Saturday, April 18, 2009

Greetings from Memphis!

Good Saturday morning to you all! I am posting on Saturday morning from Memphis, Tennessee. We had a small problem with the car in Texarkana. We were driving along and there was a clunk. Not good. We went ahead and drove the 10 miles into Texarkana and decided to eat before dealing with the car. At lunch we prayed that whatever was wrong with the car would be the easiest thing to fix so we could be on our way.

Never doubt of the power of prayer and God’s kindness and speed in His answers. We found just the right auto shop and an hour and a half later (and only $26!) we were on our way. We arrived at Dale and Gayle’s house around 8:45 last night to be greeted by Chrysties running out the door to give us hugs and kisses.

Here at Dale and Gayle’s everyone is named Chrystie. There are even four of us with the initials GC. There is Gayle Chrystie, Grace Chrystie, Geni Chrystie and Gaylene Chrystie. Three Chrystie families are present in this house, but are spread from far and wide: one family from Tennessee, one member from North Carolina, one member from Washington state, four members from Texas and one member from California. This is in total contrast to my (Gaylene’s ) side of the family who can (mostly) all be retrieved by going north on Central Expressway out of Dallas.

Do you remember those amazing cinnamon rolls I told you about the other night? Well the crafter of those amazing delicacies is here in Memphis and the rolls will be made today. We are all looking so forward to these creations. I have made this wonderful recipe (after being taught by the master, Grace, a fellow outlaw, to be explained later)) and my neighbors have been known to line up at the door with a plate and a fork as the aroma would escape the house and fill the air with the delicious smells of homemade bread laced with cinnamon, brown sugar and love. These rolls are a wonderful memory for all of us from when all of us were early married and the kids were all small and we would spend Thanksgiving with Grace and her family.

John 12: 45 says, “Jesus said, And whoever sees me sees Him who sent me.”

On the journey to Memphis, Bruce, Geni and Travis did the driving and I sat in the back writing my final theology paper. I actually got 8 pages of it down and still many pages to go, but as I am composing, one phrase seems to be making it into all of the writing; “Scripture tells us that we are born in the image of God.” I follow that sentence with “And we spend the rest of our lives growing in His likeness.” Jesus was identified by the relationships He had. His first relationship was to His heavenly Father. The next relationship, the one He was born into, was His family. We did not get to choose our families. We were born into our families, but Jesus’ family was chosen for Him. God chose Mary and Joseph to be His earthly parents. Can you imagine the faith and trust God placed in Mary and Joseph? He placed the care and rearing of His child into the hands of this poor, young, loving and faithful couple. Do you suppose when Mary and Joseph saw their baby the first time they thought they were seeing the face of God?

When Jesus is born into our hearts we begin to grow in His likeness. When others see us do they see the likeness of God? Do others see in us the One who sent Jesus? I guess what I am asking of all of us is…do others see in us the love of God?

I love family. The treasure I value most on this earth is my family. I was raised in a closely knit, loving family that has always supported and cared for each other with unselfish devotion. My family has always dropped whatever they were doing to come to the aid of one who was hurting, in pain, in trouble as well as in times of joy and celebration and victory. I was raised in a home of unconditional love.

Unselfish, unconditional love is the only kind of love I have ever known. I grew up seeing the face of the One who sent Jesus every day. Were we perfect? No. Did we have disagreements? Yes. Did we mess up? Yes. Was there forgiveness every time? Absolutely and always! Was love always present no matter what? Without fail!

And this weekend I am present within the other side of my family. Gathered together from distances that range the nation in loving reunion to remember how much we love and miss each other and ever reminded that even though we are miles apart in distance that we are close together in love (and cinnamon rolls).

Jesus’ brothers and sisters did not see the face of God in their brother as they were growing up. He was just Jesus, the big brother who got his own room (lol). But Mary knew. Mary knew that her son, her first born, was to walk a road of suffering and a different path that the rest of her children. Jesus would leave His birth home and never return, for God had a totally different plan for this child of Mary and Joseph. Jesus became a part of a different family. Jesus became our brother. As the Son of God, Jesus became our brother. We are all children of God with Christ as our brother. When Jesus died on the cross His blood covered all of us and we now all carry the DNA of Christ.

So I ask once again…when others see us, do they see the face of God? Do others see us as loving members of the family of God?

Take joy in the journey. Love you all and see you back in Texas. 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, April 16, 2009

Happy Thursday! I hope this writing finds you well and having enjoyed a beautiful Texas spring day. Just a couple of family pride moments…first, Geni has officially been accepted into the College of Education at UNT. She has met all of the pre-requisites, taken all of the tests and is on her way to becoming a teacher. Way to go Geni! Please pray for her as she continues her studies. Second, Lamar High School Acapella choir took a sweepstakes trophy at the UIL Choral Competition held at Trinity High School today. To win a sweepstakes trophy means the choir must receive all first division ratings on their performance on stage and first division ratings on their sight reading. Way to go Travis! Way to go LHS!

Luke 13:20-21 says, “Jesus said again, what can I compare God’s kingdom with? It is like yeast a woman took and hid in a large tub of flour until all the dough rises.”

In the morning we will be leaving for Memphis, Tennessee. Some of the Chrysties are gathering for a brief family reunion. There will be five young people there, some of whom have never met each other. I give them about an hour before they all become fast friends. We are all looking so forward to seeing each other. We will be returning on Sunday. It is my plan to work on my final theology paper during the 16 hours we are going to be in the car and leave the driving to Bruce and the kids. Please pray travel mercy.

We have a sister-in-law who currently lives in Seattle, Washington. When Bruce and I were first married her family lived in Oklahoma City and we used to spend Thanksgiving with them. Grace is known in the family for her wonderful cooking skills. One of her signature foods is her homemade cinnamon rolls made with leftover mashed potatoes. Each time we would go to her house we knew that cinnamon rolls would be made at some point in our visit. The dough is so delicious that I think her kids would just eat the dough before it was baked into the delicious pastry. I would watch her each time she would make this recipe. After the ingredients were measured and yeast added, dough mixed and then kneaded until silky smooth, the dough was then placed in a bowl, covered with a dish towel and left alone to rise. This rising took about two and a half hours. Then the dough was punched down and allowed to rise once again. After the second rising the dough was emptied out onto a floured board, patted out and crowned with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins. The filled dough was then cut into rolls and allowed to rise one more time before baking. The process is lengthy but so very worth each step until the end result is the delicious creation of which the process and ingredients were intended. This creation was crafted out of love for love of family and the joy of creation.

If you make this recipe and leave out the yeast you will have created cinnamon raisin rocks. The yeast makes all the difference. The yeast must permeate the entirety of the flour mixture and then be activated with the added liquid in order to for the dough to rise as it should. There cannot be little pockets of yeast or the dough will not rise properly.

God created us in His image. God did not just create our arms and legs and staff the remaining parts out. God does not want to have lordship over just our hands and feet, He wants lordship over our hands, feet, minds, hearts and our wills. God gave us free will too. He loves us so much that He wants to be intimately a part of our entire being. God can only have lordship over the parts that we surrender over to Him. As we continue to surrender more and more of ourselves over to His will the yeast of His love permeates more of ourselves and we grow in His likeness.

Life may punch us down sometimes, but the love of God never loses its strength and as we continue to grow in His likeness we will continue to rise.

Take joy in the journey. We 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! My apologies for not writing last evening. We got in late from the concert at the Meyerson. The Arlington Choral Society along with select high school singers from Arlington Schools and the Arlington All-city Boys and Girls Choir were all performers in the concert. The concert was totally amazing. The singing was awesome. As Travis gets closer to graduation we will close the chapters in the lives of our children’s public school life. Last night marked the event that all three of our children have performed at the Meyerson. It was glorious.

Yesterday marked six months since we lost our beloved Casey. I had moments yesterday that were pretty tough. In my prayer time yesterday I asked God if the citizens of heaven missed their earthly loved ones. I know that this family misses him a lot. Most of the time I am okay, but there are times when I become overwhelmed by how much I miss my son. I really missed Casey last night at the concert. Casey loved coming to anything in which his brother and sister were involved. He came to their sporting events and their concerts and took such pride in their accomplishments. I figure our loved ones who are with Christ don’t miss us because they are so completely happy being in the presence of the Father all the time for all eternity. I also asked God if He could open up heaven just a little bit so Casey could hear his brother sing.

Great news! Geni was finally able to register for classes today. There were some obstacles in her path and she was really upset and concerned about not being able to register. Today, she was accepted into The teacher Education Program at UNT and they are helping her with her degree plan. She is so relieved and we are so excited and proud of her. Go Geni!!

Mark 16: 7 says, “He is going ahead of you to Galilee, there you will see Him.”

As we were in the hospital with Casey in his last days it became apparent that we were going to have to make some plans in the near future. I began to ask questions of the nurses and our pastor as to what to do when Casey died. I was in uncharted territory. The nurses were great and Pastor Joel was so helpful. The nurses told us to give them the name of the funeral home that would take care of Casey’s body and they made all of the phone calls. Next the gentleman who would take care of the arrangements came to our house and met every one of our needs in such a loving and kind way. He made this horrible reality very easy for us. And yet with all of these people helping us and all of the love being showered upon us there was still this 200 pound hole in our hearts that once had blue eyes, blond hair and a smile that would melt your heart. When I would get upset at the latest announcement of bad news by the doctors (I was the deliverer of all of the bad news) Casey would always say, “Mom, we will get past this and it will be okay.” I could always count on Casey to lift my spirits when I should have been the one lifting his. And now Casey is gone.

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus had just watched their savior and son die a horrific public death. And now there were arrangements to be made and family to notify and a funeral to plan. They, too, had a hole in their hearts. And even though they had heard that Jesus had been raised from the dead, they still had hearts full of grief. Whenever Mary Magdalene and Mary, the Mother of Jesus needed strength, they could always go to Jesus. Whenever they were feeling the pain of heartbreak they could go to Jesus and He would heal their pain and give balm to their aching souls. Jesus gave them peace in the midst of the conflict around them. And now Jesus is gone.

The Marys were approaching the tomb and were greeted by a young man who told them, “He is going ahead of you to Galilee, there you will see Him.” (v. 7) Mark tells all who seek Jesus and His peace to go to Galilee.

Where do we go to meet Jesus? Where do we go to find the peace that Jesus promised? Where do we go when we are in need of healing? We go to Jesus. We don’t go as the Marys went. We don’t go to Galilee, but we can still go to Jesus in prayer. We can go to Jesus in His Word. We can go to Jesus in the lives of other believers. Jesus through the Holy Spirit will meet us wherever we look for Him. Wherever we seek Jesus He will heal us from our pain of loss. Jesus will strengthen us when we are weak. When we call upon Jesus in His name He meets us where we are and meets our needs and heals our hearts.

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, April 14, 2009

Happy Easter Monday!

Romans 12:9-10 says, “Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection, outdo one another in showing honor.”

Sometimes I take those quizzes online. You know the ones that ask you to remember the colors of certain products, or can you tell the candy by the wrappers without seeing the names of the products or other similar questions. The quizzes are simply asking can you tell these products by their markings without seeing the name of the product. Every product on the market tries to “outdo” each other using marketing techniques to make their product stand out above all others. The product companies want you to be able to recognize their product by the markings.

What are the markings in your life that tell others for what you stand? Do others know you because of your designer clothes or do they know you because the Master Designer has clothed you with righteousness? Are you marked by where you work or by the work of Christ in your life? Are you marked by “Good morning Lord! Or Good Lord, it’s morning?”

The marks of faithful believers are love, faithfulness, obedience and prayer. God asks us to let our love be real. God’s love for us is as real as it gets. God, through Jesus, is the model of perfect love. God showed His love for the woman caught in adultery. Even though she was a sinful woman and chose a life of sin, Jesus loved her so much that He forgave her and honored her by announcing His identity to her by the well.

Jesus wore the marks of His love as He hung on the cross. He bore the marks of the nails and the thorns out of love for us. He made that sacrifice once and for all so we do not have to make the sacrifice ourselves.
What are the markings of Christ in your life? Can others tell that Christ is in your life by your love? Do you hate what is evil? Do you genuinely love one another with holiness, loving one another with Godly love? Just throwing this out there…

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 Do you love the picture of our house? Bruce, Geni and Travis did the painting. Our nephew, Ryan Kountz and his daughter, Bianca, helped too. Thank you, family.

PSS Tomorrow night Travis will sing with the Arlington Master Choral at the Meyerson Concert Hall in Dallas. The same concert is being performed at Trinity Methodist Church in Arlington on Thursday evening. We are choosing to attend the Meyerson performance because as of tonight, we will have now heard all three kids sing at the Meyerson. gc

Monday, April 13, 2009

Blessed and joyous Easter to all! This Easter day brought abundant blessings to this family. Worship this morning was full of the spirit of God and the joy of the resurrection. The praise team rocked the house. We were accompanied by Addie’s masterful playing and a small orchestra. Praise God with the instruments and song!
After worship we met our family members for lunch at Bravo!, located in the Highlands in south Arlington. There were 13 of us for lunch. We followed up our lunch with dessert and coffee at our house. The front has been newly painted, with two new front porch rockers and potted flowers on the porch (see the attached picture). The inside has been beautifully and lovingly painted. I was so excited. It was sort of like a house resurrection. We had a wonderful family time and I think it may have been the most wonderful Easter I have ever spent.

Bruce and I were talking later and I asked Bruce if he thought Casey celebrated Easter everyday. Bruce said, “No. Heaven is better than Easter because Jesus has already ascended to His Father and is with Him all the time.”

Luke 11: 28 says, But Jesus said, “ No, blessed are those who hear the teaching of God and obey it.”

God created the heavens, the earth, and animals, the plants, the birds and us. After this last bit of creation, man and woman; one of God’s created beings, Satan, came into the garden. With the arrival of Satan in the garden came lies, jealousy and deception. You see, Satan wanted to be God and told the first man and woman that if they would just do what he said then they would be like God, too. God had already given them everything they needed and only made one request of them: not to eat of this one tree. Satan who thought he knew everything there was to know about God.

Satan kept up this practice of deception of people with a lot of success for thousands of years until Jesus came on the scene. Now Satan had to meet God’s son face to face for the next 33 years. As Jesus began to grow a following Satan thought, “I will tell lies to the people and I will have God’s Son killed.” Well, Satan’s plan worked. Jesus was crucified. Can you picture Satan all puffed up and parading before the Father that he had won not only the battle, but the war? Here is where it gets really good. Satan knew everything (or at least thought he did), and his plan had gone off flawlessly until …Easter morning. Satan thought he had put a stop to God’s work in the world with the ghastly crucifixion of Jesus. Then on Easter Sunday, the tomb is empty and Jesus is raised from the dead. Satan did not know this part of God’s plan. Can you imagine Satan at the resurrection being totally surprised and humiliated, his pride completely in the cellar and angrier than a mother hunting for a child’s shoes before school? Satan knows if he cannot kill the Son of God then His children might be led astray, but they will always be able to go home and that is one thing that not even Satan can change.

God has given us His Word to teach us about Himself. God sent Jesus to us as the model of perfect obedience. Jesus realizes the value of being obedient to the Word of the Father. Jesus teaches us the Word of His Father so that we might grow into His likeness and follow a path of obedience and be blessed.

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.