Friday, March 28, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
TGIF Today God is Good! All is well here at 811. We are preparing to attend the wedding of Ken and Sheena’s oldest daughter, Kendall. She is marrying a wonderful young man and we know they are going to be so happy. We are excited about seeing them begin their life together in the sight of God, friends and family. So tonight I ask you to pray for this wonderful young couple.

Dear God, I am thankful that it is my soul you love. You created me and placed your love inside me.  I pray that I would be faithful and honor you with the abilities you have given me. I ask to serve you no matter what I am going through. I know there are going to be very painful times ahead. And in that pain I place my hope in you. In the times when my physical strength may fail for a while I ask you to give me rest in your wings of mercy.  Help me to take the focus off of myself and surrender myself over to you and know that you are God. Lord, bless those who carry the disease of cancer and those who care for them. Give them hope and let them know that you are there and you love them.  Thank you for all of those dear ones who are praying for me and my family. Bless them richly Lord. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

Make no mistake; receiving a cancer diagnosis is pretty much a living nightmare that you keep praying for which you will wake up. I remember this feeling with Casey. Receiving a diagnosis for your husband having a massive stroke and being told he will not survive the night is another living nightmare. Sometimes attempting to be brave is hard. But here’s the thing, God never asked any of us to be brave. God realizes we will feel fearful at times.  I have never heard God ever say, “Gaylene, you have to be strong every day and I will check in on you from time to time to see how you are doing.”  What God does tell us is that we need to make a conscious decision to step out of fear and to step with faith-filled courage and dignity into a frightening situation believing that God protects us from behind, leads us forward and walks beside us through the journey with every step we take. God, spoke creation into being and led the Hebrew nation across the sea by his very words and breath knows us and knows our potential terrified that we may be.  This God--ordained courage that is called up in each one of us when difficult times come is how we face the future in the assurance that God stays really close to us. We fight the battles with courage knowing that we do not fight alone for God is with us.

“In god I trust and am not afraid. What an man do to me?”
Psalm 56:11

Take joy in the journey be courageous in the hope of the living God. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Thursday! All is well here at 811. The appointment with the oncologist went very well. It was wonderful to see Dr. Adams again. He greeted me with a big hug and that made me feel so much better.  It was really interesting siting in the waiting room of the cancer center. With Casey we always saw Dr. Adams in his hospital room.  I looked around at the people and the thoughts of the battles these people were fighting really had an impact on me. I saw the face of cancer today and those who were the care givers of these folks. I saw faces filled with hope. I saw faces that were tired. I saw faces of care givers standing ready to do whatever it was going to help the one in their care.  Today, while I begin to fight my own battle, through personal prayer the prayers of others and scripture study. I will add the folks  I saw today to my prayers and ask for the blood of Jesus to cover each one of them; healing their disease and giving them hope.

Dear God, you bring such light to my life. Thank you for letting me see the faces of others who battle this disease. I ask that no matter how this disease and the treatment to come affects me that others can look at my face and see your glory and love you. This is a very intimidating disease and I thank you Lord, for remembering your promises. I rest in the hope that with your help I will be healed and restored to wellness. Lord, you are sovereign over all in my life and I offer myself to you as a sacrifice of praise and ask that you use me in this journey to help someone else.  I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

My pastor friend Deb McCann went with Bruce and I to my appointment with Dr. Adams. She was there in support to script all of what Dr. Adams had to say. The information overload is enormous and I knew I would never be able to remember it all. The decision has been left up to me at this time as to how to proceed. Dr. Adams recommends a lumpectomy and radiation.  The radiation will begin about 4 weeks following surgery. I will go five days a week for six weeks.  I will take an anti-hormone pill for at least five years following the surgery.  The bottom line is that the survival rate is the same whether I have a lumpectomy or a radical mastectomy. Unless I hear something different from the surgeon that is what I plan to do. The lymph nodes do not appear to have become affected at this time. More testing is required. If the lymph nodes are affected then chemotherapy will be required. 

Deb said some very profound words to me today. “God knew you had cancer. That is why you need to have an extra interview for ordination.”  I never thought about that. I don’t know about you, but I usually see God’s plan or will in hind sight. Perhaps Deb is right. She is pretty in tune with God. I had come to the edge of the promise of my dream of being an ordained minister and helping others through pastoral care.  The work of preparing for final ordination is rigorous.  Perhaps this disease is something that must be removed so that I can focus on ordination later. I expect to learn a lot in the waiting room at the cancer center. God is with me here and while I am here I am to learn and practice compassion and offer hope to those who need to hear a word of hope. I believe God will be with me each step of the way restoring health and wellness and teaching me to look into the face of those who battle and offer a word of peace.

“The LORD your God will have mercy—he won’t destroy you or desert you. The Lord will remember His promises,”
Deuteronomy 4: 31
Take joy in the journey living in the assurance of the promises of God and receiving His tender mercies. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and thank pink! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Wednesday! All is well here at 811.  In preparation for the first oncology visit tomorrow I needed to pick the recorded images of the ultra sound. I have been blessed with a nurse navigator who checks in on me frequently to make sure I have what I need for this journey and making sure I have done what I am supposed to do. Geni and I discovered that this wonderful woman with a lovely lilting Irish accent was one of Casey’s nurses on the oncology floor. She even says, “A wee bit…”  Anyway, she called today making sure I had received the diagnosis. I asked her to put one of her cards in the envelope with the CD. When I arrived at the mammography office she had prepared a pink bag for me with loads of information about breast cancer including an organizer, a pen, a pink ribbon stick pin and pink ribbon pendant. While it is a ton of information her kindness warmed my heart. I was reminded of her sweet caring spirit and her part in the fight.  She too walks with me.  I am very blessed.  God is good and love wins.

Dear God, thank you that what matters most to you is my heart. Help me to love you more so that I may please you. Thank you for protecting me and teaching me courage through your wonderful love. With you in this fight I have no reason to fear. You know me well Lord. I am concerned and anxious about the unknowns ahead, but I am not afraid. I firmly believe that you are with me and that this disease and the challenges it presents  will be used for your highest good. I ask for courage to equal the tasks ahead. I ask that my body can withstand whatever treatment and surgery is to come. I ask you Lord to look down on me and soak me in your tender mercies and stir up the faith gift of Jesus in me, my family and friends as they walk with me. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

The title of my meditation tonight is FEAR NOT! What an interesting topic before my first visit to the oncologist!  I have recently begun reading a devotional book of a journey through breast cancer. After each reading it asks a series of questions. One of the questions was how did you receive the words, “You have cancer.”  Answer:  I was able to receive these words because I kind of knew that was going to be the diagnosis. Then the next question, “What hindsight did you have to receive these words and was God with you?” Answer:  I was able to receive these words for myself because I had to say these words to our son when he was diagnosed. In truth for me to hear these words for myself was far easier than hearing them regarding Casey. John 4: 18 explains fear, “God’s perfect love drives out fear.” For me this teaching says that before anything happens to me it must first pass through the loving hand of God. Fear is a very destructive emotion and can cause our lives to crater. Staying in the perfect love of God may not remove the situation, but God’s perfect love is the eye of the storm where calmness and protection from fear lives. My prayer for each of you is that fear will not rule your life and the perfect love of God will soak into every pore of your soul and drive away fear and bring you calmness and peace. 

“I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”
Psalm 34: 4

Take joy in the journey and fear not! Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

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

Dear God, I do so thank you for your wonderful, unfailing compassion. I pray to build my life upon faith, hope, love and courage. Lord, I ask you to guide me on the right path. Every day you bring a new beginning to our lives with the chance to know you more and to show others what it means to love You by how we treat each other.  Your love is constantly around me and I hope in you alone. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

Several years ago friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer and her first words to me were “Gaylene, we are down, but we are not out.”  I recall these words tonight and the theological wisdom attached to them. God is not finished with any of us. Our hope in whatever situation we are facing (and each of us fights a battle of some kind!) has not come to an end. The reason we can claim that hope is  that God’s goodness, kindness and faithfulness have no end and I have to believe that one day all of the wrongs and difficult challenges each of us face will be righted and better than they were before and  made new!. The good news is we get a new beginning every day. God’s unfailing compassion gives us a fresh start to each new day. Because of God’s abundant love for us we are given the grace-filled gift allowing us to experience the greatness of his faithfulness. Let us give thanks for that unfailing compassion and tender mercy that fills our souls with peace.

“Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish for His mercies never end.”
Lamentations 3: 22
“Deep in my heart I say “The LORD is all I need. I can depend on him! The LORD is kind to everyone who trusts and obeys him.”
Lamentations 3: 24-25

Take joy in the journey sacrificing thank offerings to God. Give thanks to God for something each day even when it is really hard.  Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Blessed Sunday to you all. All is well here at 811. I received the most wonderful pink treat basket basket from my best friend Carme. She is a breast cancer survivor. She has shared things from her journey including her survivor’s bracelet. I have put it away for safe keeping and will wear it when surgery is completed. I am wearing a beautiful pink ribbon necklace , they symbol for breast cancer.  These things kept her spirits up and made her feel better as she walked the path of recovery. She has been my friend for over 30 years and we have shared many remarkable things and now we share this journey. Say a special prayer for her as she continues grieving the death of her beloved David.

Dear God, I want to praise you and adore you and sing songs of joy for all of my life.  When I worship you I give you the glory. Lord, the burden of disease I carry is ever present in my thoughts, but You walk with me making the load lighter. I give thanks that I am yoked together with you for this journey.  I pray and claim your very word that you are our refuge and our strength and I place my hope in you. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

This morning in worship I sang the old hymn His Eye is on the Sparrow. Bruce and I were travelling down Cooper Street on the day of the biopsy listening to Pandora Radio.  I found myself singing along with the artist and realized these words were soaking into my soul. It was as if God was speaking His very word into my heart telling me that He would take care of me. One of the phrases even says, “His tender words I hear…I lose my doubts and fears.”  The words of this old hymn speak of powerful faith and trust that if God even cares for the sparrow and watches me I should not let my heart be troubled.  Even though the challenges of the coming weeks and maybe months are in my every thought God will be with me. God promises that I will be enabled to cope with any and all procedures and treatments strengthening me for the tasks ahead as I continue to look with trust in Him. The God we love, worship, trust and place our hope is true to His promises and has given me a rock solid foundation on which to place my trust.  God is good and love wins!

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
Psalm 46:1
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I again praise Him for the help of His presence.”
Psalm 42: 5
Take joy in the journey remembering that hope does not disappoint and that God is with us. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene