Friday, October 24, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
TGIF Today God is first!  All is well here at 811. The news from the doc(s) is that all is well! Blood work was clean and other than some edema because the lymphatic system is compromised (a normal reaction to surgery and radiation) everything is just fine. The short version is that I AM CANCER FREE!  Thank you for all of your prayers. 

The candle is lit…

Dear God, thank you for all the times you came to me in your presence and power. I remember the comfort and peace I found just knowing You were present with me.  I think the older I get the less I truly need and the more I just enjoy spending time in the quietness of being with you. And yet Lord, when the pressures build and the storms of life are all around me I am glad to remain with you and recall your wonderful promises so that whatever is going on in my life I am not tempted to give up. I love you so much Lord. I offer my thanks and praise. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Six months ago the sun was shining, the day was going well. I never feared going to my yearly mammogram and then everything changed. By dinner time cancer had once again become a part of our lives and it was inside of me. What began as a beautiful day became a dark and threatening evening.   I sat down at the dinner table after arriving at home by myself finding myself staring at the ceiling and in anger spoke out loud, “Really God, hasn’t this disease taken enough from us? Haven’t we been through enough already this year?”  Yes, for just a little while the climate in our home had changed. It was not a lovely spring day anymore.”

And then God showed up in my anger reminding me that God in His Word vowed to never leave me or forsake me. God would never leave my side and would be constantly at work on my behalf. God knew my shock, struggle, tragic memories and came to me once again as my loving Savior allowing me to yell, be angry, cry and demand an answer without judgment, only the promise of His loving Presence

God knows all of our struggles. It is when we take our struggles to God in prayer and listen in faith we are given wisdom, strength and the courage needed to fight the battles of life firmly grounded in our faith. We are never promised restored wellness, but healing is a promise we can always claim. So my friends when the climate changes without warming, sort of like Texas weather, and sunshine and storm happen in the same day let us keep the promises of God within our hearts giving each of us hope that is needed to weather any storm in which we find ourselves.  God bless you all.

“Even in my suffering I was comforted because your promise gave me life.”
Psalm 119: 50
Remember your promise to me, your servant; it has given me hope.”
Psalm 119: 49
Take joy in the journey praying, praising, laughing and giving thanks as you go. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Thursday!  All is well here at 811. Just a couple of announcements:  tomorrow I will go for my first routine visits to the oncologist and radiation doctors and will have labs drawn since surgery and radiation. I have no reason to think that there is anything wrong. I feel fine. But the last time I visited these two doctors all was anything but fine!  I am just a bit anxious. Bruce is going with me.  And a PRN Hospice chaplain position here in Arlington came across my email tonight. I applied. And a couple of prayers would really be appreciated. Thanks.

The candle is lit…

Dear God, thank you for giving me so many reasons to laugh. I hear the angels in heaven laughing with me.  I have chosen the abundant life you offer and the eternal life you promise. I have decided to follow you in all things.  Lord, you have given me many gifts and blessings. Besides singing, You have given me the gift of smiling and laughter.  Thank you for affirming this gift in your word tonight. You always know what I need to hear when I need to hear it.  Thank you gracious loving Lord. I love you Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Most of the words tonight come directly from my meditation. Tonight the author’s words were the words I needed to hear.

Ok it has happened again. My meditation speaks of laughing in the face of anxiousness referring to diagnosis. Tonight my meditation speaks of laughter being a wonderful blessing from God.  “Good side-shaking laughter can transform pessimistic diagnosis into hopeful prognosis.”  According to the writer of my meditation tonight laughter is a precious gift that comes from heaven.  “Laughter is God reaching down to you with delight and gladness.”  (I really like that statement.)

I think God began this gift with my Mom. She always had a smile on her face and a great gift for laughter.  Christian comedian and singer Mark Lowery sings a song of a picture he has seen of Jesus laughing. I have seen that picture and it is a wonderful image of Jesus with his head thrown back and laughing with exuberant joy! According to the writer of this meditation “God gives laughter because it is good for you. It treats you kindly with healing, wellness and wholeness.” It is cheaper and quicker to laugh aloud than to reach into the medicine cabinet or check in to the hospital.  Maybe it is a laugh a day rather than an apple a day that keeps the doctor away.  “  I have not always laughed during this journey, but I have always know that God has been present and the gift of joy promised in the strength of God has not diminished. The famous scripture from Ecclesiastes 3 says, “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh…” There have been times when I thought if I begin to cry that I might never stop and I wouldn’t feel better, but laughter always makes me feel better. Perhaps because Jesus came to heal… laughter can be a medium of healing too.

“We laughed, we sang, we wouldn’t believe our good fortune. We were the talk of the nations.”
Psalm 126: 2
“[There is] a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3: 4

Take joy in the journey praying, praising and laughing as you go.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Greetings from Austin Streets
Happy Wednesday! All is well here at 811. 

The candle is lit…

Dear God, when I consider my blessings one by one I give thanks to you with exceedingly great joy. Lord, if I began to write down my blessings I would wear down pencils and run out of paper on short order. You are God and I am your child. You are Father to Jesus making me sister to Christ and you are so completely grace filled that you sent your Holy Spirit back to live in my heart so that you are as close as each breath I take. I do not deserve your grace and forgiveness but at the top of my list of blessings are the gifts of your love, grace and forgiveness. Please Lord continue to keep my spirit open to your teachings so that I will come to understand you more and more. Thank you and I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Life does not come with too many absolutes, but that come close is:  lies are not free; they come with a price.  Lies are prisons in which we place ourselves and the only way to escape that prison is to learn and accept the truth.  When we learn to tell the truth and hear the truth we live in freedom.  Our life with Christ begins when we accept the truth of His love for us and begin to believe in the saving grace that Jesus offers.  When we admit the lie of believing that we can live a liberated life without Christ then we truly walk a journey of an imprisoned life. 

When we learn one absolute reality of the truth of God through faith in Jesus and how it is based solely in the love God has for us then we can live a life in truth, peace and strength given by our loving Savior. As we come to know more about God through the life of Jesus we find it easier to be dedicated to a life with Christ at the center. God works relentlessly and collaboratively with us to set us free by the teaching truth he reveals to us and rejoices in our progress.  Lies bring with them fear, doubt and destruction. Freedom brings life, love, happiness and a desire to walk in the way of Christ.  God is good and love wins!

“Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.”
Psalm 32: 11
“I am eager to learn all that you want me to do; help me to understand more and more.”
Psalm 119: 32
Take joy in the journey praying and praising as you go. Stay on the path and listen to God for truth.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Tuesday!  All is well here at 811. I made a new recipe tonight. At least it is new for me. I made Dr. Pepper Pork Loin. It is the easiest recipe. Place one 2-3 pound port loin in the crockpot and pour Dr. Pepper over the loin. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove from the cooking liquid. Shred the meat and pour a bottle of Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce over the pork and mix together. I served it on King’s Hawaiian Wheat dinner rolls. They were sort of like sliders. Totally delicious.  Super easy! This one will be a repeat!

The candle is lit…

Dear God, I am ready and willing for you to shape me and use me. Lord, I am trusting in you to keep me going in the right direction and follow your will. I praise and thank you Lord for your Presence in my life and the strengthening joy only you can provide. I love you Lord. I pray all these things in Jesus’ name, amen.

One of my favorite songs and if I am given the nod to be ordained into ministry, one of the songs that will be sung  is “The Potter’s Hand.  The first time I heard this piece it spoke of the way God has been with me in the journey of ordination.  Tonight my meditation is based on the story from Jeremiah as he watched the master potter shaping a pile of clay into beautiful vases, pitchers and bowls. Jeremiah writes as he continues to watch this potter as a lump of clay he is molding and shaping is not shaping as he imagines it should be shaped. Instead of casting the clay aside and deeming it unusable, he takes his strong but gentle hands and reworks it into a pile of soft clay once again  and reshapes it, remolding it until it was beautiful and perfect and ready for use and its purpose. Jeremiah began to understand how God works in the lives of those who love him.

How many times have we needed to be reshaped and remolded into the people God created us to be? Are we willing to become clay in the hands of the Master Potter to be reshaped and remolded until we are ready for God’s great purpose?  The truth is we are already the clay in the hands of God. We just need to be willing to allow God to masterfully work re-creation in each of us throughout our lives as we become less resistant to the touch of the Potter’s hand. Trusting ourselves to God and the love God has for us means believing that however we are being re-created for God’s good purpose will bring us great joy for we are the work of God’s hands. 

“He used that clay to make another pot the way he wanted it to be.”
Jeremiah 18: 4
“We are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
Isaiah 64: 8

Take joy in the journey praying and praising God as you go.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, October 20, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Monday!  All is well here at 811. Today was one of those rare days when I received a piece of news that made my heart soar.  One of my former students whom I had when she was a first grader announced that she was beginning college today. I am so very proud of this student.  She is choosing to better her life through education.  Way to go!

The candle is lit…

Dear God, Lord of all, let your presence be my promise and your power be my strength. Thank you for all the times I hear you speak when I meditate on your word. Through faith and practice, keep me within hearing distance of you voice and in the light of your perfect love.  I love you Lord, in Jesus’ name.

I tutor children during the week in a room just off of the school library. If you think about a library the first image that may come to mind is the many books that line the walls of the room. In thinking further I see images of people reading books; signs that designate what books are where, where help is to be found, a computer area and lots of other things.. I hear the sound of rustling pages, quiet voices, a volunteer reading to a group of children and the sounds of studying.  Many people are seeking answers from the words they are reading.     

When I open my Bible I find a whole library inside. The words I study and meditate on teach me, speak to me, strengthen me, assure me, comfort me, correct me and help me find answers to the questions I have been asking.  I find my spirit is fortified and my mind is more focused when I spend time with God and the Holy Scriptures each day.  This practice which has been a discipline for a lot of years has now become a delight.

“I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes and I shall not forget Your word.”
Psalm 119: 15-16
You made me willing to listen and obey. And so, I said, “I am here to do what is written about me in the book, where it says, ‘I enjoy pleasing you. Your Law is in my heart.”
Psalm 40: 6-8

Take joy in the journey praying as you go and delighting yourself in the Word of the Lord. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Blessed Sunday to you all. All is well here at 811. On Friday, Bruce and I attended the monthly family conference at the center. They are beginning discharge planning for Bruce.  I can’t believe it has been a year and a half and the miracles that have happened in that time. God is so good and I could never say enough thanks. Conversations are beginning and a slow discharge process is being discussed. He has progressed so well that the thoughts are that it may be time for a “break” to see how he adjusts. In the beginning of this “step down” process he may go to the center 2-3 days per week and then eventually taper down to a discharge break. Bruce is a bit nervous about this as he has really grown to love the people at CNS and they have grown to love him too. He loves the speech work and the education and is anxious about the changes to come.  Please be in prayer for Bruce and the therapists as they begin this process. 

The candle is lit…

Dear God, thank you for being with me when I need you the most. Thank you for the direction you give and the way you fill my heart with quiet assurance. Thank you that I can always remain in your presence and when I seem to step away and have thoughts that are not of you that I can step back into your presence and be warmed by the light of your loving forgiveness.  I love you Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Each day of our lives we are asked to make decisions. Some decisions are as easy what to have for breakfast while more difficult moral decisions are presented each day.  Sometimes it is not just a matter of right a wrong but of choosing a solution that has a variety of possibilities and choices. Sometimes those decisions have shades of gray in their color scheme.  Those kinds of decisions are not made easily or quickly. When those kinds of decisions need to be made it is our good grace to never have to make these decisions alone.  If we ask God for help we will be given a pathway to the answers we need. We will be given light through the gray area to make our way through the decision making process. Much of the time the decisions that are so difficult to make have an emotional attachment which does not make them cut and dried.  God wants us to bring these possibilities before Him and will help us to do what is right for ourselves and the ones we love. God does not come riding up on a white charger and take the problem away from us even though we often ask!  I have learned that God wants us to bring problems before Him and then greatly desires to increase our relationship and work collaboratively. Solving the problem is important, but not near as important as trusting God in the midst of the process.  I love God.

“With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments?”
Psalm 119: 10
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
Psalm 119: 11

Take joy in the journey praying as you go. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all and thank you for all of your prayers for such a long time, Bruce and Gaylene