Tuesday, May 20, 2014

He fills our life with good things....

I was one of those little girls who taught hundreds of "lessons" in math and science to her dolls in the playhouse.  I had a love for teaching and learning but more than anything else in the world I wanted to be a wife and mom one day when I was grew up.

"An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels."
Proverbs 31:10

I was finishing up my freshman year of college at the University of Arkansas when Warren and I found out our sweet, wild Tyler was in our future plans at this time of the year, 18 years ago.  Warren was graduating from the University of Arkansas with a degree in English.  We had been married for almost a year and we had spent the two years before marriage dreaming of what we wanted together in life.  We both agreed that it would be good and okay for me to stay home with the kids God would give us.  I also wanted some Holstein cows and a house with a front porch in the country.  We would dream of traveling and where we would live. 

"The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord."
Proverbs 16:1

We made a decision to move south of  Fort Smith where Warren would take a full time position with 40/29 TV and I would stay at home with Tyler. I am sure there were some people who thought it  was a bad choice for me to "quit" school but I was never more confident about this decision.  Over the course of the next 3 years we would move to Denison, Texas for a television job and eventually surrender to full time ministry and moving to Waldron, Arkansas to serve.  God would add another set of pitter patter feet to our home as well.

"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord...."
Psalm 127:3a

During those years I would serve with all my being in the local church teaching and organizing the children's ministry.  Tyler, Ethan, and eventually Elise would spend hours with me painting Sunday School rooms, putting up bulletin boards, organizing puppets, decorating for VBS, and preparing weekly AWANA and children's church lessons.  Those were very sweet and precious days.

"Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

During those years I would occasionally substitute for a little extra income while my mom would babysit my kids or I would paint for friends in their home.  I did struggle inside my heart with only having one year of college under my belt.  There is something about me that loves education and always growing.  It was  during those days at home with the kids that I decided to go back to school online and get my associate's degree.  This was done when Elise was a toddler.

"Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;"
Isaiah 41:31a

During those years I would see my children's first footsteps, I would never worry about juggling days off to rock a sick baby, we would play in the sand, watch the Wiggles, I would sit for hours watching Tyler play trains at Learning Oasis, read books upon books (of course skipping a page or two to get through), and do all I could to make sure they were ready for kindergarten.  One car (a maroon Mitsibushi Galant) was what our family had in return for those years of only one income, but never would I trade the days of naps together (which I am still having withdraws from), songs we sung down the quiet,early morning aisles of Wal-Mart, rise and shine appearances at school, and shopping days with my mom.  I would never trade having three young children squished in a back seat and heading to the park to ride the "choo-choo" on a beautiful spring morning.  It was on those drives we would practice Cubbie and Sparkie verses, talk about Jesus, practice our ABC's and learn how to get along with each other.  Especially your siblings.

"...So are My ways higher than your ways..."
Isaiah 55:9b

But once the kids were all in school during the day, God gave me a new season of life.  A season where I would work outside the home.  It was good for the whole family.  It enlarged our ministry circles.  My first job was working with a coalition to coordinate a $600,000 grant.  I am forever grateful to the board and community members for allowing me to learn to be director of that coalition and grant.  Looking back I stand in awe of God's grace and goodness to let me learn so much, so fast.  Our whole family was blessed by the years I worked for that grant.

"God be gracious to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us-
That Thy way may be known on the earth,
Thy salvation among the nations."
Psalm 67:1-2

A move to El Dorado would mean a resignation from the coalition.  I went to El Dorado thinking I would just try the stay at home and go to a ladies Bible Study.  Some coffee and lunch dates with friends seemed fitting as well.  But the Lord had other plans and stirred a desire in my heart to seek a job.  God basically sat a job at a local elementary school in my lap.  Those 3 and half years were some of the best.  I was able to be with Elise at the elementary for all but half a year of that time .  I learned so much during those years.  It was also during those years that I decided to go back to school to become a teacher.  I worked during the day and attended school at night for 2 and half years.  At times it was tough, but God carried me through.  I mean really carried me through. 

"A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance."
Ecclesiastes 3:4

Interruption.  Yes, a move to Vilonia with one semester left of school.  But as always, He was faithful.  I was able to student teach at the school near our home.  I was placed with a teacher and class that made me feel so welcome in the community and in the classroom.  And finally I graduated!  G5 was so very happy!  We did it!  I guess that's one of my favorite things about my family, whatever we do in life, we celebrate as a family. 

"God is faithful..."
I Corithians 1:9

I pulled out my old Bible, the one that was stolen in St Louis and returned.  I had put it on the shelf in our new home because of its fragile condition.  I pulled it out yesterday and buried my head in it because I needed the peace that God had been faithful in the past and would continue to be even now.  I had interviewed for a job at a school I student taught at and fell in love with.  A place I felt I could teach the very best.  Now I would have to pray and wait.   I waited for the call that I would be a real teacher, in a real classroom.  It seemed like eternity!  Finally at 10:00 last night it came!  We all jumped up and down!  I even tackled Ethan!  What laughing, joy, and thankfulness in our hearts!

"He fills our years with good things...."
Psalm 103:5a

18 years ago, I didn't understand the seasons of life that would come.  I had no idea that God continuously changes our circumstances in order to bring glory to Himself through our lives.  .  And today I still don't understand it all. Seasons are beautiful and sometimes tough.   I love life, yet dread when death comes.  I love joy, but despise the mourning.  I love when the Lord gives, but heartbroken when He takes away.  But as I think over the seasons of G5's  life,  mine as "mom" in particular, I am able to see His work.  I realize that what I saw our life to look like when I was 18 years old, is not His design.  And what the world thought my life should look like, is not His design.  It's not that I missed His timing or did life wrong.  Instead I am reminded that I am not, nor anyone else,  a  "cookie cutter" design.  So humbled and thankful for the life He has given me through the seasons.  I am also glad my dreams are not His.  (I am not sure I could milk cows everyday!)   I am looking forward to this new season in 1st grade at VPS. I got the job!  I am blessed!

"And we know that God causes all things
to work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28

Monday, April 28, 2014

We are here. Hands, Feet, and Heart.

Moving to a new community is tough.  We have been in Vilonia for 4 months now.  It's been a new way to enter the community for us.  We have always been the new youth minister family and greeted by a church with warm and open arms.  Now we search for a church, friends, and our place in the community.  We are not introduced as our youth pastor's family or associated by a certain church.  Instead we usually spend 5 minutes trying to justify why we chose this little community east of Conway as our home. Warren commutes 45 minutes everyday.

God.  We truly believe He was the one who led us to this community.

We were blessed by sweet friends to help our children get acquainted with Vilonia children the first weekend we moved here.  Will never be able to thank God enough for these friends.  These students have made going to school easier.  They challenge my children in not only sports and education but also the Lord.  In fact, one of the students that my son was introduced to (and is now a good friend with) was saved 1 year ago .  At a DNOW Warren spoke at.  Warren had no idea that decision had been made until the boy shared with our son during a run at track practice. 

God's ways are higher and are so good.

God opened a door for me to student teach at Vilonia Primary School.  It's less than 3 minutes from my house.  I could not have chosen a better school or teacher to be with for this season of life.  The third graders in our class will make my last day, May 2, very tough.  They are very precious to me. 

God.  We truly believe He was the one who led us to this community.

A home.  Oh how we prayed.  How I prayed He would lead us to a home we could feel safe, comfortable, and minister to others in.  So many homes we looked at, considered offers, and finally led to where we sit right now. 

He is so good.  So very good.

Prayer.  I have prayed daily how God wants to use us in this community.  Where He wants us to serve Him at a local church.  I have prayed how I can most be used.  Ball Team?  School?  Small Group Study in my subdivision?

4 months later.

I am sitting in my comfortable home 2 miles from complete devastation. Overwhelmed by the fact homes that we considered purchasing now lay in ruins.  A feeling of helplessness.  I text with families who have lost everything.  Homes.  Cars. I am amazed at the miles photos are being found of people that I know.

  I look forward to digging in to whatever I can do to help those in the community tomorrow.  My prayer for these people is much deeper now.  We have hid in closets, laundry rooms, and shelters together.  We stand in unbelief of our community together.  Our hearts are totally broken for those who have lost their lives.  We are overwhelmed for those that have lost their home and businesses.  We are committed to helping the community rebuild.  We are eager to share Christ and His love when we are privileged with opportunities to be His hands, feet, and voice.

This is home now.  Vilonia, Arkansas.

The best way to help the people of Vilonia is financially, through gift cards, and other needs that have been listed  on trusted sites.  Arkansas Baptist State Convention has an online place to give.  They are actively involved in relief efforts in Vilonia right now. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bucket trucks in life

This blog was written in El Dorado in early December 2013.  So thankful God has richly blessed us with “bucket trucks” in our life over the past couple of months.  He is faithful.                     –MG




It’s amazing how crazy busy life can get with one decision.  And then another.  And another.  And before long, life is slipping by and there’s no time to take notice.  No time to notice the things in life that take time to see.  Conversations, smiles, the writing on the wall.  No time to just sit and stare at beauty.  No time to stand in awe.

One of my favorite things about working at school is watching children have “aha” moments or be intrigued by the simplest of things. 

This past week I was facilitating an interim assessment at the school I work at.  One of the children in the class is a student I have worked many hours with in math and some in reading.  He really struggles with learning but is a hard worker.  He also wears braces on his legs.  This year he has not been wearing them like he should.

After we finished the test on Wednesday, three of the students had to go play outside with me because their regular class was still testing.  As we headed to the playground, this child caught sight of a piece of construction equipment.  He took off running (without his braces) as fast as he could to the fence so he could get a closer look.  His arms swung back and forth as hard as they could.

From a distance I could see him turn to look to see if the other two students and I were coming.  I stopped at the sidewalk and the other two students headed to the slide. 

His eyes were fixed on the bucket truck.  He turned to me and yelled, “It’s a bucket truck.”  I smiled at him.  I continued to watch him.  He would look back at the slide where the friends were.  And then would turn and stand in awe again of the bucket truck.  It seemed he stood there forever, just gazing at what he thought was divine.  Something that he loved.  Something he could relate to.  His father worked as a construction worker.

After a few minutes, he turned and ran to the slide.  He climbed up the ladder, went to the top, and said “Guys, it’s a bucket truck!”  The kids looked at the truck and then him.  They just kept playing.  He climbed down and ran back to the fence.  The man in the bucket truck waved at him.  The boy waved largely back to him.  He ran to me, “Mrs. Gasaway, he waved to me.”

I wonder if I am like the kids on the slide, if I ever see life as just “ordinary.”  Nothing catches my eyes and attention.  I am just too busy to even see.  Too busy to see what He wants me to see.  The miracles He does every day in my life.  The grace He bestows upon my family, the love He has for me.

I choose to see today. Through His eyes.