Saturday, November 7, 2009

Happy Saturday! These pictures are from the Extravaganza today.

What a wonderful day!! The Advent Extravaganza was simply beautiful. All of the tables were stunning and filled with light. The theme was the light of God’s love. I think there were 19 tables with eight guests at each table. There were 20 hostesses and a committee of eight planned and executed the event. The catering was done by “Cook for Hire.” The food was delicious.

There were a group of ladies who performed excerpts from Greater Tuna. If you are familiar with “Tuna” all of the parts are normally portrayed by two men. But today these ladies divided up the parts and performed. They were hilarious.

Pastor Joel provided beautiful lunch music for us complete with candelabra on the piano. I asked him where his sequined jacket and his brother George were. Someone even left him a tip. Pastor Joel was the only man who was fed at the event today.

Our inspirational speaker was Pastor Jane Mar, a pastor with the synod who shared a wonderful message.

Geni and I had a wonderful time. (I spent the remainder of the afternoon washing dishes and laundering linens.) Travis thought we needed to make all mealtimes special and use the “good stuff” on a regular night whether we have leftovers, scrambled eggs for a regular meal, so I reset our table at home with a tablecloth, place settings and a centerpiece.

Psalm 119: 169 “Let your word help me.”

I have always loved Bible study. When Casey became ill and I began to have a nightly time with scripture and reflection, the Bible helped me learn so very much and the writing has helped me to work through my grief. I don’t think I have read each verse in the Bible, but I have read quite a few of them. The theme I seem to keep running into no matter whether I am reading an Old Testament or New Testament passage is the salvation of God’s children through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the dwelling of the Holy Spirit within each heart who receives the love of Christ. I also have read a second theme. From Genesis to Revelation, the stories are a sequence of love stories between God and His people. God has great passion for His people and so wants for all of us to reconcile unto Him before the Day of Judgment.

I have grown to love God’s Word as well as grown to depend on it for assurance, comfort and guidance. The Holy Scriptures have given me a glimpse into the heart of God and a compass on which to guide my life. I have figured out that when I calibrate my plans, thoughts and actions using God’s Word as my compass then I will journey safely. But if I fail to set the compass in God’s direction then I am completely lost, frightened and seemingly alone.

Friends, find a time during the day to just read a few verses. You will be surprised what you will learn and where you will land.

Take joy in the journey. Take a map and wear comfortable shoes. Love you all and see you in worship. 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.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Happy Friday!

Tonight, Bruce, Geni, Travis and I went to church to decorate a table for the Women of Advent Extravaganza. It is a yearly event where many of the women of Advent and guests transform the gym into a most beautiful dining room. I have only attended this event once and I was a guest. This year I am a hostess. My family, the ever wonderful support that they are, came with me and set the table. They do not call it “Mom’s” table, they call it “our” table. This warmed my heart and endeared them to me even more. Travis even said, “This is really elegant!” (High praise from an 18 year old young man!) One of the ladies who was decorating the table next to ours asked me how I rated all of this help. I simply replied, “I am very blessed.” Thank you, Bruce, Geni and Travis.

Hebrews 2:18 “And now He can help those who are tempted, because He Himself suffered and was tempted.”

I love the book of Hebrews. This book seems to show us the humanity of Jesus and the amazing ways we can connect with Him in earthly ways and in the hope of heaven.
I must admit this week has been a bit stressful. With my paper due on Wednesday and the Extravaganza on Saturday there has been much to do. Truthfully, each event and activity has had its own set of stresses. The paper dealt with judging others who have wronged us and the Extravaganza deals with judging the table you have prepared with the other tables.

I know it is not supposed to be that way, but ladies, let’s be honest! I stressed about whether my first time effort would measure up to the far more seasoned veterans of this event. So with a set of dishes my mother gave me and a remarkably supportive family I set about to prepare a table that would be inviting and comfortable for the guests who will dine tomorrow. We did not just throw this table together tonight. It took planning, time and thoughtful preparation to get it the way I wanted it. It has taken several weeks, in fact, for pieces of the table settings to be assembled from items taken from home, items borrowed, and items purchased. I practiced putting it all together on our own table on Thursday night. I counted knives, forks and spoons to make sure I had enough of each. We ran to Wal-Mart for a sugar bowl and cream pitcher. Finally, all of the pieces were in place and we were ready to set this table.

I prayed over each piece that I placed on the table tonight. I have prayed that the guests I will greet will feel comfortable and warm at the table. I pray that they will enjoy their time and leave with a feeling of that they have glimpsed of little bit of a heavenly feast. I pray that I don’t spill anything.

Jesus prepared a table. I can only imagine the stress he must have felt. He set a table with simple bread and wine and shared it with His closest friends. Jesus knew it was time to walk the road to the cross and there was no stopping this act. He prepared the table in elements of bread and wine and the words of “This is my body given for you. This is my blood given for you.” All of the pieces were in place and He was ready to set the table. He told His disciples for the last time that He was walking the road to His death so that He could live on in them and they would continue His ministry. John 9: 5 says, “ As long as I Am in the world, I Am the light of the world.” As long as Jesus lives in each of us then Jesus lives.

So friends, let us prepare the tables of our hearts with God’s Word. Invite others to dine at the table of grace and experience a properly set table - a table set with love.

Take joy in the journey and save your fork, the best is yet to come. Love you 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 My Mom purchased the dishes more than 30 years ago. They were purchased at the local Kroger store one place setting per week until she has a service for 16. The dishes are simple, ruby colored, clear glass. Thanks Mom! Love you !

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Happy Thursday!

The fall days this week have been so beautiful. I really love fall. I love the colors, the temperatures, the food, the activities and the clothes.

An update! Travis is receiving physical therapy for his injuries. His bicep looks as if it has been hit with a baseball bat. He can still work out, just no lifting or chest work for a while. We are not sure whether he will be healed up enough to compete in December. Please continue your prayers. Thank you.

Hebrews 1:1-2 “In the past God spoke…many times and in many different ways. But now…God has spoken to us through His Son.”

I shared with you that a week ago tonight Geni, Travis and I were hit by a driver under the influence who then left his shattered car and fled the scene of the accident on foot. I then wrote my latest paper for my ethics class from the point of view of a victim of this accident and how I as a Christian should respond. Well, I give thanks that we were all unharmed in this accident. I also give thanks that the driver and his friend seemed to be also unharmed as they were able to flee the scene of the accident on foot. Metal, plastic, tubes and such can be replaced, but people cannot.

God hates sin. He loves us so much that He sent Jesus to stand between us and our sin. God hates sin, but loves the sinner. God’s forgiveness in our failures is one of the greatest gifts He has ever given us. God went to that cross in the body of Jesus. His last act before His death was to forgive a sinner and invite him into paradise.

If God can forgive me in my failures and sinfulness and still love me, then I must forgive these men who caused an accident where the outcome could have been far worse. I do not like the fact that they chose to get behind the wheel of their car while intoxicated. I do not like the fact that they exhibited total irresponsibility and complete lack of caring in their choices and actions. I do know that if they ask for forgiveness then God will forgive them just as He has forgiven me for all of my mis-deeds. So I ended my paper with the statement that I forgave them for their actions.

All of us have people in our lives who have hurt us. As Christians we do not have to like what people do against us, but we must, because of God’s grace and His forgiveness of our sins, forgive them. Even if we can’t say honestly that we love them, we can ask God to love them for us until we are able to love once again.

I will quote Max Lucado to close this writing, “God on a cross. The Creator being sacrificed for the creation. God convincing man once and for all that forgiveness still follows failure.”

Take joy in the journey, wear comfortable shoes and walk the path of forgiveness. 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.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy Wednesday!

A lot of news from Austin St.

First, Travis was lifting 410 pounds on the bench press last evening and tore part of his left pectoral muscle and part of his left bicep muscle. We spent last night in the ER getting pain medicine. He went to a sports medicine doc today and will be receiving physical therapy for the next couple of weeks. Please pray for him, the pain is pretty tough, but he doesn’t complain.

Second, my 3rd paper has left the building and is in the hands of my professor.

Geni will teach for the third day on tomorrow. She seems to be enjoying teaching. On Monday she was at Burton Hill in 3rd and 5th grade classrooms teaching science or social studies. She spent today in a middle school and Friday she will be in a high school. On the 20th she will be in room #6 as I have been called to jury duty.

I ask you to please pray for Bruce. Work has come to a screeching halt for him. There have been no door issues or home repairs. My prayers are for work to come back his way.Thank you mighty prayer warriors.

Psalm 16:11 “In Your presence there is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

When I wake up in the morning I am practicing to step into God’s presence. I don’t remember each morning, but I remember most mornings. The crazy thing is that when I ask to be in God’s presence, I am not summoning Him. I am simply recognizing and acknowledging that God is beside me. Stepping into God’s presence helps me rub the sleep from my eyes much like the scales were removed from the apostle Paul. It is like having Bruce hold my hand and even after almost 29 years of marriage, it makes me feel loved and I get a thrill of joy. Even after all of these years he still likes to hold my hand. It is the most wonderful feeling of nearness.

Call on the name of Jesus. Call on the name of Jesus often. Keep Jesus as close as your next breath and you will remain in His presence all day.

Take joy in the journey and wear comfortable shoes. Love and peace to 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, November 2, 2009

Happy Monday!

I have finished the first draft of my paper and just sent it to my beloved editor. I am putting the paper to bed for the night and placing the finishing touches on it tomorrow night and turning it in on Wednesday. Please offer up a prayer for this paper. It is a bit different than the other papers I have written.

Geni worked her first teaching job at Burton Hill today and had a wonderful day. We are so excited and proud of her.

John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

I think God began to work on me becoming a hospital chaplain 22 years ago. Geni was born at John Peter Smith Hospital. She had severe jaundice and a heart murmur at birth. She was immediately placed on the NICU until her release a week after she was born. I phoned at each nursing shift change and made thrice daily visits to see her. This experience gave me an opportunity to see a side of life I would not have seen otherwise.

There was this tiny, preemie named Victoria who was just across the way from Geni in the NICU. She was perfectly formed, but just very small. All Victoria needed to do was grow. There was a sign on her incubator bed that read “Please help my Mom to come and visit me. Please help my Mom to give me a bath.” This broke my heart. I was visiting Geni every chance I could and as often as they would let me in the door and calling a dozen times a day and this little baby who never cried, but just wanted to be held and loved had no one to come and give her the nurturing care she so desperately needed. It was then I decided that when I had finished raising my family and retired from teaching, I was going to go to hospitals and rock babies. Little did I know where that promise would lead me.

God promises in His Word that He will come to us and comfort us. He promises that we will never be alone. When we are a part of the family of God, we are never orphans. When we cry, God hears us. When we are sick in body and soul, He is there to bring His healing grace. When we laugh with joy, God rejoices with us and when we travel far from him by our own choice, the angels in heaven rejoice that we have returned home. God loves us so much that He even calls Himself our Father and claims us as His children. What an amazing family to which we belong. We are sons and daughters of the King!

Take joy in the journey, bring a jacket and don’t forget your crown!! Love you all so very much brothers and sisters, 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, November 1, 2009

Blessed Sunday to you all!

I apologize for not writing last night. I lit my favorite pumpkin and placed it on the porch and we had such a lovely evening. We greeted trick-or-treaters, ate chili and cornbread and enjoyed family time last night. Our nephew and his daughter came over after her Halloween party and joined us for movies, popcorn and a snack or two from the candy bowl.

Today I began work on my paper due on Wednesday, I know I always ask, but please pray for me as I write. I am writing an ethics paper on how Christians should respond to things like the death penalty and other dark situations in our lives. I, however, am writing this paper through the eyes of someone who has experienced a traffic accident involving a driver under the influence who hit and then ran. (Does that sound familiar?) I have titled the essay “Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord…All others pay cash.” The first part of the paper begins with “It was a dark and stormy night…” I may not keep the title, but it helped me get started writing.

Revelation 21:1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.”

Today is remembered as All Saints Day. Pastor Joel told the story of two cemeteries today in his sermon. In Lutheran churches around the world, those who have died in the faith in their congregations within the last year were honored by the tolling of the bell and the lighting of candles. At communion we were offered the opportunity to light candles for those we love who have passed into the Church Triumphant.

To get to the Church Triumphant (that really was the name of the church), you had to pass through a cemetery. I thought, what a wonderful way to model how we go from our old life into a new life with Christ! Before we know Christ, we are known to Christ by His Word. We are all children of God whether we want to be or not. But until we personally allow Him into our hearts and we begin to walk daily with Him then we stand outside the gates of the cemetery and never see the inside of the church. When we enter into relationship with Jesus we must die to self and live for Him. So in a way we must pass through the cemetery of our sin and death in order to enter into the Church Triumphant. And even though we don’t enter into the Church Triumphant until we die here on earth, we must step in faith into the cemetery.

Doubting Thomas (now there is some bad press!) did not understand this going into the unknown. Thomas asked the Savior, “How can we go where you go? How will we know the way? Jesus answers, “You do know the way. I am the Way, the truth and the life. And I go to prepare a place for you.” Before we can step into the Church Triumphant we must be prepared. Preparation begins in the cemetery of our sin. We must offer our sin to Jesus and ask His forgiveness. Jesus then completely forgives our sin and calls us to continue to walk on the path until it is time to leave this earth and experience what John says is the new heaven and the new earth.

So my dear friends, let us walk with joy in the cemetery of our lives leaving behind our sin, our sadness, our pain, our sorrow and live triumphantly in the Church Triumphant in the presence of the living God in total peace.

Take joy in the journey friends and wear comfortable shoes. 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.