Friday, August 23, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Friday! Bruce and I met with his therapists today. He is doing well in all of his therapies. Everything is coming down to speech and language. Some of the tests were not able to be given because of the language deficit. But most of the tests were able to be administered. They are even beginning pre-driving skills.  WOW!! He is not ready to drive, but OT is beginning the preparations. As I listened to these five therapists I realized that even though Bruce receives two hours of speech therapy per day, each of his other therapies are all focusing language and speech. The other things I learned is that there is part of Bruce’s brain that died that night and will never regenerate, but the rehab is teaching another part of his brain to do things it was not created to do. That is why there is no way to tell how long this process will take. The counselor provided a great word picture. He is working with Bruce in problem solving and logic and Bruce is being very successful. The word picture goes like this, “Bruce your brain is like a Ferrari traveling through Mineloa, Texas. There are no straight shots, but lots of small winding roads to reach your destination.” I thought that was a wonderful description of what Bruce deals with each day in working to retrain the areas of his brain that that were affected by the stroke. And then the counselor said, “And he could wake up one day and speak perfectly.” No matter what happens and in what time frame it occurs the therapists believe that Bruce has the strongest potential for as full a recovery as possible.  Team Chrystie for the win!! God is good and love wins.  Keep praying family and friends. Thank you.

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Colossians 1: 27

After this meeting today I have thanks that there are people who have the education, experience, compassion and desire to help those recover from brain injury and that TRS Retirement insurance is good enough to pay for it. I look at these people and marvel at the knowledge they have and how they help to work miracles in people whose brains have been damaged. I don’t know that I actually idolize these folks, but I most assuredly admire them and look up to them. 

Each of us has gifts and graces given to us by our Creator. These gifts are given and nurtured because Christ is in us and we are to use those abilities to shine the light of knowledge of the Glory of God and to give our lives meaning. We use and share these gifts out of our dependence on God. We do have free will and we can choose to use those gifts for our own purpose or we can give those gifts back to God and use them at God’s call and direction to help others and for the furthering of God’s kingdom here on earth. I believe we can accomplish more with our collaborative God and find the Joy we desire in following the leading of our Creator and Lord. 

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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Thursday and Happy Birthday Bruce!  I have given thanks all day that Bruce was here to celebrate his 60th birthday.  He came home from rehab today with a Happy Face Balloon given to him at the center. Another balloon greeted him when he arrived at home.  We celebrated with dinner and cake. Geni and our god-family Jeremy, Addie and Asia Brewer celebrated with us. Bruce received many cards, FB notifications, phone calls and messages from family and friends. It was a great evening. Team Chrystie for the win!!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4: 6-7

This double life I lead can sometimes be overwhelming.  Trying to be Bruce’s caregiver, managing medicines, a house, bills and be a graduate student is sometimes a struggle. Please do not think I am complaining, it is just that once again I have reached another new normal and tasks that used to be shared by both Bruce and I are now left to me.  I pray I have what it takes to sort out all of these pieces of my life and act appropriately in all aspects.

Tonight my meditation reads, “Trust Me in the depths of your being, where I live in union with you. My healing work in you is most effective when you actively trust Me. My unfailing Love for you will not be shaken. This is the essence of My compassion for you:  No matter how desperate your circumstances, the one thing you can always count on is My unfailing love.”  I have never considered myself as one who was broken and in need of healing. So even when I am feeling weak, God understands my needs perfectly and with great compassion continues to surround me with unfailing love. 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 awake all night anyway so there is no need for all of us to be awake. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

FYI Tomorrow I will attend my first Family Conference with alAl of Bruce’s Therapists at the clinic. I am anxious to find out what all of these people think of Bruce and his progress. Peace, gc

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Wednesday!  Bruce had his yearly Dr.’s apt. today with the cardiologist.  All is well.  Those are such nice words to hear. Tomorrow Bruce will turn 60. I give thanks that he is here and able to celebrate this most special birthday.  I asked Bruce today how he thought things were going. He does not think the speech therapy is doing very much and he thinks that it is because he is having trouble with his vision. So we are going to the eye doc on Saturday for a field vision test. Given his speech deficits, answering questions could be really interesting. He still gets his “yes and no” mixed up as well as “in and out.” I don’t know how I can help, but I will do what I can. Say a prayer. God is good and love wins.

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.”

Genesis 28: 15

The greatest comfort I have is the knowledge that God is with Bruce and I always. The good news is that God is Present with each of us while on earth and will be with each of us throughout eternity in heaven. We may wander away, but the Holy Spirit remains and takes great delight in being our helper. I am currently experiencing some stress over being a full time student and care giver. In this life of new normal I am trying to balance time between studies and caring for Bruce and home. It is during these times that I remember the other name for the Holy Spirit is Helper. The best part is that I only need ask this powerful essence of God to help and the Holy Spirit delights in being my Helper. Sometimes I ask for God to stretch my time to accomplish what ever tasks I need to complete. Sometimes I ask for knowledge and abilities beyond what I have now. Right now I ask for the Holy Spirit to help me stay focused especially when I am reading for my classes. And then sometimes I ask the Helper to hold me together when I am falling apart.  John 14: 16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper that he may be with you forever; that is the Spirit if truth…but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” God could deny Jesus nothing of which He asked and Jesus asked for a Helper to remain with the children of God after Jesus returned to heaven. This is a promise from heaven given out of the gracious love of God.

Take joy in the journey remembering that hope does not disappoint. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a heart filled with gratitude and get some sleep. God is up all night anyway. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Tuesday! Today I attended my first last day of classes at Brite Seminary. It was a bitter sweet day as I walked to the library for an extra coffee with a friend and as I left Bruce at home to care for himself and wait on the transport van. He did perfectly by the way. He even made the bed before he left. The transport driver called me a little after 8:00 to tell me he had been picked up. I gave thanks and drew a breath. As soon as Bruce walked in the door this afternoon he wanted to know all about my day. All through this seven year journey in graduate school he has always asked me about every day and wanted to know any and all I had experienced and learned. I was afraid that this last semester I would not be able to share this part of my life with him. But once again I was wrong. He continually surprises me with what he knows and remembers. I just wish he could share more of what goes on in his day so I could listen with the passion with which he listens to me. Someday…God is so good and love wins.

  It has been seven year road of learning, growing, making lifelong friends, experiencing deep sadness at the loss of Casey and Mom and going through this journey with Bruce.  I have read more in the last seven years than I have read in my entire collective lifetime. I have written more and have become a learning junkie. I have been told that learning is addictive and I am an addict. As much as I am excited about graduating I know I will miss going to school. 

“Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”

Psalm 37: 5

When I first entered seminary I had not written an essay in 30 years. I wrote my entrance essay without sending it to Bruce for editing.  The comments that came back to me were to take advantage of the Writing Center. My content was good, but my form, structure, grammar etc…left a lot to be desired!  I thought I could do this on my own.  When I went back and read that first essay and my first theology paper I was embarrassed because they were pretty awful. Professor comments affirmed to me that I needed some extra help. I really wanted to do this on my own, but I finally figured out that I needed a second set of eyes to look at my writing and point out the “errors of my ways.”  What I discovered was that my awareness of the need for help actually became strength. I needed help with my own insufficient abilities. I needed Bruce’s strength in his editing abilities to do a better job. It is this part of the journey that we have walked together.

I have also learned that I have a deep need for God and the profound strength offered to gain strength. During my time at seminary I mentioned that I have experienced great personal tragedy and loss. I know I am not sufficient to work through school and personal issues on my own. I need God and the strength given by the Holy Scriptures, a daily relationship of prayer and meditation, community and a committed collaboration with Divine leadership that guides me each step of the way.  The way I know that God is a collaborative leader is because I ask God to lead me.  When I ask God to lead then I must be committed to follow and trust that that leadership even if I don’t understand and even if it is seemingly leading me away from my heart’s desire.

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

Monday, August 19, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Monday!  Tonight the title of my devotion is TRUST. I really need that word tonight. I begin classes in the morning. I am not so concerned for the classes even though the syllabi exhibit rigorous reading and lots of writing. My concern is for Bruce.  He will have to be by himself for about an hour in the morning. I have to be in class by 8:15 am. That is about the time his transport van picks him up. In order to get to school in a reasonable time I need to leave no later than 7:15. I am asking for my communities of friends and family to pray for Bruce during this hour that he stays safe and unharmed with no falls or any other problems. The van driver says she will call me when she picks him up. Please ask God to protect Bruce and keep him safe while he is by himself. Thank you.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

Ephesians 3: 17-18

Our family has certainly lived a life of unexpected adventures. This latest adventure has totally shaken up our routine. I don’t think I have had a routine day or even an ordinary thought in over a month. When the unexpected happens and it is not an event that should call for rejoicing that is the time that God calls us to look to Him and rejoice that His guiding hand will be with us each step of the way. Bruce and I are on this adventure together. I find that each time I touch Bruce I am praying for God to heal him and giving thanks that God is Present. Each time I remember to cling more to God’s hand I begin to fear a little less. The more I call out to God the more God’s love breaks the hold on any fear I might have. So my prayer tonight and tomorrow is for Bruce’s continued healing and safety each day (especially on Tuesday mornings.)

I also would ask one more prayer. For the last seven years Bruce has edited each paper I have written. Bruce is unable to fulfill this task this semester.  I am praying for God’s anointing as I write this semester to be able to be a better writer and gain the ability to edit my writing for these last two classes. Thank  you.

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

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Blessed Sunday to you all!  Wonderful worship this morning with family friends from Advent Lutheran. Worship was held at Veterans Park in Arlington followed by an all church picnic. The weather was perfect. The dress was casual with shorts, t-shirts, filpflops, caps etc..It took several explanations to Bruce as to why it was okay to wear the aforementioned attire. He finally understood. The sermon was about “A Different Kind of Picnic” It was the passage from the end of John after the Resurrection and Jesus meets the Disciples on the beach and invites them to breakfast of fish and bread. I have often thought of how hard my brain has had to work since being in graduate school and how tired I have been after a long day of classes, reading and writing. But I am pretty sure that my brain work does not hold a candle to what Bruce goes through each day as he is retraining to do the things most of us take for granted. We left the picnic around 1:00 and he was really tired.  He was not physically tired, but meeting people he knows and speaking only what he is sure of must be so difficult considering Bruce is a serious talker. Tonight we were sitting at the table and he sorted his medicines for the week with me telling him what was taken in the morning and night. But the best thing was he asked me if I had called …I had to say, “Try again.” Then he took a breath and slowly said, “Arlington.” I am always so excited when new words are spoken. There is not a lot of consistency yet, but any progress is such a gift. He has full confidence he will recover. Bruce is amazing or at least I think he is. God is so good and love definitely wins.

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Psalm 16:11

I have begun a new evening devotional book of scriptures and brief meditations. Each evening there is a new title. Tonight’s title is WORSHIP. How appropriate for today as I worshiped in a different place. “I AM THE FIRM FOUNDATION ON WHICH YOU CAN DANCE AND SING PRAISES AND CONTINUALLY CELEBRATE MY PRESENCE—JUST AS YOU LONG TO.”  This describes the worship today when I saw the children go to the front of the gathered congregation and dance and sing to “Every Move I Make.”  The very Presence of God radiated Joy in amazing fullness as the praises of God’s people filled the pavilion and carried out to the park patrons. Eucharist was offered to all who were present, not just those under the pavilion, but those who were outside the pavilion and in the park. Today the bodies, voices, the hearts and souls of the gathered and engaged in the act of worship.  When we are in the body of worship God sees into our hearts witnessing the celebration of God’s Presence within our souls rejoicing and delighting to be invited to the party.  

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