Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happy Wednesday! We are on countdown to departure. We will be leaving early tomorrow morning for Galveston. I spoke with T-Mobile yesterday. The cost for using our cell phones on board ship is completely overboard (haha) so the phones are staying in the trunk of the car while we sail the Caribbean.

Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.”

As preparations have been made for this cruise we have all purchased new clothes. Nothing really fancy, but appropriate for a Fun Ship Cruise. But more important than what we look like on the outside, what our hearts look like is what God wants to see. Whether we look perfect to those around us is not near as important is how we look in the eyes of the Father. We are embarking on a new adventure with 2000 plus other people and we may not know anyone on the ship but us. It is my prayer that as we travel and meet and greet those around us that the love of God and His holy presence will precede us. When God goes before us what we look like is not what matters because we are clothed in His robe of righteousness, His garments of praise and His cloak of forgiveness. So whether we are dressed in swimsuit, shorts and tee’s or Captain’s Night dress up may we be the reflection of God’s love to each other and those around us.

Tonight I would ask for your continued prayers for Carme Russell as her reconstructive surgery is tomorrow. Also we ask continued prayers for Rhonda’s Bank’s father, who is battling cancer, and Cherri Brown who is back home in Okema, Oklahoma, very weak but recovering and glad to be home. We have one new entry to our prayer list; Tatum Flaming. Tatum is the three year old granddaughter of my cousins Debbie and John Flaming. Tatum has been diagnosed with leukemia and is in Cooks Children’s Hospital in Ft. Worth. Debbie and John live in Corn, Oklahoma and are driving home tonight. I will call tomorrow and see what we can do to help after we get home.

My friends, I will miss writing to you over the next few days. You will be in my prayers. I will have Bruce put pictures on the site of our trip. I love you all. Have a wonderful week.

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.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Happy Tuesday! (everybody sing!) We’re making a list, packing a bag, gonna make sure there’s nothing we lag. We are leaving in just one day!

Believe it or not we are going to the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Geni told me today, “Mom, you have never been to one of these midnight showings. The crazies will come out!” I will let you know in tomorrow night’s entry.

FYI Rhonda Banks father entered Arlington Memorial today to begin in patient chemo therapy. Carmella Russell will complete her reconstructive surgery on Thursday. Please keep both of these people and their families in your prayers. I don’t have a recent update on my cousin Cherri but please keep her in your prayers also.

Joshua 1:3 “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that I have given unto you, as I said unto Moses.”

When God spoke these words to Joshua He was telling Joshua of the lands that were promised to the nation of Israel. But not only was God telling Joshua of the lands promised, but was telling Joshua that He (God) would take care of him, his family and the Hebrew people. God promised that His very hand would be present to protect them. God protected the nation of Israel as they crossed the Red Sea. God brought them through the desert. God took them to the Promised Land and a host of other stories of how God powerfully and mightily took care of the Hebrew nation.

As New Testament believers we can rely on this same power. Even though the Israelites got scared and wanted to go back into Egypt and back into slavery(better the devil you know…), God led them on through seas, desert and wilderness until He brought them to the Promised Land. God is relentless in wanting the same for us. He does not want us to go backwards in our faith. God wants us to always go forward. When we fall into sin, God, through Jesus, grants us forgiveness and lets us begin again from where we fell. God does not want us to go back and retrace our steps (back into familiar, comfortable, sinful territory), but to begin anew in forgiveness and grace.

The last few weeks as we have been planning this trip I have carried around guilt and sorrow because our family is one man down. I have not allowed the full joy that God wants for us to be present because I really miss Casey and know how much he would have enjoyed this trip. Yes, I know Casey’s life is far better than a cruise ship. God has given us an opportunity to place our feet on new soil and to experience a brief journey on His ocean creation. God expects us to go forward in our lives of faith no matter what. If I don’t allow myself to experience all of the joy this time can hold then I am living in sin and not experiencing and claiming His promises. I am not “taking joy in the journey!” Wrong!!!

Friends, God has placed opportunities before each of us. Don’t be fearful, sad or guilty about God’s plan to use each of us wherever we are. When we take joy in the journey then God works in us to His good purpose.

Take joy in the journey and stay in the shade. Love you, 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, July 14, 2009

Happy Monday!

Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

There is a little chorus I learned from my Women of Faith drive time devotions that goes like this’ “Jesus, You are, You are everything I’m not and everything that I hope to be. Jesus, You are, You are, the maker of my heart. Finish what you started in me.”

About three years ago this month I weighed about 80 pounds more than I do now. I researched and decided to have lapband surgery. When I began this journey of weight loss I prayed that God would allow me this gift and if He did I would be His strong voice for this procedure and the life saving results it can produce. Anyone who has ever attempted any type of weight loss knows that if the intentional act of losing weight does not take priority in your life then you will lose weight , but when you slack off you will gain weight back and sometimes more than you lost than when you began. The last year losing weight has not been a top priority and I have gained 10 pounds.

Today I went to see my surgeon to have the band adjusted once again to help me eat less. I have also begun to regularly attend water aerobics again. I have also not allowed popcorn back into my house, because I tend to not be able to stop eating it once I start. (However, if we get to see Harry Potter before we leave on our cruise, I will eat some movie popcorn.)

A couple of weeks ago when I heard this little chorus and the lyric “finish what You started in me,” it struck me really hard. Here God had kept His faithfulness and I had put weight loss on a back burner until I had time to think about it and really concentrate on “finishing.”

I was nervous about going in today knowing I had gained a few pounds. And instead of being chided or reminded about the gain in weight, I was greeted with hugs and loving support. There was no chastising over “falling off the weight loss wagon.” There was only kindness and a welcome back into the fold.

I began to think that this is exactly how God treats us when we are not faithful and we fall short of the glory of God. If I believe that God brought me to this place then I must also believe that He will not abandon me when I walk off of the path. He will keep me in the way I should go when I ask forgiveness and surrender my weaknesses over to Him. God’s promise is that He will complete every task committed to Him and we are to believe and trust in Him for He is God and He is faithful no matter what.

It is my plan to lose thirty more pounds. I have committed these pounds to God. Am I going to wake up 30 pounds lighter by Thursday morning? No! (Wouldn’t that be cool, though!) But I believe God is faithful and when I call upon Him as I walk, or do water aerobics, or elliptical or just eat popcorn at the movies I believe God will either spur me on to help me stop when the temptations come before me.

God loves us so much that He welcomes us back into the fold of His love no matter what. Even though it is hard to admit when we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we should never be afraid because He is there to welcome us back with His loving and open arms never remembering our failings and giving us a fresh start once again. Pray for me.

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.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Blessed Sunday to each of you!

The brisket turned out really good. It smoked for 16 hours. I learned a few things throughout this day. First, next time, I will choose a bit smaller brisket around 9-10 pounds. And I think I am going to adjust the rub to not quite a spicy next time. I also feel confident enough to experiment with different types of wood to see if the different wood makes a different taste in the meat. Anyway, I had a long day and I really enjoyed the whole experience. I am more than willing to do this all over again.

I also have some news for all of you. We will be leaving on Thursday for Galveston to go on a cruise. How cool is that! We are really excited. We will be going to Cozumel. We will return on Tuesday. We haven’t been on any type of vacation in a very long time and we need to get away for a few days. We will most likely be eating pork and beans and hot dogs for the next year, but I am sure it will be worth it. I am not sure if I will be journaling while we are at sea as we are not taking computers. There are computers on the ship, but I think they may cost extra to use them. Wish us bon voyage!

2 Chronicles 20:20 “Have faith in the Lord your God and you will stand strong.”

Tonight I would like to share a story that was sent to me in a church news letter. Pastor Joel shared in his sermon today this statement, ”Choices made in faith change the course of our lives.”

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside all of us.
One wolf is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false, pride, superiority and ego.
The other wolf is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

In the battle that goes on within each of us which do we feed? Do we feed Evil or Good? To which warrior do we turn to make the choices that change the course of our lives? One of these warriors may win battles, but we know who wins the war. My prayer for each of us is that we not only feed the warrior of faith but we march at His side.

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.

PS Three prayer requests: The first is for Carme Russell as she completes her reconstructive surgery this Thursday. The next is for our friend Rhonda Banks’ father as he begins chemotherapy this week. Last we ask for prayers for Cheri Brown, my cousin from Okema, Oklahoma as she recovers from ovarian cancer surgery and prepares for chemotherapy in the coming weeks. Thank you, mighty and faithful prayer warriors. Love you all, gc
Happy Saturday!

…and the smoke goes on…the smoke goes on. This morning at 8:45 am Bruce and I put a 13 pound brisket on the smoker. It is now 10:30 pm and it is still smoking. I have one end of the meat at the correct temp and the other meat is below temp. This is the brisket on which we learn. I think we need several more hours and I am in need of a shower. Next time I will buy a smaller brisket. I will also let you know how it comes out.

Tonight’s verse is Acts 16:25 “Paul and Silas were praying and singing songs to God as the other prisoners listened.”

I may be singing and praying out on the deck if this brisket doesn’t get a move on. Do you think my neighbors would mind? (LOL!)

Have you ever seen the movie The King and I? When Mrs. Anna and her son are approaching Siam, her son is afraid of the people, their dress and cultures. He expresses his fear to his mother. She (Debra Kerr) begins to sing “Whistle a Happy Tune.” This simple song teaches her son to sing to take his mind off of his fears of the unknown and unfamiliar. Do you suppose that was why Paul and Silas began to sing while in prison? Prison is a place of unknown, unfamiliar and most likely unfriendly. It is a place where trust is unheard of and helping each other is non-existent. Prison is a place where a life of fear is a way of life.

Paul and Silas were men of faith in a place fear. So they began to sing. And then the cool thing is that the Word tells us that the other prisoners listened. Here, in this horrid place, Paul and Silas sang hymns. I don’t know if they sang songs of praise or songs that told of the power of God over their confinement or songs of the hard time in which they found themselves, but whatever kind of hymns they sang it was a comfort to those who were listening. Even in their darkest hour they took their situation to God and shared the love of God and the comfort God can bring to those around them.

Max Lucado states in his book In the Eye of the Storm, “At the beginning of every act of faith there is often a seed of fear.” Even after taking the online course on smoking a brisket and reading lots of methods and watching YouTube videos on smoking brisket there was a bit of apprehension as I took that huge piece of meat to the smoker. I know that smoking meat is totally insignificant to Paul and Silas and their experience in prison. And yet, I found myself praying as I checked on this brisket throughout the day and read the thermometer, adjusted the fire and checked on the temp of the meat. The aroma of the smoking meat wafted throughout my neighborhood. I was in unfamiliar territory as a first time smoker. Paul and Silas sang and prayed and their prayers and songs rang throughout the prison giving comfort and hope to their fellow prisoners.

A group of believers in a small room in Jerusalem prayed for the release of Paul and Silas. It was a small group of believers who were fearful and new at this whole belief in Jesus. Here was a fledgling church pleading for help and yet they were a powerful band of believers because all they had was faith and a God who loved them.
Friends, when we are in unfamiliar and unfriendly territory, sing a song of praise, or a song of help and comfort and call upon the Lord. God will take your song, listen to your heart and, if you sing loud enough, you will share the love of God with those around you.

Take joy in the journey and stay in the shade. See you in worship. 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.