Friday, July 31, 2009

Mother and daughter enjoying visiting after lunch.

Happy Friday!

Can you believe it is the last day of July? And once again God is putting on quite a light show tonight. August happens tomorrow. And school will begin so very soon. Where has the summer gone? My internal clock is beginning to think of crayons, sharpened pencils, books and the massive undertaking it will be to reassemble my classroom from its summer sleep.

2 Chronicles 5:13 “As the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking God.”

There are times when I get what I call the “spare me’s.” The spare me’s are those moments when everything seems to be going wrong and nothing is going right. They are those moments when Geni and I have had an argument and I feel really terrible. They are those moments when I am alone and begin to think about how much I miss Casey and all I can do is cry. Those moments do not happen often, but when they do it is a really tough time.

I read this verse tonight and the meditation and the words told me to “seek diligently for the something to be glad and thankful about in every happening. “ When it seems as everything is going wrong I count my blessings in that I have a loving husband and two healthy great kids to come home to and a house I really love. I give thanks that I have a daughter with which to argue. And then I have begun to give thanks and praise to God that He allowed me to be mother to Casey and witness to his life as brief as it was.

When I count my blessings I usually find that my blessings out number my troubles and then I feel better. The sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving during the saddest or most difficult of times is incense that rises to the heart of God and God is blessed with our prayers. If we express joy and gratitude in the midst of grief and sorrow it does not diminish the reasons for our sadness and pain, but it tells God that we believe that He will see us through. We affirm His presence in our lives and His Lordship over whatever the situation is that has brought us to our knees. May God give us the gift of brave and thankful hearts.

Take joy in the journey friends and take an umbrella. 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.

Happy Thursday!

1 John 4:26 “ And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love, and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.”

I have heard and sung songs all of my life about the phrase “God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” This verse states very clearly that God loves us and God is love. No matter what the situation, whether there is the greatest joy or deepest sorrow God still loves us and with the same unconditional love. The pathway to heaven does not have to be paved with sorrow and suffering.

When we lost Casey to cancer it was and is the most devastating event to occur in our lives and struck in us the deepest sorrow we have ever experienced. But we are not sad all of the time. There are times of joy, laughter and fun. Yes, there are times when we will see something or hear something or wish he was here with us to share this moment that will bring about a memory of Casey and we are in a heap once again. But God, in His infinite love for us, brings a blanket of comfort that eases the sorrow. Sometimes, it happens through Geni and Travis and we catch a glimpse of their big brother in them. Those moments always make me smile. Sometimes it is through the comfort of His Word or email or the voice of a friend. God sends His comfort in many ways and always in a timely fashion.

The other night I was watching the Biography Channel and the biography was about Bill Cosby. He lost his son by a tragic murder. When asked a question by the interviewer, “Are you mad at God?”, Mr. Cosby’s answer was, “No, I am not mad at God. You don’t get mad at God. You praise God because you were blessed to witness the life of your child.” This very profound statement of faith was made by a man who lives a life of faith in God. I am sure Mr. Cosby still misses his son as much as we miss Casey. But this is a man who has found peace through the conquering Christ.

I think that is the road on which this family travels. The conquering, risen Christ is the anchor to which we hold fast. Through trial, tribulation and in joy and peace, God never changes. His love remains the same. God’s love is not just unconditional, but never ending and never changing. God promises that if we will live with Him then even though trial, tribulation and sorrow come, He will see us through it. And He will dance with us when we experience joy and peace.

So friends, let us live with Christ, the conquering One who will promise that peace and joy will be ours.

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.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Number 3 in a series. (I included this one to prove that I was actually on the cruise, too! - Bruce)

Happy Wednesday!

Just in case you were wondering, I made it to Granbury and back in one uneventful try; making the trip home the same way I went to get there. I prayed as I was backing out of the driveway and I felt much better about making the journey. We had a wonderful Bible discussion and fellowship time. We began at 10:30 and did not part company until around 2:30. The time really flew by and none of us realized that we had been sharing, eating and praying for 4 hours. Somehow or other we are going to have to squeeze this time back to less than an hour in just a few short weeks as school will be beginning very soon.

Romans 15: 32 “…and that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.”

As my summer begins to wind down for me, my thoughts are beginning to drift to returning to teaching. I set for myself different goals I wished to accomplish during the summer months. It was my intention to clean out closets of their excess clutter and make them usable instead of the tall clutter hampers they have become. I have not gotten my closets cleaned out. I wanted to learn to smoke meat in a wood burning smoker. I have learned to do that and in fact I am considering a second attempt this weekend if it does not rain. I decided to become a better housekeeper (I could not have gotten any worse!!) and I have kept the public areas of our home cleaned and the plants watered and healthy. But the area of my life I have enjoyed most of all is my time on the deck with a cup of coffee and my computer and devotional materials. The next thing I have enjoyed greatly is meeting with the teacher’s fellowship each week. Even though I drove with uncertainly and a great lack of confidence each week; drive to each home I did. These amazing, incredible women bring great joy to our time together. I come away refreshed and renewed with each meeting. These women are extraordinary because the love of Jesus flows through them in such healing streams.

Have you ever considered a waterfall? Waterfalls are amazing works of nature. But they also hold a tremendous spiritual message. When we stand at the edge of the mountain where the waterfall goes over the lip of the precipice we stand in awe of its magnificence and power. We also look in fear and dread as it dashes itself on the rocks below. But if you look at just one part of the fall and follow it from the stream to the rocks below, you will notice that the water, as it pours itself over the fall, does so with total surrender. It does not hold back anything; it cannot wait to get to the lowest place. When it finally dashes itself on the rocks below it splashes and then explodes into the most amazing droplets of joy we can even imagine. It is doing exactly what it was created to do and takes the greatest joy in its creation and the accomplishment of its assigned task.

The coolest part is that it is not just a single trickle of water that causes that waterfall to give of itself so freely. The waterfall as a single entity is made up of billions of droplets created all for the same purpose. They were created to fall obediently over the lip of the edge of a mountain to the lowest place of all and rise again in the greatest joy.

When I meet with the teacher’s group I may share the burdens of my soul or the joys in my heart and come away refreshed and filled with joy. I did not get my closets cleaned out but God blessed me with a place to clean the clutter out of my life in my weekly fellowship group.

God wants us to have joy in our lives. He desires that relationship with us that will invite joy to our lives. But He also places us in relationships that will bring refreshing joy. If you do not have a “joy” group; get one! Make yourself some Vegas style rules (what is said here – stays here) and experience the joy that only Christian love and trust can offer.

Take joy in the journey and experience joy with a friend. 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, July 28, 2009

Number 2 in the sequence of Gaylene with drink and food in hand. By the way, these pictures were taken with High ISO resolution, so they can be clicked on for more details. FYI

Happy Tuesday!

Genesis 15:1”After these things the Word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I AM thy shield, and the exceeding great reward.”

I do not like driving to places I have not been before. I am not confident in my directional skills and I do not have a good sense of my surroundings. This issue does not keep me from trying, but I am still not confident and I drive to a new place with a fair amount of uncertainty. This lack of confidence has been put to the test this summer as I have been a part of the fellowship group of teachers from my school. At Burton Hill Elem, we come from everywhere. I live in Arlington. We have teachers who live in Aledo, Weatherford, Benbrook, Lake Worth, Saginaw, Granbury and maybe even some in Fort Worth. Tomorrow our prayer and fellowship meeting is in Granbury. Bruce is busily printing out the MapQuest directions for me, while making sure not to draw me a map (drawing me a map causes major drama!) And I must admit that I am a bit nervous about driving two counties away. But it is my job not only to bring the topic for discussion, but I am also in charge of coffee!

In my 53 years on this planet I have faced far worse than not being able to confidently drive to a foreign place. I think the real issue is that I am really fearful of being lost. Besides being in darkness, being lost is a scary place for me to find myself. God’s Word in this passage tells me to fear not. The Word tells me that the Great I Am will be my shield and if I call to Him He will guide me. So tomorrow before I back out of the driveway I am going to pray that God will instill in me the confidence and awareness I need to get to my destination safely and in one trip. The odd thing is that I always pray for Bruce and the kids or we as a family when we leave on a trip. But I don’t think to pray for me when I am driving to an unfamiliar place.

Doc Adams, Casey’s oncologist, said, “The destination is never in question, but sometimes the journey sucks.” So I guess the question tonight is how do we keep the journey from being less scary? How do we walk into unfamiliar situations with confidence? Well, for me, I am going to begin to pray and claim this scripture, Romans 15: 30 “Join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf.” I am going to pray for God to go before me and make the way straight and the directions clear so that I reach the destination God intends me to reach. Each time I strike out with MapQuest Directions in hand I try very hard to read and understand the print before me. I would love to tell you that I make it in one try each time, but that would not be true.

So, just as Bruce’s TomTom recalculates if he goes another way than the original instruction the TomTom offers, God does the same for us. God has given us His directions. He has given us His Word and He has given us a way to call Him if we get lost; He invites us to pray and ask Him for help when we get lost. He recalculates our way and eventually we will reach our destination because He has determined where He wants us to be for the work He has for us.

So friends, I ask you to pray for me as I travel to Granbury in the morning with directions in one hand and coffee in the other. And if I get lost I will reread my directions, try not to cry and pray for clear thinking to reach my destination. I will try to take joy in the journey.

My dear friends and readers, take joy in the journey and above all else read directions! 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.

PS When MapQuest and I cannot connect and prayer is not fast enough, then my ace in the hole is always my beloved Bruce who can get anywhere blindfolded on the first try! Take care, g

This is the first in a series of pictures of Gaylene holding a drink (mostly fruit juice or tea)and some piece of food in her hand. A colleague of hers showed recent pictures of his vacation. It wasn't long before those viewing his pictures noticed that every picture of him showed him with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. This is our version of his pictures. This picture comes from the first day on board the ship, even before we cast off to be on our way.

Greetings from Austin St.

Happy Monday! Our family has been asked to offer a special anthem for this Sunday’s worship. We held our first rehearsal tonight around the dinner table and learned the piece for Sunday. With Bruce being a tenor and I being a soprano we birthed three children with high voices. Our music director selected a piece of music that sort of accommodated our voice types. This will be the first time we have sung as a family without Casey. We had a good rehearsal, but there was most definitely a missing voice as Casey was always the lowest of our high voices and took the bass part.

I have discovered that one of the ways for me to move forward after the loss of Casey is to do some things differently than we did before. We are singing a piece of music we have never sung before. Singing in worship will be different without our eldest son, but God will bless our efforts and will begin to heal our broken hearts with music. Music has always been a place for me to go for healing. So my dear friends and readers, I ask for your prayers as we continue to practice throughout the week and make our offering on Sunday. The piece we are learning is How Beautiful.

Leviticus 26:12 “And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people.”

The television show Touched By an Angel has long been my favorite television show. The message is simple, “God loves you.” But not only does the message tell us of God’s love, but in the opening song, the lyrics say, “I will walk with you.” God walks with us to give us guidance along the way. God walks with us to comfort and strength us when we need them. And God upholds us with His love, grace, compassion and tender mercies.

God has walked with this family every step of the way in the road we have walked especially in the past year and a half. God gave me the promise that His glory would be revealed in Casey’s healing. Casey did not get well, but he was healed. God allowed us to witness the gift of faith in our son and as the cancer took Casey’s body God’s faithful strength grew in Casey. As Casey’s faith grew so did our faith and trust in God. God continues to walk with us each day as we continue to heal by His grace and spirit of comfort.

We miss Casey every day. God understands our hearts and knows how they hurt and how they must heal. Healing is not just getting well. Healing is wholeness. Healing takes time. Healing happens when we surrender our sadness and despair and our sin over to the One who can heal our brokenness. And He will heal us, step by step, with His love.

Thanks for listening. Take joy in the journey and take an umbrella! 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 26, 2009

On the dock at Cozumel.

Blessed Sunday to you all! Was that a great storm tonight or what!? God sure puts on a great light show. I like to sit on the front porch and watch the rain and just let the storm go on around me. So tonight I am giving thanks for the wonderful rain and that God shows us His love for us in so many ways.

Colossians 3:13 “Forbearing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

Can you imagine how much it pleases God when we forgive someone for a wrong they have done to us? God knows how hard this command is for us to follow. But it is His command to us to forgive as we have been forgiven and then treat the offender with love and compassion. I use those two words because when God forgives us, He treats us with love and compassion. We are called by God to a spiritual maturity that allows us to treat others as God would treat them. When we forgive others the world is filled with love and laughter and the past is left behind.

Jesus walked the road to the cross treating those with whom he worked and met along the way with love and consideration. Jesus modeled this Godly behavior each moment of every day. Jesus did not allow the way others treated Him get in the way of the way of His loving kindness toward others. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we could just accomplish this one task that Jesus asks? Well, we can’t!

We can’t accomplish it on our own power. We must ask God to fill us with His loving kindness. We must be forgiven so we can forgive others. And then we must care for those who hurt us as if nothing ever happened. Wow! God sure asks a lot of us. He can ask a lot of us because He gave His all.

Take joy in the journey and carry an umbrella. 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.