Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sabbath Baptisms (Part 3: Michael and Mandy)

Well, here we are again, still on the events of last Saturday. It was such an eventful day, that I had to break up the story. Each family really does deserve its own post.

We spent the better part of Saturday at The Gem in fellowship and celebration. Then around sundown, just as I thought we were about to pack it up and head home, someone responded to John's earlier suggestion that there may be a third person in the audience who needed to put Christ on in baptism. One of the couples we have been meeting with, took that to heart.


This is Mandy:



And this is her husband Michael:


The two of them had the same idea at the same time, just minutes before these photos were taken. Dee was still with us but the rest of the gang had already gone home. Just as we were talking about what clothes everyone could change into, Emily came walking back in to say she had forgotten her camera. She saw our smiling faces and knew she was in for a treat. We called LaRae and Dave. They both came back to witness Michael and Mandy go under the water, too. With the whole group once again in place, we headed back down to the pool.


Michael and Mandy are members of The Gem, but we met them through a pet sitting business we started last year to supplement our income. Looks like God wanted us to make more than a few bucks on the deal. Now we are busy making disciples with this beautiful and dynamic group of people. Each one of them is hungry for the Word and growing at light speed. And to think we had "Africa Survey Trip" written on our calendar for this very week! No wonder that didn't pan out.

Even our kids got into the spirit of the day. They all jumped in the pool at the end of the night. Here, Ben is "baptizing" Dee's youngest:


Please continue to pray for Dave, LaRae, Dee, Emily, Mandy, and Michael--and our family as well. They are all recently baptized and now comprise the bulk of this group that meets almost daily to read the Bible, share meals, educate our children, and encourage one another to walk the Christian walk. It is truly inspiring and humbling to be a part of this ministry, full of young Christians who truly love God. Thanks to those of you who support us in any and every way.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sabbath Baptisms (Part 2: Emily)

I left you with this photo of Dee and Emily:

When I said Dee was baptized first, you may have guessed that Emily was next. She was actually in the water when Dee was baptized.

Emily has been a Zumba instructor at The Gem a bit longer than John has been the director. You may recall the rough patch we hit in November when John revamped the aerobics classes soon after assuming leadership. We wanted to ensure that all of our programming was in keeping with Christian principles, which is the crux of our new mission statement. Most people appreciated the new family-friendly Zumba classes, but others did not. What started out as a simple restructuring project quickly escalated to an all out war between and among staff and members alike. John and Emily's relationship was caught in the crossfire. She considered quitting at the same time John daily scrutinized the staff to identify the trouble makers and know who to let go. In the end, she was exonerated and continued on with her classes, which complemented the Christian atmosphere.

Emily would later join our Bible study group and Sunday church meeting. Much like Dee's story, we believe the enemy was trying to keep Emily from the truth. Saturday, she was set free by it. It was also her 31st birthday! Now she has two causes for celebration on September 6. Happy birthday and happy birthday, Beautiful Sister.








Monday, September 8, 2014

Sabbath Baptisms (Part 1: Dee)

Several months ago John went to an elementary school health fair to represent The Gem. He spent the day working alongside a woman he described as "contrary" and said he was relieved when the unpleasant event was finally over. Within the next few weeks, a staff member recommended a friend for the position of nutritionist at The Gem. John agreed to interview her only to discover that the highly recommended food counselor and the cantankerous woman from the health fair were one and the same. John asked me to sit in on the interview; he was looking for a reason to not hire her. Instead, we both admitted we liked her and that he really couldn't afford to say no. 

Over the following weeks, Dee proved to be invaluable to The Gem, fitting into the staff like the missing thread in a tapestry. The employees admire her and the members love her. When she began to frequent our Bible studies, we began to suspect that the enemy had something to do with the reason she and John didn't hit it off in the beginning. After meeting with us, not only for Bible study each Thursday, but also on Sundays for church, Dee felt God was calling her to be baptized and start her life anew. Even though she has been part of a local church for years, she confessed that reading the Bible has opened her eyes to, among other things, the importance of baptism. 


Dee was the first one in the water on Saturday. As a rule, we preserve Saturday as a our family day and Sabbath and normally wouldn't even be at the gym. But Jesus says in Matthew 12:11, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?" Anyone who has not been clothed in the saving blood of Christ is certainly in that pit, and we were honored to spend the day resting in His presence and in the presence of the angels who were rejoicing as Dee was lifted out of it.

These are my friends and sisters, Dee and Emily: 

You'll read about Emily in my next post.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dave

Dave and his family came to Texas on the roll of a die. He and his wife were searching for a new beginning with a bit more space than California afforded. She found a job with her company in this area, and Dave was promoted from a tour in Iraq with the army to Mister Mom--an enviable position, considering their three kids.

We met Dave when a friend referred him to The Gem, the rec center John directs. He also visited the co-op I took part in last year to see about homeschooling. Now he works at The Gem, and we just had our first week of class together, with four other families, in a homeschool group we started at The Gem. Best of all, John and Dave have become fast friends in a world where true male friendship is a rarity.

John has been reading the Bible with Dave for a few months, and we have been facilitating two studies each week with Dave and others. God granted him understanding and acceptance of the gospel and he was baptized last Sunday in the pool at The Gem. Please join us in praying that his wife and children will be blessed by his decision and that he will win them to the Kingdom and finish the race well.




                            To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.
                                                           Fanny Crosby

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Hospice


My mother's dementia has been rapidly progressing since the day she was diagnosed about four years ago. We've been in Texas for three of those and have watched her go from being slightly forgetful to no longer having any idea who we are or who she is. Because she's only sixty-seven and her condition is considered early-onset Alzheimer's, it's moving more quickly than it does in older people. This is a curse and a blessing. The curse is obviously that our hearts ache for the many years we feel we're losing as she slips away, and a blessing in that, Lord willing, she won't have to suffer for years to come. Tuesday we started hospice care for Mom. They offer full-time physical and emotional care for the terminally ill and their families and are usually called in when a doctor deems that a person may have less than six months to live. 

Though the nursing home and the hospice nurses have been very kind and loving with Mom and with us, our hearts are heavy. We pray for peace, especially for Mom, but also for those who love her. Thank you for your encouragement and prayers. I am compiling a tribute to her life in pictures, so please send me anything you may have that you would like to share. I hope to post it here as soon as I have it completed.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mom's Surgery


Wednesday, the director of the nursing home called and said Mom had a swollen knee and was complaining of leg pain. Her doctor wanted her to go to the emergency room. Mom no longer recognizes me and is sometimes belligerent, which can be upsetting, especially to my youngest son. With that in mind, I requested a transport to the hospital, and we met her there. Nobody is sure how or when it happened, but she had a broken hip. Because she had fallen recently, we assume she fell again and forgot what happened.

Her legs had been elevated during transport, and her knee wasn't swollen when the ER doctor saw her. It may have just been a fluid pocket that got enough attention to get her to the hospital. She was complaining of pain but unable to locate it accurately. We discussed options with her doctor, one being to let it heal naturally because of the trauma involved in surgery and recovery for a person who has dementia. In the end, however, we settled on a hip replacement because, even though she doesn't have the capacity to participate in rehabilitation services, we will be sure the bone is properly set and healing, eliminating unnecessary pain in the long run.

She had the surgery and is already back at the nursing home in recovery. They have increased staff to make sure she is taken care of, and she will be in bed on pain management for the next few days. There is a walker next to her bed in hopes that she'll use it, but there's no guarantee that she will walk again.

While my brother and I were at the hospital, one of the nurses commented on how nice it was that we were there for our mom. She said most dementia patients aren't visited by family. It made me ask myself why I was there. The nursing home and hospital have the paperwork they need to do whatever is necessary to take care of her physical needs. Mom doesn't know who I am and even sometimes yells at me and cusses in front of my children. I cry every time I leave her side and sometimes while I'm there. I've determined that it's not so much me visiting her as God's Spirit in me. That's the kind of thing He does--visit a person who offers absolutely nothing in return. I wouldn't do that. I would look for a return on my investment, even if it was just a good feeling. Galatians 2:20 says, "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Recognizing that helps me to understand and accept why other family and friends have abandoned my mom--I might do the same thing--and reminds me to pray for them.

I am so thankful for my mother's decision to give her life to God five years ago, and I honestly don't know how I would handle sitting by her side without the assurance that I will one day see her again made whole in her new body. In the meantime, I am thankful for my husband and my brother who are walking this difficult road with me and experiencing their own grief, with the help of Christ. I work daily at keeping my eyes fixed on Him and allowing His Spirit to work through me, because I am in no shape to handle this on my own.

"For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands." 2 Corinthians 5:1