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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Released for warfare!



4:35 p.m. Today's project was to open up the website from Tate Publishing for my new book, Galatians:An Exploration of Faith and Freedom. I had gotten the notice that I could log on last week, but have been too hectic with bridal shower preparations to check it out! The site is very attractive and the excerpts, prayerfully, will whet potential readers' appetites to learn more.


Today, May 31st, is the official release day for the book. Jeff Fisher, my marketing representative, informed me that the book is now available on the amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com websites. Tate Publishing will be arranging book signings at the local bookstores researched and listed for them by my friend Kathy Langtry. My sister Dona emailed me that a women's ministry leader in her office wants to order copies for her group after reading through Galatians. In the mail today was my commission check from Tate. And I have almost sold out my second batch of ten books.


Although I can hardly believe all this is happening, I do know that I serve an awesome, mighty God! The way the Bible study, and now the book, came together, is the Holy Spirit's doing alone. Psalm 131:1-2 describes my state of mind well-- instead of the earlier frenzy, I am now find myself reflecting in wonder...


LORD, my heart is not haughty,

Nor my eyes lofty.

Neither do I concern myself with

great matters,

Nor things too profound for

me.


Surely I have calmed and quieted

my soul,

Like a weaned child with his

mother;

Like a weaned child is my soul

within me.


In all of the excitement and gratification at seeing a lifelong dream come true, I was reminded by a conversation today of the reason the book of Galatians was written by the Apostle Paul, and why I felt led to write and teach women his doctrinal treatise in 1987. There was and is a need to combat the false doctrines that circulated in Christian circles in the first century, and in my case, to strengthen my women to share the truth of the gospel with those they met on a daily basis.


My friend and I see a member of a prominent cult struggling in every area, and know that this is spiritual warfare, because she is being strongly drawn to Christians around her. We truly believe that she is going to become born again, and that the enemy is pulling out all the stops in a relentless attack. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us,


For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.


So we are praying and loving our friend relentlessly! My friend said, "Maybe you should give her your book!" I replied, "Well, it's pretty blunt about cults..." Perhaps it's early in our witnessing process, perhaps not. Again, prayer, prayer, prayer and listening for the Lord's voice of direction!


And may I remember that Galatians: An Exploration of Faith and Freedom was released for one reason: to glorify God by spreading the truth of the gospel and equipping the saints for spiritual warfare!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day un-barbecue



4:01 p.m. Today's project was to entertain my father Oliver here at the house for Memorial Day. It was just Steve, Daddy and me, because Heidi and Pavel had driven to Long Beach to have lunch with her older brother Kriss and his wife Marisela. I texted my veteran son Sean to enjoy a good day, but he may be out of town. No telling what my youngest son Steven is up to, with friends and the outreach ministry events he takes part in. And I wasn't about to disturb Nick and Heather on her day off!


Daddy, a teenager who enlisted in the Air Force at the end of World War Two, and became fully active in the Korean war (while I was a baby), was a reservist flying supply missions during the Vietnam War. He never fails to explain any military questions that come up in the news, or to interpret their significance. Upon arrival, he presented us with a seedless watermelon to chill and then use the melon baller he brought over, so I could serve it with ice cream for dessert.


I'm not sure what happened to cutting watermelons into wedges and digging in, but Daddy's become quite the chef in the last ten years on his own. Since Verizon laid fiber optic cable in his neighborhood a couple of years ago, maybe he's watching Food Network!


Tradition was turned on its head in another way: the meal. It's easy not to host a barbeque when you haven't gone to the grocery store to buy hot dogs, hamburger patties and buns! So, having quarts of refried beans, plenty of homemade rice, fajita chicken, shredded cheese, corn tortillas and lettuce still on hand, I decided on a family favorite, tostadas. We enjoyed cold brewed iced tea with lemon, I fired up the pan of oil, and we had a great meal.


When the subject of ice cream came up (and why Steve wouldn't be having any), I let Daddy in on the strange happenings of the night Steve ate ice cream sandwiches . I also explained the re-introduction of the the alarm system door chime whenever an exit is opened or closed. We used it for years when the kids were small, but stopped when as teenagers they were coming in at all different times. This mom would hear the door open anyway, but Steve had to get up at 3:30 a.m, and needed his rest. "The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much," Ecclesiastes 5:12 says, and it was true of Steve until the last few months. But he slept very well last night, praise the Lord!


My dad had a scoop of strawberry cheesecake ice cream on his melon, but Steve and I stuck with the very sweet fruit alone. Totally refreshing AND low-carb!


Tomorrow will be time enough to get back into wedding planning, my caregiver class and doctor appointments, as well as studying for next Thursday's I Samuel study. But Memorial Day gave us a chance to remember as well as to relax!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Sugar Bomb!



4:12 p.m. Today's project was to figure out how to secure our home in light of the strange discoveries I made this morning.



For years, Steve has limited his intake of white sugar and sugar-sweetened foods because of a low blood sugar condition, but occasionally we would have ice cream or dessert at Home Fellowship or someone else's home. His tendency is to become depressed, but he's fine the next day.


However, with the advancing of his Alzheimer's disease lately, even a small amount of sugar can cause anxiety and agitation in the late afternoon or evening, with additional confusion when it comes to simple tasks such as buttoning a shirt. So here's how a sugar bomb went off in our house:



Friday night, I used cookies my daughter Heather had baked to create ice cream sandwiches for Saturday's bridal shower for my older daughter Heidi. I made and froze a small sample with the smallest cookie and just a teaspoon of ice cream, and, since I'm on a low-carb diet for the wedding, gave it to Steve after a full dinner. Not much happened at that point, but at bedtime 3 hours later, he really struggled with his nightly routine, the C-pap mask, and even getting into bed. He rested well, despite removing the mask, and woke up in a good frame of mind. He enjoyed a great day away with our friends the Snyders during the bridal shower, too.



Heather and I had over-prepared our many menu items, so I invited the Snyders over for a full Mexican buffet like the ladies had enjoyed earlier. I had good reason for offering them ice cream sandwiches, which was to get them out of the house, away from Steve. But perversely, there was no way to offer them to Bob and Debbie without offering my husband one, too! And Steve is not like a normal adult with a blood sugar issue who would volunteer, "No thanks. I don't do well with sweets." He would have sat there, down-and-out, looking like a child who couldn't understand why he was told "no," if I had said he couldn't have one. AWKWARD!



I just decided to be gracious and pray the Lord would cover the fallout later! Just as our pastor quoted this morning, I leaned on 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.


After our guests went home, we drove to Rite Aid to pick up one of Steve's medications. At the register, I handed him two one dollar bills I didn't need, and we were already out of the store when I had to alleviate his struggle with step-by-step directions for putting the money in his billfold. Uh-oh! The act of pumping gas was a challenge, so after paying, I had to stand out with him to make sure he replaced the hose and screwed the Jeep's gas cap closed.


The worst was yet to come. At bedtime, we got Steve's C-pap mask into place with the right air pressure level and sleep seemed to come normally. Then in the middle of the night, he began screaming--have you ever heard a grown man scream? It's horrifying! He began thrashing around, so I woke him up, calmed him down, covered him back up, and he went back to sleep. I slipped out to the guest bedroom next door, in exhausted dread of any further tossing and turning. The night went smoothly, it seemed.


Steve had gotten up early, so I reminded him to put the dogs out and then continue getting ready for church. When I went downstairs to start the coffee, I made some odd discoveries. The automatic fragrance dispenser in the guest bathroom was opened up and the spray can broken. The door to my office was closed, which it never is unless we have company sleeping on the bed in there. I slowly opened the door, because our youngest son Steven has been known to show up, or maybe Heidi had heard the racket during the night and gone downstairs to sleep. But it was in order...I then found a piece of clean clothing and became very concerned.


When I asked Steve if he'd been downstairs last night, he started shaking and kept repeating, "I kept trying to figure out how to get back into the house!" What?! Apparently he'd gone outside!


So we'll not only be seeing a doctor with a request for a sedative, but I'll re-set the alarm system's chimes that denote a door being opened. Heidi thinks we should set the door on full alarm at bedtime like we used to do 23 years ago when we first got the system. "The initial low alarm will scare him from going out the door, " she reasoned; I think I'll give it a try.


Shocking as the discovery of Steve's getting out at night is, I need to give thanks to the Lord for keeping him on the property and preventing him from getting hurt. While I plan to make full use of the professional medical advice at my disposal, I do know where my help comes from!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

May showers































8:13 p.m. Today's project was to prepare and host the bridal shower for our Heidi. Included in the planning was the drive to our friends' house to drop Steve off for the day, so he could enjoy his friend Bob's company while we ladies celebrated with my girl!



My younger, married daughter Heather and I had a pretty good plan going: I fried up the prepared chicken fajitas from Vons, mixed cotija cheese, lime and cilantro into the beans and left them warming in the oven. She made the guacamole and the punch, a delicious mix of pomegranate-lime juice and Squirt. My daughter-in-law Marisela provided the homemade rice. I had made the tortilla chips earlier in the week. Heather also brought blueberry-chevre (goat) cheese and the most delicious dainty crackers to savor it with.



Bless her heart, Heather also made her sister a batch of jelly thumbprint cookies which I stashed away for Heidi to enjoy later in privacy! Heather made Snickerdoodles and peanut butter chip cookies, which I stuffed with two kinds of ice cream last night, wrapped in nonstick Reynolds aluminum foil and froze for dessert.



I must have been agitated mentally because I did not sleep well last night. Like the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:15, who "rises while it is yet night," I got up at 3:37 a.m. to rearrange some items downstairs! Right now, I'm not sure what the urgency was, actually. But I do remember taking two aspirin and finally getting a couple of hours of sleep before hopping back up at 6 a.m.!



Steve had a very good morning, staying on task with his devotion time, breakfast, and his morning chores. We even had time to pick up a lemon and some cold-brewed tea bags before going to Bob's house at 8:45. Lipton has come up with an amazing invention. You place a very large teabag in the pitcher and fill with a quart of cool water, let "brew" for three minutes, discard the bag and chill. Sun tea isn't even that easy!



Heather popped in after 10:00, due to a very late night of ministry to her high school girls' group Friday, but the three of us whizzed into action for our 11:30 deadline. Even the bride herself put up decorations while I set out the cheese plates I'd prearranged, and cooked the fajita mix.


The punch and guacamole were made, the fajitas were in the crockpot,and the kitchen cleaned up by 11:20 when I ran upstairs to put my dress and heels on. When our first guests, Heather's mother-in-law and sister-in-law, arrived, we were all smiles and so glad this long-planned event was beginning. As the house filled with family, fun and laughter, great games that Heather guided us through, and loads of yummy food, we were so gratified that we did not "eat the bread of idleness" (Proverbs 31:27b) this day!


As the party wrapped up, and we showed the DVD of Pavel's proposal to Heidi in their shared Sunday School classroom, there was not a dry eye in the house! We all remembered the purpose of our gathering: not only to celebrate the upcoming marriage of the happy couple, but to celebrate God's plan for marriage, Jesus' words in Mark 10:8 (quoting Genesis 1:27 and 2:24),


From the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.


I marvel in God's goodness, because in less than one month, we will be greeting Mr. and Mrs. Pavel Ilie!






















Friday, May 27, 2011

Prepped to serve



6:34 p.m. Today's project was to prepare for my daughter Heidi's family bridal shower. The Lord provided good encouragement before I even got dressed this morning, because my younger daughter Mrs. Heather Love came over with scads of supplies, including gourmet noshes like blueberry chevre cheese and delicate crackers, her punch ingredients, and two kinds of cookies for the ice cream sandwiches. She brought along a fuschia tablecloth that I even managed to iron before my hairdresser appointment. Assuring me that she'll set up all the decorations, she kissed us goodbye and buzzed off to work. "Buzz" is a good word for her, because our Heather is a busy bee, with marriage, work, her HeatherAllisonLove Photography business, and her ministry!


While I was still in my "housegown," my daughter-in-law Marisela texted to let me know that she'll make and bring the Mexican rice we'll need to accompany the chicken fajitas I'm serving. I love me some daughters! Being a mother of girls has been a gift, a choice gift from the Lord to me in this life. Seeing them grow into virtuous women of God, and selecting Christian young men as husbands is just icing on the proverbial cake!


Let me also add that coming to know and love the women my sons have married has been wonderful as well, because I see being a mother-in-law not only as a great adventure, but as a ministry of love and encouragement. My mother and my mother-in-law excelled in this role, and Steve's and my marriage has benefitted in a thousand ways. We sure do miss them, our precious Ruby and Pearl! They set the bar very high. They are laughing and enjoying one another's company with Jesus right now. Scripture tells us what joy awaits believers: "to be absent from the body and present with the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:8).


Steve and I drove down to Vons to get the ready-made chicken fajitas I'd ordered this morning, sliced and marinated with three kinds of bell peppers, onions and cilantro that I will cook in the morning. We picked up avocados for Heather's famous guacamole. She'll have organic cilantro grown in our garden, so it has a very intense fragrance and yummy taste. She can pick between dried and fresh leaves. In addition to setting up, Heather will be the mistress of ceremonies for the games she's selected--I left the entertainment up to her. If there's one thing I taught my girls here at home it's how to throw a party! Heather's a natural, and Heidi has hosted bridal showers as well as being my right-hand person for Thanksgiving and Christmas.


May my daughters and daughters-in-law aspire to these verses, Proverbs 31:29-31:


Many daughters have done well,

But you excel them all.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,

But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands,

And let her own works praise her in the gates.











Thursday, May 26, 2011

New thoughts-->new deeds



4:49 p.m. Today's project was to welcome four new ladies to our home Bible study, Theresa's sister Kathy, Debra, Marty and Laura. What a blessing to see the Lord add to our number, especially ladies who are strong in the Word and readily able to share with one another!

Whenever I teach this book of history, I Samuel, I pose the question: "What will your I Samuel history be?"In studying this book we see ourselves. With an open mind to the Spirit, we allow the Lord to show us our own hearts and character.

The beauty of I Samuel is in the people the book portrays: Samuel, the stern spokesman for God, the prophet and priest who judged Israel before God told him to anoint a king as the people demanded; Saul, Israel's first king, an insecure, hot-headed leader whose fears and impetuousness cost him the kingdom; Jonathan, a courageous and godly young man, the king's eldest son; David, the shepherd whom God chose to rule over His people after Saul's downfall. Shakespeare couldn't have created better characters!

The supporting cast includes the sons and daughters of Saul, David's brothers, the Israelite army, Goliath, and ever-present enemies surrounding the land.


Sounds like the cast of trials and problems our enemy Satan throws at us, while attempting to lie to us and about us! Revelation 12:10 says about Satan's inevitable demise,

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of the brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down."

Speaking of the kings of ancient Israel, the picture above represents the second time in a month that I have been named "Queen of Sales" for our Laurie's Legacy unit of Mary Kay. It's pretty hilarious to me, being that I just decided to get serious about my 4-year-old business again, this January. Why? The Lord told me to, simple as that, and I am now obeying!

I admit to getting bogged down mentally last year by telling myself, "You're too old to become a Sales Director;" "You don't have time;" "Too many issues with Steve;" "You'll have to give up: teaching Bible studies/gardening/time with Steve/writing your next book/the blog, etc., etc." Wonder where the source of all that discouragement was? The pit of hell, where else? The enemy doesn't want a Christian woman to have a business where she can have fun, fellowship, and encourage other women, any more than he wants a Christian man to find the joy God has prepared for him in his career calling!

And by the way, God has given us all approximately 16 hours a day to organize constructively!

Tonight's meeting was full of laughter and cheering one another on, but tomorrow begins another week of stepping up and working hard to build on the foundation God has laid down. I will still occasionally find myself listening momentarily to the devil's accusations, but I'll give God the glory for bringing me scriptures of encouragement that I might excel and not settle for less than what He wants me to accomplish--in all areas!

Let's all remember Proverbs 23:7a:


For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Artificial deadline



6:48 p.m. Today's project was to make arrangements for a new C-Pap machine to be delivered here for Steve. He has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and has been successfully using the machine and its mask and tube components for several months now.





With his breathing normalized through the night and the current machine performing wonderfully, why a need for a new one? This is the bureaucratic nightmare that began when he qualified for Medicare!



The first thing I did was remove Steve from my school district health plan, saving quite a sum each month. So far, so good. Then I needed to find an HMO provider that was contracted with Medicare here in Riverside County. I selected CareMore, because of their high customer satisfaction rating. We had some trouble getting them to understand that I speak for Steve because of his Alzheimer's condition, so I faxed over our signed Power of Attorney, the one accepted by our banks and our life insurance companies. However, the CareMore people have their own "Five Wishes " several-page form that I had to have witnessed (but not notarized) by two friends at church. Well, we got that done.

Next came the selection of a primary care doctor and neurologist. To our dismay, neither of his doctors was in his new HMO's network. We selected two doctors whom I was familiar with mainly through charitable activities their wives had participated with me in town, and felt at least satisfied that they were of sound reputation and experience. The Lord helped me through this maze, but the stress was just beginning!



We have to trust in God's word and will, because God is not the author of confusion, as we read in I Corinthians 14:33. Nevertheless, a great deal of confusion exists in this world. Especially in the world of medical providers, as I was soon to discover.



Despite the fact that Steve has always had regular appointments with our primary care physician and his neurologist, he was required to have a complete physical at the HMO's facility. All of his systems were fine, just as they'd been at a recent appointment with our Dr. Guzman. We then found out that the doctor we'd selected was not accepting new patients, so they found him another one whom I know nothing about. A question one might have asked is, could they have updated their provider list weekly in these days of computerized everything? Sigh.



Back to the C-Pap machine. On Friday I took a call from a breathing equipment provider (Supercare) telling me that Steve's machine had to be replaced, per CareMore, because the Apria Company, which has trained us in the machine's use and has answered all questions and even took time to help Steve with some initial confusion in putting it on, is not one of their contracted providers. I also was told to fax over proof that Steve really needed the machine, the 7-page sleep study Dr. Rai had done, and a written request from the neurologist that Steve would continue to need the C-pap! At $1.50/page, that was a financial drain I hadn't expected. But I got it done, putting my ladies' retreat funds in jeopardy.



Supercare called me yesterday with a rush-rush attitude, saying that Apria was going to come over to our house and retrieve the machine we have any day now, so could they bring theirs over? Not so fast! Never being one to take the first answer, I questioned whether the mask and oxygen tube were included in the coverage, and the gentleman said "no." Now why would I have changed Steve over to Medicare if I now would be out of pocket for equipment my private insurance used to cover? I suggested that we hold off on the delivery until that issue could be clarified.



Another issue: CareMore would only cover the first month without an okay from the primary care physician to continue. Never mind that a neurologist had prescribed it for Steve's lifetime. Steve stops breathing during the night, for Pete's sake! That's what I call an "artificial deadline."



"God won't give me more than I can bear," I loosely paraphrased I Corinthians 10:13 in my mind as I asked friends to pray on Facebook, and went into my office to finish writing the Bible study for tomorrow. Later, the HMO called and said, after a long hold time, that the mask would indeed be covered, along with the oxygen tube. Thank you, Lord.



This afternoon when I returned from giving a facial, I called Steve's new primary care physician, only to learn that she isn't open for an appointment until August! That is considerably past the HMO's 30-day deadline for doctor approval. Back with CareMore again, they were now scrambling to find me another doctor, and the issue remains up in the air. I politely reminded them that it was their 30 day deadline, and that Steve is in demonstrably excellent health, as testified by two complete physicals in the last 4 months! One has to feel sorry for the customer care folks, mainly because of the bureaucratic burdens put on them by their employer!



The main issue is this: God has blessed Steve with great health, we are getting along day by day by His grace, and when we are notified of a new doctor and timely appointment, we'll give God the glory!












Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I support Israel!



7:16 p.m. Today's project was to support Israel. Why do I support Israel? Because the Bible clearly notes God's love and watchcare for His chosen people, whether they walk in faithful obedience to Him, or turn their backs on Him. As II Timothy 2:13 says of our God concerning His people in every age,


If we are faithless,

He remains faithful;

He cannot deny Himself.


The Jews are God's chosen people. Why did--and still does--He single them out? To this day, Israel has withstood the enemies which surround her, and seen civilization after civilization pass off of the world stage. I heard a Jewish man describe the rationale for his people's holidays: "They tried to kill us, they failed. Let's eat." Wry humor indeed, but true humor always has a grain of truth.


What does God say about His chosen people? Why did He choose them? Hear His voice in Deuteronomy 7:6-8:


For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.



Not only has God declared His love to Israel, but He strenuously warns those in all generations who dare attempt to destroy His people. Psalm 129:


"Many a time have they have afflicted me from my youth."

Let Israel now say--

"Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth,

Yet they have not prevailed against me.

The plowers plowed on my back;

They made their furrows long."

The LORD is righteous;

He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked.


Let all those who hate Zion

Be put to shame and turned back.

Let them be as the grass on the housetops,

Which withers before it grows up,

With which the reaper does not fill his hand,

Nor he who binds, his arms.

Neither let those who pass by them say,

"The blessing of the LORD be upon you;

We bless you in the name of the LORD!"


We are well advised to heed the words of Psalm 122:6:


Pray for the peace of Jerusalem;

May they prosper who love you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lovely day in Canyon Lake







6:28 p.m. Today's project was to attend an Alzheimers/dementia support group at Canyon Lake Community Church. While we caregivers meet, Steve joins others afflicted with this disease for activities and a movie.


I enjoy visiting this group of believers because my dear friend Barbara and her mother are mainstays, having lost husband and father Bob Pentz just last February. Dot is actually chairperson for the upcoming year, and did a fine job keeping the agenda moving. I loved the devotional offered by one member as well as her review of the book, The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimers Care. I was pleased to be able to inform the group of the Riverside County Office of Aging's new 5-week caregiver support series and provision of no-cost care for your loved one at home. In fact, Ill be attending that meeting tomorrow.


As we took turns around the tables, testimony after testimony was offered by spouses and middle-aged children of God's divine appointments and miracle after miracle to bolster our resolve to carry on in this most trying and strenuous role. I shared about Steve's improvement in speech after the kids and I laid hands on him at Easter, and how I am continuing to pray for healing of his other faculties. "Hebrews 6:1!" I declared, "Let us go on to perfection."


One fascinating discussion, which has experts split, was "how much of the truth do you tell to the Alzheimer'spatient?" The whole truth and nothing but the truth, leaving them angry, agitated, dejected and despairing when they'll forget within the minute that they were angry or what the matter was that tore up the household?


For example, one camp maintains that if they are "seeing " a person long dead from their past in a chair in the room, just go with it, nod your head and change the subject because the argument that would ensue will be bitter, destructive and have major ramifications. Others say to take the ill loved one on. I am very truthful with Steve, but he isn't hallucinating at this point. I know God will give me the wisdom should he ever get to that state.


Two women are now going to former "couples' " events alone. One was asked to compete in the finals of a sport, but her affected husband wasn't. Thankfully, their grown son wanted to spend time with his dad, so it worked out. Another told her husband, truthfully, that she was going to lunch at church. Her husband is just too ill to take out now. She didn't mention that it was the couples' lunch group that they'd attended for years together. When a caregiver called the event by name after his wife left --not her position to decide--he was furious, devastated and accusatory. The entire routine of loving calm was shattered, and he took a long time to settle back down.


What would you do? What will I do when Steve can no longer attend Home Fellowship?


After informative and personal sharing, we gave prayer requests. (My request, for provision for upcoming wedding expenses was answered late this afternoon by a check that arrived). The leaders closed prayer and we we ended the meeting, one I'd describe as a koinonia, actually, a gathering centered in Christ.


I gathered a cheery Steve from the church activities center, and we continued our fine day with a sit-down lunch with Barb and her mom in Dot's senior center restaurant. Then he assisted me in setting up a small facial party in Dot's apartment home.


Laughter, love, and shared belief in Christ make for a lovely day!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Christian doesn't take the first answer




2:11 p.m. Today's project was to take the $105 God had provided for the remaining balance of my ladies' retreat fee, and pay it off. Thanks to my dad buying 4 copies of Galatians: An Exploration of Faith and Freedom, I had compiled the money. As of Friday, when my retreat fund was cut into by Steve's medication costs, I did not think I'd even be attending! I walked into church with a lighter step on this payment deadline day. We also brought some crumb donuts to donate to the retreat scholarship fund bake sale.


After the service, I headed over to the activity table to pay my balance. My sweet friend Cristina looked up my name on the registration list, and said, "You're paid." I looked and there was a notation, $110.00. Not comprehending, I asked, "How much do I owe?" She laughed and proved to me that I was paid! I tearfully told her, "I didn't even think I'd be able to go!"


I still can't believe it! As Jonathan said in I Samuel 14:6, "Nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few." God can do it His way, in His time, with or without my saving and scrimping. Or He could have allowed me to pay for the retreat as I have every other year...I am His to do with as He will.


His banner over me was love, Song of Solomon 2:4 says, and in 2:16, My beloved is mine, and I am his.


Another verse that has strengthened me as I have prayed for healings and answers to hard trials, when reversals or even improvements in a particular situation take place, is Hebrews 6:1a,


Let us go on to perfection.


Perfection in Christian maturity, perfection in faith, persevering in our walk and relationship with Christ. Going on to maturity and a more in-depth knowledge of Christ that allows you to continue in prayer, not taking the first answer, whether it's a pronouncement of fatality, a denial of opportunity when God has told you differently, or opposition to preaching the gospel and taking a stand for righteousness, doom pronouced for your unborn baby, or personal rejection that the enemy uses to torment you.


God's plans are greater, His word truer than any of man's truth! "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God," I Corinthians 3:19 boldly states. Do you believe this?


When your numbers and "facts" don't line up, line up behind our God and His word!



The wedding gift



























6:57 p.m. Today's project was to prepare for Heidi's bridal shower, her first one of the season, given by her maid of honor and bridesmaids. I was blessed and excited to be included, since many of these affairs are girlfriends only! My married daughter Heather and I are hosting the family shower for Heidi next Saturday here at the house.




In my journal this morning I wrote, "Lord, I lift up today's bridal shower for Heidi,. May a great number of friends come, may her gifts be most generous and useful..."



My prayers were answered abundantly! Her dearest friends were all there, even her maid of honor Charise from Las Vegas, and college roomies Amy from Laguna and Jillian from Granada Hills. The games were really funny and silly, but also challenging, as illustrated by the Toilet Paper Bridal Gown game. We worked in teams of five, spurred on by calls of "Make it Work!" a la Tim Gunn of "Project Runway." Other games featured kitchen tools, famous married couples, and games calling for a pretty solid knowledge of the bride! Even I couldn't remember Heidi's favorite Bible verse, Psalm 37:4, on the spur of the moment!



Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.



That verse totally tells Heidi's story of waiting patiently, while serving the Lord, for just the right man at just the right time--Pavel!



Her gifts were very generous, many of them from her Crate & Barrel and Target registries. I was pleased to see a lack of the crudeness that often rears its head on these occasions. The married ladies in the group showed wonderful self-restraint, as becoming women of God. I was reminded of God's view of marriage by Max Lucado's comment while being interviewed on the Huckabee show concerning California's adulterous former governor. He stated, "Sex is a gift from God--a wedding gift!" Very well and scripturally said!!



The shower wrapped up, gifts and food were loaded up, and our evening's schedule began. While daughter-in-law Marisela and Heather were at the shower, son Kriss and son-in-law Nick spent the afternoon with Steve, taking him to In 'N Out burger for his birthday. Kriss was also able to stop the squealing in his Infiniti's brakes by using some of his dad's tools. We said goodbye to our Long Beach children, and Steve brought all of the gifts into our home.



Heidi and Heather drove off to Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley to watch the high school drama production of Pride and Prejudice; I went to the grocery store to pick up frozen meatballs for our Home Fellowship's end of the year potluck feast tomorrow. Meatball sandwiches were a hit the last time I brought them, so I figure we'll all enjoy them again.



Not used to being the honored guest at a bridal shower, Heidi kept back her tears of joy and was a gracious and composed bride-to-be. And I am one blessed mother of five, this year's Mother of the Bride!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Day brighteners



2:56 p.m. Today's project was to take care of two items of medical concern for Steve. After a warm, encouraging, exciting night at my Mary Kay meeting where I moved into a new level of business management, the dawning morning brought some cold fiscal realities.


I discovered late last night while filling our vitamin/medication dispensers that money I had scrimped and saved to attend our women's retreat would be decimated by Steve's running out of Aricept. The $29 co-pay would have to be met today, because he took his last pill this morning. I learned that Steve cannot miss a single day of this extremely powerful Alzheimer's medication because the last time we were unable to buy it, he had severe confusion and painful shakes and twitching in his hands by the fourth day off of it. Since his Social Security check doesn't arrive until the 27th, the retreat payment deadline of the 22nd will not be met--barring an outright miracle from the Lord!


I pondered I Samuel 14:6, where Jonathan says to his armor bearer while planning a daring two-man attack on the perennially powerful Philistines:


It may be that the LORD will work for us. For nothing restrains the LORD from working by many or by few.


At Bible study yesterday, I asked the ladies a rhetorical question: does God need our little pile of pennies to save us or solve a financial problem? And, if He does not solve it by our perceived deadline, does it mean He dislikes or disapproves of us, or is tied up elsewhere?


Of course not--God has a better plan that will bring glory to Him and actual resolution to us, not just a stop-gap! Isaiah 46:9b-10 gives us the reason why:


For I am God, and there is no

other;

I am God, and there is none like

Me;

Declaring the end from the

beginning,

And from ancient times things

that are not yet done,

Saying, "My counsel shall stand,

And I will do all My pleasure."


If God wants me to attend the retreat, it will be all His doing, and none of mine!


The next "subtraction" came from the high cost of faxing documents to my husband's Medicare provider. CareMore asked for the neurologist's letter requiring the C-pap machine for Steve, as well as the sleep study he went through to prove he has Sleep Apnea. So I made a stop at Dr. Rai's office and then to UPS where I paid $9.00 to send 6 pages! It's the same rate at Staples, too, I check these things out!


It didn't help either that some facial appointments I had booked for this week got rescheduled to next week--could have used the money now. But such is the life of a beauty consultant! And God already knew that, along with everything that ever has or ever will happen! It's time to trust and accept His will, one way or the other, for attending the retreat.


As I was filling out the fax cover sheet at the UPS in Canyon Crest, I heard a cheery "Dana!" and saw longtime Christian friends and past political supporters the Johnsons at the other side of the store! They offered genuine encouragement for me concerning Steve; were thrilled with my book being published, as I am with their daughter attending pharmacy school in Denver. Hopefully they had time to go over to say hi to Heather in State Sen. Emmerson's office on the other side of the Towne Centre. Their joyful greeting, well wishes and prayers gave me a peace that allowed me to make it to my next stop, Ralphs, to pick up a few much-needed grocery items I'd planned to do without!


Ran into a retired Jurupa colleague at Rite Aid and exchanged some good words with the young pharmacy tech about the eyeshadow sample I'd given her. She liked it, so I'll have to book a facial for her soon. Keep moving onward!


Upon returning home to Steve and his caregiver, I saw a package that could only be one thing--ten copies of Galatians from my publisher!! It really has been a day of good news, despite my disappointment in one area. If my books are here, then the Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley Bookstore got theirs today, too. Daniel from the Harvest Christian Fellowship Bookstore called me to say that their order is in; and my friend Rachel, who has invited me to give a devotional at her garden party June 12th, reiterated during her call to me this morning that she definitely wants me to bring books to sign and sell.


On the funny side, my dad wants four signed copies, but wants them at the wholesale price! I said, "Daddy, you're the one who keeps asking me if I'll be making any profit from my books!" And he answered, "Yes, but not off of me!!" I laughingly said, "OK, just pay me what you think is fair!" Some things never change, including Daddy's driving a hard bargain!


My son Kriss and I had a nice chat about the retreat when he called a few hours ago, and he said, "You've always gone, you've always contributed, but it just may not be your year to go to the retreat, if nothing is lining up to make it possible." My broken heart doesn't want to accept that, but I cannot know what God has planned for me June 3-5. But I know God, and I know He loves me!


And I thank Him for using many people to brighten my day on other fronts. Psalm 126:5-6 gives me this assurance:


Those who sow in tears

Shall reap in joy.

He who continually goes forth

weeping,

Bearing seed for sowing,

Shall doubtless come again with

rejoicing;

Bringing his sheaves with him.





Thursday, May 19, 2011

Together again




3:14 p.m. Today's project was to begin our Thursday Bible study for the year. We are continuing in I Samuel, where we'll see God's move from the first (unsatisfactory) king of Israel to David, the "man after God's own heart."



It was a busy morning. My neighbor Cindy arrived at the house by 9:00 so we could go to the home where our childcare will be offered. We had a lovely time of prayer with our volunteers, and then headed over to Debbie's house, where we were greeted by a number of ladies who were already arriving.


It was so good to get our group together again, and to welcome my decades-long friend Pati into the fellowship. Even though we see each other at church regularly, and Pati and I communicate online and visit when we can, there's something magnificent about Christians gathering around God's Word, fellowship and prayer for one another and our families' needs. "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren (or "sistren!") to dwell together in unity!" Psalm 133:1 states.


Jesus promised in Matthew 18:19-20,


Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.


We began with a review of the period of the Judges, and the prophet Samuel's transitional role as prophet, priest and judge, continuing on to the anointing of the first king of Israel, Saul. We reviewed Chapter 13, where Saul loses his kingdom because of disobedience, and then marvelled at God's rescue of the nation by using Jonathan, his armor bearer, and an earthquake, to put the Philistines to flight.


As we all reflected upon and discussed the key spiritual points found in the verses, I was blessed to be instructed, encouraged and humbled by the caliber of these women of the Word! We all shared freely our impressions and our testimonies concerning trust, courage, obedience, consistency, leadership and many more virtues God wants to develop in His women.


But the sweetest portion of our session is always our prayer time, where we lift one another up to our Father, certain that He hears us, and will answer, and that He loves our loved ones more than we ever could!


A precious season has opened up, and we welcome all women to join us at 10:00 on Thursday mornings!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Surprise!



5:46 p.m. Today's project was to write my teaching notes for tomorrow's opening Bible study for spring, summer and early fall. We are continuing in I Samuel, with lessons the Lord gave me 25 years ago, now in Word format so the homework can be distributed electronically. I printed copies for those whose printers may not work, and added new women to the mailing list.


The morning was spent communicating with our childcare ladies and reminding the "regulars" that we are starting early this year. Our hostess Debbie is getting everything ready, including re-arranging her couches to make more room. I made arrangements with our care agency to have a worker come to be with Steve. At last, I settled down to write on I Samuel 14:1-23.


In this portion of Israel's history, King Saul has already shown his arrogance and willfulness (and panic) during war with the Philistines. He had disobeyed the prophet Samuel by offering a sacrifice that was not his place to offer, using the excuse that he had not sought the Lord before battle. (Chapter 13:12) That act of disobedience lost Saul his kingdom.


The Philistines were attacking on three sides, with iron weapons and chariots, while the only armor on the Israelite side was that of Saul and his son Jonathan. The rest of the army had only farm implements, which, ironically, they had to have sharpened in nearby Philistia! Saul had only 600 men left out of 3,000--the troops had been fleeing from their commander.


Chapter 14 opens with Jonathan and his armor bearer slipping out on their own to attack the Philistines without a word to the king. Saul remained with the army and the priests, who had brought along the Ark of the Covenant in much the same way and reason that pagan warriors brought their "gods"--superstition! (In chapter 5-6, the Israelites had had the humiliating experience of having to recover the stolen ark from the Philistines). Saul was keeping his bases covered, like we do at times when we fail to trust the Lord completely. Saul's actions did not come from a heart deeply committed to God!


Jonathan's faith was huge, v. 6 (NLT):


"Let's go across to the outpost of those pagans," Jonathan said to his armor bearer. "Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether He has many warriors or only a few!"


Jonathan's courage was contagious, v. 7:


So his armor bearer said to him, "Do all that is in your heart. Go then: here I am with you, according to your heart." (NKJV)


Godly leadership shows the way-and conquers--as Jonathan and his armor bearer slew 20 men. God caused a tumult with the earthquake He sent, and caused the Philistines to turn on one another.


Meanwhile, Saul and his men heard the commotion and speedily assembled themselves. The king called the priest to bring the ark, but there was no time for ritual, the army needed to defeat the Philistines, and did so, chasing them completely away. God had won the day for His people.


God often surprises us with His infinite power, resources and wisdom, as He operates outside of time and space constraints in our behalf. As to believers despairing over perceived lack in our lives, Oswald Chambers says in My Utmost for His Highest, May 16,


"...all the Almighty God is ours in the Lord Jesus! And He will tax the last grain of sand and the remotest star to bless us if we will obey Him."


Let us allow the Lord's Spirit free rein in our lives, to do the work He desires to do, in His way, His time, even if it shocks and shakes us!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

God's treasure box



4:00 p.m. Today's project was to attend the second meeting of the County Office of Aging's Alzheimers/dementia caregiver support group at a local senior center. The professional caregiver sent over to stay with Steve came on time with all of the documentation from the company he works for. We introduced ourselves to him, he met Bailey and Jada, and the guys threw a ball or two out in the backyard. And then off I went to class.



The topic for today was "Caregiver Stress." The presenter had vast personal and professional experience, and gave us plenty to think about in assessing our own condition. We all experience stress, and she had excellent suggestions from the Mayo Clinic in handling them. Some recommendations are:



  • Get active. That would include walking, jogging, gardening,etc. anything active.

  • Meditate. I would say pray and praise, from a Christian viewpoint, and meditate on the Word!

  • Laugh. Proverbs 17:22: A merry heart does good like a medicine.

  • Connect. Reach out, make social connections. Like church, ministry, and my business.

  • Assert yourself. In this context, it means to ask for help, delegate, and learn to say no, so your mental and physical health needs don't suffer.

  • Sleep. That's an area of lack for me, will work on being more consistent!

  • Journal. My journal will be the basis for the next book God has put on my heart, and this blog serves the same purpose, to shine God's light on daily life.

  • Get musical. My plan is to get back to my piano practice after the wedding commotion is over. Can't wait! May even dust off my violin!

  • Seek counsel. Proverbs 11:14b (NLT): There is safety in having many advisors. Godly ones, of course!

When the discussion came to ways we can stay more focused on our blessings, I shared about writing my praises down every night before bed. I've been doing this for 24 years, and it really reminds me how much God loves and cares for me. The presenter actually suggested that everyone there give that a try!!


As well as that meeting went, and as well as Steve did at home, God had opened up His treasure chest of blessings for me even more. The senior center's director put me on this afternoon's activity schedule to do facials for the ladies at the center. So I went home, took a nap, and after lunch, Steve and I went to the center for a 2 p.m. facial party for six darling elderly ladies. He helped me set up, and the gals really enjoyed the pampering. This wasn't a selling event, but if they remember me next Tuesday and would like a product, they can ask me. I was so blessed to spend time with them, as we jokingly agreed that we are all still 39!


A further blessing is that I was invited to participate in a spa day on June 23rd at the center!


More good news: my doctor's office called, and except for a slightly elevated cholesterol reading, all of my blood and urine tests came out fine! Less red meat for me, sigh...they also said avoid the carbs, but I do that already for dieting purposes, and lowering weight lowers cholesterol, as does exercise, so I am a happy camper today. I need to start being a happy walking camper, though, must get back in that habit!


And miracle of miracles, I managed to pull my stuck ATM card out of the machine at Wells Fargo with the miniature Mary Kay tweezers in my compact! As the hymn says,


PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!










Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday, partitioned



4:52 p.m. Today's project was to enjoy a day that is normally without commitments, while still spending time with Steve, organizing my Bible study for Thursday, and working my business, making phone calls and filling orders.



I got a really great boost from my Mary Kay Sales Director last night, because I moved up to the Red Jacket level, with three recruits who have begun working their own businesses. Commissions improve, and so does the responsibility to mentor and encourage Ann, Chelsey, and Debbie. For many years, the Lord has gifted me with the desire and vision for building up women and helping them grow in their ministries, so it's an exciting prospect! I always think of Paul's writing to a young pastor in I Timothy 1:12-16, in amazement and humility:


And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.


Shortly after my devotions, I sat down to get direction from the Holy Spirit for my teaching on Thursday in I Samuel Chapter 14. We have had a seven-month hiatus, so I knew I'd need to review Chapter 13. But the Lord showed me to re-introduce the era of the Judges as I had done before teaching the first 13 chapters last summer, and explain Samuel's role in the transition from a divided nation of tribes under the rule of judges, priests and prophets, to the era of monarchy, beginning with Saul. I also copied maps from my NLT Bible that show the Kingdom of Israel's boundaries under Saul, David (who will make his first appearance in this year's study) and eventually under Solomon. Now that I have a plan, organizing and writing my remarks will flow from there. I must give "my utmost for His Highest" to my teaching, because God has called the women to come, and He is the One who chosen three precious women to offer care and Bible study for the children whose moms attend.


As a friend at Home Fellowship was stating, "I know I'm not even the slightest bit worthy to be used by God, but He does any way! It's shocking!" I agreed, saying, "I try not to think too much about it, because it's God's decision, choice and calling--I just keep on doing what He says to do!"


One thing God definitely directs is to live happily and lovingly with our spouse, so Steve and I have lots of time together to enjoy one another's company and our mutual hobbies now that we are retired. What a blessing that is, too!


When our daughter came home, we made a plan for the two of us to run over to Redlands to see a house that just went on the rental market. It was so invigorating, curving through San Timiteo Canyon into my hometown on a quick outing. And the house is just darling, full of plants and flowers for her future husband to exercise his gardening talents on, and very well kept up. Will they be selected? We walked over to a neighbor's front yard to talk with him, and picked up some details that will be good to know for the appointment her fiance has there on Wednesday. I also mentioned that her grandpa lives down the street and that I went to Redlands High School. You never know what details might work in the newlyweds' favor! Above all, we are praying that God will place them in the perfect first home!


But the important thing for me was to spend a lovely hour and a half with my daughter who will be leaving home soon, in my favorite small city, driving through streets known for Edwardian-era mansions sitting side-by-side with beautifully kept smaller homes. The breezy, overcast afternoon made the neighborhoods more scenic, to my mind.


All in all, this was a Monday partitioned into many facets of God's will and work!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Stop working!



3:32 p.m. Today's project was to try to get some answers from the Lord as to the best use of our time and finances in the next week.


Heidi's wedding is priority #1 for our family right now; no need to list the efforts and expenditures there!


But in addition, I have Bible study starting Thursday, and Alzheimer's caregiver support group on Tuesdays, both of which the Lord has provided beautifully for, in terms of care for Steve, and childcare for the little ones whose moms seek time in the word of God. Home Fellowship is tonight. The women's retreat begins June 3rd in the San Bernardino Mountains, just 6 hours after our grandson's promotion from Castle Middle School in Chula Vista, San Diego County, that morning. And my business is growing and providing income too, as I visit with ladies and help them with their skincare.


I am or will be blessed by each of the events above, and am praying for the Lord to use me in any way He chooses. Here's the big question: will we have gas money for all of the driving required? God has NEVER failed to provide, no question there, but what would His priorities be in a financially tight month? I confess to being nervous, unsure, and on edge, frankly! 2+ 2 is not equalling 4 right now, and my mind is just swirling...


Oswald Chambers refers to manifesting our salvation as "working out what God has worked in." and he asks, continuing on in My Utmost for His Highest, May 15, "Are you working it out with your tongue, and your brain and your nerves?"


He's got me there!


Until I heard the still small voice telling me differently, I was actually considering skipping Home Fellowship this evening because of the distance we travel to get there! I was mentally working on crossing out uplifting and beneficial activities for the same reason. Church today, with the pastor's sermon on marriage, and wonderful fellowship with friends, lifted me up to a much better state which even the drizzling rain couldn't dampen.


After serving Steve his lunch, I headed out to the garden in a rain poncho to survey the nighttime survival of my plants, and another tomato plant was gone! Not bothering to become enraged, I had an immediate response at the sight of another gopher hole: I prepared a nice pile of soil, laid the shovel nearby, and got the last smoke bomb we had. Speedily lit the fuse, sent it flame-first down into the hole, and hand packed and shoveled dirt to keep the smoke from coming out! That method seems to set the critters running elsewhere, at least for a while. Getting the smell of gunpowder off my hands took a few washings, however. On the next clear night, Steve and I are going to bundle up, take the dogs and station ourselves in the garden and see what's up. (And I may just transplant some tomatoes into large pots for the season as another option).


All of these mental and physical feats fit the picture in today's devotional, as Chambers writes,


"God is the Master Engineer, He allows the difficulties to come in order to see if you can vault over them properly--'By my God have I leaped over a wall.' (Psalm 18:29) ...May God not find the whine in us any more, but may He find us full of spiritual pluck and athleticism, ready to face anything He brings. We have to exercise ourselves in order that the Son of God may be manifested in our mortal flesh."


Prayerfully thinking, planning and doing--"spiritual athleticism"--have never been an area of hesitation because that is the character God has given me. Prayerfully waiting on the Lord is much more difficult! Not to promote legalism, but I do want to offer a verse that struck me as I read my scripture portion this morning, and right now, as I picture myself in my purple rain poncho lighting my smoke bomb and shoveling dirt with my hands. Exodus 34:21 (NLT):


You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but on the seventh day you must stop working, even during the seasons of plowing and harvest.


Well, there it is! I think it's time to wait on God's answers to each of the issues that are working my nerves, wracking my brain, robbing my peace, and limiting my joy.







Saturday, May 14, 2011

Back away, slowly
































4:53 p.m. Today's project was to pick up Heidi's wedding gown and Heather's bridesmaid dress at Mary Me Bridal in Orange. Heidi's fittings were completed, and the bridesmaid dresses had arrived.




This exciting day began early. Heather came at 8 a.m. to share some of my fancy eggs (recipe to follow) and to take me to Michaels and Party Plus to choose decorations for the family bridal shower on Saturday the 28th. When we checked at both stores, the doors were locked--"Open at 9:00!" Boo, because I had a 9:15 hair appointment. So we went across the road to Target, where we saw lots of tangerine, but no fuschia-colored plates or napkins, and we're seeking to use both of Heidi's theme colors. We did decide on a menu: homemade tortilla chips, fajitas and trimmings, and ice cream sandwiches made with freshly baked cookies for dessert.




Meanwhile, Heidi was attending a Children's Ministry meeting at church. After Heather dropped me off at home to get my Jeep, she went over to Michaels and got the supplies we wanted, very cute stuff! I was glad she had time to visit with her dad, too. I returned home and then my dad came over to spend the afternoon with Steve. When Heidi returned, we all had some loud and hilarious political conversation. Much more fun wedding and marriage-oriented conversation took place on the way to Orange.




Amazed at the openness we all shared on topics that could be described as "delicate," I realized that my younger daughter was a three years' married woman, and her sister will be married soon. I took mental care to capture that precious time, believe me! As Heidi and Heather talked about their time frames for starting families, I said, "I want to be an active grandma, watching the babies and taking your school age kids places!" Heather chimed in, reassuring me, "Mom, you'll never lose your energy!" Better stay healthy, hadn't I, since Job 8:9 says,



Our days on earth are a shadow.



And Psalm 90:12 says,


So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.




I had been pondering these things when I noticed that Stephanie McTigue had posted this quote from Erich Fromm today on Facebook:


The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and in a sense tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother's side, yet this very love must help the child to grow away from the mother and become truly independent.


How true these words are! I offered the comment that it's hard when you realize that you as a mom are no longer the most important person in your child's life!


As we wrapped up a successful day and were on the way home, Heidi and Heather made plans to see "Pride and Prejudice" performed at our church by its high school drama department. I too love Jane Austen, having a degree in English Literature, but my girls have read her novels many times for sheer pleasure, and talk very knowledgeably about the various screen versions.


At first, I was about to say, "Think I'll go too," but then I thought the better of it. I said to myself, "Let them develop their relationship as grown women, and bond even closer over a shared favorite author's works."




And back away, Mom, back away slowly.





FANCY EGGS



5-6 fresh eggs

1 tablespoon basil pesto paste

1/2 shredded mozzarella cheese

4 fresh spinach leaves torn up

2/3 cup cooked, crumbled sausage

1 tablespoon butter




Scramble all together with a fork, and pour into a frying pan where you have melted the butter over medium high heat. Scramble soft, no hard edges, so you can wra it on a large plate with Saran Wrap, and cut off portions to microwave later in the week on busy mornings. Serves 4 people or one person for 4 days!





















Friday, May 13, 2011

I'm back!



10:31 p.m. Today's project, evening version, is to return to posting after the Blogger system went down for two days. My posts for those days were notes on my Facebook profile.





This evening Steve and I spent a lovely evening with his siblings, enjoying wonderful food, and the intimate Christ-centered talk of a believing family. We spent time enjoying newly-widowed Michaele's many household projects as she opens a new chapter of her life after Larry's death in December. The Lord is really taking care of her and meeting her needs. As Proverbs 3:5-6 says,



Trust in the LORD with all your heart ,

And lean not upon your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And he shall direct your paths.



Oldest sibling Sharon is working to regain her health, and is now sporting a blood pressure lower than some of my readings! Mike and Steve's sistr Linda are gearing up for their daughter Kindra's college graduation party this weekend.



And my Steve is talking more and better, keeping up with the conversation.



We came home full of good food and encouragement for our daughter's wedding plans; Michaele is going to send me some ideas for Heidi's bridal shower dessert.



Newly energized, however, Steve and I headed into the garden to tackle another front in our war with garden pests--blocking up the gaps in our fence in the dark! We scrambled about over piles of lumber and gravel by flashlight, stacking boards and stuffing lumber into knotholes. Will it work, or will we need to camp out one of these nights to catch marauders with the blunt end of a shovel? (Or at least make loud noises)!



We joined hands and prayed to the Lord for protection for the fruit of our labor, trusting Him to meet our need. Our efforts will only succeed with the Lord help, we know! Psalm 147:10-11 declares,



He does not delight in the strength of a horse;

He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man.

The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him,

In those who hope in His mercy.




So glad to be back to normal in the world of cyber ministry!



In Christ,


Dana

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sister to sister, Heart to Home



3:20 p.m. Today's project was to share and publicize our church's Heart to Home classes that will meet on Tuesday the 17th and the 24th. Kay Wardell will be teaching "Fashionable Homemade Diapers" (pictured above), and I will lead "Event Planning for Busy Women."



Heart to Home was birthed at Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley in April 2005 as an offspring of the "Willing Hearts, Willing Hands" ministry I had begun with Linda Thomson and Bonnie Lange at Harvest Christian Fellowship several years before Steve and I were led to Calvary. In 2008, Mickey Althouse began a new Heart to Home in Black Forest, Colorado! I was honored to speak at their opening session, and Steve helped the men in preparing and serving the luncheon.



We have offered classes on everything from mosaic tile table tops, quilts, chocolate candymaking, Mexican cooking, crochet, fleece blankets, strawberry jam, beauty and makeup, basic sewing, flower arranging, home economizing, painting, recognizing your child's spiritual gifts, aerobics, stencilling, sign language, beginning guitar, starting your own business, journalling, budgeting, gardening, scrapbooking, holiday decorations, canning and many more than I can remember! I offer the devotional message before classes begin. Heart to Home is also an outreach, because co-workers or family members who wouldn't come to church feel quite comfortable coming to a fun, creative and crafty event.




Now that our classes take place on Tuesday evenings during the same time slot as the men's Bible study and the high school study, women can attend classes on any subject that interests them, not limited by a one-time event. I have been blessed to meet many women I've never seen before, even as active and involved as I am!



Heart to Home is a perfect fit for the Titus 2:3-5 theme of our women's ministry. The scriptural exhortation to older, more experienced women in the church reads thus:



...that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things-- that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

There are many requirements of us older women, to teach and lead, and not be drunks or slanderers, to teach godly character to our younger sisters in Christ. But two items on the list gave me pause when I first read the passage many years ago as a young believer. "Why did the Apostle Paul find it necessary to direct that young women be taught to love their husbands and children? Isn't that natural?"


My favorite commentator Albert Barnes (1798-1870) comments that this particular word for love "occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. In Ephesians 5:25, Paul directs husbands to love their wives, and in verse 33, the wife to reverence her husband, and here he says that it should be one of the first duties enjoined upon the wife that she should love her husband. All happiness in the marriage relation is based on mutual love. When that departs, happiness departs."

As for loving one's children, "Nature prompts to this, and yet there are those so depraved that they have no maternal affection...Religion re-produces natural affection where sin has weakened or destroyed it, and it is the design of Christianity to recover and invigorate all the lost and weakened sensibilities of our nature."

In our classes, we teach women to enjoy, be at peace, fulfilled in their roles as keepers of the home, even if they also have outside employment. I think of women of past generations who worked very hard physically, but still found time to bless their families with handmade items and lovingly prepared dishes and treats. We serve the women by teaching them the "good things" our scripture refers to!

Barnes notes as to keepers at home (KJV), "This does not mean, of course, that they are never to go abroad, but they are not to neglect their domestic affairs; they are not to be better known abroad than at home; they are not to omit their own duties, and become 'busybodies' in the concerns of others."

Our Heart to Home ministry aspires to offer loving encouragement and skills to bless, please and comfort the ones we love!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Clarity for All, Part II



3:56 p.m. Today's project was to praise the Lord for His good work and answers to prayers from yesterday, when I decided that "I would not need to fight the battle, but position myself, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord who is with me." (paraphrasing II Chronicles 20:17)

Yesterday opened with issues of concern on several fronts. I was needing to make financial arrangements, and all went beautifully. In order to attend a Riverside County Office of Aging Alzheimer's caregivers' support group today, Steve would need care, and I was able to take him to his friend's to help out in his orchard. And just now, 4:58 p.m., the Office on Aging called to set up an appropriate caregiver for the next 5 weeks the class runs!

I was pretty downhearted about my garden because of the gophers pulling down tomato plants, even wondering if I should let it go and concentrate on my upcoming Bible study, sales of Galatians, Heidi's wedding, and my business. As a veteran gardener who's faced some real persistent pests, I needed to ask myself the question in Jeremiah 12:5 instead of moping!

If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?

And I needed to correct myself--again--with Proverbs 24:10:

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.

But, God had a better plan! (Doesn't He always?!) At the end of a sales appointment, my customer asked about the garden, and told me about an organic solution, a repellent plant called "Gopher Purge." I picked Steve up, we headed to Parkview Nursery, and by 1 p.m., 6 of those plants were set in our plot! And by 4 p.m., so were 6 more "Early girl" tomato plants, 6 bell peppers, I'd planted cantaloupe and watermelon, and harvested a large bunch of carrots and bag of salad greens.

On to Heidi's wedding! A family wedding is a natural non-stop exercise in problem solving, but God performed several acts of mercy for us yesterday afternoon:


  1. Groom Pavel's mom called to make arrangements to host the rehearsal dinner

  2. Our homeowner's insurance will cover the wedding at no additional cost

  3. My Mother-of-the bride dress will be in at Dress Barn, in my size, this week

God wasn't done yet with blessing and handling the concerns of my heart! While studying I Samuel for next Thursday, I picked up a voicemail from Pastor Brad Ormonde from Harvest Christian Fellowship. He and Pastor Jeff Lasseigne had reviewed Galatians, and I should expect a call from the bookstore manager soon!


So now both my church, Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley, and Harvest will make the Bible study available to their fellowships! How I thank the Lord the Holy Spirit for leading, inspiring, and training me to write Galatians in 1987! And I thank Him for giving decisionmakers confidence in the Lord's working, as well as grace toward me.


I had a big pile of anxieties and concerns, but I have a much bigger God!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Clarity for All, Part I



5:45 p.m. Today's project was to reorganize some finances, change automatic life insurance premium withdrawals, and inquire from Mercury homeowner's insurance about insuring Heidi's wedding as a one-time event. I needed to find out how our childcare mom is coming along with Bible materials for the preschoolers she'll be watching for our Bible study starting next Thursday. Steve and I also needed to make a plan to defeat the undergound thieves in our garden, which I am beginning to refer to as "Gopher Gulch!"



All this before leaving the house for an appointment with a customer.



At my appointment with a friend and her mom, we enjoyed talking about the products and then began sharing on more personal matters of physical illness. The issues were so complex and fraught with conflicting opinions that I asked if I could pray for them, so we held hands and I let the Holy Spirit lead as I asked for clarity and guidance for each of them.



"Only You, Lord, can bring clarity and order to their decisions, and only You can heal!" I prayed. Seeing friends hurting and frightened makes me think of II Chronicles 20, where King Jehoshaphat found Judah surrounded by the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mt. Seir, completely overwhelmed by the numbers. He proclaimed a fast in Judah and Jerusalem (v.3) and assembled the people to seek the LORD.



In verse12, he prayed,



O our God...we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.



Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon a Levite, Jahaziel, and he spoke the word of the LORD to the people:



Do not be afraid or dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's.



I have been strengthened by this verse so many times in my 31 years as a Christian, but I focused on something that never caught my attention before. God does not minimize the enormity of the threat against Judah, nor make light of Jehoshaphat's fears, despite the fact that those armies are like ants to Him! Additionally, God already had a plan to dispatch those nations handily.



The Lord Jesus does not downplay or minimize the threats that come against us, His children, today, either, no matter what we face. He doesn't mock our fears, but He sends His Holy Spirit to guide, lead and reassure us. Sometimes He tells us, like He told defeated leader Joshua in Chapter 7, verse 10 of the book of the same name, "Get up!Why are you lying on your face like that?" because He wants to show us the right action to correct our issue. But whatever approach He takes with each of us, it is always in perfect love, wisdom and justice. Our part is to trust Him and obey Him!



In II Chronicles 20:17, God then gives King Jehoshaphat the battle plan:



You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.



More fresh applications are coming to me here. The importance of positioning ourselves IN CHRIST as born again believers is crucial! STANDING STILL and watching the Lord unravel the most complex issues and damaged relationships, waiting for Him to move, not rushing into the fray in a battle that is not even ours, despite the surface appearance and our emotional state. That is when miracles and answers come--when we wait upon our God!



The army of God's people went out singing praises to the Lord, the Lord set ambushes against their enemies, and then the attacking armies fought against each other until as verse 24 says, No one had escaped.



In thirty-one years of trials, I have either been delivered, am being deilvered, or will be delivered! I can attest to the faithfulness of my God!

Tomorrow: the praise reports! "Clarity for All, Part II"