Friday, March 14, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
TGIF  Today God is First!  All is well here at 811. Bruce is preparing to spend Saturday at the Allred Prison for the Kairos monthly prayer and share.  This is such a wonderful ministry to a largely forgotten community of people and a ministry that is a fiery passion in Bruce’s heart. These brothers have learned that even though they are separated from society they are not separated from God.  Please pray for both residents and the team of men who will come together tomorrow to share God’s Word and pray for and with each other.

A joy to share…during this season of Lent Bruce and I have begun having a brief devotional time together before we put head to pillow. It is just a scripture passage and a couple of paragraphs of reflection from a devotional book. We have both had our own scripture studies for a long time, but never together. It is a moment in our day to which we look forward.  I am thankful.

Dear God, Thank you for loving me unconditionally and welcoming me wholeheartedly. Your love is too wonderful for words. Lord, help me to open my heart and mind to receive all that you have for me each day.  Help me to experience the love that heals and creates a space to be and be well.  Where there is hatred Lord, let me sow love.  I love you Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.

Cynthia Clawson sings a piece with this phrase, “with all the plans at His command He chose to die for me.”  That phrase takes my breath away and humbles me to the very core of my being.  This phrase speaks of the unconditional love of God for us. When God calls us by name He says “Beloved” proclaiming how dearly He loves us.  This is a depth of love that is impossible for us to understand. But it is love that empowers us to trust in God’s unfailing love.  Spending regular quality time with God will find us in God’s living presence helping us to truly believe that the extraordinary love of God really belongs to us.  My friend Jan is embarking on a journey of 365 days to read scripture. She calls her time for scripture study “protected time.” I like that. I was asked if I gave up something for the season of Lent. I told her that I usually added a spiritual discipline.  So in addition to my nightly devotional reading and reflection I have added a second discipline in my journey with Ms. Angelou. These times in my day are protected time.   While we are not worthy to receive God’s grace through His unconditional love ; daily scripture reading, prayer and meditation on God’s character through God’s Word will deepen our understanding of His love and prepare us to be receptacles for His grace. 

“May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.”
Psalm 33:22
Take joy in the journey and pray for those family, friends, acquaintances and strangers—whose lives are suffering with burdens, that they might experience the love that heals and creates a space to be and be healed.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Thursday! All is well here at 811.  I had the most wonderful day with my friend Tammy Dugan.  Breakfast, a stroll through Sam Moon’s and then a wonderful walk and look at a collector’s store called Gracie Lane. Yes, it is pretty much as the men in my life would call it a “chick store”, but they have created a Man Cave complete with easy chairs, a large screen TV, magazines all kinds of sports d├ęcor.  It is really a neat place. Take time to visit if you can.  They are in the process of putting in a small restaurant hopefully opening in the summer. They also have really cool giveaways.

Dear God, Thank you for being present with me throughout today. Thank you for a great friend who added joy to my day.  Help me to slow down when reacting toward others so that I may treat them with compassion, love and truth. Thank you for the wisdom that comes in the simple truth spoken by others. I love hearing your voice in its power and kindness. I praise you Lord for your Word that allowed me to hear you clearly today. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

I have begun my journey with Maya Angelou. The beginning of the book shares just a bit about her life. There was a time in her life when she was homeless. What she discovered while she lived in the homeless community was that the people within that community were not critical of each other. The wisdom she gained was to be tolerant of others. God is compassionate toward others, gracious to others, slow to anger and abundant in faithful love and truth. This is the image of God we should be imitating.  The world tells us that in order to achieve we need to be ruthless, quick to react and make judgments. God calls us to act in love, truth, compassion, and grace toward others and not react quickly in anger, intolerance or make quick judgments.  As believers acting slowly with compassion and a tender heart with self-control brings honor and glory to God. It also builds up the people around us.  May we think before we speak and remember how the abundant faithful love, grace and compassion of God has been given to each of us with such a tender compassionate heart.  God is good and love wins!

“You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abundant in faithful love and truth.”
Psalm 86: 15
People who make fun of wisdom cause trouble in a city, but wise people calm anger down.”
Proverbs 29: 8
Take joy in the journey treating each other and all we meet with kindness, tolerance and abundant faithful love. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Wednesday!  All is well here at 811.

Dear God, Thank you for your Presence today. Thank you for calling to think on you through silence, your Word and spoken prayer. Thank you for giving each of us a way to escape temptations and grow stronger when we follow closer to you. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

I have heard for many years the statement “God never gives you more than you can handle.” Usually followed by our response, “I just wish God did not trust me so much.”  I have thought about this phrase a lot and there is something that just does not make theological sense to me.  Temptation is absolutely out there just waiting for us to either dive right in or ease in slowly. Temptation is a basic part of the Christian life.  And while temptation can mean doing things we know are overtly wrong I think temptation also can mean other things.  

My friends, life happens. I do not believe God puts temptations and difficult experiences in our lives. I do believe God allows difficult situations to happen in our lives that have the ability to shape how we handle our experiences through His grace and guidance.  When the tough times come we can be anxious and worry making ourselves physically sick about what we are going to do to fix whatever is wrong. Or we can escape these temptations of being worried and anxious and invite God to care for us and live in dependent trust through faith in the unfailing love and power of God.  God is able to do whatever is necessary to help us. God has wisdom concerning whatever our situation is and the way to deliver us. We must trust God to help us instead of falling into the temptations of worry and being so anxious. We live in a fallen world and life is going to happen. The good news is that we have hope in God who raised Jesus from the tomb and brought Him to victory over death. This same God has given us reason to trust that He will do the same for us. God is good and love wins!!!

“The LORD knows how to rescue the godly from temptation.”
2 Peter 2: 9
“The LORD controls the flood. The Lord will be King forever. The LORD gives strength to his people and the LORD blesses his people with peace.”
Psalm 29: 10-11
Take joy in this Lenten journey. May God reign sovereign over our lives and may we quickly go to God when temptation comes.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Tuesday!  All is well here at 811.
Dear God, fill my thoughts with your wonderful deeds and remind me of your works, and I will sing your praise all day long.  Thank you for the psalms These are the wonderful prayers and testimonies of people who trusted you and saw your deliverance. You, most wonderful Lord are fully trustworthy. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

Piggybacking on last evening’s post on prayer…When I get stuck in my prayer life I take some time to pray my list. I say, “Hallelujah!” to the day.   I remember how God has revealed Himself to me and worked in my life over the years.  I remind myself in my prayers of the phenomenal works narrated in scripture and claim the power of God in my own life with the words, “You parted the waters of the Red Sea and placed Noah on dry land. Lord you have the power to reshape a situation and land me (us) on dry land as well.” I give thanks for God’s intervention on our behalf and shown me (usually in hind sight) how the circumstances were worked through by God’s loving care and intimate grace. I give thanks for scripture and the comfort is has given to me and the peace I find in the presence of God and the joy. I love the psalms because they were written by real people with real struggles just like you and I. These ancient folks cried out to the living God and trusted in God’s victory. I ask God to cover my prayer list and to use me for His service today.  The thing that happens when I pray the list is that it reminds me to remain faithful throughout the day and my hope stays strong.  I hope this helps you.

“I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.”
Psalm 77: 1-2
Take joy in the journey as you pray and study scripture.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, March 10, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Monday!  All is well here at 811. Bruce and I attended his monthly Family Conference at the Center this afternoon.  Bruce is making progress in all areas. His language is progressing, his educational levels are increasing. His oral reading level (word calling) without interruptions is not as high as his silent reading level with comprehension.  Math levels are quite high and writing is improving.  I asked if they had any indication as to when he would be discharged. His speech therapist said that discharge or a change in program would be considered when he stops making progress. The good news is he continues to make progress and does not seem to be bored as he continues to be the poster child for motivation.  We celebrated his wonderful accomplishments today with Happy Hour…at Sonic! (I know, don’t we live an exciting life!)

Dear God, Please do not let me miss your instruction. Help me to keep seeking you even when you are silent because Lord, you mean everything to me.  I do believe my prayers will be answered and I believe in you.  Thank you for caring for Peyton and helping him to recover.  I love you Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.

Whenever my Mom would go into the hospital in the last few years of her life and even on the day she passed away I would call her.  I did not need advice, or a shoulder to lean on during those times; I just needed to hear her voice.  My tension level would go down when I heard her smile across the phone lines and gave thanks.

There are times when we pray and need answers. We humble ourselves before the throne of grace and making our pleas known before God and listen and wait.  And sometimes there is no voice that answers back.  There is only silence. So what do we do…we pray again thinking that God did not hear us. Then we wonder why God has not answered or if we have not prayed as we should or for what we should. After a while we are listening so hard for God’s voice that the answer to our prayers is not nearly as important as just hearing God’s voice once again.  Perhaps God is waiting until our souls simply desire His presence and are open to hearing His voice.  So my friends, if God has been quiet lately, which is what I think is going on with me, we need to keep seeking and loving Him  because I know all prayers get answered and I do not want to miss the answer, but I especially do not want to miss His voice speaking my name and communing with me.  

“O Lord, my Rock, be not deaf and silent to me…hear the voice of my supplication as I cry to You for help.”
Psalm 28: 1-2
“The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”
Psalm 28: 7
Take joy in the journey praying in loving trust that God answers our prayers and speaks our name when we are ready to listen. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Blessed Sunday to you all!  All is well here at 811 and trying to acclimate to Daylight Savings Time.  We had an OOPS! this morning.  The clocks did their automatic update and when I looked at the clock my brains automatically said, “Oh, you have another hour.”  I was wrong!  I also think this was a first.  I don’t think I have ever missed at DST or a CST time Sunday ever.  Also, the choir director from Advent Lutheran Church had an attack of appendicitis today and had surgery this afternoon. At last work he is in recovery and doing well.  Please keep Peyton in your prayers for a speedy recovery, remaining infection free and great reduction in pain. 

Dear God, I will be patient and listen to you.  I hope to have the strength to listen and wait on your perfect timing. I thank you that the blessings you have for me are waiting.  I confess my sin to you and thank you for your great mercy in placing desires in my heart and leading me to wait until you and I are ready to step out in faith in service to you. Place your healing on Peyton tonight and give him rest for his body and comfort in his soul.  I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

“Strength will rise as we wait up upon the Lord.”  I love that song. Tonight my meditation seems to target the desires of my heart. In a world of my design I was going to graduate with my Master’s Degree, complete ordination, become ordained and then begin the life of a hospital or hospice chaplain. So far I have completed my degree. Not that that accomplishment is a small thing, but it is only the beginning of the journey.  So far in my Lenten journey I have discovered that seeking ordination has become an idol for me.  It looks as if now that if I am going to be ordained it will not be or another year.  The opportunities I hoped for have not been forthcoming and I have become discouraged.  I think this Lenten journey is teaching me that what I am to do is  follow God’s leading, learning more about Him and wait on the blessings to come. There is a time to step out on faith and a time for patience. I am learning to be willing for God to show me what is necessary for me and my situation. I believe that God heals us, loves us, and gives our life significance and success.    I ask you to pray for me to listen to God, trust in God and I believe the doors of blessing that God has for me will open.  I will pray this for you in return.  God is good and love wins!

“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”
Psalm 27: 14
“I am certain that I will see the LORD’s goodness in the land of the living.”
Psalm 27: 13
Take joy in the Lenten journey. Let us pray for one another and especially for Peyton. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene