Saturday, June 28, 2014

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

Dear God, I believe that You fit all things into your perfect plan even the things I wish had been  different. So Lord I trust my future to you because you have given me the resources for today. As I am completing this cancer treatment journey in just a few days I know the real healing is to come. So Lord it is almost time to make another new beginning and let me be courageous with your strength and enduring spirit to begin once again. Your promise is that nothing is impossible with you. So let me more than ever to place my focus on you in Christ centered service to share your relentless healing grace with others. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

Now is the time to begin anew!  That phrase comes directly from my devotional reading tonight. I sometimes feel that I have begun anew so many times and new normal at times seems almost routine!  But I think I have learned that beginning again is not just a time, but a place.  Beginning again is a unique crossroads of the time and space of which we currently live. Here’s the thing, beginning again does not happen in the future, beginning again begins where re are at this moment in time. We cannot correct the past and we cannot live in what is beyond us, but we can live joyfully in the present because we talk to God in the present moment and then we move on to the next and the next and the next.  We can plan for our future but it is still beyond our vision and our present time and space. So my friends let us find our resources for today and this moment sufficient because God is the source of all we have and nothing is impossible with God.

“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His} design.
Romans 8: 28
“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow the words of this law.”
Deuteronomy 29: 29
“For nothing is impossible with God.”
Luke 1: 37
Take joy in the journey and give thanks for the presence of God in our crossroad of time and space. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Friday, June 27, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
TGIF Today God is First! All is well here at 811. 30 treatments down and 4 to go! 

Dear God, I am most grateful dear God for your listening heart of love, forgiveness and renewal. I am not always sure how to give you my burdens, but I know I always have constant access to you because you mean so much to me. You are so kind to listen to each word I have to say and I am so blessed to know that you listen. Thank you for speaking to me when I am quiet enough and focus on you in the silence so that I can hear your very word. And thank you for bringing me through this cancer journey and the healing that is to come.  I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

Since we decided to go to Alaska I have been thinking about what to pack and have purchased travel sized items that have been placed in a travel case. I have made a few clothing purchases that are still in the store bags waiting to be packed and the floor at the end of our bed has several pieces of luggage waiting to be filled. I have always carried around a large purse. I do not however want to carry around a purse on our excursions. So I purchased a small wallet just large enough for the ship ID card, come cash and a credit card.  I only want to carry around what can go in my jacket pocket. I decided I do not want to be burdened with a heavy bag while watching whales, eating breakfast at the Red Onion Saloon and touring other places.  If you have ever carried a large bag for several hours the law is that the longer you carry baggage, the heavier it gets.

Loads of physical weight and emotional responsibilities are baggage that get heavier the longer we carry them and the more fatigued we become.  Perhaps we have gotten so used to the burdens we carry that we believe we can handle them alone. But the truth is the longer we carry our problems the more draining they become.  When we carry so many burdens or even one or two really big ones it is difficult to face new challenges and the joy in our lives begins to lose its brilliance.

But here is the thing…we do not have to be self-sufficient because God will carry our burdens for us through faith in Jesus. God will become the unfailing strength we need when we are weakened and drained by the baggage we carry around. The tough part for each of us is to trust all of these things over to God and believe that His arms and ears are outstretched to us waiting to receive whatever we have to give. Whenever we meet God we are in a protected holy place and God will accept the baggage we leave at his feet and free us to meet new challenges with renewed joy. 

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden.
Psalm 68: 19

Take joy in the journey and leave your baggage at the feet of Jesus.  Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Thursday!  All is well here at 811. 29 treatments down and 5 treatments to go. This time next week treatments will be over and healing from radiation can begin. Daily radiation takes  toll on the radiated skin area while it is killing any remaining cancer cells. Today the radiation doc looked at the radiation effects and determined that I needed prescription antibiotic burn cream.  I am hoping it works quickly.  Thank you all for your continued sustaining prayers.  God is good and love wins!!

Dear God, help me shut out anything that would take your place in my mind and heart.  Thank you for your love and for inviting me to be a part of your family. I praise you for being my provider, defender, sustainer and Lord.  Lord, as I continue to know you more help me to embrace others who are in need of your love, grace, peaceful spirit, rest and healing. May I Lord represent you and be bold to recognize the needs of others.  I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Going to the Cancer Center each day at the same time I have gotten to know the people who receive treatment just before me and those who are to receive treatment just after me.  Today following treatment was my weekly visit with the doc. On the way from radiation I made a stop at the ladies room and the woman who has treatment following me was also in the ladies room.  She commented about how I am always smiling when she sees me. She had come to the restroom to cry.  She needed a quiet place to fall apart.

In Biblical times a Jewish home would have a place for private prayer and worship.  It was a place where a door could be closed to outside distractions and interruptions.  These rooms or spaces were where family members came to draw closer to God. Today the closest my friend could come was the Ladies Room at the Cancer Center.  Even though I interrupted her quiet time I seemed to have needed to be there. It was a God thing! I held her as she cried and  we shared a time of fellowship through the bond of disease and faith. And interestingly enough even though this was a public restroom the door was closed and we had no interruptions until she was ready to go and see the doc. 

My friends let us all find a place where we can draw near to God. While we can spend time with God anywhere, even in the Ladies Room at the Cancer Center, let us find a place to meet God on a daily basis and draw near to Him. May we pray, worship, listen, sing, cry and find a relationship that is rich in love, closeness and tender intimacy with God.

“When you pray; you should go  into your room and close the door and pray to your Father who cannot be seen. Your Father can see what is done in secret, and he will reward you.”
Matthew 6:6
“Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.”
Jeremiah 33: 3
Take joy in the journey and call out to God in the quiet of your room. Get some sleep and think pink! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Wednesday!  All is well here at 811. 28 treatments down and 6 more to go!   We had a brief time of no power in the middle of dinner.  We called Oncor, finished dinner and left the house for cooler places. And when we arrived home around  9:00 the neighborhood was once again well-lit and all was restored.  Thanks be to God and the fine folks at Oncor!

Dear God, I am glad that you dwell in my heart. My greatest desire, God is for others to see you in and through my life. Help me to share your love with everyone I meet.  Lord, there are opportunities to apply for ministry positions that I see every day. But Lord, because of the effects of radiation I am reluctant to apply because I cannot effectively to the job at this time. Lord, I pray you will place a position before me when I am able and send me there by your timing, will and loving grace.  I trust you enough that You will make me fit for service and open a place that fits me and the gifts you have given. Thank you Lord. I love you so much. In Jesus name, amen.

A pastor friend once explained the Trinity to the group of children seated before him during children’s sermon like this, “God is in heaven, Jesus is in our hearts and the Holy Spirit is everywhere.”  Because God is the three in One, God’s favorite dwelling place is in our hearts. It is in our hearts where God speaks to us. God pours  His love in us and tells us how special we are to him . If we search our hearts we find the truth about how God feels about us. It does not matter what we have said or done God’s love for us prevails over all of that because of this one phrase, “For God so loved the world.”  It is in our hearts that we have the most powerful interaction with God that allows us to confidently talk to God letting him know our needs and his will for us. When we speak intimately with God we are focused on God and our hearts become Holy Places where we dwell in the presence of God listening for his wisdom and words of love for each of us. Fear not my friends and listen to your heart and have hope.

“Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our hearts shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.”
Psalm 33: 20-21
“You have put gladness in my heart, more that when their grain and new wine abound.”
Psalm 4: 7
Take joy in the journey and listen to your heart for God is there. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Tuesday!  All is well here at 811. 27 treatments down. 8 treatments to go. The boost treatment is really easy and really quick and not uncomfortable at all. Due to an unfortunate water mishap I had to purchase a new phone today. Good news was that my contact list stayed intact!  And we bought a nice camera to take on the cruise. Speaking of cruises…19 days until we sail!!!

Dear God, I wait for you. O God in the quiet depths of my open and expectant heart. When I do not hear your voice, help me to rest in your constant love and I wait for your answer to my prayer.  Lord you are so faithful to remain with me even when you are quiet.  The best part of being in your presence is knowing that as good friends we do not have to talk to have an intimate relationship.  Even in the silence I place my hope in you. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The night that Casey received his first chemotherapy treatment the room was silent. The nurses connected all of the bags of medication, opened up all of the lines and left the room. It was just Casey and me and Casey slept peacefully. There was only the glow of a single light in the room that bathed Casey’s face in soft light. I stood at his bedside praying in silence begging for the life of my child and that the cancer killing drugs that were flowing through him hoping that somehow they would destroy the disease.  And the room was silent. But there was a Presence in the room that could only be identified as the Holy Spirit. The room was filled with peace that passed any understanding I had ever known.

The old song says,” silence is golden.”  When we desire the presence of God silence is golden. That night in the silence I received God’s blessing; the Holy Presence of God.  In the Christmas song, “O Little town of Bethlehem,”  we find a phrase in the third verse, “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given.”  I can think of no greater gift than the gift of the presence of God. It is in the silences, those quiet times we spend with God we are called to intimacy with God. For God’s best gift, the gift of himself is often given in the silences.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence, from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.”
Psalm 62: 1-2
“When the Lamb broke open the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and they were given seven trumpets.”
Revelation 8: 1-2
Take joy in the journey and in the quiet listen for the presence of God. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, June 23, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Monday! All is well here at 811. 26 treatments down with 8 more to go and the boost treatments begin tomorrow. I think they are pretty intense but are shorter. Please say a prayer tonight for my friend Allison. She is having back surgery tomorrow and has had many bumps in the road leading up to this day. She is a strong woman of faith but with any surgery there is anxiety. Her surgery is at 9:00. Thank you.

Dear God of heaven and heart and all creation.  I am first to you and you are foremost to me. Thank you for this wonderful gift of prayer. Thank you for allowing us to speak to you and granting us you voice when you speak to us.  Teach us to pray as you would have us pray. Help us to listen so that we make the pest possible choices that would honor you. Help us to make decisions even the small everyday ones that keep us in close communion with you.  And Lord, thank you for giving us this gift of prayer so that we keep a close relationship with you. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The disciples often witnessed Jesus praying. One day they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. This little conversation has often puzzled me. Why would the disciples not know how to pray? Or was it maybe they observed Jesus praying differently than they had been taught? Maybe the only way they knew how to pray was to recite the prayers of the Temple? Or maybe they heard Jesus calling God by name and praying what was in his heart. Perhaps they heard their own names being lifted. I don’t know, but something about the way Jesus prayed caught their attention and they wanted to learn to pray the way Jesus did.

Jesus taught them to call God by name. Jesus called him Father.  Jesus spoke directly to God.  This greeting told the disciples that Jesus had a personal relationship to God. The disciples witnessed Jesus speaking to God as His father and His friend.  We can speak to God the same way.  We first call God by what he is…God. My next sentence usually is “in Jesus name.”  I give thanks for God being my heavenly father, claiming a personal relationship. I give thanks that Jesus is my Savior, claiming my salvation and giving thanks for the Holy Spirit being present in me; acknowledging the very essence of God within me. When we pray God speaks to us and we speak to God.  When we pray we are telling God through our prayers that we trust in him, trust his faithfulness, believing that he hears our prayers and will answer.   But here is the thing…we don’t have to pray powerful prayers, poetic language and be long winded. We have to believe that the true power of prayer lies with the One who hears our prayers.

“This, then, is how you should pray:  ‘Our Father in heaven:  May your holy name be honored; may your Kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Matthew 6: 9-10
“God! Let people thank and enjoy you. Let all people thank and enjoy you.”
Psalm 67: 3
Take joy in the journey and take time to pray. Pray for what you need, pray thankfully for what you have, give God thanks for being God, pray for others and ask to be forgiven. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Blessed Sunday to you all.  All is well here at 811. Today I was given a most precious gift of grace and blessing. For the first time in almost a year Bruce and I stood together and sang with the Praise Team during worship. Because of the stroke there have been some changes in our life and a lot of re-growing into new normal. But of all of the things I have missed about our life before the stroke, standing together, hand in hand and singing with Bruce as a part of the Praise Team is what I have missed the most. I have missed his beautiful voice in my ear harmonizing with me.   We have been singing together since the day we met and this is the longest time in 33 years we have gone without singing together.  God is good and His gracious love wins once again. Giving thanks with a grateful heart.

Dear God, when I quiet my soul and lift my voice in song you are nearer than my breathing.  You are closer to me than I am to myself. Today Lord you graciously restored that which I have missed for a long time. Thank you for restoring Bruce’s confidence and courage to stand and sing with the Praise Team in worship today. Singing is at the heart of the story of our life together and thank you that you are continuing to write the story of our love for each other because  of  your love for  us and in us with singing. I love you so much Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

When I walk into worship I leave the world outside and come into the presence of God in a space inhabited by those who love God and are there to sing praises, pray prayers, read and word and preach the word. But sometimes something happens after I have walked into that space that interrupts my personal worship space and I have to re-center myself on the worship and praise of God. 

When we separate ourselves from the interruptions and the outside world we can feel the closeness of God. When we choose to demand of ourselves that our attention is focused on the praise and worship of God we find ourselves experiencing the peace that God brings by His very Presence.  It is in those moments of sacred quiet that our hearts become one with our Lord.  Sometimes we walk into worship with a list of the things we need to do before we go home or go to the restaurant. So on Sunday morning let’s push those things down on the list and move God to the top of the list.  We will receive the most wonderful blessings and receive the joy that worshiping and praising God… and for Bruce and me we can continue to sing our story and God’s.

“Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.”
Zephaniah 3: 17

Take joy in the journey singing and making a joyful noise.  Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!! Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene