Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Changing prayer list

11:46 a.m. Today's project was to prepare the March/April prayer request page in the pink binder I've been writing in for almost 30 years. On the front of the college-ruled paper are the prayer requests, and on the back are praises to the Lord for all that He does for me, my family or the Body of Christ each day. (That is, insofar as I can ascertain what He's done! God is ever active in His children's lives, and only a fraction of His praiseworthy acts toward us are evident to us, of that I am certain).

At the top of each page are scriptures or encouraging thoughts that the Holy Spirit sends my way. "My God is Able!" has been the heading numerous times; another one is "To Him be the glory." Both come from II Timothy 4:18, from the imprisoned Apostle Paul's last recorded words.

The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!

Another inspiration is Daniel 3:17. This faith declaration preceding a miraculous biblical event, came from Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who, when threatened with death in the fiery furnace if they did not bow to his giant gold statue, told King Nebudchadnezzar,

Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 

My categories listed down the left side of the prayer request page between the rings have been:

  • Salvation
  • The Body of Christ [the church throughout the world, evangelistic crusades, missions]
  • My church  [pastors and their families, ministries, events]
  • Steve
  • Sean, Pam and family
  • Kriss, Marisela and Clark
  • Heidi and Pavel
  • Heather, Nick and Desmond
  • Steven
  • [Extended] Family needs
  • Me [personal, ministry]
  • My Mary Kay business
  • Needs [of anyone I become aware of, of any nature]
  • City, State Nation
  • Other needs God makes me aware of
As I set up the March/April page, I began to automatically print Steve's name when I stopped! He no longer needs prayer. What can I ask God to do for Steve that He has not already faithfully, and as promised, accomplished and finalized? My beloved late husband is in heaven right now, in the presence of Jesus the Lamb of God!  Steve is healed, healthy, whole, sharp-minded, enjoying fellowship with his brother, parents, cousin, nephew, aunts and uncles, and all other believers who have passed from this earth.

Unlike even the most satisfying life of a believer here on the earth, Steve lacks nothing, fears nothing, and is anxious for nothing. I can testify, and so can you, that even when the Lord gives us a rest from fiery trials, there is no "perfect" happiness here in this life, only spectacular, fleeting, glorious moments when God grants us times of utter joy. That's merely a taste, a microscopic smidgen of what we have to look forward to when He calls us home!

Psalm 16:11 gives a promise from God that those who are born again may commit to heart, recite and rely upon no matter what we face in this life:

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

His hands on my hands

 His bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong
 by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob. Genesis 49:24

9:16 p.m. Today's project was to trust Jesus in all of my business, and see what He would accomplish. His handiwork was seen starting this morning, when He sent a new customer to the door to place a good cash order; in the professional training I received in a nearby city; and in the facial class of a mom and her two middle aged daughters in the home they bought together. As I was generous with my time and explanations, so they were generous with their orders.Thank you, Lord, for showing me the unique needs of each lady today!

The verse in Genesis and the concept it represents are found in the February 22nd morning devotional by Charles Spurgeon. The context is from dying Jacob's prophetic blessings on his twelve sons. The patriarch is speaking of Joseph in  v. 22-26. Spurgeon explains,

"God is represented as putting His hands on Joseph's hands, placing His arms on Joseph's arms.Like as a father teaches his children, so the Lord teaches them that fear Him. He puts His arms upon them. Marvellous condescension! God Almighty, Eternal, Omnipotent, stoops from His throne and lays His hand upon the child's hand, stretching His arm upon the arm of Joseph, that he may be made strong!"

I've experienced God's hands on mine this week, in small but momentarily daunting tasks like putting all of the plastic food containers into a cupboard space that didn't look large enough. But was big enough when the pieces were arranged and stacked correctly. This "Aha!" moment for me might sound like a "Duh!" moment to you, but God has called us to peace, amen? And He has distributed His gifts as the Holy Spirit has seen fit (I Corinthians 7:17, Romans 12:6-7). God has plainly not distributed spatial intelligence to me, as witnessed by my pathetic package-wrapping and car-backing skills! So when I make a go of a task that I really had little expectation of completing on my own, I know it's God's good pleasure to accomplish it with, through or for me!

Ahead of me is another tough task with a deadline included: to de-tangle a very fine silver chain on a necklace I've selected for my older daughter's birthday. My late husband Steve was perfect at this, and so is the daughter I'm giving it to. However, it's probably somewhat tacky to give someone a DIY birthday gift. Will God have me ask someone for help? Or will He patiently guide me in the project? I'll pray on it for sure!

What is God wanting you to do that is way out of your skill set or comfort zone? Go meet a new person for the purpose of sharing Christ with them? Speak out in a small Bible study group during sharing time? Lay hands on someone and pray with confident trust in God for their healing? Teach Sunday school? Give notice at work and stay home with your children? Go on a short term mission trip? Use your business acumen to heed God's call to become an administrative pastor? The possibilities are as multitudinous as they are varied and unique for each child of God!

None of us have all of the possible skills or gifts. We all fall short in one endeavor or another. We all need assistance, divine and human, in some areas of life. Will we trust God, and just go ahead and obey Him?

As Pastor Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, says, "Where God guides, He provides!"


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Intercessory call

1:09 p.m. Today's project was to come home after a future Mary Kay Director meeting, check on my handyman Lou's progress in rototilling the garden, pick up clothes for tonight's meeting, and spend a little time with Jada while I had lunch. A friend, or more of an acquaintance, grief counselor Kathleen, called as I was culling out brown sections from my Romaine lettuce.

Kathleen and I met two years ago at the housewarming party of a mutual friend. She told me about her Christian counseling practice, especially her work with grieving women who have lost babies for any reason.  We talked at length also about all I was learning about care giving for my late husband in the mid-stage of his dementia, as well as the effect that advanced rheumatoid arthritis was having on her hands--and life--at the time.We became sisters in the Lord, exchanged numbers, and befriended one another later on Facebook, but our paths have not crossed again since.

Kathleen had posted very loving words on my FB wall regarding the loss of Steve, and I found out today that she's been following this blog but not commenting.She began her call with, "Dana? Do you have a minute? There's something I just HAVE to tell you!" I told her that I was free and had plenty of time. I was totally eager to hear what this wise sister would speak to me.

She had been praying for me, and sorrowing before the Lord because there was nothing she could physically do for me, or at least that's what she thought. Not so, because the Lord proceeded to call her attention to Zephaniah 3:17.

"The LORD your God in your
  midst, the Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with 
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with

And then the Spirit told her to sing those words of praise aloud! (And she did).

Stunning, just stunning. I was dumbstruck, literally, and in tears at such powerful, anointed intercession.
Reflecting several hours later, it is no wonder, with Jesus moving so strongly in my behalf through His Spirit speaking to another believer, that there has been a peace in my heart, the burden of heavy sorrow and care lifted. My life is not about me and what I need to do next or how I should feel! It's all about Jesus! Are you willing to make Him the Center and Purpose of your life?

Isaiah 59 speaks of the time when the nation of Israel was separated from God because of sin, a time when justice was turned back, righteousness stood afar off, truth was fallen in the street, and equity could not enter, causing truth to fall (v.14-15).  God was displeased, and "wondered that there was no intercessor" (v.16). If ever there was a time to heed the Lord's call to His people to serve Him in this most critical ministry, intercessory prayer, it is now.

Will you carve out time to intercede for others? Let God not be displeased with His people in our day!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A legacy of praise

 5:03 p.m. Today's project was to give a facial and color consultation to an old friend, Tammie, whom I met through Harvest Christian Fellowship's women's ministry. Linda Thomson, Bonnie Lange and I were setting up our first "Willing Hearts, Willing Hands" home arts classes back in 1983 when Tammie was asked to teach a scrapbooking class. Even though we are friends through Facebook currently, we hadn't seen one another in person for years until the day of Steve's memorial, very briefly with a crowd of  friends between us in the spacious Harvest foyer. We greeted one another very happily in my doorway. She doesn't seem to have changed much, if at all.

My friend and I aren't old at 53 and 61, but, like the cars pictured above, we're "vintage!"  Psalm 71: 15-18
tells us that God is with us through all stages of life, giving us reason to hope, and that it is a joy and comfort to testify of Him.

But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and
My mouth shall tell of Your
And Your salvation all the day,
For I do not know their limits.

I will go in the strength of the 
  Lord GOD;
I will make mention of Your 
  righteousness, of Yours only.

O God, You have taught me from
  my youth; and to this day I declare Your
  wondrous works.

Here we see the Psalmist reflecting on past experience as a reason to praise; current knowledge of God whose power and willingness to save have no limits; and future hope and determination to raise God for His righteousness. With that hope, the writer--and we--can go in the strength of the Lord God, in full confidence, mentioning God's incomparable righteousness to all we meet.

At a Bible study this evening, we took up II Corinthians 4. Hear verse 7:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels [us], that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

The dying of the Lord Jesus for our sins, and His resurrected life, is to be manifested in us. This is what we, the Church, have to share!

The Psalmist continues, v. 18:

Now also when I am old and
O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Your strength to
  this generation,
Your power to everyone who is to 

Lord, as we age, may we leave a legacy of faith and praise!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

How then shall I live?

9:50 p.m. Today's project was to join our church's "Widows' Might" fellowship. These sweet sisters meet on the third Sunday of each month for worship, encouragement, prayer, and teaching from the scriptures. I know them all from Home Fellowship and Bible study groups. A number of them attended Steve's memorial. On the sad side, they all watched Steve gradually leave us over the last four years, week by week, until he could no longer attend church. They most certainly and faithfully prayed for us, and still keep me lifted up.

After 2nd service, I stopped in at my daughter Heidi and her husband Pavel's 5th/6th grade Sunday school class to pick up oranges from Pavel's parents' grove, and then headed to the meeting. On the way down the hall, I ran into Roberta Murdaugh, the Widows' Might leader. This was amazing, because I had been praying about asking her if I might share a scripture and a few words at the meeting, and there she was! As we walked, we immediately began sharing together the closeness we have found with the Lord after our husbands' deaths, in a loss whose pain no other earthly relationship can cause. Truly, as Isaiah 54:5 says,

For Your Maker is your husband,
The LORD of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy
  One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole

We all introduced ourselves and how long we'd been widowed,  for the benefit of another first timer, Felicia, a very recent widow (November) who had driven all the way from Idyllwild. In response to her tears, we all laid hands on her while Jo, who founded the group in 1999, led in prayer. Roberta then called me up and I shared from my post of January 6, five days after Steve's death, entitled "Not one thing has failed." I told the group that in only a month and a half, I may not actually be sure I'm a widow just yet, but by next month the full realization may set in and I'll be a basket case, so I'd better share a bit today!

My scripture was Joshua 23:14, where the dying leader of the Israelites reminds them,

Not one thing has failed of all the good things the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All of them have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.

Indeed, God gave Steve a brilliant career, abundance, a large family, and saw to it that his dreams and desires were fulfilled. God appointed the short duration of his life, and blessed him to the fullest!

I took many notes on Roberta's Bible study, which was based on the late Francis Schaefer's book How then Shall we Live?  She declared, "The answers are in God's instruction book, and the answer to our particular need just jumps out at us." Her four main points for us to remember about God were:

  1. God is love.
  2. God is good.
  3. God is faithful.
  4. He loves me!
Roberta reminded us that God gives us grace, unmerited favor, but do we give grace to others? Max Lucado was quoted here: "Where the grace of God is gone, bitterness is born." And for a group who are undoubtedly tempted to feel that all has been taken from them,  she chose Psalm 84:11 to encourage us:

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

How privileged I was to join the gathering of this long-experienced, honorable and loving group!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hands-on, then hands-off

10:39 p.m. Today's project was to happily take part in a farewell party for Pastor Mike and his wife, my good friend Stephanie, and two of their grown children, son-in-law and baby granddaughter. Dave and Linnae were our gracious hosts in their lovely home, built by Dave, a contractor.

The gathering was lively, hilarious--plenty of stories about the peripatetic Pastor Joe of Calvary Chapel Foley (Alabama), and more than a few jokes about Mike's readiness to keep up with Joe, whose legendary energy and enthusiasm drive his 24/7 evangelism. Stephanie has us girls rolling with her plans for dealing with the snakes, mosquitoes and humidity endemic to the Gulf Coast region. I believe her strategy is  to not go outside after sundown for four months!  The fully-extended dining room table was weighed down by all of the food brought, and we thoroughly enjoyed our chance to "greet one another with a holy kiss" (Romans 16:16). Some of us attend different churches now, so we hadn't talked in person for months.

Highlighting the evening was our prayer time for Mike and Stephanie. We filled the large family room, where the two were seated in the center for a prayer of anointing them for the tasks ahead. Those of us closest to them laid our hands on them, and the concentric circles behind us laid hands on our shoulders, for an uninterrupted flow of the Holy Spirit. In this we followed the model of Acts 13:1-3, where certain prophets and teachers were gathered at Antioch:

As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul [Paul] for the work to which I have called them." Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.  

We all felt, and still feel, sad because we'll miss this beloved, dedicated couple , but we know that Pastor Mike and Stephanie have been called to come alongside Pastor Joe and Lorraine to minister to so many who do not know the Lord, or need to grow in Him. Many hugs, and praise to God were heard around the room after the close of prayer, as people recounted all that the McTigues' personal ministry has meant to them.

Dave heads up the transport and supply efforts for the Casa Del Pastor [House of the Shepherd] abandoned women's and children's home in Mexico supported by our church. He was telling me how Mike would smoothly facilitate all that he needed to lead a caravan of vehicles and people down south a number of times each year. The vehicles would always be ready to go. Dave said, "I told Pastor Mike one time that I needed $10,000 for supplies. He said okay, and it was done. I was able to carry out my ministry from there." I replied, "Mike did his part, then took his hands off, and let you do yours!" "Yes, and Ephesians 4:11-12 says, "the Lord gave us pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry."  I agreed, saying, "and there all are kinds of gifts and ministries.There's no need to micromanage people! Hands off!Let them do their ministries."

I then mentioned that there are times for a pastor to be hands-on, such as when I'd take distraught and desperate women up to the church office for help, perhaps with moving from a foreclosed house. Pastor Mike would put together a crew to take care of that need. Two years ago, Mike had persevered in helping a bedridden mother whose adolescent boys were getting out of control, for months, with my ladies' Bible study bringing in meals and cleaning. Mike actually went over to have a very firm and effective talk with the boys! (An aunt eventually took the family in]. He and Stephanie, our church's bookstore manager, had some hassles with Tate Publishing while ordering my book Galatians: An Exploration of Faith & Freedom, for the bookstore. But they persevered, for which I am grateful!

We said our temporary goodbyes at 10:00 p.m., so blessed and refreshed by the sweet fellowship.  May God go with you, McTigues!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Who is happier?

8:59 p.m. Today's project was to visit my doctor concerning a months-long, lingering dry cough, restarted and aggravated by dust.  We've been cleaning out the garage and the rooms for my older son and his family to move in, so since November, I've had a probelem. Hopefully, with more exercise, the shortness of breath will go away, too. If not, it's chest xray time. Right now, he says my lungs are clear.

Dr G has seen all of our family between the kids' pediatrician days and young adulthood. Steve and I have been seeing him since 1992. I haven't been sure of his relationship with Christ, but he and his wife and I have become friends. He was one of my strong school board campaign supporters, and we always shared the same conservative worldview. He's seen me successsfully through breast cancer; prescribed helpful medications for Steve in his early stage of dementia to curb the fear and anxiety he felt when losing his faculties; and his office was instrumental in getting Steve quickly qualified for Social Security lifetime disability benefits. In short, he's a wonderful doctor, who was really sad when Steve had to join another medical group when he was changed over to Medicare in 2009.

In short, this is a doctor who is what a doctor should be--professional and personal!

Today I had the sad job of telling the doctor that Steve passed away last month. He had known, of course, as a practitioner, the inevitable end of memory loss; Steve's genetic background; and the loss of his brother in 2010 coincided with Steve's descent into his own final stage. The doctor said, "Just think of how much happier Steve is now than either of  us who are still here right now!" Thinking of my dreadful aggravation with Social Security and the delay tactics of John Hancock life insurance, I said,  "You got that right! Steve has not a worry on his mind, ever again." (II Corinthians 5:8:We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord).

Then the doctor said, "Look at the two kids we lost from Woodcrest! [the Christian school his kids attend] Killed, along with the grandma, by a 20 year-old drunk driver.The only good thing is that they died instantly, spines snapped at the skull, the one who lingered was gone in two days." I replied, "The good thing is that they were happy as clams, maybe even singing, on their way to a church youth event, and now they're in heaven."

He surprised me by saying next, "This may sound kind of crude, Dana, but even though we miss them, think of what they'll never have to go through in the rest of their lives--everything bad they might have had to face here on earth." "You mean, like a spouse who cheats and a family gets destroyed, or being victim of  a violent crime, or losing everything?" Right," the doctor said, "They were taken away from any of that."

I said, "Wait! There's a Bible verse that says that! 'Good men are taken away from the evil to come.'" The doctor definitely took that in, a real "aha!" moment. May it build to a solid commitment to Jesus Christ!

Isaiah 57:1-2 says:

The righteous perishes,
And no man takes it to
Merciful men are taken away,
While no one considers
That the righteous is taken away
 from evil.
He shall enter into peace;
They shall rest in their beds,
Each one walking in his

So, who is happier?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Widows' Valentine Luncheon

7:47 p.m. Today's project was to attend my first widows' event, other than the ones I've helped set up and serve for our church's Widows' Might group at Christmas time. One month and 9 days ago, I became a part of a group beloved, cared for and honored by Jesus Himself. God adjured His people to care for widows and orphans in Deuteronomy 10:17-18, taking care to identify Himself in that context--this is who God is, His heart revealed!

For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow... 

Jesus brought the deceased only son of the Widow of Nain back to life (Luke 7:12):

When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.

In one of Jesus' three scathing denunciations of their treatment of widows, He said of the scribes and Pharisees, in Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47; and here in Matthew 23:14:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers.Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.

In Mark 12:43, Jesus commends to His disciples a widow who put two mites (small copper coins) into the treasury, as opposed to the large offerings of the rich:

Assuredly, I say to you, that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, even her whole livelihood.

And don't forget one of the two righteous people who were able to witness of the Baby Messiah when His parents dedicated Him at the temple at Jerusalem. Luke 2:37 says of Anna the prophetess:

...and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

The Lord has placed me in an honorable state--I might as well own it!

On Friday, a connection was made between an old friend Kim Davis, and her friend Kathy Joliff Potts, a widow who hosts an annual Valentines' luncheon  for widows. A widow herself, she determined five years ago that no widow she knows shall spend a Valentines' day unloved or alone. It was a beautifully decorated, sumptuous affair, with gold chargers under our china plates, cloth napkins, and plenty of red, white and pink decorations. We each were given a handmade card set at our place at the table that reads inside, "Wishing you a happy heart."

After prayer, our icebreaker was to share our favorite food and favorite movie. Many sweet movies were named, but my favorites are a tie between "Lawrence of Arabia" and Pride and Prejudice." Since I couldn't think of any prepared dish, I went with Bacon Avocados as my favorite food.  We spoke about how we met our husbands; our grandchildren amd great-grandchildren, if any; and the next step we desire to take in this new phase of life, encouraging one another in the Lord throughout. I was glad to know that feeling rather vague, fuzzy and forgetful is very common right after losing one's spouse. Such a varied group we were! Some of us went right back to work out of necessity; others went back to help restore a feeling of normalcy. Still others were already retired, and now travel and spend time caring for grandchildren. All are active at church. Having one's kids move back home was a pretty common factor, enjoyable and needful for both parties. 

The saddest part for me was hearing of those whose husbands passed away suddenly with heart attacks, or  the way the youngest woman there lost her husband at age 27 due to a hospital error. I mentioned to the group what Jesus continually shows me: He has set a path of life before us, not of our choosing, but He will use and bless this new life. Others added godly wisdom: "Let Him lead you," and "Spend time doing for others."

The topic came up of one gal who denied herself any happiness or fun for the first few years, because of guilt that she wasn't the one who died [survivor guilt].What a friend told me, I shared with one sister who has the opposite attitude, is at peace, and now plans to travel with her grown granddaughter, " 'Well done, good and faithful servant.' You completed your marriage, cared for your husband until the end, and now the Lord has given you this time to live and enjoy your life." Several others chimed in, "We're not dead yet!" We agreed to let God "take us around the next corner," as one woman put it. I am looking forward to getting to know these new friends more at the group's monthly events.

Lord, I thank you for the compassionate, beautiful group of sisters that You gifted me with today!!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"Instant" means "instant"

8:08 p.m. Today's project was to learn what it meant, for the first time in a long while, to act out in real time II Timothy 4:2 (KJV):

Preach the word! Be instant [ready] in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

I picked up my dad, age 85, from his house in Redlands for an afternoon together. Our plan was to listen to my late husband's memorial service CD because Daddy had been unable to attend. My son-in-law had worked without success during breakfast time to get the DVD slide show to work in the player we have, but we'd have to settle for an audio CD, with posters of the pictures they used for my dad to view.

While we were eating our McDonald's--ugh--lunch parked in the shade, I commented on the struggle I'm having with Social Security, and the delays with the life insurance companies and how Steve is with the Lord now, not having to worry about any of it. Daddy said, "Now wait a minute! He's in his resting place for now." I said, "No, his body is here on earth, but his spirit is with the Lord right now. 'Absent from the body is present with the Lord!' " (II Corinthians 5:8)

Then we arrived here at home, where I showed Daddy all of the photo collection, he held the leather urn of Steve's ashes, and we commented on the heavy weight and light color of the ashes. While I worked to get the CD of Pastor Jeff Lasseigne's service to play, he read Steve's official death certificate, perusing every very closely.

Try as I might, the CD would not play. But God had a better, far superior agenda for our time together.

Daddy again brought up the "resting place" idea. For clarification, Daddy studied with the Jehovah Witnesses for a period of time about three years ago. He became pretty distant when my book Galatians:An Exploration of Faith & Freedom came out. Even though he ordered several copies to distribute to his sisters, his own reading of Galatians' denunciation of works-driven cults such as Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons cut him to the quick--and rightfully so. Their doctrines have been in opposition to biblical truth, causing innocents to fall into "the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (II Timothy 2:26:b).

I began by explaining to him the difference between the Old Testament saints who awaited Jesus's death on the cross and resurrection for the salvation of ALL believers. We, since the resurrection of Christ, go directly to be with Him at death. The Lord had me take him to I Thessalonians 4:16-17,

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God. and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

"The 144,000," he said. (remember, he'd been listening the Jehovah's witnesses). "No, they are Jews who will be saved after Christians are taken to heaven, during the terrible time of the Tribulation, and read to him Revelation 7:3, where an angel says, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." verse 4:

And I [the Apostle John] heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:

And then I read down the names of each tribe, one at a time, repeating 12,000, over and over, so Daddy could plainly see that they will be members of the tribes of Israel. He got it!! But he did say, piquing my curiosity about the Jehovah Witness translation of the Bible, "I don't remember seeing this in my Bible." I said, "Well, Daddy, here it is!" We moved on to his next question, after having some conversation about translations.

Continuing his curiosity about the Old Testament, "Have any of the prophecies of the Old Testament come true?" "Oh yes," I replied, "Israel becoming a nation once again." He said, "What happened in 1947-48, right?" "Yes." And then we read Ezekiel's 37's prophecy about the valley of dry bones coming to life and change into a mighty army filled with the breath of God. Verse 14 says,

I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. To answer another of his questions, I checked Pastor Chuck Smith's introductory notes and we read that Ezekiel was written in 571 B.C. at the latest, and finally came true! We actually calculated all of the years it took...

We moved then to prophecies of Jesus' suffering and death, such as Isaiah 53:3-5, and Zechariah 12:10. Then we took up the prophecy of Genesis 2:15, the passage about the enmity between the seed of Satan and the Seed of the woman. "The Seed?" "Daddy, who was the only Person born without a human father?" "Jesus!" he smiled. And in Malachi 3, we saw the messenger who announced Jesus, John the Baptist.

Revelation back to Genesis, and a number of books in between, made for quite an afternoon! After so much prayer by our family and my women's Bible study groups over the last few years, God saw fit to make a breakthrough, and I give Him all the glory, as my dad enters his final phase of this earthly life.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Back to group

10:00 p.m. Today's project was to attend Ladies' Bible study after missing last week, due to being out of town all day with my dad. My lesson was finished for the week, but I didn't make back out to Calvary Chapel to share what the Lord had shown me with my discussion group.

Scripture exhorts us to share what we've learned from the Bible and the mighty works God has done in our lives--our testimony--with other believers. Here are some verses I enjoy:

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. (Hebrews 13:15)
 As it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the LORD." (I Corinthians 1:31)

 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written,"I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak. (II Corinthians 4:13)
 filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:18b-19

The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9)

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you     (I Thessalonians 3:12)

Whether it be the Apostle Paul or everyday believers such as ourselves, we are to lift up the name of Jesus Christ and God the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit to mutually build one another up, comfort one another in trials, and keep one another's minds uplifted through our testimonies. Praise Him! Sing to Him!

I Thessalonians tells us why: He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Monthly check-up

4:32 p.m. Today's project was to reflect and assess my progress on the journey of widowhood. Since so many loving and caring friends ask me, after I inquire about their well-being, "How are YOU?" I thought I'd ask myself the same thing. How is my obedience to God in this new phase of life? Am I as on fire for God despite the sadness I feel? I don't want to be like the man who merely hears the Word but does nothing about it in James 1:23-24. This is the way he looks at himself in a mirror (NLT):

You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.

One aspect of new widowhood is all of the organizing that has to be done, and even if one has adult children to assist, the surviving spouse is the only person legally charged with carrying out her husband's wishes. In our case, Steve's wishes were written and signed before witnesses.  The mortuary had to be selected, and then the next choice was cremation or burial. Widows then spend time handling many legal and financial details, such as acquiring the official death certificates for life insurance, mortgage companies and banks. Filing for life insurance proceeds and Social Security death benefits have been the most time consuming tasks, still unresolved, but the ball is in their court, at least!

I've been reading Jesus Calling by Sarah Young each morning, with its continual emphasis on giving every aspect of your life over to Jesus to handle perfectly, absolutely trusting Him. I still plan and structure the aspects of my day, striving to put all of my activities in an "ideal" order. But I know full well, that He will very often, almost always, change things around, because He knows what will happen tomorrow. For instance, I was torn between visiting my dad on Thursday before my Mary Kay meeting in his home also located in  Redlands; or waiting until this afternoon to visit him before tutoring a student in nearby Loma Linda. I did have time to spare before my meeting, and the Lord impressed upon my heart to see Daddy yesterday. Sure enough, he had been waiting for me to get his shopping done!  Wait, here's the real "twist:" earlier this afternoon, I checked in with my student's mom to confirm our 4:30 appointment, and guess what? My student is sick, so no tutoring session today. Jesus knew I wouldn't be in Loma Linda today! (And He was looking out to save me time and gas money)...

My heart needs to trust, simply trust and rest, and my mind need not fidget, even with matters whose outcomes are so much bigger than an extra 40-mile round trip. Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) admonishes,

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. 

What about those matters of the heart? The kids and I have all been mourning differently, some with a pervasive depression, others with random crying jags (that's like me). A couple of them haven't described much reaction other than sadness over the way their dad died, and the agony Steve went through, knowing he was losing his mind, but ultimately, being too far gone to struggle against his dementia as he had before the last 6 months. I've kept open communication available with the kids, so they know that any and all of their reactions are normal, expected, and not likely to go away soon, as the grieving process unfolds.

Add to that the possibility of inheriting the cruel, life-shortening familial dementia that lurks in half of their genes, and I have much to pray about for my kids, above and beyond concerns of marriage, parenting, jobs, ministry and education that are typical young adult fare. Praise God that they were raised in the Lord, and can say with the writer of Psalm 121:1-2:

I will lift my eyes to the hills--
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
Maker of heaven and earth.

On a mental note, I find that I'm a little vague and inattentive when it comes to my business, although I am back to booking appointments and attending events, and my former excitement is building back up again after a month off, as I draw on God for energy. I still have moments of disbelief that I'm now a widow, because Steve was already gone from our home for four months before he passed. (And of course my identity has been that of a married woman for so long). A daily look on the surface doesn't show much change in my routine, and our house looks the same, all of the same pictures of our family and plenty of just the two of us are displayed. Do those pictures ever come down? I don't know, will have to ask some of my longer-widowed friends. Or does it matter because we're all individuals? I got a minor speeding ticket--the first in a decade-- at the bottom of a steep hill near our house Tuesday night due to inattention, or more likely, oblivious familiarity. I felt guilty and sad, but after the writeup was over, continued on to church for a fun night with my crafty Piecemaker girlfriends, barely arriving late. Looks like we'll have a new instructor for our Spring Heart to Home class series, too!

Despite some vagueness and occasional loss of focus, when I look in the mirror, I see a woman whom God is moving forward. Home Fellowship gives me the exciting and challenging opportunity to participate in free and open discussion of God's word; Bible study offers fellowship and personal insights as I finish the weeks' lessons. And my daughter, son-in-law and their developing baby have finally moved into the house, providing companionship and help while they have much more space they have renovated and decorated as their own. Psalm 121, verses 3,7-8 fittingly close my day and first complete month as a widow:

He will not allow your foot to be
He who keeps you will not slumber.

The LORD shall preserve you
  from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The LORD shall preserve your
  going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even