Saturday, September 21, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Saturday!  Happy birthday Holly!  Holly is my great niece and Ken and Sheena’s granddaughter.  She turned three today!  The sea of pink, Minnie Mouse, tea parties and a pink Minnie Mouse tricycle were the hit of the day. Today held a first in our family.  Each of the granddaughters either had their husband, fiancĂ© or steady boyfriend at the party. It was so cool. We are in the process of watching the next generation of Ken’s and my children make their homes and take their place in this world. It was pretty great to see this today.   God is so very good and love does win!

“I will instruct you, and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

Psalm 32: 8

As I approach the end of my Brite career and graduation I really have begun to think, ”What will I do now? “  For the last six years I have been planning on a career in the Christian ministry field. I began this journey with the plan to continue teaching after achieving a Masters of Theological Studies. Then my plans changed when God called me into the ordained ministry of chaplaincy in hospitals, hospices or other facility.  And now our lives have changed once again with Bruce having a stroke and unable to work due to language issues and the inability to drive safely.  My plan to do hospital chaplaincy work may have to be put on hold until Bruce is recovered and can go back to work. The teaching field is still open to me I can most likely go back into teaching at lease part time until a chaplaincy position presents itself.

The opening statement of my meditation tonight is “I AM CONSTANTLY CONSCIOUS OF YOUR THOUGHTS. Sometimes your mind creates so many plans…” God tells me to entrust my concerns to Him and He will receive them into His care and keeping, I needed the assurance of these words.  These words of assurance lighten the burden and remind me that God knows my thoughts and God knows our needs.  This verse speaks to me as a teacher as it says, “I will instruct you in the way you should go.”  This teaching is not for my plans but for the plans God has for me and the path I should take.  When I surrender this uncertainty over the God then God’s counsel will stand and I will serve as God has ordained me to serve.  In the last six years this journey has not been trouble free, but it has been filled with extraordinary meaning and a great deal of joy. This precious promise says that God will watch over us and this teaching will be imprinted on our hearts. 

Faith is the prayer for deliverance and trust is the gift that sustains. I need to be willing to trust the journey I am on, pay attention and listen to God’s voice where ever it is found and take joy in the journey.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene



Friday, September 20, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Friday!  Tonight was snuggle on the couch and movie night!  It was so nice. Tomorrow we are going to Allen to celebrate our great niece’s third birthday!  I haven’t seen my family in two months and I am looking forward to the day and the visit.

A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Proverbs 17: 22

I remember the day I faced down Satan at MD Anderson Hospital while Casey was receiving treatment. It was a life altering change. Even though the journey was the most grievous path of  grief and loss a parent can experience I did not let Satan steal my joy.  I learned on that day that my broken heart needed did not need to be healed before my heart and mind could be cheerful and full of joy.  The power of joy was in me all the time in the name of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit empowered me to live through the circumstances of facing the loss of our son.

When I read this proverb tonight I was reminded of that day and knew that I needed to recall that same power of the Holy Spirit.  My spirit could not be happy when I was filled with negative “spare me’s!” Once again had I let Satan enter into my heart and mind and try to steal my joy. I asked the Holy Spirit to let me look at my thoughts in positive ways; in Holy Light.  Satan knows right where to attack me; through my family.  God has worked with me throughout the day to refresh my mind with reminders of the constant love and precious grace that has begun to bring about healing to my injured soul. The presence of God is permanently and deeply embedded in me and that brings me great joy.  I do not wish to have to relearn this lesson again, but if I do may I recall how the love of God is within me and empowers me to face whatever the circumstances may be.

Take joy in the journey remembering that hope does not disappoint. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a heart filled with gratitude, 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, September 19, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Thursday!  Bruce had a doctor’s appointment today. Tests were run and there is a bit of a hormone imbalance and they want to find out why.  He is still battling some problems with kidney insufficiency. The doc is checking on that too. We went to an endocrinologist. Just for now blood work to make some determinations. They are trying to find out if the stroke caused the problem or if it was an issue prior to the stroke.  This was never mentioned when he went through the battery of tests for the valve replacement two years ago.  So perhaps the stroke just knocked things out of pocket. The doc says that as Bruce improves the situation may right itself. That is my hope and prayer. Please make it yours. Thank you, mighty and faithful prayer warriors. Because what we need is one more thing!! God is good and love wins.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.’”

Isaiah 54: 10

I think sometimes I am not equal to this task of being care giver, student, paper work filler outer, appointment setter, driver, interpreter and wife during this journey. Each of these responsibilities carries considerable weight.  I get a little down and a little overwhelmed sometimes when I think of something I have forgotten or did not have time to do. I guess God knew I needed to refocus and learn a lesson.  I have placed Bruce’s care and well being at the top of my list and everything else ranks under this.  And while I believe it is my joy to take care of Bruce, God spoke to me tonight reminding me to place Him and my relationship with Him changing my focus from myself and my busy life and back on Him.  The rest will fall into place.

“I UNDERSTAND YOU PERFECCTLY AND LOVE YOU ETERNALLY. It is your soul I love, rather than your appearance or performance.”  The meditation summarily says to “Cease striving and know that I am God.” 

God created each of us to know Him and to enjoy His Presence and unfailing love. The scripture verse tonight says the mountains may shake and the hills removed and God’s unfailing love will not be shaken and the covenant of peace removed.  When I become overwhelmed and think I am not equal to the honorable task placed before me I was reminded to walk into the sanctuary of my heart where God lives and ask for peace and comfort.  I give thanks for His Holy Presence and remember that God’s compassions they fail not. Great is God’s faithfulness.  There are many distractions out there that would vie for my attention away from God. All of these things are temporal, but God’s unfailing love (I know I say that a lot) is unshakable and is eternally with me and all of us. God’s love is sufficient to meet our needs and satisfy our souls in quiet rest. When we have rested in the loving arms of our compassionate God then we are refocused and ready to begin again with singing on our lips and praise in our hearts.

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




Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Wednesday!  Today was pretty cool!  The Center took Bruce to the YMCA (yes, he spoke those letters to me!) for part of his therapy. I found this out as he pulled out a towel, bar of soap and wet clothes out of his backpack. Now I know why he needed a bigger backpack. Swimming must be a part of his therapy. I am anxious to talk with his therapists on the 23rd when I go in for Family Conference. He seemed pretty excited about this change in his schedule and he will do this twice a week. Very cool. Today I attended a prayer luncheon for the city officials in Arlington. I was invited to be a chaplain’s presence at this event. I sat briefly next to Tillie Burgin and her son Jim Burgin. She may have been there for all of 10-15 minutes and left before eating and the program began.  I spoke to Jim and said, “Tillie doesn’t sit for very long does she?” His response was, “I learned a long time ago that we have to come in two cars!”  The meal was served and then the pastors and I prayed around tables for the Mayor, Fire Dept. rep, Police Dept. rep, city council members, school officials  and many others. It was a great way to spend a couple of hours…eating and praying.

“I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

What an amazing blessing to be created anew in one’s own lifetime.  Bruce is being created anew before my very eyes. And I marvel at this new creation. And I am being created new also. As silly as this sounds Bruce speech while still sounding like alphabet soup when he tries to ask a question or explain something the parts that link this language together make perfect sense. As I try to understand all of this I am grateful that he has the ability to link together these pieces of communication with words I can understand and does it without fear or outward frustration.  This healing process is not a restoration. It is a new beginning. The little stones and roadblocks that keep understandable language from coming out are slowly being kicked out.  This work is not easy, but God is working through the therapists and Bruce’s indomitable spirit to recreate that which died the night of the stroke.

The way I see this new creation working is through collaborative effort between God, the therapists, the support of family and friends and Bruce. I rejoice in God’s creative work through the difficulty of this journey. God is the Creator of all and out of His loving choice we are made in the image of God and we have creative abilities within ourselves. We need to let God create newness within us and look at it as a sacred adventure. When we strike out on this holy and sometimes unimaginable journey with a God of new creation we become more fully the one God designed us to be,

Take joy in the journey remembering that hope does not disappoint. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a heart filled with gratitude and 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, Bruce and Gaylene



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Tuesday!  Bruce must have worked super hard at rehab today because he came home and slept until dinner was ready.  Geni has not been feeling well and so she came over and promptly fell asleep on the couch. So this afternoon was pretty quiet.  Quiet around here is sort of unusual.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert.”

1 Peter 5: 7-8

I keep a pretty close eye on Bruce. When there is any change in behavior I always become concerned. I think I become concerned because there were no symptoms prior to Bruce having the stroke and so I am very conscious of his behavior, movements, speech etc…Anxiety can be toxic.  In the scripture passage tonight God’s Word calls for us to “Cast AII your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” Our human emotions can change so many things about us. They can determine or moods, our eating habits, our sleeping and the way we respond to others. Some of us tend to bottle up our anxious feelings pretending that everything is ok.  When the Word tells us to be alert I think that means for us to be able to name the anxiety and confess it to God. Then ask the Holy Spirit to help us work through this yielding our anxious souls to the healing work of God within us.  When we practice this then maybe we will remember to name the anxiety, confess it to God and then ask for help and the level of the anxiety will go down. The Holy Spirit of God can accomplish changes in us through love. We then can experience joy and peace. God can accomplish more than we can imagine or ask.  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, cast all 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, September 16, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Monday!  Bruce continues to work hard in rehab. He takes joy in seeing family. Our nephew, niece and great niece came for a visit today. We loved seeing them and Libby, our great niece loved playing with Luther!

“Consider it all joy…when you encounter various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
James 1: 2-3

Please don’t consider me prideful, but consider me having persevered!  Two months ago today Bruce suffered the stroke.  I found myself for a few moments unable to breathe and have a clear thought. And I was anything, but joyful!  This was a serious situation of which I had little knowledge and all I could finally think was, “He is alive.” And “How much of Bruce will I have when he wakes up after the surgery? “ 

I don’t think God really expects us to feel joy at the beginning of a difficult or serious life threatening or life altering situation.  I need time to consider the situation and for my feelings to settle down. It is so hard to think clearly when my emotions are filling my brain, heart, and the rest of my body. Even though I began to pray immediately after being told of Bruce’s stroke, they were prayers of desperation and begging for the life of my husband. But after the surgery and we went to ICU they let me stay with him. Bruce’s nurse brought me a warm blanket. It was then I began to breathe again and calmed down enough to invite God into my thoughts calmly. I tried to look from God’s perspective.  First, I gave thanks that Bruce was alive. I think I watched him breathe for most of the night. After another warm blanket arrived I rested and invited God into my thoughts. I asked God to help me work through the many tasks that I would have to encounter as Bruce healed. I counted it joy that Bruce was alive. But I also realized that I had no idea how long recovery would take, predict what recovery would mean or have any control over the future. I also asked myself, “Am I equal to enduring whatever this new life would ask of me?” 

Here’s the thing. I began to count it in joy that I was given the honor to help take care of Bruce, not only as a care giver, but as his wife. We have been given the blessing of walking this new adventure together. God has enabled us to persevere moment by moment.  This my friends, brings me great joy.

Take joy in whatever journey you are walking and remember 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 , Bruce and Gaylene


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Blessed Sunday to you all.  What a wonderful Lord’s day!  I love Sunday. Sunday is the day when I get to sing songs of praise with others who love God and know God through Jesus as Savior. It is truthfully the most therapeutic thing I do all week long.  Today, I sang a special music piece at Rush Creek Christian Church.  The title of the piece is “I’ll Keep My Eyes on You.”  It is a song I sing when my world has been shaken and leaves me really unbalanced. 

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

Hebrews 12: 28—29

This is a phenomenal passage of scripture. These words say that when we come into relationship with God through Jesus that we receive the Kingdom of God both on earth and for all eternity. The world sometimes puts us on shaky ground and leaves us feeling unbalanced, unable to think clearly and may make us want to choose anything close that we think will hold us up.  My friends, when we worship God we change and have the ability to regain our balance and think things through more clearly. 

When I was first learning to sing for audiences I was taught to find a fixed spot on the wall and focus on that spot. The purpose of that exercise was to place focus on the music and not on the audience so nervousness was kept at a minimum. But when my world has been shaken I fix my eyes on God and not on the world because when I fix my eyes on the world I try to take my life back into my hands and not on the plan God has for me. 

The kingdom of God both of this world and for eternity is for all people who love God and know God through Jesus as Savior and is unshakable!!! This is the kingdom of the everlasting God. By the Word of God we receive it. When I fix my eyes on God and not on this world I have to believe that God has planned more infinite and wonderful things than I can imagine.  I have said all of this to say that things will never be the same as they were on July 15 ever again and because of the precious promises of God things have never and will never be the same since July 16.  But I know that the love of God will see us through all we will experience and will shine in Living Presence in a sometimes shaky world as we live from day to day.

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