Saturday, January 17, 2009

Happy Saturday! Today the Fathers and Sons celebrated Travis’ birthday with the paint ball party. All of the reports were that a great time was had by all. The strategy planning that went on at lunch was hilarious. Geni and I waved at them as they left the Chicken Express, then we went the opposite direction!!

Ephesians 2:19 says, “Now therefore, you are…fellow citizens with the saints.” Today I watched 9 young men and their dads. I have known these young men since they were 12-13 years old. In relationship to Travis, they have all played football or been in choir together. These young men are as close as brothers without being blood related. Today they played and were just boys. And now they are all preparing to leave the security of home and high school and separate from one another to the colleges of their choice. The bonds they have formed over the last six years will bind them together as friends for life.

The blood of Jesus is our binding tie. We all have friends that are as close as family. Our friends, Carme and Dave Russell, have lived around the world and yet our friendship has remained intact. We share many common bonds and now we share the bond of the loss of a child. They lost their precious Catherine when she and Geni were two years old. And we lost Casey at 24. Now that they are back in Texas we can continue our friendship and care for each other since we are physically a lot closer to each other.

The Russells and Chrysties are not earthly family related, but we are related by blood. We are related by the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus is the strongest bond of love any people can carry. It is that sacred, precious bond that allows for distance in miles, but not in spirit. It is that bond that forms us into brothers and sisters in Christ. It is the blood of Christ that creates families out of love, by birth, by choice or need. It is the blood of Christ that has created a family for our friend Deb Koplen. And it is the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that grants us our admittance into heaven to live with God as our eternal Father.

We are never alone because our family of God is always with us. Visit your family often and take joy in the journey. Love you all and see you in worship!

Love, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.
Happy Friday!! It was Teacher Work Day in Ft. Worth today. It was nice to get a bit of time to work in our rooms. Grades are due on Tuesday so it was nice to work on them at school.

I also met with the Social Worker for Deb Koplen. Doc Adams is dismissing Deb on Monday to the Odyssey House Hospice Center in Fort Worth. It is close to where I work. It is a short-term in-patient facility where people can stay anywhere from 2 day to 2 weeks. The doctor will assess her daily and get her stabilized on her medications and then dismiss her. The plan is for Deb to go home for a short time and get her affairs in order and then move to a nursing care facility in the Grand Prairie area where we can all go and visit her easier than driving all the way to Fort Worth. This is not what Deb would have preferred, but it is what must be done. Please pray for her as she transitions from her home of so many years to a care facility. Her attitude is pretty good right now, but I am sure this will be very hard for her.

Malachi 4:2 says, “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.” This was the passage lifted up in my drive-time devotion this morning. Remember last night when I wrote about finding so many answers in scripture? This verse totally hit home with me. I immediately began to pray for my best friend Carme and our friend Deb. I prayed for their healing. Carme is most likely going to be healed on this side of heaven. Our friend Deb will probably be healed in heaven with Jesus. I prayed and claimed this scripture for them. Both of these women are women of faith. So I have prayed this scripture over Carme and Deb. I have prayed for the Holy Spirit to rise with healing in his wings within Carme and Deb.

Carme and Deb are both facing harsh battles with a vicious disease. They are in need of healing physically. I am in need of healing emotionally. I miss my son. I miss Casey. I am not angry. I am not in denial. I just miss Casey and the thought of missing him for the next 30 or more years is overwhelming. So I have prayed for the Holy Spirit to rise with healing in its wings to heal my broken heart. This scripture was meant for anyone who is experiencing any kind of brokenness; a broken heart from loss, a broken heart from hurt or separation, a broken body from disease or injury. Whatever kind of brokenness you are experiencing, the Holy Spirit will rise with healing in its wings because God’s Word has spoken it.

Lift your brokenness to the Master Healer and claim this verse as you pray. Claim God’s Holy Word in your life and allow Christ to grow Himself in you.

Take joy in the journey. Love you, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

PS Tomorrow is the big birthday party.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Happy Thursday! Baby, it is cold outside and getting colder!! I am glad it was “dress down” day at school. I wore jeans and a TCU hoodie.

We celebrated Travis 18th birthday at home tonight. I grilled pork steaks (even in the very cold weather) and we had red velvet cake (sort of a tradition in our family). It was so nice to sit around the table and talk and laugh and listen to the kids. Travis’ friends took him to McDonald’s for a McGriddle this morning. I think they all chipped in a quarter. They are too funny with their high finance. On Saturday, several of Travis’ friends and their dads are all going play paint ball. I think the fathers and sons idea is so great. I am going to feed them all at Chicken Express and then wave to them as they leave.

Deb Koplen update: Deb is back in Arlington Memorial. The last report I got was that the nausea was better, but the pain was worse. A head CT was done this morning and I have not heard any results as yet. I am meeting with the health care company to plan for her eventual discharge and into hospice care. She is in Rm. 3221 and needs visitors. Please continue your prayers for her.

Psalm 119: 32 says, “I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart.” When Casey and I went to Houston November 1, 2008 our first visitors were Judy Smith and her mother. Judy’s mother is a 30 year cancer survivor. Judy and her mother encouraged me to “stay in the Word.” I had taken my Bible with me and began to read and meditate each night and during the day. Then, I began to write the wallpaper and place it all around Casey’s room. Whenever I would become scared or in need of assurance or hope, God’s Word would take me to places of assurance, hope and thanksgiving. What I began to realize was that God’s Word belongs to God.

God’s Word was delivered as inspiration to mortal men and that it was God’s Word that caused me have that hunger and thirst for the Word for which I had prayed. In that time of separation from family, friends, school, and worship I began to depend on God’s Word as my source of comfort and the basis for building a relationship and learning about the heart of God. I found that whenever I needed guidance, hope or knowledge, I found it in God’s Word.

It was and is through God’s Word, prayer and praying the scriptures, claiming them in the name of Jesus, that despair became more of a short lived experience and joy and peace came much more quickly. I invite you to begin a journey in God’s Word and a life of prayer in the Word and in the name of Jesus.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

--A little housekeeping first. Many of you have indicated that you would like to receive notification that a new blog has been posted. The only way I know of to do this is for you to email me and let me know you want to be notified. I will make a list from those notifying me and send you an email after I post. Send those email requests to - Bruce

Happy Wednesday! Today I wore a black Wrangler western shirt with pink writing accented with a pink ribbon. I also wore my Casey necklace. Three months ago right now our son went to be with the Father forever. Casey will forever be close to my heart and never far from my thoughts. I wore the shirt for my best friend Carme who is facing breast cancer. She was also Casey’s godmother. The shirt and the necklace needed to be worn together.

The events of late afternoon with our friend Deb brought about memories that were almost too hard to bear. And then I did my reading and meditation prior to writing and knew that God is holding all of us in the palm of His hand and cradling us close to His heart. For as our hearts are broken and still quite raw from the death of Casey, God’s assurance and love flows from His heart , allows our tears to flow and reminds us once again that Casey is healed and in the loving arms of the Father and has no fear.

Deb Koplen update: Deb is back in the hospital. She was experiencing extreme nausea and nothing would ease the nausea. Her caretaker called an ambulance and I phoned Doc Adams. He told us to get her to the hospital and he would admit her. She is being monitored and will be evaluated. Initial diagnosis is extreme dehydration with the possibility of a UTI or even possible of more metastatic cancer elsewhere in her body. Deb has stage 4 lung cancer with metastatic bone disease. It is most likely that when she returns home she will go home on hospice. Please continue prayer for her.

Carme update: Carme met with the plastic surgeon today. She is electing to have a bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction. The reconstruction will take place immediately after the breast removal within the same surgery. She is holding a “passionately pink” party prior to surgery. It should be a total “pink panic!” All who are attending the surgery to be with she and Dave are required to wear pink. Even the guys! She wants me to sing to her prior to surgery and then we are all going to donate to the Komen cancer foundation. The surgery will take place towards the end of the month. Please continue prayers for Carme and Dave.

Matthew 10:31 says, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Tonight we pray for two dear friends who are both facing the largest battle in their lives. Deb and Carme are both facing cancer. These two women do not know each other and their circumstances are different. Deb’s body is riddled with this vicious disease and she will most likely lose the battle. Carme has a small mass and is electing a radical procedure to ensure this type of disease never invades her body again. Neither woman has known of their cancers for very long. Both of these women are women of faith. If either has fear they are not showing the rest of us.

The Holy scriptures tell us not to fear. God’s Word tells us of His love and caring for us when He compares us to His creation and says I love you more and I care more for you than the birds of the air. This verse also tells us that God is in control. It tells us that God never loses track of us. God knows where we are on the planet and where we are in our relationship to Him at all times. God also knows that when the difficult times come, fear can invade of our lives just as cancer. If God cares for the birds of the air enough to keep track of them and know when they fall from the sky then the same God cares deeply, loves completely all of His creation and never lets us out of His sight or out of His reach.

So my friends, be not afraid to fly. One of Bruce's favorite sayings is: “When we come to the edge of the light we know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, of this we can be sure ... either God will provide something solid to stand on or ..... we will be taught to fly.”

Take joy in the journey and pray without ceasing. Love you, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

PS Tomorrow Travis turns 18. Look out world! Here he comes!!!

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.
Happy Tuesday! Today was pajama day at school. I wore my TCU jammies and TCU crocs. I stayed warm and comfy all day. It is nice to dress down once in a while.

Deb Koplen update: she is still experiencing some nausea and so she has not eaten in a few days. I suggested beef or chicken broth. The broth seems to stay down. Tomorrow she is going to try some simple mashed potatoes. Her energy level is way down; and needs to gain some strength. Pray for an increased appetite and decreased nausea. Other things are finally begin to settle down and get on track. Home Health issues are finally squared. They will come out daily for the next 126 days. Please continue to pray for Deb. Thank you.

Carme update: as far as I know she is still meeting with the plastic surgeon tomorrow. Please keep her in your prayers. I will keep you posted. Thank you.

Job 7:11 “I will speak in the anguish of my spirit.” Most of you know that I have my prayer time in the mornings going to school. I listen to a “drive-time devotion” and have prayer time on the drive to school. In my prayer time I always tell God what is on my heart. The times when I am alone are the times I miss Casey the most. This was one of those morning when I spoke to God in the “anguish of my spirit.” The scripture from Jeremiah that says, “I know the plans I have for you…” It caused me to wonder if God knew at Casey’s birth that he was going to have cancer. Did God prepare Casey in his spiritual journey throughout his life to face and handle this past year with the dignity, grace and courage? Are these the plans God meant for Casey in the Jeremiah scripture? Did God place in Casey His gifts of determination, courage, strength, sweetness and humor that enabled him to endure without complaint all that cancer had to dish out? I had never considered this scripture in this light before. And now two of our friends are facing similar battles with this disease. My best friend Carme told me the other day that her prayer was that she hoped she would handle this battle with the dignity and grace with which Casey did. I cried all the way to school.

And then it dawned on me: God prepares us, through our faith in Jesus, for whatever battles we must face and endure. God wants us to come to Him honestly in prayer. He does not mind our anger. He welcomes our hurts. He invites our questions.
Right now I pray for Carme and Deb many times throughout the day. And I pray for the healing of my broken heart because I don’t know how a broken heart becomes healed. Sometimes I miss Casey so much it almost takes my skin off. Casey passed away on a Tuesday and tomorrow will be three months. How did the time go so fast? Then I remembered the hours of labor thinking that I could not do this and the instant Casey was born and how the pain of labor went away instantly. I remember thinking at the moment of Casey’s death how similar the feelings were. The year of pain he went through and at his last breath the pain was instantly over for him. I remember thinking how fast the time had gone not only in the last year, but the last 24. God listened to my anguish and let me talk until I figured something out.

God’s plans for us are that whatever life throws at us, He has already walked the road ahead and will lead us or push us or if need be carry us until He has accomplished the purpose in us that He has planned. God places the tools of Himself in us so that whatever happens; bumps, pot holes, mountains or whatever we can be confident that God is with us. Thanks for letting me unload tonight.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy Monday!

Deb Koplen update: Deb is at home and almost all problems have been worked out in terms of home health care, visiting nurses and medications. I will probably go over hand teach her in house care giver how to flush her PICC lines in between the times the nurses visit. Miss Chips is so glad to have Deb at home again. I have been told she hops up and down on the bed frequently and goes in and out her doggie door and is glad that her world has been righted with Deb at home now.

Matthew 9: 12-13 says, “It is not the healthy people who need a doctor, but the sick. I did not come to invite the good people, but the sinners.” Jesus was having dinner with Matthew. Scripture tells us that tax collectors and sinners were all sitting down to dinner together with the followers of Jesus. One of the Pharisees saw this and asked one of the followers why his teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus responded with, “I did not come for the good people, but for the sinners.”

As I read this passage I realized that Jesus sat down with tax collectors and sinners along with His followers. Then later Jesus called Matthew into the group of disciples. The disciples were all sinners. (duh!) I never think of this group of men who were so blessed to walk with Jesus as sinners. Jesus was showing the disciples that He came for those who were in need of forgiveness, redemption and healing. This was the heart of Jesus’ ministry on earth. Jesus sat at the table and dined with sinners. He was without sin and yet He loved them all so much that He placed His feet under their table and shared a meal. I don’t know the dinner conversation. I don’t know if Jesus spoke about salvation and the kingdom of God, the price of grain or the basketball game at the Hebrew school, but He sat at dinner with a group of unlikely people with which a King to dine.

Jesus sat at the table with His disciples before His crucifixion telling that they must carry on the ministry of inviting the poor, needy, outcast and sinners to dine at the table of grace. Jesus calls us to carry on the ministry of inviting those who are outcast to the table to dine with the King of love and be filled with His love, grace and forgiveness. Set the table of your heart with an extra place and invite someone to dine with you and share Christ. With Christ there is always enough for He gave His all.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happy Sunday!! My apologies for not writing last evening. We went to Emmaus Candlelight worship in Glen Rose and got in very late. Those services are such awesome worship experiences. We walked in and greeted friends, found a place to sit and began to sing. As I was singing wonderful praise and worship music my thoughts went to Casey. I began to wonder and I asked Bruce, “Do you suppose Casey does this all the time? Do you suppose Casey sits at the feet of the Father and sings His praises?” Emmaus Candlelight Worship is like a brief glimpse of what I envision heaven to be like. You enter and your friends and family are there to greet you in the perfect love of God. And voices that sounded quite wonderful here on this side of heaven sound heavenly now. Casey had such a wonderful voice and sang all of the time. Singing was a place of comfort, peace, praise, laughter and joy for him. If you have not attended a Walk to Emmaus or Via de Cristo event you have missed out on a wonderful weekend of worship, praise, and spiritual renewal. I highly recommend it!!

Deb Koplen update: Deb went home on Saturday morning. There are still some logistics to be worked out with the home health service, but by tomorrow all should be in place. All of her equipment is there, but not all of her medicine orders and PICC line supplies were written for so tomorrow the last details should be worked out. Please continue your prayers for Deb.

Carme update: she visits the plastic surgeon this Wednesday. The plastic surgeon will communicate with the breast surgeon and they will coordinate the date for surgery. She is thinking the surgery will be in a couple of weeks. Bruce and I are planning to go down during that time to be with she and Dave. She is anticipating a mastectomy and reconstruction. They will begin reconstruction after the breast is removed in the same surgical setting. To quote Carme: “I just want this tissue out of me!!” I am with her. Please continue prayers for her and Dave.

One last piece of news: our niece, Asenath, my brother’s daughter, and one of the twins, has announced her engagement. We are so excited. Plans are for a wedding in 2010 after she graduates from Texas Tech. We are so excited for her. Congratulations Asenath and Cody!

Mark 1: 4-9—The Baptism of Jesus. In the Lutheran Church today is the day we remember and celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. As usual, Pastor Joel preached a wonderful sermon on “water.” He spoke of water being saving, dangerous and changing. One can live 46 weeks without eating (I need to go a while without eating!), but you can only go 3 days without drinking. Then Pastor spoke of the water that changes. Jesus changed as soon as He came up out of the water. He was no longer the boy from down the road, son of Mary and Joseph, carpenter in His father Joseph’s shop or private citizen. Now, he is Jesus, Savior of the world, forgiver of sins. He is Jesus, baptized by John and now setting out on the path of obedience to His heavenly Father to bring the world back unto God the Father.

Jesus did not go into a robing room, dry off, change into a dry, clean tunic or take a towel to His hair. The scripture says that He immediately came up out of the water and the Spirit drove Him out into the wilderness where His Heavenly Father, God, Himself prepared Jesus for His mission. Jesus believed in baptism so much and thought it so important that He did it Himself. He did not have sins for which to be forgiven, but His life had to change from private citizen to public figure. God even told His Son how proud of Him He was with the clouds opening up and His voice saying, “You are My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” God was present at the baptism of His son, Jesus. Because God was present at this event in the life of Jesus, it became sacramental.

How are we changed by our baptisms? Are we acting on behalf of our brother, Jesus, when we are interacting with His people? What are we doing to further the Kingdom of God and are we walking in obedience to God’s call in our lives? Have we changed from private citizen to citizen of the Kingdom of God by our baptism? Are we recognizable as a child of God because the cleansing waters of baptism have washed away our sins?

I just throw out these questions for self-examination (especially me!). Tonight or whenever you pick up your Bible, go back and read this wonderful story and remember your baptism. If you were baptized as an infant, you probably don’t remember your baptism, so meditate and remember when the Holy Spirit revealed the life of Jesus and God’s calling on your life to you. Take up the journey and be joyful when you walk for Jesus walks by your side and carries you when you are unable to walk yourself.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.