Saturday, April 19, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Holy Saturday! All is well here at 811. Bruce went very early this morning to have prayer and share with the residents of the Allred Prison through the Kairos Prison Ministry. He said the day was awesome. I have never been witness to prayer and share because women are not allowed, but I have heard these men sing and it is amazing. These incarcerated residents and the team that goes in to worship, pray and sing live out the hymn, “We are one in the spirit, we are one in the Lord.” 

Dear God, thank you for working powerfully today as you did for the Israelites. I praise you with thankfulness and joy.  Lord,, no matter the circumstances when I am in your will I am in a good place. Please help me fix my mind and heart now on doing your will. Thank you for this blessed Holy Saturday. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

I did a little research on Holy Saturday. When we were members at a small Lutheran church in Grand Prairie the pastor would hold Easter Vigil Services. His understanding was that Easter Vigil Services were for baptisms. All three of our children were baptized on Easter Vigil on the same night. It is a very long service and I begged the pastor to shorten the service as there were going to be a great many young ones in the audience. He shortened the service by ending the service just prior to when The Great Thanksgiving and Eucharist was to be shared. The pastor simply said that this service will continue in the morning at sunrise.  Holy Saturday usually goes unacknowledged as we are preparing for Easter Sunday.  In some traditions Holy Saturday is the only day in which the church is forbidden from administering the Holy Eucharist.  Perhaps it has the appearance of a day without the possibility of comfort. Perhaps that is why we distract ourselves with eggs, bunnies, baskets, clothes and dinner prep. Yesterday we gathered at the foot of the cross. We witnessed the cruel death of our Lord and Savior Jesus and we comforted ourselves in our grief. Yesterday, all eyes were on Jesus and today Jesus is nowhere to be seen. So today as we prepare baskets and sopapilla cheesecakes in celebration of the blessed resurrection let us take time to remember the death of Jesus, still in the tomb, our grief and sadness and how His love for us has cost us grief it is love and only love that is worth the price.

“My times are in your hand, deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. Let your face shine upon your servant, save me in your steadfast love.”
Psalm: 31: 1-4, 15-16

Take joy in the journey and hang in there just a bit longer for Easter is almost here. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Friday, April 18, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Good Friday!  All is well here at 811. I had a pretty rough day yesterday. I was exactly one week since surgery. Pain higher than it had been emotions all over the place and I really missed my Mom. Then the most wonderful thing happened. I received a package in the mail from my Aunt Betty, my Mom’s sister in Indiana. It was a beautiful pink sweater.  I put it on immediately and felt like my Mom was giving me the warmest most wonderful hug. In her later years Mom always hugged me a little longer as if she were trying to engrave in her memory the feeling of her daughter child to take with her forever (I am sure she did that to all of us.). I put on the sweater and kept it on for the rest of the day and put it back on again.  Today was a far better day. no pain, emotions better and it is Good Friday. Good Friday was not good for Jesus, but it was certainly good for us. To get to resurrection morning we have to go through the darkness of Good Friday, the long Holy Saturday and arise to newness of life on Easter morning.

Dear God, tonight we gathered in worship with friends and family in the deathwatch of your Son. How horrible that must have been for You to watch Jesus be so cruelly beaten, abused and unmercifully shamed in front of his family and friends. Tonight Lord, we were transported back to the foot of the cross through music, prayer, scripture and reproaches. We stood at the foot of the cross with friends and family who love your Son for comfort and strength. Thank you for sending your Son into the world—not to condemn the world, but to love the world. May this world be saved through Jesus. I love you Lord Jesus. In Jesus name, amen.

Tonight this writing is not original text but I found it quite profound and wanted to share it with you.

“maybe this is where we need to enter the Good Friday drama, and maybe this is where we need to take our stand; not betraying Jesus, not denying him, not mocking him, not condemning him, not rejecting him, not mocking him, not cursing him, not flogging him, not killing him—but standing there at the foot of the cross with the others who love him…for us, for all our regrets and for all our impossibles, for all that will never be and for all that once was, for all that we can’t make right and for all that we got wrong, for our Judas failures and our Peter denials and our Lazarus griefs…Jesus offers to take the nails, the sharp edge of everything and offer himself because He wanted to, to take us in our wild grief, us in our anger and our disappointment and our wounds and our not-yet-there, us, just as we are, not some improved version of ourselves, but us—He came for us, to hold us, to carry us, to save us.”
                So when our friends ask us how we spent our Good Friday evening we can say, “I was standing at the foot of the cross…

“It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
John 19: 30
Take joy in this Good Friday and walk humbly through Holy Saturday. Wear comfortable shoes for the journey may be long. Get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Holy Maundy Thursday!  Allis well here at 811.

Dear God, I am a child in your arms. Thank you for holding me in your loving presence. I depend on your provision and protection. Thank you for accepting me completely without fault and with joy. To you be all the honor, glory, power and praise.  And thank you Lord, for dying for me while I was yet a sinner, and for instituting the sacrament of your body and blood. I love you Lord so very much. In Jesus name, amen.

As I sat around the hand washing and communion tables tonight in worship I imagined that night in Jerusalem. Jesus had just washed the feet of his disciples. This was a task given to the very lowest of the low and insignificant people in the land; the washing of the dirty feet of the guests in the house. And yet Jesus took on this lowly task himself as a model of service to his disciples that they were to follow after he was gone. Jesus stood in their midst and broke the bread and poured the wine saying the words of which we are all so familiar, “this is my body broken for you and this is my blood poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

But this service begins with these words, “On the night he was betrayed…” Tonight I thought about that phrase. I thought about Judas and how Jesus knew Judas was to betray him. Jesus still invited Judas to the table knowing that Judas was about to betray him into the hands of those who plotted to kill him.  I do not know why Judas made the choices he did. I know the thirty pieces of silver were an incentive, but I like to think that Judas loved Jesus and hoped that this act of betrayal would save his life and of course the opposite happened. I think Jesus still loved Judas even though Judas was not very loveable at that moment. And tonight as the bread was passed to me it came to me just how completely Jesus loves us…On the night Jesus was betrayed Jesus took the bread and gave it to us. We are invited to remember that Jesus offered his life for us not when we were particularly worthy, charming, faithful or successful, but when we betrayed.

For I received from the lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
1 Corinthians 11: 23-25
Take joy in the journey and remember the body and blood our Lord shed for each of us no matter what state of life we find ourselves. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Holy Wednesday!  All is well here at 811.  Two victories today. First, I went to my first post-op visit today with all good news. Dr. Jones got the entire tumor and the surrounding tissues had clean margins and she removed 8 lymph nodes that were free of cancer.  She says I am healing well and has handed me off to the oncologist for treatment planning.   Second, after many exhaustive hours, crawling under the house, snaking the drain and creating pipes to fit other pipes our kitchen sink is unclogged. Bruce is totally amazing.  I can honestly say I have never had a repairman in my house except the one with whom I live.  It has been a red letter day here at 811. God is good and love wins!

Dear God, you really do amaze me. Thank you that I can serve you faithfully with the assurance of your help and protection. You have changed me from the inside out and I praise your name! Thank you for giving me such hope, worth, beauty, wisdom and holiness. Thank you for a husband who is so faithful and gifted to keep working until the job is finished. Thank you for Dr.Jones who has dedicated herself to the healing of others.  Thank you for a loving family, who loves, forgives supports and encourages in all situations. I love you Lord and sing your praises. In Jesus name, amen.

When Bruce had his heart valve replacement a couple of years ago I went to Starbucks and purchased a coffee traveler and spent the previous day baking cookies for the visitors who were there while Bruce was in surgery. The support for Bruce practically filled the room and we were loud, proud, laughing and in a spirit of faithful joy that Bruce would come through this surgery just fine. And God blessed us with Bruce’s surgery survival and perfect recovery. On the day of my breast cancer surgery there were pink balloons, pink cookies, pink M & M’s, cancer awareness mints, pink popcorn, a Starbucks Traveler of my favorite coffee  and pink ribbons for all who came in support of me and my family. The others in the waiting room (I am told) thought “why didn’t we think of something like this while our loved one was in surgery.”   I personally think the greatest gift the others in the waiting room experienced was the joy and laughter my family shared with each other. As Geni says, “This is just how we roll.”  In a time when serious business was going on in the OR, my family throws a party.

The prophet Daniel was found guilty of praying going against the decree of the Persian King and was sentenced to death in the lion’s den. The story goes that Daniel sang hymns while in the lion’s den and the next morning was found to be unharmed. God delivered him from death. Now I do not know if Daniel held choir rehearsal with the lions, but I know that Daniel knew that whether he was eaten by the lions or came out alive that he would be okay. I think that our stories speak to the character of God, especially God’s faithfulness. God tends to help us when we are found faithful without fear of what others think of our actions. I knew as did Daniel that no matter what the outcome I would be okay. So my friends let us become vessels of praise and be filled with God’s glory sharing joyful faithfulness to God to all we meet. Great is our God.

“The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you are serving continually deliver you.”
Daniel 6: 16
“Let all who see you rejoice and be glad because of you. Let those who love your salvation continually say, “The Lord is great.”
Psalm 40: 16
Take joy in the journey and sing praises to our God. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

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

Dear God, Thank you that my name is on your hands for all of eternity. You are most definitely written on my heart. Thank you for healing me and transforming my mind and body preparing me for wellness. Lord, you allow us to go through disease and pain because we are a part of a fallen world. And Lord I give thanks that  no matter what we are going through you are with us, never forgetting us and when we trust in you we will not be disappointed because we know you are Lord. You put a song in our hearts to sing praises to you so others will see and put their trust in you. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

When I was a young teenager the current rage was getting your ears pierced. I got my ears pierced when I was 13. My beloved Aunt Linda did it for me. Today it is getting a tattoo. My children all have tattoos and each of their tattoos have meaning.  Geni and Travis both carry cancer ribbons for Carme and Casey.  Travis has a Celtic Cross in memory of Casey and Geni has a yellow bow for the same reason and Casey’s name written on her wrist. And Carme, who also has tattoos, continues to strongly urge me to get a tattoo. I have resisted her urgings. Isaiah 49: 15-16 says, “I would not forget you! See, I have written your nAame on the palms of my hands.” Each time God looks at His hands and sees the nail holes He remembers the Easter Tree. He sees our names and how much He loves us. God gives thanks for the blood out poured and re-members each of us as beloved children. We may at times feel far from God, but God is never far from us because His loving hands of remembrance are indelibly marked with our names.

“You will know I am the LORD. Anyone who trusts in me will not be disappointed.”
Isaiah 49: 23

Take joy in the journey and allow God to engrave his name and comfort on your heart. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, April 14, 2014

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

God, I thank you for the promise of springtime in my life.  I will wait patiently through the difficult seasons and hope earnestly in your faithfulness. You are faithful and true, my great defender. I praise you for your mighty and gentle hand that helps me today and every day.  I love you Lord Jesus.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

I spent my first night being very uncomfortable due to the surgery. It seems that many of the nerves were cut during the lymph node extraction and they are beginning to knit themselves back together and  heal. This causes tingling and numbness under my arm and down the backside of my arm.  I lost a great deal of sleep last night.  I called the doctor today and found out that this is very normal. This is the good news that the nerves are healing, the not so good news is that there is nothing to do to relieve these sensations and it takes a long time for these nerves to heal and reconnect.  I am not sure exactly what “a long time” means but I know that patience and tolerance will be involved to endure and find ways to sleep.

What I can count on is that God will be faithful. In my breast cancer devotional book there is a chapter where the question is posed to God by the writer, “Are You not the God who…?” …is a mighty warrior and defeats evil…who through his powerful hand worries the enemy and is always tender toward us…who is able to restore sight to the blind and cause the lame to walk can look down from heaven and see each of us in our struggles and aggravations! Jesus is devoted to us and fulfills his promises. We are only asked to trust in the one who gives us reason to be patient and faithfully helps us in all we do. His faithfulness and devotion is enough.

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.”
Psalm 40: 1
“You made me suffer a lot, but you will bring me back from the deep pit and give me new life. You will make me truly great and take my sorrow away.”
Psalm 71: 20-21

Take joy in the journey remembering that God does not zap us with patience. God allows us to go through life events that teach us patience. Wear comfortable shoes, throw an extra blanket on the bed, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Blessed Palm Sunday to you all!  All is well here at 811.

Dear God, thank you, God for a voice with which to sing your praises with my whole heart. I want to be a worthy example of your gentleness, humility, patience and love. Lord, I ask that when You are ready to work through me that I will be willing to follow you and hear your voice. You are my source of hope. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

I began this cancer journey with the old hymn His Eye is On the Sparrow.”  God is the source of all hope. Keeping our eyes on God reminds us that no matter what the circumstance---poverty, pain, sickness, loss, disappointment, grief and even the prospect or possibility of our own death cannot steal our hope when it is anchored safely in God.  God is the author of all hope.  God will never leave us as we walk through dark, confusing, lonely and painful times in our lives. God replaces our doubts and painful times with the brilliant light of His unfailing love.

I understand pain management. Pain management means taking your pain medication on a regular schedule helping manage your pain. That means taking the pain meds before the pain hits and the pain l subsides. If you wait to take the medication when the pain is bad then you have to wait for it to take effect. I walked around for about two weeks saying in my head, “I have cancer. I have cancer” until I finally remembered to just whisper “Jesus.”  When I whisper Jesus’ name peace enters my heart and I am filled with wisdom and understanding. The name Jesus became my spiritual pain management. Staying in God’s Word and whispering the name Jesus helped keep the anxiety and nervousness at a lower level The wisdom I remember is that God loves us so dearly and even though we are allowed to go through difficult times we are reminded that through the body and blood of Jesus, God promises to be with us in our good times and hard times. God understands our suffering and walks with us with an understanding heart.  So my friends let us call the name of Jesus and spend time with our constant friend allowing God to fill us with comfort and hope because God’s love for us is never ending. God is good and love wins.

“Now, Lord, what wait for? My hope is in thee.”
Psalm 39: 7
“Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth? Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.”
Psalm 100: 1-2

Take joy in the journey and when the road gets rocky speak the name of Jesus and feel comforted and filled with hope. Wear comfortable shoes and maybe put an extra blanket on the bed tonight. Get some sleep and think pink! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene