Saturday, May 3, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Saturday! All is well here at 811. Bruce and I spent the most amazing time of worship and music listening and singing along  to the Gaither Homecoming Fest at the Fort Worth Convention Center.  We were gifted to witness extraordinary talent in  concert  Christian music by talented artists who not only sing because they have the voices, but responded to a calling from God to spread the gospel through music. My kind of folks. Secretly I have always wanted to be on stage singing with all of those legends young and old. But as I listened to those women I could hold my own vocally, but I was positive I did not have enough hair! (LOL!!!) Seriously, it was a fantastic afternoon and one I will not soon forget.

Dear God, I praise you for telling the truth and being the truth. I trust you to lead me because you are absolutely faithful. Help me to base all of my confidence in your love and unshakable security. Thank you for sustaining and protecting me.  Lord, my friend Allison and her family are walking a long journey of struggle. They are faithful folks and are in need of the joy that only your strength can provide. Help this new family to stay strong and hold them close Lord. I love you Lord and so do my friends. In Jesus name, amen.

Dr. Adam’s, our favorite oncologist, who treated Casey and now has taken care of me always says, “The destination is never in question, but sometimes the journey sucks!” So tonight Allison, I write for you. I will say what you already know, but perhaps my writing tonight will bring you some peace and increase the folks who surround you in prayer.

We human folks tend to speak of our security in terms of earthly things that make us feel safe.  We have houses, cars, phones, church; many of us have money in the bank, a fridge with food, jobs, family and friends. But when our world seems as if it is falling apart and when that which we have always held on to for security begins to tremble and shake it becomes apparent that we have to look for something else in which to place our security. The answer does not come in something we can touch or see. Our answer comes in faithfully believing in God and His Word. When Casey was being treated for incurable cancer at  MD Anderson a friend came to see us and said, “Gaylene, keep yourself surrounded in the Word.”  So I took paper and wrote scripture verses in marker on paper and hung all around the room. People would come into our room and read the walls and walk away feeling better and strengthened. God’s Word is meant to be deeply ingrained in our minds and pondered on in our hearts and seen in our actions. I know it is a tall order!  This earth shakes and trembles. Just ask those folks in Arkansas whose houses were splintered. They know that all of these things are temporary even though they are upset and hurt and maybe angry.  God is the only source that remains trustworthy and steadfast forever. So my friend, if you can, throw back your head and sing, “I will praise you in this storm because You are Who You are.”  And if you can’t praise yet, just whisper the name of Jesus and Jesus will know the rest. I pray peace will flood your soul and your burdens will be lifted.. God is good and love wins!

“God is…always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.”
Psalm 46: 1-2
Though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…God is within her, she will not fail. God will help her at break of day.”
Psalm 46: 3, 5
Take joy in the journey and praise God in the storm and whisper His name when it is too hard to speak. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Friday, May 2, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
TGIF Today God is First!  All is well here at 811. A reason to rejoice…the radiation doctor’s office called today and reported that my radiation treatments are covered 100% by my insurance. I was beyond grateful.  God is good.

Dear God, whether it is difficult or easy—I want to do as you ask. I know that above all, your plans are best. Fill my eyes with your holy face and my heart with you unfailing love. You are my Lord, Savior and my friend. You are God who loves deeply Thank you for seeing me as one who greatly desires to follow your will and to have a soul that bears your image. I need your grace for each day and desire to be in your presence and learn of you.  I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I try each day to begin with a simple prayer of Hallelujah for the day and end the day with an Amen for the night. But I think I will add, “Hallelujah Lord, your will be done.”  This very difficult phrase was humbly spoken by Jesus just prior to His trial and crucifixion.  Jesus knew the horrors that were to come and yet the attitude of his humble heart compelled Him to see His mission through because of His willingness to obey. Jesus in His most human moment modeled the pathway to God for each of us. We are called to be willing to humbly trust God and speak the words “Your will be done.”  When we say these ancient words of trusting faith we are agreeing with God that in good times, dry times and tough times God will be with us. We profess in faith that God’s loving plans for us are far more wonderful and wiser than our own. So in the morning as we are waking let us sing a new song to God. Let us sing the words, “Hallelujah! Lord your will be done in me today.” And then watch and wait for the gentleness and grace of God change us for others to see.

“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet now My will, but Yours be done.”
Luke 22: 42
Take joy in the journey and sing a new song in the morning. Wear comfortable shoes. Get some sleep and think pink! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Thursday!  All is well here at 811. And Happy May!

Dear God, You are my gentle Savior. Today I thank you that your goodness and mercy are with me all the days of my life. Lord, when my heart is sad and difficulties threaten my joy you offer grace. Your grace lifts me up and gives me a new song to sing. And Lord, when my heart is full of joy and the sun shines in the sky I am again reminded it is by your grace alone that these miracles happen each day. Thank you for the hope of your promises and the truth of your Word. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

There is a song by Phillips, Craig and Dean titled, “Your Grace Still Amazes Me.” (I hope this to be the next piece I learn.) Each time I hear this beautiful song on Pandora Radio I am comforted that God’s grace is the visible evidence of God’s everlasting love. Even when there are those things that threaten our joy God’s grace is there for us to experience the hope of God’s great promises. We need God’s grace to live in the present. We are these fiercely independent folks who have a tendency to act in great self-sufficiency and do not often notice the many moments of grace that pass before us each day. We are given grace for the day providing everything we need for the moments at hand. We face situations each day that require the presence of God and offer help only God can provide. Our difficulty is in resting in God’s sufficiency so that we can learn to depend on Him more and more. My friends our mistakes can be changed into good through the transforming grace of our loving God because no detail of our lives is hidden from our grace-filled, grace giving Lord. God looks at us through the eyes of unfailing love. So beloved, God’s love is for us, His grace surrounds us and His love will never fail.  God is good and love wins!

“How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
Psalm 36: 7

Take joy in the journey and sing a new song of grace so amazing. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Tuesday!  All is well here at 811. I met with the radiation doctor. He is a very nice man, very personable and kind. He pronounced me healing nicely and after insurance verifies benefits (I should hear tomorrow) I will go in for the marking procedure. I will receive at least 3 tattoos (Yes, Carme.  Three tiny tattoos.) These markers will show the persons who operate the machinery where to place the radiation. I will have radiation M—F for six and a half weeks and follow-up with skin damage control for three months following radiation treatment. It is possible I might begin treatment next week, but also possibly the week after.  Even though the cancer is gone, this type of treatment is to destroy any itinerant cancer cells that might be floating around.

Dear God, I am confident that I will see your goodness today. Thank you for showing me your goodness in every situation. I know Lord I can trust you. Sometimes I do not have confidence in the future I have envisioned for myself. There seem to have been roadblocks in my path. But Lord, I know you are with me and I have not heard your voice to change course. I claim the scripture that proclaims that this is not a delay unto death, but for the glory of the Lord. Help me to have courage as I begin this next phase in the journey.  Strengthen me for the challenges to come. Lord, please continue to cover Erica’s family as they help their Mom sift through the remains of her home and show them how to begin again. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

The opening sentence of my meditation tonight is “You can make it through today.”  I needed to hear those words. Today’s schedule was full and then I went to my doctor’s appointment. He was very careful to explain procedures, side effects that everyone experiences and possible side effects. I do not see the obstacles ahead and yet I know I am going to be okay. I place my trust in this fine doctor to see that no permanent harm comes to me. He gave me assurance that all side effects were temporary. Even if my cancer had been more invasive and required harsher treatment I would one way or another. I have the assurance of the goodness of God who desires most of all for me to experience joy. I believe that His joy will come in the comfort I will receive when my skin is burned and I am so very tired from the treatments. I believe that God will strengthen me for whatever challenges come and whatever each day holds. The bottom line is God is with me and if you are going through tough or challenging times, God is with you too. God is with all of us to help us through whatever life has handed us. And as we travel these sometimes bumpy roads let us look for the ways the God shows us His goodness.  God is good and love wins!!

“Yet, I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.”
Psalm 27: 13
“Surely your goodness and love will be with me all my life.”
Psalm 23: 6

Take joy in the journey and taste of the goodness of God’s sweet love for us. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, April 28, 2014

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

Dear God, when I think of what my soul really longs for, it is you. Thank you for knowing my needs and for filling them so faithfully. I know there will be times when my faith is tested and I cannot feel you as near as I do now. When those times come I know that you will never leave me or forsake me. Lord, tomorrow I will meet the radiation doctor. Lord, I am not afraid of the doctor, but I am nervous about the procedures to come. Help me to sing songs of praise to you and please stay very close. Help me to listen and understand. Thank you for the safety of the students and staff at Carme’s high school today. Lord, please be with those who are affected by the tornadoes. I ask an extra measure of care for the mother of my friend Erica. Her home was leveled by the storm and she will now begin again. Please Lord; provide whatever she needs. I love you Lord Jesus. In Jesus name, amen.

Tonight my meditation speaks of how intimately God knows us and how God pays such close attention to every part of our lives. God knows the intimate details of our lives and the longings of our hearts even before we know them and even before we ask. So this begs the question…Why do we pray? Why do we daily bring out requests before God who already knows our needs, desires, reasons for needing forgiveness and unmerited grace?  It is in our prayers and time spent with God that we come to know our Creator and Lord. It is in these times of intimate conversation that God not only hears the requests, praises and thanksgivings of our heart, but we are continually invited have the experience of a close, personal relationship with Him.  This relationship which is like no other is what sustains us when we experience loss, when we feel defeated and when it is hard to pray. So my friends let us be persistent in our prayer life firm in the belief that God will never forsake us.

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
Matthew 6: 8
“Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”
Psalm 66: 20

Take joy in the journey and pray believing that God always hears and responds. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Blessed Sunday to you all!  All is well here at 811. We were blessed by the visits from Carme from San Antonio on Friday and Saturday and Dale, Gayle and Taryn (their beautiful daughter) on Saturday and this morning. It was the most wonderful weekend we have had in a while. Most of all of that time was spent out on our deck. I don’t think I have ever spent an entire day talking, laughing and eating.  I am convinced it was a  piece of grace God granted…a glimpse into the kingdom of heaven out on our back porch. We gathered as the family of God; not all by blood but by faith, feasting on a lifetime of love and really great food!  God is good and love wins!

Dear God, Thank you that believers can encourage each other. Please use my gifts to strengthen, establish and comfort others bringing you glory. Lord, help me to recognize your presence and you working more clearly remembering to give you the praise. Teach me to love you more every day, my wonderful Lord. I thank you that all of our visitors got home safely and that we were able to be together. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Psalm 30 leads us through trouble, relief and thanksgiving at least four times in its short 12 verses. If the psalmist revisits these feelings and actions repeatedly then he/she needed to affirm some hope in his/her own life. These repetitions are constant reminders that God will respond. It helps us to recall how we have experienced  the healing and faithfulness of God. It is our own experiences of healing and God’s faithfulness in which we put our trust. Sometimes life works in seasons. My dear brother-in-law asked me on Saturday if I still loved the color purple because I am currently wearing pink frequently and collecting pink items. I told him “pink is for a season, but purple is forever!”   Bruce and I are going through a season. It is most assuredly a season we would not have chosen or expected. And this season has presented us with life altering changes. It is my earnest prayer that we both fully recover.  Psalm 30 contains one of my most favorite verses, “Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.”  Some nights last longer than others. The good news is that God has been and continues to remain with us through the night and when we wake is there to greet us with hope.

“For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.”
Psalm 30:5

Take joy in the journey claiming the faithfulness of God and finding joy welling up in your soul. Wear comfortable shoes, and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene