Saturday, February 9, 2013

Happy Saturday!

Bruce, Geni and I picked up a Bountiful Basket order early this morning. Great offerings this time of apples, oranges, pears and bananas—cauliflower, cabbage, a humongous sweet potato, picture perfect red bell peppers, onions, garlic, snack tomatoes and an Italian basket with an herb bundle or rosemary and basil, garlic, a beautiful egg plant and two bags of killer granola. A great way to begin the day! (yes, there was coffee!)

I came to find out that Curves closes at 11: 30 on Saturday so I did not get to workout today. I have spent the day writing. I am down to one paper and one outline for a class discussion and I will have completed my work before time. Keep praying! If I can finish as I hope to I may have time to prepare a sermon for next Sunday on the wedding at Cana. We will see.

Prayer: Lord, when I surrender to you my stresses and worrisome loads then I seem to find clearer ways of thinking and am able to work with peaceful nudging to not only complete the assignments, but remind the reader in my writing that You are the guiding hand in all that I do. Thank You for this space surrounded by Your loving creation in family both two and four legged. They are a constant reminder that I am surrounded by your sweetness, warmth and love.  It is to You I give all glory, thanks and praise. In Jesus’ name, 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

This semester nearly all of my readings have to do with violence, terrorism and injustice. This is really hard reading. It is hard because I am not very political and the class discussions and writings are on these subjects. One of the things that I am learning through all of this is that the Great Commandment is not being followed very well these days. 

“Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself.” This passage has several layers. First we are to Love God with all we have. God, our Creator, sends Jesus to be our Redeemer and the image of God here on earth. This verse calls us to love those who are difficult to love. These are the folks with whom we do not agree, who make us uncomfortable to be around and who we deem unlovely. One of the reasons that violence happens for religious reasons is that the one(s) who commit the act(s) of violence fail to see glimpses of God in those with whom they do not agree. They find those people difficult to love, or don’t even consider loving them. Those who proclaim to carry the love of Christ in their hearts yet commit acts of violence and injustice do not allow those folks to see God in us.

          We may not carry out acts of violence or terrorism, but there are those we do not treat as a part of God’s good creation for one reason or another. Do we ignore, gossip, cut off in traffic, hold grudges or make someone feel as if they are not worthy of the love of God that is supposed to come through us? These are dangerous attitudes for us to have.

The world is full of dangers. So when thoughts of unkindness come to us and we encounter someone we would rather not or think disparaging thoughts about someone we love (or should love) let us hold tightly to God’s ever present and open hand. It is through God’s Spirit and the Word that He will talk us through these difficult times. Let us pour out our hearts to God and ask Him to help us change our attitudes. We must stay in contact and conversation with God and hold fast to Him because God is our life.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a heart of thanks and gratitude and get some sleep. 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, February 8, 2013

Happy Friday! 

Prayer:  Lord, when I am stressed let me return to you and find rest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 
Philippians 4: 13

Ok. Here is my list of tasks between now and Wednesday—two book reports, one chapter outline from which I am to lead class discussion, a paper, teach Sunday School and pick up a Bountiful Basket order very early in the morning.  In the meantime there is life.  So tonight as I opened my devotional book the first words were, “Learn to live from a place of resting in Me. Since I am the Prince of Peace—am both with and within you, you can choose to live from this peaceful place of union with Me. This enables you to stay calm in the midst of stressful situations, be re-centering yourself in Me. We can deal with your problems together—you and I—so there is no need to panic.”

Talk about thinking that was written just for me tonight! This piece of writing is both comforting and humbling. Comforting in that God is with me through all situations and humbling because I found myself panicking over the potential of not being able to complete the assignments by their deadlines and not understanding the material for which I must write. I know that the more difficult my circumstances, the more tempted I become to go into panic mode and forget the peaceful, presence of God.

After reading this devotional I realized I had wandered from the place of Peace. (Imagine a seminary student wandering away from the place of God?!)I wandered from the Mercy Seat of God. When I stopped and re-centered myself I called on the name of the Lord and immediately became reconnected to the Prince of Peace. Peace flooded my soul and allowed me to continue to read and study and I am ready to write the first paper that is due by 1:00 on Tuesday.

So my friends, next time the stress seems overwhelming…stop, take a breath and call on the name of the Lord, return to Him and find your place of rest.
Take joy in the journey.  Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a heart filled with gratitude and get some peaceful sleep. Love you all and thanks for listening, 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!

Again thank you for your prayers as Bruce went back to work today. The remainder of his sinus infection is a lingering cough. He is returning to full strength.  So thank you again.

As for me I made my first trip to Curves today. Let me just say after a year and a half of active sitting I am sooooooo out of shape! In case any of you want to know how it works…it is basically a series of machines and recovery pads between each machine. You spend 30 seconds on each resistance machine and 30 seconds on a recovery pad where you can jog in place, walk or stretch. Anyway when you have done the circuit for about 30 minutes you are done. So ladies, here is the great part, it is only for women so you don’t have to even look cute. 

I also ordered a groom’s cake today from Calling All Cakes!

Prayer request: I have several assignments that are all due on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. I did not put off doing them, they were just all assigned at similar times with due dates to match. In your prayers please ask God to help me to understand and respond appropriately. It is a great deal of reading on subject matters of which I am just becoming acquainted. I need an extra measure of understanding, discipline and grace in order to complete everything on time. Thank you, faithful ones.

Prayer:  Lord, thank You that we can come before You with anything and everything.  Thank You that you are continually working in our lives. Help us to recognize and give thanks that Your guiding presence is with us so that we may follow Your will and know of the power of Your love that works in us. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

“Now to Him who is able to exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”
Ephesians 3: 20

My meditation tonight begins with the promise that God will restore you to health and heal your wounds.  I thought how appropriate these words are tonight as Bruce is getting over being sick and Geni was sick today. I continue to keep my prayer book and most of the entries are for healing and restoration to wellness. Some are requests for a return to wholeness from hurts that are emotional and spiritual. Jeremiah 30: 17, “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,” declares the LORD, “because you are called and outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.”  God cares for us so very much and is continually at work in our lives. When Our recognition of His presence grows dim, the Light of His presence shines its brightest. By His Very Word God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask.

Praying in the name of Jesus consistently can cause amazing things to happen in our lives.  I need amazing things to happen in a short amount of time to meet the demands of school. I am praying in Jesus’ name to keep me steady, to keep me focused and to keep my work consistent until all work is complete in a timely fashion. I pray that my work shows my professors and classmates how I view God working not only through me but through the reading and writing I am doing. When we, God’s people, pray in one accord for each other then great things can happen.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, pray in Jesus name and with a heart of gratitude and get some sleep. 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, February 6, 2013

Happy Wednesday!  

First, Bruce is feeling better.  Thank you for your prayers.

Today I decided to practice some self-care and joined Curves. Please pray for me to be disciplined and work hard to get into shape. (I need to work really hard in my workout tomorrow as I am to go and taste groom’s cake for the wedding later!)

Prayer:  Lord, help us to trust in You not only with our words but to take refuge in You with our wills. As we go through this day we will encounter so many things that make us anxious. When those anxious moments come let us come to You and find You at the center of our thoughts and wills, listening to Your voice and finding the strength to do what You ask. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by.”
Psalm 57: 1

As you might have guessed I have begun to feel overwhelmed. The work load this semester is pretty heavy in my classes. This seems especially true since I did not come to these classes with very much on which to anchor myself. I seem to spend my time actively sitting, studying, reading and writing papers. And then there is this wedding…I was getting to a point where the deadlines and expectations were overwhelming me and I was not able to prioritize.  It is time to take on another task instead of letting one go.  So I joined Curves (it is a lady’s fitness club).

The problem with stress and feeling overwhelmed for me is that if I were to let something go, the time would come when I would have to pick that responsibility up again. So I am taking some time for self-care and plan on exercising about three times per week for 30 minutes at a time.  I prayed about this, knowing it would be a financial sacrifice each month and an hour and a half each week that before I was not willing to give up. I prayed this scripture and placed myself in God’s refuge. I placed my trust in the God of love and blessing.

God’s refuge is a place of protection or shelter; a safe haven. It is a place where we can turn for help, relief or escape. Our job is to willingly turn to God for help and make Him our refuge.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a thankful heart and get some sleep. 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 Tuesday.

Prayer:  Lord, help us to understand when You are quiet that You are not absent or looking the other way. You are still in control and humbling us to trust You with all we have, all we are and all we will ever be. Lord, when we want to break free and go out on our own again remind us that under Your sovereignty is the best place for us to be. In Jesus name, Amen.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.
Romans 12: 12

We are a community of people who do not like to wait. We are so used to instant gratification, instant answers, ATM’s that dispense money in a few seconds without judgment and communication that is so rapid fire fast that when someone doesn’t answer within seconds we will almost “unfriend” them.

Because God is God and can do what God wants, there are times when He is quiet. We do not do well with silence. I am so guilty of that. I have NCIS on when I study and write. I don’t watch, but I need the company. When we are uncomfortable with God’s silence we are presented with a choice. We can either continue to be patient and faithful and wait on God to speak again or we can lash out and resent God. Then we have a final choice; we can draw closer to God.

When we are suffering we recognize our serious need for God. The more we choose to draw nearer to God the more we find hope in God’s unfailing love. It is then that we know that God cares for us and is continually watching over us.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a grateful heart and get some sleep. 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 Request: Bruce has been sick with a sinus infection since last week. Please pray for him to be restored to complete wellness.  Thank you, faithful and mighty prayer warriors. Peace, gc

Monday, February 4, 2013

Happy Monday! 

I completed the other paper due tomorrow. Both papers are in Bruce’s inbox for editing. 

Prayers:  Bruce has an epic sinus infection that found him at the doc’s office today. He is pretty miserable so offer a prayer for him to be relieved of congestion and breathe easier.

Prayer:  Lord, I claim your Holy Word that nothing can separate us from Your love.  Thank You for Your gift of love and help me to mirror that love to those I encounter. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Neither height not depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8: 39

What is the worst thing that can happen to you? If you are a parent most of us would say the loss of a child, spouse or parent.  I get to check two out of three of those boxes. And yes, these occurrences are the worst earthly events that can happen to any of us. These losses leave grief and loss the size of football stadiums in our souls. But as awful as those things are the very worst thing that could happen is the loss of the love of God.

We can relax because that just is not going to happen! God’s Holy Word states without any doubt that nothing will separate us from the love of God found in the life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.  The word I love the best is ALL.  The loss of God’s love is not even in the realm of possibility. The love of God is the purest gift we will ever receive. It is the love that secures our connection to God and Savior for all eternity. Since the very worst imaginable is not possible we can live life abundantly. This love is not love we have to earn through deeds done.

Remember when times are wonderful and filled with joy we need to enjoy those times fully without worry. When times are difficult or filled with grief God will strengthen us with that same powerful love.  God’s divine presence transcends and soaks in all of the areas of our life that no matter what happens. We can be assured that God through Jesus overcame the world. If God overcame the world then God will take care of us out of His love for us.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with gratitude and a thankful heart. 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 Sunday! 

Today I began teaching a month long study with a Sunday School class on Love. Today’s question was “Who do you love the most?”  There was good discussion. I’m looking forward to next week’s installment.

Bruce, me and the kids gathered together to watch the Super bowl Game. We really did not care who won, but we had a super table of food and a great time talking and just being together. I personally think that 811 Austin Street won!

Prayer: Lord, help us to remember to put our hope in You and rely on Your unfailing love.  Sometimes we forget how to hope when disappointment happens and we look for something or someone else in which to place our hope.  Thank You for the gentle reminders we get to place You in the mirror of our lives so that everytime we look into the mirror we see You reflected back.  Amen.”

“We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you. “
Psalm 33: 20-22

Each of us experiences disappointments. Today the San Francisco 49ers experienced disappointment.  They lost a heartbreaker of a game by just a few points.  Each team journeyed to the same destination, but only one would journey home claiming victory. For one team the ending will not be happy.

For us, even though we may be looking into some dark places, we know that there is a brilliant light that will guide us through and bring us to a happy ending.  Our final happy ending will be when we reach the everlasting light at the end of our time here on earth.  God’s finished work through the death of Jesus on the cross secured this heavenly destination.  It is this hope of the resurrected Christ that not only gives us hope of heaven, but allows us to experience joy in our present journey. The more we put our hope in Christ the more the light of God’s love shines on us. This light brightens our days when the disappointments come. God’s light shines most brightly through believers who trust in Him in the dark. Let us remember that God goes by many names. For us today God’s name is hope because God, through the life and death of Jesus, is our hope!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a thankful heart and get some sleep. 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, February 3, 2013

Happy Groundhog Day and happy Saturday! 

I finished the first of my two papers due on Tuesday. I still have a book to read before I can write so please offer a prayer for me to be able to read quickly because I am not a fast reader. Also please pray for Bruce. He has a really rough upper respiratory issue with sore throat. He is kind of miserable.

Prayer: Lord, today your granted me mercy, strength and a bit of inspiration to write a reflection paper for which I thank You. The greatest blessing of my life is You, Lord. To say thank You seems so trite, and yet it is all I have to say and all I have to give. Open my eyes to truth, and give me courage to follow You faithfully. I desperately want Your best and not a cheap substitute. Give me the grace to see You at work today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
John 15: 15

The difference between a servant and a friend is that a servant does what the master says out of duty. A servant does not get to hear the inside information or receive a blessing from the master. But a friend shares a relationship. Instead of a one-sided obligation, friendship is based on sharing and blessing. Friendship is founded on love, not duty.

Jesus calls us friends. Yes, we are servants of God by choice, but our service to Him is out of an expression of our love for Him. We have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Jesus loves us and knows our needs. Because Jesus is the master and He has called us friends, we can continue to serve in spite of any obstacle. Because of Jesus’ love and friendship for us we willingly serve others in His name.

Let us remember to thank God for everything He has taught us. We don’t deserve the blessings we have received but how gladly we have received them. I am thankful that God has called me into this journey of ministry, but I am also glad that I have been called to be God’s child and sister to Christ. Out of love for God I ask for new opportunities to serve others in Jesus name.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, give thanks with a grateful heart, pray for your family, friends and yourself and then…get some sleep. 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.