Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy Friday!! I wonder if there are TGIF’s in heaven or is every day “Son” day? Sorry! There are some days at school that many of us say “if it had not been Friday I would not have come.” This seemed to be the prevailing attitude throughout the building today, and it was not even a full moon! There was talk of taking out stock in the Majestic store. I saw the building empty pretty quickly after the children were gone. I stayed late and began to prepare for my two day absence this coming week when we go to San Antonio to be with Carme and Dave for her surgery.

Psalm 17:6 says, “I call to You, God, and You answer me. Listen to me now, and hear what I say.” I was reading Max Lucado’s meditation on this passage and it caused me to think about how God speaks to all of us. I don’t mean in the manner in which He speaks, but that He, the Lord or Lords and King of Kings, actually speaks to all of us. God excludes no one. When we call upon Him, He hears our voice and listens to what we have to say. He spoke to Nicodemus in the middle of the night. He spoke to the woman at the well at mid-day. He spoke Zacchaeus in a tree and He speaks to me in my classroom. Isn’t it the most reassuring affirmation we have just knowing that we can speak to God. I mean, walk right into the throne room and say “Lord, here I am. I am frustrated, tired and ready for Friday. “

I think about Christ and Friday. Was Jesus ready for Friday? Was he frustrated and tired? Actually, He was far worse than frustrated and tired. He was beaten, bruised, bleeding and still had a mission to complete. Every day since the day of His baptism was preparing Him for this one day in His life. And we call that day Good Friday. He did not say, “thank God it’s Friday as He was pouring out His life on that cross. No He said, “Father forgive them they know not what they do.” And finally He said, “It is finished.” All on a Friday.

Maybe I will think of Friday differently now. Maybe now when I say TGIF, I will remember that as the day Christ died for my sin so I don’t have to die in my sin. The thief on the cross called to Jesus and Jesus answered him by saying, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” All on a Friday. So friends, as we travel each day into the week and finally land at Friday, give thanks for what was done for you all on a

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 29, 2009

Happy Thursday! Going to school today was really interesting. I began at home with my car not starting and ended up taking Geni’s first little car. I think the “Old girl”, my Taurus, was just a bit cold and wanted to sleep in a bit longer. Bruce started it right up when the temperature got a little warmer. I told Bruce later that maybe she just needed a “blankie and some chicken soup.”

Any way the drive was what was interesting. I drove through Arlington headed toward the highway through seriously dense fog. Bruce called me during the drive just to check on me and asked me where I was. I told him I wasn’t sure and I would tell him when I could see a sign. That is how dense the fog was. So traffic was creeping along. But then the most amazing thing happened. I was driving along and POW! The fog had lifted and I could see clearly and quite a ways into the distance. I stopped being frustrated lessened my grip on the steering wheel and relaxed knowing I would not be late for school and I could get there safely because I could see clearly. I went from icy fog into the light in what seemed to be a matter of a few yards on the highway.

Matthew 19: 26 says, “For God all things are possible.” I began to think I I was never going to get out of the fog in which I was driving. I was dreading driving down Burton Hill Road. It is a really steep incline and I really did not want to go down the hill in an icy fog. The same God who created the fog also created the clear day. Maybe the fog was created to teach us to fully rely on God to lead us through into the clear day. Do you ever feel like you are walking in a fog? The fog is frustrating. You don’t know whether to turn right, left, change lanes, turn around and start over or just keep going straight and hope you come out of it eventually.

God gives us the assurance that the clear day will come. God promises through His Word that the possibilities will never end. And the same God that is with us through the fog is the same God that will be with us when we come out of the fog and into the clear day. It is in the fog we learn to trust. When we can’t see His hand we must trust His heart and listen for His Word. His heart loves us so much and His Word is ever in our ear guiding us and leading us out of the fog and into the clear day. It may be hard to take joy in the journey through the fog, but knowing our Father is there with us as we travel makes the journey a lot easier.

So friends, 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 Wednesday! Due to the icy weather there was no school today for me or Travis, and Geni had classes beginning at 12:00. It was kind of nice to sleep in for a bit today and drink coffee in bed watching Matlock. Some friends gave us Stock show and Rodeo tickets for tonight. We left mid-afternoon and spent the afternoon in the exhibit hall and then on to the rodeo. I had not been to a rodeo in years and so it was great fun.

Psalm 16:11 says, “You will teach me how to love a holy life.” This morning I watched Evan Almighty, one of my favorite movies. In it, as God is talking to the wife of Evan Baxter (the main character), He tells her that when people pray for patience, God does not zap them with patience but gives them opportunities to become patient, if someone asks for courage does God give them courage or opportunities to become courageous? The final one is my favorite; if someone prays for their family to become closer does God give them warm fuzzy feelings or does God provide opportunities to love each other? Lately I have been praying for God to grow Himself in me. I know…be careful for what you pray. The way I think He will grow Himself in me is by providing more opportunities for me to serve and getting me deeper into the Word. I am pretty sure that this is only part of the plan. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know what I am planning for you, says the Lord. I have plans for you, not plans to hurt you.”

The verse from Jeremiah is for all of us. This verse gives me assurance. For me, it says that God is guiding me along the path on which He is leading. And when I am confused (and believe me theology can be really confusing to this gray-haired 53 year old student!), I ask God to make this study clear to me and how I am to use it in the furthering of the kingdom. I claim this verse for our children. Geni and Travis are bright, caring, funny and loving young adults. I do not know the plans God has for them, but I know this verse speaks to them and God will lead them to know His plan.
Claim this verse when you pray. Claim this verse for yourself, your loved ones, your children and give thanks for the assurance that God, Himself; the creator of all, the giver of every good and perfect gift, Father of our Lord and Savior; Jesus the Christ and Lord of Hosts loves you so much that He would plan for you and me to be a part of His kingdom. Take advantage of the opportunities God puts in your path serve, be more loving and learn more of Him.

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, January 28, 2009

Happy Tuesday!

I took the day off from school to attend the funeral service of our friend Deb Koplen. It was cold wet and rainy, but the service was well attended and was such a wonderful time of worship as well as funny memories of Deb and the things she used to say. She loved to serve at the altar. She loved to wear her alb (liturgical robe) and “chancel prance” as she called it. She especially loved to serve at funerals. She had been part of the handbell choir for years. It was one of her favorite things to do.Her place at the bell table was marked by a bouquet of yellow flowers and a former handbell director played her bells. Most of the ringers whom had played with her met for two rehearsals to honor her request for the handbell choir to play. The difficult and wonderful piece Outburst of Joy was played beautifully just prior to the gospel and when the final ring died away there were tears of joy and sorrow.

Bruce sang the old spiritual adapted by Anton Dvorak, Goin’ Home from the New World Symphony. The words were so poignant and so perfect for this woman and her desire to be reunited with her mama and daddy and with her Heavenly Father. Bruce struggled emotionally with the piece as it spoke of who was there waiting. The thoughts of Deb’s parents, Bruce’s parents or our son waiting for her were very overwhelming. Bruce finished the piece and there was not a dry eye in the house. The service ended with the most perfect affirmation in the singing of I Know that My Redeemer Lives. Truly this was a woman of great faith and she certainly did not die alone.

Psalm 71: 5-6 says, “For You are my hope, O Lord God, my confidence since I was young. I have been sustained by you ever since I was born; from my mother’s womb you have been my strength: my praise shall be always of You.” Deb and her parents were charter members of St. John Lutheran Church. Deb was raised in the Lutheran church and her faith was a life-long intimate part of her life. His verse seemed to summarize her life in faith. She so loved the church and serving in so many capacities. She served as an assisting minister, played handbells, organized the clean-up day, was president of the church council and many other things too numerous to mention. She was what is called a “cradle Lutheran”, but more than that she had the love of the Father in her heart. As an only child, when she lost her parents, the love of her church family surrounded her and she was never alone or without family. Maybe it was not a family of blood, but it was a family of love just the same. As my friend Al says, “her family was provided and connected by the blood of Jesus.” It was the blood of Jesus that brought all of us together today and throughout the last months.

Tonight, I pray this verse from the Book of Psalms for all of us. God is our hope, our confidence, our sustainer, our strength and for all of these things, let us offer our praise to God. Have you ever noticed how this verse does not say that gives us these things? It says, God is…our hope, confidence and strength. He loves us so much that He is all of those things for us. I think that God is…those qualities for us because when we need them the most, in times of trouble, despair and difficulty we do not have hope, confidence or strength. God becomes those things for us. How can we not help but praise Him. Let us praise God for His life spent in us, and give thanks with all of our hearts. As Pastor Thomas closed the sermon today, he spoke to Deb and pronounced the baptismal promise, “Deb, child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.”

As children of God let us claim God’s promises of hope, confidence and strength 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, January 27, 2009

Happy Monday! This begins the first week since the Christmas holiday that we will have a full week of school. Up until now all of the weeks in January have been four-day school weeks. I admit I could get used to a four-day week.

This evening I went to the funeral home for the viewing of our friend Deb Koplen. It was really nice to see our friends from St. John Lutheran in Grand Prairie. All three of our children were baptized there. Pastor Thomas McCrone was the pastor when we were members and he will conduct the service tomorrow. And I believe Deb was the assisting minister at their baptisms and at their confirmations. There were a lot of people at the visitation. People from church, Verizon( where Deb was employed), neighbors and the City of Grand Prairie where she was instrumental in the construction of the city’s dog park were all in attendance to honor Ms. Deb Koplen. There is a lovely plaque dedicated to Deb from the City of Grand Prairie on display commemorating her efforts in the park’s creation. I believe the words “voracious tenacity” were used to describe her actions in this project. Deb will be missed by many people.

Isaiah 54:13-14 says, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.”

Last night I had a bit of trouble sleeping. I got caught up in prayer for Geni and Travis and it seemed as if God would not let me rest until He had gotten His message across to me. I was remembering their baptisms and their confirmations, their Happening experiences as participants, staff and leaders and remembering that they did all of these things with their brother Casey. As I watch them grow in so many ways I know they are very close to being out on their own and making their own decisions, choices and plans and living their own lives apart from Bruce and I. My prayer for them was that Christ would continue to grow in them and when they make their decisions, choices and plans that they will call and depend on Christ as they leave this home and make homes of their own. I also prayed that I had done and will continue to do a good job of showing them Christ in our home.

Then this morning I got in my car to drive to school and the scripture from Isaiah was the meditation for the morning. I could not believe it. It was like God was saying to me, “Gaylene, your children are in My care. I promise to teach them and prosper them I will not take My eyes off of them. So there on I-30 I gave thanks to God for His Holy Word and surrendered my children once again to the care and keeping of God through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They were His children before he loaned them to Bruce and I. I gave thanks for Geni and Travis and for the love of Christ that is within each of them. And that God would choose me to be their mother. I am so blessed.

So friends, pray these verses over your children and claim them under the power of God’s Holy Word. I felt so much better after praying these verses and putting Geni and Travis names in the place of the word “children.” I am pretty sure I will sleep better tonight. Raising children is a journey into the unknown. There are moments when joy may not be easy to find, but there are also moments of indescribable and prolonged joy.

Claim the love of Christ in your own heart, pray the love of Christ over your children and then…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, January 25, 2009

Blessed Sunday! Worship was totally awesome today. The worship music was so full of praise and joy and my soul sang for the first time in quite a while. We opened with “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord” and closed with “This Little Light of Mine.” I even learned to sing the “shu-be-du-bops!” Not as well as Cheryl does, but I will get better. As the assisting minister today I led the congregation in the prayers. One of the prayers called upon God to help us in the tasks we have been called to do even when we feel unprepared or unworthy and to be obedient to the calling of the gospel whether we are called to Ninevah (Jonah) or across the street. The message was quite clear. We are to serve God with our actions and use words if necessary. What an amazing call to our daily lives.

Philippians 2:5 says, “God wants you to think and act like Christ Jesus.” If we are to be obedient and accept the call of Christ to service then we must be willing to submit ourselves to His direction. We must be willing to be taught by Him through His Word and through prayer so we may serve on His behalf.

In order for my first graders to act like first graders I must teach them. My job for the first six weeks of school is to teach the children in my classroom how to be first graders and not kindergarteners. At the beginning they are pretty resistant to this teaching, sort of like Jonah when God called him to go to Nineveh and preach. Jonah said no way and resisted God’s call three times. Well God placed Jonah in the belly of a fish for three days until Jonah decided that preaching for God was better than being digested by a large fish. (I think I would agree!)

I continue to teach them the skills and the ways to begin to think like a first grader and before long most of the children are catching on to this more mature way to think and act and have a great year. And then there are those who are really resistant. Those are the ones who miss recess and have to watch the others play because they resisted the instructions given to them. If you think about it; God’s call to us is sort of like that. For God, it is His way or the highway. He does not give up on us and continues to work with us until He has made us ready for His calling. How many of us have been in “time out” having to watch others work in the kingdom? Have you been in the belly of a fish lately? With some of us who are really resistant to the way God wants us to think and act He has to get pretty dramatic to get our attention. (I resisted the call to seminary for years. Big mistake! Huge!)

Listen and trust in God’s call on our life. He may send us to Nineveh. If He does, then He will send us prepared and with a plan. If He sends us across the street then He is will send us prepared and maybe with a pie. No matter where He sends us or what He calls us to do, He will go with us. And there will be joy in the journey.

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.