Saturday, October 5, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Saturday! Fall came in today!  Jeans, boots, socks and long sleeved flannel type shirt with TCU logos were the order of the day. The dogs even seemed to have a bit more energy as they romped and played throughout the day. Of course they are totally passed out around my desk right now. I have spent the majority of the day working on my exegesis paper due on Tuesday. Expect for a couple of errands Bruce has rested most of the day. He was so exhausted last night.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows they mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”

Romans 8: 2-27

I have spent the majority of the day working on a paper on the story from the Gospel of Mart about the woman with the 12 year issue with blood. It is “sandwiched” between both halves of the story of the dying daughter of Jairus. As I read this passage thought how both of these women were transformed by Jesus. Both were bound and not allowed to be free. The young girl was dying, of what we do not know and the elder woman was bleeding to death. Can you imagine the groans of these two women and the father of the young girl? The physical pain they must have endured. The emotional pain of separation they experienced because of their impurities. And the prayers they must have prayed. But by faith and prayer both of these women were healed. The young woman was transformed from physical death and back among the living. The elder woman was healed and restored back to her township community and her religious community. The best part of all in these stories is that Jesus called them daughter. The younger woman was already a daughter to her father Jairus and now to Jesus and because scholars do not believe that the elder woman was not associated with any man, Jesus called her “daughter” in front of the crowd that was pressed around Him. Jesus claimed her as his child and thus restoring her to her local society as her kinsman. When Jesus healed her, he healed her completely restoring her body, her spirit and her community.

Have we prayed with groans that words cannot express? Have we been so weak we do not know what to pray and can only whisper the name of Jesus? “When there’s nothing left to do but just depend on You and the power of your name.”  God lives in the depths of our spirit and knows us better than we know ourselves.  Let us call on the Holy Spirit already living in us and collaborate with God and have an ever closer relationship with the One who transforms and restores us by His never ending unfailing love.  Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene


Friday, October 4, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Friday!  TGIF Today God is First!  I really like this. All is well at 811. Finished my first paper that is not due until Saturday midnight. It is already in the inbox of my professor. Tomorrow I begin the next paper due on by 1:00 on Tuesday. I also made my favorite fall snack mix. It is so easy: 1 box Golden Grahams Cereal, 1 jar roasted peanuts (I use the salted ones.), 1 bag dark chocolate chunks and 1 bag of plain M & M’s. Pour it all into a large Ziploc bag. Mix it up and enjoy. 

“Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the [uncompromisingly] righteous [those upright and in harmony with You]; for You, Who try the hearts and emotions and thinking powers, are a righteous God.”

Psalm 7: 9

Our lives are filled with challenges that test our determination and sometimes our faith in God. Sometimes these challenges are life altering and hold great adversity bringing great pain in our lives. Sometimes these challenges are seemingly everyday things that pile up in our hearts and minds. In either situation the quality of our character is challenged on a regular basis whether we are listening to a doctor’s diagnosis, shouting at traffic, trying to figure out which bill to pay this month and which ones can wait until next time, impatiently waiting in line for something or a service to be rendered or being nervous about writing papers for school.  We are tested in all kinds of things each day. And I guess the question for us is how will we hold up under the stress of different situations?  The good news is we do not have to hold up under stress alone. God has given us at least two tools to call on when stress begins to overtake our ability to act in godly character. God has given us the Holy Scriptures full of the truth of the gospels and the comfort of the Psalms that claim the sovereign power of God and God’s unfailing love being with us all to time never to leave us. God will never leave us because of the gift of the Holy Spirit that lives in us out of God’s perfect love for us is ever present.

I have stressed in the last few days over the papers I have to write. One of the papers is a one question essay test. The other is an exegesis.  The last sentence of my devotion tonight says, “Ask God to give you grace to pass all your tests.”  I laughed as I read this. But maybe I am being tested to do good work in spite of my divided responsibilities and family concerns.  Can I focus on my home, responsibilities and continuous concern for Bruce and when I am tested by the academy to do master’s level work that is academically acceptable and to be found faithful? I think I will pray the last line of my meditation tonight and ask God for EGR (Extra Grace Required) to help during these times.  I think I read somewhere that God’s grace is sufficient to meet all our needs.  I can rest on this word tonight taking joy in the journey and getting some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Thursday! All is well at 811.  I finished the first draft of my paper due on Saturday. A wonderful friend and Brite alum has graciously agreed to look at my papers as my extra set of eyes. Bruce has seen each paper that has left this house until now. So I guess it is time for me to step up to the plate and do a more careful job and help my friend’s job be a little easier. Tomorrow I begin the next paper due on Tuesday. Say a prayer for not only me, but my new editor and the learned ones who will read the final offering.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! Amen.”

I am a woman, a wife, a mother, a teacher and an aspiring minister of pastoral care.  If you want to find the thread that runs through all of these titles I am one who is a care giver and rescuer. I have a lot of love to give to those around me and to those with whom I come in contact.  As Bruce’s primary care giver I take care of many of the aspects of our lives that I never did before. I make decisions and fill out lots of paper on his behalf and translate his wishes or needs when called upon. I am a master of “fix it.” I am a champion problem solver and the queen of “we will figure it out.” Just ask my kids, they will tell you. And tonight the first line of my meditation says (in all capital letters) “ENTRUST YOUR LOVED ONES TO ME. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands.”  God is telling me that I need to stop feeling responsible to fix the person since that is God’s job and not mine.

As a minister of pastoral care I am taught to be an attentive listener walk beside the one in my care as they come to their own solutions to their situations. I am called to pray for them, trust in the unfailing love of God and God’s wisdom.  As I confessed once in my CPE group “I am not the Savior.”  It is God who works the changes in all our lives and the changes will be beyond anything we might ask or imagine. Maybe even God will change me into a more confident academic writer who is not so intimidated. I am just as needy as those I serve.  I am not skilled in the craft of rehab to help Bruce retrain his brain. But I am skilled in loving him with all my heart and I can and am walking beside him in encouragement and unfailing love. When I cannot see the hand of God I trust the heart of God. Take joy in the journey and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Wednesday!  For those of you who did not read my late night post…at 10: 36 last night I was preparing for bed and Bruce asked this question, “Did you make the coffee?”  It was a miracle. It was perfect and I rejoiced exceedingly with great joy! Tonight at dinner we were talking and I began to hear some of the bowl of alphabet soup lose some mixed up letters.  One of his issues is in saying the names of things. Tonight he could say, “Luther”, and then told me he could not say the other dog’s name. I pronounced Jackson’s name and he began to say it by slowly saying the first part of the word. It was so hard for him, but he did it. It was so cool!  I am wondering if the conversations he is having in his small group are encouraging and helping him to work through these strategies.  God is so very good and love wins!!

“I pray also that they eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.”

Ephesians 1: 18

“YOUR PRAYERS ARE NOT CRIES IN THE DARK. On the contrary, they rise to My kingdom of eternal Light. Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things.” (Jeremiah 33: 3) This is the first line of my meditation tonight.  I pray for so many things and so many people. I usually fall asleep during my night time prayers and I have done my share of crying prayers in the dark. I am learning to give thanks for what may seem to others as very small events or victories, but around here every blessing, every step and every word is counted for joy and holds miracle status.  

I think God performs miracles before our very eyes every day, but we do not always “see” these miracles and take for granted ordinary things or things that seem very small or unimportant. A couple of months ago the question about “Did I make the coffee?” might have been given a different response. But last night it was a miracle. Worthy of thanksgiving and praise to God for His goodness and faithfulness.  When we look through the eyes of God we can see with the eyes of our hearts and through the eyes of love. God looks for the teachable heart in all of us. When we ask for a teachable heart then we will learn spiritual things we do not know. God is the Teacher of teachers. The result of our openness to the teachings of God helps us to understand the hope to which we have been called and to learn of God our hope and our redeemer.  Take joy in the journey my friends and look for the miracles around you.  Get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

PS I am in the midst of writing.  I am kind of nervous about these papers so I am asking for your prayers as I write. Please pray that I write clearly with accurate information and to be found faithful.  Grace and pieces, gc

PSS I ordered my cap and gown today. OMG!!!!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Tuesday!  What a wonderful day!  When I walked out the door it was cool and beautiful. I wore my favorite jeans, TCU shirt tail shirt and boots. Fall is the best!  Bruce had a great day at the Center. Today was YMCA day. I think he also had some type of group session today. He said there are four others who have had strokes similar to his and they met with the counselor. He did not say much about it, but I think he must have enjoyed it. God is good and love wins!!

I also was invited to interview for the job I wrote about a few weeks ago. The interview is next Tuesday evening. Please be in prayer for this opportunity. I also have another opportunity in the works. I was hoping not to return to work until after graduation and the new year, but the income is going to be needed sooner than later. I believe that God will supply and meet all of our needs.  Please pray for peaceful spirit in my soul that I can support us until Bruce can return to work. If Bruce is awarded Social Security Benefits on the first round we will not see any funds until January. (Applying for Social Security Benefits is a full time job! I don’t know if the government shut down will affect this or not. So I am trying think ahead and give thanks for the blessings of the day. ) 


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

Ephesians 3: 16-17

Of all the plans in God’s command God chose to live in us. The Creator of the universe chooses to make His home in our hearts. This thought takes my breath away. With all of the majesty in Creation we are an exceedingly humble dwelling for the Most High, Lord of all. God chooses to live in us because of the deep desire for intimacy with us. God whispers to us gently through the power of the Holy Spirit. In our busy world we need to find a place of quiet where the noise of the outside world is silenced as much as possible.  When we get to this quiet place, we can focus on the loving command to “cease striving and know that I am God.”  It is in this precious place of quiet and rest that we place our thoughts in the Presence of God and commune with the beating of our hearts and the quiet breaths we take sharing in a holy communion with the One who holds the universe and dwells with us in intimately perfect love. Let us all take joy in the journey and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene


Monday, September 30, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Monday!  Part of Bruce’s rehab is counseling. I wrote to his counselor with my concerns and if I understand Bruce correctly he went to a music group today. His counselor answered my email and hoped that it would give Bruce some comfort and help with the issue of participation. I also asked the counselor if the stroke could have caused some hearing loss. The counselor felt that the issue was not a hearing loss problem, but an Auditory Comprehension issue. Simply stated; Bruce may not be processing aurally at a normal level for music yet. So maybe the music group will help.  I love how this group of folks is willing to deal with an issue immediately. God is good and love wins!

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.”

Psalm 42: 5

I really love the Psalms. The Psalms are the prayers of God’s people to God.  Sometimes the Psalms say and ask what is on my heart when I am unable to voice the words. “ THOUGH DIFFICULTIES ABOUND  IN THIS WORLD, REJOICE THAT I AM ALWAYS PRESENT WITH YOU.”  I  have claimed God’s Presence every day and the Psalms assure me of that Presence. Of all the plans at God’s command He chose to live in me. (Please insert your own name,) This One who created the universe and all therein,  chose to have a living and loving relationship with His greatest creation and place Himself in our hearts.  When difficulties come and we cannot even voice our deepest hurts we can claim as truth that God is Present within us. We may not be able to touch God’s hand, but we can touch His heart and know that new hope is growing within.  Let us take joy in the journey, rejoicing in hope and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Prayer request:  I have two papers due in the very near future. Please pray for God to stretch my time, understand and that my writing will not only be found academically acceptable but also be found faithful. Thanks. Grace and pieces, gc

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Greetings from Austin Street

Blessed Sunday to you all!  Today was the first time I heard Bruce say, “I want to talk again.”  It almost broke my heart.  He has always outwardly taken this journey in stride, but today was a bit different.  As I sat next to him in worship he turned away the hymnal offered him when it was time to sing.  He misses singing and talking so very much. We miss our conversations. I know this is weighing on him. His attitude is still great, but I know he is feeling some measure of grief and loss that covers a broad range of issues and activities.  His BSF leader called him tonight to remind him of the session tomorrow night. A client called today and needs him to do some work. He misses the singing, the working, the talking and the Kairos and the witness he is for those who are incarcerated.  He needs a boost of prayer and assurance.  So say an extra prayer for him please.

Today I had the wonderful pleasure of participating in worship at Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church as a soloist.  The theme for the day was “Call.” There were three speakers who all had received the call of Christ in their lives. One of the people is a colleague of mine with whom I have had at least one class with each semester for the last two years. We have become wonderful friends. One who is studying to become a Deacon in the Methodist Church and one who is already ordained.  The leadership of this congregation is made up of a Catholic, a United Methodist, a Baptist and a Disciple. 

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say, ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”

Revelation 12:10

When I heard this I remembered the story in the gospels about Jesus sitting with Levi, the tax collectors and other sinners.  This is a group just as diverse as the leadership of Cochran Chapel and Jesus is just as present in this group of leaders as He was present in those in ancient scripture.  The Holy Spirit and I made a connection with two thoughts; 1) I got to witness the ancient scriptures become the living Word  in this wonderful house of worship and 2) I witnessed what the Kingdom of God looks like.  The good news here is that those who witnessed Jesus and the group that day condemned Him for sitting with tax collectors and other sinners. This congregation of Cochran Chapel embraced and affirmed these folks who have vastly different stories and paths of service and all had hearts for discipleship and furthering the cause of Christ.  I stood today on holy ground and was in the presence of the living God. The journey today was filled with joy.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene