Saturday, May 30, 2009

Happy Saturday! Psalm 50:23 “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me.” (Go King James!)

Praise to God is the way to make Satan flee from our hearts, minds and spirits. Stuff happens in our lives. Sometimes the stuff is really horrible. The loss of our son to cancer was by far the most devastating event in our lives. And the realization of that loss tears us up every day. But God blessed us to much in that we got to spend the last year of Casey’s life with him every day. We were witnesses to watch him die to self and live for Christ. As we watched him grow in the likeness of Christ we grew ourselves. We all grew in our faith. Casey never seemed fearful. I think Casey never showed a spirit of fear because he stayed in constant contact with God and for Casey there was no need to fear. Satan tried time and again to steal Casey away from the hand of God. Satan finally gave up when he realized that Casey belonged to God body, soul, mind and spirit.

A joyful heart is the greatest weapon against all evil. The evil some people experience everyday is stress and frustration over stuff. I am learning when the “stuff” (stresses and frustrations) begins to happen that I need to “Have a little talk with Jesus.” It is in those times when the loss of Casey weighs so heavily on me that I can hardly breathe that I need to talk to God and tell Him how I feel. In the times when deadlines need to be met or there is too much month left at the end of the money or when I look at my children with pride and just a little sadness at the fact that they are grown and will be off on their own sooner that I can imagine I need to look up into the face of the Father with a look of love. I know when I do that I will feel a sense of security and the joy that was temporarily displaced but will soon return because of the Presence of God.

Friends, have a little talk with Jesus and watch Satan go on the run. Satan cannot stand a heart that is full of love and joy.

Take joy in the journey. See you in worship. 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.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy Friday! The first grade picnic is behind us (Geni and Travis were tremendous helpers) and we are marching toward the final days of this school year. And today I am better. Yesterday I was blithering. Today I am more at peace.

Philippians 3:13, 14 “The one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind…I press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

I had begun to sort of beat myself up over being so stressed out yesterday. I was not very nice to my family and I regret my words and actions. Then I read this passage and remembered that all I have to do is ask for forgiveness and forget yesterday’s mistakes and do better today. Today I counted my blessings and put yesterday’s failures behind me. Today I chose to breathe in God’s richest blessings, forget what lay behind me and ask for more of God’s love.

What happened was wonderful. When I asked God for more of His love I discovered I had more love to give. God gave me enough strength to take care of a 24 hour day. And when I don’t have the strength to carry the whole day then I need to remember to ask for God to carry the rest. Yesterday, I did not breathe in the Holy Spirit and exhale the love of God. I pray I have learned and will remember this lesson throughout this week (and for a long time past this week). Yesterday I was miserable and being miserable is not a godly quality. Yesterday I was living in self-pity and sin and did not pray for forgiveness. Yesterday I separated myself from God. Huge mistake!!

Today I spent time in prayer, thanksgiving, counted my blessings and breathed in the renewing power of the Holy Spirit. The journey from despair was an uphill climb, but when I asked God to take my hand and pull me back unto Him I found that the only one who moved was me. He was there all the time. I found that God’s everlasting love for me was just a prayer away. So friends take joy in this amazing journey God has laid before us and may you learn your lessons easier than 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.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Happy Thursday! Tonight we attended the Senior Awards Assembly at Lamar High School. Travis received a choir award and the first recipient of the Casey Chrystie Memorial Scholarship was announced. The young man who received the scholarship has been a friend of Travis’ since Junior High. We were so proud of this very special young man.

During my planning time this morning Mr. Koppes (my vice-principal) and the chair person of the yearbook committee came to my classroom and presented me with a copy of this year’ s Burton Hill Yearbook. She opened up the yearbook and told me they had dedicated this years’ publication to Casey. I felt so honored and so very proud. I shed quite a few tears as I remembered how much Casey loved to come to school with me and work in my room.

Tomorrow is the 7th Annual First Grade Family Picnic. It is one of my most favorite days of the school year. Families of our first graders gather with their blankets and lawn chairs send their hot dogs and buns and have a two hour lunch and play time. I am the grill master and grill about a million hot dogs. It is such a fun day. Up until last year Casey had come to school and grilled the hot dogs for the kids. I will miss him a lot tomorrow. Geni and Travis will be helping me tomorrow.

Hebrews 13:5 “And be content with such things as ye have for He hath said, I will never leave thee, not forsake thee.”

My stress level at this moment is pretty high. I did no sleep very well last night. The end of the school year is always a time of stress with deadlines occurring seemingly every few minutes, grades to post, awards to figure out, a room that has to be completely packed away, students that have already shut down and we still have a week to go, this year with Travis graduation and a party to follow. And all of this has to be accomplished in a relatively short amount of time. And then I read this scripture. “And be content…” Right now I am anything but content. I am frustrated and my heart today has been torn into pieces once again because of the yearbook and the scholarship. Have you ever been so frustrated or stressed that you were finding it hard to breathe or even make a complete sentence? That was me today.

Instead of stopping to breathe and ask God to bring about peace and calmness, I sputtered at Bruce trying to tell him how I was feeling and made no sense what so ever. So I quit talking for fear that I would say something I would have really regretted. And God has the nerve to say, “Be ye content with such things…for I will never leave thee or forsake thee.” God is asking me let go of these stressful feelings and allow Him to love me. I know in the grand scheme of things all of the aforementioned activities are just “stuff,” and I have been through far worse things than a few deadlines and floors that need to be laid by next Sunday morning. God’s gentle reminder in this short passage of scripture is God’s way of telling me, Gaylene, you have trusted me with things far more difficult than this and I can take care of these things too. Calm down and listen to Me. I did not leave you when you were going through the most difficult time in your life and I will not leave you now.”

Tonight’s prayer simply says, “Lord forgive me for reacting to the stresses in my life. I give you Lordship over each one of these events and trust that all will be accomplished.” In this passage God is telling me,” Rely on My love and if you feel yourself beginning to crater, pray for more love from Me and remember I Am here and I will never leave you for forsake you.”

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 27, 2009

Happy Wednesday!

Colossians 2: 6,7 “ As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him; Rooted and built up in Him.” (yes, I know this was last night’s scripture, but there has been a further development with my plant.)

Just an update on my New Guinea Impatiens…this morning as I was walking out the door I discovered my beautiful plant was face down on the porch and its pot on the other side of the porch completely separated from the plant. I almost cried. The storm blew it over and the plant spent the night face down. I righted the plant and went on to work. When I arrived home after school the plant did not look too bad. It is a bit flat on one side, but it has good strong stems and a wonderful root system.

What I have discovered is that I am going to have to get the plant a larger pot and one that will stand up to the storm a bit better. (The original pot is a thin plastic one.) As I was telling this story to my friends at prayer group this morning, we talked about having deep roots. If you read my journal entry last night I spoke about having deep roots. My beautiful plant has outgrown its pot and needs a larger pot. The roots need more room to grow and spread out so the flowers on the plant can continue to grow.

Sometimes we need for our roots to grow. As we grow in Christ and become more deeply rooted in His Word and in our knowledge of him through our prayer life we need bigger pots for our roots to grow. Remember the truth about plants, the deeper the roots the taller and stronger the plant. The stronger the plant the better it will withstand the storm. But the container for the plant is important also. One of our group members talked about the thin plastic pot as compared to the clay pot. In order for us to grow in this Christian life we need to read and study God’s word, have a strong prayer life and surround ourselves with people who are strong believers who can help protect us with prayer, emotional and physical support.

Back to my plant. This plant has now weathered two storms back to back. It suffered from the heat and needed a drink and then from the wind, rain and hail and it seems to be doing okay.

How do we compare to this plant? Is our root system strong enough to withstand the heat, stress at work, home or the storms that life throws at us such as crisis of health, finances, employment or other events that soak us in despair? I not only hope that God will stand with me, but will take up what is beyond my root system to handle. God plants His seeds of love, grace and forgiveness in us. It is our job to cultivate those seeds with His Word, worship, prayer and fellowship with other believers. My prayer is that God will plant us where He wants us and that we will bloom where we are planted.

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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Happy Tuesday! Colossians 2: 6,7 “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord as Lord, so walk ye in Him: Rooted and built up in Him.”

I have been telling you that I have been planting plants in pots. I still have much to learn, but I love the plants I have planted. I am learning which plants can take the heat and full sun, those that need just morning sun and those that need shade. I came home today only to find my pot of exotic New Guinea Impatiens wilted and sad. So I quickly put my things down and grabbed the water hose. I watered my plants including the Impatiens pot and in a little while it perked right up. It looked beautiful once again and full of life and beauty.

But I want to tell you something I learned as Lisa was helping me pot the plants. She taught me to loosen the roots so that they could spread out and receive water better. I noticed as I was planting how vast the root systems were in each plant. As I was preparing this lesson I began to think that plants must grow in two ways. First they must grow from the ground down, the roots, and from the ground up, the flowers and leaves. The deeper the roots, the stronger and taller the plant. The deeper the roots, the stronger the plant, the more the plant can withstand. As a novice planter of plants, I chose plants that were beautiful, flowery plants in colors I liked. I did not check the root system and see how deep the roots were. So, you guessed it, I lost some plants.

Isn’t this a lot like our spiritual lives? When we first come into relationship with Christ, it is often beautiful flowers, beautiful colors and pretty leaves. But once the excitement wears off our flowers begin to fade and our leaves begin drop off and when the first storm hits, our faith is often pounded just like a plant gets beaten up by a hard rain or hail. Why? Because we don’t have roots yet. God has planted His seeds of life in us, the good soil, but roots take a while to grow. How do we grow the roots of faith and flowers of joy? We feed the plant with only the best food possible. We read and study God’s Word, we practice an active prayer life, we worship the Father and we act in His name to help others.

When trees are cut down the story of their lives is told in the rings found in the bark. The stories of good weather, hard winters, disease and age tell the story of the life of the tree. If the tree is tall and strong then the roots are deep and firmly planted in the good soil.

What do the rings of our lives tell about our roots? Are our roots planted deep in good soil or are they planted in shallow ground where the storms will pound and uproot our faith? We have received Christ Jesus and He chose us. He chose us in which to plant Himself and grow Himself in us. Let us be rooted in God’s Word, born in His image and spend our lives growing in His likeness.

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.
Happy Monday and Happy Memorial Day! Our day was a busy one mostly spent at home. Today, Bruce with the help of Travis began to lay our new floors. They completed the living room. It is so pretty and I am so excited about it.

Luke 19:10 “The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them.” Mark 10: 45 “the Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many people.” John 19: 10 “it is finished!”

There are only a few more days of school and there are so many things to do. I must finish teaching the first graders in my classroom and send them off to second grade. I must pack the entirety of my classroom in boxes for the summer to make way for the asbestos abatement. We must help Geni get ready for summer school. We must continue working on our house to prepare it for Travis’ graduation party. We must get Travis graduated and then celebrate his graduation with a party on Sunday following graduation. That is a lot of activity to occur in the next 13 days. In order to get all of these things accomplished we must stay focused. The problem is that all of these activities are really important and it is hard to stay focused on just one activity because they are all going on concurrently with the exception of the actual graduation and celebration. All of these tasks must be accomplished before June 7.

The scripture lessons for today tell us that Jesus knew exactly what He came to accomplish. Jesus also had a deadline. His deadline was the cross. Jesus never lost His focus. With every step Jesus took His purpose was to find lost people and save them. Jesus entered into relationships with those who were lost and outcast. He entered into relationships with those whom He believed would carry on His ministry after His death. And when all of these steps were taken, paths were walked, conversations held, lesson were taught and instructions were given, Jesus hung before a crowd and asked His Father one more time to forgive them and then He said, “It is finished.”

I feel relatively sure that sometime on June 8 about mid-afternoon I, too, will say, “It is finished.” But my “finished”, even though it is very important, it is not near as important as the task that God has set before me through the acts and Words of Jesus. My prayer for myself and my family is that we do not get so caught up in preparation that we forget that God’s purpose for us is the same purpose He set out for Jesus. God sent Jesus to let others know how much they are loved.

Jesus taught His disciples these lessons of love, grace and forgiveness to His disciples and those disciples taught others. That teaching has filtered down to us. God calls us to enter into relationships with those who do not know Him and to make the introduction. And when the time comes for us to be in the presence of Christ forever we can say “it is finished,” for we will have done what God has asked of us.

In the next 13 days there will be a fair amount of stress and concern that everything will be accomplished and we will meet our deadlines. My prayer is that we will keep God in the center of all of these tasks, count it all joy and ask Him to give us the energy to complete each task and to give thanks for His richest blessings as we work toward the goal of completion.

Take joy in the journey 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.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Blessed Sunday to you all! Worship was really wonderful today. I will share a portion of today’s message in a just a bit. Travis got home from the prom very sleepy, but safe. He slept until about lunchtime and then just rested for the afternoon and then went to work. We do not have any grand plans for Memorial Day. I am just going to grill some chicken and run some errands.

John 17: 6-19 is the passage in which Jesus prays for His disciples. The entry tonight is inspired by the message from Pastor Joel. He began with the question, “How is your prayer life?” Prayer is about building a relationship with God. How could you build a relationship with someone if you did not talk to the person? When we talk with God it is a two way street; we talk and God listens and then we are asked to listen and let God talk to us. We are called to make prayer a priority.

Prayer is something that must be taught. Jesus was in constant contact with the Father. Jesus then modeled to His disciples that prayer life. He showed His disciples that He was constantly engaged with God.

In this passage Jesus prays for His disciples. Can you fathom that the Savior of the world is praying for us? God comes to us and we come to God. Jesus shows the disciples through His prayer life how to build a relationship with God. Jesus prays for protection for us from the evil one.

One of the things we learn when we pray is that we may not always get the answers we want, and the ones for whom we pray may not receive healing on this side of heaven, but when we pray, we strengthen our relationship with God, the Father. We listen and learn that God has his own time for everything.

After God, through Moses, led the nation of Israel out of Egypt, He called Moses to the top of Mount Nebo. God reminded Moses that he may look at the promised land, but he may not cross over into the land. But what Moses got was a face-to-face encounter and a long relationship with God.

Pastor shared this story. He had taken his son, Caleb, to the zoo. They saw a herd of Impalas. Now Impalas can jump 30 feet when they are running. Pastor and Caleb saw the herd with a little 3 foot fence and a hedgerow around it. They were amazed that the impalas didn’t jump out of their area then they saw a sign that explained that Impalas are animals that will not jump unless they can see where they are going to land. Impalas live by sight.

Are we impalas? Do we only take the leap when we see we are going to land or do we take a leap of faith and place ourselves in the hands of the Father and allow Him to carry us to where He wants us to be? The Apostle Paul tells us to live by faith and trust and not by sight. We can confidently place our trust in God if we have come to know Him through a life of prayer. God may lead us into uncharted water, but if our relationship is rooted in prayer then we can trust that wherever the path leads us we can confidently believe that we are on the right road and following the lead of the living God.

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.
Happy Saturday! My dear friend Lisa came over today to help me with planting flowers. I was beginning to think I had a bad case of black thumb when in fact what I had was a case of lack of education.

Lisa grows beautiful flowers. We went shopping today for flowers at a lovely nursery on Division St. Lisa educated me on how to buy flowers for different seasons and temperatures. So I now have appropriate plants for Texas heat. We had a really great time planting, transplanting and repositioning different plants according to their needs. I learned a lot today. A master gardener I will never be, but I am grateful to Lisa for being patient with me and teaching me a few things so maybe my black thumb will lighten up just a bit!

Tonight Travis went to the prom. He and his date met another couple to attend the prom together. Everyone looked so nice and proud parents were there to take pictures and wish them well and safety for the night. Travis will be out all night. So pray for safety for him and his date and for his parents who will not sleep as well as usual tonight.

John 7:38 “If anyone believes in Me, rivers of living water will flow out from that person’s heart.”

The month of May 2009 has been really busy. Teaching school, going to college and having a graduating senior have made this an extremely busy month for me. When I get really busy or I am working around the house I usually have a glass of Crystal Lite or iced tea close by on which to sip on as I go about the tasks ahead. I usually make a gallon pitcher of these beverages so I do not run out quickly.

I am so glad God’s river of life, His pitcher of water does not run dry. I need sips from that clear running stream all day long. I need the energy it gives. I need the forgiveness it so kindly offers up for me. I need the renewed Spirit that keeps the water flowing down so that I may drink as much as I need without fear of a drought. I need the comforting tender mercies this river bathes me in when I am troubled or sad. And I need the calmness from those peaceful flowing waters especially right now. Jesus invites each of us to drink of this living water just as He invited the woman at the well. The old song, “Fill My Cup, Lord,” speaks of this living water and asks that this water fill our cups and make us whole. Let us bring our cups, our hearts and souls and ask the Father to fill them with His live giving, living water and be made whole today.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all and see you in worship! Drink hearty! 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.