Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's simple!

1:47 p.m. Today's project was for Steve and me to sleep in, relax away from the usual routine, and enjoy each other's company, simply to make the most of this day. We don't know how long we will have to vacation like this, in our "rolling workshop" that Steve so enjoys tinkering around with, but we know that we have today to rejoice, to rejoice in Christ our Lord!

Upon arrival late yesterday afternoon, we had no hot water out of our tap, despite many attempts at the steps recommened by the manufacturer's manual. The default red light would not go away. We finally gave up for the night, feeling real "pioneerish" with boiling water blended with cold to wash up and wash dishes. (Who am I kidding, right?) I was just pleased that we had plenty of propane to light the burners on the stove-the rest is gravy!

This morning, after our one unbreakable routine, Bible study and devotions, Steve got an idea: unplug the electrical from the outside box, and see if the tank heater would reset. (I think that was the concept.) He tried it, turned the power right back on, and whoosh! On came the gas to the hot water tank! Plenty of very hot water=the superclean atmosphere I crave! Aren't the most ingenious solutions the simplest?

I know that some of us like to add complications, minutiae, detail upon detail, ten words when three would do, four kinds of sprinkles on our ice cream cone when we could just enjoy the clean taste of plain vanilla! I confess to bringing along all manner of items and food we won't even use this weekend, for the dread of our trip not being "just right".

But Jesus told Martha--"One thing is needful." And that is to sit at Jesus' feet!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Two steps forward, one step back

1:30 p.m. Today's project is to get on the road to Lake Skinner for a weekend of camping (or "glamping" as my buddies call it!) in the RV. It hasn't sold yet, and payments are current, so why not use it?
We are tagging along with friends as they try out their 42 ft long trailer--what a misnomer for that luxury craft--on a relatively short journey, just past Temecula. Just Steve and Iare going. Poor Heidi, she'll be taking care of Bailey and Jada. I'm sure Pavel will be happy to help out. Ah, young love! It also helps that he's a country boy raised on a small farm out in the La Sierra section of Riverside. Pavel can also help her pass out candy tomorrow night, which usually wraps up early. That's a good thing about living at the top of a hill. Too far for most people to walk! Heidi and Pavel might go help out at our church's Hallelujah Night later on.
After a lunch of homemade tamales--yum! I was happily loading food into the RV's fridge when I saw nasty stains on some of the compartments--what on earth? I clean up as I go along when we travel, or at worst, clean out everything as soon as we get home. Two of our kids had taken it on trips or stayed in it recently, but they are pretty tidy usually, well, sometimes.
So it's back up, remove the compartments and take them inside to wash in hot soapy water. (We haven't turned on the RV's water yet). All done, now back to packing the food. Steve polished the hubcaps and washed the windshield. A few dozen more fridge and freezer items to go and we just might hit our 2 p.m. departure time!
My daughter Heather is feeling better, the weather looks good, and we are just about ready. The short interruption was for our benefit, because we never know what conditions or traffic issues might have arisen had we left earlier. But our heavenly Father knows!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Out and about

6:02 p.m. Today's project was to take my daughter Heather to the Riverside Medical Clinic for her appointment--she's been sickwith the flu since the weekend. Her husband has been trying to keep well, with a double schedule of full time school and full time grad school. Oh, to be young and have that kind of energy and focus!

Heather's flu had subsided, the doctor said, but now she was suffering a bacterial infection! So I left her off at home to take her prescription and go back to bed, with a promise to bake a Freschetta pizza for Nick later. James 5:15 assures us, "the prayer of faith will will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him [her] up." So this mom is praying!

Steve had been busy meanwhile packing up the RV for our Lake Skinner trip Friday-Sunday. I jetted home, made our lunches, harvested my virtual cotton on Farm Town, and earned a pile of coins harvesting pineapples for a blessed sister on her beautiful acreage! : -) Hey, girls just wanna have fun!

My friend Monica and I had a prayer visit planned for 1:30, so I went over to Woodcrest to her home. My goodness, how I bless the Lord for bringing Jeff and Monica through not only physical illnesses and injuries, but to top it off, the severe effects of recession on the construction industry. Yet the Lord has increased their ministry, and they are already planning a couples' Bible study for February. It took two hours for her story to unfold, amid both of our tears, with a sprinkling of miracles in the mix, for our God is faithful. This past summer in Yosemite, this couple, despite going through fiery trials, renewed their vows in a public commitment that their marriage is for life! My heart was so touched because Steve and I too are learning the meaning, in real time, of the wedding vow "in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, til death do us part."

We prayed at length, and were so aware of the Holy Spirit's sweetening presence that our demeanors were changed, uplifted, energized to wait on the Lord, and act with prayerful wisdom as He directs! We wrapped up our time with Monica's very first facial. I also made note of the creative way her home is decorated and asked if I could hire her to decorate and wrap my line of Christmas gift products, if I provide the bows, cello wrap, tulle, ribbon and packaging, so she can make a little income. So it ended up as an afternoon of mutual ministry and sisters supporting one another.

The day was not over yet! I got home, said "Hi" to Steve once again, and told Heidi where she could find their Frescettta pizza . I left with one to bake one for Heather's husband, due home by 5:30 for a brief time at home before he'd be driving to class at Cal Poly. The Azithromycin must not have kicked in yet, because Heather looked and sounded worse than she had this morning. We talked a bit, she fell back asleep, and I was able to head out after Nick arrived.

Not yet able to go home, I remembered to drop off Steve's prescriptions up the road at CVS. I now have, after eating dinner with Steve and Heidi, one hour before going out again to pick up the medication at 8:00. I wonder what time I'll get to bed tonight!

Better late than never in writing my daily blog, but today has been busily blessed, full of the Lord's lovingkindness to me and through me, and I love Him for it!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


3:32 p.m. Today's project was to take Steve to our primary care doctor for his periodic checkup. Turns out we were a "work-in " appointment, so we both read the books we'd brought for about an hour and a half. I made good use of my time, however, by getting the phone number of the Health Imaging Group to schedule Steve's upcoming MRI for Monday. His last MRI was in 2007, and his brain hadn't shown any areas of plaque (typical of Alzheimer's) even though his memory was worsening severely, impacting his ability to work. Now that two years have gone by, I wonder what we'll see? No sense worrying about it, because the mighty God we serve has known every aspect of Steve's life since before he was even conceived by his mom! "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you."(Jeremiah 1:5) Dr. Guzman gave us prescriptions for some medications that might help lessen anxiety and reduce inflammation--not as a cure, certainly, but ones that might chip away at some of the ill effects Alzheimer's has on Steve.

The staff also gave me the phone number of the surgeon who had removed my cancer almost 6 years ago, because the life insurance underwriters could not find it. One thing I would note to anyone else considering retirement--you may find yourself without life insurance, if your employer covered you, while you're busy arranging for your health coverage! As a former life insurance agent, I've been a firm believer--and purchaser--of life insurance including for our children. Now at 58, even with a clean bill of health, this will be an expensive undertaking.

So I am torn-- should I spend the money? Or better spend it setting up a living trust for the property and belongings? Scripture doesn't mention life insurance, although the Proverbs are full of directives to plan wisely, and Jesus also speaks of stewardship. Oh well, until Select Quote gets back to me, it's a moot point!

At the grocery store, Steve and I picked up two large "buy one, get one free" packs of chicken fajitas, already cut into chunks with the veggies, ready to grill. So I texted Heidi to have early dinner before church, and was so excited to find that she and Pavel were planning to come over to carve pumpkins this afternoon! That news was like the fresh, cool breezes we've had outdoors today, considering the life-and-death-and disease issues I'd been pondering. Whoopee!
I also invited my younger daughter Heather and her husband to join us, but my little Mrs. Nick Love is really sick, she texted back. She asked me to take her to the doctor tomorrow, so we'll see what's going on, poor baby!
Looks like I won't be making it to Weight Loss Challenge today--what a shame, since I know I've gained some with those coffeecakes! I'll just pay $5 for missing the meeting--the amount of pounds I'd have to pay for anyway! Better luck next week, huh? (Or better effort!)
Having my daughters around me, whether for fun or sickness, rejuevenates me, because like all believing moms, I hope to be like the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31: "Her children rise up and call her blessed."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hurry up and wait

5:18 p.m. Today's project was to get Heidi's car registration renewed at our local Department of Motor Vehicles, because she had lost the form that came in the mail.
First came our Bible study on Esther at church, where I was feeling very privileged to be able to attend during the daytime. I got there early to deliver one of my coffee cakes to the office staff. I gave a food donation, and loaned two natural food cookbooks for a young mom with an allergic son. We heard a wonderful praise report about last weekend's Mexico women's retreat--25 attendees gave their lives to the Lord!

Just before lunch, Bible study ended, and a bunch of us girls went on over to Chick-Fil-A. As an aside, I tasted their famous chicken for the first time in an airport in Atlanta on our way to visit Richard and Liz, our Alaska cruise friends, in Florida a few years ago. Wow, it's the best! That company, whose Christian founder doesn't do business on Sundays, hadn't yet come to our area of SoCal. Now I visit whenever I get a chance.

Having just finished a post-Bible study lunch with my gal pals I was in a great mood, hoping for the best as to lines, helpfulness of the clerks, decent people to sit near, all the things a lady would want in a waiting room. Off to a good start! I got a parking place right in the front! The office on Sycamore Canyon Drive has a pretty quick system for sorting us out: we got in a rather long line, told our story, and were assigned a number. The clerk told me that the wait was an hour. I drove 5 minutes down Alessandro to my house, even though it was with regret that I gave up my premium parking spot, to see how Steve was doing. We also had to make an appointment to get a tire put on the RV later. Nothing like a full day!
Upon my return to the DMV in less than an hour, cockeyed optimist that I am, I took my seat, and whipped out my Amish romance novel (very faith-filled), thinking, "Oh, I'll be called up right away!" Meanwhile, I surreptitiously glanced around to see if there was anyone I could hand out my cosmetic samples to, or start a conversation with. On my left was a college student and her boyfriend, so I looked to the right, but saw that the lady was from Ontario, a bit of a drive. Behind me was a young woman on her cell phone, using all manner of foul language in a quiet voice (as if that helps). I finished my book!
As my "appointment" time long came and went, I noticed that I had randomly sat down between numbers B195 and B197--I was B196! Odd, but when I thought to open up a conversation with the lady on my right, saying, "we're getting close!" she didn't even tilt her head. Oh well! Not everyone wants to socialize, for whatever reason. I can't imagine such a thing, but that's me!
Finally my chance came, and a very friendly clerk was happy to accept a microdermabrasion sample, but when she told about the pieces of lead crystal working their way up to her skin's surface--the result of a horrible accident when she was waitressing--I also gave her some hand creme. "You might want to wait on the microdermabrasion," I told her. She very quickly got the car registration renewed, and I was on my way.
People are such survivors, aren't they? God really has created the capacity for courage and hope, whether it's surviving cancer, like me, or surviving abandonment by a spouse, accidents, unemployment, or a multitude of other unforeseen crises.
But best of all, is that through Christ's sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection, we have all the grace and mercy we can ask for, more than we can even conceive of!
I Corinthians 2:9, a scripture we all would do well to keep in mind in our trials, says, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
Do you love Him?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Too much of an odd thing

4:21 p.m. Today's project started last night, when I queried my Facebook friends about what I should do with almost 2 lbs of sour cream left over from a Mexican feast three of us had served to our Home Fellowship for dinner. I tossed the question out there because I was too lazy to go get a cookbook, and was also looking for something novel.

A few of my girlfriends came through. One beanpole said, "Get your onion soup dip mix and lots of chips and kick back." Not with a Weight Loss Challenge weigh-in tomorrow! Another offered that her parents grew up in Minnesota and spread sour cream on bread and sprinkled it with sugar for a snack. Not wanting to appear unappreciative, I wrote that her parents' snack reminded me of my Deep South-raised dad's favorite: fresh churned butter on bread, with sugar on top. He's now 82, and very fit, so who am I to object to these "treats?" I wasn't in the mood for beef stroganoff, another suggestion. Maybe that would sound good next month, with cooler temperatures--too late for this batch of sour cream. Don't you just love the differences we Americans have, from north, south, east and west?

Another young friend, an expectant mother, suggested that I call her mom--a friend of mine--but I just got voicemail and haven't heard back. I'll see her at Bible study tomorrow anyway.

So late this morning, the day for action, the phrase kept coming to me, "sour cream coffeecake." Aha! So I did get out a church cookbook, and there were two useful recipes in a row. I only needed one ingredient and some disposable pans to use for giving one or both of the cakes away. Couldn't find the exact ingredient, so I made substituions, and the first two streusel coffee cakes came out well.

I only have to make two more, so I'll try another recipe that calls for a chocolate chip and nut filling. Whichever comes out best, I'll take to the church office, and the next best to Piecemakers quilting and craft group. That will leave one to eat at home and one to freeze for a future gift, or for guests.

Best of all, my abundance of sour cream will be whittled down to a manageable amount, and more suggestions are welcome! I agree with Proverbs 15:22 which tells us that " the multitude of counsellors plans are established."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"We all got to serve somebody"--Bob Dylan

2:36 p.m. Today's project was to shred, chop, dice, season and cook the meat and toppings for 30+ people at our Home Fellowship this evening. Planning with our hostess Evangelina, who is making salsa, and Suzanne, who is bringing rice, makes the task a little less daunting, and I get to enjoy another sister's cooking along with my own! Steve and I did the bulk of the shopping Friday at Smart & Final, and picked up a few last minute items after church today at a nearby supermarket.

Let the fun begin! I fixed Steve his lunch, heated up a Lean Cuisine for myself, made a cup of coffee, and set to work, truly in my element. Whether it's a meal for two, as it is increasingly these days, for the family, or for a crowd, I love to cook! All went well, even though I had to no chili powder for the meat. But not to worry; I made it up from the spices chili powder contains--cumin, red pepper and paprika. Added some garlic powder, Ro-tel, Herdez salsa taqueria, and some enchilada seasoning I had in the pantry and soon 6 lbs of 80% lean hamburger was simmering away in the cast iron Dutch oven I had cleaned and re-seasoned this morning. (Undoubtedly a contributing factor to our being late to church).

As the meat is staying warm in the crockpot--thanks, Joanna, for the idea!-- and the toppings are in containers in the fridge until we leave at 4:30, I have time to reflect on Pastor Sammy's outstanding message this morning--who or what are we serving? What is our passion in life? Or I would ask myself, what gets me out of bed in the morning? I have a to-do list like everyone else, especially on Mondays, a husband who needs my attention, and a slew of hobbies and interests that I thoroughly enjoy--gardening, reading, the home arts, writing, "social networking," cooking, baking, running a small business. I love to serve others in any way I can.

Honestly, though, what gets me up each morning is the thought, "Another fantastic day with the Lord!" Sometimes I say it out loud to spur myself on. Downstairs I go to put on the coffee and get my Bible. Right now I am reading Proverbs, absorbing God's exhortations and promises. Journalling, prayer, and doing a daily segment of our women's Bible study workbook round out my morning.

But Jesus is too wonderful to keep to myself! How can I reach others with His love? One way is to post scripture seven days a week on Facebook. Not all of my friends or family members are believers, but every one of them could become one--I look for witnessing opportunities in cyberspace as well as in real life. God has provided incredible resources for us to reach the world without even leaving our homes. Let's go for it.

A Christian who wants to have Christ as the center of his or her life will not neglect prayer, either, confessing sin, accepting forgiveness, and taking opportunity to praise our Lord for all He is and does, in the past, right now, and for all eternity. What a privilege prayer is! How delightful that God answers Steve's and my agreement in prayer, and each of our prayers individually!

Pastor Sammy reminded us that Jesus came to give us abundant life, and that he does! "Abundant Life" doesn't always mean "Happy Life," or "Carefree Life," because we live in frail temporary bodies on a deteriorating planet, under a curse. Sorrow and strain interrupt our enjoyments. But if we serve the Lord, and others, our life will be joyful, so overflowing with the Holy Spirit that we'll be contagious and have a chance to witness to others.

As we serve our Christian friends at Home Fellowship tonight, we may not be evangelizing, but we will be serving up encouragement, comfort and enjoyment, and receiving a big dose of it back from the Lord. We've heard many times that we can't outgive God--it's impossible!

Psalm 116:12-13 asks, "What shall I give unto the Lord, for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the Name of the Lord." Never-ending blessings are ours if we call upon our God!

Friday, October 23, 2009

It takes a family

1:33 p.m. Today's project is to get packed, organized, everything set and my husband well taken care of, so I can leave in about 30 minutes for a business meeting. I'll be spending one night at the Kona Kai Hotel for the "San Diego Splash."

Weeks of planning have gone into this, not so much for the pointers I expect to learn from other consultants and directors, or the fun I'll be having while learning to make my Mary Kay business more profitable. That's a given. My focus has been that this is my first overnight trip since Steve's disability became more severe. A challenge, indeed!

There's an old saying, "Man proposes, but God disposes," and how true that is. Proverbs 16:33 says, "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." I know that God is in control of this weekend. On the other hand, we have all heard, "Fail to plan--plan to fail," and Jesus Himself speaks of kings carefully planning for war in Luke 14:31. So I have made plans for my daughter and son-in-law to spend the night with Steve, and take him to church Saturday morning for the all day live-streaming Calvary Chapel Men's Conference at our church, complete with fajita lunch.

A friend who has come alongside Steve, Bob Snyder, will be picking him up tonight to go to a custom car show at Jason's Deli, and over for a bite to eat before returning Steve home. So even though Steve doesn't recall any of this information, despite my posting it on the kitchen table and taping it to the inside of the front door, my helpers will keep our plans going.

I thank God for my physical family, always there for us when possible, but as a Christian, I praise Him just as much at times, for my family of brothers and sisters in Christ! I cannot begin to tell you the prayer and social support we receive, which is just overwhelming. Our friends and pastors make Steve feel that he still fits in, keeping him comfortable during awkward pauses in his sentences, maybe filling in the blanks patiently and tactfully. I love them so much, it's not easy to express.

So many friends and acquaintances, like the gals at Upper Echelon hair salon, former teaching colleagues, and my weight loss buddies lend cheer and moral support along the way, enough to strengthen me and keep an upbeat, busy atmosphere here at home. Some are believers, and some aren't believers just yet! My sharing will one day bear fruit, just in God's timing.

I pray that our transparency about Steve's Alzheimer's will enable precious unsaved friends to see Jesus Christ through our joyous struggle!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Free works for me!

2:24 p.m. Today's project was to take my Jeep to the dealer for its quarterly service. The reason my 2005 Liberty never gives me a lick of trouble after 77,000+ miles is precisely that: quarterly tuneups ever since I bought it brand new. It's not even costly! I just wait for Moss Motors' coupon deals to come in the mail, sometimes $19.95, today's price $17.95, make an appointment and my car has its oil changed, other fluids filled, tires rotated, systems checked and, best of all, washed shiny clean! I do try to budget in the major mileage appointments, taking advantage of "customer loyalty" discounts, then, too.

The Lord had a good reward for our diligence today when we went to retrieve my ride and pay the total , which, with tax and who-knows-what extra California fees, came to $22.53. The service manager looked us up in the computer and said, "It says here that you have $35 in Reward Cash, so why don't we take that $22.53 out of that?" Woo-hoo! Moss still owes me $11. That's what I call a good day. And I will be back.
I realize that some are uncomfortable with "magically" receiving coupons at checkout for your favorite brands, a store's generic version, or even competitors' products. They cite privacy concerns, and it's understandable.
Although I imagine if I owned a store, I'd want to track products that my customers want, so as to build customer loyalty, just like I keep detailed records of my own Mary Kay customers ' preferences and needs. Computerized systems have only accelerated a process that began with civilization and bartering in the marketplace. I tend to favor privacy for medical records, banking, and insurance, for instance, but I am overjoyed to receive retail coupons online, in the mail, the newspaper, and anywhere else!
Americans haven't had any real privacy for quite awhile, probably since we got Social Security numbers. If Publishers' Clearinghouse was able to find out who lived in my house in a newly-completed tract within two weeks of our moving in 21-1/2 years ago, it wasn't because I told them! On the flip side, my three successful school board campaigns paid good money to the County registrar for voter rolls so I could walk door-to-door and greet folks by name.
There are ways to request removal of your name from junk mail lists. I've gotten onto "Do Not Call" programs that do alright for landlines, but never seem to take for my cell phone, somehow. I use the simple solution of not answering 800 or 877 calls, or any odd area codes. One caution: those lists expire, and bless my friend Robin for notifying me when they do!
When our women's ministry was having us all bring baby items for Riverside Life Services a few years back, I participated, and soon began receiving not only coupons for baby items at checkout, but whole books of baby coupons in the mail! (My Baby was around 18 at the time). I gave them away, but since I still buy baby wipes for all kinds of purposes, I have more coupons to give away, and that's fine with me. Makes me feel like a young mom of five again--thankfully, NOT!
We will all have our opinions of the invasion of privacy, and there may come a time when any one of us decide to take a stand. But I am encouraged by the the One who knows everything about me, my thoughts before I think them, my motivations, my plans and my actions! God knows my heart and loves me with all of His! Anyway!!
Hebrews 4:13 tells us, and I take this as a warning and a comfort, "There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
Openness, accountability, forgiveness and restoration--that's the life I live under the watchful eyes of my Heavenly Father!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Weigh-in/way out

2:05 p.m. Today's project was to take a friend from church to the county hospital for a lengthy test. Not one to get burned twice by that no-parking lot, I even called to ask her to have pockets available for her necessary cards in case it took me a while to find a space after I dropped her off! I'm not sure whether or not that was a bit presumptuous, but I am sure about the tough time I had last week. She volunteered to bring her handicapped sticker in case we could use it. Score!

Things go so much better when I commit them to the Lord in prayer! I am a firm believer in praying with all the facts available, so this time, no longer ignorant of the crowds out there, I asked the Lord to help us, and He did. We didn't even need the sticker, and I found a space shortly after dropping Pam off. The far opposite end of the visitor parking section was ideal, today especially, because I could use the walk. Even had on my tennies. After all, Wednesday is our weight loss challenge (WLC) meeting, and I cannot stand to pay $1.00 for every pound gained...even went walking with Steve and furry friends later in heavy clothes --how much could I sweat off???

At Mimi's, we shared testimonies, and I realized that she had attended the tent at Calvary Costa Mesa while in high school, just like my husband Steve had. She had been spared much grief and foolishness by getting saved at a young age. Not so with me, having lived "out loud" as an unbeliever for 28 years, made tons of grievous mistakes, already with a dreadful marriage behind me!

A divorced single mom, I was brought up short suddenly by the Lord at Crenshaw Christian Center on Jauary 6, 1980, after hearing the "Romans Road" (the steps to salvation) laid out methodically and vigorously by television preacher Fred Price. I knew that being born again was what I needed, and after a perceptive usher said to me, "Don't let Satan rob you!" I walked right up to join the huge altar call. I've always wondered at the bright light I saw around me--a visible sign, high emotions, or tv lighting? No matter, I got saved, joined Calvary Chapel Riverside, and never looked back!

Almost 30 years later, I am excited to be a Christian every day! I still "live out loud," but with abundant energy fueled by the Holy Spirit--and the Holy Bible. A believer's life is adventurous, even in details that might be dull or painful. I've found that all things fit together beautifully into God's plan for us and others in our sphere of influence. Our hearts have been shifted to being in the right place, even when we blow it. There's no place for pride when I consider what Christ went through for me, and what He has done for me. There's no place for self-pity when the Holy Spirit assures me that He's always there. There's no place for ignorance when the Word of God is available to all. If I get up and put one foot in front of the other in obedience, I'll be rewarded by watching His work, His righteous work!

If believers are "way out" of the mainstream, so what? What did we expect when we turned our backs on the world's system? Certainly not approbation! Jesus said in John 16:33, "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

So testify, friends! "Live out loud!"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Feet, get moving!

3:06 p.m. Today's project was to take a good mile and a half walk with Steve and the dogs before it got too hot, so we had to organize ourselves pretty quickly after devotions and breakfast. By no means do I want to pay for pounds gained at tomorrow's Weight Loss challenge meeting weigh-in!

Why is it so hard to get out of the house? Steve saddled up the dogs and the three of them waited while I put on my running shoes, promising to be "right out." I did get out front fairly quickly the first time. Then I remembered I needed to mail an important letter concerning Steve's State disability payment and unlocked the door and went back for it. Having retrieved the letter from the kitchen counter, of course I noticed some papers that needed recycling. Those papers couldn't possibly have waited for twenty minutes, so on my way out, I chucked them into our recycling box just inside the garage.

Out the door, to see Steve patiently waiting with Bailey and Jada sitting politely on the driveway. But wait! I had to hop over to the mailbox, insert the letter and put the flag up. Finally, off we went around the corner, much to the relief of my three companions.

I have aquaintances and relatives who tend to slam the men in their lives, but honestly, I think men put up with much more from us women! Just seeing us through the whole wedding episode, our cycles, pregnancies, cleanliness demands, and general pickiness--husbands are saints! Mine is, anyway. And the longer we are married, the easier it gets for both of us to overlook whatever it is we need to overlook each day, and focus on meeting each other's needs, no matter how trivial. II Corinthians 13:11b tells believers, "Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you." Amen to that, especially in marriage.
Really enjoyed last night, the first night of Women's Bible Study at church, a Beth Moore study on Esther. It's so much fun to get back together with friends I don't see except at Bible study, and end up building more close relationships every year. Tonight our Piecemakers group, the quilters, cross stitchers, crocheters, wannabes and usedtobes like me--rusty, but enthusiastic--have a ball, laughing and jabbering away, while we work on projects. Tonight Jill is bringing homemade ice cream and I'll hopefully sew a seam or two on my "forever quilt," formerly known as the "two-hour quilt." Psalm 133:1, (ladies' version) says, "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for the sistren to dwell together in unity!"
New projects abound: a request from church to give Pam a ride to the hospital early tomorrow morning, and camping reservations to make with friends for Lake Skinner. And my Heidi recently asked me, "What do you do all day?"

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dusty treasures

4:00 p.m. Today's project was to remove all items, clean them, and to dust and polish the top of our master bedroom dresser. I am embarassed to admit that I have no idea how long it has been since the dresser's last clean-and sort! If nothing else, Steve and I should certainly breather easier when we sleep tonight dust-free.
I began with removing pennies, paperclips, scraps of paper, tiny rubber stoppers to unknown items, screws, beads, and decorativepins from events I had attended in my school board days. Banquet placecards, a lanyard with my nametag as a presenter at a state education conference, very dusty velvet jewelry and gift bags were the medium sized items, along with a bag of small teacher gifts from long ago students. Taller items included my authentic Sioux Indian marriage dolls, two candle holders-- one a hurricane with an olive colored candle and golden holly berry ribbon trim I had affixed around it for a past Christmas season. My jewelry hangers I carefully placed on our bathroom counter. It's no fun picking up and untangling necklaces. One reward along the way was finding a pink mother-of-pearl and silver pendant I 've been missing for months. Goes right with what I have on today, too!
The "photo dolls" I had had made for Heidi and Heather when they were in 9th and 7th grades, respectively, brought me a chuckle that strikes me every time I pass by that dresser. Twelve Christmases ago, the girls screamed in shock when they opened their dolls, not liking their images one bit! My late mom and dad, Steve and the rest of the kids, fell out shrieking with laughter, not very nice of them! But I thought, and still think, those dolls are cute! Heidi and Heather are my daughters, and no pose, hairdo or costume could make them any less beautiful to me. The "Little House on the Prairie" look probably wasn't the most flattering, but Sav-On wasn't offering any alternative wardrobe choices. I posed them on our living room couch for old times' sake, but I'd better stash them back upstairs before Heidi gets home!
Mementos of vacations, an unused journal and photo album, jewlery from our late Auntie Doris, and handmade knicknacks from the kids' elementary and scouting years all came out from hiding under the dusty stuffed animals. I found lots of sports team photo buttons of the boys--do those things reproduce? Unbelievable cuteness as they posed with bats and soccer balls! What would life be for a big, busy family without the "bouncy balls," jointed Spiderman and his collectible cards?I washed out a doll quilt Heidi had made in Brownies for framing one day, and admired the plastic "snowglobe" with Heather's three year-old and seventh grade pictures on reverse sides. Pretty good technology for a school project! Treasured doily notes from Heidi proclaimed, "I love you Daddy!" On Steve's side of the dresser are more serious items: wooden receipt box, Valentines' cards, couples' retreat notes. Dr. Dobson's book Love for a Lifetime reminded me of just that--our lifetime together. Close to thirty hectic but fabulous years of marriage and raising a family we're proud of.
By God's grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we've come this far and prayerfully will enjoy ourselves together for a long time to come! It wasn't easy taking Steve's power of attorney that he had recently signed to our bank. But when he asked me today what year it was, I knew it was time to turn that in, to let them know I'll be responsible for any and all business from this point on. But how blessed it was that both of the young tellers, Amy and Christine, happen to be believers and friends of our family, professional and lovely inside and out. Just another allotment of grace from my God who has all I could ever need and more! You've brought me this far, Lord, and You'll not ever let me go!
"He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."
(Philippians 1:6)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

3:10 p.m. Today's project was to participate in Riverside Life Services' Walk for Life at Shamel Park in Riverside, after a fine message at church today, a quick lunch and a generous
lathering of sunscreen. I don't wear a hat because it'd only make me hotter on a day that promised to be a scorcher by afternoon!

I arrived in plenty of time to register, enjoy worship by Moimusic, and put on the bright yellow and black t-shirt. Old and new friends joined together as longtime neighbor Brian Park gathered us together and the youth pastor from Magnolia Ave. Baptist Church led us in prayer. It seemed that at 1:30 the weather wasn't all that hot--that was a much needed relief. All my worry for nothing--as usual! One day I guess I'll realize that God is in control, whether the issues are huge, like the prolife purpose of our walk, or tiny, like me getting too hot!

My choice for the day was the 1 miler, since I haven't been the world's most diligent walker lately. "Next year," I told a friend who walks 55 minutes a day, "maybe I'll do the 3 miles, too!" As I walked along, I joined up with Rita Garza's mom. We recognized one another from years ago at Harvest, I'm pretty sure, so we had a nice stroll at a pace that allowed us to talk about our families and the blessing of knowing the Lord.

We arrived at Riverside Life Services Center and took the tour. What a warm, comfortable, yet professional place for scared, expectant moms to get their questions answered, receive love, hugs, and help to make it through pregnancy and motherhood. Solid counseling, and genuine options, not the Planned Parenthood "quick fix," are given with adherence to biblical principles.

Young people with purple t-shirts that read "Powered by Christ" served cookies to those taking the tour. We also saw the spot reserved for the future ultrasound machine, a thrilling prospect! Research has shown that when women see their children moving around inside the womb, they almost invariably choose life. Babies are not mere blobs of tissue!

Room after room attested to generous donations from the community--baby and maternity clothes, diapers by the case, even strollers and nursery furniture. But it's the volunteers who man the phones that make the critical difference. Their compassionate voices invite frightened women to be surrounded by people who care and can help them through a crisis pregnancy.

As soothing to me as the cool breeze was to my momentary physical need, is the voice of the One who says to any and all of us, "You are not alone."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Civic minded

4:13 p.m. Today's project was to carry out my assignment as Key Hostess at a spectacular home on the 58th Annual Panhellenic ("all Greek") Home Tour. I have been a member of this philanthropical organization of former sorority women since 1993, and enjoy our single focus as volunteers: raising money for merit-based college scholarships for high school senior girls.
My shift was from 11:15 to 2:30, but the day began at 5:30 a.m., so that Steve and I could have our daily devotions and prayer, breakfast, and plenty of time to get Steve to the Saturday morning men's Bible study at Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley by 8:00. Now that I do the driving, there'll be no sleeping in for me if Steve is to attend his study. I hadn't slept well, but as soon as I got into God's word, I was particularly joyful when the Lord led me to the scripture to post on Facebook, Psalm 2:7,8: "The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance and the ends of the earth for Your possession." The Father speaking to the Son, and the Holy Spirit writing it down through David the psalmist. And thousands of years later, you and I are privileged to eavesdrop on the conversation!
Steve went into His Bible study and I drove across the freeway to Super Walmart (that's what they call the ones with groceries, right?). I needed to text my daughter Heather about a big "Shabby Chic" used kids' clothing sale at a Riverside church I heard about on KSGN, since she and her friends were out thrift shopping this morning. I picked up bananas, apples and feta cheese. Very good prices, with a helper even coming over to me at the self checkout to make sure I got the 50 cent discount on the Galas. It was still only 8:18, an hour left to wait, so I parked back at church and began reading the book of Hebrews, my favorite, if choosing were even possible. I love the way the writer, whom I believe to be the Apostle Paul, spares no words in making sure we know exactly who Jesus is.
I am praying about teaching Romans (Heidi's suggestion) or Hebrews next summer and praying even bigger about writing a new Bible study for the women to use each week! They enjoyed this summer's Galatians lessons, written over 20 years ago, and reformatted into Word a few years ago.The study on the Gospel of Mark has been updated for a while now; I and II Samuel are in progress, being edited by a sweet young lady named Esther Balos down at Calvary Costa Mesa. I'm holding off on Mark, because our church is studying it on Sunday nights the next two years at Home Fellowships.
With raising young children at home, the Lord had me write those Bible studies, type them up and teach them each week, my writing sometimes no more than two weeks ahead of the ladies! Good times, hectic times, fun times, blessed times!
At home full time again now, I wonder, "Is it time to write another Bible study?" I retired to be home with Steve, but he is doing better now that I'm here to lend structure to his day.He keeps himself busy with projects, so I have the time. The concept of having a number of months to write a study intrigues and thrills me. But I must give these thoughts to the Lord, for the Holy Spirit to sift through and direct! All these ideas were swirling in my head as I read Hebrews and waited for Steve.
After Steve's study ended, we went on the Panhellenic Pre-tour, available to those of us working a shift at any of the homes. The only stop we had time for was the amazing Guthrie home over on Lochmoor, replete with pieces of art from Africa, Spain, and China, a "vanishing edge" swimming pool, and a 360 degree view overlooking Sycamore Canyon--you could even see our house from there! I always appreciate the gracious homeowners who open their houses to the public one day a year for a worthy cause. And Panhellenic has a 58-year track record of running an outstanding tour.
Shea, who rooms with us, and I got dressed up and drove over to the Jacobs home in plenty of time to get a decent parking space and for me to get my hostesses situated at their posts. The mediterranean style home is so massive that the traffic pattern I was given was confusing, and it took about the first 45 minutes, and the dear Pre-tour key hostess staying a bit late, to ribbon off a few more areas and keep the patrons from walking into each other and all following the same route!
All went well, at Shea's location near the kitchen and mine at the front porch, and the second shift arrived, mercifully, as the weather was getting really toasty. On the drive home through the elegant neighborhood, Shea asked me about charity work, something I was raised to do--to "give back," as my parents put it, not just living to enjoy whatever success you may achieve. Our home was not an evangelical Christian one, but very civic-minded, with me eventually serving 3 terms in elected office in my forties. What I think I am most grateful to the Lord about, however, is that both of my parents came to know Christ as their Savior shortly after I got saved in 1980.
Christians, though we are "not of this world," do live in it daily, and we need to have an active, positive effect on our communities to open doors for witnessing. Galatians 6:9-10 tells us,"Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."

Friday, October 16, 2009

On the run at the Regional Medical Center

3:13 p.m. Today's project was to pick up Pamela and take her to a lab appointment at the Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley. I had managed to squeeze in a chiropractor adjustment earlier, Steve was busy mowing the lawn as I left, and all went well, including dropping Pam off at the entrance while I looked for a parking spot.

If you have a choice, I would not recommend going to that hospital on a Friday morning--or is the parking lot always like this? I drove around and around, knowing my friend was waiting for me to bring her purse to her, and there was not a spot to be found, among hundreds of visitor parking spaces. So I pulled up at the entrance area for patient drop off and pick up, ran inside without even my own purse, but no Pam! Yikes! I asked the front desk lady where the lab was, and how long I could stay parked in front. "Fifteen minutes is all." So I walked/ran as fast as I could, not very fast with the crowds, and made it over there--no Pam! I figured she had gone in, so I got in a mercifully short line to leave a message that I had her bag and was going back outside to retrieve my car. Time kept ticking away, so I had to leave, fast as I could, looking out from a distance to the front entrance and --no Jeep! Had they towed it?

I panicked, praying God would be merciful to my feckless but well-meaning self, zipping out to the front, where I nearly ran into--Pam! She had been waiting for me all along. We realized that I had parked at the WRONG [practically identical] front entrance, so I told her I had only 15 minutes, probably down to one minute at this point, gave her her purse, promised that I'd meet her back at the lab, and tore off running in flat, loose, backless sandals that could have caused a twisted ankle the way this day was going, and PRAISE GOD, there was the Jeep!!

God is faithful! But He does throw some humor into our mishaps, doesn't He? This time, after cruising the lot, and after a few false starts--you know, people who only appear to be backing out--I found a shady spot to back into, and walked at a normal pace back to the hospital, found Pam awaiting her turn for the blood draw, and we enjoyed fellowship both there and at Farmer Boys later for lunch.

Poor health, a frightening test result, or a unsettling prognosis is not what we would pray for, is it? I've heard my doctor's words: "the lump is cancer." I've been through surgery and radiation, and waited for 5 long years to pass for all tests to come back cancer free--I am a breast cancer survivor. But I also know that cancer is an incurable disease, and another version of this scourge could break out elsewhere in my body. And sadly, I know that my children will now have that concern in the back of their minds as they approach middle age. They will all, males and females alike, need to be diligent with their exams. Knowing the facts, and also understanding what those facts mean, are powerful, especially for the believer in Christ! We are told in Philippians 4:6 to "let your requests be made known to God." We won't request His help if we don't know what ails us!

God's love, help, and care are available to His children at all times--call on Him!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Something old, something new

2:34 p.m. Today's project was to download (upload?) the audio book I had stayed up until nearly midnight trying to get synced onto my iPod, synced onto my iPod! We had seen the ad of a free selection for joining, and Steve agreed that he'd enjoy listening with me, or on his own, to a "book on tape," now a totally anachronistic term, though it's the same concept. I went through all of the steps once again with the tech, and a western novel from the Christian/inspirational department (678 books strong, I was pleased to see) is now on my iPod.

Don't Go to That City--They Call it Cheyenne is the title that caught my eye, probably because we own a house in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and some of our fondest memories involve finding a house, buying it, and returning to stay in it for a few days in December of 2006. Nothing like the prairie wind whipping at you when it's already below freezing outside! Brisk and stimulating, to say the least. But the warmth, openness and trust immediately evident in everyone we met are the qualities that sold us on that city on the plains. A couple of stupendous steaks attest to Cheyenne's beef-growing industry, and Calvary Chapel was a most welcoming and spirit-filled congregation as well. A perfect package for this SoCal-weary pair!

The peace and quiet, the antelope roaming the streets and clear air--we could see all the way into the Colorado Rockies--had us tempted to move there, but we returned home and had a property management company advertise our house for rent. If our children had been much older, with their own families, able to vacation "out west, " we would have moved, because as a family we have vacationed often in Colorado, taken them to Yellowstone, and further yet, to Mt. Rushmore. It would seem like a reasonable trip to them, not that far, to go see us, and for us to travel back here. But with our kids barely getting into or just out of college and starting off in life, we would have missed too much of their formative adult years. Priorities, always! As the pictures above illustrate [Steve with Adrian at Jackson Lake in the Grand Tetons, and Xavier and I on our front lawn] we had a great time visiting our house on the way home from Yellowstone this summer with our grandsons and Jada and Bailey. Family traditions renewed!
Much as I thrive on learning new technology, it was also very challenging to accomplish a very old-time piece of handiwork-- sewing a button on a shirt, one I bought to wear on my first Wales mission trip. Two challenges: running up and downstairs to find a needle and thread to begin with; and then, threading the needle while not being able to see its eye, or the tip of the white thread! Have the eyes of needles shrunk since I was a girl? Geez! I even have on one contact lens for close vision--lotta help that was. Dug around in the junk drawer for an embroidery needle with a larger eye, and finished my project. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!
New hobbies, like email, Facebook and blogging, are perfect for those of us with way too much to say, and I participate daily with enthusiasm. But quieter, slower-paced hobbies, like gardening, baking, reading, journalling, sewing, canning, crafting, scrapbooking and quilting bring women together in ways that are reminiscent of my years as a young mom at home, visiting with my girlfriends, sharing the word of God together, encouraging and teaching one another, and delighting in all of our babies and toddlers. The toddlers are now married, and many of us are retirees, but our love for one another is still strong--timeless, as is the love of our Lord.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Popular Request

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins from Kay Hammar:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together: 3 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp. baking powder, 2 tsp. baking soda.

Add to: 4 eggs, 1 -1/2 cups oil, 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin, 2 cups chocolate chips.

Bake 16-20 minutes!

Not quite a surprise

11:59 a.m. Today's project was to clean the house preparatory to a new friend coming over for a facial. Annette has had a lot of personal trials lately, so I hope to share the Lord with her today, and be a witness with my considerate and helpful demeanor.
Steve is finally making headway on removing some stubborn bolts from the RV, so we can install a new step, and I am very pleased with his focus on the project. Similar tiny signs of the leveling off of his Alzheimer's symptoms have been apparent lately.What is the Lord doing? I'll keep praying.
Last spring, Steve, Steven and I joined Pastor Raul Ries' "Somebody Loves You Crusade" as field counselors after attending training at Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley. We all felt a pleasant surprise at Steven's sudden interest. I don't know why! He's always been a little evangelist, taking friends to the Harvest Crusade each year--friends that went forward! As Steven has grown up, he's been an active participant in youth groups and Christian clubs at the public schools he attended. The Lord has given him a real boldness in sharing with his LA fitness clients as well. Last summer he began seriously studying God's Word on his own, and asking lots of questions--I was delighted!
After the altar call at the Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Base, as we got ready to get back in our RV to go home, Steven said, "I don't know what the Lord is going to have me do, but I'm gonna do something!" Amen, guy, Amen! The next morning when he went out to go pick up a friend to take to church, Steven discovered that his Jeep's side front window had been bashed in, and his personal gym bag stolen! The perpetrator had left an iPod on the seat--this was personal. Steve's trainer bag had some specialized items in it, not irreplaceable, but not cheap either. We cleaned up the glass, and went on to church undeterred, knowing this was an attack from the enemy of our souls, satan.
Ministry opportunities continued. As fellow Christian students at Riverside Community college discovered one another (because of bold questions they asked in different sections of a biology class!) they formed a meeting group and went through Focus on the Family's Truth Project. Steven and his friends said, "We want 80 souls a year!" Evangelism activities included filming passersby on Venice Beach answering the question, "What happens after you die," a project that earned Steven an "A" from his unsaved "Death and Dying" professor. The guys also went street witnessing.
In August, Steven moved up north to Fresno, to fulfill his dream of rooming with his Christian friends Robert and Joe, and finishing a degree in kinesiology as a Fresno State Bulldog. Even this goal had a momentary delay, when he found out that the math class from RCC didn't qualify him for entrance as a junior to Fresno State! Moved all that way for nothing? I suggested that he apply to local private universities, because they are always seeking students and can enroll much later than the cash-strapped Cal State system. So Steven applied to Fresno Pacific University, and had three days to write all of his Christian experience, philosophy and character essays, and a week to get 3 letters of reference. He worked with all urgency, and got accepted! It's amazing how when God shuts one door, he opens another! Why are we so surprised? Maybe that's so we can take delight in our Father's doings, and share His good works with more enthusiasm.
Steven took his time visiting churches. He found a very big fellowship, ironically, the one in whose parking lot Steve and I had camped in our RV overnight on a previous visit. The custodian came upon us the next morning and said, "If I'd known you were here I would have hooked you up to our electricity and water!" We thanked him for his graciousness, but we had arrived about 6:30 the night before, when no one was around. Don't you love God's people? The reason Steven picked that church is that despite its mega size, the people welcomed him with open arms!
Now he is helping out with the high school ministry, and just texted me that he has an appointment Thursday with the lead pastor to become one of the leaders of that ministry. I am in tears considering the goodness of God and His faithfulness to those whose hearts desire to serve. No one can predict what Steven's eventual ministry will be, but I know he is ready for the call. II Chronicles 16:9 says, "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him."
Not bad for our "surprise" Baby Number 5!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Shoulders back!

3:20 p.m. Today's project was to get a deep tissue therapeutic massage from celebrated massage therapist Kim Ramirez at Dr. Pena's chiropractic office. Steve and I had our usual morning of Bible study, prayer and devotions, scrambled eggs with "extras" and he had tomato jam on his toast. My plans put a spring in my step as I got ready!

Looking forward to a treat, er, treatment, just spurs us on, doesn't it? I certainly made sure to be at the office on time. As the two of us greeted one another, I knew I'd be in hands with a very firm grip! Kim began with prayer, a beautiful call to God for His Hands to relieve my pain, His will to be done, and His anointing to be on her own hands. Even though our fellowship flowed, mentioning lots of friends in common from Harvest and Calvary MoVal, the treatment wasn't always smooth. My upper neck and shoulder muscles were severely stiff and resistant. Kim's probing fingers hit many a sore spot, but finally the muscles released their hold and relaxed. A more soothing massage followed, and my upper spine is no longer smashed down--I now have a neck!

Kim did give some warnings: keep your shoulders back, so that you don't put yourself into an almost stooped, forward-leaning posture, as if I had scoliosis. Wow--my posture, which I thought was generally decent, isn't! That's why my shoulders ache while out walking with Steve and the dogs! More advice: vary your activities, getting up after a time writing on the computer, or reading, cooking, cleaning, crafting, or gardening--they all call for looking downward at least part of the time. That will be a challenge, since that list just about wraps up my day, from morning till night!

Since the Lord allowed me to listen to Kim's wisdom today, I'd best act on it and modify my activities! If I trulyappreciate the way the Lord allowed my tight, stubborn muscles to be shifted into a comfortable, relaxed mode, I'd better do the follow-up to benefit as much as possible. Improvements in my posture and movements can be made, and will be made!

An old dog can learn new tricks, like the determination not to be crippled with arthritis like my late mom that led me to seek natural healing with MSM and Hydraluronic Acid (HA). These two supplements eliminated the piercing joint pain that woke me in the middle of the night so bad that Steve had to massage my legs. Using the discipline necessary to eliminate favorite foods and ease my celiac disease is not easy either, but I believe that if we have the "want to" the will must follow! Our ability to think, learn and act in a rational manner is a gift from God--not to be dismissed, neglected, or used sporadically.

Is God trying to get your attention today? Maybe the pain is not something you instigated--after all, I was rear-ended while sitting in my Jeep at a stop sign! Maybe your pain is emotional, nothing you could have caused, any more than I caused my own back and neck injuries. Don't sit helplessly, thinking that you have been set aside and just have to "live with it!" Maybe your bad consequences are reversible, no matter how long-lived. The only way to find out is to prayerfully ask the Lord to guide you to seek wise counsel based on Scripture, listen to that wise counsel and DO THE FOLLOW-UP!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fax confirmed received

4:06 p.m. Today's project for the morning was to lay out potting soil in the garden, plant carrots, green onions and cilantro, followed by walking and washing the dogs and their bedding. Steve and I got our list almost done, enjoying the wonderful cool, cloudy day, with the exception of the dog wash--it's just too cold. We did beat the light rain that the Lord sent--much prayed-for rain. They didn't get their baths, but Jada and Bailey's clean duvets and feather pillows ( !) in their crates will still freshen up our family room. These days, we never know when company's coming over!

I have to laugh because my girlfriend Christine informed me by email that her computer and mechanical wiz husband Neil had been over to inspect the broken step of our RV, and thinks he can fix it--unbeknownst to us! We must have been out walking the dogs. Our house has got to be the most publicly accessible one in Riverside. It's just right for us, since we're pretty much public people! Any time you feel like counting the tens of thousands of cars that speed by on a 24 hr a day basis, come on over! I can whip up a serving of ice water any time. Or at this exact moment you can enjoy the hideous racket of my pressure cooker making stewed chicken for the daily salads I think I might just be getting tired of...fresh chicken, though, should perk things up, once I get it all sliced and diced.

Today's post is a tad late because I had to make a mad dash down to the UPS store in Canyon Crest to fax--yet again, income documents to Steven's college, Fresno Pacific U. This time, though, many friends were praying for his 2:30 appointment at the financial aid office. Also, FPU asked for estimated income for 2009, since there is such a wide discrepancy with our 2008 income. (Retirement will do that!) So that is a new development I pray will bode well!

Since I always enjoy having a specific project to do, even on an emergency basis, my spirit was uplifted by the fax confirmation at UPS, and by doing a little "grocery therapy" next door. I really enjoyed the conversation at checkout, when my stocking up on traditional light bulbs was noticed by the box boy, who informed everyone in earshot that they will soon be outlawed. As I confirmed this fact, the checker and the customer behind me said, "I don't like those new ones!" So I said, "I'll be back for more!" I also casually mentioned that there's even been some extremist talk about banning two-ply soft toilet tissue, so I'll be stocking up on that too! "Too much luxury for us, I guess!" Let freedom ring! Can't adults decide what we would like to use in our own homes? Or what we can afford? I love to get people thinking wherever I go. Let's stay prayerfully informed, and make decisions for our own families.

I'm looking forward to canning apple butter with my friend Linda Harper on Wednesday, perfect for this cool, dark weather! She knows how to make the apple butter, but wants to learn the canning process. She can bring the prepared fruit, and I have all of the jars and equipment.

Last night's Home Fellowship was so much fun, a real blessing, lots of believers having Jesus Christ as our common bond. Our group, led by Mark Murdaugh, has 4 or 5 worship leaders, and four school teachers, two of us retired, one active, and one in training. I guess there will be no lack of communication as the year rolls along! Steve was very comfortable and shared openly and briefly, about having Alzheimer's. In the confidential, loving atmosphere that was quickly established, others shared painful issues as well.

Everyone in that living room last night had responded to our Lord's invitation in Revelation 22:17 : "And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take of the water of life freely."


Sunday, October 11, 2009

The faces of fellowship

2:29 p.m. Today's project was to join our daughter Heather at her church, Sandals, with a "view" to seeing her pictures up on the screens during a special child and family dedication service. (She is their photographer). The fellowship meets at the cavernous Cal Baptist gymnasium.

Steve and I had never been there, but our kids have, as have the grown children of a number of our friends, many of whom are Cal Baptist students. Rumors have abounded about Sandals for a while, specifically that it is an "emergent" church. I would be hesitant to form any kind of judgment from listening to just one sermon. (Nothing less than a full appointment to discuss doctrine with the pastor would be suitable for forming a fair judgment, in my view!) I enjoyed the prayers for the young families, including prayer for babies yet to be born, and couples crying out to God for the ability to conceive a child. The worship was good and the onscreen testimonies were moving. the church, along with Grove Community Church, is supporting help for AIDS victims in Africa with a walk-through exhibit coming up soon.

Pastor Matt Brown preached a sermon using Genesis chapters 1-3, Exodus 3 and Romans 12:1, on the topic "the land is spiritual." Sandals is in the process of building their own worship center in the Hunter Park industrial complex in the north end of Riverside. He supported his theme with Hebrew translations that I will check out at my leisure, but all in all, he made his point.

The service closed with more worship, the song being the one about "God's work still to be done in this city." I was surprised that there was no altar call, but I am a Calvary Chapel person through and through, and to me, evangelism is always appropriate! Heather went home to make bisuits and gravy for Nick for lunch (yum!), and we came home for a much more casual lunch. I also got a spaghetti sauce--with our own canned tomatoes-- going in the crockpot, so we can have meatball sandwiches for dinner.

We probably won't be back to Sandals, even though we enjoyed spending time with Heather and supporting her photography ministry. That part of being a parent never changes, does it? As for the rumors about that church, I remember when my church of 22 years, Calvary Chapel Riverside, now Harvest, was being denounced as a cult by more traditional local churches back in 1980! The truth always comes out, because God's Name is holy, to be honored, the praises of His people are glorious--and His Word, the full counsel of God, is the only source of truth!

We are very much looking forward to enjoying the Word of Truth this evening at our Calvary MoVal Home Fellowship. We are easing back into the routine of eating an early dinner and enjoying the unity that gathering around the scriptures brings to our family of believers!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Coping strategies

2:53 p.m. Today's project was to find a way to express my reactions and emotions respectfully and lovingly to my dad after a very awkward week. Not easy, even at 58 and 82 years of age, but we need to deal directly and honestly with thorny issues in any relationship. It's time to clear the air!

On both Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday there had been some very odd communication breakdowns between my dad and me, times when a simple telephoned "heads-up" would have been welcome and effective. Steve's whereabouts and plans for the day (which he cannot pre-arrange or organize for himself any more) were at issue. Tuesday, Daddy drove Steve back to our house from his, while I killed time over in Redlands waiting to pick him up--which was our plan, repeated to both of them! When I called to say I was right nearby and would pick Steve up, Steve innocently told me that they were almost at our house! Daddy had driven him home-a heads-up would have been appreciated.

Wednesday, Daddy came over, to my surprise (Steve then told me he'd called) to work on a tire. We could have been gone on an outing or errand, since I didn't know! Praise the Lord it worked out. Friday, Steve and I had planned to get some gardening items from Home Depot after my chiropractor adjustment, and we both got ready. I heard the blasting noise of our generator as I came into the garage with my purse, thinking "what on earth?" and there was my dad again, with an impossible idea of patching a tire, Steve looking frustrated because he definitely still has mechanical skills, and them arguing as to whether Daddy had called first. (He had probably called Steve's cell and Steve didn't remember). I asked my dad to please call me from now on to make arrrangements, because again, we could have been gone on our planned errand! I ended up leaving to get my adjustment, and we went to Home Depot last night, not my favorite time to be in that part of town!

How to approach this? And what is it that I need to approach? I believe it has to do with the way we each choose to process tragic situations that we can't do anything about. After the last two years of Steve's development of Alzheimer's, I think my dad is probably in denial of the inevitable, and that his efforts in trying to teach Steve Sudoku puzzles are well meant, but baffling to his beloved son-in-law, actually, the only son he's ever had.

Sometimes, when Steve is doing great, intiating positive activities for himself and conversing well, I also try to disbelieve the facts of the situation! ("Maybe the 3 medications and all of the recommended supplements have kicked in!") My adult children are aware of what we are all facing, because they see the deterioration up close, but I am sure that the inherited nature of this disease in the Kruckenberg family is too painful for themto contemplate. It would certainly be for me. But unlike Daddy, they make all manner of arrangements through me--it only makes sense.

Would a "these are the facts" phone call do? Not if I were to be forced to endure accusations of exaggerating! Or, if Daddy comprehended my point with sad resignation, I would be in tears--like I am when telling anyone about Steve's condition. [Otherwise, my marriage is great, and the inconveniences and reminders are just splotches on the canvas of my daily life. These experiences are just my reality, and definitely working compassion and patience in me!]

I decided to write a letter, a pretty long one, giving Daddy the facts of Steve's condition, especially his limitations in communication and making plans. Hopefully, my letter will be received as a loving, respectful, yet direct request to communicate more sensibly. Not to worry--no one needs to lose even a smidge of manly independence! Just communicate.

We'll see how my letter is received. My closing consisted of declaring my faith in the love of Christ, whom Daddy has also received as his Savior, using 2 Corinthians 4:17-18: "Our light affliction, which is just for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory...for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Blessed relief!

3:38 p.m. Today's project was to go to the chiropractor! I was awakened around 5 in the morning by severe pain in my right shoulder, worse than it's been since the accident 3 weeks ago. The painkiller I had taken before bed had suddenly worn off, I would say! Dr. Pena's adjustments are doing fine getting my bones back into place, but this was a particularly bad muscle ache. A few clicks and pops got things back in order, and I went on my way rejoicing! I also scheduled a deep tissue massage for next week from one of the professional therapists on staff.

I confess that I just may have spent too many hours on the couch in my family room last night, (even though it's fairly new and firm). I was watching the tivo'd Project Runway from last week, and then the new episode, with my darling daughter Heather, having pampered her with a chili from scratch atop her chili dog. Our homegrown canned tomatoes and the kidney beans she contributed made it just right! Poor Heather, though, because even having a mind-bogglingly sweet (JK ! ) mom to coddle her can't make up for the fact that her grad student husband Nick not only works full time, but goes to school 5 nights a week. Must confess that Steve and I take full advantage of her need for company! Before they know it, though, Nick will be out of school, and these overtaxing times will be behind them! I love the picture I posted, which heather captioned "This is Love!" (A play on their last name).

Do you think about the times in life when events, duties, commitments, pressing issues and even ministry opportunities seem to swing like a pendulum? From nothing to do (of any interest, anyway!) to way too much to keep track of, too many phone calls to make and faxes to send, get-togethers to get ready for, urgent needs disrupting and consuming precious "couple time?" Or where did my "alone" time go, for that matter?

Where is the balance? Psalm 139:14 says, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well." Amen, Lord! Our bones and spine need to be in balance, or we get an all-too-definite reminder to pray and seek care! So do the spiritual, emotional, social and business aspects of our lives need to be balanced.

I ask myself repeatedly as the hours follow each morning's devotional time, "What needs to be done?" Unplanned events and issues pop up almost daily, along with the tiresome details of putting out the accompanying fires. Next, "What fun activity can Steve and I do as a couple?" After all, we are retirees, and even if it's not by choice, it's by God's will! I believe we are called to make the best of our lives no matter where we find ourselves. We both enjoy errands and projects, so I prioritize those opportunities, laying the groundwork for them to go smoothly. "What's needed to keep healthy, and in my case, pain-free?" I can walk with Steve and the dogs, regularly visit the chiropractor for the next few weeks, AND NOT EAT JUNK! "What will the meal plan be?" Very important, and easy to get lazy about. Until I made up that chili last night, I hadn't cooked dinner from scratch for a few days! And I love to cook!! Again, planning, not being caught with a hungry husband and daughter, and actually prepared for guests, is a reasonable standard for this homemaker!

It's a bit of down time now, with Heidi and Pavel relaxing on the couch, and Steve grtating cheese for some nachos. Baby Steven and I had a crazy texting exchange about his stinky 5 pairs of athletic shoes--"Can I put them in the washer?" Not leather!!! I advised air freshener spray for an emergency fix...

We have serious issues to confront, but tomorrow's another day for the Lord to set the solutions in motion. I'm ready now to relax and find the balance a little family time provides!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Joy of Fellowship

3:44 p.m. Today's project was to bake a brunch dish for our last Bible study, our koinonia, fellowship centered in Christ. The layered bread, sausage, cheese milk and egg dish I planned is filling and looks pretty. Added plus: it keeps well, assembled in the fridge overnight! I toyed with the idea of running down to the chiropractor's for a quick adjustment during his 9-10 Thursday office hours, but could not coordinate the needed baking time with the necessity of getting back through traffic and being packed up, ready to go when Charlotte was due to arrive, 9:30. "Don't add any more layers of tasks! Not today, with Bible study going on," I had to tell myself--and stop myself, literally.

I don't know whether past generations of women were as tempted as we are to "do it all," but schedule-stuffing has been a real tendency of mine for as long as I can remember. In high school, I was in both orchestra and choir, belonged to least three clubs, joined the University of Redlands Community Symphony and the cast of two Gilbert and Sullivan musicals, while taking both private voice and violin lessons! Naturally, my social life could not be allowed to suffer, either. More of the same later at UCLA, plus the new world of part-time work and frat and sorority parties! Bumped into myself coming and going--running in 6 inch platform heels and mini-skirts was the norm. Was hyperactivity invented back in the late 60's-70's? Perhaps I should have been medicated...

Back to the future, 2009, and a lovely morning with my sisters in Jesus. Everyone brought a lunch or breakfast dish, and we just had great fellowship with the Lord Christ in the midst. Our hostess received some nice thank you gifts, and we stayed an hour later than usual, enjoying ourselves tremendously. We may set up a Christian fiction book exchange; we will all be attending the Bible study at church, Monday night or Tuesday morning.

After checking in with Steve, I gathered up a few treats from our brunch to take to Pamela, who just had a double mastectomy and has been blessed with tremendous amounts of both help and visitors. She was in great spirits, enjoying barbequed chicken pizza with Thalia. Pam's apartment was spanking clean, because Thalia is a professional housecleaner, using her skill for the Lord. I just love our Calvary Chapel women! Later, Pam and I sat and had a good conversation, realizing that I need her prayers for our situation and much as she needs mine. The Lord is so good, showing His love through us to others!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fresh Fall Air

3:02 p.m. Today's project was to track down an insurance agent and a policy he sold us in August, but which we never received, despite the company having cashed our check. As a former life insurance agent, my concern was that in persuading us to switch policies for a lower rate and equal coverage, the agent would get a fatter "first" commission, but there didn't seem to be any downside for us, so we went ahead. Steve aced his medical exam a few days later.
As I spoke with the customer service lady, I recalled the agent's name, and she said that the policy was still in underwriting. She gave me the agent's contact number, which did not work!Game on!
On my second call, after I furnished appropriate identification, the next customer service lady admitted that the company was in a standstill with our policy also, because they had not heard from the agent either! Mystery: this agent sold policies for both the company whose policy he wanted us to drop, and the one we had recently bought, so...would we end up with no coverage? Her advice was to check with the first company, and then cancel our new policy and get a refund. Sounds good, I think!

God has such a good sense of humor, and it came into play at about that time. Steve had been doing the Mike MacIntosh Horizon online Bible study while overhearing my frustration, and he said, "Look at this!" He pointed to Isaiah 63:5 (NIV) : "I looked, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that no one gave support; so my own arm worked salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me." !! While we certainly can't guide our lives by verses taken out of context, we roared at the aptness of scripture at a time when comic relief was surely needed!
This afternoon, I rediscovered what a walk in the brisk fall air can do to energize and revitalize me as I traveled about a mile behind the Canyon Crest Towne Center. Positive thoughts of calories burned before my Weight Loss Challenge meeting didn't hurt, either!
I've begun my fall decorating, with my parents' old china serving dish, my dried "mother of the groom" corsage and my sons' boutonnieres dressing up my dining room table. Plans to bake a batch of chocolate chip pumpkin muffins are not far behind! (Check out Kay Ellen Hammar's recipe on my Facebook profile).
My brunch dish is assembled and ready to bake foe Bible study tomorrow, our hostess's gift is wrapped, and overall, today God's calm and peace reigned. Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Comedy of Errors; Unexpected treat

2:10 p.m. Today's project was driving with Steve over to my 82 year old dad's house in Redlands to trim his trees. We had loaded up my Liberty with a huge pole saw and stepladder, agreeing that since Daddy's Olds Alero wouldn't hold big tools, I would drop Steve off and pick him up after a few hours.

I had the best time, loitering in Berean Christian store in a massive, really nice shopping center out there. I selected Christmas gifts for my two daughters, got a book or two for myself, picked up this year's Christmas cards, and skimmed through a book on marriage. What a Husband Needs from His Wife was not only convicting, but oddly comforting as it offered encouragement as well as correction!

My Heidi needed a special gift for today, because she is having a hard time putting things in order for the afternoon remedial reading program she is teaching. (Too many conflicting opinions and demands coming her way from that grade level's teachers). Glad she plans to take my counsel and have a sitdown today with the principal to review expectations!

After a delightful conversation about God's calling with the checkout clerk--we agreed she needs to obey His leading and join her church's music ministry-- next stop was the Starbucks across the street, where I won their "Via" challenge to identify the new instant coffee! No prize was awarded, sad to say. I then had a bittersweet time finishing the last Galatians study at a sunny table out by the water fountain, glancing up every now and then to watch some toddlers and their moms at play. Nearby, a dad in scrubs joined his young family for lunch, and a mom smiled almost giddily at her newborn. Lone laptop users, girlfriends on an outing, and business conversations occupied other tables. I thought, "Lord, please reach these people with the news of your son, and cause believers here to be a good witness!"

Time to go pick up Steve! When I got to the University offramp in Redlands, I called to see if he was finished. "We're on Alessandro right now, almost at our house," he answered. Looks like my dad changed his mind about taking both Steve and the tools to our house!'s not like I had used up any more gas, but I suppose I could have been back in Riverside all this time, if I'd known Steve was getting a ride home, as well as lunch at McDonald's! It's been 28 years of marriage for us--does communication improve in year 30? So I picked up a part for our RV at Camping World, and headed on home. Life, huh?

At 2:20, after eating my Chinese chicken salad lunch, in walked The Honeymooners! What fun to see Kriss and Marisela, all bright and chipper. They had driven down from Solvang with a cool souvenir for us, a Space needle coffee mug, very artsy and gorgeous!

The two were bubbling over, recounting their adventures, from staying at the San Francisco Hilton on an upgrade, to living like the homeless in their car in Seattle. They enjoyed staying in Portland with Steve's cousins Chuck and Sandra, who took them out to dinner in the floating restaurant Steve and I once visited. I feel I'm getting wanderlust again, and Portland seems to be on my mind. I've got to try the wildly popular Zombie Donuts, where you can get a maple bar sprinkled with real bacon, a Cap'n Crunch donut, and other weird but delicious sounding treats! But wait! I'm allergic to wheat! Maybe I could order "toppings only!"

God is so good, bringing my son and new daughter back safely to start out their "real" new life together! Young marriages tend to freshen up our more experienced ones, and give us the incentive to thank our Father for the years we have had, the privilege of participating in God's best design for mankind, where "the two shall become one."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cleanup Veteran

3:12 p.m. Today's project was to take Bailey and Jada to the Riverside Animal Hospital for their rabies shots. October 5th, today, was the deadline for getting their licenses renewed by the City of Riverside. So we had to hustle and get their shots done first.
All went smoothly on the front end, as the girls were excited to go for a ride. Steve sat in the backseat to keep them from climbing out of the cargo area, and off we went, enjoying the scenery, to our destination on Magnolia. Steve got them unloaded and onto the sidewalk and calming down with a bit of walking back and forth while I took in the check and paperwork.
As I headed to the car snapping pictures and ready to take off for my chiropractic adjustment Yuck! Bailey's nerves got the better of her and she left a huge pile on the sidewalk right in front of the vet's lobby window! The other pet parents were laughing uproariously, which made me laugh, too, as I went back inside to get some paper towels. "Better take a roll," one jolly gal advised.
Any mother of five is a veteran of tens of thousands of diapers, so I honestly couldn't bother wasting time getting aggravated; I just gathered it up and took it out back. Since Steve had the assignment of keeping the dogs under control in a new location, I probably had the easier job. When I recounted the whole nuisance to Dr. Pena, he said, "I think that shows how you would rather do anything than control those big dogs!" Was he ever right!
Life does hand us piles on some days, doesn't it? Just like I didn't yell at my toddlers for needing their diapers changed, it does no good to yell about perfectly natural behavior from any other creature. Maybe your (or my) pile is the paper variety: bills. Physical pain, tragedy, and devastating losses can pile up on us. We are tempted to rage, but letting the Holy Spirit show us that hasty words waste prayer time, as well as creative problem solving time, is always the better choice.
Are Christians allowed to feel angry? Of course! There is much injustice in the world, much sorrow, too many innocent victims. But the key for us is found in Ephesians 4:26-27, New Living Translation: "Don't sin by letting anger control you. Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil."
And that's something I hope not to do!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A chore no more!

1:49 p.m. Today's project is to set up Steve's Social Security account login, a chore I would normally dread, since it seems that we are obliged to set up new passwords and logins for every website we visit, no matter how trivial the "pursuit." So irritating and tiresome!

I find that today I have a much different attitude about this task, because it represents an answer to prayer: it's proof of Steve's qualification for permanent disability benefits. Once again, I am grateful for my praying brothers and sisters! Above all, the glory goes to my God, who "supplies all our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (paraphrasing Philippians 4:19)

Both Steve and I rejoiced today at second service during the offering, for the mere fact that we had something to give! And when the lyrics to a praise song declared, "I won't be afraid, for You always give what's best for me," my tears flowed as they do whenever God's good hand of guidance is evident in my life...and will continue to be evident until my last day here on earth.

As prepared as I was by Steve's family history, and having made financial arrangements for his eventual needs to be taken care of, when Alzheimer's strikes a man in his his peak years of productivity, it's hard to deal with. My "plan" for the timing of his disability would have seen to it that our youngest child had had time to graduate from college. God's plan was different--Steven is now attending Fresno Pacific University, a Christian institution, apparently on full scholarship! (After I filled out a documented financial needs application, we've never received a tuition bill).

Funny, isn't it, how doing stacks of paperwork, logging hours online, and making countless phone calls all seem so trivial when God reveals that He was the one giving us the perseverance required to tackle those tedious tasks? He sees the end from the beginning--don't we wish we could? (We control freaks sure do!!)

My Jesus, the Alpha and Omega!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

God is in the misdt of His people!

2:13 p.m. Today's project was to get everything ready and in place so that we might enjoy a blessed Moms' Morning, Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley's ministry to mothers of children age 0-5. I got up a t 5:00 a.m., praising God that I felt normal after two days of oddball nausea and dizziness. Twenty years ago I would have thought, "Uh-oh..." but not at fifty-eight! Pregnancy is certainly not anywhere on my radar screen, as I prepare to serve those whose experience is far more recent!

Our crack facilities team got all of the coffee and drink supplies set up for me, and Woo hoo! gave me my very own radio for communication. Naturally, I had to send out a couple of calls, completely necessary, of course!

Worship leader and Women's Ministry Director Robin texted me that her back was out, but shortly after, Pastor John brought her goodies to our room. Babysitters , moms and tots arrived, bringing lovely homebaked treats with them. What commitment that shows, taking time to bless others while managing their own small children! Such a delicious view of God's love and grace!

Fellowship was sweet, continuing as Rita urged us to donate or participate in the Riverside Walk for Life, a very well established pro-life ministry that has saved thousands of babies' lives. I'll be helping get the word out, glad of this reminder, since Steve and I had been involved in the past. Don't you just love the way God allows us to see the "passing of the torch" to a new generation of pro-life believers? (not that any of us older activists are going anywhere--we'll hold up each walker in prayer!)

The lesson God gave me a few weeks ago made an appropriate theme for moms and children alike--control of the tongue! I taught on the passage in James Chapter 3, exhorting myself along with the women. Our superior verbal abilities provide the perfect target for attack from the enemy, when he wants to use us wives and mothers to disrupt the family's peace. We all had plenty to repent of, and took our hope for change to the Lord, the ONLY one able to change us by the power of His Holy Spirit, and the challenging, yet comforting truths of His Word.

The little ones had a puppet lesson on "using our words" to help us control our angry reactions and to encourage a friend or sibling. Then it was off to making Playdough gifts for others.

Wrapping up with praise songs and puppets for all, another Moms' Morning is over. May the Lord continue to be in the midst of our Calvary Chapel families, and may our ministry reach even more families for Christ!