Sunday, December 30, 2012

Blessed Sunday to you all!

Prayer:  Lord, help me today to serve You with a heart that is filled with joy overflowing.  You are my Great Shepherd and You will take care of me because I belong to You. Whatever assignment You have for me today please help me to meet it with a song in my heart because of Your presence within me.  Of all the titles I bear, first and foremost I am Your servant. Give me the power to represent You in the way You desire. Amen.

“Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

Psalm 100: 2, 3

Do you have reasons for going to the restaurants or businesses you regularly frequent?  I do.  The place where I get my oil changed knows that I do not drive over that hole in the bay. So when I drive up they greet me by name and drive my car into the bay.  When I go to Brighton they call me by name, offer me a pretty bottle of water and a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.  Both of these places have fine product, but more importantly they provide consistent personal service. The attitude with which these clerks treat their customers is what sells the business.

The attitude we use as servants of Christ is what leaves the impression on people as to the character of God.  We serve God in the name of Jesus.  The verse today commands us to “serve the Lord with gladness.”  It is not just the service we provide it is the attitude with which we provide it that is important to God. When the opportunity to serve God today occurs, serve God with a glad and thankful heart.  We belong to God and we represent the kingdom of the Most High. May we see others as God sees them and serve them as God would serve them.

Take joy in the journey.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Count your blessings, give thanks and say your prayers.  Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni, Travis and Sarah.     

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. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Friday! 

Prayer:  “Jesus, what a privilege to be able to speak Your name! Thank You for making it possible to know You and to have a relationship with You. Make me more like You today. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

“You are My witnesses,’ says the LORD, ‘and My servant whom I have chosen that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He.  Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.”
Isaiah 43: 10

Have you ever gone somewhere and been asked for your identity?  Of course, we all have.  When even after we have pulled out numerous forms of identification, the clerk still must verify all of this until they and the computer are satisfied of who we are.  Sometimes I finally say, “I promise, this is Me.” 

In this singular verse God reveals not only His identity, but His ability to predict the future and show Israel that He is the only true, eternal and living God. This verse tells us something so amazing, “I have chosen you that you may believe Me.”  God takes the common man and woman and does uncommon things with their lives through His own incarnated life in Jesus.  He chose us to be His servants for a singular purpose; to tell others who He is and what He has done with our lives. 

Take joy in this most amazing journey of being the chosen ones of God through Jesus. Wear comfortable shoes, throw an extra blanket on the bed and get some sleep.  Count your blessings and say your prayers.  Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni, Travis and Sarah.     

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. 

Happy Thursday! 

Bruce and I are very proud to announce the engagement of Travis to Sarah Hammond.  If you are on Facebook you can see the ring and read all of the wonderful comments and congratulations.  We are so excited for them and love her as if she were our own.  Sarah is a beautiful young woman.  She teaches junior high, sings second alto, has a basset hound, has a wonderful faith in Christ and loves our son.  It gets no better that that!!!  It has been an exciting day.

Prayer:  Lord, you are our perfect Savior.  You care for us so completely and never tire of taking care of your children. Thank you.  Help us to follow Your lead today and every day.  Help us to do your will today and guide our desires and decisions in everything we do. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, so you will be My disciples.”
John 14: 7, 8

We are rapidly coming to the end of the year 2012.  There are decisions we have made that were wise decisions and there are those we wish we could take back and do over. Maybe even promises we made and broke were part of the past. The good news is that Jesus has never felt regret for the promise He made to love us completely and eternally.  When Christ makes a promise His character guarantees that He will keep it.

In John 15: 7- 8 Jesus promises to be our life source; if we live with Him and allow Him to change our desires into His desires, He promises to fulfill them.  The promise is not the issue…it is what I desire!  It is not about Him blessing what I want—it’s about me wanting what He is blessing.  Let us walk in faith enough to ask God to continue to mold our will and change our desires into the ones that align with desires He has for us, so we can please Him and bring Christ glory.

Take joy in this amazing journey. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Count your blessings and say your prayers.  Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni, Travis and Sarah.     

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. 

Prayer alert:  Please place Travis and Sarah on your prayer list as they walk this engagement journey learning to love each other with promise and faith and their forth-coming marriage.  Peace, gc

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy day after Christmas Day or Wednesday! 

How about that beautiful white Christmas?  So pretty.  We put an extra blanket on the bed last night and it was so cozy warm that I slept in until a little after eight o’clock. 

Bruce and I took down the tree and packed away the decorations this evening.  What we have left are the linens and dishes.  I need some more boxes for those and then we will be done. 

Prayer alert:  Let us keep former President George H. W. Bush in our prayers as he has been returned to ICU. Also, please keep our niece Emily in your prayers.  She has been diagnosed with Type A and B flu at the same time.  She has always been an over achiever! 

Prayer:  Lord, thank You for another adventure, another day to spend with You. Thank You that Your promises are just as real for me as anyone else.  I surrender in this moment to Your leadership in my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
Hebrews 12: 1

It is almost time to make those time honored “New Year’s Resolutions.”  You know those wonderful promises and plans we make to improve ourselves.  We are going to lose weight, exercise more, watch our budgets more carefully (as the Christmas bills begin to some in), be better housekeepers, clean out closets, etc…We all start these great marathons and don’t make it to the finish line. If you are like me and make a list of all of the things you want to change in the coming new year you soon discover that the list is quite overwhelming and cannot realistically be achieved and still have a job, see your family and other things. 

Okay friends; let us give ourselves a break.  Choosing so many things to change is setting ourselves up for failure and feeling guilty for not achieving what we promised ourselves.  So I have decided to choose one item on my long list to change.  I plan to achieve this goal like a marathon runner.  I will begin slowly and continue running until I have finished.  And when I am tired I am going to call on the help of that great cloud of witnesses to help.  My prayer will be to be faithful to the challenge. When I fall I am going to ask for help in getting up and will continue the race until I reach my desired goal.  I will pray for endurance and God’s good grace to be ever before me.

God set before Jesus a race to be run.  Jesus finished His race.  Jesus modeled a life of love and did not allow sin to weigh Him down. Jesus hung on to God and continued until His final breath the task set before Him by His Father.  Praise God that Jesus finished the race.

Whatever or wherever this journey of a New Year’s leads or provides I pray that God will show me what needs to go into my own heart and life that I can lay aside so it does not hold me back from finishing the task before me.  Every day is surrender.  So let us surrender what weighs us down and keeps us from moving forward in this life of faith.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, throw an extra blanket on the bed, 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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas to you all! 

I’m dreaming  of a white Christmas…well, dream no more because this came true and just in time!  My front yard is so pretty. Now driving in from Allen was not fun, but provided a great time to pray! 

We had a family first today.  Ken and Sheena provided the ham and appetizers.  Our family provided the side dishes.  Sheena and I were sitting at the same table and we both figured out at the same moment that no one brought dessert.  So, Ken got out the slice and bake chocolate chip cookies and baked fresh cookies for dessert.  So from now on this one will be remembered as the “slice and bake Christmas.”  No one seemed to mind and a great time was had by all. 

“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
Luke 1: 46

I must admit I had some trouble wrapping myself around Christmas this year.  We have experienced such intimate loss this past year.  Each time I would wrap a gift I would remember the gifts I would not wrap.  I did not make the usual phone call to Sheena and ask, “What are getting for Mom this year for Christmas?”  Last year, both families went together and got Mom a Brighton bracelet with a charm for each grandchild, a special one for Holly, the great-grandchild and bookend charms representing Ken and me. She received it Christmas morning in the hospital and never got to wear it.  Sheena and I divided the charms between ourselves each taking the members of our own family and made two bracelets.  I wore mine today.

With the business of school, writing papers, exams, internship responsibilities and preparing for Christmas at our house and at Ken and Sheena’s, shopping and wrapping coupled with the emotional toll of the loss of so many family members this year, I found it really difficult to get into the spirit of Christmas joy I usually experience.  And then I read a Christmas devotional tonight that simply stated the words of Mary, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”  The light-bulb went on and I remembered the young woman who carried and birthed the Son of God.  Here she was so very young, not betrothed, carrying a baby, facing public criticism, facing family shame, facing the potential loss of trust in her husband-to-be and possibly her husband. Through all of this she did not complain. She was willing to serve God in this most intimate, life changing and world altering event.  She prayed and gave thanks saying, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” 

Perhaps we should take a lesson from Mary and remember that God sent our Savior through this young woman of faith to a manger in Bethlehem.  Jesus is the incarnate One given to us through scripture and will return to us at the appointed time to set all things right.  Let us remember to praise Jesus on Christmas day and the day after that, and the day after that...

Take joy as we journey through the twelve days of Christmas.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Count your blessings, throw an extra blanket on the bed tonight and get some sleep.  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. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Blessed Sunday to you all and happy Christmas Eve, Eve! 

I spent the most wonderful day with my oldest and dearest friend, Carme, Geni, Sarah (Travis’ girlfriend), and 5 other women.  Our hubbies, dad’s etc…(the men in our lives) all went to the Cowboy game today and the ladies had girl day.  We began with coffee at Starbucks (of course), brunch at The Sanford House (which I highly recommend). There were nine of us for the meal. We had our own room, personal wait staff, excellent food (reasonably priced) and wonderful fellowship.  There were seven adult women and two young ladies.  After the meal the dessert menu was presented.  We decided to order one of each of the three desserts for the day and then we would share.  One of the desserts was a dark and white chocolate cup filled with vanilla ice cream and strawberries.  The three plates of dessert were placed at three areas of the table with the chocolate cup being placed in front of the young ladies.  This plate never got passed.  We ended up ordering another of the delicious dessert cups.  After the delightful lunch we were off to the nail shop for mani’s and pedi’s just in time for the holiday.  I chose pretty glittery Christmas red.  A wonderful girl day!

Prayer:  Lord, in the morning it will be Christmas Eve.  Thank you for another day! Please show me something today that will change me.  I will try on this day filled with cooking, last minute wrapping and worship to find a time of quiet and listen for Your voice.  I am available to You whenever and however You desire. In Jesus’ name, Amen

“Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well.”
2 John 5: 6

In every story told about Jesus there is one constant.  Every person Jesus encountered left a changed person; after their encounter they were never the same.  Even those who rejected the message Jesus had to share still left changed.  My devotion tonight recalls the Roman centurion at the foot of the Cross saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matt. 27: 54).  This Roman guard charged with the task of making sure the crucifixion proceeded as ordered left that horrible scene a changed man.

So, here is the question.  When people spend time with me do they leave as changed people because Jesus lives in me?  Do I share Christ in some way with those I encounter?  Do I model kindness, respect, love, non-judgment and grace?

A long time ago a couple in a stable in what was a very private moment was greeted by a group of shepherds.  They were not clean or sanitized, but they heard angels sing of the birth of a baby that would change their lives forever.  And Mary and Joseph did not turn them away.  They were allowed to encounter Jesus in the stillness of the dark night by God’s ordaining and were forever changed.

Take joy in this Advent journey.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Friday, first day of winter! 

Bruce came home last night.  He spent 4 days at Daddy’s house repairing some things and laying some new carpet in the kitchen.  He and Daddy had a great visit.  Even though I missed Bruce I was so glad he could take the time and help out. 

In the last few years I have begun baking cookies, brownies and other baked items to have to share with friends and family, so today I spent the day wrapping gifts and doing some more baking.  Last night one of our dogs snagged an entire bag of chocolate chip cookies from the table and shared them with his brothers.  So I had to bake more this morning. 

Prayer:  Jesus, thank You for being my Savior and for being willing to transform my one and only life. I have no idea what I will face today, but You do. I open my hands and my heart to You. Please use me however You see fit today. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

“’So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?’ And He said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ ”
Luke 10: 36-37

Every time I see the Salvation Army bell ringers and buckets I put something in the bucket.  Somewhere I read or heard that “you don’t miss what you give away.”  The story of the Good Samaritan is a great example of this saying.  You know the story: A man fell in among thieves and was robbed, beaten up and left for dead.   Two people walked by him and when you cut to the chase they thought their agendas were more important than helping this injured man.  A Samaritan stopped, bandaged his wounds, took the man to a nearby inn, paid for his lodging and whatever care he needed.  The next day the  Samaritan gave the innkeeper two denarii and told the innkeeper to use this for the care and lodging of this man and then the next time he came through time he would repay whatever the innkeeper had to pay out of his own pocket to care for this man.

Every day we are faced with choices.  Do we help someone if they ask (especially those we do not know)? Do we help the person at QT who asks for gas to get to their destination?  Do we help someone outside of Kroger who needs food for their family?  Do we help someone who comes to our door saying they are hungry and need food for their family?  Do we make the choice to show the radical love of God, do we walk by or do we just close the door? 

What is radical love?  Radical love is seeing a need and meeting it.  Many of you picked an angel from a tree this holiday season.  You saw the need by reading the card and met the need by providing the items of which the family or individual asks.  We make the choice to live today with the realization that God is working all around us placing us in the path of those with desperate need. When we help someone it is not our job to question why someone needs our help or what they will do with what we have provided or even if they are telling the truth.  It is our job to act out the radical love of our Lord and Savior, hope that those we help will be changed and be assured that the ones helped have been changed. After all when we were in need God did not walk past us.

Take joy in this Advent journey.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Count your blessings and say your prayers.  Love you all and stay warm tonight, 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. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Wednesday!  You know when you are positive you have finished shopping, you discover that you forgot someone.  Back into the fray, briefly tomorrow!  And, Bruce comes home tomorrow.  I have missed him so very much.  He has worked really hard on Dad’s house which he still refers to it at “your Mom’s house.” 

Okay, about this brief storm tonight…Geni and I came home to find our mailbox in the yard.  Our mailbox is a galvanized tub, filled with plaster of paris with a 4 x 4 piece of wood cemented in place and the mailbox on top of the wood.  That was some serious wind.  I am hoping that Travis will put it back in place when he gets home.

Prayer:  God, thank You for another day to learn about how awesome You are and what You want to show me today.  Help me to see what You want me to see and hear what You want me to hear.  Help me to join You I where You are working today, and may it change me!  You are my God and I love You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Isaiah 49: 68

I love stories of light because I have always somewhat been afraid of the dark.  I wonder what kind of darkness Joseph and Mary faced on their way to Bethlehem.  It was law that they go there to be counted and to pay their taxes.  There was not a decision to be made. It was an act of obedience.  Their primary agenda was to follow the law, but God had another item to add to their agendas; the birth of their child, the birth of the Son of God.  There was no turning back, the promised Messiah, the light of the world was coming into the world through two obedient servants.  Jesus did not come to earth on a beam of light with trumpets blasting. Jesus came into the world in the darkness of a cave as the promise to be the light of the world. 

That light is meant to intersect the lives of all humanity as the promise of what Jesus will do in our lives. This promise is also a mandate of what we are to do with the life of Jesus dwelling in each of us.  It is our agenda to tell the story of Jesus to every person.  We may not carry Jesus as Mary did, but we are meant to carry the gospel and the name of Jesus to as many possible.  So today, Jesus will intersect our lives with people walking in darkness. We have the opportunity to share the light of Christ to those who still walk in darkness.  All we have to do is flip on the switch.

Take joy in this Advent journey.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Count your blessings and say your prayers.  Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Tuesday! 

Prayer:  Lord, I bless Your name today, for You alone are good.  Thank You for Your goodness to me. I am excited about what You have in store for me today.  I want to make the most out of every opportunity. You have called me to be salt and light in a lost and dying world. I am reporting for duty, my King and my God. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

“And Elijah came to all the people and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions?  If the LORD is God, follow Him; if Baal, follow him.”

1 Kings 18: 21

If you have been a reader of this blog for any length of time you know that I am in seminary studying for the pastorate with special emphasis in pastoral care to hospital and hospice patients and their families. As one who has received pastoral care in the hospital and in hospice I have always wanted to publish a list of things never to say to a patient or their family.  Here are a few from that list: 

·        God just needed more angels in heaven and called them home.

·        It was just their time.

·        God caused this to happen to teach us something.

·        This is all part of God’s plan.

I have heard all of these things and graciously accepted them with the knowledge that when tragedy strikes most of us do not know what to say but are said with the kindnest of intentions.  God does not cause horrific things to happen to His children.  This is not the way of the God of Jesus Christ.  This is not the God of the Savior of the World.  God grieves. God laments. God sheds tears everytime this kind of senseless action occurs. 

If these sayings were the way God really thought I would have to really think about my faith and question as to whether it has been misplaced.  I believe that God is God.  God invites us into His holy presence to dwell with and within us.  If God lives with and within us then those around us would smell the sweet “fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Cor. 2: 14)  We are God’s living ark.  The ark of perfect love God has placed within each of us who believe is the love that laments great sorrow and contains the strength to heal.  This kind of love is matchless, infinite and overflowing.  Share the love of God with those around you in the sweetness of a babe in a manger whose love changed the world.

Take joy in this Advent journey.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Count your blessings and say your prayers.  Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis

Monday, December 17, 2012

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Monday!  First, Go Allen Eagles!  The Allen Eagles football team will be playing for the Texas State Final Football championship this Saturday at Cowboy Stadium.  We will be in attendance for the game.  Totally excited!  This event will be followed by Bruce, Travis and Dave attending the Cowboy game on Sunday while a group of ladies including Carme, Geni, Sarah, me and some others are having a ladies afternoon out.  It is going to be a fast and furious and great weekend!

Bruce has gone to spend a few days with Dad.  Dad needed some help with some fix-ups around the house.  So as you read the entries this week and find errors just remember my beloved live-in editor is not where there is reliable internet! And I miss him a lot, but I am so very glad that he is there with Daddy who is in need of a visitor.

Prayer:  “Lord, I praise You because You have done so much for me.  You have forgiven me of all my sins and taken up residence in me. You have given me a story to tell of Your love and grace.  May I not hide this story for fear of what people may think of me. May I open my mouth and take a stand for You this day as You give me opportunities. I want to be used for Your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Christ called Paul and all of us to be witnesses.  What does a witness do?  Witnesses do not have to know all of the answers to all of the hard questions about God and why children suffer.  A witness simply tells what they saw, what they heard, and what they have experienced.  There are folks in our lives that argue about the Bible, but no one can argue about what we have experienced!  Someone cannot argue or challenge us about our personal experience with God.  Our witness is the powerful influence about Christ for those who need to hear the story of Christ working in loving grace and forgiveness in our lives. 

There are a lot of folks out there right now who are asking a lot of questions.  I do not have answers as to why this horrible act happened. I just know that to say this is part of God’s plan is not what any of the families, friends and any of us needs to hear or say. I just know that we are called to be witnesses to God’s tender heart and how much He loves all the families, friends and those who have gone to live as citizens of heaven.  And somehow, someday heal enough to forgive the one who has caused them all of their pain. 

Take joy in the journey.  Wear comfortable shoes.  Get some sleep. Count your blessings and say your prayers.  Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis

Greetings from Austin Street

Blessed Sunday to you all.  Today I presided over Communion at the early and late services at Rush Creek.  I was a little nervous, but Pastor Chris kept telling me that the bottom line is that as long as everyone is served communion.  I wore one of the stoles given to me by the son of Pastor Susan who just recently passed away.  I closed the Words of Institution with the words she always said as she invited the congregation to the table, “Come and eat. The table is set.” 

On Friday morning as the tragedy in Newtown began to unfold I was on Facebook.  I watched throughout the day to the reactions of my FB friends.  The reactions went from shock and horror to anger and blame to finally to sorrow and sadness and finally to prayer.  One of my pastor friends posted a message sent by another pastor after 911.  I shared this message as a part of my communion meditation today. 

“Gather around the table and share a meal. Make a space for questions. You don’t have to have answers, simple give the gift of listening. Then if you are a family of faith, say a prayer. Pray for the victims. Pray for the one that caused this horrible event. This horrible deed was planned in the darkness. Light a candle. Tell your children that they are the light of Christ. Each and every day as your sons, daughters and others  leave the house tell them how much you love them and remind them they are the light of Christ in the world that helps the world and community heal.

On Friday Victoria, a first grade teacher hid her students in cabinets and closets and took the bullets.  Do you suppose she thought, “This is my body given for you. On the night He was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples saying, take and eat, this is My body broken for you. Do this for the remembrance of Me. Again after supper He took the cup and told His disciples this blood is the new covenant in My blood given for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this as often as you drink of the cup.  Do this for the remembrance of me.” 

No matter what you have done, there is always a place at the table of grace and tender mercies for all who desire forgiveness of their sins.

Take joy in the journey.  Sleep well. Tell those you love how much you love them and wear comfortable shoes.  Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Saturday! 

My day began with the Brite Hooding.  It is a worship service where Brite graduates are hooded with Master’s Degree hoods over purple robes by Brite professors.  Brite professors read scripture, lead prayers and preach the sermon.  It was a great joy to see my friends honored in such a worshipful way.  Later in the day the graduates may attend the TCU graduation and graduate with the remainder of the TCU graduates.  By God’s good grace and the kindness of scheduling I should graduate and attend my own hooding a year from now.

Prayer:  Lord, our hearts are still broken at the loss of the children and adults in Sandy Nook.  If these senseless deaths have brought about any goodness at all it has caused this nation to pray.  It has caused your children to become united in compassionate caring for not only these 28 babies and adults we do not know, but all who are connected with them.  Help these ones who are so broken to look to You and into the eyes and arms of those who love You for comfort and the long road to healing.   In Jesus name, Amen.

“The LORD has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; they shall fear disaster no more.”
Zephaniah 3: 15

          Advent leads us forward toward the birth the angels sang.  Zephaniah assures us that God also comes to humanity in the community of faith.  God’s presence heals and challenges humanity to cling to God’s promises for an alternate future. 

          The community in Newtown faces an alternate future.  They face a future without some of their children and friends.  In a matter of moments their world was turned upside down and inside out.  These families are in so much pain that it must feel as if it is taking their skin off.  They do not have to heal today or tomorrow or the next.  The most important thing these families and this community can remember is that God is with them and is weeping with great sorrow with them and for them.  God knows what it is like to lose a child, God lost His Son too. God’s heart is broken and yet God is still present.

          The last sentence of the scripture says because God is in their midst they “shall fear disaster no more.”  I do not know how these families are going to let their children out of their sight without fear. I don’t know how life will get back to normal in this community and I don’t know how these parents, teachers, children and administrators will walk back into that school building again, I just know God will be there and somehow and over time the fear in this community will be replaced with hope.

Take joy in this Advent journey.  Pray for those with broken hearts.  Hug, call, email or text those you love telling them you love them.  And when you see them, hug them tight.  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. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

It would be difficult to say happy Friday today. 

I have tried to write this entry three times and keep erasing text because nothing makes any sense.  My heart is broken into a million pieces at this senseless loss of precious life.  I have thought of Geni who teaches kindergarten and how is she handling the day and continuing to teach. I have thought what were my last words to Bruce, Geni and Travis today?  Were they “I love you?” I hope so.  Did I take the time to give each of them a hug and feel them hug me back?  Do I remember that? 

When Casey was in the hospital that last weekend if I had known how close he was to death I would have found something better to say than, “You can’t get up because we left your walker at home.”  I wanted to go to Starbucks and the Meadowbrook Elementary and just give them a hug and tell them I loved them.  I pray you will hug those you love a little extra tonight or call them or text them and tell them how much you love them and remember what they say and how it felt when you hugged them.  Give thanks with all your heart. 

Pray for those tonight who had their children this morning, but did not bring them home tonight. Pray for those adults who were so brave and sacrificially gave their lives so that others might live and those who assisted those children to safety. And as difficult as it is to find a prayer for the young man who caused all of this horror and sadness, he is worthy of our prayers because he, too, is God’s child.  I do not think God is even remotely happy with his actions, but God’s love is so great that it spreads even to this tortured young man.  

God is taking care of those babies tonight and it is our task to care for the living. The families of the children and adults who lost their lives today and the family of the young man who caused their deaths are deserving of our prayers. If it is too difficult to pray then just breathe the name of Jesus and He will do the rest for He and His Father know what is in our heart. God knows our anger and sadness and will help us heal just as He will bring healing to those in Sandy Hook.  We are not physically close to this little community, but we can pray and send our love and pray God’s love and tender mercies on this community and our nation. 

Peace, Gaylene.

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. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy Tuesday!  (Even though this is being written in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.)

I have spent the day studying for my New Testament test and will continue all day tomorrow. Tonight I attended a service of remembrance held at Rush Creek Christian where I am a ministerial intern.  It was a simple service of prayers, meaningful readings, candles and a few others who had experienced loss of loved ones this past year.  We were given an opportunity to light a candle and share about our losses.  As I walked up and looked at the candles I realized that if I lit a candle for all of the losses we had experienced in this past year that no one else would get to light a candle.  I counted and we have experienced six losses of family and friends in the past year.  The first one being Mom this past January to a recently as last week with the loss of Pastor Susan.  Tonight I wore Mom’s sweater, two of her rings and the charm bracelet Sheena and I bought for her last Christmas. We divided the charms appropriate to our own family members.  I am carrying her Christmas purse and wallet.  On Sunday I am going to wear one of Pastor Susan’s stoles as I am presiding over Eucharist.  These two women have had a profound effect on my life and it is my humble honor to remember them in worship and prayer.

Prayer;  “Lord, I thank You that Your mercies are new every morning. I thank You that You love me, even when I feel unlovable and that You have a wonderful plan for me, even when it is hard for me to see it. I praise You for this gift called “today.” I know there is much You want to do in my life today. Help my heart to be sensitive to Your voice and open to receive from You. 
May Your name be glorified in me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
2 Timothy 2: 2

After a long day of writing and studying I am going to summarize my devotion tonight.  This was written by Jeff Schreve of Texarkana, Texas—He says that God is looking for FAT disciples. Do not panic and go and chow down on a pan of brownies (even though right now that sounds amazing!!!) Schreve uses these letters for an acronym for Faithful, Available and Teachable.  God is looking for people who are faithful who will not shirk their responsibilities—and will not go AWOL! When the going gets really tough, can we be found faithful? Are we making ourselves available?  Are we ready for the assignments the Lord is going to give us?  When God asks us to speak to someone about Jesus are we making ourselves available to do so? Does God’s agenda trump our agenda? (boy, that is a tough question!) And are we teachable? Are we willing to be corrected? A teachable person says “I don’t have all of this figured out yet. I have lots to learn. Teach me, Lord!”  FAT disciples are willing to invest their lives in helping others and become FATter to reach the world for Jesus.  FAT disciples make others FAT disciples by helping others to learn about Jesus. Let us pray that we would become more like Jesus and ask Jesus to have His way in each of us. 

Take joy in this Advent journey. Wear comfortable shoes, throw extra quilts on the bed tonight and sleep well. Count your blessings, get FAT 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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God. 

Prayer:  please offer an extra prayer for Travis tonight. He has an upper respiratory infection. No fun!! Thanks. gc

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy Monday! 

The Christmas Tree is up and decorated.  With three dogs in the house and sometimes four and even sometimes five!!!, the tree is decorated only 2/3 of the way down from the top.  Bauer, the chocolate lab puppy, already removed my gold lame Elvis ornament from the tree and ran with it. Elvis got moved up and Bauer almost became Hershey bits!! I love Christmas!

We had chicken and waffles for dinner (and may I say…YUM!). Back to studying.

Prayer:  “Lord, I praise You, for You alone are God. I thank You for this new day that You have made. Today is filled with opportunities to talk to people about Jesus. Help me to be sensitive to Your Spirit as I rub shoulders with people in the world who need to know about the Savior of the world. Give me boldness to open my mouth and witness for You. I am Your servant who has been bought with a price…and I am reporting for future duty. Amen.”

“And I fell at his feet to worship him. But He said to me, ‘See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren, who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Revelation 19: 10

The apostle John was granted the most amazing vision in the Book of Revelation.  He saw the marriage supper of the Lamb, the great feast that the bride of Christ and the Old Testament saints will experience with the Lord Jesus.  John was so overcome with awe that he bowed to the angel who facilitated this amazing vision.  The angel immediately told him to stop because he only needed to worship God. 

Jesus is God - the One and Only to be worshiped and praised - the One who deserves all of our love, praise, worship and devotion.  He is the One we are to tell others about because there is only one salvation and it is found in no one else. 

In the verse today we read that John was granted the vision of the time when evil is overcome by good and Christ reigns over all. We are granted the testimony of Jesus, the greatest story of all.  Tell someone today the story of Jesus. Tell someone who needs to hear the story of God’s love and grace revealed in Jesus and how we worship Christ alone, God with us, Emmanuel.

Take joy in this Advent journey. Wear comfortable shoes and bundle up. 
Throw an extra blanket on the bed and get some sleep.  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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God. 

Prayer alert:  Father Jesse Smith and his daughter were in an accident in Austin today.  Father Jesse injured his back and his daughter’s injuries are unknown at this time.  Please pray for this family.  Thank you. gc

Blessed Sunday to you all! 

Today was such a busy day. Worship at Rush Creek was the annual Christmas Cantata.  The choir was wonderful and worship was very meaningful. 

This afternoon we attended the memorial service for Pastor Susan Rodriguez. She was a Lutheran pastor who was raised in a Jewish home in New York.  She became a Lutheran pastor when she was 51 and served until the last few years as her health began to decline.  Today I was honored by her son who presented me with her clergy attire: robe, cinctures, stoles and seasonal overlays.  I also received two of her crosses.  I felt much honored to be given these to care for and to share if the need arises.

Well, the pastoral care paper is finished and Bruce is editing as we speak.  It is a long paper so it will take some time to complete.  Tomorrow I begin studying for the New Testament test which is on Thursday @8:00 AM.  I covet your many prayers, please.

Prayer:  “Lord, today, give me the ability to see You in a whole new way. Give me insight into Your glory, and open my eyes and my heart to all that You are. In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.”

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”
Romans 1: 20

This is a hard scripture. God reveals Himself to humans in many ways.  The problem is not that God has not made Himself available; it is that humans reject God.  Humans have known from the beginning, the Creation, that there is God.  In this scripture God reveals Divine presence in nature will all attributes clearly seen.  We have no excuse to say we have never heard or known about God. In creation we see God’s power, God’s goodness, God’s mercy and God’s abundance.  

Today let us give thanks for the beauty of Creation. Let us ask that we would be given the grace and boldness to witness for the truth declaring in a world of darkness that the light has come.  The light of the world and the light of heaven have come to us through a young woman and a manger.  Let us declare the truth of God’s Word as revealed in the nature around us and in Jesus. 

Take joy in this Advent journey.  Wear comfortable shoes, put an extra blanket on the bed and wear a warm jacket.  Count your blessings, say your prayers and give thanks with a grateful heart.  Love you all and stay warm. Gaylene.

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, December 9, 2012

Happy Saturday! 

What a wonderful day!  It began with lunch of soups and sandwiches with Bruce, Geni, Travis and Sarah (Travis’ special lady!) and then off to Wall’s Christmas Tree farm for the annual Christmas Tree Hunt.  After an exhaustive hunt we think we found the perfect tree and will put it up tomorrow evening while watching White Christmas and eating pizza.  I do love holiday traditions! And I do love family!

Prayer:  Blessed Lord, thank You for life. Lord, I pray that I would not take my life for granted, but rather reflect on how precious it really is.  I give You this day, so use my life for Your glory, and may someone be blessed as they see You in me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

“I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.”
Psalm 118: 17

If you read Psalm 118, you will notice that there is no author, and you will notice quickly that whoever wrote this psalm had been through a lot in their life.  They had been through the sifting process and had grown in their faith. No one volunteers to be broken or go through tough times. And in truth it is through really hard times we do most of our growing.  It is in our distress and times of trial that we learn to call upon the Lord and trust and follow (Ps. 118: 5)

I did not volunteer to be the mother of a child who would develop cancer and die young.  But I know that even if I didn’t volunteer God knew what I needed to get through that suffering and what I am going to need in the future. He gives me the privilege of growing in grace, love and faith.  If we never go through trials then we never learn to trust God and we would never see how God brings us through them. 

Romans 5: 3-5 says if we keep our attitude  right with God then when trials come we will grow.  Vs. 3-4 says, “We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character; hope.”  I would love to confess that I ask God to send tribulation and tough times but I do not!! I do know that when the tough times come if I respond by remaining in God’s presence and in communication through prayer that I will get through whatever life dishes out. 

Take joy in this Advent journey.  Wear comfortable shoes and bring out the sweaters and gloves.  Count your blessings, say your prayers and get some sleep!  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.