Saturday, April 5, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Saturday!  All is well here at 811. Bruce spent much of the day driving around catching up on errands he needed to run. He loves being independent once again.   I wrote my sermon and have practiced it. I just hope I can remember it all for tomorrow. A couple more practices and I should be okay. I am preaching at St. Andrews Christian Church in Carrolton. This will be a new congregation to whom I will preach.  The passage of scripture is John 11: 1-45; Raising of Lazarus.  Sermon title:  When the Dead Stand Up the Funeral’s Over!  Say an extra prayer for me to preach well and share this extraordinary passage of scripture.  Geni, Bruce and I made a basket full of pink ribbons for surgery day. I also found pink popcorn. There will be good coffee and Geni is making wonderful sugar cookies with pink ribbon icing. It is going to be a “Think Pink Party” in the waiting room at Memorial.

Dear God, I do love scripture and I believe that scripture is Your inspired word. It is your “spirit” placed “in” the hearts of your people called to write about you and your Son; Jesus. It is in your word that I find delight. It is in your word that I find security. Thank you for the continued assurance that your promises are true. I praise your holy name. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

My devotion tonight refers to the story of the centurion and his slave who was ill. This centurion knew that Jesus was true to his word. The centurion did not ask Jesus to go back to his home. He knew that if Jesus said the servant would be healed and Jesus was true to his word. Upon the centurions return to his home the servant was healed. How strong was the faith of the centurion?

Is our faith that strong? When we read scripture and pray do we really take God at his word? Do we delight ourselves in the Lord? When our way is challenged and we try to see through the clouds of uncertainty remember that God is pure light. God enables us to see Him at any time and we are called to fix our eyes on him and he will show the way forward. The psalmist writes, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37: 4) I believe so strongly in God’s word and that it is absolutely true and what God promises will be accomplished. Our difficulty is in the waiting for when the promises and desires of our heart will be made known to us. It is in this waiting that we open the promise of hope given to us when we first believed. Hope is the steady light of God leading us through those clouds of uncertainty. Waiting does not always mean standing still. It simply means that we must continue to move forward in the light of God’s love and grace.  It is during this time of waiting that we learn to enjoy our time with the Savior and delight in Him. The psalmist also tells us to “Wait for the LORD, and keep His way, and he will exalt you.” (Ps. 37: 34)

“Say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
Luke 7: 7
Take joy in the journey and take time to delight in the Lord. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
TGIF Today God is First!  All is well here at 811. Today was a busy one for me. I was a bit nervous prior to beginning the MRI this morning. The MRI and I did just fine. The folks in the MRI Suite were wonderful and put me at ease and even put a warm blanket on me which caused me to relax even more. Except for the noise it was not unpleasant at all.  I gave thanks while praying and singing (silently)  “The Lord’s Prayer” during the scan.  It ended up only taking about 20 minutes. The funny part to me was one of the sounds sounded like it was saying, “duck, duck, duck, duck…” over and over again. I kept waiting for someone to say “Goose!”  Thank you all for your prayers. I know I felt them and my heart was at peace. God is good and love wins.

Dear God, Thank you for bringing me peace during the procedure today. Thank you for all of the faithful prayer warriors who prayed today and will continue to pray. Lord, You put a smile on my face and a song in my heart. I praise you for your goodness, your love, your wisdom and power.  Help me to stay very close to you and return each day for strength and refreshment of your love and care. Lord, I ask for the Holy Spirit to anoint the sermon I am writing and be worthy of being preached to the congregation.  Thank you Lord. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

I had an uncle who has gone on to glory. While he was here on earth he was the uncle who always had a quarter in his pocket or some small token for his nieces and nephews when he would visit. However, he was also the uncle that you did not ask how he was doing because he was going to tell you. His responses were always about how the things in his house were broken or how he was feeling or how much money he was had spent or was about to on something. While he had love for God and his family in his heart he did not have a mouth for praise.

When we show our praise in words and actions our hearts are at peace. Praise voices our confidence that God is with us no matter what comes our way. We remember the faithful loving presence of God that sustains us and transforms us.  Without praise we have limited understanding of the character of God. Praise changes our focus allowing us to see and experience the power and wisdom of God. So let us praise God right now and step into the light of His living presence and be at peace. I praise God for those he gifted for being healers and creating MRI machines that help others use their gifts for the highest good of caring for others. And I praise God for warm blankets given for comfort. I praise God for my daughter who was with me today giving me encouragement and making me laugh.

“It is good to praise you, Lord…It is good to tell of your love in the morning and of your loyalty at night…LORD, you have made me happy by what you have done.”
Psalm 91: 1-2, 4
Take joy in the journey and praise God with words and actions. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Thursday!  All is well here at 811. Bruce is driving like a champ and has already made a solo trip to the store.  This is really going to be a wonderful help to me following surgery.  Driving has done wonders for his confidence. I love it when he so happy.  In the 1000 step journey I am on step 7.  Tomorrow I will have a special MRI for Breast Cancer Patients.  Geni is going with me and I am a bit nervous. I have never had an MRI before.  Thank you for your continued prayers for me and my family.

Dear God, You say I should give thanks to you in all things. I guess that means cancer too. So I praise you for the surgery and the treatment to come. You know I am not looking forward to the MRI in the morning, six weeks of daily radiation and possible chemotherapy. I really do not mean I praise you for cancer in me any more than I praised you for cancer in Casey. But I am saying these things to you right now to use as a weapon of praise in faith and I trust in you to take control of all that is ahead of me. Please help me to be calm in the morning and be as still as possible during the MRI. Help me sleep tonight. I love you Lord and I place my trust in you. In Jesus name, amen.

If we learn to praise God when things are tough, we show our trust in Him and open the way for God to work in our lives. But I have never been able to be thankful for cancer. I have always been thankful that God has walked with each of us as we have battled this disease, but not for the disease itself. Several close members of my family have battled this disease and most of them have lost the battle.  I can say with assurance that while they were never restored to wellness, but they were all healed as all were men and women of faith. ! Thess. 5: 18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances.”  So I have been working to find the things for which to be thankful this far in the journey.  First, this tumor is a stage 2 (not 3 or 4).  I am in good general health and expect my body to be able to respond well to the surgery and to the radiation. I give thanks for the team that will be caring for me as they are the tops in their field and are men and women of faith. And how interesting that this was discovered for me during the season of Lent. I always make a journey during the Lenten season and I am thankful for the lessons I am being taught during this time. I am not sure except for my own restored health how God will use this unwanted circumstance, but I believe that somehow God will use it for the good of others. I am praising God that the surgeon will remove all of the tumor and tissues.  So I am praising God because I have been called to praise in all things.  I don’t feel thankful for cancer, but scripture does not say I have to “feel” my praise. I just have to believe that prayer is the weapon in our arsenal and all battles can and will be fought beginning with praise and prayer. 

“Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk in my high places.”
Habakkuk 3: 17-19

Take joy in the journey and praise God giving thanks for His unfailing love and faithful presence in our lives. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Wednesday! All is well here at 811. There is cause for celebration.  Bruce was able to successfully apply and receive a new driver’s license today. Has been driving since about 5:00 this afternoon. He is so excited. I was so excited for him. As for me…surgeon’s visit was great. The plan is still for a lumpectomy followed by six weeks of daily radiation 5 days per week and then an anti-hormone drug for 5-10 years to protect from further tumor growth.  The surgery is scheduled for Thursday morning April 10 around 9:00. It is a day surgery at Arlington Memorial.  So wear pink if you visit and plan to have a great time while you are waiting!  You know how Chrystie’s like to party at the hospital. God is good and love wins.

Dear God, I know your love never fails. Help me to give my best bearing, believing, hoping, and enduring all things in your love. Lord, it is an honor to serve you. Lord, the surgery plans have been made by those who are expert in the field of medicine. But I also was blessed to know that these brilliant scientists are also people of faith. Thank you for placing me in the hands of a team of healers who look to you as the Master Healer and will work not only with their knowledge and hands, but with hearts and souls being led by your Holy Spirit. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

In the quiet moments of the day and the surgical visit came closer I began to repeat  “I love you Lord. I trust you. I love you Lord. I trust you.”  These phrases helped bring calmness to me. I began to think on God’s faithful acts of love and was reminded of the scripture in 1 Corinthians.  When you read the passage from Corinthians replace the word love with the word Jesus. Love bears all things.  Jesus faithfully bears our weaknesses and gives us the strength to joyfully bear one another’s burdens and help others. Love Believes all things.  Jesus believes our lives were worth the sacrifice and call us to proclaim the gift of salvation as the good news of Jesus. God believes us to be worthy of the investment in our lives to proclaim this good news. Love Hopes all things.  The hope of salvation is paramount in our life as believers, but the hope and assurance that Christ is with us in all we do is the hope we cling to in our everyday life.  Love Endures all things.  Jesus endured the horrors of the cross so that we might have eternal life by faith and hope. It is then incumbent for each of us to attempt to live a life of faithfulness and give God the glory in all ways and situations. God’s acts are given in faithfulness and His love is unfailing.  

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures al things.”
1 Corinthians 13: 7
“Let whoever is wise pay attention to these things and consider the LORD’s acts of faithful love.”
Psalm 107: 43

Take joy in the journey believing, bearing, hoping and enduring with love and giving glory to God even when it is really hard. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Tuesday!  All is well here at 811. Upcoming events…Bruce is going to apply for a new driver’s license either tomorrow or Monday. Please pray for him as he takes this bold step forward. Tomorrow I will see the surgeon.  I think I should have more information following the visit with her.

Dear God, thank you for teaching me what you want and for giving me the ability to do it. May my life always please you.  It is my desire to continue to learn to know you and to respond to situations in a way that honors you. Help me to grow in your love by staying in complete trust in you.  I love you Lord. In Jesus name.

The apostle Paul was in prison when he discovered that he was exactly where God wanted him. Paul did not want to be in prison, but while he was in prison he continued to live the life God called him to live by sharing the good news of Jesus with those around him.  Paul could not have accomplished this on his own. Paul realized that he could not handle prison life on his own. Paul acknowledged the hand of God in his prison survival and fully understood the price of discipleship. Paul understood that the cost of discipleship is following Christ no matter where he leads and what trials he would encounter in exchange for experiencing the glory of God.

I find myself in a similar situation. I am not in a prison, but I am facing a situation that I cannot manage alone. If I could, why would I have need for a saving God?  My circumstances are life altering and I cannot begin to deal with surgery, treatment and recovery without God’s gracious compassion. While I do not believe that God zapped me with cancer, I do believe I am exactly where God wants me to be and doing what I am called to do at this time. Right now I am to follow. I have not experienced prison, but I have experienced trials beyond my imagination. It is through these difficult times that I have come to know so much more about God and as life changing as these trials have been they have been worth it to experience to loving compassion, grace beyond measure and peace not of this world, but of the eternal kingdom.  Getting to know God is definitely worth it.  God is good and love wins.
“My whole being will exclaim, ‘Who is like you, O LORD?”
Psalm 35: 10
“Those who want the best for me, let them have the last word—a glad shout!—and say, over and over and over, ‘God is great—everything works together for good for his servant.”
Psalm 35: 27
Take joy in the journey and be willing to bloom where you are planted. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, March 31, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Monday! All is well here at 811.  I spent parts of today getting the necessary paperwork together for the surgeon’s visit on Wednesday. Bruce continues to make steady progress and is being so very supportive of me.  Thank you to all who are praying, sending cards and being so supportive during this time. Your words of encouragement and prayers are so wonderful. Thank you all so very much.

Dear God, I want to live a life worthy of you. Help me to choose words and actions that honor you. Thank you for loving me and comforting me when I feel so vulnerable. As you are sovereign over my life and all the events I go through,  may others see your most powerful love and seek you as their Lord and Savior. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

Going to the surgeon is about step 5 in the 1000 step journey. I went about collecting paperwork, pathology reports and the CD filled with the imaging the doc needs. This whole situation is becoming more real with every moment. I have moments when I am busy and taking care of business and then I sit down and become aware of the realities. Many times this happens in the car. But Carme says that is what the car is for.  My Sarah Young devotion from yesterday was so reassuring. They opening sentence was “I AM TAKNG CARE OF YOU. Trust in me at all times.  Trust me in all circumstances. Trust me with all your heart.” God seems to know exactly when I need him the most and rushes to comfort me. God is near when we are crushed, brokenhearted and most vulnerable.  In the moments just after I brought the news to Casey that he had incurable cancer he said, “I’ll beat this!” In the moments between the news and his statement of faith he felt shock and powerlessness.  His statement of faith was the confirmation not only of the strength of conviction, but the strength of Christ within him and he was comforted.  I am comforted by God’s holy word and “I will be just fine.” 

Sometimes it is difficult to allow someone comfort us as we may look at this as a sign of weakness. The truth is that when we allow God to comfort us we invite His mercy to heal our hearts. When others see we have been comforted by the living God. When we offer comfort to others it is then we see and experience the compassion of our God of love, grace and understanding. God is good and love wins!

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34: 18
“The LORD’S people nay suffer a lot, but he will always bring them safely through.”
Psalm 34: 19
Take joy in the journey and allow our God who understands suffering to bring comfort to each of us. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Blessed Sunday to you all!  All is well here at 811. The wedding was perfectly beautiful and full of loving family, friends and great celebration. It was such a fun evening and everyone had a great time.  I was blessed to get to dance last evening with my loving husband, my wonderful son and my precious Dad. It was a night I will not soon forget.  I ask your prayers for Matt and Kendall as they begin their new life together and travel mercy on their trip to Cancun! 

Dear God, Thank you that you are at work even when I cannot see. It is when you are working in unseen ways that you are giving me hope. I ask for help to remember all of the things that I must do to take care of Bruce and myself. I thank you for your peace. Sometimes my emotions get the better of me. So Lord, even in my emotions let me honor you.  Reveal your holiness to me and answer my prayers. I know the power of answered prayer is in you because you are the hearer of my prayers. Thank you for being there when I call and being my friend.  Thank you that when I search for you I find you. And I know the answers you give will be worth the wait. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

I think the best thing about God is that God is God. When God poured himself into the body of Jesus and we entered into relationship with him we became holy. We became forgiven people and our response to this forgiveness is in how we demonstrate that forgiveness in our daily living. The greater intimacy we have with God the closer we come to know God. Becoming “holy” means to be set apart for God in our intimate relationship and our representative love, care and forgiveness of others.

Today at Rush Creek the youth were in charge of the service. The theme of our worship today was forgiveness. The senior youth prepared messages of testimony of how the church had helped shape their lives. Two of these wonderful young people shared painful stories of being on the receiving end of childhood bullying. Through the representative faith and modeling of forgiveness of the church they were able to forgive those who had mistreated them in their past. I witnessed one of these young people take their place behind the table of grace and communion. He led us through the service of the representative body and blood of Jesus speaking the words of institution and inviting us to this place of reconciliation.  I was humbled at the demonstration of the simple understanding of the complex concept of grace.  We were invited to come and share in the holy meal and be reconciled to one another and to God once again.  God has blessed these mighty young people with true holiness as they continue to imitate the holiness of God.  God is good and love wins!

“I am the Lord your God; so consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am holy.”
Leviticus 11: 44

Take joy in the journey loving and forgiving others as we travel through. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene