Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another Hard Day

Merle died at 11:19 last night. They took him directly to surgery and harvested his organs and then had his body transported to a mortuary for cremation. What a horrible ordeal! Thank God that I had people there to do my thinking for me when Richie died. I wish I had had him cremated instead of buried in a coffin. I would still have him with me in a sense if I had his ashes. Michael wants to be cremated and his ashes scattered off the beach where we scattered his best friend's ashes several years ago. Tom lived in Ohio and his wife, Judy, shipped his ashes to us and we drove over to the coast and scattered his ashes as Tom had requested before he died. We scattered his ashes and saluted him with a toast of champagne. (Or was it beer?) But when we do Michael, I will keep some of his ashes to have with me and then scatter the rest.

I had to take M across the river for his post op appointment with his podiatrist. I wheeled him back to the bathroom to freshen up before going. I used my office chair from here at the computer. That was an ordeal but it was better than M having to fight with his crutches. Poor guy, he just doesn't have the upper body strength anymore to use crutches. I parked out front at the medical clinic and went in and got a wheel chair for him and, wow, it was so much better than trying to use my office chair. M saw his doctor and got a flu shot while he was there and I got him home and settled and then made it to my flu shot clinic in time to get my shot by 5:00 mins before they closed for the day. So both of us have our shots over and done with.

I went up the street a ways to the Senior Center and asked where I could borrow a wheelchair and with no hassle or trouble at all I was able to get one right there. I put it in my trunk and came home without it falling out. Yea! I went back out to get the mail and swing by the pharmacy to pick up some meds I had called in to have filled for me. M was asleep when I got home so I took the shovel out in the yard and dug a hole for Mulder. So I have that all ready. He is still clinging to life but just barely. He is totally lifeless but his chest is still going up and down so he hasn't died yet. I expect him to at any time. I keep going into M's studio (it's where Mulder has chosen to die) and stroking him. Telling him what a really good cat he was and how much we love him. Most of the time I get no reaction from him at all. He doesn't appear to be in any pain. He has his eyes open but most of the time I can tell he's not really seeing anything. I just talk softly to him and stroke his beautiful body. Or what was a beautiful body before the ravages of kidney failure. He's skin and bone right now like Callie was when I had her put down.

If I had the money I would have Mulder put down too rather than letting him linger like this and die on his own, but I simply don't have the money right now. It's just not there. They charge like a hundred dollars to put a cat down. Which is so stupid. The syringe full of chemicals cost pennies! Pennies!! I could afford the pennies and a $20 fee but $100 is out of the question. I don't think he's suffering, thank God, and I think he's pretty much out of it even though he sometimes moves his head a tiny bit. It's so hard to see him the way he is. About three years ago he somehow got out of the house and went missing for nine days and then he finally came up to the front door and meowed. After that he was a totally different cat. Much more loving and he allowed M and I to both pet him at the same time. Something he never permitted before his nine days in the wilderness. He became a real cuddle puppy. He loved to be held. He liked to jump up on top of the china hutch and then he would quite often jump down onto the table to get down. However, if you were sitting at the table and if you didn't know he was up there and was therefore not expecting him to jump down, when he landed on the table your heart would just stop! I always thought my table centerpiece should be a sign that read: Beware of falling cats!

I really, really love this cat. And I hate this life. Today I hate this life a lot. Mulder was a super neat cat. Big and tall. Very tall with long, long legs. He always walked with his tail held erect like a flag on a bike pole. He had the face and coloring of a mountain lion. Really a majestic stance when he stood and a beautiful perfect pose when he laid down, tucking his front paws under his chest. Just a beautiful, beautiful cat. But now he's lying on his side in the darkened studio away from all the lights and noises. I've got the door closed so none of the other animals will get back there and bother him. I hope he dies before it gets dark so I can get him buried and done with tonight instead of trying to do it tomorrow in the rain. It all depends on when he decides to let go of life. This life that I hate so much. It's almost like an insult to me. Yesterday I commented that I hated this life and I didn't think we were meant to enjoy this life. What I was trying to say is that there are very few things capable of giving us joy in this life. We can have periods of happiness in this life. It's not all the pits. But happiness is based on hap-penings. We get our word happiness from the Old English word "hap." Which means exactly what I said. The old word hap was translated happenings and so as long as our hap-penings are going in a good direction, we can experience hap-piness. And I think outside of the Lord that's the most we can hope for out of this life: happiness when all the happenings are going right for us. True joy comes only from the Lord. We can experience joy in this life when we worship our heavenly Father and experience the joy of fellowship with Him. But that is the only real joy there is in this life, and the next life for that matter. Joy happens only in association with God our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. You may disagree but this is the way I see things.

I recoil from "preachers" of joy in this life. You know the ones. The ones who write book after book (always with their picture on the front) telling us that God wants us to have the best and be the best in this life. That He wants to shower us with the best material possessions and the best "things" of this life. Nice cars. Nice homes. Great clothes. Wonderful vacations, etc., etc. That God is there to give us the best of everything like some penny arcade somewhere in middle America. "Buy my book and I'll make you a better you!" Joy, true joy, comes only from God as we relate to him in this life. It is only in our fellowship with Him that it's possible for us to experience joy. I believe this life is meant to drive us to Him. He is to be our comfort, our strength, our very lives. In Him we have joy. This life is filled with woes and sufferings and we are meant to learn that joy can only be found in Him. We surround ourselves with so many things to bring ourselves happiness. We are consumed with things and these so-called "teachers" teach us to want even more things. Jesus says these are not the important things. They (I call their message the "feel-good gospel") tell you that God wants you to be the best you can be. To live the best life surrounded with the best things. But the Bible doesn't tell us that. Scripture says we are to hunger and thirst after righteousness, not things. Scripture says that joy is in the Lord, not in things and others.

We are to seek the Lord with every ounce of fiber we have in our being. Now let me ask you; Exactly when do you seek the Lord with everything you have in you? Isn't it when you're going through trials of some kind? Isn't it in our struggles that we end up feeling the closest to our God? It is for me. When my days are filled with happiness and happenings; when I'm having the time of my life, experiencing and creating a "better me" I find myself the farthest from Jesus Christ.

We are to seek the Lord, not things, and certainly not ourselves! We are to recognize that nothing good dwells in us and we are to seek the Lord's goodness, to strive for a deeper, stronger relationship. If nothing good dwells in me, why would I want to make myself a "better" me? If I am in Christ, as I am, I don't need to make myself a better me. It is Christ who lives and not I and what I need to do is seek the better things of Christ. With me, I seek and experience the Lord the most when I am hurting or struggling in some way. So my rational mind tells me that earthly "happiness" is of lesser importance than joy in the Lord. While God does not desire us to be miserable, I think He, at the same time, doesn't want us to get too comfortable in this life. This is not our home here. We are simply passing through. Don't strive for happiness in this life. It's okay if it comes your way but strive for Joy in the Lord instead. Put all your efforts into having the best relationship with God that is humanly possible. Let the disappointments and sorrows of this life drive you to our loving Lord and find your joy in Him and Him alone. All this other stuff is just fluff. It's all bitter water. Even the very best this life has to offer is still bitter water. Fluff. Excess. Waste. Woes of all kinds. In God we find a healing balm for our wounds, a real sense of joy in knowing Him better and better. Don't fall for the line of creating the "better you!" Assign this life to secondary status and work instead to create the best God has to offer in the way of an intimate relationship with Himself. That's where our joy is. And in joy we find contentment. God is our all in all. Let's not sully the relationship with a "better" you. In every thing we do we are to seek God and He promises not to disappoint any of us. If we truly turn our backs on this life and place all our hopes and dreams in the next life, when all is said and done, we will have experienced the real joy God promises us.

Merle at 18 had his entire life before him. Richie at 22 had his entire life in his future. Merle spent his life on a quick fix and Richie decided life wasn't worth living and he ended his. Two strong, healthy, vibrant young men. Two bright lights snuffed out all too soon. The world has suffered a terrible loss with the death of Merle. Richie has now been dead longer than he was ever alive. I sometimes feel like the numbers nullify his life. Like it was all for nothing. It's been 22 years since Rich died yet the pain is as raw and bitterly painful now as it was back then. Both of these young men made a difference in this world. Their lives counted. They accomplished things. They mattered. And we will always remember them. They will forever live in our hearts. Yes, we will always remember them. Thank you, Father, for loaning us these two beautiful, incredibly unique children and allowing us to shape them for a future neither one of them had. Thank you for allowing us to love them and enjoy them. They were never really ours. You just loaned them to us and told us to love them because you loved them. There was never a moment in their lives when You did not love them. Never a moment when You didn't beckon them to Your side. And never a moment when You didn't hold out hope for them.

My heart is broken, Lord. I hurt for Laurie. Losing Merle (her firstborn) will be the absolute worst pain she will ever endure in this life. Lord, use this horrible time to bring forth great good. Call Laurie to Yourself. I pray that in her grief and brokenness she will seek you out. That she will turn her face toward You and let You come into her private devastation so that she might be healed. I place her in Your hands for safe-keeping and ask that her grief not destroy her but instead may it drive her straight to You. And I pray that You will heal my heart too. It honestly feels as if Richie just died all over again. It is that raw and that painful. So have mercy on me and give me the grace to endure for as long as it takes. Will there ever be a time in this life when I will not grieve, Lord? No, I don't think so; I will grieve for as long as I live. Please, Father, place a limit on Laurie's grief and wrap Your arms around her and console her. When You left this earth, Lord, You said You were giving us peace, "My peace," You said. Tonight I ask for one thing ... and one thing only ... that You fulfill Your promise.

[Added on edit.] It has been hours since I finished and published my post but I wanted to add to it because I don't know if I'll get back to my blog tomorrow, or whenever. But I just finished burying Mulder. I did it in the dark and it was raining lightly. The hole wasn't as deep as I would have liked. You only go down about 6-9 inches of topsoil before you hit California hard pan. And it's almost impossible to dig through. I dug as deeply as I could and then I just mounded the dirt on top and then placed very heavy rocks on top. I buried him in the flower bed next to Pretty. I just can't believe he's gone. My big, beautiful boy cat getting his big Mulder hugs with his long legs sticking out in every direction. I can't believe this has happened. But at least I didn't have to go out and bury him in a downpour like we're supposed to get tomorrow and Saturday. Especially Saturday. Oh, Mulder, I'm soooo sorry. I love my cats too much and I swear when these are all gone I don't want another pet. I can't take the heart break of losing them anymore. When we moved into this house we had 7 indoor cats, now we are down to 3 and one of those lives solely in our bedroom. She's not kept fastened in back there. She prefers to be by herself and she stays in the bedroom. I keep a litter box in my closet for her and have a feeding station set up for her on top of M's dresser so the dog won't get to it and eat it all up. So really, now, it's going to feel like we have only 2 cats. Using two plates instead of 3. I will miss Mulder so deeply. He was my big mama's boy. He did, indeed, love his mama (me). And I loved him like no other. That's the thing with cats, they each have their own personality and if you have several cats you learn to know them for their quirks. Mulder was a needy cat. He needed a big "Mulder hug" at least once a day. I hate that this has happened. It makes me sick to my stomach. But I wrapped him in a plastic bag and then placed him in the bottom of the hole. Told him I was sorry and that I thought he was the niftiest cat on earth. I told him I loved him. With every shovelful of dirt I told him I loved him. Oh, God, give me strength. I have to go to a funeral tomorrow afternoon for a very dear friend, Fred, he was 84. I'm sure I mentioned him in previous blogs. He's the one that fell off the ladder? This will be a real bummer of a week by the time it's over. Today's devotional Streams in the Desert was on grief: Many of us could tearlessly deal with our grief if only we were allowed to do so in private. Yet what is so difficult is that most of us are called to exercise our patience not in bed but in the open street, for all to see. We are called upon to bury our sorrows not in restful inactivity but in active service ... in our workplace, while shopping, and during social events ... contributing to other people's joy. No other way of burying our sorrow is as difficult as this, for it is truly what is meant by "running with patience." (Hebrews 12:1 KJV).

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Life is Hard

M's doing better than expected. We spent a long day yesterday. Left the house at 6:30 and headed down. Ken, my son, drove us down in his big 5-seater Dodge Ram and it was so nice to leave the driving to him. We stopped on the way home to get some water so M could take some pain pills and I handed the clerk a ten-dollar bill and she gave me $4+ in change!! For 2 bottles of water and one fountain coke, $6!!!!! I about passed out! Anyway we got him home just before 5:00 yesterday and he's doing very well, considering. He spent the night in his chair and I was going to sleep on the couch in case he needed me but decided at the last minute that I needed to go to bed if I was going to get any rest at all. When he's sick and spending the night in his chair he leaves the TV on all night. I wouldn't have gotten any sleep. I took Pepper to bed with me and told M to just call me if he needed me (I had his urinal there by the chair so he wouldn't have to get up and try to go to the bathroom by himself) and Pepper would bark if he heard M call. We'd never done that before but I was pretty sure Pepper would bark, and he did! Made the best little alarm for Michael. When I sleep without my hearing aids I can't hear anything once I go to sleep and we had been trying to think of some way for him to wake me up if he needed me and I thought about Pepper. He was a good little alarm for me. Anyway as long as he keeps up with the pain meds, he's doing fine.

Merle, my niece's son, has not died yet but they expect him to by this evening. They had tried pulling him off his life support yesterday but his body automatically tried to breathe for him which showed that the brain was not 100% dead. So they put the tubes back in and are waiting 24 hours and they'll try to pull the tubes again. They don't expect his body to involuntarily try to breathe again and when that happens they will take him to the OR and harvest his organs. Poor Merle. He had so much life still ahead of him. Like Richie, it's all such a waste. Merle came back positive for opiates, heroin, and weed. And whatever he took he just took too much. Richie swallowed 161 over-the-counter sleep aid pills. He had driven to all the pharmacies around the area buying all the boxes of pills he could get his hands on. He definitely intended not to wake up. And he didn't. Merle's was an accident. I don't know which is more painful for the survivors. It really doesn't look like we're going to get the miracle we are praying for but we continue to pray. It just breaks my heart that Laurie's up there going through all this all by herself. I think she is feeling a bit overwhelmed. She was developing a migraine headache the last time she emailed anyone. No small wonder there!) She doesn't know when she's coming home, when she wants to leave him. It was just such horrible circumstances with her getting the information on Friday that she'd finally landed a good job with the state and then Saturday she got the call about Merle. She's so grief-stricken and confused right now she doesn't know which end's up. Pray for strength for her and a miracle for him.

My cat, Mulder, is still alive but he is refusing any food and only a sip of water so I know he'll slip away soon. I fully expected him to be dead when I got up this morning but he's still hanging on. I coaxed him out with a can of "people" tuna but he wouldn't even lap up the juice. Which says a lot because he dearly loves people tuna. He used the litter box and then crawled under one of M's tables in his studio. He has spent the better part of the last four days sleeping between our occasional chair and our entertainment console here in the living room. You know I really, really don't want him to die. He's just the neatest cat in the whole wide world and we all love him so much. I hope with all my heart that this isn't something running through all my cats. This will be my fourth cat to die in the last couple of years. Mister didn't have the same symptoms at all but Bill, Callie, and Pretty all died with similar symptoms. Two of them strayed up so we had no idea how old they were. Mulder is only about 10 years old. Way too young to die of "old age" for a cat. I've thought about going down into the yard and getting a hole dug next to where we buried Pretty but I just can't get myself to do that. Not yet. It's supposed to rain Friday and that'll probably be the day he dies so I'll be out there digging a hole in the rain wishing I had it already dug. There's just such a big part of me that doesn't want him to die that digging his grave is too much for me to do. Oh, I'm sick of crying! I've cried so much the past few days, I'm just sick of it. This life is so hard. There are so many sorrows, so much grief. I shutter to think what I'd do if I didn't have faith.

I better get busy and get a few things done here while M is asleep and I have the chance. As long as he's going to sleep out here I won't get any cleaning done so I'm just trying to keep up the rest of the house. I woke up this morning in the exact same position as I had when I first laid down in bed. I hadn't moved a muscle. All I had to do to make the bed was just smooth it with my hand and tuck the pillow in. I was really tired when I finally got to bed last night. I am so frustrated today. I don't want Merle to die and I don't want Laurie to grieve. I don't want to think about Richie any more and I don't want Mulder to die either. Seems like I've been on the verge of tears for days. Well, it has been days now that I think about it. Why does this life have to be so hard? I'm not expecting an answer. I'm not even sure there is one. I think of Richie and how much I miss him and I don't know which would have been worse ... lingering on life support or obviously dead as we found him. Knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was dead when I found him made it all surreal. How can it be that they're alive and then suddenly they're dead? It's totally unreal. Your mind just tells you it simply cannot be true. Here one minute then dead the next. But seeing them lingering must be something altogether different. Still unreal. Still painful. But definitely different. I wish this hadn't happened to stir up all my painful memories and regrets. The empty, unfulfilled promises of a young life rearing to go. The long hours of asking the same question over and over again ... only to realize that there's no real answer to why. I mean, Rich died of an intentional overdose of sleeping pills, that's "why!" But why it had to happen has no real answer. Someday, when I get to the other side maybe I'll have my answers. Oh, if we could just go back and change things! Losing a child is the worst pain possible because they had so much potential and we had so much of our lives invested in them. All the dreams we'd had for them. It's just unfair. I feel so bad for Laurie up there all by herself. The only ones up there for her are an exsister-in-law and an exhusband with whom she recently had fought a very bitter divorce. Another one of Laurie's sons is up there but he sort of sided against her during and since the divorce. Just a lot of broken people. That's all any of us are, really, I guess. But it helps to have a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. And she has no one. She didn't want to ever see her ex again and then to go through something like this with him by her side. Talk about insult to injury. I just can't understand for the life of me, why she's up there alone. That bothers me more than anything else. I don't know, maybe she didn't want anyone to go with her. But I can't imagine her being dropped off at the airport gate and left to fend for herself. I just don't understand.

After worrying that I wouldn't have the chance to blog this week, what with M's surgery and everything, I've had the opportunity to sit here and write quite a bit. I didn't type one of my devotionals because I didn't think I was going to have time for anything more than just a couple words. Speaking of words. You know what's really bugging me lately? I'll tell you: My use of the word 'just.' I use that word just about every sentence. I've tried to watch for it and delete it every time I get the chance but I still use it entirely too often. Just, really, so, and too. I need to really crack down on all these modifiers. I think overly dramatic people tend to use these words more than other people. I know I am overly dramatic and I really need (see what I mean) to watch my writing. I'm sorry if this has caught your attention. It is definitely a negative habit when it comes to writing. Forgive my overly dramatic version of life and I'll try to break the habit. It isn't an easy thing to do. But I'm working on it.

M said he wanted coddled eggs on toast for breakfast this morning and that's exactly what he got and he raved about them so his surgery didn't interfere with his taste buds. And now he's informed me that he wants a bowl of potato soup for lunch and then what was left of our dinner last night for his dinner tonight. There's just enough sauce for one more meal so I'll cook myself a Marie Calendar turkey pot pie. My son had thought to put dinner in the slow cooker yesterday before he left to drive us to Sacramento so last night he dropped us off and then went home and brought over his Sunday Gravy (that's what it was called) and I cooked the noodles and the bread and we all had a wonderful dinner together. I love my son so much and it's so nice to be able to share spiritual things with him now. I don't have a lot in common with most people who aren't Christian. I just don't have much to say to them. I did get some of my book read yesterday afternoon while I waited for M to get out of surgery. This was Beth Moore's book on King David and I'm pretty sure I've gotten past the hurdle I was having difficulty with. Every time I tried to read it before I just couldn't get past the second chapter. I'm well beyond that now. I also got one of my scarves finished. I knew I didn't have far to go on it and had even taken another skein of yarn with me to start the next scarf but I don't enjoy casting on and I thought it would be best if I got the new one started at home rather than at the hospital like that. So I read and wrote in my journal instead after finishing the brown scarf. The next one I knit is going to be blue. Or red, I might go with red. I'm not sure yet. I have both colors of yarn it's just a matter of deciding which one I want to knit first. I knit a lot of scarves because they're so easy and comforting to do. Ken said he'd never have the patience to sit and knit. But I find it to be soothing. Okay, not much of a blog here but I'm going to get busy with a few things. I haven't had my quiet time yet and it's so nice and quiet that I think I'll just sit on the couch and read my Bible and devotionals, instead of going outside to read them. Anyway, I do need to get something done besides this boring blog. I'm not even sure it even classifies as a blog. It's more my rambling thoughts about what's happening in my life. You know, I don't think we're supposed to find this life enjoyable. We are to find our joy in the Lord; not in this life. I don't mean that we aren't to enjoy this life at all. I just mean that our main source of joy should come from the Lord. That's where our hopes and dreams and plans should originate. No, I don't think we're supposed to enjoy this life in the sense I'm using the word enjoy. This life is filled with young people on life support machines, surgeries for broken feet, memories of a needless death, and dying cats. This life is filled with sorrow. Our relationship with the Lord is the source of our joy. Until next time...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday the 27th

Just a quick not to let you all know that I probably won't get around to my blog this week. Hubby's surgery is tomorrow morning and by time I get him home and wait on him hand and foot for a few days, I'm not going to have a lot of free time. So don't give up on me, I will be back. I'm just not sure when. I might even find time later in this week, but the way things are looking now, I don't think I'm going to get the chance to do that. But for what it's worth, I really, really want to blog. Please pray for my hubby's surgery, that it goes smoothly and he heals rapidly. He will have an external bar on his foot for a few weeks so pray that the bones will grow together this time the way they were supposed to fuse the last time. And that he heals rapidly. At least my son is going to drive us all down to Sacramento so I won't have to drive all by myself. I was a little concerned about city driving anyway. So this works out really well. And it turns out that my son needs to go to a store in Sacramento anyway, so we just combined the two outings on one day (2 hr. drive).

Also, would you please pray for my nieces son, Merle. At first they thought he'd had a brain aneurysm (I know that spelling is probably wrong). But by day two they said it was a drug overdose. He is on full life support and is not expected to recover. There is no brain activity at all and he has developed pneumonia and they are already talking to my niece about harvesting his organs. Tomorrow is the day they expect him to be declared brain dead. Laurie, my niece, needs lots and lots of prayer. Pray that she might come to see the Lord in some way in all of this. She is up in Seattle at a hospital that specializes in brain trauma. (He didn't fall and hit his head or anything, but the drugs made his brain swell.) When he was transferred to the second hospital they put him in a cooling bed and they lowered his body temp to 90 degrees. They've had some successes for this type of treatment but as of my email tonight, that didn't seem to work. He still has no reflexes or brain activity of any kind. Pray for Merle, too, please. Pray for a miracle. I'm hoping for one but not expecting one, if that makes sense. Merle is only 18. The same age as my own grandson. Her email to everyone tonight was gut-wrenching. She had crawled onto his bed and held him as best she could and she said that his blood pressure went way down while she was lying with him. I don't know what to make of that since the doctors are not holding out hope for him. They told Laurie right up front that his chances for survival were less than 1%. Not good at all. But it did appear as if Laurie made a difference when she laid down with him. And please pray for me too as this is hitting really close to home for me after finding my son's dead body in bed. He was 22. But both of them were found unresponsive in their beds. Now I'm probably going to be off for the rest of this week. I'm hoping not but we'll just have to wait and see. But if you could please keep us in your prayers I would so appreciate that. Gotta get to bed as we have to get up at 5:30 for the 2-hr trip to Sacramento where the surgery will take place. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Caring for Our Consciences

All of us at one time or another must face decisions that test our character. God knew this and prepared for it. When a choice conflicts with our value system, the "first responders" are our consciences. However, even this divine gift has been exposed to our fallen world's pre-programming, which means we must adjust and fortify our "inner compass."

We need a strong conscience and the strength of our conscience is based on both truth and tradition, and these in turn are impacted by the work of the Holy Spirit:

Truth. Since Jesus has declared He is the truth, maintaining a close relationship with Him through prayer and obedience strengthens our consciences. Two unyielding and unchanging things come into focus and play key roles in our growing process: the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. The Spirit of Truth, as Jesus identified the third person of the Trinity, is also know as "the Helper." The Spirit does more than just assist us in discerning righteousness and wisdom from sin though. He also teaches us and guides us into all truth (Jn 14:17,26; 16:8,13).

Traditions. Joseph and David are two godly examples for us to look at. Both faced grave temptations but allowed their conscience to guide them in bringing honor to God. At great personal cost, Joseph rejected the advances of Potiphar's wife (Ge 39). And David, though initially choosing to humiliate Saul, let his conscience get him back on track (1Sa 24:5-7).

We can always rely on God's Spirit to help us develop better consciences. He has given us everything we need to accomplish the work He has given us to do, which is essential if we are to live a godly life.


M is gone across the river for his pre-op appointment with his podiatrist in preparation for the foot surgery to be done next week. I'll be glad to get that all over with. Then we can move on and see if there's anything someone can do about his neck that hurts him all the time. He wants to get the foot taken care of first since he has to walk on it all the time. He also ends up favoring his foot and adjusting his spine out of alignment which gives him backaches. You know, when you can't walk right, everything suffers. Anyway his surgery is scheduled for 11:30 on the 28th in Sacramento. I haven't done any city driving in years. Hope I don't get too stressed. Living up here in the foothills is a totally different world.

It is starting to look a lot like Fall here. Most trees are beginning to turn and there are patches of vibrant colors splashed all over town and across the way on Hogback Mountain. I love Fall but I don't look forward to raking the leaves down in the yard. We had a few cold nights and I put the electric blanket back on our bed and then it warmed up at night and we haven't needed it. We have to fold the bedspread down to the foot of the bed or we get too hot. I love sleeping in cold rooms and can't wait for the cold nights to return.

I lost a dear friend this past week. He was 84 years old and just a dream. I don't think it has fully registered yet that I will never see him again this side of eternity. He took a fall off an 8 foot ladder and suffered numerous broken bones and punctures to his lung. He was very delicate to begin with and he just couldn't hold his own against his horrific injuries. I will miss him dearly. His wife came home yesterday and she must begin life again without him by her side. They were childhood sweethearts and had been married at least 50 years (I think). Ani, Fred's wife, knitted the cap I wore to church last Sunday as she sat by his bedside in ICU the week before. She is in the process of knitting me another one. A solid color this time instead of variegated like the last one. You know, I don't know how people begin again. If something were to happen to Michael, I don't know that I could start all over again and build myself a life without him. For all the times he irritates me, there are multiple times that he soothes me. Or makes me laugh. Sometimes I roll my eyes around at his navy stories but he's been my other half for 36 years now. I can't imagine life without him.

I went to prayer meeting on Tuesday and it felt so good to be back around the table. I have missed that ministry immensely. And after the prayer meeting I walked downstairs with Evelyn and joined the knitting group and that was fun. I didn't do much knitting, just watched mostly. I was at the end of one slipper and needed to cast on for the other slipper and I couldn't remember how many stitches to cast on so I waited until I got home and could count them and refigure the design. I don't have a pattern for these slippers I knit. I just have the design in my head and I go by it. I hadn't written down the figures I used so I had to draw out the diagram and plot everything from the beginning again. I was much more comfortable going through those pains by myself here at home. And wouldn't you know it, I made a mistake and didn't catch it right away. I decided not to rip out my work since it's only a pair of slippers. Anyway it just shows that I'm not perfect. I've heard of women intentionally knitting a wrong stitch for that very reason. But I think I will enjoy my Tuesday nights. And since prayer meeting and the knitting group meets on the same night, M has to cook his own dinner one night a week. Only I think I'll prepare something ahead of time and have him pop dinner in the oven so it will get done at about the time I will be coming home next week. That way we can still eat together and I won't be tempted to just make do with a snack.

I haven't done any of my chores yet and I'm starting to feel guilty. Noon and the bed's not even made. I forgot to take my pills last night until it was too late to take them and so I laid in bed, tossing and turning until after 5:00 this morning. M let me sleep until 10:00. So I'm not really doing so bad when you figure it's only been two hours. And I do have one chore done. I cleaned the cat boxes out in the garage this morning. Something I tend to put off and since I've been really bad with my daily chores this past week and a half, it really needed to be done. So if I get nothing else accomplished at least that got done today.

I feel like I'm starving spiritually. I don't have a study going and I simply cannot get into Beth Moore's book on David. I don't know what the problem is with that book but I've tried to read it several times and just can't seem to get into it. I loved her book on Paul (and I see she has a new one out on the apostle John) but this book is a different story. It's just really dry in the beginning. I know once I get past the beginning it will be a really good book. So another attempt at that is looming in my days ahead. I still do my nine devotions and Bible reading every day so I know I'm getting spiritual food but for some reason I'm hungry for more. I divide my devotionals up into three groups. I read a Psalm from the Bible in the morning followed by three devotionals. I keep three devotionals in the bathroom and read them when I get the chance as the day progresses. And then I have three that I keep by my bed and I read them before going to sleep. But I need to get into a book. I just finished reading The Journey by Billy Graham just the other day so I am by no means starving. But that doesn't change how I feel. I won't be satisfied in this life until 100% of my time is devoted to my life in Christ. I just have an insatiable appetite for spiritual things.

Yesterday I wrote my report for the Quarterly business meeting next Sunday at church. That was a chore I hadn't looked forward to. And while I was at it I wrote my prayer I've been asked to give on November 9th during the service. Pastor is trying something new. He asked a core group of us if we'd be willing to trade off giving the congregational prayer. He thought it might add some spice to the service if there were other "voices." I agreed to do it and then Tim called and asked me to give it on the 9th. I had it roughed out and all I really had to do was type it and then edit it. Pastor recommended that we actually write out our prayer and so I wrote out four of them to make sure I could do it before I agreed to pray for the congregation. I will do fine if I can just keep focused. If I don't hurry through it. It comes from my heart and my heart is a slow thinker, ha! No, it just seems to make the points better when it's given slowly. Usually I get up in front of a group and get a motor mouth in high gear.

I guess I'm going to keep this a short post today and get to my chores before it gets any later. I need to plan out something for dinner too. Oh, I hate cooking. No, that's not necessarily true. I don't so much hate cooking as I do coming up with ideas for dinner. Deciding WHAT to cook is much harder than simply cooking it. We were on our own last night and M cooked himself a grilled cheese sandwich and I made myself a bean burrito. We do that fairly often. Just go together into the kitchen and each cook what we want to eat instead of having a "formal" dinner. A formal dinner is anything with more than one entree and both of us eating the same thing. We're not big into eating. I don't eat breakfast or lunch and I let dinner make up for it. I just don't have a big appetite. I can't imagine what I'd weigh if I actually ate three meals a day!

I'm starting to miss my hair and I'm getting tired of scarves, hats, and do-rags. I saw an older woman in the bank today when I went out before I started this post, and she had very little hair on her head. My heart went out to her because I'm sure she dislikes not having hair as much as I do. Her husband didn't seem to mind, like mine. But women are supposed to have hair. I don't know if my hair is really growing out. It's so slow. I know it's grown out some but I just have this sinking feeling that it's never going to come in again. Well, if not, I'll deal with that when the time comes. Right now I'm going to be grateful for the fact that I don't have to "fix" my hair when I get up or we go someplace. Around home I can go around bald and when I go out I can just through on a hat or a scarf. Takes 30 seconds, max, and I'm ready to go. No hairdryer, curling iron, goop or spray. Just slip on a head covering of some kind and walk out the door. There is freedom in being bald. That I'd like to be able to keep with this is all done and over with. At the rate it's growing, if it continues to grow, I think it will take the better part of a year to grow out. Maybe more.

Well I have chores waiting and I need to get in and see if I can find where I put all my knitting supplies. I just don't know where I put them all. I thought I had everything in my bag but I only had the yarn and slipper I was working on. I need to see if I have a size 8 needle for a future project with the knitting group. So this is going to be it until next time. Bye...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Avoiding Shipwreck

The apostle Paul wanted Timothy, his younger student, to grasp the very basics of keeping the faith. So he wrote about two men who had ignored their consciences at great peril to themselves. Their example illustrates that without a clear understanding of what this gift from God actually is, we often run the risk of capsizing our faith.

It's a mistake but most people see conscience as the voice of God, when it is actually more of a gift instead. We were created with an "inner gauge" that functions as a moral compass for life; it points to a particular standard of our sense of right and wrong and can guide our actions, attitudes, and decisions. But the conscience, like everything else in us, is fallen and in need of redemption. Depending on the way it is "programmed," our conscience even has the potential to nudge us in the wrong direction. Paul himself is an excellent example of this. All his formal learning had caused him to believe, as a Pharisee, that all Christians were a threat to God and to their Jewish faith. His conscience had been programmed to see killing the Christians as a service provided to the Lord. So he aggressively hunted the Christians down without signaling an alarm on his carefully-crafted moral compass. Only after the risen Lord met Paul on the road to Damascus was his conscience transformed and his life course altered. Meeting with the Lord tends to straighten out all the kinks in our lives.

Unless we surrender and let the Lord fully redeem us, our decisions can prove to be as fatal as when we ignore our inner "monitoring system" altogether. By understanding the divine gift of conscience, we stand a much better chance of staying on course and away from trouble. Further, if we submit our consciences to the Holy Spirit, we'll find safe harbor when the storms of life threaten our faith or future.


This morning was small group so I thought I better take the time this afternoon to blog or I won't get to it again for quite awhile. We have lots of appointments and meetings scheduled for various things. M's surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday the 28th and before we can do that we have to have his pre-op with the surgeon and also an appointment (post-op) with his surgeon AND one with his family practitioner. He may need to get one more blood test and we're both due for our flu shots on the 30th. Lots of things happening this week. Everything will fall into place and I'm not going to fret about anything.

I've got the urge to knit again so I'm going to join the knitting group at church on Tuesdays. I'm going to try to go to the prayer meeting first at 5:00 and then go to the knitting group at 6:00. It will mean that M will have to fend for his own dinner but I really want to knit and since the knitting will interrupt our dinner anyway, I thought I may as well go earlier and catch the prayer meeting. When prayer meeting is over I'll just walk downstairs and knit for an hour or so with everyone in the group. I used to go to prayer meeting every single week and I did that for a couple years but then they changed the time to 5:00 and it is really a bad time for me so I stopped going. But as long as I'll be leaving M to fend for himself that night anyway, I may as well go back to praying too. I have really missed the prayer meetings. I just informed M of my plans and he says that's fine with him. "Fortunately, I know how to cook my own dinner," were his exact words. So now I'm set to start tomorrow night. It will be good to be back in the prayer group again and I think knitting with a bunch of other women will be a lot of fun. I won't be able to make next week's meeting because of M's surgery so it's going to take a couple weeks to get all my schedules adjusted accordingly. I had wanted to join the knitting group last year and almost had myself talked into it but then I chickened out.

This morning in small group we looked at the affirmation of the necessity of the New Birth in Christ. We simply must be born again. There is no other way. Today's meeting was tough for me because I have such a hard time hearing and today was the absolute worst. I couldn't understand what anyone was saying except for my son when he spoke up. Rita's lips move but I'd swear there's no sound coming out from between those lips; they just move silently! Jordan was sitting right next to me and I couldn't understand what he was saying. So today I did what I do so well. I created my own meeting in my mind. I sat and read Bible verses and thought of questions for them for myself and answered them in my head. And when everyone stood to adjourn to the refreshments, I just rose up with them. I opened with prayer so that was my contribution to the study. The rest was just in my mind and just for me. But the fellowship is so special. One might ask why I attend small group when I can't hear anything that's said and my answer would have to be that I enjoy the fellowship. Everyone in the group (except for Kim and Ken and Tamara who all started last week) is much older than me but I still enjoy their company. Today we sat around the table eating delicious lemon bars and brownies (Ken's favorite) sharing with each other when we were all saved. Evelyn got up and got the first Bible she ever owned and we all marveled at how old and well-worn it was. It was amazing that so many of us, all in the Lord, all from different experiences, all came to be sitting around that table together remembering where we were when we were saved and what we'd done in the years since. It was a fun thing to do. I found out that John and Margaret got married the year I was born and Evelyn was saved and baptized that year too. Very interesting. Don't you ever wonder how a group of people all from different backgrounds and origins can come together and be united in Christ? What led us all to be here today, around Evelyn's table, all of us in various stages of our journey? Ken just starting his journey last month and then John having been around for soooooo long. It's just fascinating to me to think about. I really enjoyed my brothers and sisters this morning. No small group next week but then we'll meet the next week. Tamara volunteered to bring the refreshments. She has a recipe for Cinnabons and she's going to bring a bunch of them. They are sooooooo good!!! Decadent even.

The rest of this month, especially next week, is going to be full so I'll have plenty of opportunities to practice sacrificial living. Lots of driving M here and there for all the different tests and doctor appointments, etc. Lots of waiting (which I'm not good at). His surgery is scheduled for 11:30 but they want us to be there by 9:30 which means we'll probably have to leave home around 7:30 to get there in time to find the surgery center and parking. I'll probably get up around 5:30 or 6:00. I won't have to plan time for fixing my hair so really I don't need to get up nearly that early, now that I think about it. There are benefits to being bald. I haven't driven in a city for a long time. M will probably have me blanch-knuckled to the steering wheel but I will give that stress to the Lord. I'll take plenty of things to read and I'll take my knitting and just sit back and relax until it's time to drive home. Normally, though, I don't wait well. That's an area in me that the Lord needs to work on. I'll just say that there's room for lots of improvement in that area. M is not a very good patient or I'm not a very good nurse. Maybe some of both? He can think of a million things he wants me to do and get for him while he's laid up with his foot propped higher than his heart. All the doctor is going to do is remove all the hardware they left in there the last time. He's got screws that are backing out of their holes and a broken titanium plate and all need to be removed. It should be a pretty short operation, I would think.

For those of you who might be wondering. My hair is growing back out but it is taking it's good sweet time and it's also coming in very thinly. There's a part of me that fears it's never really going to go back to normal hair. It will always be too thin to wear naturally again and I have this sinking feeling that it's not going to grow much more. I feel like it's going to grow out about an inch and then just stop. I guess I'll never know why my hair decided to fall out. I mean, really, it's a weird thing to have happen, you know? I've never heard of anyone's hair just falling out like mine did. Strange. Very strange. I guess I'll continue to wear scarves and hats until it grows out (if it ever does) and if it never grows out anymore then I'll consider getting a wig. Of course by then I probably will have spent all the money my sisters pitched in to help me buy a wig. One thing at a time. One thing at a time. Anyway I thought you might like to know that it is growing but it's a slow process. My hair is about 1/2 inch long in most places. It is not growing out evenly. Some of it is longer than other parts and some parts are still bare scalp so I don't know what to think. That's why I think it's not ever going to go back to the stage where I can wear it normally. I think my days of natural locks are over.

I finally got my car washed after church yesterday. I didn't do it on Saturday like I was supposed to because it looked too much like rain. The TV weather person had said no rain but I figured they could be wrong and they were! It didn't rain a lot. Actually it just sprinkled but just enough to mess up a freshly washed car. So I did get something accomplished over the weekend.

Well, since I was gone all morning at small group I think I should keep this short today. I will try to blog again later in the week but I am going to be busy so we'll just have to wait and see how things work out. Also, I noticed I have only one more devotion written up so I need to park my rear somewhere and write a bunch more. So I'm going to have to find time for that soon too. Busy, busy, busy! Stay close to the Lord and I'll see you there! Until next time...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Programming Our Minds

Think about the mind as a control tower of life. Decisions determine our actions, which in turn affect the immediate and distant future. The person each of us will be 20 years from now is impacted by how we think and act today. If we look ahead and desire our future selves to bring praises to the Lord, we must begin today to "program" our minds with godly thinking.

In Romans 4:23, the apostle Paul tells us that we, as believers, need to reject worldly thinking and renew our minds instead by "feeding" them proper spiritual food. If we want to be godly thinkers and doers in the future we must begin now to prepare for such an event. We've been given the capacity to think as Jesus thinks if we will but submit to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. He will be faithful to the Father's promises. Our first act of submission is to seek after the things of God. This means being intentional about opening up our minds only to scripturally sound attitudes and philosophies. It's enormously important for us to protect ourselves from the world's me-first, self-serving mindset, because the Bible says that we are to be God's servants.

The second way to submit is by sifting our thoughts through the Word and will of God. This is a practical step that will allow us to identify errant thinking. We must determine whether an attitude or line of thought pleases the Lord and is useful for making us into the kind of person we know God wants us to become. Then, when a thought is unscriptural, we can choose to reject it and be done with it (2Cor 10:5). God's way is never disturbing or troublesome.

Now is the time to reflect on the fact that the only way for us to know if our thinking pleases God is by reading and meditating upon the Bible and God's precepts that are written within it. In His Word, God provides examples of righteous living and thinking, and He offers guidance for choosing such patterns, Scripture is the instruction manual for our earthly control tower. Scripture is a lot like radar. It tells us a plane is there whether we can see it or not and it will tell us if we veer off course.


What a busy week this has been and we still have several days to go before the week is over! Mon was our small group and my son, Ken, and his wife, Tamara (I couldn't remember if I actually ever introduced you officially to my son and daughter-in-law), were able to make it to small group with me. M stayed home because he didn't get any sleep the night before. His neck was hurting him too much to sleep. But we had a good session looking at the first affirmation. It was a good thing I made a double batch of blueberry muffins to take over for refreshments. We had a total of 14 in our small group. We usually have eight. So we've grown significantly. But I took enough muffins for everyone. (Thank you, Lord.) I had debated about just making one batch but finally decided to go ahead and make a double batch. I was so happy I did. But anyway, Ken and Tam had a good time and are looking forward to next Monday.

I simply cannot tell you how happy I am to have my son and daughter-in-law participating in spiritual things with me. I have so much for which to praise God! And I give him all the glory. The deepest thanks go to Him from the bottom of my heart. It is literally an answer to countless prayers over the years. Really, I couldn't count the number of times I've lifted him up to God. And Jamie of course was the surprise to all of us! So my life has been totally unreal since the first of September. The first of September I got my new car from Ken and Tamara. Then Ken got laid off followed by his and Jamie's baptisms and then a week in Hawaii and now today I spent the entire day "helping" Jamie and Ofir move into their new place in Amador County. They are doing really well for such a young couple. They bought a duplex that needed quite a bit of fixing up. They will live in one side and rent out the other side. They just had the new carpet laid yesterday in both sides. Ofir and Jamie had painted both sides and had finished the bathroom on the rental side. That bath had no flooring or fixtures of any kind when they purchased the duplex. Now both sides look really great. Each side has a single-car garage. A/C and forced air heat. Three bedroom, 2 bath. It's very nice. Needs landscaping and a few finishing touches inside and they'll be able to rent out the other side and hopefully will cut their mortgage payment by quite a bit. One thing nice, it's about 45 mins closer to the college for Jamie. So she will love that.

Their new place is down in the lower foothills (just up from the flatlands.) They moved down from up in the mountain with the pine trees and snow every winter. So no more snow shoveling for them. It's just better all the way around. They plan on spending a few years in this place and then selling it and buying a bigger/better house. But for now they are in the dry, brown rolling hills. No pine trees, but lots of big old oaks. One of their neighbors has a herd of goats so there were flies around but I think once they get to where they aren't opening and closing the door all day long bringing in all the boxes and furniture, they shouldn't be much of a problem. When we shared a duplex with K&T about 10-12 years ago, the lady next door to our side had goats and we had a fly problem back then too. There are also horses around Jamie's place but I didn't get that good a look at all the neighbors. I'm just so proud of them for buying their first home at a time in their lives when most young couples aren't even thinking about the future. Jamie may have one more semester to go to qualify for Nursing school. But that's what she has planned. Then after she's established her career, they'll think about family.

While K&T were in Hawaii I wrote him two 10-page long letters all about what it means to be a Christian. I went over everything that shows them where they're at in their walk with the Lord and hopefully where they're going from this point on. Anyway, K&T both read them and she asked me today for permission to let Jamie read them too and of course I said yes. Anything to help her along as a new believer. You know, they accept Christ, and then they get baptized, and then they... what really is it that they do from there on out? That's what my two letters were all about. I have asked for them back when everyone is finished reading them because now that I haven't read them for a couple weeks and Jamie said a month for her to read them so by that time, surely, it will be like reading something new. And I'd like to see what I wrote. When I write like that I almost go into a trance and I write feverishly without even coming up for air most of the time. I had so much on my heart that I wanted to tell my son (and now granddaughter). I told him of my faith. What it is exactly that I believe and what God asks of us. What it means to be a Christian, what is expected of us, etc., etc. It is crucial for them to know and understand that we have eternal life right this very minute. We don't have to hope it will be granted to us sometime in the future after we die. No, we have eternal life right now. We will never die. We may shed our human flesh the way a snake sheds it's skin, but we are eternal beings right this very minute. We also need to understand and know that Jesus did it all. He paid the debt; 100% of the debt. And so now we can spend our days developing a rich, full relationship with our heavenly Father.

Oh, I almost forgot! Ken got a phone call Monday afternoon and the new Casino in Shingle Springs offered him a job so he's no longer unemployed. He's now on vacation because he can rest and kick around and do nothing for the next 6 weeks until the casino opens up. That was terrific news for all of us!!! K will be stepping down from his last position but there's plenty of room for growth with it being a new casino. And I know he will do well. He's intelligent and friendly, I know he'll advance up as far as he wants to go. Probably so fast his head will spin. He may not even want to get into higher management again, he isn't sure. His last job was so stressful! As it is, he will be assuming the position of floor shift supervisor/pit manager. And he'll be making good money. Not what he was making by a long shot but he's comfortable being where he is for a while. Sadly, that means they will be moving away. If they find housing where they hope to, they will be an hour to an hour and a half away from us. We will be the last ones in the family still in Calaveras County. The rest of the family have all moved north. Except for my niece and her family. They moved east, way east. Oklahoma to be exact. I still have hopes that she'll move back "home" and join us again. But we like where we're at and will do everything within our power to never move again. We're too old. We're just too old to move again.

We all went to a restaurant in town and had a late lunch just before I left to come home and I'm still stuffed so no dinner for me tonight. M grilled burgers again for dinner. (Besides not being hungry, that's what I had for lunch. Go figure!) Anyway I was so close to WalMart that I stopped in and bought a new book to read by Billy Graham, titled The Journey. I will pass that around to Ken and Jamie when I've finished reading it. They are in the middle of reading 40-Days of Purpose by Rick Warren right now. I had loaned Tam that book almost a year ago and she's just now getting to it but the good thing is that now she's going through it with her husband! They take turns reading it to each other. One night she reads, next night he does. So that's working out really well for them. I have lots of books I'd like to see them read. The main thing is building that relationship from the ground up, using good, solid lumber. Tam bought Ken a new edition of the New Living Bible which I had recommended for him to use to just sit and read. That's my favorite translation for reading. I told him to get an NIV for study. That's what I use and it stays true to the Greek mostly. But for just reading, the New Living Bible is beautiful. I am so pleased with my copy. I have read the NT and am in the middle of reading it again in that translation. It's so wonderful to see them invest their time and their money in the gospel. I have given away so many of my copies of the NIV that I don't have any spares left to give him.

I have a Women's Ministries luncheon to attend tomorrow. I'm looking forward to being with my sisters in the Lord again but it's always a little stressful for me because of my hearing loss. That'll keep me busy until 3:00 which pretty well means the entire day by time I get home and feed the animals. I won't be able to sit down and rest until they get fed. (I have very demanding animals all of whom have built-in alarm clocks and it seems they are always ringing.)

Friday I think will be a day of rest for me. And boy! will I need one by then. Saturday is car washing day and I have to do it this weekend whether it's cold or not since I didn't wash it last weekend. One thing about the dark blue color, it really shows the dirt and dust both of which we have plenty of what with the duplex construction at the end of the cul-de-sac. We don't know how many duplexes are being built but last year we heard 14 units were to be built. Guess we'll wait until we see more of the framing to tell us for sure. Anyway the trucks going in and out of that construction all day long really spreads the dirt around. Our short cul-de-sac looks like a dirt road; you can hardly see the pavement. Pretty soon the rains will start and hopefully some of that dirt will get washed away. The way it is now the cars get filthy and everything in the house gets incredibly dusty week after week. At least they kept a water truck on the gounds most of the time. That saved us from a lot of dust and dirt.

Well, the last presidential debate is on right now and I wanted to watch that so hopefully you'll forgive me for so abruptly signing off. Besides I'm exhausted. But I had wanted to write today because I know I won't have time tomorrow. Busy, busy, busy!!! Until next time...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Our Thoughts

"We are what we eat" is a popular expression of encouragement for us to provide good food for our physical bodies. The idea holds true also for our minds: We are what we read! And what we watch! And what we listen to! The mind's appetite is very much like the stomach's, which becomes accustomed to the diet we provide and will develop cravings for more of the same. Dwelling on whatever is pure, lovely, and right (Phil 4:8) develops a hunger and thirst to receive more of God's goodness and purity and holiness. "Garbage in; garbage out" is also a popular expression today. If we take in the garbage that our culture calls excellent, we develop a taste for that instead, and it pollutes our minds and souls.

The world offers us tantalizing and perhaps delicious-looking treats ... TV is a good example here. It broadcasts great educational programs but mixed in with the scholarly programming is a whole lot of junk. Some believers consider it okay to watch a show that violates Scriptural values, because it's "only entertainment." However, we must not forget that everything our minds ingest helps shape our views and values. Allowing incorrect teachings and sinful ideas ... entertainment ... into our thinking can eat away at our understanding of right and wrong. If we make a steady diet of these things, it can soften the hard edge we need to use to defend ourselves from Satan's attacks.

If any idea, action, or activity is not true or honorable ... that is, if it violates Scripture or injures relationships in any way ... you can be sure God is not in it. And if God is absent, you can be sure that Satan will be present. For he taints even the "neutral" circumstances and situations. Satan's mission is to draw our focus away from Christ. Once Satan has someone's attention, he'll keep presenting more tasty-looking "junk food" to keep that person occupied while slowly leading him further into depravity. What was once an occasional viewing becomes a deeply-ingrained habit.

Everything the mind can focus upon ... including entertainment (maybe especially entertainment), teachings, and philosophies ... is either Satan's garbage or the Lord's goodness. Believers are wise to notice the difference and feast only on the things of God.


I love to read mystery books written in the first person account. I've probably read close to 100 mystery books over the years. There's nothing wrong in that at all. But, at the same time, I love to read spiritually educating books by various writers. But about a year ago I realized I have only so much time to read in any given day and I decided I needed to make a change. I still read a good mystery book every few months or so but my usual reading material is now 99% biblically-based, spiritually uplifting, and educational material. I figured that there was so much out there to read (just visit your local Christian bookstore!) if I did nothing but read the "good stuff" I'd be better off. I figured my leisure time was better spent reading Christian literature so I made a choice. I chose to limit my reading material. For me, I decided that was a better course of action. I've collected several devotionals over the years but had never really read them. Except for Oswald Chambers. So I placed, two with my Bible on my living room table, three by my bed, and three others in the bathroom. During the course of each day I go over all that material. My Bible and the three devotionals I have stacked on it, are used for my morning quiet time. And the ones by my bed are for just after I go to bed and before I turn out my lamp to go to sleep. The ones in the bathroom ... well I think they are self-explanatory. I don't get any special points for doing this. It doesn't make me any holier or better than I'd normally be. It's just that now I'm feeding my brain and heart on what I'd rather be reading anyway. Maybe you need to think about your habits too. I have been so encouraged by these devotionals. And to think that they were just lying in a bookshelf collecting dust before I chose to make the change. Now for the past 6 months or so, I've been enlightened and uplifted and encouraged. These precious books were being wasted and now I'm discovering the treasure inside them. Treasure I've had for years but didn't know it. That gives me a good feeling.

Another cold night for the foothills this morning. There was frost all over everything when I first got up this morning but we both had a great night's sleep. Neither one of us got cold because I put the electric blanket on our bed. I keep our bedroom as cold as we can stand it. We have a fan in the window right over my head and we can use it for "intake" or "exhaust." Only on the coldest, coldest nights will I turn it around for exhaust. The other 360 days it's set on intake. So our bedroom gets very cold in the winter. Call me weird but I think this is healthy. Neither of us has had a cold in several years and we both sleep much better. I've had it get so cold in our bedroom that I've had to pull the sheet up to cover my ear to protect it a little from the cold. As long as you keep the rest of your body warm, it's quite comfortable and I sleep so much better! I wake up more rested and ready to face the day. Guess I'm weird but if you've never slept in a cold room, give it a try and see if you don't wake up more rested and refreshed. I've slept this way for as long as I can remember. I can't sleep and wake up rested in a room without an open window. Anyway we did have frost this morning but it melted almost as soon as the sun hit it. I saw it outside and walked down the hall to tell Michael and by the time I walked back out to the living room, it was almost all melted off. That was fast so it couldn't have been a hard freeze. Now the leaves will really start turning. Seems like it takes a frost or two to stir some trees to begin turning color. The tall cottonwood trees down on the next street over started turning about a week and a half ago. I'm anxious to see the fall colors but I don't look forward to raking all the leaves! Thank God we have a small yard. The only problem is that in our small yard is a very big oak tree with thousands upon thousands of leaves! And most of them end up inside our yard.

I read a funny thing in someone's comment (on someone else's blog) that I thought I'd share. My friend's husband died (at 42, I believe) eight months ago and she's depressed. Right on. She's supposed to be. Her oldest daughter is 19 and she's depressed too. As she should be. Boo, the daughter, has been having sharp pains in her chest so my friend took her to the doctor and the doctor prescribed an antidepressant for Boo. Well my friend realized the difference between being depressed and depression [depressed is when something happens to make us feel sad and depression happens when there is no logical reason to be sad or depressed] and decided that Boo shouldn't take the pills. One of her readers wrote her this line: "If there had been prozac in biblical times, there'd be no Psalms." I thought that was really a cute line and that you might enjoy it if you've never heard it before like me.

Well, I wonder what God has in store for me today. I'm not going to wash my car unless the weather warms up. (I don't know what I'm going to do when winter really sets in. My Saturday car washes may end up being just a summer chore!) I'm not going to go out there and freeze my hands and feet, both of which get wet. If worse comes to worse I'll just hose it off and dry the windows and trim so it'll look like it's been washed. When I wash my car I always wash the cadillac too as it is parked out front and I don't want it to look abandoned. Our neighbors next door (we live in a duplex) have three or four old cars parked around their house and they are covered in dust and dirt and spiderwebs and leaves. They look horrible and I don't want our place to look like that. Boy! do I have a complaining spirit this morning or what?? Sorry about that. Anyway enough of this!!!

I'm ready for whatever the Lord wants to do in my life today. I'm almost afraid to say that because things can turn bad in an instant. I always have this gut-wrenching fear that one of my grandchildren will be in a car accident and I'll have to deal with that tragedy. I don't know how I'll be able to get through something like that. My youngest grandchild had a single car accident about a year ago and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I was getting ready to go to a wedding and I got the phone call. I swung by the church on the way to the hospital to drop off the wedding gift and while I was walking across the parking lot to get in my car, the ambulance went by with lights and siren and it was the worst feeling in the world to know that my granddaughter was is that ambulance. Hurt. And I didn't know how hurt. God blessed us and she was basically uninjured. Lots of sore muscles the next day and a few cuts and bruises but she was okay. She had no injuries but her car was totaled. Both airbags had gone off. So she's not had a car since then but she can't drive now anyway because what caused the wreck in the first place was that she fainted while she was driving. So the DMV won't let her drive. And she has been good about not being able to drive. I think she realizes the severity of the problem. But she hasn't fainted since and she's under a doctor's care and should be able to get her driver's license back very soon.

I just finished reading a book titled First Service by Andrea Jaeger the ex-child tennis champion. It was a very good book. She and her friends are devout Christians and they established The Silver Lining Foundation for kids with cancer. What a great thing they are doing!! God is using them in powerful ways!!! It turned out to be a really great book. I bought it for $1 at the Dollar Tree. I always feel bad when I buy a good book at the Dollar store because I feel like the book must not have done very well on the market if it's now being sold for only a dollar a copy. I always check out the book section every time we go to the Dollar Tree. I've bought several good books there. I saw that Beth Moore has a new study book out on the apostle John. I saw it at WalMart for $18 and drooled. I wanted it so badly but this month there just didn't seem to be anything extra for things like books. Maybe next month. Of course by them WalMart will probably be out of them. We do almost all of our shopping at WalMart just like so many other people. But WalMart is really bad about having an item once and then never having it again. You buy something you really like and by the time you get back there to buy a bunch more, it's gone. Frustrating! I still have Beth Moore's book on David that needs to be read. I'm having a hard time getting started in that book. The book on the apostle Paul was wonderful. But David is kind of dragging in the beginning. And I started it so many months ago now that I'll have to start all over again but maybe that will be good. Maybe it will read better the next time. I've had that happen with books before. There aren't as many interruptions or I can concentrate better or something.

Well, I suppose I should stop rambling and get busy with my chores. I decided to write before finishing them. I got the bed made so I at least got started. Maybe I'll start Beth's book again today. M is watching football today but I think I can still read okay. I could hurry with my chores and then try it again. I still have to do my quiet time. I've yet to find a quiet place inside the house for it. It was too cold to go out this morning. Yesterday was the same way so I waited until mid afternoon and went out and read my devotionals and had my time with the Lord. Maybe I'll do the same today and see how that works. I need to find a place in the house though because the rains are going to start pretty soon and I'm not going to be able to go out onto the deck at all. I guess I'll probably try sitting on the bed for my quiet time. I go back there to pray as it is.

This hasn't been much of a blog and I apologize for it but it's the best I can do this morning. I started this early and I just looked at the time. Where does it go?!!! I'm a fairly fast typist. Must be a slow thinker, you think? Something eats up the time. I just feel spiritually hungry today for whatever reason. Probably because I finished that book last night. So I'll make a decision and pull out something to read after I get my chores done. I don't have a lot of chores to do on Saturday. Washing my car is the biggest chore. Shouldn't take me long at all to get them all done and then I can sit and concentrate.

Is anyone familiar with Malcolm Smith? He's a great Bible teacher. Originally from England he lives in San Antonio TX, and puts out wonderful teaching cassettes. I dug out a few of them yesterday and I thought I'd listen to them while I do my chores. Make good use of my cleaning time that way. I've had these tapes for almost 20 years and I think it's time to go through them all again. He's a wonderful speaker. He gets your full attention almost from the first word on. Just his accented voice is a plus for him. But he teaches the gospel and only the gospel. The only problem I have will be finding time to listen to them. I won't be able to listen just because I'm cleaning because M might be watching TV (like today's football) and I won't be able to play them. But I'll squeeze them in whenever I can. I'd listen to them in my car but my car has only a CD player. I used to listen to them when I drove to work years ago. And that worked out perfectly as it was about a 45-minute drive in. They kept me awake driving home too. Okay, I think I'll really stop now and get busy with things around the house. Wish I had more encouraging things to write about but this is just one of those blah days we all get occasionally. Take care and stay close to the Lord. Jesus is our reason for living. Thanks for reading. Until next time...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

God's Plan for Our Lives

God is not biased or prejudiced. He calls all people into a personal relationship with Himself, knowing full well that the majority by far will not take Him up on His invitation. But those of us who do can expect Him to use every situation and circumstance, every experience in our lives to achieve His goal of conforming us into the very image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Paul's description of God's plan for our lives in Romans 8:28-30 is described as the transforming of our inner being until we speak and act as Christ would.

God knows everything there is to know. He knows the past, present, and future all at the same instant. Even before the creation of Adam, He knew which people were going to accept His invitation and which people would simply brush Him aside to their great loss. Those who accepted this gift of salvation would be made to be like His Son, our Redeemer. And no one has a righteous excuse for rejecting God's offer ... everyone has received a revelation of Him of one kind or another, if not in written or oral form, then certainly through creation (Romans 1:20). Those who have been saved through faith in what Jesus has done have had their sins forgiven and have been declared blameless by God.

Salvation begins the incredible journey where the Holy Spirit works every single circumstance, whether positive or negative in itself, to bring about spiritual good and to cause the believer's faith to grow. However, even as we mature in our spirituality and yield our lives to the powerful work of the Holy Spirit, we still find ourselves hindered by our bodies of flesh and we will fail repeatedly to represent Christ in an honorable way.

To be like Christ, we must stop living for the flesh and start living for Jesus. God has already set the time for each of His children to be glorified, becoming one with Christ in body, soul, and spirit forever and ever (Ps 139:16). The day of perfection for us still lies ahead; until then, we must continue the journey of following God's will and being made into the image of His Son. We must continue our journey that He planned for us all every conscious moment.


Well, top of the mornin' to all of you (even if it is almost noon)! Boy is it good to be back! I was absolutely miserable without my computer. I had so many things I wanted to write about and now that I can write, I can't remember what all those things were. Guess I should have written them down or something. I should know better than to trust MY memory. I have the world's worst memory. I always have had a horrible memory.

Lot's of things going on. Yesterday we had our small group. For the next six weeks we will be studying the Covenant affirmations. My church doesn't have "doctrine." Instead, we affirm certain truths. We affirm 1) the centrality of God's Word, 2) the necessity of the new birth, 3) a commitment to the whole mission of the Church, 4) the Church as a fellowship of believers, 5) a conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit, and, 6) the reality of freedom in Christ. That wraps up everything the Covenanters hold dear to our faith. So many churches separate themselves out with a long list of doctrines. All the shoulds and shouldn'ts and the musts and must nots. But we just affirm these central beliefs and let the rest of the chips fall where they may. I love my denomination and I praise God that He led me to the Chapel in the Pines all those years ago up in Arnold. When God called me I didn't know anything about the Chapel. But every time I drove past it on the highway, I felt a pulling sensation there. One day I got brave enough to stop in and inquire. It was like I had no other choice. I HAD to inquire!! They told me they were a catholic church and I understood them to say a Catholic (capital C) church so I left feeling really, really confused. Why would God be calling me to a Catholic church? But still every single time I drove past the Chapel I felt this incredible feeling of a "pulling" sensation. Finally I couldn't take it any longer and I got up the nerve to go. Which with my background of the JWs, going to a Catholic church was like sinning against the Holy Spirit. I mean, it was bad enough that I was even considering attending a church in Christendom, and way beyond forgiveness if it were a Catholic church. (The JWs teach that you are eternally lost if you go to any church in Christendom but ESPECIALLY if it's Catholic. They view the Catholic church as Satan's visible agency on earth. I believe it took me 2 or 3 times to actually get out of my car and go inside from the parking lot.) I just sat out there in my car debating whether to risk it all by stepping foot inside Christendom.

But I knew almost as soon as I walked in the door that this was where God was calling me. After seeing the changes God had brought to me, M accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior and was baptised too. We stayed with the Chapel until we moved down to central California. While there we attended the Evangelical Free Church which is very much like the Covenant church. Then when we moved back up here I started attending the Covenant church here in town and I've been there ever since. The point of my story here is that I believe I was called out of the JWs by direct action of the Holy Spirit and I was called to a Covenant church. After all the bondage of the JWs, God, in His love and grace, knew I needed to learn about the freedom we all have in Christ. What a marvelous God we have! So I'm just saying that I'm thankful God didn't call me to a Christian religion with a lot of rules and regulations. None of us will ever make it to heaven by keeping a bunch of rules. The Bible makes that clear. If you're ever near a Covenant church, make it a point to visit. You might just find a home away from home.

So anyway, on Monday (yesterday) I led our small group through the introduction of the affirmation series. We decided that since none of us really wanted to lead the study that we'd all lead by trading off the responsibility every week. So I did yesterday's and Margaret will do it next week and so on and on. It's a perfect time for my son to begin attending church as we take up the study of the affirmations. With his life so up in the air right now, I'm not sure he'll be able to make it to small group but I hope he will. It would give him a good, solid foundation.

Our weather has turned very Fall like. We actually got a half an inch of rain last Friday night and early Saturday. First measurable rain in months and months. It was glorious! It must have really rained hard during the night because when we got up Saturday morning early to go do our shopping my Portulaca plants were beaten down onto the ground, poor things. They've recovered somewhat but they still look smashed. It's cold enough in the mornings and late nights now for a wrap for going outside. I had to get to church early last Sunday as it was communion Sunday again and I ended up wearing my coat because it was flat out cold! Of course by the time church let out I was lugging this ridiculous big coat around. But I had really needed it earlier.

Tomorrow night I have an Executive Board meeting and then the next night (Thursday) I have a Deacon Board meeting. So things will be somewhat busy this week. At least this week I'm not preparing to lead the small group again. K and Tamara are due home late tonight and she has to go back to work tomorrow and he has his job interview tomorrow too. I feel very confident that he will be hired on at the new casino. There aren't that many people out this way who can do what he does. They usually have to look at bringing somebody out from Reno or Vegas for the position. So I can't really see them NOT hiring him. Also K heard from his ex-boss (not the one who "at-willed" him) and it seems that Margaret is not happy with the way K was treated. Margaret is the owner of the casino/hotel/convention center and although she no longer really runs the place she's still very powerful. What she says still goes. I don't know if she's upset enough to help K out but it's nice to know she's upset over the way he was treated. They owe him a severance package. Everyone in management who has been let go by the casino has received a severance package ... except K. He got nothing but his last check. They've got a little savings but it's going to be so hard for them to develop the habit of NOT spending money. You don't drop from a six-figure income to unemployment and not feel that pinch, I don't care who you are. K made a very high income but he was so generous with it. He helped us out a good number of times and did the same for his in-laws. He bought his cousin's son a new bike for his birthday because his cousin and her husband had divorced and the boy wasn't going to get anything for his birthday. K did stuff like that all the time. He was very generous with his money. A severance package would have taken care of them financially until he finds other employment. He has an appointment with a law firm in Sacramento this week to go over the possibility of him suing for a severance package. The attorney told him over the phone that it sounds like he's got grounds to sue successfully. I'm hoping Margaret will do the right thing so that K doesn't have to sue them.

I worry that he won't get the job and then I worry that he will. There is nothing locally for him in employment so he will have to move somewhere and I don't want him to move away. Period. Not now, not ever. At least if he gets this job at the new casino he won't need to move that far away. Still, it will be a journey for us to go see them or them to come see us. But I will just leave all this in the Lord's hands and rest in what He does in their lives, in our lives. At least we have a car good enough to go on a trip to see them now. I love my car. I'm blown away by what great gas mileage it gets! With the Cadillac we were putting gas in the car every time we turned around. Every few days. With the Corolla I put gas in the car only once last month and still had half a tank when I filled it the other day. It's wonderful to just get in the car and go somewhere. M will be getting his foot operated on within the next month or two and it's so nice to know that we have a nice car to make that trip down to Sacramento and back. My son and daughter-in-law were so good and loving to just give us this car with it in almost pristine condition except for a little body work that needs to be done. All the important thing like tires and brakes, clutches etc., are in perfect working order and they even delivered it to us with a full tank of gas. The Cad was a gift too from my sister who ended up with three vehicles after her husband passed away and when she downsized, she gave the Cadillac to me. So really we've been fortunate in the vehicle department. Now that I think about it, the little pickup I had before the Cad was a gift from my father. So I haven't had to actually buy a car in a couple decades and that's been really nice.

I can't believe how good God has been to me these past couple of weeks! I mean, He's always good to me but just especially so the past two or three weeks. I can't believe I no longer need to pray for Ken's redemption and salvation. He has secured that for eternity for himself. So I pray instead that he will learn to roll with the punches and to not think that God is knocking him for a loop every time something goes wrong. I pray that K will come to the realization that God loves him so much that He chose to die to establish that relationship with him. According to Watchman Nee and a few others, immediately following baptism comes a period of rest. I pray for this rest for K&T. I pray that God will reveal His magnificent Self to K in a way that reassures him that he did the right thing by accepting God's offer of salvation. I pray that he will feel a real sense of "belonging" within the body of Christ. I pray that this particular church body will just wrap itself around K and give him a sense of peace and comfort. I was so worried that K would be stumbled (at least temporarily) by the damage Mike's car caused when it rolled down the hill. But then Tamara told me they went to church while they were in Hawaii so that's really good news for me. K has always felt, for some reason, that God is punishing him. Every time something happens to K, he immediately thinks it's God kicking him around. So I also pray that this tendency will abate rapidly and he'll be able to rest in the sureness of God's promises. And I, too, need to stop worrying so much. Worry and being a Christian are mutually exclusive terms. I need to bring that fact home to myself and I pray that my loving God will do that for me, to give me a sure sense of completion in K's life. Not that K's life is complete, but that my part in praying for his salvation is over and done with. K is now secure in God's promises. K is saved forever and will never need to wrestle with this issue ever again. When we are saved we are saved eternally because salvation isn't based on anything we do or don't do. It is firmly and entirely based on what Jesus has done for us. If we tried to obey every rule and stood ourselves before our God in the radiance of our own goodness, even if we did this with our entire being, with every ounce of energy and passion, we would still stand before God condemned because redemption can't be bought with any of our riches. Salvation was paid for by Christ Jesus. We could never live up to the level of holiness that the Lord demands. "Be perfect as I am perfect," He says. If we tried with all our strength and might and will, we'd still fail because salvation can't be bought with anything we have or do. It took the very blood of Christ, poured out for us on the cross to which He willingly submitted, to pay the debt we owed. Our salvation is not based on our own holiness for God requires more holiness than we are capable of producing, so in love God reached out and supplied what was needed for us to become His very own children. Because of what Christ did we can stand approved and accepted before God. It has absolutely nothing to do with our conduct or our desire. It has everything to do with who Christ is and what He desires to give to His Father. Therefore, we never risk our salvation during any of our earthly struggles. We are eternally saved! But as humans we have a hard time accepting such a gift. We keep wanting to work for our salvation. It seems to make so much more sense if we get in and work at being saved. But Scripture is clear. We have absolutely nothing to do with our salvation. Except to accept it. And we can never, ever do anything to lose this salvation. It is an eternal gift from God. But it's important to note that while we can't lose our salvation, we can hurt our relationship with God. We can wound the heart of our Savior. So I must get about the business of not worrying. I can trust my Almighty Father. He will not disappoint me. He will not fail me.

This hasn't been much of a blog today but I'll get back into the swing of things ASAP! (I hope!) I need to get in and write more devotionals. I used my time during my absence to write out several prayers. There is a group of us forming at church who have been asked to take turns giving the congregational prayers on Sunday mornings. I am part of that group and I spent my days off making sure I felt comfortable with deciding to give the prayers before I actually volunteered to do it. Pastor is just looking for ways to "spice up" the services on Sunday and he thought if the morning prayer was given by a variety of people, it might be a good thing. So I used my creative energies to write up a few prayers (which they encouraged us to do) instead of writing devotionals. Now I'll need to get back to writing devotionals. If we have a group taking turns at this, I shouldn't need to pray any more often than every few months. I would love to be able to just stand up there and say a prayer from my heart but Pastor really would rather have us write them out beforehand to eliminate the possibility of having our minds suddenly go blank. And I'm not that good at impromptu praying anyway. I tend to get rattled.

Guess I will post this and get back to you in a couple days. I am so grateful to have a computer again!! I honestly appreciate having one. I didn't think going eight days without a computer was going to be so hard. Boy! was I wrong! I spent a lot of time out on the deck, mostly when I was climbing the walls inside the house. I don't have all my chores done yet today, so I shouldn't even be writing at all. And to make matters worse I didn't do yesterday's chores either since we had small group. I will need to make adjustments for Mondays. It's just too hard to make myself do them in the afternoons after small group so I'll take the Monday chores and divide them up into the other days of the week and just take Monday's off. I may have to do the same with Sundays as I seem to let things slide on Sundays after church. Guess I'm a morning chore person. Anyway I'll post again in a few days. I've decided to cut my blog down to two days a week to give everyone plenty of time to read the post before I post again. Take care all of you and I really did miss you!!! It's so good to be back in the swing of things. Bye ...