Saturday, June 13, 2009

Happy Friday!

Luke 15:20 “His father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.”

I have always loved this story of The Prodigal Son. This is the story of the father and two sons where the youngest asked for his inheritance early, squanders it and crawls home with his tail between his legs. The father not only forgives him, but throws a party in grand style and seats his sinful son in a place of honor for all to see.

I have thought about this story from several different points of view over the years, but tonight I would like to look at this story from a different angle. Have you ever considered how God views us? God loves us so very much that he takes us back into His loving arms no matter how covered in sin we are. God promises that as long as we repent and return to Him we are forgiven and our sin is erased. We are the beneficiaries of His forgiveness and His mercy. God created the sky, the earth, mountains, the sea, the birds of the air and fish of the sea, but He chose us with whom to have a relationship. Creation, for all of its wonder and magnificence, is only a spectator to the joy that God heaps on us, wraps us in and fills our very souls. God chose us with which to have His most intimate relationship. God remains with us in our joys, our gladness, our despair, our desperation and rejoices when we bring ourselves to our knees and ask forgiveness.

In this passage of scripture the son is walking to the house of the father, but the father is so overjoyed by his son’s return, he runs down the road to greet his son and welcomes him back into the family and into his house. When we have walked away from God the distance is not very far to return to him. He loves us so very much and misses us, He grieves when we are apart from Him and has overwhelming sadness when one of His children has left the house. The distance is about 14 inches or so. It is the distance from your knees to the floor. God will be there before your knees hit solid ground welcoming you, wrapping His loving arms around you seating you in a place of honor and shouting “Glory, My child who was lost is now come home.”

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 Special prayer request from our friends Carme and Dave Russell. Dave and his brother and sisters are looking for a full Alzheimer’s care facility for his mother. It is so very hard when your parents forget who you are. The coolest thing is that Jane (Dave’s mother) still has a wonderful relationship with God. Carme, in trying to help Dave with this said, “Dave, would you rather your Mom remember you or remember her relationship with Jesus?” Carme does tend to get to the heart of the matter. Thank you for your prayers. gc

Friday, June 12, 2009

Happy Thursday! Wow! Are we sure this is June? The rain and storms were ferocious. Geni said, “Forget that April showers bring May flowers business.” We, Geni, Travis and I were out in it today taking Travis to the TCC NE Campus. He filled out the application and was accepted. He will attend New Student Orientation on Monday and can register after the orientation.

I have begun to clean a few things out and I have started with my dresser. It was and still is pretty full, but this is only the first go round. I have found receipts from shopping, tags from clothes hurriedly yanked from garments, several bottles of nail polish and two boxes of change I have been collecting for who knows how long. There might be enough for a partial tank of gas or a trip to Fuzzy’s. I also came across at least three sets of pictures. All of the pictures were Casey and Geni when they were quite young. The pictures of Geni were in the days when I dressed her in bonnets and when Casey would read to her. Travis had not entered the “picture” as yet. One of the sets was of Casey’s first birthday. He is covered in cake from his head to his toes. Wonderful memories of a beautiful boy and the treasured times spent with our daughter and son.

James 5:11 “The Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”

Tonight after the storm had stopped for a while I sat on the porch in one of the rockers and began prayer time. I gave thanks that we were so fortunate to still have lights and power tonight. The power in our house usually goes out during a storm of far less magnitude than the ones of today. I prayed for those who were without power, those who were flooded out, those whose cars were overcome by water and gave thanks for their owners being rescued. I prayed for two of our friends who are without employment. One of these friends is relocating to Kansas leaving her grown children behind. I gave thanks that I am employed and that Bruce has been so blessed to work for a company and own a company so that work right now is staying fairly steady. I pray for God’s mercy on those who are without light tonight and that God will light their path with restored power very soon and a way to make it until power is restored. I pray for the compassion of Christ to rest on those who have to collect house payments and utility payments that they may allow these precious ones pay as soon as they can. And I pray for the children that are being left behind. I ask that the healing power of God, the God who repairs brokenness with His compassionate love will keep this family close as the miles grow farther away.

The scripture tonight tells us that “God is…” not God will be, or God might be, or God will if we…The Word says, “God is very compassionate and merciful.” Not just a little compassionate and merciful, but “very” compassionate and merciful. God loves us so much and He hates to see us hurting, worried and afraid. God sent Jesus to show us His tender mercies and His compassion while Jesus was on the earth. Jesus showed great compassion and mercy to so many while He walked on the earth. God needed His people to see His compassion and mercy enacted in the body of Jesus.

Tonight, let us join in prayer for those who are in the darkness whether physical or spiritual. Let us pray for those families separated by miles or by misunderstanding in the same room and for those who are so desperately in need of employment, May God bless them with what they need while they seek out other means of employment.

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.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy Wednesday! I began the day with Coffee with God, but did not get to write until this evening. I began water aerobics this morning. Our instructor, a lovely young woman named Angela, is a week away from the due date of her second child. She was bouncing around all over the pool area and putting the rest of us to shame. She worked us really hard. I felt really good to get back in the water.

Numbers 6: 22-27 “The Lord bless you and keep you.”

How many times have we been dismissed from worship with these wonderful words? Do we ever listen to the comfort and power of these words? Or are these words similar to the dismissal at the end of class “Any questions?”

So let’s talk about listening. As a teacher, I wonder how much the children in my class room really listen. I wonder that because I so very frequently as the question, “Did you listen?” How often do any of us really listen?

I tend to listen until I understand. During my last semester at Brite I met with my professor to ask for help on the final theology paper. He began to talk. Now this is a totally brilliant theologian and has more knowledge than one head can possibly hold with a vocabulary that would rival a member of Mensa. His listener (me) was not even close to being on the same page as my learned teacher. But, I told him just to keep talking. I told him to continue to talk until I could latch on to something with which I could make a connection. It took several cups of coffee and one dish of strawberries until he finally said something that sparked an idea with which I could connect. After that I could begin to form the paper that would explain the many doctrines of theology and my reflections.

So let us look at those so familiar words. “The Lord Bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.” Amen. The commissioning says for the Lord to bless you and keep you. The writer of Numbers is telling us that the Lord will bless us and keep us because of His love for us. The writer sends the blessing that God will keep us not only in this world, but in His Kingdom. God loves His creation so very much that He wishes to shower us with boundless blessings and shower His grace upon each of us. Because we are born in the image of God and we spend our lives growing in His likeness, the Lord’s face will shine upon us because, just like all family members, the family resemblance is reflected in its members.

When worship closes on Sunday and the pastor recites this blessing over you, think about what a wonderful blessing this is. Think about the peace that this wonderful blessing affords each of us. Then when you part from your friends and family think about leaving them with this blessing. God has blessed each of us so richly let us share His blessing with others.

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, June 9, 2009

Happy Tuesday! At this writing I am sitting on the deck in the cool of the morning with my dogs laying at my feet and reading in a new devotional material. Bruce is bringing his breakfast out here and we will share the quietness of the morning together.

Today I am going to the post office, returning tables and chairs to the church and taking Travis out to TCC to see an advisor about classes for the fall. It will be a busy day.

For any new readers to this blog, Coffee with God began last summer each day just before I went to spend the day with Casey in the hospital. I went to the small table on the front porch and read the Word and reflected on what God had to share with me. I have grown to have a hunger and thirst for the Word. I still cannot quote scripture chapter and verse like many others, but I am learning to read and gain a better understanding of God’s Word and I love it. Reading scripture, prayer and so many loving and caring people are what has gotten us through the loss of our son to cancer. As for me, I do not think I will ever get over the loss of Casey, but I know I will get through the grief at some point for the Word tells me that “The weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Psalm 94:19 “When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy.”

As I approached this morning and return to God that which was started last summer, I think of that summer. Each day I would come to the front porch with coffee in hand. Out of the earshot of the washer, dryer, out of the sight of the breakfast dishes and I did not even take my phone outside and spent time with God before riding my wonderful adult tricycle to the hospital to spend the day with Casey. I used Max Lucado’s Grace for the Moment Bible, a daily devotional reading for the day’s reflection.

Today, I am sitting on the deck in the backyard. With laptop on the table, dogs at my feet, coffee to my left I am using a devotion provided by one of my school friends called, Journey, a Woman’s guide to Intimacy with God. This aforementioned scripture is the reading for today. I am not sure if it was there before I opened the book or if left by an angel, but it was so very appropriate for today. The reflection for the scripture is a story of a woman who has experienced loss.

I have to believe the most devastating loss any parent can experience is the loss of a child. There are certain expectations of loss everyone has. We will lose our parents at some point and we will lose our spouses or they will lose us all to death. And even though those are losses that are totally devastating and filled with pain and absence, the loss of a child, no matter at what age is devastating. Pastor Joel, our pastor at Advent, says, “Gaylene, you are a member of a club that should not ever have any more members.” Parents are not supposed to bury their children.

As I would visit Casey each day, he would always greet me with a smile and a big hug and “Mom, want to play TextTwist?” I always marveled at his matter of fact attitude at this devastating disease that was slowly and painfully taking his body. The most amazing aspect was that even though the disease was taking his body, it never seemed to even touch his spirit or determination. The nurses loved to see him, the doctors all visited even if he wasn’t their patient and he welcomed all visitors with a face and eyes that shined with the love of the living God.

To say that I miss Casey does not even describe the loss I feel. I have an aching in my soul sometimes that nothing seems to be able to comfort. Then I remember the words of the beloved 23rd Psalm; “He restores my soul.” The creator of the universe, the Father of Jesus has promised that my soul will be restored and that joy will return. Please understand I am not unhappy. And I am not sad all of the time, but there is this huge hole in my heart that was once filled by my blond haired, blued-eyed first born child who brought me great joy. But God has promised through His Word, His voice in prayer and His grace-filled people that my soul will be restored and His comfort will bring joy. I cling to these promises, these truths of God. For we have a God that would not lie and never breaks His promises.

Lord, we weren’t created to go through the tough times alone. You gave us your Word, Your Son and your people to bear the burdens we carry. Restore joy to those who have experienced loss. Thank you blessed Father. In the name of Jesus, Amen

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 first day of summer break to all FWISD teachers! I, with the help of Bruce and Travis, packed away my classroom for yet another summer. I have high hopes of going back to school this fall to a new ceiling and new carpet in my classroom. I have the most wonderful husband and children who will give up their time to help mom with the end of school. I will call on them again as I reconstruct my classroom again in August. I will need people taller than me to put up some of my things!

Tonight we enjoyed our first meal as a family at the round table on the new deck. It was so nice. It was an evening with pleasant temperatures and my most favorite people with which to share it. I am pretty sure we will spend more evenings outside as the summer continues. And in the morning I will sit out there with my coffee, devotional materials, Bible and laptop and have coffee with God. I began this ritual last summer before going daily to the hospital to see Casey. This time really helped me to begin the day with God firmly planted in my vision and carrying me through the day.

I know I say this often, but I do so miss Casey. My entire last summer was spent with him at the hospital. It was precious time and I will treasure that time for the rest of my life. I think one of the most precious gifts God gives us is the gift of time. My first coffee time may be a bit emotional so bear with me in the journal if it is a bit bittersweet. We need to treasure each moment we have and not waste a moment for we never know when that time will be gone.

Psalm 20: 7 “Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the Lord.”

I am so proud of our home - our physical dwelling. I am beyond excited to invite people to come over for coffee or a hot dog on the deck or whatever. Our house is a source of joy in my life. It is not a fancy, huge home with a pool, but our house has been rehabbed by the grace of God that dwells in the hearts of those believers who sacrificed their time, elbows, radical kindness and hearts of love to create a dwelling that is to the glory of God. When you arrive at our house the first image that greets you is a beautiful door with a glass insert. Etched and crafted into the glass is a cross.

I take pride in many things. I take pride in my husband, my children, my extended family, my church, my school and my dogs! But mostly I take humble pride (is that an oxy-moron?) in being a child of the King. Scripture tells me that I am a child of God and a brother to Jesus.

Of all of the names for which I am known, wife to Bruce, mother to Geni and Travis, first grade teacher, seminary student; the name which brings me the greatest pride is being Gaylene, child of God and brother to Christ. I learned a long time ago that without Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I am nothing. God has blessed me richly and I am proud to be called His child.

In what do you take pride? In the things of which you are proud to whom do you give the glory, the praise and the thanks? In this journey on which we all travel let us keep our eyes on Christ; the giver of every good and every perfect gift, proudly carry His name and give Him the glory for each victory won in our lives.

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.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Blessed Sunday! The deck is amazing. Bruce and Al finished around 3:30 am. They both said they never really got tired or sleepy the whole time. I prayed for them most of the night.

There was a great deal of activity that went on as all four of us put the finishing touches on the celebration. Geni and Travis set up the tables and chairs placed the cloths and center pieces. Bruce made the dirt look prettier. (One of the summer projects is to figure out how to afford to grow grass in our shady backyard.) God blessed me with a spirit of peace and calmness as the time drew very near for our guests to arrive and things were not quite ready (I secretly prayed for them to be just a bit late.), but it was okay our guests were just as happy to drink coffee, and snack on coffee cake while I got the eggs and hash browns ready. I could have totally stressed, but I did not. God was in control of this day. When I allowed God to be in control the peace and calmness I so needed was given as a wonderful gift. God was present in our time of family fun and fellowship. Where the love of God is, Satan cannot invade. Praise God!

The day was a day of blessings for our family. I think by the time everyone left we had 21 guests for the brunch including my Aunt Wanda’s puppy. Lamar and Jackson were very well mannered with this little dog. I was very proud of them.

Other than a toilet overflowing the party was just wonderful. I have the most wonderful family and they loved the party. Just in case you want to know the menu…we had a scrambled egg bar which was served in disposable martini glasses (I scrambled eggs on the grill and laid out all sorts of toppings), hash browns, blueberry muffins, coffee cake, lemon bars, granola cereal, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, coffee, juice and milk. There was lots of talking, laughing, eating and wonderful family fellowship. It was a wonderful day. God blessed us richly with our family with our love for each other because He loved us first.

John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world.”

Up until recently I have never invited people to our home. We had not been good at taking care of things around the house and I did not want people to walk into chaos. So today was such a miracle for me. I have waited for this day for such a long time. Today God was victorious over Satan. There were many opportunities for me to be upset because of the things that did not get done. But instead I rejoiced in the wonderful things that were accomplished.

The summer is before us and I have plans to continue home improvements both inside and out. I am sure Satan will rear his ugly head and try with all his might to keep me from the path of obedience to which I believe God has placed before me for the next couple of months.

I know that a lot of this is part of my grieving process from losing Casey. I missed him so much today. Casey never missed a family event if he could help it. He loved being with his family so very much. I don’t know if God allows the citizens of heaven to catch a glimpse of earth after they have ascended to the Kingdom of Love, but I would love to know that Casey got to see his family gathered to honor his brother of who he was always so proud.

So, I give thanks for our home and pray that as I clean out, throw away, improve and rearrange that my heart will begin to heal and that I will keep in the forefront of my thinking that which I do, I do to the glory of God and through His strength and His joy. Come by for a visit.

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! It has been such a busy day and it is very late. In fact this may not even get posted until tomorrow afternoon or evening. We have spent the day getting things ready for Travis’ party in the morning. The lawn is mowed. As much food as possible has been prepared with the final egg scramble and hash browns to be prepared in the morning. The coffee is assembled and the urn is on a timer. In the morning Bruce and Travis will pick up tables and chairs from the church. We will set them, decorate them and await our guests.

But tonight, Bruce is building a deck with the help of our good friend Al Rearick. It is nearing midnight and they are still hard at work. Travis is still at work clearing out the crowd from the George Strait concert. As the morning approaches rather rapidly Bruce is still working and I am ready to call it a night. So for tonight I am sending this out as a prayer for Bruce and Al.

Psalm 55: 22 “Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee.”

I pray for these two diligent men that God will sustain them to complete the task they have so kindly and graciously started. They began this project on faith and in faith I pray they will finish. I am sure weariness will come so I ask that God will give them the strength of the joy of the Lord in their work and that their work would go quickly so they both could get some rest. I thank you for these two men and their faithfulness to You, O Lord and I pray your continued faithfulness to them. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Take joy in your journey, friends. 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.