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Sunday, October 31, 2010

We have all we need









1:10 p.m. Today's project was to attend our church's 9:45 a.m. service, in which an old friend and dynamic fighter for the rights of God's people, Brad Dacus, was speaking. Our pastor and his family were spending the weekend in San Diego for their son's wedding. Report was that Saturday night's event was very blessed!
II Peter 1:3 tells us that "[God's] divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness..." Brad, the founder of Pacific Justice Institute, fortified us with his message "Fully Equipped." He let us know that by the power of the Holy Spirit, guidance from God's word, and knowing that we may exercise our privileges as U.S. citizens, we can actively share our faith, hold gatherings in "secular" public places such as schools, and encourage others by recounting the great work Jesus has done in saving our souls.
From Acts 22:12-27, Brad shared the Apostle Paul's testimony, from his confrontation with the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus, his almost immediate baptism, to his launching into the persecution that followed him everywhere he preached. We were reminded that we will have trials, confrontations, and outright persecution for Jesus' sake, but we are not to be daunted or stopped from speaking in His Name! Jesus said in John 16:33, "In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."
The operative words here are I have overcome the world. It is a done deal! As Jesus said on the cross, "It is finished." (John 19:30)
Our tiny part, which His Holy Spirit does for us and through us? We are to persevere, wherever a Christian witness is called for--anywhere we go, in other words--persevere, knowing that, as II Peter 1:3 says, we have "all we need for life and godliness."
As a Trustee on the Riverside Unified School District Board of Education for 3 terms, I truly had to depend on the power of God, constant reinforcement from His Word, and the prayers of godly citizens to change the direction of the schools. When first elected in 1992, teachers were being prevented from meeting for prayer on their lunch hour! The Rutherford Institue, of which Brad was a spokesman, sent me the law to expound to the superintendent. Teachers were indeed free to meet and pray on their lunch hour. Student Bible clubs were not given equal status with other lunchtime clubs; condoms were demonstrated on cucumbers; sex education was given to students grades 5-12 without parent permission. All of those issues were reversed by one person raised up by God to a position of public influence, first at the local level, and then as president of the California School Board Leadership caucus. Focus on the Family's Capitol Resource group and Brad Dacus helped me with position papers and legal advice, and he often was the keynote speaker for the conferences we held twice a year.
When God calls a believer to step forward, to speak His truth and persevere, He is the One who does the work--we seek Him in prayer, have confirmation from the Word and counsel from mature believers, and maintain constant prayer support, because it's not about me, or you!
IT'S ABOUT JESUS! and the souls He wants saved from hell and hateful, hellish conditions in the here and now. He wants to save us from death! "I came to give them life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)
I selected a picture I took the other day of our local City Council Chamber and City Hall, to remind you that the local authorities hold no fear for the believer! (Romans 13) In fact, God may be calling you, like He did me, to become an elected official yourself. Pray, gather your prayer warriors, get confirmation in the scriptures, and use the opportunity God gives you to stand up for Him.
Your obedience may save many generations from misery here and hellfire later!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A godly alternative




3:42 p.m. Today's project was to bake a cake for the Harvest Festival cakewalk at Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley Sunday night, otherwise known as Halloween.
I love the fact that so many churches in the Inland Empire hold alternative candy, activity and costume events so parents don't have to take their kids out trick-or-treating. Our festival will have blow-up slides, game booths operated by the home fellowship groups, tons of candy prizes and even a toddler area to keep the little ones separate.
For many years while our kids were small, we took them to Harvest Christian Fellowship where we attended, to see a play in the sanctuary, and go from activity to activity collecting candy. The church just requested that no evil or demonic costumes be worn. Christians are told in I Thessalonians 5:22 "Abstain from all appearance of evil," and in Ephesians 5:11 to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness."

I have pictures of now-35 year old Sean (above) dressed as David from the Bible complete with bow and arrow, and also as an elephant with the papier mache mask we had made for him. Through the years, our kids and grandkids were shepherds, angels, sports figures, princesses, pumpkins, caterpillars, bees, all kinds of cute and fun costumes. There was no need for witches or devils or ghosts--what point would there be in that?

Even non-Christian parents are looking for safety on Halloween, with crimes against children mounting, and registered sex offenders often sent to San Bernardino and Riverside counties' outlying communities from Los Angeles and other urban areas. In the 50's and 60's, we kids walked around the neighborhoods in big groups, with parents nearby, not out fear of kidnapers or molesters, but to assure safety crossing streets in costumes. So it's a blessing to have neighborhood churches opening their grounds and facilities to the kids, even having music events for teens. It always blessed my heart the day after Halloween to hear my public school students tell me excitedlly about going to various neighborhood churches for wonderful parties. I pray that the Gospel is preached in each church Sunday night this year, carrying out the mission given to us by the risen Lord Jesus in Mark 16:15, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel."
Also, I pray that the weather is clear and mild, with the light of the Son shining into eternity!

Friday, October 29, 2010

His unsearchable judgments


7:07 p.m. Today's project was to go to Disneyland. That doesn't sound very dramatic or particularly urgent, but since it's our third try since October 14th, it bears mentioning.


On Thursday October 14th, we were all set to pay our health insurance bill out in Jurupa, then continue west to the Magic Kingdom, but I became suddenly so sick that afternoon that we had to turn back. The Lord had His reasons: I needed to come home, gather items for the missions garage sale, and deliver them to Jeannette Rabito's house for the next day. Reason number two was that I had not carefully checked our mail before taking off for JUSD, but upon inspection, there was an Equifax report that led to our qualifying for the Parent PLUS loan that is now keeping Steven in his university--I faxed it to the student loan folks that night, and was approved the next morning, due to the Lord's perfect timing. Several people had to change the designation from "reposession" to "charge-off,"for the RV that we turned in to the credit union. By the 14th, we were shown in a 100% more favorable light!


Proverbs 21:1 describes the presumed power of the influential well. "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; like the rivers of water, He turns it wherever He wishes."


We were glad that we were compelled to turn around and discover that the Lord had set a miracle in motion!


Two days ago (post of 10/27) it was a strange comedy of errors on my part that led to our failed attempt to go to Disneyland, and our last minute also-failed attempt to go visit my brother-in-law Larry, now bedridden and frequently unable to recognize his family due to Alzheimers. I did have an opportunity to talk to his wife, to express my sorrow and support. Steve was not able to face the sight of his brother, I'm sure fearing the same fate for himself in a few years, unless the Lord intervenes. I can't blame him. So we made a tedious trip home in heavy traffic that evening. Our pastor's wife Robin said that perhaps the Lord was preventing something from happening. I might not even find out what "could have been" this side of heaven!


In all of these go/no-go incidents, I have limited understanding of the reasons they happened, but I know who does know, the One Romans 11:33-36 describes:


Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

For who has known the mind of the LORD?
Or who has become His counselor?
Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to Him?

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Amen!



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Main Street Mall photo walk





































A walk down Memory Mall


3:26 p.m. Today's project was to run errands from Woodcrest to Mission Grove, Downtown Riverside, Jurupa, Pedley, and back again via Canyon Crest Towne Center for three hours, while Steve worked with Howard Stevens in his orchard. Thank you, Lord, for the friendship they've formed, and for both Howard and Charlotte coming alongside us! As Proverbs 18:24 says, "There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother."
The odyssey began with CVS pharmacy, where I picked up Steve's Namenda prescription. Namenda, along with Aricept, are the two main Alzheimer's meds. I've been avoiding picking up his Aricept and using samples from the neurologist, because the co-pay is $50, compared to $5 for generics! Imagine my surprise at being told the co-pay for brand name Namenda was $25.00. Making a quick recovery, I said, "It could be worse," to the pharmacy tech.
The next stop made my day. I dropped my (late) utility bill into the slot at City Hall, and, realizing that I had 20 minutes left in the parking space, and my Skecher Shapeups on, I decided to walk up and down the Main Street Mall. Passing the fountain tower, I grabbed my camera, and so it went, as I passed each landmark or picturesque spot.
Stopping at the Dr. Martin Luther King monument, I recalled the 5 years our citywide committee, the Martin Luther King Visionaries, worked to raise funds for it during the 1990's while I was in my first term on the Riverside Unified School Board. We sponsored huge annual banquets and garnered corporate support throughout the city. I remember when the exciting day came to select the design from 3 mock-ups displayed at Second Baptist Church. The day the statue was unveiled was a major city event, attended by every local dignitary and elected official, as well as county, state and federal officeholders.
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick," Proverbs 13:12 says, "but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life." How true that is, whether speaking of personal prayerful hopes or achieving community-wide goals!
Main Street was the scene of annual Riverside parades which I rode in as an elected official always ready to have fun: 4th of July parade, Black History, Orange Blossom Festival, and the Riverside Centennial. Because my family was so big (7 people) we had a bigger car to ride in than Governor Pete Wilson, a vintage convertible Cadillac. Kriss was about 9 years old, and jabbered non-stop to the point that the driver paid him $1.00 to be quiet!! Another funny moment came when our 3 year-old Steven tucked a box of orange Tic-Tacs in his pocket for the ride, along with a tiny HotWheels car for good measure.
I thank the Lord not only for the good times spent waving at the crowds and meeting with my constituents for three terms, but for the hard-fought gains that Christian conservatives made in the school district, uplifting the students' morals while increasing parent involvement, student literacy and test scores. God is good!
As I crossed Mission Inn Avenue, I saw the Christmas lights, small festive figures attached to the south-facing wall, waiting to be turned on during the Festival of Light next month. I thought, "Has it already been a year since Steve and I came over here, and did the Mission Inn tour with most of the rest of Riversiders?" Now I'm wondering if this Christmas will be the last one for Steve to handle easily, with the jostling crowds...if nothing else, we can always drive around town like we do already, with Christmas music on the radio, viewing the Wood Street displays, and then taking in the elaborate spreads closer to home.
Back to my car, I reminisced about the many, many meetings I had there with Mayor Loveridge, and the committees I sat on that met on the 7th floor. Now my son-in-law Nick is an intern in the mayor's office, working on future planning. His graduate work is in urban planning, so we are praying that this unpaid stint will give him added experience and be a resume-enhancer.
Paying my health insurance bill in the Jurupa Benefits office, getting gas, purchasing needed supplements at Clarke's Nutrition, picking up drycleaning, and purchasing stamps at Ralphs completed my circuit. I returned to the Stevens' home, and found Steve and Howard listening to the Gaither Trio, relaxing after their hard work and lunch.
Steve enjoyed a fine morning of fellowship, the Lord allowed me to complete a number of tasks efficiently, get some exercise, and enjoy the day He has made!!




Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Was anything accomplished?


7:59 p.m. Today's project was to go to Disneyland. Sounds simple enough, but things got complicated fast! We began our day as always, with our devotions and prayer, errands and homekeeping tasks.

As Disney season passholders, Steve and I can go to the park any day of the week, so we naturally choose weekdays, leaving about 3:30 p.m. so we have no traffic traveling either way. We generally buy deli sandwiches, or I make sandwiches and salad, pack my insulated lunch bag with a block of ice, and include string cheese and sugar-free jello. I put almonds, fruit, cookies and chips in a grocery bag large enough to include the lunch bag, and we rent a locker on Main Street for $7.00. We can then eat dinner whenever we want to for about a 1/4 of the price of two meals there.

Because I had felt compelled to make oatmeal-white chocolate-butterscotch-peanut butter chip cookies for some reason after grocery shopping and making a Mary Kay product delivery, and Steve had not answered his phone when I called to remind him to make sure he'd made his usual sandwich, and was dressed to go, it was already 3:15 when we pulled onto the 91 freeway. I thought about the park closing now at 9 p.m. and California Adventure, at 8 p.m. Four and one half hours would be enough time, since we go almost every week. Then something dawned on me! I said to Steve, "I forgot our lunch! Guess we'll have to get some cheap drive-through before we go into the park and eat it right away!We won't need a locker, then." $7 saved! But an unplanned stop would cause another delay getting to the park.

A little further down the road, I asked Steve to see that my regular glasses were in my purse, since I had on my Rx sunglasses. No glasses! (I'd been taking them on and off for reading and computer all morning, and they never seem to work as bifocals should!) NOW it meant that we would have to get home before it turned dark, meaning 7 p.m. Okay, now this was entirely too short of a time at Disneyland, even though we were tempted to go on, having reached the 55 split by that point. Another obstacle!

Do you ever have days like this? Everything just seems absurdly goofed up, and pointless. Well, Christians are told to "redeem the time" in Ephesians 5:16, so I said, "Let 's go see your brother Larry" (in a rest home in Orange) as I merged left toward the 55 south. Larry has been confined in a care facility for about a year with advanced Alzheimer's. We arrived at the location we last visited, but were unsure of the address. So I called his son Chad and was told that Larry had been moved a while back, and he gave me directions. Later, Larry's wife Michaele called me and said, so that Steve particularly could be prepared, that Larry is now confined to a bed and has lost control of the trunk of his body, so he can't sit up like he did when Steve and I visited him last. He sometimes doesn't even know his wife and son during visits. So sad, and I told Michaele how sorry I was to hear that, and sorry for what she as a wife of 27 years is going through. Tragedy, pain and suffering are what we humans experience in this fallen world, aren't they?

Makes me cry out in my spirit, "Come, Lord Jesus, and take your people home!"

Upon hearing the details of Larry's condition, Steve decided that he wanted to remember him as we last saw him, and so we headed north out of Tustin into full-on rush hour traffic toward home. We couldn't use our Fastrak because my gas tank was below a quarter, and once you get into that lane, there's no getting out. The electronic sign also said $8.30, the high rush hour toll rate.

Needless to say, after buying gas, the ride home was long and tedious, but we enjoyed former federal judge Mark Levin's radio program on election, governance and constitutional issues. We had been gone three hours almost exactly, which we could pinpoint by having heard his whole program by the time we pulled into our driveway.

What, if anything, had all that driving accomplished? Maybe a reminder not to juggle too many balls in the air while planning an outing; make sure Steve stays on task in the hours before we leave, and tape a checklist on the front door like I would if we were going on vacation. We high-energy types tend to think, "just one more thing," and then I'll run to the store, or pay bills, whatever. Many days, even today, oddly, plenty of home chores got done by both of us, and we had an outing of sorts, on a stunningly clear and beautiful day. So maybe that was the point for us--to get out and away together, just to get out of the daily routine. But there's a deeper lesson here!

I was tempted to think, "If we go visit Larry, the trip into Orange County will not have been a waste." But a visit to a severely incapacitated family member needs to be prayed over and planned for, especially with Steve in a vulnerable condition of fear about his own future. The Lord had me honor Steve's wishes in the matter, but I will need to plan a time to go visit Larry by myself. Even if his body and conscious mind can't give evidence of recognition, I know in his spirit he can realize he is loved and being prayed for. And some days he has good recognition, Michaele said.

We believers would all do well to practice the Three P's: pray, plan, and prepare! In that way, we can bless and be blessed!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Breakfast, lunch and dinner with the Lord





7:26 a.m. Today's project is to write down the words God gave me during the night last night! I was searching for a theme for tonight's Heart to Home devotional. Veronica Avila is teaching a class on entertaining inexpensively with elegant home made hors d'ouevre for the holidays.
The Lord gave me the title, "Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner with the Lord," because our mealtimes really do define our day for us, don't they? All of our activities are "sandwiched" in between. But let's break these meals down by the Holy Spirit's prompting!
Before breakfast, the Christian is urged to to begin the day seeking the Lord. "O God, You are my God; early will I seek You. My soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You..." (Psalm 63:1). We spend time in His Word, read a devotional--I'm currently re-reading My Utmost for His ItalicHighest--go to prayer before Him, take some time to write in a journal to pour out your heart, pray with your spouse or as a family, and I'll usually do a day of my current Bible study.
Then it's time to prepare and eat breakfast in an uplifted state of mind, and go about the morning's tasks. Having asked the Lord for guidance, I fully trust and expect that the Holy Spirit will answer my questions and prioritize my activities. When I was at work as a teacher, despite the strict schedule, I still had choices to make, as you do at your place of employment. How shall I choose my words, Lord? Will I encourage my disabled husband, or' even though I might think, "It's for his own good," end up being a discouragement? With our youngsters at home, same thing! It's a daily, minute-by-minute search for God's wisdom!
Remember James 1:5-6: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally, and without reproach. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind."
Onward to lunchtime--time to rejuvenate, thank the Lord for His provision, not just food, but the ability to acquire it and the kitchen and means to prepare it! Think of the needy and pray for them, planning what kinds of charitable ministries you might be able to support. Share a praise with your spouse, friends, or your own little ones, in true amazement that God loves us so much!
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Is your household living in the truth of John 3:16 daily?
Afternoon errands, maybe a walk, some quiet time to read outside, now that it's nice again! We might pick up around the house, or await your kids' arrival from school (or pick them up). I went out to the garden to see about the last few green peppers and did some weeding; maybe you sew or crochet. In all of these activities, God is so clearly seen, whether it's in His glorious sky or in a work of art He has gifted you to create! For the believer, it might be time to be "singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord," (Ephesians 5:19b) with praise music on, or get in some more of the Word with K-WAVE 107.9!
Dinner planning, preparations, gathering of ingredients, whether there are lots of choices or almost none--let God show you what to select, and how to prepare your meal. Seek His wisdom! The One who fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes can stretch food like no other, AMEN?
One time I barely had enough dinner for the seven of us, and Kriss came in with his buddy Emmanuel to eat with us! And the Lord multiplied the food in His own way--our God is able!
So enjoy all of the good gifts from the Father above, morning, noon and night, and rejoice in His love!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thrifty time!


4:07 p.m. Today's project was to fax in a Content Approval Form to Tate Publishing, since I obtained proofreader Kathy Langtry's signature at church yesterday to go along with mine. We signed to confirm that there are no more changes to be made on Galatians, and it can go to the layout department. Exciting times!! I also needed to exchange a lovely dark brown thin-line felt-tip pen--is it a bit obsessive that I enjoy my journalling pens so much? It ran dry in one use, so I went to the UPS store where I bought it. No problems, exchanged without question. I've been a customer there since they opened, probably 20 years ago, as a Mailboxes, Etc., so I would expect no less from owner Ron Purkey or his staff.

Now came a big challenge: go to the Ralphs store in the same parking lot and spend as little as possible for a small amount of groceries. What made this a big deal is that I have avoided going to buy groceries for the last week or so because we are in between the receipt of the rent check from our Wyoming property and Steve's Social Security check. Praise the Lord that He has shown me over many years as a mother at home, and now as a granny on fixed income, how to scour through the cupboards, pantry, fridge, freezer and deep freezer for foods to creatively combine for Steve and me. God has truly been multiplying our "loaves and fishes" this month, with meals that actually have been pretty tasty! But Steve ran out of the bananas he eats when he takes his meds in the morning, and is just about out of bread for his sandwiches. I'll not waste money on dishwasher detergent, so we've all been washing our few dishes and cookware by hand. So we're saving elecricity and water at the same time!

I just love the Luke 8 story of the "Feeding of the Four Thousand," where the people have been listening to Jesus all day, and He didn't want to send them home hungry. The disciples were highly skeptical about feeding so many people in the wilderness, just like we would be! "He (Jesus) asked, 'How many loaves do you have?' And they said, 'Seven.' " (vv. 1-5)

That's me these days. The Lord points out to me what we have, and then graciously shows me what to fix for dinner. Same with Steve's medications. He'll be out of his Aricept by the end of the week, so instead of paying the $50 co-pay ( !), I remembered the boxes of samples our neurologist gave me and they can tide him over for days. His four other meds have $5 co-pays.

However, today I absolutely had to buy bananas, bread, and coffee creamer. I prayed as I went in, and got a large French Vanilla creamer. I thought about getting bread, but Steve has two slices left. However, the day-old bakery cart in the back of the store had a big bag of lovely round, oblong, large, medium, seeded and onion buns, some white, rye, or whole wheat. Only $1.79! What a find--Steve will have variety of great breads for his sandwiches. And the way he goes through bread, staleness won't be an issue, any more than day-old bakery goods had a chance to get stale when I bought armloads of them for our young family.
Next came the bananas. They seem to be 67 cents a pound everywhere, so I carefully weighed 4, then 3, then finally 2 small green ones to keep to 1 pound. At the machine checkout, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the bananas were only 42 cents! Out of the store with the items required to make the next few days livable, and all glory goes to the Lord for providing all that we need!
God says in Psalm 50:12: "The world is mine and all its fullness." God has no lack, either of supplies or willingness to meet our needs! And in verse 15 we can take such reassurance:
Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.
Today, Steve and I stand delivered, and the glory is God's alone!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Three gatherings




7:43 p.m. Today's project was to attend two wonderful celebrations with Steve, hosted by lovely friends. In fact, this evening's Home Fellowship was my third event since Saturday! (You could say four this week, if I count the TEA Party rally in San Diego Thursday). And the official "holidays" haven't even begun!
Yesterday, I enjoyed celebrating Pete and Rita's new home, and was encouraged greatly by a new friend who ministers healing to the hurting through the recovery ministry she leads. Yet, the gathering was fun and upbeat, with kids in and out from the snacks to the jumphouse, and tours of the Garza home. Psalm 133:1, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, for the brethren to dwell together in unity!" is a verse written for a "people person" like me.
The first celebration of today was for recognizing a different kind of achievement. For the second week in a row, our friend Kathy Malone has given game day parties so that all of the friends of her son Robert can enjoy his accomplishment of becoming a punter in the NFL, for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last week we met at Romano's Italian Restaurant for a great debut game for Robert, but a losing effort for the team. By the time Steve and I joined the party at her house after church, the game against the St. Louis Rams was in full swing, with the Bucs only down by 5. We were welcomed and introduced to everyone, and helped ourselves to tables full of main dishes and goodies. I had my first "corn candy" of the season, too--my bad! No one needed the "false cheer" of alcohol to be totally revved up for this game. Many of the old friends and "freshly renewed" friends are believers, who like Kathy attend The Grove Community Church in Orangecrest, their neighborhood. Our kids went to Earhart Middle School and King High School, and some, like my son Steven, played football with the Malone kids.
To our delight and amazement, the Bucs won by 1 point with 10 seconds to go! I wonder if the Florida fans could hear all the screaming from Riverside. We were very excited!!
Steve and I went home to rest up for our next gathering, our Home Fellowship out in Moreno Valley, off of Moreno Redlands Blvd., in the home of the Reyes family. Gilbert Reyes and son
Gabe both play in our Calvary Chapel's worship band, singer Ed from the team attends, as does the keyboardist and her husband. Our home pastor Mark Murdaugh is the church's worship leader. So you can just imagine how our worship "rocks the house" on Sunday nights!
This is the second year most of the group has enjoyed together, a good option since we are continuing with the Gospel of Mark. It especially works for Steve, because the group members know about his Alzheimers and don't have to wonder why he doesn't join the discussions or why I get his food for him in the buffet line. What a loving group we have, and the newer members are fitting in beautifully. I am delighted to see Jo Hoffman with us, because at 79, she is the kind of woman I want to be when I grow up, still ministering and full of the Holy Spirit! Bible study buddy Malinda Fairbanks has joined us this year. A co-worker of Pavel's, John Justice, and his wife are now in the fellowship, and he even stepped up and played guitar with Mark during worship. Cristina and Manuel Rodriguez are back; as are Tony and Sandra Perry; Sue, Matt,and Sam(antha); and oustandingly cheerful Michelle Pierce. It's only our 3rd week, so I'm working on getting to know the new people as soon as possible.
Mark had warned me he was going to call on me to share the testimony of the book I have coming out next spring, Walk in the Word Series: Galatians. I joyfully and factually explained to the group that this book was of God from the day He first called me to teach women's Bible studies in 1980. His concept, His leading, His command, His work, completely. Only God can get the glory for this book, even using my early retirement to provide the time for me to do the intense conceptual edits. "Nothing is wasted in the life of a saint," Kathleen told me yesterday.
And, no matter what the purpose of friends and family when we gather in celebration, we who are indwelt with the Spirit shed light, love and wholehearted enthusiasm for living for our Lord, that is contagious. Matthew 5:14-16 says,
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Gather for celebration, gather for recognition, gather for Bible study--just make sure your light is on!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A warm home


6:16 p.m. Today's project was to join Pete and Rita in their new Moreno Valley home for a housewarming. I took along a modest gift of a silicon oven mitt and my homemade spicy yellow tomato jam, which I am sure they can enjoy with two small children in the family.

Even though Proverbs 18:16a says that "a man's gift makes room for him," I would have been welcome in the Name of Christ with nothing in my hands by my sweet sister Rita, whom I first met at the Moms' Morning I was asked to start at Calvary Chapel a number of years ago. Her little boy wasn't even born yet, but her daughter was already a real charmer! I've only met Pete, a coach for Calvary Chapel, a few times, but he is very friendly also.
As I met family members and friends from various churches and ministries, I saw the wide net the Lord has used the Garzas to cast out as "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). Rita is very active in the "White as Wool" ministry for women who have had abortions and are seeking healing in the Name of Jesus, and part of Riverside Life Services. In fact, she was showing me a picture on her camera of a new granite tombstone at the Pierce Brothers Crestlawn cemetery in La Sierra where a donated plot hosts markers with the names of deceased babies. The group held a memorial service for them recently. Even women who have had spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) like I had prior to conceiving Heather, can find a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. And prayerfully, the women will come to know the source of the love and caring: the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!
One new friend I met is Kathleen, who leads recovery classes for grief, substance abuse and a range of personal losses from a scriptural vantage point. Her heart is huge, as shown in her elder care facility visitation and concern for Alzheimer's patients and their caregiver/family members. She was very moved by Steve's family genetics, the early-onset variety of the disease.
Kathleen has ministered to end-stage patients whose families no longer visit because being ignored as strangers is just too painful. As a believer with her own painful rhuematoid arthritis, she comforted me and encouraged to me to take care of myself. I replied, "And that's why I'm here! I'm a people person, love fellowship, and this get together is perfect for me. And Steve's doing what he loves, working in the yard, walking the dogs." Within the hour, we connected online, and will be praying for one another. Kathleen said, "To me, Facebook is like church 24/7. People praying for one another, posting scripture for believers and unbelievers to view alike!"
Home away from home, or I guess, home within your home!
It was a warm house indeed!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Allergic to my computer!


6:33 p.m. Today's project was to just get up and do something physical! After bringing Steve home from Howard's where he'd been helping in their Woodcrest orchard, we greeted my dad with his supply of all kinds of fattening foods for Steve. Daddy is convinced Steve doesn't eat enough, but my husband generally has a snack in hand or is enjoying a meal whenever I see him! We'll see what the doctor says about his latest lab test. I served us all some of the turkey soup that has been simmering away since Wednesday in the crockpot, and we had a nice, long visit.

I sat down to my computer to retrieve gmail messages, which of course led me to personal notes on Facebook that needed to be answered. Since one was a Mary Kay order, that was much- appreciated business. The other was from a friend who had been cheered by a note I had sent yesterday morning, so the Lord encouraged me with that. I had posted a verse from Psalm 104 about God's creation, and wished a friend happy birthday early this morning, so I just had to tend to my Farmtown Farm and see what a random selection of 471 friends had going on, and either laugh with them, or promise to pray for their needs.

Jamie King, who is hosting a massive multi-vendor holiday boutique November 3rd, that includes my own product line, had posted the event, so I shared it on my profile page. I also checked comments on my Tea Party pictures from yesterday, all very supportive. But that reminded me that I needed to email the boutique flyer to my female contacts. Then I thought, "I am going to get up and DO something!" Remembering a news report that people, especially women, who spend most of their day seated have an increased risk of death, and my daughters' and my discussion last night of the way that staying sedentary at their workplaces and my computer was causing "bottom spread," I charged out of the house into the garden, pulled out a few unproductive strawberry plants, put fly ointment on the dogs' heads--can you believe there are still flies in this cold weather?--and then took out the garbage. It felt so good to go out into the cold air!

I then found a Facebook comment from my 27 year old son Kriss about an itchy back from allergy tests, so I texted him as to what was up. Seems that cat dander, dust and particulates in the Long Beach air are bothering him. That seemed odd, because the air down at the beach smells and feels so clean to me when we visit...now we are hunting down an air filter that we bought years ago for him to borrow. And I'd better dust before he comes!

At least this propelled me to some physical action, vacuuming the carpets. I did some dusting, too, and searched up and downstairs around the house for the products I need to fill the MK order, as well as for a housewarming gift for a party tomorrow. I put in a load of wash and cleaned up the kitchen, sorted through the mail, and then in came a text from youngest son Steven, reminding me to check to see if the Master Promissory Note I signed online around midnight last night had gone through. As I checked the Yahoo email for that, I remembered to login to my Mary Kay account to do a password change; and then I sent out invitations to the boutique.

Thankfully, Heidi came home, and I needed to get up and help her with the brownies for the 5th and 6th grade girls' sleepover she's in charge of at church. Between helping her find some items, and taking them to her car, I was busy. Then it was time to fix Steve's dinner, too. As we sat down to watch the O'Reilly Factor, I said to him, "It seems like I just move from the computer, to the dinner table to the computer, then over to the couch!" Just aggravating, because so much of what I do--writing, my business, Bible studies I pull up for Steve--it's getting more and more computerized. I'm glad we walked around for a few hours yesterday in San Diego, and grateful for our Disneyland days! In Matthew 6:8, Jesus said, "Your Father knows the things you have need of, even before you ask Him."

And He knows human beings need exercise for our physical and mental health!
I'll now go clean up dinner, find out more about Kriss' allergies, and then sit back down to work on that Master Promissory Note. So glad tomorrow is Saturday. Steve and I can get out and walk in the cool air God has provided, and look at His beautiful world outside.
Psalm 104:24 says, "O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all."
As I prepare for another online session, all I can say is "Achoo!"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We have liberty-- so far



9:51 p.m. Today's project was to attend the Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Party rally in San Diego with Steve. I've been getting their emails and other patriotic notices, but hadn't really considered attending. However, in a critical year for issues of high concern to us senior citizens and taxpayers, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to stand up for what we believe. Besides, we love to drive down to San Diego for a day away, and planned to give our grandsons in Chula Vista the Michael Jackson t-shirts we'd bought as early birthday presents.
I had been looking through the Tea Party Express notices and following them from afar since they began last spring when Steve attended a rally in Riverside. I really became concerned as Steve's Alzheimer's has progressed, in the light of rationed care included in the Healthcare bill. Of what productive, marketable value to the bureacrats is a person who will never work again, any more than a centenarian would go back to work? So we have been paying close attention. And the requirement to submit all of our personal banking information for the mandatory electronic debits to the government doesn't sit well with most Americans (70%) either. "It is God who gives you the power to get wealth" (Deuteronomy 8:18), not the government! And God has first claim on all we produce (Malachi 3:10).
I even wrote to our two senators to ask them not to vote for the Healthcare bill, citing Steve's vulnerable condition. Furthermore, as a breast cancer survivor, I am grateful that we don't live in the U.K., where speedy appointments and early treatment are not available with socialized medicine, and the breast cancer death rate is 7 times higher than ours! My cancer was removed two weeks after detection in 2003, when it was only a millimeter in size. But Boxer and Feinstein didn't listen to the cries of the people. Our current Congress reminds me of Pharaoh in Egypt piling on the work and cutting the rations of the Hebrew slaves in Exodus. But One, the LORD God, heard His people's cries. And oh, what a mighty deliverance!!
We know from scripture that Steve is of inestimable value to God, no matter his disability, for He says to those He loves in Isaiah 49:15-16a,
Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.
See? I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.
Our nation was founded on the Bible, by God-fearing men and women. We have a national covenant of liberty, freedom to choose our lifestyle and goals, and to raise our families as we see fit. Productivity is a privilege for Americans, who love hard work and achievement. As I drive by foreclosed homes and boarded-up businesses, I cry inside, thinking of dispirited fathers of families who can no longer provide, as American industries are regulated out of business, or flatly shut down by federal fiat. And the poor on the WIC progam are the saddest victims of government control. Needy mothers may no longer use their card to buy potatoes--a filling, nutritious vegetable--on the sole command of a bureaucrat whose ruling came down yesterday.
I want my country back!
As Christians, we know that Jesus Christ Himself came to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free, to save and keep us from slavery to sin(Isaiah 61:1; Romans 6:16). Paul, in Galatians 5:1 says,
Stand fast, therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Having been made free from my bondage to sin and death, why would I seek enslavement to an earthly master? We are not talking about obeying the law here. That is a Christian's duty. (Romans 13). But ceding my faith and concientious beliefs to a godless oligarchy is a whole different matter.
Thank you, Lord, that we still vote to elect our leaders, and may the many believers who are running for office this year throughout our nation be elected!
VOTE November 2nd!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Make haste! (or not)

7:15 p.m. Today's project was to stay quietly at home on this cool, cloudy day, except to take a medical sample over to the diagnostic lab in our doctor's Day Street building.( Along with our doctor, we are still hunting down the cause of Steve's weight loss).


This area is aptly named Edgemont, because it has a Riverside zip code, 92507, but for the life of me, has always seemed to be in Moreno Valley. Steve and I also went upstairs to request Dr. Guzman's written comments on a Physicians's Statement for Genworth longterm care insurance. We are inching toward putting in a claim for home healthcare services for Steve. I think it may be unsafe for Steve to stay home alone, even for a few hours, by early next year. I am seeking the Lord's guidance and His timing. As we complete each step, I have a peace about the pace in which the process is unfolding. It started last summer when I found the company I plan to use; then opened a claim with the company in September; and then we sat down as a family with a home health nurse for a lengthy interview on Steve's condition on October 5th. To hasten this matter is unseemly to me; I cannot tell when the day will come for Steve to need assistance.


The vast majority of verses in my Strong's Concordance containing the word "haste" actually are exhortations to make haste, such as asking the Lord to hasten His help, or commanding someone to go with haste. In Jeremiah 9:18, God tells "skillful wailing women" to "make haste and take up a wailing" for the plundering of Jerusalem in judgment. On the opposite end of the spectrum of human emotions, Luke 2:16 tells us that the shepherds "came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger."


Neither joy or devastation are appropriate emotions for this time of decision; I want to exercise my faith in God by listening to His voice and moving prudently step by step. I don't necessarily hear a still, small voice, but there are definite times when I am led to move the ball down the field another yard. And there are just as definitely times when I am perfectly still, taking no further actions at all.


Simply, I have a peace. There's no other way I can describe it. Hear Isaiah 28:16:


Thus says the LORD God, "Behold I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; he who believes shall not make haste."


II Peter 2:4-6 tells us Christ is that "chief cornerstone," the key to the entire building's stability. Jesus is my cornerstone, my source, my strength, my ability to be stable in the storm. I trust Him implicitly.


Here is a promise from Isaiah 52:12 which is as precious to me as it was to God's people at the time it was written:


For you shall not go out with haste,
Nor go by flight;
For the LORD will go before you,
And the God of Israel will be your rearguard.

Lord, may we always move according to Your will, Your timing, and at Your holy pace!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A right view of God


Today's project was to attend Bible study and continue learning more of the Lord, His Word, and His ways through our video and workbook study, "Breaking Free" by Beth Moore. On the way home, my neighbor Cindy and I were talking about prayer, and answers to prayer, whether they be "yes," "no," or "wait." And we also talked about what our reactions can tend to be when the answer is not to our liking! In other words, how do we resolve our desires and petitions with God's seeming denials at times?


I even told my friend, "in some of my current situations, I don't even know how to pray!" And there is an odd peace in that, because Romans 8:26 says, "For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered." Now that is a guarantee of calm in the storm right there, because the Holy Spirit knows the mind of the Father in any and all situations I will face in this life!


One friend at Bible study, Linda, shared a definition of peace that she had come across that makes so much sense: "Peace is the deliberate adjustment to the will of God." Let God be God, always know how much He loves His children, and let Him put your life in the order He has designed for it all along!


On Facebook today, a precious young mom had posted Romans 2:8,16 concerning God's judgment:


"but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness--indignation and wrath... in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ."


A following comment from someone unknown to me, claimed that "if there is an analogy between God and us and a parent and child, then God should be charged with child abuse. ..It's not okay to stick a child's hand in the fire to teach them to stay away." The individual also added later in the dialogue, words to the effect that "it seems like we're just God's puppets, and that some puppets just get thrown into hell when they're done being played with."


Oh, no! That is not the God of the Bible, and certainly not the God I have come to know personally "who loved me and gave Himself for me!" (Galatians 2:20). I added my part to the dialogue, saying, "Read James 1:12-17 for a scriptural perspective [on God and man's sin]."


"Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been tempted, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation nor shadow of turning."


Our Heavenly Father knows all of our weaknesses and temptations! He always helps us to stay close to Him; exhorts us to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17); to study His Word for guidance on every conceivable topic (Psalm 119); and to stay in fellowship with likeminded believers (Hebrews 10:25). If we will do these things, we can know His love, glean hope in even the most hopeless of situations, spread His love to others we meet, snatch unbelievers out of eternal fire, and avoid eternal judgment as well!


We are God's children, but we are fully grown people capable of making our own choices--as I have done, along with millions of other believers in Jesus Christ!


In Deuteronomy 30:15, God set before His people life and good, death and evil--I choose life and good!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday's woes and blessings


5:55 p.m. Today's project was to take Steve for an appointment with our primary care physician, Dr. Guzman, for a reading of his lab results from two weeks ago. Steve had unaccountably lost 16 pounds, and the lab test were a beginning of the investigation into the cause. His neurologist was puzzled as well, since Steve really hasn't changed his medication, eating pattern or physical activities. In Ecclesiastes 7:24, Solomon asks, "As for that which is far off and deep, who can find it out?" Well, prayerfully, we will be given wisdom by the Lord to get Steve gaining back to his normal weight.
People have been praying for Steve, and are uniformly shocked at the amount of weight he's lost in only 3 months. My girlfiriends have asked more than once, jokingly, "Why can't 16 of my pounds magically disappear? I'd still have plenty to live on!" This has truly been a mystery.
We arrived at the office in a light rain, checked in, and Steve was called back pretty fast. His blood pressure of 113/72 was fine, normal for the 2-1/2 miles of walking that he does daily with the dogs. But upon weighing, he'd lost another 2 pounds! Holy moley...we needed some answers.
Dr. Guzman, an old friend who knows us both well, told us right up front, "I have no explanation for this." The lab reported a slight under normal iron reading, so all I need to do is serve him more red meat and less turkey. No problem--we've just been in the habit of using turkey lunchmeat for sandwiches. Protein was a tad low also, no surprise considering what a carb fiend he is--bananas, other fruit, bread, muffins, cookies, crackers, cereal with whole milk, and chips all day. I'll boost his eggs, meat and cheese. Steve is slightly low on Vitamin D, very odd, because he spends most of the day out in the sunshine doing garden, yard and dog tasks. So I will add an extra Shaklee Vitalea to make that up daily.
With no loss of appetite, plenty to eat, and no added exercise over the last few months, the doctor is looking at what may be using up Steve's calories. His blood sugar is fine, all organs looking fine. We'll need to dig a little deeper!
In this latest trial of Steve's physical health, I know that with Alzheimer's, his mental health is always to be considered, mainly because I will be responsible for any follow-up activites. Even though his brain is using a good number of calories trying to work around his confusion, trying desperately to remember what was said or done even a minute before, it certainly couldn't account for this drastic weight loss, the doctor said. If having a busy brain burned that many calories, many of us would look like we did in high school--99 pounds in my case!
The Lord is showing me another facet of my changing wifely role: health tech and dietician, as many wives are, but I am just at the brink of being a caretaker. Steve isn't capable of planning out--or even remembering--the diet changes he'll need to implement. But as with other duties, the Lord is giving me the time, ability and love to carry out the doctor's orders. God is so good!
And like a dollop of whipped cream onto my day, I met with my prayer partner Monica at the Starbucks on Van Buren, where she treated me to a toffee latte and we were able to encourage one another in our various trials, and in looking for direction from the Lord for our next steps.
We marvelled at God's timing for youngest son Steven's education funding, and His provision for a young lady and lots of family visitors for Monica while her hubby is off to help set up the Seattle Harvest Crusade. She also borrowed my Nave's Topical Bible for the times she wonders what the Lord would say to her heart when she becomes anxious. As I gave her Joshua 1:9 before her medical exam this morning, I'll quote it to myself, and to all Christians in these perilous times and for the daily attacks of the enemy:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
Jesus has been with us, is with us, and WILL be with us!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A good guy makes good



3:29 p.m. Today's project was to enjoy a fun party after church with his mom Kathy and friends of Robert Malone, a brand-new NFL punter playing his first professional game, for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is a very close friend of our youngest son Steven, having played football together at King High School. They were roommates for Malone's last year as a Fresno State Bulldog, and Steven's junior year at Fresno Pacific. Robert has the distinction of being the strongest rookie in the NFL Combine, as the picture shows him at a bench press.
After a false start with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Robert came back to Riverside, humbly accepting God's will for his career, and working meanwhile as a trainer at Fitness 19 in Moreno Valley. He tried out for a team in the Euro league, but that didn't go well. But this week, after a Canadian punter was let go, the Bucs called him and he flew to Florida for a tryout weakened by jet lag. The special teams coach then looked at his film, told him to try out again, but upon re-examination, said, "Never mind another tryout, we want you to sign with us!" Praise the Lord, a godly young man is added to a pro football roster!
We believers can all learn something from the dreams, faith and patience of Robert and of Steven as well this week, when it looked like Steven wouldn't be able to return to his Christian university [post of 10/15], and Robert would be coming back after another disappointment.
Where else could either of them go, than where it was clear God was leading?
When I begin to question God's direction for me or my husband and children, I am reminded of Peter's discussion with Jesus in John 6:67-69, when Jesus' teachings became too difficult for the many disciples who (v.66) "went back and followed Him no more":
Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
Indeed, to whom shall we go? No one has ever lost by following Christ, even into dark, scary, uncertain places. When there is precious little in this physical existence to hold onto, the vision the Lord has given us for our life and ministry is the most solid of all ground. "On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand," the old hymn declares. Amen!
When the dream appears shattered and the vision clouds, a Christian has two choices: stand up with arms uplifted to the Father in prayer, or sink down in unbelief and fear. Habakkuk 2:3 says,

For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
Believe, pray, wait, and be blessed by God's faithfulness every time!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Picturing our kids



4:41 p.m. Today's project was to rest a bit after a late night of waiting up for my friend DeAnna's granddaughter to be born, praying along with my sister until Charlott made her appearance at 11:26 p.m.! I am sure that her mother Jamie can relate to Jesus' words in John 16:21 after about 16 hours of labor:
A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her time has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.
As the evening wore on, I also occupied myself by playing a few pitiful games of Mahjong on my computer and watching "Say Yes to the Dress," where brides and their entourages come to a huge New York bridal store and battle it out until the perfect dress is selected. And I don't want to forget the show "Four Weddings," where four brides attend each others' weddings and the highest scoring bride wins a fabulous honeymoon. Imagine all of the snide remarks that competition generates! I don't think any grand prize is worth all that stress and jealousy!
My mind is certainly on weddings these days, because I am searching out various items for our daughter Heidi that she doesn't have time to check into, like cake toppers or best deals on florists and reception vendors. So far, some major decisions have been made, but we have until June for the wedding, so there's no panic to influence the planning--or cause costly errors.
One fun project I'm undertaking is putting together a first anniversary digital album for Kriss and Marisela, who were married on September 27, 2009, at the Clarke Estate in Santa Fe Springs. With wedding, engagement, and fun pictures, I have compiled 82 photos on Snapfish.
I am not happy at this point with the front cover, so later today, I'll go back and delete what is there. That's the great advantage of digital photography--mistakes can be corrected ahead of time. The company puts the pictures and captions together in a beautiful book perfect for a first anniversary, where the traditional gift is paper. Heather and Nick enjoyed the one I made on Shutterfly for them last year. I racked up a pretty good migraine as a first timer not knowing what on earth to do, staring at the computer for four hours straight, but once I got the hang of it, I later made a small album of our travels for Steve's Christmas gift.
Now we have reached the stage of enjoying the reward of having raised children in the Lord. But no one will say parenting is easy! Parents do have difficult times with our children as they grow to be their own persons, following the path God has laid out for them as believers, even if that path has scary twists and turns! We may be at fault for "picturing" the type of person they are destined to be, even the kind of job they'll do or ministry they'll be best at. We may be a little slow at releasing them into independent adulthood and allowing them to make their own mistakes. We may blame ourselves or doubt our own sanity at times...But the love God gives us for them is deeper than any momentary heartache or worry!
At times of grave concern, I am reminded by the Holy Spirit that I need to let them make Proverbs 3:5-6 their own, as my own mom did when I ran off to Colorado in 1972 to live the "hippie" lifestyle:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Thank you, Lord, that You alone have the true picture of any of us, and You love us anyway!

Friday, October 15, 2010

News from afar





2:53 a.m. Today's project was to send the last eight pages of our Equifax report to Sue Honadle, the studentloan.gov agent who has been working with me closely on the last part of Steven's financial aid for Fresno Pacific University. This is a private Christian school where Steven has thrived. He started a Saturday night prayer group this fall, and the Lord has really been working in his life. His ministries outside of school--high school leader at The Peoples' Church and running a physical education program for mentally retarded adults at his gym--are being abundantly blessed. Steven is also active in the 7 Mountain prayer ministry in the Fresno area.

His roommate, Robert Malone, left Fresno to become an NFL punter (first drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars and released; now he is signed on the roster of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, PTL!). This left Steven trying to keep up the rent and utilities singlehandedly while his private training clientele shrank due to the bad economy. We have helped out when we could, but things are pretty lean here on Steve's and my fixed income. I can take comfort in James 2:5: "Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?"

Steven and I have been doing our best to be "rich in faith," asking, seeking and knocking for tuition funds to come in since August, but the October 24th deadline for financial aid was looming. And neither of us have experienced any increase in income, although I believe Steven added a client. As I Timothy 6:8 says, "And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content." The situaton now reminds me of how, over the years, when the kids were small, there were times when I'd have to wait two weeks before going to the grocery store. I'd be cooking utterly from scratch, using odds and ends from the pantry. "Baby" Steven used to say, "I love it when we're poor! That's when you make the best dinners!" Hallelujah, this week my cooking should be outstanding!

Yesterday afternoon, we headed west to Jurupa to pay our health insurance, pick up sandwiches at the Vons deli in Mira Loma, then continue west to Disneyland for the evening. On the way I began to get a very bad stomach ache, with dreadful consequences that made us turn around and come home after making a few pit stops. What can you do? No way could we go on a long car trip, and we can go to Disneyland any day. We also had a delicious dinner in hand, so, we had a change of plans!

When I got home, I went carefully through the mail, and found the new Equifax report that I had been told last Saturday they wouldn't make available online. I had called Sue on Monday and told her the latest in a bad series of dilemmas, starting with the repossession of our RV that made us look dreadful, but was something I needed to do. (We are in the 2nd month of our arrangement to pay Arrowhead Credit Union $100/month on the balance left over from the auction sale price).

Now recovered from my ailment, I put the new report in my purse, we ate dinner, then picked up goods from our neighbor Cindy to donate to the Missionaries' Rummage sale this weekend to add to our own things. We dropped them off at the Rabito's house, and went to a FedEx office to fax in the credit file. I called this morning; Sue said she'd gotten it, and began to peruse the Arrowhead CU remarks. She practically yelled, "They've changed it to a 'charge-off" instead of a repo!! I don't even have to consider this any more!! Just fax me the first 5 pages, and I'll call you when I get the loan approved!" I called my husband Steve in for the good news, then thanked the Lord in the last paragraph of my journal. I would wait to notify Steven until it was finally approved.

Boy, did I get myself dressed and out the door! No breakfast, but I grabbed a string cheese and some cocoa almonds and a pumpkin muffin for my hairdresser, and was on the road, fax transmission accomplished at Mission Grove UPS, and in my seat at Upper Echelon for my 11:00 appointment.

The Lord's timing for this financial aid approval is exquisitely His work and His alone. God knew what the new Equifax report would say, and that it would make all the difference to our credit score. Only one item on the first report was bad--the turning in of the RV. And He in His mercy caused the credit union people to change their part of the report to our favor in the interim. He also gave us a technician (or agent, not sure what Sue's title is) who stuck with us, called me to keep up on the next steps and never gave up on me! I wrote "Thanks and God bless you, Sue," on the fax cover sheet. Perhaps she's a believer, or maybe an angel--I don't know, but God sure placed her in the problem solving department "for such a time as this!" (Esther 4:14) And I don't want to forget to thank God for Robert at Arrowhead CU who worked with me on the RV repayment plan and tried so hard to get our payment lowered even before that in response to our suddenly changed situation with Steve's disability.

If you have ever wondered if God is going to come through, or if there's anything He can do in the tight spot you're in, doubt no more. For one believing college student, God moved people in a credit union, a credit reporting agency, and the student loan government bureaucracy to keep him in a Christian university, in a city where he has been called to minister!

And today I have the privilege of heralding God's mighty deeds with the good news He sent us from afar!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A different sort of wifely role



11:54 a.m. Today's project was to wake up later than the last two days, with no morning commitments. Even though it's just Thursday, it seems like it had become a long week by Wednesday! After coping with Steve's inability to continue in men's Bible study because his speech is too limited now for participation in small group discussion and he can no longer write, I literally broke down and had to go upstairs to bed for 30 minutes yesterday afternoon, not enough to make up for the previous sleepless night, but enough space to get alone with God and to keep from discouraging Steve.
Alzheimer's victims are fascinating to live with in a way, because they live totally in the moment, much like a very small child does. (Except that the child remembers and learns, of course). Steve is almost unaware of even the minutes that just passed, but goes willingly into the current effort, whether for fun or work, and is still fairly thorough in what he does. My role is to look ahead, plan to alleviate his confusion, and help him to stay in the Word for as long as he is able to read, and to pray for and with him. I also make sure to put a fun outing or event into each week that we can enjoy together like a regular retired couple. Even saying or writing "retired" seems funny--he's only 55, I'm 59, and we are both still very physically active. If Alzheimer's hadn't struck, we'd still be in the workforce! I love Deuteronomy 33:25b, where Jacob blesses his son Asher: "As your days, so shall your strength be." Steve is certainly fit, walking the dogs 2-1/2 miles a day, and keeping up our landscaping wonderfully; I'm not perfectly fit, but I keep a full schedule with lots of walking sprinkled though the week. (And good blood pressure numbers!)
Last night we watched a Turner Classic Movie called "One Foot in Heaven," a black & white drama from 1941. The pre-movie credits cited several Christian pastors and heads of denominational organizations as consultants, amazingly, and the gospel, including one-on-one witnessing, is prominently shown! (Imagine that in Hollywood today!) Frederic March and Martha Scott are a pastor and his wife who go through decades together following his call by Jesus Christ at a revival. They both came from prominent Canadian families, and he had been training to be a doctor. When he asked her in front of her appalled high-toned parents if she would go with him, she quoted Ruth 1:16:
Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
The wife certainly makes good on her word, sacrificing greatly with their children as they move multiple times around the country. They start out with a dirt-poor parsonage in Iowa, and end up in a contentious but wealthy suburban congregation. But at the end of the movie, after a long-fought-for magnificent church is built and the whole town turns out to sing "The Church's One Foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord," the pastor decides he will respond to the Methodist bishop's request that he pastor once again in a very poor country church.
At first his wife objects, as his heart is ailing, and the family is finally ensconced in a settled church and well-furnished parsonage. Then she says, "We'll go. I'll be glad to go with you, Will!" The movie ends with them quoting the passage from Ruth.
The message was entirely scriptural: the Christian wife is to follow her husband's vision, "for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health." We are to be contented with the lifestyle our husband provides, raise his children in the fear of the Lord, and be a witness and blessing to other families.
Steve provided wonderfully for us over the last 29 years, so I would be very wicked to complain at this point, selfish and ungrateful. He has a vision for his daily tasks and initiative that is from the Lord to shoulder his current responsibilities well. On larger issues, like finances and the direction we must take for now and the future, I have to lead out of necessity. It's a new kind of wifely role for me.
But could I do anything less?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A sad kind of letter









4:24 p.m. Today's project was to update one of our pastors on Steve's condition. The reason for the update is the upcoming plan for the men's Bible study Steve attends.
For the past two years, Steve has attended the study taught by Pastor Brent with several friends, like Kenny, John, Tim, Van, Jim, Steve, Mark, and Ernie. While he's at the study downstairs, I enjoy our ladies' Piecemakers quilting/stitiching/cooking/crafting group that meets in the kitchen upstairs in Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley's school building. When the Heart to Home ministry has classes on Tuesday evenings (often taught by the Piecemakers) I open those crafting classes with prayer and a devotional. But the nice aspect of it all is that the men's study and the women's get-togethers meet in the the same time frame and location, so that his friends can make sure that I find him after their study is done, preventing him from getting confused and walking the wrong direction. God truly has blessed us with these ministries!!
Because of the mens's study and Piecemakers happening at the same time, Steve and I have formed friends as couples, and we enjoy parties, camping trips several times a year, and dinners together. We room together at Ladies' Retreat; DeAnna made the flower girl's dress and Christine made the ringbearer's pillow for my Heather's wedding in 2008. We celebrate together as grandkids are born, counsel one another in the tough times with teens and young adults, and laugh over the craft projects we make for women's ministry events. As for the men, Steve has total understanding and support from his friends at Bible study who keep him situated. When we are all camping, Tim and Neil help tone down his frustration when he runs into technical difficulties. Since Steve and my extended families live out of the area, we've been blessed by the words of Proverbs 27:10: "Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is afar off."
There's been a change in direction with the men's study that will affect Steve drastically, however. Last night, he carried with him the new Romans written Bible study that they will begin using next week. The corporate gathering will break up into smaller groups to discuss the homework they'll complete in between meetings. Our women's Bible studies have used that format for many years, both at Harvest, where I taught and served, and at Calvary Chapel as well. The men last did this kind of study a few years ago, and Steve couldn't keep up well, because he was already having trouble writing. Because of struggles at work, and after his firing from Mission Plastics, the discouragement and sense of failure he felt because of his Alzheimer's made another task added to the constant job searches, interviews, and short-lived jobs he was fired from one after the other just too much.

My attendance on Tuesdays became a bit sporadic, but we stayed connected to our friends. When the study returned to the large group format, with worship and all gathered together without lessons to complete, Steve returned. What a difference it made, a year or two later down the road with his disease. At this point, Steve doesn't drive, and is really struggling with confusion and forgetfulness, not even necessarily knowing where we are going until we arrive at church. But once he's there, the guys welcome him with big hugs, get him seated, and he's one of the guys--fully enjoying the evening's Bible study and worship. We ladies join the men for their semi-annual potlucks, too! Hebrews 10:25 reminds us "not [to be] forsaking the assembling of ourselves together," and Steve and I don't.
But last night was most likely Steve's last, we both realized, as we looked through the new Romans study, an excellent one, I am confident, because it was written by Janis Vance, a fellow women's ministry friend from Harvest years ago. Steve can no longer write, even finding the transfer of a word out of the Bible onto one of my I Samuel studies an hourlong chore. He started out early this summer doing one verse a day, but as of last week, his struggle was unbearable to watch. I pull up the Horizon online daily devotional with scripture readings for him, a good, accessible option for him now.
Psalm 119:127 describes our family's dedication to God's Word exactly: "I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold!" Steve will glean that Word in any form he can until his dying day!
I was weeping as I wrote to Pastor Brent this afternoon, describing Steve's current condition and letting him know why he won't be seeing Steve any more on Tuesday nights. Not only can Steve not write, but he can't express himself sufficiently for small group interaction. His sentences tend to trail off as he forgets how he started. I'll make sure to keep an eye out for other men's ministry events to take Steve to. We are very much enjoying a second year at Mark Murdaugh's home fellowship where everybody knows Steve's condition, and he can enjoy the Word and discussion without verbally participating. And of course, he very much enjoys Sunday worship services!
As always, Steve and I are going forward expectantly, knowing God has great things planned for us! How can we do that? Because Timothy 1:7 says, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind."
God's plans for us are unfailingly good. We will see how they unfold, knowing that anything we must give up will be replaced by something one hundred times better! God loves us that much.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

To glorify God



3:23 p.m. Today's project was to ride with my neighbor Cindy to morning Bible study, after a whirlwind morning with so much going on that I realized a few moments ago that I even forgot to read the funnies! That NEVER happens!!
It was a fabulous morning. After finishing my Bible study, daily scripture posting on Facebook, and all but the last paragraph of my journal, I decided to open up our email and see if the "Horizon Online" devotional was up, because Steve does their readings each morning. I had an email from well-known Christian author Carole Gift Page, who'd review the manuscript for my Walk in the Word Series: Galatians, and had written a lovely endorsement for the book. Honored beyond belief, I speedily texted family and friends, praising the Lord with delirious excitement. I was exuberantly "rejoicing in the LORD and joying in the God of my salvation" (Habakkuk 3:18) when I returned to finish my journal entry: "Lord, thank you for allowing me to 'save the best for last!' Thank you for Carole's endorsement!" I finished with a prayer for my family to walk with Him, every Christian mom's regular petition!
Today is Cindy's birthday, so I prepared her gift, a chocolate pumpkin muffin and a Timewise facial set, and made out her card. Then I saw two other text messages among the many congratulatory ones. One of our Heart to Home teachers was informing me that her husband would be dropping off two boxes of class project samples for me to show at Bible study to encourage sign-ups, because she could not attend. I had to step on it with our breakfast and my personal prep, and called Cindy to let her know she could come early in case I needed to set the items out before study started.
We arrived at church to see all of the class demos set up beautifully on the stage, praise the Lord, and so were able to enjoy some fellowship with the sisters. In the small group discussion time, we shared personal applications of the scripture I Corinthians 10:31:
Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. I "happened" to mention to the group that I had read in my Oswald Chambers devotional, My Utmost for His Highest this morning these words:
"The test of a man's religious life and character is not what he does in the exceptional moments of life, but what he does in the ordinary times, when there is nothing tremendous or exciting on. The worth of a man is revealed in his attitude to ordinary things when he is not before the footlights."
"What?!" one of the gals cried out. "I just bought that book this morning!" and pulled it out of her bag. She'd never read it before, but bought it because it looked good. Cindy read the above sentences aloud to us. Two of us read through this famous devotional once every 5 or 6 years, but always keep it handy. Cindy will be getting a copy, because we all agreed that every day life is so taken for granted that we let our personal vigilance and attentiveness to the voice of the Holy Spirit slip, and our words and actions are anything but "as unto the Lord!" I find myself repenting quite regularly for an assortment of poor behaviors, and even though the Lord forgives as soon as we ask, the embarrassment or even serious consequences can plague us for years. As one gal in our group, Jennifer, put it, "It's so much easier when we ask Him first what we should do or say!"
My prayer is that the Galatians Bible study will glorify God, and be used by many to understand how much God loves us, and what Christ meant when He said from the cross, "It is finished."
But my more urgent prayer is that my daily interactions with family, friends, fellow believers, local acquaintances and total strangers will be humble, sweet, uplifting, honorable and caring--in sum, glorifying to God!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Getting back


4:56 p.m. Today's project was to get back into some good habits and activities I had put on a back burner due to editing Walk Through the Word Series: Galatians, teaching the I Samuel Bible study and getting lessons out to the ladies during the summer, and leading the Heart to Home ministry. I have also, of course been organizing life here at home for Steve with his disability. Our organic garden has kept us busy as well, and then canning and pickling the produce accounted for extra hours of effort.
Ecclesiastes 5:12 commends the hard worker: "The sleep of a laboring (wo)man is sweet, whether (s)he eats little or much!" We work hard over here on Via Vista Drive, and enjoy our meals and desserts. (But I think Steve still sleeps more soundly than I do!)

Don't want to forget making wedding plans with Heidi, the Harvest Crusade, taking the grandkids to Disneyland and ourselves as often as possible, the August party, and visiting with my 83 year old dad here at home. Since Steve precipitously lost 16 pounds with no change in diet or exercise habits, Daddy has taken to bringing him a huge "deluxe" McDonald's breakfast weekly. We're waiting for lab test results, but those extra calories won't hurt the cause!

When we spread out our homemade compost, and topped it with commercial potting soil over the harvested garden plot, it was a relief, frankly! Steve and I are ready for the fall season. We'll let the soil rest a few months, and then plant carrots, onions and cilantro for the cooler season. "To every thing there is a season, Ecclesiastes 3:1 says. Verse 2b says, "a time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted." We plucked and enjoyed it all!

God has His scheduled seasons, even in seemingly seasonless Southern California! The entertaining season opens up once the kids are all back in school and friends have returned from vacation. We truly enjoyed hosting the Stevenses and the Snyders last week. The Riverside Panhellenic Home Tour is another harbinger of the fall. Men's and women's Bible studies begin afresh at church, too. Now it's time to get back to baking--I love to start off the fall and winter season with chocolate chip pumpkin muffins and mini-loaves! Let me recommend King Arthur whole grain white flour for melt-in-your mouth texture...I'll give Pavel's family one of the loaves, and maybe give away a few more, but it's time to treat my family first and foremost, especially my carb lovers Steve and Heidi!
Heart to Home, our church's home arts ministry, is beginning its fall hospitality season with wonderful classes offered on Christmas budgeting, homemade gifts, holiday entertaining, hors d'oeuvre, and sewing a reversible Thanksgiving/Christmas table runner. Join us on Tuesday nights if you can!! I've asked all instructors to keep their costs as low as possible in these difficult times.
I also realized today, after reviewing our budget, that I needed to contact my 120+ Mary Kay customers and help them with the products in my inventory. I received a letter from one of the company marketing v.p.s challenging me to call 10 of my customers today, and I have only 3 to go, with 70% sales results! I am sitting on a beautiful gold mine! Like the grasshopper in the Aesop fable that danced around during the summer instead of working, I need to become a wise ant to survive 2010-11. "Go to the ant, you sluggard," Proverbs 6:6 says, "consider her ways and be wise."
With the cool, fresh breezes in the mornings and evenings, and even a spate of clouds and rain last week, fall feels good, welcome, and energizing. Steve and I just returned from walking the steep hill nearby. Like the seasons that preceded it and the seasons that will follow, fall is a great time to praise the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!