Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happy Saturday!

Tonight I would like to write about finding joy.

John 15:11 “These things have I spoken unto you…that your joy might be full.”

I remember when I was in Houston with Casey and it seems that things were wrong with every turn and I got tired of Satan beating me up moment by moment. The road was so long and hard that I did not think I could endure one more set back and Satan knew my heart. My salvation was that God knew my heart better and I finally gave notice to Satan that he no longer had any power here. I remember printing those words on paper and posting them proudly on the wall; adding to the wallpaper Casey and I had created. It was at that point that I changed my attitude and decided to “take joy in the journey.” From that day on I began to try and find any blessing no matter how seemingly small and dwell on the gift that God had given.

Our friends Carme and Dave have walked some really hard roads in the last year or so. David has been bed-bound for quite some time recovering from pressure sores. He has to have assistance with many things and the home health nurse comes a couple of times per week to help and check on him. But his primary care taker is Carme. Carme has had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction and then two repairs to that surgery. They have had a really tough year.

Now Carme has been offered and accepted a teaching position with San Antonio ISD. She had to make a really difficult choice. She was offered the job a week after her last surgery, but was not sure her new principal would afford her time to heal a bit more before beginning her teaching duties. On the same day, she and Dave sent their daughter back to college in Washington. In Carme’s words “it was bittersweet.” Here is what she had been waiting for and the timing was really off.

Carme surrendered the whole situation to God and His time. Carme has had to really hunt for blessings, but here are the blessings she has received: First, her doctor released her to work as long as she does not lift anything. Next, Dave is going to have to have more surgery. That means he will be in inpatient care through Thanksgiving. The blessing is that Carme will be teaching full time and getting that routine established and Dave will be receiving care 24/7. I know this blessing may seem like a stretch, it is a blessing for which we are all being thankful. God has made a way where there seemed to be no way.

Sometimes we have to search for the hidden joy in life. When we search for that hidden joy, we are delighting in the Lord. I’ll bet God claps His hands in joy when we find goodness in a situation that seems to be impossible. The Word tells us “With God all things are possible.”

Times are tough right now for so many people. If the road seems long, bumpy or full of pot holes, remember the teachings of Christ and find your joy in Him.

Take joy in the journey and hug your babies. Love, 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 Friday!

Prayer updates:
Carme finally got to meet with her new students around1:15 today. She was so excited. She will have first year teacher pay until her service records come in and then she will receive appropriate pay for her years and master’s degree plus some extra hours. Congratulations Carme. Praise god from Whom all blessings flow.

Geni and Travis got to Nac okay today and will return after lunch on Sunday.

2 Corinthians 10:5 “Capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.”

Jesus was the perfect example of obedience to the Father. Jesus was also One who never lived in any gray areas. He knew His mission while on the earth and His purpose was to be not only the example of obedience, but to show His disciples and those with whom He encountered in His travels and had a relationship.

Jesus never let His thoughts go astray from the path the Father had laid out for Him. Remember the story in Matthew when He has told the disciples of His death and resurrection and Peter (as usual) speaks out because he cannot bear the thought of being without His teacher and friend. What does Jesus do? He tells Peter to “Get thee behind me Satan!” What a dramatic moment that must have been! Peter must have been completely shocked as well as the other disciples.

Jesus had to remain focused on the mission and not let anything be a stumbling block to the cross. Jesus captured the thought voiced by Peter and told him that he (Peter) did not understand the things of heaven and was only thinking about the things of the earth. Jesus’ eyes had to be constantly fixed on the cross. He did not allow any thought to enter His mind that would delay or deny the will of the Father.

Does this sound a bit like What would Jesus do? So I guess the questions of the night are these: What happens when we see or hear things that hinder our growth in our spiritual lives? Do we capture those thoughts and say, “Get thee behind me Satan!” or do we allow those thoughts and pictures to stay with us? And how do we change those thoughts or get rid of them in order that we do not stumble on the path God has laid before us?

Jesus had to be immediately decisive with Peter to show him that He (Jesus) had a mission to accomplish and there would be no time to dwell on the things of the earth. He modeled this action to Peter and the other disciples to show the seriousness of God’s plan and expectations of their lives when He ascended to the Father and they would take over the ministry.

Does God expect the same of us? Can we capture the thoughts that enter our minds and give them over in obedience to God? Just a thought…

Take joy in the journey and hug your babies! 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, September 17, 2009

Happy Thursday!

Prayer updates: We saw Will today. He was sitting in his Mom’s car, smiling and talking, but with a headache. He had an MRI today with results coming tomorrow. Please continue to keep Will and his family in your prayers.

Geni and Travis are traveling to Nacogdoches for the weekend. Please pray travel mercy on our children.

And tonight we received word that our friend David (of Carme and Dave) is having surgery on October 8. He will remain in the hospital until Thanksgiving. Keep him and Carme in your prayers.

And tomorrow Carme begins her teaching career in San Antonio. She is so excited and we are so thrilled for her. Please pray for her to not overdo it. The children she will teach are in for such a blessing.

Tonight I am writing to me.

Isaiah 32:17 “And the fruit of righteousness shall be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and assurance forever.”

I am in a Christian Ethics class at Brite. In the last two class meetings I have remained silent. I am taking notes and reading, but I am lost during the discussions. I feel as if I am in the middle of a fish bowl and everyone else is swimming around me. The vocabulary and language many of my classmates are using in the discussions is so scholarly and seemingly so far above my knowledge that this class is beginning to make me really nervous.

I was talking to Bruce about this tonight and as he so caringly and lovingly let me talk until I finally figured out the problem. This class is based on theories, ideologies and opinions. So far there is nothing to ground myself in or a place to begin to build a knowledge base.

In my first paper I wrote that my foundation was in The Word. So far in this class The Word has not figured into the picture. (I am hoping that will change!) So for now I am being quiet. I am trying to listen for God’s voice and direction and knowledge greater than myself. What I am praying for is peace.

I know that peace is not the absence of the storm, but living in the eye of the storm in the presence of the assuring God. In this class, it seems to be sort of a dry land in great need of the calming river of peace. I want to feel successful in this class. So, I very much am seeking God’s divine intervention into my thinking and in my reading and understanding of the material presented. I pray that I will have something to offer to this class. But more than that, I pray that God will abide in me and keep me focused on His will so that when I offer to the class or write it will be a witness to His Word and work in my life.

God is not the author of confusion so I will continue to listen, read and try to make sense of the topics and believe that God in His infinite wisdom will impart some to me and that I will understand.

So if you find yourself sitting in the middle of a fish bowl and the world is swimming around faster than you can comprehend, plant yourself on a rock and hang on. God who loves all of us so very much will help us rise to the surface where all things will be clear.

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.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Wednesday!

I received a B+ on my first paper in my ethics class. I have another paper due on September 30th. Since I will be out of pocket with the Happening Weekend just prior to the due date of the paper, I think I will be working on the paper this weekend.

Prayer Warriors unite!! One of the Happening team was in the car with Geni and Travis as they were returning from McGregor this past weekend. After the accident, Will went to the hospital as a precautionary measure and was released without any reported injury. As what often happens with accidents the effects don’t always show up until a few days after. Will has been diagnosed with a concussion and has no memory of the accident. Please lift this young man up in your prayers. Pray for his healing. He is having tests run tomorrow. His family has promised to keep me posted.

A Praise God!! Bruce’s business with the door company has been basically silent for several weeks. We have now known what the status was for his employment with the company. Today he received two new door issues. YEA!! God has been taking care of us through this time of drought. We have deemed ourselves sparrows in His sight and asked for sustenance and to meet our needs for the day. God has been so faithful and we are so grateful. Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow.

Psalm 107: 14-15 ‘He brought them out of their gloom and darkness and broke their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord.”

Tonight at Praise Team rehearsal we rehearsed “God of Wonders.” It is a song that is mostly written on my heart. When we began to sing, I sat back in my chair, closed my eyes and allowed the wonderful words of worship soak into my soul. “God of wonders beyond our galaxy, You are Holy. The universe declares your majesty. You are Holy. Lord of Heaven and Earth.“ I know we were only rehearsing, but worship can happen anywhere.

Worship happens when we realize that “What God has given is far greater than what we can give.” Max Lucado goes on to say, “Worship is the awareness that, were it not for His touch, we’d still be hobbling and hurting, bitter and broken. Worship is the “thank you” that refuses to be silenced.”

Tonight or whenever you read this, stop and just try to conceive that the One who flung the stars into the heavens, caused the mountains to rise and the oceans to teem with life can find and care for all of us “sparrows.” Worship does not have to happen in a sanctuary with pews and beautiful windows. Worship can happen within a moment when we stop and clear all of our thoughts; quieting every voice except His breathing, His name and His voice. Give thanks.

Love you all so very much and I give thanks for all of you daily. 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, September 15, 2009

Happy Tuesday!!

Tonight’s writing is inspired by several different events. First, in a month from yesterday Casey will have been gone for a year. Second, I have always been a Patrick Swayze fan and his death brought about the memories of Casey’s passing and last, Geni and Travis walked away from a horrible but miraculous car accident.

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Have you ever been in the depths of despair so badly that you could not even pray? Your heart is so torn up into little pieces that you cannot make a complete sentence. When all is going wrong in our lives and the depths of despair is the high place of our thinking; that is the time when the words of prayer are absent; that is when, in the silence of our aching souls we speak the name of “Jesus.” I know I have written about different parts of The Lord’s Prayer and tonight I would like examine the phrase “Hallowed be Thy name.

In the last two years I have felt sorrow and emptiness like I have never felt it before. In just less than a month Casey will have been gone a year. Sometimes remembering almost keeps me from breathing. Sometimes the words for prayer are pretty quiet. However, in the quietness, speaking seems to “violate” the moment. According to Max Lucado in his book Cast of Characters, “silence represents the highest respect” when you have laid your soul at the feet of the Father in the throne room of grace. It is in those times that only you and the Father are present. “Hallowed be thy name” does not mean we have to have the right words or even the right heart. “it is not eloquence the Father is seeking, He seeks our honesty. “

God knows our heart better than anyone ever could. The Father would rather us be honest before Him in our doubts, our uncertainties, our sadness and even our anger and let Him speak to our hearts than to try to hide things from Him and not be honest for ourselves. But when all of these things are so overwhelming that we can’t even pray, let us silence ourselves, bend our knees in reverence; trust and pray “Hallowed be Thy name.”

In the midst of the storms that we encounter let us make it a point to be still and let the Father soak us in His peace. Let Him bathe us in His eternal glory. Let us be open and willing to let God have control during the silence (we think we are in control when we are talking). Let the silence become a place of peace and security because we are in the presence of the Living God. It is in the silence that we can honestly confess “Hallowed be Thy name.”

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.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Monday!

All is well here in the Chrystie household. We have worked out the issue of cars. Geni will take my car to Denton after dropping me off at school and either Bruce or Travis will pick me up in the afternoon. We are pretty good at working things out.

Carme called today to announce that beginning this Friday she will be Mrs. Russell once again. Carme will resume her teaching career once again as a full time employee of the San Antonio ISD. Carme has her master’s degree and will teach science for special education/resource students. She will be so amazing at this job.

Exodus 33:14 “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”

Last night I did not sleep very well. In fact I only got maybe three hours of sleep. I tried to relax and think of nothing and could only think of Geni, Travis and the accident.

I am not sure how other mothers who have lost children think after they have lost a child. I just know my every waking and sleeping thought and action is different than before we lost Casey. When I received the news that the kids were in an accident I think every cell in my body went into overdrive and did not calm down until I got home from school today; sleepy and tired. I was so scared that I would lose them, too. And then for the rest of the day it seemed that any car that came our direction was going too fast. I did not exactly panic, but I certainly became nervous. My adrenaline rush did not go away for a long time.

In my devotional reading tonight the focus in the verse is “rest in Me.” God is telling me in this verse to have no fear of the future. He is telling me to be quiet and to find strength in His presence. God promises me in this verse that His presence will go with me…” It does not say His presence will be with me sometimes or just when I am troubled, but His presence will go with me. My devotional reading said, “The world sees strength in action. In My Kingdom it is known that strength lies in quiet. In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.”

So tonight when I lay down to sleep I will claim this wonderful promise. I am not only praying for much needed sleep tonight, but for rest in the One Who has promised to be faithful and to remain with me for all eternity.

Take joy in the journey and get to bed early!! Love you all and thank you so very much for your prayers of thanksgiving for the safely of our children. Peace, 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, September 13, 2009

Blessed Sunday to you all!

For us this Sunday has been so very blessed. Geni, Travis and another young man were in a car accident on the way home from the Happening Lock-in in McGregor today. The rain was pouring down. Geni drove through a large puddle and the car hydro-planed. This caused her to lose control of the car and hit a light pole in the median on I-35 and carry the pole with them. The pole then fell on top of the car. By the grace of God and His angels all three of these young people are without a scratch. Praise God from whom all blessing flow. We left worship when Travis called to go and pick them up at a Wendy’s in Burleson. When we arrived at home we gathered with our arms around each other and gave thanks for their safety. We told them that we did not pray for their car to come home safely, but for them to come home safely. And again as we sat down to dinner tonight I looked around our table and told them how grateful I was that they were there a safe and unharmed. Cars are replaceable but children are not.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “ We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We do not know what to do, but do not give up the hope of living…We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed.”

Tonight as I sat down for my nightly devotional this was the title “God Will Get You Home.” I could not believe this was the topic of my reading tonight.

As Casey’s oncologist said, “The destination is never in question, but sometimes the journey sucks.” Today, for three wonderful young people, the journey sort of sucked. They experienced a sense of being out of control, fear of injury, and lots of unknowns. But God in His tender mercies brought these children safely home.

For some of us the journeys of our lives have been really tough at times. We have lost those we have loved and cherished. I have friends whose spouses or other family members do not tolerate their faith as believers. In this time of failing economy there seems to be more month left than money and decisions have to be made as to what bills get paid. There are families in crisis.

Sometimes when the situation seems hopeless we have trouble seeing through the cloud of uncertainty, fear and doubt. God has promised us that there is a place where we can always go in the midst of the storms that come our way. (Forgive the storm reference, but given the current weather it seemed appropriate.) We have God who loves us so very much that He has called us His children. He has given us His Word as assurance of His presence in our lives. But most of all He gave us Jesus to show His love for us. He sent us His child. His child faced all of the storms of life we face. And even when Satan thought he had destroyed this most precious child, Jesus was hurt unto death, but was not destroyed. The Holy Spirit, the very essence of God returned to show that the love of God can never be destroyed even if the vessel that carried that love hung on a cross.

Today, Geni’s beloved Malibu (Josephine) was destroyed, but the beautiful, love inside the car remained unscathed. My friends give thanks with a grateful heart for the love of God that lives in each of us. The road may be long and full of storms, but not even the worst storms that this earthly live can dish out can ever destroy the love of God that lives within each of us.

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.