Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Week of Celebrations

Last Friday, December 20, 2013, Larry and I had the blessing and privilege of attending the graduation ceremony for our son, Chad, as he received the Doctor of Ministry degree from George W. Truett Seminary.  His culminating project was Cultural Translation: An Interactive Training Course on Gospel and Culture.   The message at the ceremony was given by, Dr. Ronald Cook, the Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program.  Dr. Cook was the pastor of the church Chad attended while at Howard Payne University before accepting the position at Seminary. What a blessing to witness the graduation and then visit with several of Chad’s professors and peers at the reception.  They spoke of his commitment to excellence, his integrity, his work ethic, and how much they enjoyed having Chad in class.  Needless to say, this mother’s heart continues to overflow.  The degree is completed, but may the education, studying, preparation, application and commitment be for a lifetime.

Lori, David, and Ryen, Lori’s parents, Larry’s brother and a young man from Chad’s church also shared the day with him.  Chad, the college student from Chad’s church, even waited a few days in Waco, after finals, so he could be there to see him graduate.

It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
3 John 1:3-4

 Dr. Ken Starr, President and Chancellor, Baylor University and Chad

Chad being hooded by
Dr. Brian Brewer and Dr. Michael Stroope

Chad Weston Bertrand, D. Min.

Chad, Lori, David, Ryen

Proud Mom and Dad with Chad

With Lori's parents, Reinhardt and Martie Loesch

Christmas celebrations and time with family have been blessed times all week long.  On Christmas Eve, we attended the 5:30 pm service at South Main Baptist in Pasadena and then Larry preached at the 11:00 pm service at Tallowood.  Both services helped us focus on God’s love in giving us Jesus as the true reason we worship and celebrate Christmas.  It has been a week full of visits with family.  I love this time of year.

Friday morning we celebrated the life of a dear friend, Marilyn Hirsch.  What a joyful, loving, and sweet lady.  Marilyn loved people, especially children, and had the gift of making people feel special.  She also had a servant’s heart.  Whether it was being a member of the Food Service Team at church serving desserts on Wednesday nights, helping with the memory care group once a month, baking, Grief Share, Bible Study classes, or filling in for the receptionist at church, Marilyn cheerfully gave of her time.  Oh how she will be missed. 

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.
Psalm 166:15

On Friday night, Larry and I celebrated 110 years of marriage with two of my sisters and their husbands.  December 27 is Micki and Mark’s 33rd anniversary and our 39th.  Robin and Kirk’s 38th anniversary is next Friday, January 3.  What a blessing to have family as relatives and friends.  I pray that each day we will choose to allow God to be the center of our lives and marriages. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 
Psalm 107:1
Mark & Micki, Robin & Kirk, Debbie & Larry

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry CHRISTmas 2013

Although we have already started celebrating, Christmas Day is officially 4 days away.  My prayer is that in these coming days of preparation, as well as the New Year, that we will all joyfully respond to God’s message. 

Like the shepherds, I want to:
… willingly work at the task at hand
… listen to God’s message and promptings
… respond in obedience
… take that first step in faith
… leave my comfort zone to go where He invites me to go
… invite others to go with me to worship and see
… share with others so they, too, can be part of God’s plan
… glorify and praise God for what He says and does.

And like Mary, I want to treasure up these things and ponder them in my heart.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:8-20

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Keeping Jesus at the Center of Christmas

When the boys were little, we understood why nativity sets were sometimes called activity sets.  The people and animals were constantly on the move.  Thirty-one years ago, I bought 4 of these nativities…one for our family and one for each of the boys to have for their family one day.  This year we gave one to David and Ryen and one to Mary.  We gave the nativities early so it would be one of the first gifts of the Christmas Season.  As I unwrapped each piece from the tissue paper, David would set out the pieces of the nativity.  Without anyone saying anything, he knew that Jesus was who everyone wanted to see.  He placed baby Jesus in the center and then made a circle with the other people and animals looking in at the baby.  When the last piece was handed to him, there wasn’t enough room in the circle for everyone.  Instead of placing the wiseman behind the others, he moved the other figures so that everyone would be in the circle to look at baby Jesus.  We didn’t take a picture that night, but I had Chad take one for me.  I noticed that David had moved the figures around, but he still had the people and animals in a circle worshiping the baby in the manger.

Some things I have pondered during these days:

* I am grateful that Larry and I both had families that taught us the true meaning of Christmas, which we passed down to our boys, and now they are teaching their children.

* Even young children can know that it is important for everyone to see and worship Jesus.

* We need to be on the lookout for those outside the circle who need to be brought in so they, too, can see Jesus.

* When you come to see and worship Jesus, everyone is on equal ground.

* When you are focused on seeing Jesus, the less likely you are to dwell on the distractions of this world.

* Like the wisemen, when you look for and find Jesus, you want to worship Him, listen to the promptings of God’s Spirit, and be willing to go home a different way.

* When we acknowledge and believe in Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection and ask Him to be our Lord and Savior we are given the gifts of salvation and new life.

* Once you see Jesus, you are never the same.  You want others to see and worship him, too.

* Jesus should be the center of Christmas and my life all year long.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2:1-2, 9-12

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
Deuteronomy 4:9

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Last Wednesday, Scott and Abby received an email from an agent at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services advising them about an appointment for their interview for Mary’s citizenship in two months.  This was the contact they had been waiting and praying to receive since arriving in the US in May.  Because of the change in the interpretation of the statute, they would not receive her paperwork immediately, thus needing to remain in the US longer than planned.  Scott replied to the email and explained their schedule and need for returning home.  They soon received a call from a USCIS representative.  After checking the schedule, they “just happened” to have an opening for 8:00 on Monday morning, December 2, 2013.

Words from Scott:
“Thank you for all of your prayers: Today's appointment was wonderful and a complete success!  Our appointment started right on time and was completed without any difficulty as a simple formality. The longest part of the meeting was hearing about the great Cyber Monday deals on Amazon that our case officer had found before work that morning (which was a weird thing to talk about under oath!).

The only hiccup came as we were standing up to go and she told us to go wait in the lobby again. We asked why, and she said that she would have them issue Mary's Certificate of Citizenship today so that we could take it with us as we left!  After six months, what's another 60 minutes?!  When we received it, it confirmed that Mary is a US citizen and has been since she entered the US back in May.”

Along with her Certificate of Citizenship, Mary received a US flag to celebrate her status as an official US citizen.

Because Mary has been adopted by Abby and Scott, her parents were able to request and pay the fees for the right for Mary to be a US citizen.  More importantly, we pray that one day, Mary will accept God’s offer of adoption, as His child, by believing in and accepting His Son, Jesus Christ, as her Lord and Savior.  Jesus has already paid that debt with His life for Mary and each of us.  And that citizenship is eternal. 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
I John 3:1

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
Ephesians 2:19-20

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Philippians 3:20-21