Friday, June 29, 2012

Photos From Last Two Weeks

On Saturday, June 16, Sondra and I took nephew Mark Greenwalt and grand-daughter Bailey Marcum to Imperial Beach, San Diego and the Silver Strand State Beach.  Pastor George Nelson went with us for this fun trip.

On Saturday evening, we met up with Evan, Callie, Shawn, Crystal and Brynnlee at Dave and Buster's for a birthday dinner for Callie (Evan's fiance).

Sunday, June 17, was Father's Day.  We had a special recognition for all dads present at church.

For lunch on Father's Day, we went to Toby Keith's Restaurant at Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga.

On Monday, June 18, Sondra and I took Mark and Bailey to Disneyland.

On Monday evening, we ate at the Lotus Garden Chinese Restaurant in San Bernardino.

On Tuesday, Sondra and I and Mark left Rialto in a rented car and drove to Gallup, New Mexico, for the night.  We arrived Wednesday evening in Shawnee, Oklahoma -- 1300 miles one way.  Thursday, June 21, was Macyn's second birthday and we were there for the party.

We had received a phone call as we were driving to Oklahoma that our dear friend, Doris Robinson from 29 Palms, had passed away.  We left Shawnee on Thursday, June 22, and spent the night in Gallup, New Mexico.  We arrived in Rialto on Friday evening -- 1300 miles one way.  Jace rode with us, and he got to see Brynnlee for the first time in person.

We went to church at Palms Baptist Church in 29 Palms on Sunday, June 24.  I pastored this church from 1986 to 1992.

On Monday, June 25, the memorial service was held for Doris Robinson.  I was privileged to help lead the service.

On Monday afternoon after the service, we drove to Gallup, New Mexico, to spend the night.  We drove all day Tuesday and arrived in Shawnee around 10:45 pm on Tuesday night -- 1300 miles one way.

In eight days, we had put a little over 4100 miles on the rental!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Oklahoma and 29 Palms

Sondra and I are in Shawnee, Oklahoma, right now.  I am sitting at Jason's dining room table using my computer.  I have not had time to write my weekly blog, so I will just leave a short note.

Last weekend, our nephew Mark (from Springfield, Missouri) flew into LAX and spent three whole days with us.  We had a great time and made many more memories.  I will post some photos later.

We left this past Tuesday (with Mark in tow), heading to Oklahoma to visit all our family there.  While on the highway (Interstate 40) late that afternoon, we got a call on my phone that one of our dearest friends from 29 Palms had just passed away.  Doris Robinson, a sweet lady with a big heart and deep love for the Lord, had some health problems these past years but never stopped serving Jesus.  She taught home Bible studies twice a week, even in her last days!  I was privileged to be her pastor at Palms Baptist Church from 1986-1992.

Here is a photo from two months ago when we visited her in her home.  I will write more later.  We are leaving tomorrow to head back to 29 Palms for the funeral service on Monday.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Infection and the ER

I will not say that my latest trip to the ER at Loma Linda VA hospital was the highlight of my week.  I will only say that it was a day not soon forgotten!

Last Thursday, Sondra was out and about, shopping and doing errands as well as making sure she kept a dentist appointment.  Well, about 11:30 am I began to have severe pain in my abdomen area.  I thought maybe I had eaten something that didn't settle well, and so I tried to just wait it out and hoped the pain would go away.  It didn't.  All afternoon, the hard dull pain stayed.

About 4:30 pm, I got in the van and drove myself to the VA hospital 20 minutes away.  I knew Sondra was probably in the dentist chair by then, so I waited until I was at the ER before texting her where I was.  She really needed the dental work done because of pain, and I didn't want her to leave the dentist early before her appointment.  I arrived at the ER front desk close to 5 o'clock, checked in, had my vitals taken and began my evening ordeal of waiting.  First thing, though, was a urine sample that would be sent to the lab for analysis.  About 6:15 Sondra came through the door and was naturally worried about what was going on, as I had a bout with a gall bladder attack last year.

We sat and waited.  I was in pain.  We sat and waited some more.  Finally, about 7:45 I was ushered into the ER examining room area.  A nurse came and asked me the same questions I had answered in the lobby.  She said to wait in the examining room (Sondra was with me there also) as the doctor would see me next.  I asked for something to help with pain but was told no one could give me anything until the doctor had seen me.  So we waited.

Around 9 pm, the doctor came in, poked and prodded and asked where I hurt.  He asked me the same questions I had already answered twice!  The urine analysis showed a high WBC (white blood count) which indicated infection, and it was determined I had a bladder infection which led to a urinary tract infection.  The problem I would face, if this was not corrected, would be kidney infection and infection in the blood stream.  That would be serious and would land me in the hospital for several weeks.

The doctor left and the nurse returned to start an IV with antibiotic and another IV with pain medicine, and then she proceeded to draw blood to send vials up to the lab to run more tests.   I laid down on the gurney and began to feel much better.....with the pain medicine taking effect.  It was close to 11 pm when the IVs were done and the blood tests results came back.

Another ER doctor showed up (the previous one went off-shift) and this doctor recognized me from previous ER visits.  We had a wonderful time of chatting and catching up on life (he knows I am a pastor), as he has become a friend of sorts (if that makes any sense).  He talked about admitting me overnight to continue the IV antibiotics and to monitor my blood count, but he sensed my apprehension about staying.  So, after a short discussion, he told me he would send me home if I promised to take it easy and return "immediately" if any symptoms reappeared.  He ordered the prescriptions for me to pick up at the pharmacy right then.  As he left me, he said "God bless you."  Doctors don't normally do that!

I came home with three prescriptions:  (1) Cephalexin to fight infection, (2) Phenazopyridine to relieve symptoms of infection irritation, and (3) Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen for pain.  I was told not to drive home, as the strong pain medication would have some effect on my driving ability.  I found that out very quickly as I tried to get up off the gurney.  It seemed like the world was moving, and I had to catch myself and put my hand on the wall close by because I felt so woozy.  Naturally, Sondra drove me home in her car, and I left my van there to pick up the next day.

It was close to midnight when we arrived home.  We had not eaten, so we munched on some food and got into bed after 1 am Friday morning.

There were other things that were highlights during the week, however.  I had lunch with Roger on Monday, discussing the California Baptist University mission trip to Alaska that he and Julie would be participating in with 10 college students in Ketchikan.  They left early Wednesday morning and will be gone 10 days.

Last Tuesday, I picked up a man who had been recently released from prison and needed work.  I took him to Coronado Stone to apply, and then I took him to breakfast.  He said that biscuits and gravy were on his short list of foods he wanted to eat as soon as he got out of prison!  Some other things on his list are In-N-Out Burger, Chinese food and pizza.

Sondra and I watched the grandkids on Tuesday for Crystal and Shawn, as they spent the day studying.  We all went out for dinner that night at Claim Jumper.  Wednesday was church, and we are continuing with a DVD series on "The Passion of the Heart" with featured preacher/speaker Louie Giglio who is in demand on many college campuses.

On Friday, Sondra went to a wedding.  Her sister (Sharon) had a daughter (Sarah) getting married, and we were all planning to go.  Because of my fun Thursday outing (ER), I stayed home.  Sondra took granddaughter Bailey early, as Bailey was to be a flower girl in the wedding.  Alden went with her also.  Sondra was torn whether to stay home, in case I needed to return to the hospital with recurring symptoms or go to the wedding.  Naturally, all her Langdon side of the family would be there and that was important too.  I told her I was doing fine and that she should go.  All I wanted to do was rest!  I wouldn't be going anywhere that day, as far as I was concerned.  She went and it all worked out.  She returned about 11:30 pm Friday night.

On Saturday, I geared up to speak to elementary-age children (grades 1 - 6) about missions.  I had been lined up months ago to speak at a Children's Mission Day Camp for our Inland Empire Southern Baptist Association.  This Day Camp was held at a nice park in Riverside from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm.  The missions focus for the day was England, and since I had been on a mission trip to England last fall I was asked to give a presentation.  There was an unexpected twist to this for me, as I thought I would be sharing to the whole group at once.

Nope, that was not the plan.  At 10:30 am, I spoke for an hour to a group of 5th/6th graders.  At 11:30 am, I spoke for an hour to 1st/2nd graders.  At 12:30, I spoke for an hour to a group of 3rd/4th graders.  It was fun, but I was wore out and had a hoarse voice.  Sondra and I left the park around 2 pm and I fell on the couch and did nothing the rest of the day!

Yesterday was Sunday.  I had a young man named Doug Myers (who works at Coronado Stone) lined up to give a personal testimony of his struggle with addiction and loss of everything (wife, job, family, house, finances).  His personal faith in Jesus has brought him to the point of getting back on track with life, having to deal with resulting divorce and financial ruin.  It was a powerful testimony of God's power to forgive and redeem.  This man has lost all but is determined to see what the future holds with God's leading.

Because of the time for testimony, I preached briefly.  I used the Scripture reference of Jesus telling the story of the Prodigal Son.  I used the Prodigal Son as an illustration of one's downhill slide in life due to addiction.  Addictions are those damaging and destructive lifestyle decisions and habits.  They destroy health, finances, relationships, jobs and morals.  The Bible says the prodigal went into "riotous living."  That is living with no restraints, no limits, no boundaries. Addictions take all forms -- drinking, drugs, pornography, gambling, smoking and so much more -- with no restraints.  I told the congregation that I am no expert on addiction, but I am an expert on loving people with addictions and past addictions.  I have found that addictions can only be broken when one has hit bottom!  Only then, just as the prodigal son did, can truth be faced and a new beginning unfold.  Addiction is broken when (1) there is realization of a better life through (2) love from another who can help break the cycle of pain and dependency.  That happens with repentance and trust in God completely.

It was a powerful service in which many hearts were touched.  After church, we took Doug to Cuca's Restaurant for a time of sharing in fellowship and food.

Monday, June 4, 2012

When Your Heart Sinks

This past week was filled with a lot of activity and all.  Life is good, and we made it through another week.

But, in the midst of it all, I was saddened to hear that one of my best friends from college days passed away a few years ago.  I had not heard about it then, just now getting in contact with his wife through Facebook.  That friend, Bob Tucker, was a fun guy with a hearty laugh.  His infectious smile and bubbling personality and confident attitude just made for great times.  We kept up with him after California Baptist College days, when he got married and had kids.  He and his family came over to our apartment at Seminary for Evan's second birthday.  We visited them in their then-new house in Napa Valley.  But, as sometimes happens, we lost touch for these past years.

But, just this week, I found out he passed away with heart failure because of complications with diabetes.  It just made me think again of the fleeting time we have here on earth.  I look at my schedule and purposefully make time to talk and be with friends and loved ones.  We are not guaranteed tomorrow.  Today is all we have.  The older I get, the more I want to stop the "merry-go-round of life" so I can just spend huge amounts of time with family and friends.  That's probably the reason I wish I could win the lottery, so I could take some time just to travel and see so many people who are and have been meaningful in my life.  That would be a dream come true!

Anyway, God is still watching over us and giving joy daily.  Sondra and I went over to Bob and Torie Anderson's for a BBQ last week.  Bob's dad has severe Alzheimer's and goes to a day-care facility each day for 8 hours.  I went with Bob to pick up his dad that evening at the facility in Redlands, which is very nice and has a wonderful caring staff.  Torie put some steaks on the grill and we had a relaxing time with them all.

I did quite a bit of reading this past week again.  My personal reading time (separate from Bible study and sermon preparation) is very sporadic in nature.  It's like there are seasons of time where I dive into some books just to read for pleasure.  I finished another Dick Francis book, Driving Force, and thoroughly enjoyed the storyline about English racing with a mystery plot thrown in.  It written quite a few years ago, and it was fascinating reading.  Then, I quickly read John Grisham's latest, Theodore Boone:  The Accused.  I don't know if John Grisham read The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mystery books growing up, but the Theodore Boone books are about a kid whose parents are lawyers and his exploits at solving cases and figuring out mysterious situations.  From the book covers, Grisham is writing these books for young people to read.  I don't know what that says about me, but I sure enjoy them too!

Here's more news to bore you with.  We watched the grandkids (Bailey and Brynnlee) on Tuesday while Crystal and Shawn did their on-line classes and associated homework.  On Saturday evening, we met them at a park close to their house in Fontana and walked the girls around and let Bailey play on the swings and jungle-gym apparatus, as well as watch their little dog Boomer.  Crystal and Shawn jogged and did their daily workout at the same time.  It has been a little warm lately, so we tried to stay in the shade of some trees as much as possible.

I did the daily devotional time at Coronado Stone manufacturing plant on Thursday morning and had a meeting with the CFO Brian Coulter concerning the Sober Living Program there.  That evening (Thursday), Sondra and I took a young man to dinner to talk about him giving his testimony at church in a couple of weeks.  This guy, Doug, has a strong testimony about God's love and forgiveness and grace after his bout with addictions and subsequent troubles.  He lost his job, his house, his family -- he lost it all.  But, he sees the sovereignty of God to make all things new and is now rebuilding his life, one day at a time.

On Wednesday, we watched a video about A Heart for Passion, with Louie Giglio as the featured Bible study leader.  It is a powerful DVD series, and we will continue showing it for the next couple of weeks.  Friday morning, I ran over to the VA Loma Linda hospital for my monthly blood checkup (Coumadin blood thinner).  All is fine.

Sondra took our 2007 Nissan Sentra over to the local dealership.  There were some mechanical issues that seemed to be making some noises during acceleration and highway speeds.  It took two days to complete the work done to fix one of the tie rods, replace both front struts, fix one motor mount, replace a CV boot as well as do the normal oil change.  Fortunately, we had bought a high-mileage maintenance warranty when we purchased the car.  All of the work was covered except the CV boot replacement (and the oil change, naturally).  The car rides so much better, and we are grateful that our warranty covered so much of the work.

On Saturday, I went over to the Associational Office for a monthly meeting with church planters, as I have several from my church who are starting churches.  After that, I drove over to the church as we were having a Yard Sale to complete the sale of items donated from two large storage units at a nearby storage facility (where the manager has ties to a lady in our church family).  The sales went well and our total received was close to $1,000 for the day.  These are funds we are raising to fix the roof and some other general maintenance on the church building.

Yesterday was Sunday, and I preached on the exits of life that took us off track on our spiritual journey of life.  The three major exits that hinder our pursuit of right living for the Lord are (1) self-reliance, (2) self-indulgence and (3) self-pity.  After church, Sondra had to rush to get last-minutes preparations finished for a Baby Shower at 2 pm.  Over 20 ladies came for this special time of fun and sharing.  (I wasn't there, naturally, but I heard about it!)

To cap off the day, we met with our landlord and wonderful friend (K.L. Freeman) and his wife Miles at the Elephant Bar restaurant in San Bernardino.  We enjoy the time together so much.  A wonderful way to end the day and the weekend!