Saturday, December 5, 2009

Happy Saturday!

I began to work on my Ethics final today. I have the first part of the first case study completed. The case studies are on human genetic engineering, euthanasia and the living wage. I am not allowed to give my opinions on these subjects - I have to state in fewer than 12 pages how these ethical thinkers would respond to these subjects. It is going to be an interesting week. Depending on how the week goes and the writing flows, Bruce may be doing some of the writing his week. Thank you, darlin’. He is so great to help out.

1John 3:23 “This is what God commands…that we love each other.”

Did you ever think about how we learn things? Anything? Nobody learns alone. Someone had to teach us something along the way. It is our task to take what we learn and apply it in our lives. I learned to cook in my Mamo’s and Mother’s kitchens. I also love to sing. Yes, I was born with some natural ability, but my high school choir director took me under his wing and taught me to sing properly and to have a great love for music.

Most people will tell us to love, but only God gives us the power to love. Christ’s dying words were words of love. Three men hung on crosses that day on Calvary. One of the men mocked Jesus. The other man rebuked the first man saying that they were there because of the crimes they had committed, but Jesus had done nothing wrong. The second man did not even ask to be forgiven, just remembered. Jesus told him that today he would be with Him in paradise. Jesus loved the man in spite of whatever crime he had committed.

God loved the unlovely, the backstabbers, the liars, the cheaters the unfaithful ones and those who had no kindness in their hearts for anyone. God through Jesus asks us to love the unlovely and those who hurt us and others. How are we to do that? How can we love as God loves?

By being loved.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and a warm jacket. 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, December 4, 2009

Happy Friday!

It was a cold but beautiful day. I began the day with a flavored coffee called Mistletoe Joe. I turned on the Charlie Brown Christmas music in my classroom and the children in my classrooms said, “Mrs. Chrystie that is Snoopy!"

I heard some great words today :"Your term of jury service is over." I was so glad. I have been having to check-in with jury services daily for the last three weeks to see whether I am being called to serve. Talk about a large inconvenience!
Tonight I opened my email and found this wonderful epistle by Garrison Keeler sent by a friend from church. I found many of the phrases and sayings about Lutherans completely true and some sent me into full blown laughter. I found the ones about coffee and Star Wars especially funny. So in lieu of my regular journal and hope you enjoy the following writing by Garrison Keeler and may you come away blessed whether you are Lutheran or not.

Prayer request: I will begin my final Ethics paper/ project tomorrow. It is due on the 14th so I ask for your prayers as I begin this final. Geni and Travis are both working on their finals also so I ask prayers for them as well. This house is a hot bed of academia and will remain so for the next week or so. Also, please give thanks that Bruce has worked most of the week and seems to have work for a few more days to come with a new client. The door business seems to have "closed" (pardon the pun), but God, in His infinite kindness and grace is opening up the Toolbox once again and providing for the needs of each day. The Toolbox is Bruce's home repair service. We are so blessed. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

by Garrison Keillor

I have made fun of Lutherans for years - who wouldn't, if you lived in Minnesota ?

But I have also sung with Lutherans and that is one of the main joys of life, along with hot baths and fresh sweet corn.

We make fun of Lutherans for their blandness, their excessive calm, their fear of giving offense, their lack of speed and also for their secret fondness for macaroni and cheese. But nobody sings like they do.

If you ask an audience in New York City , a relatively Lutheranless place, to sing along on the chorus of "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," they will look daggers at you as if you had asked them to strip to their underwear. But if you do this among Lutherans they'll smile and row that boat ashore and up on the beach! And down the road!

Lutherans are bred from childhood to sing in four-part harmony. It's a talent that comes from sitting on the lap of someone singing alto or tenor or bass and hearing the harmonic intervals by putting your little head against that person's rib cage. It's natural for Lutherans to sing in harmony. We're too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison. When you're singing in the key of C and you slide into the A7th and D7th chords, all two hundred of you, it's an emotionally fulfilling moment.

I once sang the bass line of Children of the Heavenly Father in a room with about three thousand Lutherans in it; and when we finished, we all had tears in our eyes, partly from the promise that God will not forsake us, partly from the proximity of all those lovely voices. By our joining in harmony, we somehow promise that we will not forsake each other.

I do believe this: These Lutherans are the sort of people you could call up when you're in deep distress. If you're dying, they'll comfort you. If you're lonely, they'll talk to you. And if you're hungry, they'll give you tuna salad!

The following list was compiled by a 20th century Lutheran who, observing other Lutherans, wrote down exactly what he saw or heard:

1. Lutherans believe in prayer, but would practically die if asked to pray out loud.

2. Lutherans like to sing, except when confronted with a new hymn or a hymn with more than four stanzas.

3. Lutherans believe their pastors will visit them in the hospital, even if they don't notify them that they are there.

4. Lutherans usually follow the official liturgy and will feel it is their way of suffering for their sins.

5. Lutherans believe in miracles and even expect miracles, especially during their stewardship visitation programs or when passing the plate.

6. Lutherans feel that applauding for their children's choirs would make the kids too proud and conceited.

7. Lutherans think that the Bible forbids them from crossing the aisle while passing the peace.

8. Lutherans drink coffee as if it were the Third Sacrament.

9. Some Lutherans still believe that an ELCS bride and an LCMS groom make for a mixed marriage. (For those of you who are not Lutherans, ELCS is Evangelical Lutheran Church Synod and LCMS is Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, two different divisions of the same Protestant religion. And when and where I grew up in Minnesota , intermarriage between the two was about as popular as Lutherans and Catholics marrying.)

10. Lutherans feel guilty for not staying to clean up after their own wedding reception in the Fellowship Hall.

11. Lutherans are willing to pay up to one dollar for a meal at church.

12. Lutherans think that Garrison Keillor stories are totally factual.

13. Lutherans still serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color of the season and think that peas in a tuna noodle casserole add too much color.

14. Lutherans believe that it is OK to poke fun at themselves and never take themselves too seriously.

And finally, you know you're a Lutheran when:

*It's 100 degrees, with 90% humidity, and you still have coffee after the service;

*You hear something really funny during the sermon and smile as loudly as you can;

*Donuts are a line item in the church budget, just like coffee;

*The communion cabinet is open to all, but the coffee cabinet is locked up tight;

*When you watch a 'Star Wars' movie and they say, "May the Force be with you," you respond, 'and also with you';

*And lastly, it takes 15 minutes to say, "Good-bye".

May you wake each day with His blessings, Sleep each night in His keeping, and always walk in His tender care.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, a warm jacket and sing each step of the way! 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, December 3, 2009

Happy Thursday!

My goodness but it was cold today. There was also a full moon. If you combine a very cold day with a full moon and no recess you have the perfect storm for some very active and noisy first graders!!

Proverbs 4:18 “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day.”

Each night I close this journal with “take joy in the journey.” I remember when I began to use this phrase. I was in Houston with Casey and things were not going well. It seemed the only news we were receiving was bleak and Satan was working overtime to rob us of our joy. Finally one day I got fed up and posted a sign on the door to our room that simply said, “Satan, you have no power here!” I decided then and there that somehow there was going to be joy in the journey.

I don’t mean joy like all giggles, giddiness and smiles, but the joy that comes from knowing that God was with us all the time. There were situations that had to be worked out, solutions that had to be found and questions that needed to be answered. Even when the answers and decisions were not filled with the promise of healing, the joy was still that God walked the path with us and never left us alone. Maybe someday if there are answers to questions in heaven God can answer a few of mine. Maybe the answers I seek cannot be given to a set of earthly ears and are only able to be heard and understood as a citizen of heaven.

God doesn’t show us the end result at the beginning of the journey. He only shines the light at our feet for us to see where we are going for the next few steps. The best assurance we have is that the journey is made with God. Even though there was great pain and suffering with Casey’s disease and separation from family and friends; all of these things caused me to come into a close intimacy with the One who held all answers in His hands and more importantly the God who held us as close as our very next breath. God’s light shined in the darkness of the unknown and on all of our fears as a constant reminder that He was with us at each stage of the journey and guided each step we took.

Find ways to grow closer to God. When adversity hits hard try to stand in the midst of the presence of God and simply say “I trust you Father.” Then take joy in the journey because God is with you now and forever.

My dear friends, take joy in the journey, wear comfortable shoes and a warm jacket. 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.

Update on Jeremy from last night. He ran out of gas late last night just north of Pecos with no one to help him. The Sheriff finally brought him some gas. He made the interview in El Paso, and, as of this writing, is on his way home.
Happy Wednesday!

It is quite late. Today was extra long with Bible Study with teachers at school, teaching all day, my LAST ethics class, a hurriedly eaten meal at church, worship and finally Praise Team practice. I am tired! It was a really wonderful day, but a really long day!

2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

In my classroom we are talking and studying about changes as we age. We talk about getting taller, losing teeth, outgrowing our clothes and shoes etc…Children grow in other ways too. We have talked about the changes they have gone through since being babies and becoming “kids.” We have talked about the things they can do now that they could not do in kindergarten. We have talked about how, when they go to the doctor for a check-up, the doctor tells them how much they have grown.

As Christian adults we need to grow and change too. If we are in the same place spiritually today that we were six months ago then maybe we need to go and get a check-up. We don’t need a physical check-up we need a spiritual check-up. We need to see “Dr. Jesus.” (This is a reference to a Randy Travis song.) Upon our visit with the great physician He can tell if we are practicing good habits. He will ask, “How is your prayer life? I haven’t heard from you in a while.” Or “How is your study time going?” “How is your fellowship with other believers?” How is your service to others in the kingdom?” Friends, this is how we grow and stay spiritually healthy. We stay connected to the Father by practicing good spiritual habits.

God might ask all of us these questions, but the most important part of us He would check is our hearts. How much love does your heart hold and how often do you empty it in My name? Does your heart get enough exercise?

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and a warm jacket. Love you all 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 Please pray a special prayer for Jeremy Brewer. He is our Praise Team director. Tonight, he is driving to El Paso for an interview for medical school. His interview is at 8:45 in the morning and then he is driving back. Please pray travel mercy on this wonderful young man. Love you, gc

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Tuesday!

Today it was wet, raining and cold. I had car line duty at school. My room wasn’t very warm either. All I wanted to do was get home to my warm and cozy house. I was at Loop 820 before my feet began to thaw and my hands warmed up. When I got home, it was warm and Geni and Travis and I sat down and ate dessert with some new coffee I had purchased and we had a fun time around the table just talking and laughing. I am sure the temperature in the house warmed up even more with the fun and fellowship had around our table. The cold day turned into a wonderful, warm time and I stayed warm for the rest of the evening.

Daniel 6:16 “May the God you serve all the time save you.”

Here it is the first of December. There are Christmas movies on so many stations. The mall has been decorated for seemingly months, I placed a new wallpaper on the promethean board in my classroom and I broke out the Christmas box of activities for the month of December. My thoughts turn to decorating, music and my final exam that I will receive tomorrow afternoon.

As I read this verse I was reminded of the song written and performed by Mark Lowery, Mary Did You Know? One of the lines in the piece asks the question: ”Mary did you know, that this child that you’ll deliver will soon deliver you?” Mary was so young and in such a strange situation. Mary was from a small town, poor, pregnant, unmarried, betrothed to a man who was not the father of her child and was being asked by the creator of the universe to be the mother of the Son of God. (Soap operas got nothing on the Bible!) And yet, Mary obediently followed the path of God’s will for her life. I am sure she took the ridicule, the whispers of the townspeople, realized the humiliation her family faced and the heartbreak of Joseph who loved her so very much. And yet, Mary obediently followed the path of God’s will for her life and the life of her child.

Mary served God the only way she knew how. Mary prayed. She surrendered herself over to the will of the Father. God honored Mary’s obedience and willingness to serve by returning Joseph to her. The stories tell us that Joseph was several years older than Mary. Mary was going to need a mature person to help her raise Jesus. Joseph also acted in obedience when, instead of divorcing her, he faced the trails of being an unmarried father and taking Jesus as his own son knowing that Jesus was not a son of his body. Mary and Joseph served God and provided for them and His Son. The angels heralded the birth of this holy child signifying the deity of Jesus and the Shepherds found Him in the lowly manger representing His humanity.

Joseph and Mary faced difficult trials as the parents of Jesus. They followed the path of obedience and God delivered them each time. Do you suppose they ever thought that this child they would raise, love and care for would be the Savior of the world and bring them to salvation?

How about us? Is our path of obedience worthy enough for the salvation of God? I can tell you that it isn’t, but, by the grace of God though Jesus, when we serve or when we stumble and fall God still brings us to His salvation.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, a warm coat 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.

PS The new coffee is called Mistletoe Joe? It is delicious.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Monday!

B-r-r-r-r-r-r-r! Baby, it’s cold outside with possible snow on Wednesday morning. OMG!

Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is our refuge.”

Psalm 20:1,2 “The Lord hears us in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defends us; Send us help from the sanctuary, and strengthen us out of Zion.”

Did you ever think of the psalms as a prayer book? I know it was written as songs of praise and lament to the Father, but for me many of those wonderful poems are verses of assurance born out of passion and thanksgiving and the need for comfort in times of uncertainty.

A long time ago during a particular time in our lives we were going through great personal crisis. On Christmas Eve night, while I was very pregnant with Travis, we went to the Christmas Eve service. As I walked down the aisle in the candlelit sanctuary not knowing what the future was going to hold, I was hoping for the best and fearing the worst. Our pastor met me at the altar with the bread and the wine and simply stated, “Gaylene, find your strength here.” I will never forget those words and that moment as I needed a place of sanctuary.

The psalmist also says, “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in times of trouble.” God is our sanctuary when the world seems to be running over us. “When there is nothing left to do, we need to just depend on You (God) and the power of Your name” ( from In the Name Of the Lord – Sandi Patty). Think about a sanctuary. If you are a Disney fan perhaps you have seen the animated story of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The outcast people in Paris knew that all they had to do was claim “Sanctuary” and they would be free from persecution and safe from harm. The cry of “Sanctuary!” was honored in this church because it was a holy place. It was a place where God resided.

The psalmist does not speak of a concrete building as a sanctuary. The psalmist speaks of God as being our sanctuary. The psalmist speaks of God being an ever-present help in times of trouble - not just when God has the time or when God thinks we deserve His help. No, the promise is an ever-present help.

Step into the presence of God and claim His ever- present help and He will not only give you sanctuary, God will be your sanctuary.

Step in the sanctuary of God’s presence, be a part of His divine presence and gain the strength to conquer the enemy.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and a warm coat. 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, November 29, 2009

Blessed Sunday to you all.

I will echo Pastor Marc’s greeting this morning with Happy New Year! Today is the first Sunday in Advent. It is the first Sunday in the new year for the church. The first Advent Candle was lit today. Today was the candle of Peace. Peace comes from God because of His love for us.

Hebrews 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.”

If two of you shall agree... I have claimed this passage many times. When praying for something so very important and heartfelt such as healing, choices and the lifting of one another’s burdens, I have often claimed God’s presence in the midst of those with whom I am praying.

Have you ever thought about what it means to pray God’s presence in the midst of your prayer time? When you ask God to be present with you and another believer(s) you must first be gathered in God’s name. We are bound in a common faith and belief in God through Jesus Christ. You must also pray the desire for God’s will to be carried out. When we invite God to be present and you along with your prayer partner or group are voicing and agreeing on the petitions you are setting before God then your request (God’s presence) is granted. For me this is prayer on a different level.

When I am in my private prayer time I do not always remember to ask God to be present in my prayer and I picture God on His throne and just listening. Sometimes when I am really passionate in my prayer time I visualize myself walking into the throne room and addressing God face to face. Both of these conversations are very one sided. But when I claim God’s presence the prayers are no longer monologues, but change to dialogues. I speak and then listen for God to enter into the conversation. When God enters the conversation it does not mean that God agrees with my request, but that He will listen critically as I am praying with believers who are praying the same prayer. That is when I realize that I must first desire God’s will to be accomplished above all else. There is great power in two or more believers gathered in the name of the Lord, united in Him, bound by a common loyalty and wanting only His will to be accomplished.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and pray 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.