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Gui thought process

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I'm making a very basic gui for my game. The game needs to be running its update/render/repeat cycle while the gui is up; so far I've gotten the gui elements to display on the scene, to parent properly, to size and position, and generally "be there"; now I need them to do something. Some things are easy enough to do (such as changing the volume, which is a simple function call to OpenAL) but other seem more complicated: how do I reset the graphics in the options menu if the options have to be changed outside of the loop and the options are set inside the loop? What about getting a list of games then displaying it on a window? How do I handle these functions that happen outside of the game loop coming from inside the loop?

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