Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Friday! The butterfly is either 29 or 30 depending on Memorial Day Holiday.

1John 3:1 says, “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God.”

Many times at school when someone speaks of one of the children in my classroom they are referred to as a “Chrystie baby.” No, I have not given birth to a gozillion children over the last 28 years, but lots of children are identified as students who have been taught in my classroom. I did not choose these children, they are simply the students assigned to my classroom. My responsibility toward them is to keep them safe, teach them well and make them mind.

I did however give birth to Casey, Geni and Travis. They too are “Chrystie babies.” I did not choose these amazing children and I did nothing to deserve them. They were given to me as gifts from the Father for me to care for and love and it is with great pride and passion that I claim them as my own. At the moment of their birth, Bruce and I prayed over them and returned thanks to God and then re-presented them to God and asked Him to bless and watch over us as their parents and them as they grew. My responsibility toward them was to love them unconditionally, love their daddy, keep them safe, teach them well and make them mind.

God did not physically give birth to me. But God’s grace and love through Jesus has allowed me to be called a “child of God.” I did nothing to earn my way into the family of God. I am only a “Jesus baby” because of God’s grace and grace alone. Knowing that I am a child of God assures me that I will see Christ someday. Jesus’ job in my life is to love me unconditionally, love His daddy, teach me well and make me mind.

The primary difference in being a teacher and being a mother is that the children in my charge do a lot of taking and I invest my life into their lives. God invests His life into me. He gave us His Son as the sum total of His love, grace and forgiveness in our lives. And even if I never grew in this Christian life, God would still love me because He is my heavenly Father and He would still call me His child, keeping me safe, teaching me well and making me mind!

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 Thursday! The butterfly count is 31. This morning as I was having my morning prayer time, I had this overwhelming sense of loss of Casey. I began to miss him so much that I became extremely emotional and cried all the way to work. Upon my arrival at work I called my school secretary and asked her to please sign me in and I would come in the building in a few minutes after the tears stopped and I repaired my face. It is not uncommon for me to weep during my prayer time, but it is usually a short lived experience and then I am okay. But today was different.

I remember every moment of being in labor and delivery with Casey. Immediately upon his arrival in this world I remember thinking that all of the pain was gone. The next thing I remember was trembling very dramatically with cold right after his birth. Then I remember the nurses covering me with a warm blanket. I will never forget the comforting feeling of the warmth of that blanket and how I relaxed peacefully as the heat of that blanket calmed my shivering.

Psalm 4: 3 says, “The Lord hears when I call to Him.”

The morning Casey was diagnosed with cancer I was by myself at the hospital. Bruce was traveling back to Arlington, Travis was in school and Geni was in Nacogdoches. After the doctor told me what he found in the biopsy all I wanted was Bruce, the kids, my Mom and Dad and my brother. I was so frightened and felt so alone and I know I was trembling from head to foot. I needed a warm blanket to calm my trembling body and frightened soul. Today, God sent me a warm blanket in the form of Travis.

I finally walked into the building about 7:50 and tried to get myself together. About 8:15 Travis called and asked if he could spend the day with me at school. He told me it was “Take Your Child to Work Day.” I quickly told him “YES!” Travis was my warm blanket. He was God with skin on for me today. God knew exactly what I needed and He sent my son to spend the day. I did not pray for anyone to rescue me, but God, who knows what to do far better than I, sent Travis. I felt so much better for the remainder of the day.

God granted me help in time of need. He heard my prayers and without me asking He sent the comfort I so needed. God obviously heard the prayers of the psalmist. The psalmist is certain of the peace and assurance that God will hear and answer our prayers.

God sent Jesus into this world so that we could know Him, the Father of all, the creator of life and all things. Jesus taught us to pray so we could be in constant communication with the Father through the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew His disciples were going to need a comforter after His death. As Jesus was teaching His disciples and preparing them for His death, He told them that He was going to ascend back to the Father and He would send back a Comforter. Even though Jesus was no longer with His disciples He sent His very essence back in the Holy Spirit so He could be with His disciples and the rest of us forever through prayer.

So friends, God calls us to a life of prayer. He wants to know us, love us, cover us in His grace and comfort us when our hearts are breaking. As the old hymn says, “Take it to the Lord in prayer”, and then wait and see what the Lord will do. Thanks for letting me share a moment and love you all.

Take joy in your journey. 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.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Wednesday! The butterfly count is 32. At Burton hill the butterfly count is how many numbered butterflies there all on the wall outside my classroom that tell how many days we have left in school. It is so hard to believe that the last six weeks is upon us. The final TAKS test are upcoming next week and in just a few weeks I will have a niece who graduates from Texas Tech and Travis will graduate from high school. I realize it is an old adage but here goes…”Where did the time go?”

Luke 16:13 says, “You cannot serve both God and worldly riches.”

One day several years ago I asked my custodian at school to do something for me. He made a joking remark about “How much are you going to pay me? My response was “I have a son in college (Casey), a graduating senior girl (Geni) and a son with a girlfriend (Travis), I have no money!”

Bruce and I have always struggled to have enough money. We seem to have too much month left at the end of the money. We have always told our kids that we will try our best to provide what you need and some of what you want. And now with a graduating senior I think that just a little of the “worldly riches” scripture speaks about wouldn’t be so bad. And then I remember the treasured Psalm 23 which says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” Sometimes when I get a bit down or concerned that we will not have enough money to make it through the month I try to remember this psalm and the comfort it gives. God has promised to supply our needs. I know I have spoken about sheep before, but sheep without a shepherd are a big mess. They have no direction, get into trouble and are generally without a clue. Too many times I am such a sheep!

Do I feel better with a little extra money in my pocket? Sure. Does the extra money in my pocket remain there for very long? No. Does having something new to wear give me a boost? Of course. But pretty soon that new outfit is discarded or stained and is no longer usable or fashionable. There is an old saying that says, “a diamond glows with brilliant fire, but gives no warmth.” The things of this world are temporal. The things of God are eternal. God’s gifts of love, joy, peace, grace, comfort, guidance and forgiveness are the eternal blessings given to us on this side of heaven so that we will never be in want. The psalmist David is telling us that what he has in God is greater than what he has in life.

This morning in our Bible study the first three words of the opening meditation were “Trust in Me.” Are we faithful enough to believe as Davis did? Do we know God well enough to know He is unchanging? God’s love for us never changes. Are we willing to trust Him enough to sing praises with empty pockets? If we can do that then we serve a risen Savior and His heavenly Father. We will serve only one Master.

Take joy in the journey my wonderful friends. 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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Tuesday! Was this as nearly a perfect spring day as a spring day can get? Each afternoon Bruce and I have been sitting out on the porch in the rockers for a while just enjoying the beautiful late afternoon, watering the flowers and Casey tree and catching up on the day. I could really get to like this!

Today was my last day of class at Brite for the semester. This class has been together for the last year in two semesters of Systematic Theology. I must say I have learned a lot and I realize I have so much more to learn. I sent the first 8 pages of my paper to Dr. Jones and he sent it back with some notes, but also said I was on the right track. I felt encouraged. The paper is due on May 5. Please continue to pray for my comprehension of this subject.

Tonight we took taco soup and cornbread over to Starbucks and had dinner with Travis. We ended up feeding the other two baristas, too. They are all single young men and seemed to enjoy a home cooked meal. They are all pretty sweet young people over there and always greet us with respect, kindness and wonderful smiles. They make our drinks to perfection and seemingly with gladness.

Daniel 6: vs. 26-27 says, “He is the living God…He delivers and rescues.”

The story of Daniel is such a great story. The story of Daniel is a model of obedience. Daniel was someone I would call a devout man of the living God; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. King Darius challenged Daniel’s faith repeatedly and Daniel remained true to the living God. Daniel refused to pray to King Darius and the king threw Daniel into the den of lions.

The story goes like this…King Darius had a group of underlings who did not like the fact that Daniel was being promoted and given leadership over the kingdom. The underlings tricked King Darius to sign a decree that said that no one could pray to anyone but King Darius for 30 days lest they be thrown into the lions’ den. King Darius, not knowing why the underlings were pushing this new law, agreed. Daniel heard about the new law, yet continued in his faithfulness and continued to pray, knowing that he would be caught and thrown into the den of lions. The underlings caught Daniel praying to God and arrested him, taking him to the King who was forced to follow up on the punishment of the laws. Even as he had Daniel thrown into the lion’s den, King Darius prayed for Daniel to be rescued and delivered by the living God. The next morning, the King went out to check on Daniel and discovered that the living God of Daniel had sent an angel who sealed the mouths of the lions and saved Daniel. The king realized the faithful prayer life of Daniel was a prayer life that superseded this earth and the living God was greater than any earthly king including himself. The king then declared the God of Daniel the living God because He had saved Daniel.

Daniel was a model of faithful obedience to God and this faithfulness was witnessed by the King Darius. King Darius became a man of faith and shared his faith with the kingdom.

Have you ever noticed that the love of God is spread not by addition, but by multiplication? (forgive the classroom, please). One person loves God and is changed by His love and grace. Then that person tells more people and the story of God spreads. Daniel’s mark of faithfulness was his prayer life. So here are tonight’s questions…what is the mark of our faithfulness? What is the aspect of a life with Christ that sets us apart as a follower of Christ from those who are not followers? How do others know that we are children of God? Are we devout enough in our faith to stand before others and claim our faith in the name of Jesus no matter what it costs us? Do we trust God enough to claim Him as our Father and Christ as our Savior? Jesus did.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all so very much, 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, April 20, 2009

Happy Monday!

My all-time favorite television show was Touched by an Angel. The show starred Della Reece and Roma Downy. These two characters were angels from heaven on assignment to earth. Tess and Monica became involved in the lives of individuals on earth and showed their “assignments” ways to work out the issues in their lives with guidance and trust in God. Some of their “assignments” began the story with a faith, some had not a clue and most just needed to know they could be forgiven and that they were loved. They needed to know that they were loved by God completely and that no matter what they had done they were worthy of God’s love. At the end of each episode the company of angels rejoiced at the victories God had won in the lives of their assignments. But it went a little deeper than just the earthly lives of their assignments. Tess and Monica also spoke of heaven. They spoke of heaven in terms of “it is more beautiful than anything you can imagine.” Angels reside in heaven. Angels are part of the citizens of heaven.

Luke 15:10 says, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God when one sinner changes his heart and life.”

I have heard this verse for years. Since Casey lives in heaven I think about heaven a lot. And I do not know if angels visit us here on earth like in my favorite show Touched By an Angel. But I think I know why they rejoice when one sinner comes to know Christ. I think it is because angels know what heaven is like. They know what heaven holds. The citizens of heaven are those whose lives have been forever changed by the love and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Heaven is a place of perfect peace. No arguments, completely free from sin, free from fear, free from pain, stress, sorrow, suffering. The angels love the work of Christ in the lives of those here on earth because they know the indescribable joy of the perfect love of God that awaits the forgiven, repentant sinner when they, too, become a citizen of heaven.

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 Sunday! We arrived back in Texas around 5:30 and back at home around 8:45. We had a non-eventful journey back home. This is in contrast to our trip to Memphis with the bit of car trouble and a lot of rain. The most unusual thing that happened on our trip home is that I read 291 pages of the final Harry Potter novel. I have seen all of the movies, but never read any of the books. I became totally engrossed in the story. It is excellent writing.

Our visit with family was so wonderful. The cousins had never all met each other before and what began as handshakes and pleasantries ended with huge hugs and promises to keep far better in touch. I cannot wait until all of the pictures arrive via the internet and CDs. Our nephew Kevin got a new fancy camera recently and took pictures of everything that happened over the weekend. There are photos of the making of the cinnamon rolls, Bruce and Travis discovering a new computer game where you make all kinds of things, conversations, family pictures and a swarm of bees that decided to take up residence in a tree at their house. Totally cool!

Song of Solomon 2:4 says, “He brought me to the banqueting house and His banner over me is love.”

I love going to visit family. The other night I shared with you about our families and the love that we all share. And even though I love visiting family near and far I love my own home the best. I love cooking in my own kitchen, sleeping in my own bed, my dogs, my front porch, eating at my own table…you get the idea. In my own home when I walk in I am loved. My home is familiar and has the comforting smells I have grown to love and when I walk in there is usually someone here that I love very much. I love coming to home to Bruce and the kids and feeling the love of family.

The Song of Solomon is a book I have always looked at as a love letter to God and how heaven will be when we see God face to face. Even though all I have is an earthly lens with which to consider heaven, the image I come back to the most is a family and being loved completely. When I read this verse I imagine a never ending banquet table and sitting with those who have gone on before me filled with the most amazing feast in anyone’s imagination. I don’t know whether the citizens of heaven need to eat food as we think of food or is the banquet a feast of God’s love forever. I look forward to the day when I am reunited with Jesus and those who have gone on before me. I know Casey and my Mamo will be there and they already know and experience the perfect love of God all the time.

The banquet of love that we experience each week (as Lutherans) is the Eucharist celebration. The body and blood of Jesus was broken and shed with perfect devotion and obedience to God the Father. This perfect loving act so unselfishly given is known as a foretaste of the feast to come. So my friends, as often as you can, sit at the table with Jesus at the center and allow His banner of love and grace to be lifted over you as an invitation to come to the table as His child. Come and eat, the table is set.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all friends, 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 Thank you for your prayers for travel mercy. Also, could you pray for me as I write this final theology paper? It has to be 20-25 pages long and is due on May 5. I need knowledge beyond myself to write this paper. Thank you.