Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy, happy Friday! I have the most amazing news! Geni Chrystie made the Dean’s List at the School of Education at North Texas!!!! Her grades were really awesome this past fall and the announcement was made today. We are so excited and so very proud of her. She has a choice of receptions to attend and gets a special t-shirt. We celebrated with her and her friend Erin tonight. Way to go Geni!!

I have not heard any late news on Carme or Deb. I will contact them tomorrow and check on their progress. Thank you for your continued prayers for their healing.

Matthew 8:7 says, “Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man and said, “I will. Be healed!” Do you remember the wonderful scene from Mary Poppins where Bert the chimney sweep tells Jane and Michael that “good luck will rub off when I shakes hands with you.” I love that scene because all of the chimney sweeps shake the hand of the stuffy dad of Jane and Michael.

The passage surrounding the story from Matthew is so wonderful. It is the story of Jesus healing the leper. Lepers were an ostracized community. They were not allowed in town without first being pronounced clean by the priest and making sacrifice for their cleansing. The leper enters the town and finds Jesus and asks the Master, “If you will, will you heal me?”Jesus answers, “I will. Be healed.” Jesus not only tells this man that He will heal him, but then Jesus heals him in the same breath. What courageous faith the man has and what compassion Jesus has for those who are in need and who believe. Jesus came for the hurting, the hungry, the outcast and the poor.

Here was an outcast man with enough faith and determination to seek Jesus out and believe that he could be healed if Jesus would just touch him. Jesus showed great compassion and respect for the man that he said, “I will. Be healed.”

I believe healing touches are present in our lives. We receive the healing touch of Christ when we greet one another with a Holy hug and declare “peace be with you” during that part of our worship service. Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the promise that God will be with us during all conflict and see us through whatever battle we are fighting. And let’s face it, everyone is fighting some kind of battle. Let us pass the peace through a hug, shaking hands with someone, holding someone’s hand or whatever way you can show the love and healing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Healing does not always have to be physical. I think spiritual and emotional healing is much harder. How can we be Jesus for others in our life? Listen to someone, send a note, pick someone up and help them run their errands or grab a cup of coffee, make, bake and send some cookies. We forget how powerful the simple touches can be. Jesus said, “I will. Be healed.” In four words Jesus changed the life the outcast man.

Be courageous and radically determined in your faith. Let nothing stop you from finding Jesus and asking for His healing touch. Then share the compassion of Christ with those who are in need of healing. 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.
Happy Thursday. Geni arrived home safely and Bruce is about an hour away. Praise God! He worked in Bossier City, LA today. I am very ready for him to come home and stay a bit closer to home for a while.

Today, I faithfully wore my Elvis Has Left the Building t-shirt and played Elvis music as my children entered the room today.

Carme update: the current plan is to have a mastectomy and reconstruction. The mass is between 1 and 2 cm and may have some fingers running off of it. It is near the chest wall. The cancer is called Invasive Ductile Carcinoma (IDC). Carme says it is the most common type of breast cancer. It there is no invasion of the lymph nodes then there may be no need for chemotherapy or radiation. Carme’s cancer is classified as Stage1 or possibly Stage 2. Please continue to pray for her and Dave for healing strength and guidance. Thank you all so very much.

Deb Koplen update. Deb is still planning to go home tomorrow afternoon sometime. Her equipment will be delivered tomorrow morning and she and “Miss Chips” will be reunited once again. Please keep Deb in your prayers as she transitions from almost two months in the hospital to home.

Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and God will give to you. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will open for you.” Today I was listening to my drive time devotion on the way to school. I don’t remember the scripture verse, but the message was on faith and forgiveness. The phrase I remember most of all was this, “Take God at His Word.” That phrase kept popping up in my thoughts throughout the day. I first thought about God’s Word and how we can always call on it and claim it for instruction and comfort in our lives. And then I thought about what it means to “take God at His Word.” God promises abundant life and to meet our needs. These are not to be confused with life in abundance (like material things) or to give us what we want in terms of earthly things.

God promises, through His Son, Jesus, to love us completely and eternally. God promises if we will be His people, then He will be our God. And God promises that He will be with us when we ask, when we search and throughout our life here on earth so that we will spend our life eternal with Him. When Jesus died on that cross God said give Me your problems, give Me your sorrows, give Me your burdens and cast your cares on Me because I love you. He in essence said, “Take me at My Word.” God is not the author of lies or broken promises. Take Him at His Word and trust Him in all things and with all things. His Holy Word says, “Ask and it shall be given, seek and you will find and knock and the door will be opened.” Let us begin this New Year dependant on God, His Word and His promises.

Let the journey begin 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.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy Wednesday! The life of a first grade teacher is always full of fun things to do. Today we dressed Murray, our Build-a-Bear groundhog in his jammies and placed him in his climate controlled den to hibernate until February 2nd. His climate controlled den is a cardboard Gevalia coffee maker box. He will live under my table until Groundhog’s Day. The kids thought it was fun.

Urgent prayer request. We spent New Year’s with our friends Carme and Dave Russell. While we were there Carme had to have a breast biopsy for a small abnormality. The results came in today and the small mass is malignant. She is meeting with a surgeon tomorrow. She is asking, as are we, that you not only pray for Carme, but her husband Dave and their daughter , Shaleena. I will post progress as I receive news of a plan for surgery and or treatment. These are our oldest and dearest friends. There were Casey’s godparents and since have adopted Geni and Travis as godchildren.

Geni is returning tomorrow. Pray travel mercy for her.

Matthew 6:27 says, “You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it.” Receiving the news of Carme’s diagnosis hit really hard. She is an amazing woman. She and I are about as opposite as two people can be and yet we have been close friends for almost 30 years. She is the one who stayed with Casey in Houston when I had to come back to work. She has the heart of a servant and an extreme passion for those whom she loves and counts as family. I could not believe the scripture lesson I opened to tonight. Of course I am worried about her. And I am scared for her. But I know that fear and worry are not from God. I think God would expect us to be concerned, but worry is not our job. God takes care of His children. Tonight, I attended Praise Team rehearsal. Our new piece we were given tonight is called, “Thank You for the Valleys.” One of the lines in the piece says, “But there are times when the road ahead leads through the valley of despair. Then you take my hand saying, “Follow Me, my child. You are in my care.”

So, tonight, I claim these words for Carme. I know Carme has already surrendered herself over to the care and keeping and the perfect healing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I think she is more worried about Dave than she is herself. When we spoke earlier this evening she said she was ready for the prayer warrior alert and to make sure and place Dave’s name in the list also.

Proverbs 2:6 says, “Only the Lord gives wisdom; He gives knowledge and understanding.” My prayer is that God will place Carme with physicians who are people of faith, superior in their craft and that God would equip them with knowledge, wisdom and understanding. God, through His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit gives, not makes us earn, but gives us wisdom, knowledge and understanding. We do not have to be physicians, or scientists, or scholars to receive these gifts from God. We just have to be willing to receive what God so desires to give to us. Then we take the gifts God has so kindly and generously given and share them with others.

Everyone is facing some kind of battle or is closely connected with someone who is fighting some kind of fight. Let us try not to worry, but stay close so they do not walk the journey alone. We are walking another journey, friends. Warriors, let’s lace up our combat boots, smear the oil of anointing on our heads and be ready.

Stay in the Word and prayerfully take joy in the journey. Much love to you all. Love, 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, January 6, 2009

Happy Tuesday! First day back at school with the children. Other than a couple of snafus on my part the day went well. My lesson plans are lost somewhere in my computer at school. And I forgot to exchange the old readers for the new readers for this unit of study. My vice-principal brought me the books I needed and we just had the oral reading lesson a bit later in the day. Not a bad first day back.

FYI Geni left today for a brief visit with her friends in Nacogdoches. She is planning to return on Thursday. Please pray travel mercy on her and a wonderful visit with her friends.

I also spent a bit of time with our friend Deb Koplen this afternoon. She had just returned from a couple of scans and she was exhausted. So I basically told her I loved her and left her with a kiss on her nearly balding head. The plan is for her to go home on Friday. Home health is going to continue her care in her home and the equipment she will need is being delivered sometime before Friday. She can reunite with her beloved “Miss Chips” and I believe she will feel much better. A friend of Deb’s is going to stay with her for a couple of weeks and then we will work out other arrangements. God has all of this planned out I am sure and we just need to listen and follow His lead and the answers to problems will present themselves.

2 Timothy 3:15 says, “You have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ.” Today I sat my students down and had the “come to Jesus” meeting with them. I shared with them that my job from now until the last day of school was to prepare them for second grade. Their job was to learn all they could so that they would be the best second graders possible. It is my task to place before them the materials they will need to master the curriculum and to help them develop skills that will not only pertain to their work as first graders, but strategies they can call on as they advance on to second grade. It is also my job to do the best job I can to help them develop those tools they will need to be successful students.

The Holy Scriptures given to us by the hands of men and inspired by God Himself is our curriculum for our lives here on earth. The Holy Scriptures are our defense against any deception Satan can put before us. The Holy Scriptures are inspired by God and are acceptable for “doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness.” (v.16) To quote my study tonight, “Correction is to set right what is wrong and instruction is to make known what is right.” As a musician and raised in a practice room or in constant rehearsal, I have always been a believer that if you practice right, you will do right.

It is a new year. Let us begin our new year by practicing walking rightly before God, reading the manual placed before us, looking to the perfect model of the godly life in Jesus Christ. If we do that, we will be equipped for every work and task placed before us because God’s Word, His Holy “curriculum “will be written on our hearts.

Study hard fellow students 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.
Happy Monday! I went back to school, but without students today. I spent the day preparing for the children to return tomorrow.

I spent the evening with our friend Deb Koplen. She is feeling much better and the goal is for her to go home this weekend. Praise God and yea Deb!! The family is preparing for her homecoming by finding a live-in companion for her to help her with mobility and some basic household needs. We think we have found a wonderful lady who loves Deb and Miss Chips. The current plan is for Deb to go home with Home Health. Home Health will provide equipment, nursing care and physical therapy. Going the route of Home Health also affords Deb to continue to be treated for cancer. Please continue to keep Deb in your prayers as she faces this new chapter in the journey.

Proverbs 10: 19 says, “He who restrains his lips is wise.” As the medical power of attorney for Ms.Koplen I am often called upon to explain procedures, processes and options to her. When I talk to Deb, she listens and asks questions. She asks questions until she feels she has a sufficient understanding of the situation, procedure or process. But tonight after I delivered options to her concerning her care she began to talk. Many of the realities of her disease are beginning cause her to think about how she wishes to spend the rest of her life. And she also spoke of her growing up, distant relatives and how she should tell them about her situation. Should she write a letter, send an email or make a phone call? For the next 45 minutes to an hour I just listened. I learned many things about Deb that I had not known and I have known her for more than 20 years. She shed some tears as she reminisced. She laughed at funny times she has had in her life and then she wondered about how all of this cancer business had happened so fast and finally gave thanks for all of us who were acting as her family. Then she held out her hand and tearfully prayed for the both of us. Tonight it seemed to be the night to restrain myself from talking, interrupting or adding to the conversation. Quiet listening seemed to be the comfort she needed.

I feel quite sure that God would love it if I would quietly listen as attentively to Him as I listened to Deb tonight. Listening is sort of a lost art. If any of you have ever watched “The View” the panel show with Whoopie Goldberg you will notice that everybody talks and nobody listens. We get so wrapped up in making our requests known to God that we don’t always listen to Him when He is answering our requests or setting us on a new course. We sometimes miss “the call” of God in our lives because we are not quietly listening and getting to know things about God we did not know and listening for His plan for our lives. God calls us all to a time of listening not only to Him, but when we act in His name to listen to others.

Take a journey to visit someone who just needs a listening ear. Your ministry of presence and listening will be of great comfort to the one you are visiting and you will walk away blessed.

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.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy Sunday and a blessed season of Epiphany to you all. Worship was so awesome today. I will share more in my devotion writing in a little while.

At around 4:15 this afternoon Travis called me and asked if I was sitting down. Now this is a really scary question to the mother of a 17 year old young man!! My first question was “Did you wreck your car?” Travis reply was, “It is not that bad mom.” What it was, Travis bought a new knife the other day; the kind of knife that requires a sheath. He stuck it in his back pocket and forgot about it. When he went to sit on the trunk of his car the knife was still in his pocket and it cut a four inch long, inch deep gash in the back of his thigh. He was with friends and one of the boy’s dad’s took Travis to the ER and we met him there. He has four double stitches and seems to be doing fine. He is going to be sore in the morning, but he will survive. He will just not be able to do some of his weight lifting for a while. His clothes were so gross I just bagged them up and threw them away at the hospital. Bruce brought him clean clothes and a jacket. Life is always interesting around our house. Never a dull moment!

Matthew 2:1-12 is the story of the journey of the Wise Men to see the Christ Child. In the Lutheran Church we study and celebrate the season of Epiphany. Epiphany means the revealing of God. It is the season of light. God is revealed in Jesus. Things become revealed or clearer to us in the light.

It is early in January and many of us make resolutions at the beginning of the New Year. We resolve to eat less, exercise more, quit smoking, and a host of other things that we believe will make our lives better. Today Pastor Joel said, “We need to think less about making resolutions and more about receiving the revelation”, that is, receiving the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. The revelation of Jesus is love: love for the entire world and how we are to show others the love of God. We need to seek God’s revelation of Jesus in our lives and in the world. Jesus came for the entire world, but the only way others are going to see the light of Christ is if the light of Christ shines in us!

The light of Christ is the strongest light there is. It is the light that pierces the darkest darkness. Pastor called for us to search beyond ourselves and see the pain and suffering in the world and see where God’s presence can be revealed to those who so desperately need light in their own darkness. As I sat in the ER tonight I watched the different people there for all kinds of reasons. One lady sat near us and was visibly upset and telling someone she loved very much how the one in the ER was not going to die tonight and had a 50/50 chance. She was in a place of darkness. I found myself praying for her and the one who was ill or injured. What I did not do was go over to her and see if I could help. I did not shine the light of Christ when the opportunity presented itself. Discipleship denied for Gaylene tonight!

My New Year’s resolution is to shine the light of God onto those who seem to be in a place of darkness. I am going to try to put into practice what Pastor Joel said today about making fewer resolutions and about receiving the revelation and then shining the light of Christ on those I meet. Sounds like a new journey to me. Join me in the journey friends and shine your light, the light of Christ to those in darkness.

Let us take joy in the journey and be led by the star. Love you, fellow seekers, 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, January 4, 2009

Happy Saturday! Today Geni, Travis and I took down all of the Christmas decorations and boxed everything back up. It seems we collect more Christmas things each year because there seems to be more to put away. It is all ready to go back up into the attic and wait for another year. Our house is getting back to normal. I go back to school on Monday. It is an in-service day. There is much to do to prepare for the return of the children. Just as our family is putting away the Christmas d├ęcor, I will return my classroom to its usual look to return to the business of learning.

Matthew 2:10 says, “When they followed the star, it stopped over the house and the Wise Men rejoiced.” We live in a really old house. The wiring is a bit wonky and so you can’t run certain things together or the breakers pop. It was warm and muggy today so we turned on one of the air conditioners. I forgot that you cannot run the air conditioner and the microwave at the same time. Well, the circuit popped and I was in the dark. The kitchen, dining room and living room are all dark now. I stumble to the living room from the kitchen and turn off the now quiet air conditioner, return to the kitchen and flip on the breaker switch and now I am no longer in darkness. Now I am glad that the lights are back on and I can continue preparing dinner. I have never liked the dark. Darkness has always been a bit scary to me. When Bruce has to be gone over night I sleep with lights on.

The Wise Men walked in darkness, but then they saw a great light. They followed the light until it stopped over the house where Jesus lived. The light was the sign foretold to them where they would find the child King. The Wise Men were led by a star. When they saw Jesus they rejoiced. The light of the star led them to the light of the world.

What stars do we follow? And where do they lead? Do they lead us to the after Christmas sales? Do they lead us to the latest products guaranteed to take off pounds quickly? What illuminates our lives?

I don’t know how wise those travelers were, but I know they were seekers. They travelled so far and refused to stop until they reached their destination and completed their task of bowing to the child born in a manger. These mighty, powerful and learned men, bowed to a child. The star led them to the house, but faith walked them to the door and Jesus invited them inside.

How determined are we to seek Jesus? How willing are we to step out our own darkness and allow Jesus to illuminate us with His love and grace? How willing are we to admit our sin, our own darkness (the place where God is not) and let God shine His light on us? We are the people who walk in darkness and the great light is out there for all of us to see. God offers His light, His son, Jesus, to us so that we never have to walk in darkness.

Take joy in the journey friends and follow the stars. O come, let us adore Him. 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.