Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Thursday/News Year’s Eve Eve!

We arrived home safely around 4:00 this afternoon. We left Memphis around 5:30 AM. Our early departure allowed us to still stop for breakfast and lunch and to miss all of the heavy traffic in the larger areas. It felt so great to cross over from Arkansas back into Texas. Arkansas roads are not fun!

John 4:35 “Say not you, there are yet four months, and then comes harvest? Behold, I say unto you lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”

I have known God all of my life and had a personal relationship with Christ since I was 15. I do not remember a time when God was not a part of my life. I cannot imagine living even a moment of my life without a daily walk with Christ. When I think there are those who do not have Christ in their lives my heart really aches for them. When Jesus looks at God’s human creation and sees those who do not know Him, I think the heart of Jesus aches for them too. They have no sustaining power. The most those who do not know Christ can hope to have is a temporary victory over life’s daily struggles. Those who do not know Christ do not come to Him so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

It is our job as believers, servants of God and brothers/sisters to Christ is to tell as many people as we can about the amazing things God has done in our lives through the resurrected Christ. Our calling is to “preach Christ everyday using words if necessary.” (Bruce Chrystie), and especially to tell someone who does not know Christ . It is our job to plant the seeds of Christ-like love into the hearts, minds and practices of everyone who does not know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Once someone comes to know Jesus they will soon realize that even though tough times happen in our lives, Jesus becomes the source of happiness and peace.

Tell someone today of our Lord and Savior and wish them a Happy New Year! What an awesome way to begin the New Year than with a new relationship in Jesus Christ our Lord!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say tour prayers. Thank you for all of your prayers for travel mercy and a safe journey home. Let us continue to lift one another up in prayer each day. 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.
Greetings from Collierville, Tennessee (somewhere near Memphis).

Happy Wednesday! We made it to the area around Graceland today. I was given time to prowl some of the shops just across the street from Graceland and soak in a little Elvis. It was wonderful fun and brought back memories of growing up hearing his music and attending two of his concerts. I even called my aunt who is an Elvis fan too and talked with her as I walked through a store called “Everything Elvis.” We then walked across the street and Dale took our picture in front of the music gates. It was great fun.

Next we went to this totally “beatnik” coffee shop in Mid-Town Memphis. The atmosphere was cool with mismatched tables and chairs purchased from second hand shops, very rustic in its decor with odd couches and chairs. There were people with books to read, computers, conversations and families eating pastries and drinking coffee and hot chocolate. The coffee was quite good and it may become a traditional stop in future visits to the Memphis area.

Our day ended with a dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack to celebrate Dale and Gayle’s 31st anniversary. What a great day! Families are forever!

Philippians 2:13 “For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

God works in each of us through prayer. Believing in the power of prayer and believing in the One to whom we prayer is claiming the assurance that God is working for us, with us and in us. Because we believe, we can continue to walk in faith unafraid for God is with us. With men, tasks are impossible, but with God all things are possible. I love the word all. God’s Word does not say the best 2 out of 3 or every other one or most. It says ALL things are possible! Trust in the Lord with all your heart, your entire mind and all your strength and lean not on you own understanding. Let God be God and let us pay attention!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all and please pray as we travel home tomorrow. We are leaving early in the morning. Let us continue to lift one another up in prayer each day. 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.

Prayer alert: Ron McNutt, one of my team members at school, lost his mother-in-law today. He will be traveling with his wife, Anne, to Ohio for services. I ask your prayers for travel mercy and comfort in their time of grief and loss. gc

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Greetings from near Memphis.

Happy Tuesday! Today was spent visiting and watching some television. We were going to try and do some sight seeing, but found out the attractions we wanted to visit do not open up until April when it is warmer!

Psalm 119: 151 “You are near, O Lord; and all Your commandments are truth. “

Have you begun to pack away your Christmas decorations? The radio stations are no longer playing holiday songs. The company has gone home (except for us) and life is returning to normal. Is your house is quiet once again? The house is quiet, but Christmas is still present. The time between Christmas and Epiphany is a quiet time. It is a time to recoup from the holiday with some cinnamon tea and to ponder the new year.

Does ever seem that God is silent? Do you ever have times when you don’t feel God’s presence? I think we all have those times. What we need to remember is that God promised us that He would never leave us or forsake us. God always keeps His promises. God is always with us even if we don’t feel His presence or He is silent.

Jonah was in the whale for three days and during that time God was silent, but God was very present and at work. Jesus was in the tomb for three days and God was silent. God may have been silent, but He was still very present and still at work. It does not matter if you feel God’s presence. What does matter is that God is! God was, is and ever shall be - A Risen Savior.

When the silences seems overwhelming, claim the presence of God and remember how much He loves you and is looking out for you. Remember God is always at work even if we cannot feel His presence. If you can’t see His hands and heart His voice then trust His heart.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and extra socks because it is cold outside. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift one another up in prayer each day. 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 28, 2010

Greetings from near Memphis, Tennessee

Happy Monday! Our day began early with a 4:00 am wake-up call and a 5:30 am departure. After a brief trip to Starbucks we were on our way to visit Bruce’s brother and his family. We arrived around 4:00 safe and sound. We have celebrated Gayle’s birthday with a delicious trip to the Texas Roadhouse. After the staff caught her off guard and announced her birthday to the restaurant, the recognition ended with a rousing Y-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e- Haw-w-w-w-w-w, Gayle declared that we gave her the best ye-haw she heard in the restaurant that night! I told her of course it was because she had the only table with authentic Texans!

Proverbs11:4 “Riches profit not in the day of wrath; but righteousness delivers one from death.”

The old saying goes “You can’t take it with you.” (Even though I have a uncle who thinks he can.)

This Christmas my prayer has been for “enough.” God has blessed us with “enough” during this season. He has blessed us with enough money for food, gas, a gift or two, and some left over to share. But more than that God has blessed us with wonderful family and wonderful friends with which to share this season. As I have gotten older I have discovered that material things are not near as important as the gift of time spent with family and friends. We do not live a life of opulence or affluence. We live a life of well-being. We live a life blessed with gifts of love and faith that have been laid like stones. The rock of our faith is our Master and Savior Jesus Christ.

When we rely on the plan Jesus has for us and we try our best to walk the path of obedience then God grants us fulfillment or well-being. We are all called to a glorious work by God. We may not have all been called to preach, but we have all been called to serve.

As I begin my last semester as a public school teacher there are things I must put aside, but I must never put aside the calling to serve. The path of transition is not easy but through the gifts of love, laughter and trust I know victory in Jesus name will become a reality. Through trust and prayer riches are not given in physical appearances of money or things, but in the smiles and laughter of friends, the love of family and the assurance of the presence of God through Jesus Christ.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say our prayers. Love you all and pray for our niece and nephew as they travel to visit friends for the remainder of the week. 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 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

At this writing I am sipping some hot cinnamon tea and snuggled under my TCU Horned Frog blanket. The children are nestled all snug in their beds while visions of Starbucks dance in their heads. (Geni and Travis both work tomorrow and will travel to Howe between shifts to share Christmas with Mom, Dad and other family members.) I am a bit weary, but very happy.

We had the most wonderful day today with Carme and Dave. We all began our day with Christmas Day worship at Advent. Bruce and I provided special music. We moved the party to the house where we all ate too much, laughed and talked constantly and had a splendid day. It occurred to me that at the age of 55 and nearly 30 years of marriage, this is my first time to prepare a dinner on Christmas Day as always before, my mom has always prepared dinner and I have brought something to add to the table.

Psalm 138: 6 “Though the Lord is high, yet He has respect unto the lowly: but the proud He knows far off.”

Isn’t it amazing that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords came for the lowly, the outcast, the marginalized and the poor. Jesus born of a woman and the power of the Holy Spirit was born in a stable to an unmarried woman and lived a life of poverty. And yet this baby was heralded into the earth by angel’s song and sought by kings. These kings brought costly gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gifts seem odd to bring to a child and his family. But these gifts had a far reaching meaning for their future and ours. Tonight my meditation offers these words: The Gold, money, Frankincense, the adoration of a consecrated life and Myrrh, your sharing in His sorrows and those of the world. Myrrh was a burial spice with a peculiarly pungent odor used in the linen wrappings of those who died.

We may not have these three same gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to offer to the Christ child, but we can offer our lives over to the One who came to save us. We can offer our money for the furthering of the ministries or to help others. We can offer our lives consecrated and set apart for His purpose. We can be a balm of comfort to those who mourn and share God’s love with those who are in need of a Savior.

Share the gifts God has given to you with someone who is in need. These gifts do not come wrapped in paper, bows and tags. These gifts come from your heart; a heart that has been gifted by the Savior.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. 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.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas Eve!

Isa 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Just an editor’s note: Gaylene is preparing to receive our friends, Carme and Dave, who are coming to our home tomorrow. She is a wonderful cook and is preparing a multitude of sumptuous treats for lunch and so turned the blog over to me for the evening.

Just drive south on Cooper Street toward I-20, or near Lincoln Square in Arlington and it is easy to see how we lose the meaning of Christmas. The malls are full to overflowing. We compete for space on the highways, in the stores, in the parking lots and, sometimes, in our homes.

It seems that there is no time left to contemplate the miracle that happened over 2,000 years ago when a young woman gave birth to a baby who was God incarnate!

This was the same God who had led his people to Egypt to save them from famine, the same God who, some 400 years later led them out of Egypt to the Promised Land, the same God who told Noah to build an ark, the same God who spoke with Moses on the mountain. This was the same God who created the world and all on it, not in fire and smoke, as he appeared to the tribes of Israel, but in the form of a little human child, come down to show us how much he loves us.

In your hustle and bustle, greeting your guests and family members, opening presents, eating - take some time to thank God for His gift to us.

Merry Christmas!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. 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.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Thursday! And happy Christmas Eve, Eve.

1 Chronicles 16:31 “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; and let them say among the nations, the Lord reigns.”

This morning before Bruce left for work he called me over and asked me to listen to a flash mob sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. The piece was sung from inside the food court at some mall somewhere. Within moments patrons of the food court were on their feet and lifting their hands in praise at this most inspiring happening. It wasn’t long before Bruce and I were in tears and thinking of Casey. We asked ourselves if this was the song played 24/7 in heaven? Do you think they made Casey part of the choir? (If they were smart they did!) And then we just remembered how much we missed him and the tears flowed for a bit more time.

Handel’s father tried to discourage him from pursuing music and instead wanted him to be a lawyer. As many careers go they have their ups and downs and some finally fade away. It was during one of these down times that Handel received in the mail a manuscript from a gentleman and it contained verbatim scripture texts about Christ. The first scripture was “Comfort ye, my people…) Mr. Handel went to his apartment and 23 days later The Messiah was completed. The first performance was in the presence of the king who thought the Hallelujah Chorus was the national anthem and stood up during the singing of this piece. The words “Hallelujah! For He shall reign forever and ever” have been inspiring audiences ever since - even audiences in food courts at the mall!

Journeys are rarely smooth and straight. The journey to Bethlehem 2000 years ago could not have been very smooth for those two travelers. One pregnant and riding a donkey and the other walking. But they made it and even though they delivered their baby in less that pristine conditions, the baby came just as God said it would and they named him Jesus. The audience that night, the barnyard animals, were on their feet as they witnessed this amazing birth and then those who came later led by a star and commanded by angels fell to their knees and worshiped. This was a command performance like no other.

As we prepare our hearts for the night of the birth of our Savior, let us, too, be led by a star and listen for the angel chorus and receive this child into our hearts and lives. Let us bear witness to this miracle and lift our hands in worship as our hearts are stirred and inspired by the child King.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. 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 23, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

Guess who I had dinner with tonight? My best friend - Carme Russell. She and Dave were coming in to have Christmas dinner with us and she came a day or two early to attend the funeral of a former teaching colleague. It was a wonderful surprise to share this time together. Dave will arrive on Friday.

Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.”

The power of the cross conquered evil. Evil has the power to conquer only those who have not placed themselves into the protection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We must remember to claim this promise with assurance.

I think the greatest evil most of us experience is fear. I think we fear the unknown most of all. We fear that which we cannot control. But if we remember that we surrendered our lives over to the One who conquered evil then fear does not need to be a part of our lives. Fear is not of God.

Tonight we took dinner to Carme’s hotel and had dinner with her. It was late and already dark when we left our house. I had never driven to this hotel before. It was located almost in Las Colinas. Now if any of you know me I am pretty directionally challenged and so driving in the dark to an unfamiliar area was a bit scary. I was blessed with Geni and Travis tonight going with me and Travis with GPS on his phone. Usually I am pretty nervous about this kind of adventure because I am really afraid of getting lost. So tonight I surrendered myself over to the oral directions of the GPS and the gentle encouragement of my children and just drove the car.

I think that is how God wants us to handle experiences great and small. God wants us to realize that He is with us in all things. He wants us to trust and surrender ourselves over to His protection and direction. God’s GPS is never wrong!

So tonight, I took joy in my journey. I encourage each of you to continue to take joy in your journey. Wear comfortable shoes and count your blessings. Let us continue to lift each other up in prayer each day. 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 21, 2010

Happy Tuesday!

Exhaustion set in at full force last evening and I kept falling asleep with laptop in lap. I gave up trying to write last night and am a bit more awake tonight.

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

I received an email from a good friend today and for the journal entry tonight I am going to share it with you. As I reached the end of this wonderful Christmas Story I cried in my soup that I was eating for lunch. It touched my heart and brought back wonderful memories of my daddy during the time I was growing up. He was a service station owner and helped lots of people. This reading is a bit long, but totally worthy!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. 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.

This is better than a Christmas Card.

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy, I'll just go."

"Not without something hot in your belly." George said.

He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew ... Made it myself. When you're done, there's coffee and it's fresh."

Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. "Mister can you help me!" said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken." George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead.

"You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away.

"But Mister, please help ..." The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. "Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new ." George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought.

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to
himself. So he put a new one on.

"Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car anyway.

As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Please help me."

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. "Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.

"Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an ambulance."

The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car." He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.

He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."

George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain."

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked.

"None for me," said the officer.

"Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts." The officer laughed and winced at the same time.

The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.

"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."

The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"

The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing away," George said to the cop, "we got one too many in here now."

He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pea shooter away."

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week."

George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer."

"Shut up and drink your coffee " the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.

"That guy work here?" the wounded cop continued.

"Yep," George said, "just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"

Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too, George, and thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems."

George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."

"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need."

George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.

"And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too," George said. "Now git home to your family."

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."

"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"

"Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was gettin' a little chubby."

The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.

The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. "That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.

"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again."

The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.

"You see, George ...... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."

George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus"

Merry Christmas!!

This story is better than any greeting card.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Blessed Sunday to you all! What a wonderful day!

Hebrews 11: 1 “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

I seems that when I am really struggling God sends me a message through His Word that brings comfort and consolation or peace and assurance or guidance and strength. All of these words mean the same thing. It is as if God is saying, “Gaylene, I am here. You are my daughter and I love you. Just listen and walk in obedience and everything will work out according to My will.”

I have received this message before—when Casey was first diagnosed with cancer. God told me (through a very wise friend) that no matter what, Casey would be okay. Whether Casey’s body was able to sustain life or not, Casey would be okay. Casey’s body did not survive cancer, but God sustained and flourished Casey’s spirit exponentially. God was with Casey here on earth and Casey is most assuredly with God in heaven now.

And through God’s profound faithfulness I will be okay, too. I have spent the last 48 hours with a feeling of being overwhelmed with the possibilities of having to leave my home and family to go to seminary very far away. I am overwhelmed with all of the course work I must take and I am overwhelmed with the reality of leaving a career I have held for thirty plus years. It is a momentary excitement that “I have been accepted into the candidacy process,” and then the reality of all that must be done in order to achieve the goal and enact the calling to which I have been summoned which makes me stop and take account. It is the space between leaving a former life and beginning a new life.

But here is the thing, “Faith is the assurance of things hope for, the conviction of things not seen—by faith our ancestors received approval—because they were willing to be obedient and do what God called them to do. They walked by faith and not by sight—and so must I. Those who were called were used as vessels for God’s good work; one parted the sea, one loaded an ark and one was crucified. The last was resurrected and lives in each of us by the power of the Holy Spirit. These who have gone before me did not fly over but walked each step as led by God in faith. And I, too, must walk in faith with each step as God leads, then I can rest in the assurance that God will be with me. The journey may be long, but the steps are in God’s hands and I will take each step in joy.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. 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, December 19, 2010

Happy Saturday!

“You have received a positive entrance into the candidacy program.” This was the opening statement made by Steve Zwernemann, chairperson of the candidacy committee. He shared this news with me as the committee reconvened after my interview on Friday morning. I was very pleased with my gaining entrance to the program and just as nervous about the work and unknowns that are ahead of me. It was a very emotional moment for me as I realized that my teaching career will come to an end and this road to service through a different role in education will begin.

While on the weekend I found out that I was the only new entrance candidate in the Synod, but there were other candidates who were there receive endorsement (the second stage of the process) and even one candidate who was there to receive final approval. The other candidates were from Lutheran Seminaries in Iowa, Chicago and Ohio. They were really excited to be someplace without the ground being covered in snow and having to dress like Eskimos. It was a wonderful weekend and I learned a lot from the presentations made and the many chances to visit with the other students. One piece of news that I received is that there is at least one seminary that has online classes. I was greatly encouraged!

John 15: 16 “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.”

I swear God does this to me. I am convinced that I will be able to perform this calling, I just wish I had the same confidence in all of the class work required of me and felt worthy to meet all of the requirements for ordination. There are so many changes ahead for me and frankly I am kind of uncertain about so many of the changes and the challenges this journey will present. Following the “positive entrance” announcement I began to have self doubts and a lot of wonderings about what had just happened and how am I to accomplish all of this. Then I read this passage and remembered that God chose me. God has no intention of me making this journey alone and I will not face anything that God cannot handle.

During the interview one of the pastors said, “I really see you as a hospice chaplain.” When I heard these words all of the pieces fell into place and I knew this was what I needed to hear and this could be the place in which God has chosen me to minister. I did not choose this calling, but God chose me and will use my experience with the loss of Casey and the working of the Holy Spirit to help others in their journeys.

This new journey in my life will be led by the Holy Spirit and I must believe that God will provide all I need to reach this goal of ordination to enact this calling into the ministry of Jesus Christ. I know I will have to rely on God and the prayer support of everyone as I begin this journey and throughout the process of completing my education, internship and final approval and acceptance of a call.

I cannot begin to thank all of you for the prayers and support you have supplied during this time. I simply ask you please continue to pray and ask God to lead me to walk in obedience to this amazing journey.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. 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.

PS, To the ladies of the Advent Prayer Shawl Ministry – I took my prayer shawl with me and used it this weekend. Thank you all very much!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Thursday!

I have spent the evening doing some laundry and beginning to pack for the retreat this weekend. I ask your prayers as I prepare for this interview in the morning. Thank you.

Romans 15:13 “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The road to candidacy has been a measured path set out by the ELCA. There are steps that must be taken in a certain order. I have made the application. Advent and Pastor Joel have endorsed me completely. I have written two lengthy autobiographies. I have taken psychological and personality tests. I have met with a counselor to disaggregate all of the data and I have met with the head of the candidacy committee in a private interview. Now the final step in this first part of the process is to be interviewed by the candidacy committee and hopefully to reach final approval to be a candidate for ordination. This process is lengthy with meeting deadlines and dissecting my life for others to read and make judgment to my worthiness and discerning if my call is a true call.

Tonight my meditation speaks of joy as the reward of patiently seeing God in the dull details of deadlines and 500 question tests and massive pieces of writing. Joy is in trusting what you cannot see. Tomorrow I am going in sort of blind as I do not know who is on the committee or what questions they will ask. Joy is my heart’s response to the calling God has given to me and the gift of faithfulness I have tried to live out since receiving the call to the ordained ministry. Since joy seems to be my trademark this meditation spoke to my heart. Not all of these steps have made me feel joyous, but feeling joy does not make God’s presence any less evident. Joy is not always a feeling, but it always knows that joy is what God feels when we are obedient and bravely show our discipleship. So tonight…

Take joy in the journey no matter how tedious the road. Wear comfortable shoes.

Count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to pray for each other each day. Love you and I am counting on each of you mighty and powerful 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.

PS I will report back as soon as I know something. gc

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

I worshipped twice this evening. The first worship was a worship of Easter morning led by a worship group from my class. The second worship was led by the worship group in which I was a part. We led Pentecost worship. I preached. I think we led a spiritual worship based on the Word with prayer, contemporary music and Eucharist. So far with two grades still pending I have a B in this class. Thank you all for all of your prayers!

Acts 17: 27, 28 “That they should see the Lord…For in Him we love, and move and have our being.”

We must learn that each day is meant to be lived in the power of God and in His living presence in our lives. Living in the presence of Christ does not mean that there won’t be a dark moment or a difficult situation, but that no matter what, the living God, through the power of the resurrected Christ remains with us. There may be times of quietness between us and God, but His presence is still most assuredly with us. The analogy my meditation uses is that “Even with you nearest and dearest there are quiet days.” Even in the quiet times we do not doubt the love they have for us and we for them.

This week has been a week of accomplishments towards the ending of my public school teaching career and working toward a new life as a full time seminary student. I have found myself staying as close to and constantly in God’s presence. I have found myself praying a bit more and recognizing the nearness of God in so many ways. So as the song says, “Fear not, I am with you so be not dismayed for I am your God and will still give you aid.”

My friends, recognize the closeness of God to you continue walking the road to Bethlehem this season of Advent.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your payers. 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 Today Bruce cut his finger rather severely. Right now we are treating it with Neosporin, a band-aid and prayer. Please pray for his healing as he is currently working and needs full use of his fingers and hands. Thanks again, gc

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy Tuesday!

I received the most wonderful news I have received in a long time today. Geni announced that today she got to apply for graduation! I clapped and smiled and danced in the kitchen at this long awaited news. We are so proud of her and she has worked very hard. She has overcome some mighty adversities. She student teaches in the spring and graduates in May! Way to go Geni!!

Psalm 127:1 “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.”

Each evening over the past several days as I have come to this time in my day, the passages of scripture and meditation have been words of comfort and assurance. The words have said, “Gaylene, God is in charge and you are being kept in His protective grace”.

We are all kept in the power of God and the evil forces will stoke the storm, but will be powerless because God remains in the eye of the storm with each of us.

At our wedding nearly 30 years ago we had the scripture read about the house built upon the rock will stand forever. And when the waves crash we are above the storm and out of reach of its devastating power. You know that Evil does not attack on the desert. Evil attacks the fortress, the stronghold. Our stronghold and fortress is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. If we stay within the walls of His love and His amazing keeping power then when the storms come we are protected by the power of the Almighty.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. 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 I interview in two days. Please be in prayer for me and for those who hold the interview. I pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to guide my answers, their hearing and anticipated approval. Peace, gc

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Monday!

What a wonderful day! The trip on the train today was perfect. The children and all of their parents had such a great time. It was my last time to take this train ride and there were a couple of bittersweet moments, but the trip brought a great deal of joy to 88 children and about 30 parents. It was also a lot of fun to have Travis with me today. In all of the trips I have made over the years it is the first time one of the kids has made this trip with me. (He wore his jammies and had a fantastic time.)

1 John 1:3 “That which we have seen and heard declare us unto you, that you may also have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son.”

Tonight my meditation was titled “Perpetual Guidance.” I have looked forward to these few moments all day. With all the busyness of the day I have looked forward to some fellowship time with the Father. The closer I get to the interview on Friday the more I want to spend time in the Word and in prayer. I am listening for God’s Word to speak and reveal instructions, guidance, and to help me focus on the tasks that need to be accomplished this week.

In this passage we claim God’s presence in our lives and the promise of fellowship with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. There is great joy to be found in knowing that “every detail is planned out by God with a wealth of tenderness and Love. “ If we wait on the guidance of God with every step we take then place all that we are and all that we do in the hands of the Savior. Today a young friend of mine and I were talking and she spoke wonderful words of wisdom when she said, “God will equip you to answer the questions given during the interview and everything will be as God so desires.” I really needed to hear those words.

I have begun to pray for the Holy Spirit to go before me and fill the hearts and minds of those who hold this stage of my future in their hands. I pray that they will find me worthy of continuing to study, learn and serve as an ordained pastor. Perhaps I should be praying that God will find me worthy and walking in obedience to the calling I have received. I am praying that I will keep the face and heart of Jesus in front of me at all times and remain in constant fellowship with Him. It has been quite a journey and it is not over yet!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift one another up in prayer each day. 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, December 12, 2010

Blessed Sunday!

The music of our cantata was beautiful this morning. The Festival Choir, the JOY choir, handbell ensemble and the Sequin High School Orchestra sang and played beautifully and helped all present to remember why we celebrate this season of Advent by getting us ready for the coming of the Christ Child.

Isaiah 14:3 “And it shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give you rest from your sorrows and from your fear, and from the hard bondage where you were made to serve.”

This week is really busy for me. Tomorrow the first grade classes will go on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad that has been transformed into the Polar Express train. On Wednesday our worship group from my class at Brite will lead our classmates in worship with the theme of Pentecost Sunday. I am preaching that day so pray for us as we lead worship. This weekend is my entrance approval interview to be held on Friday at 10:00. WOW!

I must admit I am entering this busy week with a bit of anxiety as there are so many responsibilities that rest on my shoulders. Scripture tells me that I am to be anxious for nothing but by prayer and supplication make my desires known to God.

There are so many different feelings about all of these events that are causing some anxiety this week. This week I will begin to close out a life I have known for the last 30 plus years and making strides toward a new future. This week with all of its busyness - I must rest in God. I must trust in Him for strength and clear thinking. I must not allow fear to enter into my realm of thinking or action. Fear is one of the most powerful forces that Satan has to cloud our thinking and cause us to doubt what God has placed before us.

So this week I think I will spend a great deal of time in prayer. I will spend time in God’s presence and be ever mindful of the fact that no matter what - God will be there. (Praying without ceasing comes to mind really strong!) In my meditation tonight it states, “Fear of the future—Jesus will be with us. Fear of poverty—Jesus will provide and Jesus will provide guidance when we are tempted to walk in fear.”

I solicit your prayers for me, that I have a calm spirit and that I am in continual communion with God through the power of the Holy Spirit and that God’s Will would be accomplished as He desires. Thank you my dear friends and mighty prayer warriors.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift one another up in prayer each day. 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.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Saturday!

Psalm 118: 24 “This is the day which the Lord has made: we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Lately I have discovered my thoughts going to Casey. I mentioned this to Bruce today and he said it is probably due to the fact that I did the recent research writing about a celebration of life worship service coupled with having to write a personal theology of death. This writing piece of the paper was directly involved with the loss of Casey. It is also the holiday season and I miss him. He loved Christmas and he loved his family. I thought about the Christmas we spent in Houston three years ago (was it really that long ago?). We ate Christmas dinner in shifts as the volunteers prepared dinner for all of the families. Casey was so sick so we took turns going down to Café Anderson having Christmas dinner so Casey would not be alone. It was a bit difficult to rejoice in the day but Christmas still came anyway.

Mary and Joseph had lives that were full of struggle. They were a Jewish couple who were not married and yet expecting a child. The child was not the natural child of the father who would raise Him, but the Father in heaven had given Mary and Joseph the task of raising this most precious child through a tough set of circumstances.

God did not choose a wealthy couple, or a set of experienced parents or a life that would be easy in which this child would be raised. Instead God chose a life of poverty, danger and working within a family in which to grow His only Son. And yet I don’t ever read about Jesus, or Mary or Joseph ever complaining or asking for an easier time. They simply rejoiced with their child each day He was with them.

Today, Geni asked me to bring to her an apple, granola and peanut butter snack with a glass of milk. I went to the kitchen and prepared the snack for her with great joy. Yes, she could have done it herself, but I was glad she was there to make the request and to receive the snack. It was my joy to do this simple task for my daughter.

It is important to take each day as a joyous gift just waiting to be opened like a package from God. Each day holds all of the promise of a package under the Christmas tree. You do not know what is inside, but the giver of the gift loves us so much that whatever is inside will be something to be treasured. So when you rise each morning have great hopes and expect great things.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift one another up in prayer each day. 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 A special invitation! The Festival Choir from Advent Lutheran Church is presenting the Christmas Cantata at both services in the morning, 8:30 am and 11:00am. We would love to see you there. Peace, gc

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Friday!

Song of Solomon 2: 10 “My lover said to me, Rise up, my darling! Come away with me, my fair one!”

Well, here is a verse I never thought I would write about! But the meditation was really wonderful. Sometimes I sit in front of this laptop after reading a scripture passage and the meditation that goes with it; praying about what this text has to tell me and I draw a blank. I cannot think of what to write and no words are coming from my brain to the keyboard.

Those are the times I remain silent before God. I don’t even ask for words, I just sit and enjoy His presence. Do you have a best friend? In your friendship do you always have to be in conversation or can you just sit together over a cup of coffee and take comfort in being together? Bruce and I have been married for almost 30 years and we still have not run out of things to say (no great surprise!), but we can also be quiet with each other. This quietness comes because we love and understand each other and are willing to wait in quietness until one of us is ready to speak.

God is the same way. There are times when God is silent. When God is silent then we need to just stay on track and continue to grow in His likeness each day through study, worship, prayer and service. God is still enabling each one of us to grow in His silence. Just because God is quiet does not mean He is not still at work.

I think about Mary. The Holy Spirit spoke through the angel and then God was quiet. Mary still had to walk the path God had placed before her, continuing to grow in faith and believing that God was still with her even though God was quiet. So she waited for God to speak again. She magnified the Lord with a song and rejoiced in God her Savior.

Let us take joy in the journey to Bethlehem. Wear comfortable shoes. Count our blessings and continue to say our prayers and remember to continue to lift one another up in prayer each day. 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.

Prayer Alert: The candidacy interview is a week from today, 10:00 am next Friday to be exact. I pray that by this time next week I will be able to write to you as an approved ministerial candidate for ordination. I ask your prayers for this time of prayer and preparation (a time of advent) for this interview. gc

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy Thursday!

Geni finished her fall semester today! We are so proud of her. But I share this with you because in one semester we will have graduated our first child from college. That is amazing!

John 18: 7, 8 “Who do you seek? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered; I have told you that I am He.”

Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane. He is praying and His communion with God is disrupted with the sounds of Roman soldiers bearing torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus leaves His time of prayer and greets these men. He asks them, “Who do you seek?”

Jesus knew that everything he had ever done, each word He had ever spoken, and all the roads he had ever walked were all leading to this moment. After He revealed His identity to these soldiers the chain of events that would unfold could not be stopped. The horrors of the cross would begin within moments and conclude on Friday.

Fast forward to today. Do you suppose God was greeted by the bus company who allowed an atheist group to post signs on their buses stating “We are good without God”? Do you suppose God greeted the atheist group with the same words, “Who do you seek?” They weren’t Roman soldiers with lanterns, torches and weapons, but the message they wish to send is the same. The Roman soldiers did not believe they needed God so much that they were determined to rid themselves of this One who claimed to be the Messiah.

The point here is that Jesus met them and looked them in the eye and stated, “I Am He who you seek.” He knew the consequences of this answer and still answered with confidence and with the full authority of the Father.

If Jesus asks us, “Who do you seek?” what would our answer be? Would we answer, “I am seeking someone who can get me out of debt?” or “I am seeking someone who can make me beautiful?” or “I am seeking someone who can make me successful?” Or would we answer, “I am seeking Jesus Christ, Son of the living God and I am not good without You. In fact, I am a mess”?

When others seek God, where do they look? Do they look in the mirror, at their check book or the business plan that they believe will allow them to climb the ladder of success? Do others look at Christian believers and know how much they need God in their own lives? Does the light of God’s love shine so brightly in us that others want to seek Him, learn of Him and come into relationship with Him? Just some food for thought…

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift each other up on prayer each day. 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.

Prayer alert! My dear friend and co-worker Lisa Smith’s family is in great need of God comfort and our prayers as her husband Bruce lost his brother today. Let us lift up these families in prayer and pray for God to heal their broken hearts and grant them peace through faith in Jesus. Peace, gc

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

My paper has been sent off and I am praying that the grade this time will be higher than the previous one. But more importantly it is so important to me for the professor to realize that the witness to a victorious and resurrected Christ is primary in my writing even if it is not as academic as the writing of others. I wrote a paper on funeral practices with emphasis on the celebration of life service using the service I wrote for Casey’s service. It was an interesting paper to write although it had its moments of difficulty as it brought back a number of memories. Please pray for this piece of writing.

1 Corinthians 15: 20-21 “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also, the resurrection of the dead.”

The disciples always amaze me. They were in the presence of the living God and they somehow still did not get it. They were present at the revelation of who Jesus was at the Last Supper and believed that by some super power or magic moment that Jesus was going to be rescued. I think the disciples must have believed that the forces of evil were just too strong and that the mission Jesus came to fulfill was a dismal failure. Perhaps that is why they fled when the soldiers came. My meditation suggests that perhaps they were not so much afraid of the enemies but that they had been following the wrong “Way.”

But then the resurrection came and hope was restored and faith revived. They would gather and remember all they had been taught and all that had been revealed to them. They would have the assurance of the Divinity of Jesus and His “Messiahship.” And most important was that they would remember that the Holy Spirit was coming and would help them. Because they were to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, they would be able to do greater and more far reaching works in the name of Jesus and His Name would increase.

As modern day disciples we are given the same Holy Spirit and are given the same calling. We are called to spread the name of Jesus and share the love of God to all we meet.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift one another up in prayer each day. 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 7, 2010

Happy Tuesday!

John 4: 34 “Jesus said to them, My meat(food) is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.”

Bruce tells a story that he heard about fighter pilots. Fighter pilots tell that just after take-off and for a while the flight is smooth and reasonably stress free. Far away from the target you pose no threat to the enemy. Just watch the sky and remember the mission you have been given. However, it is when you are getting close to the target when the enemy attacks. It is at that time that a pilot must work very hard to stay focused on the plan and finish the work they have been sent to do.

This brief passage of scripture reminds me that Jesus spoke these words to his disciples and the meat He spoke of is to do the Will of God. Meat (a big item around this house) is to sustain the body and must be eaten on a regular basis. Spiritual meat can be found in scripture, worship, service, fellowship with other believers and prayer. These spiritual proteins help prevent soul-starvation. Soul starvation will happen when we fail to live a life in piety and fail to do the Will of God to the best of our knowledge and ability. We may not always follow God’s will with gladness, but He sure is happier when we do! (I used to tell the kids when reminding them to do certain chores, “You may not do it with gladness, but you will do it!)

So my friends and mighty prayer warriors, let us eat of the meat provided by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He offers nourishment at the table of grace each time we ask and there is always enough. Strength and power to overcome will be the reward for maintaining a steady diet of the food that only God can provide. It is through the strength and power of God’s love and grace that even though the enemy attacks, it knows that we are strong in God’s love and power and will finish the task set before us. The enemy might win a battle or two, but we know Who has already won the war!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. 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 editing is almost done. The paper is being polished. The final touches will be put on it and it will be sent. Praise God!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Monday!

Matthew 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.”

As we continue through the holiday season the temptation to really go off a healthy eating plan is around every corner. Just about the time I tell myself, “Okay, no more sweets until whenever, a table full of tempting delicious goodies is presented and the promise I have made to myself is forgotten in the chocolate, gingerbread and peppermint deliciousness.

But I don’t think that succumbing to the temptation of chocolate is exactly what Jesus was talking about when He taught His disciples to pray this prayer. Perhaps the meaning of temptation goes a bit deeper. Here in this holiday time we are all busy. I am busy trying to get my papers graded and posted on the new grading system, completing my research paper, writing a sermon for my worship class and preparing for the candidacy interview among the things I do each day in teaching school and taking care of my family.

The temptation I think Jesus wants me to recognize is to use tiredness and busyness as an excuse to not share the message of Jesus with those I meet each day. My temptation is to not give an encouraging word to someone who is in need or to not fulfill the mission given by God through Jesus or to allow the evil one to invade my thoughts and actions and lead me off of the path of righteousness. These are the temptations that Satan uses to cause me to take my eyes off of Christ and back onto myself. How about you?

Scripture says that His is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever, not that Gaylene is the power, etc. Satan’s temptations are intended to tempt us to put ourselves above God and into Satan’s grasp. To conquer temptation is to recognize the Kingdom of God is born again in the babe of Bethlehem under the stars with shepherds and animals for witnesses and not even Satan himself could stop what God began.

God has begun a good work in each of us and even though we may walk off the path sometimes and temptations come before us, God is always there with His power to lead us away from temptation. As we journey toward Bethlehem this season of Advent let us focus on the light that led those first two travelers, Mary and Joseph, to the stable - those travelers who might have been tempted to turn around and go home, but chose to stay on the path and complete the mission God had given them.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift each other up in prayer each day. Love you 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.

PS Prayer alert! Bruce is giving my paper the once over twice and then I prepare to send it to my professor. Please pray for the words I have written and the one who will read it. I pray he will find it acceptable. gc
Blessed Sunday to you all!

We finally got the tree decorated this afternoon. And yes, we had one of my favorite Christmas movies playing as we decorated: White Christmas. We even had a turkey and dressing casserole for lunch and pumpkin bread with Holiday Peppermint coffee for dessert. It was a great afternoon.

We are so excited about this Christmas as our best friends Carme and Dave Russell will be coming to spend Christmas Day with us. We are all so happy to have them joining us. We have never spent Christmas together. We spent many New Year’s Eves, but never a Christmas. So this Christmas will be extra special.

Luke 2: 9-10 and 14 “Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, (10) but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

(13) Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

There are several places where angels appear to those in the nativity story. The angel appears to Mary and tells her she is to bear the Son of God. An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him not to divorce Mary, for he is to be the earthly father of Jesus. An angel appears to the shepherds and announces that Jesus has been born and then this one angel is joined by a host of other angels and together they sing praises to God for this miraculous birth.

These people to whom the angels appeared were rather ordinary. They seemed to have uncomplicated lives without a great deal of extraneous busyness. The shepherds, who spent long hours outside with time to watch the night sky and maybe count the stars, were visited by an angel who told them to “fear not.” They were treated to a concert with the voices of heaven. Then they were instructed as to where to find the baby.

Do you see a pattern forming here? The angels appear with a message and then some instructions. They did not announce the coming of Jesus to high government officials or royalty or rock stars. The coming of Jesus was announced to a simple young lady, a carpenter and a bunch of shepherds. These people had time to hear the angels speak and sing, and then they believed.

Do we hear angels? Do we slow down in our lives to listen for the voices of angels? Do we hear the voice of angels when we hear the bell at the red kettles out in front of stores and shops? Do we hear angels when our loved ones call our names?

In the busyness of this season let’s slow down and listen for an angel’s voice. Listen for an announcement, fear not and then follow the instructions given by this messenger from God.

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.

Take joy on the journey to Bethlehem. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift each other up in prayer each day. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy Saturday!

Last evening Travis competed in the deadlift competition at the Metroflex Gym here in Arlington. He won the teen men’s division with a lift of 620 pounds. I text messaged my principal and she said, “That’s a whole cow!” Congrats Trav! But here is the thing. We have now been to a few of these competitions and there were many firsts for all of us last night. First, this is not a gym where you look cute. This is a blood, sweat and tears gym. Hard work goes on in this place. The first thing you notice is the huge cross bearing the words King of Kings and Lord of Lords on the cross pieces. The next thing you observe is the vast amount of scripture verses painted on the walls and the gym motto is “The true strong man knows where real power comes from.” The owner of the gym is a man by the name of Brian Dobson who began the meet with prayer. The entry fee for spectators was $5.00 and that included the food cooked tailgate style outside in the parking lot. Then Mr. Dobson announced that all of the spectators fees and the registration fees for the competitors was all going to a ministry at his church (and his pastor was there) that took backpacks full of toys and other items that are age appropriate to a village down in Matamoros, Mexico. Most amazing thing I have been to in a long time. The sportsmanship and the encouragement given to each competitor by each athlete and the spectators was inspiring.

1 John 2:15-16 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world…For all that is in the world…is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

Even though the event of last evening was a worldly event with men and women trying to out-lift each other, it was an exercise where each tried to increase their personal best, with the bar set higher than the weight each athlete was striving for. Each of the athletes was judged not only according to the value of the weight on the bar, but by the values of heaven. They did seek the praise of their peers, but more than that, because God was invited to the competition and was within the hearts of the athletes, there was never any booing, jeering or poor sportsmanship. There was instead a strong sense of each competitor being encouraged to do their best with the support of their fellow competitors and the audience. When someone struggled with the weight they were attempting to lift, the owner of the gym and event announcer, Brian, encouraged the lifter to keep trying and when a lifter could not lift the weight on the bar, Brian applauded the athlete, along with the audience, and said “You will get it next time.”

I don’t think most of the world treats its competitors with this kind of value system. Disciples of Jesus (that’s us) must ever seek to set aside the valuation of the world, and judge only according to the values of Heaven. So when the situation is difficult and human help is failing, keep very close to God and let His hand raise you up.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. See you in worship. And let us continue to lift each other us in prayer daily. Love you, 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 final worship class research paper is on a particular worship type that interests me. I am writing about the celebration service I wrote for Casey. Please pray for me to be able to order my thoughts and say what needs to be said as I write this paper. It is due on Wednesday. Thank you for your prayers. gc

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Thursday!

I apologize for not writing on last night. After a very long day and worshiping three times I was “churched up” and “wiped out!” I was too tired to think and kept falling asleep while trying to write.

James 5:8 “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”

When we come into God’s presence we are on holy ground. When Moses was called to the burning bush upon the mountain, God told him to remove his shoes for the ground on which he was standing was holy ground. Moses was a wanderer and his shoes took him to all kinds of places from the desert across Egypt, to the Pharaoh’s court and to Mount Sinai and beyond. Those sandals walked through sand, followed behind herds of animals and got pretty dirty.

So when Moses came into the presence of God and received instruction, God asked him to remove his dirty shoes and humbly submit himself. God had been talking to Moses for some time. While Moses was going across the desert after being exiled from Egypt God began to speak to him. Moses began to get to know God in the silence of the desert without distractions. The longer Moses and God communicated the more Moses began to desire to be in God’s presence.

The scripture says if we draw near to God then He will draw near to us. It does not say that God will draw near if He has the time or that we are being placed on a list and he will get to us. The passage says if we come into His presence then He will stay with us, teach us and lead us. We can count on this with utter confidence that the prayers that we pray will be answered and God will be with us.

We need to draw near to God not just as one who is speaks but as one who listens. Remember God is the supplier who will make known His desires and wishes for each of us. I think Mary, who had many questions I am sure, listened far more than she talked. So let us begin to listen to God and hear His voice. Let us come humbly before Him, drawing near to Him and believing that He will draw near to us. The more we are in the presence of God the more we see the son of God.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. 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.

Prayer alert! Travis competes tomorrow evening in a lifting event. He will be dead lifting a lot of weight. Please pray for his safety. Peace, gc

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Tuesday!

When we all wake up in the morning it will be December. The children in my class have been counting down the days until December. They are really excited.

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

Psalm 20: 1-2 “In times of trouble; may the Lord answer your cry. May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm. May He send you help from His sanctuary and strengthen you from Jerusalem.”

Every once in a while I tell Bruce that I really need to get away for just a day or two. That translates that I need to get away with him and walk the Galleria or other place that is not on my normally beaten path. No dishes, laundry, write or grade papers etc., so sometimes Bruce is my sanctuary. And when I am really dealing with a difficult situation I can go into the quietness of my own being and think the issue through until I have a plan in place to work the problem out. But when I am dealing with my own inadequacies, shortcomings, failures and doubts I go to the sanctuary of my own heart and meet God. I take refuge in the sanctuary of God’s loving kindness, His compassion and forgiveness until I feel my joy being restored. It is sort of like being a dry sponge and God is soaking me in His loving grace and restoring me according to His will.

Find God in the sanctuary of your heart for He is there waiting for us with love, compassion, forgiveness and a constant reminder of the joy He takes in us, His children.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift each other up in prayer each day. 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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Monday!

Wow! First day back at school after a week long holiday! I was exhausted! It was a good first day back, but pray for all teachers and students because we are already counting down the days until the Winter Break. Just an FYI we are down to 14 days.

Hebrews 10: 25 “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.”

For the last year and a half, a group of women from my school has met together one morning per week for a time of prayer and share. We meet in my classroom for about 40 minutes for a brief devotion, prayer and time of sharing our concerns, joys and praises. We claim a Las Vegas style room and have gained each other’s trust. We keep a prayer list in a prayer journal and then write down private prayers on small slips of paper. After our corporate prayer time we each take a prayer slip and pray for each other throughout the week. Through this time we have not just grown as sisters in Christ, but friends who are bound by the love of God through Jesus.

We gather in the name of Jesus with one desire, to learn and do God’s will in our lives at school and in our homes. When we meet together we ask that God be present as a guest as we place our prayers before Him. There is power in our prayers because we claim the scripture that says “Where two or more are gathered in My name, I will be present.” We know that the power is not in our prayers or in our numbers, but in the One who hears our prayers. I treasure these wonderful women and our time together.

We were not meant to live this Christian life alone. Bruce tells a wonderful story about watching a fire. If you ever watch a fire, the power in the fire, the part that keeps the fire going is the closeness of the coals and the embers that stoke the fire from underneath. If you take one of the coals away and set it to the side without the warmth of the others then the coal grows cold and its fire goes out. But if you place it back into the glowing embers then it warms with the support of the other coals and it is restored.

I pray that each of you have a group of believers to meet with on a regular basis. I pray you feel the warmth and fire of the Holy Spirit and draw your strength from Jesus and those gathered in His Name.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. 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.

Prayer Alert! Our friend Mike had a successful surgery this morning and is planning to go home tomorrow. Praise God from whom all blessings flow and who is the source of all healing. Thank you for your prayers. gc
Blessed first Sunday of Advent!

Luke 1: 19 “Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was He who sent me to bring you this good news.”

Zechariah was the husband of Elizabeth. They were aging and had never had children. Zechariah was a priest in the temple when he had this encounter with the Angel, Gabriel.

Have you ever noticed how angels show up to deliver messages from God? I’ll just bet an angel’s favorite message to deliver is news of a baby. An angel delivered the news of the coming of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah (a woman past the age of child bearing years). An angel delivered the message of the coming of John to Zechariah and Elizabeth (also past child bearing years). Then an angel delivered the message of the coming of Jesus to Mary (a woman barely into her child bearing years). All three were miracle babies. Sarah laughed, Mary pondered these things in her heart, Elizabeth went into seclusion and Zechariah was struck dumb until the birth of his son.

Let’s talk about Zechariah. He is standing in the presence of a being who sees God on a daily basis and bringing good news to Zechariah and Zechariah doubts. So God, through the angel, causes Zechariah to be without the ability to speak until John is born. Why? Well, I have a thought. The other night there was a movie on that I have seen several times so I know the dialog pretty well. I had my eyes closed while the movie was on and I heard things I had never heard before. I heard quiet pieces of conversations that I had missed all along. It was really “eye opening.”

God sometimes has to make us quiet so we can hear His plan for us. I know I talk to God far more than I listen to God. On Sunday mornings I take notes during the sermons and listen to our pastors’ discernment of the texts for the day. Being silent before God is a place of forced surrender. God is often silent with us. And even if He is silent before us that does not mean He is not at work, it just means we have to work extra hard and hearing His message.

God sent a messenger to Zechariah with a message of good news.

What messengers have visited us? Sometimes I hear messages in music, or in sermons, in the Word or in unusual places like a movie with my eyes closed. God speaks to us in so many ways and works to get our attention in whatever ways have meaning for each of us. Let us listen for God’s message in the world around us. It might come in prayer, or through a friend, through a sermon or even a movie you have seen multiple times. So let’s stop talking and listen and maybe, just maybe, we will hear some good news.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift each other up in prayer each day. 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.

Prayer Alert! Mike S. is having gall bladder surgery in the morning. Please pray for all medical personnel to be perfect in their tasks and for Mike to be without fear.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Saturday!

Two years ago our family began a new tradition. It was the first new activity we began after the loss of our beloved son, Casey. It was our first new memory to make. We began a yearly trek to the Walls Christmas Tree Farm in Terrell, Texas to cut our own Christmas tree. The first two times we went, we went the last weekend they were selling trees before Christmas, but busy schedules dictated differently this year. Yesterday was the first day of the selling season.

We picked a lovely six foot pine, not too slim and not too wide that fits exactly in the space allowed in our living room. We added a hand crafted Christmas wreath for the front door for the first time this year. Geni worked tonight so we will not decorate until tomorrow. During the decorating, the movie “White Christmas” will be watched and popcorn eaten. The house will smell of Christmas pine and it will glow with the ornaments and lights collected over the years. Today the kids said it is a tradition they would like to take into their families someday.

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. Our Praise Team will sing a special piece tomorrow, “Prepare Ye.” The nature of the piece really goes along more with a Holy Week theme, but a long time ago I heard a saying late one night on the radio that simply said, “Jesus could be born a thousand times in Bethlehem, but unless He is born again once in our hearts then it was all for naught.”

How do we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child? Mary and Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem. Their journey was not an easy one. She was none months pregnant and rode on the back of a donkey over rough terrain get to the appointed place. They went obediently to the place God and had called them to go. So let us start there. In what ways will be journey to the stable this year? Will we attend mid-week services? Will we read our Bibles more and try to understand God’s Word? Will we offer ourselves in service? Will we give some of what we have in order for someone else who has less than we? Will we send cards to someone new this year?

Let’s journey to Bethlehem and prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ child. Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. 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.

Prayer Alert! Our good friend Mike S. is in the hospital. First indication was that he had a heart attack, but that diagnosis was dismissed and tests are being run. Please pray for him to be restored to health and well being for his wife B.B. Peace, gc

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Friday!

Luke 22: 42 “Saying, Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but Your will be done.”

My friends, how many times have we been faced with things we don’t want to do? I don’t mean like laundry or dishes, but situations that have been placed in your hands that require great emotional care with life changing outcomes.

I was faced with this level of situation when the nurses asked me to tell Casey that there was nothing else that could be done to prolong his life. The chemotherapy did not work and the cancer had almost completely taken over his lungs and there were no more medications or procedures that could help. This is not a conversation that anyone wants to have, but especially not to have with their child. I remember finding a place to pray and remember asking God to let this cup pass from me, but if He truly wanted me to have this conversation then He would have to give me the words and He had to show up and guide me through the power of the Holy Spirit.

If you remember this passage, Jesus was in the garden following the Last Supper . He went there to pray. Jesus knew that all He had ever done and every road He had ever walked had brought Him to this place. Even though Jesus was fully human and fully divine He prayed to His Father for this cup to pass from Him. Essentially Jesus asked His Father if everything else had been done. Was there anything else that could work? But if all possibilities had been exhausted then to let the will of the Father be done in Me.

I believe that this moment in Jesus’ life was witnessed and recorded for one reason; at some time in each of our lives we have to go to the garden, kneel before the Father of all, Creator of the universe and pray this same prayer. Jesus modeled the perfect example of obedience and trust in God’s perfect will for the life of His Son. God answered the prayer of Jesus. Jesus then followed the will of the Father. God allowed the events in the following hours to play themselves out in the trial, crown of thorns and crucifixion. Then God fulfilled His own promise by raising Jesus on the third day.

Whenever I am faced with a “not my will, but Your will be done” situation, I try to remember that God knows best and that He only wants the best for me and that for which I am praying. Sometimes it is hard for me to accept God’s will for my life, and when that happens God understands and I pray for His loving presence to surround me and to help me accept without fear the outcome of the situation.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. 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, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope this writing finds you full of turkey and all of the trimmings. We had more than our share of good things to eat while at Ken and Sheena’s today. Last year no one told anyone what they were bringing, so all of us brought something made with pumpkin for dessert. This year we were all on the same wave length again and all brought pecan pie. Not a pumpkin anything on the table. Perhaps next year we will call each other and make a bit more varied dessert area of the table. (I must say, that pecan pie is my most favorite dessert of all, so I was not too upset.)

Isaiah 53:2 “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of the dry ground…and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”

As I watched the news tonight I saw the report of the early bird shoppers who were allowed into the Toys-R-Us store at 10:00pm! The toy store has lots of eye catching things that children believe they cannot live without and parents eager to please their children this Christmas are shopping at their earliest opportunity.

The prophet Isaiah tells us that when God comes to the earth the body that will inhabit the Spirit of God will not be so beautiful that others will desire it. It will be a body that will be lost in a crowd as ordinary as any other Jewish man. It is the intention of God for the people of the earth to desire the beauty of “His Countenance.” We know that the world, which only saw him through human eyes, would come to despise this one called Jesus, but the Spirit that dwelt in this body would be the Spirit that “those who have ears would hear and those who have eyes would see.”

God’s fervent hope for us is that we would see the character of God and His Spirit embodied in Jesus. Perhaps if we can see the Spirit of God, His Love, His Forgiveness, His Kindness and His Tender Mercies in a rather ordinary looking man then we could see Jesus in others and others would see Jesus in us. If we seek God through the eyes of faith then we will see all that we desire. That will be more than arriving at Kohl’s at 3:00 am could possibly offer.

Each day in my prayer time I pray that others would sense God’s presence in me. So I pray that I will be loving, kind, forgiving and show tender mercies to those with whom I come into contact. In order for others to sense God’s presence in me then I must get to know God. I must learn of Him through studying His Word, praying in conversation with Him each day and staying in fellowship with His servant people.

So here is a thought…tomorrow before you leave for the frenzy of Black Friday, pour yourself another cup of coffee and spend some time with God, for what He has to offer cannot be bought on this black Friday, but was purchased on a Black Friday long ago.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes (especially tomorrow). Count your blessings and say your prayers. 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 If you noticed that the link to the Celebration of Life service for Casey was missing from the page, you are right. The link was recently disabled at the source. We are not upset because they left it active for over two years, much longer than we thought they would. Still, we want the service to be available on this blog, so we are in the process of getting a copy of the service so we can offer it in another format. Thought you might want to know. bc

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Carme went home from the hospital today and is feeling much better. It seems that a migraine combined with a sinus headache and anesthesia makes for ONE GINORMOUS VICIOUS HEADACHE! I am so glad and very grateful that she is feeling better and at home with Dave.

Revelation 3: 20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”

John 10:9 “I am the door; if any man enters in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

I have cooked all day. I have prepared two pies, two pans of dressing and a vat of gravy. Bruce and I have cleaned and washed a garden of veggies and made delicious dip to go with them. And tomorrow (after a brief stop at Starbucks) we will be on our way to Allen to have Thanksgiving lunch with family.

As our families have grown we often have extra guests who join us for this wonderful meal. We try very hard to make any guests feel welcomed and at rest while they are there. Once a guest comes through the door and are introduced we show them where the food is placed and where the glasses are and then they are on their own to enjoy the fellowship and fun that always is a part of our family gatherings. We always want our guests to feel warm, accepted, welcomed and safe to be themselves as they share the meal or occasion.

God issues a gracious invitation to all who wish true happiness and fellowship with those who have already accepted the invitation to become a part of the body of Christ. Christ offers a rest and a satisfaction that cannot be found in worldly pursuits. Christ offers to all who let Him into their hearts a life with a family.

Jesus offers this invitation, “Come to Me and I will give you rest.” Christ offers a place of acceptance, love, welcome and safety to all who open the door when he knocks and walks in. Christ invites those who do not know Him to come in and feast at his table of grace and eat until they are fully refreshed and meet the family.
Issue an invitation at your table to someone who is in need of a family. Introduce them to our Heavenly Father who graces us with His presence at our tables and makes us feel welcomed, accepted and safe. Happy Thanksgiving!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. We love you and give thanks for each of you. 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.