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Monday, April 30, 2012

Vintage Redlands

8:48 p.m. Today's project was to sort through my dad's recycled items for the City of Redlands garbage pickup on Tuesday. Daddy had called yesterday, thinking it was Saturday, but no harm done, it's just that for the last 32 years as a Christian, I'm not available between 9:00 and 11:30 a.m. fifty-two out of fifty-two weeks a year!

We arranged that I would come over after Steve's buss arrived, which I said could be anywhere between 1:30 and 2:30, so we'd probably arrive around 3 p.m. Both parties were agreed.

This morning, we had set up a makeover session here at the house, which a friend conducted with her guests while I put my 20% sale in motion, along with offering Mother-Daughter makeover portraits to my customers. Since it is the end of the month and I want to help meet our unit's goal, I placed a modest order of the exact items I need until after a few parties next week. I also spent time on the phone with a dear friend facing a sudden move from her home which was sold out from under her and her husbandwithout notice! We prayed fervently, believe me, for them and for my Steve! We need to live  and believe James 5:16 (KJV):

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

After our makeovers were ended and cleaned up, I made some tuna salad, rested a while, and then greeted Steve off of the Special Trans bus about 2:15. His personal needs were taken care of, and off we went. I called my dad from the Arco station, but it turned out he had been waiting for me at 1:30! (That's the earliest time Steve might get off the bus, you'll recall). He was not a happy camper, but I told him not only can I not leave the house until Steve gets home, but getting him ready and belted in the Jeep is no speedy process either. Daddy wanted me to get him a 100 roll of stamps, too, so I think that his real worry was that the Post Office would be closed early. So that was fine, and I drove on to Redlands.

Having arrived in the west end of Redlands, I decided to drop off the pedicure bowls to my sales director and then get the stamps at a nearby post office before going to Daddy's rather than drive to his house on the far eastern end of the city and back to the post office. I'm making myself dizzy writing this!!

As I pulled onto Daddy's street, a young blonde woman in a grey car was waving me on to turn into the driveway, which I thought odd because a driver going straight has right-of-way. On second glance I saw it was my daughter Heidi, who had carved out some time to give me a hand with her grandpa before her busy evening began at home! Good! Now I'd have some backup for persuading Daddy to get his doctor to sign off on the handicapped placard he desperately needs now. (He'd been resistant to asking the doctor's office to do this for him unless he had an appointment. I shared the fact that Steve, too, has Medicare, and that I'd taken the form to Steve's doctor's receptionist, and we got a call that the doctor had signed it within two days).

The task at hand, once I'd gotten Steve settled on the couch for a doze, and put on flat shoes and covered my dressy dress with a skirt that was going to be laundered anyway, was to gather a barrel of recyclables on Daddy's covered back porch, and place the contents into the rolling dumpster for morning pick up.Heidi and I managed quite handily, with me picking up the barrel and dumping all of the contents, instead of picking out handfuls like Daddy was doing. I laughingly mentioned that I've gotten strong just from doing all of the chores at my house and moving Steve along wherever we go. And who know how much weight I've avoided gaining with all of the manual labor, because I can't just leave the house in the early morning for a walk while Steve's sleeping! And where would gym hours fit in?

This morning, I told Heidi, I'd found her dad downstairs when I came to start the coffee pot, in his thin  t-shirt and diaper, with the spray nozzle broken off of an air freshener canister! This is eerily similar to the way I found him downstairs the morning after Heidi's bridal shower last spring, only his underwear was torn, he'd gotten outdoors, and he'd disassembled the automatic spray holder from the downstairs bathroom. Will definitely keep those out of reach! And I'm so glad the doors now sound an alert chime whenever they're opened.

Heidi had to leave, because she and her husband take a Monday night class on Hebrews at Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta; she also had to pick up their puppy Jazzlyn from her spaying appointment. She reminded her grandpa that she lives super close, and to call her if he needs anything. I helped Steve to the car, and said goodbye to Daddy, because I had a customer delivery to make nearby, and we both needed to get home.

As I waited my turn in the beautiful post office, I noticed that Redlands people seem very relaxed and mellow, not agitated like they do in my city. Must be the hundreds of stately homes and quiet neighborhoods they emerge from. I know I thoroughly enjoyed growing up there. Heidi likes to say, "It's REDLANDS!" as the answer to everything from quiet streets to well-behaved children. She and her husband are already looking for a house to buy in the area of my old junior high, now Cope Middle School. .Sometimes I consider moving back to my hometown, depending on future developments, because my business wouldn't be affected, and I can drive to our church through the Canyon. I travel wherever my customers are, they come to me, or I have Mary Kay corporate mail out their products.

All depends upon the Lord's work in my life, the voice of the Holy Spirit calling me to make a move, if He calls for me to do that at all. I wouldn't consider moving in Steve's lifetime, because familiar surroundings are a must for an Alzheimer's victim. Other priorities call to me long before that of setting up a (small) dream house in my elegant home town.





Sunday, April 29, 2012

Greeting couples

3:28 p.m. Today's project was a rather different one for a Sunday. We heard a sermon from Pastor John on responsibilities of pastors, elders and leaders to look after the Lord's flock from I Peter 5:1-5.  Verse 2 is key:

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers...

Not coincidentally, I had left the sanctuary during worship to go after a close friend whose exit with sunglasses on looked suspect, and when I got to the ladies' room, she was just weeping her eyes out, under attack from the enemy. We hugged tightly, and the Lord gave me the privilege of praying and offering  His words of comfort to her. We are both looking forward to the start of our summer home Bible study, and we will visit this week as well. I Peter 5:8 warns us,

Be sober; be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Well, he'll  not devour my sister--no way!! And that's why we care for one another and step into spiritual warfare in the name of Jesus at times when another is too weak to battle for themselves!
Often we think of the Church as a building, like that Christmas cookie pictured above! But the church is Christ's Body--His hands and feet of service to one another.

This turned out to be a busy Sunday.

Upon reflecting on our passage from I Peter, I decided it was time to make a serious search for a widow from my Tuesday morning Bible study discussion group who has been absent from the sessions and has not returned my phone calls. I knew she'd had a dental appointment on one of the Tuesdays, but hadn't seen her since. Not returning my calls is odd, because she is lonely at home and loves to chat. She attends the same service we do, so I took Steve out to the entrance area (or front patio) and we stationed ourselves alongside the west set of doors to keep a lookout for Rita. At the opposite door were the pastor and his wife Robin, greeting members and visitors as they do on Sundays after every service.

It struck me as Steve and I stood there, that we too had a steady stream of hugs and greetings from friends and well-wishers knowledgeable about Steve's illness, but also with a word of encouragement or just funny remarks for me as well. One friend Bonnie, who along with her husband Steve gave us our yellow Labrador retrievers, told me a hilarious story on herself. Almost four years ago, I sold her a Satin Hands treatment set, but she had lost the bag it came in. She just found it yesterday, and is loving the hand treatment and the facial products too. Her sidekick Nacy said, "If you have something to make me look 20, I'll pay any price!" After enjoying our laughs, Nancy introduced me to a young mom and her darling, dainty infant daughter, generating a big smile from Steve, too.

Not seeing Rita anywhere, I took Steve to the Jeep, let the windows down, got out my study group roster, and wrote out her contact information. I handed the sheet to Pastor Mike McTigue, and he said, very firmly, "I know exactly who she is, and we'll get hold of her! We'll take care of this!"

I love being a member of the Body of Christ, looking out for others, and knowing that they will look out for me when my time of need comes!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

So THAT was the reason!

11:00 p.m. Today's project was to hold two parties: Muffins & Makeovers at 9 a.m. here at the house, and  then a party at the home of a pharmacy tech from our local CVS drugstore. She had asked me about Mary Kay parties, and booked tonight's skincare class on the spot! After a care giver mix-up, I arrived at her home in an area that used to be nice, but is getting rough now. Their home is in good shape, and even has a swimming pool. There was some commotion from the two-year-old, but she finally went down for her nap.  Since we were waiting for guests, the hostess and I got a chance to talk after her Satin Hands treatment and facial.

She mentionmed that she hasn't liked Christians ever since she was a deeply depressed teen, her condition exacerbated by a youth pastor in her denominational church tellung her she was demon-possesed and that she shouldn't seek counseling or take any medicine fotr the problem. I gave her a more scripturally balanced view that God can use medicine as well as prayer and supernatural healing. I spent time encouraging her to pray, and read her Bible, and not worry about which church to go to, pray to God in the nmae of Jesus, and He'll show her how to come back to Him! Jesus said in John 6:37b,

...the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

Then she mentioned that her husband likes the Jehovah Witnesses, because they seem more intellligent, with their books and their magazines." "Did you know that I wrote a book?" Her eyes bugged out. "It about the book of Galatians, where the Apostle Paul teaches us not to look at rules and regulations, but at Jesus Himself.  And then find a church where they teach right out of the Bible.

Then she mentioned a "Christian" co-worker who is involved in blatantly immoral behavior, and said "and they claim to be a Christian!" I asked her, "If they weren't a Christian, how would you think of them?" She replied, after thinking a moment, "I guess I would just say that that's the kind of person they are." I said, "God will judge them, and deal with them, but there are unjust amd bad people in every walk of life, in every company, school, any human endeavor." We need to seek Christ, not look at people!

She seriously listened to everything I said--she knows she's backslidden and needs to come back to Christ.I'll be keeping her in prayer and showing her a good witness whenever we meet. But God is convicting and calling her. "Faithful is He who calls you, , who also will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:24).

We went on to a lovely and lucrative appointment for me, with just one other guest. They thoroughly enjoyed the class, and the personal attention each one received.

With only one guest at her party, my hostess was unhappy and apologetic to me. I was still able to give her a hostess gift, but best of all, I KNEW WHY I WAS CALLED TO THAT HOUSE!

Let this be our prayer! Use me, Lord ,  for the saving of souls! Amen!

Prepped for blessings

4:36 p.m. Today's project was to allow God to prepare me for a blessed day after a humbling start--cleaning up after a sick dog! Apparently her new food was a bit too much for her dainty stomach, even though some of her regular kind was mixed in. (We've been through this many times).

Despite the time consumption involved with laundering the bedding, dragging the crate outside and hosing it down, and cleaning the garage floor,  my devotion time blessed me and I even prayed with my prayer partner at just about our usual appointed time! God is so good, and He knows each of us from the inside out! 2 Chronicles 16:9 says,

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.  

How I desire to be one of those loyal ones! Yet, I had a wonderful, God-arranged day, with a scheduled party, deliveries and caring for Steve in the afternoon. We even made it to the nursery to purchase four varieties of tomato plants, and a 6-pack of "Supersteak" type for our son and his wife to start their garden with.

While picking up and paying for Steve's medication, the pharmacy tech asked me to give her a Mary Kay party--for tomorrow! What is so amazing is that I've been trying to schedule a facial with her for months. Proverbs 21:1 says,

The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD. Like the rivers of water, He turns it wherever He wishes.
The heart of everyday persons is in His hand as well!

This evening, I parked in my faithful customer Samantha's driveway, half an hour before the start time for her party, expecting to teach a skincare class for five people. As I entered her house, there were at least 15 ladies there! Not only were there many more than I had planned for, although I had plenty of supplies; they were still having a bridal festivity and hadn't even started eating yet. Boy, was I praying out at the Jeep! When Amy, my spa party partner who gives chair massages when the class ends, arrived, I gave her the lowdown, and told her that we'd need to pray! I greeted people as I walked in with my foot bath tubs, set up a small section of the dining room table, and just enjoyed the luxurious buffet foods, including my favorite, ceviche.

We had a rather uproarious party, but I sold a good amount, have two appointments booked next week for follow up skincare, and my massage therapist gave a respectable number of chair massages.

As I was parked to text my hostess for tomorrow, our son Steven sent me a jubilant text :

"My laptop broke, viruses first, then the screen actually broke. Got it fixed for free, God is good."

Indeed He is good!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The age of worry

12:47 p.m. Today's project was to call for prayer from family and friends, and then see what was needed to be done for my 84-year-old father, Oliver, who lives in Redlands, about 30 minutes from here.

Last night at 11:21 p.m. as I was just about to shut off my reading light, Daddy called me, sounding shaky and panicked. Yet, as if it were 11 in the morning, he said, "Hi Dana. How are you doing? what are you doing?" I said, I'm a bit sleepy but was just going to bed. What's up? Are you all right?" I was thinking of a need to go to the hospital such as we experienced last summer when his bladder cancer caused blood clots. He has a tendency to call me instead of 911, or nearby Heidi and Pavel, so I was prepared mentally,if not physically) for an undertaking of some sort involving a late night drive through the Canyon!

Daddy said, "I need some help over here!" He went on to express his worry that his mail was stacking up, because he couldn't make the walk down his long asphalt driveway any more. I asked aout the program the local post office has, requiring mail carriers to go to the front doors of senior citizens who don't pick up their mail after one day.  Daddy said that the mail lady did come up to his door and rang the doorbell and knocked several times, but he couldn't get up from bed quickly enough to catch her. He sleeps quite late, which might explain the 11:21 phone call!By the time he got to the door, she was at the street and leaving.  His very serious woory was that yesterday's mail is still in the box, and today's will be there by 12:30. My dad is very security conscious, so the thought of mail sitting out on the street had him panicked! I assured him that I would come by in the afternoon, since Steve had a podiatrist appointment in the morning.

I'm definitely in what could be called "the sandwich generation" if along with an elderly father and a college age son I still help with counsel and very minor amounts of finances, we include a totally disabled spouse who can do nothing for himself.  Is there a "grilled sandwich" generation?

Sometimes I reflect on the challenging circumstances of my life with incredulous gratitude for the way that God handles every aspect! A favorite verse of mine is Psalm 27:13:

I would have lost heart, unless I
   had believed
That I would see the goodness of
   the LORD
In the land of the living.

Two different interpretations come to mind, the second one just this minute as I was typing it. (Thank You, Holy Spirit). The one I've always thought about is that "in the land of the living" means here on earth. As Jesus prayed, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," (Matthew 6:10). Amen to that, in this world of sorrow and wickedness--and mercifully, joy as well.

But the Lord just popped into my head that perhaps David meant, or also meant, that he'd live to see God's goodness rather than dying without seeing deliverance from his wicked enemies and foes (v. 2)adversaries and false witnesses (v. 12). I would love to see this family's enemy " early-onset familial dementia" defeated for Steve in his and my lifetime; I would love for my father to get re-energized and walk strongly like he did for his first 83-1/2 years!  But are these hopes realistic?

Only God has the control over our days of life and health! And that's why we pray and seek wise counsel and courses of action.

I called my sister and we tossed around some ideas about the mail situation, and then later she thought about an electric wheelchair for Daddy. "Yes!" I reacted. Medicare would cover that, with a doctor's letter. So when I see Daddy this afternoon, we'll start that process.

But just to show that God is in the background working in His kids' behalf, I remembered the very nice, new, lightweight walker with a basket that Medicare delivered to Steve, but which he angrily refuses to use. I guess he has no concern or comprehension of the consequences of a bad fall, nor realizes he has such poor balance and that he stumbles often, because caregivers and I take his hand and lead him around, even in the house as needed. But that walker is the perfect solution for Daddy, who very realistically dreads falling and not only knows his limits but knows how exhausted he gets with very little effort. .

How did it occur to me to remember the walker left out in the garage? This morning Steve's caregiver got the idea on his own, to get Steve to practice with it a bit, but he loudly and vehemently refused, planted his feet and became very beliigerent as I watched unseen from a distance. We won't give up; we'll just wait a few weeks before trying again.

That walker may not help the intended user for a couple of weeks until my dad gets approved for a motorized chair, but God will use it to maintain dear Daddy's independence for a while longer!



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Serpents and Doves

4:19 p.m. Today's project was to help a sister cope with a feeling of exclusion, or a suspicion of such.

Many situations can cause the feeling of exclusion, from gatherings of friends and family to business settings, even in ministries. Exclusion is ungodly, unkind, and unloving; in a business setting it's unprofessional!

Ungodly? Yes indeed, because as I John 4:8 puts it,

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Exclusion can take many forms--"forgetting" to invite a person to a meeting; or having "the meeting before the meeting," an experience I had during my political years on the local school board when I innocently came to a meeting at the appointed time, and found other participants had been discussing school district business already. "No, no, we were just chatting..."  You'd better believe I was the first one in the meeting room after that! Jesus said in Matthew 10:16, "be as wise as serpents and harmless and doves." That verse became my watchword. Believers are not to be hapless dummies!

The problems that arise from unfairness in a professional setting are legion: the loss of trust in a valuable member of the team who no longer offers good ideas that can help solve problems; as for public agencies, legal action can even be taken when the majority of an elected board tries to meet secretly! I chose to take it to the Lord, and allow Him to build the voter support of believers and unbelievers alike that allowed me to win 3 consecutive elections before I declined to run for a 4th term because other ministries were calling.

Broad public support is pretty attention-getting to fellow politicians, so the board worked together much better by my 2nd term!

When a man's ways please the LORD, Proverbs 16:7 says, He makes even his enemies be at peace with him.

Christian, just make sure your ways please the Lord!

What about a work situation, where this sister found out that an entire fun experience had been planned for all the grade level's students--except for hers! When the question of exclusion was presented, excuses flew out: "it was another person's doing," "we didn't mean.." etc. Finally an olive branch was offered, that the students of the excluded classroom could join in after all. But why exclude or pass over a member of the team in the fist place? Thinking they wouldn't notice? I commented that there seemed to be a peaceful solution at least. But the excluded one stated, "I still don't trust them."  Again, I counseled from the scriptures:

Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

The trickiest kind of exclusion can happen in the family, where several members live near one another, or are closer in age, and lack the good sense and common decency to include one who may have a different hometown, experiences or outlook. How hard is it to talk about subjects we all have in common, such as our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews? Or listen to each of our activities, goals and plans--and be sincerely happy for everyone's good news?  For believers, Jesus' work in our lives is a never ending source of joyful talk if you run out of topics! Ephesians 5:20-21 says that we should be

giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of the Lord.

Will you be spending lots of time or confiding deeply in any and every family member? Probably not. Again,

Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

Friend exclusion hurts very deeply, because friends are friends by mutual choice! Mothers of elementary age daughters have plenty of experience dealing with this one. These days, exclusion has escalated to internet bullying at secondary and even adult levels. Some famous mass killings have even been traced to this sadness of being left out, excluded and demeaned. Adults however, can also be crushed to discover that they've been cut out of a fun outing by their friends. I know I have been! That's when we forgive and live by I Corinthians 7:15, "God has called us to peace."

These feelings of loneliness and despair are not new! My morning reading in Psalm 88, "the suffering of affliction," NLT, includes the following passages where Heman the Ezrahite addresses his sorrows and complaints to God quite bluntly:

You have driven my friends away
  by making me repulsive to them,
I am in a trap with no escape. (v.8)

Your fierce anger has
   overwhelmed me.
Your terrors have paralyzed me.
They swirl around me like floodwaters
   all day long.
They have engulfed me completely.
You have taken away my companions
  and love ones.
Darkness is my closest friend. (v. 16-18)

That's real despair, blamed on God, but we know that even though God allows solitariness for a season, it is for our own growth in knowledge of Him, without the distractions of desultory or frivolous conversation. In a ministry, God wants to use alone time to develop excellence in character, work ethics, or in hearing the Lord's voice in scripture and being trained in using those scriptures for the edification of others.  In a business or public service setting, the Lord will use that focus on Him alone to cause a believer to stand above the mediocre crowd, with results of their efforts evident to all, and at a level only God could cause them to achieve!

In I Timothy 4: 12-14, the Apostle Paul advises young pastor Timothy not to neglect his spiritual gifts, and to read the scriptures, be an example to others, exhort them, and as practice what we woule say today, focus! In verse 15, we are all exhorted to gain and act in wisdom for a very important reason:

Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.

Be wise, be harmless, and you will emerge from the dark season into God's glorious light!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The luxury of friendship

4:11 p.m. Today's project was to join my friend Theresa, a regular member of our summer women's home Bible study (pictured above) for her farewell lunch at Mimi's. Theresa and her husband Robert are moving to Idaho where most of her family resides. Can't say I blame them, because Idaho is stunning, and like Cheyenne, Wyoming where we own a rental home, the blue skies go on forever! "God's Country" is what the natives call the states "out west!"

It was a definite luxury for me to join the two tables of friends today at Mimi's, a luxury financially, but more significantly, a luxury of time. My soul needed the free hours to laugh and enjoy my Bible study friends whom I fear I've been neglecting by leaving quickly after we  leaders, including Theresa, pray for women who come forward with requests.  Steve's care giving insurance dollars need to be used sparingly, and God has given me a stewardship over the funds. But I couldn't miss this luncheon!

Theresa has had serious trials with her work-related injury, and inspired us all by the faith-filled way she handled each frustrating step in the settlement process. she and her sster Kathy had also to deal with their father's terminal illness and death during that same time. As we shared our prayer requests each week, it was evident that she had taken the needs of each woman to heart by the way she mentioned details of our situations, and asked after our children and husbands by name. Our hostess Malinda (Theresa's best friend) and a couple of other sisters are praying with me as to our start date for our  II Samuel study this year already. Theresa's sweet spirit and transparent sharing will be sorely missed!

The Lord has brought special women with gifts both practical and spiritual to walk along with me in our trial of a lifetime, Steve's dementia. Some bring gifts of encouragement and others demonstrate their love with shared interests, like gardening or other home arts, such as we feature in the Heart to Home ministry. Theresa joined some of our classes, adding to the fun, and became a Piecemaker in the last few years, joyful despite her pain.

As a Christian woman, Theresa exemplified the prayer of Paul in Philippians 1:9:

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

I'll miss you, Theresa!



Monday, April 23, 2012

To speak or not to speak

2:25 p.m. Today's project was to decide whether to call with an objection to the drop-off hours by the bus that transports Steve in the afternoon from his adult daycare center that he started calling "school." Hopefully that suggests pleasant memories of learning and fun.

I had waited to complete my journal until I receive information I would want to lift up to the Lord, so I called the bus line and found out that the time they arrive home is dependent upon the time Care Connexxus has the clients lined up and ready to board. The Special Trans service sends many buses to that center, and on a given day, Steve's bus could be first in line, or last; and he may be the first stop or last. (A little vague, but I was listening). The phone representative tracked all of Steve's pick-up times at the center, as well as the times he was dropped off at home, and explained that if there were any cancellations on Steve's route, he could be the only rider, which might account for his arrival as early as 1:45 p.m. some days, when his usual had been 2:15 or 2:30. Things can be random, however, because at this writng, 2:50 p.m., he's not home yet!

I finished prayer time with Cara, during which she prayed for my call to be conducted in a friendly manner, with no hurt feelings on either side. Spirit-led, undoubtedly! There's no issue with Steve being home before 2 p.m., because he has to take meds at that time, and we like to enjoy our afternoons together. BUT, if I don't know when he's due to arrive, I have to hire caregivers to meet the bus. And their minimum agency assignment is 2 hours, a whopping $88.00 Steve's longterm care insurance is billed. And with my appointment-based business, I cannot always guarantee split-second timing for a client's gorgeousness!

It seemed the bus company representative had a good point, so I thanked the gentleman for his information, and considered his suggestion that I call Care Connexxus to see why the program was only 4 hours instead of the 6 hours the insurance is paying for.  Always in the back of my mind is the need to be as frugal as possible with our care dollars, because at some point, Steve will need full time medical care, whether here at home or in a facility.  Thats "frugal," not "stingy!" Proverbs 23:5 points out that we need to practice frugality with fleeting resources:

Will you set your eyes on that
  which is not?
For riches certainly make
  themselves wings;
They fly away like an eagle
  toward heaven.

I thought I'd give the daycare center a couple of hours to get past the influx of participants, and then call them.

After reviewing a Bible study lesson on God's voice being peaceful as well as authoritative, I decided not to call the daycare center with what could be seen as a negative inquiry, because they do a very good job with Steve. He enjoys attending, and if the bus drops him off an hour after their 8 a.m. start time, and family members might pick up their disabled loved ones after the buses leave, the center is still operating a full program. That gave me a peace instead of the nervousness I'd been feeling.

For any responsible adult who has enjoyed the God-given blessing of living a healthy, active and self-supporting lifestyle, it's just very different negotiating the uncharted territory of agencies, services, and programs for the disabled. But it's knowledge all of us would do well to learn and have available for a future day of need.  That's wisdom!

James 3:17 says,

The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

That's the kind of wisdom that makes believers a good witness to the world.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Two out of three

9"21 p.m. Today's project was to visit with Kriss and Marisela and our new grandson Clark in Long Beach. Clark is a major light in my life right now, and we thought of some ways I could be a little more hands-on with him this visit.

Steve had had a very bad morning, coming downstairs with a caregiver with an angry face, and refusing to sit down and take his medication, even though he usually enjoys it mixed in applesauce, and gives a smiling greeting to me when he enters the kitchen. After experiencing Steve's brother Larry's generally pleasant demeanor up until the day he died, I never imagined my husband of 31 years would glare at me like I was the devil when I kissed him good morning! But it's happened three times this week.

After his medicine kicked in, he had dressed, eaten, and a devotional was read to him, Steve leveled off. While I finished my devotions, ate, packed a lunch, and got ready for church, he and the caregiver spent some time in the backyard with Jada. Tough time leaving, because he went out the front door when I told him to go to the garage and get in the car!  (The caregiver had of course unbolted the door on his way out). I retrieved him from the driveway and got him belted into his seat, arriving at church only 5 minutes late. Praise God we got a handicapped spot!

There's a saying, "Tough times don't last, but tough people do!" But with my arthritis, having to feed, lead, seat, fasten jeans, seat belts, and diapers; and the twisting motion of placing his clenched hands on banisters, shopping carts and safety railings is causing me to doubt that saying! Life with Steve is getting very painful. He acts like a mute "dead weight" that needs to be prodded or lightly pulled, and turned to face in the right direction in order to move along when we walk into church or even around Kriss' apartment today. A strictly physically handicapped person would likely assist in any way possible, out of consideration for their caregiver.  Or if they were truly helpless, they'd still thank their caregiver!And Steve currently has no rational thinking process that would include concern for others. Praise my Jesus that He gives me "grace to help in time of need,"  (Hebrews 4:16)

After church, we left for Long Beach somewhat later than planned, because I decided to check the radiator fluid level. I raised up with the very heavy hood of the Jeep while Steve watched with little interest from inside the car. Imagine--his major hobby in life for decades was repairing and maintaining our vehicles! In order to take the cap off before the Jeep cooled down, I set up a fan to cool it, filled the radiator's receptacle and we were on our way, enjoying our pack lunch.

We shakily made it up the apartment stairs, hallelujah, even with the landlord's pesky Pekingese yapping underfoot on each step, and our delightful visit began! Pictured above, is Kriss' older brother Sean, who with his fiancee Pam came in the door shortly after we began our visit. Two out of three sons ain't bad, especially when the youngest son lives hundreds of miles away. We shared a lot of laughs, Steve stayed calm and cheerful, and we were able to enjoy original music online by artists that Kriss and I both know,. Kriss also precisely brewed Sean and me some Starbucks "Blond" coffee. The three of us talked about Kriss' plan to attend auto mechanic school, and the tools they will soon inherit from Steve, who has no recognition of the massive tool chest that was with him 35 years of his life as a maintenance technician in the plastics industry.

Papa John's pizzas rounded out our visit, and Steve and I took our leave shortly after I helped give Clark a bath with his mom's guidance. We drove home in light traffic, fed Jada, and are now preparing for a fresh new day. Things are not easy these days, but I am encouraged to keep at it with Steve for as long as possible by Galatians 6:9-10, and may you be encouraged also, believer:

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especialy to those who are of the household of faith.                                             

                                                                

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Is your vocational clock ticking?

5:01 p.m. Today's project was to co-host a Muffins & Makeovers gathering, which eneded up with a lovely friend of mine coming for her facial and makeover. By the sound of our greeting and our exuberant hug, my fellow beauty consultant Cara though it was a long-lost reunion. "Oh no," I laughed, "We see each other every Sunday!" Sandra added, "It's just that we never get a chance to talk!" So talk, sip tea and eat homemade muffins was just what we did! Plus Sandra had a delightful makeover and tried a glamour look she loved.

As we talked about her very hectic career in the public sector, and my retirement from same, she expressed her concern that she didn't think she could take another 20 years, and was blessed by my sharing the way I'd planned my career and public service so as to be able to retire with pensions and, as I thought  might happen, be able to take care of Steve. Yet, pension payments are quite modest compared to full-time income, and that's where my business very nicely fills in the gaps, and then some, in a fun and rewarding way. Planning for your family's future is scriptural, not a lack of trust (as those who just let events roll over them while  drifting along without purpose might claim).  Prudent stewardship is commended throughout scripture and lazy living is roundly and repeatedly condemned! Hear these proverbs:

...the prudent considers well his steps. Prov. 14:15b

The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway. Prov. 15:19 [I think that includes mental laziness, a failure to seek the Lord and wise counsel, and make appropriate plans].

A wise man's heart discerns both time and judgment.  Ecclesiastes 8:5

A man's heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. Prov. 16:9

I especially like the last verse, because I have found that the more prayerfully, wisely, and actively I work, the more the Lord leads me to the ones I need to meet with, and leads them to me! More times than I can count, I have rather randomly texted an invitation to a friend or acquaintance, secretly thinking she'll never respond, and she becomes an enthusiastic customer or even  a team member! That's God directing my steps.

What I have been noticing in both the young, the Gen-X and -Y'ers, the young parents, the middle-aged and active seniors like myself, is restlessness, doubt, and dissatisfaction with career. Or, if they like their career and feel they are serving others in it, in a quandary over doing the same thing for another 20 years; or fear of their industry disintegrating; or being a lay-off victim.  People's vocational clocks are ticking! They, especially women, are looking for an appropriate amount of godly self-determination and choice in their work lives.

What is God calling you to do with your life? What has He gifted you to do? What hobby or even leisure activity or volunteer ministry just warms your heart and stimulates your mind with the possibility of turning your passion into a career, an amazing way to spend your time while you support yourself and your family or contribute to the family's income?  Do you need to return to school? Or learn hands-on from experienced and skilled friends whose work you admire? Would your spouse support your quitting your unsatisfying job to follow God's leading?  Have you committed your possible career change to God so He can open doors for you to walk through?

When God answers your questions, He will go before you!! Jesus told His followers, and His promise is just the same for those who follow Him today,is found in Hebrews 13: 6:

I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Take courage, and make your God-inspired move boldly! The verse goes on to declare

So we may boldly say,

"The LORD is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?"


Friday, April 20, 2012

Open your mouth wide...

5:57 p.m. Today's project was to earn the money for a trip to go visit my grandson Clark in Long Beach. That's substantial money with gas at $4.09 a gallon and a round trip of 140 miles!

"Earning gas money" probably sounds kind of funny to most people, but any business owner would understand. You pray for guidance, set a goal for what the family needs, and go about earning it!  I've been so focused on interviewing and  recruiting team members, picking up guests for meetings and serving my existing customers, that these ten days between the deposit of our rent check from the Cheyenne, Wyoming house and Steve's Social Security direct deposit hasn't yet been covered by my Mary Kay earnings as usual.

Knowing God had a plan all along, and thanking Him for great income and new customers last week, I remembered Psalm 81:10, where God reminds His people who He and what He will do for them if they will eschew other gods:

I am the LORD your God,
Who brought you out of the land
   of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide, and I will
  fill it.

On my first stop, I went to my credit union and came up with a new PIN because I'd forgotten the other one; then I withdrew $30, so now I had my semi-weekly hairdresser visit paid. Why was that critical? It's because I demonstrate and sell products there every visit, and get paid in cash, ie., gas money. I did sell one item, but my stylist wants it next Friday. I also spent time with current customers, so they'll order when they need something. Before my appointment, the Lord solved another concern, okay, worry: a referral from an assistant at the daycare center next to the salon had booked a skincare party for Monday night--down by LAX! I'm not wildly happy about driving all of those freeways on the way home. But the Lord gave me an inspiration: invite the assistant to go with me!! Beatrice was surprised, touched by the offer, and in answer to  my directions question, "Yes, I know how to get there! She's my very best friend!!" Wow, God--you blew me away again, hallelujah!

My next stop was the gas station where I saw the lowest local price, so I added $5 worth before a product delivery downhill from my home. While I was at the pump, a consultant on my team called, and the Lord reminded me of a check of hers for almost $30 that I hadn't cashed! god knew when the right day was to do so, didn't He? Onward, Christian business owner!

My customer, after thanking me for inviting her to last weekend's boutique, decided to purchase a second version of her mineral foundation, so there God provided another $20 in cash. Back to the Arco station, where they'd lowered the price 2 cents a gallon, for a decent amount of gas! Now I could drive out to the eastern end of Moreno Valley to our church to pick up the gorgeous necklace jeweler Jean had promised me as a thank you for inviting her to participate in my boutique. I arrived early, so took the time to call customers from a shady parking spot. I'm looking forward to guests tomorrow and/or orders from my personal website.

Lovely necklace in hand, with money for travel, and an income-producing event in the morning, I trusted the Lord to meet my financial needs for today, tomorrow and next week--and the need of my soul to peacefully trust Jesus with every aspect of my life! 



Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sleepyhead


2:16 p.m. Today's project was to enjoy a quiet, slower-paced morning in the garden with Steve. Because he had a doctor's appointment, there was no rush to board the bus, and we could take advantage of the cooler temperature to get some weeding and planting done.

Steve looked a bit strange when he came downstairs with the caregiver for his breakfast. He was blank, zombie like, and stood stiffly without expression when I kissed him good morning, unlike the cheery anticipation with  which he normally greets me.  Odd, because he had had a restful night and his usual 10 hours of sleep. So after a silent breakfast (which he had to be spoon fed) to get Steve energized, I had the caregiver take him outside to see Jada, and then walk with her, just in front of the house. Steve has been stepping off the curb or into the bushes during even the shortest of walks lately. Caregivers just walk Jada by themselves these days, for which I am sure our active lab is most grateful! I wonder if something inside my husband was seeking for a reason to get ready, a task to be completed, a goal to reach, such as boarding the bus...I don't know.

We headed out to the garden, where Steve did a good job of pulling up weeds, and only stepped on a plant or two, pretty good for not recognizing where he was or what needed to be done. But a surprising thing happened while I was creating cantaloupe mounds. While pulling up a weed, he toppled over from a squat! After a few moments where I tried to help him, he grabbed the post of the chain link fence and got up, with just a scratch on his tailbone. Thank you, Lord! It made me nostalgic, for just a moment, for the days only last year, when he took responsibility for tasks in the garden, so I could get inside work done. There are just too many critical issues now for me to dwell on the plesantnesses of the past!

Always, always Philippians 2:13:

...forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward to the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Leery of walking along with Steve from the parking lot to the elevator in the medical center, I loaded his walker into the back of the Jeep in case he might be willing to try it. When we arrived, I challenged him: "If you don't want to use the walker"...vigorous shake of the head..."you'll have to walk normally with me. No more of me pulling you along!" (Very painful for me, as you might imagine, pulling a much larger, almost sleepwalking person!) so he did walk better, only slowing down once or twice. Thank you, Lord!

Our purpose was to get a prescription and also to have Dr. Sirisuk check his right forearm that hurts every now and again, but isn't sore to the touch at all. The doctor said, "If it isn't swollen or bruised, it's nothing." Then he wrote a prescription for Lamisil oral version to end the big toe fungus that is the same as him mom once had. However, she was in her late seventies. It's as if he's a speeded-up version of his parents. But Steve still retains his youthful spark that comes out now and then, and reminds me of the man I fell in love with, and will love 'til death do us part!.

I'm just about ready to leave for our unit meeting, and glad to see Steve in good care from our cheerful afternoon caregiver. They are walking out now to get the mail, and he perked up just to get outside after a serving of applesauce and medications.

It's a slow-moving, quiet lifestyle, but it is fitting for now. How is it fitting? Because God ordained it, it's the life for us here in our temporary home on this earth!

Steve and I believe what is said in Hebrews 11:16 of the Old Testament saints who died in faith as wanderers on the earth:

But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ones, please

7:30 p.m. Today's project was to park my Jeep on a side street before 7 a.m. because the City of Riverside was to put down the sticky black tar called "slurry" on my side of our street today between 7 and 5 p.m. So I put Steve back in bed from his unexpected early awakening, whipped on my shirt and jeans, grabbed the extra car key and my glasses, and had my car parked across the street by 6:09 a.m. Due notice was given to us last week, so I followed suit yesterday by calling the Riverside Special Senior and Disabled Transportation bus service in case the "right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing," to make arrangements for Steve to be picked up and dropped off just around the corner on Canyon Crest Drive.  I just love to organize matters--guess it's that gift of administration kicking in!

Riverside has a large variety of services and departments, and is now emphasizing the arts, such as the presentations offered in the renovated Fox Theater pictured above. We have been using the Spec. Trans. bus system to take Steve to Care Connexxus for months now, and have generally been satisfied with them. Of course, there was the tempest in a teapot that brewed when the driver, who picks Steve up all the time and was normally a bit flexible, was told not to give us change for a five, nor to accept a lot of coins. Steve actually had to get off the bus, poor guy.  Being a veteran of local politics, I was not shy about calling our very supportive mayor. He was outraged! I had apologies from every department head in short order, and suffice it to say that the "spirit of the law" is going to be emphasized over "the letter of the law," especially with disabled and senior riders from now on.

Now in the spirit of Romans 13:1, "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities," and not to be a bad witness or appearing to take advantage of the mayoral rebuke, I make sure to have two one-dollar bills handy for each direction. I also need dollar bills for the shared expense of our Mary Kay unit meetings, a very reasonable $3.00 per consultant and $1 per guest, to fund the facial and makeover supplies we all use. So I need either $3 or $4 (or more) weekly, depending on the number of guests I have. We do make change, but I get there early to help set up before other attendees arrive.

Problem is, I may not have calculated all of those "ones" correctly, and find myself in a situation like this morning when I checked my wallet before coming downstairs and AAAAAH! I only had 3 dollar bills and some change. I asked our renter if he had a quarter or two and he had a dime, I rifled through every junk drawer and pocket, and was still at a total of $3.45 (and I really hated to put 55 pennies in a baggie)! That would get Steve onto the bus, but with a full day of appointments ahead of me, I had to make sure the caregiver who would meet Steve's returning bus had her $2.00 also.

Now think of this: my car is already across the street, when the caregiver says, "Dana, I think they already started." But there was no heavy equipment noise; I think he just saw the darkened half of the street finished yesterday. So after Steve got on the bus, I got ready---quite the perfecting process for a beauty consultant! and took off for Ralphs down the hill. I was just getting in line for change for a $5 bill when Cara returned my call to pray. Thanked the checker, got in the car, and we prayed hands-free on my way back up the hill and after I re-parked on the neighboring street. Is this a normal day for me? Yes, actually, minus the street paving!

I am so glad that my day begins with devotions--reading my scripture portion, posting a scripture, and writing in both personal and business journals to the Lord!Where would I be without Him? What confidence would I have that all will go as it should in the midst of not only Steve's worsening disability but the aggravations and irritations of life on this planet? None--I would have headed back to bed this morning if I had not had the encouragement of the Word and shared prayer with a sister!

Psalm 27, a chapter I have been posting verse-by-verse on Facebook the last week, is a prayer of faith in the midst of asking God for help. Naturally, this morning both computers froze, so I had to use my smartphone to post. In verse 9b it says,

You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.

And far from experiencing a day of continuing disaster, I had one of the most successful days in my business that I've had in the last month, action-and blessing-packed, moving rapidly toward my career goal and helping other women build their own businesses. Steve enjoyed his day's activities and was let off the bus safely, despite the street slurry. Finally, we had a good dinner together and relaxed, enjoying one another's company. 

The world, the flesh and the devil will try to throw us off course, and days can start out rough, as I'm sure you know from experience! But God has His children in His hands, and He will generate the best of results for each one of us!!!

Don't lose heart, believer! To paraphrase Psalm 27: 13, (italics mine) you will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's not the little things

5:35 p.m. Today's project was to lead my --or God's--women's Bible study group in discussion of questions about listening to God's voice. We touched on God's persistence, even nagging at times, that we obey Him in a particular matter, such as witnessing to a client, that a gal in our group mentioned.
when he speaks, do we obey?

The liveliest part of our discussion concerned those areas not explicitly mentioned in scripture, like (most famously) "should a Christian drink alcohol?"I quit drinking alcohol socially altogether when I got saved, but that was my conviction and manner of walk that I chose. Other Christians see no harm in it, and alcohol consumption is not condemned in the Word. But drunkenness is! "Be not drunk with wine, which is dissipation, but filled with the Spirit," Ephesians 5:18 says. Conversely,  Jesus drank wine (John 2:3, creating wine for a wedding at Cana) and was accused by the Pharisees of being a "winebibber" in Luke 7:34; later, the Apostle Paul told Timothy to "take a little wine" for his stomach (I Timothy 5:23).

Movies were another hot topic, with general agreement that R-rated movies have no place in a Christian's entertainment repertoire. Then one might bring up "The Passion of the Christ," rated R because of extreme violence. I couldn't see taking a child to any movie that graphically showed the crucifixion. We have better, more effective ways to teach children of Jesus' death on the cross, which millions of parents and Sunday school teachers do quite skillfully and effectively on a regular basis.

We all agreed that there's no such thing as a 100% accurate movie about Jesus anyway--modern film makers never saw or spoke to Him in person. Just let the doctrines be scriptural and the tone be reverential, and facts that are presented in the gospels be accurately portrayed.

Speaking of doctrine, what about the "no pants and no makeup" rules for women, or head coverings required by some churches? Rather than argue over those details, are we being Christlike in our attitudes towards others? At age 7 or 8, our oldest son Sean attended a Christian school with a strict dress code that I found out about at the end of a school day that saw temperatures soar over 100 degrees.  "Mrs. Kruckenberg," the director said, "Your son cannot wear shorts to school." Okay, I thought, even long Bermuda shorts? We complied, but he didn't return the following semester, because legalistic comments were made about parents' dress as well, far beyond their purview. Seems that the actual sins of gossip and besmirching the character of others were being freely practiced, however!

More modern controversies that we covered included Harry Potter books.The same sixth grade Christian teacher friend of mine who taught C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe also read one of the Harry Potter books with his class. And one of my gals said she thought the movie of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would be evil because the word "witch" was mentioned! (Then she was informed that C.S. Lewis was one of the last century's foremost Christian apologists). JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which I first read some 40 years ago, and which movies  I love, was also misunderstood by those who didn't realize Tolkien was a devout , scholarly Christian, and his books were an allegory of good vs. evil!

While I was teaching in a Christian school in 1980, a parent came to me in outrage because the Christian A Beka curriculum included a fairy tale! She wanted nothing but real life stories read to her children. So where does this judging of others' choices begin and end? I mentioned one thing that got everyone's attention: whenever a church splits over minor details and half the congregation leaves in a huff, you can bet that the entire city knows about it--the devil delights in discord among believers! Proverbs 6:19 says this is one of six things the LORD hates, and that are an abomination to Him:

One who sows discord among brethren.

I showed the cover of my book Galatians: An Exploration of Faith & Freedom, because in these scriptures, Paul decimates the arguments of those who want to lay a heavy yoke of Jewish law keeping on all believers. In Galatians 5:1, Paul adjures us:

Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Do you want to have your son circumcised? Then do so--it's not a requirement to be saved, any more than is baptism. We are commanded to be baptized to show that we are saved. But since our denominational brothers see it differently, let's keep peace between us. If you can find scriptures that forbid eating meat, then follow your conscience. But I'll follow mine and eat meat, because Romans 14:17-19 says,

...for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.  Therefore let us pursue the things that make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

Let's focus on praying for and leading the unsaved to Christ, building up the Body of believers, loving and caring for one another, seeing each other through the tough times in this life while remembering   I John 4:17,

because as His is, so are we in this world.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Praying in style

6:33 p.m. Today's project was to book facials, parties and interviews for my business, and meet with a lovely new friend at her home in the afternoon.

The day got off to a great start, praying with my friend Cara, for both of our schedules, spiritual goals, business goals, and general uplifting of each other as siters in the Lord. By 8:30, my Mary Kay outfit was on, as was my makeup. Steve had left on the bus for daycare at 8:00. I listened to a beautiful message about doing what God has called you to do now, not later, because not one of us knows whether we will even have a "later!"  NOW is what counts. Remember how Jesus blew away--and enraged--the Jewish leaders in John 8:56-58 after calling them liars and sons of the devil?

  "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."
  Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?"
  Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." 

In truthfully claiming the name of God, Yahweh, I AM,  our Lord crossed all acceptable religious boundaries and societal norms, which He as Creator God has every right to do! Jesus Christ embodies all of eternity past, present and future. But we, on the other hand, were created with very strict limitations. We only have today in which to act.

For the last 32 years, I have prayed continuously, "without ceasing," since I was first  was taught          I Thessalonians 5:17 as a new believer, taking everything I learned literally. I wanted to grow in the Lord so badly, because at 28, I felt like I had to play catch-up to my younger, but more spiritually mature friends. And I wanted to do exactly what the Bible said! I have mostly prayed while seated with hands folded, or uplifted as in church; daily in writing in a prayer notebook or in my journals; sometimes by kneeling, and other times flat on my face on the floor. Don't see that there is any one best way to pray, but I suppose if a believer can't get back up, or get down on the floor on their knees to begin with, God will certainly hear our prayers from the safety of a chair!

Today, I was scheduling and confirming appointments and product deliveries with a new determination to meet my career goal of sales director of "The Uplifted Ones" unit, when I experienced a disappointing rescheduling by an interested customer I had planned to interview concerning a Mary Kay career. That left today open, bad news since I'd already hired care for Steve. Ouch!

Since I needed to get Steve's medication refill, I prepared to go to CVS so I could beat the caregiver back to the house by 1 p.m. The Lord impressed upon me, in the heat of my anxious thoughts, to go over to the family room couch and pray on my knees, fervently, for help and direction for my business. The Holy Spirit's guidance led me to pour out my heart before the Lord, in a strange mix of agitation, calm, nervousness and confidence that my day was now going to be put in order,  HIS order!

Full of renewed energy, I went to the CVS drive-through where lo and behold, there was my favorite pharmacy tech! She was so excited to tell me that she'd gotten her car out of impound, and I replied, "Hallelujah for that!" Before the refill was in my hand, she agreed to have an interview there in front of the store where there are a few chairs and a table, for Thursday, an hour before her shift starts. She insisted that I make sure I have her correct cell number also, and took my card with her appointment time on it. Wow! But God wasn't done yet...

I let the caregiver in, and then went to get gas. While the gas was flowing, a social worker for Steve's Care More medical group called, and we discussed various benefits she can help us with. By the time I arrived at our local Starbucks, for lack of knowing where else to go to make my phone calls, I was looking forward to a constructive working session. There was a nice little surprise awaiting me at the counter. An old Starbucks card I pulled out to pay for my iced mocha had $11.00 on it! That's enough to treat a few customers for interviewing with me. Thank you, Lord, for keeping a bit of encouragement hidden from my sight until I needed it! More blessing: since I hadn't made myself clear, or thinking that all iced drinks are Frappucinos, I said when I saw my drink, "Oh, I wanted it blended. Can you just pour it into a blender so you don't have to waste it?" The barista said,  "Oh no. I'll make you a new one!" So then there were two. She said, "You can take both. We'll just pour it out anyway!" I was embarassed, but wasting food or drink is a no-no.So I called my daughter who works nearby to see if anyone wanted the iced drink--why not? I was wound up enough; two coffee drinks would have been way over the top. She laughingly came down to the patio and took the extra to her colleague.

NOW, time to get to work! I was just getting going when looking up, I saw across the patio a friend and customer whom I met as a total stranger in the same Starbucks, phoning and working her business as a process server. I popped over to say a quick hello and she beckoned me to sit with her. So I hauled my binder, MK prize designer bag and drink over, and we began to visit. Long story short, Kathy was the interview God had planned for me this afternoon! She was very happy with her gift of a free "Pink Lustre" lip gloss and I got a kick out of my free drink and meeting one of my goals for the day!

This day wrapped up--almost--with a nice dinner with Steve and the caregiver, a few heartwarming  "Waltons" episodes. Now that Steve's in bed, I am looking forward to having my new consultant join our legacy phone call at 9 p.m. where we all listen, learn, are inspired by other gals' successes and efforts, and perhaps share my praise report--answered prayer by a faithful God--as well!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Straightening up around here

                                 
4:16 p.m. Today's project was to straighten up my business supplies, binder, sales slips and inventory from yesterday's boutique event at my home.

Steve and I came home from a good church service with a message on Christian hospitality from I Peter 4, and enjoyed lots of fellowship with those putting it into practice!  He had waited nicely while a friend picked up her perfume from me, while receiving warm greetings from the guys he used to attend Men's Bible study with. I was able to give the wife of our home fellowship leader an update on my husband, and let her know that from now on, it would just be me attending, because Steve is utterly struggling with basic functions of life, like walking, sitting, staying seated and eating his food. He also has no idea who anyone is now. I hope people understand...

My wanting to enjoy a fun evening of fellowship with everyone reminds me of Proverbs 14:13 (NLT):

Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.

I'm glad God invented laughter, an activity we can all enjoy and benefit from!

Steve didn't know our daughter Heidi's name today, despite the fact that we see and talk to her once a week at church with her husband and when she stops by during the week. That became apparent after church service. She had given me her school [teacher] picture before church started. I showed it to Steve once before the service and tucked it into the sleeve of his Bible cover.

On the way home, I had him hold the portrait and asked him, "Say, Steve, who is she?" more or less out of curiosity. He smiled happily, but spent most of the ride home, about 15 minutes, trying to think of her name. (Or forgot the question). When we parked at the bank to make my deposit from yesterday, he finally said, "She's the one..." and the sentence drifted off. I told him her name, and then asked, just for clarification/ assessment purposes for our next doctor visit, "Does she live with us?" He said, "Yes." (Heidi has been married to Pavel for almost a year. And he comes with her to the house of course, both obviously visitors, as recently as Easter Sunday).

We had our respective lunches, and he went out in the backyard with our labrador retriever Jada. I started straightening and updating my Mary Kay binder, with fresh customers and leads moving to the front of older ones that needed to be filed for later contact. I put unsold inventory items into my rolling cart while placing an order for items I sold yesterday or needed to get for other customers. Then I began to tackle the cute decorated cello gift bags I put orders in, sorting them by small, medium and large for next week's deliveries. This activity caused me to chuckle out loud, because I know the bag section will become a rat's nest once again, as soon as my first new order needs to be packaged!

I'm reminded of when our daughter Heidi was born and our son Kriss was just 18 months old, and my mother-in-law came to stay with us for a week to help out. (Very much needed)!  Precious Ruby Kruckenberg straightened out and completely orgranized all of our dresser drawers and linen closet, bless her heart. It was wonderful for this "toss it in and shut the drawer/ door" style mom! Details are not my specialty. As my mother always said, "Dana, your head is in the clouds!"

Within a week of Steve's mom leaving, my drawers and linen closet shelves were not perfect any more, but I did have a basic pattern I would follow from time to time when things got to costing me precious minutes looking for items.

We who follow Christ know that He not only clears out and cleans our difficult struggles and clarifies our decisions--Jesus really does "straighten things up!" He knows we need 24/7 help, and is only a prayer away. Psalm 103:14, one of my favorite verses, says:

For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

Another passage to memorize and claim when perplexed, unsure, or after re-tangling the Holy Spirit's perfect de-tangling of a situation, is Hebrews 4:14-16:

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

See you there, friend, at the throne of grace!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Beau-tique

9:18 p.m. Today's project was to prepare my home for the "Glitz, Glam, Gifts & Goodies" Spring Boutique opening at 9:30 a.m. since vendors would be arriving at 8:30, I thought it best to get up at 5:30 rather than the usual 6:00. I had started off to bed by 9 :30 last night with the best of intentions, after supervising and helping our renter and his cousin move three of our four couches out to the garage.  Problem was, Jada was very agitated and barking in her crate, no matter what I did to comfort her, apparently freaked out by the Jeep not being in the garage and seeing 3 couches in its place. So I bid her good night, went upstairs, put in earplugs, turned on the upstairs bathroom fan and went to sleep.  I was not going to let sporadic barking keep me awake with a big day coming up.

This morning before he awoke Steve, the caregiver and I dragged out the huge family room couch using an old sheet. Worked pretty well! At 60, I surprised myself by even doing about 15% of the lifting!!

Steve didn't seem overly upset by the missing couches, and was quite cheerful at the prospect of going out for breakfast and spending the day "away from all the ladies and their lady stuff," as I expressed it. I'd given Andrew the money for all three meals out, plus a movie at the local $2 theater.  Once they took off, I finished my devotions, and went out into the clear cold to put up a sign and banner. My Tupperware gal Valerie arrived first,  because she volunteered to cook refreshments for all of us for the day. What a sweetheart--and good cook, too!

All of a sudden, vendors were arriving, tables and beautiful crafts were being arranged, and we opened with Monkey Bread popping out of the microwave, lots of fresh coffee, and our first guests. Vendors hurried to get their $1 per minute chair massages from our certified massage therapist Amy before the customers needed their full attention. Each brought a gift for my random hourly drawings for attendees. The day was such fun, with believers enjoying one another's company and supporting one another's businesses. God-given talents were on display, from the front of the house to the kitchen.

Old and new girlfriends stopped in,  I gave a lot of mini-and full facials, sold well, and had a lady I'd never met before become a Mary Kay consultant!!

By hosting a crafters' event, my desire was to help talented ladies get more exposure for their businesses, increase their sales and supplemnent their family's income. Like the virtuous wife of       Proverbs 31:10-31, we too run our households as well as home-based businesses:

She arises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household...(v. 15)
She makes linen garments and sells them; and supplies sashes to the merchants (v. 24).

May the words of verse 25 be said of us today:

Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Triskaidekaphobia--not!

6:37 p.m. Today's project was to take advantage of a day many, many Americans fear: Friday the 13th! A message from a Mary Kay top director pointed out that multiple millions of dollars of productivity are lost in this country annually by employees afraid to leave their beds, follow their normal routines or do anything else for fear of--exactly what?

That's superstition in action, or rather, inaction!

Mary Kay independent beauty consultants and directors have a different outlook, one of pumping millions into the economy this auspicious day. I found out that the company was founded on Friday, September 13, 1963, because Mary Kay Ash decided she'd make her own luck, thank you very much. And billions and billions of dollars later, I think she may have had the right idea! (And passed her inspiration and work ethic down to us and all women who want to achieve the American dream of owning your own successful business). Corporate headquarters in Dallas has 13 floors--compare that to the typical hotel or public building that skips from the 12th to the 14th floor!

Some ideas many of us implemented were: write down 13 things I'm grateful for; pray for someone for 13 minutes; hand out 13 business cards; call 13 customers (I called many more, of course); walk 1.3 miles (easily done with my stairs at home and trips back and forth to the car to get just the products my friends needed); get 13 appointments on our books (in progress); and have a $13 sale on popular items like mascara, lip gloss, and lipstick. I added a men's item, eyeshadow trios and fragrances to my decorated basket and went to Upper Echelon, the salon I frequent. Made some good sales there, and handed out at least half of my cards and a catalog the beauticians can share. I gave out my cards and a catalog at an "Extra Mile" store on the way home. After my successful booking calls ( a party and two other appointments), I drove down the Canyon Crest hill in a downpour. The young women working at the UPS store where I got my Boutique Here Today sign blown up into giant letters, received cards 12 and 13 and a catalog as well.  And no, I don't know which one got my wonderfully special 13th card for any who might be worried!

Superstitions seem ridiculously laughable to many of us in our society, because the people who refused to leave their homes today only missed out on something productive they could have been doing, and risk being an office laughingstock on Monday. But in some ignorant parts of the world, superstitions too numerous to count leave people starving while the rats people worship, freely eat and defile their food; cows are worshiped in primitive societies, so life-giving sources of protein walk amidst starving humans. An infant born with some mark on them might be considered unlucky and killed; another infant, a girl born with a special marking, now 6 years old, is worshiped as a regional goddess in Southest Asia!  Superstition and idolatry, the works of the devil, are the causes of millions of deaths worldwide.

The Apostle Paul confronted superstition in Athens, the great center of learning in the Greco-Roman world. In Acts 17:15-33 he met with the philosophers in the gathering placed known as the Areopagus(v.21-25),

For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent there time in nothing else but either to tell or hear some new thing. 

Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:

TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

He then explained who the one and only God, who made heaven and earth and all things therein, truly is.

While preparing for the "Glitz, Glam, Gifts & Goodies" Spring Boutique at my house tomorrow, I had wonderful, helpful interactions with believers, such as my daughter's father-in-law, who not only brought over his wood creations to sell, but set up an extra table. While calling my customers, I had wonderful times of fellowship and had the privilege of praying for a friend.

Christians need not be afraid of days, dates, times or positions of the stars! This Friday the 13th was a most blessed and very auspicious day, as is every day when we trust and rely on Jesus Christ our Lord!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tenderness encouraged

2:08 p.m. Today's project was to purchase some groceries at Vons, my favorite store, enjoying an hour to myself while Steve stayed busy at Care Connexxus adult daycare. It's been a blessing that he enjoys the bus ride and generally comes home in a cheerful mood.

It really is better now if I shop alone if the store is large and my list is long. Yesterday, we made an companionable outing of buying odds and ends at CVS pharmacy in conjunction with picking up his anti-tremor medication. Having to steer Steve along with the shopping cart, and physically turn his body into each aisle, was exhausting for me, though I got through it by the grace of God and with a cheerful, encouraging attitude. Psalm 54:4 says, "Behold, God is my helper," and indeed He is!

It just occurred to me why I was awake during the night with serious joint and arm pain: having to move Steve around during the day, and helping him get prepared for bed in the early evening! He is not oppositional, by any means, but has to be turned by the elbow toward our bedroom; then helped with every aspect of getting ready. For example, if I (or a caregiver) ask him to raise his arms to pull off a pullover shirt, or bend his elbow to remove a button-up shirt, he just stands like a mannequin. Speaking and pointing don't work, nor does demonstrating, so we all end up needing to slightly move the arm in the right direction, which Steve only resists rarely. Unless you have cared for an ambulatory adult with physical strength but no comprehension of  simple directions, you cannot imagine the sadness, strain and frustration experienced by both parties.

My arthritis hasn't flared up for a few years, but now is hurting me. Heal, Lord, I pray, my physical weakness and pain, and Steve's mind!! As I learned in our caregiver classes, no one is helped if the family caregiver is injured. Wisdom, skill, timing, and daily courage are needed.

All went well for me emotionally until an old friend from Harvest Christian Fellowship, a checker, asked me in great detail about Steve's condition. She said, "I used to see him come in here with you." I told her that Steve still goes to some stores with me. Since my order was large and her line wasn't busy, we talked for several minutes about his condition, deterioration, and the arrangements I am currently making. She has been praying for us, since she is a friend on Facebook who keeps up with my posts, and as I took my receipt, encouraged me with "You're a good wife, Dana!"  I would debate that at times, like any wife who is human, but it was a very warm and loving thing to say.

Glad to see the sun come back out, I began loading my bags of groceries. Suddenly tears burst forth, as they often do after I explain what is happening in our family. Even though my reality is very real every day and there's no denial happening, somehow explaining it all to a concerned friend is different than explaining the daily difficulties to a medical practitioner. Their emotions of sorrow and shock amplify my own, and those emotions must be released--God's made tears that mechanism. Close friends have told me they were crying for both of us--very moving, the way that God puts such love and compassion in His children's hearts for one another. And I feel the same about the serious trials they are going through.

Ephesians 4:32a says,

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Losses get lifted


7:54 p.m. Today's project was to take two friends I know from church to our Mary Kay Wednesday Morning Makeovers in Redlands. They had both had facials and makeovers, but were going to try the new Botanical sensitive skincare line. Little did I know that the Lord had something more in mind!

Both women had suffered traumatic losses recently: an infant in care at a children's home where one is employed, lost her life despite the best of CPR, paramedic  and hospital efforts; the other friend's father died in her presence after being sent home prematurely from a hospital. Even though the two hadn't met at church, they soon found much to share as we wended our way through Moreno Valley and San Timiteo Canyon.

On the way to a fun and upbeat event, I wasn't entirely sure how things would go on this weather-dreary day. But I soon forgot about that and let the worry go, as Jesus made clear that this was a heaven-ordained opportunity to listen and minister scriptural comfort and encouragement to young women in the midst of the pain of loss. We all had to realize, in trust, that whether it be the elderly man, the young adult or the tiny infant, a person's time on earth is ordained by God. In Psalm 39:4-5, David asks for wisdom in this matter of life and death:

LORD, make me to know my
  end,
And what is the measure of my
  days,
That I may know how frail I am.

Indeed, You have made my days
  as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before
  You;
Certainly every man at his best
  state is but vapor. Selah. 

The conversation then turned on their questions about Steve's condition, which is virtually a living death, as there is no cure or even slowing down of his early-onset familial dementia. Any research he takes part in now will only benefit the two of us in that his exact disease might be identified with certainty. My prayer is that future generations may see a cure in their lifetimes. I shared with my two customers that the counsel I give to my children is to live life to the fullest, serve the Lord and others, achieve your goals, and do not fritter away your life! (And actually, all of them are very industrious). So our conversation was not necessarily upbeat, but it was UPLIFTING!

At the meeting, our director Laurie led the two guests in a game, recognized consultants for our sales last week; asked us Red Jacket team leaders to share about our favorite products; and showed one-minute videos on the new products and our annual national meeting, Seminar, in Dallas this summer. Laughter and excitement filled the room, contagious to all. Women just need some down time, fun with other women, and our meetings provide just that!

Since I had the only guests this time, I did the facials and makeovers while other consultants took training upstairs with Laurie. Two new consultants watched my class. As my guests gained product knowledge and glamour application tips, we chattered, laughed and admired each other's finished looks as the class wrapped up. A number of times, the friends I brought said, in a very heartfelt way, "I needed this. I needed this so bad!!"

Proverbs 17:22 says,  " A merry heart does good like a medicine," and it is so true. While believers do not deny our losses in this life, we can trust God's plan as He holds all lives in His hands, and accede to His loving omniscience and justice, knowing that beyond our darkest days lies the shining light in the face of the Son!





   

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

They keep on telling me, Part 2

4:15 p.m. Today's project was to take Steve to his Medicare provider, Care More's,  very professional one-stop medical center. They have a very accessible location on Market Street across from Fairmount Park. Care More provides for an extensive annual physical exam, including blood work, which is read and logged into their computer on the spot. Urine samples are analyzed as well.

We walked very painstakingly into the center, with Steve pulling back against my hand (very much a strain on me) as if hesitant or frightened. Yet he was smiling and very cooperative the entire time. So I think he just has so much difficulty placing his feet to walk that he's nervous. The only test they didn't do was taking a urine sample, because he cannot follow directions. And with no history of diabetes or any elevated sugar in his blood, there was no need, since signals of diabetes are what they are looking for.

The nurse practitioner and I had a very lengthy conversation about managing daily activities with Steve at this stage, and he mentioned that I seemed to have a great deal of structure in place and understanding of what was needed for care giving. I informed him of the Riverside County Office of Aging's training course for family caregivers and the resources they make available.  And several times as we conversed, I mentioned how the Lord has guided me in the assortment of situations I have had to face and make decisions about. He kept a neutral face, of course. I have learned to leave the reactions of people to my sharing the Lord up to God Himself, because only the Holy Spirit can open up a person's heart to pursue an interest in knowing the Lord!

II Thessalonians 2:13-14 speaks of God's plan of salvation, as well as believers accepting the truth and choosing Jesus:

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The nurse practitioner will arrange for the social worker come by for a visit, to make other care suggestions and let me know the resources she can provide. So we left with hope and good prospects for further assistance.

Next stop, after a drive through lunch at Chil-Fil-A, was Steve's neurologist's office. Once again, Dr. Sovory does not believe that Alzheimer's is what Steve has inherited. He presents so very many symptoms and problems, (which were documented in Part I posted yesterday) that go very far beyond typical Alzheimer's. She gave me a better plan for using the ant-spasm Clonezapam which might reduce his drowsiness, too. But she was very straightforward as to the futility of trying more and other drugs, because this disease, a type of early-onset familial dementia, will not be slowed or stopped. Yet, she did refer me to a top of the line research facility to make an appointment, because we need to identify what Steve's affliction actually is.

You better believe I called them this afternoon!

Between an accurate prognosis, practical help, and a new plan of care over the next six months, both Steve and I will be better off, physically and emotionally! Consistent prayer, scripture reading, journalling, fellowship, writing and teaching as unto the Lord will keep me close to Him, full of the Holy Spirit, and ever ready to obey His voice!