Saturday, August 17, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Saturday! A month ago yesterday our lives were changed as Bruce suffered a large stroke on the left side of his brain stem. And today Bruce and I spent the morning running errands. God is so very, very good!  We had to make a brief Home Depot stop. Most of the workers know him there and he was able to say “Hello” and” “How are you?” to several of the workers without having to engage in conversation. He remembered where everything was and went right over to what we needed. I was not sure how he would react to going into a place that with so many familiar people, but he did really well. We did a bit of a splurge and went out to breakfast at La Madeleine’s. I handed him a menu and he showed the order taker what he wanted, by pointing to the words on the menu. He did not engage in conversation, but was able to communicate his order. If Chrysties cannot do anything else we can usually figure out a way. This tells me that even though his spoken language is still a big problem, his receptive language is getting better and his recognition of familiar words and places is improving even if he cannot say them. For a man who was not supposed to survive the night I am amazed daily at God’s healing grace and Bruce’s fearless attitude. Baby steps, but baby steps that are moving forward.  God is good and love wins!

“Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

2 Corinthians 4: 17

“Trust in God at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to God, for God is our refuge.”

Psalm 62: 8

I have been doing some pastoral counseling with a friend for a part of the day. My friend is going through a time of very hurtful, difficult, personal trial. Tonight the title of my devotion is Trial. The opening sentence is “COME TO ME WITH THE DIFFICULTIES THAT ARE WEIGHING YOU DOWN.” Even though there does not seem to be an end in sight and the troubles are so deep and hurtful, they are real troubles and the hurt is very real. What we have to do to battle and overcome whatever the difficulty is, is to not give the problem, adversity, difficulty etc…the power. The key is to give God the power over the situation. God is our refuge and the place to unburden ourselves, by laying our burden down at the feet of God. When we carry our burdens we walk in darkness. When we give our burdens over to God our vision gets clearer and we can see God more clearly. It is in times of trouble that we need a clear vision of God because God’s yoke is easy and burden is light.

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

Friday, August 16, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Friday!  I have been reading on Facebook lately and I have seen a new acronym for TGIF; Today God is First. Imagine what our lives would be like if we began each day with this wonderful phrase. This morning got off to a better start; lunchbox, shoes and sock on, back pack and off to the clinic.  Today, Bruce was asked the question, “How often do you go to rehab?” His response was, “Monday through Friday.”  I was so excited. A few days ago the answer would have been nonsense or “I don’t know.” Or a shoulder shrug.  Baby thanks and learning to live together. We are learning to live together again, trying to make waking and sleeping schedules mesh. It is easy to be a care giver to a sick child, but it is different when it is your husband.  Today was better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better still. Communication is an interesting thing around here and we play a lot of 20 questions and “show me.”  We usually figure it out and if we don’t then it gets tables until next time. God is good and love always wins!

Prayer request:  Travis leaves for Minnesota on Sunday for training for his new job. Please pray for his travel safety and that Sarah will be okay while he is gone. He will be gone for a week. Thanks.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

Psalms 90:14

The ordination committee someday will ask me why they should ordain me. The first reason is that I am authentically a pastor. I can’t carry the title yet, but I know that is what God has called me to be.  But the other reason is that I want others to see themselves as God sees them.  I try to see the glimpses of God in those I meet and share with them God’s approval.  I often look at myself in the mirror and I do not approve of what I see. But God looks beyond our temporal selves and sees us through His righteousness for all eternity. Our image in the mirror changes all the time, but the image God has of us does not change. God sees us through the eyes of a Creator as His beloved children. God’s approval of us continues for all eternity. That’s a long time!!! My devotion tonight presents a wonderful picture of the approval of God for us. Imagine sand going through a sieve and searching for gold. We often look at the grains flowing through the sieve and ignoring the nuggets that remain. The gold nuggets that remain are the part of us that God sees. All of the extra falls away and what remains is the precious soul that God sees and desires above all else to spend all of eternity with. Let us rest in the assurance of God’s unfailing love and rejoice in the joy of God’s Presence. 

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 on the LORD and get some sleep. God is awake all night anyway so there is no reason for all of us to be awake. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Thursday!  The transport van came almost twenty minutes early this morning. So please imagine Bruce dressed in shorts and t-shirt (regular gear for rehab therapy) lunch box in one hand and shoes and socks in the other headed down the sidewalk. It was so funny. I think our kids may have headed to school a few times that way themselves. It was a memorable start for outpatient time. The best news of the day is that Bruce’s cumidin level was 3.1.  That is perfect! Team Chrystie for the win!!

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you, I lift up my soul.”

Psalm 143: 8

Today I purchased my last book for my Master’s Degree and obtained my last parking permit.  I will begin my final classes on Tuesday. It is sort of a bittersweet time for me. I have loved every moment of my time at Brite. Even the classes that were so hard and I did not always understand, I still loved the power of learning and the spiritual journey I have been following.  Given the changes in our home situation and the words, “for the foreseeable future” Bruce will have to have 24 hour supervision. I am not sure that the second career I have been working for will still be in my future. It may be in my future, just not as I had hoped or when I had hoped. I realize I do not have to think about that now, but I it will be in the back of my mind. But I do know this, when the clouds of uncertainty are ahead God reminds me to fix my eyes on Him and God will show me a way forward when there appears to be none. God’s love never fails us. The clouds of uncertainty can get pretty dark. But the light of God’s love; God’s very Presence is brighter than the light of the day. So when the time comes to make career decisions I pray God will already be there preparing the place for me to serve. As for now it is my great joy and honor to be in God’s service as the wife and caregiver to my beloved husband and to be the student I am called to be. 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, casting our care upon the LORD and get some sleep. God is up all night anyway so there is no reason or all of us to be awake!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy, happy, happy Wednesday!  Team Chrystie is changing its call sign to 811 Austin Street. When Bruce and I got back to his apartment I have never seen him pack the groceries so fast. He was like a blur. After arriving at home our basset boys bookended him on the couch and the scratching and groaning when on for quite a while as I put the groceries away.  Geni came over and we had a wonderful dinner. I think the best part was that Bruce led our table song we sing for grace remembering all of the words and the harmonies. It was such a blessing. So far, so good on our first night at home. I have delivered medications on time and prepared his medications for tomorrow. His lunch is made and he will be picked up between 8:15 and 8: 30 in the morning. I think he was a bit confused about the outpatient process. When I reminded him that the transport van would be picking him up in the morning his response was “why?” So it may take a few days to get this clear in routine.  On the other hand he came home and reconnected the Direct TV and fixed my closet door. You can’t keep a good handyman down!  God is good and love wins!!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again:  Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

Philippians 4: 4-5

“Rejoice in me always.” Tonight’s devotional reading is titled JOY. What a perfect way to end my day embracing the extraordinary joy God gives us during the hardest of times because God is always near. God is a near as our whispered words and next breath. God is always available to help us in the most adverse of times. I am overjoyed that Bruce is home. I am also a bit overwhelmed that I am his care giver and wife. Being his wife has always brought me great joy and being his care giver requires responsibility on so many levels. It is a fine line I walk.  It is in these moments of transition that I must draw on the joy that only our ever present God in the power of the Holy Spirit can provide.  And then I also remember the love I have for Bruce and I realize what an honor I have been given to be Bruce’s care giver. God has returned him to our home independent in his movement and motivated to relearn all that the stroke diminished. The journey we will walk from here on out will take whatever time it needs to take for Bruce to be completely restored to wellness. And no matter how long it takes we will walk in the abiding presence of God together.

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 from home, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy, happy Tuesday!  Bruce is coming home tomorrow.  I wish you could have seen the look on his face when I told him tonight at my visit. He was so excited. He did a double thumbs up! He packed in record time leaving enough clothes for tomorrow.  I have a meeting with his case manager to fill out the paperwork for Disability.(Please pray about that!) I am sure she will language this application to help Bruce get approved for disability. So I will meet him at the clinic around 4:00 and return to the apartment to get the last of his things, pack up the groceries and we will come home. I even have the homecoming meal planned; Breakfast enchiladas, hash browns and sliced avocados.  I can’t wait! Our bedroom is complete and looks so lovely. It has lots of space and it is bright and cheerful. I have never had such a pretty bedroom.  I am asking for your continued prayers as we begin this new stage in the journey.

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

Psalm 13:5

Have you ever noticed how God refers to us, His children? God calls us beloved.  God proclaims publically how dear we are to Him and how much we are loved. The love God has for us has no parallel.  Sometimes when I get down in the dumps about this situation I remind myself that neither God nor Satan caused this stroke in Bruce. This happened because Bruce’s cumidin fell too low and caused a blood clot. But God and Satan have the same awareness of our vulnerability, our depth of sorrow, doubt, uncertainty and our fear. Satan works on the fearing side of our thoughts and can drag us into doubt and uncertainty. Satan has no power where the Presence of God dwells.  God, the author of unfailing love abides in each of us because God’s living Presence remains in each of His beloved children.  This permanent, unfailing love empowers us to trust in God no matter what. God is good and love wins!!

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 reason for all of us to be awake. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, August 12, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Monday!  Bruce was really tired tonight when we visited him. I think the thinness of his blood is taking its toll. I know they are keeping tabs on it and lowering his cumidin dosage to get his blood back within a desired level. The docs want the cumidin level between 2.5 and 3.5 and his is in the 7.5 range.  So his blood is super thin and so any bump, bruise or small nick that could cause bleeding could be serious. His vision is also giving him a problem. I spoke with the nursing staff today about him visiting the neuro-optomitrist.  I don’t have an answer as yet, but Bruce told me tonight that he wanted new lenses in the frames he currently owns.  His attitude was wonderful as usual. He really enjoyed looking at the pictures Geni had to share from her trip to Houston and Galveston this weekend. Right now a beautiful beach and glorious sunset sounds wonderful. As to the bedroom rehab… (I seem to be surrounded with rehab work.) The beautiful floor has been laid; the ceiling has been sanded and painted as have the walls a beautiful color called snowfall. The room looks so much bigger and is such a cheery place. There are still drop cloths on the floor right now. The workers are coming back tomorrow to do a few more things like plates on the light switches and plugs and put the trip back up. I hope to sleep in our bed tomorrow night.  We have been richly blessed with friends who are godly servants who have volunteered their time to help us out with this project. In my prayer time I have asked God to bless these kind folks abundantly.  Please pray for Bruce as he continues to heal; for his blood to respond to the medicine and his vision to get better.  Thank you friends. God is good and love wins.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with the power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

Ephesians 3: 1-17

Most of the time in this current situation I have the most wonderful hope for recovery and then there are times like today when I see the weariness on Bruce’s face, the struggle with vision and the tiredness that he cannot control and my heart almost breaks. I want to be there by his side as his constant encourager and in truth I would give anything to be able to fix this. But I can’t. And even though I can see him each day I miss him when I wake up and when I walk in the door and when I go to sleep. I know that this time is for Bruce’s betterment and he is in the best place receiving the most amazing care. This does not keep me from missing him and having him in every thought I have.

The hospitals on the night of the stroke did not give very much hope of Bruce having a life beyond lying in a bed, but God who is the hope of glory appears to have other plans. The hope of glory usually refers to our time in heaven, but the light of heavens glory is so bright that is came down and reached us in the present to affirm how God is in control of this entire situation. There are some places of darkness in Bruce’s brain because part of his brain died that night. But no matter how dark the place, God’s light shines in the darkness because the darkness has not overpowered the light of God reaching down from heaven into a moment of darkness making the journey brighter with each step.

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 and there is no reason for all of us to be awake. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Blessed Sunday to you all!  I picked Bruce up at his apartment for worship and an afternoon at home. Today, after worship Bruce was talking to a friend of ours who had just returned from a business trip to Japan and was unaware of Bruce’s stroke. Bruce told our friend, “I understand what you say, but my words ….” And then the words became nonsense. Later, Bruce was trying to tell me something he needed at the apartment and there were no understandable words. Bruce hears correct language in his head and then the nonsense words are spoken. He started to laugh because it was really silly. We started over and finally figured out he needed coffee filters. His attitude even through the frustration is so good.

 It was nice to do something “normal.” Worship seemed to tire Bruce out so while I prepared lunch he rested on the couch. I wish I had taken a video of Bruce and the dogs. They were so excited to see him. There was lots of excited yelping and barking as he scratched their bellies and rubbed their ears.  After lunch we watched a movie on the couch together.  It was a wonderful gift that we really enjoyed. We are both in hopes that we will get to have more of those times very soon. God is good and love wins.

If you are a reader of FB I posted a picture of the beautiful floor that two dear servants installed today.  We are so very grateful to all of those who have given their time and skills to make our home a bit safer for Bruce upon his return home. AETNA has approved 14 days inpatient. Wednesday is day 14.  I hope to know something by Tuesday as to whether Bruce will step down to outpatient status. We are both ready, but will follow the lead of the doctors and therapists in Bruce’s best interests. 

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Romans 12: 12

The stroke was kind of a fluke. He did not exhibit any symptoms of ill health, language lag or lack of energy prior to the occurrence. I would be less than honest and not very smart if I said that when Bruce recovers from this that I will not be concerned about a future occurrence. I remember being anxious when Geni and Travis went out after Casey died. I would think about what if something happened to them. I have had those same thoughts about Bruce. Because there was no forewarning of this stroke would I recognize any symptoms if they presented themselves. And then I remember what Bruce said when I was worried about Geni and Travis. Bruce said, “Darlin’, God is with Travis and Geni just as He was with Casey.”  We are both trying to enter each day with positive attitudes and the assurance that just as God is with Bruce now and God will be with Bruce in the days to come.  This retraining, rehabilitation and is going to take a long time.  So I am practicing being thankful for each improvement, new word, longer understandable language time and not dwell on the negative or what might happen in the future. I am affirming my trust in God and working on keeping my focus on God so that I connect with positive leading of the Holy Spirit.  My friends as you continue to pray for Bruce’s healing I ask you to pray for God’s strength in me so that I do not become discouraged, frustrated or lose patience in this journey. Pray that I can focus on my classes this semester and give my best efforts even though I have lost my editor at least for the time being.  I pray to embody the scripture verse in Romans; “to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.”  Bruce and I must make this journey together each of us being healed and learning all that God would have us learn as we walk the path prepared for us.

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 to there is no reason for all of us to be awake. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene