Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Friday! And Happy 4th of July Eve!

We can stand in our front yard and hear the concert from the Levitt Music Pavilion several blocks away while seeing and hearing fireworks from somewhere. Geni is out with friends and Travis is camping with friends from school. Bruce is laying a beautiful tile floor in the kitchen in preparation for our Independence Day Celebration. The praise team from our church and some others will be gathering tomorrow evening for a backyard barbeque and later on finding some fireworks.

John 14: 5 {Thomas said to Jesus,} “How can we know the way?”

I have spent some concentrated time this week reading, viewing, listening and taking notes on how to smoke a brisket in a wood/charcoal smoker. I think I have it just about figured out and am ready to take the plunge and smoke the brisket. I have assembled all of the materials I need to take on this adventure in cooking. The only thing I do not know how to do is how to build a fire. I have never built a fire using wood before. I have a load of pecan wood and I have Bruce. He has camped for at least thirty years and knows how to build a fire. We will be a two person team as I learn from him how to build a fire and maintain the heat. The two words I have learned are “low and slow.” I am going to take on this endeavor on Tuesday. Say a prayer and wish me luck. I do not anticipate this first attempt to be perfect, but I am going to do my best. I know my family will be appreciative of my efforts and we will hope the final product is edible. Bruce and the kids will most likely give their opinions of the finished product, but I do not anticipate them being unkind in their comments or hurtful as they express their opinions.

Thomas. Bless his heart. He was saddled with the title, “doubting Thomas.” I am not sure that that title is appropriate. As a teacher, I have learned that individual children learn differently. Some learn by listening and get the concept I am teaching the first time through. Some children learn best through reading. Some children have to work it through with trial and error. A good teacher recognizes each child’s strongest learning style and plans lessons that include all of the different learning styles so that each student will be successful in their learning. I think Thomas was a listener, but he was also one who needed to ask questions for clarification. I don’t think that should label him a doubter. If that would label him a doubter, then I guess I should be called a doubter also. I am someone who asks a lot of questions. When I don’t understand, I ask questions until I have enough knowledge base to be satisfied.

When Thomas asked this question (“How can we know the way?”), Jesus very simply answered with “I Am the Way, The Truth and the Life.” He did not scold Thomas for asking a question. Jesus did not label him doubter or elbow another disciple and say, “Did you hear that question? How can he so doubting?” No, Jesus simply looked at Thomas as any good teacher does and answers his question. Jesus treated Thomas with respect, kindness and honesty. Thomas may have also been honest enough to ask the question that others felt too embarrassed to ask.

I believe God invites our questions. I also believe He inspired the document that we can go to for answers. When I have questions of a spiritual nature, I seek out the Word, I ask Bruce or I ask my pastor. I continue to ask until I am satisfied. But first I go to God in prayer and ask for help in answering the questions I have. God has never turned down this inquiring woman. The best part about seeking out in our questions is that not only do we find the answers we seek, we find the One who loves us most there with the answers. Take joy in the journey and stay cool.

Love you all so 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.

PS Casey did his senior theme on Texas barbeque. As part of his final presentation in his English class he took the grilled chicken I taught him to make. He loved to cook especially on the grill. Last year when he got out of the hospital he wanted to go to Wal-Mart. He purchased the grill that sits out on our deck. (And these silly tiki torches) Each time I light the grill I think of Casey and the joy he took in making this purchase and presenting it to us. When I at times grill in the dark I light those silly tiki torches and look up at the sky and ask Casey if he can see us from heaven. I cry for a while and then I laugh. So tomorrow the hot dogs and burgers will be grilled on the grill that was a gift from Casey. Right now I miss him so much I can hardly express it. And tomorrow I will ask God if He could just open up heaven just a bit and let Casey look down at the joy this grill is bringing once again. Thank you, son.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy Thursday!!

I Corinthians 16:4 “Your every action must be done with love.”

Well, now, there is a high calling to reach! I would love to tell you that each action and thought I have has been or will be done in love. This verse reminds me of how God has always dealt with me. God has always treated me with loving kindness and compassion. In turn He calls me to do the same with those I meet, especially my family.

You know today’s technology is amazing. We can reach almost anybody at any time using a variety of ways. Most of us have cell phones. We can not only make a call on our phones, but we can send pictures, privately send and receive text messages and, if the person we wish to reach is not available, we can leave a message for them to return our call. Most of us have computers and are connected to the internet. On this wonderful medium of information gathering and sending we can write messages to someone around the world and they receive it in seconds. We can “text” a conversation with our friends. And then there is the ever popular Face Book. Using this tool we can keep up with friends both current and past and make new friends just by issuing an invitation.

Today I was emotional as I thought about last 4th of July. We left Casey in the hospital while we went to spend the day with my family. Had I had any inkling that it would be the last July 4th I could spend with my son I would have stayed here. His picture crosses my computer as he is wearing the shirt I bought him for the last 4th of July. It is a fishing lure with the colors of the flag. If there are barbeques in heaven I am sure Casey is manning the grill with a Shiner in one hand and tongs in the other.

I guess my point is that we really need to keep in touch with the ones we love. I came to find out recently that two families are estranged between parents and their children for hurts in the past. One of these friends just lost his mother and had not spoken to his mother in many years. I read today that Michael Jackson did not mention his father in his will at all.

Since we do not know the number of our days, is it worth our efforts to harbor grudges and hurts of the past? What do we gain by separation and carrying unforgiveness in our hearts? God calls us in His Word to act lovingly to all.
How can we do this? Everybody has those “sandpaper people” in their lives. You know those people who just rub us the wrong way! But maybe those sandpaper people are in our lives for us to grow into “loving smoothness.” It is easy to love someone who is loving and kind to us, but not so easy to love someone who drives us crazy. Those sandpaper people, when treated lovingly, cause our rough edges to become smoother.

So friends, call your mom, dad, brother or sister. Call someone you haven’t seen in a while. Check out Face Book and see if they are on it. Find ways to connect and reconnect with others. For you never know when you will see them again or maybe never again.

Take joy in the journey and stay in the shade. 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.

By the way, Geni and her friends made it to San Antonio is good shape. They stayed at Carme and Dave's long enough to get a little rest, then made it to the train on time. Our prayers are with Jade as she moves to California and with Tiffany as she travels with Jade, then back to Texas. Our prayers are also with Geni as she travels back to home tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Wednesday! What a wonderful day! Water aerobics, Burton Hill Fellowship and dinner with Bruce and Travis at Starbucks. Geni is, at this writing, on her way to San Antonio. Two of her close friends from school were trying to make a train in Fort Worth as the first leg of their trip. They missed their train by just a few minutes. They called their friend Geni and she is taking them to San Antonio to catch the train there. Our best friends, Carme and Dave Russell, are housing these three adventurous young ladies tonight. The two friends will catch the train at the very early hour of 5:00 am in the morning for a long train ride to California. Geni has an online test tomorrow and will return either Friday or Saturday. It will be Saturday if Carme has anything to say about it. The two friends were just going to hang out at the train station all night until it was time to meet their 5:00 am departure. Well, these two Moms (Carme and I) said, “No, no, no, we don’t think so!” So say a prayer for the safety of the girls and a prayer of thanksgiving for Carme, Dave and their big ol’ loving hearts to let the girls stay in safety and love for the night.

2 Kings 20: 5 “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; indeed, I will heal you…”

I have several friends who are experiencing problems in their lives currently that are heartbreaking issues. Each week as we exchange prayer partners at the meeting of the Burton Hill Fellowship I put as a request “God will continue to bring healing to our family as we continue through the grieving process at the loss of Casey. This verse is such a powerful affirmation of the promise of God’s love, compassion and caring for those He loves. God is a God of love, but God is also a God of power. Scripture tells us that nothing is impossible with God. We as earthly people may not be able to change anything. We may not convince someone to change their mind even when we believe with all our heart that what they are doing is wrong. But, God can make the change. God can change what seems to be unchangeable.

In my favorite book, Hinds Feet on High Places, the central character Much Afraid, is lame and yet the Shepherd asks her to climb a mountain in order to reach the High Places of Love. The Shepherd tells Much Afraid that His favorite thing to do is changing what is seemingly impossible into what is not only possible but is His plan all along. Since Fear or any of the Fearing Family cannot live in the High Places of Love, Much Afraid must be changed. She is changed into Grace and Glory. She receives this name because it is the exact way the Shepherd has treated her. The Shepherd gives her one of His own names.

If God, our Shepherd, were to give us one of His own names, what name would He give to us? How has God treated us? The first name He would give to me would be Forgiveness and then I would hope He would give me the name Joy. Even in our heartbreaking sadness over the loss of Casey, God is slowly (as we allow) replacing our sadness and grief with Joy and Peace. Do I still shed daily tears over Casey’s absence? Without fail! Will I ever forget the last year and a half of our lives and Casey’s last moments in my arms? Never! But, God in His great compassion and promise of healing love is surrounding me, Bruce, Geni and Travis with a little more peace each day and the heartfelt knowledge that He has heard my prayers.

So to my friends who are hurting I offer this verse of promise and affirmation. I will claim this verse in prayer for you and to the readers of this blog I will claim this verse for all of you who are shedding tears over problems that seem impossible. Remember, God loves to change the things in our lives from impossible to probable and then into reality. Claim His power in your life and ask for His healing.

Take joy in the journey and stay cool. 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.
Happy Tuesday! Today was a lovely break from the oppressive heat we have had in the last weeks. I have been watering my plants daily and today I did not need to water. Geni and Travis made a quick run to Howe, where my Mom and Dad live, to pick up a wood smoker. It is one of my summer projects to learn to smoke meat in a wood burning smoker. I am even taking a five lesson online class to get some instruction. If any of you are meat smokers please feel free to contact me and give me any advice you have.

Matthew 13:44 “And Moses said…Fear not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show you today.”

Moses spoke these words to the nation of Israel with the Red Sea in front of them and the army of Egypt bearing down upon them from the rear. If you watch the wonderful old Cecile B. DeMille’s, The Ten Commandments, (one of my favorites!) the nation of Israel went into a complete panic. Then the voice of Satan struck extra fear into their hearts (as if they needed another voice) by telling them to go back into the land which had held them captive in slavery for the last 400 years. Then the voice of Moses rang out stronger than the hysteria going on about him and spoke these words: ”Fear not! Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…” Moses was God’s voice crying in the wilderness as he led the Hebrew nation to the Promised Land. Moses was empowered by God. God’s work was accomplished through the surrendered heart of Moses and his willingness to be obedient even when the nation of Israel was being coaxed to turn back to their old ways of slavery.

“Fear not!” “Stand still.” Have you ever been faced with a situation and there seem to be too many problems to solve and they all seem to hold equal importance? Bruce calls it “working on overload.” Can you imagine how Jesus felt when everyone followed Him everywhere? When the crowds thronged around Him to the point of suffocation? When the demands made on Jesus were seemingly non-stop? How did Jesus manage the “overload” or constant stress on the demands of His time, His abilities, and the presence of Satan in the Pharisees who were hanging around to catch Him breaking the Jewish laws? Jesus remembered the words of His Father, the words of the Old Testament scriptures, “Fear not! Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show you today”.

As a wife, mother, teacher and seminary student, multitasking for me is a way of life. I am sure you are no different. It is sort of like being in the wilderness and you do not know which way to go. When the demands seem to outweigh the supply of our energies, our ideas and our means then it is time to stop. It is time to stand still and seek God. It is time to be quiet, center ourselves and stand in the peaceful presence of our heavenly Father. It is time to ask Him to bathe us in calmness. It is time to stand still and be soaked in His grace. It is time to seek out God, take Satan out of the picture and stand in the light of God’s presence. Satan cannot live in the presence of the love of God.

God is not a God of confusion and unclear thinking. Our God loves us so much and knows us so well that He will meet us in the midst of our confusion and bring us into His own light and clarity where we will find the answers we seek and the direction we are meant to walk. God promises in this verse that He will show us His salvation. Trust in God’s Word, stand still and be at peace.

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

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Monday! This morning I was on my way to water aerobics I listening to my Women of Faith drive time devotion. The scripture verse caused me to think of the headlines that has led every newscast since Friday afternoon.

Mark 8:36 “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and lose his soul?”

Michael Jackson died last Friday. The world is in shock, but he has a family that is in mourning. As someone who knows firsthand, no parent should ever bury their child. To the world Michael Jackson was a musical genius and consummate entertainer. To his family he was son and brother, father to three children and relative to extended family. His fame gained him lots of money and world wide exposure, but all outward appearances and reports tell us that he was a tormented soul. I don’t know where Michael Jackson was in his faith and belief in God, but I pray that he was received into the Kingdom of Heaven with the open arms of Jesus waiting to welcome him home. I pray that this man is truly resting peacefully in the arms of Jesus, for peace seems to be something that eluded him here on earth. Michael Jackson gained the world. But at what cost did he gain the world?

Let’s talk about someone who was offered the world and turned it down. Remember Jesus just after His baptism? Scripture tells us that as soon as the dove rested on His shoulder, God voiced His approval of the obedience of His Son, and Jesus immediately went out unto the wilderness and was there for forty days and nights. During that time Jesus met Satan face to face. Satan tempted Jesus with everything. Satan tempted Jesus with the world and all it could afford if He would just bow down and worship him. Jesus was from a poor family, He was out in the wilderness, hungry, probably tired, dirty, thirsty, maybe with insect bites and scratches from the local plant life. The world Satan was offering may have looked good. It would have provided wealth, food, drink, a bath, clean clothes and some rest. Jesus refused all of the offerings of Satan and remained obedient to God. Jesus knew the things of this world are temporal.

Jesus is far less interested in what we have and more interested in our hearts. Do we have a heart for God? Do we go to worship to be seen or do we go to worship to see God? Did we answer the call to care for others? Are we examples of grace in action?

When we go before God someday there is not a single tangible item we will take with us. What God wants to see are the trophies won in His name. He wants to see written in our hearts the people who came to know Him because of our testimony of His love for us in our own lives. God is looking for the way we treated those around us.

The Jackson family will grieve and mourn over the death of their son and brother. His children will grow up without their father. The family will have to endure the relentless press, rumors, judgments and invasions of their privacy during this time of mourning when all they should be asked to do is grieve their loss and cling to each other for support. They will not have earthly peace for a long time as they attempt to unravel the life of their loved one.

Maybe we can take a lesson from this. Perhaps worldly treasure is not as important as heavenly peace. My prayer for the Jackson family is that they will cling to the promises of God and they, as a family, will grow closer to the One who holds all of us in His hand and next to His heart. For each of us my prayer is to hug each other a little more often, say I love you each chance we get and to share the love of God with those we meet.

Take joy in the journey and stay cool. 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.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blessed Sunday to you all! I pray your time in worship was a blessing and a great beginning to the new week ahead. I can’t believe June will be over in just a couple of days. That leaves only about six or seven more weeks before school begins again. OMG!!

Mark 5: 28 For she said, “If I but touch His clothes, I will be made well.”

Wow! This was one brave woman. This woman was an outcast due to her health condition. She could not live with others because she was labeled “unclean.” When she was in the midst of the crowd (probably disguised somewhat) she touched the hem of Jesus tunic. Jesus felt the power go out of Him and she was healed.

Our pastor spoke on this passage today. Pastor Joel spoke about interruptions in our lives. Jesus was walking along preaching and teaching and then He felt the power go out of Him. Jesus was interrupted by a woman who touched His tunic in the midst of a crown of people. Now two things happened here. Jesus stopped His teaching to go and find this one who caused the power to leave Him. And two, when this woman who was labeled “unclean” touched Jesus, according to Hebrew law, He too became unclean. (I’ll bet the Pharisees who were in the crowd were taking notes on this flagrant breaking of Hebrew law!) And yet, Jesus stopped what He was doing to go and find this woman and minister to her. The consequences of her actions could have been really devastating. She risked further isolation, continued health problems and punishment for rendering another unclean. This was a woman who reached out in faith to Jesus. Her faith and need was so strong that Jesus felt the power of His healing leave Him and be received into this one who was so desperately in need of healing.

Jesus led a life of interruptions. His ministry was carried out in meeting the needs of individuals as they sought out Jesus. His profession was as itinerant preacher and teacher, but His ministry was with the individuals in whom He had relationships.

How many times have we been working really hard on something and then something interrupts what we are doing? What is more important - the task on which we are working or the interruption at hand? I think of times when the caller Id. on my phone tells me someone’s name and I choose not to answer because it will interrupt what I am doing. Is what I am doing more important than the one who is trying to reach me? I am so very grateful that God does not put me on hold or say, “Wait a minute, I am dealing with something else right now. Could you call back?’

I have always believed that worship uplifts the community, but ministry furthers the Kingdom. And the Kingdom is built one precious soul at a time. Let us as disciples reach out to those who are outcast and in need of a kind word and a healing touch. After all, Jesus did and still does that for us.

Take joy in the journey and keep cool. 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.