Saturday, June 21, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Saturday!  All is well here at 811. I think it must have been the day to stay home and rest.  Bruce accidentally slept through the alarm this morning and did not make it to the prison.  I awoke sore, swollen, red and tired from radiation.  In short the Chrysties rested today, ate left overs and watched movies.  It was sort of a first for both of us and although I would not like to spend many days like this, spending time resting was nice and necessary.

Faithful God, when I must follow a steep and difficult path on my journey through life I will place my hope and trust in your promise to help me reach my destination safely.  And Lord as I continue this journey and when I get anxious  beginning to lose my footing help me to stay focused on you listening to your voice as I continue. Help me to trust in you in obedience. I pray for your help along the way to sing praises of thanksgiving. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I watched a movie today where two of the characters climbed a mountain. We were not created in our bodies to climb mountains. The animals with hooves designed to hug those narrow mountain paths have the endurance, strength and balance to safely ascend the mountain.  The characters in the movie today wore special belts, ropes and shoes to climb the mountain. Here is what caught my attention; these folks ascended the mountain going straight up using a rope and pulley system and of course there was the scene then one of the people slipped and was dangling in midair.  Now their friend was there to pull them to safely. In comparison to the hind or mountain who come equipped with hooves that were meant to ascend the mountain by going gently up the side and leaping from crag to slope with sure footing.  The animals also seem to have the instinct to know just how far to leap to land safely.

We do not always get the choice to go slowly and gently through the paths we have to walk.  Straight up the side seems a lot harder to me than going gently up the side. Sometimes our paths lead us up steep treacherous mountains. There are times we feel the shortest path is to go straight up the side of the mountain when we should walk the side of the mountain with slow, gentle steps.  But for us here is the good news, no matter what the path we do not ever have to attempt the journey alone.  We walk all of our journeys with God beside us to keep us from falling and providing whatever assistance we need.  God will help us reach our destination if we just call on His name and we place our trust in Him. 

“Let everyone bless God and sing his praises; for he holds our lives in his hands, and he holds our feet to the path. (I love this part of the scripture. God will not let go of us!)
Psalm 66: 8-9
“He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your food against a stone.”
Psalm 91: 11-13

Take joy in the journey and while I never ask for the mountain I always ask for help when one comes my way. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Friday, June 20, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
TGIF Today God is First!  All is well here at 811.  25 treatments down 9 treatments to go. 

Dear God, I try to listen intently to all you have to tell me. Please open my mind to hear all of the mighty things you have to teach me that I do not know. Though I try I cannot find all of the words  to express my love for you. You are my refuge and I am overwhelmed and filled with joy by your greatness and humbled by your love for me. Thank you Lord that my friend Missy’s cancer scare was benign.  Thank you for being with her and holding her family close as they anxiously awaited this wonderful news. I know that no matter what is going on in any of our lives You are with us and you cover us with your love. Even though there are situations on this side of heave that cause us anxious moments and worry You have the power to calm us with the words “peace be still.”  Thank your for remaining and sustaining us through each day of our lives. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I heard an ad on TV today for some type of fancy treadmill. The announcer said that most people do not exercise because of time.  But according to his claim if you spent just 14 minutes a day on this magic machine that results would be swift and lasting. And I am sure that his claims are fairly true if one is disciplined to spend 14 minutes a day faithfully then endurance would increase and body shape would change as expected. 

Spending time with God each day begins to awaken so many things inside us that perhaps we have never thought before.  God teaches us so much about ourselves, Himself and others that it is almost impossible to imagine how much we can learn and deepen our relationship with God.  The most amazing thing is that in spending time with God each day, God reveals Himself to us and that is the greatest and most profound knowledge of all. Of all the plans in His command God chose to inhabit the praises of His people and set up His temple in us. I love knowing that I am one in whom God chose to make His home; His dwelling. This amazes me!  I love spending time with someone who is a close as my next thought and breath.

“Call to Me, and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know.”
Jeremiah 33: 3
“It is the LORD who gives wisdom;  from him comes knowledge and understanding.”
Proverbs 2: 6

Take joy in the journey and spend time with God each day. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink! Say an extra prayer for Bruce as he will leave in just a few hours to have prayer and share in the prison in Wichita Falls. Please pray for travel mercy for all of these men and that nothing will inhibit the Gospel from reaching those who in need of hearing your message of love and salvation. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Thursday!  All is well here at 811. 24 treatments down. 10 treatments to go. Final staging for the “boost” complete and it was not an unpleasant ordeal at all.  It was much more relaxed and did not take near as long.  I am so very thankful.  The radiation burn is pretty severe and the lymph node scar is fairly raw. So it’s Neosporin for now and something different if necessary.  However, on an exciting note…our passports came in the mail today.  I was able to complete our passenger check-in for the cruise.  And as we get closer to departure I will download and print off our boarding passes and luggage tags.  So while part of the day wasn’t completely wonderful, part of the day was really exciting.  24 days until we sail!!

Dear God, my time is in your hands—and I trust you. It is hard to wait, but it is worth it knowing that you are handcrafting my future. Lord, thank you for guiding me and teaching me to listen to you. I trust that you are preparing me for the day ahead and that I am following the path you have laid out for me.  Help me not to be intimidated or anxious about the future and keep my eyes on you.  When I am in your presence I am on holy ground and in the midst of perfect love and my soul is cradled in comforting peace.  I love you Lord and rejoice at the sound of your name. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The psalmist cries out “How long O Lord?” For me this healing process is based on specific time increments.  The treatments up to now have been a broader spectrum of radiation and will change to a very directed treatment. So while one area will begin to heal another will still receive treatment.  But in ten weekday treatments will be over and full healing will begin. The good news is I have been assured that all effects of radiation are temporary.  So hopefully by the time we set sail the burns will be gone and healing will be complete both inside and out. The one thing that makes this process endurable is the knowledge that I have a good idea when relief will come. But when we have no idea of when the circumstances that cause our pain either physical, mental, emotional or spiritual will come to resolution is when we become discouraged.  Two things are happening here. First we have whatever situation is going on that is causing us distress, anxiousness or fear and second there is no certainty of the time when the situation will end.  Things could change in a moment or go on for a long time. 

I believe that God hears our cries and not only has the situation in His care for us, but also the time element in His loving hands.  We may not know how long the situation will last, but God knows and loves us so much that He knows the nature of the situation and how long it will take to fix it.  I also believe that God does not want His children to suffer with fear or anxiousness any long than is necessary so let us patiently (I don’t like that word sometimes!) wait for God and believe that God’s time table for us is perfect.  God is good and His love and mercy wins. 

How long, O LORD?”
Psalm 13:
“Look on me and answer, O LORD, my God. Give light to my eyes.”
Psalm 13: 3
Take joy in the journey and hang in there with the promises of God. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Wednesday!  All is well here at 811. 23 treatments down 11 to go.  Tomorrow there will be a regular treatments, ultrasound and a restaging for the final ten treatments.  The final ten treatments are called a “boost.”  The boost will focus the radiation precisely at the tumor sight.  It will be similar to the first day of staging back in May, but a shorter time.  My prayer for tomorrow is to have the strength to endure the staging process and for God to be present and sustain me.

Dear God, Thank you for hearing my prayers. Lord, let me hear you. Please speak straight to my heart, O Lord I wait to hear your strong voice of peace and assurance.  Lord, thank you for hearing my voice whenever I call out to you. You know I am anxious about tomorrow. I know you will be with me. And Lord, thank you for blessing us with Casey for 24 years. He helped fill our lives with incredible joy and not he experiences complete joy for all eternity. We will miss and love him so much. Thank you for helping us to have wonderful, funny and precious memories. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name amen.

Today Casey would have been 30 years old.  I miss him. I miss kitchen dancing. I miss his silly voices that always made me laugh. I miss his amazing voice that would sing Happy birthday to me in Italian I miss my son.   It is the first time it was just Bruce and I to honor the memory of his birthday. Growing up the kids got to choose do we go out or do I cook at home for their birthdays. For Casey it was usually my cooking. So tonight we had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and red velvet cupcakes.  Funny memories of his fiancĂ© pulling out his beard at MD Anderson after he had begun chemotherapy, watching the Texas/OU football game at our house one year and we all wore UT shirts (It was before I was a Frog.) and he came out of his room wearing his OU shirt and proclaiming that all of us were wrong!  And even though we miss him so very much and thinking of him on his birthday brings tears, we really love remembering the things that would make that beautiful smile pop and hear his laughter ring.

The scripture study for tonight is about seeking God. Seeking God brings His sweetness into my heart. It does not matter if I seek him in the morning or in the evening and in between.  When we seek God we open ourselves to have conversation with him. I go to God with my hopes and dreams, my requests and longings. Perhaps you do the same. But how often do we simply sit quietly with a heart open to waiting for God to speak?  Do we have hearing hearts with the simple intent for listening? Active listening requires that we quiet ourselves and listen without interrupting, without adding to the conversation and only hearing God speak to us through the intercessor; the Holy Spirit. Listening is hard and takes practice. So my friends when we pray let’s still speak to God and then try practicing a time of listening and see what God has to say waiting expectantly for God’s replies to our prayers. 

“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”
Psalm 5: 3
“I will listen [with expectancy] to what God the Lord will say, for He will speak peace to His people.”
Psalm 85: 8
Take joy in the journey and take the time to listen to God.  Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Tuesday!  All is well here at 811.  22 treatments down and 12 to go.  Just saying…Aloe Vera with lidocaine and the therapeutic lavender oil are miracle drugs!!! While I have grown to love those who see to my care each day and the dear people whom I have conversation each morning in the waiting room as we are all waiting for radiation for different types of cancer, I am ready for this to be over. 

Dear God, I am trusting in your power to see me through to the end of radiation and the healing to follow.  Thank you that this is so your power and glory will be shown. Thank your for being there in each treatment and touching my heart with the kindness of those who care for me each day. Bless Bruce for being so sensitive when I get emotional.  Help me to open my life up to others and share my experiences of how you have been so present every step of the way in this journey. Lord, may your glory be seen in all of the experiences I have and shine for all of those you place in my path.  I love you so much Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Back when this journey first began we met with Doc Adams, the oncologist. After sharing the extensive history of cancer in my family he talked briefly about the genetic test that could detect the cancer gene in me. After saying something like, “Don’t you think it is a bit late for that?” and telling him that this disease has not missed a generation in my family in at least four generations. I told him I could tell him result for free.  I know I was feeling nervously sassy that day. 

But there are those who feel  that they have done something wrong in their lives and have been stricken with this disease as a punishment.  They ask themselves this question, “What did I do to deserve this?”  There is a great story in the book of John where Jesus met a blind man who had been blind from birth. When Jesus met this man he healed the man of his blindness, but all around him the crowd was asking what sin had the man committed or did his parents make to cause his blindness.  Jesus turned to his disciples and told them that the man nor his family had done anything wrong.  Jesus told his followers that these things happen to show the power of God that is within each of us through our faith in Jesus.

Life happens my friends and so does cancer. I do not believe that God strikes us with maladies as a
punishment, but I do believe that when the tough times in life happen God is present and when we open our hearts to receive His promised power it is then we truly see  God’s love and tender mercy.

“This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”
John 9: 3
“God, order up your power; show the mighty power you have used for us before.”
Psalm 68: 28
Take joy in the journey and open your heart to let the power of God inside. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, June 16, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Monday!  All is well here at 811. 21 treatments down 13 to go. 

Dear God, Thank you for being my heavenly Father, for sending Jesus to be my Lord and Savior and for returning through the Holy Spirit so that You dwell in me and remain in communion with me with each breath I take. Forgive me when I choose my plans and do not pray about them first and then complain when they do not come into fruition. Thank you for your perfect plans for me that give me perfect peace. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

How often do we get mad at God when the plans we make do not fall into line with the plans God has already made for us?  I often think does God act like my GPS? You know, if you are listening to the directions given by the voice to reach your destination and either we think we know a better way or we miss a direction and (my GPS angel) simply reroutes us and gets us back on the right road without fuss or scolding. My GPS angel brings me a great deal of peace.  I trust it to get me where I am going and it even automatically plans a different route if there is road work. All I have to do is listen, pay attention and drive.

 I’ll bet God wishes I/we would listen and pay attention to Him as closely as I/we listen to my GPS. God has such amazing plans for us and yet we still try to do things our own way and in our own time. We still struggle for control. I know that when I struggle for control I am not at peace with myself or at peace with God. My soul and thoughts are in turmoil and I am miserable when I have placed my plans and my time over what God has already put in place.  God’s wonderful peace fills my heart when I in faithful trust choose God’s plans over mine.  Scripture claims that we will have perfect peace when we keep our minds on Him.  Help me Lord to pay attention remembering that Your plans over mine will always be perfect.  Amen.

“You keep him/her in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he/she trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever.”
Isaiah 26: 3-4
Take joy in the journey my friends and let’s do better to follow  GPS (God’s Purpose Saves) Yes, I just made that up! I like the last sentence of this verse, “Trust in the LORD forever!”  Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Blessed Sunday and Happy Father’s Day! All is well here at 811. We worshiped with dad today at the Howe Methodist Church.  The funny today…the pastor at Daddy’s church began the sermon today with a brief  explanation of a religious man and a disciple.  “ A religious man sits in worship and thinks about fishing. A disciple goes fishing and thinks about God.”   I liked it! 

Dear God, thank you for bringing life to my dreams. I praise you for your astounding power and glory that always gives me hope. I am in awe of your awesome love. Thank you for healing wounds of the past and causing me to ask for the Holy Spirit to fill my heart with joy. You are so wonderful because when you fill my heart with joy helping me move past old sorrows and open myself up to joyfully receive your blessings.  I love you Lord. Thank you that today we were able to celebrate Father's Day with  Daddy and Bruce. Please Lord, continue to send your healing grace to Dad strengthening him in his weakness by your tender mercy. And Lord, please continue to inhabit Bruce as he continues to be restored by your grace. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Deep inside the temple is the Most Holy Place. Inside the sacred space is the beautifully decorated Ark of the Covenant.  This chest is located behind the great veil. The only person allowed behind this veil is the High Priest who met with God.  Scripture tells us that the space between the wings of the cherubim on the top of the chest is the mercy seat.  Scripture also tells us that it is in in this sacred space of mercy is where God would speak intimately with the priest.  In this holy space of mercy God’s glory is found.

Mercy is what we ask for when our dreams and hopes seem to be lost. As a believer in Jesus the holy place of mercy is not behind a veil, but found in the heart of Jesus when we go to our knees either physically or spiritually and receive the power of God when all hope seems to be lost. This power of God spoken so intimately to each of us is the same power that resurrected Jesus.  Whenever we think our dreams are lost or have died without possibility of resurrection there is always a place in the mercy seat of God and His glory will shine above it identifying His presence with us.  This is a sacred space where we never have to wait in line, we are guaranteed a seat staying as long we need  and we will never be turned away. We must simply show up with a need for resurrection and God will speak intimately to us giving us great hope.  

“From above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the Testimony, I will speak intimately with you.”
Exodus 25: 22
“Here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains.”
Psalm 63: 2-3
Take joy in the journey worshiping at the mercy seat of God receiving great hope.  Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene