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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

One very long day

7:50 p.m. Today's project was to get to Dallas, Texas  for our Kay Seminar. It's an annual opportunity to learn, grow and to encourage one another in the Lord, and to be recognized for a year of hard work.

I got up at 4 a.m. PST and left with my daughter Heidi on our way to LAX for my 10:40 flight. The two of us had a fine time sharing critical ideas for ministry, as well as our individual goals and vision for the edification of those we teach. Isaiah 45:24 gives us assurance:

Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strengt.h.


All went smoothly at the airport, with God even finding me the perfect set for plugging in my device chargers while I had a hot latte and posted my daily scripture on Facebook. His goodness even extended to me remembering to print out my boarding pass. And just as Samson prayed for his strength to return one more time, which God did answer when Samson pulled down the temple  of Dagon over the lords of the Philistines, my printer made one last photocopy!  I'll get cartridges as soon as I get back, because I need to print some up for my ladies at II Samuel study on Thursday.

The flight barely landed it into position for my connecting flight in Albuquerque. At Dallas Love Field, I clambered into a shuttle which I hadn't pre-paid the ticket for. More time wasted, but one can only remember so much, with caring for two disabled guys (my husband and father).Now at the Hyatt, my Mary Kay buddies and I stayed in the hotel over here for dinner buffet--too hot and muggy outside to walk anywhere today!

It's after 10 p.m. here, so I think I'll prep for bed while my roomies are out and about the hotel.

Thank you, Lord, for having us all arrive safely!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Up and away!

9:44 p.m. Today's project was to wrap up loose ends while preparing for travel to very hot Dallas, Texas for the Mary Kay Seminar, our annual conference. I attended for the first time last year, and it was spectacular, from the entertainment, to the classes, to the joy of watching hard working Directors receive their jewels and crowns on stage.I'm looking forward to what the Lord is going to do this year, especially at our National Area banquet--many of us will be recognized for serving other women and offering them a stellar business opportunity!

Treats and surprises are definitely in store, but one thing is certain: when Kathy Helou takes the stage as the Number One National Director, she will give Jesus Christ the glory as she does in all of her calls and messages to us the entire year. She epitomizes the late Mary Kay Ash's company policy: God first, family second, and career third. As Modecai told Queen Esther in Esther 4:14b, when the Jews were threatened with annihilation,

Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

And God says that to all of us who call upon His name! Why are we here? Why were we saved at a certain time and place in history? (For me that was January 6, 1980).
Only you can seek God, listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and follow God's plan for your life. Whenever I get discouraged or weary in my business, I remember that God succinctly told me, "I am in this for you." In 1980, He very clearly told me, "You will be teaching women's Bible studies." How blessed and privileged I have been since 1982 by this calling. I am thrilled to be studying, writing and teaching the Bible, as well as encouraging and mentoring women to this day! And in Mary Kay, there are so many young women God places in my path weekly who may not have had much encouragement growing up. Here I am, Lord! Use me, and my testimony, to comfort and spur another woman on "to love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24).

Seek the Source, and He'll show you your path of life!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another layer

8:25 p.m. Today's project was to lay out all of the bills and write the checks for the first of the month. I normally do online bill pay through one of our banks, but since I'll be in Dallas on July 31st for the Mary Kay Seminar, and since my pension checks deposit automatically on August 1, that option is out if I want to pay on time. So mailing checks out tomorrow will do the job. It really boils down to praying and pondering, and using the wisdom God makes available to us! Jesus told us in Matthew 10:16, to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves as we make our way through a hostile world. And James 1:5 assures those of us who have faith in God,

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Since I came home last night (instead of having the caregiver stay another night) I knew there would be no morning help. As I got up and did some reps on my Health Rider, I made my plan: start my devotions, take care of my own morning needs, put out the dog and put on the coffee, crush and mix Steve's pills into applesauce, and then get him up and ready for the day. We took things slowly and quietly, and he did well at church, too.

Interspersed with feeding Steve and tending to his needs throughout the day, the bills were prepared to send out, causing only random twinges of arthritis. Thank You, Lord! I have always loved David's Psalm 144:1 (KJV), although my "warfare" is the recording and dissemination of my daily testimony and giving witness to the powerful works of God through Bible study teaching and offering study materials in print and online.

Blessed be the LORD my Rock,
Who teaches my hands to war,
And my fingers to fight.

Before lunch, Steve and I went out to harvest our crops. The caregiver had watered the garden daily, but as for weeding, not so much this year. (My bad/busy.) But you can see how God managed to grow wonderful fruit, even with me out of town! Our  produce, whether we work for a meticulous garden as I have in the past, or just cultivate excellent soil and then step back, is God's work anyway. I believe that He assigned Adam originally in Genesis 2:15 to "tend and keep" the garden because people need productive work, both men and women, in or outside the home. Idle hands are no good, for children or adults!

But this week had some "extras" added on. Our long term insurance sent the monthly check for Steve's daycare, necessitating an in-bank deposit tomorrow. Two customers stopped in. Spanish tutoring was arranged for Monday afternoon. A passerby came to the door about the water meter leak in front of the house, and I assured her that I have a plumber coming tomorrow to see what needs to be done. Heidi and Pavel came by on a quick errand for my dad, and like the passerby, insisted that the City is at fault and we shouldn't have to pay to get the broken cement meter cover and pipe fixed. (We'll be praying on that, believe me, because money doesn't grow on trees, even well-watered ones)! And pretty soon I'll need to get food stocked up for Steve and his caregiver and Jada, too; my luggage packed and a shuttle ride from the airport in Dallas reserved. It's layer upon layer of duties and tasks!

Thank You, Lord, that some of us like deadlines, and work well under pressure! We are all so differently gifted. As Paul writes of the church Body in Romans 12: 5-6a,

So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us... 

Then he lists many gifts and offices of the church designed by God, to edify, train, and send out witnesses to the world.

In our own little home, I hope and pray to be a witness for Christ in every aspect of my life, because neighbors, colleagues, family and friends are watching the way things get handled by believers!

Pour out Your Spirit, Lord, that we might make it, with good provision, through this heavily layered week and beyond!

Blessed travel and days between



11:56 p.m. Today's project was to get back home! Our original plan was to all enjoy a big buffet at the Rio on Sunday morning.Since Steven did not place for the show this evening, and his best friend Cameron arrived to provide companionship, transportation to the airport, and a body in the second bed, it made sense for me to leave. Driving home midday on a Sunday would have placed me in dreadful, gas-wasting traffic through the blazing desert. And, since I fly to Dallas for our Mary Kay Seminar on Tuesday, I wanted an extra day at home with Steve.We also will be able to attend church tomorrow morning as always! Hebrews 10:25 tells us that we must

...consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some...

After a quick visit with my dad, Heidi and Pavel, I pulled up at my home by 9:30 to talk with the caregiver Elias and get a report on Steve's behavior. All went well from Thursday on, until after one of my daughters visited yesterday. Steve became angry and agitated for two hours! Elias is excellent and very calming in his manner, but we agreed, and so have the folks at Care Connexxus, that Steve is becoming less rational and more physically aggressive and agitated. Steve wouldn't even sit down while at my dad's apartment, where Elias kindly took him for a visit. He did the same "jump up and start for the door" behavior when I took him earlier this week.

I ask the Lord daily to give me wisdom to lovingly deal with my husband's behavior, which is at best worrisome and at worst extremely dangerous! Only He knows what needs to be done, with prayer at the top of the list.

At this critical time, I want my prayer priorities lined up with God and His word. I do not pray to escape my trial nor my responsibilities; my prayer is for guidance in walking through them in a way that honors my Jesus, who suffered and died for me. I John 14-15:

And 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.



Friday, July 27, 2012

Learning

9:50 p.m. Today's project was to pray with, accompany and support Steven in his day of pre-judging. His girlfriend Kathy and I dropped Steven off at the venue at UNLV, and waited on a shady bench for the 45 minutes it would take for the public to be admitted.

The morning had been fairly smooth until Kathy, who had checked out of her room, needed to make a last check but had turned in her key card. We were all set to go, and Security came to let her in, but this was no ordinary day. Steven needed his cortisol levels to stay low for maximum performance, so I was glad theat I had laid hands on him earlier and prayed  extensively for what God would do today. And before that, Cara had called to pray as is our habit Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.Through the goof-ups and stressors of the day, Kathy and I became practiced at "praying without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17). 

As we sat on our bench, Kathy asked if we could do a Bible study together with a verse the Lord had laid on her heart repeatedly, II Corinthians 12:9:

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.

I asked if we could consider the preceeding verses where Paul reveals that he had had the astounding privilege of being caught up in Paradise (II Corinthians 12:1-4), including visions and revelations of the Lord. I mentioned that at my Bible study yesterday, I asked the women if God had ever given them a specific vision of what He plans to do with their lives, to be kept private if one wishes, between oneself and Jesus. Kathy said she had--the Lord has put on her heart to reach the Hispanic community with the Gospel, through her work as a fitness trainer. That vision was confirmed by the Spanish language outreach pastor at the Peoples' Church! We also discussed witnessing to strangers, and we noticedthat a lady had been sharing the bench with us. So the Lord put it on my heart to begin a conversation with her, mentoring and leading this committed young woman in witnessing by example. "Just find a point of commonality," and the conversation goes on from there! As Paul said about his own worldwide outreach, I Corinthians 9:23b,

I am become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

The two of us enjoyed along qualifying period for the men as we waited to see Steven. Young at 24, he was outmatched by several years and many poundds by the older competitors, so he won't be in the finals tomorrow night. He learned a lot and has a plan for next year already in motion!.  

No appearance in the finals here on this earth today, sadly. But as for the "finals" Steven and all believers will have aced? That one-question test has been asked of and answered by each of us believers once and for all: "What did you do about Jesus?" If you answer, "I asked Jesus to be my Savior, and to be Lord of my life, so that I might live with Him forever in heaven," you may join Steven, Kathy, and me, and billions of born-again Christians in heaven. I sincerely pray, as one who went to the top of the Strstosphere hotel tonight, that I'll "see you at the top!"

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Arrival

10:24 p.m. Today's project was to teach II Samuel Chapter 8 Bible study at Malinda's home, to a joyful, loving, group of women who are sisters to me. These ladies know their Bibles and have been applying it to their lives for decades. I learn new concepts in walking with the Lord every week!

We realized the relationship between David's dedication  to the Lord all of the silver, gold and brass he took from Israel's enemies, and the fact that "God preserved David wherever he went." (II Samuel 8:6, 14).

As believers, we all need to dedicate our gifts, talents, calling, "treasure," families, leisure time, hobbies, and even our thoughts to the Lord. One verse we looked at from last week that really struck me, was very  intense, I Chronicles 28:9:

The LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intents of the thoughts.

I jokingly said, "So God know what we are even intending when we think! No wonder the Bible says that there is no such thing as clean person!" We need Jesus, don't we, to anoint our very thoughts
 and even our hearts' intentions!

With another wonderful time of fellowship over for the week, I left immediately in a car loaded with a few days' worth of food and clothes in my huge cooler, and arrived in Las Vegas from Moreno Valley in only 3.5 hours, singing and praising God all the way!
                                            
I picked up our son Steven from McCarran Airport, where he and his girlfriend landed for his NPC-USA bodybuilding contest. After weigh-in, we have been relaxing in our room at the Stratosphere and eating some of the tons of food we brought from home. Kathy has her own room, so Steven and I share one with two beds. Two meals of precooked food and a coating of paint-on tan finished his activities for the day. Kathy came over to download Le Crae's "Background" for his performance at the qualifications in the morning.

Steven has dedicated his bodybuilding championship dream to the Lord, with a vision of sharing Christ as a champion. We are praying that skill, dedication and sacrificial hard work will win the day for Steven, who longs to give his testimony on a grander venue!

"Do you not know," the Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 9:24, "that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it." 

Lord, would you be gracious and allow Your child this opportunity to give You the glory, as Your  champion?


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

His light burden

10:38 p.m. Today's project was to complete my Bible study for Thursday, meaning that I would have it written out word-for-word longhand like I've been doing for 30 years. With the hectic-ness (?) of the last week, and Steven's bodybuilding competition in Las Vegas upcoming, that was quite an ambition.


Today was a Redlands day. After our Morning Makeovers meeting, there was a stop for about five minutes at my daughter's house to do some planning, time spent at my dad's house finding his cell phone charger, doing my own banking and bill paying, and then getting the fungus excised from a split nail. I finally was able to sit down at the Starbucks in Vons to finish my writing. The Lord gave me a little "sweetener" in that there was still money on my card for a tall caramel frappucino with "specially requested" baked coconut on top of the whipped cream. (I did give the barista a sample eyeshadow attached to my card for being so nice when she even brought it over to me)! The laptop bag on the right is the perfect size for my Bible, notes folder and the wireless composition book I teach from. The plump duffle on the left is already packed with clothes for the weekend.

Not wanting to give away any of the discussion points for the morning, I will say that Chapter 8 of 
II Samuel is short, but full of historical reflection and current personal application.

Now all these things happened to them [the children of Israel] as examples, I Corinthians 10:11 says, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Seems we have a pretty weighty responsibility to learn and apply scriptures in these last days before Jesus Christ returns and folds up the earth and the heavens "like a cloak," (Hebrews 1:12). Aren't you glad that Jesus, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, not only lays out our responsibilities as believers, but then helps us accomplish our tasks in a godly, God-ordained manner! Jesus' assurance in Matthew 11:28 rings so true all of every day, I find:

My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

By cancelling a tutoring appointment, I had more time to write, and eventually finished the lesson, though my handwriting was getting a little sketchy towards the end. There will be a time for reviewing before I leave for the study in the morning as well. I wanted it all to be in polished form, but my Heavenly Father doesn't ask me to be perfect--He asks me to be obedient!

Since I completed my ministry task early, I got to spend time with my earthly father, blessing and being blessed.

Thank You, Lord!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Knowing I'm His

8:07 p.m. Today's project was to pick up my dad from his assisted living apartment and go on an outing to the bank where we have an account, to get a recent statement printed up.I was to be there about 9 a.m., but there was a major morning mess to clean up and put in the washer before Steve's bus came for him, and I could leave. Steve is struggling now, but he boarded in good spirits, leaving the care giver and me to finish cleaning up. Even through the extra, unexpected chores and trials we find ourselves engulfed in tempt us to feel lonely or dejected, God is faithful, loving, and all that His children need! As He promises, in I Corinthians 10:13 (NLT),

God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.

My errand with Daddy started an hour and a half late. Although he was dressed and shaven and ready, he was sitting up in his bed when I came in with clean laundry and assorted items from his house. When I asked if he'd eaten breakfast, he querulously said, "You'd think they'd feed people around here!" Turns out he hadn't gone to breakfast, nor had he asked the morning meds person to arrange for a tray to be brought in. So I went down to the front desk after urging Daddy to go over to his desk/table in preparation for eating.

As I filled out the check-out form on the clipboard, walked with him to the Jeep, and then got him and his walker loaded in, I mentally laughed at the reason I feel so relaxed when I'm at Villa De Anza: EVERYTHING  moves at a snail's pace!! The Lord has a sense of humor, with the hyper-energetic me needing to slow down drastically as Daddy and I navigate the halls together. I do walk really fast when going alone to the front desk to ask for something he needs and on the way back, swerving and slowing down for those dear ones with their smiling faces, walkers, wheelchairs, and canes. Residents are friendly, and love to be greeted and have small conversations with one another and even me, the newest daily visitor.

All went well at the bank, with Daddy not even using his walker. He and I went over the security and financial matters I'm handling for him as his appointed person with power of attorney, and then had a brief visit with Heidi and Pavel. We had to fly back to Riverside from Redlands, however, because I have to be home by 2 p.m. to help Steve off the bus. Today's ride was much smoother, because the wild lady was dropped off first. Simple solution to the concern I expressed this morning to the Special Trans. service. Thank You, Lord!

Even though I am in a 2-day crunch to get my Thursday Bible study written and prepare for my trip to see Steven compete in a national bodybuilding contest in Las Vegas, I am grateful for the opportunity to take time in my day to go out and about with my dad. Steve and I still had time to pick up his prescriptions and then head to a drive-through car wash.

Someone asked why my car has to be clean. It's because I have been reflecting on a Bible study  heard on K-Wave 107.9 FM about being a good steward of the things God has given us. Also, a neat and tidy house and car are a good witness to the world--that we are living with an attitude of gratitude. That's not found too much these days, is it?

God's best treat was yet to come! I paid for and entered a carwash at a local AM PM  gas station, which Steve was enjoying too. Just after my Jeep had been washed and rinsed, the carwash broke down! I wasn't signaled to go forward and the blowers didn't come on. Yikes! After sitting a few minutes, to see if it would resume, and waving off the driver behind me, I called the phone number on the receipt, told them my potential problem (a spottily dried car), and they told me to go on through and they'd refund my money. I was glad of that, but feared a spotty car I couldn't dry fast enough by hand, working solo by necessity.

But praise be to God, when I jumped out to get my refund and some paper towels to dry the hood, the vehicle looked pretty and shiny, with few spots! Thank you, Lord, that with all that is going on in my life, including painful (and limiting) arthritis, You even cared about a relatively minor matter for Your daughter!

And that's how I know that I'm His!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Currently...

11:07 p.m. Today's project was to receive Steve from of the Special Transportation Senior & Disabled bus when it pulled up in front of my driveway.

This normally is not an issue, because Steve is eager to be home, and he's all smiles as I run down to pay the bus driver and help my husband climb down. In the long stretch of time it takes between unbuckling his seat belt and guiding him down to the sidewalk, I realize how hard it must be for Steve to:

  1. look in front of him
  2. hold the  rail
  3. lower one foot
  4. alternate with the other one;
  5. repeat twice until the goal (me) is reached. 
I keep thinking of verses similar to Proverbs 19:17:

He who has pity on the poor lends to His maker. I think the mentally disabled who no longer "own" anything might qualify here as well.

Steve really struggled to step down today, even with both the driver and me helping him, because he was in an emotional state from another leg of their journey, she told me. The calming techniques she used were helpful, and I'll remember them, like saying, "Breathe!" when Steve 's tense and angry. Lately, he starts to take off suddenly in anger from caregivers, me, an enjoyable gathering, or from the Care Connexxus staff.

It seems that "Bobbie," a fellow rider, was  wilder than usual,  and it was very upsetting to Steve. Now I have the answer to some of his down moods in the afternoon. When there's "acting out" on his bus Steve gets irrationally upset.  He's naturally a rule-follower, like a well-behaved child who sees the more fun-loving and almost-naughty kids daring to try something like loud singing, and would never have the courage to join in, but always looked on, lonely, from the sidelines.   

Perhaps "Bobbie" will take tomorrrow off; but imagine her family's need for respite care!

Please pray for timely wisdom, because Steve is getting to be too difficult for me to handle with my arthitic hands. Even though my son-in-law Nick installed a new bolt for the front door, we can't get too much more in high security mode because in case of fire, I might even forget how to undo a new bolt while trying to get Steve out.

Jesus is walking me thrugh this valley, like He has so many other times, and  I praise and thank Him!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A full day

10:01 p.m. Today's project was to take Steve to visit my dad's new home, a studio apartment in a large and beautiful assisted living facility. Steve's the only one who has not been involved whatsoever in Daddy's health trial, but I had no intention of  upsetting him by taking him to a hospital. He would immediately think I was dumping him there and would run out in a panic. Steve showed very little reaction to hearing that Daddy was really sick until the 3rd time I brought it up, which was earlier today! Then he got a little red in the face, and did look worried. I recognized that he is still able to "weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15).

We had a very good church service, got some gas, and went over to my dad's house in Redlands to pick up several outfits and dirty laundry, gather some snacks for his kitchenette, and get rid of any spoiled food in the refrigerator. Daddy wanted his bar soap, and needed towels. I also made sure to gather family pictures.

Having Steve with me, directing him simply to follow me from room to room; and then asking him to help carry a few items, proved very frustrating. And the high temperatures outside--and inside--didn't help! When we were carrying out the fridge items, I asked Steve to handle the insulated bag with a big ice chunk in it. After closing his hands around the bag handles for him,  and saying, "C'mon," he set the bag down! Begin again, sigh...so I asked him to carry out the small yellow bucket in the kitchen which contained spoiled food like heads of lettuce. I stayed right with him out the front door on the way to the dumpsters, when he set that bucket down, too, to pick up fallen lemons from the tree on Daddy's front porch. They aren't good ones, but Steve wouldn't recognize that. (And that wasn't the point of what we were doing).So I came back from putting family photos in the back of the Jeep, retrieved the trash bucket and emptied it into the dumpster.

It's just a fact that Steve doesn't know what everyone around him is doing, no matter what it is; neither time frames, deadlines nor schedules.  So I settled back down emotionally, and saw that Steve was comfortable, finished my checklist and placed him in the Jeep. I decided to go home first for his meds and some lunch while I did the laundry and caught up on some orders from yesterday's party.

Blessed are the merciful,  Jesus said,  for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

As we pulled up to Daddy's building, I was praying hard that Steve wouldn't think he was going to live there. He cried out, "Wow!" and very slowly followed me to Daddy's patio door.Steve and my dad were very glad to see one another, and Steve got settled into the recliner while Daddy enjoyed his location by the TV. I placed all of Daddy's things around the apartment, telling him the items as I went. Once a teacher...

As we sat visiting, Steve began to get himself worked up, like he'd just noticed something derogatory, started muttering angrily, and got up out of his chair to take off out the door, his typical reaction these days--it's ambulation without realization. Knowing what was happening, I said, "Steve, this is Daddy's place. He's the one who lives here! You're not going to!" [Sadly, they wouldn't take Steve anyway, because he needs 24 hour supervision. It's a choice for independent, relatively active retired seniors. It's not a locked, secure facility such as Steve will need one day.]
Walking down the hallway to dinner, with daddy coming behind with his walker, made Steve tense up again, so I said, "It's just like a hotel, isn't it," and pointed out the very good paintings, activity room, library, and the large suites some residents have.

Dinner was calming, except for the reminder of why Steve and I  don't eat out. But he managed to eat most of his chicken (cut up by request), and his side dishes. A busy day came to a relaxing end, as the worship leader for the 6:45 church service strolled into the dining room and began singing and playing a praise song on his guitar. Daddy opted to go on back to his room, but perhaps next Sunday he'll make it to the 9:30 a.m. service.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us hope, and for strengthening my dad for the final phase of his life!! 



Situated

11:30 p.m. Today's project was to have my dad moved from Redlands Community Hospital to Emeritus' Villa De Anza Assisted Living facility in Jurupa Valley. The word "facility" seems almost a misnomer, because this place is more like a Spanish hacienda, with private apartments and suites, and as little or much personal care as each individual tenant requires.

Daddy had spent the last 4 days at the hospital, having been brought there by my daughter Heidi, her husband and I on Tuesday evening in very bad shape. During his stay, he received 6 units of blood, constant fluids, and had his diagnosis of untreated and advanced bladder cancer confirmed. The doctor made it very clear that Daddy was not to go home to live alone ever again. So I spent yesterday morning seeking a restful, but well-appointed location for him, where Heidi, Heather, Sean, and I can visit regularly and keep his needs supplied. But truly, we know who our Supplier is, because in Philippians 4:19, the Apostle Paul assures us, from having lived a life of great faith,

My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

VITAS hospice will cover his medical needs and palliative care, paid completely by Medicare Part A. As his Power of Attorney for medical and financial issues, I will pay for his room and board, negotiating the fees as his care need level goes down,(or rises) monthly. I am prayerfully trying to be  that "wise steward" of his resources. I Corinthians 4:2 says,

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



Yesterday, and early this morning, I arranged with Hospice and the Emeritus administrator, to have Daddy picked up from the hospital at 2 :00 p.m. That gave me time to not only close a Mary Kay party I was holding from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. while Heidi, Pavel, my nephew Chance and girlfriend Sandra from San Diego visited with their grandpa, but to stop at his house first to pick up more necessities. However, when my party wrapped up and and as I prepared to leave, I had this frantic call from Heidi that the transport had arrived at 11:30 and that Grandpa was already on his way to Villa De Anza!! WHAT!!! Having no other choice but to move with all due haste, I kissed Steve goodbye and drove on over to my dad's new home. As I walked into the lobby from the parking lot, there Daddy was on the gurney, having just rolled in! Pinpoint timing. Only the Lord could have done it!!

Miscommunication and odd happenings cause us to be flexible. I plan to bring Steve to visit on Sunday, and retrieve Daddy's things Monday. Now I've seen that his beautiful apartment has a microwave and a fridge, which I would have known too late for my planned trip to go to his house first for clothes and sundries.  I would have needed a second trip to Redlands to grab snack foods and veggies for him. Isn't God good? Psalm 34:8 says,

O, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

And as you can see, from the picture of Daddy's visit with his great grandson Clark, no amounts of stress and momentary irritation can compare with this snapshot in time! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Torn

4:10 a.m. Today's project is the ongoing need to find appropriate care for my father Oliver. I am looking to the Lord to show me what to do, as his power of attorney for medical and financial decisions. Psalm 37:23 says, and I'll cling to this,

The steps of a good man are
  ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.

My dad has been doing very well for an 85 year-old, driving, living on his own, with only a complaint of being tired. He is a bladder cancer survivor who refused any further invasive treatments after his surgery three years ago. On Monday, his speech was a bit slurred and he made some odd remarks during a phone call. That evening, I consulted with Darlene Merkler from the Riverside Office on Aging, who told me to call his doctor to inform him of the change I was discovering, and I called Dr. Fox's office and was told the doctor would call when he returned from vacation. My daughter Heidi, who lives down the street from Daddy, called to tell me "Grandpa isn't answering his phone," on Tuesday. I had her go to the house, and she knocked on every door and window, but no response.

After arranging care for Steve, I drove to Redlands and met her and her husband Pavel at the house, let ourselves in with my key, and there my dad was, sitting in his reading chair, seeming almost dead, in a 90+ degree house with no fan running, despite being 4 feet away, the swamp cooler not on, either. We started giving him cold water and some crackers with lunch meat and cheese, and he began lifting his head and could stand up with help. While he was spitting up a few times, we all noticed his severely swollen calves, and with encouragement from the Beaver Clinic advice nurse, we began against barely audible and incoherent protests, to dress and prepare Daddy for the trip to the ER. His blood pressure was 67 over 41! He was admitted, and because the cancer has spread to kidneys and bowel, there was such a severe loss of blood that he was given a transfusion of 6 units of blood, but the blood pressure only rose slightly. So he was admitted. We stayed until bedtime.

At 1 a.m. Wednesday, I received a call frm the night doctor, telling me that Daddy could not ever go back home, and telling me that they could not continue to transfuse him, and that nothing further could be done. Hospice would be recommended. Later, and for the whole day, my daughters and their husbands Nick and Pavel, were in the hospital room; my son Sean and his fiance Pam came and stayed, and Destiny, our niece from San Diego, visited for several hours, as did son Kriss and his wife Marisela from Long Beach. I was in and out, because of the need to meet Steve's bus, and to keep prior commitments. Our pastor came to pray with Daddy and anoint him with oil in the morning as well.

Now two days later, my sister is coming later on from San Diego with her sons.in the midst of a quandary: Daddy can't live alone, and unless someone volunteers to stay with him at his house, hospice would naturally see him at my house. BUT, with Steve in late-stage dementia, trying to run away, angry and erratic, there's no way I can move my dad over here. Steve would panic, and be devasted to see Daddy bedridden and dying. The two have become very close over the last 31 years. My husband is my first priority, and the hospice nurse I spoke to last night will be speaking with a case manager about a solution.

Better get back to bed, now that I've eaten, and get a little more rest before my alarm goes off. I'll have my Bible study women pray for and with me today before I meet with the doctor and hospice. And I covet your prayers also!

Please put my steps in oder, Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Second 1,000

8:34 a.m. Today's project is to let my children, as many as choose to participate, write the blog today. Maybe it's a little holiday for me! And I hear from myself all the time! So the Lord gave me the idea to pull the next generation's points of view--all wildly different as our kids are themselves. I asked them to write any goal for life, career, or ministry; an inspiration, a funny memory, just a paragraph, or even a sentence, about anything on their minds.

First out of the box is Kriss, almost 30, graduate of Cal State Long Beach, B.A. in Interpersonal Communications, husband and  new dad, whose talents and passions include writing, singing and playing music. He selected the cartoon above.

"Two major ideas motivate me day after day: Clark and Marisela, both in making me happy and representing a small family that deserves more.

"And...

"The attached photo, illustrating how every person could be a genius of one form or another, but because ours is a system of standardized tests, the apparent economy is built on young students' backs; and the fact that the wealthy always have the advantage with their choice of private schools--

"Smart young people like us are stuck in the trenches. Broken system, broken results. Thre should be more appreciation for creativity. Think about all the artists and photographers who can hardly get paid for the practice  and effort they put into mastering their craft. Is artistic creativity a sign of poverty? It sure seems like it nowadays. I'm motivated because I know what is right. I know that I'm not going to base my view of success on things I'm not meant to do, and instead, I'm going to enjoy my God-given talents and passions and be who I am. Cuz I'm a grown man and I'm not going to be looked down upon the rest of my life by people who don't have the same eyes and ears for the world that I do."

Our older daughter Heidi, 28, is a public school teacher who just had her first wedding anniversary with husband Pavel. She kept her entry short, probably because she has a Bible study to teach tonight, and just went over to check on her 85 year-old grandpa who lives a few blocks away in Redlands.
 "My goal is to have a house in the next year, in the south side of Redlands, so we can settle in and start a family."

Steven, our baby, is a fitness and diet coach, bodybuilder, and kinesiology major, working full-time at an organic foods market until fall semester, when he plans to continue toward becoming as chiropractor. In a recent interview conducted by his pastor at his church's three Sunday services, Steven spoke about why he is pursuing a bodybuilding career: 

"God's given every Christian a platform. For teachers it's the classroom, for Pastor, it's church; for Le Crae, it's the hip-hop community, for me, it's the bodybuilding and fitness communities. I want to be a champion--I feel like that's what I'm called to do. It will give me credibility in a self-absorbed, selfish world that needs Christ. Each morning at 5:30 [before two hours of cardio on an empty stomach] I give myself a little pep talk. 'Do you want to be a champion? If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.' "                                                         
                                                                                             


To be continued when I get some more input...there may be an issue with my elderly dad coming up!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Secure now and forever

4:42 p.m. Today's project was to program my new Freedom Alert pendant, which I received over a week ago to replace the one I've had hanging from my neck every minute I'm here at home. I purchased it for its features, especially the lack of a monthly fee. Two years ago, I took the wise advice of a friend who made me realize that when I'm alone with Steve, it's not like being with any other adult who could call 911 in an emergency, or even perform CPR if necessary. Patty's opinion was confirmed one afternoon when I sliced my thumb with a knife, and Steve couldn't even open a Bandaid to help me apply pressure by wrapping it tightly around my thumb. Thanks be to the Lord that my oldest son came over just in time. He was putting in a microwave for us, and stopped the bleeding.
Psalm 4:8b says of the Lord, and I believe it,

You alone make me dwell in safety. 

All has gone well until the last couple of months, when the pendant began announcing randomly, "Battery is OK." The  information is nice, but that is supposed to be the response only when I press the small grey button on the back. I would have just ignored it, but when the pendant "speaks," the base unit does, too, only louder. and since Steve goes to bed so early, there's a chance of waking him up. So today, I called the company, and with the help of a very patient customer service lady, got the new pendant working.

Mondays are unique days anyway, for most of us, the beginning of the business week. Phone calls that stalled over the weekend have to be made; additionally, I make plans with our Brightstar home care agency for  Steve's afternoon and evening care. The good parts are prayer time with my prayer partner Cara, and the start of note taking for my Thursday Bible study. What a joy to delve into the Word of God! My spirit and soul just blossom! As Psalm 119:40 says,

Behold, I long for Your precepts; revive me in Your righteousness.

Hours in the scriptures, with a quick sunshine break for watering the front planter and the slope, had me in a blessed frame of mind,  ready to pick up a prescription for Steve and mail a package of supplements from our son Steven to his older brother Kriss. Here's where my day could have fallen off the wagon: while parked at the Towne Centre, I called our house alarm company, Protection One, to fix a longstanding error in the system. Last Friday, the monitoring people called my daughter Heidi to report an alarm going off at 8:23 a.m. Funny thing is, I was HOME at that time, and no such thing occurred ! It's not like I, or anyone else for a 1/8 mile around can miss that alarm blaring!

The "emergency" for them was a failure to receive a particular signal. This has been going on since they switched the system to digital last December. I (and poor Jada, our Lab) have endured full throttle siren tests every few months, especially on rainy days. Is there a connection? I politely declined another siren test, because it's going to turn into a "boy who cried wolf" situation for us in the neighborhood pretty soon! And while popularity is not my goal, I do want to be a good neighbor and witness to those who may have napping children, or who work night shifts. Proverbs 27:14 talks about neighborhood disruption:

He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning,
It will be counted a curse to him.

At any rate, after a very long conversation, with me on repeated holds while the rep consulted with the techs, we agreed that someone will be over tomorrow between 8 and 12. I'll be home writing, so that will work. May they come to a conclusion and solve the issue!!

All of these security measures for our persons and property, probably seems excessive if one believes (as I do) that God has an exact day for each of us to exit this earth; and that material things will be no more when Christ returns (as I do). 2 Peter 3:10:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

We've had an alarm system for the house for 24 years, due to a rash of break-ins when the neighborhood was new. Plus, bless his heart, Steve was concerned for me being the only adult home on the block with four small children to care for all day every day. That Protection One yard sign has spared us some grief, I am sure. We see protecting the belongings God has seen fit to provide as more stewardship than fear.

With the personal alert system, Steve's condition was the driver for that decision. I would be hard-pressed to remove him from the house in the middle of the night in a fire--he is disoriented in broad daylight at the directive to go to the garage and get in the car, with me right there with him! I placed  a sign in our front window that informs emergency personnel that there is a disabled person inside, and the nature of his disability. They will have to remove and secure an incoherent person if I, his caregiver, happen to be the one with the heart attack or serious fall.  Again, it seems that stewardship would demand prudence and preparation.

Since not one of us is going to live a day longer than we are allotted on this earthly scene, I like the question Peter asks further on in 2 Peter 3, vv. 11-12:

Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 

If we live for Christ and serve Him in love, we will joyfully be able to say in agreement, verse 13,

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.







Sunday, July 15, 2012

Big divot

2:45 p.m. Today's project was to create a nice, quiet activity for Steve for a Sunday afternoon. He stayed awake at church, especially helped by following along in the King James version of the Bible on my smart phone.  Because I enjoy the commentaries and the historical and background notes,  I use the New Living Translation during the sermon, which is taught out of the New King James version. Sounds just a little confusing, but it works! Until this morning, it never occurred to me that Steve might enjoy following the scripture references in the back lit, large font version of the Word on my Bible app, but he did look at it and smile. It just looks from a distance that I might be texting! But I do love the technology we have to read the Bible anywhere, on a lightweight, pocket-sized device! Jesus' prophecy in Matthew 24:14 says,

This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as  a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Until my generation--the television generation--this would have been impossible, unheard-of, and another few centuries out into the future. Our technology is just as surely enabling the spreading of the gospel as the Roman roads did in Jesus' day!

After church, we drove to Ralphs for some grocery shopping.  We arrived just as a lady was pulling out of the last handicapped space, so praise the Lord for that! Praise Him anyway, for a good morning of worship, fellowship and the word of God taught to us. We also have been enjoying cooler weather. Right now, Steve and I are sitting at our front patio table, which I lifted and dragged onto our new grassy area, in the shade of a Chinese elm. (The table is not large, but it is made out of cast iron and stone, and the chairs are cast iron, so my muscles got a workout today)! I had to turn his chair so that his back is to the street, and turn the sprinklers on  in the section of the lawn closest to the sidewalk, to keep him from from taking off down the driveway.

Yes, making a run for it is Steve's latest manifestation of end-stage dementia. His late dad Lorenz was found walking about a mile away in Old Towne Orange in his later stage, and was peacefully brought home by Steve's oldest sister. Steve's late brother Larry was immobilized by his disease, so was not physically agitated like Steve and their dad. Steve's urge to run seems to come at breakfast time while he is attended by an early morning caregiver seated next to him to assist, and I'm at the table too. Later in the day, he seems to get irritated if others are conversing, even if we try to include him, and tries to take off. Yet, when I need him to walk with me to another room, or keep close by at the market, he almost has to be pulled along! (Please pray for my painful arthritic hands, wrists, shoulders and back when you think of us).

While moving the patio set for our time in the shade, I made a pretty large divot in the new grass. At first I tried to say to myself that the empty spot had been there, and that the 6" x 8" section of soil with grass attached had been a couple of feet over all along. I went on talking with Steve, pointing out one of our lizards, reminding him to stay seated, and doing a little typing. But I kept reaching down and touching the delicate section of young grass and topsoil--and feeling guilty.

We love to live in the State of Denial on much more serious issues, don't we? Denying that we spoke a reckless or unkind word; denying our poor eating or lack of exercise habits; denying time wasted that could have been used for the Lord in prayer, reading the Bible out loud with a child or spouse, or calling to encourage a friend. Even if we generally live our lives to serve and honor the Lord, we cannot deny that there's room for improvement. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, acknowledging their strict commitment to tithing, but lambasting them for the ugliness inside their hearts, Luke 11:42:

Woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Aren't you glad--overjoyed--that we have the Holy Spirit of Truth living inside us, to prick our consciences and tell us what our next step should be?

I knew that my next steps included putting the furniture back with help from Steve this time, and placing the patch of lawn back to where I tore it up when hastily moving the table. Another next step includes purchasing a bolt for the top of the door that my friends recommended from the experience of caring for Alzheimer parents. I also need to be refilled with the Holy Spirit for that calm and peaceful demeanor Steve needs no matter how messy his meals get or how he acts and reacts in a day.

I realize that things are going to vary, with the improvements Steve has experienced, along with the setbacks that naturally will happen with his dementia. I'll choose to forget his dropping his end of the laundry basket full of clean clothes, but treasure the nice way he rubbed my sore hand.

May I make the choices of Your heart, Jesus!


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Season's Opener

3:53 p.m. Today's project was to pray for our son Steven's first bodybuilding competition of the season. Like all of his fellow bodybuilders, he has prepared all year for one, or in his case, two major shows.

Steven was chosen by his pastor to exemplify discipline, determination and hard work to achieve a large goal. He was interviewed by his pastor all three services at the Peoples' Church in Fresno last month about what it means to be a champion, to persist through to the win, letting nothing deter him from the path he is on. Steven testified that his platform for sharing the Gospel is in the fitness and bodybuilding world, which now has no credible--read "champion"--witness standing up for the Lord Jesus Christ. It's a world of extreme self-absorption and obsession with money and fame. To have the credibility to speak, Steven knows he needs to sacrifice most aspects of a normal life, mainly in the food and exercise areas, in order to be a top professional who will be listened to.

The Lord has found Steven a job that is perfect for him, as a supplements expert at Lassens' Organic Market in Fresno. Since he began competing at the age of 19, five years ago, he has had professional diet coaching, and now, in addition to being a fitness trainer,  which he did for a number of years, he designs healthy diets for his clients. He spent a season coaching soccer at a local Christian high school also. At his church, he has been active with the high school ministry, where, because of his size and list of competition wins, the teenage boys, including a group of boys bused in from an honor ranch-- find themselves listening and are willing to give Jesus a chance, admitting that church is a manly, even cool, place to be.  That's the power of the Holy Spirit, who uses any of us who are willing to win souls!

In I Corinthians 9, Paul talks about the fact that he is willing to go anywhere, speak and share local customs with anyone, that he might win souls for Christ. Verses 19-22:

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without the law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without the law; to the weak, I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

As for Steven's dad and me, whoever thought we'd be attending bodybuilding competions? Or that our baby would become well known in the nutrition and fitness world, winning "Trainer of the Year" for LA Fitness at the age of 18? In the picture above, Steven was being interviewed by KSEE TV 24's reporter on the subject of "Going Green" with powerful anti-oxidant-rich greens. God has obviously laid out an unusual path for our son--one few would attempt to walk.

As Christians, no matter what physical shape we find ourselves in, we are called to the "narrow way that leads to life" --that few find, by the way, Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:14. "The broad road," which billions of people take, leads straight to hell. And He tells us straight up that the narrow way is difficult, confined. Like Steven is not going to eat french fries and sleep all day, a believer has no business getting drunk or watching "adult entertainment." There are more parallels: when we are called to the narrow path that leads to eternal life with Christ, the Holy Spirit begins a work in our heart, soul and mind to the point that we gradually (or suddenly) lose the desire for harmful, sinful practices or substances! I feel more free today, 32 years after ceasing to use foul language, drink or smoke, than when I boastfully said to myself, "I do whatever I feel like doing!" And tough as it is for him to do 2 hours of cardio before breakfast, weights and leg work later in the day, I've never heard Steven complain about his lifestyle, or his road to championship! I'll continue in I Corinthians 9:24-25:

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.

Rewards in this life are satisfying, worth the hard work, and given to us by God to encourage us and propel us into a higher level of ministry of His word, credibility and boldness in sharing the Gospel with the lost.

The crowns we will receive in heaven are imperishable, God saying, Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord (Matthew 25:21).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hear and obey

3:33 p.m. Today's project was to head to the Upper Echelon beauty salon for my hair appointment. With a family wedding tomorrow, I figured this was not a week to skip. Also, since the beauticians are my Mary Kay customers, it's good to keep in close contact! Diligence in business is definitely encouraged in the Proverbs! Proverbs 14:23 says,

In all labor there is profit,
But idle chatter leads only to poverty.

So I was in the company of a room full of other successful businesswomen today. I enjoy the salon for the friendships and long-standing relationships. The customers and operators we super excited when I showed them my latest STAR consultant prize (pictured below) and the ones for next quarter. It's great girl time! It's made even better now that we have grand babies popping up, my newest little boy included. Today was special, because the owner Chris' daughter-in-law came in with her four year-old daughter and 3 month old son. My hairdresser Irene and I left the shampoo bowl to get a close-up look at the little guy, and to pat his chubby cheeks and arms. He's just a couple of weeks younger than our newest grandson Clark.

When my hair was finished, I went to the back where the young mother and her children were enjoying hamburgers and fries. I kept thinking, "Should I give her my card with the sample eyeshadow?" I prayed several times in the intervening minutes. Finally, I got up my resolve and offered her my card with a pretty eyeshadow sample attached to the back. She thanked me, and then said, "You look so familiar!" I introduced myself, and as she asked where we might know each other from, we narrowed it down to King High School, Class of 2004, the year my Heather graduated. Megan was on Dance Team with Heather!! I jotted down an appointment time for a facial for her, and told her that Heather is now a photographer.

And, the Lord was so gracious--Megan mentioned that she wished she'd had a good professional photographer at her wedding, so she's looking to have some nice pictures done now, with her family!

If I hadn't listened to the Lord and offered Megan my card, and become re-acquainted, I wouldn't have made a free pampering appointment for this new mom, as well as potentially help my daughter provide stunning professional family pictures for her old high school friend's family. And of course, my hairdresser profited as well from my appointment. I love this verse, Ecclesiastes 11:1:

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

Let's be warm, friendly, and open-handed with the services we have to offer! Rest assured, God will never be our debtor!



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Over-sight and Under-praying

9:14 p.m. Today's project was to teach II Samuel Chapter 6 to our Thursday morning Bible study, and be amazed once again at the awesome power and absolute holiness of God. This is the chapter where King David leads a huge national procession bringing the Ark of the Covenant from a Levite family's home to the tabernacle that will house it in Jerusalem, still and eternally known as the City of David.
A wonderful intention, supported by the leaders of the nation and the citizens with fervent enthusiasm. But then tragedy strikes the procession. Look at II Samuel 6:3,6-7: the ark was now en route to Jerusalem:

So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on a hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart.
...
And when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and He struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.

As a new believer I was horrified when I read this on my first reading through the Bible! But a few years later, by the time I wrote the lessons on this chapter, I had researched the Law of Moses, and found that indeed God did have a method he prescribed for transporting the ark, Exodus 25:13-14:

And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by them.

The Levites were to carry the ark suspended  from the poles, on their shoulders, NOT on a shiny new cart! This morning we discussed the fact that David always inquired of the Lord so thoroughly before battles, and that he had priests with him, we see that governmental and leadership over-sight and under-praying cost Uzzah his life. We are assured repeatedly in scripture that God stands ready to give wisdom liberally to anyone who asks for it  ( ex. James1:5), and that all will be taken care of in God's timing (ex. II Timothy 2:24, "the servant of the Lord must not strive").

Two generations before, in I Samuel 6: 1-12, the tumor-stricken Philistines returned the ark from Dagon's temple back to Israel on a new cart. And they were not further punished. But the men of Beth Shemesh across the border in Israel, who received the ark, lost 50,070 men because they looked into the ark (v. 19)! They took God's prerogatives upon themselves and were slaughtered. Only consecrated priests could touch the ark!

They took God's holiness, which they should have known for generations, too lightly.

Why do we see Christians rebuked and disciplined for behavior unbelievers do every day? It's because we know the Lord! Our consciences have not been seared and hardened. Yet we disobey our heavenly Father by choice at times. And the number one reason for the disciplinary action? God loves us! Hebrews 12:5-6:

"My son, do not despise the
  chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when  you are
  rebuked by Him;
For whom the LORD loves He
  chastens,
And scourges every son whom He
  receives."

I know I've had some spiritual "swats" over the last 32 years! And each one has  tested, taught, and trained me to be a stronger and more obedient believer.

We read in I Chronicles 15:11-13 that three months later, David did consult with the priests and the Levites, and held the next celebration in "the proper order."

It takes time and dedication to perform our ministry as unto the Lord, properly and in good order. By prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, we may do well to quote I Corinthians 14:40, written to believers:

Let all things be done decently and in order.



 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Language lessons

3:36 p.m. Today's project was to begin serious listening and speaking back with, my Spanish language program. Since I was once very fluent in Spanish, having learned it from the age of 10 through university, I thought I'd begin at the intermediate level for review and practice. At the last few schools where I worked before retiring in 2009, I had opportunity to speak with parents frequently, and so was able to stay in practice. I also would listen to Spanish Bible studies on the way to work on radio station 94.3 FM. These days, I still understand what I hear and read, but speaking is challenging, painfully slow, and not very accurate!

What spurred me on at this time? It was all the Lord and His timing. He has brought me a tutoring job with the high school age daughter of a doctor from India who wants her child to learn correct, academic Spanish. Through a sister at church, Ana Castellanos, the doctor and I had been playing phone tag a couple of years ago, and gave up. It was a fluke, or better yet, a "God thing!" I was sitting in my car on a shady street on the 4th of July while waiting to go over to my daughter Heather's in-laws' home for my second barbecue of the day, when it occurred to me to listen to the 22 voice mails on my cellphone. And there was Ana's voice, saying that the doctor wanted to talk to me soon, and leaving me her home phone number!!! What on earth? Could I actually do this, with two more years of rust on my vocal chords?

I double checked with Ana, and prayerfully called the doctor.  At this point, the daughter has taken Spanish 1 and 2, and done well. Apparently she is pretty ambitious, because she wants to skip Spanish 3 and go on to Advanced Placement (AP) Spanish, which requires an oral exam. (I recall that experience for the Spanish SAT exam I took back in 1969). So, the doctor told me, her daughter needs someone qualified to converse with her, and work with her on her assignments. (AP students have summer school work).

I swiftly prayed while the doctor was talking, and finally agreed to meet  the young lady on the 12th. One thing that gave me the courage to try is that God brought this employment opportunity my way without it even crossing my mind; and, the fact that I am so rusty verbally that only He could give me the words and ability to perform acceptably!  So I am completely flinging myself onto Jesus, who knows the mind and heart of my potential pupil and her mother, and knows the purpose of my meeting them as well!

I love the story of King Jehoshaphat while under attack from Syria in 2 Chronicles 18:31:

So it was, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, "It is the king of Israel!" Therefore they surrounded him to attack; but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him, and God diverted them from him. 

In that battle, God saved the godly king of Judah and killed the wicked King Ahab of Israel!

The more we know and trust God, the more we can call out to him in prayer, not just in dire circumstances like in the heat of battle or from lack of confidence in our abilities, but daily, hourly, regularly "casting all your care upon Him because He cares for you" (I Peter 5:7).

As for my latest adventure, I'm just not ignoring my limitations, quaking in fear and presumptuously figuring on God to just turn on the Spanish portion of my brain in the nick of  time--though He could and He may--but have been listening to that Spanish evangelical station again for hours a day whenever possible, and am working with the CD programs in earnest. We shall see--only the Lord knows how our first meeting will turn out! (And how He intends to use it)!

I covet your prayers, and let's pray for one another regularly, as I know you do! Please feel free to comment back on your own prayer needs.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Drawer album

7:54 p.m. today's project was to look through the bottom drawer of the downstairs (guest) bathroom for a selection of hand towels to show a caregiver. The idea was not to use our huge, decorative towels for drying Steve's hands, despite my leaving the hand towels readily available on the counter...just trying to be helpful. Funny how quirky we homemakers get about the little things! Ironically, Steve himself, nor the kids, would ever have touched the big towels just for washing their hands. Obviously, things are different now, and even if an objection to this "breech of protocol" is deep inside Steve's mind, he'd have a hard time expressing it.

As I was putting the folded hand towels back in the drawer, I decided to look into the drawer above it. There were so many memories in that drawer from the kids' middle and high school years! I even found a few relics from our teenage grandsons childhood, so precious, endearing, and part of the Kruckenberg family's story! In Malachi 2:14b-15, God speaks of His plan for marriage, after denouncing men who have dealt treacherously with their wives:

Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.

But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.

Although not every married couple brings children into the world, one can see that it is God's plan for believers. Considering the adoption option and the medical techniques we have today, those who desire to raise a family have much more hope than at any time in history!

The fist item I noticed was a thick, stretchy blue band from the family's orthodontist, a "hygienic expander for the separation of the palatal suture." (Not the palatial future that awaits us in heaven)! This is a torture device that stretches out the upper mouth before braces put all of the teeth in proper arrangement.  Poor Kriss had a separator, making him majorly uncomfortable and slightly not cute for a time in 7th grade. But he was part of the Christian club, advanced classes and concert band, so it didn't harm his social life! Another oral item was the dental floss that he and the other braces- wearers Heidi and Heather were commanded to use diligently. No need to tell them twice--who wants food stuck in your braces or retainer? This drawer also contained, until I put it away, a plaster cast of one of their mouths.

From her drill and dance team days, I have Heather's prickly hair roller designed to stay in without pins, and some dried-up blue nail polish, probably circa 2002.  A darling tiny butterfly hair clip could have belonged to Heidi or Heather, my little women. I also noted an old Signature line bronzer compact from when Heather began her Mary Kay business. Razors, razor blades by the dozens, looks like everyone had plenty to shave off. Those might have been from Sean, Kriss and Steven, since the girls used their shared upstairs bathroom. There's Campho-phenique, a regular companion of our battered and bruised middle school and freshman year skateboarder Steven. After the half-pipe accident that left him in a cast up to his hip, our youngest decided to play it a bit safer and took up tackle football! Was Steven a "man's man," or "the monkeys' brother," as he used to call himself when he was little and climbing all over my kitchen?!

There are even souvenirs from our grandsons, Adrian and Xavier, now 16 and 14:Spider Man and Jimmy Neutron toothbrushes that we bought together at Vons years ago. That brings the total of old toothbrushes in just this one drawer to 10. (At least they can be sterilized in the dishwasher if somebody comes home to visit and forgot their own). For the traveler, there are two toothbrush holders to keep out germs, once used when Heather went to Mexico with her church youth group to build houses. There are about 20 unused but pretty dusty Q-tips in there, and an eyebrow pencil sharpener. Oh, and a clear red plastic school supply zippered pouch in pretty good shape, so it may have been left behind recently by one of the grandsons.

You probably have one of these drawers full of commonplace memorabilia that you aren't any more likely to toss out than I am. We're moms, and every little thing used by our now-grown children paints a memory, a snapshot in time. Our kids remember events as they got older most likely, but probably don't think much about. I used to wonder if the days here at home held a place in their hearts like they do in mine.

Now that they are adults, there are hints that family memories are important to them! I heard Heidi tell her husband that our family used to go to Monterey all the time, and they just took a first anniversary trip there. I'm pretty sure that each of the kids has made sure to have a real Christmas tree in their home. If pictures around the house make an impression, our Heather is a photographer now. Steven now lives in the Central Valley that had us groaning for hours on the way to Monterey. Sean's boys are carrying on football and basketball sports traditions of their dad and uncles Kriss and Steven. Sean himself had a career in the military like his grandpas both did!

I've been up late nights putting together Pavel and Heidi's virtual Wedding album I make for all of my kids' 1st anniversary, since the traditional gift is paper. Too much work for these old eyes and brain, but well worth the effort when the completed book is mailed back here.

I must state, however, that my effortless drawer album is pretty good at stirring up memories, too!

Psalm 34:3:

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.




Sunday, July 8, 2012

Religion vs the Gospel

4:29 p.m. Today's project was to review, ponder, and mourn over parts of a graph called "Religion vs Gospel" that my youngest son Steven sent me in a text message.

It took some doing to get the size legible, and now that I've printed it out in a blown-up version, it's fuzzy! But the effort is more than worth it for these nuggets of challenging truths. I don't know who wrote this, but it's very heart- and thought-provoking.

Religion:  "I obey, therefore, I'm accepted."
Gospel: "I'm accepted, therefore I obey."

Religion: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.
Gospel: Motivation is based on grateful joy.

Religion: I obey God in order to get things from God.
Gospel: I obey God to have God to delight in, and to resemble Him.

Religion: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or myself, since I believe that anyone who is good should have a comfortable life.

Gospel: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle, but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while God may allow this for my training, He will exercise His Fatherly love within my trial. 

Religion: When I am criticized, I am furious or devastated, because it is critical that I think of myself as a "good person." Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
Gospel: When I am criticized, I struggle, but it is not essential for me to think of myself as a "good person." My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God's love for me in Christ.

Religion: My prayer life consists largely of petition, and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is to control the environment.
Gospel: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with God.

Religion: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel humble but not confident. I feel like a failure.
Gospel: My self-view is not based on any moral achievement. In Christ I am simultaneously sinful and lost, yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad that He had to die for me, and I am so loved that He was glad to die for me. This leads me to deep humility and confidence at the same time.

Religion: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work, or how moral I am--and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral.
Gospel: My identity and self-worth are centered on the One who died for me. I am saved by sheer grace, so I can't look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace am I what I am.

As a sinner saved by grace, yet subject to temptations to slip back into the "religious" mindset of trying to be "good" at all times, rather than leaning on Jesus, and acting from His heart's love for others, I can state truthfully, "Guilty!" on many of these points at various times and to some degree.

How about you? Let's confess our own specific sins to Jesus, and give Him the reins--and the glory-- as we see our lives unfold in His way! I Tmothy 1:17:

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.





Saturday, July 7, 2012

Isaiah 43:18-19

2:37 p.m. Today's project was to attend the Breakfast of Champions, a traditon for Inland Empire Mary Kay units, held at a country club overlooking Corona, California. We enjoy a full, delicious breakfast, but more importantly, it is an inspirational gathering for leaders, consultants, our hostesses and guests.

What I first noticed, and was blessed by, is that the prayer for our food is offered in Jesus' name, so as a new consultant almost five yesrs ago, I felt right at home! Lots of awards, prizes, gifts and recognition, along with fun music remixed with Mary Kay lyrics, makes for a fast-paced morning or encouragement and challenge. This bright, very sunny morning, our Legacy unit was seated together. Our event speaker was to be Cara Murray, our new, first offspring director, and my thrice-weekly prayer partner.

 I was  recognized for acheiving Ruby STAR production status, and received a necklace and charm that said, "Leadership." I see a connection between the charm and the verse on the writing pad my now-Senior Director Laurie gave me, Isaiah 43:18-19, NLT, God speaking to His people Israel:

  But forget all that--it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

As I am now taking the time to ponder the meaning of these verses for me, I can consider the plain words of the first sentence, in conjunction with Philippians 3:13b-14, NLT:

Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press forward to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

I did have many successes from the Lord this last year, most notably leaping from the safe platform of being a successful consultant with a large customer base and two recruits, into the unknown waters of deliberate, active interviewing, recruiting and teambuilding. There was a  lot to learn--about people and what different women are motivated by; and the odd fact, to me, that people who spend money to start a business are capable of just never making an effort, despite much sharing, training, friendship and generosity form their leaders; and some people disappear off of any and every radar screen!

Wasting money and not trying are both incomprehensible to me, but as the Lord showed me, I am not everybody! But that doesn't mean that I'm superior--people are just different, and not everyone was raised by high achieving, business-owning parents. And, perhaps at another time in life, they may really excel at my business, or at something else altogether. Just not now. So I needed to meet and set appointments with more people.

In that effort, I began sitting at Starbucks, calling my customers, and then starting little "warm chatter" conversations that more often than not, led to facials and even parties, and in some cases, new friendships. The Lord blessed me with a team of women who want to do the business, and we are very good at working together for mutual benefit. The Lord also gave me a huge gift of business supplies and even outfits, from a friend at church, Joanna, who was pursing a new career as a marriage and family counselor, and has just moved to Foley, Alabama to assist in ministry with Joe and Lorraine Aldrete at Calvary Chapel  there.

Earlier during the last year, God plainly told me about my Mary Kay business, "I am in this for you." Thousands of dollars' worth of free business supplies was certainly among His confirmations!

But God is already showing me the way that He's drawing me forward. Before I can reach out and share and lead other women, I had to learn a few lessons: to keep track of both my personal and business finances, and keep track of the active status of my team members. And that's where the pathway through the wilderness is going to make a huge difference to me in several areas of my life.

This morning, I realized that I am about to lose my life insurance, due to a buried premium coupon; and later, after B.O. C., I could not find what I needed to get Steve's adult care program paid. Praise God I had deposited the large check from our longterm care insurance a couple of days ago, or I might have lost that too! My "wilderness" is a toss-up between my overloaded brain full of responsibilities, that causes me to miss deadlines and opportunities, both business and personal; and the stacks and piles of personal, minstry, and business paperwork. So I am excited about God making a clear pathway through material and mental clutter.

What about the emotional clutter that causes me to seek the Lord? That's a huge area of attack from the devil, such as guilt over going out to do my business, or taking time on the phone. The Lord reminds me that many spouses of dementia victims have to keep up full-time jobs with long commutes daily. Some caregivers take second jobs to meet the  expenses of a lost income, particularly, losing the primary breadwinner's income like we did.   God gives the comfort and encouragement I need when I need it! When positive regard is given to me, and plentiful sales come my way as a result of hard, enjoyable work, I know it's all God. I cannot make a person decide to purchase my products!

Yes, God is going to do a new thing, moving me up in leadership to director-in-qualification soon, and then into directorship to debut in 2013. Now, as a speaker said this morning, I pray, "Lord, let me get out of my way and let You take over!"





Friday, July 6, 2012

Healing hands

3:56 p.m. Today's project was to enjoy a table massage from Kristine Worden of In Touch Massage. I met her through the Circle of Friends networking group in Redlands. She has become a customer, and we have been trying to finish her part of our "exchange a facial for a massage" arrangement for about a month. With my schedule of ministry and business appointments and her work with respite, hospice care, rest homes, presenting at conferences and serving medical providers, we've both been busy!

The morning had been hectic, trying to get in a few reps on my Health Rider before heading downstairs, making sure Steve and the caregiver were doing all right, preparing for a facial party at 10, plus getting ready for my own hair appointment. Praise the Lord that I'd started--and continued--my morning with devotions, Bible study and journalling. By the time Cara and I had our prayer time, I was already on the road, eating my bites breakfast: a boiled egg. I'm pretty grateful for Eggland's Best new product, pre-boiled and peeled eggs. I was so hungry that I ate it without salt! Even the Bible notes the plainness of the egg white, in this question Job 6:6:

Is there any taste in the white of an egg?

About 12:30,  I gave Kristine directions from her home, she arrived here safely and set up her table.
She began with an oil infused with lavender grown in the Highland Springs area near Banning, which at first seemed overly powerful, but then was very soothing. Once Jada settled down from her barking, it was very quiet as she began the massage. We had a good conversation about keeping a small business in order, when what both of us enjoy is serving others and relationship-building with our clients. But we agreed, you can't have a successful business without a structured financial system. Proverbs 13:4b says, "..the soul of the diligent shall be made rich." I may not become a millionairess, but for my business to be profitable, I need to heed that scriptural advice!

The best part of the afternoon came just after I sat up from my massage, and heard a horn honking faintly outside, accompanied by a phone call: Steve's bus was here.

The Lord gave me a wonderful idea: bring Steve in for a simple hand or shoulder massage before Kristine packed up her table. He stepped off the bus cheerfully, and walked at a good pace into the house. Kristine set her chair opposite him and had him rest his hands on a pillow. Steve, though uncertain at first, enjoyed the scent of lavender oil and his hands relaxed, even though his anti-tremor medication hadn't had time to kick in! Praise the Lord! Steve was very blessed.

There is healing in human touch, albeit temporary. But for true, permanent healing,we must apply to the Lord, our Jehovah Rapha, "I  am Yahweh who heals you" (Exodus 15:26). James 5:14-15 gives the directions for us in the church today:

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us a "sweetener" from You this day!



Thursday, July 5, 2012

Precept upon precept





3:21 p.m. Today's project was to teach and, just as importantly, pray and fellowship with, the ladies in our  Bible study group. We studied II Samuel Chapter 5 today, where David was established as king over all of Israel.

When you teach a passage or chapter of the Bible verse by verse, you are compelled by the Holy Spirit to study, research, dig into original languages and the sublteties of meaning, understand and communicate the whole counsel of God, not just a topic the teacher might find fascinating. Many topics will be mentioned in the verses, and each is important, because God placed them there, whether in a narrative, as in our chapter, or a teaching, as in Paul's letters to the church. And each topic is applicable to my life and yours.                  I Corinthians 10:11-12 says of God's word and the realistic way it talks about human failings,

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

And we have been given "all things pertaining to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3) to help us do just that--to stand .

In our chapter of II Samuel today, we covered these topics, and undoubtedly could have covered more, but these were the ones the Spirit brought to the forefront of my mind:

  • Kinship, v. 1
  • Unity, v.1
  • A person's record of performance as a leader
  • God's calling on one's life, v. 2
  • The threefold covenant between David, the people, and God, v. 3
  • The significance in scripture of a man attaining the age of 30, v.4
  • The history of David's kingship, v.5
  • The conquest of Jerusalem, to become the City of David, v. 7
  • Prophecies of David's shepherding the people, Ezekiel 34:23
  • Anointing of church leaders for office by the word of prophecy, I Timothy 1:18
  • Functioning in the world of unsaved people--being a witness for the season they are in your life, v.11
  • When the LORD God of hosts is with you, for the sake of others, v. 12
  • Polygamy, v. 13
  • Providential opportunity to defeat the enemy and regain lost territory, v.17
  • Burning idols as commanded in th Law, v. 21
  • Inquiring of the Lord before taking action, v. 19
  • God's miraculous sign to go forward, v. 23
  • Persistence of the enemies of the Kingdom of God, v. 22
  • Giving the glory to God for victory, v.20
All of these themes in one chapter of the Bible! One could spend a lifetime implementing the principles of our faith demonstrated here, while looking to Jesus as our perfect example as He walked the earth!

The only One who can open up scriptures to the speaker or the hearer is the Holy Spirit; and the Lord put on my heart before I began teaching to ask Him for a fresh filling of the Spirit within each of us as we laid hands on a sister who is in great and persistent pain.We need Holy Spirit power to witness, to love others, to conduct our ministries in and out of the home and in the church. Believer, all we need to do is ask! Jesus said, in Luke 11:13,

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

Fill us, Lord, that we might glean the truths embedded in Your word!