Saturday, November 22, 2008

It is Friday and I am officially on vacation. We had a great day at school. I am looking forward to this time. It seems like a very long time since I have had a break. I will be busy this week, but it is not a scheduled busy. I can make my own schedule. Travis placed 12th out of 16 singers in the pre-area choir audition. Twelfth is not high enough to go to the next round of auditions. They select six singers and two alternates to go on to the next round. Sorry Travis. Travis’ car came home today from the body shop. It looks really great. He was so excited. Geni is home for a couple of days and then she will go back to Denton for school and work. Bruce has been elected to serve on the Kairos Prison Ministry Advisory Board for the Allred Unit in Wichita Falls. He will attend his first meeting for the board in Decatur tomorrow. Congratulations, Bruce!

Luke 7: 17 says, “This news about Jesus spread through all Judea and into all the places around there.” Last night I ordered a cookie bouquet for my brother’s birthday. I did a “Google” search to find a cookie store that created these fun gifts. I needed one that was close to Allen, Texas as that is where he lives. In my search I discovered a shop which not only created the delicious bouquets but would deliver them on a bit of short notice as Ken’s birthday is tomorrow. Anyway, after I placed the order the question was asked, “How did you find out about our business?” The optional answers were a friend, internet, newspaper, TV or radio ad, saw the store etc…and then I began to think. We have most amazing communication system ever created. The world is not as big as it once seemed because of computers, cell phones, television, radio, text messages and newspapers. We can find out anything and everything about anything and everything with just the punch of a few buttons and yet how do people find out about the most wonderful person who ever walked the earth? How do people find out about Jesus?

There are television channels that air religious programs from music to full worship services to just preaching or Bible Studies. We have church signs that announce our services and programs. But again I asked myself the question…How do people find out about Jesus? The last time you went shopping and found a really great sale did you keep it to yourself? No, you phoned, text messaged, emailed your friends and shared your discovery with them. Have you ever met a really amazing person and you knew that this incredible person should meet someone else? Did you talk to one about the other? Was your voice filled with excitement and enthusiasm? Did you arrange for them to meet? Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Aren’t we supposed to introduce those who don’t know Jesus to Jesus Himself? Isn’t that part of our mission?

God loves us so much and has given us every good and perfect gift. The good and perfect gift is His Son, Jesus Christ. In the gift of Jesus there is faith, forgiveness, grace, tender mercies and most of all love. God has perfected all of those gifts and has given them freely in the life His Son, Jesus Christ.

People find out about Jesus through His children. People find out about Jesus through His followers. With all of the ways available to communicate in this day and time, why is it so hard to tell someone about the One who loves us completely, perfectly and eternally?

Remember the story of the woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and dried them with her hair? She lands at the house of Simon. The party is going on and Simon is the host. Simon, a Pharisee, does not see the need for grace in his own life and somehow this woman of low standing crashes the party. How did she find out about the party? And how did she find out Jesus was going to be there? Maybe an early form of text messaging? However she found out, she went undeterred and uninvited to the party. She did not come to see the mighty and powerful ones from the town. She came to see the One who promised her unconditional love without taking from her first.

We need to be as bold as the lowly woman from Capernaum and run to wherever Jesus is and take as many people as we can with us. We need to run undeterred, but we will not come before Him uninvited. The invitation is always there and it is for everyone, the mighty and powerful and the poor and lowly. Text message someone, call a co-worker, invite your neighbor, email those on your email list and tell them you know the most amazing person and you want to introduce them. Maybe even put Jesus on your My Space. Tell others how you are loved, forgiven and drink from the never ending goblet of grace.

Be bold and take joy in the journey. 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.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Thursday!! Four more school days down and one to go before Thanksgiving vacation. We have stayed pretty busy all week and have three projects on our desks to complete before 2:55 tomorrow. I am really looking forward to a week off. I have several items on my agenda and sleeping past 6:00 am is one of them!! I have a paper to write, thank you notes to begin and family to enjoy. I hope also to get to a much need visit or two or three or more to the gym!! Special prayers are requested for Travis as he participates in the 3rd round of All-State Choir auditions tomorrow afternoon.

Psalm 95: 1 says, “Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.” Bruce and I attended choir rehearsal this evening at church. We sing in the 11:00 Praise and Worship service at Advent Lutheran Church in Arlington. I really love singing with the praise team. The songs we sing always not only cause my voice to sing the right notes and rhythms, but cause my soul to sing and carry me to a place of worship. Tonight, during rehearsal, Addie, our director, told us which pieces we would be singing this coming Sunday. One of the selections is Breathe. I have always loved that song. It is one of those songs that takes me to a place of holiness and prayer. I envision myself kneeling before the throne of grace with Jesus sitting on the throne and I am singing this song to Him.

But now the song takes on a whole new meaning. For you see, it was the last song Casey ever sang and he sang it with Bruce on the Kairos Weekend the week before he died. How ironic is it that the last song that Casey would sing would be so perfect as the breath of life was slowly leaving him. He had been put on oxygen about a week before the Kairos weekend. He had taken his oxygen with him and used it when necessary.

Tonight, as the praise team began to sing the tears began to flow and choir began to shed some tears as well. I was pretty okay until these words were before me “Your Word spoken to me.” And then I remembered that God spoke to Casey. Casey heard words from God’s own voice. God spoke to our son. God told Casey He was coming for him soon and to not be afraid. God was Casey’s rock. And when God spoke to Casey, Casey had no fear.

Now, Casey knows nothing but joy! Casey’s joyful noise is a constant song of praise. One of the reasons I love singing in the praise team is because we sing joyful songs of praise, worship, and give thanks for our salvation and the love of Jesus for us displayed and enacted on the cross. Sometimes I sing “hurtin’” songs and sometimes songs of joy and I have finally figured out that they are all songs of praise. When I go before God with my heart all torn up or my heart exploding with joy then I have chosen God first and that is praise.

Maybe we should all sing songs of praise especially when it is hard. I do have a song that says, “…and when I suffer pain, help me that I don’t complain, but thank you Lord and praise you just the same. Praise Your holy name.” Praise is not always easy, but praise is always right. God blesses us when we praise Him in the hard times because He knows how hard it is for us to be thankful when things are a mess. When we trust Him with our sorrows and our joys then we are making a joyful noise to the One who loves us most.

As we approach this Thanksgiving week and nerves get frazzled with the details of getting dinner on the table and where we are going to sit for the football game and how full we feel after dinner swearing we will never eat again (when in just a little while we are nibbling at the table again!), let us find a moment to praise God for all of His blessings even when it is difficult. Make a joyful noise to the One who is the rock of our salvation.

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, November 19, 2008

Happy Wednesday! Three down and two to go!! Today went really well. Career Day was a big hit and took most of the morning and the rest of the day was devoted to the first Thanksgiving. First graders have a hard time relating to a world without running water, Wal-Mart, computer games, Chuck E. Cheese and McDonald’s.

Hebrews 13: 8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and forever.” In the last year the words “I Am” have come to mean a great deal to me. Those words have become an affirmation and a security for the place God hold in my life. It is the name God calls Himself. It is a name of self assurance. When I am in my prayer time and my heart is sad and I cannot speak the words I would like, I remember “I Am” and I remember that God has not changed or moved or even taken a break from this woman who usually talks His ear off.

As a teacher I began to look at the syntax of this two word sentence. “I Am.” God does not say, “I Was.” He says, I Am.” He tells us “I Am the way, the truth and the life.” He says, “I Am the resurrection and the life.” And in the beloved 23rd Psalm He says, “The Lord is…” No matter where we are in this life, God does not change and He does not move. He is never in the past tense. God is always with us right where we are. If we are shouting with joy from the mountain top, God is there. He did not say I will get there in a minute. And aren’t we glad that God is never late because He is always where we are.

I take comfort in knowing that this same God who walked on water, restored sight to the blind, healed the lame, preached blessedness to the poor and mourning 2000 years ago still says, Gaylene, “I Am.” When you call on Me I Am here to comfort you, celebrate with you, walk the road with you and help you to take joy in the journey even when there are bends in the road and pot holes. As long as I keep my eyes looking toward Jesus the bends may not straighten out and the pot holes may not get filled in, but God promises to remain with us no matter what and get us through. We have said that God will get us through dealing with Casey’s death. We will never get over the loss of our son, but we have Jesus as our constant guide, friend and comforter. No matter what, He never changes and He never leaves us. Cling to the great I Am in faith and take joy in the journey.

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.
Happy Tuesday to all. Two down and three to go(days, that is)!! The week before a holiday is always a bit more hectic. But with a few extra activities planned and an extra trip or two to Starbucks the rest of the week should go fairly smoothly.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “So let us run the race that is before us and never give up…Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect.” Last Thanksgiving I did not cook. It was a first for me in pretty much all of my adult life. However I did have Thanksgiving dinner with all of the trimmings. Last year our Thanksgiving dinner was held in a beautiful park on the second floor of MD Anderson Cancer Hospital. Dinner was ordered from Luby’s and two families gathered together to give thanks. We did not give thanks for the reasons we were in Houston, but we did give thanks that we were there surrounded by family, great food and the love and grace of God.

Casey had been in treatment for cancer for just three weeks at Thanksgiving. Casey loved holidays. He loved the food and he loved being surrounded by family. But mostly Casey loved being at home. In a situation where one has little control over anything, Casey refused to return to MDA for longer than an overnight visit for fear that they would make him stay. It was one of his fondest desires to be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year since all of the major holidays were spent away from home last year. Casey never lost sight of that desire. As I ponder this scripture, Casey ran the race with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength. He just crossed the finish line earlier that we had hoped. This year Casey will sit at the table of thanksgiving and celebrate with the One who began the journey with him and greeted him when he crossed the finish line. Casey will not sit at our Thanksgiving table this year, but knowing he will sit at The Thanksgiving Table forever brings a smile to my face. We will miss him, but knowing he is in heaven with Jesus and my mamo makes me happy. I’ll just bet there are fried pies on that table.

Jesus authors our faith. Faith is a gift from God through Jesus. Bruce and I were talking last night. I still have moments of sadness and tears, but they are moments and then I think of a happy memory and I feel better. I have heard or read the stages of grief. I am not in denial and I am not angry. I just miss Casey. The faith that I have in God is that Casey will never come again to 811 Austin St., but someday I will go to him. He will never come to our house again, but he is home. He was God’s child first and only on loan to us for a short time. He is surrounded by the ultimate loving family. As long as I keep my eyes on Jesus I have peace and can give thanks with a grateful heart.

Run the race with the perfect faith of Jesus Christ.

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.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Welcome to Monday. At school we count the days prior to a holiday. FWISD gets the entire thanksgiving week off. So today, it was one down and four to go. I think I am ready for a break. I have a busy week planned, but it is a week of doing the catch-up things I have put off for a while.

Psalm 9: 1 says, “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Today I worked late at school getting my grades entered on the computer and emailed to Mrs. Lisa. Every six weeks my grades are due by 9:00 am on Tuesday after the last day of the six weeks. All of my papers were graded and the grades were entered in my gradebook and some were already entered on the computer program. Today I finished entering the grades on the program and the program is so smart that it averages the grades for me. I submitted them as complete late this afternoon. It felt so great to have this completed a bit ahead of time. I did not even bring any school work home with me tonight. (Now there’s a first in a long time!) My life is such that I have to schedule projects on a given day and set as my goal to complete them. Today’s goal was to finish entering my grades on the computer and submit them. It is finished!

I am reminded of the story and mission of Jesus. He was born to walk the road to the cross. When Jesus was baptized at the Jordan River by John the Baptizer, He knew that all roads from that moment on must lead to the cross. Jesus had three years to gather a group of followers, preach His Father’s Word, heal in His Father’s name and love with His Father’s heart. Upon entry into Jerusalem on that final week, Jesus knew there was no turning back. He would have a last meal with His closest friends and then He would not see them again. He taught them everything He needed to teach and submitted Himself into the hands of the world at His Father’s bidding. On that Friday He declared “It is finished!”

But was it really finished? Not by a long shot. Jesus earthly life was over, but God was not finished with His plan. He sent back His very essence, His Holy spirit to live within us forever. Jesus life had come full circle and then His mission was complete. He began as spirit within His mother’s womb. He lived on earth as a man. Then He returned as spirit to live within us forever.

Is our mission complete? Not by a long shot. Just like my grades, it is a continuous process. Our mission is to tell the story and submit our lives to the One who gave His life for us and chose to live within us beyond His death. Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow.

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.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blessed Sunday to you all! It was almost cold this morning when I left for church and the rest of the day stayed so beautiful. Our worship at 11:00 absolutely rocked the house. We ended the service with “Soon and Very Soon.” The singing was amazing by the congregation and the praise team and special parts in the song were sung by Cheryl Carroll, Thane McCann and Jeremy Brewer. We sang the song as the sending song and then repeated it as the postlude. It was so cool. God be praised in song!!

Revelation 7:14-15 says, “These are the people who have come out of the great distress. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Because of this, they are before the throne of God.”

When do you shower? Kind of a personal question I know, but stay with me for a while. Growing up I always bathed at night washing away the dirt of the day. When I left home and went to college and began to study or whatever into the wee hours of the morning I began to be a morning shower girl. I am still pretty much a morning shower girl. It really did not matter when I showered or bathed, the point is that I acted on that responsibility each day. I washed every day so I did not go into class, church, or out with friends and smell like a goat. That would have been totally gross. (Keep reading, I promise to make a point!)

We go before God dirty, grimy, smelly and gross. We go before God broken and in need of healing and a shower. You see, nothing imperfect can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. In heaven there is no sickness, sadness, blemish, nobody is 20 pounds overweight, and we enter heaven without sin and live in a state of perfect love where we are out of the reach of Satan. We come before God covered in our sin, shame, guilt and brokenness. We come before Him just as we are and He loves us so much that He cleanses us from our unrighteousness, heals our brokenness (the cracks in our soul for those of you who read this blog frequently) and then we are made perfect by His grace and mercy. He “showers “us with His blessings. We are allowed into the Kingdom for all eternity to live with the One who first loved us. We cannot come into relationship with God except by the invitation of the Holy Spirit. God allowed for a while a way for us to see the embodiment of the Holy Spirit. He became Jesus. Remember the Spirit came upon Mary and she became with child? And also remember from John, “The Word became flesh and lived among them”? Well, that Word was Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but I need the Jesus shower of forgiveness every day and sometimes more than once a day. Carrying around our sin is a dirty, smelly job. But because of the crucified Christ, His blood, His precious blood being so pure and so perfect spilled not just for us but covering us, God has given us a way to come before Him dirty and smelly and covered in grime. After the shower we stand clean before Him and not one blemish does He see. He does not see our blemishes or sins anymore because Jesus took all of our sins one Friday afternoon and nailed them to the cross once and for all. No more sacrifice need be made.

We come by the invitation of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Himself. No one is denied entry after the invitation has been accepted. Have you accepted the invitation to the Kingdom of God? If you are worrying about something to wear, please don’t. After the shower, you will be issued new clothes. You will be issued garments of praise and wear the robe of righteousness forever. What an awesome journey we have ahead of us and the destination is not in question.

Take joy in the journey. Love to 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.