Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Journey Home

We are home!  In Arkansas, that is.  El Dorado, Arkansas to be exact.  Isn't it crazy how we can say "I'm headed home" and it  mean so many things?  It could be the place we lay our head at night or it could mean the place our parents are or it could even mean the place we grew up.  This past week I ventured to all 3 of these "homes."

"...Go home to your people and report to them
what great things the Lord has done for you,
and how He had mercy on you."  Mark 5:19

My first stop on the "home" journey was in Mansfield, AR.  Mom had lived in Mansfield ever since she and my dad divorced.  It is also where she is now buried.  Every season I try to change the flowers in mom's vases on her headstone. I usually put red roses because they were her favorite.  There is still something about walking down to the fence, just down from the tree, on the north side of Coop Prarie Cemetery that brings back memories of "home" in Mansfield.  I can't help but think on my way down there of all the shopping trips we made, ball games she was at, and Christmas treats we ate.   I only lived in Mansfield  for 2 1/2 years, but it was "home."  My mom was there.
2 days later, the kids and I jumped in the suburban and headed down I-40 for the next part of our journey.  I was headed "home."  To TEXAS!
 Headed to the place I lived for the first 12 years of my life.  My hometown. The place I was born and raised.  Amarillo, Texas.   Now that I am older and live away from Amarillo, I realize what a smelly, windy town it is!  I grew up on Morning Street on the North side of Amarillo.  Good memories of being at "home" there.  Our animals out back, playing with my 2 brothers, getting a new baby sister in second grade, and the very emotional move we made in 1989 to Katy, Texas when I was 12.  We had to leave our "home" when my dad's job transferred to Katy.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans for welfare and not for calamity
to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

It was during these 12 years I also have a few memories of going to Sunday School and summer VBS.  My parents would drop me off under the covered area and pick me up as soon as Sunday School was over.  I really have no memory of what I learned or what was said during this time, but I consider it to be a huge spiritual marker in my life.  I believe God was using this church to plant seeds in my life for when I would come to the place of realizing I was a sinner, separated from God, and asking His forgiveness from my sin and making HIM the Lord of my life at the age of 16.

"I thank my God always concerning you,..." I Corinthians 1:4

Next, we  drove by the school I attended for all of my elementary school years.  Pleasant Valley Elementary School.  Like most people, my memories of those years are very minimal, but I am thankful for the teachers that did impact my life.  My second grade teacher was my favorite.  Mrs. Janet Dunavin.  She placed in me a desire to learn.  To really enjoy learning.  It was there I learned to add faster than ever before and read books.  It was also where I began my love for writing. I hope one day I can motive children in the classroom as well as she did me.   Precious days.

"I thank my God in all remembrance of you,..." Philippians 1:3

My dad now lives in the Amarillo area.  Since our move to Katy, he has also lived in Kansas and Denver.  He lives in Borger now.  Borger is less than a hour northeast of Amarillo and my dad's hometown.  It is also where my paternal grandparents have lived my entire life.
While I was in Borger visiting and helping my dad with projects that needed to be completed, we took a time out and visited my grandfather.  My Grandpa Speegle is in a Borger nursing home and will be 92 in August.  He is the only grandparent I still have living. 
Going back "home" to Amarillo can well up deep within me so much thankfulness that I can never leave without praising God.   The relationships that He has mended.  The forgiveness that He has provided.  The grace He has shown me is without measure.  I am thankful for where HE has brought me. 

"O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth;
And I still declare Thy wondrous deeds.
And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Thy STRENGTH to this generation,
Thy power to all who are to come." Psalm 71:17-18

But it was at the beginning of the journey this past week, before our vehicle had even left the driveway in El Dorado,  that I was reminded of another "home."  A home that is for a person who has made Jesus the Lord and Savior of their life.  This home is Heaven.  Jesus seated next to the Father.  Streets of gold.   Crystal seas.  Beautiful gates.  Voices being lifted up.  And laughter.  Lots of laughter of joy can be heard.  Johnie Ward is there.

"If I  go to prepare a place for you,
 I will come again, and receive you to Myself;
 that where I am, there you may be also."  John 14:3

We received the call late in the night on Sunday that Johnie had gone to be with the Lord.  I am pretty sure I heard his laugh as he met Jesus face to face that night.  Johnie took such good care of our entire family while we were in Waldron, AR serving for 11 1/2 years.  He would lay vegetables on our back door steps almost every morning in the summer.  Most of the time before anyone would be out of bed.  Elise would run through the house and announce that "Mr. Johnie had brought 'matoes!"  She would ask him in the middle of winter when he was bringing her more vegetables.  That would make him laugh and smile.  He loved sharing Jesus with others and had a deep desire for forgiveness to come and relationships to be restored. 
I am so thankful that we do have a true" home."  Sometimes people ask me, where is home for you?  I always hesitate.  Do I say Amarillo?  My short time in Katy?  Mansfield?  Definitely not our short years in Fayetteville, Denison, or Huntington?  Our 11 1/2 years in Waldron?  In El Dorado with my family?  I guess any of those places could be considered "home."  But God promises me something even greater.  Heaven.  Forever with Him.

"Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him."  I Corinthians 2:9

"...Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."Revelation 2:10b

So I challenge you and me to jump in this vehicle we call life.  Live it to the fullest each day.  Love.  Pray.  Study His Word.  Dwell on the worthy things.  Share.  Serve.  And never stop. 
We are not HOME yet.

When the music fades into the past,
When the days of life are through,
What will be remembered of where I've come?
When all is said and done?

Will they say I loved my family?
That I was a faithful friend?
That I lived to tell of God's own son?
When all is said and done.

Of how I long to see the hour,
When I would hear that trumpet sound.

So I could rise and see my Savior's face,
And see him smile,
And say 'Well done.'

You can forget my name
And the songs I've sung,
Every rhyme and every tune.
But remember the truth of Jesus' love,
When all is said and done
(Geoff Moore)

Mr. Johnie-You will be missed greatly. 
That little girl with pig tails will always remember the 'matoes! 
Welcome "Home."

"and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain, the first things have passed away.....Behold, I am making all  things new..."  Revelation 21:4-5a

Sunday, May 20, 2012

kickin' up my feet and turning the air on 60!

It's so hard to believe that summer is here!  On Monday, May 21, at 12:30 pm summer vacation begins for 4/5 of the Gasaway5!  Tyler, Ethan, Elise, and I will be jumping in the Suburban and heading to Amarillo, Texas for a week at my dad's house.  We will be making a few stops along the way, it's summer! 

Now I have to be real honest with you, summer is not my favorite season.  I am more of the October/November fall girl or March/April spring girl.  I LOVE seeing the leaves turning shades of orange, red and yellow and flowers blooming in the spring!  But there are aspects of summer I do enjoy greatly.  I love the camps, mission trips, and VBS.   I like watching the kids enjoy the pools, outdoors, and just having a chance to play. 

I also love the opportunity I get in summer  to do those things that I think about wanting to do all school year.  Ironing, naps, scrapbooking, sitting without guilt, cleaning closets and drawers, naps, sewing, really cleaning the house, did I mention sitting without guilt, naps, and (I am really confessing here) putting up a few Christmas pieces.  I have a few wreaths I want to make, some Easter decorations that need put up, and some major organizing that needs to be completed.
And my absolute favorite aspect of summer is Warren and my "Summer Bible Study."  We started this a few years back and I love it.  There is just something awesome about studying the Word of God in depth with my man!  He is such a great sport and lets me pick out what we will do.  We have done 3 Beth Moore studies: Esther, Daniel, and Stepping Up.  This year we are doing the book of James and I am so pumped!!

Summer is good.  But by the end of the summer I will be complaining of the heat, the kids arguing, the lack of schedule, sweating, stinging insects, and the ridiculous electric bill.  I will probably sound like Jonah (but won't mean it!),

"...and the sun beat down on Jonah's head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die,..." Jonah 4:8

 I will be ready to buy my books for the fall semester, get school supplies for the kids, and head back to playground duty.  I will be ready for the ball games, appointments, schedules, and programs.  I will be ready for the homework, tests, practices, and conferences.  I will be renewed and ready to go again. 

AFTER a few months of rest. 

As I was thinking of the excitement of rest I am anticipating (and I am giddy like a kid about it!), God reminded me of what He provides to me as a believer everyday. Not just a few months out of the year.

      Spiritual rest.  "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him..." Psalm 37:7a

      Renewed strength.   "Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength;..." Isaiah 40:31a

      Rest in His arms.  "The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the      
everlasting arms;..." Deuteronomy 33:27a
    An opportunity to sit at His feet.  "And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord's word, seated at His feet...""...and she has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:39, 41b

   And an invitation to "taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes    refuge in Him." Psalm 34:8

      Oh, just a chance to just "Be still and know I am God..." Psalm 46:10

Wow!   The blessings that flow from coming to Him for that rest.  No other place I'd rather be.  Better than the beaches of Florida, hiking trails in Colorado, or Disney Cruiselines.  Better than the comfy chair at home or trip to see the dearest friends and family.  I don't want to miss Him. 

How lovely is Your dwelling place, Oh Lord Almighty
My soul longs and even faints for You
For here my heart is satisfied, within Your presence
I sing beneath the shadow of Your wings

Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere

One thing I ask, and I would seek, to see Your beauty,
To find You in the place Your glory dwells
My heart and flesh cry out,
For You the living God
Your Spirit's water for my soul
I've tasted and I've seen,
Come once again to me.
I will draw near to You.
I will draw near to You.
(Matt Redmon)
"How blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee;
In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
Passing through the valley of Baca (weeping), they make it a spring,
The early rain also covers it with blessings.
They go from STRENGTH to STRENGTH....
For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside.
I would rather stand in the threshold of the house of my God,
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness..."
Psalm 84:5-7a, 10
I am so thankful for rest and renewal.  He makes it available Summer, Winter, Fall or Spring.  Strength to continue in HIS ways.  Strength to keep flying.

Enjoy the sand, sun, and sunscreen!! 
Have some watermelon, sno cones, and a good cookout with family and friends! 
 Happy Summer 2012!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Simple? Complicated? I choose it!

I love the simple life.  I could lose myself in a white rocker on the front porch with a Diet Coke, Real Simple magazine, and some beautiful flowers.  I won't lie, I am one that envisions life a certain way.  Simple.  Together.  Not missing a moment of life.  I absolutely love to think of such moments.
But life is not always like that I would say,  ummm...75% of the time at the Gasaway 5 household.  In fact, it seems like choices are having to be made constantly in our home these days.  Sometimes tough ones.  Not too much time is spent watching the grass grow or the cows moo. 

(But know we steal the chance whenever we can!)

I guess my idea of the simple life goes all the way back to my senior year of high school.  It was then that I dreamt of nothing more than marrying my guy (Warren), having 5 or so kids, and raising 3 holstein cows. 

"The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9

My dear friend Laura and me at Mansfield High Graduation

  Little did I know that day in May 1995 that life would be filled with so many choices.  Complicated choices.  I could have never imagined what would be in our path over the next 10, 20 years. I thank God we began our marriage with one firm choice that would guide us through these years.

"...choose for yourselves today whom you will serve:
...but as for me and my house,
we will serve the Lord."  Joshua 24:15

Over the years,  Warren and I had to make choices regarding the direction for my education and his job in television.  Choices to submit to the call of ministry.  Choices on a name for a baby boy.  And another.  A baby girl's name.  When to discipline.  When to teach. Choice to invest in teenagers, children, and families.  Seminary?  A second vehicle?   Choices to make with broken bones and earring backs that would need to be surgically removed from eardrums.  Choosing to "cry and walk" when your parents die.  Choice of teachers.  And two-income family?  Where is God leading?  Picking up deep roots and planting them somewhere new. What activities to participate in?  Choice to go back to school.  Choice of what to do when you are stranded with a 15 year old vehicle on the side of the road.
 Choices.  Lots of them.  Some petty.  Some not.  But choices all the same.

"Who is the man who fears the Lord?
He will instruct him in the way he should choose." Psalm 25:12

As I search the scriptures, I am reminded over and over the choices women of God have had to make over the years.

Hannah chose to give the child she so dearly loved to the Lord. "...For this boy I prayed..." I Samuel 1:27a

Esther had to choose to be used "...for such a time as this." Esther 4:14.

Ruth chose to be faithful to her mother -in- law "for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge.  Your people will shall be my people, and your God, my God."  Ruth 1:16

Mary chose to be courageous and carry in her womb the Savior.  She chose to stay courageous as she raised Him day by day.   "...and His mother treasured all these things in her heart," Luke 2:51

Lydia chose to be hospitable and open her home to others.  "...come into my house and stay..." Acts 16:15b

And then there is the choices I must make each day.  Choices to be kind.  Choices to love.  Choices to obey Him.  Choices to depend on Him.  I have to intentionally choose to do good to others.  Choose to "dispense grace."

"...refuse evil and choose good." Isaiah 7:15b

I can remember clearly when this little guy was 3. A future student of the Class of 2015.

I can remember thinking "2015 is a looonnngggg time away."  I am pretty sure I must have blinked because in 3 years,  it will be me sealing those graduation cards.  Me getting the wrinkles out of the graduation gown.  And me planning the food for family and friends to gather and celebrate.

The month of May sure reminds me to stop.  Stop right where I am.  And choose. 
Choose to be intentional.
Choose to love.
Choose to look for teachable moments.
Choose to love those in my house.  No matter what.
Choose to get enough sleep so I am not grumpy.
Choose to talk to God in prayer.  All day long.
Choose to open my Bible.  Even if it is in the car rider line at school.
Choose to lose the bad attitude.
Choose to spend wisely and work hard.
Choose to make memories in my home.
Choose to love the Lord with all I am.
The generations in my home depend on it.  Legacy.  It starts today.  With me.  I have no more time to waste.  I must choose.

Class of 2012, your time is here.  Choose wisely.  Today.  A godly legacy.   HE chose you for it. 

"You did not choose Me, but I chose you,
and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit,..."  John 15:16a

El Dorado High Class of 2012 with former President, Bill Clinton


"Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood,
And has not sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive a blessing from the Lord
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Thy face..."  Psalm 24:3-6a

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Where I Find the Best Clothes!

I love "cute" clothes and more than that I  LOVE "cute" shoes.  I have more jewelry than one person needs.  I come by it quite honestly.  My Grammy Black had more shoes than anyone I have ever met and a different necklace for every outfit.  Recently God has been teaching me and showing me something about legacy.  The importance of those He has put in my life and the necessity for a godly legacy I leave for my own children, especially Elise.  How have I been "clothed" and what am I doing to ensure Elise is "clothed" to fully follow Him?

(My mom, Sister, and me.  Last photo I have of all 3 of us together)

A rich legacy of ladies have shaped my life.  In fact, there is no way to name them all.  But along the way, God has brought different ones into my life who have "dressed" me.  They have profoundly impacted who I am.  I can't help but think of these ladies this week.  A week we look for the perfect gift, card, and meal for the ladies in our life.  Mother's Day.  So my thoughts are taken to those ladies who have "clothed" my life.

"Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, Thou art very great;
Thou art clothed with splendor and majesty..." Psalm 104:1

My Mom opened her house to anyone who wanted to come.  A lady who wanted the best for her kids. She taught me to love crafts and how to do some great bargain shopping!  She loved to laugh.  She loved to sit and talk.  And a good Garth Brooks song could send her into tears.  So hard to believe it has been almost 8 years since I last picked her up for a day of shopping.  My mom "clothed" me with an open heart to others and I am thankful.

My sister is such a fun, hardworking young lady.  She is as sweet as they come and would do anything for anybody.  She reminds me a lot of my mom in so many ways.  Thankful for someone I can call "whenever."
My grandmothers are both no longer on this earth to see.  But I am thankful for the time I was able to share with both.  My Grammy Black made excellent breakfast, loved to pick on you, and could always be found on her front porch.  She sewed some of the cutest clothes for me as a child and was there for us when my parents divorced.  My Grandma Speegle gave me one of my first Bibles.  I didn't spend a whole lot of time with her as a child, but am thankful for the conversations as an adult I was able to have with her about the Lord.  They all have "clothed" me with life experiences, love,  and memories.

"The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me."  Psalm 16:6

Warren and I married when I was 18.  Wow!  That seems so young now!  But I am so thankful we did.  (We have been married alomost 17 years and that boy still has my heart completely! ) God created in my heart a "different spirit" (Numbers 14:24) that desired to make a home that was completely centered on Him.  I am thankful for those who helped "dress" me along the way to strive for a home like that.
 Kathy, Rhetta, and Richi were ladies I watched closely as I was seriously dating Warren and then as I was engaged to him.  I watched how they did life with their men and children.  I looked at the way that set up home.  How they set the table when they cooked meals.  How they disciplined their children.  These ladies "clothed" me with a desire to do good to my family.  Take care of them and their needs.

"She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27

Janet was our pastor's wife.  I had no idea at the time why I was so interested in how she lived as a pastor's wife.  But it is very clear now :)  I remember admiring her so much for her passion to be in the Word and teach other ladies.  I attended my first Precept class with her.  Loved it.  Loved studying the Word in depth.  The Bible I use and tresure so much now was given to me from her when I was 20 years old.  She "clothed" me with a desire to be a woman of the Word.

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord,
she shall be praised."  Proverbs 31:30

Jeania and Beth showed me a love for sharing Jesus.  When I was a new Christian, Beth gave me the opportunity to serve in VBS.  I fell in love head over heels that day with children's ministry.  That week in VBS began an adventure that would last to the present.  It has had different seasons and opportunities, but I am am ready and willing at any moment to teach and share Jesus (salvation) with children.  Jeania showed me so many ways to share Jesus, especially with children.  I absolutely love to share Jesus with children.  They "clothed" me with the desire to serve and share Jesus.

Lisa was a youth pastor's wife who "clothed" me with a desire to love life.  She had a smile and joy every time we saw her while we lived in Denison, Texas.  Precious lady with a precious family.

My dear friend Laura has "clothed" me so much through the years.  I truly owe my discipleship to her.  She has "clothed" me with firm resolve as a Christian, perseverence in all situations, faithfulness, strength.   She is one that I have seen "cry and walk."  (Ruth, Kelly Minter)

"Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future." Proverbs 31:25

My sweet friend Allison was placed in my life at just the right time.  Plain and simple, she "clothed" me with what it means to be a friend and love my family like crazy. 

There has been so many older ladies who have "Clothed" me along the way.  I really learned to cook from my mother-in-law. And I did learn a little determination from her as well.   And oh my, the beautiful "older" ladies along the way are too numerous to count!  The ladies like Sharon, Vestal, Nada, and Mrs. May.  Such sweet spirits.  Ladies who haven't let age, health, or life circumstances stop them from following Him.  Their lives remind me to be "clothed" in a "...gentle and quiet spirit..." (I Peter 3:4).
God continues to send "Designer" "clothes" my way.  I am Blessed daily by Geraldine who prays everyday for my eldest.  Her faithfulness reminds me to be "clothed" in prayer.  And my sweet friend Stacey who prays and then puts her prayers into action with students.

"Pray without ceasing;" I Thessalonians 5:17

Then there's Ruth and Esther.  Sarah and Hannah.  Mary. Lydia.  The ladies in Timothy's life.  Everyday God uses these ladies in my life to remind me to be "clothed" in the full armor of God, the fruit of the Spirit, humility, willingness, and love.  A reminder to forgive, have a clear conscience, consider it all joy, and do nothing out of selfish ambition.

So, I put on the best "clothes" that come my way because I know I have my own little fashion diva who will put on what she sees.  I pray she will imitate her Father in heaven and be "clothed" with His ways.  I pray that she meets ladies along the way that teaches her to put on the best "pearls", "diamonds", "purses", "jeans", and "wedges" a girl can wear.

" imitators of Christ..." Ephesians 5:1

Thank you ladies in my life.  I am blessed!
Happy Mother's Day!