Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy Friday!! I have the most wonderful news and so worthy of the praise of our most holy and loving God. Carme’s lymph node results came back…NEGATIVE!!!!! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Amen and Amen!! That means no chemotherapy and no radiation. Her cancer mass was hormone fed. So she will go on a hormone treatment for about five years (hormones that were not already in her system) and then a new hormone will be administered. We give continuous thanks to God for His gifts of grace, love, life and healing.

Psalm 118:14 says, “The Lord is my strength and song and he has become my salvation.”

I have been teaching for a very long time. I often say that “I have been teaching since God was a boy.” After that many years and all mostly in the first grade, I can usually get my class into shape within a week or two of the first day of school. The children I have been given this year are not following the previous years’ pattern. We are on day 97 of school and they are still not behaving and operating in class as I am requesting. The primary issue is not a matter of brain power. They are plenty smart but they do not listen because they talk so very much. Consequently far too much of my teaching time is spent in quieting the classroom before I can teach them the lesson I have prepared. One of my teaching mantras has always been “I cannot teach you until I have your attention.” Because of this issue of talking vs. listening, I do not feel the children are where they need to be in terms of their progress by the 97th day of school. The school year is rapidly approaching the end of the term.

In light of the information I have just shared with you I would like to bring up two points. First, how much are we like this group of first graders? Are we so busy talking about everything except that on which we should be focused and not listening to the lessons God has prepared for us? And are we progressing through this spiritual journey at the pace in which God has set out or must we always be taught again the same lessons because we didn’t listen and apply the first or hundredth time God has presented us with new learning?

Next, by the end of the day I am tired, frustrated and just want to close my door, grab my keys and go home. By the next day I have regrouped and hopefully come up with new strategies for instruction and classroom management that will help this problem along. I do not feel I have been successful as yet, but I am going to continue to try.

Do you suppose God gets tired of presenting us with lessons and new learning and we still don’t get it? What does He do to get our attention? Do we talk too much and not listen enough? (please!) Do we believe our own agenda supersedes that which God has in store for us? Okay, I am pretty sure the answers to these questions are a resounding “YES! Praise God that He does not get His keys and just goes home. His love for us is so amazing that He never gives up on us and is relentless in His pursuit of teaching us how to live a godly life of love, grace and compassion. He never gets tired. Just like the beautiful Psalm says, “He watching over Israel slumbers not nor sleeps.”

So, as for me, when the end of the day comes and I am not as patient and kind with the children in my classroom as I need to be and I am tired of feeling that I am battling instead of teaching, I am going to pray, but I am changing the way I pray. I am not going to pray for the children to change, but for me to change. When I am tired I am going to pray for God’s strength to renew me and allow me to continue to give 100% to the children in my charge. The Psalms make so many references to God being our strength, our rock, our salvation and our joy. It is time for me to claim the scriptures in the workplace and ask God to strengthen me and help me to listen for His council. You can be in prayer for me as I pray for change in me.

Thank you, dear friends, for all of your prayers for our family and for our friends Carme and Dave. We love you all.

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, February 5, 2009

Happy Thursday! We got home last night and I was so tired, we just went to bed. Carme came through her surgery with flying colors. Shaleena (her daughter) and I spent the night with her in the hospital. We left Carme in the care of her mother in the hospital, but on our way home we received a call from Carme telling us the doctors were releasing her later in the afternoon(Wednesday). She got home about the same time on Wednesday that we did. With school and everything else going on today, I have not checked with her to see how she is doing.

Everything that could go right with this surgery went right. The original plan was to do a latissimus flap. That means that they were going to cut the muscles in her back and stretch the skin around for the breast reconstruction. The plan changed and a different procedure was performed that made the flap unnecessary. It shortened the surgery by four hours and will end up shortening her recovery time. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!

2 Peter 1:19 says, “We have one prophetic word confirmed which you do well to heed.” On Monday, my class celebrated Groundhog Day. I have a Build-a-Bear named “Murray” who lives in the winter in a Gevalia coffee box during the winter. On February 2, all of the first graders gather to see if Murray sees his shadow. Murray becomes a weather forecaster just like Punxsutawney Phil, the official groundhog for our country. Part of the groundhog story is legend, but it has a grain of truth. None the less the groundhog is still a forecaster, a predictor or a guesser. Sometimes he is right and sometimes he is wrong. But there is One whose word is never wrong. God’s Word is always true. In God’s Word you can trust. God doesn’t guess; He knows. So the next time you are faced with a tough choice and you don’t know what to do, pray and ask God to lead you to His Word that will assure you and let you know what His Word is for you. When the world is full of speculation, God’s Word is certain and in God’s Word you can trust!!!

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Gene, 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.

PS Just an FYI: Groundhog Day was began by German settlers in the United States who observed Candleamas Day, which is the day of Mary’s purification. There is always supposed to be a bright sunny day for this celebration. February 2 is mid-winter. Game (wild critters) stirs around this time and they begin to come out of hibernation to check the temperature. If it is bright sunny day and there are no clouds then there is no insulation in which to hold in the heat. The groundhog comes out, sees his shadow and because it is cold he goes back to sleep. (not a bad plan!) If it is cloudy then there is more heat and he stays up. Just a bit of religious, historical trivia. Now you are as smart as a first grader!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Greetings from San Antonio!

Happy Tuesday! Please forgive us for not writing last evening. We got to the Alamo City around midnight. Carme and I talked until around 2:00 am and so writing did not happen. But your constant flood of prayers as been so felt and so appreciated. We all got to the hospital about 10:00 am. The nurse came and got Carme about noon. Her surgery began about 1:40pm, but called every hour or so to let us know how things were going. 6:30 pm Carme came out of surgery and is currently in her room. The surgery went very well. The doc was hoping things would go well enough that allowed the reconstruction portion surgery to take only 4 hours instead of the anticipated 8 hours. We were so grateful because that happened. Carme had both breasts removed and lymph nodes removed for testing. She came through the surgery perfectly. Shaleena, Carme and Dave’s daughter and I are going to stay in the hospital with her tonight. I know if it were me in that hospital bed that Geni would be nowhere else.

Today during one of our prayer times we prayed for perfection. We prayed for God’s perfect will and skill to be with all connected with the surgery and after care today. We also prayed for Carme’s body and spirit to be one with the surgeons and others in the OR and must especially to be one with our heavenly Father, the Great Physician.

The Passionately Pink Party was great. Some of Carme and Dave’s friends made pink ribbon cookies and had them ready for visitors in the waiting room. We all wore pink in some form and Carme handed out pink embroidered stickers to everyone who walked into her holding room and then passed out the stickers to everyone in the OR and Recovery room. She is totally amazing!! She took the following things with her into the OR: a pink blanket, her stickers, two scriptures that have special meaning for her and Casey’s John 3:16 sleeveless shirt. The anesthesiologist came in to visit with her and went to check her vitals. He had to pull back the pink blanket, the hospital blanket and then Casey’s shirt. The shocked look on the doc’s face and his comment cracked all of us up. He said, “I am not used to a layered patient.” It has been a long day, but with great news and a very, very promising outcome. If the lymph nodes have not been invaded then no chemotherapy or radiation will be needed. If there has been invasion in the lymph nodes then some chemotherapy/radiation will be needed. We should know something by the end of the week.

Psalm 144:1 says, “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.” Isaiah 43:2 says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” These are the two scriptures Carme took with her into surgery today. She claimed the psalm for the surgeons, the nurses, the anesthesiologists, the pharmacists and anyone else who had any connection to this surgery. The doctors and nurses prayed with all of us and we sent her to the OR “layered” in all of her stuff and covered in the promises and the grace of God through all of the prayers and love being sent her way. The passage from Isaiah is the one with which she closes all of her emails. So no matter what the outcome, she had the assurance that God would be with her no matter what. I love the passages of scripture that that boldly state and claim the promise and assurance of God in our lives. Isaiah says, “…I will be with you.” Not I might be with you or just a minute and I will get to you, but “I will be with you…” The One who calls us by name and calls Himself, I AM boldly states, “I will be with you.” Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen and Amen!!!

We will return to Arlington sometime tomorrow. 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, February 1, 2009

Blessed Sunday! I think Sunday may be my favorite day of the week. I do love worship so very much. I had a moment during worship this morning that I had not expected. During communion we were singing He Is Exalted. As I was singing I pictured Casey’s face and saw him singing. Casey was singing at the feet of the Father and his face was so full of joy as he sang. The tears flowed pretty hard and as Bruce held me I shared with him the vision I had while singing. As much as I miss Casey I was so very glad that he was singing the praises of His heavenly Father on Sunday morning sitting at the feet of Jesus. Casey was surrounded by the members of heaven and they were all singing. I know I can only imagine what heaven is like, but I am sure that the singing must be totally awesome. Knowing that Casey is with Jesus helps with the pain of the sorrow of him not being with us on earth. Like I have said before, Casey will never come to us again, but we will one day be reunited with him for all eternity. That brings me to a place of peace.

I spoke with Carme this evening and she is getting anxious about the surgery on Tuesday. Her mother arrived safely tonight, having driven from Indiana (1,400 miles!) in two days. She is a better woman than me. Carme’s surgery is scheduled for Tuesday at 12:30 pm. She will need to be at the hospital at around 10:30 for pre-op procedures. She has asked me to sing Amazing Grace to her before she goes into the OR. She says to tell all of you thank you for your continued prayers. Bruce and I are leaving after school tomorrow to head for San Antonio. We will return on Wednesday evening.

Today has been a bit weird. We took two cars into the shop for repairs tonight and the dryer stopped heating. For old SNL fans, Rosanna Rosannadanna would say, “If it’s not one thing it’s another.” Realizing these are just a few of life’s inconveniences, but aggravating and inconvenient none the less. All are fixable, just a bit untimely!

Philippians 2: 13 says, “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Our friends Carme and Dave are about to experience a dramatic change in their lives. Cancer changes everyone’s life. Aside from the obvious physical changes that will occur, the changes I wish to share with you are the ones in which Carme has shared with me.

First, she has shared with me that she and Dave have spent more time in prayer together than they ever had in their married life. Next, she has shared with me that the new church they have joined has wrapped their arms around them are providing such wonderful support. And last she has shared how all of the prayers from everyone, those she knows and those who are paying that she does not know have been felt so strongly and lovingly and will carry her all the way through surgery and recovery. God has done good works in Carme and Dave and in all of us because of His love for all of us. The scripture says “He does this for His pleasure.” God loves us and does good works in us because it makes Him feel good. Isn’t it amazing that God deems us worthy enough to do good works in us just because He loves us and wants to show us that love?

What good works does God do in us? I don’t know, but I am glad that God knows me well enough to know that without Him I can do no good work, but with God I can do what He bids me to do. Open your heart. Pray a little more. Wrap your arms around one who needs some comfort and care and give thanks to God who loves us enough to desire to work in us His good pleasure.

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 Saturday!! What a beautiful day! Can you believe that two days ago we were scraping ice off of our cars and layering turtle necks and sweatshirts? And today I saw flipflops and shorts everywhere. Go figure. Texas Weather, if you don’t like it, just wait a bit and it will change.

Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And Psalm 18:1 says, “I love you Lord. You are my strength.”

Sitting on my table at school I have a small devotional book by Joyce Meyer called Starting Your day Right. My conference/planning time is 8:15 am. I have just enough time to pick students up from the auditorium, get us to the classroom, put things away, take attendance and send them to their next class. I have 45 minutes to myself first thing in the morning. I have begun taking that time to eat my Starbucks oatmeal and have a brief devotional and prayer time. I did not think I would like having a first of the morning conference time, but I have grown to treasure this time. It allows me to center myself and prepare for the day.

Friday’s reading was Psalm 118:24, “this is the day…” I former pastor friend used to say there are two kinds of people in this world; those that wake up and say, “good morning, Lord!” and those that say, “good Lord, it’s morning.” I lean more toward the “good morning, Lord.” I am pretty quiet in the morning as I am the first one up. The brief meditation suggested that before you feet hit the floor have your first thought be of God and all of His blessings He has poured out and simply say, “I love you Lord and I am so grateful for your loving kindness and this day you have created.” I am going to try to remember to do that in the morning. And then get up and prepare for worship. I will let you know if I succeed and if it makes a difference in my day.

I was sitting in a car repair shop many years ago waiting on my car to be fixed and there was this sign that said, “Eat a live toad first thing in the morning and you day can’t help but get better.” If given the choice of telling God that I love Him and giving thanks for the day ahead or eating a live toad, I think I will choose to follow scripture and add a little discipline and begin my day being with the God who loves me, forgave me and died for me. I challenge you to try this small practice and let me know how it goes. Prayer or toads…you make the choice.

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.