Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Challenge and opportunity

1:48 p.m. Today's project was writing our final Galatians Bible study, the whole of Chapter Six. I am very thankful that the Lord enabled me to complete the lesson. The Apostle Paul closes with the phrase, "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen." My heart is so full of rejoicing today that I chose these words from the hymn "Amazing Grace" to finish our weekly journey together tomorrow: "T'was grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace shall lead me home." Not only do believers have the assurance of arriving at our heavenly home one day, but peace to know that in all of our adventures here in this life, our gracious Lord Jesus is with us, guiding and empowering us to walk HIS way!

A knowledgeable and likeable gentleman came to look over our RV today, and prayerfully will bring his wife back this afternoon. We have some cosmetic flaws to fix, but they won't cost much!

As for my challenge, I will be weighing in at our weekly WL C today at 5:00 sharp! I don't expect any good news, since we did enjoy a fabulous Italian buffet dinner at Kriss' wedding on Sunday, topped off with cupcakes, but I hope to at least hold steady! Should I weigh myself here at home to cushion the shock? Nah! I'll just step up on the scale and take full responsibility for my gobbling. At least for today, it's been low carb (the most effective plan for me) so far, but there are almost three hours to go, and temptations abound when you live with three skinny people!!I do think it's possible to lose 20 lbs in 6 weeks, if I stick to my plan...

I am very much looking forward to writing the devotional for Moms' Morning on Saturday, "The Tongue," and seeing how God works His way with both a message for us mothers, and puppet story for the preschoolers! Our get-togethers are great fun, and the fellowship between moms who have "been there," and moms who "are there" is sweet! We go home encouraged to lift one another up in prayer, words, and deeds.

Love this cooler weather, so I'm headed out to help Steve with some RV fix-its.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We abide, He provides!

1:48 p.m. Today's project was (and is) to finish studying all of the commentaries and cross-referenced scriptures before beginning the writing of my final Galatians Bible study, chapter 6, to teach on Thursday morning. Later this afternoon, my two delightful Moms' Morning friends will be over to plan for Saturday's event, so I know that I have a specific number of hours to study. I pray each day for God to guide and shape my day, for I know that daily duties and unexpected interruptions will occur! Four to five hours may sound like plenty of time, but even happy interruptions (like blogging!) take time!

One such interruption was a massive blessing: Social Security called to tell me that Steve has been approved for permanent lifetime benefits, with back pay to April of this year. Just in time, our God is just in time! I won't say that I had been in a state of panic, but a definite uneasiness was hovering over my mind, almost stealing my joy. Being a good steward of reduced resources, and witnessing to mortgage holders with integrity is stressful, humbling and unpleasant. But it's at these times that God opens His overflowing hand to sustain and support His children! Psalm 37:25 says, "I have never seen the godly abandoned, or their children begging for bread." (New Living Translation)

Financial provision, the ability to obey the Great Commission to preach the Gospel, and the strength to emulate the Holy Spirit's compassion for those we live with or even momentarily encounter, are all gifts from our Heavenly Father. I cannot do any of these things, nor can I exhibit Christlike character on my own! Jesus said in John 15:5, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit: for without Me, you can do nothing."

Let me learn to abide today!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Morning After

12:44 p.m. Today's project was to accomplish all of today's post-wedding projects! I enjoyed a wonderful morning devotional with the Lord and Steve. Amazingly, the dogs were resting very quietly in their dogloos on the patio--now that's a miracle!

Can't say enough about starting the day's activities with a visit to the chiropractor, especially if one plans to drive all around town. Returning tuxes, getting pictures made, dropping off my suit to be drycleaned, and mailing back the bridesmaid's clothes I accidentally took home with me!(All Target bags look alike).

The wedding service was lovely, and more importantly, full of scripture! Pastor Rob read mostly from Genesis, and made very excellent pastoral comments about the practicalities of living as a married couple. There wasn't a dry eye in the congregation as Kriss and Marisela read the vows they had written for one another. Their vows reflected not only their own personalities, but the the effect they have already had upon one another, and their growth in willingness to compromise and to submit to one another, a key factor in a lifelong, joyful marriage.

Ephesians 5:20-21 says that believers should be "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of the Lord."

Not only do I pray obedience to God's Word for my own married children and other much-loved young couples, I pray for Steve and myself, and for other "seasoned" married couples, that we will submit to God, first, foremost, and always.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wedding Day!

1:07 p.m. Today's project is getting down to Santa Fe Springs' Clarke Estate in one piece for our son Kriss' wedding. The weather there will be much cooler than it is here--I heard 110 degrees yesterday---even if it's only 90! Kriss and his baby brother Steven just left in my Jeep, and Heidi will be driving Steve and me. I'm thankful because I did not sleep well.

At 11:30 last night, there was a light knock at the door, and I thought (hoped!) I was imagining it, and stayed in bed. Then the doorbell rang and Jada began barking furiously, like she does at that pizza commercial doorbell every evening! No choice but to amble down the stairs and there was Kriss--needing to stay here because his best man was tied up at work, and Marisela needed to get back to Long Beach and get some sleep. (The plan had been for Kriss to spend the night at Emmanuel's condo and ride with him to the venue).

Once again, God had a better, more gracious plan! I had hoped to get a chance to pray with Kriss, but that hadn't seemed likely. He had a banana, and then we prayed. I hastily put up a sign on Steven's door, telling him he needed to find a couch, and then time for bed!

Heidi's home with the good news that Pavel helped her with her 5th-6th grade Sunday school class and now we'll get ready to go in style in her 2009 Mazda 3. Toodle--oo! And thank you, dear friends, for all of your prayers! I'll be posting pictures late tonight!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Just in time

1:50 p.m. Today's project was to get pretty as mother of the groom for Kriss and Marisela's wedding tomorrow. Hair done, nails manicured, and toes painted the perfect shade to match my suit! One added blessing was spending quality time with my Heidi in the pedicure chairs, and getting the news that she and Pavel are "officially boyfriend and girlfriend!"

I was so excited last night to hear from Kriss that the exact amount of money he needed to pay for the dj was provided out of the blue! Both families are certainly tapped out, so this was welcome news, an answer to prayer.

As I sat journalling early this morning on my front patio (hiding my pj-clad self behind a huge spider plant) taking in the last bit of cool breeze for the day, I realized something. When God seems to answer prayer "at the last minute," it's not because He needs time to put all the factors in place, because He has pre-ordained every detail. WE need time to humble ourselves before Him, to ask, seek, and knock for as long as needed to cause us to exhaust our self-reliance and admit that we are at the end of our self-built resources!

God loves to give good things to His children! (Matthew 7:7-11) He knows when we are ready to receive His good gifts with humility and fresh awareness of His power and mercy, and acts accordingly, true to His Word and character.

He knows me, and He knows my needs--and I can assure you of the very same thing. Let's encourage each other today to trust God!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wedding Prep, sophisticated style!

1:44 p.m. Today's project was a success! Steve and I went to Mens' Wearhouse to pick up tuxes for him and for our youngest son Steven. Steve looked so handsome in his outfit--black on black, very smooth and classy! It goes without saying that our hope is for a relatively cool afternoon Sunday in Santa Fe Springs!

Have you ever noticed how nicely men seem to keep their original shape, while many of us gals, post- multiple childbearing, fight a lifelong battle to return to our former configuration? But I'm not bitter, no, not me! sigh...but I do have a gorgeous suit, deep coral-rust, the bride's chosen "mothers' colors," and can't wait to wear it! I got good news from my sister-in-law, the wedding coordinator--family members can get into the Clarke Estate's mansion to change! This is great, why? Because I can not only keep cool and fresh for as long as possible, but be able to see the bridal party ahead of time! (Marisela showed me her dress online a while back, and it is gorgeous--just enough dramatic detail, very elegant!). I think I just might be able to get a few pics, too!! I am absolutely incorrigible when armed with my camera!

We picked up some nutritional supplements at Clarkes, after reading info from CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network), for which I have my friend Charlotte to thank! She handed me a list of three supplements known to help with Alzheimers as we parked to go into Bible study yesterday morning. Steve's already taken the magnesium, L-carnitine, and PS [some very long name] and I am so grateful for the heads-up!

Seems that my theme of encouragement is continuing through this week! How precious in the sight of God are His people praying and looking out for one another! Not one of us deserves His mercy and grace, do we? Daily we can sense His heart of loving compassion in so many happenings, and drink in the Spirit's Living Water, knowing it is limitless!

My heart is so encouraged today! Our youngest son is now working in junior high ministry at a very large church in Fresno, the very church where we were allowed to park our RV one time when we came to see him. How blessed!! He'll be home in the wee hours after a ministry activity tonight and a 5 hour drive--I'm praying for his alertness and safety!

Heidi has just been offered a second 1/2 day position with Jurupa--in October she will once again have full time income! Our friend Shea is going to have her January wedding catered for only $5 a plate--full dinner, because the caterer wants to bless her!! Wedding coordinator Sharon told me today that the pastor who is performing Kriss and Marisela's wedding is absolutely right-on in his doctrine, as well as funny and engaging!!

My cup runneth over, again and again, day after day--may I never take the gifts from my Lord's hand for granted.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

When I am weak, then God is strong!

12:41 p.m. Today's project was to get up an hour earlier than usual for devotions and to prepare for Thursday Bible study (5:30 to be exact), so I could get to the chiropractor by 8:30! We switched up our morning routine a bit, and all went well--well "adjusted," you might say!

It had already been a disrupted week, with a memorial service on Monday, and the collison on Tuesday, not to mention the now-daily chiro visits. I'm sure you can identify with my irritation with these unwanted, time-devouring events, even after asking Jesus to be Lord of my life, and telling Him I am willing to have Him work in my life as He chooses to! With a Bible study to write and only yesterday left to complete it, my willingness to let God provide HIS women's lesson was shaky, as was my faith that it would get done! Repenting, I got to writing, and was delighted to find out once again, that my weakness opens the door for His strength!

Our study was different today. We always have good, personal sharing as the gals quote especially meaningful verses and their responses to their lesson, but today the Holy Spirit had them fired up! I was blown away with their insights and personal profession of God's faithfulness! My women--GOD'S women--were preaching it!!

And here I had been wondering, "Did I write enough? Will I be shortchanging the group? Have I put in the time God's word deserves this hectic week?"

The Lord had not only prepared the women's hearts with His Word, they continued to actively participate as I taught our passage, Galatians 5:16-26, contrasting the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.

God is not going to let His children miss a meal--the good nutrition we glean from His Word!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Encouragement found in a fun new challenge!

Just got home from the first meeting of an 8 week Weight Loss Challenge group organized by Sharon Schutte and Dede Hilovsky! Wendy our diet coach is great. I have never joined any kind of diet group, but these gals are all believers and we are in high spirits and very companionable. The winner with the most loss (either pounds or percentage) gets all the money in the kitty we contributed to tonight.

Am I "in it to win it?" (I know that my bodybuilding son Steven and his clients would be!) But I think I'll just enjoy trying new approaches, learning from my sisters, and cheering each other on--and losing that last 20 pounds.

Of course, now I'm starving and hope that my microwave vegetarian chile relleno dinner will fill me up!


Today's project: taking all the encouragement I can get in any form the Lord wants to send it!

Encouragement came my way today in a number of different forms. Many dear friends let me know they are praying for us after yesterday's collision; and in turn, I felt encouraged by praying for the needs of my dear friends Linda and DeAnna and their families! As Christians we eagerly accept our marching orders to pray for one another without ceasing, because it is good for us; it is true soul nourishment to do so. I know I feel able to avoid being wrapped up in my own adverse circumstances when I focus on and pray for another person. Yet another gift from our loving Lord!

Have you ever felt encouraged just by making a decision or taking action? That was my experience this morning, after spending way too much time last night (when I should have been sleeping) figuring out what to do! At the same time I began perking the coffee, I finally shut off the 3 day crockpot of simmering tomato sauce and poured it all out into a container to freeze--no time for canning! After my devotional reading, prayer and posting verses from Acts 20 [where Paul raised Eutychus from the dead after talking the poor young man to sleep and picking him up off the pavement where he'd fallen three stories out of a window] onto my Facebook profile, I was again reminded that our God is able!

With my neck and upper back whiplash pain from the accident, I was a bit skittish about undertaking a planned drive into Santa Fe Springs Thursday night, so I called Kriss and told him we wouldn't be at the wedding rehearsal. After all, the parents of the groom don't have any specific ceremonial roles, but to smile and encourage our child! Kriss understood, and his best man will deliver the luggage we're loaning and the hidden surprise inside, for us. Another decisive action=more encouragement to go forward, not stand still!

The next action was tough: officially putting our beloved RV up for sale, a step we had hoped to avoid. "Moving on" means in this case, that an ad with a picture will be in the Press Enterprise for two weeks; then if it doesn't sell, we get another two weeks free! Wow!

Have you noticed that once you follow the Lord's lead and appropriate just the amount of courage you need for today, that each step seems clearer than the last, direction gets firmer, and you sense that He truly goes before you?

There is not going to be anything easy about rearranging our lives, whether it's the continual gathering and faxing of records or the inevitable lengthy phone conversations. So many of our brothers and sisters are walking this road right now alongside Steve and me, though the causes and circumstances vary widely, as we vary from one another! But unlike "those who have no hope" (I Thessalonians 4:13b) we awaken each day with fresh strength, as our heavenly Father smiles upon us and says, "I am walking before you, my child!"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Unexpected development!

Update on yesterday's project: the tomatoes have been cooking down, and with the addition of olive oil, fresh garlic and onion, dried mushrooms, Parmesan, crumbled turkey sausage, and herbs--including dried basil from our garden-- I think we have the makings of spaghetti sauce! Can't decide whether to can it or serve it sometime this week. It just keeps on bubbling in the crockpot meanwhile.

12:30 p.m. Good afternoon, as Steve and I have just returned from completing today's project: delivering his Saturn Vue to our son's fiancee preparatory to her and Kriss' honeymoon drive up the coast next week. The Lord had warned me during my journalling time this morning about a possible rear-end collision, and to be alert. (At that moment I believed this referred to the general stop-and-go traffic on the 91, 55 and 405 freeways on the way to Long Beach).

We left at 9:45, Steve following me in his Saturn, and traffic went smoothly, except for Corona, of course. We came to a stop at the bottom of our offramp, Long Beach Blvd, and BAM! Steve had rear-ended me while I waited for traffic to clear to make the left turn to Marisela's work! With God-given and God-prepared calm, I turned left when traffic permitted, and parked at the community center. Steve parked next to me and we surveyed the damage, other than to my neck which hurt already. (Good thing I wasn't any other driver!) My Jeep Liberty, trusty tank that it is, was unharmed, but the Saturn's light assembly on the driver's side was knocked loose, with some definite dents in the hood and fender. "Mercury vs. Mercury!" I thought and immediately dismissed that idea--can you imagine what would happen to our premiums?!!

I went inside to speak with Marisela for a bit, so she wouldn't come out and (rightfully) say, "What happened?" and shared that the Lord had prepared me. We went on out to the car. Praise report: the Saturn's headlights are still okay, so she won't get a ticket, and her brother's business is capable of repairing the slight damage to the car's body. My neck? Well, it's not like I haven't been rear-ended about 6-7 times in the last decade! It's just tough to write my Galatians study with a sore neck and headache, and even toughter to squeeze in the chiropractic appointments I'll need in this very hectic week!

Now we had to come to the decision we have been putting off: Steve surrendering his driver's license for a State ID card. My husband is already on disability for early-onset Alzheimer's, inherited from his family, but he has been able to drive to three or four designated nearby places the last few months. Otherwise I drive, not an extra job I very willingly picked up, because, like many of us passengers of the female gender, I was used to doing my lipstick, reading, rummaging through my purse, napping, snacking and generally relaxing while my hubby drove! In earlier years, Steve's driving enabled me to be "hands-free" to turn around and stop fights in the back seat, hand out snacks, and perform a million other tasks moms perform on family outings, vacations, and even just on the way to church.

After we were back on the road to Riverside and nerves were settled, I asked Steve, "Now that you've had a little more time to think about it, are you really, really, REALLY sure you are ready to give up your license?" (This was not necessarily going to be his choice, but I wanted him to have a peace about giving up yet another vestige of his independence). Steve unhesitatingly said, "yes." I'm awed by his humility, but challenged to think about what it means to be almost totally dependent on another.

As each day unfolds in the tragi-comedy of this life, I realize that that is where I am, and so are all of us believers in Christ! The difference? I am not almost totally dependent on my almighty Another, I am totally dependent on Him. And for a naturally very independent person, at last I am thankful to be in that place today!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The other end of life

8:30 a.m. Today's first project is, now that I have spent a lovely, uninterrupted time with the Lord, to make up a batch of brownies called "Mississippi Muddles" that I had in the cupboard for such a time as this: food needed for the funeral reception of a sister in our church who just passed away. Praise the Lord for school fundraisers and for packages of goodies that come in handy later! I imagine the products have a major shelf life. (I'd better taste a bite of a brownie to see if they are stale)!

Funny how yesterday, my thoughts and life were consumed with beginnings (weddings and babies) but how sharply life takes a turn to the other extreme... how glad I am that my Lord is with me, and all believers, no matter what a day brings! My plan of reading commentaries for the Thursday Galatians study will definitely be interrupted to attend the service, but I trust God to redeem the time and give me the energy and concentration I need to serve my sisters who deserve no less than the best Bible study the Lord is gracious to prepare for us all!

Today's other project, which I can do later, is to prepare my last harvest of tomatoes for making sauce, paste, or ketchup, whatever a few days' cooking in the crockpot produces! We will see how that goes!

Terrie's memorial was very blessed and full of her love for Jesus Christ, and her assurance of heaven, which we there in the congregation share. She now has perfect , pain-free peace, the ultimate reward for those who put their trust in Christ!

And God injected two blessings: Melanie and Henrietta both asked about coming to Bible study Thursday!

4:30 Would that daily life on this planet went smoothly--my first phone call after the memorial came from our son in Long Beach needing the loan of our car! Looks like we'll be traveling there tomorrow morning, so Kriss and Marisela will have it to drive up the coast on their honeymoon. A Saturn is much more fuel-efficient than a sporty Infinity!

This week's Bible study is on Galatians 5:16-26 on the contrast between walking in the flesh--otherwise known as doing whatever you feel like, regardless of God and his Word--and walking in the Spirit--letting the Holy Spirit guide you into becoming the loving Christian He desires us all to be! So as I study my commentaries in great detail, using John MacArthur's Galatians (1987), H.A. Ironsides' Galatians and Ephesians (1941), and Albert Barnes' Notes: Explanatory and Practical (1832-1870), it becomes more and more apparent that while most Christians do not habitually practice gross evil, we all slip into sins--especially, I find, with the tongue! Praise the Lord that the Holy Spirit gives us the power to do the good that exemplifies the child of God: the fruit of the Spirit Himself!

Does this mean that past or present kindnesses will be appreciated, or even remembered by the recipients? Not necesarily, although it's a blessing to see the quality of thankfulness in others and in myself, because that means we are growing in grace! On the other hand, I'm thankful that poorly chosen or even cruel words can be forgiven and even forgotten when the Holy Spirit gives us that ability.

This will be a hectic week, but the time I spend in God's Word is always redeemed by the value it adds to my life, and the ability to not only cope, but be victorious in trials!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

3:41 p.m. Today's project was to invite young moms to "Moms' Morning," the ministry the Lord gave me for our church, to be a mentor in the Titus 2:3 mold, giving counsel and guidance from God's word to young wives and mothers.

Steve and I got up extra early (6:30) so I could be at my station, near the church bookstore and the toddler Sunday school area at Calvary MoVal, to pass out flyers and Hershey's Kissies to young moms. Hopefully this will spur them on to sign up for Moms' Morning, Oct. 3rd! I remember how tough it was for Steve and me to get our 1, 2, 3, 4, and then 5 kids fed, dressed, and out the door to church, so it's no wonder our sign-ups go kind of slowly! 0-5 moms' stress level is pretty high, blessed but busy!

There just aren't enough hands for them to take a flyer, so I stuff them into the moms' purses or diaper bags, and they don't even react to my forwardness, because we are all sisters in the Lord, just loving one another! We moms are either raising little ones, or we've been all the way through it and hallelujah, came through that life with barely a scratch, and are now on the other side!

Yesterday, we went to a lovely wedding of my daughter's best friend, and really savored this season of our lives, with its new round of weddings, and best of all, grandbabies! I love seeing my friends with their offsprings' offspring, even as I wait impatiently for some new additions to our family! I adore my two grandsons (Xavier, 11 and Adrian, 13) and am very proud of these boys who are believers in Christ and a credit to our family in every way! But babies, please! There's nothing like a baby to lift our hearts and create fresh wonderment in our minds--just how did this tiny bit of heaven get here?? The facts of life hardly seem a sufficient explanation!

Now it's wedding week in our home, and as mother of the groom, I don't have any official duties, but to pray, encourage, and love Kriss and Marisela, and help out in any way I am asked to. I am really tickled about a surprise we have tucked away in the luggage set we are lending them for their honeymoon trip up the coast! They will have to open each case, and then a case inside it, then a backpack inside that one and then Surprise!!

While I don't have to endure pitched battles between mother and bride this time, I'm sure lots of last minute tasks will arise! I'll need to remember to wrap the wedding gifts --why does that always end up being last minute though the gifts have been in the house for over 3 months? We will take both cars down to the venue in Santa Fe Springs Thursday night for the rehearsal, so the newlyweds can use Steve's Saturn for their trip. The title of my blog, "Today's Project," came from today's project: repairing my late mother's beautiful suede heels for Sunday's big event. Both she and my mother-in-law would have so enjoyed their grandchildren's weddings! We are praying for my dad, though, as he awaits some medical test results--let the biopsy results be benign! But at 82, Daddy's doing fine!

Fresh romance is once again in the air, this time for daughter Heidi--when she least expected it! Eagerly awaiting new developments--will keep myself and all of us posted!