Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Saturday, day after Christmas!

It has been quiet today around here, other than the fact that I received a phone call from my Dad this morning telling me that he put Mom in the hospital for congestive heart failure. I heard the wheeze in her voice over the phone on Thursday as she was reciting her pecan pie recipe. I heard the wheeze on Friday as we were at their house for Christmas Day. To have warned her would have done absolutely no good because she was determined to have Christmas Day with her family. Daddy put her in the hospital around 3:00 am today. The good news is that I spoke with her this evening and she sounded really good. She says there are monitors everywhere, but she is feeling better, but has no idea when she will get out of the hospital. She assured me she would be fine. Pray for her please dear friends and mighty prayer warriors. Pray for my Dad, too, please.

1 Corinthians 2:7 “God’s wisdom…goes deep into the interior of his purposes. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out His best in us.”

Bruce and I have been asked to lead worship tomorrow at two small Christian churches as their pastor has gone out of town to visit family. The services have been planned with these instructions from their pastor…”these(prayers and announcements) are only suggestions, you can do what you wish.”

We are going to follow the worship as printed in the bulletin as we are guests, but we have selected pieces and duets to sing in lieu of a spoken sermon. We have selected beautiful music to sing tomorrow, music that is not only pleasing to the ear, but words which have such wonderful messages. We are still guests in other sanctuaries and it will not matter how smoothly we lead the services and sing our sermon in song, what will matter is that we extend the hand of fellowship to congregations of strangers and that we share what Christ means in our lives.

This passage of scripture says that wisdom goes deep into the interior of His purposes and that God is determined to bring out His best in us. It is all about God. It is not about personal fulfillment; it is about living and doing for God and for His glory. Living and doing for God is not exclusive for the pastorate or the serving of a congregation. It is for all who believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ, living and doing for God in our everyday lives as wives, husbands, parents, sisters, brothers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, day laborers, postal workers, clerks etc…Living and doing for God is our purpose in this life. It is not about doing our best under our own power, but for God to bring out His best in us through the wisdom of being obedient through the surrendered life.

Take comfort joy in the journey and wear comfortable shoes. Love you all dear friends and mighty prayer warriors, 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.
Merry Christmas to you all!

How about all of that snow? It was so beautiful! Bruce was reading on Face Book from one of our friends that her young daughter came bursting into their room this morning and instead of saying “Santa came! Santa came!” She said, “Mommie, Daddy the snow is still on our yard!” White Christmas’s are so rare and beautiful that they even supersede Santa!

We went to Mom and Dad’s today for Christmas gathering. The food was delicious and we had such a wonderful time. The trip was a bit treacherous with ice on bridges and on some parts of the highway. We were a bit nervous about the road by Mom and Dad’s house as it is hilly and we were afraid it would be a solid sheet of ice. But it was not too bad and we arrived safely. I said prayers for each accident we passed and each time our tires went sideways instead of straight ahead. The most encouraging sign I saw today was that of all of the accidents we saw, there seemed to only be body damage to vehicles and no injuries to the people involved. Praise God!

Colossians 1:16 “For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible…everything got started in Him and finds purpose in Him.”

Here we are on Christmas Day. Children are now sleeping and dreaming of their gifts received today and how they will play with them tomorrow. Parents are tired. We have played, cooked, talked, hugged and driven under the tension of ice and snow. But when we put all of that aside and we ponder Christmas day…that Christmas Day 2000 years ago was about a family. This family did not have an easy journey either. Mary rode a donkey at nine months pregnant. Joseph led that donkey and tried to find a warm place for this child to be born. But, alas God had different plans.

That brings me to this point. It is all about God. It was not about that lack of room in the local inn and the difficult journey. It was about God announcing His presence in the world through a choir of heavenly angels. The angels did not announce this birth to kings and kingdoms. The angels announced the birth of Jesus to a bunch of shepherds. It was about God being born into a family. From the beginning, it was always about God. Mary and Joseph had to learn to live for God through this child and not for themselves. They knew their purpose was one of an extremely high calling. They knew that their purpose to raise this child was far greater than any personal fulfillment they might achieve.

Our purpose in life is to live for God. This is the greatest calling in our lives. As we begin to put away the Christmas trappings of tree, ornaments and leftovers, let us begin to look to the new calendar year that is rapidly approaching. Let us begin by remembering that it is all about God and as we make decisions that we consult the One who gave us free will in the first place and how much He loves us.

Take comfort and joy in the journey 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.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

It is so hard to believe that Christmas Eve is just about an hour away. WOW! Remember on yesterday’s entry I told you about “All is calm and all is bright and how it could translate into all is well?” Well today I got a chance to put my faith where my mouth is. One of Bruce’s customers was unable to pay him for making repairs to her home. It was a bit of a blow to our plans, but I prayed for Bruce, his customer and us. I claimed victory over this setback and believe that all would be well. I have tried very hard not to dwell on this while I have gone about the business of the day and asked God to take the situation and lead and guide us. When Bruce phoned and told me what happened, his faithful response was “I will brush off the dust and move on.”

Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts to which you are called…and be thankful.”

I really needed this verse and meditation today. Peace happens when you lift your burdens to God and believe that He receives them then blesses you with His faithfulness. This peace that passes all understanding is what others should see in us. We are not always happy, but we should always be at peace because of God who lives in each of us. This is not peace like a truce drawn us with evil. Rather this is peace in assurance that evil has been conquered. Everything does not live in harmony. Any parent with more than one child knows that harmony seems like something you have only heard about. Peace is the knowledge that, no matter the consequences, God is in charge. Sometimes it is hard to let God handle our problems, but we have to practice letting go. Just like in music, harmony has to be worked out and after practice, harmony is beautiful.

Peace is in the belief that the harmony you seek will work out and God is the author of that peace. God calls for peace to rule our hearts. Even though we had a setback today, we have offered this to God and believe that He will make thinks okay. All is calm…all is well.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and walk with God in the way of Peace. 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, December 22, 2009

Happy Tuesday!

I am trying something new this year with Christmas cards. I sent Christmas cards to all on my list-friends and family…and then I stuffed some extra cards and wrote our return address. We have received cards this year from some friends for the first time. So when I receive one of those cards then I take one of my ready cards, address it and send it out.

Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou are with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me."

“All is calm. All is bright.” The words to that song are so very comforting. In this passage of scripture the psalmist tells us to fear no evil. God has conquered evil. God has placed us under His protection. Mary and Joseph were under the protection of God when they escaped to Egypt. God assured them that they would be safe if they would just walk in obedience to His commands. We have the assurance that whatever it is cannot harm us. God is over all the things in our lives. He is God of the little things and the really big things. We need to remember the words of the song “all is calm, all is bright.” All is calm could translate into all is well. If we practice “all is well” in the little things throughout the day then when the really hard moments come then we will be in the habit to say “All is well. All is calm.” Right now each time Bruce comes in and tells me that he has scheduled another week’s worth of work I say a prayer of thanksgiving.

In my morning devotional this suggestion was made. Make your requests known to God one time. Then immediately give thanks for the answer that will be forthcoming. The devotion said that when we make the same request repeatedly it causes tension and sort of tells God that we don’t think that He really heard our request. So I have been practicing this prayer model. Each time I hear something for which I have been praying I say “thank you Lord.” I am learning to trust that God knows what is best.

Take joy in the journey 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.
Happy Monday!

It is the first day of the holiday break. The wreath is on the door. My living room is covered in boxes of ornaments, strings of lights and two very confused dogs. We think there is still a missing box full of ornaments and the tree skirt has not yet been found. Right now a blanket purchased at MD Anderson hospital two years ago suffices nicely for the skirt until the missing box can be located in the attic.

Our 29th anniversary will be January 1st. Many years ago at one of the luncheons in which I was honored, each guest was to bring a Christmas ornament for use for when we celebrated our first Christmas together. Our first tree was a tiny Norfolk pine in a pot covered in red foil. We loved it and decorated it with the treasured ornaments. I still have a few of those ornaments and remember the friends and family from whom they were given. That is the box that is missing!!!

Luke 19: 17 “And He said unto him. Well, you good servant; because you have been faithful in a very little, you have authority over ten cities.”

Three shopping days until Christmas. I see frazzled people and stressed parents of young children and the shelves at Wal-Mart are beginning to look a bit sparse. What I am not seeing are the smiles this season should be bringing.

Let’s travel back to the days in Nazareth and that night in Bethlehem and the story of Mary and Joseph once again. This miraculous birth did not happen by accident. God planned and ordered each step of the way these two young people were to travel. God told Mary ahead of time what was expected of her. Mary accepted this responsibility. Joseph was ready to walk away from Mary and God spoke to him in a dream and told Joseph of His plan. God told Joseph not to leave Mary for she was to bear the Son of God and that he, Joseph, was to be this child’s earthly father.

Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem in time to have this child just as the prophets had foretold. Then when the evil Herod sent his soldiers to murder all of the babies, God spoke to Joseph once again in a dream and told them to leave Bethlehem and travel to Egypt for safety.

None of these events were ordered or planned by Mary and Joseph. God planned and ordered all of these steps. Mary and Joseph seemed to willingly follow the will of the Father. If left to their own devices these plans might not have followed the plan God put before them. But Mary and Joseph seem to say, “Have your way, God.” They seemed to know that God would lead them and that His response to their obedience would make their way as easy on their feet as possible.

So my dear friends when your feet ache from shopping, cleaning or cooking or your heart aches when you think what you are doing is not enough, remember this young couple traveled on foot to bear this most precious child and again on rough rugged roads to protect Him from Herod’s army. I think they wore comfortable shoes.

Take joy in the journey and wear comfortable shoes. 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.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blessed Sunday to you all!

Pastor Joel spoke of peace today in his continuing series of messages about Peace in a World in Pieces. In his message he recounted memories of singing Silent Night as a child and how it always made his Christmas complete. As an adult he has some different thoughts on that wonderful song. Pastor has also caused me to do some deeper thinking about that night.

Let me begin with Mary. Hebrew tradition proclaimed young girls marriageable when their monthly cycles began. So Mary was quite young when she became pregnant with Jesus. She fell in love with a much older man who was probably not the man her father would have chosen for her. Then she had to explain to her mother, father and fiancé about this pregnancy. Mary and her family had to endure the shame and humiliation of Mary being pregnant without being married. Joseph had to deal with the feelings of betrayal with the knowledge that he was not the father of this baby. This was not a time of peace for any of these characters.

Fast forward to that night in the manger. Here are these two people, one very young and one about to be asked to do something traditionally reserved for only the women. Joseph would be given the task of bringing this mysterious child into the world. Would he know what to do when the time came? He would not be outside with other men waiting to be told when this child was born. The community would celebrate this birth as other neighborhood births were announced. On this night he and he alone would be there with his very young wife in a cold cave with only straw for a bed and the animals as witnesses. Not a time of peace for these characters either.

Pastor Joel then made the most profound statement. Pastor said, “Peace of the sleeping Christ child did not come until after the pain of birth.” As a mother I have given birth three times. I remember very clearly the pain of those deliveries and as soon as those children were delivered the pain was gone.

Real peace does not happen without struggle. When we become pride swallowing people Christ’s peace can happen. When we are willing to give up ourselves then Christ’s peace can happen. When we are willing to walk in faith and go through the struggle in obedience to Christ, then peace, true peace, happens. Peace costs a lot. Peace does not cost in dollars. It costs us our will and allowing Christ to be more of us than we are of ourselves.

We, too, can sleep in peace. Peace comes to us in forgiveness and reconciliation with Christ and through the sleeping baby in the manger. Give up the struggle and be born again and allow the peace of God to replace the pain.

Take joy in the journey and wear comfortable shoes. Life is too short to wear shoes that hurt your feet! 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

Happy Saturday!

We had such a wonderful day! After the loss of Casey we have made some conscious decisions to make new memories. Every memory we have has Casey in it and Bruce and I felt that in order for all of us to heal we needed to do some things differently than in years past. So last year we began a new tradition and have for the second year in a row gone to Terrell to the Walls Christmas Tree Farm and cut our Christmas Tree. We have such a wonderful time. Upon our arrival at the farm there is a big red barn where they serve complimentary coffee and cider. They also sell bags of shelled pecans, cracked pecans and pecans still on the shell. Then a hay wagon ride takes us out to the part of the farm where the Christmas trees are found. We then hike around until we find the one that is just right. Travis cut the tree and we return to the barn where they shake the tree of its dead needles and bag the tree for transport home. I don’t know how many more times this tradition will continue, but I hope to continue it for as long as possible.

Psalm 144:15 “Happy are they whose God is there Lord.”

This morning I had a few moments when I missed Casey quite a lot. I don’t even remember what brought on the memories but there were very close to my heart and I missed that smiling face, blue eyes and his big old kind heart . He loved Christmas so much he would so have loved to go out to the tree farm and be a part of this new tradition we are creating. So if you had asked me this morning, “How are you Gaylene?” My answer would not have been “just fine.” On the contrary, I was quite a mess.

How often does someone ask each of us “How are you?” Our answer is most likely, “just fine.” Have you met other Christians who, when asked this question, never have a response that is positive? I know I have met those people. Their answers are something negative about their health, or that they didn’t get something they really wanted, or they are not going to get to do something they really wanted to do or that they just wanted to be left alone to finish something. Are these folk so focused on what they don’t have they are blind to see what they really have?

We as believers have an eternal home in heaven that no mortgage company can take away and a family that nothing or no one can divide. All of our sins have been forgiven completely and eternally and has been nailed to a tree. We are children of God with salvation that is eternal.

When asked, “How are you?” Our response should be “I am blessed.” What we don’t have is far less than what we do. This is a joyous time of the year and even though the tree might not be near a full as it has been in years past, we can fill our hearts by remembering how much we are loved by the God of Christmas who saw fit to send us His Son to love and cherish so that we could see how to love each other.

Take joy in the journey and wear comfortable shoes. Life is too short to wear shoes that hurt your feet. 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.