Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Counting my blessings . . .

I figured I'd better count my blessings today because my patience has surely been tried today. First the blessings:

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 figured it out . . .

I've been a little melancholy the last day or two. I figured it might be the stress of knowing that Rob can drive, needs surgery, is in pain etc.

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.


I hope you are all having a pleasant Sunday. The weather is overcast and a bit cool today. I'm staying inside.

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.

The large white barrel at the back is fresh drinking water. We had a larger tank on the roof. To the right are bags and boxes of foodstuffs delivered the afternoon before. The house we were renting was small, just 3 bedrooms. This picture was taken on a school day. Our oldest boy and the infants are not pictured.

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

Good Morning

It's been a rough few days for me. I have wanted to post again about Mexico, but my brain is working against me. My throat hurts, my ear hurts, it hurts to breathe and I can't talk above a whisper. PLOM

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.
It's not morning now . . . doctor's office called to say it's not strep. They wanted me back in. Now they say it is strep again and have given me more potent antibiotics. This is where my faith gets tested. I'm very crabby when I don't feel well and all these trips out make me frustrated. However ~ just a moment ago I read news from my dear friend Tom.
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

Spin the Bottle

We called the trailer and its room home. From there, I shared the work in a pharmacy we had invested in, worked at the clinic, went to Bible study and church, rehearsed for plays and took care of children.

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


Our area was at the far left.

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

Called Out

Most people who call themselves missionaries feel a calling on their lives. I always wanted to be a helper of people. I listened well. I was smart and could figure things out. After I stopped drinking in 1976, I wanted to help others dig themselves out of the quagmire. I took a drug and alcohol counseling course and began my work with teenagers toward the end of that year. I worked in that capacity for 12 years, eventually counseling adults as well. I didn't feel it was a "calling" from God.

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

Into Mexico

My first trip into Mexico with Roger was while we were dating. He was so excited to show me his "property" and to have me love the place as he did. Truthfully, I was skeptical. I had been in Mexico during my drinking days (more than 12 years before by then) and had camped there with my friends and the children after I got sober. I thought it was ok, but was not all that impressed. The first thing I told him was, "Ok I'll go, but I will never live there or ever drive there." He was nice and agreed.

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

A Little bit of History

When my late husband Roger and I married, he had a dream. He wanted to retire to Mexico. He had this funky 13 foot round-looking trailer on the beach there and thought it was paradise. There was no electricity, no water and no room. I loved that beautiful beach, but hated that trailer. So he bought another and we moved . . . part-time at first. We lived half our time on our 36' sailboat in San Diego and the other half in Mexico. I was finishing up my 2-year college degree.

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

Something about a "friend"

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.