Saturday, October 3, 2009

Greetings from Austin St.

Happy Saturday! Busy, busy day! I spent most of the day getting some things ready for next Saturday and then I got my nails done. I am ready for Bruce to come home and I haven’t heard from him as yet today. I am most anxious to hear how his talk on Christian Action was received. And I am most interested in sleeping better!

Isaiah 32:17 “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness is quiet and assurance forever.”

1 Peter 1:2 “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit…Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”

I am 53 years old and soon to be 54. And at this age I am still very busy. Due to lots of activity (and age) I have found the need to make lists. And after I make a list and I have accomplished part of the list, I find myself making a new list just to sort through what I have left to do. If I do not practice this skill then I find myself in a sea of confusion and do not prioritize what needs to be done and then I am a mess! I become emotional and over whelmed and no fun to be around.

But when faced with a situation that has many facets that require me to sit and sort through the possible solutions and trying to decide what to do first or which way to turn; a list is not what I have make. When I am confused and unsure, the place I go is prayer and the person to whom I turn my attention is God.

A storm is a place of confusion because it is unpredictable. If you have ever seen the movie Twister, it shows a wonderful visual example of the unpredictability of a storm. Becoming a part of the storm is a losing attempt, but staying in the eye or the center of the storm is the safest place because there it is calm.

When confusion is swirling all around me then I pray for God to take away the confusion and let me be at peace with Him. When I arrive at the throne of grace in my prayer time there I find calmness. The storm has not gone away, but now because I am not concentrating on the storm I am focused on the One who is the giver of peace and calmness I can more clearly discern where to begin and how to figure out the steps needed to resolve whatever problem I am having. I have also found that if I focus on Christ then the storm seems to begin to diffuse because I have taken myself out of the storm. If I can keep Christ in front of me and claim His assurance then calmness and peacefulness is present. And sometimes that peace comes through surrendering whatever the problem is over to Him and letting Him take care of it in His own time.

If you are facing a problem or situation and it is swirling around you like a Texas Twister, and it is such a hurtful problem that you don’t know what to do first or how to feel; then go before God. Focus on the face and heart of God. Remove yourself from the storm and stand in the presence of God where there is no confusion. Standing before God is standing in the eye of the storm where there is peace and calmness and God’s voice is there to dry your tears and surround you with His assurance that will say, “I am here and I love you. Let’s work on this together.”

Please pray for continued safety for Bruce and the team and participants on the Kairos weekend and for a safe trip home.

Take joy in the journey and carry an umbrella! Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis

Friday, October 2, 2009

Greetings from Austin St.

Happy Friday! It is the second day of October. It is the last day of the first six weeks of school. My goodness, but time flies entirely too fast. My class is almost back to 100%. I still have two children that have been out for a few days, but most have returned. Also, (this is so cool!), one of my parents wrote me the nicest note to tell me she was praying for my class and for their healing. How awesome is that!

Bruce gives his talk on Christian Action at 10:45 in the morning. Please pray for him to get some rest tonight and for a spirit of calmness and that God will speak through him and reach these men. According to Bruce, so far the weekend has been great and the six participants at his table are men who are walking their own journey of faith. Praise God that His love reaches into all lives who believe in Him and wherever they are.

This weekend I will begin to prepare for a memorial event we are hosting as we approach the one year anniversary of Casey’s being received into the hands of the Father. I am going to my favorite nursery to buy beautiful fall plants for planting around the Casey Tree in the front yard. It is hard to believe he has been gone almost a year. I miss him so very much. And tomorrow I am planting. The schedule is to go to the nursery, plant the plants and then get my nails done. (Priorities! I am such a girl!)

John 5:30 “I can of mine own self do nothing; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just’ because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father who hath sent me.” Bruce and I have been married for 29 years this coming January. In all of those years the most difficult times in our marriage have been when we did not walk together or when one of us grew in our spiritual lives faster than the other. Or when I was determined to have it my way and disregarded Bruce's feelings or needs. Those times caused a tension between us that would really bother me. I would have trouble functioning at work or with the kids or in anything else because I was not in step with my husband.

In our relationship with God it would be so much easier if we would just follow His will all of the time. The Word even tells us that we need to delight to do His will. I have not always delighted to do His will, but the end result is still the same. I end up doing what God has led me to do, but the lesson was far harder to learn because I tried to walk my own path instead of the one chosen for me. When I resisted the guiding hand of God then I hurt, I am frustrated and confused. God is not the author of confusion, frustration and hurt.

Meekness is a life yielded to the Fathers will. Sometimes I am not very meek. But when I do yield my will over to the will of the Father; I, through God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit become more than a conqueror.

Take joy in the journey and stay on the path!! Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Greetings from Austin St.

Happy Thursday!! What an awesome day at school! We held our first annual reading fair as a part of our partnership with Cracker Barrel Restaurant in the “Rockin’ Reader” program. We had celebrity readers reading to the classes. There were visits from Clifford, The Big Red Dog and the cow from Chick Filet,
Bruce left for the Kairos Prison Ministry weekend early this morning. I received a text message during dinner time and this is what it said. “We just got back to the church from the unit; WOW!” Bruce has begun not to feel well so please pray for him to perk up and continue the weekend.

Isaiah 53: 6 “We have all wandered away like sheep; each of us has gone his own way.” How true is this scripture! One of the lessons I really grew into understanding of during this past weekend was how far reaching the love of God is. Jewish tradition practices the tearing of the clothes over your heart if you experience the death of a loved one. This practice could include an actual physical death, but also a devastating separation in a family and the family member is considered death to the family and the Jewish community. When God sent Jesus He never tore His clothes again. God called the nation of Israel as well as the known world into relationship through the revealed God in Jesus. He became like the father in the parable of the prodigal son. The father in that story should have torn his clothes and considered this son who took half of the estate before he should have as dead. But instead this father sat on the porch and waited, watching the road and looking for his son to return. He never stopped loving his son no matter how far away he went and in what condition he returned. The father rejoiced in the return of his son and forgave him. The father restored his lost son to the family with full rights and privileges. He was welcomed back into the family.
God loves us no matter how far away we travel and how far off the path of which He has chosen for us. When we return, God is right there welcoming us and the angels in heaven rejoice with Him as the one who has been lost has now been found been found.

As we walk this journey together let us remember how much God loves us and when we get off of the path, we need only to turn around and he is waiting there with open arms and a powerful flashlight welcoming us home.

Take joy in the journey and hug your babies. Love you all so very much, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Wednesday!

Can you believe it is the last day of September? And can you believe it is the end of the first six weeks of school? Wow! The time sure goes quickly. I will spend a large part of this weekend posting grades on the computerized grading system.

I turned my paper for Ethics in today and I am glad it is out of my hands. I am trying to hang in there with this class and this professor. She is new at the job and most of the material is over my head and she speaks in complex, big words. So I have been praying for God to lead me to the rock that is higher than I. I am praying for knowledge greater than I have and hope to just survive this class.

Bruce leaves very early in the morning for Wichita Falls and the Kairos Weekend. Thanks to all who baked cookies and thanks to all who are praying for this ministry, the weekend, the team and participants and especially Bruce.

Ephesians 2:10 “In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.”

I am glad this scripture came to me tonight. As I was in my Ethics class today the professor spoke on the reading passage of which I wrote my paper. What she said in her expert interpretation of the text was pretty opposite of how I interpreted the text. I immediately thought I have really blown this paper.

Time will tell, but when I applied to seminary I had some expectations. First, the end result to be that I will have earned a Master’s of Divinity Degree and will have the authority to do the job to which I believe I have been called. Second, I do not expect that my seminary studies will change my belief system, but I do expect my knowledge base to greatly increase. And last, I pray that I am able to be a witness to Christ in all I do while in seminary and to serve Him as I am learning. So each paper I write will have some of my own personal witness to Christ. If I don’t profess Christ in the school that has been charged to teach me then I am being a poor witness.

As Christians we are called to lead exemplary lives. A non-believer can do good works and be a good person and receive power and personal accolades for their works. But Christians will do good works in the name of God and give God the glory. God will teach us how to do good works with His authority. The desire for excellence is a gift from God. God’s excellence lasts forever because it keeps renewing itself in us because of God’s love for us. A non-believer’s striving for excellence usually manifests itself in earthly power. Power is temporal. But God’s love and His teachings are forever.

So strive for excellence in the name of the Lord and if the world does not agree then let God sort it out!!

Take joy in the journey and hug your babies. Love you all dear friends, 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!

I just sent my paper off to Bruce for editing, revising etc…and in a little while I will send this off to him for the same task. What would I do without him!!

I have missed writing to you these past few nights. Happening #40 was the most amazing Happening in a long time. There were 8 participants. We were in Zion Lutheran Church in McGregor, TX. It is a really beautiful church in a really small town that has a church bell with a rope that can be heard all over town when rung. Travis was told repeatedly as we would walk up the stairs for times of worship not to touch the rope!

Bruce will leave for the Kairos Prison Ministry in Wichita Falls, TX early Thursday morning. Our freezer is filled with cookies, Bruce has written his talk that he will give inside the prison. Bruce will be serving as a table leader on this weekend and will attend the closing event on Sunday. The closing event allows “free world” people to sit with the “brothers in white” as the men share what this weekend has meant to them. It is a very powerful and moving time in the weekend.

Ephesians 1:7 “In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins.”

In a prison no one is free. The brothers in white are locked away in a place where there is no trust in anyone; where human life is expendable over a cigarette or a piece of chocolate; where humiliation happens numerous times per day and these souls have no control over their own lives. Freedom is something these men have only heard about and few have not experienced in a very long time.

Jesus spoke of freedom. But Jesus spoke of freedom that does not come through power, but through submission. This freedom does not come through control but through surrender. This freedom does not come through possessions, but through open hands. God wants to free His people and turn them from slavery into sons and have them governed not by law but by love.

The Kairos Prison Ministry offers a remarkable ministry that is partly facilitated through cookies. 2,000 dozen cookies are home baked and sent to one of these weekend events. Each participant is given a dozen cookies for just themselves Thursday evening. Then, Friday evening, after they have heard talks about loving others, are given a dozen to give to their best friend. On Saturday evening, after hearing about forgiveness, they are given a dozen cookies to present to their worst enemy. In prison your worst enemy could desire to take your life. The risk these men take in this simple cookie presentation is enormous. But they go forward in faith with Jesus covering their back and attempt to make peace with one who wants to kill them. They make this presentation as forgiven sinners and covered in the blood of Christ. They may be prisoners on the earth, but their spirits have been loosed in heaven and are condemned no more.

Do we live in prisons of our own making? Are we free? Yes, we are free through the blood of Jesus that covers us and washes away all of our sins and presents us as clean before the Father. Jesus did not come to judge us, but to love us and model the life God intended. We need not be prisoners any more. We are truly free. And when the Son makes you free, you are free indeed.

Please pray for the Kairos weekend. Pray for the safety of the team and the spiritual growth of the participants. Pray that I may sleep while Bruce is gone.

Take care my friends. I love you bunches. 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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happy Monday.

First things first: Bruce here. Gaylene is working on a paper for her Ethics class so I get to write instead of just editing.

Report from Happening: some 20 staff members and 8 participants from Texas and Louisiana gathered at the Mt. Zion Lutheran Church in McGregor. Both Geni and Travis said it was the best weekend of any they had been on. What I have noticed about any of the weekend events I have been on is that they are in God’s control. We are His hands and feet and voices, but His agenda is always what comes out in the end. Hopefully, what these young people have taken with them to their home churches and families is a sense of the love of God and the awareness that He works every day in their lives. If the message got through, they will become conveyers of His word to others who don’t know Him.

Isa 2:5 let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Last year my Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) studied Moses and the exodus from Egypt. You know what? The Israelites grumbled a lot. After being in the desert for a short time, they wanted to go back to Egypt. God provided them manna – they wanted meat, so God provided them so much meat they got sick of it! They had a physical sign that the Lord was with them in the form of the cloud of fire, taking them from place to place, day by day, and they grumbled! Even though they could see evidence that God was with them, they were so wrapped up in their own lives that they couldn’t take comfort in His presence.

My Sunday School class recently studied Isaiah. There are 66 Chapters in the Book of Isaiah. It took us over a year to get through with our study. What I learned was that the Israelites grumbled a lot then, too, and were always trying to do things on their own without God’s help. Isaiah tried to get them to understand that God loved them, but it wasn’t enough for them.

I have worked with Kairos Prison Ministry for 15 years. When I first began the ministry, I was telling a ministerial candidate what I was doing. He said, “I think they (the judges) should lock them (the offenders) all up and throw away the keys”. My response was, “we aren’t trying to get anyone out, we are just taking the Word of God in to them”.

The message I have gotten out of those two studies and my experience with the prison ministry is that God is here, now, with us. He loves us. We can show Him how much we love him by loving others. He provides opportunities every day for each of us to respond to His love by loving others. We just have to open our eyes and ears to see and hear those opportunities. They may be someone who needs an encouraging word, a boost in confidence, a shoulder to cry on or a chance to prove themselves.

I am scheduled to go into the prison on Thursday to help take the message in to 42 of the inmates that God is there with them. My message to them will be that God loves them where they are. When they can accept His love, they just have to open their eyes and ears to see and hear God working around them. God works mighty works inside prisons. There is light in that darkness, and He is God!

I challenge you to let that light reflect in your life. Keep your eyes and ears open today. Maybe you will have a chance to love someone else and thereby serve God.

Take joy in your journey and keep your eyes open!

Ps. Gaylene will be back in the saddle on Wednesday. Peace. Bruce