Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sun stand still!

10:25 p.m. Today's project was for me to sell products, place my order, and encourage my team members to place their orders as well,  to close a great year in my Mary Kay business, and  in so doing, help my unit and national area. As I wrote yesterday, June 30, 2012 was the real crunch day! 2 million sales force members, from the newest consultant to the top national consultant Barbara Sunden, have the same deadline, no exceptions! And we all seriously respect the job we have to do as individual, yet affiliated, business owners.

On Steve's and my  "new" family favortie television show, "The Waltons," Grandpa Walton was explanining where the term "deadline" came from: in military prisons, there was a line drawn on the ground at one end of the compound. Anyone (I assume prisoners) who crossed that line was shot. That's a real "dead line!"

Our missed goals may bring diappointment  and heartbreak, and a wish one had gone the extra mile as Jesus advised us to travel when compelled to walk just one (Matthew 5:41). For instance, if  I had recruited one more team member, I would have won a bronze medal from our national director. How many phone calls, interviews or coffee dates would that achievement have called for? Just one more, probably-- the right one, the God-ordained one! But without spending much time with many women, I wasn't likely to find that one!
"It's like a scavenger hunt, " Cara and our director Laurie said yesterday--we know our new team members are out there--we just don't know where, so we work hard and allow God to lead us to them!

For the women who gave their business hours 100% effort, today was a sweet blessing to their families and Mary Kay colleagues. In our business, we don't compete against one another, so we are able to do as the Apostle Paul exhorted in Romans 12:15-16:

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the ssme mind toward one another.
As we learned from Joshua Chapter 10 yesterday, God did a miracle, stopping the sun from setting so that Joshua's forces could soundly defeat their enemies. But Joshua didn't stand staring in amazement as the time for sundown came snd went. He and his men were too busy fighting!

Well today, the millions of Mary Kay consultants and drirectors with a goal in their hearts got an extra day! No, God didn't stop the closing of the day, but there was a massive storm that cut electrical power to a large part of our country. I pray that no one was killed or seriously injured, Lord, and that help will come to our fellow  Americans speedily, as well as opportunity and provision for rebuilding!

The only reason I knew about this, so focused was I on my goals, is that when I logged onto our Mary Kay InTouch consultant website to check my team"s production for the day, and post some sales, a large message came up: that because of the loss of power to large sections of the country, the Mary Kay Yearend deadline has been extended to midnight Central time, July 1st! What a generous, fair, and compassionate company we are affiliated with, but better yet, what a generous, compassonate, almighty God we serve!!

For those with thousands in production still to achieve, or final team members to add, the sun has stood still for us! But knowing this, may we, according to Romans 12:10-12,

Be kindly affectionate to one another with (sisterly) love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

May God do His perfect work, as we exemplify the company's motto:


Friday, June 29, 2012

Crunch time, so step on it!

2:34 p.m. Today's project was to sprint toward the finish of my Mary Kay Seminar year, June 30, with a goal of adding (including reinstatement of inactive team members) two team members to achieve the position of Team Leader. Our unit's goal is $350,000 in production, and our National Director Kathy Helou's area goal is to be #1 in the Emerald division. We are all THIS close to making individual, Legacy Unit and national area goals!

I've been calling my customers and team members, encouraging some, sending online agreements to others, showing products at the hair salon, delivering samples and dropping off recruitment packets. And this busy day is by no means over! I'll make Steve's dinner and go lead my Vacation Bible School crew for our finale night, and prepare for: Muffins & Makeovers at 9:00 tomorrow morning, followed by a Pink Pedicure party at 11:00; a Virtual Makeover, and a Botanical skincare party tomorrow afternoon in Corona, all before the clock stops at midnight in Dallas, Texas, where our corporation is located!.

I listened to an inspirational recorded message this morning about the hard work we put in while trusting the LORD to miraculaously bring the answers to our prayers that HE has decided upon,  and in the timing HE has decided upon. Before the "Million $ Messenger" Callie prayed for all of us, she recounted the story of  Joshua's prayer in Joshua 10:12-15:

Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of all Israel:

Sun, stand still over Gibeon;
And Moon, in the Valley of
So the sun stood still,
And the moon stopped,
Till the people had revenge
Upon their enemies.

...So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before or after, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.

Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

The point our speaker made was that yes, God made the sun stand still--we know and fully believe that God who created the universe  can bring the entire creation to a halt  if He chooses! And He will put an end to it one day, when He creates a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1). The sun stood still, and it hasn't happened since. But did Joshua stand and wait for God to knock their enemies dead? No! His forces fought and won the victory! And verse 15 tells  us, that after hard fighting, Joshua led  his forces back to the camp at Gilgal, about 25 miles.

Nuff said? We ladies are working and praying hard today, not neglecting our families, ministries, or other work the Lord has laid out for us, but giving our best effort, and leaving the result to God.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Specifically chosen

9:50 p.m. Today's project was to teach II Samuel Chapter 4 and minister to the ladies who would be at  Malinda's. We had a small group, what with vacations, bodily pain and illness for a few of our ladies. Instead of a houseful, there were just five of us.

After 30 years of ministry, the Lord has shown me that times of rare and intimate sharing and healing come when a group is small. It's as if the Holy Spirit hand-picks the participants for a special work. The sensitivity a leader must have at these times is totally a work of the Spirit as well, because I cannot discern the inner workings of another person in order to comfort, exhort or encourage them properly. But God's word, the Lord Jesus (John 1:1-5), through the power of the Holy Spirit, can! Hebrews 4:12 says,

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

So I pray before we open up our Bibles, that each of us, not just the teacher, would be filled with the Spirit. My desire is to see Spirit-filled listening, questions and comments as well as teaching!

With the chapter being short (though action-packed) I'd already decided to take a good amount of time with answering a few key questions from last week's lesson. A small group made our sharing very open and frank, because the atmosphere of acceptance was already in place among us sisters. I selected some piercing application questions that followed the writing down of pertinent scriptures.

Question 6, Personal: "Tell how a seemingly minor incident was used by God to make a turning point in your life.

Each one of us shared movingly--or joyfully--about God's turning points. Can you think of one in your
own life?

One set of questions was inspired by the way that Abner, King Saul's commander, had such great influence over all of Israel. I encouraged readers with this comment:

You can also be a person of influence! Write these scriptures:

I Kings 8:61

Proverbs 31:10, 11, 20, 25-28

II Corinthians 4:5-7

Ephesians 4:29-32

I would encourage you to look up these verses and keep them in your heart!

At the end of the study, which is always very interactive, I know specifically why we needed to be so small today. One of the sisters poured out her heart, with the most gut-wrenching account of  difficult relationships in her family. One shared that she was given two weeks to move, despite her one-year lease; and her car is barely running. But she felt compelled to come to Bible study for prayer, comfort, and direction from God's word. Chronic pain, prodigal chidren, Steve's condition.  The Lord knows our hurts, and has a plan to "work all things together for good, for those who love God and are the called according to His  purpose" (Romans 8:28). Our prayer time was unhurried, expressive, intimate and healing. I hated to close, but we had run 15 minutes over. Keeping track of the time is the not-fun part of a leader's role!

I'll close with one scripture I have loved and been challenged by, Micah 6:8:

He has shown you, O man, what
  is good;
And what does the LORD require
  of you?
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Questions from A Woman's Walk through the Word, copyright 1986 and 2011, Dana Kruckenberg.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

God uses weakness

5:06 p.m. Today's project was to welcome a  brand new caregiver, and I honestly have to admit that my patience started out pretty thin.

Apparently, the agency hadn't given him the memo that ringing the doorbell at a client's house at 5 not cool! Jada certainly enjoyed the moment from her crate in the garage, by the way she set up her ferocious yelling. Great, I thought, throwing on my robe and running downstairs, praying against hope that Steve wouldn't wake up. Of course he did wake up, so I very speedily and succinctly talked the care giver upstairs to see if he could get Steve to return to bed. This was a day that I should have been praying for no later than 12 a.m... Sometimes I wonder if I should go to bed at all, with the early wakeups going on in (and  out) of our house! After all, didn't Jesus tell the disciples during His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26:41,

Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. For the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 

My groggy flesh was certainly weak. I did have just enough strength to contain my incredulity when the terrified, but 6 1/2 foot tall, caregiver asked me, "Can the dog get in?" He didn't even move forward to go upstairs to get my husband taken care of!! Controlling myself by the grace of God, I said in even tones, "The dog is locked in a crate in the garage.Why don't we go upstairs and see what Steve needs?"

 I grabed a quick minute, went downstairs, got my coffee fixed, and mixed Steve's applesauce with meds and supplements in a bowl, and his toast slices and cereal arranged for later.

Because this gentleman had no idea what to do, I kept runing upstairs, pointing out the body wash, and telling him that Steve needs total csre. The last time I started up the stairs, I met with the caregeiver and Steve halfway, only to find him being led down partialy dressed, with the caregiver sying, "He didn't want to put his jeans on." When did finishing getting dressed become an optional acitivity in the morning?

It seems that like a small child does, Steve figured out that his helper didn't know what he was doing, so he became resistant! I used my stern voice, and in no time, the two men came back downstiars, with Steve ready for breakfast at last!

Once Steve got on the bus (quite happily with two adults taking care of him) I returned to my chopped-up devotion time, and gave the caregiver a chance to make friends with Jada, who just loves people and only wants to get everyone involved in a game of fetch.  Cara and I had a speedy prayer time since we're in that end of the Mary Kay Seminar year crunch, and actually doing the same tasks by the grace and for the glory of God. Yet we both were called upon to present the product line at our makeover meeting, when critical tasks awaited. That was a "God-thing!"

Our Lord is so good! When you think you just cannot fathom, much less perform, another task, you get an assignment! Jesus knows it's good for us to get our minds off of our "6 Most Important Things" list and just serve--other people, or a greater cause. 
                       I have to let go to let God give me freely what I had planned to strive for!

I'm learning to go with the VBS theme: "TRUST GOD."

Now to get a decent night's rest before Bible study in the morning (and welcome the return of our regular caregiver)!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Home for the day

3:23 p.m. Today's project was to have Steve stay home with me for the day. I had most of my work here at home, and had as my first most important task, after devtions, breakfast and a few urgent errands, to write out my Bible study for Thursday morning. Also, with Vacation Bible School the last two evenings and again tonight, I wanted to spend the day with my husband!

Steve has been showing good improvements, but needed reminders to walk, instead of me pulling him along in the grocery store parking lot. He began to improve his pace, but after walking in, slipped back to the point where I had him hold on to the shopping cart for as long as he could maintain his grip. If you have small children, a very elderly or disabled companion, go grocery shopping on a weekday morning. The aisles are pretty empty, cutting down on their confusion and the awkwardness of their unintentionally blocking the aisle for anyone else. Although I must say, that people are very quick to pick up on Steve's condition, and move ahead, or I'll go a different direction to give another shopper space. It's called community, everyone making things smoother for all concerned.

Even though Steve's father had what we thought was Alzheimer's, I never thought that one day I'd need to be the leader for every aspect of our home. I certainly spent more time with the kids, and made many minor, everyday decisions for them while Steve was at work, but his was always the final word on anything of importance. With Steve in advanced dementia, the Lord has called me to unapologetically take the lead in our family. I am honored that He sees me as fit and spiritually mature enough to lead my husband through this incredibly difficult journey, because Proverbs 12:24a says,

The hand of the diligent will rule...

Steve and I have enjoyed decades of blessing as husband and wife, as well as having the joy of raising children to adulthood, praise the Lord, and now comes, after many trials of assorted kinds in our Christian walk, we find ourselves in a trial with genetic, early-onset dementia,  that relatively few belivers will face. There are millions of other kinds of dementia victims: from accidents, strokes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, even drugs and alcohol use. And we might, in a judgmental, sinful mode, even point out that "they did it to themselves," or "they must be under a generational curse," (which of course makes it somebody's fault from way back).  How sad, how misguided!

The fact is, that we live in a fallen, sin-affected world. Diseases of all kinds, and physical death, came in with the original sin of Adam in the garden of Eden. I Corinthians 15:22 states quite plainly:

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 

Sickness, accidents, mental and physical disability, pain and death--this is our lot on this earth for the years we are alive. But for the Christian, the story does not end here on earth!

Jesus not only died for our sins to save us from an eternity in hell, hallelujah, but He heals, keeps, comforts and leads us through this life, with joy even in the midst of disappointments of any and every kind. Don't you think I had planned on a normal retirement with my husband at this stage of life? Shouldn't Steve enjoy hobbies and travel for the next 20 years, after 35 years in the workforce? Shouldn't he be walking tall and confident, instead of stooped over like an one hundred year old man? Lots of shoulds that just aren't in God's will, are they? Heartbreakingly hard as his breakdown is to live with, God is more real to me today than ever.And I am more free in my spirit to witness boldly for Christ.

God is especially close to His children when we suffer tragedies and lengthy trials such as Steve and I are suffering. I guess that's why I don't spend time with self-pity! I'd rather draw strength from my God, and live in spiritual victory as a testimony to the unsaved; and as a challenge and encouragement to the saved. Knowing Jesus and surrendering your life to Him is the most important thing a person could ever do. And walking through this life with Christ, being part of His life-changing, miraculous work, is the most thrilling life imaginable!

What God decides to do with my life is His business--to obey and trust Him is mine!

Monday, June 25, 2012


10:49 p.m. Today's project was to lead my Crew #20 for our second night of "Sky," Vacation Bible School for 2012. The theme is "Trust God,"and the activities all have the idea of airplanes, rockets, clouds and God's power over all the universe.
My crew assistant is the teenage daughter of VBS leader and stage production manager Regina, and my crew members' parents are very active at church. I'm thankful that they trust me! (I think)!

Our Bible station is totally entertaining and hilarious. We take a "flight" in upstairs classrooms to destinations like Capernaum and Bethany for stories from Jesus' ministry. (Reminds me of "Soaring over California" at Disney's California Adventure).The leaders of the Bible station are the funniest young men at church. I laughed so hard each of our two first nights that my face hurt!

The songs are great and easy for all of the kids, ages 5-12, to learn. I also saved the cost of a Group USA tshirt by pinning a paper logo to a white or black t-shirt!

This was a really odd week to be committed to 5 evenings  a week to be at church. It's the last week of the Mary Kay Seminar year, where I have definite goals to meet by midnight, Dalls time, on Saturday night. And my great joy in life, Bible study, still has to be written and taught on Thursday. But I have faith that the Lord will multiply my available hours so that HIS goals for the kids and my goals for this seminar year will coincide--to the glory of His Name!

And true to His word that God is, as He described Himself to Israel in Isaiah 54:5, God has been my provider:

For Your Maker is your husband;
And your Redeemer is the Holy
  One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.

As our VBS theme says, I just  "Trust God!" Before I even arrived at church tonight, I'd sold $79.00 myself, and successfully encouraged team members to place their orders. Another friend is giving me a catalog party; one friend working with a Pre-K crew, ran up to me to ask if she could place her order before my $1,000 day sale on Wednesday; I sold a mascara in the craft room by pre-order before our evening started! (And my Bible study is ready to write out tomorrow, right on schedule)!

We adults are asked to volunteer at Vacation Bible School for the sake of the children, that they might come to know Christ, and ask Him into their hearts as Savior. We make sure each child is accepted for themselves, treated lovingly, and helped to enjoy and participate in all of the activities, including donating mosquito netting for children in Africa.

When I drive home each evening laughing to myself at the kids' antics and the fun learning experiences we had,  I realize this surprising fact: I'm the one who needs Vacation Bible School!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The call to win

2:44 p.m. Today's project was to watch all three services of the Peoples' Church in Fresno, where I have visited with our son Steven 3 times, and his dad and I have attended once together as well. Steven is active in their high school ministry as a mentor to young guys, as well as street witnessing on his own and initiating a student prayer group with his girlfriend Kathy at Fresno Pacific, a Christian university. Currently he works in the supplement department of Lassen's organic market, and has been sending his dad supplements that have shown measurable improvement in Steve's abilities in late-stage dementia.

Today, Steven was interviewed by Pastor Dale Oquist at the morning services, to personify the focus of I Corinthians 9:19-27, about winning souls at any cost, being willing to change everything and anything about our lives as believers to live and act as a sent people. The Apostle Paul wrote, v. 19,

Though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more.

The pastor asked Steven about his fitness regimen, his motivation, and the strict discipline of his life as a bodybuilder, in preparation for competing against 100 men in San Jose soon, and against 500 men in Las Vegas next month in order to qualify for his Pro Card.

"Do you enjoy getting up at 5:30 each day to work out on a Stair Master for 45 minutes on an empty stomach?"
"Absolutely not."
"How do you motivate yourself?"
"I give myself a pep talk, saying, 'Do you want to be a champion? And if it was easy, everyone would be doing it." (That also goes for his Spartan diet).

Pastor asked Steven, "Why? Is anyone forcing you to do this?"
"I believe God has given each Christian a platform--teachers, the classroom; Pastor Dale, the Peoples' Church; LeCrae, the hip-hop community. Mine is the bodybuilding and fitness world, where there is no witness. It's a self-absorbed, materialistic world, and God's called me to it. By being a champion, I'll  have credibility."

I was strongly impressed, of course, as each of the three services went forward online, with the public testimony our son was privileged to give on a very large scale today; but even more so with the pastor's message. Our family knows Steven's focus on winning only too well, such as his taking his foods to his sister Heidi's wedding last June, and the 6x daily my kitchen gets taken over when Steven visits!

More than impressed, however, I was convicted of indecision, and perhaps excuse-making, in regard to my business. But there is a bigger question than "Am I determined to do what it takes to be a sales director?" (That means keeping track of my team's statistics, doing huge production, disciplining my business' finances).The piercing, gut-wrenching question for me is, "WHAT is my ministry platform for saving souls?" Is it:

  • Teaching women the Bible (now and for the last 30 years); writing Bible studies
  • Mary Kay, where I reach out to the saved and the lost, have fun and modest success
  • Ministering to dementia caregivers in deep mental, emotional and physical distress with this blog
  • Speaking to the culture on public policy (God's call was to serve 13 years in elected office)
  • Mentoring young women on being the wives and moms God would have them to be (Titus 2:3-4)
Is it necessary to gain total focus on one ministry, eliminating all others, or might one serve with 100% vigor in each of these areas on God's call-by-call basis? What is God showing you for your own ministry?

One thing I do realize, is that, as my son says to himself each day, "If  it (preparing for a championship) were easy, everyone would be doing it!" With that assertion, if every Christian had saving souls at the top of their mind and were willing to be sent to anyone God brings to his or her attention, we would have multiplied millions of us sharing the message of salvation with everyone we could!

Let me close with I Corinthians 9:25-27:

And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we do it for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.

But I discipline my body and bring it into submission, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Preach the gospel to whomever you know from wherever you are!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Meet the people, next phase

7:23 p.m. Today's project was to join Cara at a Mary Kay table so we could publicize our product line and gather leads for the next month.  The best part of this opportunity is that the small shopping center where host Grove Dental is located, is only about 3 miles from my house. It won't faze a potential customer to set an appointment in my home, or if we meet in her home, it's close by for me. Since the Orangecrest, Woodcrest and Mission Grove were targeted, all of the vendors had to be part of the community and most of the families who attended were too. I was actually asked by a few vendors and some of the attendees, are you local here? And I happily replied, "Yep! My kids went to Taft and Rivera Elementary schools, Amelia Earhart Middle, and 3 graduated from King High."  So I do have genuine street cred in the community! Amusingly, I was a member of the Board of Education when a good many of the schools out there were planned and built.

The Lord pointed out to me, as I went over my impressions of the day, that I didn't see anyone I knew except an elementary school friend of Heidi's, among the considerable crowd. But in Phase I of my reaching out and seeking public connections in Riverside neighborhood,s I was a parent of 5 children ranging in ages from preschool to high school, reaching out to voters. And the thousands of voters who put me into elective office from 1992-2005, 13 years, were parents as well.. It was so evident that the Lord ordained Phase I of my public life, because when I answered His call to run for office, He used me to change the entire school district to one that was much more pleasing to Him! As I shared with the Bible study ladies Thursday, Proverbs 16:7 says,

When a man's ways please the LORD, even His enemies will be at peace with him.

In this later phase, II, there have been at least two reasons to reach out to the public: seven years ago, I began a Bible study for the summer with 5 women studying Colossians at Barbara McConaghy's house. We met on Fridays, because I was teaching summer school at a middle school in Jurupa USD Monday through Thursday, 9-1 p.m. (Imagine an economy healthy enough to finance elementary summer school)! In the next years, we switched to Thursdays, doubled in size, and studied Ephesians two years, with notes the LORD gave me. Then we used the completed Galatians study, which was published the following year. Next came I Samuel with the study that was written in the 1980's for two years; and now we are in II Samuel, first half.

In this phase, my ministry, public service and teaching career, and the kids' post-high school educations continued to flourish, with support for their on-campus and near-campus living arrangements definitely affordable for Steve and me, both at the peak of our earning power. We had our ups and downs, conflict and consternation as a family, but the Lord, as Ephesians 4:6 says, was above all, and through all, and in us all.

But this phase also saw Steve come down with early-onset dementia and the loss of his beloved and successful career in plastics. One lesser job followed another, until he was unable to work. Truck driving school was a fine effort, but he was dismissed at the end of the course for his inability to memorize the 200+ point safety protocol before you can even turn on the engine of a big rig. Poor guy, he studied so hard, and now we are left with a $6,000 debt. Our family rallied. Those living at home chipped in towards the bills, Then the Lord put His plan for me, birthed before the foundation of the earth, into motion. In 2009, I had attained the correct age and had worked the exact number of years needed to be able to retire. This seemed like an odd move logically and financially, when Steve was on State and then Social Security disability. But in Isaiah 55:8, 9 God says of Himself and us,

...neither are your ways My ways... so are My ways higher than your ways.

Retirement brought 2 fine years of travel, Disneyland passes, and camping fun with friends. we traveled with grandsons and our dogs in our RV around southern California and all the way to Yellowstone National Park. Retirement made it  possible for me to edit my Galatians study and have it published by Tate, while Steve spent time with friends, working in an orchard, working on cars or seeing the $2.00 movie. We also enjoyed celebrations and dinners out with our kids and their spouses.

As Steve's condition deteriorated, and our savings ran out, I became much more serious about my Mary Kay business, and found it enjoyable, people-oriented, and profitable, paying bills and bringing cheer to others. The hours are part time, and actually create employment for the caregivers who stay with Steve here, and adds to the income of the the adult daycare he attends 5 days a week, and the special bus drivers who get him there. And special fun events like boutiques, expos and health fairs like today's event in Orangecrest add to my incentive to work hard and introduce the product and service to every woman. I also desire to help women reach their business goals.

The free In & Out cheeseburger, chips and sodas made for a nice "sweetener" from the Lord for our service to the people in the Orangecrest community. I pray my witness was solid and attractive to the ladies we talked to!  John 3:16:

For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  

God's bigger picture

2:25 p.m. Today's project was to send out an email to almost 100 of my customers, friends and family members about a Mary Kay Customer Appreciation Day.They can enjoy 30% discounts while helping me to achieve $1,000 in sales for my Mary Kay business, and helping our National Kathy Helou Area achieve #1 status in the Emerald Seminar. I'm sure this all sounds like mumbo-jumbo to you, except the $1,000 and the 30% discounts! We all love a bargain, especially on a product we really like and would buy anyway.

As Proverbs 20:14 points out, both sides should leave a transaction thinking they got the best of it!

"It is good for nothing!" cries the buyer; but when he has gone his way, he boasts.

And being part of a bigger cause, like an athlete working hard for his team while achieving his own personal best, is a blessing to me. In other words, it's NOT all about me! I love walking with the Lord daily, and do ask for His help to improve that walk. But happily, I also  see the need to mentor and counsel other Christians to improve their relationship with Jesus as well.

Early this afternoon, I got a phone call from a total stranger, who introduced herself as Marie. She found me on the website by our mutual zip code. We were delighted to find that she lives near the elementary school my kids attended; thus only blocks away in the same neighborhood! Long story short, she came over, we hit it off immediately (both being teachers), she had a facial, and then made a much-needed purchase.

Here's where God's Bigger Picture comes in: I asked her why her brilliant daughter, studying at Claremont McKenna, wants to be a neurology researcher. It turns out that Marie has MS. But worse yet, her first husband died of lung cancer, never having smoked. We had a very extensive conversation, of course including Steve's condition and the supplements that  are making a difference for him.

Mary Kay Ash said, "Everyone wears an invisible sign around their neck that says, 'Make me feel important.' " And even though I have spent many long but blessed hours with women seeking scriptural guidance over the last 30 years, I tend to remember Mary Kay's saying, because it paints a picture. One might even change the word "important" to "loved," since the love of Christ is what we want our friends, customers, family members and business associates to feel!

Marie gave me a big hug as she left two hours later, and I know we'll see each other around  "the hood," now that we've met.

I pray that I did my part in the bigger picture of representing Christ today!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Keeping up

9:21 p.m Today's project was to teach the II Samuel women's Bible study at our gracious hostess Malinda's home. Since that's all it takes to come under severe attack from the devil, I could stop right here for experienced Christians! That's because you recognize difficult obstacles that didn't happen until you determined to attend, study for or teach a growing Bible study that is impacting lives for the Lord. The enemy of our souls pulls out all the stops to prevent you from going to a place where the first two directives are "Let's Pray, " and "Open your Bibles to..."

Earlier in the week, I had multiple interruptions and distractions throughout my study time, and tasks interspersed, but the Holy Spirit guided me through, showing me what to note from the commentaries, and leading me to the right scriptures to emphasize the key concepts and clarify the events of our chapter. Thanks to my husband Steve spending six hours in an adult activity center, I am able this year to have that concentrated time of study on Monday and Tuesday that allows me to have my speaking notes finished by Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday  is devoted to my Mary Kay business, and I  teach the women on Thursday. God is a God of order, and He now has, by week 3, provided structured, precious and exciting hours for me to delve into His word, for the purpose of sharing with others what He has shown me! James 1:17 says, of God's gifting,

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation nor shadow of turning.

When God gives a believer a spiritual gift, the blessing and humbling it brings is astounding, but the purpose is that the gift be used, Ephesians 4:13 says,

for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ...

Now that we know what God has planned for our Thursday Bible study, what does Satan have in mind for the teacher, hostess and attending ladies?

  • One sister got a speeding ticket while trying to shake a  dangerously close tailgater
  • One sister's grown son lost her credit card, delaying her gassing up her truck to come
  • "Something came up," preventing an elderly sister from making it for the first time
  • One sister has been afflicted severely with a potentially deadly brain disease
  • I was awakened 2 hours before my alarm was to go off with a lengthy, painful leg cramp
  • As a result, was almost too sleepy and exhausted to drive the 15 miles to Malinda's home
  • I got sick, losing precious minutes which I might have been able to use for a tiny nap
  • One sister missed last week due to and inflamed ear that almost cost her her hearing
  • One sister missed last week because of falling downstairs in her home and getting a concussion
And what happened on the way to Bible study for the other 8 women is anybody's guess, but I am sure that no one waltzed into their car and glided carefree down the road!  There's a palpable sigh of relief as we almost limp into the house, because we've all been battling our relentless foe all morning, one who hates us and hates our Master, the Lord Jesus, even more!

As stewards of God's word and His provision of every kind, we are told in I Corinthians 4:2,

Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

This faithfulness is required for leaders in the church--but are we not all God's leaders in our homes and neighborhoods, who need His training to live the life that effectively testifies of His Son?

So we will continue to walk under the influence of the Spirit who gives us a desire for the scriptures, to teach, share and understand them more each week. Continue to be courageous, steadfast and determined, sisters, and we will study, learn and grow together!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The tiny monster grows up

9:48 p.m. Today's project was to attend a meeting of the Circle of Friends women business owners' group. They meet in Redlands, usually at the Somerford Place Alzheimer's and Assisted Living facility, which is lovely and well run (and serves good food, too)! Most of the members are in facilitation end of the care giving business, or consultants who help facility owners stay in legal compliance, or lead caregivers' training and support groups. We spoke at length about new possible breakthroughs in Alzheimer's care, and I even had a few minutes to speak privately to a few people about the "breakthroughs" we are seeing with Steve's new regimen of organic supplements. Like me, the members, which include a massage therapist and a touch therapist who both minister to hospice patients and their families, definitely lean more to holistic, natural methods to deal with illness.

Today our group was in for a treat, because our meeting served as an introduction to the community of Pacific Pines Manor, a new,  six-bed (pending 14) residential care facility on Pacific St., off of Sunset Drive. The tiny, narrow street is at a steep elevation, with arroyo views on either side.

While I was calling the meeting location [above] for directions, and took another glance at the address, I realized that my favorite teacher from Redlands High, English teacher Mrs. Alexandris (still "Mrs. A" to me), lives on the same block! I quickly called her, left a voicemail, gave dinner directions for soundly sleeping Steve, said goodbye to the caregiver, and took off for Redlands. How fun to obey the Word of God and "give honor to whom honor is due," Romans 13:7. And I do owe her honor, because she instilled in me a love for literature. She corrected my writing, settling for nothing less than perfection in mechanics, and excellence in style. Her high standards are with me to this day. In both casual and formal writing, Mrs. A's principles can be seen!

Mrs. A is 85, still teaches one home-to-hospital student twenty years after her official retirement! She's as funny as ever, calling me her "tiny monster" with the "brilliant brain" who finally grew up!
To her, I'm a young adult, ha ha!

I found Mrs. A standing on her driveway with the landscaper, a student she'd known in 1967, two yeas older than me. She asked me my name, then it kicked in and she gave me an excited hug. Like my dad, also 85, her memory goes off a little, but then the details come back. As we talked in her living room, she apologized for not remembering the details of all 5 of my children!  A widow without a family of her own, she marveled over my pictures of Clark, and the fact that I have two almost-grown grandsons, Adrian and Xavier.

We compared the way Steve was when we stopped in just before my 40th class reunion in 2009 and the way he is today with late-stage dementia. She couldn't get enough of hearing about the hopeful progress Steve is making on his natural supplements.  Mrs. A was also very absorbed in the writing process I'm using for my next book, a Christian family's response to dementia, and said, when I told her that I'm combing through journals for documentation, "Oh, you're very good at that!" I suppose teachers are like parents: their kids are just brilliant and extremely talented...

Well, praise be to God that Mrs. A's "tiny monster" of the late 60's did grow up, I've raised my family, and have much to show for the last 43 years. The key, for me, however, is my relationship with Christ that has infinitely overshadowed every other accomplishment in importance! With God,  the only thing that counts at the end of each human life is the answer to this question:

"What did you do about My Son?" 

And unlike Mrs. A,  God will gladly give you the answer to this test question ahead of time!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


3:01 p.m. Today's project was to have our plumber Lou over to inspect the leak slowly dripping from the faucet on the back patio. This leak is nowhere near as huge or steady as the one he repaired out front, which leaked gallons per day; but even a tiny, steady leak causes standing water and attracts mosquitoes. And we know that mosquitoes carry ugly diseases.

He came over about 9:30 with his two younger kids, 10 and 11 along.Our dog Jada was delighted to have company, as you can imagine. She greeted them and was soon ready to play.

Lou found the leak in the hose, so it seemed that it would be easily handled.  But then trouble appeard up toward the wall, on the soldered part that hooks up with the hose. He mentioned that the expense of getting a newer, more reliable compression fitting would be maybe $28.00. Not bad, and I do want the problem solved!

I have the Lord to give me the timing for expenditures and the skillful friends, but being without an   in-house "handyhusband" has taken some getting used to. Lately, Steve has been taking an interest in chores outside, like attempting to unloop a twisted hose while I water, or standing near a caregiver while he or she works. That is still a lot of improvement from the blank stare he would give all of us working around him. The Lord is granting Steve so much mercy, not allowing dementia to steal his life! Psalm 68:20 says,

Our God is the God of salvation;
And to God the LORD belong
  escapes from death.

The picture of Steve at California Adventure in 2010 just reminds me of when he was in the mid-stage of his affliction--unable to work or drive, but able to walk around, talk, laugh and enjoy a fun day without nodding off, or wandering away while waiting for me to return from the ladies' room. I often think that if the Lord would allow the supplements our son is sending to reverse his deterioration to the mid-point, how excited and grateful I would be!!

Just like the tiny leaks in our backyard water supply, either good or evil can progress very slowly. Slowly we sink into a backslidden state if we avoid fellowship and stop reading our Bibles; yet, slowly, and with a measured, God-ordained pace, we members of the Body of Christ grow in grace, being built up, as Ephesians 4:13 says (NLT),

...until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord,measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

 And no matter what our handicap, weakness,  inability or struggle, what a glorious day that will be! 


Monday, June 18, 2012

Building muscle

5:00 p.m. Today's project was to help Steve get ready for his morning, see him off in good spirits to the bus, and settle down to begin my preparation for Thursday's II Samuel teaching.

I am not the world's finest caregiver, because I pretty much do what ever works best and fastest without causing Steve to lose his tenuous balance or causing me lose my cool! I'm learning how to help a much larger person who can't follow directions such as bending his arm to get it out of a sleeve, or who can slip off one shoe (the right one) but then look up at me clueless at the idea of slipping off the left shoe! The jeans seem to go off and on better, but again, he puts on or off the right leg more consistently than the left. So the Lord has me there as Steve's literal "helper comparable to him" (Genesis 2:20b) just as God created Eve for Adam in Genesis 2:22.

When the morning caregiver doesn't make it for the 5 a.m. shift, like today, it becomes my job to take care of every detail for Steve's cleanliness and appearance. I've found that if I get up at my usual 6 a.m., start the coffee, get the kitchen squared away, stir his chopped meds and supplements into a half bowl of applesauce, let Jada out, and then run back upstairs with the bowl, have a morning facial, read my Spurgeon devotional, shower and dress, I can then wake him up at 6:45, feed him the applesauce right there as he sits up in bed, and then proceed with his care. (That way, the chopped pills, powders and drops can get into his system sooner for a more cooperative, less shaky morning). There is only one Source for this kind of wisdom given to me daily as needed: God the Holy Spirit! Wisdom cries out, in Proverbs 8:10-12,

Receive my instruction and not
And knowledge rather than
  choice gold;
For wisdom is better than
And all things one may
  desire cannot be compared with
I wisdom, dwell with prudence,
And find out knowledge and
Even if the efforts earlier in the morning made Cara and my prayer time start later than planned, I was able to finish my personal devotions and prayer journaling beforehand. (and even make and eat my delicious fancy scrambled eggs)! Not wanting to complain once again about a caregiver no-show, I blurted out something God had just showed me: "I noticed that I'm getting physically stronger and developing muscles by taking care of Steve!" No longer utterly drained, stressed, and exhausted, I am energized, and  see him off with a cheerful smile of genuine joy, not just relief that I can get my day going!

But God is developing in me an entirely different set of muscles than I've ever had (or needed) before: physical efforts needed for property maintenance; solo responsibility for all aspects of our lives; dependence on God for the right spirit to push my own needs aside when Steve has a sudden issue that needs attention. Jesus has "changed my mourning into dancing" (Psalm 30:11) because I can laugh, goof off, sing, have fun and entertain our family here at the house, as at yesterday's party, while Steve aimlessly walks about. By accepting my husband as he is, with no apologies, explanations or embarrassment, my worry-about-our-image muscle has been shrunk! Now, our testimony is much clearer and more compelling: Jesus is with us and it's all right to have an awkward, oblivious, mentally and physically handicapped person participate right along with everyone else.  Steve's lack of self-consciousness has been a lesson to me that "God looks on the heart" (I Samuel 16:7). We have nothing to be ashamed of!

That, my brothers and sisters, is a set of muscles all of us could stand to develop!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's day wellness

8:21 p.m. Today's project was to open our home to my dad, our children, their spouses, and grandson, as well as my sister, two of her sons and her oldest granddaughter. Quite a houseful, but our  pulled pork sandwiches had plenty of accompaniments brought by all attendees.

Steve did really well today. Even though he wandered around randomly, he was pleasant; was able to be guided into his seat and out to the garden when a group went out; stepped into the living room independently for a quick nap when things got a little too noisy; and ate his meal with very little mess. Even a little fuss from our darling 2 1/2 month-old Clark didn't faze him.

This morning before the church service, I stopped in at the bookstore to see how my friend Stephanie was doing after her tumble downstairs  and resulting concussion.  This was our text conversation regarding the way Steve  waited and listened to our conversation,

"Hi Dana--just wanted to tell you that Steve seemed so much more alert. Eye contact, and smiled at appropriate time--I noticed a big diff. Do u?"
"Yes we do!"

There is already a testimony of God's grace in the way that Steve loves his worship songs, stands when he is supposed to, and is now staying awake longer during the sermon.

God is for us in this dementia of Steve's, I know it! These improvements all came through the   prayers of many and the initiative initiative of our youngest son, our surprise 5th child, Steven. God brought him into the world to change people's health and virtually save their lives through diet, exercise, and pure organic supplements tailored to the needs of each individual who comes to him for help. Steven evangelizes very effectively from the platform of bodybuilding and fitness training that God has led him to pursue, especially with boys looking for role models. He has been given the gift of healing "which was given to [him] by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership" (I Timothy 4:14).

Next Sunday, Steven will be interviewed by the pastor at all three services at People's Church in Fresno as an example of discipline, and winning by choice, as all Christians should be disciplined, share the gospel and win souls. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 9:24-27:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself  should become disqualified.

Steven came into our family in 1988, was led to be educated in the systems of the body--kinesiology. He avails himself of expert counsel from professional diet coaches for his bodybuilding, and even works in an organic health market, where he has access to healing supplements useful in natural  healing. Steven has now devoted himself to healing his dad's dementia.We most certainly would never have thought or planned anything of the sort!  This is all in God's perfect timing.

More important than anything that concerns our bodies is the offer of salvation given to all people. Galatians 4:4 that speaks of the perfect timing of the Son of God's arrival in this world at the precise moment in history when the Father willed it:

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His son, born of a woman...

Jesus was made like us, but without sin, that one day we will be like Him, and live forever with our Lord in heaven! So while we care for one another's mental and physical health, and praise God for any and all improvements, let us remember that we will be made whole one day soon, for eternity!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


9:18 p.m. Today's project was to open our home to guests for the weekly "Muffins & Makeovers," and so I did. My guests didn't make it, so I took advantage of Steve having a very good caregiver to run over to Kmart and finish up my Father's Day card and gift shopping. Later, i would be assiting a new team member with her first party, with a goasl of having her earn some money and gain confidence for conducting her own classes soon.

There will be a lot more Father's Day sentiment on tomorrow's post, after I have a opportunity to enjoy my dad, Steve, and especially new dad Kriss, for an early dinner and visiting. But today it struck me that two more dads are coming over: our nephew Chance with his daughter Cameron, and our oldest son Sean will try to make it over after returning his high school age sons to Chula Vista to their mom.

So I needed a card for Chance; decided that after all that driving to San Diego County, cash would be helpful to Sean;  which left me to find a gift for Kriss. My dad will be enjoying a new John Grisham novel. For Steve I have an aftershave cooling gel and a pair of Metrolink train tickets for us to ride anywhere the line goes in Riverside, Orange, San Bernardino and LA counties. I think he'll enjoy that kind of outing, and the trains should be handicap-accessible to the degree he needs it. 

At the store, I prayed for a good selection for Kriss, because throughout scripture, verses like Proverbs 2:6 say to those seeking wisdom,

For the LORD gives wisdom;
  From His mouth come knowledge 
and understanding

I settled on a tan, long sleeved dress shirt with matching tie, in case he has an interview in the future. If he wants to exchange it, I'm sure there's a Kmart in Long Beach, if not 15 or 20 of them!

There was less than an hour before I needed to head to Corona to assist my new team member Cynthia with her debut party. I allowed plenty of time for my fear and trepidation about driving over there because of the way traffic bottlenecks on the 91 freeway there. Praise the Lord today is Saturday, because I drove over with time to spare. I taught the class, with Cynthia assisting, using the numerous full-size products and samples she received in her new consultant kit. The women were sweet and fun, very devoted to their hostess, now become their beauty consultant. At lunch, we couldn't resist talking PTA. She is president of the Corona-Norco PTA council, leader over 52 school units. I was PTA president at both Taft Elementary and North High, and then as a member of Riverside Unified's Board of Education, I attended many PTA council meetings and numerous conventions.

I love the way God uses past experiences to help us relate to others and build new friendships! Nothing is ever wasted with God, no matter how long ago a particular life passage took place.Our caregiver Elias, a strong African Christian, requested, and I added him, to the Walk in the Word Bible study mailing list, so he can do the II Samuel lessons which were written over 27 years ago!

Even though we live within the constraints of time, and shape our entire lives according to its 24-hour structure, God does not! Psalm 90:4 says of God,

For a thousand years in Your
Are like yesterday when it is past,
And like a watch in the night.

Cynthia's party was a success, so this day's goal was met. But a very good "sweetener" from the Lord was placed in my arms on my way to my next appointment: the beautiful bouquet pictured above, in appreciation for helping her business get off to a good start! She's one classy lady, and will be an asset to our Legacy Unit and my future unit ("The Uplifted Ones") as well.

May I appreciate You, Lord, for all You do in my behalf, with Your unlimited goodness, mercy, righteousness, grace and power !

Friday, June 15, 2012

Good morning?

9:14 p.m. Today's project was to say awake and alert for my busy day in Redlands for the third day in a row. I don't mind, because I love my hometown, so beautiful!

I knew there wouldn't be a caregiver for the 5 a.m. shift for Steve, so I went to bed as soon as possible after my return from our Mary Kay meeting. I did the usual cleaning up around the house, and got everything set for the next morning. My cellphone alarm was set for 6 a.m. as usual, and with a backache making a persuasive argument, I read my evening devotional, took a muscle relaxer and nodded off. And God was faithful to His word in Psalm 127:2b, "...He gives His beloved sleep."

A knocking noise woke me up at about 4:20 a.m. I checked my phone and it was too early for a caregiver, even if the assignment had been filled. On investigation, I found Steve crawling on the floor at the door to our master bathroom! It had to have been him knocking. So I encouraged him to get up, asked if he needed to use the toilet, which he didn't. (That's okay becuse he sleeps with an adult protective garment on). With uncharacteristic strength from the Lord and a tiny bit of help from Steve, I pulled him up to his feet, with him sorrowfully saying something about "I don't know."

Then I physically put him in bed, covered him up, and he agreed to stay there. He may have gone back to sleep until 6:30 when I came to give him his meds in applesauce, but I doubt that I got any sleep. But I did have 30 minutes to get breakfast organized and start my devotions, so I was grateful for that much!  Even a chopped-up time of prayer and Bible reading because of caring  for a disabled loved one (or small children) is better than passing up time with God because of the stress you're under. God knows our hearts, and whether we desire to be with Him. As we seek Him daily, He sees to the results! Psalm 103:14 says,

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

This "frame" of mine was certainly dusty, but I received strength for the day from my prayer partner's Spirit-and faith-filled prayers, and hope mine did the same for her! I had much business to take care of before leaving at noon for Redlands to take my father to the doctor. I first got three of Steve's prescriptions and returned to the house with them, then made a product delivery and enjoyed a much-needed hair appointment. Traffic was flowing and the cool air was refreshing. All went smoothly, including lunch with my daughter Heidi, in which we discussed her teaching Ephesians for six weeks, and the powerful time we ladies enjoyed yesterday at my II Samuel study.

And I'll admit to drinking coffee at each destination--direly needed for safe driving and coherent conversation!

After dropping my dad back at his house, I lingered a bit to make phone calls and enjoy some specialty treats at the Olive Ave. Market before driving back home, with about 1/4th of an ice blended coffee drink, "one for the road!" Then I shopped at both Vons and Ralphs for our Father's Day meal, getting the best bargains at both stores.

At home, Steve was enjoying a nice, restful afternoon with a helper, and we sat together before his bedtime. So far, he's only gotten out of  bed once. I helped him back in and applied a carnosine patch that has helped him sleep better some nights.

May God give His beloved child Steve a restful night's sleep!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The LORD is

3:48 p.m. Today's project was to spend time with women who love, and live, the Word of God, as we are now in our second week of studying II Samuel.

Early this morning, before I reviewed my  Bible study notes, I battled exhaustion because of a strange cellphone notification that went off at 4:20 a.m., causing me to miss out on an hour and 40 minutes of sleep. It was not a great start for my day, but the Lord had everything in order for devotions; He was faithful. I was tired, even though I'd gotten to bed at a moderately decent time. My friend Kay's prayers livened me up, however. I am so grateful for the family of believers He has surrounded me with, to assure me of His loving presence!

Yahweh Shamma, "The LORD is there."

This has been a grueling week in many ways. My computer stopped running, a definite concern for the Bible study, because the lessons are on its hard drive. I do have Carbonite backup installed, so I knew they could be accessed somewhere from cyberspace, but I hoped to just get it fixed when I dropped it off after the service on Sunday at ComputeResource, a company owned by friends from church. Thankfully, I have my notebook computer to do most of my communicating, and had received the thought from the Holy Spirit to extract the lessons from an email to send out to the large mailing list; and perhaps ask the friend who formatted the 30-year-old typed lessons into Microsoft Word, to print out a handful for newcomers.

Yahweh Yireh, "The Lord is my Provider."

Yesterday, I was totally low on gas, had huge distances to drive to pick up a new consultant and a gal ready to join my Mary Kay team, and a brief time to get ready to go after Steve got on the bus. Discouraging taunts from the devil were saying, "You can't go all the way out past the Ramona Expressway, then back to Riverside, and then on to Redlands on an 1/8th of a tank!" And when I did that and the three of us were on our way, the discouraging words became, "You're not going to make it on time!" But we actually got there a few minutes early! One signed right up, and she and the consultant who'd joined just before her were able to have their training beautifully completed by our Sales Director! Believer, you just have to power past the taunts in the name of Jesus, and walk--or drive--on, because we know that

Yahweh Shalom, "The LORD is peace."

I was blessed with a stunningly exciting time in the Word with my group of women! Seriously, they dug in with both hands into the chapter, and we wrestled with many different themes and controversies:  God's promise fulfilled, murder, warfare, political maneuvering, bloodsport, hearing God's voice, discerning when to pursue or when to let go of a spiritual objective--it's all in II Samuel Chapter 2!

We had very serious prayer requests to bring to the Lord also. One member of the group had fallen backwards down her stairs and is resting at home with a concussion; another had a major ear infection and is on antibiotics; one has critical tests to take tomorrow for many ongoing ailments; another is awaiting test results to determine whether she has Multiple Sclerosis or Sarcoidosis, both of which attack the immune system. Yet, when we prayed for these sisters and other needs as well, we went forward in open prayer with belief, with not a doubt to be heard. Why? Because we know another name of our God:

Yahweh Rapha, "The LORD who heals you."

Lastly, on my way home, I pulled over to see if our rent had been deposited for us in Wyoming by our management company, and it had not.  I was not happy about the delay, truth be told. And I had to rearrange some plans for today, but our little three "person" family that includes Jada our lab, had food and shelter today (which is the only day we can to live in). And the money will be available at 8 a.m. tomorrow. And, by the way, we got the computer back, in better shape than ever!

And when we announce the Lord's great handiwork in our lives to any we come into contact with, we are giving Him the glory for bringing us through our trials stronger, more resilient, resourceful, and bolder than ever, let's remember another name of God we are exemplifying:

Yahweh Nissi: "The LORD is my banner!"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Are you Asahel? Part II

4:43 p.m. Today's project was to keep going forward to the goal of picking up my new consultants for a meeting, despite a caregiver no-show and a serious lack of gas in my Jeep. The Lord was insistent on challenging me to get up at 5:30 instead of 6 a.m., because He knew the difficulties that would befall me this morning. Amazingly--and I use that word a lot when describing the Lord's interventions and rescues in my life--Steve got on the bus on time, all cleaned up and fed; my devotional time was spent with the Lord, prayer requests were exchanged with Cara by text because we'd see each other later in the morning; and my consultants and I arrived 4 minutes early! Only the Lord, only the Lord  saves and delivers!

Yesterday, we looked at Asahel, David's nephew, a member of his elite fighting force who was known for his swift running. Tragically, that very skill led to his death as he relentlessly chased a fierce, experienced enemy, Abner, who ran him through with a spear when Asahel caught up to him. Fleet feet can't beat the blunt end of a spear!The point the Holy Spirit raised in my mind was that we  believers have been given gifts (Romans 12:4-8) for specific use, ie., the Bible teacher for teaching. Our spiritual gifts are to be used as led by the Holy Spirit.

When I was writing the lesson for teaching Thursday, the original lesson I received from Asahel's death was quite different.  Asahel died because he was over-matched, certainly. But he would have lived to fight another day if he hadn't pursued, pursued and pursued when warned repeatedly to turn back by Abner. Hear Abner's words in II Samuel 2:22:

Turn aside from following me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I face your brother Joab?

Are you Asahel? Are you pursuing and pursuing a goal or role that God doesn't have for you? Have you even heard God's warning voice, or have circumstances made it plain that you need to turn aside to the correct path for your life? We all have to look out for this pitfall, so you are not alone if you are just realizing that your prayed-for hope may not be God's will for you! And that doesn't mean that your hope, dream or goal is a bad one or unscriptural. It just is not God's best for you, for now. I John 5:14-15 says,

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

For an example from my life, I was educated, trained and groomed to become a principal in the Jurupa Unified School District, and had been on a few interviews. I had experience in administrative positions at the school level and in the District office running the activities and programs  for Jurupa's First 5 School Readiness grant. But I ended up retiring in 2009 as Steve's dementia began to affect our lives at home and in his career and I was not teaching at the level I normally would have been because of constant concern for Steve's joblessness and depression.  I met all of the criteria for a pension: over 55, and 10 years in the district.And 2009 was the year districts were offering a $25,000 "Golden Handshake" to encourage highly paid, long- tenured teachers to retire.

Retirement before 65 wasn't my plan, but it was God's! Not only did Steve and I spend two wonderful years together as a retired couple before he deteriorated too badly, but the Lord had me write, and Tate published, my first book, Galatians:An Exploration of Faith & Freedom! Would I have had time, with work, to write a book? Not very likely!

Remember to pray, even go on a fast, and seek the Lord concerning your goals and dreams. His plan for you is better than anything you could desire or implement for yourself! Psalm 40:5:

Many, O LORD, my God, are your
  wonderful works
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in
If I would declare and speak of
They are more than can be numbered.

Trust in the Lord Jesus is trust well placed!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Are you Asahel? Part I

3:29 p.m. Today's project was to focus on a man who makes a brief but dramatic appearance in the Bible. Asahel, a nephew of  David's, was the brother of Joab and Abishai. David's family members were the first to join forces with him in I Samuel 22, when it became impossible for him to remain in the presence of King Saul.

Saul and his warrior sons were killed by the Philistines. David was anointed king of Judah, the largest tribe, and a war began between David's forces and Abner, Saul's uncle, who put up Saul's son Ishbosheth as a puppet king. By II Samuel Chapter 2, civil war was to begin in earnest between Israel for Ishbosheth, against Judah for David.

Asahel was known for being "as fleet of foot as a wild gazelle" (II Samuel 2:18). That quality of his life proved to be his undoing.

Abner had challenged Joab, David's captain, to war games that remind me of the cruel gladiator contests of the Romans much later in history.II Samuel 2 tells us that the opposing forces set 12 each of their young men against the other side at the Pool of Gibeon. Verse 16:

And each one grasped his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent's side; so they all fell down together...So there was a very fierce battle that day, and Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David.

Asahel pursued  the fleeing Abner,

...and in going he did not turn to the right hand or to the left from following Abner.
Then Abner looked behind him and said, "Are you Asahel?"
He answered, I am."
And Abner said to him, "Turn aside to your right hand or to yur left, and lay hold on one of the young men and take his armor for yourself."  But Asahel would not turn aside from following him. so Abner said again to Asahel, "Turn aside from following me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I face your brother Joab? However, he refused to turn aside.

Asahel's gift and talent for running did not serve him well at all, because wily, experienced warrior Abner turned, and struck him with the blunt end of the spear with such force that it ran through Asahel from the front and went out the back, killing him on the spot.

You and I often think that we should "pursue" our goals using the bonafide strength the Lord has given us, which generally does work, or He would not have given us our gift to begin with. But we need to know when and where to use our unique gift! It's like playing "Rock, paper scissors." Scissors are always going to cut paper, just as a thrust spear will beat fleet  feet! In Romans 12:6-8, Christians are instructed by Paul,

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let us use our gifts for the exact purposes that God intended, by listening to the Holy Spirit and following His direction throughout each day. God will guide each of  perfectly in the way we should go. Our part is to listen, pray, and follow our Lord's leadership!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Work: your plan and put it in God's hands

4:10 p.m. Today's project was to start up my studying for Thursday's Bible study. Cracking the commentaries, Bible dictionary, Strong's concordance, various translations and Manners and Customs of the Bible, might be categorized as work, but for me it's more of a calling. and furthermore, it's great, exhilarating fun!

Interesting, isn't it, that work isn't work when God calls you to it! For the Christian, fulfilling God's will for our lives is pure joy, no matter how many obstacles Satan throws into our path! The first call is to repentance and salvation, giving our lives to Christ. Then we find out which special, unique job (or jobs) we have been assigned by the Holy Ghost to carry out within the church, the Body of Christ! Ephesians  2:10 says,

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

What is the good work God has prepared for you, believer? What gift has God given you to bless, cheer, assist, teach, train or even rescue others? My mother's calling was to be home and take care of my younger sister and me. After my sister went away to college, she began her second career--retail store management. With her people-loving personality, my mom was great at it, too!

But no one is saying that "working your plan" will be easily accomplished! My day began dreadfully, far too early!

At about 4:45, fifteen minutes before Steve's caregiver was to arrive, Steve got up. I had to get him back to bed, and then tried to sleep until 6:00. I got up, but the 5 a.m. care giver hadn't arrive yet. Oh no! So I quickly emptied the dishwasher, got breakfast things all set up for Steve (his meds chopped and put into applesauce, bread slices in the toaster, cereal in his bowl) , ran back upstairs, read my Spurgeon's Morning & Evening  devotional, showered qyuckly and dressed.. 6 :30 came-- still no caregiver, so I took the applesauce upstairs, woke him up and fed it to him. Then I shaved him and had him wait upstairs for the caregiver who finally appeared 2 hours late at 7:00! You might recall that the Special Transportation bus picks Steve up at 8 a.m. sharp! I now had another new caregiver to train, but he did get Steve dressed, fed, teeth brushed and out waiting for the bus by 8 a.m. And I actually completed my scripture reading and both journall entries.Thank You, Lord!

Jesus was so good as to even allow my and Cara's prayer time to start by 8:08! Fascinating to see all this uproar on the day I began my notes for the Thursday study. But  study I did, most of the day, interrupted only by customers bringing me Mary Kay orders and money!  My only outing was to take Steve with me to deposit said money in the bank (and recruit a teller to pre-sell a new Lash Kit for me).

The devil may harass us, tire us, and momentarily disrupt our ministry calling,  but when we take that principled, scriptural stand that says, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15), he has to flee in the name of Jesus. "For greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world" (I John 4:4).

Tonight, I can go to bed knowing that I prayed over my tasks, giving all to God, both Body ministry and business; worked hard, and saw God bring my prayer requests to pass. As the saying goes,

 "Work like it all depends on you, and pray like it all  depends on God!"

Sunday, June 10, 2012

VBS 2012: Trust God!

1:00 p.m. Today's project was to attend the meeting for Vacation Bible School crew leaders. The Group USA theme for the year is "Sky," and the theme verse is Jesus' statement  in Mark 10:27,

With God, all things are possible.

When I volunteered to be a crew leader, I told Ivett, the Calvary Chapel children's ministry leader, "Any ages but Pre-K" would be fine, and to run away fast before I came to my senses!

Honestly, I love VBS, ever since I was a new believer and was a helper to an experienced leader. That's the year before Steve and I got married 31 years ago at Harvest. Our oldest son Sean from my first marriage would get to stay and play longer with the other leaders' kids while we VBS teachers got ready for the next day. His sons, now high schoolers, would come to stay with us each summer in order to attend VBS, and were crew assistants the last year they attended. Looks like Vacation Bible School is in our blood!

As the decades of child rearing went by, my participation would depend on the age of my youngest child each year. Although my calling is to teach women's Bible studies, I just love elementary age kids, as my years in Christian and public school classrooms can attest. And having been retired the last 3 years, it's fun to get reconnected with the little ones of whom Jesus said Mark 10:14, 

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, that whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it. 

When we work with children, our own or the little ones God sends our way to reach for Him, we are very blessed to enjoy their innocence and wonder at Jesus who died for them, and God the Father in heaven who sent His only Son to take us to be with Him forever one day! The Gospel is so simple that a child can understand it, isn't it? As a crew leader, I have had many awesome opportunities to lead children to faith in Christ, to ask Jesus into their hearts. There's no greater  privilege!

At the meeting, Steve sat at a separate classroom desk near mine, and paid good attention, because the leaders were keeping things lively, and Regina,  who does drama classes for our Christian school, and is in charge of the magnificent backdrops and stage props, put on a bomber jacket, scarf, and aviator cap. At the end of the meeting, I was able to pray over my assistant crew leader, our crew and the ministry, and  Steve bowed his head and joined hands too. Bless his heart, he thinks he will be helping in VBS too, because as we got off the elevator to walk back to the sanctuary, he said, "It's good to help the little kids," pretty clearly!  I will make sure he joins me in praying for them each day! James 5:16,

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 

In the next two weeks, I'll put my "aviator" outfit together, perhaps seeing what my dad, an Air Force veteran, has at his house; will be praying for my assistant crew leader Terry, a lady around my age who's new to VBS, and for all of the details the leaders must coordinate.

And I'm looking forward to 5 nights of godly, exciting fun with all Jesus' favorite people: children!


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Catching up

7:12 p.m. Today's project was to have a late lunch with my niece Destiny, a CPA with two school age children from San Diego. She is a lovely Christian woman, very successful in the accounting field. Most of my sister's children and grandchildren live near her in San Diego, so we don't get to visit that often.

The odd thing is that I listened to an inspirational  and challenging message from a Mary Kay director about being energized for a good finish to the Seminar year on June 30th. One of the items on her list was to call someone you haven't talked to in a while, because as you catch up with each other's lives, you encourage one another, especially in the Lord, and leave the conversation uplifted. My day was pretty well set today, with helping my new consultant get started, contacting prospective recruits, and booking appointments in between.

But before any of that would happen, I'd needed to train a new caregiver for Steve in our particular morning procedures, even down to making toast, because in his native country of Nigeria, toasters must not be common. And despite being employed here in the US for years, he's always worked afternoon or night shifts! The kinds of assistance he needed  were kind of humorous, but also disruptive to my devotions and scripture reading. I expect that tomorrow things will go smoothly, because he's very sharp and conscientious. I did get a kick out his asking me in his British accent before I left to work my business (while pointing to the backyard), "W hat would you have me do in the compound?"

I want to have God's heart toward those who have need to be taught even in small matters, because I want them to remember this Christian woman as kind, patient and loving.  Titus 3:2 tells us speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.

I wish I could describe myself in that way consistently, but like every believer still breathing, I have much room to grow, just having apologized for an unnecessarily sharp retort on Facebook! Politics and socializing don't mix

While the thought of catching up with old friends or loved ones sounded appealing, it was a text message from Destiny that brought us together. We had so much to share about the Lord, Bible study, and her new church fellowship. I also told her that even with a successful career, Mary Kay can be a part-time "Plan B," until you need it to be more, because even huge businesses are shutting their doors in this wretched recession of the last three years.  And God had another "sweetener" for me: she was out of her sunscreen moisturizer, and of course my inventory was in the Jeep!

Above  are pictured Steve's cousins and sister with her husband; our daughter dropped in for lunch also. The occasion? Three days before Heidi's wedding. The last occasion Steve's family got together in even larger numbers was for his brother Larry's memorial service. Weddings and funerals seem to be the times when families gather, but I remember having Destiny and her three siblings here for as long as two weeks, at least once a year. During those precious times, our nieces and nephews came with our kids to children's church and participated in our family's nightly devotions. Today, as adults in their 30's and late 20's, they have all been born again, and are walking with the Lord as far as I know.

Career, kids, church, school and  Steve's health were all topics that Destiny and I  discussed, but all too son our lunch was finished. Even though Proverbs 27:10 says, "Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far off," the Lord showed me the importance of staying knit together with my family. With that I include in-laws, because we'll be honoring my Heather's sister-in-law for her college graduation tomorrow. And it's about time to have our out-of-town grandsons over for a vacation visit!

Many, many believers have found new families in the Body of Christ, in cases where they truly were unloved and abandoned, alone in the world, perhaps because of their own misdeeds,  before Christ's people took them in. And their tireless service to the Body is the backbone of the local church.

A number of years ago, I made a list, with phone numbers, of sisters in the Lord that I'd lost track of, faithful members of my Thursday Bible study of 30 years ago. Some were now living out of state, and others' phone numbers had changed. But we did connect, and at least we continue to exchange Christmas cards. Yet we do live in each others' hearts,

...because the love of  God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:5). 

No more excuses, or online substitutions--pick up the phone today!