Saturday, September 29, 2012


7:42 p.m. Today's project was to move my dad from a very good and healthful assisted living apartment living back to his own house to live by himself once again. To say I had--and have-- misgivings is putting it mildly! After he spent a week putting his belongings into several small-size ("Dana-friendly") boxes, we had an 11:00 am. appointment to get the Jeep loaded and have him moved out of Villa de Anza. And since Jesus said in Matthew 5:37, "Let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,'  'No,' " I didn't have any honest way to get out of taking my cancer-weakened dad from a safe, medically monitored living situation to a now-risky one. 
Naturally, I had schedule rearranging to do! There was a St. Jude's fundraising family event in a very populated area of Riverside in which my Mary Kay team members and I had a lead-gathering table to set up. The event hours were 11-3, so I asked Cynthia to staff from 11-1, meeting me at 10:30 to set up her EZ-up shade canopy over the table and tablecloth I provided. Chelsey's shift was 1-3. Each provided a gift for the drawing winner for their shift. We all can use new ladies to call and offer facials to, so an occasional event is fun and helpful, a good experience for new consultants in chatting with ladies they've just met. Good comfort zone stretcher!

In the last 24 hours, my oldest son got remarried, in a simple ceremony at the wedding chapel in the County Clerk's office to his fiancee, the wonderfully supportive woman God brought into his life. Our daughter Heather, photographer, shot the ceremony, and the gathering we had for dinner with friends and family was warm, loving--and hilarious. Sean and Pam have great friends! Best of all, Sean's sons and Pam's girls get along beautifully, making for a well-blended family.

At about 11:15, I arrived at Emeritus Villa de Anza for a last visit until the facial class I'll be giving for the female residents there in late October. Daddy was pretty excited, had all of his boxes lined up, and got busy hanging up his shirts with the hangers I brought. We didn't need the suitcase I'd lent him last week, made heavy by the matching satchel inside it, so I rolled and carried that out to the Jeep first.  Nothing like getting a second workout after my aerobics at 6 a.m., followed by lifting and emptying a wheelbarrow full of weeds into a dumpster! I had many Facebook friends praying,  so much so that I could feel a sense of calm and good humor that the Lord gave me for this move. Proverbs 15:13 says,

A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

Further, Proverbs 15:15 states,

All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.

When I think of my journal entries over the last month, I see a person with an afflicted, sorrowful heart and a broken spirit. It was the result of trying my best, with the help of medical, pastoral and social work professionals and the family, to logically convince  my father that with his late-stage bladder cancer, metastasized to his bowel and kidneys, along with his blood-swollen legs, it was unsafe for him to return to living alone. He just didn't want to spend the money to stay in a safe place with an alert button for 24/7 assistance, meals, cleaning, field trips to local stores and venues,  laundry and personal help. The cost is equal with other assisted living residences. And TriCare for Life, the military's long-term residential care fund for veterans, would have reimbursed him.  So refusing to allow me (his power of attorney for medical and financial matters) to call and make arrangements to help with the costs; and then refusing to see his primary care doctor before he left Emeritus, were strategies to:

[1]: keep complaining about the cost, though he can afford it 
[2]: keep from being told by his doctor that he could no longer live alone

When strange, accusatory statements started, it was hard to even have a conversation with Daddy, so I received wise counsel to accede to his wishes and try to get help for him at home. Will he consent to pay for Meals on Wheels or Visiting Angels homemaking and errand services? I have no idea. I'll just see if he'll allow them to visit and inform him about their programs. As for today, I had my daughter place some milk, bread, lunch meat and bananas in his kitchen to he could make simple meals.

It was a hard physical day for me, loading and unloading my dad's belongings singlehandedly with his walker as a rolling cart, but as we ate our Vons deli sandwich and salad, it was like old, rational times.The big argument was over. We'll see what Dr. Fox says on Tuesday.

I know that I did my best as the Lord led me, to keep him safe and cared for as long as possible, but now my dad is accountable to the Lord for his own decisions--both temporal and eternal.

May they lead to a healthy mind, soul and spirit!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

3rd Anniversary, rejoicing in strength

10:37 p.m. Today's project was to keep my appointments: taking my foreign student to UCR; visiting Steve; having lunch with my younger daughter Heather; and commemorating my second son Kriss and his wife Marisela's 3rd anniversary from afar.  (though Long Beach is only 80 miles away, the traffic makes it "afar")! Their marriage has brought another lovely daughter into our family, and their handsome baby boy Clark as well. I'm looking forward to visiting with them again soon!

With Steve in care now, and my dad struggling to cope with his health and living circumstances, having close, loving and enjoyable relationships with my children, their spouses and their spouses' families is a priority second only to my relationship with the Lord. As they move from home, marry and pursue their careers, it takes an effort for us to spend time together. Special occasions are great, and I love celebrations as well as anyone (probably more); but small, personal visits are rewarding in a different way. That's when I get to know my kids well as adults. Their career accomplishments, ministries, setbacks, and perseverance in the face of those setbacks, shows that the faith their dad and I instilled in them works--Jesus is real and active in their lives and in their marriages as well.  I give enormous credit to the parents who raised their spouses, too. Our extended family is an incredible network of support--calling them "in-laws" seems too detached a term!

It often happens, I know for me, that after the most serious and difficult trials have been resolved, and I'm able to dissect the details of the process, the quiet, yet stunning realization comes that "Jesus was there all along!"  Strength and endurance are built in no other way than through trials. And strong, enduring marriages are built by overcoming, with prayer and in unity, one trial after another, one victory after another, as we go from strength to strength.

Habakkuk 3:17 sets forth a hymn of faith and a test of character for every believer, single or married:

Though the fig tree may not
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off
 from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls--
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my
The LORD God is my strength;
He will make my feet like a deer's
And He will make me walk on
 my high hills.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Welcome to California!

7:21 p.m. Today's project was to help our foreign student Faris settle in. He arrived yesterday about lunch time, and after a long rest from his flight, he came down to dinner--spicy, crispy chicken tacos--and good conversation about our families. The reason students choose a Homestay option is that they don't tend to learn as much English in a dorm or International Village setting like University of California Riverside offers. The reason? International students, like any of us, tend to gravitate toward those who speak their home language, and then speak it during all of their leisure time.

We have had some funny incidents already. After being shown a couple of times that the lock on our door was set up wrong, Faris managed to lock himself out of the house while I was having dinner with Steve at Raincross. I couldn't get him to go around back and see if the door to the garage was left unlocked. Because the silly puppy was on a very long lead near the front gate, he wouldn't go past her because they are  pretty nervous about dogs where he is from: Saudi Arabia. Finally my nearby daughter came and let him in. We were laughing later because he ran full speed in his flip flops back to the house when I told him by phone to get home quick.  He was safely entrenched on the couch when I got back home.

The dogs have provided enough aggravation for a lifetime, just today, with the puppy Jazzlyn busting through a weak, dry slat this morning to go into the neighbors' backyard to meet two other German shepherds. Wasn't it only last week that full, tall cedar boards were built to replace 3 sections of fence? So Labrador Retriever Jada's jumping has been eliminated. Therefore, Jazzlyn had to sniff and poke and worry another section of the fence until she found a slat she could break. Thankfully Jada is too muscular and wide to have followed her friend. I drove around the block to load--rather, lift--non-jumping  Jazzlyn into my Jeep. I've really been spoiled with Jada--she'll just gracefully jump right into the Jeep, even if she doesn't originally want to get in.

The way that Faris is concerned in this craziness is that because he wasn't raised with dogs, I can't just let them become house dogs until the section of fence is replaced. So I crate Jada and put Jazzlyn on a long lead, a very physically painful task of "bringing her along" by the collar because she's not very obedient. On the other hand, for coming when she's called, I did reward Jada with some "Mommy time" this evening.

Just to get out of the house without traveling too far, I took my portable wi-fi device to the local Verizon store to get its battery replaced. As I was in the parking lot, I thought about my dog, and Pavel and Heidi's dog, whether I am doing well by them, or they are learning and improving by being here. Are they loved and well cared for, getting enough attention? Is it scriptural to even have housepets? Here are some references:

a.  In Nathan's rebuke of David in II Samuel 12, he tells of a man with a pet lamb, treated as a member of the family.

b.  We are exhorted in Proverbs 12:10,

A righteous man regards the life of his beast. 

 c. In Mark 7:25-30 (NLT)), Jesus spoke to the Syrophenician woman who implored him to heal her demon-possessed daughter, saying that He was come to the Jews first, because

It isn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs."

And showing that dogs were indeed kept as housepets, the woman replied,

"That's true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the childrens' plates."
"Good answer," He said. "Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter."

As with any other hobby or interest, petkeeping should take its rightful place after human family concerns. Since God created dogs as sentient creatures, we can enjoy and love them, and they in return give us unconditional love and entertainment,  and perform tasks for us as well. I've had a dog ince I was three, and a cat for a while in college. I believe Jesus has put enough room in my heart to love Him first, then people, then the animals God has given me dominion over! (Genesis 1:26)

Tomorrow will be fence mending day!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Let me not be a Jonah

7:31 p.m. Today's project was to take my dad to visit Steve after church and stopping at home for lunch and to check on the dogs. Daddy was very pleased to be invited, especially after hearing that as a result of prayer, Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, told me the location of a document in my house that we'd been looking for! Colossians 2:2-3 speaks powerfully of God's wisdom, and His desire for His people

...that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love,  and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

In the trying circumstances in my life today,  I also take care to heed the exhortation of  Colossians 4:5-6,

Walk in wisdom towards those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Today's temptation to disobey 3  directives from God was not so much what I needed to say (as it is many times) but what I need to be ready and willing to listen and respond to in love and in the power of  the Spirit!

Incident 1:  When a friend tried to stop me in my conversation with my daughter after church to ask after Steve and me, I gave her an unnecessarily quick response, citing the need to sign up and pay for our women's Bible study workbook--after all, today was the last day--instead of carefully reassuring her that Steve is doing well and so, actually, am I. Ugh, that was neither good nor very Christlike! When people faithfully pray for us, I feel we should courteously thank and converse with them as to the results of their prayers. Can you feel my conviction?!

Incident 2:  On my way to the Activities table, the administrator of our women's ministry staff stopped, hugged me and asked a favor: "Dana, do you know ---- ----? Her sister has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, she's the caregiver, and she was asking me a million questions. I had no clue how to answer, so I thought of you. May I...?" I said, "You can give her my number, I'd be glad to talk with her and help if I can." That answer came out pretty well, but it wasn't from the heart, not really. Inside, I was rebelling, because I don't  want people to think of me only in terms of the dementia that afflicts my husband and his family. Is that pride, denial, fear of not being considered fit for any other area of service? After 30+ years of ministering to women through God's word and counseling them through every life issue imaginable, why the aversion to this issue?

Maybe it just cuts too close to home; God is still doing a work of acceptance in my heart and mind as to each new stage; and worse yet, I'm not sure I've handled my husband's tragic loss of his mind and abilities as tenderly and lovingly as I could have. So even though my words showed improvement, God knew my heart. So, on came

Incident 3:   After dropping my dad off at his assisted living from our visit with Steve, it was time to take a few minutes to myself and go to Vons for groceries. I was a bit torn about leaving the dogs any longer, but thought, "They're dogs, for goodness' sake!" and went in. I was humming, going through the beef case when I spotted the Director of Care Pathways for the Riverside County Office of Aging. Mary has been instrumental in my learning to handle all facets of Steve's disease and the care he's needed with her 12-week training course and monthly caregiver support groups (which I've missed for a number of months now due to business obligations). At first I played the mental game of "if she doesn't see me, I won't say anything," but that dog wouldn't hunt, not with the "Hound of Heaven" tracking me so closely today! So as she turned to come my direction, she still didn't see me, so engrossed was she in her list, making it a true temptation to disobey. I didn't dare, so I greeted her, and we talked for a long time, even touching on the role current research may one day have in my kids' lives. (Talk about a subject area where I really don't want to go). Then came the kicker--she asked me if I would consider connecting with a woman whose husband just got the diagnosis of Alzheimer's--and he's young like Steve. This lady is panicked, with no idea what to expect. I was the only one Mary could think of in the same situation, except that I'm 4 years ahead. My Spirit-convicted answer was "Yes, have her call me."

God obviously has decided that He wants me to minister to caregivers, I think that's plain. He actually told me so last year, when I was appointed captain of the Care Pathways team for the Alzheimer's walk. I've been a Jonah.  I wormed out of  an emotionally draining ministry, knowing it would feel like it would be piled onto an emotionally draining life. This year, with Steve unable to participate in the walk, I've been hedging on my answer, which makes this Incident 4! Looks like I'll be joining the team and redeeming myself at the same time...

Our heavenly Father wouldn't call us to serve Him unless He equips us to do so. No one is equal to His calling, not even the Apostle Paul, or Moses, or Joshua. and I certainly have not been equal to the ministries he has called me to in the last 32 years as a believer. We only can serve Him in spirit and in truth as He fills us with His Spirit and shows us what we must do. I certainly have no idea what I'll say when these ladies call, if they do. As for re-joining the caregiver support group, my peers have as much or more to share with me as I do with them.  I miss those friends, and our leader Darlene, too.

Time to send an email, I think.

And above all, time to repent!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Both awkward and scary

10:41 p.m. Today's project was to visit Steve in the early evening after a long and challenging day.

The steady succession of excellent Bible teachers on K-Wave radio kept me balanced and joyful, as did the solution of assorted problems around the house, like my son-in-law picking up the wood construction scraps to keep his and Heidi's German shepherd puppy from chewing on them. I also had a fun Spanish tutoring session with my AP student from India; am adding a new Mary Kay team member; and best of all, overcame the emotional effects of irrational comments my dad has made, which, sadly, have become much more prevalent in number and vehemence in the last week. (Everyone I know with current or deceased very elderly parents has experienced the same thing, so I thank the Lord that I am not alone)! How glad I am for professional counsel in health, housing, and financial matters, as well as much prayer being lifted to the Lord for our family! As James 5:16b (KJV) says,

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

I found it interesting that twice today, I received exhorting comments as to when and whether I should encourage our kids to visit Steve at Raincross. My hairdresser Irene, who has seen me through each step of Steve's dementia demise, and knows the tragic genetic component, said, "Don't bring it up to them or push them. It may be too hard for them right now. They know where the place is, and can go when they feel ready." I gave a lot of thought to this, for this reason: even though their dad looks the same as when they last saw him, he is surrounded by very elderly Alzheimer victims who have the "normal" version of this disease, not the early-onset kind. While all of the residents are sweet and only rarely act out that I can see on my daily visits, one can easily see that they are not in a normal state. Steve definitely stands out physically and with his relative youth, but mentally, he struggles more seriously than most of them!

Early this afternoon, my dad presented the other side of the coin, that it would be good for Steve to see the kids. I don't think I can argue with that, and as for his remembering them, sooner is better than later. Ditto for his sisters, brother-in law and his brother's widow and my dad. I am praying for the Lord to give me a peace either way, but it's not me who needs the peace on this matter--it's each one of Steve's loved ones who have to pray and decide when to go visit. And just because Steve himself found it too scary to go see his dad while he was dying of dementia-related causes, doesn't mean that a God who oversees all human affairs, cannot break a familial cycle!

Psalm 48:14 declares,

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

If you have ever been in a similar situation, with children of any age, would you please give me your opinion or share your experience? Thank you and may God abundantly bless you and your family!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hope deferred and now restored

9:31 p.m. Today's project was to get up at 5:45 am., gaining 15 minutes for my day, and participate in the "Faithful Workouts" aerobics show I tivo'ed from the nrb network. I discovered this Christian station featuring Bible studies, family movies, evangelical events and world news last weekend when I saw our former pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie's name on a program.

Now that the Lord has lightened my active care giving duties for Steve, it's time to pursue achievement of my personal goals. There's no logic to the postponement, except that when one is overwhelmed mentally and emotionally with a spouse's serious illness, positive, healthful and beneficial activities and plans get put on a back burner--even if there is time to pursue them. Proverbs 13:12 explains it well:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,  but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.

I've had a number of top personal goals (other than growth in Christ, helping my family, my business or ministry). These are for Dana:

1.  Lose weight, get in shape, get my flexibility back and ward off arthritis and stroke
2.  Repair the back yard fences
3.  Rewire the automatic sprinkler system so I don't have to water each station by hand
4.  Pull out the garden for the end of the growing season and start this year's composting
5.  Re-seed or sod the back yard.

Of course, accomplishing Number One will increase my energy and allow me to tackle the garden's weeds and old plant stalks. But numbers two, three and five will require professional help. All in good time...

Three workout sessions have been semi-successfully completed! By 6:30, I'm sweaty, my heart rate is up, and I'm cleaning up the back , watering the front yard, and getting all the water bowls set out for the dogs. I also reminisce about running a mile with my 6th grade students only three-and-a -half years ago, in addition to race walking around the neighborhood. I closed our LA Fitness gym membership when Steve lost his profession, but never have quite found a way to burn the calories and strengthen my muscles the way I did there. The two of us used to walk down and up the Canyon Crest Hill, but that ended with his challenged mobility. And this year, even though Steve was going to bed at 7:00 p.m., it would be unethical and potentially dangerous to leave a dementia victim alone in the house. So I couldn't resume my evening walks like the two of us used to enjoy when Steve could accompany me. I miss those times of agreeable companionship! Amos 3:3:

Can two walk together unless they be agreed?

So now my walking is more like marching, high stepping and running with "Faithful Workouts" in our family room.It's a blessing to exercise to the lively beats of contemporary Christian praise and worship songs. Now if I can only get the steps exactly right and on the beat! All in good time...

Thank You, Lord, that You have seen fit to provide me a way back--to fitness!

Five silent hours

9:20 p.m Today's project was to spend the day with my dad while he checked on the papers in the file cabinets he had my youngest son move to my house and picked up some items at his house in Redlands. We had hoped to visit Steve at the end of the errands, but the day got away from us, so we'll go another time.

While we were at my house, my friend Debi came over to do some straightening up of my files, actually my customer profile cards. What happens is, over five years, I'll pull out the cards of selected customers, depending upon their needs, and then simply fail to return the cards to their proper section of the expandable file. But what to do with the pileup of a few hundred cards, and receipts for multiple sales to many of the women is not simple at all! Debi and I spent some time before I managed to decide that she'd sort them into alphabetical order first, then chronological order by dates of purchase.  I have a beautiful gift already selected, and can't wait to give it to Debi, who recently came out of a hospital stay and now is definitely on the upswing. Gift giving is noted in scripture. Proverbs 17:8:

A present is a precious stone in the eyes of the possessor; wherever he turns, he prospers.

At noon, all of us left. Debi had made good progress in a little over an hour. We said good bye, I checked the dogs' water, let my dad into the Jeep, and returned to set the alarm, and made one final check of my bag: keys, sunglasses, cell phone. Whoops, where was my phone? I went out to the driveway to start the car so the A/C would come on for Daddy, and went back into the house, searching every room where I'd been, downstairs and up, twice. I finally had to get on the way to Redlands, leaving my trusted personal, ministry and business tool, my Samsung Stratosphere smart phone behind.

I was suddenly incommunicado!

Driving with an 85-year-old who didn't even bring the cell phone I bought him and have been paying for for years, was no help. And how could I tell anyone to call my phone with theirs? Mine was on vibrate as usual. While we waited for a super long freight train to pass in the canyon, I took everything out of my purse one more time--no phone. It was time to wait and see what God had for me this afternoon! And there'd be no point in wondering which of the kids, friends, family, or customers was trying to call me, or what I was missing from the world of Facebook and Gmail. This odd happening was definitely out of my plan! Proverbs 16:33 says,

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every outcome is from the LORD.

So 5 hours of "radio silence" ensued, but interestingly, they brought with them 5 hours of focus. At my dad' house, I did use his landline to call each of my daughters, because they are second and third in line for a phone call if an emergency happens with Steve. My mind was also set at ease because I realized that I could use my computer at home later to notify people of my missing phone, and let them communicate with in other ways.  Taking advantage of what I now saw as a provision from the Lord, I was able to fully concentrate on my dad and his needs. After I dropped Daddy off, I drove to Steve's residence without worrying about anything other than having a nice visit, reading to him from Genesis 2 about the man and woman, and from a devotional with brief, witty passsages that keep his attention.

At home finally, the Lord showed me where the phone was, and also showed me that removing distractions is necessary at times other than early morning devotions. God is able to provide an island of safety, peace, and attentiveness to the voice of the Holy Spirit even in a busy day--an improved day!

God is superabundantly good--may we never forget that.

(And I did find my phone, up on  a windowsill in the master bedroom).

Believer, what seeingly minor, but irritating, circumstance is occuring in your life today that God wants to use to shape your character? Find the way He has for you to flow with it, in the power of the Holy Spirit!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Newsweek May 2012: Longevity Kills Marriages

7:07 p.m. Today's project was to visit with my husband Steve in the memory care section of Raincross at Riverside, a very fine assisted living facility. Dinner was over, so we walked back to his room and I showed him two good memory joggers: an illustrated booklet our 30-year-old son Kriss made in 2nd grade for him called "Give Dad a Hand," where he wrote and drew the ways his dad helped him. The second was a craft foam butterfly Steve had made himself at the daycare he was attending weekdays before moving to Raincross. I placed both in the glassed-in memory box at the hallway entrance to his room. He smiled and made commenting syllables as I went through each page of Kriss' book with him.

Yesterday, we sat in his room and I read to him out of his old leather-covered copy of the Living Bible which he had before we even met. I read Genesis Chapter One to him, and we remarked on each day of creation. Our next section will be about God creating Man, and "a helper comparable for him," Woman. God instituted marriage, for mutual love, intimacy and support for a man and a woman. Genesis 2:21-25:

And the LORD caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said:

"This now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

The finest thing I have ever done, after accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior, was to marry Steve on July 11, 1981. Far from deteriorating with the passing decades, our relationship became more enjoyable and exciting, even thrilling! The awkwardness and relative ignorance of the first year, then the hectic and somewhat disruptive childbearing years-four children born between 1982 and 1988--rapidly faded into the background while we reveled in the increasing fun of each decade. At our 20th year--wow! We said to one another, "Didn't know it could get this good!" At our 25th, we were simply amazed and humbled at what God does for married couples who do things His way. By our 30th anniversary, our times together were just plain unbelievable. No envy of honeymooners for us!

Then, as you know if you follow this blog, Steve was struck with early-onset familial dementia in 2007. This horrific disease has moved so rapidly this year that despite all our our medicinal, organic and caregiving efforts, he now requires 24-hour care. Thanks to the long term care insurance we bought a decade ago, he is able to have the finest of care in beautiful surroundings.

I saw the copy of Newsweek with the anti-marriage blurb in a pile on a hall table as I walked out of Raincross  after our visit. I had to examine it, as much as I could stomach, anyway. The thumbnail teaser for this article about the deleterious effects of longevity on a marriage showed celebrity couples Arnold and Maria Schwarzenegger and Al and Tipper Gore, married 25  and 40 years respectively. Indeed, their marriages ended in disgrace, just as many marriages do, whether the couples are rich or poor, or their marriages are short-or long-lived.

In the Bible, Jesus Himself makes it quite clear what the problem is: hardness of hearts. When asked about divorce by His enemies the Pharisees, Jesus quoted Genesis 2:24 (above) and added,

So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.

The Pharisees then went on to point out that in the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) a bill of divorce was permitted. (or, they slyly said, "commanded"). Jesus replied,

Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

In Ephesians 5:33, we read God's Christ-centered formula for marriage, which calls for soft hearts and mutual self-sacrifice of our individual  egos, wants, perceived needs and demands, which works every time it's tried :

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

I don't know how long our marriage will last due to Steve's disease, but I am looking forward to our 32nd anniversary next year, and perhaps a few more. Granted, this experience gives a new picture of marriage, but when I vowed along with him that we would be together, absolutely faithfully, "til death do us part," I was all in.

And you and your spouse can defy the lies and anti-marriage screed by determining that you, too, will travel the decades together as man and wife!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


4:35 p.m. Today's project was to reorganize the bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs for the Homestay student who will be arriving next Wednesday. I was up until 1 a.m., due to a late afternoon cup of coffee,no doubt! So I began moving clothes, switching desk lamps and nightstands, toiletries, shoes, books, and drawersful of hand towels and  costume jewelry. After a week of airing and germicide spray being fanned through the room and out an open window, I was ready to move back in. Even our super comfy foam pad had aired completely after a week in the garage. I was disappointed at a Mary Kay party cancellation today, but the time saved in travel alone allowed me to spend an entire hour visiting with Steve, and get the four rooms cleared and "repurposed."

When God moves, as He points out to us in Isaiah 43:19a:--"Behold, I do a new thing"--there is no sense sittiing around moping and wishing. It's time to get up and move on with Jesus, into one's new stage of life.  The vegetables above are the last fruit of my 2012 garden. They will be tasty and full of organic nutrients, but don't have the brilliant color or size that their predecessors had last month and the month before.The summer gardening season, at least at my house, is just about at an end. The next stage will be clearing out, chopping and composting the stalks, leaves and roots in preparation for next year.

After 31 years of marriage, the Lord has allowed me to be  alone in Steve's and my home of 24 years. As I told friends Laurie and Cara yesterday, I'm still not sure how I feel about this, even after a week. Evenings are almost like normal, because they find me blogging, with only my dog (now two) inside for company, because Steve used to go to bed thoroughly sleepy by 7:00 p.m. Steve and I would spend time in the early evening after dinner relaxing on the couch. Missing that time made my visit with him last night just before his bedtime very nice as we rocked on the porch swing together.

It's definitely a new season of my life, but the line is somewhat blurry. I'm not a widow, but I have  very limited time with my husband because of the late stage of his dementia. I no longer cook for him or do his laundry, nor do I feed and care for him as I had to do for the last several months, until that night and day care regimen became physically impossible for me to continue. And the cost of 24-hour private home care is exorbitant, and nowhere near as effective in any way as the Raincross dementia program, with individually tailored activities and group socialization. The more physically able residents like Steve can go about and visit others, but the more verbally and mentally capable ones keep the conversation going during meals and take the lead in table games. I find Steve, at any time of the day, well groomed and cheerful. And more important, he doesn't rush for the door when I need to leave. That's the evidence that I need that he's content and adjusting well!

As for me, God fills my days at home with manually watering all of the stations of the sprinkler system in this 100 degree+ weather; dog care and cleanup; all house and yard work; setting out the dumpsters, and keeping the property in order. (I miss Steve's caregivers in that regard, because as their duties as CNAs included housekeeping and yard work as needed, as part of keeping Steve actively occupied). And I'm still paying the bills, maintaining the Jeep and running my business. Helping my very ill father occupies part of each week as well. Certainly, there's no time to sit staring into space!

Regarding this trial, my selection today from Charles Spurgeon's Morning & Evening said very powerfully,

If you give way to fear when you hear of evil tidings, you will be unable to meet the trouble with that calm composure that nerves for duty and sustains under adversity. How can you glorify God if you play the coward? Saints have often sung God's high praises in the fires, but will your doubting and desponding, as if you had none to help you, magnify the Most High? Then take courage, and relying in sure confidence upon the faithfulness of your covenant God, [Jesus said, John 14:28] "let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." 

Friday, September 14, 2012

The journal God uses

9:33 p.m. Today's project was to enjoy an extensive, intensive training by video from Sean Key, Vice President for Sales Force Development for Mary Kay. It was a privilege to be there, because the meeting was for directors; team leaders like myself had to qualify with new team members to be invited. Adding to the fun was the ride in my director's pink Cadillac from Mimi's in San Bernardino to the training center in Rancho Cucamonga! Hard work does pay off, as Proverbs 22:29 says:

Do you see a man who excels in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before unknown men.

I was inspired also by many women who are prayerfully and actively building successful businesses and changing the lives of hundreds of women with the business opportunity they offer them.

Praying and building--sounds like the Nehemiah 4 principle!

Of course I took two hours' worth of notes, just about finishing off the available lines in my "Mary Kay Journey" journal #2. Each morning, I journal my praises, questions, plans, and needs for my business to the Lord. (My other journal, filling notebooks and journals continuously since 1987, is for personal, family, societal and ministry needs and praises). I do have a new journal I received recently, ready to take up where the current one leaves off.

There's just a little problem: it was given to me by someone who treated me with extreme abusiveness not much later. Wouldn't that journal start off my day with a very unpleasant memory and bad taste in my mouth? As I look at it on my desk, I keep wondering why I didn't immediately throw it away (besides saving the money of buying another one)! I truly had to ask myself, "What would Jesus do?"

My answer came--or rather, was confirmed--this morning as I drove to the designated carpool meeting place. I was listening on the radio to Pastor Greg Laurie on location in Jerusalem, speaking from Calvary where Jesus was crucified. After describing the sheer brutality of crucifixion, he quoted Jesus' prayer from the cross for His enemies in Luke 23:34:

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Greg said, and I paraphrase, "If Jesus could pray for those who were putting Him to death, is there someone who has done you wrong, that you should be praying for and asking God to forgive?"

Well, there was the answer, stated plainly by my former pastor. Looks like I'll be using that journal and praying for this individual to come to the Lord--that's priority #1 for any person living today who hasn't been born again yet; or for any individual who once knew the Lord and walked away from Him, thinking that they could work up a better plan for their lives. It didn't happen, so I'll pray for them to return to the Lord, Who will not run out of time, nor will He hesitate in bringing them to Himself!

Father, forgive them.
In Jesus' Name,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mercies flow!

2:58 p.m. Today's project was to visit with Steve before and during his lunchtime. I visit daily, and vary the times so I can see how he's enjoying the many activities as well as the quiet times when the memory care residents listen to music or catch the local news after they help set up their tables for lunch. Steve particularly enjoys this "Helping Hands" activity. It brings to mind his tearful comment last year when he was still able to talk, that "Everyone else is working but me. All I want to do is help people."  Now he is being made to feel useful. Even though he would have a broom or rake placed in his hands, by the caregivers here at home, he mainly stood next to them while they did tasks and talked with him. Praise God from whom all mercies flow!

Already today, I felt a lightness of heart despite the major trials I've been allowed to go through and the responsibilities the Lord has apportioned to me. My visit with my dad yesterday afternoon was positive, and even this early morning's phone call with his hospice case manager to discuss some options for keeping my dad safe was serious but encouraging. Praise God! I also took a quick minute to text one of my customers who hosts foreign students to ask her the name of her contact at University of California Riverside. I very much enjoyed our Korean guest from UCR last January, and with an empty house now, could use both the company and the income. Other major prayer swas to receive our Wyoming rental check early, and to generate additional product sales.

As I walked out to put Daddy's Secure Horizons bill payment in the mail box, I grabbed a half sheet of paper rubber banded to the doorknob. "Another lawn, tree trimming or cleaning service," I dismissively thought. Then I looked at it. Whoa! It was nothing of the kind. It was an answer to prayer. The first lines of the flyer said,

Open your heart and home to one
or two International Foreign
Exchange students.
Share our culture with others; learn
about theirs.
Contact and income information followed. Unbelievable, truly. I had just been journalling about my needs on all fronts, especially paying the first month's move-in fee to Raincross this week, with no evidence of money to cover that in any of my accounts...yet today, by 8 a.m., not even having had the chance to get Cara's and my Wednesday prayers going, God's mercy was flowing, giving me hope, a realistic, viable source of both income and interaction! (I enjoy the darling dogs, but their conversation is limited)! Jesus knows I'm a people person who especially enjoys young people!
Psalm 6:9 says, and He has proved it over and over again,
The LORD has heard my supplication;
The Lord will receive my prayer.

I quickly contacted the Homestay program, they received my Word document application, and after I returned from having lunch with Steve, two  administrators came to inspect the house and the room a student would stay in. I was also offered the oppportunity to do some paid English tutoring if my student decides to have it, beyond their daily classes. Hoping there is a student waiting to move in--and come to know the Lord while they are here!

About 3 p.m., I got the mail, and there was an exceptionally pretty envelope from Cara, and this is what the notecard read:

This is a prayer for you, Dana: :)

God, thank You that you have not given Dana a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Blessed be You ,the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and 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 that You have comforted us with! Do NOT let Dana be dismayed, for You are her God. Strengthen her. Yes, You will uphold her with Your righteous right hand! Amen! Cara

Of course, I burst into tears of happiness at receiving that prayer, knowing that God put it on my friend's heart to write and send it. As I looked back on our prayer time this morning, and telling her about the Homestay notice, she asked, "was this an answer to prayer?" And indeed it was. Then I looked at the postmark--September 11th, so she had written this prayer just before God answered on several issues!

My own faith may get a little quivery in a fiery trial, but it's God's steady flow of mercy that gives me the support of godly, praying friends who will stand in and stand up for me, and me for them when their trial comes. Lamentations 3:22-23 (KJV):

It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;


Monday, September 10, 2012

Here's Jazzlyn!

5:36 p.m. Today's project is to keep two very lively dogs corralled, separated when necessary, and not be a nuisance to me or the neighbors!

My original plan for the day was an 11:00 appointment with a nurse evaluator for our long term care insurance company, which would take place at Raincross, where she could spend a  few minutes with Steve, see how he is adjusting, and then she and I would complete the eval packet. But first, the Lord gave me a great facial appointment at 9:30 with a customer whose company I really enjoy, for her birthday. He also showed me His grace as I traveled across town and back on an empty gas tank, and earned a comfortable sale for doing it. I am reminded of the widow in 2 Kings 4:1-7, whose sons were about to be sold into slavery to pay off a creditor. In answer to the prophet Elisha's question, she replied that she only had one jar of oil in her house. Elisha told her to gather all the pots she could, and begin pouring the oil into them. She had enough oil to pay off her creditor and for her family to live on. God's in the miracle business!

Steve was very happy to see me today, and easily and calmly sat with the nurse and me in his room. He still could barely identify a watch and a pen, but when I walked him to lunch so the nurse and I could complete the many personal questions out of earshot, his attitude was upbeat, not stressed or agitated at being questioned. That's a miracle, too.

After playing "flashlight tag and chase" with Jada and Jazzlyn in the backyard, and getting pretty good obedience even from the puppy, I find myself forgiving their fence-busting ways of yesterday and today. At least Jada climbed back into our yard over the fence.  Jazzlyn doesn't know she could probably get over the fence too, and I plan to keep it that way for as long as possible. Maybe that 3-hour timeout in their crates got their attention. Not that they wouldn't be sleeping for at least that long during the day anyway! Now that Jazzlyn is learning to understand my "unh -unh" sound and back away from what ever she's not supposed to be doing, lessening her jumping,and is learning from Jada to be a watchdog, I think I'm enjoying them both. Don't you just love God's creatures?

Proverbs 12:10a says,

A righteous man regards the life of his animal...

We'll get the fence replaced soon, and I expect lots of laughs from this pair, like Jazzlyn's big puppy feet tripping on a piece of paper, and Jada's bossing.

The girls are in their crates for the night, and I can get a little rest, too.

Thank you, Lord!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

God is to be worshiped

8:14 p.m. Today's project was to attend Sunday morning church service.

This has been my weekly way of life for the past 32 years, but for 31 of those years, I've attended with my husband Steve.  We always held hands from vehicle to sanctuary, as well as we could with babies and little children through the years, but our default position when walking anywhere together has been, and still is, hand-in-hand.

Attending separate church services is a real shock also. We began as friends at a Home Bible Study out of Calvary Chapel Riverside (Harvest Christian Fellowship) in 1980, and were married there a year and a half later. We continued at Harvest as a family for the next 22 years. Steve was the kind of father who made sure we never missed church except for illness. Even when we went on vacation, we'd find a Calvary Chapel at our destination if possible! For extended illnesses, like chicken pox, he'd even stay home, alternating with me to care for the sick child. Infant care was my bailiwick of course, because I'd nurse each baby for at least a year.

Today, it was a different world. While I sat with Heidi and Pavel at Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley, Steve enjoyed a morning service and a worship team at Raincross. I imagine it would have been reminiscent of the Bible study where we met, and several ones we've attended since--a relatively small group, comfortable.

Communion Sunday--where was my partner, the one whose cup I had to drain almost empty to prevent him spilling it? And whose cup I had to hold along with my own, while also passing the tray? The observance certainly went more smoothly for me, being able to worship fully, focused on God, and then tears did slip down. How grateful I am to know Christ, to be born again! The seraphim in Isaiah 6:3 express the realization of why God is to be worshiped:

Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of
The whole earth is full of His

As I reflected on my totally changed life while singing, I thought,"Should I be lifting my hands in joy, loving to sing, even smiling? My Steve is in a care home, and I'm a virtual widow!" But the Lord showed me, and I prayed back to Him, "My life has totally changed, and me with it, but God, You have not changed one iota from last Sunday to today! And I will praise You openly and excitedly, with all my heart today, because,


Saturday, September 8, 2012

What if you're not a detail person? Day 3

5:41 p.m. Today's project was to take my husband Steve to Raincross to live. If ever there was a need to trust God, go forward only as He led, and lean on the prayers of scores of believers, this was it. This morning, I woke up before 5 a.m. I could have lain in bed and waited to see if I'd go back to sleep, but I got up, put on my robe and slippers, and read the September 8 devotional selection from Charles Spurgeon's Morning & Evening. The topic verse was Hosea 14:8 (KJV):

From me is thy fruit found.

Spurgeon talks about our fruit--what I describe as the beneficial effects our faith has upon others in this life-- being found "by virtue of our union with Christ," as grapes owe their existence to the plant's root. He continues:

The fruit owes much to the root--that is essential to fruitfulness--but it owes very much also to external providences. How much we owe to God's grace-providence! in which He provides us constantly with quickening, teaching, consolation, strength, or whatever else we want [lack]. To this we owe our all of usefulness or virtue.

Our fruit comes from God as to wise husbandry. The gardener's sharp knife promotes the fruitfulness of the tree...So it is, Christian, with that pruning which the Lord gives to thee.

I've been humorously writing about being a "vision" person, rather than a detail specialist, but today every detail had to fall into place in order to make for a smooth transition for Steve. Before the caregiver Elias went to awaken Steve, I reviewed the day's plan with him. At 9:00, he was to take Steve out, for food and any other activity, and not return until 10:30. That would allow my daughter Heidi and her husband Pavel, my son-in-law Nick and his father John, who brought a truck, to load the bed, its frame, a night stand, rocker and lamp without Steve seeing the unusual activity.  I gave Elias some cash, and the day began!

God continued to show me that HIS power would deliver all that needed to be accomplished today, because the verse I posted on Facebook, which came up next in order, was Psalm 44:3, which recounts the way the Israelites conquered Canaan:

For they did not gain possession
  of the land by their own sword,
Nor did their own arm save
But it was Your right hand, Your
  arm, and the light of Your
Because You favored them.

Today God gave amazing favor! Elias and Steve had a great morning, eating out and then walking in Andulka Park. We got all of the furniture moved and Steve's room arranged and decorated with family pictures and mementos.  Then came the final test of all of the plans and leading which began with the Spirit and was accomplished through prayer and labor. As I drove Steve and Elias to Raincross, I was thinking like a former musician: this was a command performance which had to go right! After rehearsals and much practice, there was nothing more I could do but take Steve to that front door--there was no room for error in this sensitive moment for both of us. The suspense and tension I felt were building for the simple reason that I had no idea how Steve would react--that was the wild card.

God's favor was the only thing that could have caused Steve to  walk happily into Raincross' foyer, sit comfortably, shake hands and follow the director calmly and easily, and then take his seat for lunch. I was amazed at how he smiled at everything while eating the large lunch Elias fed him. In the middle of the ice cream and cake, having made sure LaChristola (activities director for the memory section) was there as prearranged, I stood up and said, "Steve, I need to take Elias back to get his car at our house, and I'll see you later." We kissed briefly, and home I went in perfect peace! I signed Elias' time sheet, took care of some things in the yards and the house, and sat down to journal my thankfulness.

This evening, I called Raincross and Steve is doing fine, had a good dinner, is socializing and walking around quite a bit. I told the caregiver that even though Steve goes to bed very early here, let him stay up and enjoy an evening activity with everyone else.

I'll visit him tomorrow after church, which will be the first time to go to church without my husband in over 31 years, with rare exceptions. That will be emotional, so I'll sit with Heidi and Pavel tomorrow. But God will be there, giving me His joy in the midst of this trial, of that I am certain.      II Timothy 1:12:

...for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day

Friday, September 7, 2012

What if you're not a detail person? Day 2

9:57 p.m. Today's project was to pick up the list of things to bring on Saturday when we move Steve to Raincross. Nothing like an official list to turn my vision from macro to micro in a big hurry!

The Lord has been so gracious to provide 6 hours a day at Care Connexxus for Steve when I can get work done, for home or business, while he's taken care of. Hard to believe I had to call my friend Megan who works there and tell her tomorrow is his last day. We had a nice talk, and tomorrow I'll notify Special Trans that their bus no longer will be stopping here to pick up Steve. The people who minister to me and to other families of disabled folks by caring for our loved ones are a special breed--my love to them all! The joyful way they greet and say goodbye to Steve each day tells me that they love their charges and do the best job they can to keep them safe, happy, clean, fed, and occupied.

While looking in my office at the box of pictures I'm collecting for Steve's room, including a virtual album of our travels, a formal portrait taken on our cruise to Alaska, and a small album of miscellaneous family pictures,  I noticed a collage frame that I almost gave away. The director had told me that families are allowed to use a hammer and nails to put up pictures in residents' rooms to lend a familiar feel. In just a few minutes, selecting pictures from the album and off the piano, this frame was filled. Happily, and all credit to the Lord the Holy Spirit, it contains pictures of all of my kids and grand kids, and spouses. There's even a friend and his son, too, on a camping trip to the Grand Canyon that Steve and Sean took in their small private jet. Steve will like it. Now that's the type of detail work I enjoy--fast and free!

Next came some boring stuff. But if it weren't for boring detail work, no advancements in health, safety and even comfort would ever have been made, so with Steve's health, safety and comfort foremost in my mind, I carried on! Do not lose the vision, no matter what!

After washing the spare bed's sheets and comforter, I searched the disorderly linen closet for full sheet sets, because Raincross requires extra sets for incontinence. I only found one sheet torn in half, probably for a paint drop cloth, or to cover seedlings on cold spring nights.  Time to go online and see what Kohls had going on. I knew I'd need at least one extra set. Kohls always seem to have sales, and today was no exception.  Thanks be to God, I was able to purchase a rust and cream-patterned microfiber full sheet set for 15.00 instead of the original $47.99. Their customer service even held three colors for me to choose from, so my shopping went even faster. And it wouldn't be me if I hadn't left the young lady who helped me an eyeshadow sample adhered to my business card!

Before I knew it, a caregiver arrived and it was time for me to give him instructions for Steve's dinner, change my clothes and head off to do a double facial. The two ladies didn't have the ability to purchase anything, but they thoroughly enjoyed the new skincare line. No money was made, but as I did with the free gift for the cashier at Kohls, I kept this verse in mind, Ecclesiastes 11:1:

Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.

Our Thursday night meeting was full of encouragement, and I received recognition for becoming a new Team Leader. As my Christian director Laurie said to me, in light of the sadness and loneliness I'm facing, "Let Mary Kay be your happy place." She also reminded me of the fact that our unit is a ministry for me, a place where I can mentor so many younger women. That has been my calling in womens' ministry at church for decades. Perhaps God's vision is much bigger.

Just let me get through tomorrow, Lord, then walk each day as You have planned for Steve and me.  

I know that God uses little tasks and myriad competing demands on my time to train me, to give me appreciation for the way that each "piece of the puzzle" fits to make the large picture, just as the Apostle Paul describes the way each part of the body, both physically and in the church, make it possible for the whole body to function (I Corinthians 12:14-31). As I write this, members of the Body of Christ from various locations are coming together to help me move Steve, and to mend the sections of fence that somehow toppled over this afternoon. Conversely, the Lord put on my heart to organize meals for a member of our Thursday morning Bible study who has just returned from the hospital. And that's God's plan--sometimes we help, other times we are helped!

Amid all of it, God's vision for His people, and for me in particular, is not at all abated by distractions, tough chores, missteps, or even attacks from the enemy. God's instruction to Habakkuk, in Chapter 2, verses 2-3, which I quote often, comforts me:

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 in 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.

Thank You, Lord!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What if you're not a detail person? Day 1

2:46 p.m. Today's project was to finish paper details with Raincross for Steve's entrance on Saturday. I knew I needed to bring his long term care insurance policy and completed doctor forms.  Then I heard from the memory care director that I needed to bring a white folder full of more forms. Added to my part in the assessment that our insurance company will perform at the facility with Steve on Monday, there is a distinct possibility that there's a hand cramp in my future!

When I arrived at Raincross, there was a Big Band-era singer performing for the residents in the lobby while the staff passed out root beer floats, even offering a choice of sugar-free ice cream or sugar-free root beer! Or any combination thereof. Of course, this was the assisted living section, where residents come and go as they please. My destination was the office of the director of the memory care program, "Connections for Living," Ruthie. We had stacks to go through, and I brought all of my papers-- power of attorney, Steve's doctor report, TB test results, a personal profile and a signed and witnessed end--of--life form.  I would have zoned out completely with all of the numerical details, but this is about my husband's health and safety for the rest of his life, so I was attentive! (And the legal forms are required by the State of California).

Romans 13:1 tells us our duty as citizens is to follow the law and requirements of local civil authorities.

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

The next part is going to be more challenging. A discussion began of items I'd need to provide for Steve's room, so I asked to go over there. I'd planned to bring a queen-sized bed from a spare bedroom; the rocking chair he put together before we were married, that I rocked our babies in--the one no one uses now; toiletries, towels and washcloths, diapers, a huge old TV and stand, the radio he had as a bachelor; a night stand and some family and couple photos. Since there is laundry and linen service, I won't need to bring every item of clothing Steve owns. In fact, the resident packet emphasizes seasonal items.

When the director and I entered the room, I saw two chifferobes, roommate Bill's bed and large TV, two extra chairs that would be removed, and a space that might be too small for a queen bed. So my plan had to undergo a small change. No TV is needed, and there might not be room for the rocking chair on Steve's side of the room. When Ruthie and I went back to the office, I mentioned the measurement I'd taken of the bed I'm bringing: 55' x 78". So an assistant googled bed measurements, and found that a FULL bed is 54" x75", so hurray and thank you, Lord, the bed isn't as large as I'd thought. The extra inches, I figured out, were due to the layer of foam padding I'd added. The correct measurement was important for another item I'd need for the bed: a vinyl zip-around mattress enclosure.  Without knowing the correct kind of bed I had to work with, I would have been frantic otherwise--my blood pressure rises when I'm confronted with too many details. I tend to think that presenting and putting the the overall vision in place should be enough! Don't you love the Lord's calming, assuring promise to His people--and much needed for me-- in Isaiah 52:12?

For you shall not go out with
Nor go by flight;
For the LORD will go before you,
And the God of Israel will be your
  rear guard.

When I went to Kmart for the mattress enclosure, there was the Full size, with the same measurements as online. And at home, it fit perfectly. The bed linens that will travel separately to Raincross are being laundered, and the foam pad will be placed on top for Steve's comfort.

I even found a bag of Steve's "extra underwear" at the Goodwill for $11 less than it would have cost at a grocer's or a pharmacy!

Believer, when you have had a word from the Lord, even in times of uncertainty that you're doing the right thing, watch how Jesus goes before you to mow down the obstacles, and comes behind you to shore up your confidence while He destroys the works of the devil that would devour and diminish your good work.

What a wonderful God we serve!

Tomorrow: What if you're not a detail person? Day 2

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Miss, could you give me a job?"

8:30 p.m. Today's project was to sit down at the Starbucks at Vons grocery store with my Lime Refresher, which I got a deal on, and make booking phone calls to my Mary Kay customers. I'm about $800 short of the amount I'll need to move Steve into Raincross. So I'm very focused on seeing what the Lord will do, whether by my business efforts, or by any other means He sees fit to provide by this Saturday! All other paperwork and doctor's forms are signed and in order, and moving details are getting straightened out.  God has been very faithful over the last 32 years, so I've no reason to doubt Him now!

This morning, since it was Labor Day and the daycare was closed and special trans buses were not picking up, I took advantage of a day with Steve to take him to visit my dad. They won't be seeing one another for a while. Steve and I had fun with the wheelchair Villa de Anza loaned us that was missing the footrests. So Steve pedaled his way down the long halls Fred Flintstone style, prompting me to ask him, "Hey, isn't there a speed limit here?!"

When we got home, I began working on one aspect of being at home alone after Saturday, and that is my need to hire a walker for Jada, our Lab, seen above with her poor "baby." (The video  is hilarious). I began my recruitment efforts by emailing two of our pastors, who handle practical help for the body at Calvary Chapel, and also have connections with young people who might want a simple job. Jada's very friendly and fun, but when she gets to walk/pull/running, her arthritic "mom," would not be able to hold onto the leash. Even Steve's morning caregivers have to exert some pretty good pressure to keep her in check. And they're grown men!

After a visit to my friend Debi in a local hospital, I settled in at my table at Vons and made dozens of calls, enjoying myself as I always do once I get on a roll. A young man came over with a cart of what looked like clothes and sat down, and I continued my calls after glancing over at him. He then said to me from his nearby table, "Excuse me, Miss." I looked up.

"Excuse me, Miss," he repeated.
"Yes, hi!" I said, picking up my phone to tell him the time, which is what I figured he wanted.
"Miss, could you give me a job?" What did I hear him say? I must have looked and sounded businesslike, because I was conducting business, so that made some sense. Of course he'd have no way of knowing that my business world is exclusively pink. But God excludes nobody! Because, as He said in Isaiah 55:8-9,

"For My thoughts are not your
Nor are your ways My ways,"
  says the LORD.
"For as the heavens are higher
  than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your
And my thoughts than your

Knowing that the Lord often tests us by the people He puts in our paths, I had a thought, and said, "Actually, I am looking for someone to walk my big dog now that I'm moving my husband to a care center. Tell me about yourself--are you from around here? What do you do? " He said,

"I haven't had a job for 5 years."
"I understand, because my son and a son-in-law have been looking for work for a long time, too. Times are hard. What kinds of work did you used to do?"
"Construction, retail sales, many things."
"Let me have your name and number. I'll tell you honestly that I emailed my pastors earlier to ask if they had a high schooler or a young adult who might be able to do the job, but if they don't, why don't you go up to Harvest Christian Fellowship and ask for some work over there? The pastors will usually find something you can work on. "

He gave me his name and a "reliable message number." I respectfully put the info into my phone contact list, and may call him, if I don't find someone whose family I know from church. If the Lord leads, and a meeting can be arranged with a third party present in a public place, I may have found a dog walker.

And maybe he will find Christ!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Last call

9:33 p.m. Today's project was to attend our church service this morning. Steve did well getting himself into the Jeep, so much better than yesterday afternoon after our day at the beach, that I told him, "Looks like you're a morning person!" That's one more thing we've always had in common--we're both early risers and very energetic. And while I didn't appreciate this when they were toddlers, so are our kids!

It's interesting to me how many references there are to "rising up early" in scripture. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David, Job, Hezekiah, Jesus Himself, and Mary Magdalene going to His tomb--all rose early either to meet with the Lord in prayer, or to carry out His commandments. King Darius, after a sleepless night, rose early see whether Daniel had survived in the lions' den. There is something quiet, cool, still and anticipatory about the early morning, when believers take that time to greet the Lord and spend the time with Him as much as their work or school day allows. We may be seeking Him to praise Him, seeking to receive guidance, interceding for loved ones, or confessing sin to Him before we can feel comfortable proceeding with our day. For me most days, it's all of the above!! Proverbs 8:17 (KJV) says,

Those who seek me early shall find me.

We attended the 9:45 second service today. When the girls and their husbands came over later, somehow they were talking about attending 1st service for years at Harvest. I told them that with their dad getting up at 3 or 4 each weekday and sometimes Saturdays to commute, we needed one day to get some rest. So we did change to 2nd service. Heidi exclaimed, "With all of us kids, how did we make it to first service? How did we do it?" I felt like ribbing her and saying, "Pardon me, but who's this 'WE?' " But it's a good question: how did Steve and I do it? It was the Lord enabling us to consistently provide that solid grounding in God's Word, prayer and worship, it was and is, all Him!

Church attendance has been a major commitment all of Steve's life, because he was raised with a solid church-going background as Lutheran. I, on the other hand, was instrumental in getting my sister and mom to our old Methodist church; and then led all my immediate family members to the Lord when I became born again in 1980.

Today was Steve's last day to attend our Sunday morning service. He'll be moving into Raincross on Saturday, where they do have church services for the residents. The friendly hugs and greetings he received from his men's Bible study friends were so touching and encouraging to him, that he didn't want to let go of their hands so we could enter the sanctuary. Same with the ushers and everyone else we know. Yet, even though he was singing along with the praise songs, he was bent down uncomprehending during the sermon and prayers, as far as I could tell, though the Holy Spirit was undoubtedly still ministering to his heart in a way I wouldn't understand.

How do I feel about his not coming to service any more? I'll see next Sunday when it becomes a reality. I was weepy today during worship, but "praising in the storm" as the song goes.

Would covet your prayers for this week of "last calls."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Matthew 6:8 to San Clemente

10:29 p.m. Today's project was to take the Metrolink train to San Clemente, a popular surfing beach in south Orange County. Steve and I received two free round trip tickets for maintaining a Fastrak account, which when using their transponder, allows a driver to use special lanes to bypass traffic jams any time of the day or night. And on the 91 freeway between Riverside and Orange counties, a tie-up could happen at 2:00 in the morning! Putting our kids and some of our extended family on our account has really eased the angst for weddings, graduations, and family parties.

With just a week left in our home for Steve, I decided that today would be perfect for a trip to the beach. On descending the stairs to the kitchen, I discovered that our usual 5:00 a.m. Saturday caregiver hadn't arrived, and had to call him at home at 6 a.m, because the agency mistakenly told him he wouldn't be needed this morning!  We had a non-negotiable departure time of 8:30 from our house, to meet a non-negotiable train boarding time of 9:15! With packing our meals, making all arrangements for the dog and house and doing 3 loads of laundry to cope with Steve's nightly accidents added to my morning devotional schedule, this was not a morning to lack help!

God knew that, and Elias, a believer with a true servant's heart, came quickly.

Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him, Jesus said in Matthew 6:8.

Elias quickly got Steve ready, fed him breakfast and placed him in the car for me, while I finished my morning business, devotional, nutritional, sartorial, and practical. Steve and I arrived at the station in plenty of time, and got a close handicapped space. We slowly walked toward the platform, validated our tickets, and I asked the question that had weighed heavily on my mind, traveling with a virtually helpless husband,"Will we have to change trains at some point?" "No," the agent replied, "You just stay on this train to the San Clemente pier." Matthew 6:8!

The walk to the train platform was up an elevator, across an overhead breezeway bridge, then down an elevator to the boarding area. A few hundred people had gathered, fully ready for the beach, with chairs, boogie boards and even umbrellas. Steve and I were only going to sit in any shady, grassy spot we could find, enjoy the cool breezy weather, watch the surf, watch the people, watch the pelicans flock overhead, and stay off of the uncertain walking area [for Steve] known as "sand." This would be an ultra-relaxed day for us, with no pressure except to take care of Steve's needs before heading back!

The train was very cool and comfortable, and I seated Steve next to a window so he could enjoy the scenery. I do confess to doing a bitty bit of Mary Kay business, but after an excellent finish for my team's production in August, despite major trials with my dad and Steve, it was time for me to relax!
As long as my cellphone stayed charged on the train's wall socket, and Steve just enjoyed staring wordlessly out his window, I alternated between dozing and pointing out places of interest, like streets in his hometown of Orange.

Our day went beautifully, and so did our ride home, except for the fact that Steve kept staring at the back of the seat in front of him, and at the floor. (He'd had his afternoon meds so that wasn't the problem). I thought, "Oh well, he's lost interest in looking out the window," and  I dozed off. Suddenly I heard him exclaim, "Those bastards!" while he was fully awake and still staring at the floor! I'm grateful to the Lord that nobody turned around or noticed. I told him, "There is nobody bad on this train; look out the window; and please talk quietly." He said, "Oh sorry," and everything went smoothly as we sped into Riverside. I pointed out to him the neighborhood we lived inwhen we were first married-- even the street, and he paid attention. In a great moment of clarity shortly after a few more miles, Steve looked over at the cemetery on Central Avenue we drive past constantly, and spoke out, "That's where my dad is." Lorenz is actually buried at the National Veterans' Cemetery at the south end of town, as is Ruby his mother. But for Steve to think of a sentence, and have a coherent thought in a timely manner was a very good accomplishment for him. His dementia manifests itself randomly. But bless the Lord for providing that moment. Matthew 6:8!

Despite suddenly serious struggles getting off the train, in and out of the elevators, walking, and then seating himself in the Jeep, Steve persevered, once his head was turned in the right direction and he followed my instructions. But I wasn't going to let those things spoil our day, not with all that our Heavenly Father had provided.

Believer, He knows what you have need of --even before you ask!!