Friday, March 30, 2012

Rebuilding inch by inch

4:12 p.m. Today's project was to watch Steve inch back from the precipice of losing all of his abilities due to Alzheimer's Disease.

In the last months, Steve has struggled with caring for himself, even struggling with eating simple meals like a serving of casserole that he could use a soup spoon with if necessary. Hamburgers, his all-time favorite food, had to be ruled out--he'd be pulling out the meat patty or lettuce, or cheese and chewing on the bun. Spills, which I didn't mind cleaning up, were constant, but while sitting at his side, I could place the food back on his plate. When I'd glance at my own plate to take a bite, I'd then turn my head and see him scooping nothing off the table, or struggling to pick up a single grain of rice. When he began sticking his fingers directly into his food, it was a very hard struggle for me emotionally, because he's always been such a meticulous person in every area of life. But changes were coming, and coming fast. I just had to trust the Lord with my husband. And God has been wonderfully faithful to do as He has promised--to be with me at all times (Hebrews 13:5).

But amazingly, God has done much more! In giving me fellowship with my children, friends in my group at Bible study and in the Piecemakers and Heart to Home ministries, as well as new and continuing Mary Kay customers, I've actually had joy and fun in the midst of tragedy! And infinitely more skilled than the best of us multi-taskers, God is doing all of this all at once! Special time with my youngest son in Fresno over the weekend; and an afternoon in Long Beach with my second son, his wife and new baby have not cut into my business at all--in fact, this will be one of my most profitable weeks, it looks like. And He sent us a renter for whom I've been praying for months! Only God could have given me what Isaiah 61:3 describes for the people of Zion :

To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the
  spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of
The planting of the LORD, that
  He may be glorified.

And now came a wonderful surprise this morning. Our caregiver reported excitedly as he got Steve settled down for breakfast, "Steve was being very independent today! He bathed himself, and brushed his own teeth without help!" Improvements continued at breakfast, too, with Steve picking up his coffee cup more steadily, and eating his toast and cereal nicely.

After his return from Care Connexxus, Steve and his caregiver gave Jada a bath while I packed up my Jeep for a large spa party tonight and rested from a hectic--but good--day of business. Steve's balance seemed to be improved also, but I didn't view any remarkable developments. He did find humor in a Looney Tunes video on YouTube and was laughing and trying a little dance.

For those seeking "practical" or physical reasons for improvement, there are several items I could mention: I started Steve back on 10 mg of Aricept, once a doctor told me that drug could coexist with the Exelon patch; from our son's organic market Lassens, we are using curcumin, the spice found in curry, more aggressively; adding Gotu Kola drops to his applesauce in the morning, and Pharma Gaba chewables; and I was reminded to resume B-Complex tablets for blood circulation. We have already been using coconut oil and  PS.

Lots of "means"  involved here, and there is no telling which of them are making a difference. But at this late stage, I am trying them all! But I believe in miracles also--direct acts of God in  situations that defy human explanation.

Inching back to his former self, even his former self of a few months ago would be like Isaiah 61:4 describes of restoration:

And they shall rebuild the old
They shall raise up the former
And they shall repair the ruined
The desolations of many

Any rebuilding, raising up and repair from this generational disease of Alzheimer's in the Kruckenberg family will truly be "the planting of the Lord," and will bring Him the glory due only to Him!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

God meant it for good--Clark's birth

10:51 p.m. Today's project was to congratulate our son Kriss and his wife Marisela on the birth of their first son, Clark Alexander, a strapping 8 lbs 11 oz., born 9 p.m. in Long Beach!

Ironically, I didn't have my phone on me when I left to lead the Heart to Home class for the evening at church. (That never happens)! When I arrived home about 8:30 p.m. and picked up the text message from 2 hours earlier, that Marisela's water broke and she was already at 6 centimeters, I replied that I'd need to wait for a caregiver and come on down. But by 9 p.m, Clark was born! With all the after-birth treatments and procedures, even her mom, who lives locally to them, had to wait to get see the baby.

So I'll go tomorrow early afternoon, with my daughter Heather who also, if you can believe it, left HER phone at home! We both had planned to be present for the birth...

More interesting irony tonight, or what I like to call "God-things." I am reminded of Genesis Chapter 45 and how Joseph, now ruler in Egypt and the one who saved his people from famine, had revealed himself to the older brothers who sold him into slavery as a teenager. After the death of Jacob their father, there was fear that powerful Joseph would take revenge.  But Genesis 50:20 contains some of the sweetest words in scripture:

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

What's the connection?

Kriss had asked for the day before Clark's due date (March 31) and the week after, off  work, so he could be home with his wife and baby. But mistakenly, the scheduler had him off this week! So they've been walking and walking Marisela, hoping to start her in labor this week. And bless God, Clark arrived at the beginning of the week, with plenty of vacation week left for Kriss!

So God worked a careless scheduling "mistake" into His perfect plan for Kriss, Marisela and Clark. There are no mistakes, no scrambling for solutions with God--He never says, "Oops! What'll I do now?" 

Known only to Jesus, this was Clark's day to be born. And let us declare above all, when we think of March 27, 2012:


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wood, hay, straw, silver or gold?

12:23 p.m. Today's project was to attend People's Church with my son Steven and hear a sermon that is--as far as I know as of this writing--probably the reason I was compelled to come to Fresno for the weekend.

Pastor Dale Oquist has been teaching a series called "Church Rehab," and this morning he had us open up to I Corinthians 3. He began with a comment that the Corinthian church in the Apostle Paul's day thought that they were just doing great, while not living scripturally at all! They were divisive, sectarian, and obsessed with personalities--some favoring Apollos, some favoring Paul, some Peter (v. 22). In their fixation on personalities, they had forgotten whose church it is: God's! In review, I Corinthians 3:6-8:

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.  

Now on to today's passage, v. 9-15:

For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it.  But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 

Pastor Oquist pointed out that much of the divisiveness and quarreling come from a territorial view of one's service, as if that ability to serve was anything but a gift from God, to do His work, to lift up and honor Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ were the focus and sole reason for a ministry to exist, would not prayer together for guidance replace quarreling?

He also pointed out another reason for disappointment with church: people do not understand that the purpose of the church is: to glorify Jesus. For example, an individual comes to church for the church to "fix" him, and doesn't expect to do any of the work himself! Unless they are taught and shown by example to follow Christ in times of trial and crisis, they will leave disillusioned because they came to get, not give.

Oquist went on to discuss those who work in ministry, whether in or out of a body of believers. How and why do they serve? For public recognition? Out of obligation? To have control over a ministry and the group of people involved ? Or do they serve from a love for Christ that compels them through the power of the Holy Spirit, so they can say like Paul did, "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel!" (or teach toddlers, or women's Bible studies, or manage the church finances, lead a small group, visit the shut-ins, meet for daily prayer).

Unless Christians do their service for the Lord, to represent and please Jesus, they will not earn a reward. Verse 15 points out that although worthless work will be burned up on the Day of Judgment for believers, they will not lose their salvation. Because, the pastor pointed out, "Salvation is free, but rewards are earned!"

Will my service (or yours) come through the fire and be rewarded? I honestly do not know! God gives me a tremendous privilege to teach His word, lead and mentor women, and make opportunities for them to use their special gifts to edify the Body. But there are times when I head out to serve in a ministry, and am just so tired already, wishing I could call off, but I go anyway, out of a sense of duty, of keeping one's word to Jesus and the women.That could end up as easily burned "straw," if it weren't for the Holy Spirit refilling me with fresh eagerness to fulfill the ministry I've been given.  Joy at the sight of the women's sweet faces just overwhelms me, and we end up with an anointed time of mutual encouragement, prayer, and learning in the scriptures.

As we consider that we are God's building, designed to center on Jesus, and to lift up His name, we will fulfill our ministries with joy, focused on Jesus, not ourselves or other believers.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

On the road again

5:47 p.m. Today's project was to leave the very excellent, inspiring and informative Mary Kay Career Conference to travel north to Fresno from Pasadena to visit with our son Steven for a few days. I had a head start by leaving from Pasadena because it is not far from the 5 North. I did have one concern the weather, which dissipated along with the clouds. Whereas Los Angeles County was cold, dark and gloomy, the sun and blue sky broke through gloriously over the Grapevine, all the way  through the mountains, and then through the flat agricultural lands to my destination. Just having a bright day lifted my spirits, and caused me to thank the Lord for His graciousness. He knew that I'd be worried over clouds while traveling through the mountains. Even with a new tire and a tuned-up car, I didn't want to drive in a rainstorm!

Psalm 16:3 says,

Commit your works to the LORD,
And your thoughts shall be established.

A couple of roadblocks came up to slow down my leaving the hotel before noon, so I am glad  my "thoughts were establshed" and I was firm with my plan. After a very sleep-deprived night--just not at home in my own bed; a late but exciting night; and then rising early to get ready for the day and have devotions while my three roommates slept--I was falling asleep during a very good training class. So I did the logical thing for someone with a long drive ahead : went back to our room and napped for 20 minutes. Having been notified that I had $7.00 + change awaiting me at the Sheraton's front desk, I needed to pick that up, before I could leave. Thankfully, there were no lines! Finally, I made it out to the Jeep!

At the exit, I pushed the parking ticket into the mechanized kiosk, and the screen read, "$15.00."  Whoa! Wait up! I had paid for my parking when I checked out. With that big yellow bar looming in front of me and blocking my escape, I was tempted to pay it, after two tries inserting my hotel room and parking keys. Then I saw the Help button and pushed it. The attendant's voice came on and a very nice lady took the spelling of my last name and my the room number and released the gate. Beautiful, praise the Lord!

Naturally, when a roadblock appears, I am tempted to assume that it's God stopping me (from driving more safely during daylight hours to visit my son)? At times it can be the Holy Spirit's doing, as when the apostle Paul and his companions were forbidden by the Spirit to go into the region of Bithynia in Acts 16:7. At other times, the devil throows up roadblocks, confusion and fear to keep uas from being or receiving a blessing at the end of our travels. In Romans 15:22, Paul writes of being "hindered from coming to you." A disciple of Christ must pray, and discern when to go and when to stay!

In my case, I was blessed by a beautiful, speedy drive and a wonderful time when I arrived at the organic grocery store Lassens, where Steven works. I was welcomed with a hug from my "baby" and greeted warmly by the staff, even treated to a few nice food items, like coconut juice and tri-tip steak! Steve's girlfriend Kathy came over and we enjoyed a berries and tuna salad while Steven finished his shift.

Best of all, as Steven and I drove to his house, he shared with me that he had preached twice on scriptural adminitions to care for one's body at a local church, with pastors in attendance, some from out of state.Steven, Kathy, and emplyees from sponsor Lassens had prepared 200 protein drink samples for the attendees--may their diligence pay off in better health for the women who heard Steven's message!

The weekend has already included a raucous and exciting pro-am hockey game earlier this evening. We'll be at The People's Church tomorrow, the highlight of my visit up here. I never thought I'd be in a megachurch that was so friendly to an out-of-towner. Looking forward to the worship and message, as well as hearing about their many community outreaches. It feels like a second church home now!

The enemy tried to scare me away from this trip with foreboding about the weather, and difficulty at the hotel parking lot exit. But with the maternal instinct God has placed in most women, it's pretty impossible to keep a mom away from her kid! Overall, however, is God's loving care forme in any and all circumstances, Psalm 138:8:

The LORD will perfect that
  which concerns me;
Your mercy, O LORD, endures 
Do not forsake the work of Your hands.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Can't keep up!

5:13 p.m. Today's project was to try to keep up with God, and it's a daunting task! When God's on the move in your life, put on your spiritual running shoes! Even when you're prayed up, studied up, and looking up, He's infinite eons ahead of you. When the Holy Spirit speaks, get ready to move!

After Steve left on his bus to Care Connexxus, I prayed over our day with my friend Cara and then took the Jeep in for a fluid check-up and oil change. While there, the sorry condition of a couple of my tires was pointed out, so I was persuaded to replace the worst one, since I'm traveling to Fresno after an overnight in Pasadena for our annual Mary Kay Career Conference.  The dealer didn't have the exact tire, so I agreed to come back at 1 p.m. to have it installed.

Meanwhile, I attended the Alzheimer's/Dementia Caregivers' Support Group that meets monthly at the Riverside County Office of Aging. I came very close to skipping it, but since I'd rsvp'd, keeping my word was the right thing to do. Truthfully, a part of me dreads the support group, because some of our newer members' situations are so heart-wrenching. I find that we all have a tendency to desire positive experiences if possible--I know I do. But my determination is to bring an uplifting attitude with me as a witness for Christ, while still sharing truthfully about our very difficult situation. II Corinthians1:4 speaks of

...the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort by which we ourselves are comforted by God.

But God had something amazing for me (or for Steve and me)! A Dr. Welebir from a clinic in Loma Linda, CA that runs many clinical trials was our speaker. She educated us on the drugs that are commonly used, like Aricept and Namenda, and the many others that pharmaceutical companies are constantly inventing and need to move into the human trial phase of their research. As she heard Steve's history and experiences, and how the Lord is having me cope and go forward despite our circumstance, Dr. Welebir said a couple of times, "I like your attitude!" "It's the Lord," I replied, an answer that has become second nature!

You might recall that a month ago TO THE DAY, Steve and I were headed to Newport Beach for a consultation for a different clinical trial but I got so sick that we'd missed the appointment by the time I woke up at my sister-in-law's house. I applied again, but have received no answer. I would have to conclude that it wasn't the clinical trial God wanted for us. He always has a plan, the plan that is best for us!

Psalm 48:14 promises,

For this is God,
Our God forever and ever;
He will be our guide
Even unto death.

After the meeting, I immediately called the clinic. Steve is scheduled for a consultation appointment a week from Friday. Loma Linda is a lot closer to Riverside than Newport! He is not to change any of his medications unless and until he is accepted into the trial. And there is no guarantee of that, for those of you are praying and praying for a chance for Steve to have his disease reversed. Dear friends, please keep praying!

Before getting into my car, I checked with the dealership and the tire hadn't arrived as promised by 1 p.m. The technician said he would call when the tire came in. Ok, so I went on to the CVS drugstore and purchased some B-complex and a prescription for Steve. Thought I'd call my dad who follows research happenings with Alzheimer's He was quite pleased with our news. At the mention of buying a tire, Daddy said, "Stay away from those dealerships! Their markup is huge." and recommended a small wheel and tire dealer. I made an appointment for tomorrow morning!

I really had to admire God's split-second timing! If that dealership tire had been ready on time, I would not have saved all the money I will realize tomorrrow. Thanks to my dad, but thanks above all to the Lord who spoke to me somehow to call my earthly father to begin with!

But that left the onerous job of cancelling the tire I'd asked the dealership to get for me. They had left a voicemail after my lower priced tire installation was scheduled, so as a Christian, I had to make a call and honestly tell the technician that I'd found a cheaper tire service. He was let down, but understood. I'm a loyal customer, and I will be back for other services in the future.

A whirlwind day of amazement in the Lord's timing and direction has wound down along with the sun. As of today, Steve is still very confused, and I still have three tires to replace. But if God has provided an open door to trying a new drug for Steve, and saved me money I can use for home expenses and my trip to Fresno without me doing anything, I give Him all the glory and trust Him for even more mighty works in our family's behalf!

God's favor in my life today is just like my salvation: I did nothing to earn it--Jesus Christ accomplished it all, once and for all, by his death on the cross. Becoming a Christian is the first step to a life of small, medium and massive miracles. Won't you accept Christ as your Savior today?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pleasant prospects

10:26 p.m. Today's project was to lead my women's Bible study group at our church after an eventful morning that saw Steve knock over break his favorite coffee mug, a gift from the kids that showed a smattering of cartoon tools and read:


It was a mess of coffee everywhere that the caregiver cleaned up while I was upstairs getting ready to go. No one stepped on glass, so no harm done. I'll miss that mug, though, with the memory of the kids in their tween years, showing appreciation for their dad.

In our Bible study group, we had plenty of time for whole-group and small group prayer, as well as an icebreaker calling for the revelation of something unusual that people weren't likely to know about each of us. It was fun to get to know one another with facts like"They couldn't find a boy in 4th grade to memorize the Gettysburg address, so I had to play Abraham Lincoln in a school play." (That was yours truly). On a more spiritually productive note, one of our group members revealed that she is in training to be a hospital chaplain. What an opportunity to impact the lost, damaged and dying! Going to those in need reminds me of Nehemiah 8:10:

Send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared.

While this directive to share food is part of a proclamation of a holiday for those rebuilding the walls and city of Jerusalem, I see that we can "send portions" to those hurting in many ways. This morning my group members blessed me with favor and encouragement after I'd had a very difficult evening with Steve Monday night. We handed our 3"x 5" prayer request cards around to intercede for one another throughout the next week, fulfilling the commandment of James 5:16b, to

...pray for one another, that you may be healed.

In an uplifted frame of mind after Bble study, I drove to my neighborhood to eat my pack lunch on a shady street before my 1:30 facial appointment with an old friend. I get tempted to just buy lunch when I'm out all day, but I encourage myself to be thrifty by saying, "For every dollar you save by not eating out, you can______________________"(fill in the blank with an more needed or valuable item or goal). 

The Lord keeps my prospects pleasant and my heart soaring above our dreadful circumstances, instead of dragging my knuckles in the devil's dirt of discouragement. I have some good plans coming about for this week and next: a visit from our grandsons; and a play date for Heidi's Sammy and Jazzlyn, with our Jada, set for Thursday. My younger daughter will be popping in from her nearby office for lunch.

The boutique I am hosting for April 14th is gathering more and very professional vendors, thank You, Lord! And Heart to Home's jewelry class was going beautifully as I left them making their necklaces. (I'd been there to open in prayer and give the devotional, but had already taken the class last Christmas season).

My life is not easy, but it is often joyful and always blessed. In fact, I'll be joining a caregivers' support group session tomorrow with others who also cope with Alzheimer's disease in their families. My prayer is to be able to encourage the others, especially those who have not opened the door to the strength and encouragement that only the  Lord Jesus Christ can give.

As I've quoted in the past, and still feel is so apt for one who trusts God, Psalm 16:6 says,

The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Listing starboard

9:06 Today's project was to help Steve sit up and stop leaning on his left side through the entire church service. He leans so heavily on me, virtually passed out with sleep, that it's hard to focus on the word of God. The effect on my shoulders and back is not good at all. Every few minutes I whisper to him to look up at Pastor John or the jumbo screens, but to no avail. If I weren't sitting on the aisle, he'd topple over onto the carpet! I don't think there's any assistance my daughter and son-in-law can offer, because Steve in his leaning state would be heavy for anyone to support. I'd thought about going to the overflow room, but what would change about his left leaning in another room? At least in the sanctuary, we both feel a part of things with the Body of Christ all focused together. ..

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)

In the last few months, Steve has been sleeping more and more during the day, despite sleeping nightly from 8:15 p.m. to 6:45 a.m. Unless I have him out with me in the car--where he also leans heavily to the left--eating a meal, or working around the property, he drops off. It doesn't matter if the TV is playing a favorite show quite loudly, or there's conversation, Steve can't last long. The caregivers and I try to keep him hydrated, recalling the last episodes of weakness he has suffered in the last 6 months. It's not helping.

Staggering and stumbling also result from Steve walking with a leftward lean and his head held down. He falls almost once a day, and has to be physically turned in the right direction to walk to any room in the house, out to the garage, or over to his seat in the Jeep. Sitting down, whether on the couch, dinner table, or commode, seems to be a very hard direction to follow.

Eating is getting messier and attempts to keep things neat are fairly futile. I did realize one thing yesterday: our clear glass plates are contributing to the way Steve has been putting food directly onto the table from the plate, and eating it from there. What he sees through the clear plate is the wooden table, and he's under the delusion that the plate just continues on! A patterned plate doesn't get the same response, so using solid white or a pattern, he'll prayerfully have better eating manners.

I don't expect normalcy, however, because even eating a tiny sample of fish Friday at Costco, and yogurt today at Winco proved to be overwhelming--he no longer simply imitates me or others eating around him--he just doesn't know what to do! The only time he eats in front of others now is with family or at Home Fellowship. Our group is just so loving that they don't want us to miss. I make sure to clean up the table and floor the best I can without making a scene. Our hostess, if she's anything like most women, will sweep and mop after everyone leaves anyway. (I know the feeling--I did about two hours of cleanup after serving my Mary Kay facial party guests a full breakfast yesterday. But if one has the gift of hospitality, even cleaning up afterwards can be a joy, triggering memories of blessed fellowship)!

There is a temptation to relate this latest deterioration to the weaning off of Aricept and Namenda in favor of the Exelon patch, but these three are all in the same "family" of drugs, and he must not take the pills as long as he's wearing the patch. BUT, Steve began manifesting the leftward lean months ago. My son Steven also informed me during his last visit here at home, that his cousins (Steve's late brother's sons) told him that all of a sudden things would happen to Larry, for example,  "one day Dad's left arm stopped working." Is this not the beginning of what I'm seeing? Steve can't hold anything in his left hand, even if I position his fingers around a cup, or in position to hold the handles of a plastic grocery bag. it's a shame, so hard seeing him like this. Sometimes I mentally cry out, "Is this my husband?!" No one but God hears me, and that's fine. Crying out to the only One who can have any effect of this disease's progression is pretty wise and pretty comforting as I receive His love more fully each day!

Guiding, nudging, turning, gently pulling him along in stores because he can't understand how to stick at my side his bedtime prep--all this is becoming physically taxing. It's not that Steve is oppositional; he just cannot follow directions or do anything to help himself with his own mobility or personal care. I thank the Lord for our caregivers, for keeping this decently fit 60 from having to lift and carry everything myself, Without a miracle, no one can go on like this without her body breaking down.

So I am faced with serious decisions as to increasing care, changing or increasing meds, how to handle church potlucks and meal times at home. I covet your prayers, friends. Through all of these compounding crises, I pray for Steve's safety. So far no injury has resulted from the stumbling. I trust what Jesus tells His children in Hebrews 13:5:

...I will never leave you nor forsake you.  As for guidance, hear Psalm 32:8:

I will instruct you and teach you
  in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.

...and Isaiah 58:11 for a promise of love and care that I need right now:

The LORD will guide you

And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered
And like a spring of water, whose
  waters do not fail.

Thank you, Lord!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Let nature take its course?

10:05 p.m. Today's project was to wake up an hour early, 5:00 a.m., to more actively seek the Lord in my many-sided discouragement. I had been praying and listening to Jesus, worshipping Him through praise songs in the night, yet not being delivered of the oppression of the enemy.  Each devotional, Psalm and Proverb I read not only mirrored my heart's condition, but it allowed me to truly drink in scriptural wisdom and encouragement. At these times, I realize how much God loves me, and that His "calling and election are sure" (II Peter 1:10).

When times are difficult or even tragic, and I am tempted to despair, I don't seek to read particular verses or chapters I know will comfort me; I trust the Holy Spirit to bring them to my mind. I stay steadily and consistently on my daily reading plan, to allow the Lord to once again bring the perfect Word to me at the perfect time!

Spurgeon's devotional today reminded me that I am a stranger with Jesus in this fallen world (Psalm 39:12), and suffer trials, mental, emotional, and accusatory attacks accordingly. As He was, so are we in this world. I am a sojourner; this world is not my home nor destination!

I gained much-needed perspective for my mind, but I sought even closer communion with the Lord, so I went to my knees to pray strenuously from my soul, confessing and receiving forgiveness for any and all sins. He was even closer to me then! When I sat to read my scripture, the circle was completed with today's chapter, Psalm 42! Verses 1,3:

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
"Where is your God?

Verses 5-6:

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within  me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.

Prayer with my prayer partner, wise counsel from a leader in my life, and putting the counsel into practice soon lifted me back up to accomplish the ministry God had for me today.

There are very serious decisions that need to be made now for my Steve. He is stumbling about now and would be clueless as to what is happening if the caregivers and I didn't keep up a descriptive narrative for him, much as a mother does with a baby--"now we're getting in the car, let's get you strapped in, etc."

The Exelon patch isn't making any improvement, but neither did Aricept or Namenda. This is another deep slide downward for my husband that no medication can stop. I pondered the fact that the last time I'd visited my friend Barbara with her mom in Sun City, just last fall, Steve had been conversant, ate his food normally after having the choices delineated for him, and enjoyed his time with them. He would barely be recognizable now, hunched over, only sporadically verbal, and barely putting one foot in front of the other, shuffling.. .

Strengthened and encouraged by the Lord, I feel prepared now to have peace that passes understanding as Steve's final phase of Alzheimer's commences.  My natural "Got to do something about this" personality needs to step back and stop seeking temporary fixes that Steve's doctors are even telling me are pointless. The neurologist and the primary physician have been telling me this, but Now my eyes are opened to truly see Steve as he is, for myself...

I'll let nature, or rather nauture's God, take Steve on the course He has laid out for him on his road to heaven!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Can't see the seedlings? Water anyway!

7:34 p.m. Today's project for the afternoon was to get refreshed and relax a bit. Of course, for Type A me, "refreshment" merely means doing a different kind of task!  I'd been working my Mary Kay business all day, both before and after our meeting. I quickly gobbled a baked chicken drumstick with a chunky salsa and turmeric sauce I'd served last night for dinner,  made a few more phone calls to customers and team members, and changed my clothes to a casual--but flattering--look, even at home, because after all, I was wearing my pin!

At 2 p.m., Steve arrived home from Care Connexxus. As a way to spend time together, as well as enjoy a lovely afternoon, I helped him out to the backyard so he could visit with the dog and clean the yard while I watered the garden. (And since I'd taught the organic gardening class at church last night, tending the garden seemed like a timely thing to do)!

In my chain link-secured sanctuary, I took up the watering can and excitedly watered the little rows of lettuce, spinach, carrot and cilantro seedlings. At last! The daytime sun had conquered the cold nights, warmed the soil, and given the babies the strength to break ground! As I went along my rows, I also watered in a straight, contiguous line next to the baby plants where there were no seedlings visible. Why? Because I know that new plants are going to appear in a week or two, due to staggered planting of seeds.

A gardener always has a plan, from selection of a plot that will be the sunniest, to soil preparation and amendment, laying out the rows of assorted vegetables by cool weather hardiness, and planting like seeds with like. We save space by planting carrots or onions with lettuce--one grows underground; the other spreads above ground. Then, as the spring warms, we plant other crops, like peas, beans, potatoes, tomatoes and melons, and lastly, corn.

In my business, I've achieved some important milestones and mid-sized goals, but am not seeing all that God had promised me will come to pass. My Mary Kay garden isn't showing me, yet, all of the women I'll be helping build their own business, but I'm not going to sit and just wish they'd magically appear! I'm going to connect with friends and acquaintances, ask for referrals, get fresh leads, hold fun events and cheer on my team members to do the same.

Having a vision of accomplishing a goal doesn't mean expecting that it will instantly materialize! There's good, prayerful, hard work to be done. Seeing the vision come to pass in Gods timing will be all the sweeter for the work involved to get there. And sometimes we must wait as God puts every aspect into place. Think of Isaiah's vision of new heavens and a new earth (65:17), yet to come to pass thousands of years later. But that vision will come to pass as Revelation 21:1 makes clear! 
Habakkuk 2:2-3 gives us the correct response to a vision of the future from God Himself:

Then the LORD answered me and said:

Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an
  appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it
  will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.

I've always noticed the apparent contradiction in the last three lines; "though it tarries, [or delays] wait for it," vs. "it will surely come, it will not tarry." The explanation which I believe the Lord has given me, is that in our finite human timing, the fulfillment of a vision seems to be delayed; but on God's infinite timeline that we cannot fathom, the vision will be fulfilled, even IS FULFILLED, right on time! If you and I haven't seen the accomplished vision yet, it's not because there's a problem with the vision which God has spoken to us--we just aren't ready to see it fulfilled!!

So keep watering your seeds whether you see them or not!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Aiming too low, thinking too small

2:48 p.m. Today's project is to check my vision! Proverbs 29:18a (KJV) says,

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

What is my vision for the next years of my life? This question was triggered by a favorite episode of "The Waltons" this afternoon. Life imitating art?

Steve's and my favorite television channel, the Gospel Music Channel, is well worth the monthly DirecTV fee, because we can now watch wonderful shows we never had time for during our work and childrearing days. The afternoons find Steve very worn out from relatively little activity, so a few hours of this quintessential "family" show daily fit his needs perfectly. Today's episode, where John-Boy failed at shooting a turkey but ended up killing a huge bear and saving his father's life, gave me the theme for this post.

What if I'm aiming too low? What if I'm thinking too small? I could very well be hesitating to pursue even a modest accomplishment, when God wants me to boldly pursue and achieve at a much higher level in an area of my life that I've not yet dared to dream of. 

Jesus knows me, however, and Psalm 103:13-14 reminds me:

As a father pities his children,
So the LORD pities those who fear
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.
Even though Jesus knows His children need to start with small  undertakings to build our confidence, He doesn't plan for us to stay there! Just listen to Psalm 8:4-5:

What is man that You are mindful
  of him,
Or the son of man that You
  visit him?
For You have made him a little
  lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with
  glory and honor.

I remember being a nervous wreck about running for School Site Council at Taft Elementary and then at North High School, but I won a spot on both with my platform of higher academics and parental involvement. Next I was elected PTA president at both schools, and in 1992, to the Riverside Unified Governing Board of Trustees! God had it all laid out, because in the next 13 years, He turned the district around, policy by policy.

It was the prayers of our Moms in Touch groups from Taft and North that met in our home that laid the groundwork, smoothed the rough spots, and carried me forward to fulfill God's vision--my thinking was way too small!

Almost 30 years ago, this young wife and mother was led by the Lord to write Bible studies on I & II Samuel, Galatians and the Gospel of Mark. The women who came to our home did the hand-typed, xeroxed and stapled lessons; I taught them each Thursday, and we all grew in the knowledge of the Word.   By 1988, our 5th child was born, the last book had been taught, and away went the studies into a huge file cabinet in the garage of our new home. Of course I continued attending and leading in women's Bible studies at Harvest Christian Fellowship, and heading up the Willing Hearts, Willing Hands home arts ministry with my dear, very talented friends Linda and Bonnie.

Fast forward to 2011, and Galatians:An Exploration of Faith & Freedom, has been published, and made available in bookstores, online and at The twelve-week study was rated highly by Calvary Chapel Distribution and approved for use in their affiliated churches!

I'd definitely call leaving Bible studies in a file cabinet when God wanted  to have them available to the public aiming too low! Now, encouraged by that accomplishment, I 'm following God's direction with a book on our Alzheimer's experience  in the works.

Setting out to raise just two children (Sean and Kriss) was definitely "small thinking" compared with the vision God had for Steve's and my family. We also had Heidi, Heather and Steven. How Jesus has blessed us, completely overruling our small vision.

Even though we are not to "despise the day of small things" (Zechariah 4:10), we need to grow, be challenged, and be a light to those around us, showing forth the praises of God by the amazing ways He works in our lives.

We need to be obedient when God says "Go!"

The kitchen clock flashed 3:20 several minutes ago, reminding me of what God has planned for my life and business, so much higher and better than my low aims! Ephesians 3:20-21:

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


Saturday, March 10, 2012

When God brings it

4:17 p.m. Today's project was to host a Muffins and Makeovers class at my home.

I miss hosting couples' and women's Bible studies and Moms in Touch prayer mornings when my kids were in school. Family gatherings and parties are my favorite, but they only happen when the occasions arise. And being of a hospitable nature, loving fun and people of all ages, with multiple activities going at a time if need be, I jumped at the chance to host weekly Mary Kay Saturday morning makeover classes with my colleague and prayer partner Cara.

It's been the Lord who has kept my enthusiasm high, because in our several meetings, I've had an amazing total of 0 guests! No-commitments and no-shows have been my sorry lot, and for a beauty consultant with many products and the training to bless women and help them to feel their best, it's a challenge to genuinely and smilingly welcome Cara's guests. Yet God has given me a heart for cheering others on, and appointments during the weeks between to keep me encouraged. Plus, it's fun to open my home and serve the coffee, tea, and have the table set up beautifully. The good attitude is certainly not my doing, because in my flesh I could be jealous of others whose progress is going faster. When the enemy tempts me to measure myself by another consultant's achievements 2 Corinthians 10:12 tells me,

For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

And with the "Go-Give" policy of our company, where we help our sister consultants with anything they need without worrying about returned favors, and having the opportunity toclimb as high and earn as much as we determine to work for, individuals measure ourselves against our own personal best achievments. And with the help of my sales director, I can move to another level at my own pace.

For our last Saturday classes, I'd recognized the noncommital attitudes of the guests I'd hoped to have, and others had last-minute obligations and illnesses. But I had much more confience this morning, because my three guest had told me they were coming for sure last night. Yet as the morning went on, with my guests not here, I doublechecked with them. One said she was on her way, just waiting for her friend to arrive at the house to join her. The other one never answered my call. Time ticked on, I busied myself helping out and working on my next order and praying. I genuinely enjoyed the facials and makeovers taking place, having joy at being able by God's grace to provide a comfortable and pretty place for guests to experience our products.

I do confess, though, to having felt more disappointed than usual, because none of my guests for a party yesterday had made it over here either-- again, after committing to come over for their facials earlier in the day. Since Steve had a caregiver here ysterday anyway, I took time to work on the notes for my book on a Christian family's response to Alzheimer's. My commitment to the Lord has been to research my daily prayer journal entries of the last five years, and note down the times when Steve's struggle with the disease caused an issue or reaction from the rest of us, as well as the financial, emotional and spiritual impact on all of us. Carrying out God's assignment of studying the incessant, draining spiritual warfare depicted on the journal pages, requires fortitude that only the Holy Spirit can infuse. Yet, this assignment is a stewardship from my Lord. By His power, I actually finished the notes on my 2008-2010 journal before the soup was heated for dinner!   I Corinthians 4:2 says,

Moreover it is required of stewards that one be found faithful. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the devil has been taunting me because my appointments and earnings have been down since my prayer partner and I made a thrice-weekly prayer appointment. Hmmm, let me stand that fact up against God's clear word to me that He is in this business for me. The facts don't show the picture, amen? God's word to me is what matters. It's His business, just like my marriage, my family and my ministries are!  And I need to let Jesus conduct it in my behalf, with Him leading through the voice of the Holy Spirit, and me  following His voice with the actions He directs me to take! Note well: determined, committed obedience holds even for days where disappointment hovers dangerously close to despair, and worse yet, unbelief!  Hebrews 11:1 says,

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Period. While I wasted much of my early morning waking hours in bed worrying about my low production numbers in "comparison" to my goals, God was actually accomplishing good things for my business. By midday yeasterday, I had a new order; by noon today, I had two new orders, a facial, a glamour follow-up and two parties lined up for the next week and a half! And blessed be His name, just as Cara was closing her guests, in the door came a former team member of mine, Michelle, who now is a neighbor as well!! They have moved here so that her daughter Courtney can attend King High School, and their little sons will be attending Taft Elementary, like my kids did. Michelle had seen my Facebook invitation, rather random, since probably 650 of my friends are women, and I couldn't invite them all if I tried! But God selected a friend who loves me very much to brighten and uplift my day! (And have a makeover with her daughter)!

Since I had mentally moved on from our event to planning my afternoon, obviously someone was praying for me, probably not even knowing what my need was! As a Christian hip-hop song goes, "He love me like that!"

By the time the afternoon had ended, Michelle had made a purchase and scheduled a follow-up appointment and a party, as did another friend, now a customer, who dropped by for a catalog and to be put on my mailing list! I give up, Lord! That sounds weird, but it's what God has wanted me to do all along. It took some low-producing weeks for me to sit up and take notice. I'm out of the business of being responsible for my financial or team-building results, while being fully accountable for my own actions and stewardship. God is the only one who can put incentives and ideas into my customers' hearts and minds, as Proverbs 21:1 says of the heads of nations:

The king's heart is in the hand
  of the LORD,
Like the rivers of water,
He turns it wherever he wishes.

So shouldn't I let Him do what He does best--run His created universe?

I think I will!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quite a day!

2:55 p.m. Today's project was to "work out what God has worked in!" In the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:12b-13, (NLT),

Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.

As Christians,  we have a very deep desire to please God, but find that our daily route to doing so runs through people, first, and through trials, second. We have only to read the Old Testament chronicles of the life of David, for instance, in I Samuel, suffering decades of persecution from King Saul before becoming king of Israel, to put the trials we go through in perspective! So far, anyway, I haven't been hunted as an outlaw and forced to hide in a cave! Outlaw status and the accompanying tests of faith were also the lot of Moses and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Yet, their trials and triumphs of faith are the foundation on which our faith has been built, as recorded in Hebrews Chapter 11.

I wonder whether my behavior in trials will be remembered as laudatory and worthy of imitation, preparing me for even more fiery trials of faith; decently acceptable, since I had no other choice; or sadly lacking in fortitude and gratitude for the lessons learned!

Psalm 24:10 says,

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


After a day like today, which consisted of an indelicate incident with backyard cleanup--I facetiously ponder having a smaller dog! Running screaming into the house to wash my hands would qualify as having "small strength," I would say.  I certainly admire the calm and patient demeanor of my husband's caregivers, who routinely assist Steve with all of his tasks. And much as I have observed it, somehow the knack of helping Steve out of his outer shirt and putting on a clean one has escaped me as well. (I eventually get it done, once I remember to pray out loud so Steve can agree with me)!

Jeremiah 12:5, which I also keep posted, provides a stepped-up challenge:

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

How will I contend with a completely helpless husband? Even with professional help? The emotional component promises to be the greatest trial of all in an Alzheimer caregiver's life.

Prayerfulness, love, compassion and a gentle attitude will go a long way in helping Steve, the kids and myself through this trial. God knows every stage, every accompanying deterioration, and finally when to let go of any hopes for a recovery and restoration of Steve's faculties and daily functioning. May I enjoy the fun times we can still enjoy, lower expectations for him and me, and follow the Lord on His path for us.

After all, as a believer, I know the end of my life's story! May it be told well as I'm on the way,

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's a God-thing

8:01 p.m. Today's project was to wrap up against a very cold, harsh wind while hopping in and out of my car thoughout a morning of seeing Steve off on his bus, shopping for a few goodies for Wednesday Morning Makeovers, and walking from curb to house for the event once I arrived in Redlands.

Before I left the house, and during my drive, I heard of some natural oddities that defy man's explanations:

a.  Rattlesnakes are out in force in our area, our Christian radio station warned, and advised on proper attire for hiking, and not to hike alone. Since we've always had rattlers across the road in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park, and our family hikes whenever the mood strikes, I just tucked this bit of information into my proverbial hat. Ever mindful of last days' scenarios rather than current danger, I thought of scriptural warnings of wild animals roaming the ruins of desolate cities. Such a judgments was pronounced (and eventually carried out) on Jerusalem, Ezekiel 14: 15:

...wild beasts [will] pass through the land and empty it, and make it so desolate that no man may pass through because of the beasts...

And Jesus spoke of "pestilences" in Matthew 24:7 as a sign of the End of the Age.

b. Another happening in our universe that caused some concern in the news were storms on the sun, or
"sun flares." .From

  "The sun unleashed a cosmic double whammy Tuesday (March 6), erupting with two major flares to cap a busy day of powerful solar storms. One of the flares is the most powerful solar eruption of the year, so far.
  Both of the huge flares ranked as X-class storms, the strongest type of solar flares the sun can have.
  ...When aimed directly at earth, X-class solar flares can endanger astronauts and satellites in orbit, interfere with satellite communications and damage power grids on earth."

I also heard on the radio news that GPS communications can be disrupted--so don't get lost! Apparently planes won't be flying over the North Pole or the South Pole for the next few days. Wow! That may be why my girlfriends were discussing their random power outages yesterday in different parts of Moreno Valley. This afternoon at Starbucks in my neighborhood, the computer/cash registers were goofing up. I hadn't thought this through, so I offhandedly suggested that the all-day wind might be affecting the system.  I did, however, get my Caramel Frappucino and sat down to call and book customers.

Later at home, Steve had been watching his favorite show "The Waltons," when our DirecTV went out, for 5 minutes the first time, making me wonder if I'd paid the bill; but the second time it lasted over an hour. (The system is run by satellite). So after dinner, I played "The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe" on our desktop computer for Steve while I went into my office to join in on a Mary Kay marketing call. The programming did come back on, though I shut it off so Steve could focus on the end of the movie.

Tornados in the midwest, powerful sun storms, a plethora of rattlesnakes--all are what you could call "a God thing." We like to use that phrase for serendipitous happenings that are positive and lead to great blessing, but God says this of Himself and His omnipotent power in Isaiah 45:6b-7:

I am the LORD, and there is no other;
I form the light and create darkeness,
I make peace and create calamity;
I, the LORD, do all these things.

Yes, God creates calamity in this sin-sick, rebellious world! Jesus verifies this when He spoke of the signs of the End of the Age in Matthew 24:7, 8:

For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. and there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

And Jesus spoke of the signs of His Second Coming after the seven-year Tribulation, verse 29:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
But God has a plan to redeem all of creation, through his Son's sacrifice on the cross. John wrote of this in Revelation 21:1, 5a:

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away....Then He who sat on the throne said,

Behold, I make all things new.

As a born again believer, I look forward to being in the presence of Christ, whether at the moment when He calls His people home, or at my passage from death to eternal life!

As for the animals of the earth? Isaiah 11:6-8 says,

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like an ox.

The nursing child shll play by the cobra's hole,
And the weaned child shall put
  his hand in the viper's den.
The lion shall eat straw like an ox.

Meanwhile, wear tall boots when hiking for fear of rattlers, and we will see how  God's mighty power displayed by the sun  affects the earth, my temporary home, as the flares "hit" tomorrow.

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Monday, March 5, 2012

A fresh start

4:41 p.m. Today's project was to welcome this day with joy, anticipation and fresh belief in God's word to me regarding my business: "I am in this for you." That has not been very easy to believe, though the Holy Spirit brought that good word to remembrance as many times a day as necessary to help me stay on task, focused and eager to reach out to friends new and old, in a two-week period characterized by illness, cancellations, and relatively low sales!

Yet, each day, I have gotten out of bed at 6 a.m. (6:45 on Sundays), absorbed my uplifting Spurgeon morning devotional, read and pondered my Bible portions for the day, prayed three times a week with my prayer partner, written in two journals (one for my Mary Kay business and one for personal concerns) and posted scriptures on Facebook. If devotional consistency were all it takes to achieve fabulous success in all areas of a Christian's life, who knows what a visibly wealthy, healthy life I'd be living, along with my family!

But we don't get up to meet with God to enrich ourselves, although we pray for a successful day in whatever form God wants "success" to take. Christians need to eat and pay their obligations like anyone else; we also desire to give back to others in our community as well as make charitable donations. So money must be earned, pure and simple. Preferably, one's business is God's choice for us, and in keeping with the heart and personality He created for each of us as individuals. That's how I feel about my business, which provides such enjoyable fellowship with friends; encouragement for ladies who've never taken care of their skin, that they can learn; and offers a stellar business opportunity to any woman who wishes to take advantage of it. But after a weekend that saw last-minute cancellations, a large knife slice into my thumb, and hours of time spent with computer techs getting online backup going, I was just about to become a "doubting Thomas"-- so totally unlike me!

Sunday morning, I read the Purpose-Driven Connection devotional that I pull up for Steve because it's very brief and uplifting, (or convicting, depending on one's walk that day)! This selection was entitled, "Get Ready for the Impossible." I normally don't read his online devotional because I have my own, but of course this caught my eye--and was I ever ready to pay attention!

Rick Warren quotes James 1:18a (NIV):

He chose to give us birth through the word of truth... He then goes on to write,

  God wants to use His Word to give you a fresh start in life.
  Without God's Word,  we could never be saved. We wouldn't be headed for Heaven. We wouldn't know about Jesus' death on the cross. We wouldn't know about God's purpose for our lives.
  Without the Bible, we can't know God.
  God wants to give you all of that--but it starts with his Word. Through the Bible, God recreates our life. When I feel like I'm at the end of my rope, God uses the Bible to give me a fresh start, a do-over. The Bible calls it being "born again."  In James 1:18, the Bible says, "He chose to give us birth through the word of truth."
  The Bible is often compared to a seed. Once the Bible takes root in your heart, it begins to sprout and grow and bear fruit. As God's Word does that, God changes your life for the better.
  Jesus says this in John 6:63 about His Word: 'The words I have spoken to you--they are full of the Spirit and life'(NIV). God's Word isn't just words on a page. It's spirit and life. It's spiritual power. His Word can transform society and transform history.It can change your life.
  D. L. Moody, a famous Chicago pastor from 100 years ago, said, 'The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge; the Bible was given to change our lives."

Then Pastor Warren asks two compelling questions:

"How do you need your life changed?" ( A return to my normal uplifted, enthusiastic, contagious spirit) "What part of your life do you feel powerless to change?" (Steve's late-stage Alzheimer's)

He concludes:

"The Bible says the Word of God can change things that you cannot change on your own. Make God's Word a regular part of your life, and get ready for the impossible!"

And wouldn't you know it, the Word of God did change my heart, mind, and the trajectory of my day! I read Psalm 20:4-5 today:

May the LORD grant you according to
  your heart's desire, and fulfill all your purpose.

We will rejoice in your salvation,
And in the name of our God we
  will set up our banners!
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.

I did indeed "set up my banner," posting that sentence in two places where I will constantly see it. The day went forward, with a very successful appointment with our tax advisor, a lovely afternoon meeting a friend's skincare needs, doing well by doing good; and am seeing gratifying results from my team; and have more appointments lined up and in progress!

Yesterday morning's selection from Spurgeon helped me make a turnaround for the day: It says,

No man can be illustrious before the Lord unless his conflicts be many. If then, yours be a much-tried path, rejoice in it, because you will the better show forth the all-sufficient grace of God. As for His failing you, never dream of it--hate the thought. The God who has been sufficient until now, should be trusted to the end.

I have decided to trust in the Lord my God!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Focus, focus!

6:21 p.m. Today's project was to tackle some household tasks--like using "Clean Caf" to cleanse the Gevalia coffeemaker, and install Carbonite online backup on our desktop computer. I also needed to fry a pound of sausage for future use, pick grapefruit, get next week's medications lined up for Steve and vitamins for me, water the backyard and garden, all, hopefully, while supervising Steve and before I'd be leaving to visit a Mary Kay team member, her husband and new baby boy. I'd used some of my long morning to just about complete my last lesson in the James Bible study, too. On the business front, I did contact some friends and customers to book appointments for next week. Then the plan was to head west to do a party with a customer and her family at 5 p.m.

Happily, the caregiver arrived at noon as assigned, and off I went after setting out Steve's lunch components. I was very much in need of free time, even if errands were involved, like exchanging a bag of our grapefruit for our in-laws' excess oranges; depositing a check from my sister for her liquid foundation; and whiling away some time at my favorite grocery store, Vons (Safeway elsewhere in the country).

Since I had a no-worry grocery experience going on, I took my time, and spotted an opportunity to get a free dozen eggs, just by downloading the app for Vons on my smartphone. Done, and after picking up a frozen treat or two, I got my eggs free at checkoout, along with a free loaf of bread,  and the loan of a spoon from the deli to eat my slice of lemon meringue pie with. I'd parked the Jeep in a nice shady parking spot, so my meandering was time well spent--the pie slice had thawed! Life's miniscule victories...

So focused was I on my appointments for the day, now down to the one evening party, that when the hostess cancelled last minute, it really stung, although this happens now and again to every sales professional. Sometimes I wonder about the way we focus so strongly on one matter, like a business appointment or a financial need, and don't see what God is focusing on, and can be blinded to all the marvelous things He is accomplishing behind the scenes or even right in front of our faces! We pray so hard for help in one area, like healing for a loved one, money for a dire need, a backslider's return--the huge things--that the Lord's ever-present caring, loving, constant beneficial acts in our behalf would go unnoticed if we did not take the time to ponder the events of each day. Psalm 34:8-10 exhorts us,

Oh, taste and see that the LORD
  is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in
Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints!
There is no want to those who
  fear Him.

The young lions lack and suffer
But those who seek the LORD
  shall not lack any good thing.

About thirty years ago, I began a prayer request/praise report notebook in which I add requests during the day, and jot down my praises each night. If you will do this, you'll soon realize that God does multiple good things for you daily, on multiple fronts and for multiple reasons known only to Himself. Yes, He blesses and provides for  the deepest concerns of our hearts, often "exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).  But Jesus is and does so much more than our finite minds can grasp!

The ultimate mind-boggling facet of God's goodness is that out of all of the universe, He called believers like you and me to be His showpieces, and our salvation to be a matter, according to I Peter 1:12, "that the angels desire to look into."

Can you grasp that? I can't!

And since I cannot fully grasp God's character, mind or eternal being, I think I will accept gratefully all He does and allows in my life, trusting that my best and highest good is all that He will ever choose for me.

Lord, let me focus on Your will and way this day!  


Friday, March 2, 2012

Patch it

7:02 p.m. Today's project was to start Steve on the Exelon patch, a trans-dermal delivery system for Alzheimer's disease victims. Our caregiver donned his gloves and stuck the patch on his upper back between the shoulder blades, with the adhesive medicated side down.

I spent some time yesterday consulting with "T" the pharmacist at our local CVS, before picking up the package. It looks like this patch will kill two birds with one stone [that saying reminds me of the biblical slingshot]! It will deliver the medication Rivastigmine on a 24-hour release basis, and eliminate what has become an increasingly difficult part of Steve's morning: swallowing pills!

The pharmacist told me to begin tapering off Steve's Aricept and Namenda--glory to God, because these name-brand drugs are very expensive! Steve cannot take all three medications at once. Aricept and Namenda are no longer efficacious for Steve in late stage, because they are only known to effect behavioral changes in mild-to-moderate patients. And since the drug contained in the Excelon patch is also best known for benefitting mild-to-moderate stage sufferers, it's a straight-across trade.

But the choking and pills stuck in Steve's mouth (because he struggles with swallowing the steady flow of water necessary for swallowing) will be eliminated, and that's a big praise! I love the way God doesn't hesitate to try different methods and different approaches, even wildly contradictory new directions for His people and His terrain, as Isaiah 43:18-21 shows:

Do not remember the former
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the
And rivers in the desert.

The beast of the field will honor
The jackals and the ostriches,
Because I give waters in the
  and rivers in the desert,
  To give drink to My people, My

This people I have formed for Myself;
They shall declare My praise.

Just think--God is willing to completely change the course of nature and world history to come to the rescue of His people and establish a new, righteous order! As Oswald Chambers put it, God will tax the entire universe and the last grain of sand in behalf of just one of His saints! That is why believers can praise His name even in the valleys of loss and suffering, because "You are with me" (Psalm 23:4).

Even though I have no illusions of improvement for Steve, I am at least glad he suffered no side effects or skin irritation. He didn't even remember having the patch put on. Even though voicing a complaint would show more mental engagement in his own physical condition and life in general, I am relieved that he went about his day with calm enjoyment (and a few typical cat naps).

The Exelon patch is a provision from the Lord, not meant to stir up high expectations, but to stir up my vision of His daily presence in the large and small things; I can watch in amazement as God  "makes a road in the wilderness."