Sunday, July 31, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
8:16 p.m. Today's project was to participate in my first book signing as a newly-published author!
The Lord used Tate Publishing to put this first event together, and two more coming up in August. The concept of doing a book signing seemed very much "out there" for a person who has been a local public figure in the past (an elected school board trustee of the Riverside district for 3 terms), but hardly the type of celebrity whom people sleep out overnight to have their book signed by.
I'm just a person who has followed the Lord's leading in studying, teaching, and writing about the Bible; furthermore, a sinner saved by grace like multiplied millions of other born again believers.
I hadn't asked my marketing rep what I was supposed to do at Kraemer's Koffee Bistro from 1-3 p.m. today, so these questions came to my mind this morning:
- Do I stand up at 1:00 and make a few introductory remarks?
- Do I tell the history of the book, the way it began as hand-typed lessons in the 1980's?
- Walk over to greet those who come in, or wait to see if they may just be there for a coffee?
- Or do I combine the conversation of a small gathering with individual conversations?
- How do I ask for the money? How much change should I bring?
- What do I write to the purchasers? (I jotted down some verses from Galatians on a scrap of paper which got buried in my tote bag, so Heather ran out to get her Bible).
- What kind of pictures would my daughter Heather take?
My dad left our house a few minutes before 12 p.m., so soon Steve and I were on our way down Arlington toward the Brockton Arcade with 14 books I had bought at the author price, and 9 books I'd borrowed from the Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley bookstore in case I ran out. It was sure hot! We put up the reflective shade on the windshield and went through the shady breezeway and into the shop.
Ken the great counterman told us to set up our books on any table. It was very silent in there, because his lunchtime rush comes pretty early. "Uh-oh," I thought. But we had prayed earlier, and for months before, so the Lord would bring the turnout He ordained. I related to what a long-time friend who came in later in the afternoon said, "I'm certain in my uncertainty!" No sense freaking out, especially an hour before the event began! God ordained the writing of this Bible study, and the creation and publication of the book Galatians: An Exploration of Faith & Freedom. If He didn't want anyone to read it and learn to know Him and better understand His plan of salvation as a result, God wouldn't have brought it to the point of publication! Isaiah 46:9-10 says,
...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."
Steve, Heather and I ate a lovely lunch and got everything ready to wait for book buyers.
My friend Joyce came in, telling us that 6734 Brockton is actually across the street! Heather checked it out, and the coffee shop has the same address as a hair salon. At least the name isn't the same! She visited with us all and then bought a book signed to her friend, a woman who gives her life to help others. Galatians 6:9 seemed to be appropriate for her:
And let us not become weary of while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Two or three at a time, people came in, some specifically for the signing, and others I met on the spot. Conversation came easily, with Heather and Steve participating also. My two oldest sons' counselor from North High, Connie Decker came in, amazingly at the same time as our florist Cheryl and her high school senior daughter. They met Connie and will be able to benefit from Mrs. Decker's private college counseling business! Info was exchanged...
Two people came in who wanted the book to start Bible studies at their church or for a home group. Heather took photos of me with customers and friends as the event went on.
The leader of our Riverside Office of Aging Caregiver support group, Darlene, a published author on eldercare issues herself, came in with her husband. She actually got to meet my Steve, whom she's heard so much about in our classes. She and her husband Steve and the three Kruckenbergs had a really fun conversation. Darlene is a godsend of encouragement to so many! My note in her copy of Galatians to her said as much--she helps us have hope in what could be a hopeless situation, of living with a loved one with Alzheimers.
Later on, friends I hadn't seen for a decade or more came in, and joyous reunions took place. I ended up selling half of the books I brought, and more will be ordered from the publisher for Bible studies still to be formed. I'll be returning the borrowed books tomorrow, and now I have a copy to send to Calvary Chapel Distribution for review. Pressing forward, always forward, as God would have us do, reflecting and learning from the day's events but not camping there.
As I look forward to the next signing on a Saturday morning, my dad's birthday, August 13th here in my Mission Grove neighborhood, I anticipate not just sales, but more incredible divine appointments!!
Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I was somewhat loath to go, since I'm stilll in the writing phase of the Thursday morning I Samuel study, but since I had rsvp'ed and care arrangements had been made, I went. It was so refreshing to be greeted even in the parking lot as another member of the class pulled up the same time I did. We really did form a bond during the first 6 weeks of classes, even though each of us has a different scenario at home. Steve is by far the youngest victim; and only the very oldest family caregivers are caring for a spouse. The rest share care for an affected parent with their siblings or spouse.
The presentation today was given by a lawyer, an expert on elder issues, and much detail was taught to us about powers of attorney for finances and healthcare, wills, living and irrevocable trusts, "do not resuscitate" orders, and end of life care preferences. I am thankful that the Lord has led us to purchase the long term care insurance that funds Steve's caregivers on a regular basis, except the ones arranged for this class by the Office of Aging. We've also completed Advance Directives that our kids and doctor have copies of, as well as Steve's Medicare provider Caremore. I have sent all of our banks and insurance companies signed powers of attorney.
Being a firm believer in wise preparation, I quote Proverbs 27:12a to myself:
A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself...
In other words, take whatever means you have to look ahead and protect your family! I also have long term care coverage, so our kids won't have additional burdens either if that day comes when I might be incapacitated, and they need to work daily or care for their own little ones. We never know what a day may bring, but we can act in a diligent manner with the information we do have, and act upon what we see!
Yet God holds His people accountable for more than practical matters of daily living and temporal well being, important as they are. Jesus once rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees for being utterly devoid of spiritual discernment as they rejected Him and challenged Him to "show them a sign from heaven." Hear Matthew 16: 2-3:
He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red;' and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, because the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times."
Heavenly Father, may we not only seek You and the wise counsel You have generously provided in Your word to guide our living, but may we store up spiritual treasure, make Spirit-led decisions and provisions for our loved ones now and for eternity! In Jesus' name, amen.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
The month began with our dogs getting out of a gate my husband Steve left open, costing $530 in total fees to bring them home, only half of which has been paid; the Jeep's transmission blew on my daughter's wedding day, so that along with the animal shelter fees, the new part ($800) and a very small payment to our mechanic, much less than he deserved, our house payment was in jeopardy. One car, one driver, one choice...
In another part of the state, our youngest son was also struggling, with the summer halting the physical education program he ran for mentally retarded adults; and the economy in Fresno caused his private clients to quit. His bodybuilding sponsor proved very sporadic in their payments, so Steven experienced real physical lack, and even his great faith was shaken: no job offers despite hundreds of applications, several interviews, putting his rent in jeopardy. More than once I offered to bring him home. (His Jeep is currently needing a water pump replacement--must be the 6 year mark for our identical models)! But he feels that with the ministry he's involved with, that God wants him there. If that is true, then I fully expect God to move in Steven's behalf. May the last two interviews result in the perfect job for him! As his mom, it's so hard to get his text messages, during the struggle and only being able to send a few bucks to help, and rarely doing that. My main source of comfort for him has been scripture. If God would allow David, the man after God's own heart, to be a 10 year fugitive, stating in I Samuel 20:3b, "there is but a step between me and death," then He can obviously allow other men and women who are walking with Him daily and serving Him, to suffer great trials.
That's how I see it, because we all have lessons to learn in this life, and trials do some powerful teaching.
God graciously allowed me to earn my expenses for my trip to Dallas, but I barely could afford to eat, and ate very little besides the meals Mary Kay Inc. paid for, and almost couldn't get my luggage checked in because I hadn't realized that even the first bag costs $25! $50 down the drain--and over my cash travel budget. But God was faithful to provide the money. Additionally, I lost my sunglasses and broke my camera. I'm just grateful to be home, honestly!
Upon arriving home, after signing all of the caregiver's time sheets in my clean kitchen--good job, guys--I checked the thermostat, and it read 83*. What? I kicked the air conditioning down several degrees and went about to eat a quarter chicken leftover from a casserole I'd made for the men, unpack, spend time with Steve, and just rest. But it was hot. Now the thermostat read 87* and it had to be faced--the A/C was broken! Steve, not surprisingly, hadn't said anything. So we turned on 3 fans and actually were reasonably comfortable. "We're not fixing this, no money, so we'll just figure on getting used to it!" I told Steve.
This morning after church, I posted a request for A/C repair suggestions on Facebook, and by lunch, Jason, an old neighbor, had called me and was coming over in the afternoon. Thank you, Lord, that he discovered a small part that was not working, and got the air on for us, and will be checking with the manufacturer on a warranty. The part may cost us nothing!!
Our next scheduled guests were daughter Heidi and husband Pavel, fresh from their first married couples' retreat, to pick up her mail and her cell phone bill, which she gave us a check for. But while I was outside ministering to our air conditioning repair man, she and Pavel were reviewing the disc of their wedding pictures--another blessing, because I now was able to attach a photo to their wedding announcement, and email it to the Press Enterprise. God even cares about the relatively minor details of our lives!
Best of all, my friends Joanna and Sarah came over as promised with a huge supply of Mary Kay business tools and supplies, because she has given up her successful business in favor of finishing her bachelor's degree and preparing for a move to Alabama with her husband and family for ministry at Calvary Chapel Foley.
I can't even list all that she brought me, but one "hostess gift" stood out, to testify of God's love for me: a pair of sunglasses!
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
5:42 p.m. Today's project started at 6:03 a.m. when I got a text from my youngest son Steven, saying , "Praise God, the headache is gone."
Steven had just gotten up in San Jose for his bodybuilding show at 6:30 p.m. What a praise report after his frantic text message of 8:50 p.m. last night!
Yesterday afternoon, he drove north from Fresno, and found cheap lodgings. His message to me last night read, "Pray for me I have the worst migraine I can't even get out of bed right now."
I texted all of Steven's siblings, his dad and I prayed, and then I thought, let me notify my almost 600 Facebook friends, and especially the "Post a Prayer" FB ministry administrated by my dear friend Linda Martinez. I answered my son back, "go lie down in the dark," but he reminded me that he had to apply his body color and needed to eat at 11:00 p.m. per his very strict dietary routine. While I stayed in communication with Steven all evening, prayer was flowing forward from around the country for him.
It was humbling and inspiring to see believers praying, and I posted many thank yous! Yet, despite the hope and faith I had in God's ability and willingness to heal, the devil had these barbs to toss at me:
- Should you have given Steven $30 for a room?
- What if it's not God's will for him to compete?
- Isn't it a sign he shouldn't be in San Jose, since his sponsor fell through on the lodging?
- His migraine won't go away, so all that time and money wasted!
- What if it's an aneurysm?
- He'll die all alone.
- Better find out what motel he's in, in case he dies!
- Then it will be your fault because he wouldn't have had money to stay in a motel!
From the "practical" to the absurd, were the tormenting thoughts that hit me because my child was hurting 6 hours away! In confronting these taunts from the accuser of the brethren, the old serpent, the devil (Revelation 11:10, 20:2), I kept praying and calling to mind the prayers of the saints on my son's behalf! (I did ask Steven where he was staying, and was glad he had a bed instead of his original plan of sleeping in a hotel lobby!) I love the way Revelation 5:8 speaks of the prayers of the saints being in the presence of the Lamb in heaven, as "golden bowls of incense." I felt and was bolstered by my friends and acquaintances, brothers and sisters in the Lord, praying for a young man most won't meet until we are all together in heaven!
There's no telling right now how Steven's bodybuilding contest will go, but he is healed and competing, with music from Christian rapper LeCrae for his theme song. My prayer is that the lyrics will be edifying for believers and convicting to the unsaved. My answer back to him on receipt of the good news of his migraine being gone was, "Now go out there and give God the glory!"
And that's the answer to this mom's prayers!
Friday, July 8, 2011
8:14 p.m. Today's project was to comfort and be comforted. II Corinthians 1:3-4 says,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
A little after 11:30 this morning, I picked up a voicemail from my dad saying it was urgent that I return his call. His 4-year-old Weimaraner had died, he believes, by poisoning, because she was healthy and suddenly stopped eating about 10 days ago, then her appetite improved for a day or two. This morning he found her. "Glass mixed into hamburger seems to be the method dogs are being killed by here in Redlands," he said, and noted a morning when the dogs on his and the other side of the fence were barking furiously, he thinks at a burglar trying to break into a neighboring home where the people had been on a long vacation. The younger of his two dogs probably got to the meat first, and as a result, died a painful and cruel death. Daddy was needing information for which agency to call, since he knows we have been through three doggie deaths over the last 30 years, so I suggested Animal Control to start. Later she got picked up at no charge. So sad and disappointing, but we talked about it for a while, and he recovered his usual demeanor, full of ideas and advice as always.
Not long after, a customer and former teacher colleague came by to pick up a Mary Kay "Satin Hands" gift set, and we got onto the subject of her 90 year-old mother in severe late stage Alzheimer's. "Marnie" is trustee of her parents' trust, and had come from a tax appointment with the attorney, and then from talking with the renter in the home her parents had lived in. Her mom is now in a private home care setting, where she is known as Amazing Kay for her speedy escapes to visit friends who live nearby!
Yet, Kay doesn't know her daughter, calling her by the names of her own sisters. She wants to know how her own parents, dead for 50 years, are doing on their farm in Minnesota, and recently wrote them a letter. The memory picture albums Marnie brings over on her twice-weekly visits do little to jog her memory, but by the end of each visit, her mother does call her by name. "She's just not the mother I knew." We talked for a very long time, because it was much needed. Marnie is hurting and overwhelmed, but very glad she retired in 2008 to take care of her parents.
I don't fully understand dealing with this insidious disease in an elderly parent, but I know the Lord had me there to listen, comfort, assure Marnie she was doing the right thing, especially having moved her parents out of their home for safety reasons. Both her late father--stroke-induced dementia-- and her mother actually tried to escape a large and very well run facility, Integrated Care Communities, and accused Marnie of tricking them. "I still feel guilty about it, but I had no choice." My prayer is that a door of witness may be opened with my friend soon; only Jesus can cleanse from guilt and pain!
At 4 p.m., it was my turn to receive comfort and encouragement from my friend Candace, whom I'm helping start her Mary Kay business by giving her a basket full of fun summer products to sell to earn the money to invest in a New Consultant kit. As we looked through the "stocking stuffer"-priced goodies, she asked me about Steve, listened and truly empathized, because her mother-in-law had early-onset Alzheimer's and had become violent by age 60. This reached a point where living with the family was out of the question. Although my plan, Lord willing, is to have home care for Steve all the way through, I feel comforted to know that others have made the tough decisions and it's been for the best for everyone. I'm grateful to the Lord for His continual guidance and provision, and for those who have walked the path before me.
This week, several email messages of comfort and encouragement have come from family and friends in response to the cancellation of our 30th anniversary service and party, assuring me of continued prayer for Steve and me. I love our family and church family with all my heart!
What I appreciate most is the way my Lord Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father, "the God of all comfort" orchestrated each conversation today. Therefore I rest in Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
6:22 p.m. Today's project was to teach our Thursday Bible study, on I Samuel 19, a chapter that opens with murderous intrigue, moves on to determined and deadly pursuit, but ends with the Holy Spirit's divine intervention to protect David, the man after God's own heart.
As we shared today, with open discussion throughout the teaching time, so many of our group of women are in serious trials of physical affliction, financial duress, uncertainty in critical matters with deadlines, or facing the loss of a loved one. Some of the issues, like my husband's mental decline, are frightening; other issues verify the steady harassment of the devil against the child of God. Yet, testimonies of grace and guidance from God's Spirit uplift us continually, in large matters and small. God is with us!
My devotion this morning, from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, was very challenging in regard to trials, and I will be quoting portions from the July 7th message:
Enter ye at the strait gate...because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way..." Matthew 7:13-14.