the singing of the heavenly host. I feel sure they were bathed in light and their light had to be so bright it filled the sky with heavenly brightness maybe even too amazing to look upon. The light all of these people saw led them forward to see what was present at the end of the light. The light in Egypt proclaimed that a deliverer was coming to deliver Israel out of bondage. The nation of Israel walked out of Egypt led by one who was filled with the Holy Spirit. The Wise Men were led by a light to the light of the world. The light of the world is Jesus.

We will never forget the extraordinary year we have experienced. I don’t think God wants us to forget, but I know He would want us to walk forward, so that is what we are going to do. God calls each of us to seek the light. In seeking the Light of the World, we, too, are seeking the deliverer. The One who can deliver us from the darkness of sin, fear and sadness will shine His light on us and lead us into the light of God’s love.

Take special joy in this Advent journey and search for the light. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mom update: I called Mom and Dad’s house around 5:00 hoping one of them would answer the phone. All I got was the answering machine. Then I called the hospital and Daddy answered the phone. After I told him I had really hoped they would not have had to answer the phone at the hospital he told me they were checking out at that very moment!! Yea!! Please understand, my Mom and Dad have been married for 56 years and with the exception of the two years Daddy spent in the service during early marriage (and Mom went over for the last year) and an occasional visit to the hospital for each of them, they have rarely spent a night apart in all of that time. Praise God from whom all blessing flow!!

Deb Koplen update: Bruce spent a great deal of time with Deb today. Her pain is being well managed and she is off of her IV pain meds and some of her pain medications are being reduced. She is still confused and having some hallucinations, but she is feeling much better. I checked her counts while I was there tonight. Her WBC (white blood cells, remember?) are beginning to recover and her HGB is not bad. She is still not eating very much so they have started her on TPN (a liquid nutrition). The Deb I saw today looked better and felt better than the Deb I have seen for the past three weeks since she went into the hospital. I just pray her confusion will ease up soon. Please continue to keep her in your prayers.

Psalm 126: 5 says, “May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.” I had a moment today. The Village Jewelry Store called today to tell me that the pendant I had repaired was ready. I may have shared this story before, but it bears repeating. 32 years ago right about now my Mom was diagnosed with colon cancer. It was Christmas time and Daddy really wasn’t thinking about buying anything for Christmas so he told my brother and I to look for a gift for Mom. I found a beautiful butterfly ring at Zales Jewelry Store and the cost was $125.00. The ring has opal wings, a yellow gold setting and diamond antennas. We took the change jar kept on the back of the kitchen counter which was filled with quarters, half-dollars and silver dollars to the store. The clerks in the store thought we were collecting for come cause. When we told them our story about our Mom, and the clerks gladly helped us count out the change. Would you believe in that jar was enough to make the purchase. Mom handed me the ring upon Casey’s diagnosis with cancer.

The ring has become a symbol of hope and new life in our family. The ring is, however, rather fragile and has had to be repaired several times throughout its life(opals are among the softer precious stones and break easily). Shortly after Casey died, I took it to the jewelry store. I had the butterfly repaired and removed from the band and fashioned into a pendant. I will need to get a gold chain in order to wear it. Perhaps if it is a necklace then it won’t break so easily.

When they called me today the clerk said, “I am holding in my hand a beautiful butterfly pendant.“ It caused me to stop and the tears came pretty easily and I told the story of the ring to the woman on the other end of the phone. She told me that she had breast cancer. She said, “I think I was meant to hear this story.”

I have shed many tears over the last year and I still have moments when I miss Casey so very much. And then there are moments I take joy in the fact that he is happy, living in God’s perfect love and presence. He no longer has cancer because nothing imperfect can live in the Kingdom of Love. He was washed in the healing streams and was completely healed before walking into the kingdom. Casey’s last complete sentence to me was, “Mom, I just want to stand up.” Well now he does! I take joy in the knowledge that Casey stands before God every day, tall, strong and at perfect peace. Our assurance is that we will all go to God someday and live in that same state of constant joy. I am sure I will shed tears forever because I will always miss Casey, but I will always take joy in the knowledge that he is where God is and we will all see him again someday. Casey has new life.

God gives us a chance to have new life every day. Every day we choose Christ. We choose to love those we meet. We choose to help someone who is in need. We choose to worship. We choose to forgive those who have wronged us and the hardest part is to ask forgiveness from those we have wronged. We choose to allow the crucified Christ to live and work in our lives each day.

Spread your wings and fly my friends and take joy in the journey.

Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mom update: She is still in the hospital. She is totally sick of the hospital and to quote Mom, ”your daddy is beside himself.” Her heart rhythm went wonky again. Doc Benson, her PCP, is going to talk with Doc Issacs, the heart doc, and figure out what to do now.

Deb Koplen update: she has changed rooms. She is now in 3206. She is still sleeping a lot, and pain management is going well. Doc is trying to manage her pain meds now and keep her more alert at the same time so she can spend more awake time. She still needs visitors. Go and see her if you get a minute.

Luke 1: 17 says, “the angel said, “With the spirit and power of Elijah, John will go before Him…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” I have so much to do and I am on a deadline. I have a theological belief statement and an online final due by midnight on next Tuesday the 16th. This week I studied on Monday, Travis had a concert on Tuesday, worship tonight, choir practice tomorrow, Travis’ show on Friday and…then there is school to teach and family to feed and…mom is in the hospital and our good friend Deb and…the list could go on and on.

Jesus came into the world through the birthing process. I have to believe that from age 0 to 30 that God prepared Jesus for His calling here on earth. God came to earth in the body of Jesus so that we could know Him. And then there was one sent ahead to prepare the way of the Lord. John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, the evangelist called to prepare a nation to receive a Savior into their hearts and lives. How did John prepare the people? John told the people to prepare their hearts through repentance and to ask for forgiveness of their sins. He did not ask them to prepare their homes, he told them to prepare their hearts.

How do we prepare our hearts for the entrance of Jesus? Scripture tells us that in order to prepare for the coming of the Christ Child, we, too, must be born again. We must begin again as a blank slate willing to be taught all things new. We must be taught to love as Jesus loves, serve as Jesus serves and forgive as Jesus forgives. Are our hearts prepared for the coming of this one precious child? I heard this saying on the radio a long time ago and it seems to fit the thoughts for tonight. “Jesus could be born again a thousand times in Bethlehem, but unless he is born again in our hearts once then it is all for naught.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord! Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What a day!! First, I spent the day with 67 first graders and 25 adults on the Tarantula Train that had been transformed into the North Pole Express. (The Tarantula train is a narrow gauge train that goes from Fort Worth to Grapevine, Texas.) The inspiration for this event is based on the book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. It is a wonderful Christmas book and I highly recommend it to be added to your family library if you don’t already have it. We (teachers, students and parents) all dressed in our pajamas and robes, sang songs, listened to stories and had a visit from Santa all while riding the steam engine train in Fort Worth. So cool!!

And then tonight Bruce and I attended the Lamar Choir Holiday Concert. The choirs sang beautifully. It was a wonderful concert. It will most likely be our last Lamar Holiday concert to attend as Travis is graduating this year. We have been attending these concerts for almost 10 years. Casey, Geni and Travis were all a part of the LHS choir program from the time they were freshmen. What a wonderful way to spend an evening.

Mom update: I spoke with her today and she sounded wonderful. She is still in the hospital and says she feels really good. She says all systems are back in balance and she is waiting to go home. I hope she gets to go home soon. She and daddy are getting pretty lonesome for each other.

Deb Koplen update: she had radiation yesterday and a blood transfusion today. I am not sure what her blood type is, but she will need blood from time to time. I plan to donate blood on Saturday. I will ask Carter Blood Care about setting up an account so that Deb can receive the credits for blood donations.

Psalm 27: 14 says, “Wait for the Lord, be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” November 1, 2007, Casey and I were in DFW Regional Airport going to Houston for Casey’s admission to MD Anderson Cancer Hospital. The tickets had been donated by a co-worker of my Aunt Linda. We arrived at the airport and tried to get moved into first class due to Casey’s enlarged hip and the larger seats in first class would have made the flight far more comfortable. We had orders from Doc Adams to present for an upgrade to first class, but there were no seats available. I began to pray for God to make a way when there seemed to be no way. I saw the flight crew by the gate and went and presented our problem to them. They began to work the problem.

The crew boarded us last and placed us in the front row just behind first class in seats where the arm rest could be raised to provide extra hip room for Casey and I could sit in the seat next to him. Then our flight attendant, realizing the pain Casey was in, came by and said as soon as the flight leveled off then Casey could stand and be more comfortable. Then they called ahead to Houston and had an ambulance meet us on the tarmac. As soon as we landed Casey and I were swiftly taken to the hospital. What we had hoped for did not occur, but what God made happen was the first step in a journey of a thousand steps. It was our first step into the place of surrender into the hands of a saving God. Casey and I waited for God to lead us through each step of the journey and ultimately into the journey for the next year.

The lessons learned during the last year are lessons that will stay with me for the rest of my life. These lessons have become embedded in my daily living. God is always present. God may not always answer or provide an immediate solution to our problems or situations but if we ask He will answer and provide the answer or solution that is best for us even. Maybe when an answer does not come immediately then God is telling us that there is a better solution and to wait for His intervention and guidance. We are so used to immediate gratification that when we are not immediately satisfied then we go ahead with our own will and do not wait for the perfect will of God to make the way for us. The scripture says, “Wait for the Lord, be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” This must be a pretty important lesson because the instructions are given twice in the same sentence.

The students in my classroom this year are extremely talkative. In fact they are so talkative that they don’t listen very well. The situation was getting so difficult that I had to do something. I implemented a new set of instructions. In very large letters on a piece of chart paper I wrote: When Mrs. Chrystie gives instructions…1. STOP TALKING! 2. LISTEN TO DIRECTIONS. 3. FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. I repeat these instructions throughout the day.

Do you think this is what God is telling us when we don’t listen? We live in a microwave, drive-through, online, instant message, text messaging satisfy-me-right-now world. How dare God tell us to have courage and wait?! Maybe I need to post these words in my car, at my desk, throughout the house and anywhere I need to stop, wait and listen to what God has planned and then be courageous enough to wait for His perfect will to be worked in my life. Sounds like a journey to me.

Take joy in the journey friends. Love you all and stay warm, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mom update: She is still in the hospital. Her heart rhythm went wonky twice today so they are giving her medication to try and correct the problem. She seems to be feeling pretty good, just very disappointed about not coming home today.

Deb Koplen update: she had a radiation treatment today. She was awake more, a little less confused and talked a bit more. When I phoned her nurse today she told me that Deb had only had pain medicine once today. Sounds like feeling a bit better to me.

Psalm 139:7 says, “Where can I go to get away from your spirit?” My question is “Why would I want to get away from your Spirit?” Have you ever thought about that question? God is spirit. He has no form which makes God limitless. We have all kinds of things that dictate our actions. If it is cold we dress warmly. If it is hot, we dress in shorts and flipflops. Gravity keeps us anchored to the ground. God isn’t anchored by gravity because he created it. He isn’t affected by heat and cold because he created the weather. God is as completely present in Texas as He is in Oklahoma or Okinawa. But for us, God, His spirit, is as close as our very next breath. He is as close as the mere whisper of His name.

God remains with us always while we are walking on the earth and when we are risen with Him in death and into new life. We cannot get away from His spirit of love and grace. We cannot get away from His faithfulness and trustworthiness. We cannot get away from His forgiveness and tender mercies. And again I say, why would we ever want to!!

Take joy in the journey friends. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Today did not turn out as planned, but I think some progress was made. Christmas is almost here and none of us have been overly excited. It is a bit difficult to get into the spirit of Christmas after having lost Casey so recently. There are times I go out and see Christmas items everywhere and it is so overwhelming that I would hit a wall and no longer be able not make a complete thought. I have walked out of more than one store in the last few days leaving either an empty basket or a basket with several items inside and unable to make the purchases. But I think progress was made in that area today.

Last night we found out that it was Travis who decorated the “Casey” tree with tinsel and brightly colored Christmas ornaments while we were in Sherman. I became a little braver and bought a Christmas wreath for the door and a cute mailbox for the front porch. Later, Geni and Travis decorated three trees on the front porch with ornaments. Each of the kids has their own tree. Geni’s is purple and silver. Travis’ is multicolored. Then, together, Geni and Travis decorated one for Casey with dark red and gold (for OU of course!) We do not as yet have a tree in the house or a gift purchased, but we are slowly getting there.

Deb Koplen update: Bruce and I visited her today. We read the cards and emails she has received in the past couple of days to her, presented her with a Christmas Tree (the tree used in Casey’s room in Houston last Christmas) and a snowman blanket. She is a pretty sick lady as she has had chemotherapy and radiation in the same week. The mouth sores are beginning to appear. So the term “miserable” is very applicable.

The staff is giving her medication for nausea and pain and tonight they are going to begin a “magic” mouthwash for the mouth sores. I checked her counts today and they are pretty good. The only thing they are supplementing right now is her potassium. She is still experiencing some confusion and does not remember having had radiation earlier this week. It took some talking, but we finally convinced her that she had indeed had some radiation treatments. Deb then ordered us to build a poster for her to be able to see at a glance when she has had the treatments. We will take care of that soon. She needs some visitors and lots of prayers. If you visit her and she is asleep just sign the guestbook and leave a brief note to tell her you were there. Thank you all mighty and wonderful prayer warriors.

1 John 5:4 says, “This is the victory that conquers the world—our faith.” You know, Casey has already achieved victory. He has met the King of Kings face to face and lives in a world where there is no pain, sorrow or tears. Casey is in a place where he is immersed in the perfect love of God all of the time. The reason Casey is in heaven is because of the gift of faith God placed in his heart. You see Casey not only had “faith in the future, but he had power in the present.” While Casey was ill he had all of the tools with which to fight the disease of cancer, but the emotional, mental and spiritual battles one must fight while battling the life altering disease require tools as powerful as chemotherapy and radiation. The tool Casey needed was given to him by the Great Physician Himself. He gave Casey the gift of faith.

God gives us the same gift of faith to battle whatever life throws at us. Victory is what is attained when we let go and let God. When we let God work in our lives and surrender to Him then the His gift of faith is released back to Him and we tell God we believe His way is the The Way.

Christmas will come whether we are ready for it or not. And Christmas will come whether we decorate a tree, hang a wreath or buy a gift. I think the point I am trying to make is that we must prepare not only our homes but our hearts for Christmas. We must prepare for the coming of the Christ Child into the world. Preparing our homes and yards is not nearly as important as preparing our hearts to receive Him in joy. Receive Him in joy by forgiving someone who has wronged you. Receive Him in joy by loving someone not easy to love. Receive Him in joy by listening to someone who just needs to talk or needs a visit or a warm hug. When we receive Him in joy then we become “God with skin on” to those who need to know what joy is all about. As we journey through this season of Advent prepare cookies to fill your tummy, a cup of hot cocoa to warm your chilliness, decorate a tree to fill your eyes with wonder and beauty and then make a place in your heart for Jesus, Son of God.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all bunches, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

PS Geni has a final on Tuesday and Wednesday. My paper and final are due on the 16th, Bruce’s work has slowed down and he is getting concerned and Travis is singing almost daily for the next two weeks. Say your prayers and we will keep you in our prayers. Gc


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

We travelled to Sherman today to see my Mom. She is a patient in Wilson N. Jones Hospital there. She is being treated for Congestive Heart Failure and irregular heart rhythm. Her oxygen saturation is getting back up in the normal range(93-98); she is receiving breathing treatments and continues to get lasix for the fluid buildup around her heart and an IV medication to regulate her rhythm. Her regular doctor will meet with the cardiologist on Monday. She may need to have a stint.

Mom and Dad are in hope that she can go home on Monday and if the procedure needs to be performed then they will schedule it at bit later. She is feeling much better and looks great. She felt good enough to begin to plan Christmas dinner with me today. Go Mom!! My mom is so cool. She already has the cherry pie made, dressing prepared, and potato casserole ready and frozen in the deep freeze. (She has promised her amazing pecan pie though.) All we have to do is bake everything Christmas morning. She is amazing!! Prayer warriors, please continue to pray for her and my Dad.

Ezekiel 16:26 says, “A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you…” What a day to read this scripture! As my Mom heals through this bout with CHF she will have to make some changes. She will not get a “new” heart, but she will have to change how she takes care of the one she has. New medication will be added to her daily regimen. She will need to watch for signs of any recurrence and get to the doctor a.s.a.p. and not at the last minute this time. When Ezekiel received this word, God was telling Ezekiel about giving the nation of Israel a new heart and spirit. I think this scripture applies to us today. God, through the life and death of Jesus wants to give us a new heart and a new spirit.

Psalm 51:10 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.” We are called to change our heart to be more like Christ and to invite the renewing power of the Holy Spirit to help us make those changes. We have to change the way we care for our hearts, by changing the way we live our lives. We will need to exercise more by studying God’s Word. We will need to keep our appointments with the Great Physician and then follow what He tells us to do. Prayer is the vehicle in which we will keep our appointments with the Great Physician. We need to run when we mess up and allow that clean heart to shine through and when we feel a relapse of going back into our old ways, we need to go to God at the first sign and not wait until sin has over taken our lives. Just as my Mom takes breathing treatments to keep her lungs clear of congestion, we need a spiritual breathing treatment. To spiritually breathe we confess or exhale our sins and sinful nature to the Doc and then breathe in the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit and receive the right spirit of which we have asked.

What changes are we willing to make to have a “new” heart and a right spirit? Sometimes it is easier to live with the old heart and old ways we know. My Mom is taking the necessary steps to feel better and to prolong her life. Not just her days, but the quality of her days. Are we willing to do the same with our “heart of hearts?” Are we willing to give our clutter and congestion to the One who can heal our spirits, our brokenness and our failures? Let’s give it a try.

The season of Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of the Christ Child; the Child who will change the world one heart at a time. Let us be counted among the hearts that are changed.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.
Today was field day at Burton Hill. I will take a winter field day over a May field day any time. You can always put on more clothes. When it is hot (as it usually is in May when we normally have our field day) you can’t really take them off! Our theme was the Olympics. Everyone had a great time.

Mom update; I spoke with Daddy this afternoon and Mom is doing better. She is still on oxygen and they are adjusting her medications. She will have to take some sort of medication to keep the fluid buildup at bay when she goes home. I am not sure when she will go home. Bruce, Geni and I are going to Sherman tomorrow to see her. I plan to study in the car.

Deb Koplen update: she stayed confused most of the day. The Doc is trying to adjust her pain medications to find the point of making her comfortable without making her loopy. Please continue to pray. Thank you, mighty prayer warriors.

1 John 3:23 says, “This is what God commands…that we love each other.” When I came upon this verse it caused me to read the entire chapter. Wow!! There is so much in this chapter. Take a few minutes and read Chapter 3 of 1 John. It really tells us about the love of God. To sum up the chapter it pretty well says that the only reason we have the power to love is because He loved us first and modeled His love for us through the life and death of Jesus.

Do you have people in your life whom you have trouble loving? I don’t have too many, but there are a few. After reading this chapter this is what I was called to remember. First, God loves all of us so much that He calls us His children; even the ones who don’t love Him or show love to others. Second, sin separates us from God. When we sin we do not show love, but God still loves us. Third, God came to earth in the form of Jesus to destroy the work of Satan. The work of Satan is separation and sin. And fourth, if I am to declare myself a child of God, I must learn to love all of His children, for we are family. I don’t have to like what they do, but God commands me to love them. God hates the sin but loves the sinner. Praise God!! That means God loves me - sinner that I am. When I find it hard to love someone for whatever reason then I ask God to love them for me and then show me the way to love them. If I don’t love the unlovely, unlovable ones then I am in a sinful relationship with the One who loves me most and I am separated from the King of Love. Lousy place to be!! The ones we find most difficult to love are the ones who are in need of our forgiveness and in need of God’s love.

The great commandment says that we are to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and our neighbor as ourself. And again in 1 John 3: 23 tells us “This is what the Lord commands…that we love each other.” He does not ask us to love or make suggestion, or casual request. He commands us to love each other. Remember the power to love never begins with us; it begins with God loving us first. When we begin loving each other as He has commanded in His word we become more like Him. Just like any good Father, He wants us to be more like Him. You know that whole image of God thing?

As we make this journey together let us walk together in love and gather others with us and love them with the love of God. Our orders are cut. The King has spoken!

Take joy in the journey. Love you all so much, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Prayer alert: I received a phone call from my Daddy this morning around 7:00. He took my Mom to the hospital at around 2:30 am. She had a bout with Congestive Heart Failure. She was diagnosed with CHF several years ago and has been taking medicine for it, but evidently it was time to fine-tune her meds. She is doing okay right now. She is receiving Lasix and some oxygen. She is in Wilson N. Jones Hospital in Sherman, Texas.

Deb Koplen update: She was taken by ambulance to the Arlington Cancer Center today to receive radiation on her back. I was unable to visit her today so I am not sure how she has responded to the radiation treatment. Doc was hopeful that radiating her back would relieve some of her pain. I will update as soon as I visit her tomorrow.
Psalm 85: 10 says, “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet and righteousness and peace will kiss each other.’’ I have heard and read about the “trustworthiness” of God twice today. I have begun to think that maybe I am supposed to ponder this attribute of God. I have always believed that God’s faithfulness to us was far greater than our faithfulness to Him.

Over Thanksgiving we met our family in Allen, Texas. Upon our arrival we greeted each other with hugs and kisses. And as each different branch of the family arrived more hugs and kisses were given and received. As I read this verse and the meditation that was written about it I was reminded of not only the family God gave me to raise, but the family that raised me. As in all families there are always disagreements, but even when we disagree (which is rare) we are fiercely faithful and loyal to each other and passionate about being a family. Love has always been our banner. Now that our numbers are decreased by one, the strong bond of love is greater than ever. The loss of one so loved has caused us to remember how precious, fleeting and fragile life can be, but the bond of a family which has always had a faith has near unbreakable bonds.

I was raised with unconditional love. My Mom and Dad have unconditional love for each other and they raised my brother and me with the same love. The only way to have love like that God-like love is from faith and a relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Steadfastness and faithfulness were not only taught in my home but practiced and modeled every day of my life. Those qualities only come from a daily walk with the One who remains steadfast, faithful and trustworthy to us no matter what we do or how much we mess up or how far away we turn away. God is always there to welcome us back not counting the cost or throwing it back in our face. It is sort of like when one of the kids stayed out past curfew without calling to let us know why. They knew that one of us would be waiting when they got home with our hand out waiting to receive their car keys and receive disciplinary action. As much as they hated coming home and facing the relinquishing of their most prized possession, their source of independence; they also took comfort that one of us would be there with our hand out to receive those keys. They knew that even though discipline was a surety, so was forgiveness and love that never changes. The keys would be returned in due time. But forgiveness was instant.

Every once in a while we all have to turn over our car keys over to God. The trustworthiness of God is knowing that our forgiveness is instant and He forgets our missed curfews and will allow us to drive once again.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all and say a prayer for Mom. Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Today I received a gift. The gift is a heart pendant with Casey’s image laser engraved on one side and the words Love, Light and Faith on the other. It is beautiful and precious to me. Bruce’s brother and his wife sent the gift to me. What an amazing summation of his all too short life. Casey loved his family and friends. Casey was always a bright light in so many lives. He was always willing to help anyone who asked and was always ready with a smile, a joke or saying something in a funny voice. And his faith seemed to be unshakable. I thought my faith was pretty strong until I watched Casey in the last year. His faith dwarfed mine.

Daniel 9:18 says, “We do not ask these things because we are good, instead, we ask because of Your mercy.”

I am wearing the pendant with Casey’s image as a necklace with his face looking out and the words facing my heart. I wonder what God sees when He looks at me? And I wonder what others see when they look at me? Does God see His reflection in me looking out at those I greet? Do others see a godly image when they see me? If my soul were to be laid bare what words would be etched inside? Would those words say, “harried teacher of first graders,” or “struggling seminary student,” or “messy and cluttered,” or “good and faithful servant?” I am just throwing this question out there for all of us to ponder.

My heart of hearts is sometimes full of pride and arrogance and thinks that I can do it all. Or at least that I need to try to do it all. That sometimes it is “my way or the highway.” Just ask my first graders! But what I know is that God does not honor an arrogant or prideful heart. He does not honor the whole “I did it my way,” the gospel according to Frank Sinatra. He honors the one who struggles. And God loves it when we ask for His help in the journey. I read that God does not bless the hiker with two strong legs who climbs the mountain alone and reaches the top on his own power. God blesses the hiker who is lame and begs Him for a piggyback ride. For you see, when God is invited to help us in whatever we ask, we get to know Him better and He gets closer to us and will write His Words on our heart. That is when we become more like Him. In order to become more like God we must become less of our worldly selves. That is when the world sees more of God in us.

I think that when I go before God someday I would like for Him to find the words, “It is finished!” etched on my heart. Those words say that God accomplished through me what He planned and I was not found struggling while the will of my Lord was being done. Every day at the close of my prayer time (in the car) I ask that when others see me they see the image of God. I know there are many times throughout the day that the image of God found in me is quite fuzzy. I guess that is what forgiveness, grace and mercy are all about.

When others see you whose image do they see? And what words are written on your heart? Something to ponder along the way.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.


I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.