Sunday, August 9, 2009
It's been a whirlwind of phone calls, activity, joy and more since we found Peter. His daughter Cassie found his name on facebook and asked me to check it out. I wish I could tell you how many "Peter"'s have gotten an email from me. They were never him. I wrote and waited to be disappointed again. He sent his address and phone number! He lives just over an hour away from here. On July 31st I was able to talk to him for the first time in nearly 17 years. Today, he drove to our home and we had lunch together.
Our God is the God of restoration. In the last 10 days, he has restored a father to his daughter, a stepmom to her son and a lifetime of memories to each of us. Maybe next time he comes, I'll let him talk.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
It's a beautiful sunny day here in Ventura. Where other localities have high temperatures, we have an ocean breeze. I've been around to other towns and a few other states and I just can't imagine a better climate. I guess we will live here until our landlord sells the property (like that will happen soon in this economy!).
Just about two weeks ago, my friend came up from Mexico to make a trip to Northern California. She was going to be in the area where my daughters live and she invited me for the ride-along. It didn't take me long to get packed. I haven't seen Andrea since June last year. It was such a great trip. Below are a few of the pictures I took in a slide show.
As we traveled north, the temperature changed dramatically from cool to very hot. I am unused to such fluctuations to say the least. Thank the Lord for the invention of air conditioning! We ended up, after a night in a motel, approximately 900 miles from home at an altitude of over 4,300 feet. Although the temperature was high there, in the 90's, we were surrounded by trees, had 10' ceilings and a lovely mountain breeze.
The visit with Andrea was nothing short of God-given. It was a wonderful time of reflection for us. Our hostess' home was like a retreat. We spent much time discussing our faith. It's a little hard for her now because her sister doesn't attend church. In a letter she wrote to me on my computer, Andrea says this:
"Well I hope that people get the great impression of Who and What God is and how great He is and what he can do, that may God bless every one else. Well the reason I'm writing this is so that people might start realizing that God is alive and that this may start blessing every one else. "
She speaks of the healing that the Lord can do in our lives if we only ask and pray. She wishes that her daddy will be healed from all the health problems he has. She knows that God can do it. Ahhh, simple faith!
I also ask for prayer for my Rob. His back surgery went well and he is healing there. The dementia is getting worse and it's hard for me to cope sometimes. I forget that he has it and expect him to remember a conversation we had earlier. He doesn't realize that he is affected at all and still sees himself as he was. I still see him that way, too. I am deeply saddened by the changes in him. He's too young for this. I'm too young. I guess I need prayer as well, huh?
I hope you enjoy the slide show as much as I enjoyed my trip. Personal time has become very important for me. I love you all and as always you are in my prayers.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Across the street is a National Cemetery. From Rob's room we watched the WWII fighter planes fly over during the morning's ceremonies. Here at Fisher House there is solemn talk of disease and dying and today ~ of those who fought for our freedoms.
Today I want to remember those freedoms. I may speak out as I please. I may worship as I please. I have the right to bear arms. There are so many more. I remember well, because I have lived in a 3rd world country where these freedoms are not available. With all that is happening now in this country, I do not know how long those freedoms will survive. Will we be the last generation to know them fully? Will our children and grandchildren accept the loss of them? Will they fight as our fathers and great-grandfathers did? I wish I knew.
I am not afraid of what will happen. I know where I am going when I leave this earth. I am blessed right now to know my individual rights and to have met so many brave men and women who have fought to protect my rights. If you haven't taken time yet today, please thank a veteran. Pray for those still serving around the world and take your hat off for a moment to remember those who died.
My veteran is safe today. He is well taken care of. The surgery went well and they expect him to recover. The feeling has come back to his legs, praise the Lord. I am grateful that the VA health care system is here for him. And for me. We still don't know how long we will have to stay here. It may be another few days or a couple of weeks. I'm thankful for the volunteers who built this guest house for us to stay in so we can be here for our loved ones. I believe their recovery will be faster because we are here.
I think about and pray for you all. I have my computer here, but have not taken much time to write letters or post. My job right now is to be here for Rob.
Blessings in Christ,
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
So I'll probably be away from my computer a lot in the next couple of weeks. I am taking the laptop and smart phone with me, but don't know how much time I will be able to devote to anything but my sweetheart.
When I have time, I will be writing about my grand-parents. I never had any that was called "grandma" or "grandpa". On my mom's side, they were Boosie and Dearie. On my father's side . . .Spring. Oh the stories I can tell about them! I want to share them so I don't forget and so that the legacy will be out there in cyberspace for my children and grand-children.
Speaking of grand-children. My daughter has located my grand-daughter Cassie! Last I saw her, she was 5 years old and she and I tried to run the numbers of my credit card at Wal-Mart in Tulsa. That was 17 years ago. She's all grown up now, has a beautiful son and is pregnant with a little girl due in August. I am so blessed! If you weren't counting . . . that makes a total of 15 grandchildren and 3 (2/3) great-grandchildren. She was eager to be back in our lives and we are thrilled to have contact again after so many years.
Blessings and love to all, Penny
Sunday, May 10, 2009
I usually make a tribute to my mom on Mother's Day, but I recently did that here. So this time I am going to talk about some special moms and Mother's Day itself.
Mother's Day is often sad for me. I miss my mom. I miss my kids and grandkids. Most of the time, I don't even get calls. That changed this morning. My son Robert woke me up with a call. I love that. He's my son by birth, but he has an adoptive mom as well. I know how very much he loves her. Then my daughter Heather called to wish me well. She was getting ready for her day. She and granddaughter Ashley gave their love. Rob bought me a card and gift. I'm not his mom, but he loves the mom in me. The day is going well.
My daughter Heather is a wonderful mom. She has 5 kids of her own and is raising her baby sister. When she got pregnant with her daughter Ashley, I was worried. She (as I had been) was an unmarried teen. The baby was born premature. Heather rode the bus 20 miles each way to be at the hospital with her baby, to bring her breast milk and finally to breast feed her for the first time. She brought Ashley home and never looked back. I was amazed how well she did taking care of her. I am still amazed. Or is it awe? I don't have to agree with her to see that she has done/is doing a great job. Ashley is 24 years old now and there are Kailani (20), Paige (18), Zachariah (14), Isaiah (10) and baby sister Andrea (15). I know its not easy, but she doesn't often complain. She loves her job as a mom. I am so proud of her.
My daughter-in-law Krissy is an awesome mom as well. I haven't had the privilege of watching her raise Athena, but I have seen the results in pictures and videos. I hope someday soon I will be able to watch her in action. I love you, Krissy!
This next is not a mom . . . today is also my son John's 40th birthday. Many of you know him. He was J-Land's blogfather for quite some time and writes science fiction novels as well as many other things. I'm proud of him. He's a stay-at-home dad.
Mother's Day in Mexico is always May 10th. Our celebrations here can't compare with what happens there. I have some experience with that. Although May 10th is the day, each school has to have the celebration for its mothers. This means you go to the kindergarten, grade school, middle school and high school. The celebrations are great. A full meal is served, kids do skits or poems, etc. There is always a corsage for mom and a gift made by her child. The church also celebrates moms, serving a full meal, corsages and gifts. Then of course starting at around midnight, you begin to hear this song: Las Mananitas.
I can't figure out how to get the tilde ~ over the n. When we lived on the hill before moving to the ranch, Rob left the window to our bedroom open. I went to sleep, but at some point I heard the neighbors playing the song over and over. Then there came a knock at our window. The youth from our church were there with flowers and candles to sing the song. By the time you get through a week of Mother's Day in Mexico, if you never felt appreciated as a mom before . . . you will. So many of our children had no mom around to give their gift to, so I was the privileged one. I will never forget.
I hope all you moms out there click on the link to the song . . . it's for you because you are special. God made you special. Even when you think you've messed it all up ~ you are still special. No one but you could have given your child life. Praise God for you.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I guess I have to give a little background. The call was for a deaf girl. We have watched her life since we moved here nearly 5 years ago. Her street name is Dreamer. When we first saw her, she was a wild drug user. She had wild red hair and we nicknamed her "Big Red". I felt a tug on my heart every time I saw her. About 2 1/2 years ago, I started to communicate with her. I remembered some sign language and could finger-spell. I bought her food a few times, careful not to give her cash. Then she disappeared for a while.
A little over a year ago, I began to see her again. I stopped her on the street one day to see if she needed something. She told me she had enough and thanked me. She looked a little different. I didn't know it that day, but she had been in jail for heroin use. She came out on a methadone program and her life has been changing for the better.
I wish my words could paint a picture of the girl I've come to know over the last 4 years. She's about 5'9" tall, light red hair . . . there's a small black tattoo over her right eyebrow. She has high cheekbones, a wide bow mouth and green eyes. I suppose because she is deaf, her eyes and face are extremely animated and expressive. I've seen her sometimes walking down the street talking to herself in sign language. In the last year we have become very close. I've always prayed for her, but lately I have been speaking more with her about the Lord.
On Friday, Rob and I had to go to the VA hospital in West Los Angeles. He had an epidural injection. While we were waiting for him to go in, I received a call from Dreamer's friend, asking if I could go see her. I told her it would have to wait until Saturday morning at 10 am. I knew I would be tired after the 5 hours of driving back and forth to L.A.
Yesterday, I went to meet her, but she didn't show up. I was burned out from all the driving and my pain and little put out. Rob was very needy yesterday as well. I'm not the very best when I have a lot of stress. My pain level goes up and my patience goes down. I just wanted to sleep. I did sleep a good deal of the afternoon then all night and until about 9:30 this morning. At 10 am the call came. I started to say no, was shaking my head no, but said yes.
Here is a bit of what happened. Dreamer invited me to go with her to see the movie "Solo" on Thursday after her check came in. I agreed which is hard for me to do when I'm worn out. I just can't think ahead. Then we talked for a while, signing, spelling and writing. I want to share part of what she wrote, " Guess what? I won't be stay alive for no longer in 10 years. Remembered I told you about my used to be addict - heroin. I have Hep C"
"I went to see Dr already she'll put me into treatment. The medicine will help but no cures for Hep C. I'm scared. I don't want to die."
"I have no ideas where I'll go when I die, I means in hell or in heaven. Well, I'm a good person. I believe in God and I love Jesus. I want to go home with Jesus, but does God decide?"
I asked her if she had ever prayed to ask Jesus into her heart. She shook her head no. I asked if she wanted to. She looked straight at me without answering. I told her that Jesus died for her sins and would forgive all if she just asked. She nodded okay. I signed and spelled the prayer and in what throaty voice she has, she repeated them. I had tears rolling down my face. When I looked at her, so did she.
Ok. So I didn't make it to church this morning, but the Lord gave me an assignment anyway. Isn't God good?
You are all in my prayers daily. Please pray for wisdom and understanding for my dear friend Dreamer.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
I just had a chance to talk to Tom and hear that he's been able to visit his wife Sharon in the hospital daily. The recovery from heart surgery is slow and I want to ask again that you pray for her. I would like some love to go out to Sharon. She's a wonderful lady. Go on over to his blog to give him some encouragement as well. He'll tell Sharon you visited.
You are all in my prayers and I am so blessed to know you and read about your lives. Until next time, be blessed.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
1.I have the love of my Lord Jesus Christ. 2. I am married to the man I love and he still knows who I am. 3. We have family who love us. 4. We have a place to live, food to eat, a car to drive, and a few friends who care. 5. We can pay our bills on our fixed income. We have our needs met and even some of our desires. 6. I am walking and moving better than I have in 2 years. 7. One of us can still drive. This can go on and on.
NOW. We went to the VA facility 60 miles from here to speak to social work about the services we will be needing now that Rob will have to have surgery, can't drive, etc. The other VA facility is also over 50 miles one way. UGH! We had to wait of course. They can be late, but we can't. When we finally got in to see the social worker (nice gal, by the way) and told her our needs, she asked if Rob were rated 100%. That means is his disability completely service-connected? The VA has always said no, but we disagree. We had to answer that. Then she told us the services were not available if he were less than 100%. UGH! She said to go try to increase the percentage (VA says most is service-connected, but some is unemployability = 100% ~ go figure) and try again.
I don't give up that easily. Poor Rob tried to slow me down, but I kept talking. I told her I was going to have to insist that we request the services now. His list of diagnosis's was on the screen in front of her. There are 9 or 10 different problems there. I said I knew that we had a right to appeal any negative decision and that I wanted it in the system now. She started to say something negative and I asked her again to put in our request. Rob was nearly apoplectic! He's saying, "Slow down hon! You're going to get shaky and start crying." He hasn't seen this side of me yet, or has forgotten it.
I told her that Rob's brother worked for the VA in Sacramento and had told us to push them for services. Our very good online friends in WI who have similar connections to the VA also told us to ask. Another friend I wrote to told me to push as well. So I pushed. You would be proud of me. I did not raise my voice, get shaky or cry. I may have talked a little too fast, but it's the squeaky wheel . . .etc.
The gal looked again at the list of diagnosis's and said, "Perhaps they will waive it for him." The request is in the system. It takes months for these things, so if you wait until the last minute, it's about hopeless. I will not let that happen. Rob served his country well in the Vietnam War and as a civilian in the Gulf War. I will not let him be forgotten or left "under a rock" to suffer. He's suffered enough. His only child died of brain cancer because he was exposed to Agent Orange.
One more thing before I get off my soapbox: you don't have to agree with a war or war at all to support the men and women who fight for their country. I hate war. I don't think the troops like it either, but they made a commitment to serve. I think our country and its citizens ought to honor that. Except for these men and women, we would not have the freedoms we do. Remember that when you bash a war.
Okay, off the box. It's a beautiful sunny day here in Ventura if a bit cool. We bought freshly picked strawberries and oranges at one of the fruit stands on the road out of town this morning and we are enjoying them so this afternoon. We're both tired from the trip. I wish it were all closer. The Lord knows what is in store for us and he will give us what we need at just the time its needed.
Thank you for your kind comments and your prayers. They help. I pray for you as well. Be blessed,
oops! I tagged this 2005, but now remember it was April, 2006 ~ a trip to San Diego.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I was chatting with a friend when it came to me. We were talking about powers of attorney, health care decisions and the like. My mom requested a DNR in her medical record. She was dying of cancer and didn't want any drastic measures taken.
I remembered. Yesterday was Mom's birthday. She would have been 90. I know where my mom is. She loved the Lord with all her heart. I still miss her. I felt a little guilty because I had forgotten the day. So silly. I didn't get to grieve much for her when she died because my husband died the next day. It was a tough time. I've done my grieving now and I'm not depressed. I just miss her. I guess it's a human thing. I think I became more vulnerable and less invincible when she died. If she could die, then so could I.
My mom was a tremendous woman. Before she married my father, she was in pre-med. She gave that up to marry and raise a family. She never seemed to regret it. She loved us with a passion that I only understood after giving birth. I have 3 sisters and no brothers. There is a span of 8 years between me and my next sister. I happened when my parents tried to reconcile their marriage. Mom never seemed to regret me.
Since my sisters were older and all married or gone by the time I was 8 years old, I felt like an only child. My sisters spoiled me rotten until I was about 5, then tried very hard to undo the damage. Mom spoiled me too. I didn't know until I was in my teens how much she gave up to spoil me.
When I got pregnant at 15 1/2, mom cried. She didn't rant or rave or call me names. Rather she hugged me. I am sure she was disappointed, but she never let on. She supported me through the pregnancy (abortion was never an option) and let me make my own decisions regarding the baby.
Mom wasn't perfect. She was human. She loved her children and grandchildren to the point of selfishness. She had no life of her own. It was all for us. She dated some but never remarried. She worked and lived alone after I left home. She went to softball games and soccer games and plays. She would have been 90.
I honor her today. I am grateful to have been loved by her. I am thankful she taught me to love the Lord. I'm not melancholy anymore. Just grateful.
Sundays at the ministry in Mexico were almost overwhelming. Every child had to be dressed properly, faces and hands clean, memorization finished. For each baby, bottles had to be mixed, diapers loaded into a big bag, and a change of clothes ready "just in case." The school-age kids had to be at church an hour early for Sunday school. They breakfasted early and one of us would take the task while the other was readying babies.
In the church, we sat together as a family. Our little contingent filled 2 pews. I would translate for English speakers who might come with us. The children were amazing. Many kids from small families would run all over the church, first sitting with family, then a friend, then perhaps a grandparent. Our kids stayed in the pews (did they listen to the Word? I like to think so.) as asked and left only for restroom breaks. We had a lot of parents ask us how we got them to sit still. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure except that we told them that they needed to be respectful in the house of God. I guess they listened. Below is a picture of a family breakfast. We only had 16 kids at the time.
Sunday was always a time of blessing for the children. Parent visits were allowed both at church and at the house. Some parents had permission to take their kids for the day. The only hard part for us was not having workers to help with meals, clean-up, etc. Our girls especially were good at helping out with chores and the babies.
Our workers typically averaged $50 a month to come in for 8 hours+ a day. We had a cook, a laundry person and a housekeeper. Both the laundry person and housekeeper doubled as babysitters. This gave us the chance to go shopping or out to lunch on occasion.
We had prayer each morning before the kids went to school and each evening before bed. We also had short bible studies and a time of singing and memorizing verses. The last scripture the children learned before we left in 2004 was the scripture I quoted in my last entry. I was so proud of them! It took 4 weeks for them to read, understand and memorize that long passage.
Today, our home is quiet save for the dogs. We've had a little disappointment this week. On Monday when Rob went to see the Alzheimer's doctor, he was told not to drive. Rob thought it meant for a while, but we received notice yesterday from the DMV that he will no longer be able to drive. He is feeling pretty sad about that. He does love driving. I like having him drive. The good thing is that I also like to drive. We will just have to manage our trips differently. We will find the blessing in this, I am sure.
Our homeless friend Tina has found a place to live. She is coming by today visit. We are committed to helping her get her monthly bus pass and to that end we will have a few chores for her. She is looking for full time work as well. When she comes, we have a time of bible study or teaching as well. It's good for all of us.
Keeping you all in my prayers,
Friday, March 27, 2009
On Monday, I had to go with Rob to the VA facility in the valley. It's about 40 miles from here. This was the Alzheimer's doctor. Rob didn't score very well. He was having a bad morning. After his appointment, I had to go see the doctor here at home. I'm taking antibiotics but still feel pretty miserable.
Yesterday, Rob had 2 appointments with the VA. One was in the valley and the other in West Los Angeles. It was a full day for us. I did all the driving. Rob's back is messed up big time. He is now scheduled to have an injection in his spine for pain relief and also to talk to the surgeon. I am pretty opposed to back surgery, but the doc told us that the disc is impinging the nerve on both sides. No wonder my dear hubby is in so much pain. He also needs to have surgery on his ankle. I didn't realize how very much damage there was to his back.
This is where our prayer life and relationship with the Lord have the most importance. Sometimes our health problems overwhelm us and hope goes out the window. We feel alone and separated from the rest of the world. But there is hope. Whatever is going on in our lives, there is hope in Jesus. Three months ago, I was so sick I hadn't been out of bed in a long time. We prayed and I earnestly sought the Lord for a change. Even though I am sick right now, I am so much better than I had been. I am so grateful.
It's hard to feel the joy of the Lord when you are in pain, afraid, depressed or lonely. There are scriptures that can help. My favorite is in the book of Romans: Rom 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Rom 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Rom 8:33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Rom 8:34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Rom 8:36 As it is written: "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE KILLED ALL DAY LONG; WE ARE ACCOUNTED AS SHEEP FOR THE SLAUGHTER." Rom 8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, Rom 8:39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I am awed by this scripture. Once I have given myself to Christ, there is NOTHING that will take His love from me. He himself is interceding for me even (or especially) in my darkest hours. In the midst of what is going on in the world right now, I rest in the knowledge that God is on my side. He's on your side as well if you know Jesus as your savior.
His wife Sharon has just come through a successful heart valve replacement. My problems are minuscule. It will be a few days before she is even conscious and I frustrate myself over a sore throat. Please pray for Tom and Sharon.
As always, I pray for each and everyone of you. I have been reading your blogs and trying to comment. If I haven't, please be patient with me. I will get there. Blessings and love,
Monday, March 23, 2009
My granddaughter Ashley came to live with us for a year. The room wasn't built yet. We had a wooden room divider in the trailer to separate her "room" from ours. She came in the summer and we hired a man to help her learn Spanish so school wouldn't be so hard for her. Cleto not only taught her Spanish, but formed a folklorico dance troupe. Ashely was the best dancer they had. Not just bragging folks. The little troupe went to perform in a dance demonstration a few months after starting. Ashley and her partner performed a very difficult dance called "El Mono" (the bow). The n is supposed to have a tilde ~ over it, but I can't find the character set here. Even professionals gave this 8 year-old girl and her 9 year-old partner a standing ovation. A very proud grandma taped the whole thing. I wish I still had that tape.
Ashley helped her grandpa with construction work when she wasn't in school, studying or dancing. She made friends with several children, including those of the fisherman across the Z road from us. They were very poor and lived in a trailer older but similar to ours. The difference for them was that there were 3 of us and 6 of them. One night, after the room was nearly finished, Ashley invited the 3 little girls to spend the night with us. It was a taste of what was to come a little later.
We learned a valuable lesson from the little girls. After playing all the games we could translate, I heard one girl suggest playing "spin the bottle". I grew up in the 1950's and I knew that game. I was ready to object when I saw all the girls' eyes light up. I waited. They called to me to join them. I shook my head no but before I could move, little Carmen grabbed me and pulled me to where they were sitting cross-legged on the floor. The bottle spun and stopped. It pointed at one of the sisters. The spinner leaned across the center and hugged her sis, kissing her on the cheek. Soon all of us got a taste of what it was liked to be spun into family. I nearly cried with joy for the love that was shown. There was no funny business about this game.
As Ashley went to school and dance, I learned a great deal about the culture in Mexico. Most people were dirt poor or poor. There were not many of those would be called middle class in the U.S. There is a "class" distinction, however. Even the poorest of the poor Mexicans shunned the indigenous (Oaxacan or other) peoples. We taught Ashley to treat the indigenous with the same respect she would like to have.
I haven't posted for the last couple of days because I have strep throat. I went to the doctor yesterday and got antibiotics, cough syrup and an inhaler. I don't feel like a new person yet. Maybe tomorrow. Today my concern is with my dear friend Sharon who is having surgery and also with Krissy's husband John as he battles fungal pneumonia. I covet prayers for them, my sister Charlotte, Donna and Missie. I continue to pray for all of you. Blessings in Jesus' name,
Friday, March 20, 2009
It's strange to live in a foreign country, even if it's one as close as next door. Our property was in what was called an "American" community there. It was like living in a capsule of Americana. Our area was divided into several sections or "camps". The first two camps down the Z road as we called it, had names. The next 3 were numbered and the last section was the Baja Beach & Tennis Club.
Before Baja Beach was even built, they began to sell lifetime memberships to the Americans in the area. Roger wanted to buy in, but I was hesitant. They wanted $5k of our precious building dollars to get in on the "ground floor". I'm glad we didn't spend the money there.
We spent time making the plans for our home. Leasing land in Mexico is a gamble no matter what. 99 years leases are a lie. Even 3 ten-year leases may not be made with full disclosure. Roger was retired because he had developed asbestosis on the job. Whatever we built would be his last hurrah and he loved Mexico. We decided that we'd spend the money he had saved to build the house. We were not blind to the fact that we might lose everything. We couldn't even rent a home such as we wanted in the U.S. It was a go.
The first kind of Spanish I learned was construction Spanish. We hired an architect, made plans, had them approved and hire a man to begin construction for us. It took many months to get the foundation in. You understand that a man who builds his home on sand is a fool. Our footing went more than 5' down with thirteen 4' pilasters, 1" re bar in both directions and tied with heavy wire. Fill dirt then came in and a one foot concrete foundation was poured. Roger stubbed in all the elecrtic, phone and plumbing before the foundation went in.
We rejoiced every time we saw progress in the house. After the foundation, the windows were the biggest expense. We had 29 of them installed. Curtains were not an issue. There were no permanent residents within view when we built it.
The beams atop the 26' second story were enourmous! Roger and his friend Art installed the one at the rear (over the upstairs bathroom) while I video taped. I nearly had a heart attack. Other than the framing for the bathroom and loft, there was no place to land. The other beam was over open space 26 feet below. I asked Roger not to try to participate in that, so we spoke to our contractor. Seven young men showed up to earn a bonus. We took a walk. I couldn't watch. It was worth every penny to take that walk.
Living in the trailer wasn't easy. We thought it was big when we bought it. It was 30' long with a middle bedroom and rear bath. It had all the amenities. Wonderful for a couple of lovebirds as we were back then. Unfortunately, there was no room for disagreement in that 30'. When we would argue, one of us would head for the bedroom, the other for the kitchen/family area until we cooled off. I don't know exactly how he felt, but it was tough for me to pass him to use the bathroom while I was still angry - or have him pass me for that matter. We stopped construction to build a 30' x 15' room and 2nd bath alongside the trailer.
I hear and read of such turmoil in Mexico these days with the drug wars going on. I know it is a frightening place nowadays. I thought I would live and die there. I love speaking Spanish, I love the people there, I love "my" kids who still live there. My years were not wasted. I still have missionary friends there, including the couple who took over the ministry when we left 4 1/2 years ago. I am saddened to know that the country is in turmoil and persecution of the Americans still living there is likely. Please pray for those who have been chosen to place themselves in ministry in countries around the world.
Also please pray for my sister Charlotte who will be having surgery on Monday, my dear friend Sharon who will have surgery on Tuesday and for Donna who is also having or just had surgery. I thank you for reading and I am praying for you as well. Love and blessings,
Thursday, March 19, 2009
It took June several weeks to get me to visit the mission. I had just slowed my life to a snail's pace, we were building a house and to tell the truth, I didn't want to get sucked into helping. Sounds crass from a Christian I suppose, but at the time I was more of a bench-warmer Christian. I went to the study, found it exhilarating and went home. Each time June would ask me to visit the mission the next day. Finally I said, "If I go tomorrow, will you leave me alone?" She agreed.
The mission is at a "y" on the long trans peninsular highway of Baja California. Going straight on the road sends you south, taking the "y" sends you to a popular tourist attraction called La Bufadora. The mission is visible just as you make the turn. Our homes were 1/2 way to the "Buf" as we called it.
I drove in to the mission in the morning around noon. The place was a beehive of activity. Dozens of Americans were there and more than 100 indigenous people were milling around. June walked me past some new construction to a building at the end of the property. The first big room was where they held services for the locals at around 1. Then she showed me a couple of small classrooms, a closet full of school supplies, a tiny kitchen and an area at the back where volunteers were hard at work filling paper bags with "dispensas". These were gifts of food for those who attended services. Everyone said hello.I knew many from Bible study. There was an area for used clothing as well. I was impressed by the scope of the operation. Not tempted mind you, just impressed. Walking back out of the building, June turned left to open a closet door. Inside was a tall American woman, a medical exam table and some shelves with medicines on it. June called that tiny room "the clinic".
Irene seemed like such a nice lady. She had one person sitting on the exam table and a line of people outside. Without asking, she handed me some 3 x 5 cards and told me to take names. I did as I was told. The Spanish I was learning helped tremendously. I truly enjoyed it and was hooked. That was not my called out moment however. That came later on as I continued to work at the clinic.
Our first baby was a little guy named David. He was a failure to thrive baby who was 9 months old and weighed 7 lbs. Irene was caring for him, but they had a family emergency and had to leave suddenly. I felt inadequate to care for him. I agreed because Irene had no where else to turn. The little guy never even smiled. Instead of a week, we had him 3. He slept in a baby carrier in the bathtub in our trailer. He went where we went. The whole community was invested in him and I fell in love.
Roger and I were also part of a local theater group and were in rehearsals for a play at the time. David was support staff. At one of the rehearsals, I was playing with him and his little eyes lit up. He broke into the most beautiful smile! I cried. I knew why I was in Mexico. Below is a picture of David when he was about 9 years old.
I lnew I was called to serve, but I questioned God about this. I had been a mom since I was 16. I thought it was time to take care of me. Yet after David I couldn't wait for the next baby to come along. I hungered. We began to feast on the word as I continued to work at the clinic. We took a 10 year-old whose father had beaten her from head to toe with electrical wire. Then we took another baby.
I can't tell you that when God calls you out you will hear an audible voice. I didn't. You can get wonderful spiritual feelings and desires that make you feel as if you've been called. I knew when David smiled that I was there to do God's work. Taking care of him or any other child wasn't the job. Spreading the Good News of Jesus was the job. Taking care of children was our avenue for that. We didn't take kids away from families, we worked to restore them and build them in the Lord. I was called out, I felt it and that calling stood the test of time.
Perhaps I was called before I went to the clinic. Maybe the clinic was the conduit. I remember telling the Lord in early 1998, prostrate on the floor with my husband that I would serve him however he saw fit. I guess when you do something like that you have to be as a boy scout and be prepared. God prepared me by giving me the Spanish language as my own. Before the time we took David, people were asking me where in Mexico I was born. God also prepared me by allowing me to learn a lot about medicine while working in the clinic. He also gave me a love for the indigenous (mostly Oaxacan) peoples who lived there.
I'm tired now and having a little trouble with my breathing the last couple of days. I feel compelled to continue this journey for you. I also feel compelled to tell you that if you are not a believer, I am willing to talk to you as are other competent Christian bloggers. Don't be afraid to ask us questions. I can't give out their names or e-mails because this is a public blog, but I will place my e-mail address at the bottom of this post.
I pray for all of you daily, even those whose names I do not know. I know that a few of you are having problems or facing surgery. Be blessed today,
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
That Friday night after I got off work, Roger picked me up and we drove over the border. The filth of Tijuana turned my stomach. We missed most of it because of the new toll road. Along the border was (still is) a high steel fence with hundreds of people sitting along or atop it waiting to gain access to the United States.
Once in Ensenada about 60 miles south of the border we stopped for dinner. It was a lovely place and the food was great. Then we drove on another 20 or so miles, farther and farther from the lights of the city. We turned out a curvy road and then a curvy dirt road, eventually coming to stop just a few steps from the ocean. There I saw that ugly trailer. I was wondering just how he thought the sleeping arrangements might go. We were just barely engaged. Yes, I know. He was going to be my 4th husband, but I wanted my life to be in order. I didn't have to worry. As small as the trailer was, there were 2 beds.
Morning on the beach is a wonder! At that time, there were very few homes in the area. The beach was pristine. I still wasn't having any permanent designs on this place.
I will tell you what changed my mind about Mexico and the Mexican people in general. I'm not talking about those who sneak across the border now. On our way to shop in Ensenada, the clutch cable in Roger's little car snapped. I recognized the sound. We parked and looked for a gas station. I needed a restroom as well. The gas station guy pointed us to a transmission shop a few blocks away. At the transmission shop we had trouble communicating. I was studying Spanish but had no idea how to explain clutch cable. With words and signs, we soon understood each other and the young man smiled. He put us in his car and drove like a maniac through the back streets of Ensenada to the clutch repair shop, where we were whisked away by another manic driver. He took us to the car, looked at the problem and took Roger to go look for the part.
I got left with the car. I had to go. There wasn't even a big enough tree in sight to accomplish that. I waited. I waited over 2 hours. They were back! No part. The car was a Renault and a little too foreign for the local junkyards. We were told to "speed shift". When Roger tried to pay the young man for his time, gas and effort, he refused. I even understood what he said. "I've done nothing." He could have taken all we had, but chose to serve.
We left the next morning and nursed the car all the way back to my home in eastern L.A. county. And he wanted to live in Mexico after we married?
After you pass through the border at Tijuana (San Ysidro) going into Mexico, you pass through a very small section of the busy border town. You see homes built into the hills. Homes is a generous word I suppose. Most of the homes are shacks held up by old tires. The are generally no windows or window glass and often the door covering is a sheet. The poverty is inescapable.
The next step is a steep climb along the border toward the ocean or Playas as they call it. As we would reach the top of that climb and curve left toward the first toll station, my heart would simply burst with relief and awe. The sight is hard to explain. From the time we married, decided to serve the Lord and moved part time into Mexico, I felt a sense of homecoming each time we reached that summit. Two more toll stations and the town of Ensenada and we would be home.
Most of the pictures I have of our early time in Mexico are hard copies and must be scanned and digitized. I wish I had that capability right now, but I don't. Suffice it to say that the coastline drive from the first toll to the last is spectacular. It looks somewhat like the California coast 50 years ago, clean and mostly uncluttered. I know that Americans have leased up those areas as much as possible now and are building as they have done here. This makes me sad.
As soon as Roger and I found Christians and a Bible study, our lives felt complete. Our teacher was a 93 year-old Bible scholar whose father had been an itinerant preacher, going from town to town on horseback. In the Bible study, we met her son Howard and his wife, June. They are founders of the mission I mentioned yesterday. I will tell that tale tomorrow and about how I was "called out" to ministry.
Thank you all for your fine comments on my last entry. I love to hear from you all and need the encouragement to continue what I feel is important to share. You all know that my life belongs to Jesus, but I want you to know what it's like to be a reluctant missionary as well. I pray earnestly for you. Blessings and love,
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Roger bought (leased) another couple of lots by the beach, sold a couple of lots, and we had plans drawn up for our dream house. Below is a picture of the house some years later and during the construction of the garage.
It was never meant to be this big. Our dream was to have the kitchen, living room and garage on the lower level and one gigantic loft room above. We started the project in 1990. The house was livable in March, 1998 ~ 7 months after Roger died.
A lot of stuff happened in those 8 years. The project stalled several times. We had to build a room addition around the 30' trailer we were living across the street. By the time we did that, of course, we had electricity and a tank below ground to hold our everyday water, which was trucked in as we ordered it. We drank bottled water.
1995, we got phones! I got the Internet and have been addicted ever since. What a pleasure it was to communicate with people I loved. It was very expensive. Calls beyond our specific area were also expensive and to the U.S. were $1.39/minute back then.
In 1989, I started to work with Helping Hands of Mexico . Click here to find information about it. It was founded by Howard and June Schrock, our friends from Bible study. I worked in the free clinic there, first one day a week, then two, then four. Many days I worked alone, using the book Where There is No Doctor which was recommended by the RN that worked there from time to time. During that time, I started to bring home sick babies, an abused 10 year-old and others.
That's when the house began to change and us with it. When we left California, all of our kids were grown and I happily left my "mom" life for retirement. However, right after we got married, we rededicated our lives to God's service. I was in for a rude awakening.
There is so much to tell, I can't do it in one posting. I spent 15 years in Mexico and saw more life than I saw in all the 56 years before I left there. I'm hoping to share some of the joys and sorrows with you all.
Until then, you are all in my prayers. Love and many blessings, Penny
Sunday, March 8, 2009
This is Precious. She's my constant companion. Now don't get me wrong, she's not 1st in my life. First is my Savior, Jesus. Without Him, I am lost . . . a sinner with no way out. He died for my sins and I have eternal life. Second is my husband. We were joined as one in Christ. Even on days that I don't like something he is doing, we are one. Anything I might say against him I say against myself also. I try to watch my mouth. My children and grandchildren and the rest of the family come after Rob. Farther down the list is my constant companion, Precious.
Precious is not the first Pomeranian I've had. I don't know if she's the best. Precious is a dog ~ my dog. I have spoiled this little dog like crazy. Her favorite treat is to be able to lick aluminum top from my yogurt. Small pleasures. For the most part, she behaves. She runs when it's bath-time, tries not to be put outside with her kids and the Shepherd and has selective hearing. When I am ill as I have been for a week now, she is at my side. She goes into the living room to bark at Rob so he can put her on the bed with me. If I sleep for 12 hours, she never moves. When I am in pain, she scoots close to me. If I grouch at her, she ignores me. She loves me. It's really devotion rather than love I guess. Dogs appear to love and have emotions, but the Dog Whisperer says they are just dogs. I still say she is totally devoted to me and would lay down her life for me. I love her.
When I think about the devotion Precious has for me, I begin to think of the love Jesus has for me. There's no comparison. Jesus loved me before the foundation of the world. My name (yours too) was written on the palm of God's hand before the world was formed. What kind of love is this? It's not the passion that Rob and I feel for one another . . . not even close. I think the Lord put passion in our marriages to give us a tiny hint of the passion He has for us. Precious' devotion doesn't come close either. God saw my sin before it ever happened and sent Jesus to die once for all of our sins. Willingly, Jesus died. Willingly, God let him. Willingly, I have accepted His love.
It's not easy all the time to live in the love of Jesus. In Col 3:1-11, Paul writes that we should put away all of our sin and put on the "new man" in Christ. Easy enough. I don't want to murder or maim or live in sexual sin. But it gets harder. I also need to put away the smaller stuff (what I thought was smaller) like anger, rage, gossip, swearing and lying. That makes me cry. How often have I been angry, gossiped, lied or swore. I don't gossip, but find myself listening. For me to be the new person in Christ, I need to keep from doing these things. I'm not perfect. I'm doing my best and do not live in shame. I ask forgiveness and work harder at being more like Him.
The next part of the chapter is the encouragement to me. Verses 12-17 tell me I am the elect of God (chosen!) holy and beloved. And they tell me how to act. It's a guide book in a few short words. I do give thanks to God for my life, my husband, family, friends and even for my Precious.
Times are tough in this country right now. Worse than in many years. We'd like to blame one person or another, but it didn't take a day to create the mess. One leader after another, from small offices to the president, blames the leader before him or her. I'm not a politico, but I don't see things getting better anytime soon, if at all. I pray daily for our country, our leaders and the world. I know the outcome for myself and my Christian brothers and sisters. We have a promise that will be kept: eternal life with Jesus.
I also pray for all of you daily. Many of you know who you are. Many of you think it couldn't be you. Think again. I even pray for people I disagree with. As always, if you have a special prayer need, click on my e-mail link here.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Can a Prayer Save America?
Sunday, February 8, 2009
After writing my last post, I searched a bit more for my step-family. Thanks for all the suggestions. I still hit dead-ends. I got discouraged and gave up. I figured I could at least find ONE of his 4 children or his ex-wife. Their names showed up . . . nothing current. Then a few days ago, my grandson Doug calls.
"Grandma? Chris passed away."
Chris was my late husband's firstborn. He had a lot of problems. He gave the world 3 wonderful children. He died from a blood clot to the lung. He'd been treated for clots in his leg, but couldn't afford the blood thinning medication to save his life. He died alone and unknown. By a fluke the coroner managed to find Chris's oldest son Andrew. I had looked for him, too.
I hadn't spoken to Andrew for many years. He came to visit on the year anniversary of his grandfather's death. I was ill and not much help to a young man looking for answers. We kept in touch for a little while then he seemed to disappear. He called. He's married now and in the military. He and his wife have a 7 month old son. Can you say great-grandma? The joy of reconnecting with him is a bit tainted by his father's death. Andrew has taken the responsibility for the arrangements. He wants to find his other grandmother and his aunt and uncles. He believes as I do that the family would want to know.
I wonder why people disappear like that? I would never have found Chris or Andrew. Andrew changed his last name. I try to keep myself out there just in case. Say my dear friend from high school wants to find me. I'm out there with my maiden name and current name. I guess it's hard for me to understand. Are some of you out there being anonymous and unfound? Can you explain to me? I really want to know. Then perhaps I will be more clear.
I wanted to put a picture of my new great grandson here, but I forgot to get permission from them. Their myspace page is set to private and I don't want to violate their trust. Maybe next time.
It's been raining here. Finally. I doubt that this 2 - 3 days of rain will make a difference in the California drought, but it's a start. I really like the rain. Everything seems new and clean when the sun comes out. Little birdies in the nearby trees sing incessantly. Sunshine makes everything sparkle. Just beautiful. I see God's hand everywhere in creation. And some people think it was all a big bang. I wonder what sound was made when God created the heavens and the earth? BANG!!!??? I wonder if it suddenly rained stars and suns and planets as we see drops of rain today?
Rob is making me Sunday brunch. I love this man! His first thought after Jesus is me. I've been cooking more lately, but it makes me feel so very special when he caters to me. I know he is commanded in the Bible to love me ("Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her . . ." Eph 5:25), but that doesn't always happen. I know ~ I've been married a few times. I am so grateful to have had this kind of love not once but twice. Cool, huh?
Even though I don't post as often lately, I still think of you often. I read blogs and sometimes comment, but find myself "lurking" more often than not. I pray for each of you and for all of you. Blessings to all in Christ,
Monday, January 26, 2009
While talking with Heather, she tells me that there is a big problem. A boy that Andrea rides the bus with and likes committed suicide over the weekend. Actually 2 boys from the same school shot themselves. Heather hasn't seen Andrea as she spent the weekend with a friend to go to the winter formal dance. The school called to advise parents this morning. My poor baby daughter! After all the changes in her life over the last couple of years, this seems just too much. I'm thinking about the boys' parents as well. How will they cope? Why? Please, friends pray for the families, friends, schoolmates - my Andrea - of these two boys. This is too much trauma for a small high school in a mountain town.
I had a post ready a few days ago, but everything kept messing up. I decided to let the whole thing go. So I'm back for another opportunity. I've been reading some of your posts, trying to catch up. There are so many people struggling physically, emotionally and financially. I'm one of those people who would like to run out to fix it. Fortunately I've learned that my answer is often not yours. So I pray. I pray for your health, your relationships, your finances. Then I pray for you to be surrounded by the love of Jesus Christ. I have your names written down - my memory's not that good! - so that I will remember your needs. I feel full of joy after I have prayed.
On my other blog, I will be posting about relationships ~ probably sometime today.
Tina came by on Thursday. She called early to ask if she could do laundry. When you live on the streets in a motorhome, there just isn't any way to get it done. I couldn't give her any work that day. It's the end of the month for us. So we spent most of the day together. I encouraged her to sign up to work for the pre-census. It's part-time and good pay. Then when the census actually starts, she will have a leg up. I hope she's in there taking the test today. We went out for a little bit to take pictures from a hill looking at the ocean. It was gray and overcast, but beautiful. I've added a small slide show for you.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
First of all, on the way to church Rob and I were discussing the upcoming inauguration of President-Elect Obama. Lots of discussion. I'll tell in a minute. It boiled down to the fact that we will be praying for this new president to be a good one.
After the praise and worship, the pastor came to the front. The topic of his message was posted in the bulletin. We were ready. When he started to speak, he was talking about the new president coming in and how everyone lies in wait for a president or leader to make a mistake so they can go in for the killing words. He said we are a world of complainers and we get used to it. Then he said something remarkable (quoted from another pastor):
"If you are complaining more for the president than praying for him, you are in sin"
Wow. Confirmation. This has been the point of most our discussions lately when it comes to the presidency. Who ever this man turns out to be in history and whether or not we voted for him, the office is now his and the authority must be respected.
I have been dismayed at the lack of respect shown for President Bush. Whichever good decisions he made, whatever mistakes he made, he was duly elected by the people and he deserved respect given by the people. Still does. It's a tough job.
It seems that we forget that our leaders are simply people. We hang our hopes on them. We forget that as we do, they put their pants on one leg at a time. Have you ever made a promise you couldn't keep? I have. They do. Human. Not God.
I wonder if all the hoopla for this inauguration is and will be leading people straight into disillusionment. It seems the press (don't even get me started) has made it even bigger by touting it for months. How many grade school kids across the country are going to perform? How many bands? How monumental does this have to be? What happens when Mr. Obama sits in the chair and can't fulfill his promise? Will those same millions of people and the press dump on him as they have done for the man who is leaving office? You betcha.
It won't matter then if he is black, white, yellow or brown. It will matter that people put expectations on him that they won't even pray to God about. There is no person on this earth who can solve it. We gotta do something. In 1Tim 2 there are instructions for Christians. Pray. If you are not Christian, what does your faith if you have such tell you to do? I only know that this new president needs our prayers and our support.
Every leader inherits some kind of mess. When you get that promotion to supervisor or manager or president/CEO, what happens? You have to pick up where someone else left off. You can't keep blaming stuff on your predecessor. You have to step up to the plate. It's your mess now. Do you then lay your head on your hands and say, "Oh, God!"? Wouldn't it be nice if those you left behind you would respect your new position, support you fully and pray for you to succeed? Yep. It doesn't happen often, does it?
There's been a lot more stuff running around in my brain about this. If I wrote it all here, it would be too much. My pastor hit the nail on the head for me this morning not only with that quote, but with his message from Col 1:15-23. I need to recognize who is the Leader of my life and put my faith in Him, not in man.
May the Lord richly bless your lives today,
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Something is happening to me that I consider miraculous. I live in constant pain. For the last couple of weeks the pain has been the same, but infinitely more bearable. I've spent more time in bed than out of it over the last year and I have been up and about more lately than even I can believe. We walked on the beach for some time yesterday as I snapped pictures. I felt joy like a bubbling spring inside me. I've been afraid to go because walking on sand is so difficult for me. I can only thank God for this change. My prayer life has changed. I quit asking for myself and started thanking Him instead. I pray for all of you every day. I don't think I can express in words the gratitude I feel. Just praise the Lord. "If ye ask anything in My name, I will do it." JOHN 14:14 KJV
Remember: I'm praying for you anyway. If you have a need, I'm here. Let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org
Love and many blessings,