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Saturday, April 30, 2011

An answer on the way



8:45 p.m. Today's project was to attend the Big Girls' Club at our Mary Kay Training Center in Redlands. This waffle breakfast was a reward for meeting goals in my business. Of course, being allergic to wheat, I just ate my eggs at home and enjoyed strawberries and whipped cream with the group. We were challenged strongly and encouraged in the Lord by our sales directors to consistently build our individual businesses.



I wiped away some tears before I entered the center, because I had awakened heavily burdened for a family member whom we all love dearly but is not yet saved. Weeping as I went to my journal during devotions this morning, I knew I would never forgive myself if anything happened to them and I did not offer the way to salvation. We do not live near enoughto be able to physically hold a personal conversation, but I did text one of my grown children imploring them to pray with them to accept the Lord.



Because it won't be me directly offering a relationship with Jesus, I will trust my offspring to speak in their own way from a heart of love. Our family has lived our witness and talked about the Lord all of the years we've known them. But as the Apostle Paul said about the fact that sometimes a series of people need to witness to a person before they come to Christ in I Corinthians 3:6-7,



I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God gives the increase.



It is our responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission Jesus gave us in Mark 16:15:



Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.



But only God's Holy Spirit can move a person's heart and mind to hear, listen, receive and believe that God offers forgiveness of sin and eternal life and that they need to say "Yes!" to Jesus!



While in the breakfast I heard that the $50 Starter Kit promotion ($410 of product for $50) would be ending tonight, the end of the month. Yikes! That deadline had totally slipped my mind, as busy as I've been with sales and training! (And home and ministry responsibilities as well). We all discussed how best to spend the next 12 hours and skedaddled to get started. I stayed in my parked car and began texting and calling good customers one after another, very fun and exhilarating.
Although there's no real comparison in importance with witnessing for the Lord, I would have felt disappointed with myself and for my friends and customers if I hadn't offered them the financial savings and the career opportunity which they can accept or pass up. So I contacted a lot of great women today, most of them Christian sisters, and enjoyed the interactions. In between, Jennifer hosted a nice party for me that was hilarious and pampering for the guests at the same time. It was a $100 day! By 10:00, I added two new members to my team!


The biggest blessing, however, came while I was contacting customers and friends. A beep let me know a text message was coming in. It was from my believing child in response to my plea that they witness and offer eternal life to our mutual love one. I burst into tears of joy when I read it, for it simply said,


"I will."


Willingness is all our God asks of us, just willingness! To Him belongs the responsibility, results, and above all, the glory for each and every saved soul!




Friday, April 29, 2011

True royalty








2:35 a.m. Today's project was to watch the wedding of Prince William of England and Kate Middleton, happening right now as I write. In fact, Queen Elizabeth and Price Phillip are just arriving at Westminster Abbey.

This wedding is special to us, not only because of my devotion to British traditions, borne of studying for my English literature degree and fascination with all things English from my childhood. I guess that makes me an Anglophile! The most memorable trips I have taken were the missions to Wales I took part in with Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley in 2004 and 2005. How thrilling it was to visit London for two days at the end of our ministry in Cardiff each time! It was as if all of the novels, essays and histories I'd steeped myself in suddenly came to life. I particularly enjoyed Westminster Abbey, where the kings and queens of England from a thousand years ago are buried. On the second mission trip, my daughter Heidi was able to accompany me as part of the team. She did very well as my my vacation Bible School helper, and just loved our English experience.

Another connection I feel today with William and Kate's wedding is that our Heidi is getting married this year, 30 years after Steve and I wed in 1981, which was 18 days before Prince Charles and the late Diana Spencer's wedding. I got up in the wee hours as a newlywed to view that wedding live as well. Looks like a small tradition for this Kruckenberg!

As the bride is arriving in a glass covered Rolls Royce, just lovely with a tiara, a veil covering her face, in an elegant long-sleeved gown with a massive train, I pray they will have many years of true love as I pray for my own Heidi and Pavel, her husband to be. Wow! is all I can say as Kate steps out of the car and is escorted by her father into the Abbey--and the sun popped out of the clouds that very second!

As is traditional, the groom takes his place to wait for the bride to complete her very long walk. The Abbey has huge live trees on each side of the aisle and is absolutely splendid, as is the choir's singing.I love the spectacular aerial view that FOX News just showed! Now a hymn that features the pipe organ, and the bride and groom are joining in the singing.

The minister has likened marriage to Christ and the Church, the main purpose of which is to bring up children in the fear of the Lord. Amen to that! He now is warning of "the fearful day of judgment" if they marry unlawfully. Now the vows, sigh, so reminiscent of Steve's and my own. I love the traditional vows,til death do us part, given in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

And they are pronounced man and wife! The closing benediction also evokes the Trinity. And the married couple joins the congregation in a hymn.

Now James Middleton, the bride's brother, reads the"lesson," Romans 12:1-2, 9-18, 21:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God...

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in hope, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer, distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men...Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.

The line from the sermon that I like is that married partners are to creatively transform one another by the power of the Holy Spirit, but never by coercion. The couple had prepared a very beautiful prayer also, that "strengthened by our union, let us comfort others, serving in the spirit of Jesus Christ."

Now as the choir sings, William and Kate are kneeling once again at the altar for the final prayer, the Lord's Prayer.Millions are lining the streets of London now singing "God Save the Queen." The ceremony concludes as the newlyweds, their parents and siblings leave the sanctuary to the most beautiful operatic music imaginable.Now the bride and groom walk down the aisle as man and wife, just a perfect fairytale wedding! As they exit the Abbey, the crowds go wild with adoration.Because the sun is shining, they will be able to ride in an open carriage to the crowd's delight.

God has called His people royalty as well, children of the King of Kings. As the Apostle Peter declares in I Peter 2:9:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

Thank you, Lord Jesus!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Everything take so long!







2:17 p.m. Today's project was to set up online bill pay with our bank. How this ended up taking two hours is beyond me!



I began with getting some telephone assistance from our bank's customer assistance center to re-set up my online banking. It was no longer functional because I'd been locked out of my login page because I kept mis-typing my password. (Since then I've figured out that smart people use the same password for most of their online activities). That's been about 3 years now, so I've been relying on the automated voice on the phone to keep me updated between statements. At least you don't have to be at home and seated--not the way you'll usually find me, being very hyper--in order to find out what's going on or to cancel plans to spend "discretionary income."



At this point, many of you would say, "I can do all my banking and bill paying from my cellphone!" or "I've got an app for that!" Let me congratulate the Smart Phone users, but what about the rest of us who could go online on our phones also, but it just takes too much time to type up and magnify the search bar that comes up? Unless I'm at a retreat and want to post my morning scripture, the most I'll do on Facebook is send a quick message or a picture from my LG EnV. And that's fine--I'm there to concentrate on the Word of God and to minister to women who come my way during the weekend.



Once I was established with online banking, it was time to tackle Bill Pay. All went smoothly until it came to the point of which account to take the bill from. Instead of offering me a choice of accounts, the drop-down box just said "Primary Account" twice. Problem was, which account was that? The first one I opened for my Mary Kay business, or the household account we use for payments and necessities? I was put on hold for a period of time, which wasn't all bad, because I helped Steve with his lunch and fixed my own, along with a quick egg salad I'll eat before leaving for my facial party tonight. After logging back in from the start and still confronting the same problem, a "glitch" was declared, and I was advised to call the Online Bill Pay customer assistance for help. I followed up on that and after a modest hold time, got the help I needed and set up the monthly withdrawal. Victory at last!



After I washed the lunch dishes, and Steve had left to walk the dogs, I practically ran out to the garden for relief from my sedentary indoor morning. I carried two garlic cloves that had grown shoots, so I planted them next to my Roma tomato plants for an organic pest deterrent. I hand-watered some seeds and seedlings and added water to Bailey and Jada's bowl. While I walked throught the gate, I asked God the question I've been asking in my head since I was a speedy, busy little girl: "Why do things always take so long?"



For some of us, "keeping things moving" at a quick pace is such a way of life that the Lord has to give us circumstances that cause us to slow down, select the necessary tasks to accomplish in a day, and drop other matters until the next day--or the next week. As we have heard all of our lives, "Rome wasn't built in a day;" and neither is a heart attitude of patience and peaceful resting in Him. And He uses others to lovingly keep me mindful of His timing and His concerns that are higher than mine. When I share and teach the scriptures, women have no problem telling me to slow down, and I laughingly do so. My desire is so strong to share all that God has shown me in my preparation time that I can barely stay seated. It just comes busting out! I need to realize it may not be all that edifying for others, if they can't make out exactly what I just said.



As the Apostle Paul reminds the Colossians of their witness in Chapter 4 verse 6, I can take heed even when speaking to a group of believers:

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer each one.


The last two years of retirement have been an amazing testimony to the power of the Lord to grow patience in me. The frantic pace of elementary school teaching that suited me fine the last eighteen years is over, but I'm fine. Gardening and running a business are plenty to do, along with teaching a Bible study, participating in women's ministry programs and writing this daily devotional blog.


The reason I retired is to be with Steve in the early stages of Alzheimer's. He was suddenly coping with unemployment and disability benefits instead of going to work every day as he had for 35 years. I just couldn't see leaving him alone each day in his depression, and God made a way for me to retire with two modest pensions. I fully admit to not always answering as I should when he asks the location of a food item he uses every day, because I am learning patience, even though my career in the classroom and raising my five kids gave me good training. And the Holy Spirit is patient with me, for which I am utterly grateful. But I am also eager to improve. And the upbeat, intimate atmosphere we enjoy each day is proof that God is getting His point across to me--take time to lift up my husband.


When I end up picking up and doing Steve's tasks at times because he's dropped the ball, I get irritated at first, but then remember Galatians 6:2:


Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.


I also want to reflect daily on Galatians 5:22 as I attempt to "walk in the Spirit" (v.25) each day:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.


Lord, let me be a fruit-bearer for You, allowing You to set the schedule for the growth You have planned!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Love labels



3:56 p.m. Today's project was to type names of Heidi's "girlfriend" bridal shower guests on cells in a labeling program. For some of you who love Excel, this would be a snoozefest! But when I heard her request, I actually panicked. I HATE Excel, because we had to learn it in a "Computers for Teachers" credential class, and it was so much harder than the other programs. I did manage to make my spreadsheet for the final exam, but vowed "never again!"



Despite my avoidance of those maddening "cells," I went on to quite a successful teaching career. Honestly, I could calculate grades and design all manner of student records with Word or even with those anachronisms "pen and paper," faster than setting up a computer spreadsheet. By the same token, I could have hand-addressed the shower invites just as fast. I had had no probelm addressing all of the "Save the Date" cards we sent out several weeks ago. In fact, I enjoyed praying over the people as I wrote out almost 200 names and addresses.



But I was not going to worm out of it this time. Heidi showed me the ready-made cells, and it wasn't even Excel, but a Word program! I just had to type in each square and go on to the next one. She typed the first one for me, and today I completed another M.O.B. task! We'll set the labels in the printer just right, now that I have the complete list of addresses inserted.

The wonderful thing about arranging an event is the oppportunity to see God's handiwork in your life as you look forward to friends coming together to share your joy. Friends are such a gift from God, who created in man a need for companionship. We can all name exceptions to the rule, but even committed loners, if shown God's love through our caring, learn to receive that love and bask in the affection of others as they develop social skills and the desire to reach out to others in the same way. Let's look at God's creative plan for companionship.



  • Genesis 2:18: "It is not good that man should be alone." The creation of marriage.

  • Ecclesiastes 4:9: "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor." Mutual aid.

  • Psalm 133:1: "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" God's people worship the Lord together.

  • Matthew 4:19: "He (Jesus) said to them, 'Follow Me.' " Jesus called his disciples to accompany Him in His ministry, and train them to carry it on after His death.

  • Ephesians 2:18: "For through Him, we both have access by one Spirit to the Father." Jews and Gentiles are now united by the blood of Christ to form the Church.

  • Hebrews 10:24-25: "Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." Believers are to keep one another accountable and encouraged until the end.

Finally, how are believers identified in this world? I John 4: 7 & 8 tell us:


Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for


GOD IS LOVE.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Divine Rescue on Highway Six

The Divine Rescue on Highway Six

God has a miracle for me, too!

3:31 p.m. Today's project was to meet with the nurse for Longterm Solutions, a facet of our Genworth longterm care insurance, for her 6-month assessment review of Steve's health, cognition and life skills.

Nurse Penny is very affable and knows how to put an Alzheimer's patient at ease and the assessment went well with Steve answering questions for himself for the most part. Ever since Easter Sunday, when we as a family laid hands on him and prayed for healing, Steve has been more communicative and talking more freely than he has in months. It's like the calendar was turned backward! Thank you, Lord!

Let me recount for you a passage about Jesus healing a deaf-mute in Mark 7:32-37:

Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue.Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, "Ephatha," that is, "Be opened."

Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly. Then He commanded them that they should tell no one; but the more He commanded them, the more they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, "He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."

Jesus indeed does all things well, a statement that comes to my mind through the Holy Spirit regularly. I especially enjoy pondering it when I realize that my life is His; nothing that surprises or irritates me, or even fills me with dread, is news to Jesus; and I can be assured that He is quietly working out the story of my days in minute detail. Knowing that He does all things well gives me hope for the miracles I pray for in my life and the lives of family, friends and people I won't even meet this side of heaven.

The man and woman who were trapped in the burning cars had no hope of escape until angelic hands pulled them through impossibly small openings (8" in the woman's case) from their crushed, overturned vehicles. Jesus gave them a different outcome than fiery death!

You and I often feel crushed, trapped and frightened by circumstances that threaten to destroy our health, lives, financial security, or our families. That is the nature of this fallen world, tainted and lacking true peace because of sin. I know that miraclulous deliverances don't happen in my life every day. But they happen a lot more frequently than I would ever have imagined as I look back on my 30 year walk with the Lord! And my testimony is not unique among believers. The all-powerful Jesus saves, Jesus lives, Jesus loves, Jesus cares, and is able, unlike you and me, to "fix it!" That's any problem, any trial, any day. Give your life to Him now, and let Him work out your life story!

Before we give our lives to Christ and ask Him for forgiveness and salvation, we are like the people trapped and on fire in their vehicles. There is only one escape, one way out of the hellish life of the unsaved person, and that is through Jesus. He says in a loving but firm warning we all would do well to heed (John14:6):


"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Refreshment for our souls



5:35 p.m. Today's project was to take Steve with me to an Alzheimer's caregivers' support group at a church in Canyon Lake. It's about 30 minutes away, but we met up with my old friend Barbara McConaghy who drives up from Oceanside to support her mom Dot, who lost her husband to the disease, but still enjoys the fellowship of the friends she's made.



The church has an activity program for the Alzheimer's victims while we meet for two hours. When Steve and I entered the gymnasium, a wheelchair volleyball game was in progress. Obviously that would not interest fully physically active Steve, so we were shown to another room where he and another gentleman watched an old classic movie. I suppose that if there are more people on a regular basis, more games or puzzles or books might be made available as well. As our meeting progressed, I looked through the open door and saw him walking around the gym with an attendant who was pushing a man in a wheelchair, so Steve wasn't made to stay sedentary, at least. Thank the Lord for church volunteers! What a difference they make in the lives of others.



Today the caregivers' group had a speaker from Riverside County's Office on Aging, who had a wealth of information and sound advice and tips for our well-being. She said, and I have no reason to doubt it, that caregivers often die before the loved ones they are caring for! The people in the group asked, Why?" in amazement, and she said, "Stress!" Uh-oh. When I heard the sharing of people who were told by Hospice that they couldn't take their spouse out of a care home to the emergency room without permission; people whose longterm care insurance set up new, extra-contractual restrictions on which agencies they would pay for; Medi-Cal worries and caregivers no longer able to care for their loved ones because of their own advanced age and health issues, I am so thankful for a place where those caregivers can share and encourage one another.



I did speak up about the excellent way Genworth long-term care insurance handles their claims, and the fine experience I've had with the Brightstar agency. There's no reason to settle for inferior care from agencies that pay their people poorly; or hospice companies literally pushing themselves on patients who don't even need it, taking advantage of the caregivers' distress. While the presenter was very helpful in the guidance she offered, the love and prayerful support the members of theis tight-knit group gave to one another was just wonderful.



We won't be visiting very often, because I am determined to find a group here in Riverside, and maybe more people like me, dealing with this disease at a much earlier age. I hope to find a Christian group especially!


One dear 85-year-old retired nurse struggling with so many aspects of managing care for her husband in late-stage Alzheimers said, "I am just praying that I can go quietly in my sleep and my kids never have to deal with any of this!" The group laughed and said, "Yes, that's what we all hope!" But I popped up and declared, "What we really hope for is the Rapture, don't we!" Thinking of Jesus coming back for us sure did lighten our mental and emotional load at that point, as it has done for believers for two millenia!


Two portions of scripture from Ephesians came to my mind today as I reflected on my experience with the group.


I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4:1-3)


Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (4:32)


My soul was refreshed in the two hours I spent in discussion with the group, Steve enjoyed his time, and God opened a new door of Christian fellowship to us today!









Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is risen with healing in His wings



7:10 p.m. Today's project for Steve and me, was to host a family dinner for my dad, Heidi and her fiance Pavel, Heather and her husband Nick, and my youngest son Steven, here from Fresno.


Dinner was wonderful, with strong opinions and praise reports about one another's ministries being the topic of conversation at the table. Steven and Heather are both high school leaders at their respective churches; Heidi and Pavel share 5th & 6th grade ministry at Calvary Chapel.


Steven had his dad and me fired up from watching the movie "Furious Love" last night. The film documented intense, often violent spiritual warfare around the globe, and demonstrated that love in Jesus' name conquers anything Satan can attempt to intimidate us with. It was on my mind through the night, at 3 a.m. when I woke up and began praying, and during our Easter service as well the time spent in food prep today. Jesus' command to "Go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature," in Mark 16:15 comes with a real cost to those called to go to the spiritutally dark regions of this world.


Early this week, I found out that we would have a smaller group at the house today, so after my dad went home, the rest of us gathered together to lay hands on Pavel for complete healing of his eyesight, led by our prayer warrior Steven. We prayed in turn as the Lord led. Then we sat Steve down for prayer that his Alzheimer's would be healed. I was weeping and beyond blessed, and my son and the girls were in tears, as they testified in prayer about the godly dad they had been raised by, and their deep love for him!


We then prayed that Jehovah's Witnesses would never again knock on my dad's door in Redlands--that they would sense a spiritual gate of iron blocking their path, preventing their entrance, and stopping their lies, that my dad might be ready for an abundant entrance into heaven one day!


We prayed in faith, knowing that the One who was in the midst of our prayer circle heard and will answer. Because there is only one Jesus, Malachi 4:2 asserts:


To you who fear My name

The Sun of Righteousness shall

arise

With healing in His wings.


Thank You, Lord, hallelujah, Amen!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

God is not the author of confusion, but of peace



4:26 p.m. Today's project was to drive to Mary Me Bridal in Orange for a final fitting of Heidi's wedding gown. All went well, we had a nice two hours out of town to visit, and the gown's tailoring was done perfectly. The gown will be "coming home" next month.
Wish I could post a picture of her gown, but an pretty pose with her daddy will have to do for now!



Too bad such orderliness has not characterized the subsequent parts of our day! We've been blessed by some positive aspects today-- our grandsons spent the night here after a high school event at their Aunt Heather's church; the tomato plant I replanted on Thursday has perked up; and my youngest, Steven, had arrived from Fresno when Heidi and I returned.


For the first time ever, a number of things are up in the air still for Easter Sunday. I can't decide whether Steve and I should go to Sunrise Service for one last time, seeing that he has developed some coordination issues with his Alzheimer's that might make climbing the bleachers in between rows of people at Valley View High School's football stadium a hazard, and that he takes over an hour to get dressed and ready these days, so we'd have to get up way too early to make it by 5:45 a.m. Perhaps this Easter could be the first time we've been at a regular Easter service in church for decades. What should I do, Lord? I feel like the Lord is saying to me what Elijah said to the Israelites prior to the contest between him and the prophets of Baal in I Kings 18:21:


How long will you halt (falter)between two opinions? or, as the NLT puts it, How long will you waver, hobbling between two opinions?


I am wavering between the way we've traditionally enjoyed Sunrise Service and the fact that we're actually looking forward to the church service this yea . If 2011 is a year of "lasts," I have to choose Sunrise Service; if it's a year of new beginnings, I'll make a different decision. And my decision may come easier if I end up making the banana pudding for our dessert tomorrow after 10 p.m.! (An outcome to be avoided if possible). Steven is planning on attending a regular service, so we can all go together at 7:45 or 9:45. Decisions, decisions!


Now we have issues as to who can make it at what time for dinner! In past years, coordination with my children's in-laws has worked well, since they either have a late dinner or they host brunch after church on Easter, leaving the 2-4 time slot for us, which I prefer, keeping my dad from driving home to Redlands too late. One family's meal time is not yet known, but I am believing it will work out. This year there's a new twist--a major league baseball game! My youngest son's Phillies are playing the Padres in San Diego! He is still looking to see if any of his friends can come before he makes his plan. Unbelievable.


So am I confused, or just overwhelmed by the number of factors playing into this year's Easter celebrations? If I had not fed my spiritual life this week with anointed teachings on Jesus' last week; taken in encouraging verses and postings from friends that boosted my faith; invited people to Easter services; and attended a wonderful Good Friday service last night, I would have lost all perspective on Jesus' death and resurrection for my salvation. It is not hard to get distracted by people and schedules and arrangements, I'll testify as a busy woman! But the enemy loves the busyness of our family and even ministry lives, because he can keep us so harried that we forget that God will put every detail in place better than we ever could.


Oswald Chamber wrote about Christians who "worship their work," in My Utmost for His Highest for today, April 23rd. Whenever I obsess on my ministry, whether as a homemaker or in church work, Chambers says the result is:


"There is no freedom, no delight in life; nerves, mind and heart are so crushingly burdened that God's blessing cannot rest. But the other side is just as true--when once the concentration is on God, all the margins of life are free and under the dominance of God alone. There is no responsibility on you for the work; the only responsibility you have is to keep in living constant touch with God, and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your co-operation with Him."


Jesus said, and He meant what He said,


Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you (John 14:27)


I am lifting up my hands to You for that peace, Lord Jesus!


Friday, April 22, 2011

Light to the Gentiles

Light to the Gentiles

Stuffing envelopes





3:38 p.m. Today's project was to stuff my daughter's Heidi's wedding invitations with small "notices" of the stores where she and Pavel are registered.

While the Crate&Barrel inserts were already pre-cut in lots of 25, I had to download a page of Target notices, print them on a printer that was lacking ink, then get that page copied at our UPS store to get the color right, and then cut out the darling little things by hand. They came out pretty well, I think!

I was tempted to find ways to just add the word "Target" onto the premade C&B slips, but it just didn't look nice. So I then acted in accordance with Ecclesiastes 9:10a,

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.

And Colossians 3:23 says,

Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

We all have tasks that are time-consuming, seem to make little difference in the "big picture," or are even downright dreary, like mopping my tile floor earlier this afternoon. Some of our responsibilities are dreaded, like delivering bad news, or when a teacher has to fail a student who needs that one class to graduate. Other tasks are so repetitive that we want to just give it up for one day, but we know the consequences of failing to remind children to treat their siblings lovingly, or reminding a loved one to take his meds, for example, would be severe and highly displeasing to God, who has entrusted us with their care! So we must step up and do the right thing--every day.

We see that scripture calls us to an even higher standard than basic morality. Christians are to do our work "as unto the Lord, and not unto men." That is very much above my human tendency to do things as quickly and efficiently as possible, take shortcuts, and justify the means by the ends. Only the indwelling Holy Spirit can give me the patience, perseverance and love to perform with dligience and precision!

God did not seek a shortcut when it came to saving the human race from utter perdition, did He?Why not just prevent Satan from doing anything at all to tempt us? Why even give people choices--we could just automatically love and obey Him "for best results" as product directions say! Then Jesus would not have needed to suffer His torturous, hideous death on the cross. Forced love would have been the perfect shortcut. But God doesn't take short cuts!

God wants us to love Him and obey Him by our own free will, and it cost Him everything: His Only Begotten Son.

On this Good Friday, let us take to heart, with gratitude, the full meaning of John 3:16:


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.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

A fresh breeze of encouragement











1:28 p.m. Today's project was to break up my indoor routine and get back out to the garden. I admit that I woke up with the start of a stuffy nose and a little weepy over recent disappointments in my life, but my mind was put right by reading the wonderful recounting of Joseph's forgiveness toward his brothers for selling him to slave traders. His testimony in Genesis 50:20 has bolstered millions of believers over the centuries when wronged:




As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good...




Lord, that I might have such a loving, tender heart of forgiveness and blessing towards others!





Moving in the right emotional direction now, I was further encouraged and cheered when my friend Kay called to get some pointers before she made her first batch of canned produce: pickled corn relish. She was so excited, and I was too, because she had attended our Heart to Home canning class last month, had taken very careful heed to instructor Cindy's directions and then purchased a canner after talking over some fine points with me. As we closed the conversation, she promised me a jar, what a blessing!




It's like God was saying through her, "See? I will use whomever I choose to show you how much you matter to me!" I could truly sense Jesus' heart expressed in Jeremiah 31:3,



I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.



How do people live without the Lord?




After a couple of additional uplifting phone conversations with old and new friends, and seeing that Steve was finished with his chores, we both went out to the garden to weed and plant some green beans. It was so cool and nice this morning, with a cloud cover and breeze, that I would have made up things to do! As it was, we ran over to Parkview Nursery to purchase 6 small bags of sand for cantaloupe and cucumber mounds, a jalapeno pepper plant, and three more varieties of tomatoes--Roma, yellow pear, and yellow heirloom. My dad had dried out some cantaloupe seeds from last year, so I planted them after mixing sand into the mounds I created.




Then came the task of putting in the tomato plants, and even digging up and moving a well-established one I'd planted a month ago for better spacing. Even though I love a jungly look in the tomato garden, perhaps I don't need quite as many plants this year! And I still need to purchase Bell and chile peppers and tomatillo plants. But I may wait until the spinach "bolts" (goes to seed) before I change that bed over to the summer vegetables. And since I have no clue what the carrots are doing--whatever it is, they're doing it s-l-o-w-l-y--I will plant some top of the ground crops among them.




Steve finished his lunch and then came out to help me clean up the plastic pots and bags and take to be recycled. He then took the shovel and "turned" the compost in its bin. We'll need to add a layer of soil to that soon--next payday! I love that we can turn our non-meat food scraps into nutrient for future gardens, no cheap, so natural, so healthy!




There is something about being outdoors, whether working physically on your property, walking with your spouse and kids, or just swinging in a hammock, that allows our heart rate to slow down, our senses to come alive to the little buzzes and chirps of camouflaged creatures in the trees and flowers, and our tension to melt away for a bit while we appreciate what God thinks about all that He created, Genesis 1:4, 10, 13, 18, 25, and, after the creation of man, verse 31:




Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed, it was very good.




And that includes you and me!






Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ephesians 3:20









4:14 p.m. Today's project was to meet with the ladies whose calling from the Lord is to make our home Bible study viable, literally! I'll be resuming teaching I Samuel, where David comes on the scene, as pictured right, my oldest son in the 1980's!





Debbie is our hostess for the fourth year (out of six, since we began at Barbara's home in 2006); Amber and Angie have stepped up to minister to the children of young moms who could not attend heretofore; and Jennifer has offered her home for childcare!





My simple prayer, and Debbie's, was to have someone to watch the kiddos upstairs in her bonus room, but today as His plan unfolded, I feel like saying in response to God's goodness what the Jews cry out at their Passover seder, Dayenu (sp?)! "as if this had not been enough," God provided a place for the kids! Dayenu! That sitters came forward! Dayenu! That the sitters are planning to teach Bible lessons to the children! Dayenu! The sitters have fingerprint and CPR certification! And Dayenu! that the children can be ministered to in a separate location!




I am beyond excited, if you haven't guessed. I put an announcement/praise report on the Facebook News Feed, and will send out a detailed email to the 60+ ladies who do the written lessons online, and add those moms who may be able to attend now that we have childcare.




Ephesians 3 ends with Paul's prayer and benediction that absolutely suits what our ladies have experienced this day as we see our Bible study coming together, v. 17-21:




...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.




Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, Amen.




Amen!








Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Focus:Easter



1:49 p.m. Today's project was to get my mind back onto what really matters this week: sharing the gospel, inviting aquaintances to one of our church's four services, and fully focusing on Jesus Christ's death for you and me on the Cross.


I had foolishly overreacted inwardly to the news that a family member will not be able to make it to Easter dinner on Sunday afternoon. the enemy had me very depressed and concocting disappointments for future family times, too. However, last night the Holy Spirit led me to open my journal and complete a second page for the day while my daughter and grandsons played "Movie Scene It" in the family room with Steve enjoying the popcorn and the boys' antics.


Thanking the Lord for seeing me through the initial shock and disappointment with a calm demeanor on the outside, I went on to confess:


Lord, I just don't know how to get focused on the real meaning of Easter with the boys here, working my business, the wedding, the book (Galatians), and Steve's issues worsening! The bottom line is that Your death saved me and my loved ones. I am eternally grateful and need not let a circumstance steal my joy like Alzheimer's is stealing Steve away.


As I further reflect today, this spring has been so unusual, especially the weather, that I suspect that frustration with my garden, battling vermin like never before, the lateness of planting for that reason, and even the very late date of Easter itself have probably played a role in my odd feelings. I looked back mentally on blogposts I wrote between Palm Sunday and Easter last year, tracing the Savior's arrest, trial, death and resurrection for that whole week through Isaiah 53, and thought, "Where did that person go?! That's what I should be writing about this year, too!" Then I realized that Jesus Himself warned about "pouring new wine into old bottles" (Luke 5:37-38); and God said in Isaiah 43:19, "Behold, I do a new thing."


Sharing, teaching and writing about God's Word is never old or out of place by any means. But perhaps when He is doing a fresh, more intense work in a person's life, what they share with others may need to be more personal, more transparent, and therefore more genuinely reflective of the power of God's Word and the influences of that Teacher of Truth, the Holy Spirit.


I've kept asking myself, "Why is 2011 so different than 2010?" There are some outward factors, of course, like giving up the RV, and with it, time spent with a fun circle of church friends; or the fact that we didn't renew our Disneyland passes for financial reasons, and also that towards the end, I became worried about whether we'd get as much out of the park as Steve's confusion mounts. Actually, this year has seen glorious works of God, with my book being published, the Heart to Home ministry thriving, as well as the opportunity to communicate God's Word and ways to a widening audience online. The I Samuel Bible study that begins on May 19 now will offer childcare at one of the moms' homes, an aswer to prayer, hallelujah! Even though our savings are gone two years after my retirement and Steve's total income deriving from Social Security disability, my Mary Kay business is growing and really filling in gaps in our income.


I finally have to admit that with Steve slipping away gradually, the multiple extra little tasks and reminders are taking up more and more of my mental space and actual time, crowding out other areas of concentration that have always brought me personal satisfaction and joy even in tough times. As my wise friend and mentor Honey Simons wrote me once, "What a thief that disease is!" Waiting for Steve's next downturn would rob me of today's joyful moments if I let it.


Alzheimer's is not a trial such as Christians normally experience, where even a shocking tragedy can only happen once on a certain day, with the consequences actively dealt with over a distinct period of time; or a physical illness that will resolve itself by a healing, or a loved one going to be with the Lord. Over time, God eases our mourning over the loss of a beloved spouse, parent, or child, and He strengthens us to carry on with our lives in due time, never forgetting the one we miss, but allowing Him to give us a peace despite our loss.


I could find myself in a minscule, but very real, state of mourning every day if I did not know the Lord, and trust Him with every aspect of my life and Steve's. And basking in self-pity over a shakeup in my perfect picture of the Easter family gathering is just plain embarassing, when I compare it with what the Father gave for my sins--His Only Begotten Son!


As Steve and I head out the door for assorted errands, may I be ready to share the Good News with anyone the Lord places in my path: JESUS LIVES!



The Jewish Jesus: Journey to the Cross

The Jewish Jesus: Journey to the Cross

Follow Jesus' path to the salvation of the world--to His death for you and me!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jurupa Adventure Part III: Biblical graden




4:01 p.m. Today's project was to go out to the garden and pick some salad ingredients for a late lunch after a long, but lucrative, morning. The grandsons slept in very late; and Steve was busy tidying up the lawns while I was out. Despite having had scrambled eggs for breakfast, and munching on nuts between appointments, I was ravenous when I got home. I was following the declaration of 2 Timothy 2:6, "The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops."




Good news greeted us as I picked mesclun lettuce and spinach, and Steve repositioned the solar ground vibrator that helps keep moles and gophers away. The pea plants have doubled in size since Saturday, and finally some of the carrots are attaining a decent size. The tomato and potato plants have responded to the last week of sunshine, and our onions have germinated. Tomorrow I'll start building the hills for our cantaloupe seeds, if it doesn't rain. My lunch salad, with grilled chicken, parmesan cheese, and Ranch dressing, was delicious. I'm feeling much more hopeful about my season's yield now!




Patience is definitely required for raising vegetables in this year of cold/hot, dry/drenched conditions in Riverside. Raising your own food by traditional methods, without pesticides, chemical growth enhancers or poisons has really not changed since Bible times. Even though we can effortlessly irrigate here, my garden is still at the mercy of the weather, just as described in James 5:7: "See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting for it until it receives early and latter rain." Planting, tending and harvesting crops is definitely a waiting game!




At the Jurupa Mountains Nature Center, I spotted the "Biblical Garden" arch that led to a special garden of herbs and flowers that grow in Palestine. It seemed rather dry and the plants small, but I remember hearing that the climate in Israel closely resembles ours in Southern California, both being at about 30 degrees latitude. In fact, friends who returned from Israel recently with Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley reported that during the short heat wave we had here, they experienced temperatures over 100 degrees!



The garden in Jurupa was laid out with herbs and patterned in the same way ancient gardens are described in Unger's Bible Dictionary:



These gardens are not laid out with the precision of the West, with paths and beds. The vegetables, however, are planted in rows by the shallow ditches or furrows through which the water is conveyed to them (Psalm 1:3; Ecclesiastes 2:6). This water is turned from one furrow to another either by a hoe or by moving the earthen bank which separates them by a shove of the foot.


As you can see, that's just the way the Lord has directed us to arrange our garden--with no water wasted by overhead sprinkling, but watering the roots of the plants directly--just right for this arid climate--and the climate of Israel!


When the Biblical garden at the Nature Center is more fully grown this summer, it will provide a quiet, lovely spot to reflect upon the original Garden of Eden, and to glorify the Lord Jesus, by whom the worlds were created (Hebrews 1:2) and who has done all things well!


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jurupa Adventure Part II: A flood of fossils


2:29 p.m. Today's project was to brush up on the scientific evidence for creationism in the Fossil Record, of which there were many examples at the Jurupa Mountain Nature Center we visited yesterday with our grandsons.


And what better place to begin my review than Acts & Facts, the magazine of the Institute for Creation Research? In the current issue, I found an article by Dr. John D. Morris entitled "The Biggest Problems for Evolution." He states in the second paragraph, "Every living thing gives such strong evidence for design that only willfully ignoring the data (2 Peter 3:5) could lead one to assign such intricacy to chance and natural selection." And ignoring the fossil evidence--hundreds of distinct creatures with no "transitional forms"-- is just what evolutionists do!


2 Peter 3:5 makes it clear that God not only created the earth, and destroyed it by a flood, but also knew that godless scoffers would deny His handiwork:


For this they willingly forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished being flooded by water.


In the two museums of the cultural center were scores of fossils from the tiniest sea creatures found locally to the skeletons of large animals from Wyoming and Utah. It was a very impressive collection for a relatively small educational center. The usual evolutionary stages were presented on a large wall at the entrace to the museum gift shop. Since staff conversant with the center and its teachings were out conducting nature walks, I drew our teenage grandsons' attention to the sign pictured above:


MARINE FOSSILS ARE FOUND IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BECAUSE THE EARTH'S SURFACE HAS BEEN SUBMERGED DURING PERIODS OF THE GEOLOGIC PAST.


"Sounds like Noah's Flood to me!" I said. How I thank the Lord that my children and grandchildren have made commitments to Christ, and have stood firm against the teaching of evolution in their high school biology classes! College presented harder challenges, but my children never had a problem standing up alone in a crowd, "speaking the truth in love," and finding that their courage attracted followers rather than opponents. Anyone can "go with the flow," but Christian young people are leaders in their generation. I Corinthians 2:12-13a says,


Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit that is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches...


How can Christians express the truth boldly and with confidence? Because "we have the mind of Christ" (I Corinthians 2:16). He will always show us when, where, and what to speak!


Dr. Morris concludes the article with this sad truth: "The evidence for creation is so strong, it is illogical to believe anything else. Only a religious commitment to atheism, or a desire for the approval of those atheists who call themselves scholars, could lead one down this path."


The Apostle Peter continues with serious words of warning in verse 7 of Chapter 3:


But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word [of God], are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.


There is hope for all people, no matter how they might oppose the Lord Jesus Christ and try to deny the truth of His Word; but we who believe must offer an invitation to those we know who need to hear the Gospel! Once our family member, friend, co-worker or neighbor is born again, the Bible becomes their touchstone, just as we measure all information against it!


Hear the hope in 2 Peter 3:8, that God is "longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."


Whom can you invite to hear the Gospel on Easter Sunday, April 24th?






Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jurupa Adventure Part I:Beneath the featureless hills




5:39 p.m. Today's project was to take our grandsons to the Jurupa Mountains Cultural Center, a nature park where the geological, botanical and paleontological features of the Jurupa Valley have been studied and displays constructed for educational purposes. Since I taught in the Jurupa area for 10 years, and Heidi teaches in the same school district now, I appreciate the hard work of volunteers, sponsors and staff in making aspects of God's creation accessible to the public, especially students.


Thousands of commuters drive past the Jurupa Cultural Center, hardly noticing the sign and the oxidized woolly mammoth on the north side of the 60 freeway west, between the Valley Way and Pyrite exits. The scenery is unremarkable to the casual eye, just rocky hills. But God planted many invaluable treasures throughout the area. As a fan of jewelry catalogs, I enjoyed viewing semi-precious stones like citrine, chrysolite, beryl, topaz and amethyst in their natural state, and pictured them polished to brilliance in the hands of a jeweler, and set between the diamonds they outshine.


Revelation 21:10-11 describes "the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven, having the glory of God." Verses 19-20 continue (NLT),


The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysophase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.


Gerald Borchert, editor for Revelation in the New Living Translation comments on this passage, "Things that are precious and luxurious on earth are common building materials in heaven."


I would add, hills that appear rocky and featureless here on earth contain precious gems for those who labor to find them! Jesus spoke of seeking the kingdom of God, comparing it to a man who found hidden treasure. "In Matthew 13:44 He said,


Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.


Thinking again of those "commonplace" hills, don't we often get chastened by the Lord for the conclusions we draw based on the surface appearance of a person, or the first glimpse of a situation? The prophet Samuel fell into this trap when he went to anoint the second king of Israel in I Samuel 16. He had assumed that the tall, older sons of Jesse would comprise the selection group for this high office, but God's choice turned out to be the youngest son David. God told Samuel, "The LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (v.7)


Did you know that God thinks of us as His jewels? In Malachi 3:16-17, God has "a book of remembrance written for those who fear the LORD and meditate on His name."


"They shall be mine," says the

LORD of hosts,

"On the day that I make them My jewels.

And I will spare them

As a man spares his own son who

serves him."


Then you shall again discern

Between the righteous and the

wicked,

Between one who serves God

And one who does not serve Him.


Which one will you be, as we approach Easter, when Christians worldwide celebrate their salvation by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do not let another day go by without asking Jesus to be your Savior, to dwell in your heart forever!


Tomorow: Jurupa Adventure Part II: A flood of fossils



Friday, April 15, 2011

Trudging on the inside


7:25 p.m. Today's project was a simple one: stay awake, don't faint, drive safe! I truly made it through my day on the wings of my family's and friends prayers, because I got precious little sleep last night.


Several times during the night, and early this morning, Steve had episodes of thrashing and yelling out, "sleep terrors," as they are known. It doesn't happen frequently, but episodes have worsened with the progression of his Alzheimer's. The disturbing panics used to be asssociated with his sleep apnea, but the C-pap machine has taken care of that so his breathing is very steady, quite normal.


When these scary events happen, I rearrange Steve's covers, have him turn over, and make sure he doesn't shut off his C-pap button in his sleep. Last night, just as I would drift off to a solid sleep, another pillow-slamming disruption would take place. Each time the Lord would grant me another sleep session, but I was an exhausted wreck this morning!


I'll have to see what the doctor recommends when we go for Steve's next checkup. But for today, with our grandsons arriving, a hair appointment, the caregiver coming to be with Steve as he does each Friday, the "rat man" due over to check the traps in the crawl space, and an appointment to give a facial to a delightful octogenarian, there would be no nap or even respite. I requested prayer from my friends on Facebook after posting my daily verse, Psalm 121:1-2:


I will lift up my eyes to the hills--

From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the LORD,

Who made heaven and earth.


In my journal, I quoted the assurance the Apostle Paul received from God in 2 Corinthians 12:9:


My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.


Though I felt uplifted and strengthened spiritually by the time I went upstairs to get ready for the day, I was trudging on the inside, and actually feared fainting! I quickly fetched my pushbutton Freedom Alert pendant and wore it while I got myself together, texting the kids to pray.


But it turned out that God had nothing but good news for me today. Adrian and Xavier arrived just as I was putting on my shoes, offering me a good burst of energy with their hugs. Steve's caregiver arrived, met the boys, and actually tore them away from their notebook computers to go walking with Steve and the dogs, I heard when I popped back home for lunch. The rat man came over during my facial appointment in Moreno Valley, and found no carcasses.


The above-pictured shocking pink blowdryer reflected my mood when I entered Rite-Aid, tired still, but capable of being cheered by something as minor as the color of an appliance!

I was spurred on by some lunch, gave a much-appreciated facial, and finally caught some shut-eye during the movie "Mars Needs Moms," a PG-rated sci-fi farce. (Nothing wrong with the movie, but the cool, dark theater was just too tempting)!


As we wrapped things up with a trip to giant bargain grocer Winco and enjoyed barbequed chicken sandwiches for dinner, I thank God that He kept me joyful and highly favored with everyone I met today. And my appointment was quite successful, with the added bonus of hearing my client's firsthand stories of world War II.
God graciously kept us all safe as I drove us about, a big answer to prayer. God is so good! Tomorrow will be another whirlwind with the boys, and we'll love every minute of it. But there'll be one difference: I'll sleep well tonight, grateful and content in the arms of Jesus!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cut and dry


3:26 p.m. Today's project was to hire a young man to mow and trim our lawns while I spent time with a sweet friend helping her to experience personalized skincare and find her perfect lipstick shade. God has given us widely varied talents, hasn't He?


The lawnmower that has been serving us well the past year has hit a glitch in the grass, so to speak. Steve is working on repairing it with the help of the caretaker who spends Fridays with him. Praise the Lord, the gentleman had the spare part we needed! Makes me think of Proverbs 27:10, "Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far off." Steve's side of the family is in Orange County, and while our grown daughters are here in Riverside, neither one of them is mechanically inclined!


This beautiful lawn work came at a perfect time for another reason: Steve's back had a spasm this morning. So that's one less outside chore to be stressed over. I did the gardening today--watering, re-routing the irrigation canals, and picking greens for lunch--so he can rest and get better. We'll be on the go with teenage grandsons Adrian and Xavier, so we'll need all of our energy this weekend. We can attest that "Children's children are the crown of old men (and women)," Proverbs 17:6, but they do put us through our paces!


Recalling the challenge I heard a few weeks ago at Sandals as well as at our own church to invite someone to an Easter service, I made sure to ask our lawncare helper about his plans for Easter Sunday. Praise the Lord, he answered that he is going to church and then the family is headed to Orange County. (My intention had been to ask him to our service at Calvary Moreno Valley if he had no plans). Next week I'll be handing out more Easter invitation cards from church and verbally inviting folks as the Lord leads. Since God's word does not come back void (Isaiah 55:11) I have faith that those cards and my words will have a lasting impact on the receivers, whether or not I witness their receiving Christ as their Savior, or recommitting their lives to Him. I'll sure know about it in heaven!


It's God's job through His Holy Spirit to reach into a person's soul and show them their need for salvation. It's my job to be faithful, tell what I know and have seen, and pray for those I share Christ with. And while I will be anxious for them to be born again, I won't worry about not being there to see it happen. I Corinthians 13:12 (NLT) draws a beautiful distinction between what we see with our own eyes here on earth in this life, and what will be revealed to us in eternity:


Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.


Much as I would like to see friends, acquaintances and loved ones saved, "cut and dry" so I can be at ease as to their eternal fate, God's timing is impeccable in leading them to choose Jesus--to chose life!




Meanwhile, our grandsons are coming to visit us tomorrow through Tuesday, and we'll host our traditonal Easter dinner a week from Sunday. It's not like our family will turn away in disgust from overgrown lawns, but if we have the means to make our property nice, that's what we've done over the last 23 years.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"I will" meets "I wish"


4:53 p.m. Today's project was to take Steve to his friend Howard's orchard property to help out, which they both enjoy. I then was able to spend time with my friend Debbie, the hostess of our summer Bible study in I Samuel. This year, however, we'll be starting in about a month, since our study at church ended in March.


The great news is that the Lord has blessed us with two moms who want to do childcare for us, actually planning a Bible lesson for them each week! That will open up the study to women who would need to get a babysitter, and that's generally prohibitive on one income. Moms at home were among the 64 study members who completed the lessons online last year. Heading into our 6th year, I am excited about what the Lord is doing!


In Isaiah 43;19a, God says,


Behold, I will do a new thing,

Now it shall spring forth;

Shall you not know it?


But God let me know He wasn't done yet while Debbie and I stood in the bonus room where the childcare would take place. "There's a mom who is offering her home as the site for our childcare, " she told me. "Her house is set up for kids, of course, and there would already be lots of kid things, like toys, there." "Wow!" I answered, and she told me the gal's name, whom I couldn't picture but I'm sure I know from church. Since she teaches in Children's Church midweek, all of the other young moms would know her, so I'm comfortable. "It would be like our Home Fellowships, where all the kids are dropped off at church before heading to the individual homes where the studies are held," I marveled. God is so good!


I'll have to call that sister and organize a field trip for our childcare moms, Debbie, and me to visit soon. What an ever-blossoming blessing, a true unfolding of God's grace and favor upon the faithful band of ladies who gather to study the Bible each week!! God is opening up even more doors, more opportunities for women to dig into His word in a consistent, verse-by verse format, and reflect on the teaching and discussion the following week at home as they complete their lesson.


Isaiah 43:19b continues,


I will even make a road in the

wilderness

And rivers in the desert.


For a few years now, I have dreamed, wished and prayed for childcare for the Bible study, but the timing wasn't right, or I didn't know whom to ask. But today I have learned something wonderful:


When the I Will of God meets the "I wish" of man, look out for a blessing!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Up in prayer


4:14 p.m. Today's project was to take copies of my book, Galatians: An Exploration of Faith and Freedom, to a couple of old friends to get their opinion. Those visits did indeed take place, including a very warm and enjoyable chat with Diane Garbutt, whose kids and mine spent every Friday night together in the kids' Bible study at her home, while we adults sat under Jeff Lasseigne's teaching, before he became a pastor at Harvest. Sweet fellowship!


The schedule for mid-morning was calendared over a week ago, but God's more urgent plan came to life through the late night and early morning hours. I was to intercede with total focus on my youngest son Steven's injured back. He is in so much pain that he dropped out of a weightlifting competition for Saturday--can't sit for the 5 hour drive down from Fresno. His back goes out from time to time from an old football weight room injury in high school, causing constant, but manageable pain. It doesn't slow him down or take away his joy in the Lord, his excitement for the high school youth ministry at The People's Church, his intercessory prayer ministry at his college, Fresno Pacific University, or his street witnessing. he simply trusts the Lord and believes Him for everything!


We used to sing the praise song "The joy of the LORD is my strength"with our kids at family devotions, an affirmation that bodybuilder and gym co-owner/trainer Steven exemplifies. The number of injuries he's suffered (due to his very physical nature) mom can no longer count! But praise be to God, he has always bounced back.


This is the worst I can remember. When he texts me repeatedly to pray, I know the pain must be excruciating. So God woke me up in the wee hours to intercede, weeping at times, praising and repeating worship songs in my head, other times speaking in my spirit through God's Spirit.

The Holy Spirit's intercession was just as Romans 8:26-27 promised:


The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.


There's no telling how long this went on, but I was sleepy when I "officially" woke up to start my morning devotions! God's creation of the coffee bean was much appreciated this morning. Amazingly, I've been going strong all day. As a believer, I know where my strength comes from, Psalm 18:1-3a:


I will love You, O LORD, my strength.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress,

and my deliverer;

My God, my strength, in whom

I will trust;

My shield and the horn of my

salvation, my stronghold.

I will call upon the LORD, who is

worthy to be praised;

So shall I be saved from my enemies.


As I sent these verses to Steven, so I pray them for myself, the rest of my family, and believers everywhere. The enemy's attacks are strong and unrelenting, both spiritually and physically. But we are not defenseless, because the Lord Jesus Himself intercedes for us to the Father, and goes before us into every battle we will ever face.


Hallelujah!



Monday, April 11, 2011

I choose to believe!


4:21 p.m. Today's project was to take Steve to his "Healthy Start" initial exam at the Medicare HMO we've selected, CareMore.



Their attractive new facility is at the end of Market Street, near the 60 freeway offramp, across from Fairmount Park, most famously known for the lake where my dad took me boating as a toddler! Since that was in 1952, it's an historic event!



The morning began very positively, with sample Glucerna nutrition bars available on the counter. was called back quickly, after the sign-in paperwork was done with both of our signatures. He struggled to sign his name, not knowing where the line was, and ended up scribbling below instead of on top of it. But we cheerfully went on to weighing and measuring his height. When the aide said he was only 6' tall, I was shocked. He has now shrunk 2 1/2 inches at merely age 55! My dad has lost several inches due to natural spine shrinkage, but he's almost 84. When I measured my height during Steve's blood draw, I've just lost one inch despite being 4 years older. Hmm.



Does Alzheimer's cause accelerated physical aging too? I will be researching that, you can be sure! Proverbs 25:2 says, "the glory of kings is to search out a matter," so I think I'll follow the royal example and do some research as a child of the King!


As the exam went on, the aide asked Steve if he smoked or drank (no) or drinks coffee. He drinks one cup each morning, because it has been found that coffee can increase dementia patients' alertness. Steve then launched into a stammering, halting story about an episode of caffeine headaches from his teenage years. But he had no idea that we'd been at Home Fellowship last night, or forgot that his little toe is bothering him when the doctor asked him if he had any current injuries. I have heard of very elderly people telling all kinds of stories from early childhood, but not know what they had for lunch. It's fairly common. But when I think of Steve's relatively young age, it's devastating, or it would be, if I did not know the Lord!


The reason Jada and Bailey are pictured above is that we came close to losing them this afternoon. Steve came back from walking them, unleashed them, and, I assumed, put them in the backyard for their drink of water. He put the leashes, his gloves and hat into the garage and then we went back out to the driveway to put some Mary Kay supplies in the Jeep for an evening appointment.


A woman roars up the driveway in a silver Mercedes yelling, "they ran down the street!" which could only mean the dogs. While Steve got the leashes, I checked the gate. It appeared to be closed, so I checked the backyard, and found they'd drunk their water before they got out. We drove around their usual walking route, no luck. We prayed. When we got back to the house, there was Jada at the front door. I figured she was waiting to take Steve to Bailey, so I told him to leash her and see where she headed.


Meanwhile, I posted a prayer request on Facebook. Withim about 20 minutes, Steve came back with both dogs. Thank You, Lord--You know how much our dogs mean to us, and what faithful companions they are, for Steve especially. Of course, I need to follow up on their walks and make sure the gate is secure. But there is no point in despairing, because the Lord is with me! Hear Psalm 94:17-19:


Unless the LORD had been my help,

My soul would soon have settled in silence.

If I say, "My foot slips,"

Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up.

In the multitude of my anxieties within me,

Your comforts delight my soul.


Having anxiety is not condemned, but remaining in it, instead of praying to the Lord, believing what He says in His Word, and listening to His Holy Spirit's counsel, is a sure way to remain in despair, inaction, even paralysis!


I choose to believe!






Hear Psalm 94:17-19:






Sunday, April 10, 2011

Banking sadness


3:49 Today's project was to focus on and enjoy a wonderful worship service and fellowship with good friends.


Yet last night, my heart was inconsolably broken over something that hasn't even happened! After watching a Christian-oriented show on GMC (Gospel Music Channel) to soothe my nerves, I posed this question on Facebook:


"Is being sad in advance of something you think might happen an idiotic waste of time, or are you preparing your mind to grasp an eventuality?"


My son Kriss wrote:


"It's natural. It's emotional 'brainstorming.'


My friend Gloria wrote:


"Could we call it, 'In Preparation of Grief?' "


Both made valid points--our minds do like to "get out in front" of potential tragedies, a quality which makes parents babyproof their homes and municipalities pass building codes. But we all know that tragedies still happen and hit us with blunt force when they do. So does concentrating on what we'll do when a personally sorrowful moment comes make it any less sorrowful? Should we "bank" sadness for the future, because certain eventualites are pretty likely, such as the deterioration of Steve's mind caused by Alzheimer's? He is in midstage now, and there have been distinct difficulties that just appeared this year. Other than making prudent financial, legal and care arrangements, am I serving myself well, or honoring God, by creating mental scenarios and focusing on the impending sadness his increasing confusion and eventual physical disabilities will bring? In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said,


Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. And in verse 27, He asked,


Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?


I'll add, "Dana, can you reverse the course of an incurable disease by worrying?" By keeping up with research, and utilizing the findings, meds and natural supplements as I currently do for Steve's benefit, I can definitely help maintain his cognitive function for now. But no, I cannot reverse his disease--no person can, as of April 10, 2011!


So if reversing Alzheimer's is the goal, worrying is definitely an idiotic waste of time! However, praying for Steve, for myself, caring for one another, and calling upon family and friends for assistance actually are effective actions. Prayer is the ultimate resource I have--keeping access to my Heavenly Father as my first action, my first resort, the only path to peace and healing of my soul and spirit!


In church this morning, we sang a wonderful praise song about God's almighty power and trusting in Him that spoke powerfully to me. It lifted my eyes to Him, my source, my Redeemer. One of my all-time favorite worship songs quotes Psalm 123:1-2:


Unto You I lift up my eyes,

O You who dwell in the heavens.


Another favorite comes from Psalm 121:1-2 :


I will lift up my eyes to the hills--

From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the LORD,

Who made heaven and earth.


The One Who made heaven and earth can make a way--a joyful way--for me!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

God's idea of beauty


3:36 p.m. Today's project was to arrive early at the "I'll Second That!" clothing swap at our church this morning, to help out in the dressy clothes and shoes section. A crew of women have been selecting and sorting the donated items for months now, and everything looked lovely in the sanctuary as we gathered for a devotional, instructions and to have a fun time of fellowship.


My friend Pat and I had lots of fun visiting with the ladies as they combed through the offerings in our section, and caught up with each other's impending family weddings: her grandaughter next Saturday, my daughter in June. From three gals involved in the DesRossiers-Sharick wedding, I heard that I absolutely must to go to Dress Barn to look for a M.O.B. dress before I make a final decision! Between that store, Steinmart, Macy's, and the online orders I have coming in the mail this week, I think the Lord can surely cause one dress to jump out as "the one!"


We women are always concerned to look our best, ever since civilization began. Pottery from ancient Mycenaean cultures, as well as the debris from Pompeii, paintings in the pyramids and the sculptures of Greece and Rome show ladies totally glammed up! In Genesis 12:14-15, Abram's wife Sarai was so beautiful that Abram lied about their being married so the Egyptians wouldn't kill him to possses her! Esther was described as "lovely and beautiful" (Esther 2:8). Her stunning looks won her the queenship that saved her people from annihilation throughout the Medo-Persian Empire. So my role as a professional beauty consultant is no trivial, laughing matter, thank you! God created beauty, and every one of us is beautiful to Him.


The ultimate beauty treatments in scripture come from the hand of God Himself. Psalm 149:4 says of the Lord,


For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;

He will beautify the humble with salvation.


Just imagine--when we humbly come to Him confessing and repenting of our sins, and asking Jesus Christ to be our Savior, God takes us at our ugliest, and makes a trade with us. He gives us "beauty for ashes" (Isaiah 61:3). We receive, walk and act in beauty, a radiant beauty that comes from the innermost depths of our being. We are now Christ's very own special creation!


We then are free to act in beauty, sharing the love of God with others, speaking of what we know about Whom we know. And God finds us especially lovely as we obey His command in Mark16:15: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."


The Lord GOD says of those who witness, in both Isaiah 52:7 and quoted in Romans 10:15:


How beautiful upon the mountains

Are the feet of him who brings good news,

Who proclaims peace,

Who brings glad tidings of good things,

Who proclaims salvation,

Who says to Zion,

Your God reighns!


Sisters, while we attend to our outward appearance as appropriate, let us concentrate on being beautiful in the way that God commends, as bearers of the Good News that JESUS LIVES!


Friday, April 8, 2011

First tasks for a new phase


3:47 p.m. Today's project was to begin the modest distribution of my book, Galatians: An Exploration of Faith and Freedom. My goal was to take copies to people who have indicated interest, but next week will work out better for them. Undaunted, I continued to my next stop, State Senator Bill Emmerson's office, to delivere a free copy to my daughter Heather, the book's photographer. We had a few minutes to chat because the front office where she greets and helps constituents was quiet at 9:45.


It was fun signing my very own book as an author, as if I were some famous person, even if the greeting was to my daughter who helped in its creation. Honestly, God is the author of that Bible study, and the glory goes to Him alone!


At the hair salon, I showed my book to the clients and hairdresssers, and one lady took a great interest and began thumbing through it as she sat under the dryer. "I'm going to enjoy this," she commented, and then said, "Let me have one!" The check was written and I had sold a book!


I only have 10 copies, and most of them are already spoken for, to show my gratitude for all off the help I received. One copy will be for my house, of course and Steve is already reading it. I gave one to Heidi's fiance's family earlier this afternooon. 10, 9, 8, 7...they are slipping away!


And that's the whole idea! I can oeder some more, or just wait for the May 31 release date and inform all who are asking for a copy where Galatians can be found, or how to order online. Either way, I have praise for the Lord who saved and taught me, becuse he has truly done great things in my life! Psalm 92:4-5 (NIV) captures my heart's song completely:


For You make me glad by Your deeds, O Lord.

I sing for joy at the works of Your hands.

How great are Your works, O LORD,

How profound Your thoughts!


And if I can convey one iota of the thoughts and love of God towards His people, and His plan of salvation for all of mankind, I will consider myself glad indeed!