Saturday, May 16, 2009

Happy Saturday!

1Corinthians 2: 9-10 “However it is written: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him—but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.”

Well, the season is at hand. Today we attended a graduation party for one of Travis’ close friends. We have also begun to receive graduations announcements from family and friends. We are in the process of collecting enough tickets for our family to attend the graduation exercises to be held on June 5 and are making plans for the graduation party for Travis.

Tomorrow is senior Sunday at church. Last week at church we left pictures of Travis from babyhood to now which will be put in a collage on the projected screen during worship. He will be recognized during worship along with several other graduating seniors and will receive his special quilt made by the loving hands of Toni Eaton. The quilts are a “senior thing” our congregation does for all graduating high school seniors.

Travis is preparing for the end of the year activities. Prom, senior picnic, final choir concert and final exams and papers consume much of his thinking and time. And then there are the inevitable questions: “What are your plans for next year?” “Where are you going to go to school?” In what are you planning to major?” Travis has answers to all of those questions. But who knows how those answers will change in the next few months or after the next year? Travis may change his mind and go a different route than the one he believes he is to follow right now.

I think I know what Travis should study, but it is not my task to tell him what to study. It is my job as his mother to be supportive and accept his choices of study and career plans. I can only hope that the choices Geni has already made and the choices Travis will make are the ones that will make them happy and successful in this life. Whatever those choices are I pray that they will have God’s blessing.

Scripture tells us that no one knows but God what He has prepared for those who love Him. The next verse says, “But God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.” The promise is that God will reveal His plans for us to us by the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within each of us who believe.

How will we know what God has planned for us? We will know through prayer. We need to begin to practice praying without ceasing. When we pray without ceasing we come to know our Savior more each moment because we spend time with Him both talking to Him and listening to Him. Prayer changes everything. Prayer will either affirm or confirm the plans we have made or will lead us on another path. When we practice prayer each day we learn to trust God more because we come to know Him as our Lord and Savior. Even if the path God asks us to walk seems totally opposite of what we believe to be right, trusting in the Lord in an act of faith will bring God’s richest blessings and greatest rewards. Whatever the plans are that God has for us will be not only the right ones for us, but they will be the ones God will use in His service in the world.

So take a deep breath and step out on faith. When we step out on faith, God is always there to meet us. Ask God to reveal His plans for you. Then with a trusting heart say “Here I am Lord, send me.” See you in church.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Friends, remember to pray for all seniors as they prepare to step out into this world.

Friday, May 15, 2009

TGIF to you all! The butterfly count is 14 and it looks as if we (FWISD) teachers are not going to be docked for our missed days last week and I am not sure about making the days up. For a first week back from a surprise vacation, the week has gone quite well.

Today the farm animals came to visit our school. The kids and I had a wonderful time with horses, goats and chickens. The kids loved the animals but were most interested in “poop.” I, however, was most interested in chickens. I learned a lot about chickens today. There are meat productions chickens and laying hens. These hens are free range hens. The owner of the animals brought two dozen fresh eggs to show to the children. When we opened them up it looked like a box of perfectly dyed Easter eggs. I found out you can tell what the color of the eggs will be by looking at the hens earlobes. (I never knew hens had ear lobes!) There were white ones, brown ones, green ones, pink ones, blue ones and other really beautiful colors. To make this long story short, I came home with the two dozen eggs and we each had eggs for a snack this afternoon. They were delicious.

Luke 4:18 “the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives,…to set at liberty them that are bruised,”

Last night I was looking for a pair of sandals I was planning to wear today to school. As I was searching in, under and around things in our room I came upon a bag from MD Anderson. It was a bag I was given as a thank you for donating blood while I lived with Casey. I found a package mailed to me by my best friend, Carme. Inside the package were two dishtowels embroidered in yellow. The embroidery showed hearts that had been incorporated with the yellow ribbon; the symbol of sarcoma cancer.

As I continued my search for the other sandal I came across a small forest green box and inside was a necklace. On the pendant was written “simply ’02.” That was the year Casey graduated from high school. Between the dish towels and Travis’ graduation very close this brought back so many memories and my heart began to break all over again.

As Bruce and I lay in bed just before sleep, we talked and the tears began to spill from both of us. We lost Casey 7 months ago yesterday. We spoke of the places that brought us peace. For Bruce it is the time we were allowed to spend with Casey in the last year. In his travels recently, he has encountered several men who have lost sons and daughters. With those, death came by way of automobile accident or suicide – instant, profound loss.God allowed us to see a side of our son we might not have ever seen, but God allowed us precious time. There was never a time when we were not close by; whether in the hospital, in the hospital bed in our dining room or miles away in Houston. For me, the place of peace will always be when Casey told me he was not afraid.

This scripture is such a great comfort to anyone who has experienced loss of any kind. God’s compassion and love for us has no bounds. God shares our hurts and then tells us in His Word that He will “bind our wounds.” God tells us He will cover us in His love like a big warm hug. He knows when our hearts are broken and torn apart. God suffered loss when His Son was crucified. God understands and he is acting in obedience to what His Father told Him to do.

As I prayed before falling asleep I asked to be soaked in the healing balm of God’s grace. And then it dawned on me, how do those who do not know God get through the experience of loss? Those people must grope around in the darkness searching for some light, some understanding, something to hang onto or a place to go. Isn’t it amazing that we who know God know exactly where to go and to whom? We have no question that when we go to God, He will be there. God will be there to “bind our wounds,” “heal our broken hearts,” and soak us in the healing balm of His ever present love and grace. Take care my friends and love you all.

Take joy in the journey. Love, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by 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 15! You know the vacation we all got for a week during this month has made a wonderful difference in the attitudes at school. We all seem to be a lot calmer and taking more things in stride. Even though there is still much work to be done before the end of the year I think we are all not quite as stressed as we usually are. Several of us are practicing the breathing activity of breathing in the Holy Spirit and exhaling the love of God on whomever or whatever is in our path. Not a bad way to end the year. Also, Geni came home today. All finals completed and will begin summer school just after Travis graduates! Way to go Geni!!

Luke 6: 12 “Now during those days [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray…”

Many years ago I was the youth director for a large church in west Texas. I went to a youth directors’ convention in Estes Park, Colorado. This week long experience in the mountains had a profound effect in my life. First, I fell in love with the mountains. I came so close to calling the pastor I was working for and telling him to pack my office and the apartment and ship it to me. I was ready to work at Jack-in-the Box if it meant I could stay there. There was something about those mountains that made me feel so protected; like as long as I was there nothing bad could ever happen to me. It was also during that week that I realized that I was not meant to follow the path of being a youth director as a profession. The mountains allowed me to look out of the window in our cabin and see God’s handiwork each day. The handiwork I saw was the changing of the aspens each day. It was as if a new splash of color was added to the mountain side each day and it was a breathtaking experience.

I loved the quiet peace the mountains afforded. That is most likely why Jesus went to the mountains when He needed some quiet time with the Father. When Jesus went to the mountains He could just talk to His Father like I talk to Bruce or my daddy. He did not need to say anything but what was on His heart. Maybe Jesus walked and talked as if His Father was walking bodily beside Him. Maybe Jesus did not bow His head and fold His hands and say anything poetic or fancy. Maybe Jesus just said, “Hey Dad, it’s Me. You know those disciples still don’t get it. What can I do to explain Your love better to them? And about Peter…? And about that woman that had been sick for so long…thanks.”

How do you pray? Do you think you have to use fancy, poetic language and speak in a mighty voice to try and impress God? I don’t think Jesus tried to impress His Father. I simply think He walked in obedience and stayed in constant contact with the Father. It is rare that I pray with my hands folded and eyes closed. I most often pray with my hands open, my eyes looking up and talking to God like I would talk to someone I loved and trusted with my very soul. And sometimes when the words don’t come or my soul feels like there are blisters where there was once smoothness; I just sit with Jesus and know He is there and sharing my heartache and brokenness for He knows my heart, my needs, my desires even when I do not speak them aloud.

Take some time each day and spend with God in prayer. Find your quiet mountain. Walk to a place that brings you inner peace and sit with the Father and begin. “Hey Dad, it’s me…”

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by 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, May 13, 2009

Greetings from Austin St. (Really!!)

Happy Wednesday! We are back online! Bruce patiently worked with AT&T today for over two hours, but we are finally back online with full internet service restored. I had a gozillion emails. I still have about 50 left to go through. I will tackle them tomorrow and Friday. The butterfly count is 16! Tonight we went to the Senior Parents Meeting tonight. We heard all of the procedures and plans for prom and graduation. It is hard to believe that we are graduating our youngest in just about two weeks.

John 3:17 “God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through Him.”

How many times a day do we make judgments about people? I don’t think any of us can claim innocence about judgments. We meet people and immediately form an opinion. And then sometimes we voice that opinion or judgment to someone else causing them to make a judgment and the pattern continues to repeat itself. Did you ever think of Jesus as He walked the Via Dolorosa on that Friday? The people spat on Him, threw stones, called names and mocked Him. If you read the passage from Matthew 26 through 27 and read all of the terrible, humiliating, degrading acts committed on this man, Jesus, what you will never read is Jesus saying, “You are making a big mistake. Do you know who I Am? Do you know who My Father is?” No, Jesus is silent as He walks the road to the cross. He does not curse the crowd for shouting, “Crucify Him!” He does not shout to these frenzied townsfolk, “Please stop!” No, He simply says, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” Jesus went to the Father and took all of our sins of judgment and asked God, His Father, to forgive us. Since Jesus did that for us, then we must not judge either. God has asked us to leave that part of this life to Him and only Him. God tells us further in Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that we be not judged.” God wants the job of judgment to be left to Him.

So next time we meet someone before we pronounce judgment on them, let us spiritually breathe. Remember last night’s journal? Breathe in the Holy Spirit. Breathe in God’s very essence and ask for a spirit of acceptance, then exhale His gifts of love, grace and peace on the ones we are holding in judgment. The one we meet will then meet the One we love and serve.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.
Greetings from Austin St. ATT came through and we are back online!

Happy Tuesday! The butterfly count is 17. It was a good day at school. The students are getting kind of antsy. But there are still more tests to take and more learning to be done. Tonight we attended Travis final madrigal show at the high school. As May is a month of lists, that is one more event checked off. There are still many to go and we will enjoy being a part of each activity as Travis completes his journey through the public school system. Geni took her physics test and she said it was really hard. She has two tests tomorrow and one on Thursday. Bruce and maybe Travis will go and move her home on Thursday.

Jeremiah 6:16 “Stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and yet shall find rest for your soul.”

Okay, I am beginning to get really griped about AT&T. They have been promising the internet will be installed for the last 10 days. Today’s latest promise is that the internet would be connected by 8:00 pm tonight. Well, no, it isn’t! And in the grand scheme of things this is not horrible, or devastating, or life altering…it is just really aggravating!

When Peter and some disciples were on the boat in the storm and got really angry at Jesus for sleeping through the storm, their anger only intensified the storm. Well, me being upset about being inconvenienced is sort of like that. If we call AT&T and really let them have it is probably not going to help the situation. We will be aggravating the storm. But if we continue to call each day and check on the progress with calmness then we are acting in love and not reacting in anger. So we are going to take the time before we call again and take a deep breath. We will breathe in the Holy Spirit and pray for a spirit of calmness, ask for a progress report and hope they will fix the problem as quickly. But if they are still not fixing the problem then we will try very hard to thank them politely and tell them we will call again tomorrow (and of course tell them to have a nice day). Where agitation is destructive, calmness is constructive. (I will let you know)

Sometimes I tend to avoid situations where I know there is going to be conflict. But if I do not have a choice then I pray before I enter into the situation and ask the Holy Spirit to go before me to make the pathway straight and clear. I also pray that I will have enough awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit to follow its lead and act on the instructions given. Staying calm is trust in action. Only trust in the living God can keep us calm when all others around us are losing it.

So here are our instructions for the day. When presented with a situation of conflict whether between people, machines or companies: STOP. Take in a deep breath of the Holy Spirit and when you exhale, breathe the power of the Holy Spirit on the situation and watch the situation change because you have gotten out of the way and God has taken over.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by 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 Pray for my sweet dog Lamar. I think he may be sick. Love, gc

PSS Today at school, I found a large stack of old phonograph records. Real 33 1/3 lps! I also located a record player from the recesses of our school library. As my children were helping me carry these treasures back to the classroom I heard one of the children ask another child, “What are these?” The response was priceless. “They are giant CD”S!” Tomorrow we are going to have a bit of a history lesson on the phonograph and a stack of wax! gc

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Greetings from Austin St. via Starbucks. We still do not have internet, AT&T is still working on it!!)

Happy Monday! I hope this day finds all of you well. I taught school for the first time in a month today. My student teacher has been teaching for the last several weeks. It felt really good to teach again. And today I addressed most of the graduation announcements for Travis. The month of May is simply a month of check-off lists. One more thing on the to-do list has been done. Now we go to final concerts and awards assemblies and the big event in June. And the butterfly count is 18!!! And, I got a B on my paper and a B in the course. Praise God!!

Mark 4: 32, “Jesus said, A mustard seed grows up…and puts forth large branches so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

I was blessed to grow up with my Mamo living close by. She was the most amazing woman. She made beautiful clothes. She made my school clothes throughout my school career and even made my wedding dress. Besides being a career seamstress, she was a gardener. She was so amazing that one time the small branches she used to stake out her tomato plants even budded out. That blew us all away. Anyway, one of my memories is of her garden. She could grow the most beautiful garden with the best vegetables and prettiest flowers ever. But mostly I remember her vegetable gardens. When I was little I would go with her to the back yard and help her plant the black-eyed peas, onions, radishes, green beans, tomato plants and mustard.

As a child, I remember that mustard was yellow and in the fridge, but Mamo planted mustard seed and grew the plant itself. It was the tiniest seed ever and it really did grow to make the largest bush in the garden. As it grew Mamo and I would go out to the garden and pinch off the young leaves and eat the mustard leaves right out of the garden. I thought that was totally cool. But that was not all my Mamo grew.

I can see Mamo now planting the rows in her garden, watering them, weeding and thinning out the plants so that there would be plenty of room for them to grow. And then I watched her go inside the house, complete in the knowledge that she had completed her task and that God would do the rest. Her mustard seed faith caused her garden to flourish every year. And I knew that before long the family lunch would be ready and the vegetables would be cooked to perfection and better than anything that we could ever buy at the store and that no matter how many were present for lunch; there would always be enough and leftovers to spare.

How big is our faith? God tells us in His Word that faith is one of His gifts to us and that it needs not be any bigger than that grain of mustard for God to act on our behalf and cause our faith to flourish to the size of the largest plant in the garden. So sometimes if our faith seems really small remember that God tells us that our faith can be small because His faithfulness to us is great. Trust in the One who gave us the gift and let Him grow His faith in each of us.

Take joy in the journey. Love you, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by 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, May 10, 2009

Greetings from Austin St. via Starbucks!! (still no internet—serious bummer!)

Blessed Sunday and Happy Mother’s Day to all of you! I have missed writing to you these last few days. We are back at home now after a whirlwind trip to Lubbock. (Geni and Travis arrived safely. PTL!) Our visit with family was just awesome and Kendall graduated from Texas Tech just beautifully. She has moved back to Allen and will begin to look for a job sometime next week. The keynote speaker was Scott Pelly from CBS News 60 Minutes. He proudly wore his Texas Tech western boots. The first statement he said to the graduates was “You picked a heckuva time to graduate college.” He spoke of courage, perseverance and dreaming big. He was inspiring and his talk was well received. We only had one tough moment on the entire trip. While we were eating breakfast at Cracker Barrel prior to graduation Mom and Dad’s car was broken into, the side window smashed in and Mom’s purse stolen. While my brother called the police, I cancelled all of their credit cards. There was also a fairly large amount of cash taken. Mom was so very upset and all but swears she is never going anywhere again. I ask for your prayers for them as they work to reclaim their financial lives and recover from the feeling of being violated.

– UPDATE – Daddy just called(8:30pm). Someone found Mom’s purse in a hedge behind a Wal-green’s store some distance from the Cracker Barrel. The only thing that was taken was the money. All credit cards and other information was left intact! PTL! They are going to ship it to her tomorrow.

This Mother’s Day was a bit different than previous Mother’s Days. The majority of the day was just wonderful. We all ate breakfast in our bed this morning. Bruce served coffee and prepared eggs while I watched the Sunday Morning Show. Then the kids joined us. It was great fun.

Worship was amazing. The anthem was so full of joy I am sure that Casey shushed the angel choir and said just listen, that is my Mom and Dad singing with the praise team. I know Casey would have approved. Singing the song Breathe will always evoke a strong emotion for me. It has always spoken to my very soul with the words “And I am desperate for You and lost without You.” But the words “Your very Word, spoken to me.” Since the afternoon when Casey told me God told him it would not be long and that he was not afraid, I have believed that God not only meant those words for Casey, but for me too. It was after I delivered the news to Casey that there was nothing more to be done on this earth that Casey told me that God told him he would go home soon and he was not afraid. I who seemed to deliver bad news each time, was blessed with the good news. I will treasure that moment in time for the rest of my life.

Following worship Bruce, Geni and Travis took me to lunch and then we went to see Star Trek. OMG!!! It is so totally cool! I highly recommend it. It will so come to live with us when it is available and it is very worthy of a repeat attendance.

John 15: 5 [Jesus said,] “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit.”

I think that part of working through my grief, loss and sadness has been the recovery of our house. Through the actions of many, many people and their commitment to grace in action, our house is looking really nice inside and out. One of the things I have begun to do is plant flowers. I have different colors and kinds of flowers in clay pots on the porch, down the side walk and in window boxes on the house. I love driving up each day and seeing all of the colors and the vibrant signs of life that greet me. I know very little about the intricacies of gardening beyond, dirt, water and weeds. I purchase flowers because I like the colors and how they look. So I decided that I would use Miracle Grow plant food and potting soil to see if I could boost the flower population in my pots and window boxes. I wanted to give these plants every opportunity to grow as much and as long as they possibly could. My basic plan is to water when they are dry (sometimes daily or at least every other day) and plant food once a week.

I began to think that working with the flowers is a lot like my own spiritual life. I read scripture daily, pray during the day and attend worship once a week. In these three activities I am growing. I also planted multiple plants in each container. These plants have the opportunity to help each other grow and become beautiful, full flowered plants. I am so thankful for the Wednesday morning prayer group at school that helps me have other areas which are growing as well. We all help each other. But I also know that I have much to learn about plants. I also have much to learn about God, His Son Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. I know that if I neglect my flowers by not watering them and feeding them they will die. I also know if I neglect my spiritual life then my soul and actions will suffer and die. If I were to pollute my plants by watering them with gasoline or alcohol then they will surely die. If I begin to pollute my time with God with other “busyness” then my spiritual life as well as all of the other aspects of my life will suffer.

It is May and a very busy time for all of us. So let each of us put the busyness aside and put God first and keep Him throughout the day. He will keep us watered in our baptisms, feed us on His Word and keep us firmly planted in His abundant grace.

Take joy in the journey my gardener friends. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.