Saturday, July 10, 2010

Happy Saturday!

John 2:11 “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested for his glory, and His disciples believed on Him.”

I love this story. The story of the wedding at Cana where Jesus turns the water into wine, talks back to His mother and keeps the party going! Jesus never let a teaching opportunity get away. Jesus spent His ministry preaching and teaching. He taught His disciples. In this lesson He announced His Lordship, His ability to perform miracles and what His purpose was here on earth through the object lesson of water into wine.

Jesus demonstrated that He had come to change all the old ways into new ways. The water placed into those jars was changed into the new wine of salvation. Jesus was teaching the disciples that they too must change from their old beliefs and ways into new ways. Jesus taught the disciples that when He was gone they must carry on in His place. Jesus charged the disciples to preach, teach, baptize, heal and set free the captives in His name. Jesus taught them to pray and gave them the authority to perform miracles in His name.

Jesus would perform many more miracles after the first miracle at Cana. The disciples would become empowered by Jesus to perform miracles and we, as His disciples, are called and charged to perform miracles, too. I have never touched someone and physically healed them, but I have touched someone and helped them to feel love. I have sat and listened to someone and helped them to get their burden off their chest; I have held them if they needed to cry or sing with joy. How many times have you taken over a plate of brownies to a friend, or helped them do something, sent a card or made a phone call to someone and it changed their whole day and made it brighter? I think those are daily miracles. A miracle is simply an act of love that someone gladly sacrifices for another.

We can’t turn water into wine, but we can turn lemons into lemonade. 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.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Happy Friday!

Today in class we were treated to a visit from a CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) instructor from Harris Methodist Hospital. She was amazing. I learned so much about what will happen when I get to that part of my studies. It is sort of the student teaching piece for hospital chaplains. I am not sure when I begin this part of my studies, but I am looking forward to it.

Psalm 5:11 “But let all those that put their trust in You rejoice let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them: let them also that love Your name be joyful in You.”

Each night I sign off with “take joy in the journey.” Taking joy in the journey is not always easy, but it is one way to defeat Satan when he hurls his arrows of doubt, confusion and lies. This week we have been talking about anger in my pastoral class. We talked about arguing with God. Too many people feel they cannot argue with God because it will anger Him and He will be disappointed with them. My answer is that God is bigger than our anger. Even if we argue with God He does not stop loving us and in fact if you think about it, arguing freely with God is showing the sign of a really good relationship that is safe and trusting. Just remember the nation of Israel. Now there was an argumentative bunch. They were in a constant state of argument and question and yet God never gave up on them and never stopped loving them. Even if we argue with God and blow off steam, He never stops loving us. What God does is to not become a part of our storm. When we are ready to listen then He speaks. That is cause for incredible joy!

Take joy in the journey in Jesus name. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Please pray for me and I will continue to pray for you. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.
Happy Thursday!

Having a class that only lasts two weeks is just a bit hectic (please forgive and note the sarcasm)! There are so many things due within seemingly 5 minutes of each other that it is hard to remember what is due and when. But tomorrow I have a test (please pray!) and a referral paper due. My paper is complete and ready and I am mostly ready for the test in the morning. I will write a paper over the weekend with another one due later in the week and the last one due the next week. We do not have class that last week so I have all week to write the paper. Our groups have to perform pastor/parishioner role play in front of the class and a couple of other similar activities all due very soon! Say lots of prayers please!!

John 4: 34 “Jesus said to them, My task is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work.”

I was coming home today from class and thinking about how important achieving this degree is to me. At the end of this month of July I will have 19 hours and will have received full acceptance into the Master’s of Divinity Program at Brite. I have submitted my application for candidacy to the synod. I have given the papers to Pastor Joel to become registered with the synod as a candidate from Advent Lutheran Church. I have done all that this process has required of me aside from completing this degree and I am working on that. How many times did I say I in the last sentences?

Today I prayed to begin our class. I began by singing, “Jesus, You are, You are everything I’m not and everything that I want to be. Jesus, You are, You are the creator of my heart. Finish what you started in me.” The way for God to complete what He started in me is for me is to make His Will, my only will. When God’s Will becomes my only will then God guides me and the purpose He has set for my life is guided by His loving and creative hand. I get a little worried that I have so far to go to complete this degree,(I have 19 hours of an 81 hour degree) but I believe that God has set me on this path and I must finish the work.

If we are to follow God down whatever path He chooses for us then all of our desires must be brought into oneness with His Will for our lives. If we have the courage to place our will into His hands then God will finish what He has begun in each of us.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Please pray for me and I will most certainly be praying for you. 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, July 8, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

What a great day! I love my class. I am already learning so much. The people in the class are so nice and everyone is really supportive of each other. We are all learning to listen effectively through listening to our professor, reading and practicing through role playing. Each of us had to take on the role of pastor for a class member and then flip the role and become the parishioner. There are two observers while we role play that give us their observations of our brief (5 minute) conversation. Yesterday we worked on attending skills; making eye contact, no crossed arms, no crossed legs, lean toward the parishioner when you talk etc…Today we worked on responding skills; listening, paraphrasing, clarifying, asking open ended questions, etc. It was very interesting. For this long time teacher who has spent more time talking, asking questions and giving instructions than listening, this listening practice is a big event for me.

1 Peter 4: 12 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you…But rejoice, in as much as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.”

As a future pastoral care giver I hope to bring the gospel of peace, hope and joy to each conversation I have with whoever I am given to counsel. Our scenario today in the role play was personally foreign to me. The topic was divorce. Bruce and I have been married for nearly 30 years and my parents will have been married 58 years next month. I deal with children of divorce in school, but I have no intimate experience of the feelings that go along with divorce. So today as I was the pastor I had to critically listen to my pretend parishioner. As I listened to her all I could think to do was find ways to care for her.

Each of us has gone through fiery trials. We have all had situations that challenge our resources, our thoughts, our time and even our faith. We have a loving God who calls us to Himself with love, compassion and tender mercies because He, too, knows all about suffering. God knows about fiery trials. Because He loves us so much He asks to share in the trial and to be central in the healing from the situation.

When we walk the road of faith and obedience through suffering then we share in the sufferings of Christ and we become more like Him because of His love for us. We need to try not to think of the fiery trail as a cruel testing, but as a preparation for what God has in store for us. I wish we could learn our lessons of obedience without suffering, but for me it seems I learn better when I am on my knees than when I am on my feet. Let us all spend a bit more time on our knees, listen to what God has to say and have the courage to take joy in the journey.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Please pray for me and I am praying for all of you. 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, July 6, 2010

Happy Tuesday!

Today was my first day of Introduction to Pastoral Care. It was wonderful! The students are so nice and the professor is really great. I already have a test tomorrow. I have stopped studying for a few moments to do a bit of writing.

We had several written reflections to write during class today. We also did some role playing within a small group. Each member had to be a pastor and then a parishioner. We had a group of four so two of us practiced the role play while the other two observed and took notes. Then we switched roles until all had a turn at each part. We all have different stories of how we came to seminary, but there are some in the class who also are feeling the call to hospital chaplaincy. It is going to be a very busy three weeks, but I believe it will be a really awesome three weeks. The learning is going to be so helpful.

Luke 4: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim the captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

This is the passage that is the calling card for the pastoral care giver. Today, (you may get to walk through this class with me) we defined what the pastoral care giver does and then studied the functions of the pastoral care giver. As I read one of the readings and listened to our professor today this is the definition of pastoral care that spoke best to me; “To bring the inner meaning of the gospel to someone at their point of need. Pastoral care is the art of spiritual discipline which calls for the emptying of one’s self so that the Holy Spirit can work and others can love God through us.” This statement is a combination of three different definitions of pastoral care. This definition is a mighty calling to which to aspire.

Each of us can be a care giver, whether we are in Seminary or not. The Spirit of the Lord is upon us. We can teach, preach and help others to know Christ and His healing. We can listen; we can sympathize, empathize, share the gospel and pray with those who are in need of healing and sustaining. We can offer ourselves to others just as Jesus did… as a friend. Be a friend…love a friend…help a friend.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Thank you for your prayers and I am praying for each of you. 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.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Monday!

Deuteronomy 7:24 “And He shall deliver their kings into your hand, and you shall destroy their name from under heaven; there shall no man be able to stand before you.”

I must admit I am a bit nervous about tomorrow. I begin my class in pastoral care. It is a class that is cramming an entire semester’s work into eight class days and a week to write a final paper. I always get nervous when beginning a new class because I am not very sophisticated in academia. But this is the first class that will be directly pertinent to the calling of chaplaincy. I seem to feel I will never measure up and the professor will look at me and think “they really let her in here?”

I really needed this passage tonight. This passage is God speaking to Moses (who did not think he would measure up either, so maybe I am in good company.) God tells Moses just do what I tell you and everything will be okay. God remained with Moses leading, blessing, helping and controlling his actions as Moses led the people out of Egypt and into the land of Israel.

I have prayed about this class and now it is time to pray that I will understand what God wants me to learn and that I will do not just a good job, but will be a witness to God’s love and grace to those with whom I will be learning. My meditation tonight said, “If you trust Me and place your affairs in My hands then no man or woman can stand against My Will.”

So my friends, I surrender over to the Will of the Father this class. I pray that I will be given understanding when I do not understand and not to be afraid of those smarter than me, but to trust God as I learn and be a witness to others.

Faithful readers, I pray this prayer for you as well. I guess all of us have places in our lives of which we are uncertain and feel less than perfect in what we do. I do not ask to be made perfect, but I ask to be made worthy of the calling I have received and to give my best in His sight and to those with whom I will minister.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers (lots of them). 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.
Blessed Sunday and Happy Independence Day!!

WOW! It has been an awesome day. Our day began with singing the wonderful old Wilhowski version of The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Advent was at its finest today in celebrating the birthday of the United States. Highlights included a Skype visit from one of our young men who is stationed in Bahrain. He got to see and talk to his Mom and Dad through the magic of computers and a big screen. It was so wonderful. This young man’s name is Casey and I must admit the tears rolled down as I watched his parents ask questions and just look at their handsome son who is so far away.

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by our newest citizen, Adeline Brewer. At the 11:00 service we were treated by a very emotional rendition of God Bless America by Amanda Truesdale. Following the service an old fashioned picnic lunch was served including fried chicken, watermelon and all the trimmings. It was a fantastic celebration.

Luke 10: 2 “These were His instructions to them: The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; as Him to send more workers into His fields.”

Today I submitted my application for candidacy to the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran church in America). I sort of did this backwards. Normally, a candidate submits their application to the Synod, then, after receiving approval, begins their studies in a recognized seminary.

I, on the other hand, began my studies at Brite Divinity School at TCU two years ago and now I have submitted my application to be a candidate for the ministry. I have been putting this off and I am not sure exactly why. After listening to Pastor Joel’s sermon this morning I knew I could put this off no longer.

In his sermon today, Pastor spoke of being in the Jesus Draft. Jesus chose 72 other disciples beyond the original 12 go out in His name and by His authority to preach, teach, heal and spread the good news of God’s love for them. Jesus did not just randomly gather these folk on a Saturday afternoon and tell them, “Okay. Put your sandals on and walk. Tell others about Me and then let Me know how this works out for you.” No, Jesus spent time training these 72 people. Then He sent them out in pairs with specific instructions as to how to be gracious in homes and in towns while also telling them if they were not welcomed to blow it off, but do not stop, just go on to the next town and try again. The result was extraordinary, radical joy as they returned to Jesus with their reports of victories won in His name.

This time of instruction begins for me this coming week as I will begin a class in Pastoral Care. Here is the first class I will take that will begin to prepare me for the calling I have received. I have received the syllabus for the class which includes readings, assignments and activities within the class times. I will receive instruction and then, as the syllabus presents, practice in listening in the craft of pastoral care.

I ask for your prayers as I begin this class. I am really excited and just a bit nervous. I am also a bit anxious about this candidacy process. There is a lot of testing and interviewing, but I believe that God has called me to this ministry and will walk with me each step of the way. For I not only have been called, but I have been drafted by God into His service and there is no turning back.

Friends, not everyone goes to seminary, but we who believe have been drafted into God’s service. At our baptism we were sealed with the cross of Christ forever and called into His service. We all are the ones He intends to send out to teach, preach, heal and spread the good news of God and His love and salvation. Christ is counting on us. There is no turning back!

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.