Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
The response from friends was tremendous, as I knew it would be. A few people wrote out the most lovely prayers, like this one from
Linda, a friend from Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley, who doesn't even know the family: "Father, I lift up little Rylee to You. You are in charge and know what is going on in her little body. I pray that You will heal her, restore her to good health. Lord, be with her mom and dad. Give them peace as they go through this trial. In Jesus' Name. Amen." Now that's effective, fervent prayer! (James 5:16).
What a joy to see the outpouring of love from scores of believers today, willing to pray, believing in the power of God, and counting it a privilege to bring this little girl to His throne in her hour of need! And later today, how thrilling it was to receive a text from Chad simply saying, "She's doing good." Praise You, Father!
It is said repeatedly, and lamentably, that Christians don't spend nearly as much time praying as we ought, or as we could be. We want to pray, we are blessed when we pray, our hearts and spirits are uplifted when we pray. so what is it that gets in our way? Matthew 26:41b recounts what Jesus said to the dozing disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane when He had asked them to come apart with Him to watch and pray the night before His crucifixion. "The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak."
Often when I pray, I'll fidget, get distracted, and have to give the topic my mind has wandered to back to the Lord to deal with! Then I return to my train of thought, speaking or quietly waiting to hear from Him, whether it's assurance, comfort, guidance, warning, or correction. I don't want to miss any one of those aspects of my Lord's communication to me, even if I find myself confronting my own sin, or informed of a sin issue in the life of a loved one. I want all He has to tell me because, even if the Holy Spirit's prompting is jarring to my status quo or discomfiting in some way, I find a definite peace and path as a result.
Today's prayer for Rylee, (known as intercessory prayer) is a joyful and special privilege we believers have. Imagine ourselves selected to join one another in acknowledging God's faithfulness and representing our knowledge of Him to others, and glorifying Him corporately in agreement: "God, You can do anything! Grant our requests for this family! We ask this in Jesus' Name, Amen." And we trust God to do what is right, what is best, what is needed in the lives of those we intercede for.
Will I always love God's answers? No. But I will always know that His answers are holy, righteous, and the best answers for me now and forever. I love you, Lord my Father!!
Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
After filling up my gas tank for a trip to Disneyland tomorrow (with a birthday dinner for my daughter-in-law Marisela and Kriss at Downtown Disney); sending a fax to my life insurance company; and picking up a pair of slacks with a new zipper installed, Steve and I enjoyed a peaceful afternoon at home.
My sister-in-law Sharon called to let me know that she had collected new information from a geneticist about all of the Kruckenberg children's odds of developing early-onset Alzheimers. Apparently, Steve's and Larry's children have a 50% chance of developing it, but the older siblings Linda and Sharon, because they have already passed age 60 without developing the disease, don't run the high risk of passing that to their kids.
One key point Sharon wanted to make is that if any of our children are diagnosed with Alzheimer's they can lose their group and life insurance, and I would extrapolate, by the way genetic factors have been used in court cases (now outlawed by the privacy act signed by President George W. Bush) that even a parent's diagnosis, if undisclosed, could be used to mount a fraud case against them. Dire warnings indeed! Praise the Lord for our family's prudence in having all of us insured for both life and health already.
Neither Steve's primary care physician nor his neurologist has made a diagnosis, but state that he is being treated as if he were an Alzheimer's patient. And with the improvements we've seen in Steve over the last few months, I'm beginning to think that they have been wise to take that approach. The Lord knows those who are His, and He has known every detail of Steve's life since before conception. No matter what I may consider or decide about this information, I have a Bible full of assurances that this "news" about Alzheimer's and genetics is not "news" to my God!
Monday, January 25, 2010
5:27 p.m. Today's project was to distribute the American Heart Association letters that I had addressed and enclosed with a stamped envelope addressed to me. I will then be responsible to send in the checks altogether.
Seemed odd last fall when a lady from the organization asked if I'd participate in the "Dear Neighbor" letter writing campaign. The packet would arrive in January, and they'd like me to get the letters to my neighbors before the first of February. I agreed, thinking, "Well, February's a long way off!" Of all of the contributors they must have in our area, how did I get selected for the task?
Maybe there's a nationwide roster of recently retired teachers, suddenly with time on our hands, not shy about talking to people, and used to instructing others and persuading them to do the right thing. That just occured to me--we are perfect for the task!! Teachers are also used to filling out paperwork, so getting my letters signed, stuffed and stamped was pretty easy.
Steve and I drove to the bottom of our street, figuring we could work our way up. We ended up zigzagging between the giant fancy houses across from our original 1998 vintage neighborhood and back over to our side. Most people weren't home in the late afternoon, but I was blessed to meet the captain of the Riverside Fire Department's Paramedic Unit. [So that's what the ambulance is always doing in his driveway!] and his wife is a registered nurse. "Now we know where to come in an emergency!" I chuckled.
I believe that there is a place in a Christian's life for helping out secular or civic causes, if time with the Lord, family and faithfulness to other duties permits. Ephesians 2:8 says that "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." And walk we did!
I want to share with you the warning signs of stroke, courtesy of American Heart Association:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS!
In Matthew 5:16, Jesus said: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify Your Father in heaven." Jesus went about doing good, and so should we!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
It is really pouring today, as predicted, so we just need to be careful, and not run any unnecessary errands, like buying pea and spinach seeds and broccoli seedlings at Home Depot on the way back from MoVal to Riverside...I was rewarded for my fanaticism by getting poured down on in the parking lot going in and coming out! Good thing I had on my lightweight, waterproof, hooded jacket. This trusty black jacket served me well in London a few summers ago, where a group of us on a missions trip that included Heidi, walked for miles and a good hour in a downpour that made this rain look like sprinkles. Others around the country might chuckle at us too, as my son Kriss joked on Facebook today, "Welcome to Seattle!"
Jesus said in Matthew 5:45, that our Father "sends rain on the just and the unjust." The heavens are truly opened up today; I pray I fall into the correct category!
Just awoke from my little nap to let in the rat inspector, who just gave our crawl space a clean bill of health. I am awaiting Heidi's safe return home from an undoubtedly rough day of teaching kids who needed to go out and play. I must say that of all the enemies of weekday rain, elementary teachers would have to top the list. That is one aspect of teaching I don't miss, as I harken back to El Nino several years ago, when my repertoire of indoor classroom games was running pretty low and my patience even lower! Say a prayer for teachers and kids this week, as well as moms of preschoolers--cabin fever is predicted along with the rain!
Our garden is definitely looking lush and bright green, the dogs got their walk during a morning break in the precipitation, and the broccoli seedlings are sitting on the walkway behind the garage, under the eaves. They will have a little protection before getting transplanted to the garden when things dry out.
Imagine our thoughts about rain if we didn't drive cars to work or take our kids to school, activities that call for masses of people to travel long distances. Imagine waiting on rainfall throughout the growing season, rather than enjoying the luxury of consistent irrigation in this semiarid region. We would all be clapping and cheering at this storm's arrival!
Let's revisit Jesus' quote in its entirety, that puts rain in the "plus" column, as a gift from God:
"I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust."
Let it rain--but be safe out there!!
Monday, January 18, 2010
Heidi was off today for Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, so she enjoyed family favorites "Project Runway" and "You've Got Mail," before heading out to spend this rainy day with Pavel. The rain let up a bit, so Steve took advantage, getting the trash out before this evening. The dogs were brought in when the downpour started. Otherwise, they were cozy in their Dogloos.
The challenge for me was to make sure Steve had enough tasks to keep him busy inside, since he normally does hours of work in the yards and garden, not to mention walking the dogs. But I suggested he take down and pack away the "English Christmas Village" still displayed on sparkly "snow" batting on the hutch.
I was pleased to see that he worked completely independently. Normally, Steve would be asking me questions at each step, and my studies would be interrupted, something I've learned to cope with, thanks be to God.But what a pleasant surprise! He got all of the figurines and buildings packed up, boxes taped and stored in the upstairs bedroom. The only glitch that hinted of his Alzheimer's-induced forgetfulness and leaving things out of place was that I needed to remind him to take the stepladder back to the garage. I seriously think that the nutritional supplements he has been taking for a few months have caused improvement. Will God heal him? I don't know. But I'm sure not about to limit Jesus!
Since my study was wrapped up for today, and these dark days just whisper "Nap," I took my sleepy self upstairs. I had just finished emailing college son Steven some student loan paperwork, real dreary stuff, and texted him to check his email. He texted back right away that Muscle Tech, his bodybuilding sponsor, wants to do a photo shoot at 11:00 a.m. on Friday in Hollywood, and did I think he could get back up to Fresno by 4p.m. to get on the bus? I texted back, "confused."
Steven 's church, along with four others, is holding a massive 500 student high school retreat, "Fresno Unite," in the nearby mountains this weekend, and the bus leaves at 4! Even in the best driving conditions, without a full 5 days of rain predicted for LA,Steven couldn't get back up the Grapevine and the 99 that fast. And since he's one of the leaders of The People's Church high school ministry, I wrote him back, "Reschedule the photo shoot due to a prior obligation! Maybe it's not God's timing. Otherwise, there goes your ministry opportunity and your trustworthiness. You also don't have chains to drive up to the mountains by yourself later." He replied that this is Muscle Tech's annual photo shoot and they want to feature him for an amateur contract! This is big.
As I was lying on my bed, spiritual warfare was on, and I was in tears of determination and Holy Spirit-led fighting! The text messages were flying! I wrote, "This is a snare of the devil. I Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:10-18a." I knew he knows these scriptures or would look them up, as being very strong in the Word. A bit later, with me praying frantically, he texted back that he'd check around church to see if anyone is going up late that he could ride with. I'm still not satisfied, of course, because the devil would like nothing better than to keep an effective leader away from a retreat designed to unite the Christian youth of Fresno, so they can meet and stand together on their campuses!
"Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (I Peter 5:8) And Ephesians 6:13 commands us, to "Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."
What will Steven decide? We will see. A year ago, I would have been thrilled to see Steve's achievements and recognition go up to a much higher level. He has talent, discipline and ambition to represent the Lord in the bodybuilding arena. But more importantly, he has the Word of God to take him there in the right timing, and in the right way.
Believing moms, give your children the scriptures! That's where the battle is faced, fought, and won!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Steve and I had a great morning with our devotions and a good breakfast featuring my "Pre-prepared" scrambled eggs with sausage, spinach, Herdez salsa and Velveeta cheese all mixed in, still nice and creamy even when reheated in the microwave. Two avocade slices filled out my plate, while Steve had toast and a banana.
As usual, many things happen on the same day. Steve was sleeping on the couch in the family room, having arrived in the early morning hours from Fresno. He would be meeting with his diet coach this afternoon to start the slim-down phase of his eating plan for a bodybuilding competition in April.I never would have thought people were in the professional business of diet design (except for celebrities) in the bodybuilding world, but I suppose that being a champion, or continuing to be a champion in Steven's case, calls for meticulous attention to detail. Perfecting the human body is both art and science!
As a believer, Steven has the same obligations in regard to his bodybuilding that he has to his university work, his paid employment, and his ministry to high schoolers at The People's Church: diligence and excellence in every detail. We are to do our work "as unto the Lord, not as unto man," (Ephesians 6:7). But I for one am glad that it's not my own strength that raises the standard of my work, but that "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) And Christ is the One Who gives us the heart and mind to serve Him and our fellow human beings in the first place!
As we walk with Him, listening to and reading His Word, the Holy Spirit encourages each one of us on the right path--for us, not for any other believing adult. God may call me to counsel and guide a sister who is going astray, but not if my heart or motive is wrong. (Or if I have not taken the time to know my scriptures!) I have pretty much all I can handle living my own life connected to Jesus and trying to listen to His voice amid the daily din!
I had the honor of meeting and talking with many young mothers today, as did my co-laborers Joanna and Charise, because God has found us faithful to design an event of spiritual worth and significance to their daily lives. Being a mother of small children is no easy task, but the love, patience, and just plain time put in yields a harvest of righteousness in the next generation. My daughter Heidi taught a devotional at this weekend's Young Adult Retreat. Steven is a leader in high school ministry; Heather leads in high school ministry at her church also. Both Kriss and Sean were leaders in their public high school's Christian club. Are they, or their dad and I, perfect? Of course not. But we "know whom we have believed, and are persuaded that He is able to keep what we have committed to Him..." ( II Timothy 1:12)Their father and I have believed in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ--and committed our very lives and the lives of our precious children to Him, for He is faithful!
May the young moms who join us on Saturday have hearts that burn to bring their little ones to Christ! Then the ministry of Moms' Mornings will have fulfilled its purpose.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
This was quite urgent because my dad and I talk on the phone at least three times a week, and all I could get was a busy signal! Daddy does not talk on the phone much at all, mostly for business matters and his doctor appointments.
You can imagine the scenarios Steve and I discussed on our way over. We had given Daddy a cell phone, so why hadn't he called to say, "My house phone's out--call me at this number." Was he hurt, ill, robbed and injured, tried to call and the phone fell off the hook?
I asked all of my Facebook friends to pray, which I knew they would, because Daddy is healthy and independent, but he does live alone. Some comfort came to me because the mail people in Redlands are instructed to check on any senior citizen living alone, who has not picked up their mail from the day before. The mail carrier then delivers the mail to the door. If no answer, they call the police. Isn't that wonderful? Hopefully many more communities will follow suit!
Not having received an emergency call as next of kin, I felt hopeful. When we pulled up to the door, the dogs were not barking frantically as they would be if they hadn't been fed for a few days--that was a good sign! I even had Daddy's housekey at the ready...just in case.
So Steve and I rang the bell, and as my dad opened the door we both yelled out, "Where have YOU been?!" simultaneously. "Daddy, your phone's out!" I yanked out my cell phone, called his number, and got no ring, just to prove it, and after I hung up, he picked up the receiver and there was no dialtone. He hadn't even realized it, because he doesn't use the phone that much. I asked why he hadn't called me when he hadn't heard from me? At least that way, he would have found out his phone was dead!
All's well that ends well, Shakespeare wrote, and in this case, at least, with a technician on the way, and Daddy's cell phone turned on, it was true. Steve and I could scoot on home with peace of mind, glad to know my dad is alive, well, and enjoying a good life in his own quiet way. We are exhorted to pray for all men, and for those who are in authority, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence." And that's how my dad lives! May he be granted many more years.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
We are praying about me being available on call, and forming a team of godly, reliable women who would visit, encourage, assist and uplift hurting women who have no other support, are isolated, perhaps ill, but need someone to show them the love of Christ and a sister's heart of compassion and friendship. I would be honored to help provide that caring touch that Jesus Himself so exemplified. "As He is, so are we in this world," I John 4:17 says. We can love others because we are in Him, having boldness, not fear, as believers.
I am keeping this new opportunity to serve in prayer, and an exciting prayer it is at my stage in life where I have the time, and Steve, although benefitting from our companionship, does not require supervision. God's timing is always correct; His "gifts and calling are without repentance." (Romans 11:29) How grateful I am that God has chosen me to be saved and sanctified by the blood of the Lamb, and that He would consider me fit to serve Him in any way at all!
Steve is in a very good place, relatively speaking, with his Alzheimer's, able to be independent with some added structure, reminders, and detailed directions from me, functioning almost like a regular retiree. We were actually skipping crazily yesterday down a walkway at California Adventure, so his physical coordination is fairly good, also attested by his two mile walk with the dogs each day.
Not so with Larry, Steve's older brother who, at age 57, has lost his ability to speak in sentences and requires assistance in the home for his basic needs. When we visited yesterday, we met Antoine, the home healthcare assistant who is present three days a week, to relieve Sharon, the oldest sibling, and Mike, our brother-in-law. We wondered if he'd know us, but his eyes did light up, even though he never spoke our names. I showed Larry our Christmas photos, but he soon lost interest, probably because I had to turn the pages for him and was describing people and places he no longer recognized. Cousins Charlene and Stephanie were there, adding to Larry's enjoyable time.
I would be kidding myself if I thought that Larry is always as cheerful and alert as he was at seeing his beloved little brother Steve and being in the midst of talkative, exuberant family members. There wouldn't be a need for professional care if that were the case. He has undoubted acquired compensatory skills to mask confusion and to appear involved in conversation. I know that Steve definitely works hard to be a part of household and church activities, asking questions and trying to focus on others' words and actions. In social settings, Steve will generally emulate the actions and mood, or "vibe" of others present, to the point that strangers wouldn't realize he has a problem. I give him so much credit--what a struggle it must be!
One very blessed thing I have noticed about Steve from the earliest days of our courtship, is that he never forgets the lyrics to a praise song! Now, I love to sing, but even with years of choir training, and serving on worship teams, I'll have lyrics slip my mind while I'm worshiping. But not Steve! Thirty years after we met, he is still confidently praising His Lord! Steve must have thousands of songs at his disposal--every word at the ready. As for new songs? He picks them up quickly and memorizes them within a few hearings. And he sings in tune! Many were the times we sang to our kids and taught them the hymns of the churches we grew up in, along with the praise songs that Calvary Chapels use.
Alzheimers is said to shorten life expectancy, and maybe it will affect Steve in that way. But heaven will welcome this well-equipped choir member with open arms!