Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Bet Between Me and Sondra

I find it relaxing and enjoyable to write this blog every so often.  Sondra says no one reads it, so why bother?

I told her many read it from time to time, so it is worthwhile.  Mainly for me, I guess.  Anyway, here's our bet.  Sondra says that hardly anyone will read it because it is so long and exhaustive (she really didn't use those words, so I am paraphrasing quite loosely.....ha ha).  She said, "When you wrote emails before, they would write little notes back and I enjoyed those so much."

So, here's my challenge to you who are reading this.  Actually, it's a dare.  I "double dare you" to read my blog that gives details and photos of our last couple of weeks.

Then, write me an email at.....     revgalen@aol.com    .....and prove Sondra wrong!  Show her you care!  Let us know how your Thanksgiving holidays were spent.

I dare you.  I double-dare you.  Thanks.

Alden's Birthday

Yesterday was a unique and happy day.  It was the birthday of two very special people to us.

First, our grand-daughter Kylee Greenwalt is special to us naturally.  Kylee turned 8 years old in Oklahoma.  We called her and she had asked her parents (Jason and Shelly) to take her to the Red Lobster there in Shawnee.  And, as you may have read in a previous blog, we celebrated her birthday early while we were back in Shawnee on our Thanksgiving vacation trip.

Second, Sondra's older brother Alden is quite special to us as well.  Alden moved to Rialto this year and lives just a couple of miles from us in a Senior Adult apartment complex downtown.  Yesterday, he turned 59 years old.  We went over to Denny's so he could enjoy a free breakfast to start the day.  He had some appointments at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda and we dropped him off there after breakfast.

We told him we would take him to dinner.  Guess where he wanted to go?  Yes, you are right.  He said, "Red Lobster."  They had a special of steak and lobster, and he was looking forward to it.

He also requested a cherry cobbler (not pie), and Sondra spent part of the day putting that together.  She has made many peach and berry cobblers, but never a cherry cobbler.  This was a first.  Well, it turned out delicious and we came home after dinner and enjoyed warm cobbler and ice cream!  Before taking him back home, we gave him birthday cards and a birthday present - a boxed set of pots and pans for his new apartment.

Ordination Sunday

It was a Sunday that we will not soon forget.  God was present in a mighty way, as his Spirit filled our little place of worship.  It was a Sunday set aside for an ordination during the worship service.

This past Sunday, November 28, we ordained Darrell Smith to the gospel ministry.

It is a usual practice to have the candidate for ordination share his beliefs, his salvation experience and call to ministry before an ordination council behind closed doors.  Thus, if any questions arise as to the necessity to continue the ordination process before the church, it is done in a private setting and causes no embarrassment.

I don't do it the normal way at The Vision Plus Church here.  I always spend so much time in talking and "grilling" those who are ready for ordination that I am confident in their readiness to stand before the church body as a whole.  So, on this past Sunday morning during the worship hour, we took time to question Darrell Smith openly and at length and to listen to him as he shared his life and understanding of the Scriptures.  It was quite evident through his testimony that God has called him specifically to prison ministry.  It was a blessed time, as many would comment to me later.

Family and friends were there for the special day.

As a reflection on life and how God brings things to fruition along the way, I have always wondered (and enjoyed) how God would use the various work stations of my life.  As I look back at my time at Coronado Stone, it has become more clear why God put me there for those few years.  Someone even made the comment this Sunday about how many from Coronado Stone have been ordained in the last five years.  There have been five who worked there that we have ordained to the gospel ministry - George Nelson, Jim Lunak, Ed McDowell, Michael Dotson and now Darrell Smith.  It is always amazing to see how God uses our relationships and friendships and workplaces to bring about his plan for the ages.

As a sidelight and then another highlight to the wonderful morning, Sondra and her brother Alden were to follow me for lunch after church.  We called my brother David, as he had attended church in Fontana where Roger is one of the lead pastors there.  We arranged to have David meet us at Cuca's Mexican restaurant in Rialto to eat, with Roger and Julie and family (Jennifer, Daniel and his friend from college) coming along as well for a fun gathering.  (Roger's daughter Melissa attends another church in the area and was not able to join us for lunch.)

As I pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, I saw Greg Freeman and some of his business associates walking in.  We had a table set up for us all, as we decided to make it one big lunch group.  All totaled, there were eleven of us ready for a good Mexican dinner. 

As we sat down, some friends from the past were being seated immediately at the table next to us.  The Gonzalez family saw us and we greeted each other and caught up on family news quickly.

In the early 1970s the Gonzalez family was part of the First Southern Baptist Church of Rialto, where Sondra and I attended as a young married couple.  It was the church I first worked as a volunteer youth minister, and the church where I was licensed to preach.  The Gonzalez family was special and close, as Cesar (the dad) won the California Lottery in the late 1980s and asked me to be on his board of directors for a non-profit organization he founded to use his money to further the gospel in Southern California and Baja California.  Cesar also worked at Kaiser Steel during the years I was employed there.  In addition, his sister-in-law was married at the Rialto church and this lady's husband reminded me Sunday that I sang at their wedding 36 years ago to the day!  Cesar passed away last year due to cancer, but our hearts are still bound together through the years as we see each other from time to time.  Sunday, it was like a homecoming day at Cuca's!

We had a wonderful time of eating and sharing with all at both tables.  And, to top it off, Greg's business friend ( a man named Danny) was a loving and generous man.  He gave his credit card to the waiter prior to ordering and said, "I'll pay for all this table."  I went home that afternoon feeling so blessed and happy.  God is so good.

One final note:  I am a huge San Diego Chargers football team fan!  The Chargers punished the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night, so I went to bed very happy that night.  I know this doesn't sound very spiritual, but my loyalty to San Diego stems from my years of growing up there.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Trip - Part Four

On Tuesday, November 23, Shawn and Crystal and little Bailey arrived in town.  They had driven out to Oklahoma and spent the weekend with his parents and family in Tulsa.  It was interesting to see how Bailey would interact with her cousins Jace and Kylee, as well as how she would react to baby Macyn getting so much attention.  She was very jealous of Macyn as I was holding her at one point.  Bailey immediately came over and had me hold her too, as she was not sure she was willing to share her "Papa G" with someone else!  Jace and Kylee had a great time playing with her and showing her the house.

Tuesday evening, Sondra and I picked up mom to go to Bill and Marti's house for dinner (or do we say "supper" in Oklahoma?).  Marti had cooked a pot roast dinner, and she said it was the first time in her life that she had tried to cook it!  It was good and we loved it.

Early Wednesday morning, Sondra and I took off for Springfield, Missouri, to see Noel and Janice and nephew Mark.  We arrived before lunch and ate at the Belgian Waffle House.  We went back to the house and Sondra made two pies (one pecan and one coconut cream) for the next day, which would be Thanksgiving Day.  Mark also loves Rice Krispy treats, so she made some homemade Krispy treats for everyone to enjoy.  Noel and I sat and chatted as we watched the news talk of an upcoming storm.  Janice worked that day, and we had some lasagna for dinner.  It had been discussed about the Thanksgiving meal, and all were in agreement that it would be just fine to go out on Thanksgiving Day for lunch.  All through the night a Tornado Watch was in effect and the temperature dropped below freezing.

On Thanksgiving Day Thursday, we asked Janice's dad (Bailey Hill) to come for breakfast.  We enjoyed the crisp morning, as there were icicles on the trees in the backyard.  The high winds calmed down a bit, and the tornado never came to pass.  That afternoon, mom and Marti and Bill made it safely from Oklahoma.

Noel was not having a very good day with his heart issues, so he and mom stayed home for lunch.  Janice and Mark, Bill and Marti, Sondra and I drove out the driveway heading to the nearest Golden Corral for a turkey dinner.  As we approached, we saw the parking lot full and the line out the door for about 50 yards in the 30 degree weather.  We didn't even bother to stop.  We looked across the street and saw an Applebee's restaurant open.  We pulled in, got seated immediately and ordered.  Everyone made their choices, and I ended up having a sirloin steak on Thanksgiving Day for the first time in my life.  It was actually quite a memorable day, and we had some fun with it.

Back at the house, we ate pie and some apple cobbler that mom brought, along with cookies that Marti had made.  Sondra passed out our Christmas gifts to all, and it was a special time as well.  We stayed just a little longer, enjoying the company of family but then had to leave to go back to Shawnee.

We needed to leave Friday morning on our return home.  So, we spent the rest of Thanksgiving Day night with Jason's family and Crystal's family.  On Friday morning, we all headed over to Cracker Barrell for one last breakfast together and then Sondra and I headed for California.

We stopped one last time to spend a few minutes with Patty Murcray in Midwest City and then on the road again.  We made it to Holbrook, Arizona, before turning in for a few hours of sleep.  Yes, it was about midnight when we stopped.

Saturday, we finished the trip back to Rialto, arriving about 3 pm at home.

Thanksgiving Trip - Part Three

Monday, November 22, was another short shopping day.  Sondra bought a little pink New Testament for Macyn.  My camera quit working, so I went to K-Mart and found a bargain deal for a 15-megapixel GE camera.  Another important errand was to pick up my wedding ring, which I had re-sized at a family-owned jewelry shop in downtown Shawnee.

While waiting for Sondra at the mall, I received several phone calls from California.  One was from a lady in Hesperia who had read about our homeless feeding, reading it in the newspaper last February!  She had her kids and neighbors collect clothes and other items todistribute to the homeless, as a project for her children.  I had her contact our coordinator in the church and the connection was made.  That was awesome.

Then, I received a call from the Chino Valley Christian School, wanting to again donate to our Homeless Ministry this year as they had done last year at Christmas time.  I am scheduled to attend a chapel service on December 8 to receive the small bags of toiletry and sundry items to pass out during our Christmas feeding.  In addition, the coordinator at the school knows a friend at Channel 9 TV news who is a believer.  It has now been arranged for Channel 9 to come and film the ceremony and for me to be interviewed about our weekly feeding to the homeless in Fairmount Park in Riverside!  That is something very humbling.

After picking up Jace and Kylee from school, we drove into Oklahoma City to do some needed errands.  After that, we went a few more miles to Arcardia to visit Pop's, a world-famous hamburger diner and soda pop gas station.  They have hundreds of bottles and flavors of old-time soda pop in glass bottles.  We ate dinner with the kids and bought some soda pop to take home.  Quite fun.

To wrap up the day, we spent the evening with Jason's family passing out our Christmas gifts to them.  We decided it would be great fun to watch them open them during our visit, rather than waiting for them to open them on Christmas Day.  This way, we would enjoy watching their excitement and joy as they opened gifts with us there. 

It was fantastic, with the anticipation and squealing and emotions of both Jace and Kylee, especially.  Jace was teary with joy, so expressive about how happy he was with his gifts.  It really was a very special evening.

Thanksgiving Trip - Part Two

Saturday, November 20, was a busy day for parties.  Prior to our trip, Kylee asked if she could have her birthday party a week early so Papa G and Grandma G (me and Sondra) could be there.  Her birthday is actually on November 29.  So, a party was planned with all her friends and their parents at the new Oklahoma Baptist University center that has an indoor swimming pool.  After swimming and playing, another room was reserved there to host the cake eating and opening of birthday presents.  What a wonderful time and we were excited to be there for it.

After the party, Jace and Kylee actually had other birthday parties to attend so I went back to mom's to visit and relax.  Sondra wnet and spent more "grandma time" with little Macyn.  Shelly's cousin (and her cousin's family) came over to watch the Pay-Per-View UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) fights on TV, as we ate BBQ hamburgers off the grill.  As the others were downstairs, I went upstairs after eating and finished my study and preparation for Sunday.

Sunday morning we picked up mom and went to First Baptist Church of Tecumseh.  Several of the ladies of the class were absent due to sickness or family in town, but we had a very spirited time of discussion about the early church.  I shared my thoughts from Scriputre about the 12 attributes of a healthy, vibrant church on mission for the Lord:  In Acts 2:41-47, we find the following 12 Marks of a Great Church:

1.  A church that experiences salvation decisions with baptisms to follow.
2.  A church that gives instruction through sound Biblical teaching.
3.  A church that has a visible bond between members shown through affection, compassion and ministry awareness.
4.  A church that has informal times of eating meals in homes, as well as observing the meal of the Lord's Supper together.
5.  A church that demonstrates significant and focused prayer times together.
6.  A church that see amazing and miracle-story occurrences among its members.
7.  A church that experiences joyous sharing and giving of finances/possessions for meeting needs of others.
8.  A church that knows harmonious worship at every opportunity of meeting together.
9.  A church that has members feeling contentment with life's provisions with a glad heart.
10. A church that demonstrates dedication with a purpose that is highly visible.
11. A church that experiences a contagious praise and adoration of the Lord God Almighty.
12. A church that has an outstanding reputation for love and the building of personal relationships.

These are all accomplished through the ministries of evangelism, teaching, worship and fellowship.

After church, Sondra and I took a drive to Midwest City to visit our good friend, Patty Murcray.  She is doing well and teaching first grade at a school in Edmond.  She fixed chili and cornmeal pancakes for lunch.  We sat and talked and reminisced for a long time.  It was a precious time of the trip, being with Patty and talking about life.

As we drove back to Shawnee, we called and went by to spend a few hours with my sister and brother-in-law, Marti and Bill Roberts.  They had just finished putting up their Christmas tree and lights for the holidays.  It was a good way to end the day.

Thanksgiving Trip - Part One

We are now home!  It is good to be home and sleeping in our own bed.  We love to travel and we love to go see loved ones and friends, but it is always a welcome sight to see home and familiar surroundings.

Here's a review of the last two weeks.

We had planned on leaving on Sunday afternoon, November 14, after church to head out to Oklahoma.  Didn't happen that way at all.  At 2 am Sunday morning, I was awake and sick.  Suffice it to say that I could not stray from the bathroom during the rest of the night.  As soon as I felt I could call someone, I contacted a minister friend (Joe Lick) to preach that morning's service.  All day I was sick.  We went to bed hoping I would feel better by Monday morning to leave.

Late Monday morning I felt better and was prepared to try to travel.  We took off and within hours I began to need a "bathroom stop" every so often.  We continued, as I was determined to make it.  All day long, we stopped at every McDonald's for me to use the "facilities."  Sondra was a true trooper and drove without complaining.  She wanted to stop for a motel early but I wanted to get as far as possible.  We finally made it to Gallup that first night around midnight.

I was finally feeling better through the night, and then Sondra began throwing up at both ends (and I'm trying to be careful how I say it) about 2 am Wednesday morning.  We were cautious as we left as I was weak, and Sondra was not feeling well at that point.  We persisted and finally made it to Shawnee and received the "midnight special discount" at the local La Quinta hotel there.  We did not want to stay with family members because we did not want to "infect" anyone because they would possibly get what we had.

We called mom.  We checked out at noon and went to mom's, as Sondra was feeling better.  Mom was willing to take the risk so we could have a place to rest and recover.  We were not going to Jason and Shelly's house because of their five-month old baby Macyn, who was sick already with a congestion problem.  After getting a haircut in nearby Tecumseh, we just rested and visited with mom the rest of the day.  Mom made homemade potato soup and corn muffins for dinner.  It was just what we needed!  Before going to bed, I did some study for the Sunday School lesson for the coming Sunday morning, as mom is the teacher and asked me to lead the discussion and teaching time for her.  It is always a great joy to teach her class of "very senior adult ladies."  They are always so sweet and gracious to me as I share the Bible with them.

Thursday morning, we had breakfast with mom and afterwards I did the morning newspaper crossword puzzle with mom.  That is a daily routine that is still fun and challenging.  Sondra did some shopping before heading out to pick up Jace and Kylee from their school that day.  We spent the evening with Jason's family, as he cooked dinner there.  It was great fun getting to know little Macyn.  She is so cute and is such a good baby, requiring little more than constant personal attention and care.....ha ha!  Seriously, she is a happy baby who sleeps through the night most of the time.  That night we played the newest version of the game "Clue" with the grandkids.  We went back to mom's to spend the night.

On Friday morning, Sondra did some last-minute shopping.  That afternoon, we again picked up the grandkids from school and spent the rest of the day with them.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Heading East

We have decided to go to Shawnee for the next two weeks to spend Thanksgiving there.  We usually go to Oklahoma right after Christmas and stay until New Year's Day.  Because of David's wife arriving to visit for several weeks at Christmas here in California, we want to spend some time with her during the holiday period.

We have not made solid plans about our trip, we are just taking off and will enjoy whatever happens in the days ahead.  It will be fun just to be there for a different time of year.

These past few days have been full and busy.

Yesterday morning (Friday) I went over to the West Valley Detention Center to visit an inmate.  I visited him a few weeks ago, and his hearing has not yet been held.  He is a man who is really trying to get his life in order, and I am the only pastor who has been willing to visit him at this jail.  His next court date is December 10 and he wants me to attend.

Yesterday, we also held our "Thanksgiving Dinner" with our kids.  Shawn and Crystal came over after work, as we kept Bailey for the day.  Evan ran over to Corona to pick up his girlfriend Callie to bring for this special occasion.  Because we will not be here in Rialto for Thanksgiving Day, Sondra decided to cook the full turkey dinner and have everyone over to enjoy.  It was so good -- turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, sweet potatoes, olives and cranberry sauce, deviled eggs and dinner rolls.  Sondra also made so many pies - pumpkin, coconut cream, pecan, lemon meringue and a chocolate nut dessert as well, with homemade whipped cream for all.

Today I held a memorial service for a wonderful lady in our church, Betty Guerin.  She was 75 years old and such a sweet and lovable woman.  She was active in the church, leading women's Bible studies durng the week and being involved in Women's Ministry, sharing her compassion and love with all she came in contact with.  The church was full and the service was truly a testimony to her legacy as a woman who loved Jesus.  What a special day!

Tomorrow morning I will lead the church in the ordinance of the Lord's Supper.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lost and Found

I am not a car mechanic and have never claimed to be.  So, when David's car developed a problem with the water reservoir of his VW Passat, I certainly had no clue.  David pulled the part out, and we tried to find a replacement.  Unfortunately, many auto part stores do not carry that item.  So, a church member told me about a VW repair shop and we got the part, so it's all fixed.  David took the part out and replaced it today.  All seems well with that.

We (Sondra, me and David) went to 24 Hour Fitness on Monday morning and stayed for about an hour and a half.  It feels good to sweat and get exercise again.

I called Monday to check on my friend who has been working on my Sebring.  Two weeks ago, he left to go to South Carolina to visit his kids back there.  I just found out he decided to stay back there and find work.  So, I am left to figure out what to do about a car.

Yesterday morning started off with a shock.  I had finished getting dressed and was in the bathroom for a moment when I noticed my wedding ring was missing off my left hand.  Every once in a while, it feels loose but I had not had trouble with it coming off.  Well, I looked all over the house where I had been that morning but to no avail.  I felt devastated.  It could have happened outside the night before, it could be somewhere in the house down a hole, so what could I do?  I just went about the day, hoping beyond hope that I would find it.  Lo and behold, when I went to bed last night, I took my clothes off and kicked of my tennis shoes.  Guess what?  When I kicked off my left shoe, it bounced a few feet away and my wedding ring came rolling out of it!  I couldn't believe it.  I quickly tied string to it, put it in a plastic baggie and will have it resized immediately.  It was lost, but now is found!  I am so happy.  When December 21 rolls around next month, I will have worn this ring 39 years.

This morning I went to Coronado Stone manufacturing plant to give a devotional again.  I spoke about the landowner and his three workers who were given "talents" (money) to invest and use in his absence.  The Biblical story talks about two of the workers doubling the money while the third one buried his and therefore brought back nothing to show for his money.

I used that to talk about that which God has entrusted to us.  Using the illustration of my wedding ring, I said that it had value but was "lost."  It was still worthwhile but nonetheless useless when lost.  We have worth in God's economy but it is useless when "lost" on the world's appetites.  I also used an illustration of a transit bus I saw going down the street recently.  It said "Out of Service" on its windows.  I related that to our lifestyles as Christians at different times.  From the outside, we look like we are useful, we go down the street like we are doing our Christian duty and ministry, but we fail to "carry our load" and do our part for the sake of the Kingdom.  We are "out of service" as far as God is concerned.  We must get back on track and serve in only those ways that He has designed for us.

As I was at the Coronado plant for a few more minutes talking to several people, I had a chance to talk with the owner (Mel Bacon) as well.  He had indicated earlier this past summer that he had an huge air conditioning unit that he was willing to donate to our church.  I asked him if that offer still stood, and he was excited to help and even came into the office to direct another person to help us go look at it.  This is awesome!  The unit is brand new, never been used and it is being donated to our church for free.  How great is that?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sadness and Gladness

These past days have been an emotional roller coaster ride for us.

On Thursday evening, I received a call that our good friend and church member Betty Guerin passed away.  She had battled cancer for some time, had lived a full life and indicated that she was ready to go home to heaven.  It has been very tough on the family physically because of the care-giving needed at home, even though hospice care came every so often.  The family is grieving but relieved that the pain is over and Betty is fully at peace with the Lord.

On Friday, Sondra and I spent the day taking food to the family for each meal of the day -- McDonald's breakfast, In-N-Out Burgers for lunch and a fried chicken dinner for the evening meal.  It was important to spend time, effort and love to comfort them in this time.

On Saturday, I spent the majority of the day taking care of church planning and errands.  On Saturday evening, our local Southern Baptist Association held a Ministsry and Mission Fair at a nearby church in Fontana (actually the church where my brother Roger is a pastor).  Our church (The Vision Plus Church) had been asked to specifically set up a table to share our ministry of touching lives at Fairmount Park by feeding the homeless each Thursday afternoon.  It was a wonderful time of ministry sharing and seeing some good friends from the association that I had not seen in some time.

Even though it was good to get an extra hour's sleep because of the time change, I got up early this morning (Sunday) to prepare for several things.  I even got an early phone call (at 5:30 am) from a church member who had just recently returned from his mission trip to China.  He gave his testimony in the worship service today and it was a Spirit-filled time of seeing what God was doing overseas.  This man and wife team (Ken and Beifei) had bought gifts for every single church member -- special key chains with a map of China on the fob with Chinese character writing that says "Pray for China."  The church was presented a very lovely and expensive gift of hand-made silkwork of a Panda in a frame.  In addition, Sondra and I were presented with a special gift of a hand-made china plate with colored flowers.

I preached on our mission effort as Christians to tell our world about the Jesus that saved us and has given us new life.  We had several visitors this morning, and one of them was a 13-year boy Angel.  After church, his friend brought him to me specifically and said, "Angel wants to get baptized."  I sat down with Angel, presented the simple plan of salvation and life in Christ, and Angel prayed to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.  It was just a fantastic end to our morning of worship!

After church, I came home to news that my sister Marti had been admitted to the hospital early this morning (about 4am) due to neck and chest pains.  The doctors ran many tests and found no sign of heart attack, but they want her to see a cardiologist tomorrow to find the problem that is definitely showing itself as a heart issue.  I talked to my brother-in-law Bill late this evening and she was sent home around 4pm and was sleeping.  We will pray for her in these days that this health problem will be resolved.

This afternoon, we decided to take a quick trip to Oak Glen to the apple farms there.  It's near Yucaipa, about 30 minutes away from us.  There were four of us -- me, Sondra, David and Alden -- that went on this spontaneous outing.  We went to several of the apple farms to eat apple and cherry turnovers, taste fresh apple cider, drink coffee and hot chocolate and then bring a five-pound apple pie home!  It was a special trip and we had great fun.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween Weekend

Last Thursday I was invited once again to give the morning devotional at Coronado Stone manufacturing plant.  It is always a time of saying hello to those I have been associated with for almost 10 years now.  I enjoy sharing the Word of God with them, and they enjoy it as well.

On Friday, we had a Goodwill Drive set up at our church.  It was to raise funds for our general needs as this has been a tough year financially for the church.  Goodwill has a program for non-profits to bring in donations to fill up their trucks as a type of fund raiser.  We had promoted it, told everyone, put out signs in the area and trusted God.  On Friday, we had donations of all types that filled up two trucks and a portion of another one.  The Goodwill representative called to let us know they would be sending a check for over $4,000 in the next few weeks.  God is awesome!

This time of year is a time of remembrance and reflection for me.  It was just last year, specifically at this time, I was at the hospital day after day watching my friend Jim Murcray lose his battle to various health issues.  I talked last week with his widow, Patty, and we reminisced for a moment.  God has created us with a gift of memory to be reminded of great friends and wonderful times.  One of Jim's sons (Josh) lives close by, and he and his wife asked us (me and Sondra) over for dinner last Friday evening.  We had spent so much time with the family last year, and they wanted us to come over to talk and catch up on what's been happening in all our lives.  It was a precious time.

Saturday evening and night, we took care of grand-daughter Bailey.  She is so cute as she grows and becomes her "own little person."  Yes, she is beginning to become aware of her desires and is able to communicate them quite well, either by a smile and word attempts and hand signals or by other means (crying and throwing a tantrum.....ha ha).

Sunday was church, and I preached on "Trick or Treat."  The tricks of the great deceiver are many.  The treats (the actions and activities) of a holy God help us in living a redemptive life full of love and hope.  God shows us how to live, tells us we are forgiven, lets us know he is faithful, shares and imparts talents and gifts to us, and finally shows us how worthy we are in him through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus.  We either rebel or trust.  Those are our only two options with God.

Sunday night Sondra and I drove to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) to pick up Ken Edwards, a man in our church who was just arriving from a mission trip to China.  It was a magnificent time of listening to what God had done in his life personally, more that what was acccomplished in the actual work of the mission journey.

Monday, November 1, was the first day of going back to 24 Hour Fitness in many months.  I am so out of shape, and it felt good to work out.  My brother David came with me and Sondra, and he signed up to join the Fitness Center and got the special that was offered.  We hope to lose many pounds in these weeks to come!

Yesterday (Tuesday) was Election Day.  We voted at our usual polling place and watched the results on TV as they came in.  I am in no position to make any predictions or comments about the wins and losses of either party.  I am still convinced that what we need in this country is not a coming together of policies and political parties, but rather we need a heaven-sent revival of hearts and souls in America.  We need a RIOT (revival in our time)!

Yesterday afternoon Sondra and I went to visit an elderly lady in our church who is slowly slipping away during hospice care in the home.  This wonderful lady, Betty, has lived a full life and has repeatedly said she has been ready to meet Jesus for quite a while.  We talked to her and prayed with her, even though she gave no indication of recognition.  She will not be long with us in this temporal life.  We know God will bring her home to heaven soon.

Last night we had a birthday dinner for our good friend K. L. Freeman.  He turned 79 recently and does not get out much.  We had him and his wife over for a steak meal with baked potatoes, corn on the cob, salad and homemade peach cobbler.  My, my, was that ever good!

Well, I needed to work out this morning after that!  We went to 24 Hour Fitness and worked hard to sweat.