Saturday, January 26, 2013

Happy Saturday!

Today I picked up my Bountiful Baskets order. It is a food-co-op that provides fresh fruit and vegetables, 5 grain bread and other breads and specialty baskets. A regular basket of half-fruit/half vegetables is only $15.00.  So today I picked up a regular basket, 5 loaves of delicious bread, a bag of fabulous granola and a bag of guacamole makings.  Tonight I used the fresh tomatoes and garlic to make a yummy bruschetta chicken.  And we had the strawberries for dessert. It was an early pick up at 6: 45 am, but totally worthy!

Also today, I was invited to go with Sarah and her Mom to taste wedding cake. The wedding cake from The Cooper Street Bakery is off the chart delicious. This was followed by a wonderful lunch at McAllister’s at the Highlands. Lots of fun. Then I came home and read for the remainder of the afternoon. Reading about plantations and death camps is kind of a downer from tasting wedding cake and lunch with Sarah and her Mom.

Prayer:  Dear God, I pray that today You would help me to find a way to serve others. So many times it is easy to look at others and assume that they are here to serve me. I ask now that You will open my eyes to the opportunities to put aside the selfish thought and instead begin to look at life through Your perspective. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.

“And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
Mark 9: 35

Mark 10: 35 says, “They said to Him, ‘Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” This verse has always bothered me. Why would James and John ask such a bold question? Did they think they were cut from a different bolt of cloth than the others?  Actually I think these men were so caught up in their own agendas with Jesus that they did not see Jesus’ agenda. The Mark 9 verse for tonight tells us (and those disciples from long ago) that the call is to servanthood. Jesus came to serve. Perhaps the duh-ciples thought they privileged because they were hanging out with the Son of God. They still thought Jesus was establishing an earthly kingdom and they wanted to make sure they were included in his cabinet. 

If we are to follow the scripture of Mark 9 then we, too, must be servants. God gives us so many things.  If we do not serve others then we are missing out on all God has for us. When I ponder this verse a little further I think about Bruce. Through the Kairos Prison Ministry, he serves the incarcerated with a passion and with compassion. He loves to listen, teach and worship with this community of people forgotten by society, but not forgotten by God. Bruce’s servanthood is a testimony to him desiring to serve rather than being served and being a living witness and example to the servant heart of God.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Count your blessings, give thanks, say your prayers and help someone today. 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 Friday! 

Today I went to Geni’s school and had lunch with her. She was gracious and allowed me to read to her children. Her class is really sweet and it felt so good to read to children once again. I wore my Tom’s shoes that have music staves and music all over them.  One of the children said, “Miss Gaylene, I like your shoes.” I responded, “Why do you like my shoes?” The little one said, “Because they sing.”  Let’s just melt my heart!! So sweet.

You may also be glad to know that I got all of my work caught up and posted to the e-college. I now have to finish reading one of the books and write a paper due on Tuesday. This is going to be one busy semester. Busy with serious studying and writing! Please place me and my beloved editor Bruce permanently on your prayer list.

Prayer: Dear Lord, this morning I thank You for Your presence in my life. I thank You for the fact that You are here with me and that You help guide me every day and in every situation. I ask, God, that You continue to point me down the right path in life and that You allow me the privilege of showing others what it truly means to know You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

“The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3: 17

Deciding to become a Christian is the best decision we ever make for our lives. Every human in the universe is a child of God, but only those who choose Jesus as their Lord and Savior are called Christians. When we choose to follow Jesus we automatically become inheritors of eternal life.  But for Christians, eternal life does not begin when we pass from this earth. Eternal life begins immediately when we enter into relationship with Jesus. 

This wonderful verse from Zephaniah does not promise eternal life in heaven, but promises God in our midst while we are still on this earth. God came to be in our midst in the body of Jesus.  These great images of God in our midst are so powerfully comforting…God in our midst, Mighty One will save, rejoice over you with gladness (God rejoices over us with gladness! Is that cool or what!!), quiet us with His love and rejoice over us with singing. Can we even imagine what the voice of God singing over us might sound like?

My friends these promises secure our forever. These words of the old prophet provide us with the power and strength to get the most out of each day because as the verse says, “He is in our midst.”  It does not say He will be in our midst or He was in our midst. It says, “He is in our midst.” That means in every situation we face, every victory we experience, every trial we endure and every ordinary day God is with us. Why? Because God loves us.

Take joy in the journey and give thanks for God’s presence with us. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you, 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, January 25, 2013

Happy Thursday!

Our dear Basset Jackson had major surgery today.  Over the last six months or so a mass began to develop on the back of his neck. It developed into a huge mass very quickly.  Today at Banfield Pet Hospital we had this mass removed. He is home now and resting on the big pillow in my office. He has wagged his tail, made a couple of excursions into the backyard and jumped up on the ottoman.  He now seems to be resting comfortably. Say a little prayer for this sweet, sweet boy.

Prayer request:  A dear friend of mine lost her mother this morning. Her name is Lisa Smith.  Please pray for Lisa and her family in this time of sadness.

Class update:  I came to find out that I still did not understand the instructions for this class. So here is the scoop; I am to respond to the readings as requested and then…I am to respond to two or three of the other students’ writings.  I am not caught up yet, but I am closer.  Pray that Dr. Bellenger will be gracious and not grade down severely by my first week’s tardiness. By tomorrow night or earlier I will have responded to the student responses and be caught up. Then I will begin on next week’s work. I will get this!

Prayer:  Dear God, I know that You walked through the cosmos to bring me not only a sense of love and security but also a joy that transcends feelings. And I thank You for loving me enough to sacrifice Your only son so that I can have a relationship with You. Help me today to glorify You through all I do, say, and feel. It is through Jesus I pray, Amen.

“And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; it shall rejoice in His salvation.”
Psalm 35: 9

My life of 57 years has been quite a journey. I have had times of extreme happiness and times of deepest sadness and grief.  But I learned a few years ago that relying on my feelings of happiness, sadness, anger, love and/or fear are not what I need on which to base decisions and actions. My feelings, while important and which serve me well are not the same as relying on God’s truth and the joy that He provides through my salvation in Christ. My relationship with God is solely based on my relationship with Christ and my connection to Him. I am still going to have times of extreme happiness and times of deepest grief and sorrow and sometimes everything in between. The good news is that I experience peace and joy that only God can provide, rather than the unreliability of my feelings.

When we all face the business of life we don’t need to place our trust in our feelings. Trust in your relationship with God. Pray for guidance and peace and discover the true protection and guidance that comes from a life connected to Him.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. (I have discovered Tom’s. You might want to through an extra blanket on the bed tonight and get some sleep.  Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all so very much, 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. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Happy Wednesday! 

I learned a valuable lesson today. When your professor says there will be an online component, that is code for check your e-college each day so you are not two papers behind the first week.  I have never been late with a paper in my entire Brite career and now I have two late papers.  When I discovered this oversight I immediately began to make amends by writing to the professor and telling him the papers would be completed asap and that this would never happen again.  Perhaps he will find some forgiveness and grace and not count it too badly against my grade.  As a progress report, the first paper is complete and getting ready to be sent and the other one will be complete tomorrow.  There is an opportunity for an extra credit paper for Friday. I have done the reading and hope to get it turned in too. 

Also, our dear Basset, Jackson is going in for surgery to remove a baseball sized lump from the back of his neck.  They tell us it is just a fatty tumor.  Please offer a prayer for him, the vets and us.  Thank you.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, as I look ahead to today, I thank You for providing me with opportunities to bring hope to the lives of those around me. I pray that You will show me someone who needs to hear Your words of encouragement and hope. I look forward to all that You are going to do in and through me to reach them for You. Through Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

“Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.”
Psalm 146: 5

I have spent my day reading and writing about those who have experienced persecution because of slavery and the holocaust.  How hard it must have been for these folks to believe in hope in God. The argument has always been, if God is good, then why can life be so very difficult? In my reading I have learned that the thing these people found so degrading was the loss of dignity.  They endured ghastly atrocities to their bodies, but being thought of as no more than animals to be bought and sold was the worst of all of the most difficult times.  Those were the times of deepest darkness.  Even through all of the horror, however, God remained faithful to His purpose for their lives, whether He welcomed them into the gates of heaven or allowed them to walk out of the prison gates and became free.  The point is that God does not like it when His people do such horrible things to others, but God uses those circumstances to produce hope—hope in Him and Him alone. 

It would be my prayer for each of us to never have in the past, present or future experience anything as life altering as a holocaust or enslavement, but even in our darkest of moments our story of faith can shine brightly and we can have hope that God is with us. When we share our stories of faith we help others who are facing difficult situations to know that God is the only God who can provide us with hope and ultimately lead us from hope to victory.

Take joy in the 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. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Happy Tuesday! 

Prayer:  Lord, as I prepare for the week ahead, I ask that You walk before me and show me the path You have provided for me. Guide me into the situations and circumstances that You want me to experience. Direct me to the people in my life who You want me to reach for Your glory. Through Christ I pray, Amen.

“I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.”
Psalm 16: 7-8

As many of you know there is a wedding in our near future. Our son, Travis, is marrying Sarah in May.  Even though the bride and her family have almost innumerable responsibilities, the groom’s family has a number of things we are responsible for as well.  Our current issue is finding an affordable room somewhere near the site of the wedding for the rehearsal dinner. Bruce and I have been talking about this issue and checking out several places and each of them have or do not have something vital we need; such as it is cost prohibitive, or they do not provide tables and chairs or we cannot bring in our own caterer etc…So we have begun to pray about this room out there.  

Tonight when Travis came home we told him where we were in the process and he suggested another place where he knows someone.  Neither Bruce nor I had even considered this place.  I have shared this with you for this reason…we are not in this alone and we need to have people around us we can trust to help.

The same is true is our Christian lives. Being a Christian is a community enterprise. We do not have all of the answers to the questions and dilemmas in our lives.  We need people around us that we can trust to help make right decisions.  The people we need to count on are those who have a connection to God. It is these folks who will motivate us to make right decisions. Then once we have this group of folks around us we do not need to ignore their advice.  God has placed these people in our lives to help guide us and be constant reminders of the fact that we are not alone and are in the continuous presence of God.  We were never meant to fly solo through this life so find your fellowship with God through the children of God, the body of Christ.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all faithful friends, 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. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Happy Monday! 

Prayer:  Lord, thank You that You are truly Lord over all. You aren’t Lord because I say so—You are Lord because You are! You are Lord over creation, time, people, nations and over my life. I choose to yield myself to You for who You already are to me today. Amen.

“Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.”
1 Chronicles 29: 12

Where do we place our trust? Or maybe I should say, “In Whom do we place our trust?”  Do we desire things above our relationship with God? (I know, that is a tough question) There are lots of things I would like to have. But the things I would like to own or possess are things that are temporal.  Somehow or other the “things” I want or desire are going to break, get lost, be put in a pile or storage and forgotten or no longer be necessary.  But our relationship with God is the one thing that will never be broken, lost or become unnecessary. 

In our relationship with God we need to thank God for His grace and to trust in His hand, desiring Him alone.  We need to ask for the strength that only God can provide and then display God and the truth about Him to others today through serving them.  As we share God’s love and presence in our lives with others, we need to remind them (and ourselves) of how much God has done for us. When we worship, we need to be mindful that we worship God because of Who God is and all that God has done and will do.  Let us be mindful of how much God loves us and acknowledge that God knows what is best for us by trusting in His gracious hand.

Take joy in the 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. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blessed Sunday to you all! 

It was such a wonderful day. Today marked the first year since Mom passed away.  Ken and I gathered our families and went to church with Dad.  We filled an entire row in the sanctuary.  Dad was really brave today in that I think the memories were so very close and he had just had surgery on his hand.  So besides the anguish in his heart there was pain in his hand.  He never complained. We took him to Olive Garden in honor of Mom as it was one of her two favorite restaurants. We then went back to Dad’s house.

I found myself going room to room opening drawers and cabinets searching for memories. I saw a number of things that I will collect later, but the item that caught my eye and came home with me was her recipe box.  It is a lifetime of collected recipes, some from magazines and the backs of bags of flour and sugar, but the ones that touched my heart were the ones that were written in her own beautiful hand.  The first card I picked up was the broccoli rice casserole.  

The funny story about this recipe is that when we first married Bruce mentioned to Mom how much he loved that casserole.  So every time we would visit for the next year or so, she would make it. The last time that she made the recipe, she did not have quite enough Cheese Whiz so she added a tablespoon of jalapeño squeeze cheese. Bruce does not do spicy food at all and he could taste the jalapeño pepper. It was a story they shared and laughed over for the remainder of her life. (She never put any hot cheese in it again!)

I don’t know if God allows those who have gone on before us to peek in and check to see how we are doing, but if God let her then today she would be so proud of her family. Today I saw reminders of her in those who sat around the table at the Olive Garden. I saw and heard their love, laughter and faith as I led grace around the table and the joy we shared being together around the table as a family.  Perhaps today God looked at her as she beamed with love down at her family and told her, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

Prayer:  Lord, today I rest and trust in the promises of Your patience and love once again. I pray that as I go through this day that I will remember all You have done for me and blessed me with. And God, give me strength through Your Spirit and allow You patience to overflow out of me unto the lives of others. Amen.

“For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying ’Surely blessing I will bless you and multiplying I will multiply you.’ And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.”
Hebrews 6: 13-15

Each of us experiences ups and downs in our life.  When Mom passed so suddenly, my heart broke for Dad because of his undying love and devotion to her for nearly 60 years. I was also sad that she would not see me graduate with my master’s degree.  She valued education, family and faith above all else and here is her daughter, fulfilling all three of her most prized values and she would not be here to see me graduate. One day last March as I was weeping in the car over losing her I promised her out loud that I would achieve this degree no matter what.

As I continue this journey I am reminded of what Casey’s oncologist told us, “The destination is never in question, but sometimes the journey sucks.”  Losing Mom was the pits, but this phrase was meant for me as well. I will achieve this degree through the journey of faith and education and following being hooded my journey will continue. The verse from Hebrews says that God promises. God did not say “maybe I will bless you.” God said, “I will bless you and multiply you.”  I must believe God has plans for me to continue in this journey of faith and ministry. I must trust God, and then wait for God to fulfill what He has told me.”

If you are waiting on a blessing from God I encourage you to remember God measures time in eternity. So talk to God, trust Him and wait. God’s timing is always perfect time.

Take joy in the 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.