Saturday, August 10, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Saturday!  The ceiling is up and mudded. The old carpet has been pulled. There are ten boxes of flooring in my living room floor. Progress and extraordinary gratitude for all of the help we have received in preparing the house for Bruce’s homecoming. Tonight we were given the word, “It is in the works.” He went to the grocery store today and showed me all of his purchases. He is ready to come home. I will go and pick him up tomorrow morning for church and lunch at home.  It is not quite like a regular Sunday, but it is close and for now I will take it! Team Chrystie for the win! God is so good and love wins!

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”

Psalm 119: 105

I love scripture. I tell my peers at Brite that I am a scripture girl. I do not have it committed to memory as to chapter and verse, but I remember the words to the verses that are important to me. The Holy Scriptures have changed my life through the biblical truths, words of assurance, teaching, study and comfort they offer.  I love that God’s Holy Word is a living document.  Because scripture is a living document it is continuously at work in us transforming us to the very depths of our souls.  In this journey of healing and recovery Bruce and I are walking we are each being transformed a little at a time. It is not a fast process, but a slow pace with small changes each day.  We take one day and one step at a time. This verse reminds me of what it is like to walk with a lamp. When we walk with a lamp we can only see a few feet beyond our own. Further ahead is not as important as making forward progress.

Progress involves change. Change nearly always involves loss and can cause bouts of tension, uncertainty and even doubt. So here is the good news. God, according to Hebrews 13: 8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  Paraphrased that means that God does not change. God remains with us, holding us close, walking with us in whatever journey we are traveling. If we walk with God in trusting dependence all we need is a lamplights glow to walk the path prepared for us.

Take joy in the journey remembering that hope does not disappoint. Wear comfortable shoes, give thanks with a grateful heart, let us cast our cares upon the LORD and get some sleep. God is up all night anyway so there is no need for all of us to be awake.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Friday, August 9, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Friday!  Tonight Bruce and I had a dinner date. He gets $30.00 per week for fun money.  We purchased an Olive Garden meal. I picked it up and took it to his apartment. It was so nice. We were also treated to a visit from a friend from Advent who brought Raisinetts and a lovely table plaque with encouraging words of faith and trust. Then Bruce and I were treated to 30 minutes all by ourselves. It was so nice to have a snuggle conversation on the couch just us. I realize by the calendar we have only been on this journey for a little over three weeks, but sometimes it seems like a year.  I have an empty bedroom with no ceiling. But tomorrow there are wonderful volunteers who are coming to hang a ceiling and paint the walls a lovely color called Snow Fall.  And then Sunday the floor will begin to be laid. The push is on because there is possibility that Bruce might come home on Wednesday and begin intensive outpatient therapy on Thursday.  God is so very good and love always wins!


“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.”

Ephesians 3: 20-21


Tonight I give thanks to God that each step of this journey has been a step forward. I love the words in this passage, “exceedingly, abundantly and above all that we ask or think…” Each time Bruce calls and we work to figure out what he needs or what he tries to tell me I see the power of God that works in us according to His Word. I know there will be waiting for the language and other skills to be retrained and restored. There is much to be learned in this journey of expectant waiting. Bruce still has much to re-learn. This is a long-term journey, but I pray this does not go on forever. And even if everything is not restored then I have every reason to be hopeful that what is not restored will be made new and proclaim the glory of God. The Director of the Residence facility (and woman of faith) told me that one day Bruce will have a mighty story to tell. But the one thing I will not have to wait for is to see God at work in Bruce and in our lives bringing about those exceedingly abundant things promised in God’s Holy Word. I see God working in Bruce and in our lives with the dawn of each new day.


Take joy in the journey remembering that hope does not disappoint. Wear comfortable shoes, give thanks with a heart filled with gratitude, let us cast our cares on the LORD and get some sleep. God is up all night anyway and there is no reason for all of us to be awake. Love you, Bruce and Gaylene


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Thursday! Bruce takes a test each evening with the person who stays with him at night. It is a test filled with questions like, “What is your name? What is the date? What state do you live in? What city…? Where are you now? …” and many others. To pass this test Bruce has to get 15 correct. He writes his answers. Most of the time he gets at least 15 correct. Most of the writing is accurate and the remainder is what we might call in school “inventive spelling.”  Bruce also called me this afternoon to ask how to make chicken. His language did not work out, but with the help of his supervisor she was able to discern what he wanted and I was able to tell him how to prepare the chicken. When I got to his apartment tonight it smelled awesome. I think between the three of us his meal was a success. The staff continues to tell me that he is doing so well and I am so grateful. He also had visitors tonight. They were a couple from the Kairos community. He so enjoyed their visit. He was not shy about talking and with patience the language was received and we all had a wonderful visit. But I have to admit, living alone is not fun and I really miss Bruce a lot. I know he is in the exactly right place for healing and brain retraining. The coordinator tonight talked to me and said how she prays for him because one day he is going to have a mighty story to tell.  I totally agree with her. God is good and love wins. Keep loving and praying friends. Thank you.

“And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 33: 14

“MY PEACE IS A SOFT, SOOTHING PILLOW FOR  your weary head.” This is the opening sentence from my devotion tonight .It also tells me to whisper, “I trust You, Jesus” while I relax—body, mind and soul in My protective Presence. When I miss Bruce so much especially at night God reminds me that He understands everything about me and our circumstances. I trust in God and thank God for all of the riches in blessing we have received in Bruce’s survival and the mighty witness he is each day as he works to hard fully recover. While I have trouble understanding him sometimes God understands each syllable Bruce says just as He understands my prayers whether spoken or silent. I do not know what the future holds for us, but I do know that while we are apart we are not alone. We have a wonderful Helper in the Presence of the Holy Spirit that is tender, loving and wise beyond all understanding and is achieving more than we can ever imagine and beyond all understanding.

Take joy in the journey remembering that hope does not disappoint. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a heart filled with gratitude, let us cast our cares upon the LORD and get some sleep. God is up all night anyway so there is no reason for all of us to be awake. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

PS This morning I awoke with a text message from Bruce that said, “I love you.”

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Tuesday and Happy Birthday Geni!  Today my beautiful daughter celebrated her 26th birthday by receiving the most wonderful gift. Today we were requested to be present as the rehab facility doctor examined Bruce. It was an amazing exam with basic check-up stuff with additional questioning as to Bruce’s neurological health. Bruce told us his address and counted backwards by threes. Something that has been pretty consistent is the answer he gives to questions about pain. The answers he has given when asked, “Are you in pain?” and he always answers, “yes.” He is not in pain, no headaches, dizziness etc…We found out that he is confusing the words “yes” and “no.” I am sure the therapists will work on that one. He could answer other math problems using only mental efforts. The doc named three coins and asked Bruce the amounts and he answered correctly each time. Here is the best part!!! At one point during the examination the doctor asked Bruce to sing Happy Birthday.  He said, “I can’t.” Then she began to sing Happy Birthday. Then Bruce looked at Geni and finished the song in his beautiful tenor voice. Well, suffice it to say, we were blubbering messes. It is the first time he has done any singing since the stroke. It was the most joyous moment we have experienced in three weeks. Later, we all returned to Bruce’s apartment to have Geni’s birthday dinner. As we sat down to eat Bruce began our evening song of blessing that we have been singing since the kids were little. The harmony was there and the sound was heavenly. These are moments that are not soon to be forgotten.  Bruce has found his voice again and we are so very grateful and immeasurably blessed. God is good and love wins!

“Since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

1 Thessalonians 5: 8

My family of cousins who have the daughter in remission for ALL Leukemia have adopted as their mantra…”Love wins.”  I have added to that mantra the words “God is good.”  God lives within us through the power of the Holy Spirit filling us with the love of God and receiving the gift of faith. When we combine the love of God and the gift of faith it forms a mighty breastplate of protection. Warriors wear breastplates to protect their hearts. God gives us the gift of His unfailing love and powerful faith so that when we are beaten down we have the protection of God’s love, faith and the hope of resurrection that remains in place no matter what. Resurrection does not mean just Jesus rising from the dead, but allows each of us to rise from the ashes or adversity going on in our lives and live again in the light of God’s perfect love and grace. These gifts are the constant reminders that we belong to God forever.  I am blessed to be able to watch Bruce rise from a devastating brain injury through the power or love, faith and God’s unending and ever present grace.  May God’s gifts of love, grace and hope be present in each of us and cause us to rise from our own ashes and adversity into resurrection.

Take joy in the journey remembering that hope does not disappoint.  Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a heart filled with gratitude, let us cast our cares upon the LORD and get some sleep. One of my very closest friends quotes her grandmother, “I would rather go to sleep talking to the Shepherd than counting sheep.” (I like it!) God is up all night anyway so there is no reason for all of us to be awake. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, August 5, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Monday!  The pharmacy at CNS was having some difficulty getting all of Bruce’s medications together. So Geni and I took the bag of medicines I took to the ER on July 16. Bruce was completing his education therapy and going to PT. We met his education teacher. She told us his addition and subtraction are really good, but the multiplication and division are a struggle right now. Bruce is working so hard according to the therapists that it will just take time for the pieces to return to their rightful place. He is very independent within the clinic to the point that when one therapy is finished they tell him where to go next and he walks to the area without assistance or further direction. Tonight when Geni and I went over for a while he had requested the bathroom scales and his medicine planner container.  While we were watching Shark Week, he checked the batteries in the scale and accurately reset the time and weighed himself. He continues to amaze me. Tomorrow he will be getting a check-up at the clinic by the doctor. We have been asked to be present and then tomorrow night we will celebrate Geni’s 26th birthday at Bruce’s apartment. On the agenda will be Boston Market, a small Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake and a gift or two.  God is good and love wins!

“Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.”

Psalm 105: 3

Tonight a sweet friend of mine called shortly after 9:00 and asked if she was calling too late. I told her no, “Sleep was something I remember.” I have been averaging about 4 hours per night. I do not sleep well when Bruce is absent from my side and lack of sleep has caused some weariness. But I am learning a great lesson in this journey. I am learning about how God is a collaborative God. When I spend time each day directing my thoughts to God repeatedly then God and I collaborate on the tasks of the day. If I am attentive to God through a sustained effort then the drain on me seems less. This is a prayer privilege that takes practice. I keep my tablet on the night stand and after I have gotten a cup of coffee (priorities!) I get back in bed and read a devotion and have a prayer time before I get up to dress and take on the day. I repeat this pattern before going to sleep. This is helping me to remember that God is up all night watching over Bruce and me and all of God’s children and hopefully is helping me to get a little more sleep.  The good news is that I give a great many thanks during my prayers and often fall asleep during my prayers. So I am going to sleep while in conversation with my Savior. I don’t think God minds.

Take joy in the journey remembering that hope does not disappoint. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a grateful heart, let us cast our cares upon the LORD and get some sleep. After all, God is up all night anyway so there is no reason for all of us to be awake. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Prayer request: I have one last project to finish. It is to clean out Bruce’s office. Bruce is not a hoarder. He is a keeper. It is a mammoth undertaking. Pray for me to take this project on in small pieces and to be steadfast and not give up. Thanks. gc

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Blessed Sunday! This has been the best day since July 16th. Today I got to spend most of the day with Geni, Cody (Geni’s boyfriend) and Bruce. Geni and Cody went to Bruce’s apartment and brought him to church. It was so awesome to have him there today and have communion together.  We went out to lunch, got his glasses repaired and he came back to the house for a while. For just a little while it was a regular day filled with love, joy and a simple walk in the mall hand in hand. He got a little emotional and so did I when we walked into the sanctuary and every face smiled, waved and applauded. I cannot begin to tell you the depth of my thanksgiving and gratitude to the God of healing and the soaking prayer we have received during Bruce’s recovery and healing from what should by the world’s knowledge been completely devastating.  The road I have been told is long a slow to recovery. But so far, each step has been a step forward. Bruce is determined to make as full and complete recovery as possible. As we drove from place to place he would motion the direction to which I should go and was perfectly correct each time.  He is the epitome of Team Chrystie for the win!

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”

Psalm 145: 18

I love Bruce. I am in love with Bruce. I love being near him. I love talking quietly to him at the dinner table, on the couch, in the car and the last brief conversation before we go to sleep.  That last conversation of the night is the one I miss the most. While he has been recovering from the stroke I have been messaging him via text message a good morning and a good night. Sometimes I get a response and sometimes not. The words are usually interesting, but I don’t care because they come from him. I also call him and can have a brief conversation and whether the words make sense or not it is his voice I love to hear.

The voice of God is as near as our whispered prayers. God listens attentively to each of our prayers even if we only whisper the name of Jesus. They prayers are heard and understood. Holy Scripture tells us that the LORD hears all who call on Him. God listens to our silent prayers. But when we say our prayers out loud we hear our own voice and it makes us feel closer to God and reinforces our connection to God. Although we do not hear the actual “voice of God” (or at least I have not) we hear God’s intentions in scripture, in preaching, in the words of God’s people, in music and maybe in a text message or a phone call. All of these ways are avenues for the gentle whisper of God to reach our hearts with a message that says, “I love you. I am with you and I will never leave you for forsake you.”  God is good and love wins!

Take joy in the journey remembering that hope does not disappoint. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a heart filled with gratitude, let us cast our cares upon the LORD and get some sleep. God is up all night anyway so there is no need for all of us to be awake! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene