Saturday, August 31, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Saturday!  It was a mixed bag of activities today. Breakfast with Geni and Cody where I was presented with a “Mom Box” from the storage unit Geni took over after I retired. It is filled with pictures, a treasured Elvis coffee mug and other wonderful memories. A trip to the grocery store and then Bruce was really tired. I am not sure if he is totally comfortable in certain situations or if it is truly fatigue. It is a question I intend to ask an expert next week. Also, Bruce has asked for books to read. I was so impressed because he asked for books because he does not have any therapy on Monday and does not want to get behind in his skills. Ask me if he is a motivated man or what?!!!  I am going to check the church library tomorrow and see what is available.  I may also check on NOOK and see if there are any titles appropriate for his needs. I love it. God is good and love wins!!

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

2 Corinthians 4: 8

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12: 2

Tonight the title of my devotion is Adversity. “NO MATTER WHAT HARDSHIPS THE WORLD MAY THROW AT YOU, YOU HAVE—IN ME—EVERTHING YOU NEED TO PERSEVERE.”  There are times I do not know how Bruce handles the frustration of speech deficit.  When the language makes no sense at all and he is speaking with me he usually laughs, but sometimes he just says, “Never mind.”  For a man who makes his living repairing people’s homes, he also has to provide customer service which requires listening to the client as well as talking. He also talks to and ministers to prisoners and teaches Sunday School. The skill to perform these tasks has to be rebuilt.  I have yet to see him despair during this time.

The only thing I believe that keeps Bruce from falling into despair is that he fixes his hope on the resurrected Christ. These are pretty complex circumstances in which we are involved. It is taking strenuous effort on Bruce’s part and the part of those who work with him to retrain his brain. But what they have not had to retrain is his enduring spirit. Bruce may be hard-pressed on every side, but he is not crushed by these circumstances.  

So my friends, when we are faced with difficult circumstances let us remember that God is always near and His greatest desire is to help us in our time of need. When we accept God’s  help time after time then our focus changes from despair to hope.  Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face and the things of the earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

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



Friday, August 30, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Friday! Tonight Bruce and I attended the Ranger baseball game. The Rush Creek Christian Church Choir sang the National Anthem at the game tonight. We had the most wonderful time. It was hot, but we stayed well hydrated and enjoyed Ballpark cuisine. We made it to the top of the 7th inning and Bruce was ready to come home. Rangers lost, but it was still a fun time. Even though the Rangers lost;  the Chrysties won by being present at the game. God is good and love wins!

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

If you told me on July 16 that I would be sitting at the Ballpark in Arlington with Bruce watching a ballgame I would have said, “No way.” I was not in a place of serenity or contentment or even peace. I was a terrified mess and could not see beyond the next breath that Bruce or I was even drawing. And believe me I watched each breath Bruce took during those first couple of nights. Bruce has made progress in his recovery beyond anything any of the doctors could imagine. I was in the midst of a fear-inducing situation and even though I was praying I was not doing a lot of listening.

Sarah Young, author of the Jesus Calling series says that God offers godly contentment and serenity that flows out of trusting in My Great sufficiency. God teaches us through difficult situations to depend on Him alone even if the path leads in directions we would not have chosen. If we can learn to live in with the provisions God provides for us now then maybe when the tough times come we won’t be so anxious, but we will remember to fix our eyes on God and be confident in His grace and sufficiency. We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us to think godly thoughts that bring peace to our minds and hearts so that we can think clearly and experience the peace even during the storm through which we are passing. “Your grace is enough. Your grace is enough. Your grace is enough for me.” (I love this song.)

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.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Thursday! I had a wonderful lunch and rehearsal with a Brite friend. He is going to accompany me as I sing the opening prayer in my Disciples History class in a couple of weeks. We have been asked to lead prayer once during the semester. Nathan is a wonderful accompanist, a great friend and I am looking forward to offering this prayer in song.

Today after Bruce came home we ran a quick errand. On our way home I had a Gaither Vocal Band CD in the player in the car. I began to sing and Bruce, while not singing the words, added the harmony using vowel sounds. It was so awesome to hear him sing again.  Other than table grace this is the first time I have heard Bruce’s beautiful singing voice.  I almost wanted to drive around some more just to hear more of his voice blended with mine. It made my day.  Music and singing is the most therapeutic thing I do. Singing for me is like breathing and singing with Bruce is something we have done since the day we met. The greatest joys that have occurred in my life have been when Bruce and I sang together and then when we all sang together as a family.  I give thanks that this gift is being restored. I don’t have Bruce with all words back yet, but it was nice for just a few minutes to have Bruce who could still, for a few minutes blend his voice with mine and remind me that hope does not disappoint. God is good and love wins.
Prayer update:  David came through surgery very well. The surgery was to take care of an infected pressure sore.  The good news is that the bone does not appear to have been infected and he should be able to return to his chemptherapy that keeps his cancer in remission.  Also, there is a rehab facility closer to their home so that Carme does not have to travel so far to see him. Giving thanks for God's healing grace continuing to pray for Dave's restored wellness. Thanks, gc

Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.”

Psalm 37:5

This afternoon I happened to watch a Gaither special that featured Sandi Patti. She has long been one of my favorite singers to listen to and the sing her music. During the special Bill Gaither interviewed her and recalled when he asked her to join the touring group. Her response was, “Let me pray about it. Yes.”  Truthfully, if that same offer was given to me I would give the same response except I might just say, “Yes.”  There are a lot of benefits in talking with God before, during and after we make decisions about our lives. When we invite God into the decisions we make we begin to see our path from God’s perspective. When our thoughts and plans begin to align with the plans God has for us then our relationship with God deepens and we can proceed with confidence.  

Bruce says that when we are really close to reaching the target God has set for us; an accomplishment that we have been striving for with God’s approval and guidance that Satan goes on the attack really hard. It is at that time that we must work collaboratively with God and continue to stay in close communication with God, resting in the assurance that God has not led us astray. God is not the author of confusion and doubt. Then when the task is done give thanks to God for the help and guidance received and rejoice that we have arrived together.

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 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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Wednesday!  So far the plan I have made for Wednesday being errand day has worked out okay. I have been able to take Bruce to the doctor and schedule one more appointment by phone as well as accomplish other tasks. This may be the only time it works out like this, but for today it worked!  Also, we are using a representative company to work with Social Security for Bruce to receive disability benefits until he is able to return to work. The company called to day and scheduled a phone interview for next week. So as you are so graciously praying for Bruce’s recovery, please add this process to your prayers also.  It will not be a great deal of money in benefits, but it will certainly help until Bruce re-opens the business and I find a position as a chaplain somewhere.  Thank you for your continuous soaking prayer;  family, friends and mighty prayer warriors. God is good and love wins.

Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

James 4: 8

“When there’s nothing left to do, but just depend on You and the power of Your name.” That is a line from a piece Sandy Patti sings.  This is my “hurtin’” song. When I do not know what else to do I sing this song and call on the name of Jesus. When we invite God into our thoughts in loving trust we acknowledge our need for Diving Presence and are drawn closer to the Savior. Most of us do not need a King, or even a Lord, but most of us at one time or another need a Savior.  The Savior we count on is Jesus and we rely on our Savior in ordinary and extraordinary moments.  God responds by the power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus not only to our needs, but also responds in love. I think God delights in our need for His Presence in our lives because our need draws God closer to us.  When we call on God we are calling on the very being of God and God responds by coming nearer to us out of love and a desire to have a deeper relationship with us. “When there’s nothing left to do, but just depend on you and the power of your name.” There is power that we can receive by calling on the name of Jesus. The Divine power we receive when we call upon the name of the son of God is peace.

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 peaceful 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
Prayer alert:  Please pray for Dave as he prepares for surgery in the morning. My God's perfection be int he hands of the surgeon. May Dave's body have the strength to withstand the surgery and may his spirit have the courage to heal.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Tuesday! The most interesting thing happened tonight. Luther, my notorious shoe eating basset was barking really loud and for a long time. Bruce got tired of it and simply said, “Come on boys, let’s go outside.”  It was almost as if when he does not have to think about what he has to say, Bruce speaks a very natural language as if nothing had ever happened. I don’t know what that means, but perhaps when he works in a familiar context such as at home some of the embedded language shows up. He still does not call familiar things by their names such as the items we had for dinner, but as always I look for any longer language patterns and I do not concern myself about the individual words. I will leave those challenges to his speech therapist. Maybe I have really high hopes, but it seems to me that he may be close to a breakthrough in his speech. I am praying each day that his speech will be restored and as full a recovery will occur. God is so very good and love always wins!

“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”

Psalm 62: 8

I have begun to put some order to my life. I try not to schedule anything for Monday as it is the day before my classes and I try to schedule anything concerning Bruce on Wednesdays so I have the remainder of the days for study.  Now I know this schedule will not always work out, but I have at least made a plan that works for the time being.

As I continue along this journey of being Bruce’s wife, caregiver and graduate student I am learning to trust God in new ways. This passage of scripture tells me to trust in God at all times. God asks for us to “pour out our hearts in His Presence.”  The primary way I am learning to trust is by coming to God with all things (or at least as many as I can remember). It’s funny how easy that is when your life’s responsibilities have greatly increased!  I can release all of my concerns, share the plans I have made, pray over Bruce, our children,  the paper I am writing and know that I am in a safe place. When I go to God I learn more about God and I am able to love God with a depth and breadth that I have come to treasure. With God I am safe and out of Satan’s reach because God is my refuge.  The refuge I find in God is flooded with eternal, unfailing love that soaks into my soul and brings me peace.

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
Prayer alert! Our best friends Carme and Dave Russell are facing a really tough time. Dave is scheduled for surgery on Thursday. He is already taking daily oral maintanance chemotherapy. Given what they find during the surgery could cause the docs to withhold his chemotherapy for an extended period of time. There is always the possibility that cancer could appear and metasticise. Please pray for Dave, Carme and Shaleena during this time. Thanks, gc


Monday, August 26, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Monday!  My day began with the discovery of my sweet Luther basset having eaten one of my red Brighton sandals.  Not a way to begin the day on a happy note. I realize that in the grand scheme of things this is a small bump. But my Brighton sandals are an extraordinary luxury and because the pair he ate is retired I am unable to replace them. Very sad!

I am hearing some interesting improvement in Bruce. Today he said a number of words that while still somewhat nonsense began with the sounds the correct word begins. We ran an errand and he attempted to ask, “Is Geni coming?” The first two words were perfect and coming began correctly and ended in “ick.” So the question sounded, “Is Geni comick?”  It was so great!  So maybe he will just wake up one day and speak in full understandable language. Who knows? But I am giving a thumbs up and a Team Chrystie for the win!! God is good and love does win!

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day had enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6: 34

“MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU, BUT ITS SUFFICIENCY IS FOR ONE DAY AT A TIME.”  It has had to become a discipline for me to take one day at a time. It is so easy for me to slip into thinking about the future. Graduation (Will I make it?) Will there be a job for me when I graduate? Will Bruce be well enough to be able to be by himself or return to work? Will there be enough money to make it…will our house be okay until Bruce can make repairs as they might arise…and the list goes on.  When my mind slips into the future is the place where I find worry lives. Worry is not of God. Worry happens when I think I have to be self-sufficient in taking care of this new life I am leading. What I need to remember is that I need God’s grace to live in the present. My Mamo’s favorite song was the old Christy Lane piece, “One Day at a Time Sweet Jesus.” I sang that song at her funeral at her request. As I think on those words I am reminded that God offers the needed assistance and my part of this collaborative effort is to recognize my neediness and receive what God offers.  This is just like those Hebrews as they crossed the desert. God promised them food for the day.  Anything past that was destined to spoil.  As I think about all I worried about today my day began to spoil and I cratered for just a bit. And then I remembered what God offers. God offers the assurance of Divine Presence, unfailing love and abundant grace for the day. God’s sufficiency is for a day at a time. Today is the day!

Take joy in the journey remembering that hope never disappoints. 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


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Blessed Sunday to you all!  I worshiped at Rush Creek and at Advent Lutheran today.  Bruce and I were blessed with two visitors this afternoon; one from the Kairos Prison Ministry and Bruce’s former Bible Study Fellowship Leader.  Bruce continually amazes me when he converses with friends. He does not seem to be afraid and when he realizes he is speaking words that do not make sense he just communicates that he hears and understands correctly, but just cannot get the words to come out right. He is the one who appears to put others at ease. Sometimes he will look at me to continue or interpret what he has to say. I am amazed at his courage and give thanks for the miracles that continue each day. God is good and love wins.

As the father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love.”

John 15:9

According to my meditation tonight the sacrifice made by Jesus was not just for the forgiveness of sins, but to open the way to the heart of God. This made a lot of sense to me as Jesus was God on foot. As each of us journeys through this life as believers we learn to trust God as our Savior. When we trust God we are the recipient of the perfect love of God. This is the perfect love that casts out fear. Each of us has been scared at times, but fear is the sin that eats away at our souls. The sin that died on the cross was fear. So when we experience fear remember that God is the perfectly loving Savior who will listen to our fears. When we surrender our fear to God then our hearts are open to receive the storehouse of God’s love. The more we hold the love that God gives in our heart, the less space there is for fear. We have been given the unfailing love of God in full measure. This morning at Advent we sang, “Give thanks to the Lord, our God and King. His love endures forever. Sing praise.” Stand fast in the unfailing love of God my friends sing praise and FEAR NOT!

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 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