Saturday, July 30, 2011

Happy Saturday!

Things continue to go well for Bruce. He is looking at a number of weeks of low level physical activity. So today he became a teacher. Our hall bathroom has a vanity with a faucet. The pipes in the wall leaked rendering the vanity useless. Bruce sat in the bathroom and instructed Travis on how to repair the leak and now the vanity is fully functional. How cool is that! And following doctor’s orders Bruce will not be attending worship in the morning.

Prayer: God teach me to pray. I need to talk with You, and I feel, like so many other times, inadequate to do so. I am grateful for the blood of Jesus that makes me worthy to stand before You. I am grateful for the presence of the Holy Spirit that never leaves me. I am thankful to You, Father, for enabling me to do everything I do, including praying. Amen.”

Romans 8:16 “The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.”

I have a dear friend who was carrying the heaviest of burdens for our family. There were many difficult situations going on in her home and she was so burdened down that she confessed to me that she could not pray. This weight was so heavy that she was not even able to speak the name of Jesus. This scripture is a message for those who carry heavy burdens.

God knows our every need and every groan. When we are so weighted down by our own sin or our current situation the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us by the blood of Jesus. That same Holy Spirit goes before the Father when we cannot even speak the name of Jesus. The Spirit carries our greatest needs to the seat of Mercy at the feet of the Father and intercedes for us.

A tradition at Texas A & M University is to stand for the entirety of their football games. The student body and all in the crowd are called the 12th Man. They represent the 12th player who is ready to go in when help is needed. The difference in the 12th Man at A & M and the Holy Spirit is that the Holy Spirit never leaves. The Holy Spirit prays for us even when we do not know or when we do not even know how to pray. This is God’s extraordinary power made available to each. Remember Romans 8, “If God is for us then who can be against us.” The Holy Spirit stands with us at all times and never leaves us.

So if you are going through a tough time and the circumstances seem so large that you are drowning and you cannot even speak, there is One who is speaking on your behalf to the hearer of all prayers. And he loves each of us more than we will ever know.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all and I will see you in worship in the morning, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

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, July 29, 2011

Happy Friday!

Today we went to the hospital to walk. We went 7 laps around the 5th floor. It is close with minimal distractions and the temperature is right! Later we went to the mall. While I got my nails done, Bruce purchased a pedometer and went around the top floor of the mall. It is just short of a mile. Bruce discovered that the mall had distractions. Distractions meaning obstructions, smells and different temperatures throughout the space. I thought those were interesting observations. We may go to the hospital most of the time. But still he is such a champion. It is hard to imagine that he had this huge surgery just 10 days ago and now he is out doing the mile or more. Also, he had a bit of a snafu with his Coumadin. He accidently took too much. He called Doc Norcross’s nurse who knew how to counteract it and so wanted a new set of labs today. We had brussel sprouts for dinner last night and that seemed to fix the problem because today his blood was just where they want it. I told you he was a champion!!! Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the past week. I am thankful for both the good and tough moments. I am thankful for what You have taught me about the power of prayer. As I enter this weekend, continue to teach me. While I am going about doing everyday things, speak to my heart. Remind me of Your ever continuing presence as I continue to listen with an open heart. In Jesus name, Amen.

3 John 2:3 “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth.”

The word “testify” sometimes scares believers. When we think of testifying we think of some evangelist standing before a congregation shouting God’s Word, or someone on a street corner screaming the Word at passersby. For me testifying does not always have to have words.

Sometimes a Ministry of Presence is all that is needed. When we lost Casey there were no words of consolation that would even come close to soothing the grief we felt. We knew that Casey did not just leave our lives, but the lives of many others. Words of consolation are spoken so kindly, but it is not the words that are remembered. It was the presence of God in His people that provides the much needed healing. No or very few words really need to be spoken.

Today as I finished up thank you notes to those who visited in the hospital or were there with us during the surgery I was awed once again by the power of the Ministry of Presence. While Bruce was in surgery for those 6 hours there was quite a crowd of family and friends gathered in the waiting room. He was completely unaware of the size of this group, but I believe that their presence was felt because each of the people in that group contained within them the Presence of God. They could not speak words to Bruce, but they could pray and make the space where we waited “Holy Ground” because God was present in His people.

So my friends never underestimate the power of a visit to someone in the hospital or ill at home. You do not need to have any great words of wisdom or platitudes to speak. Just go in Jesus’ name and His presence will be enough to be a blessing not only to the one who is ill or troubled, but you too will receive a blessing.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Be a blessing to someone by being God’s presence to someone who needs to feel loved and cared for as only God can. 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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Happy Thursday!

Today we took a batch of cookies to the staff on the 5th floor and then walked three laps around the floor. The heat is so oppressive that we have to become creative about places and times. Bruce has begun to walk around the inside of the house each hour. Where there is a will there is a way. Anyway the staff on the floor did a double take when we arrived because he looked so good. His color is excellent and his strength is returning. It is hard to believe that he just came home from the hospital this past Monday. The greatest difficulty he has had is getting comfortable to get to sleep. But perhaps increased activity and a returning appetite will help. But overall he is doing amazingly well!

Prayer: Dear God, keep me alert in my time with You today. Sometimes I lose my focus when I am talking to you and am in need of Your forgiveness. Keep me focused when I come to You in prayer because I need You—I even need You to help me pray. Teach me to pray, Lord. I give you my all today. Speak to me now, Amen.

Mark 14: 37, 38 “He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Imagine the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus has asked the disciples to come with Him to the garden to pray. Jesus is about to walk the final road to the cross. He wants His closest friends to pray for Him. He goes off to pray to His Father to ask for this cup to pass from Him. When Jesus finishes His prayer time he goes back to find the disciples asleep. Now the only one He calls out for falling asleep is Peter. He scolds Peter for sleeping and then tells Peter to “watch and pray lest you fall into temptation.” Just a short time later Peter denies Christ three times.

After thinking about this passage I asked myself, why did Jesus only call out Peter? The other disciples were asleep too. But why just Peter? I think Jesus called out Peter because Jesus had such mighty plans for Peter. Peter was to begin the church.
Jesus needed Peter to understand that his prayer life was his lifeline to God.

God’s availability is limitless and timeless. We can call on His at any moment of any hour. I think God was trying to get Peter to understand that He needed to be able to be in contact with him at all times and the only way was to have a continuous prayer life. “Praying without ceasing” takes on a whole new meaning.

So what does this mean for us? God wants the same connection with us. God wants to lead us, teach us, work through us, soothe us, affirm and encourage us. He wants the church to be continued through us, but most of all He wants to love us and have a relationship with us. When we commit ourselves to prayer then we can overcome all temptation and God’s perfect plan for each of us can be fulfilled.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Praying without ceasing is not always spoken, sometimes it is being quiet and listening for God to speak to us. 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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Wednesday!

Bruce continues to improve more each day. His appetite is improving and mobility is getting stronger. We had to pop in at the surgeon’s office today which is on the second floor of the building. He took the stairs both directions. What a champion!!

Prayer: “Father, I am thankful for everything in my life today. I am thankful for my family, my friends, my future career and the opportunity to receive schooling to enact the calling to which You have entrusted to me. I am thankful for the problems that may come my way because they are opportunities for me to grow closer to You and for You to have glory. Help me to remember that You are calling me to Yourself through everything in my life. I choose to live for You today. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

Mark 11: 24-25 “I say to you, whatever things you ask and when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your transgressions.”

Prayer is such a powerful gift we have been given. Prayer becomes very powerful when we pray according to God’s Word. Praying the scriptures allows us to navigate the lordship of His will for our lives. What we begin to understand is that what we can pray for and about is limitless, but even greater we begin to understand that what God can do is limitless. We can pray to God using our own language, but praying the scriptures is praying in the language of God. It then become prayers of holiness from his very Word.

One of the barriers to praying is having unforgiveness in our hearts. Unforgiveness is simply luggage we carry around with us and takes up space that can better be used for worship, service and prayer. Recently we flew to San Antonio. After receiving our boarding passes we checked our luggage at the counter. We handed over the bags of our belongings trusting that they would be taken and we would not have to deal with them until we landed. And thankfully our luggage landed with us in San Antonio. But, have you ever considered checking your baggage at the foot of the cross? Can you imagine how light the burden would become if we checked our baggage in with Christ and trusted that not only would it be taken away, but never returned for us to carry around?

My friends, if we want to experience limitless power in prayer then we must experience the limitless forgiveness offered by God through the crucified Christ. There is nothing we have ever done or that has ever been done to us that cannot be forgiven. If God can forgive it then we can, too. When we let go of all of the stuff that weighs us down into the hands of our Lord then we are able to experience the power of prayer.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Pray God’s Holy Word and believe that He is faithful and true. Love you all so very much, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Happy Tuesday!

Bruce has had a great day! Today’s plan for walking happened at the grocery store. We got two carts. Bruce pushed the empty card 21/2 laps around Kroger while I took the other cart and shopped. Where there is a will and a bit of creativity there is a way. We will be continuing to work on the medication schedule and tomorrow. We go to the hospital for blood work to check on the level of Coumadin. Bruce will have blood work weekly for 6 weeks until the levels are right. Just like most new experiences, things take time. We are so thankful that he is doing so well and have full confidence in a complete recovery. Thank you again for all of your prayerful support.

Prayer: “Father, here I am. Your servant is listening. I desire to hear from You and receive a special word from You this day. When I open Your Word, speak to my heart. May Your Word speak in a roar and become like fire in my heart. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see You. I want to hear You. I want to live for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

1 Thessalonians 5: 16—18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

I have often said that when you hand your keys over to your 16 year old for their first solo drive is when this passage of scripture becomes written on your hearts: “pray without ceasing.” Or, in our case, just watch your husband go through aortic valve replacement and recovery. Our prayer life is the most important tool we have in our arsenal to keep our spiritual lives in an attitude of joy and praise.

A prayerful heart can result in a life filled with rejoicing. Stuff happens in our lives that can attempt to rob us of our joy. What we must remember is that we can always pray. We may not always be able to read the Word, or phone a friend or even get in touch with our pastor, but we can always and at anytime pray! We can pray about anything and all things. God’s availability to us is ceaseless and He is so willing to see us through anything. When we begin to pray about all things then the attitude of thanksgiving will arise from the depths of our souls and we will be living and practicing God’s will for our lives.

When our attitudes need adjusting then we need to pray. We are unable to adjust our attitudes on our own. Our attitudes can only be adjusted by prayer. We must choose to rejoice when things are not going well. We must choose to be thankful regardless of what life throws in our path. We must learn to pray about all things and all situations. When we pray about all things then we will see the power of prayer.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Pray without ceasing friends. Love you, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

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.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Monday! Bruce is home!!!Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
We left the hospital around 11:00 and made a stop at Starbucks to see the kids. The staff applauded when he walked in. It was such a touching moment. Bruce has had a good day. After the Starbucks visit then we went to WalMart. I walked up to the pharmacy window and announced that I was there to buy the pharmacy. Tomorrow we begin the walking regimen. Each nurse and therapist who walked into his room pretty well said that “walking is way to healing.” So we will begin at some air conditioned place such as the mall, WalMart or Kroger and walk three times per day. It is our understanding that cardiac care will call in about 10 days to schedule his cardiac rehab and some education classes that I can attend. Anyway, it is so wonderful to have him home again and now maybe we will both sleep better!

Prayer: “Precious Lord Jesus Christ, I surrender my life to You. I ask that when this week is complete, I will be able to see Your signature all over my life. There is nothing like knowing that You are with me and that Your power is upon my life. Lead me. Empower me. Show me Your will in all things. May this be the week that I learn about the power of prayer. Whatever life throws my way, may I honor You. You alone deserve to be praised. Amen.”

James 5: 16 “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous and avails much.”
As believers we share true fellowship with one another and with God. We share our struggles, victories, defeats, hurts and even our sins with one another. We cannot forgive sin only God can do that. We can forgive each other, but God forgives the sins we and others commit and when we forgive we land on a greater level of responsibility and accountability in our spiritual lives . When we pray for each other we are acting as the family of God and we carry the burdens of the brothers and sisters by praying for those who need lifting up and for their healing.
The most effective prayers are when we talk to god and listen to what He says to us. When we pray with passion about specific things such as healing for someone we love, God’s provision or salvation for one who does not believe then our prayers accomplish a lot and we experience the power of prayer. And we experience the extraordinary God-glorifying experience of seeing God work through prayer.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Please continue to pray even when God seems silent. It does not mean He is not working through the Holy Spirit on our behalf, it just means that we are not yet ready to receive His answers. Love you all our dear friends and mighty prayer warriors, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis
Greetings from Austin St.

Blessed Sunday to you all! I began my day serving Eucharist to Bruce and Dave. That was a great way to start the day. Now for the funny of the day. I prepared the Communion elements using a cracker and some grape juice. I could not locate a plate so I used the lid to a Starbucks cup on which to lay the cracker host. We proceeded through the service and concluded with “Go in peace and serve the Lord.” Responded with, “Thanks be to God.” As I was cleaning up the hospital table Dave noticed that I used the Starbucks lid as the bread plate and made the comment that the bread plate became “sacred grounds.” Too funny! Given that in the Lutheran community coffee is often referred to as the “third sacrament.” It was extra funny!

As for Bruce, he is doing so well. He still tires very easily especiall after aerobic laughter! He will keep his best friend the heart pillow very close. If you come to visit, you will be asked to sign the pillow. Everything came out today except the central line and that will not be removed until just as we are walking out the door tomorrow, Monday. He is off all monitors. He has begun the 5K three times a day. We took the long walk around the floor three times today between visitors and once with Ken and Sheena. According to the charge nurse walking is the quickest and best path to healing. So, we will be at the mall three times a day until the weather cools down and we can walk around the neighborhood.

Prayer: “God, You are my comforter, my rock, my strength and my shield. When I am lonely, remind me of Your presence. When I am desperate, remind me of Your provision. When I am anxious, remind me of Your peace. Allow me to walk in the certainty of that truth in uncertain times. Amen.”

Psalm 102: 1,2 “Hear my prayers, O Lord, and let my cry come unto You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; incline Your ear to me; in the day that I call, answer me speedily.”

Things in our life are about to change. All of the changes we will make will be for the greater quality and extension of Bruce’s life. We will make exercise changes, diet changes and other lifestyle changes. This week I was witness to this amazing miracle. Bruce, on Tuesday was entubated and in Intensive Care with more tubes coming out of him than a science lab. Today he wore his own clothes, walked the floor unassisted and unencumbered with poles, tubes and monitors. And all of this happened in just 6 short days. The healing has just begun, but still has a long way to go. The nurse told us today that all of the soreness will not go away for about a year.

So tonight as I was reading my nightly devotion and God has met a need that I really had and reminded me of things I already knew, but need to be reminded. “First, I must believe that God will see us through. Our God is able! Second, God is sovereign. There is only one God and I am not Him. I must trust that He knows what is best. Third, remember that God loves us enough to send His only Son to calm the storms of our life. Cry out to Him and as for the peace that only He can bring.!”
I am asking all of your prayer warriors to be in prayer claiming these wonderful promises of God for Bruce, our family and for you. Thank you again, mighty, faithful and loving prayer warriors.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Claim the promises of God and God will give each of us peace. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Greetings from Austin St.

Happy Saturday! What a wonderful day! Our dear friend, David Russell arrived yesterday and spent the day with Bruce and me along with Bruce’s brother and our sister-in-law from Memphis. Bruce laughed for the first time this week. It was such a great day for family. Suffice it to say that we were the loudest, rowdiest group in the hall. That is no great surprise. He received several cards from friends and a lovely plant for the window sill. Bruce walked three times today for further distances and at his request. The plan is still to come home on Monday.

What can happen in just a few days is so amazing. Just a few short days ago Bruce was in surgery to replace a valve defective from birth and completely entubated. Today he is walking around the hospital floor unassisted (with the exception of his giant heart pillow) and a parade of family following him and cheering him on. I love watching the faces of the staff on the floor as they see Bruce walk by. The smiles and encouraging words are so sincere and genuine. The cool part is that they see this each day and they seem to never tire of watching the miracle of life extended. As Pastor Joel said as he prayed with us just prior to the surgery, this surgery extended Bruce’s life by many years.

It is sort of like a rebirth. When Bruce surrendered to this procedure he agreed to place his faith in the hands of those skilled in the art of healing believing that through their skills the problem would be corrected. As he slept, hands he could not see the hands that were taking away the part of Bruce that was holding him back from living a long and healthy life and replacing it with a new part that is working perfectly that will extend his life for many years to come. Bruce will have to leave some of his life before surgery behind to live this new healthy life.

Our rebirth in Christ is much like this procedure. We, in faith, surrender ourselves over to a God we cannot see and yet trust to heal us of the parts of ourselves that keep us from leading the lives we were meant to lead. We offer our sin, our doubt, our fears, our faults, our love, our gifts and talents and all that we are and ask this amazing God, giver of every good and perfect gift and Master Healer for forgiveness with a thankful heart.

God works His miracles each day with every breath we take and with every beat of our heart. Let us open our hearts to receive the gift of God’s breath, His Holy Spirit and allow His heart of love to beat with joy and thanksgiving.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and in Bruce’s room wear a sweater. Count your many blessings and say your prayers. I am thankful to each of you who have offered the ministry of presence in your cards, your visits and especially your prayers for we have experienced the Presence of God. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis