Sunday, June 30, 2013


5:25 p.m. Today's project was to own up to twinges of jealousy I've felt in the last month or two.

Normally, the Lord has gifted me with the ability to be genuinely happy for others, and I am, because He has saved me to eternal life, blessed me with an incredible family, loyal longtime friends, productive work and Spirit-led ministry. Best of all the gifts of this life, Jesus gave me 31 years of love from a godly husband, my Steve, who passed away January 1 of this year. Our 32nd wedding anniversary is coming up in eleven days.

As a suddenly single person, I've not spent much time--except at first--envying couples in the prime of life, because even though Steve was unwell for the last year and a half of his life, we enjoyed lots of fun together from the time I retired in 2009. The Holy Spirit wordlessly comforted me by reminding me that I had much more to be grateful for, in all honesty, than to be sad about. That is why He is called the Comforter by Jesus in this promise in John 14:25-27:

These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name,  He will teach you all things, and bring to remembrance all things I have said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Practical matters of settling Steve's estate, Social Security and life insurance; and addressing neglected areas of our property have consumed these 6 months, along with my children and grandchildren living with me here in the house. My oldest son's family, and my older daughter and son-in-law live in neighboring cities. I've formed active daily routines and worked my Mary Kay business successfully, without anxiety about daily provision, safety, or having to do all of the household chores myself. Major repairs have been undertaken by my sons and sons-in-law, for which I thank the Lord.And even the dogs have a new pal in my 15-month-old grandson Clark! Our adorable 3 week-old grandson Desmond is battling back from meningitis and is improving daily, may God be praised!

But we know from I Peter 5:8, that 

our adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

And if the devil can cause me to focus on what I don't have rather than on the wonderful things I do have, I will be devoured by envy and bitterness. I would be indulging myself in sad, shocking and ungodly attitudes, not to be named among us as believers!So I do what James recommends in 4:7:

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

But temptations are always with us in this earthly life, just different temptations beset different people!

Lately, I realize that the temptation to envy now hits me when I see very elderly couples like the Smiths whom I spent time with yesterday, delivering product to the wife Nancy. They bantered, bickered, teased and praised each other with loud, even boisterous voices, much to my delight. The husband whipped out of his wallet honeymoon  pictures of his wife in her 40's style bathing suit, and a picture of himself as a skinny kid in uniform just before the start of World War II. The wife kept saying that he was deaf, but he totally heard everything we said--or if he didn't he just kept on with his line of chatter.I hadn't laughed out loud to that degree since our grandson came down with meningitis last Monday.The Smiths really lifted my spirits.

God bless the elderly couple I saw inching along last Thursday afternoon in the Stater's parking lot in Mentone, holding hands, or probably holding each other up, holding on for dear life. Steve and I held hands whenever we walked together anywhere, from our dating days onward. I felt a twinge of sadness for what would never happen for me again with Steve in this life, but the Holy Spirit reminded me that he is healthy and whole, and the happiest he's ever been, living in heaven now.  And I am happy now, too, in the life He has designed for me. I pray a blessing on those couples I see for setting such a wonderful example to their families and the world at large. That's "Love for a Lifetime," as Dr. James Dobson put it. 
Whenever I am at a momentary loss as to how to think or pray, I rely on the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to keep my mind and heart in the place of gratitude where God wants me. I'll close with Romans 8:26-28:

...the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 

   And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, and who are the called according to His purpose.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Battling for life in the NICU

8:19 p.m. Today's project is to finally sit down, prompted by the March of Dimes keepsake journal, "Baby," and reflect on the Lord's work in saving my newborn grandson Desmond's life from spinal meningitis.

At 1:10 a.m Monday morning, Heather and Nick called his mom Kathleen to ask what to do about two-week-old Desmond's 102 degree temperature. "Take him to the hospital!" she replied. At 1:45, I awoke to use my bathroom, and sleepily marveled behind my closed door that all the lights were still on upstairs in the rooms next to me, but figured the baby was up nursing, and went back to sleep. I had set a 4 a.m. wake-up alarm so I could drive my other daughter Heidi and her husband Pavel to LAX for their 2nd anniversary flight to Maui, so staying up was not an option.

At 4 o'clock, I went into the hall and peeked into the rooms and the parents and baby were gone. "Maybe they spent the night at Nick's parents' house," I thought. 4 a.m. was no  time to be calling anyone, so I hustled about and got out of the door and on my way to Redlands to pick up Heidi and Pavel. We traveled lightheartedly to the airport, I deposited them, and went on my way home with just a "pit stop" in Bellflower.

Little did I know that Desmond was fighting for his life!

I was most of the way home when a text message from Nick came in about 9:30 a.m., detailing Desmond's near-fatal fever, the painful tests, such as a spinal tap, which their little one had to endure without pain medication, and the prognosis: bacterial spinal meningitis,14 days' minimum in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit--in isolation!. Future complications include deafness and brain damage! However, since they brought the baby in so quickly, he had the best chance for survival. Thank you, Lord!!

We didn't see much of Heather as she and Nick came home to rest Monday afternoon, but he told me later that evening that the two of them had endured 2 and a half hours not seeing Desmond, but hearing him scream from lifesaving medical procedures. Nick and Heather were requesting total privacy at that time. I went over to Nick's parents house just to be together, commiserate, and talk about how we could help. Information was quietly going out to the families.My friend Linda Martinez' prayer chain had been set in motion for Desmond's complete healing.. As I tweeted earlier this week, "Praise God that He has not left us alone in our tribulations! Jesus said, in Hebrews 13:5,

I will never leave you nor forsake you."

It was one of the most difficult things I've ever done, to look at my daughter Heather, a new mom with her baby away from her for the first time in his life, standing at the kitchen counter quietly eating the poached egg and sausage Nick had fixed for her breakfast. You could cut both of our pain and sorrow with a knife. She asked me if I wanted to come see the baby, and of course I said "yes." I went upstairs and cried a little, because the loud sobbing I felt like doing would have upset my daughter and son-in-law. I was devastated, just devastated, horrified and frightened. As Nick's mom and I said, we've both had our full share of childhood mishaps and injuries, but nothing ever happened with our newborns.

Only God could intervene for Desmond, and He did! When I went to see him in the NICU, the visit began with a 3-minute surgical scrub and the donning of a gown.My old Bible study friend Ginger Fero, now a charge nurse, gave me a hug and reassured me that she had placed him in the NICU immediately (not in pediatric ICU) for his further protection. She arranged for the finest neonatal specialist to attend Desmond, knowing who Heather was right away (family resemblance). Christian doctors and nurses are attending him around the clock. And I was delighted to see that his color was regular newborn pink, and the stiffness in his little neck from the disease was loosening. He was nursing and eliminating, moving about as a baby should.On Tuesday, we still didn't know what the repercussions for the future might be, but people were praying.

As Nick asked for prayer on Facebook, a friend from their church set up "Meal Train," one of the websites that help friends organize meal deliveries to hurting families, those in crises of any kind. Nick and Heather's lunches and dinners are delivered to his parents' home, which is much closer to the hospital than mine. That way, Desmond's parents can head back to the hospital conveniently. In what happens to be the most critical week of my Mary Kay business year, the Lord allots time for me to spend an hour each day with Heather and Desmond, and have the privilege of seeing him progress daily.

Desmond hears, responds, looks me straight in the eye, coos, and does all of the normal newborn movements.He nurses vigorously. He turns his head and is even lifting it up to look around. And because of having formula during the night and as a daytime supplement to breastfeeding, he's even filling out, and looks cuter than ever! How hundreds of believers are praising God today!

As a believing nurse explained today, "All the prayers are working, most of us in here are Christians. So keep the prayers coming!" She went through the daily improvement Desmond has shown, and told us of the amazing skill of the doctor who found a way to get the IV into his umbilical cord area, not easy 2 weeks after birth, falling off of the cord, and the closing up of the area. As she left, it occurred to me that prayers not only helped Desmond and his family, but help the nurses and doctors too--giving them wisdom for enacting each part of their role, and not making costly mistakes--the stakes are high for the preemies and babies with life-threatening illnesses! David wrote in Psalm 144:1, 2a

Blessed be the LORD my Rock, 
Who trains my hands for war,
And my fingers for battle--
My lovingkindness and my
My high tower and my deliverer,
My shield and the one in whom I take refuge

It is with godly, God-honoring confidence that I thank the Lord Jesus, Desmond's Deliverer!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Being kept in peace

8:59 p.m. Today's project is to reflect on the way that God has kept me in His perfect Peace while I've been in the eyes of several hurricanes of busyness the past two weeks. Isaiah 26:3 (KJV) says,

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.

With Summer Bible Study beginning three Thursdays ago, just days before our little Baby Desmond was born, it's been an exhilarating and challenging month. Nothing do I love better than new babies in the family! And I treasure answering God's 33-year call on my life by delving into God's word in preparation for teaching the ladies and disseminating their written lessons. Now we are in the group's 8th year--the fourth year of the Books of Samuel, taking half a book each summer. Becoming absorbed with David's adventure of knowing, obeying and trusting God, while learning about what is in our own hearts, never gets old. We studied Colossians, 2 years of Ephesians, and Galatians previously. I believe the Lord is leading me back to the New Testament for 2014, should He tarry!

I jokingly said to my son-in-law and daughter (Desmond's parents) a few days ago, "I'm looking forward to a week where I don't lose a day (of study)!" Last week, Wednesday was lost due to a drive to LAX and an afternoon of migraine illness; this week, Monday was a travel day back from Chicago, where my youngest son Steven and I had a wonderful time with his national bodybuilding competition, worshiping at the fledgling Real Church plant, and touring that amazing town.

But the Anchor of my soul, Jesus, has been in the midst, easing every step of the way, and allowing our family's lives to mesh, move, and be met at every turn by His loving Presence. The momentum of my Mary Kay business is speeding up also. What a joy it is to help meet women's needs for high quality products and the opportunity to have rewarding businesses of their own!

One development that has not been positive is the difficulties my 86-year-old dad has been struggling with lately. He does not remember which day or time I tell him I'm coming to do his weekly shopping, so becomes irate when I call to say I'm on my way. "It's people like you," he'll say, "that can't be trusted to show up when they say they will!" I just tell him the day and time we had agreed upon, and calmly say, "I'll be there between 12:30 and 1 p.m." Sometime he has he energy to come  with me, and then prefers to sit in the car. Other times, he'll painstakingly walk into the tobacco shop to get his chew. Until recently, his house has been at his standard of cleanliness. But about three weeks ago,  I noticed black water coming up the kitchen sink drain. I purchased two kinds of strong drain cleaners, but have returned each week to see the ooze now up to the brim of the deep sink, and a skin forming over the top. (And the bottles unopened, not even taken out of the bag).Repeated urgings to call his septic man or plumber have gone unheeded; if a plumber he didn't call showed up at the door, Daddy wouldn't let him in most likely. So please join our family and friends in prayer--as of last Friday, he did have plans to call a plumber, but got sick, little wonder.  Again, I need to trust the Lord, act prudently and respectfully, and not project dread into the future! Always remember, and don't repeat, Job's sad statement and outlook,Chapter 3:25:

The thing which I greatly feared has come upon me, and that which I was afraid of has come unto me.

A great help in staying calm and trusting God, and above all, LETTING GO of responsibility for the future of my family and the world around me, has been my Jesus Calling devotional. Using scriptures, the author and former missionary Sarah Young is able to project Jesus' tenderness and loving care for His children. This book helps me realize that the petty perfections I assign myself do not reflect His outlook towards me at all! I am able to really internalize the words of Jeremiah 31:3, 

I have loved you with an everlasting love.

Using Psalm 5:11, "Let all that put their trust in Thee rejoice;" Ephesians 3:20, "He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we are able to ask or think;" Jude 24," To Him who is able to keep you from falling;" and Joshua 1:5b, "I will not fail you nor forsake you," here is a portion of June 19th's message:

"I am with you continually, so don't be intimidated by fear. Though it stalks you, it cannot harm you, as long as you cling to My hand. Keep your eyes on Me, enjoying Peace in My Presence." 

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee.


Friday, June 14, 2013

The value of half an hour

3:48 p.m. Today's project was to leave my house at 4 a.m., for a 6:50 flight to Chicago, where I am now sharing a hotel room with my youngest son Steven preparatory to his competition in the Jr. Nationals bodybuilding competition. He's tanned, rested and ready, or at least only has one more professional tanning session to go, later this afternoon. I feel quite energetic, because it's not even 2:00 in California! We'll see how and when the lack of sleep catches up with me!

I have always loved Psalm 31:15, "My times are in Your hand." As well as Psalm 90:12, "Teach us to number our days, that we may attain a heart of wisdom." Lately, the Lord has been waking me up 30 minutes before my cell phone alarm was set. And I mean wide awake, ready to get up. And as my morning devotions and tasks have proceeded, I've been so grateful for that extra time. The extra time Wednesday allowed me to leave on time with no stress while taking Steven to LAX for his flight. After spending a horrific afternoon violently ill with a migraine Wednesday, I woke half an hour early Thursday to finish my Bible study on II Samuel 14 for my 10:00 morning teaching. The timing was just right for what The Lord had me write.

By taking an extra half hour with my dad in Redlands before getting my Jeep detailed and cleaned out from my vomiting attack, I had the privilege of fellowshiping with two Christians in the waiting room of the Foamy Car Wash. One is the president and founder of a small Christian seminary, designing a missions course based on the Book of Acts; the other was a Christian attorney who wants to educate future pastors and church leaders. God's timing is like no other--and remember, He exists outside of time!

Earlier that morning, my daughter-in-law had volunteered to locate my missing luggage. In case it wasn't on the premises, I had borrowed a rolling case from the hostess of  Thursday Bible study in Moreno Valley. As I headed out through the Canyon on my way home from Redlands, about to travel through Mo Val, I thought, "Maybe I should see if Marisela found the suitcase." Lo and behold, there was a text from her that she'd found both suitcases, before I could even call! (And could I pick up some diapers for grandboy Clark?) No problem, returned the case, and stopped by Target in the same part of town!

Does God care about our mileage, our daily errands? Yes, He does, especially when taking time to care for an elderly parent, share a good word and scripture with brothers in Christ, and help provide necessities for our families. The wonderful part of being a Christian is knowing that Jesus is with me, whether in sickness or health,  in seasons of busyness and rest. the Holy Spirit makes Himself so powerfully evident as I go through every hour seeking Jesus and trusting Him. Psalm 138:8 assures each believer, each of God's precious children,

The LORD will perfect that which concerns me.

And Psalm 37:18a and 23

The Lord knows the days of the upright...the steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way.

Thank  you, Lord that You are thinking of us today, with pure love, and only the best in mind for our growth, sanctification, and preparation for eternal life with You!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Travail Part I

10:21 p.m. Today's project was to visit, hold and rock my newest grandson Desmond Amos Love. After a family record-breaking 23 hours of labor, my daughter Heather delivered this bundle of blessing yesterday afternoon. Today, I welcomed her into the rather large sorority of women who have given birth.

Ever since we got the news yesterday afternoon, I've been on pins and needles to go see the little one, but his dad Nick was guarding the rest his wife needed.We took turns rocking Desmond over at Nick's parents' home because the two story house we live in would be too strenuous for Heather to walk up and downstairs for a day or two. Makes sense--during a two or three day hospital stay, new mothers don't climb stairs!

"Travail," or labor, is used many times in both the Old and New Testaments to describe tumultuous or tortuous processes in the lives of people and nations. Jeremiah 6:24, prophesying  of the people "from the north country", descending upon Jerusalem to destroy it, says (all quotes KJV):

We have heard the report of it; 
Our hands grow feeble. 
Anguish has taken hold of us, 
Pain as of a woman in travail.

Micah prophesied the coming fall of Israel in similar terms, Chapter 4:10:

Be in pain, and travail to bring forth,
O daughter of Zion,
Like a woman with birth pangs.

I Thessalonians 5:2-3 speaks of the end of the age and the Second Coming of Christ:

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them as travail upon a woman with child.

In the verse I clung to during my lengthy deliveries, John 16:21, Jesus compares the agony and the wonderful result of labor to the sorrow that will one day be replaced with joy in the lives of His followers.

A woman, when she is in travail, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish for joy that a man has been born into the world.

I'll close with His words of astounding comfort to the disciples, verse 22:

Therefore you now have sorrow (at His leaving); but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

Welcome, Desmond, and COME LORD JESUS!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Kid raising

10:00 p.m. Today's project was to teach the first session of our summer Bible study, 2 Samuel Chapter 13.

We had a brief review of Chapters 11 and 12, whose sections I titled "The Crimes" (King David commits adultery with a married woman and has her husband killed when she turns up pregnant); "The Confrontation" (The prophet Nathan confronts David and exposes his contempt for God's laws and his sins); "The Curse" (Nathan tells David that there will be murder and sexual degradation in his family from this time on);"The Confession" (David admits he has sinned against God); and "The Compassion" (God forgives David's sins and, although Bathsheba's baby dies, their son Solomon is loved by God, and will be a great king  in his own right).

In Chapter 13, we saw the unfolding of Nathan's prophecy when the king's son and Crown Prince Amnon rapes his half sister Tamar, and is subsequently murdered by her full brother, David's second son Absalom. These utterly undisciplined, overly indulged young men had none of their father's devotion and repentant heart. Matthew Henry wrote, "whereas grace is not in our blood, corruption is."
As you may imagine in a roomful of women, the most lively and Spirit-led discussion centered around the accountability of parents to God for the upbringing of their children! We recounted the way our parents, saved and unsaved, strictly disciplined us and kept us out of trouble through the completion of childhood, and if we did mess up, they certainly would never have tolerated it!! Isn't it interesting that in families as a whole, the principle of Hebrews 12:6-11 was followed until the last 25 years:

For whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with us as sons; for what son is he whom the father does not chasten? For if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then you are bastards and not sons. Furthermore, we have had earthly fathers who corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they after a few days chastened us for their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the moment seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are exercised thereby.

In studying the shockingly violent history of King David's family, we cannot but reflect on the society in which we live today in America.  Absentee fathers sire 70% of the prison population; equally high rates of teen pregnancy, drug use, even suicide, can be traced to uncared-for, abandoned children.

Correct and discipline your children while there is hope, Proverbs 19:18 says. Love, nurture, correct and know your children well!

Lawless, damaged children are not all the products of absentee parents. An emotionally and mentally distant, self-absorbed parent may live in the same house as their child-even in a palace.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

No devotions, no day

7:08 p.m. Saturday June 1st. Today's project was to enjoy excellent fellowship with my sisters in Christ here at our church's women's retreat.

After a tumultuous Friday in my Mary Kay business, fraught with fun, challenges, and up-and-down action, our team closed out the month well. The Lord has graced me with an outstanding  team of women, almost all of them believers!

I was invited to lunch by my daughter Heidi, so we could spend time with a close friend of hers who brought her unsaved mother to the retreat. That was thoughtful on Heidi's part, because the mom didn't know anyone there.  I believe that's one reason we attend retreats: to reach out to others, whether to witness to the unsaved, or comfort a sister in need. II Corinthians 1:4:

...God, who comforts us in all our tribulation, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we are comforted by God. 

At retreats, we also have the opportunity to encourage and exhort other Christians to spend more time in God's presence, through reading His word and prayer.The theme for this year's retreat is "It is Well with My Soul," after after the famous hymn. This incredible statement of trust in God was written by Horatio Spafford in the midst of  the devastating tragedy of having lost his four daughters in an 1873 shipwreck. Yet, he had peace in his soul, because he trusted in the Living God, the One who tells us in Hebrews 13:5,

I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Of the workshop choices offered at the retreat, I selected the one on having a devotional life. The importance of this spiritual discipline was underscored for me by a mom I sat next to at dinner. She explained that she chose the same workshop despite there being one specifically for moms.She ended up taking the devotional class because, she said, "If I first get into the Bible and prayer early in my day, I'll be ready to listen the rest of my day as God tells me how to raise my child!" 


As Christians, we enjoy hearing God's word corporately at church and at Bible studies. But nothing compares to the personal, intimate time I spend alone with God seven days a week. In fact, there IS NO day without devotional time! I need my marching orders from the Captain of my soul.

From decades of daily quiet time, here is some of the fruit that has been produced:
  • Jesus' love applied to the marriage relationship
  • Children became born again Christians
  • Wisdom in the many complex issues of child rearing
  • Children serving in ministry as teens and adults
  • Application of the Holy Spirit's gift of teaching the Bible and ministering to women
  • Creation of "A Woman's Walk in the Word" Bible study lessons
  • Leading the Prayer Tower in the early years of the Harvest Crusades
  • Guidance in running for and winning elective office for 13 years
  • "Willing Hearts, Willing Hands;" "Moms' Mornings;" and "Heart to Home" ministries
  • Joining two short term evangelistic missions to Wales
  • Galatians: An Exploration of Faith & Freedom, published in 2011
  • A Spirit-led Mary Kay business that serves as an outreach ministry to women in need
  • The grace and guidance of God in caring for my late husband and walking in joy that can only come from God as a widow
And since God has never failed to meet me in the mornings--and throughout my days--I cannot even imagine what He has in store next, should He tarry in taking His Church home in the Rapture!

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

Your challenge? Get up earlier tomorrow and meet with Jesus!