Friday, April 25, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
TGIF Today God is First!  All is well here at 811. Carme got into town late this afternoon and then had dinner with us.  We had such a wonderful visit over homemade burgers and fries for dinner.

Dear God, thank you for providing opportunities and for giving me hope. I praise you for all the good things you are doing. But sometimes Lord, my soul is troubled. I am so very grateful that you speak peace to me. Lord,  help me to always turn to you no matter what is going on. I love you Lord. Thank you for continuing to heal Bruce and I ask for a special look see on my BFF Carme and bless her as she has made her first journey out without her beloved Dave. We missed him tonight and she misses him every night. So Lord, throw an extra blanket of healing grace and comfort over her tonight and begin to h4eal her broken heart. You are so good. Love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

Tonight I write for Carme.
                I understand how her heart just a few months ago cried out for good news.  I am fairly sure that she searched for ways to be optimistic about the future. While Casey helped me learn about faith, Carme helped me learn about hope. God told the prophet Isaiah to look for hope. What Carme has imprinted to the depths of her soul is that no matter what is going on our lives God has the power, wisdom and love to help each of us get through it. Each time I spoke with Carme in the final days of David’s life her understanding of hope claimed this statement, “God is with me.” And today Carme drove from San Antonio with her precious pups. Her first trip out by herself. God is doing new things in her life and will provide new opportunities and endless possibilities. Giving her hope. As Carme and I have shared many things, God is giving me opportunities as a cancer survivor. Others are sending those currently going through cancer right now through FB or by introduction to talk with them about my journey and theirs. I may not yet be ordained, but God is using me and giving me opportunities to help others through my own cancer journey.

Sometimes our lives are like a wilderness. Just remember God led the nation of Israel through the wilderness and took them into a new land; a land promised by God’s very Word. So my friends it may not be easy, but let us walk through the wilderness with glad and hopeful hearts.

“I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it! I will make a ways in the wilderness.”
Isaiah 43: 19
“Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on.”
1 Peter 1: 3

Take joy in the journey remembering that hope does not disappoint! Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Thursday!  All is well here at 811. We are preparing for weekend guests. Tomorrow our oldest and best friend Carme Russell will be spending the evening and part of Saturday with us. And then on Saturday Bruce’s brother and his wife will be spending Saturday and part of Sunday with us. We can hardly wait to see these treasured folks. It will be a weekend filled with family, food and lots of laughter. Please pray travel mercy on these loved ones. God is so very good and love always wins!

Dear God, I praise you for answering my prayers. I believe that you will wither grant my request or provide something infinitely better. Thank you for planting hope in my heart and then allowing  hope to grow into having a peaceful mind. You are my Savior and my God and you are sovereign over all things in my life. I love you Lord and I give thanks that you have provided this wonderful gift of prayer so that we need never be out of touch with you. In Jesus name, amen.

In the mornings when I pray on my way to work I pray for people who are ill, I give thanks for my own healing., I claim God’s sovereignty over my life and I give thanks for all of the people in my life that I love so very much. And then sometimes I pray for the desires of my heart. Sometimes the desires of my heart seem very far away and frustratingly impossible. But tonight my meditation says that when I pray in faith I acknowledge that God can solve any dilemma t when I fully trust Him to help. I am a praying woman. I try very hard to listen to the instructions I receive with a humble spirit of hope. When I do that I have found this to be true each time; If my request is in line with God’s will, God will faithfully provide the desire of my heart. If my request is not within His will for me then God will change my desire and it will not only be different, but it will be so much better. I believe that God is the god of impossible situations, and I also believe that God loves to answer prayer. For me, it is often difficult to wait for the answer, But the good news is that even if I am waiting on answers to my prayers, God has not left me, but remains ever close for his timing is perfect.

“Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will get it.”
Mark 11 24:
“If you have faith in God and don’t doubt, you can tell this mountain to get up and jump into the sea, and it will.”
Mark 11: 23

Take joy in the journey and pray the desires of your heart. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Wednesday!  All is well here at 811. It feels so great to say that.

Dear God, I thank you for the relationship I have with you. I pray that it will always continue to flourish. Help me to continue to seek you daily so our intimacy can grow deeper all of the days of my life. Fill me to overflowing and give me peace today so that I may bring you glory. The choice to trust or despair has been before me so many times. Help me to choose trust and faith. Help turn my mourning into dancing. Lord, I love you so much. In Jesus name, amen.

Today I was a hall monitor for the state mandated tests that the children take. It is a day without a phone, book, pencil or paper or any distraction from the job at hand. The job is to keep the children not taking the test in the halls quiet while the students taking the test are hard at work. It was a day of quiet. So for me, it is a great day to pray. So today I took the time to give thanks for the blessings in my life and for God’s wonderful grace working through the blessings and trials.  Life has been in turmoil lately. But today I felt at peace. I realize the cancer journey is not yet over, but there is part of it behind me. It is time to move forward. My relationship with God is not just about what happened yesterday or two weeks ago, it is about how I love God and remain in relationship with Him right now so I am prepared for the next steps of the journey. If I fix my eyes on Jesus I know the more intimate my relationship with Him will be and even the harshness of radiation will not dim the light of His Presence in my life.  My soul is finding rest because it is filled with the peace of God’s Spirit.  Spending the day in prayer is a wonderful way to spend the day. God is good and love wins.

“Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way just as the scripture says.”
John 7: 18
Take joy in the journey and drink in the peace and tranquility of God’s holy Presence. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Tuesday!  All is well here at 811. Bruce and I met with Doc Adams today only to find out that with the exception of completing radiation I am finished. Dr. Jones (surgeon) spoke about me at their patient meeting this morning and all went as it was expected and I am doing very well. Other than some pain in my underarm I am doing quite well and I expect a full recovery. I told Doc Adams about those who ask me why I am not still in bed following the surgery. He rolled his eyes and said, “Have they met you?!” I replied, “I have things to do.” I have an appointment with the radiation doctor on next Tuesday. So here in several weeks I will check this episode of my life off of the list and move on to the next. Life is an adventure and I am so grateful I do not walk this life and have all of these adventures alone. God is good and love wins! 

Dear God, You are my joy. I praise you for loving and protecting me. I glorify your name for your goodness to all your people. Lord, you are satisfying the deep needs of my soul—for inspiring me with your purpose and refreshing me with your presence. You truly fill me with joy.  Thank you for continuing to heal my body and my soul. Thank you for surrounding me with those who love me because they learned this love from you. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

There was a day several years ago that I stood against Satan and told him that he had no power here. The joy in my soul was being threatened because everything with our son was going south. When I began this cancer journey I walked around with one thought and it repeated over and over again, “I have cancer. I have cancer. I have cancer.”  I watched people walk by me and drive by me on the road going about their lives as if all was well and I was falling apart. And then I remembered that hallway in Houston and I asked God to restore my joy. The power and faithfulness of God is greater than the power of Satan will ever be. God reminded me of His presence in my life and how no matter what happened to me I was loved, protected and redeemed by the Savior who claims me as His joy. So tonight I praise God for His goodness and might. I thank Him for all of the blessings that have come from His hand because He is my joy. 

“Shout his praise with joy! For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you.”
Isaiah 12: 6
“Praise the LORD, in song, for He has dome excellent things; let this be known throughout the earth.”
Isaiah 12: 5

Take great joy in the journey and remember how much you are loved by our Savior who claims us as His joy. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, April 21, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Monday! All is well here at 811. I went back to work today.  It was great to see everyone; staff and students alike. They seemed genuinely glad to see me and I was so very glad to see them as well. I must admit that I was tired at the end of the day and Tylenol and my heating pad were on the agenda when I got home. Also, tomorrow I will go back to Dr. Adams, my oncologist. I am not sure if he will begin the connections for setting up radiation treatments, but I believe myself to be healing nicely and will be ready for the next step toward checking off this episode of my life!!

Dear God, My soul rejoices. My joy comes from you and I praise you with gladness. I pray my soul will yearn for things that are of you. Thank you for the healing that you are providing for my body and my spirit. May I continue to sing praises to you with all that I have and all that I am. I  love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

My very first church job was as a church choir director in a small country church. This small Methodist church had Wednesday night prayer meeting and Sunday evening worship. I was pretty young and on Sunday night they liked to sing from the old brown Cokesbury hymnal. It was on those Sunday nights that I learned to sight read music. This little congregation loved to sing these time honored hymns and loved watching me stumble as they called out hymn numbers and I fumbled through unfamiliar tunes while trying to lead these folks in song.  I learned to love those wonderful hymns as they are permanently etched in my mind and in my voice. They bring me comfort and wonderful memories.

Not often do I compare myself to the Apostle Paul, but when it comes to singing hymns in times of trouble I think Paul had the right idea.  Paul was in prison in Philippi along with Silas. They were treated with great cruelty and yet the story goes that they sang hymns because they believed in praising God in the midst of their circumstances. It is during one of those hymn sessions that scripture records the doors of the prison flew open and they were freed. As for me I sang The Lord’s Prayer during my recent MRI and then sang along with a Christian music CD being played during the nuclear procedure and it really helped lower my stress level and kept my mind focused on something other than the procedures being performed. I was not treated unkindly, but I was plenty anxious at these tests. The point is these…tough times to not have to control us when our joy comes from God and we can stay focused on Him.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice!”
Philippians 4: 4
“Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection ever them, that those who love your name may exult you.”
Psalm 5: 11
Take joy in the journey and sing along the way. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Easter!  All is well here at 811.  Early call with sunrise service at Rush Creek this morning. Due to the wind, I and the other scripture reader opted to read scripture from our phones rather than battle the bulletin.  And for me one of the best parts about reading scripture from my phone is that I can adjust the font size. Early in the morning that is kind of important. But the best part of the day was in the front yard of my brother’s house in Allen. Our family gathered for Easter celebration complete with egg hunt for the younger ones. Our great niece found this enormous egg and was instructed to give it to her mother. Asenath took the egg and inside the egg was another egg and so on…until she got to the middle. In the middle was a ring box and close by was her boyfriend who knelt on one knee in the front yard with family gathered as witnesses and asked her to marry him. It was the sweetest proposal I have ever seen.  She said yes!!! It was a great day. God is good and love wins!

Dear God, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!  Lord, the psalmist offers the  first response to Easter morning is to sing praises to God for answering us and becoming our salvation. I give thanks to You Oh loving Lord that that tomb was empty  and you told the woman to go and tell. Thank you for the new life that you have brought when you entered the world as a human and then threw everything off balance by raising Jesus Christ. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

Friends, every human relationship we have and the relationship we have with all creation is defined by relationship to Jesus Christ. This relationship is expressed in Word, water, bread and wine. God entered the created order of the world as a human being and then we are instructed to go and tell. Mary meets the risen Jesus at the empty tomb.  She goes there expecting to find the body of the one she has grown to love and more than anything wants to stay with His body to anoint it with the spices used in burial; remaining  in this place and time suffering in her grief. This is the Jesus she knows and is with whom she is familiar.  She would love to remain him in these familiar surroundings and perform the ritual anointing.  Jesus having compassion for her grieving heart says, “Woman, why are you weeping? Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Jesus identifies Himself to her and though she wants to stay Jesus does not let her do this. He simply tells her to go and tell. She leaves the garden of reunion to share her good news with the Disciples and others.  (I really like it that the first person to whom Jesus reveals his identity is the woman at the well and the first one he tells of his resurrection is also a woman.) Jesus calls us to meet him at the empty tomb and then go and tell the story to others. Mary Magdalene was given the calling to pass on the good news. We have been given the same call. Let us say with a voice filled with joy and truth… Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

“I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD.”
Psalm 118: 17
Take joy in this incredible journey and tell someone what the risen Christ has done for you. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene