Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy Saturday!

It was such a beautiful fall day. I hope you found a few minutes to enjoy the cooler weather. My day began with Daddy calling to tell me that Mom was back in the hospital with Congestive Heart Failure. I have hope that this will be a short lived bout with this chronic problem. The doc does not know what triggered this episode, but we pray he can figure something out. She is hoping to be out of the hospital to attend Uncle Gene’s service on Monday. I have talked to Mom twice and she sounded better this evening than this morning. Please offer an extra prayer for Mom and Dad and all of the family that is beginning to gather to celebrate Uncle Gene’s life.

Prayer: “Father, as I begin this day please help me rely upon Your strength and courage. I want to thank You for the Holy Spirit residing in my heart and giving me the power to do Your will. Amen”

2 Corinthians 13:11 “Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

In my Christian Education class I have learned about enculturalization. That is a fancy word that means that Christians learn to be Christians by being around other Christians. That is what goes on at a Kairos Prison ministry weekend. Many of those inmates who are on the weekend do not have a relationship with Jesus, but by the end of the weekend most, if not all of them have at least some knowledge of Jesus and know that a relationship with Christ is not just a onetime occurrence, but a way of life. These men who know nothing about trust learn the beginnings of a trusting relationship with Christ because of God’s love and grace as demonstrated in the team who works with them without judging them. By the end of the weekend these men who are complete strangers call themselves brothers. When the inmates return to their regular life in the prison they now have an entire community to continue to help nurture them in their faith. They also have a free world group that will meet with them in prayer and share each month so that they may continue in their faith walk.

I thought of this farewell given by the Apostle Paul and how he charges the church at Corinth to live in peace. He charges them to live in peace, be of one mind because the reward for being obedient to these instructions is that God of love and peace will be with them. These men must learn to rely on God for strength for the day and give thanks for the Holy Spirit that now resides in their hearts.

We who live in the free world must also rely on God’s strength and courage to live each day. We must give thanks for the Holy Spirit residing in our hearts remembering our charge to do good to those who hate us because you never know, it might create a change in the hearts of others. Even though our attempt to create change in someone does not always work, loving others is such a wonderful thing because when we love others, we then represent our heavenly Father through the receiving of His supernatural grace and we are in obedience to His will.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. We have much for which pray and we thank you for your prayerful support. Love you all mighty and faithful warriors and friends, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

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

Prayers: Please continue to pray for little Tatum’s continued remission, the Kairos Prison Ministry and a safe return home for all of the team members, my family gathering in Sherman, Geni’s first day at school on Monday and my studies; Old Testament Test (done), OT paper, in progress due Tuesday, Christian History test Friday. Thanks and peace, gc

Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Friday!

Great news! Little Tatum has been pronounced in remission! She gets a week off before she begins another round of treatment. This next treatment will be in a week as an inpatient. We are encouraged because if the last blood work had not come back in good shape she would have gone into the hospital immediately. Please continue your prayers.

My Uncle Gene’s funeral will be on Monday in Sherman. I will be singing the service. I have been asked to sing his favorite, Amazing Grace and at the end sing a rousing “I’ll Fly Away.” What a great send off!

Geni finished in her room today and is a bit nervous about Monday. She met her students today. Two of them cried and the rest of them bragged to their friends that they got the pretty, young teacher! Please continue to offer prayers for her success.

Prayer: “The psalmist said, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118: 24). Help me, Father, to rejoice in Your love and grace, and to be ready always to say, ”Yes, Lord!” I want to show You how much I love You today by the way I obey Your commands. In Jesus ‘ name I pray. Amen.”

John 14: 21, 23 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love Him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

We sing this great song in worship with a chorus that says, “Yes, Lord! Yes, Lord! Yes, Yes, Lord! Amen! As we sing this there are children and others in the congregation who are jumping up and down with their hands in the air singing this chorus. You know these two words “Yes, Lord!” can be the answer to just about any situation to which God calls us. When we say, “Yes, Lord,” we are acting in obedience to the call of God in our lives. These words tell God that we trust Him for the outcome of our uncertainty. We are telling God that our hearts are open to His leading and that we will open our hands with generosity to others and that we are choosing to obey Christ. The safest place for us to be is in the center of God’s will. So when a difficult time or adversity enters our life then let us try to remember to begin the prayer with “Yes, Lord, I claim victory in Your name over this time and believe that Your will is the safest place for me to be.”

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Thank you, mighty, faithful and wonderful prayer warriors. 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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Thursday!

My Uncle Gene Smith passed away this morning. I hope he and Casey have found Mamo and are eating apricot fried pies and telling jokes to Jesus. Gene lived a long life and his last few years were difficult with health issues, but he and my Aunt Imogene attended as many family events as possible, shopped every day and loving to eat at Golden Corral. He will be missed. He was always the uncle who had something in his pocket for the nieces and nephews when we were all children and always put a few dollars in a birthday or Christmas card each year. Please keep our family in your prayers as we mourn the loss of this precious member of our family and celebrate with delightful memories of his life. I have been asked to sing the service, but I have no further details as to date and time.

Geni and I worked in her classroom this afternoon and well into the evening. I cannot begin to tell you what a ghastly disaster this room was when we saw it today. The room was filled with Kinder and bi-lingual curriculum thrown on the floor by the door. The pile was as tall as me (almost). There were 24 student desks and 30 plus chairs all the size for pre-k students. There were 5 tables and a teacher’s desk. So we got to work and with the help of some kind volunteers of school staff especially the librarian we rid the room of the wrong curriculum materials. As I would empty a box, the librarian would fill it and remove it. The custodial staff took away all of the desks and replaced them with 3 rectangular tables and 1 round table. Geni retained the teacher’s table and one of the other rectangular tables for the computers. I helped her put up one bulletin board and then we cleaned as much as we could. In short we did about a week’s worth of work in about 4 hours. The room looks neat and tidy and nothing like it did when we walked in. She still has some work to do and she will pick up her children at 2:30 pm tomorrow afternoon and take them to their new room for an introduction, see their seats and hear a story. There is still much to do as she has no proper curriculum as yet because it has to be ordered. Please continue to pray for her and I will keep you posted.

Prayer: “Father, thank You for first loving me, in spite of my sin. Today, help me to extend the same kind of grace to my brothers and sisters. Amen”

John 15: 9, 10 “ As the Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”

You know the greatest evidence we have showing that we have passed from death into life is love. We all will pass from this earthly life into a bodily death, but it is through a step of faith that we die to sin through Jesus and pass into eternal life when we enter into a relationship with Christ. We are given this amazing gift because God loved us first.

I am learning in my Old Testament class that Israel pretty well followed this pattern: they did evil in the sight of God, God punished them, Israel repented, God rescued or delivered them and then the pattern began again. I know this does not sound like news. But because of Jesus, God loves us in spite of our sin and does not deliver punishment, but grants forgiveness.

Are we kind enough to offer the same grace to others? We are all children of God and experience this life together. So if God extends this precious grace (something we really do not deserve, but is given anyway) and forgiveness to each of us then it is imperative that we offer these same gifts to others. Just some thoughts for the journey...

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all, 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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Bruce says that when Satan works hard at the beginning of the Karios weekend, by Sunday he will be left weeping in the corner. Due to a change in the new Warden’s policy, the closing on Sunday will not be open to free world visitors. Please continue to pray for the 42 pilgrims (inmates) who are learning about God’s love and how to surrender to it. Also, please continue to pray for the restoration of health for little Tatum, Sheena’s sister, Sheila and her family.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Wednesday!

Prayer: “Father, I bless Your name for the way You have demonstrated Your love, mercy, and grace to me. Help me demonstrate that same love, mercy, and grace to others so they can see You. In Jesus’ name. Amen”

Jude 20: 21 “You, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

Would you invite a stranger to your home if you found out that this stranger, just looking for a bed for the night, had been in prison? I know it is a bit farfetched, but just follow this line of thinking. Would you throw this weary soul out because of his past? There is an old legend of a pastor who invited a nearly 100 year old weary traveler into his home to rest for the night. When the pastor asked the elderly gentleman about his religious beliefs the traveler answered “I am an atheist.” The pastor arose from his chair and ordered this tired, elderly soul out of his home because he was an atheist. The man walked out. The pastor went back inside his house to study scripture when he heard a voice ask, “Son, why did you throw that old man out?” The pastor answered, “Because he was an atheist and I cannot endure him in my home.” The voice replied, “I have endured him for about a hundred years.” The pastor went outside, found the gentleman, brought him back into his home and treated him with kindness.”

When we treat others unkindly we are not serving God. God wants us to love others the way he has loved us. The verse today calls us to keep ourselves in the love of God looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. God finds in His heart of hearts to be kind and merciful to each of us even when we do not deserve it. God treats us with compassion, but there are those we do not treat with compassion. God has called us to this depth of love for others because that is the depth of love He has for us. We can love sinners while not liking their sins. We are sinners, and yet God still loves us. We receive abundant mercy from God and that should motivate and remind us to be merciful to others.

This weekend God’s love will walk into a maximum security prison in the form of a Kairos Prison Ministry Team. None of these free world men are perfect and all have sinned. Their job this weekend is to share the love, compassion, forgiveness and tender mercies of a loving God with 42 brothers in white (inmates) no matter what sins the inmates have committed.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. . Thank you mighty and faithful prayer warriors we love you lots, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

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

Please pray for Bruce, the Kairos Prison Ministry Team and those who are incarcerated who are going through the weekend event. Continue your prayers for little Tatum, Uncle Gene, Sheena’s sister Sheila, her family and all of our family
Happy Tuesday!

I look forward to this time of the evening. I have gotten my books, bag, purse and coffee cup prepared for class and the coffee maker’s timer is set to go off at 5:45 am . My clothing is laid out. Now I am settling down for a few moments with the Word to write.

Prayer: “Dear Jesus, thank You for dying on the Cross and paying for my sins. Give me the opportunity and the power of the Holy Spirit to love and tell others about You today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

1 John 5: 2,3 “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”

At the interview for ordination last evening I shared with the interviewers how I believe I have been called as an agent of hope. When they asked about my particular calling I told them about Casey and my experiences at MD Anderson Hospital. I shared with them about the care we received with the chaplains assigned to the hospital and how I helped the young wife who would lose her husband within the year. As an agent of hope I believe it to be my task to share the gospel to those who are dying, letting them know they can die with hope. I will also share with their families who will live on after this loved one is gone, that they can live on in that same hope of eternal life in Christ. I think this was revealed to me by God’s inspiration because no one needs to die who hasn’t heard the message of love, grace, forgiveness and hope in Jesus. I cannot imagine having a disease as devastating as cancer and trying to fight it without faith in God.

There are those who are suddenly and tragically taken from our lives and from the lives of those we do not know. How tragic it would be to walk into heaven and be greeted by Jesus and those who have gone on before us, then to turn around to see someone we know standing outside the gate unable to be received into heaven because we did not tell them about Jesus and His love. As children of God we need to talk about our heavenly Father and share His story of love with others.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Please continue your prayers to return health for little Tatum, Sheila (Sheena’s sister) and Uncle Gene. Please pray for Bruce, too, as he leaves for the Kairos prison ministry weekend tomorrow in Wichita Falls. Love you all, mighty and faithful 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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Extra prayer: Sheila’s teenage son has been very traumatized by this turn of events in his mother’s life and has run away. Please say an extra prayer for their family. Thank you. Peace, gc

Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy Monday!

As of late this afternoon, I have been accepted into the ordination process for the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. The interview was great and the interviewers were very gracious and personable. Bruce figured out tonight that I should be able to finish this degree in two and a half years. So far the journey has been a joyful one. Thank you all, mighty and faithful prayer warriors for your support.

Prayer: “Dear Father, I come to You this morning to say thank You for a brand new day. I look forward to experiencing Your love and grace today. Help me demonstrate that same love and grace to others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

1 John 3: 16-18 “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But who so ever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and truth.”

John 3:16 is probably the most quoted verse in the Bible. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It is amazing how those 25 words change lives and are the heart of the gospel. This verse does not mean that God’s love is strawberries and cream and lovin’ all the time. But it does allow for God’s holiness to provide correction for our sin in love through redemption by the death of Jesus Christ.

God’s love provided the Cross of Christ so that we might all receive forgiveness and cleansing and as odd as it may sound it was God’s love that sent Jesus to the cross. When we speak of the resurrection of Christ we are telling of the miracle of God’s love. When we talk about the return of Christ we are testifying the fulfillment of God’s love.

Let us live in God’s love and make it the foundation for all we say and do today and every day.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Please continue praying for my Uncle Gene, Aunt Imogene, Sheena’s sister and our families in Sherman. 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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blessed Sunday to you all.

Today we celebrated our great niece’s first birthday. It was a princess birthday. By the end of the day the crown was on the dog and her favorite item was a birthday card that plays the “hot dog” song from the New Mickey Mouse club. The funniest thing that happened was when she was eating ice cream from her aunt’s plate. When it was gone, she cried. We had a wonderful time and by the looks of things Holly will never wear the same outfits for about 3 months. We provided her first “frog gear.”

There is much to pray about this week in our family. My Uncle Gene’s condition is basically unchanged but plans have been made for a service when he passes. My sister-in-law, Sheena’s older sister, slipped into a diabetic coma yesterday and is not expected to awaken. Little Tatum Kate, while almost being finished with the steroids, is facing harsh inpatient chemotherapy.

Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

When I was teaching and going to school, “rest” was something I had only vaguely remembered and I think I had read about! The rest spoken of in this verse of scripture is rest from worry, rest from fear and rest from stress. Jesus invites us not only to come for rest, but to stay and rest awhile. Rest means to stop moving so quickly, take some time to recuperate, calm our hearts and minds and be untroubled.

We are offered a place for our petitions to be offered and to be near to God. When we quiet ourselves before the Father we need to be conscious of God’s very presence and wait until His rest fills our souls. When we find this place of rest there is no fear. In His loving presence there is no want because resting in God’s Holy Presence is strong and sure. All we have to do to experience this wonderful rest is to “Come unto Him…”

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Rest in God’s peaceful, soothing peace. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

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

Please pray for strength for Geni as she signs her contract on Thursday and prepares her classroom. Also I have my first ordination interview tomorrow, Monday, September 26 at 5:15. Thank you, friends and mighty prayer warriors. Love you, gc