Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Friday! Blessed Good Friday to you all. First, Bruce went to the heart specialist today. They did sonograms of his heart and then a stress test. The end result is that his aortic valve is leaking. He is taking medication daily now and in about 5 or 10 years Bruce will have to have the valve replaced. So for now we are grateful that it is a manageable condition. Bruce will go back to the doc in six months and see how the medicine is working.

On Sunday my family and our nephew Ryan will be joining us for Sunday lunch at Bravo! Then we are returning here for dessert and coffee. Upon my arrival home from school today, Bruce and Geni were busily painting the exterior of the house. The primary color is sort of a creamy yellow and the trim a dark brown. Next, Bruce hung a beautiful new door. After the door was hung the trim color was a total mismatch. So we went back to Home Depot. We found a color that we thought would work. This time we were a bit smarter. You can buy a tiny jar of the color you like as a sample and if it does not work then you are only out a couple of dollars. The new color worked well and tomorrow I will go and get a gallon of the right color. And then the cleaning and baking will begin.

Luke 10:20 says, “Be happy…because your names are written in heaven.”

Tonight our nephew Ryan and his daughter came by and took paintbrush in hands. They were a great help and a complete delight to have around. We set up the picnic table in the front yard. I made a huge pot of taco soup and we had a picnic in the front yard. It was so great. We gave thanks, laughed, talked and the table was a table of joy. It was almost how I think heaven may be like. The weather was sort of balmy. The table was set. The food prepared. And the family was gathered together in love for each other and for the God who loves us so much.

Jesus sat with His disciples on Thursday evening with those closest to Him. The table was set. The food prepared. The family gathered in love for each other and for the One who loves them so much. The difference in our table in the front yard and the table where Jesus sat that night is that we cleared the dishes and went about our busyness of washing dishes and painting. A little later we said good-bye to Ryan and Bianca. We will see them again soon. Jesus said good-bye to His friends for the last time. We offered our home and love to Ryan and Bianca whenever they wish to come by. Jesus offered His life. He broke the bread, shared the cup and went to the garden to pray to His heavenly Father before walking the steps to the cross.

Do you suppose the disciples gave Jesus a hug and said see you at breakfast? Did they tell Him how much they loved Him? Did they truly understand that this was the last time they would see Jesus as they had always known Him? Or did fear grip their very souls as they watched the drama of the next hours unfold before their very eyes?
Tonight I was given a glimpse of what heaven might be like for me; surrounded by family and good food, but most of all that all of us carried the same name; children of God.

Take joy in the journey. Please continue to pray for us as we prepare our home to receive more family on Sunday. 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.

PS Please pray for Ryan, our nephew. He is currently without employment. He is interviewing and sending out resumes. Thanks. gc

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Thursday! Blessed Maundy Thursday to you all. Tonight we attended at Seder feast at our church. Our worship and meal were led by a gentleman who is a Messianic Jew. That means he is a man of Jewish origin who believes in Jesus Christ as Messiah. It was a completely amazing evening. He tied the Old Testament scriptures with the New Testament scriptures. He led us through all parts of the Seder feast explaining all of the parts and the traditions and finally moving in a very natural progression to the Eucharist we celebrate. The meal was delicious. We were served roasted chicken, roasted vegetables, potato kuegle, salad, black forest brownies and bread. We were also led through the Seder plate and began to understand the meaning of all of the foods on the plate.

Several years ago, before we became members at Advent, we attended St. John Lutheran Church in Grand Prairie. Our pastor, Pastor Susan Rodriguez, was raised in an orthodox Jewish home and later became a Lutheran Pastor. She led us through a Seder meal. We began the meal with matzo ball soup. Pastor Susan taught Casey how to make the soup and then turned him loose in the kitchen at church and he prepared the soup for the entire meal. Casey really loved to cook. I remember how much fun he had and the wonderful pride he felt in his service to the Seder meal. And the soup was delicious!!

Psalm 43:4 says, “I will go to the altar of God, to God who is my joy and happiness.”

Many wonderful things have been done to our house in the last six months. There has been lots of painting on the inside, beautiful curtains have been hung and so many other wonderful gifts of time and kindness have been given. We are so grateful. I told my mom that we were “almost visitor worthy.” She said, “Great! We will be there Easter.” So my family including Mom and Daddy, Ken, Sheena and the girls will be coming to visit. We are going out to lunch and then coming back to our house for dessert and coffee.

I tend to stress when we have visitors because I am such a terrible housekeeper. So all week long I have been thinking about all of the things that still need to be done before their arrival. As I continue to think on all of these things, the list gets longer and I get more upset. Then I read this passage from Psalms. It was one of those moments when God said, “Gaylene, stop stressing out. Accept my lordship. I have handled far greater things than this and if you will just give this over to me and stop taking it back everything will be okay.” So instead of being upset about the things left to do and being upset with the other members of my family because they are not moving fast enough, it is time to take a different tack. I am going to do my part which is to pray and be thankful for my family who is helping make our house a place of warmth, and comfort and ready to receive our visitors. I am giving thanks that my family is coming for a visit. I love my family so much and I cannot wait to see them. God’s part is to provide me with peace and remind me to trust Him in all things.

I ask your prayers for me to calm down and do the best I can. I ask your prayers for Bruce as he continues to paint our house and as he goes to the heart doctor tomorrow. And I pray travel mercy for the family that is coming to visit. Thank you all mighty faithful prayer warriors and dear 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.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Happy Wednesday! It was such a beautiful day. My day began with a time of prayer, sharing and Bible meditation with several of the teachers at my school. Before Spring Break my principal asked if I would consider leading a devotional time once a week. I felt so honored that she would ask me to do this. We began last week and had our second meeting today. We simply gather (I make the coffee), I read a passage from a wonderful book titled, God Calling, bring a brief meditation on a passage of scripture and then we talk about how that passage works in our lives. We draw for prayer partners for the week, lift prayer concerns, have prayer and go to class. It is a wonderful way to begin the day. Our group has grown in number in just one week. How great is our God!

Luke 11:1-4 is a passage containing The Lord’s Prayer. I have talked about this passage before, but as I was preparing for devotion time this morning I did a little bit of reading and discovered that the word “kingdom” refers to any place where God’s will is being done. The passage says, “Thy Kingdom come.” Followed by “thy will be done.”

Recently our church took orders for the new Lutheran Study Bible. The translation is the New Revised Standard Version. It is a great Bible. The study notes are so great. It was in the study notes where I found the meaning for the word Kingdom in the passage of the Lord’s Prayer. The word “kingdom” does not refer to the end times or when we come face to face with Jesus at our death. It refers to when God’s will is done in our lives. The next sentence says, “Thy will be done.” It does not say my will be done but Thy, the will of God our heavenly Father.

So I guess my question is; where is the Kingdom of God in our lives? The passage says “on earth as it is in heaven”. I figure God’s will in heaven is pretty well a given. So how do we turn every part of our lives over to Him who loves us so much that He spends all of our life on earth growing us in His likeness? For God’s Kingdom to come to us, He sets us apart. God gives us His name. God claims us as brother to Jesus and children of God. God does not want just our own selected parts of our lives surrendered over to Him. God wants all of our lives to belong to Him. As children of the King, the Kingdom is ours as we are His heirs. To inherit the kingdom of God we cannot have one foot in heaven and one foot in the world. We must keep our hearts, minds, hands and spirits focused and seeking God’s will for our lives.

As we look to the end of this Holy Week, tomorrow is Maundy Thursday. Tomorrow we will remember how our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ obediently followed His Father’s will as He began the final steps to the cross and shared the Last Supper with the disciples. All of the players are in place and the table is set. Let us follow the steps of Christ to the cross and seek His will for our lives and our place in His kingdom here on earth.

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.

PS Please pray for Geni as she is struggling with physics. She says, “Mom physics is killing my soul.” Please also pray for Bruce. He will see a heart specialist on Friday for further diagnosis and hopeful treatment of a heart murmur. Thank you all. Love you, gc

Monday, April 6, 2009

Happy Monday! We are doing some cleaning in preparation for a visit from family this weekend. Bruce was moving some things a little while ago from Geni’s room to Travis' room (temporarily) as her room will be painted tomorrow. As he was making the transfers he found some old pictures of Geni at Christmas when she was two and one of Travis and Casey laughing hysterically and covered in mud in the front yard still wearing their school clothes. I remember that day and I went to the door finding them muddy from head to toe. I placed my hands on my hips while using my meanest, maddest voice ever saying,”Don’t move!” Now my boys were sure they were in lots of trouble when I came back to the door with the camera and took their picture. I think they were laughing in relief and they looked so funny and were having such a great time. Right now I wish I could get that day back.

Joshua 1:9 says, “Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go.”

Bruce brought the pictures to me and after I looked at them I picked up a picture book that I began putting together back in October. When we began to go through family photos for the celebration service I placed these pictures in a red picture album. I picked red because Casey was such an OU fan. The book is on my desk and I haven’t looked at the pictures in almost 6 months. When I picked up the album I found myself going through the pages at a rapid fire pace to find the next empty spaces. I was running through the pages so I would not have to see Casey’s smiling face and have my heart break all over again. I closed the album and just held it for a while. I was afraid to open the book and open up all of those memories.
Then I sat down to write the journal and the scripture from Joshua was my meditation tonight. God said He would be with me when my heart is breaking. God said not to be afraid of my memories for He was there in those memories and He will be with me now as I live this life without Casey.

This week is Holy Week. As I contemplate Jesus’ last days, I think of what He may have done that last week. Did He say good-bye to friends? Did He visit His mother and siblings? Did he eat His favorite meal? Did He go to His favorite places one last time? Did He say good-bye to His dog? Jesus knew what He was facing. He was facing His own death. God was with Jesus as He lived that last week. God was with Jesus as He walked toward the cross. Jesus was not alone. God was with Him.

What are you facing? Are you facing indebtedness? God is with you. Are you facing unemployment? God is with you. Are you facing illness? God is with you. Are you facing the loss of someone in your life? Whatever you are facing, you are not alone. God is with you. Remember these words: you are not alone. God is with you. And He loves you so much.

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.
Blessed Palm Sunday to you all! Tonight we watched Marley and Me. To quote my daughter, “If that movie doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you have no heart”. It is a wonderful movie, but bring the Kleenex. You are going to need them.

Palm Sunday is always a day of excitement. I love the children re-enacting the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem for the last week of His life. When I was a young music minister in a small town, the children gathered on Saturday to practice for the palm processional. I was leading the parade and carrying a tot in one arm, waving a palm with the other and singing Tell Me the Stories of Jesus. I looked behind me and there were no children. They had scattered to the four corners of the sanctuary. I think I had nightmares that night.

Mark 11:1-11 is the traditional Palm Sunday scripture. It tells the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus came into another town about 33 years earlier with His mother Mary and father, Joseph on a donkey? Later the donkey is the beast of burden which carries the King of Kings into Jerusalem and into His death sentence at the end of the week.

Pastor Marc preached the sermon today from the point of view of the hands of Jesus and the power of reconciliation. Jesus makes this final ride and hangs on for His very life because He knows the rest of the travel for the week will be on foot. The same hands that hold onto that donkey are the same hands that healed the sick. These are same hands that mixed the mud together and gave sight to the blind man. The same hands that held the children on the beach that day and raised the dead are the same hands that will be nailed to the cross and bring Him to His death. Pastor Marc said, “Jesus holds on because the Father is holding His hands.”

Jesus did not walk those final steps alone. His heavenly Father walked those steps of that last week with Him. The good news is that God does the same for us. Jesus was His child and knowing how horrible that last week would be, God held onto Jesus. God, through His Son, Jesus, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, holds onto us because we are His children, too. Whenever the road is getting tough or the times are getting really difficult, then reach out to Jesus. His hand will be there to hold onto yours.

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, April 5, 2009

Happy Saturday! It has been a really busy Saturday. Geni, Travis and I attended the Happening Reunion today at Good Shepherd Lutheran in Irving. After that, I met with Bruce at Cracker Barrel Restaurant to purchase two front porch rockers. Next we went to Home Depot to purchase paint with which to paint our house. We chose two beautiful colors and Bruce is planning to paint the house this week. Please pray for good weather and for Bruce as he takes on this very laborious venture. Upon our return home I potted three different colors of petunia plants and cleaned the porch. Bruce and I then sat on the porch and quaffed our favorite Crystal Light and enjoyed the rocking chairs. It was a wonderful day.

Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “The Lord Himself will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forget you.”

Today I led the worship for the Happening reunion. I shared the passage from Luke I had written about earlier in the week where Jesus went with Simon out into the deep water. This story has stayed in my thoughts a lot this week and this verse from Deuteronomy continued to remind me of how God will direct our lives if we just let Him. In the story with Simon (later to be named Peter), Jesus tells Peter to get into the boat and go out into the deep water. The point here is that Jesus did not tell Simon to get in the boat and go out by himself. Jesus did not say I will wait here on the shore and to write when you find work. Jesus went in the boat with Simon to show him what his life would be like if He (Jesus) was allowed to direct his thoughts and steps. If you remember the story the catch that day was the largest the community of Galilee had ever seen. Jesus applied the skills that Simon already had and took them in a new direction. Jesus then said to Simon, “Now you will fish for men.” Peter put down his nets and followed Jesus.

What has God called you to do to further His kingdom? Has God called you into service? Did you say “but Lord…,” or “Can I do this later?” or “Not now!” or just plain “No!” God is relentless in His desire to grow us in His likeness. We are born in His image, but we spend our lives growing in His likeness. Get into the boat with Jesus and see where He takes you.

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.

PS Blood Drive at Advent from 9:00-1:00 and Seder Passover Feast on Thursday at 6:45. Have a Blessed Holy Week! Love you. gc