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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Latest decision point on the Royal Road

2:36 p.m. Today's project for the start of my day was to figure out what time it was! After setting all of my clocks back one hour last night, then noticing that my cellphone hadn't seemed to change even though it was after 12 a.m. when I went to bed, I figured that the computer would change on its own, ditto the cellphone, and we were good for our Sunday morning drive to church. 

But somehow, the clocks were reading an hour earlier than my cellphone and computer, hmmm. Okay, Steve and I would either be on time for the 9:45 service, or get there an hour early and find something to do across the freeway at the Super Walmart.

It was quite odd, after a very rough morning that included toast being thrown onto the floor and other sad incidents, to find the clock in the car set on the correct time. I hadn't changed it, and even though the Jeep is pretty up-to-date, its clock doesn't change itself. So I tuned away from our Christian music station to LA's KNX News Radio to get the final verdict on the correct time. "9:40," the announcer said. "We're good," I said to an unfazed Steve, who was just enjoying staring out the windshield as usual.  I have to admire his unfailing trust in my judgment!

Wish I could trust the Lord as much, or at least consistently! So often, the Holy Spirit has to tap me on the shoulder and remind me, "I'm in this for You! You aren't the one doing this. This is My work!" I love to quote to myself (and should quote it more often) what God told the people through Moses during the wilderness journey:

The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, Deuteronomy 1:30a.

I was still a bit puzzled until Pastor Mark gave the congregation the reminder to set our clocks back one hour NEXT SUNDAY! Oh well, looks like I have some clocks to take down and put back up next week.

Church was difficult today, and that's putting it mildly. Singing went fine, but Steve was completely out of it during the sermon. Like every week, I put his NKJV Chuck Smith Bible open to the right page, on his lap, and then find the passage in my New Living  Translation which I enjoy following along in. Normally, Steve keeps his Bible on his own lap, but as his head kept falling down in sleep, his knees would spread out and the open Bible would head toward the floor! Sadly, we were sitting on the aisle not very far back, so I can only hope Pastor John couldn't see our constant shifting around. So now both heavy Bibles were on my lap while Steve clasped his hands together for his nap. This was so stressful and very distracting from a great message. Praise the Lord that He has gifted me with good concentration!

As Steve fell more heavily asleep, he began leaning over on me, and he is too heavy  for me to support in addition to the Bibles. So I quietly rubbed his arm, and when that didn't work, lightly poked him with a pen in his forearm so he would wake up without jerking. My neck and back were very grateful when it was time to stand up for final worship.

Today's experience helped finalize my decision to ask Pastor to come over and minister to Steve because his condition is worsening so rapidly. But what sealed it was our walk back to the Jeep, during which Steve kept pulling away from my hand and would have walked into both a pillar and a wall if I hadn't stopped and tugged him over toward me. I stopped us and talked to him about safe walking, and asked whether or not he wanted to hold my hand and walk closely together (like we've done for our 30 years of marriage).  He moved the Bibles he was carrying from the hand away from me, to the hand nearest me, so I guess he wanted to try it on his own. He began to wander off the curb. So I took his hand again, and we made it to the car. I unlocked it and opened his door to show him where to get in without calling out or drawing attention to him. We were parked with a planter to the right that was between us and the driveway.

Steve walked past the open passenger door and the planter, and directly into the "in" driveway! It's only the Lord's grace that kept a car from turning into the driveway at that point.

So now, in addition to getting Steve's blood panel done next week, and seeing the neurologist sooner than we might have, I have to figure out what kind of help I need on Sunday morning and whom to ask, or accept the fact that Steve may not be able to attend church at some   point if I cannot manage him any longer by myself.  I did email our pastor and he will be looking at coming over to visit with Steve, one-on-one, to encourage him while he can still comprehend the conversation.  

But just as the Lord tells me on so many other matters, He is going before me, and already has Steve's and my future laid out on the Royal Road to heaven!

A Walk to Remember

7:36 p.m. Today's project was for Steve and me to join my team in the "Walk to End Alzheimer's" Inland Empire event at Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park.

It had been a real strain to get to the park by 8:30a.m., and as a team captain, I should have been there by 8:00. We had a bit of an episode with our lab Jada, who started barking from her crate in the garage about 2:30 , then I let her out. Back upstairs to bed. She started up again, so  I gave her some water. Then, unbelievably, the was at it again, so I woke Steve up, which was very difficult, and sent him downstairs--he's her great hero, so it was the only card I had left to play! He got her quieted down, but then could not find his way back to bed. Seems the night light had been left off. Needless to say, I changed my cell phone alarm from 5:30 to 6:00. Thankfully, we picked up another couple of hours of sleep.

Psalm 127:2  says, "The LORD gives His beloved sleep," and so He did. After our devotions and a good breakfast we were on our way by 7:45. Another grace from the Lord was that I had run into our Care Pathways coordinator Darlene at the Somerford Place carnival yesterday, so Steve and I were able to have our team t-shirts on already, which would save us time on arrival at the park.

Thousands of people attended along with sponsoring businesses such as Ralphs, Genworth, (our long term insurance carrier) and several of the in-home care agencies, residence homes, health care providers, and of course, the Alzheimer Association with several informational booths and opportunities for advocacy.  Many large family groups were walking with pictures of a beloved parent or grandparent on their shirts. There was a real atmosphere of love, kindness, and shared sorrow, along with determination to see a difference made through advancements in medicine and treatments.

Once we registered and found our Care Pathways team table, we took seats in front of the stage where good rock music oldies from groups like the Eagles was playing, provided by 99.1 FM. Refreshments were plentiful and free, so I took Steve through the line to get water, cracker packs and scones. The Don Francisco coffee booth was very popular. 

We thought the walking would happen right away, and that awards would come later as it got hot. But there was a ceremony, which began with the Star Spangled banner sung by a very talented local singer. Two "Laker Girls" were there signing pictures, and sadly, didn't even rise for the National Anthem until almost the end, probably because someone told them to. How embarrassing! Otherwise, besides sitting in the sun awaiting the signal to begin walking, things went along smoothly.

In the picture, you see some of us wearing flowers in differing colors: blue for Alzheimer's sufferer, yellow for caregiver, and purple if you'd lost someone. I realized while filling out flowers for Steve and me, that we fit several categories. If we think too deeply about these losses, we would be tempted to tears. We've lost his father Lorenz and his brother Larry. Steve has the disease, and I am a caregiver.  

If we were to dwell on these losses, as well as the personal loss of freedom and normalcy for the two of us, we would be tempted to be depressed. And when I think of my children and our niece and nephews, It could cause utter despair. But we have the Lord, and have learned to grasp the moments, hours and days of happiness and togetherness that the Lord still allows. I encourage my children to live their lives to the fullest, serve Jesus actively and with their whole hearts. And not to be afraid to have their own children because the disease is inherited, true, but there's no telling which generation may get it or be skipped. In other words, they are not to live in fear!  They've all gotten married but the youngest one, to spouses who are well aware of their father-in-law's condition. All of them plan to have children sooner or later. 

They have taken to heart II Timothy 1:7,

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

I posted my 3-generational reason for in choosing to walk today on Facebook:

"I am doing the Alzheimer's walk in memory of Lorenz and Larry, and with hope for my children." 

Friday, October 28, 2011

A huge goal

9:31 p.m. Today's project was to attend the Israel 2013 trip meeting this evening at our church, Calvary Chapel of Moreno Valley. It took lots of planning and last-minute rearrangement of Steve's care, and I'd had a huge day before the meeting even began.

The original plan for today called for an appointment for Steve at our Medicare provider Care-More, then my hair appointment at 10:00. Neither appointment took place, because I had the wrong Friday in mind--costing us an half hour of sleep unnecessarily, drat!--and because last evening, I realized that getting my hair done the day before an early morning, damp air Alzheimer's walk on Saturday was a dumb idea! So I rescheduled both items for Monday, with a facial for a new customer sandwiched in between.

Did that quiet down my day? Hardly! Devotions and Bible study laid a firm ground on which to walk, thankfully. As I Timothy 6:19 says, Christians should be:

...storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.  

Speaking of walking, since I needed to borrow a "normal to dry" moisturizer from one of my consultants who lives a couple blocks down, I had Steve saddle up Jada, and off we went. Our street is hilly, so that uphill climb at the end did me good. Maybe that was a little warm-up for tomorrow's Walk to End Alzheimer's. That's 2 miles around a regional park--review due tomorrow! 

We ran over to Ralphs for a roll of paper towels, and got ready for our 11:15 visitors, Linda and Lisa, who not only whipped up a delicious Chinese chicken salad for the four of us, but helped me complete my necklaces from the Heart to Home class we had a couple Tuesdays ago.  What sweet sisters! Steve kept busy mowing the lawns until he thought something broke, but we were about finished by that time any way.

I had to hastily arrange caregiving for Steve after he had major struggles yesterday, so I cancelled plans to take him to my dad's while I worked the Mary Kay booth. Daddy, at 84,  is just not capable of watching or tending to Steve while he's experiencing breakdowns and personal difficulties. Brightstar was good about scheduling one of their CNAs, who actually arrived at 2:30, half an hour early, so I could get her and Steve started on their "official" walk with Jada, and I could quickly change for my event, get gas, and go in horrible traffic to Redlands.  

Our booth was a magnetic dart game, with moms filling out entries for a free facial and to win a basket of products. Their kids got a candy and three tries at a bullseye. Cara and I each received 5 leads in two hours, and by 6:15 had packed up all of our supplies, then took them to our sales director's home. Then as darkness was falling, I had to take Alessandro, the road that leads into San Timiteo Canyon, and made quite a few turns on the way to finding it among the unlit streets of the nicest part of Redlands. I put in a call to Pavel, figuring that Heidi would be driving in the evening, but by the time she called me back, I was already in the Canyon.

Praise the Lord for answering my nervous prayers! I arrived at church 10 minutes early for the 7:00 meeting, for good reason. I was to meet a new customer who was to attend the Spanish Bible study at the same time. The Lord is so good. Earlier this week, when we were setting up a time for me to deliver her foundation, it was revealed that we go to the same church. God is so good. So it was perfectly natural for us to have a big hug upon parting, one happy customer and one happy pink lady!

The decision to go to Israel is one Steve and I had prayed about our entire marriage, but kids and more kids, work, drivers' licenses, cars, and higher education for said 5 kids poured forth, and before you know it, 30 years have gone by, and Steve wouldn't be able to travel now, let alone in a couple of years. I regret that, but at least we have taken many beautiful trips together around this country, including twice to Hawaii, and an Alaskan cruise, something Steve had always desired to do.   Heidi and Pavel are planning to go as well. March 2013 is the date. And May 2012 is the final payment on the total of $3950--what?!

I am a person who needs a really big goal to work for, not just prizes and extra monthly income from my business, although on the way to meeting my goal, those will be earned, too! Thus I made a sale and made plans to book two other ladies, and after the meeting my friend Deena told me she's coming to the party I'm holding next Friday. I can earn the money--God is in this business for me! He is bringing phone calls for new orders and re-orders, adding team members this quarter, and will bless my hard work. As I pulled out of the parking lot after kissing Heidi good night, I was actually a bit shaky as I affirmed to a couple of friends that I  can earn the money, above and beyond household expenses. I also received wise encouragement from my Sales Director Laurie, who didn't demand that my big goal be a Mary Kay ranking, though that will come too.  She wisely realizes that my type of person has to have a spiritual goal to keep me motivated to work my business consistently. 

Also, having a big, busy goal will fend off depression and dread that could take over as my husband rapidly loses so many of his abilities.  God is here for me in ways I know I need, and ways that will become apparent as I walk forward, following Him . 

Well, walking will be a theme for tomorrow, so I'll sign off to get some rest before our 5:30 wake-up call!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Seeking support



2:50 p.m. Today's project was to seek the assistance of either Steve's long term care insurance or his Care More Medicare plan for acquiring a wheelchair.



Am I being hasty? Or pronouncing doom on my husband's ability to walk? Not at all. The Lord has shown me to move forward for safety's sake, in the wake of the falling episodes Steve has had in the last two days. I am awaiting word from his neurologist as to what could be causing the falls, and from his primary care physician for a written request for the equipment.



I realized from studying Proverbs 8:12,



I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion,



that I need to apply wisdom, prudence, knowledge and discretion! There is no reason to delay when the Lord's Holy Spirit is guiding, teaching and leading. Also, considering the bureaucracies in both private and public insurance sectors, one needs to be wise in allowing them to sort through their regulations, policies, and layers of administration, to make services available.

Much as we need service and support, I met a young mom who needs much more. She has never gone on public assistance, but her children have never had a Christmas tree or any gifts, except one year through a school program. She's new to the area, and has just one year left toward attaining her nursing degree. I began sharing with her about the difficulty our own church has had meeting food donation needs because so many are out of work now, but they still help as many as they can. People who used to give, are now asking. She and I talked about the Lord, I shared about tough times my kids have gone through on their own, and the ministries they are involved in. She was amazed that my youngest son and his girlfriend go street witessing in the worst parts of Fresno. We even got onto the falsehoods of the Mormons and Jehovah witnesses that come to her door in a low income area regularly.

I did mention to her that if she inquires in the local welfare office, they should be able to connect her with churches that are helping the poor. In her area, there happens to be a very strong coordination between the County and the churches. There is even a monthly food giveaway with large boxes given to each family in her neighborhood. I believe that program is headed up by a local church. Familiarity with our county's social safety net came from my leading the First 5 program for the Jurupa Unified School District. My meetings included all agencies whose work impacted families of preschoolers. I love the way we believers are placed by the Lord in areas of most need! Joseph said to the brothers who had sold him into slavery, after he had become vice-regent over Egypt and saved the nation and surrounding peoples from 7 years of famine:

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. (Genesis 50:20)

But what about those in other lands, especially India, who have no social safety net? Filth, degradation, prostitution and early death are the fates of children born into the Dalit, or Untouchables. Parents sell and abandon their children as a matter of practice. One mother sold her newborn for 10 pounds of rice, while admitting that she would still eventually die of starvation...I read this tragic story, as well as that of the toddler who was nursing from a mother dog in the street, in No Longer a Slumdog by K.P. Yohannon, distributed at our church preparatory to his teaching on November 13th.

My concerns are God's concerns, and certainly the concerns of the impoverished mom I met today are God's concerns, particularly that she come to know Jesus as her Savior. But how much more deserving of prayer and support and salvation are those who have no one! Their children are raped, enslaved, beaten and murdered with no recourse whatsoever. It reminds me of what Lamentations 3:45 calls (in regard to the exiled Israelites) "the offscouring and refuse of the earth."

Not all of us may be called to go to the mission field, but we all are called to learn of the conditions of those Jesus called "the least of these My brothers" (Matthew 25:40), pray and support those who are called to go!

Like Steve and I have discovered, even comfortably established Christians never know how soon they will need the support, prayers and assistance of others. So let us not trust in ourselves, or other human devices--let us pray and look to the Lord!

P.S. There's good news for us just now--our doctor approved a walker for Steve to start with!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Falling down now



5:58 p.m. Today's project just arose in the last hour.



Steve has been tripping and falling the last two days, just in the late afternoons and evening. Of course I have a call in to his neurologist, whom we saw just six days ago. At that time, she mentioned that I could taper off his high dosage of Aricept since it has been useless in slowing down any progress of the disease. Sadly, he's stepped down to a worse level and his confusion has grown. I haven't begun that med change yet, wanting to observe Steve more closely one more week.


Two days ago, Steve walked Jada in the morning with no problem whatsoever. Yesterday in the early afternoon, same thing. But in the late afternoon, he fell down the last two steps in our house while walking slowly and carefully downstairs. He smarted a bit, but nothing serious. His feet just began to go awry. I let him rest at home with a medically trained caregiver while I went to Heart to Home, and he had a good evening. Later, he had a very hard time going to bed, and after about half an hour, fell out of bed. After getting him settled again, I "pondered these things in my heart" (Luke 2:19) and at the time, chalked it up to the sugar in the ice cream I'd given the caregiver permission to serve him. Sugar has never been that good for him, but the ice cream wasn't all that sugary, or so I had thought.


This morning, Steve and I stood out in front of our house, relaxing while we awaited the Special Trans Senior and Disabled bus to take him to adult daycare. We clipped off some deadheads from the flowers in our planter and enjoyed the cool air. He had a busy day, with a Bible study and a game of balloon volleyball being the highlights for him. I was able to take care of business and return home to continue gathering pertinent entries from my prayer journal for my next book--a book on our experience with Alzheimer's.


In the afternoon we ran errands and went shopping, and Steve walked very slowly, but managed to keep up at Winco by holding onto the shopping cart. He even loaded up a 50 lb. bag of dog food! At the checkout, we figured that, like any other grocery store, the checker could type in a code for the dog food (or would know the permanent price, or come from around the end of the checkstand and get the numbers for herself) so we wouldn't have to lift the bag again before taking it to the car. Do you know that she said, in a mean way, "You'll either have to read me the UPC code or put it up on the counter." Wow, that's the first unkind employee I've met there, and Steve and I go there regularly! Maybe she couldn't see Steve's confused, blank expression, or notice that I'm much too small to lift a 50 lb. bag, but we started asking, "Where's the code?" and trying to shift the huge bag around in our cart.


Just then, the Lord sent another Winco employee who appeared right behind us, to say, "Here's the code." She then said to the checker, "Ready?" and read her the numbers. I thanked her profusely, saying, "That saved us a lot of trouble." Then she nodded and moved out past us towards the front of the store. I didn't see where she went--could she have been an angel? I had only noticed another customer behind us before, hmmm... I remembered to make a few friendly comments but the checker was having none of it, perhaps having been convicted by her meanness, and the other employee's kindness--who knows? So I prayed for her as we went out.


After painstakingly depositing the dog food in the barrel we keep in the garage, it was time for Steve to walk Jada. I gave him a thick slice of peanut buttered bread, he drank some water, and then off they went as usual, about 4:11 p.m. He returned in his normal time, but kind of flopped into the loveseat in the family room. I was at the counter, facing the kitchen stove, when he said, "I tripped and fell twice."


"WHAT?" I ran over to him and saw that he had bits of grass on his face and a dirt smudge on his shirt.

"Are you hurt?"

"No."

"Did Jada tangle you in the leash?"

"No, I just tripped."

"Did anyone help you?"

"A guy in a truck asked" (sentence trailed off).


After I wiped off the bits of grass, we went upstairs very slowly and carefully for him to change his clothes. Back downstairs at the kitchen table, Steve told me he had not tripped over anything, and the dog hadn't run in front of him. I mimicked a person with their head spinning and dizzy, but no, he said, he hadn't been dizzy at all. Then I mimicked a person walking along normally and suddenly falling, and though it took me a while to get it out of him, he said that was it. He described just tripping over nothing, on a smooth sidewalk.


We had the last of the chicken soup I'd served at last night's class, with cornbread of which he ate half of the pan--so far, so good.


I need to hear from the Lord, because He is the embodiment of wisdom. In Proverbs 8:10-11, Wisdom says,


Receive my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.


And verse twelve mentions all that I need to best help Steve:


I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion.


Knowledge: information from the neurologist

Prudence: employing appropriate and timely solutions, without panic

Discretion: Knowing when and to whom to speak as I seek guidance

Wisdom: applying the knowledge gained in the most correct and beneficial manner


Steve dozed after dinner, and now is watching a comedy on tv, after having a hard time walking out on the back patio with me to check on Jada's water supply. By the time he got into the house, Jada took advantage to run in! But Steve quickly shooed her out, which is a good thing.


No one knows what the future brings but Jesus, and He will give me all that I need to do what is best for my husband, and keep myself functional and healthy as well!



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Prevailing prayer



3:10 p.m. Today's project was to lead my ladies' Bible study group through Session Five of Anne Graham Lotz' The Magnificent Obsession. I was blessed to have Steve's caregiver arrive on time so I could giver her instructions and leave for church with peace of mind.



The scripture passage we studied was Genesis 18:1-19:29, where the LORD--in a theophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus-- and two angels appear to Abraham to tell him that he and Sarah would have a son born in the next year, despite their very senior citizen status. After the meal Abraham and Sarah prepared for their guests, the two angels left to go towards Sodom and Gomorrah. But God remained to talk with Abraham, revealing to him His plan to destroy the two wicked cities.



This reminds me of the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, in Matthew 17 and Mark 9, with Moses and Elijah speaking with Him. Peter, James and John were present as witnesses. Seeing Jesus in his heavenly glory terrified the disciples, and Peter felt it necessary to propose setting up tabernacles for Jesus and the two prophets! Then Mark 9:7 and 8 say,



And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud saying, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!" Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one any more, but Jesus with themselves.



Matthew 17:8 says,



They saw no one but Jesus only.



Jesus only! After His holy angels in Genesis, and His anointed prophets Moses and Elijah, are gone from view, the believers saw "Jesus only."



And it is ultimately the same with us. No human proposals of philosophy or interpretation, not even the most powerfully used Old Testament lawgiver and prophet, are our source of salvation. It is Jesus only!



Many times unbelievers will speak of Jesus in the same way the think of Moses, or Abraham, or even more tragically, Mohammed or Buddha--a great teacher, a great moral leader. But not one of them was sinless, God in the flesh, whose righteous blood was shed on the cross for the salvation of all of mankind. That includes the sin of those who lived before Jesus walked the earth, and all of the billions who have followed. Jesus is "the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). Salvation was always God's plan, His answer to the sin of all mankind.



If we want power in prayer, and to prevail in prayer with God as Abraham did when he got God to commit to not destroying Sodom if 10 righteous people could be found there (Genesis 18:32), we must come to the Father in the name of the Son, Jesus Christ. And only when we have been born again, led by the Holy Spirit to trust in Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross for our salvation, do we have the privilege of doing so! Romans 8:14-16a declares:


For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.


As a child goes to a parent with any and all requests, from a new trike to a car for graduation, now we have the privilege of going to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ! As Anne Graham Lotz reminded us, God is able to work in the huge issues, like the salvation of souls worldwide. He also has created every detail of the tiniest things on earth--atoms and molecules. So no request is too small--God knows our hearts anyway!


Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, but Lot and his daughters were saved. That's prevailing prayer!


As James 1:6-7 says of approaching God in prayer,


Let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.


Abraham did not know whether 10 righteous people were going to be found in Sodom; he just trusted God to do right. and so can we!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A new level



6:22 p.m. Today's project was to begin decisive steps in Steve's daily care at home.



For a few months, I have known that the day would come when I'd need a health aide to be present for Steve even when I'm in the house. The Lord has been revealing to me more strongly each week that the time has come. His running off a week ago Sunday, the death of our dog in a car accident, and his utter helplessness and panic when not guided or supervised in even simple daily activities of living, have finally made me take the step. It's time to listen and obey.



You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. (Deuteronomy 13:4)



I was very perturbed by an incident this morning while Steve was getting ready for the day upstairs and I was downstairs having devotions. I only discovered the damage to our bathroom later when I needed to get myself dressed. With the help of Drano and Lysol bathroom cleaner and a bleach soak in the washing machine, the issues were resolved. But I did call the care agency to ask them to send a caregiver over, even though I had no outside appointments. And I think that along with his visit to the adult daycare center once or twice a week, having a caregiver in the house provides peace of mind for me, and safety for Steve.



For example, today Steve and his caregiver were pulling weeds in the garden, and doing an excellent job, which allowed me to send recruiting emails and make lots of calls. They suddenly came back in, and she said, "He's cut himself!" Steve went straight to the sink and was washing the wound, and I helped him pat the area dry with a clean paper towel, but no blood appeared at that point. So he must have scraped his hand on a piece of gravel and the surface wound only bled at the outset. 4 hours later, still no scab or blood, praise the Lord!



One thing the Lord brought to my attention today was that our long term care policy will pay for 8 hours of housekeeping one day a week. So I sent a copy of that paperwork with the caregiver back to the Brightstar at the scheduler's request. I'll just use one of their people, perhaps on the day when Steve's at Care Connexxus. The sound of mopping and dusting won't distract me from my writing research!



The rest of our day went well, with a visit to our daughter Heather's office and a run to Winco for dog food. Our dinner, more of a filling snack combo, was fun and peaceful, full of love and relaxed companionship. (The simmering chicken soup in the crockpot had an aroma that made it seem like tit was the meal, instead of a demo for tomorow's Heart to Home class)!

The rest of our evening was fun and loving as a married couple's time together should be, especially with a major worry off of my mind...

May the Lord continue to lead, and may I listen!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Go Big or Go Home



3:50 p.m. Today's project was to type up my recipe for "Killer Chicken Soup" for Heart to Home on Tuesday. Wendy Simmons, Kay Wardell and I are teaching the class "Welcome Winter with Delicious Soups" in the kitchen at Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley. At the last count before today's sign-ups, we had six ladies coming. We can take up to 12 because Wendy, a professional kitchen manager at University of California Riverside, is going to show them how to prepare her "Hearty Hodgepodge." Kay will bring her "Spaghetti Soup" and her "Tuscan Potato Soup." The two of us will bring our soups prepared and keep them warm to serve in sample portions. They'll taste Chef Wendy's soup too.



Christians value our fellowship meals together, a tradition begun in the Early Church in the Book of Acts. Acts 2:42, 44-46 says of the apostles and the three thousand new believers who responded to Peter's sermon,



They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. ... Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

You'll notice the double emphasis on "breaking bread" together. It's so enjoyable to share a meal with Christ at the center. With family, or with my Christian family, there is a delicious bond!

As a food lover, vegetable gardener, wife and mom, I love to cook and entertain; and as a Bible teacher and retired elementary school teacher, I love to show meaning and methods to others.
The little problem I had with offering my chicken soup recipe is that up until an hour ago, there was no recipe!

After several decades of cooking beginning during my own elementary years with my mother until today, I've gone from absolute following of recipes to the letter--and I still do with some dishes--to ad libbing, substituting and changing recipes to suit our food allergies and preferences. I've personally been eating low-carb style for at least 5 years, and my recipe reflects that. Right now, as Steve and I have only ourselves to worry about, I often throw stuff into a pot or pan and see what emerges. Then I season it nicely, make adjustments and voila! Another dinner invention! For us old hands, that's fine, but I wouldn't suggest that to new brides or young wives! Why be discouraged by the results of an experiment when you can just open one of the many cookbooks you received as wedding gifts and be assured of success?

At Home Fellowship, it was Kay's turn to provide the meal. Her taco pie and 7-layer dip with chips and salsa were amazing. Can't wait to try her soups. Of course, now I need to figure out something acceptable for the group a couple weeks from now!!

On the way to Sprouts organic supermarket, I told Steve how wonderful it was that the Lord led him to take our family to Calvary Chapel for the last eight years of his illness, where he has been able to make more friends in a smaller setting. Those friends are coming alongside us both in prayer, encouragement and practical help, just as scripture teaches us as a church to treat one another. (And as we have done for others in the past).

So we don't just meet around food, or worship, or formal Bible study--we meet to express the heart of Jesus to one another!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sunny Redlands



4:14 p.m. Today's project was to be in Redlands, my hometown, about twenty miles east of Riverside along the 10 Freeway. The small city is very dear because my dad still lives in the house he bought my senior year of high school; my daughter, like me, got her degree from the University of Redlands; and she met her husband there.


In the last few years, I've been driving to Redlands on Thursday evenings with team members in tow for our Mary Kay Thursday Nights Together, but the Pink Studio is on the west end of the city, a distance from my dad's house. Lately, since I participated in a massive children's consignment sale, the "Moolala" boutique in Redlands, I've been setting appointments with those who evinced interest in a free facial for Saturday morning "Muffins & Makeovers" at our studio. Next Friday, I'll be doing an MK booth at Somerford Placee, an assisted living facility for Alzheimer's victims. It's their 9th annual Festival for residents and community. Steve will be coming along as well, perhaps with a caregiver. I hope we get some leads for facials, as well as cheer up the residents and their families. Proverbs 15:13, Proverbs 15:15 and Proverbs 17:22 speak these truths:


A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance;


He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast;


A merry heart does good like a medicine.


May we bring cheer to the residents of Somerford Place for the afternoon!


Whether I drive the freeway or take the "scenic route" through San Timiteo Canyon, my heart warms on my way to my hometown. It was the site of many great adventures and exploits from my childhood, like waving to my friends on my new two wheeler just prior to banging into the back of a parked car on our street; and seeing how far into the orange grove at the end of Arlene Street I could go before getting too scared to keep walking! (I also would trek a ways into the woods on my way home from Center School in Hampton, New Hampshire, but would be limited by the time my mom would expect me home. I even hid a paper with a bad grade under a rock in those woods one afternoon, I can now freely admit! I just had to bring home "A" papers, and usually did). The same striving landed me in the top 6 of the Redlands High School graduating class of 1,000 kids in 1969 and earned entrance into UC Berkeley and UCLA. My proud parents chose the latter in those wild days of Vietnam War protests. As for university? More and more intense striving for this small town girl!


What freedom and release to no longer strive for perfection in any area of life, because only one perfect Person ever walked the earth! And my Lord Jesus Christ loved me enough in my sinful lifestyle--unrepentant, like all who don't confess and ask the Lord to save them--that He offered me salvation from hell, peace by living for Him and in His will, and eternal life in heaven with Him!


In tough times like these for so many people, NO ONE is smart enough, hardworking enough or courageous enough to guarantee a successful tomorrow. And NO ONE is kind enough, charitable enough, or industrious enough to work their way into heaven!


But every one of us qualifies as sinful enough to need to seek a Savior, and let His qualifications as the sinless Son of God grant us the free gift of eternal life!

Friday, October 21, 2011

A new friend for Jada?






7:36 p.m. Today's project was to consider our son Steven and his girlfriend Kathy's latest project: finding a new companion for our bereaved yellow labrador retriever Jada. (Seen to the left hovering over my garden shoe).




Bless Steven's heart, on the day Bailey was killed, he texted that Jada needed another dog. So the next evening, Kathy called me and let me know her heartfelt sadness for us, and that she and Steven were asking if it was okay to start looking for another dog. I hadn't thought I would be ready, but was so touched that I said, "Yes, a female, spayed, at least a year old and must be housebroken." At our age and in Steve's condition, a puppy just will not do. I expect Jada to boss and show the newbie the rules of her domain, the backyard. I just hope the new dog is a good fast walker.




Steven and Kathy met and were leaders of the Saturday night prayer group at Fresno Pacific University, a Christian school. She attends on a soccer scholarship, pre-med; he studied kinesiology two years there and now is working full time and enrolling locally for his final three science classes spring semester. We've met her once on a visit to the Southland with her parents and little brother in June. Lovely young lady, full of the Lord, from a nice family in Bakersfield.




This was another example of the kindness I've received from believers this week. Kind expressions, offers of assistance, letters from my daughter's students. Ephesians 4:32 says,




Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.


At first, I considered leaving off the part of the verse about forgiveness, but a great part of this week was about just that subject, above and beyond the shock and grief. Forgiveness was in order this week--forgiving myself for not getting a spring latch to keep the gate shut for lack of money and no one here to install it; forgiving Steve for leaving the gate open and delaying going after the escaped dogs (not his fault, but his disease); forgiving myself for leaving Steve unsupervised in the yard while I showered; forgiving myself for failing in this new requirement for me as caregiver.

May I be like the Lord--forgiving completely!




And now I have several online pictures of adoptable dogs to choose from, female goldens and labs, our favorites, from rescue organizations in Fresno and next-door city Clovis. I hope Steven and Kathy bring the one they pick to us before Thanksgiving, so we don't have a new dog to add to the general commotion of our annual feast. Come to think of it, Thanksgiving 2007 was the first time our extended family met Bailey and Jada--so the timing's right!


Steve has moved on, I guess, perhaps already forgetting that we had two dogs. I'm not sure whether to mention Bailey to him or not, because he'll then have to remember how she died. Jada is getting better, although she especially seems to need to know that one or both of us is home. Steve's presence at home all day today was good for her.


I am weepier than I thought I'd be, because Bailey's death is piled on top of the sad condition my husband is in, although I try to have him function as normally as possible. As with every stage of his disease, God has led me through, and guided me in re-shaping our daily experience, making it good with His presence. One of my favorite portions of scripture is Isaiah 43:1b-2, a promise to Israel that I have claimed as my own for 31 years:


Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by My name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the waters, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.

The serious ups and downs of life on all fronts are calling me to attention, to pray for, encourage and assist my young adult children in any way called for. Life is for the living, and now is my time to have a godly impact on others--family, friends, acquaintances and associates.



Ministry can be done whether we are mourning or rejoicing. And as a full-fledged human being transformed by the blood of Christ, I will serve the Lord and people through both!






Thursday, October 20, 2011

Focus!



9:44 p.m. Today's project was to work my Mary Kay business all day, in a focused, intentional and deliberate way. Steve had been picked up by the Special Trans Senior & Disabled bus to go to his adult daycare activity center, so I organized all of the profile cards and sales slips that applied to my party last Friday night, and met my hostess at a Starbucks in Moreno Valley. She had mentioned an interest in perfumes, so I brought samples and beautifully wrapped bottles of fragrance, along with my full inventory case.


Along the way, practical suggestions like, "You have a moment to stop at Winco" would cross my mind, but then I countered with, "Not with all this inventory in the car and the store and parking lot so huge! That's asking for theft." I had a small list of needed items, but then reminded myself that I had enough oats for Steve to have a huge bowl of oatmeal tomorrow morning--it's been chilly and foggy in the mornings lately anyway, so why buy cereal? Also, Jada had enough dog food, and I could make it with the coffee I already had in my canister for one more day!


In Numbers 20:17, Moses sent this message to the king of Edom asking for permission to travel through his land:



We will go along the King's Highway; we will not turn aside to the right hand or to the left until we have passed through your territory.


With Holy Spirit direction and absolute purpose, I was "walking along the King's highway" to conduct my business follow-ups in a professional manner befitting a woman of her word. My hostess had been promised an appointment to see the product discounts she had earned, with one party booking tomorrow at a follow-up appointment with one of her guests, and a makeover follow-up with another guest on Saturday. So she sat down, and while I ordered chai green tea for her and a pumpkin latte for me, she graciously filled out an interview sheet about becoming a Mary Kay consultant. It turned out that she is not interested at this time, but we talked for quite a while; I took the time to get to know her hopes and aspirations. She selected her discounted and free products, and referred me to a friend who she thinks would be wonderful in my business, and recommended two sisters to schedule facials with. And she was volunteering comments on the positive aspects of my career herself! I asked her to keep me posted on the job she is interviewing for. If that is what the Lord has for her for the time being, I pray she gets it. If not, maybe she could join my team! She bought a number of items, and was very happy with the savings her party had made possible as we hugged and parted. Thank you, Lord, for answering prayers I wrote out at 6:30 this morning!


I had received a disappointing and sad phone call earlier this morning, that a facial customer had to cancel again because of a second week with the flu in her home! We'll re-book. But the Lord had this covered also, as I prayed for her family's healing. Whereas I would have been rushed to finish a 9:45 appointment in order to leave for a 11:00 appointment in Riverside, I had plenty of time with the hostess, and it will definitely benefit both of us, and the friends who book their own parties. We serve an all-knowing God, whose timing is impeccable!


On the way home, a more enticing temptation entered my mind: "Stop at Michael's to select a picture frame for Heidi's bridal portrait!" But I wanted to get right home, let Jada out of her crate, and get to booking other customers for follow-ups and first-time facials. And get on the phone I did, keeping in mind that I need to add at least one new member to my team to move to the Team Leader position, where I can begin building toward earning a car. This month there is a promotion on a new consultant starter kit for only $75, so it's prime time to contact new and old customers. I did take breaks to play with Jada, water the garden, and take care of some women's ministry details for Heart to Home. So I wasn't a total "Johnny one-note," but I wasted no time either. A nutritious lunch bolstered my energy and I kept on going.


Toting up what I needed to fill each order from last Friday's spa party and new orders coming in, I placed an online order. And to keep myself current with our product line, I studied the e-catalog that customers can access from my website. Then, Ding-Dong!


Praise the Lord! It was my Mary Kay order, delivered in only two days! Now I could sort through and pack up the gals' orders, and call a few of them to make delivery --and payment--arrangements. Most had already paid me, so I felt I needed to get them their orders as quickly as possible, in good faith.


Steve returned, having had a good day, and went out to clean up the backyard and visit with Jada. But it was soon time to go to the credit union and then to Steve's neurologist's office.


Studying my product line came in handy when I had about 10 text messages from a customer about the Miracle Set. (Having a catalog on hand while waiting at Steve's neurologist's office helped too)!


We didn't receive any new information from the EEG; Steve's brain waves are moving more slowly than in a normal person. That would account for the delays in processing verbal information, just what I've learned in class and by experience. But the doctor did tactfully mention that Steve is now in mid-to-late stage Alzheimers. I was pleased that she didn't disapprove of my cutting up pills and adjusting his dosage of 23 milligram experimental Aricept down to about 11 milligrams. The drug is just not helping slow anything about Steve disease. And the amount and regimen of anti-spasm med Clonezapam I've devised for Steve is a good one, too. Glad I didn't get into trouble!



But the Lord wasn't done blessing me yet!


At the end of the visit, Dr. Sovory asked for a copy of Galatians:An Exploration of Faith and Freedom, so she could do the lessons in the morning before coming to work!! She's a believer!! I knew we both liked her right away. So I took Steve with me back to the car and we got a copy, I autographed it to her, and she's mailing me a check.


We rushed home, I fixed Steve's dinner and I ate two delicious cold roasted chicken drumsticks and a string cheese, and ran upstairs to get dressed for our Thursday Nights Together unit meeting. I heard the caregiver arrive just as I headed downstairs. I had a moment to greet her, kiss Steve goodbye, deliver a large order and pick up a check. Then it was off to the meeting, where I was recognized for a $300 week last week, and my $120 day today was noted and praised. Others do much more than that daily, of course, but it was great for me.


My commitment to working my business diligently all day, while not neglecting my husband, dog, home responsibilities or church ministry paid off! May the Lord grant me the courage, patience and heart to be CONSISTENT in blessing and leading women!












Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pink pride










4:45 p.m. Today's project was to help my Mary Kay Sales director Laurie Shumate celebrate the delivery of her pink Cadillac! With her encouragement and inspiration, members of Laurie's Legacy worked hard in our individual businesses to help her make her June 30th production deadline.




I woke up at 6 a.m., got our morning going after a few minutes of cozy cuddling, and looked out to see a foggy, nasty-feeling day that didn't thrill me. It was going to be a bad hair day, if nothing else! Steve had a few minutes of confusion in dressing, but overall was looking forward to his day at Care Connexxus, an adult daycare program which has a good variety of activities including Bible studies and games. Today's sport was bowling. His attendance there once or twice a week gives me time to gather my research for my next book, as well as enjoy a time of contemplation needed for the undertaking. Best of all, Steve enjoys his time there. It took months of obedient, prayerful planning to get his daycare organized, but as Proverbs 16:9 says, and we would do well to remember,




A man's heart plans his way,

But the LORD directs his steps.




So I give Him all the glory for a peaceful solution that is agreeable to both of us!




After a couple of hours of taking notes from one of my old journals, I attended our Care Pathways support group for caregivers of Alzheimer's/dementia patients. We ladies have become good friends, because we were the pilot group for the 12 -week course. We enjoyed a potluck, but even more, our individual time of sharing about life with our affected loved ones. Since most of them are very elderly, there has been a lot of deterioration since our last gathering. My only comment concerned our sadness at the loss of our dog Bailey, and how Steve and I are coping with it. So I did my best to offer encouragement. Also, as captain of our Walk the End Alzheimer's team, I made sure to rally some excitement for the October 29th event at Cucamonga-Guasti Park in Rancho.




As believers, according to II Corinthians 1:4, we are "to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we have been comforted." So our times together always end on a hopeful note!


Next for the day was to get back to Jada, whom I'd crated for the 2 hours I was gone, to keep her from howling outside the whole time. I let her out, and then took a quick rest downstairs in the family room, positioning myself on the love seat so she could see me. So she stared at me from the other side of the sliding glass patio. Then up again to get dressed in "Mary Kay attire" (white blouse, black skirt, and my red jacket) for Laurie's Cadillac delivery. I once again put Jada in her crate in the garage and went to pick up Steve to join me at the dealership, which is right down the street from Care Connexxus. He came out in a good mood.




Since the 2 p.m. pick-up time left us an hour before the big event, we stayed parked in the shade, I made a few phone calls, and tilted my seat back for a little shuteye. Steve rested for a while, too, and then we drove over to the dealership and found a shady spot across the street, having about 20 minutes to spare. It wasn't time wasted, though. I had a productive conversation with our auto mechanic on speaker so Steve could listen too, and plans were made for a check-up on the Jeep Saturday afternoon.




After the week we've had here at home, I really wanted Laurie's event to be a success, emailing and texting scores of my customers and friends. A true leader, she has worked incredibly hard in her personal production and helped so many of us conduct our independent businesses profitably.





We saw the beautiful SUV crossover style Cadillac first covered over with a dazzling pink cloth, and then hurray, Laurie was presented with her keyless starter. Her husband and boys were elated, and several of us posed in and around the Caddy. Steve enjoyed the gathering also. As I remarked to one of the consultants, "Steve's been everywhere! Between Mary Kay and School Board conventions, he has been all over the state and the country!" My husband has been my ever-faithful support, just as I supported his career and ministries, and the programs he participates in now.


In a tough week with repercussions still going on, this symbol of achievement was one of my bright spots. Others were sympathy notes from Heidi's students; a great visit with our oldest son; and a very sweet phone call from Steven's girlfriend Kathy from Fresno, with an offer from the two of them to find us a dog to keep Jada company. We'll see! If the dog is a female, at least a year old and housebroken, from a shelter, already spayed with shots, I'll prayerfully consider it!


Laurie's Cadillac was the pink-frosted topping for our week so far, because the Lord's not done yet! Be blessed by I Corinthians 2:9:


Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.






Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Loved







3:54 p.m. Today's project was to attend Bible study and lead my group. I actually had slept fairly well, but my eyes were still swollen from all the crying I did yesterday when our dog Bailey was hit by a car and killed. Our other lab Jada, woke up calmly enough after a lot of piteous whining and yelping for her friend yesterday afternoon and evening. So that was a relief, to have Steve let her out as usual this morning and get her back into her--now solo-- routine.



One reason I had cried so hard was that my older daughter Heidi had brought sympathy notes from her 3rd graders to comfort me in the loss of Bailey. Those letters were as sincere as if the kids had known us personally, and as if Bailey had been a dog they loved themselves. I especially loved the one huge drawing of a heart with these words centered on it:



IN LOVING MEOREY OF BAILEY



That's actually not too bad for a 1st quarter 3rd grader!



Over 40 friends of mine left kind, empathetic and loving comments on my Facebook wall. Through this incident, I saw love from all kinds of friends, all ages, believers and non-believers, with a mutual love for Steve and me, and heartfelt feelings of loss from dog lovers especially. As a person who has had dogs since I first picked out "Suki" at age 3, I know I'll always have a dog or two; they are just a part of life in my world. As for the next world, I don't see any scriptural indication of dogs making it into heaven, since those who will enjoy the privilege of seeing Jesus face-to-face are those who have trusted Him for salvation. The thought crossed my mind, though, because of one sympathy note that read:



"I hope your dog go to heaven and I hope she is alive." How sweet, with the pure sweetness of a hopeful child. Another child wrote, "Things are going to get better."


One thing I realized is that in a loss that anyone who has a dog can identify, that I was loved, and Steve also, for who we are, not for any ministry or acts of kindness we have done. I am loved!


It almost seems boastful, big-headed or self-centered to say that, except in the most intimate of family circumstances. Why? Because America is what is known as a meritocracy. You are recognized, promoted or even liked and loved, for the talent, training or education you have, for what you can "bring to the table." And we actually raise our children to fit this mold, to learn, excel, and achieve, to benefit themselves and society. This doesn't mean that we don't love them for themselves, of course, but I think that all children secretly suspect that they need to earn our love. It gets confusing, because we do need to earn our parents' approval with appropriate behavior and decent performance in our responsibilities at home and school. As parents, we need to love our children unconditionally! And where is the perfect parent who never slides into overemphasizing approval?


God our Heavenly Father is the only perfect parent. He loved the world full of sinful people so unconditionally that


...He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


And we cannot allow ourselves to think that God must approve of our behavior and personalities before He can love us.


As children, we do seek our parents' approval, but what we NEED is their love. Hopefully, we received that love. But God loved us first, while we were hell-bound sinners. Romans 5:8 tells us,


But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


And as we grow in returning that love through serving Him and others, God will one day say

to us, as the master said to his financially prudent servant (Matthew 25:21),


Enter into the joy of your Lord.


We are so loved!



Monday, October 17, 2011

The cost is getting higher



4:25 p.m. Today's project is to comfort one another and Jada our yellow lab, in the loss of her lifelong companion, Bailey, who could have been her little sister. Those two dogs were never apart, as Jada's loud howling now testifies.



Steve and I started out with a good morning after our devotion time, with him pulling out grass weeds in the garden, and me finishing up breakfast and starting some laundry. After I washed the dishes, I headed upstairs to take my shower and dress. Today was to be a day for business phone calls and organization. I had already set up Steve's care for the week, both at home and in adult daycare, and even arranged his Special Senior and Disabled bus transportation for one of the days.



Since Steve was safely occupied in the garden, I felt I could slip upstairs for a few minutes and get ready for the rest of the day. I was back in the kitchen for a few minutes on a phone call when Steve came to the sliding glass door all agitated. "We've got a problem! The dogs are gone!" So I said, "Well, go out and look for them. Take the leashes." So we hurriedly got the leashes out of the garage and he went outside. Within a minute, Jada was back on the front porch, upset and barking, which is what they do when they get out--one comes back and "tattles" on the other and when leashed up, helps Steve find her. So Steve and Jada set off on their typical neighborhood walking route to find Bailey, and I went back inside.



Steve returned with just one dog, so I got my keys so both of us could drive through the area to find Bailey. But just as I lifted the garage door, here came my dad to help with various home projects Steve has forgotten how to do. I explained where I was going, and he said, "With all that traffic around here, hope she didn't get hit." I dismissed that thought. With supervision for Steve in place, I was able to take off. I wasn't sure I'd be able to load Bailey into the Jeep unless she willingly jumped up, which she usually does, because my back is not very strong and she's solid.


I slowly drove down our street to Alessandro, turned left to come up the hill, and then made a left on Canyon Crest, following Steve's normal walking route. As I approached our corner, about a block away, I saw a police car on the other side of the median with the officer standing outside his open door, and a large dead dog--Bailey. I just couldn't believe it. How could this have happened? They've always come home! (or been impounded). I pulled over to the median and rolled down my widow and called out, "Officer, that's my dog." He told me to come around to the other direction so as not to block traffic and park. I related to him what had happened, and about Steve's condition, and how the other dog had come home to fetch us. He was surprised Jada hadn't stayed by the dead one and gotten hit also. I guess there's some "Lassie" in our smart girl!


Yesterday I was irritated about the vacuum cleaner, and then scared by Steve slipping out of the back of the house; now I'm devastated over the death of our dog. In all of these cases, I just wasn't able to provide Secret Service-level supervision for Steve. No one can, unless they are specifically assigned to the Alzheimer's victim and supervision is the only reason they are with that person. Family caregivers can't do it alone, and the stress of even trying probably takes years off of their lives.


It's yet another cost of Alzheimer's.


What to do now? In the immediate future, I'm praying God will keep Jada calm and not howling all night; for tomorrow, I'm praying for a calm, clear and focused mind to lead my Bible study group. I know Steve will be safe, because he can walk the dog and then work in the garden, enjoying perfect, uninterrupted, professional supervision with the assigned caregiver. I have honestly been praying about when I might need a caregiver here whether I'm here or not, and that time may be approaching. The Care Connexxus adult daycare is a good alternative for a day or two a week, and he talks positively about it now.


It is often said that God allows things to happen to get our attention, and this seems to be a case in point. Steve is not like his late brother Larry, who lost control of his limbs and therefore could not even get in or out of a chair independently. He was certainly not a flight risk. Steve is much more like his late father in his type of Alzheimer's--more than once Lorenz escaped the house while my dear late mother-in-law's back was turned. Thankfully, Lorenz was easily located and persuaded to come home. But I have received a wake-up call, no doubt about it, and I need to listen and act.


The Bible warns those who refuse to listen to the message of salvation, Hebrews 10:26-27:


For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.


Being an adversary of God's is the worst possible position to be in. So accept Christ as your Savior today and be assured of eternal life, the filling of God's Holy Spirit and the peace that Jesus promised to believers in John 14:27:


Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.


In grievous and tragic times, God does give me peace, but not paralysis. He wants me to take more serious measures to ensure safety and order here at home, but a part of me feels resistant. That is something any spouse of an Alzheimer's victim feels: we don't want to believe that our loved one will not get better, or even maintain the mental acumen they have today. The pain of that admission is too much. But that is a conclusion that must be reached for the good and safety of all. And responsible steps must be taken, period.


My dad stayed for lunch, we worked on a military document he needed, we finished putting "stop-leak" in my water reservoir, and even though I let him know how grateful we were, I needed to grieve alone. Steve didn't even seem too sure about what had happened, because I thought it best not to have him see Bailey's corpse. Later in the afternoon while we drove to deposit my Mary Kay commission check, he asked me if Bailey's accident had happened yesterday? or this morning? I wonder if he'll remember her at all in another few days--so very sad, just the loss of all information from his mind, as his disease accelerates.


My teacher daughter Heidi kept texting me to check the mail, I told her I had, and there was nothing there with her name on it. But she insisted, so I even went through the paper recycle bin. But something told me to go to the mailbox once again, even though I'd cleaned it out earlier that day. So look I did, and saw children's handwriting addressed to "Mrs. Krukeberry." I wondered why Heidi's students' papers came here, then duh! I'm "Mrs. Kruckeberry!" There were 20 beautiful handwritten sympathy notes for me in the loss of our dog!! (Heidi had come by while we were out, played with Jada, and left the notes for me). I just wept and wept, for the fact that I am loved and SHOWN that I'm loved! Steve enjoyed them too.


Jada appears to be calming down now, but we will trust the Lord to help that calm remain through the night as she settles into a crate with an empty one next to it. Maybe Bailey's smell will be a comfort before we fold up her crate and store it.


In fact, I will need to trust the Lord for my own peaceful rest--and for Steve's as well.






Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another fix-it project



2:29 p.m. Today's project was to spend a nice afternoon together having lunch, clipping Sunday coupons, sprucing up the house a bit, and then going to our new Home Fellowship.



We enjoyed a wonderful mid-morning service at church, and I saw and talked with so many friends, who also made sure to say hi to Steve. His men's Bible study friends greeted him with hugs as well. Before and after church I had lots of excited conversations about our Heart to Home ministry and the next two classes, "3-in-1 necklace," which I'll be taking; and "Welcome Winter with Delicious Soups" for which I am one of the three instructors. (our last cooking class is picutured to the left). I also had a good visit with Candy, one of my Mary Kay consultants, and with Nidia, who hopes to get signed up this month.



We sat behind Heidi and Pavel, and were able to give them 2 homegrown green Bell peppers, and collect two DVDs that belong to her sister Heather after the service. Debi and Bob Snyder found their green peppers in a bag with a note on the hood of their blue Jaguar--a small thank you for Bob's taking Steve out to a movie on Friday night.



Psalm 122 says, and I concur:

I was glad when they said to me,
"Let us go into the house of the Lord."

There is something so strengthening about singing praises to Jesus, listening to the teaching of the Word of the Father, and receiving understanding by the power of His Holy Spirit! How we need that strength, because you can be sure that as we descend from the mountaintop of His glorious presence, evil, sickness, confusion and despair await us in our everyday lives!

How do people cope without Jesus?

At Winco, the discount grocery, Steve became rebellious about walking side-by-side with me and the cart, dragging along several feet behind. When I stopped to wait for him to cover the large gap between us, he demanded, "So, you're doing this again?!" I reminded him, as I have done many, many times, that if I just kept walking at my normal pace, I might round a corner and he'd get lost. So he settled back down, we went on with our shopping, and met up with plenty of acquaintances before we left with our groceries.

Lunch was going well until Steve did some vacuuming, and then broke the Oreck, as far as I can tell, because it was suddenly taken apart. We cannot afford another vacuum cleaneror even to get replacement parts or a repair done. The last hour or so, he's been emptying the bag and cleaning up around the garage, but not putting the appliance back together. I didn't witness him taking it apart, so I don't know how one would reconnect it! That vacuum has run faithfully with no coddling for about 20 years, so I am praying Steve will find it in his brain to put it back together. That seems to be all that's needed, because the vacuum was working! Prayer and more prayer is needed, friends! Prayer for me to use good judgment as to what Steve should be allowed to do as his disease progresses...

Next on the radar is my youngest son Steven in Fresno, who has been violently ill since yesterday when he left work early. He can't afford his work's insurance, but I told him if he goes to a County Hospital, they are obligated to treat him, and can arrange for emergency Medi-Cal (or is it called Healthy Families)? Public welfare isn't our family's way, but since we pay taxes to the State of California, we should use what we've paid for as a last resort, which this is!

Back at the ranch, only the Lord knows how things will turn out with the vacuum. I texted my oldest son, who is very mechanical, to please try to come over and help his dad one morning next week. How grateful I am that God has created my kids with so many talents, talents that I surely don't have!

Time to check on Steve, and make sure we are ready for our home Fellowship, a time so sorely needed for encouragement, loving concern, and assistance in keeping our focus on Jesus, not our difficulties! It urns out, that Steve just took off walking around the neighborhood without saying a thing to me, or taking the dogs! He figured out that the back door hasn't got an alarm beep on it, so in the five minutes since I last checked on his progress with the vacuum cleaner, he disappeared! He walked into the front yard just as I stepped out the door, preparing to call 911!
While I am relieved and happy that he is all right and safe, we are now entering a very bad stage of his disease, and I'll need counsel--and probably mechanical arrangements-- as to preventing this kind of incident from recurring. NO ONE can watch another human being 24 hours a day, as I've just discovered. And NO ONE can keep a mentally unstable person calm and stable--only the Lord can change a person's mind and heart whether they are functional or dysfunctional. The Lord has a solution, of this I am sure! But the ultimate solution is that our lives here on earth are just a passing shadow as 2 Corinthians 4:17 reminds me:

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Thank You, Lord!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

An actual Saturday



8:36 p.m. Today's project was to sleep in somewhat, since I stayed up until almost 2 a.m. on the Mary Kay website logging in my sales from the night's big spa party, adding new customers, and processing payments to my account. Of course there was a rather cursory cleaning effort, kind of a "lick and a promise" as my grandmother would put it. Products needed to be reorganized, at least to the point of moving items to my office. And who wouldn't work off their hyperactive feelings of success by eating up some of the yummy snacks that were leftover and needing storage? I was wound up enough to post some thoughts as well just after midnight!



Seven o'clock came bright and early, so Steve put the dogs out and I thought came back to bed. But I guess while I went back to sleep, he showered and got dressed. About 9:00 I came back to the land of the living, and we went on with our usual morning of devotions and breakfast, sprinkled with bouts of cleaning and laundry--must have been 10 towels piled up in a corner from the pedicures the gals enjoyed Friday night.



It was the first classic Saturday we'd enjoyed in a long time--wandering around in my jammies, while Steve got started mowing the back yard. I finally put myself together and continued cleaning and washing up inside. I also had several text conversations with my sales director Laurie about making the most of the contacts I'd made this week.



Like it used to be on Saturdays in less hectic time periods of my life, projects presented themselves. I started my "Killer Chicken Soup" from ingredients I'd frozen a few months ago, because I'm going to be writing down a recipe for it to give to class attendees at Heart to Home on October 25th. Wendy Simmons, a chef manager at UC Riverside, Kay Wardell and I will be teaching "Welcome Winter with Delicious Soups." Wendy will teach her recipe, and the class will sample all three soups.



I'd also been meaning to program my daughters' phone numbers into my Freedom Alert system, so that one or both would be automatically called if I press the 911 button on my lanyard. (Really press it, not accidentally bump into something and have to quickly cancel the alert)! I got the okay from Heather and told Heidi about it when she and Pavel popped in later in the evening. This lanyard is critical for me, because Steve can no longer dial a phone, nor would he grasp what was happening if I were to choke or have a coronary or stroke.



Since I had the time, I sent an email to all of my kids warning them never to get a flu shot, because we have Guillame-Barre disease in our family, and the flu vaccine can be a trigger, according to our family's Dr. Guzman. The Lord was so good all of the years before 2011, when I got this news, because we never got flu shots--and the seven of us almost never got the flu either. I can count maybe twice in 20 years!



The Lord does use both miracles and means to save His people from threats to their lives. But our utmost trust must be in Him. We could substitute Ferraris and Lear jets for the modes of transportation mentioned in Psalm 20:7-8, but the point is made:



Some trust in chariots, and some

in horses;

But we will remember the name

of the LORD our God.

They have bowed down and

fallen;


But we have risen and stand

upright.



Sleeping in should cause an abundance of energy, one would think, but about 1:30, I found myself irresistibly drawn to the hammock that beckoned from between two Chinese elms in the front yard, nicely hidden from the street. I found a pillow and a comforter, laid them out, and ahhh, so nice. I pushed off to get the swinging motion going, and enjoyed shade, privacy, a perfect breeze, and even a fine mist from the sprinklers in the far end of the front yard sending their fine droplets on the breeze... even the dogs lay quietly on the other side of the wrought iron fence. Thank You, Lord!



Type A people like me tend to think that we're not alive unless we are getting things done, getting things done. If I've finished things for the day, I'm working on things for tomorrow or next week. But God gives and even orders His children to rest, to regather oneself spiritually, mentally and physically. Jesus said,



Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)



And we need not worry about the condition and fate of our souls, either, if we have trusted Christ for our salvation instead of our "good deeds." Hebrews 4:9-10 says,



There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.



So we (for the most part) had a fine, restful, companionable day--an actual "Saturday."






A blessed October 14, still today!



12:26 a.m. Today's project was to host a huge spa party here at our home.



The day was fraught with mischief--very bad back upon waking, caregiver making me an hour later than planned to my hairdresser appointment, exhausted by lack of sleep, nothing but a boiled egg for breakfast due to rushing about, and several errands to do for the party.



My hostess texted me throughout the day about bringing food, and a couple of times with new friends to add to the guest list. That's a good thing financially, but wildly stressful in the logistics category! However, making good use of my time this afternoon, I mangaged to give two hand facials to office managers at Bright Star care agency, and pick up six pedicure brushes at the 99 cent Only store. On my way out, two little girls said to their grandma, "There's a Mary Kay lady!" The grandma explained to me, "My daughter and I do Mary Kay. The girls would recognize that pin anywhere!"



It's fun as well as a responsibility to represent a brand that is so well known. It calls for a certain degree of dress, manners and friendliness as well as looking reasonably well made up. In other words, look and act like a lady!



We believers represent an infinitely more important Individual than the late beloved Mary Kay Ash. Our leader King Jesus is alive, has always been and ever will be! I John 4:17b says,



...as He is, so are we in this world.



As I greet and honor my guests, make everyone comfortable, treat each lady tactfully and gently, encouraging them to try good skincare, I see to it that they are enjoying a relaxing time after a hard week as wives, mothers, and professionals who continually give of themselves to help others. I perform a service in a way that is a witness for the Lord. God cares about every detail of our lives, including refreshment, fellowship, enjoyment of His creation, and our careers.



God made sure that I had all of my supplies; He sent the afternoon caregiver over on time, to help me set up the party, no less, since Steve was just watching The Waltons anyway; and He brought Bob and Debi over to pick up Steve for a boys' night out while Debi joined the spa party!


Whatever you do in word and deed, do all as unto the Lord Jesus Christ.



Blessings all around, including a free chair massage for our caregiver from our Certified Massage Therapist who arrived early!



Colossians 3:17 says,



And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.



Thank you, Lord!