Thursday, February 16, 2012

Happy Thursday!

Today was a bit intense at TCU. After my first class this morning I walked to lunch with one of my classmates. We walked by the bookstore that was swarming with police and a helicopter was circling overhead and news trucks with reporters, cameras and microphones were at every corner. It will be an interesting time at school until they get all of this sorted out. I just hope that they figure it out soon. Please keep praying for the population at TCU and those whose lives are changed forever by the choices they have made.

Prayer: “Father, thank You for the gift of this new day. My prayer is simple, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51: 10) I look forward to the new things You are going to do in me today! Amen.”

2 Corinthians 5: 17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.”

I received a gift this week. The story goes like this. About four years ago Mom took several thousand dollars out of an account and gave it to Daddy with the instructions to go and buy himself a new pick-up truck. He returned with a 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis for her. After her passing he took the insurance money and just this week bought himself a (used), but new to him beautiful pick-up truck. (So she still bought him a truck.) After the purchase Daddy called me and said, “Gaylene, I would like for you to come and drive your Mama’s car home for yourself.”

The car is not a new model, but it is new to me. Do you know those stories of little elderly ladies who garage-kept their cars and only drove them to church on Sunday and to the hair dresser on Friday? Well, that was my Mom. The car is a 2004 with only 64,000 miles on it and is in pristine condition. I cannot tell you how much I love and appreciate this gift. More than that, I value this gift not just out of need, but because of the ones who gave it to me.

God, through Jesus, has granted us a free gift of a new life in Him that is renewed each day. With each day we live in Christ the old sinful self we carry around with us passes away and once again we are clean. God cleanses our souls with the blood of Jesus poured over us and replaces our old selves with His all sufficient grace.

Do you know how a new car smells? Do you remember what it feels like to sit inside and touch the new surfaces? Someday the new car smell will go away, but the love, grace and renewing spirit of Jesus is never ending and renews itself in each of us each day out of His eternal love.

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Wednesday!

Bruce and I made a trip to Howe to see Dad today. Dad looked well. Just like the rest of us, he has had moments of “everything is okay” and moments of deep sadness over the loss of Mom. Today was one of those “things are okay.”

Sheena, me and any of the girls who want to be there are going to meet on Saturday morning to begin to box up, pack up and take away some of Mom’s things, particularly her clothing, shoes and purses. We will divide these things among ourselves and the remainder will go to a Women’s Crisis Center in Sherman. Daddy told me he really does not need those things around when others can get good use from them. I am expecting some laughter, tears and more than a few “I didn’t know she had that,” as we perform this bittersweet task.

As for me, I am already recalling the times I would go into her closet in the hopes that she would have something I could borrow to wear for a specific occasion. Or the times she somehow anticipated that I was in need of an article of clothing to teach in or preach in and already had it picked out for me. I always called these times “shopping in Mom’s closet.” We shared similar tastes in clothes and liked many of the same colors. Mom could nearly always shop for me without me being present secure in the knowledge that the style, color and size would be perfect and I would love it. She had wonderful taste in clothes and even though we were not exactly the same size I often wondered if she bought some of her things with thoughts of “Gaylene might need this or Gaylene could teach in this or preach in this.” Her taste was impeccable. One small regret I have is that we could not share shoes. Our sizes were different and she had lots and lots of shoes, though she did not like purple! (Sad day.)

Prayer: “Lord, I want You to be in control of this day. Please help me to live this day without regret. Thank you for another opportunity to rest in You. Amen.”

2 Corinthians 7: 10 “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation and not to be regretted, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

Today was a day of sadness, anger, shock and disbelief on the campus of TCU. How amazing it is that the choices and actions made by a few have affected a campus of just under 10,000 students. Those who, due to their decisions to use drugs, have caused problems in the lives of other students, faculty, staff and their families are in the beginning stages of the punishments that will follow them. What they may not know is that the problems they have created may stay with them for the remainder of their lives. I am sure these students are experiencing sadness. These students will be forgiven, but will they repent? In the days following their arrest, trials and possible criminal punishments, will they understand the importance of repentance? True repentance means the recognition of the sin followed by heartfelt sorrow and sincere remorse for the pain that has been caused. I am not sure how these students will recover, but I know that they can be made right with God through the act of repentance. I would hope that these children of God would wish they could “undo” the wrongs done and go back to the moment when the wrong choices began, but since they cannot then somehow they must begin afresh through asking forgiveness, being repentant and making changes in their lives through a repentant spirit.

It is only by God’s grace that forgiveness and repentance can be achieved. God will give these students and us the courage to humbly ask for forgiveness and will remain with us through the refreshing of our lives through the journey of repentance. Tonight I ask you to pray for these students, their families, all of the student body, administrators, teaching staff and all others associated with this fine university in their sorrow and grief. May they face the time of the rebuilding of trust through forgiving hearts inspired by God and the action of the Holy Spirit.

Take joy in this tough 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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

I hope you got to spend the day with someone you love! Geni spent her first Valentine’s Day with her first graders. I got a text message sometime today from her with this simple text, “OMG…Bonkers!” I told her that Valentine’s Day is the hardest day of the year for teachers. It is harder than the day before Christmas break and the last day of school combined. It all has to do with secrets and candy. Our dining room table is covered in chocolate and sweet little presents from her students. She wiped out on the couch a while back and I don’t think at the time of this writing she has made it to her bed yet.

Prayer: God, this Day is all about You! You are worthy of my focus and attention. Please help me to depend on You in everything I do today. I Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Titus 3: 5 “He saved us, not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”

My meditation tonight begins with the question, “Have you ever been told to pull yourself up by your own boot straps”? Anyone who lives in Texas and owns a pair of western boots knows that this is a near impossible task. The meaning of this old saying is to not ask for help, but to make it on our own.

Our relationship with God is the exact opposite. We do not earn our relationship with God. It is a relationship that is by invitation only. God, in His mercy, sent Jesus to not only be our godly role model, but as a sacrifice for our sins, too. When we are washed in the waters of baptism, we are made one with the Father in heaven and brothers and sisters to Christ. And all of these things are according to God’s mercy and nothing we could ever do ourselves. God’s mercy is greater than our works, our righteousness and our unrighteousness. We can never make ourselves right with God, but we can bathe ourselves in the merciful grace that is offered and have our sins washed away, leaving us cleansed both inside and out.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you, all our precious Valentines, 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, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day Eve!

I had a bit of trouble getting started today. The other day when I had to write about a personal grief experience for my Grief and Loss class, Bruce advised me well. He said for me to write about the time of grief in losing Casey. I have been walking that road for a while and can deal with it better that the loss of Mom. He reminded me that I was still in the beginning stages of grieving over Mom. He was right and his observations were spot on. Today for a few hours I had trouble with sadness and motivation to write the paper for my Psalm’s class. So after a brief trip out to run an errand we returned and I was ready to sit down and write the paper on Psalm 71. It is a wonderful psalm about an aging King David and his relationship with God. I would love to do some more extensive writing about this prayer and glean greater meaning.

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, please help me to be sensitive to all of those around me. Give me a greater desire to tell others about You. Help me get in on Your plan and Your agenda of saving people. Forgive me for not possessing the burden of sharing your Word like I should. Help me today to be salt and light to the world around me. Amen.”

1 Timothy 2: 3-4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth.”

Everyone needs to know the gospel of Jesus. Not everyone will know, but it is the will of God that all people have the opportunity to receive salvation, to be forgiven and repent. God has charged each of us with the responsibility of sharing the gospel with a world that seems very lost indeed. He also arms us with boldness through the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8, “But you will receive the power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We do not have to be preachers or evangelists to share the gospel. Sometimes all we need is a cup of coffee and little time. But most of all we need to be aware of the folks who do not know the truth of Christ. Then we need to be bold in our convictions. I once heard Julia Child, the famous chef, say that flipping an omelet in a skillet had far more to do with the courage of our convictions that a steady hand. When it comes to sharing Christ, we need not be eloquent in our language. We just need to be sincere and believe that we are doing God’s will by sharing His message of love, grace and salvation in truth with those who need to hear it.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and warm jacket in the morning. Show someone you love them. Count your blessings and say your prayers. 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.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Blessed Sunday to you all!

What an amazing day! In this double life of worship I lead, I was blessed to participate in three meaningful worship services today. The first one was at Rush Creek Christian. The youth led the worship all wearing red aprons reading IHOG; International House of God. I was greeted with the question, “Party of one?” upon entrance to the sanctuary and was escorted to my seat. Eucharist was enacted today with pancakes with the theme of the worship being “The House.”

Later in the day 26 couples renewed their wedding vows at Advent Lutheran Church during a marriage worship service. The years of marriage ran from 5 years to 51 years. The service included a lovely string trio, a duet sung by Bruce and me, and Eucharist. Geni and Travis were participants in the service and stood with us as we restated our vows before God. It was a precious moment. In the days when many marriages seem disposable, our children seem very firm in their plans to only marry one time and make it for life. I pray they are both married under the blanket of God’s grace and are blessed to marry people of faith whom they will love and cherish with that same love being reciprocated.

Prayer: “Father, do a deep work in my life today. May I move past the surface and experience Your life deep within my soul. I thank You for the great work of salvation that You have worked in me. I am forever saved! May I take what You have put in me and release it in an appealing manner that draws others into an overwhelming desire to possess the same relationship with You. Amen.”

Philippians 2: 12 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

When two people get married they make promises to each other, but they say those promises to each other before God. When we make those promises before God they become vows. Many young people today do not understand that occurrence. Making a vow before God is the strongest promise we can make and one that should be unbreakable. It is a promise of faith before our creator to remain faithful in this intimate relationship during this earthly life. Marriage is the closest relationship we (as humans) have. We liken it to our relationship to God. When we stand before God and make these vows, God promises to be within our marriage. God is in our marriage, but God expects us to work out our marriage. It is God’s will that marriages work. Will they all work? No. But effort must be made to make marriage work through willingness to learn together.

Our salvation is the same. God gave us salvation through the crucified Christ. God is in us through Christ but it is our job to work out our salvation. We work out our salvation through prayer, study of the Word, being around others who have also received salvation and learning together how to live the godly life. The most important part of working out our salvation is presenting the gospel of Christ to others. Just as God is in our marriages and helping to model a godly marriage, God is in our salvation helping us to work out our salvation by helping us to be bold in sharing the gospel message of truth, forgiveness, love and grace with others. What an extraordinary journey of faith we have before us!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and many layers tomorrow. Drive safely! 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.