Monday, September 24, 2012

Ordination and Brynnlee's Birthday

The highlights of last week were the events yesterday (Sunday).

However, there were many visits again to hospitals, VA clinics, errands for church folk, speaking at Coronado Stone manufacturing for Thursday morning devotional at the plant and getting a check-up for blood thinner at the VA hospital for myself.

Last Friday was our grand-daughter Brynnlee's birthday.  She turned one year old!  So, on Friday evening, we met Crystal and her family at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour for dinner and ice cream desserts!  It was noisy and fun.

Yesterday was a big day in the life of our church.  We ordained another individual to the gospel ministry, Jack Shelton.  He has been a man who has been seeking God's direction for many years.  He is in his late 50s and has now fully surrendered to God's will for pursuing ministry.  Pastor Mike Yeamans (pastor of the La Sierra Baptist Church in Riverside and former staff member of our church)  led our Praise & Worship, and he also gave the Charge to the Candidate during the Ordination Ceremony.  I preached the Charge to the Church for the worship hour.

After church, Sondra and I (and Alden also) went over to Crystal and Shawn's house for a birthday party for Brynnlee.  Others who came were Evan and Callie, as well as good friends Lorn and Sharon Harrison.  Crystal made the birthday cake herself, and it was well done and she was so proud of it.  We had a wonderful afternoon together.

Before I forget, today is Meche's birthday!  Happy Birthday, Meche.  May you and David continue to be blessed down there in Chiapas, Mexico.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Continuing Hospital Visits

So many are going through some very difficult hospital stays.  As I visit, it is so evident how important it is to sit down and listen to those in their respective places of confinement.  Hospitals are to be places of peace and healing, but sometimes that doesn't happen.  So sad.

We continue to visit a lady named Lacy.  She has a kidney problem and the doctors have made no headway, it seems, to find the root problem.

I go almost daily to visit a 51-year old man named David at the local county hospital near me.  He has been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer with no promise of arresting its deadly attack.  He has finally been given word that the first chemo treatment will be given, but we will see.  David is a man who has turned his life around after drugs and prison life.  He went back to school and earned a college degree this year.  He works at Coronado Stone manufacturing plant as a lead maintenance worker.  We pray for his condition daily.

My nephew (David Greenwalt) and his wife (Charity) had another baby boy and named him Wyatt Isaiah Greenwalt.  They now have four little boys!

Last week I sat down with a couple that has asked me to officiate their wedding in several weeks on October 6.  It is always a joy to share in the time of weddings and celebrations of new beginnings like that!

A week ago Monday we held a birthday party for a long-time family friend, Mr. K. L. Freeman, who turned 81.  We planned a get-together at a nearby restaurant and nine of us showed up.  But he didn't!  He is in poor health now and was not feeling up to it.  We ate and enjoyed a time of fellowship with each other, then several of us drove over to K.L.'s house and presented him with cards, gifts and a homemade dessert that he had requested (banana pudding).

Yesterday, I performed the memorial service for a dear friend, Robert W. Anderson Sr. He was an 86-year old WWII Navy veteran. He was a wonderful husband, dad and grandpa. He worked 24 years for Kaiser Steel, lived in Rialto for 54 years and just this year he and his wife celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary. He left a legacy indeed to this world! He loved the Lord and was active in church.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hospital Visits and More

This past week was filled with hospital visits to those in terrible conditions of health.

There was Lacy, a beautiful 29-year old young lady with a kidney condition.  At first, the doctors thought it was a bleeding kidney from their initial diagnoses.  They did an angiogram to cauterize the bleeding areas but found none!  They instead found a mass around the kidney.  No firm diagnosis yet.  She has been in the hospital nearly a week.

There was David McCullough, a 51-year old man who went in to see a doctor because of recurring bouts of intense coughing and pain.  The doctor came back with a curt report, "You have stage 4 colon cancer and have only 3/4 months to live."  David has been in and out of three hospitals in the last two weeks, due to no health insurance to cover this dreadful disease.  He is at the county hospital now and receiving good treatment.  He is declining rapidly and losing strength daily.

There was Bob Anderson Sr., a good friend through the years (ever since my college days in the late 1960s).  Bob Sr. is the dad of one of my best friends in college (California Baptist College in Riverside).  Bobby, my college buddy, lives in nearby Highland, about 10 minutes from me.  Bob Sr. is now at Kaiser Fontana hospital with pneumonia and is not expected to live more than a few days now.

There is K.L. Freeman, our dear friend from First Baptist Church Rialto days in the early 1970s.  He is such a wonderful man and is currently our landlord.  We have been renting a house from him for the last 10 years here in Rialto.  He turned 81 years old yesterday and is in and out of the VA hospital quite frequently.  He has severe breathing problems and is on oxygen 24 hours a day, rarely getting out of bed many days.

I attended the funeral of a good family friend, R.E. Craig, this past Saturday.  R.E. was a pastor friend of my dad's back in the 1960s in San Diego.  After retirement, he and his wife were members of First So. Baptist Church of San Diego, the church I pastored in the early 1990s.  So, I became R.E.'s pastor during those years.  R.E.'s daughter, Margaret Wahlen, and her husband Bruce were members as well and became special friends too.  The memorial service was a blessing to attend because of the legacy shared about a man of God.  In addition, I got to spend time with some other friends from the San Diego church who were there.  Pastor George Nelson went with me to this service.

Sondra was unable to attend the funeral because of a long-standing commitment to a unique weekend event.  Our church joined with other churches in the Inland Empire So. Baptist Association for a Friday-Saturday Ladies Retreat.  We had 12 women from our church attend, and Sondra was the coordinator for our church group.  What a blessing they received through seminars, worship and close fellowship times.

Last week was also a time of renewed friendship with Vicki Smith.  She arrived the previous week, but we were able to have fun and share good times.  We popped popcorn, ate Reese's peanut butter cups and drank Coke while watching a rental movie, "The Help."  What a good movie.  We also went to a matinee show at the local AMC and say "Bourne Legacy" with her.  Vicki loved the action and suspense as well as we did.  Sondra and Vicki did much shopping at the local mall for several days, which is fun for them!

We went to Richie's Diner one morning for breakfast, we went to Polly's for breakfast another day (and bought a delicious lemon meringue pie there), and she even wanted to cook a dinner for us one day.  She made a Enchilada Quiche (with the pastry dough and all) with Nacho Chips and beans.  We pigged out that night!

We were sorry to have to put her on the plane in Ontario for her to go home to Tennessee, because we had such a blessed time with her.

In the midst of all this, we held a wedding at our church.  Michael Peters, son of Wayne and Lynn Peters, married Sarah Walsh on Friday night.  It was a beautiful ceremony and a wonderful time of celebration.

This last Sunday was a good day.  Again, new faces and wonderful service.  A great start to a great week of living for the Lord!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Friends, Visits and Family

This has been a week of terrific activity and driving and fun and family.

Last Tuesday morning, Sondra and I left town heading for San Francisco.  Our good friend, Vicki Smith, was flying out on Wednesday to stay with us for a week.  She flew into S.F. but will fly back to Tennessee out of Ontario Airport (which is close to us).  She had never been to S.F. and this is her vacation time, so we told her we would take her around to the various sites of the city there.  It is a great tourist town!

On Tuesday night, we arrived and checked into our hotel (Doubletree between Vallejo and Napa) on the East Bay side.  Drove over to see our good friends Don and Judy Nason.  We sat and talked and had some excellent take-out Italian food with them.

The next day (Wednesday), we picked up Vicki at SFO and started our day of activities.  We did all the things every tourist does -- go down Lombard Street, see Coit Tower, walk on Fisherman's Wharf, eat at Boudin's Bakery on the Wharf, look across to Alcatraz Island, get chocolate at Ghirardelli Square.

On Thursday, we got up early, went to Starbucks (Vicki's favorite place in the whole world) and started the day.  We went by the town of Hercules (where I started a church during Seminary days in the 80s), stopped at San Quentin Prison, took some time at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley where I attended, drove through Sausalito, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and walked it as well, drove through the picturesque Presidio and National Cemetery, wound around through Golden Gate Park, went to Seal Beach for lunch, took some time to see the Haight-Ashbury section of town, went to Ghirardelli Square, rested a bit and then went to the Beach Blanket Babylon musical revue downtown on Thursday night.

On Friday, we checked out of our hotel and headed up through the Napa Valley wine country.  It was gorgeous and spectacular.  We found a winery that has a castle!  We drove through Napa, Yountville, Calistoga, St. Helena and ended up in Healdsburg in Sonoma County.  A dear friend of ours, Diane Tucker, lives there and we had lunch with her.

We drove the rest of the day to get back to Rialto.  It was the start of Labor Day weekend and traffic was horrible.  We arrived home Friday night/Saturday morning at 1am.  Sondra and Vicki went shopping Saturday afternoon, while I went over to see a man in Moreno Valley (David McCullough).  David just found out a couple of days earlier that he has colon cancer and may only have months to live.  He is a member of our church and currently lives in the Sober Living House on the property of the Coronado Stone manufacturing plant in nearby Fontana.  He is a house manager and just recently graduated from Chaffey College.  We shared, we cried and we prayed.

Saturday evening, we had a houseful of people.  We invited Evan/Callie and Shawn/Crystal/Bailey/Brynnlee over for dinner to spend time with Vicki.  Our kids grew up with the Smith family when we lived in 29 Palms from 1986-1992.  They had a great time reminiscing with Vicki through the evening.

On Sunday, we had a special time of worship.  I talked about how life is precious and fragile and short.  My message was titled "When Our Hearts Are Heavy."  From the book of Ephesians, I drew from the Apostle Paul's life to show how we need to handle the sorrows we face along life's journey.

What must we do when our hearts are heavy?  Some of the things we must do are:
(1)  Accept the circumstances, deal with them and move forward.  Disappointments are part of human existence.
(2)  Allow others in, which means we must build friendships and relationships that allow us to share our hurts.
(3)  Pray to the Lord for steadfastness, which is internal.  Patience and endurance are external and flow from a steadfast heart.
(4)  Lean on the promises of the Savior, knowing that our God is able in any and all situations of life.
(5)  Seek God's presence.  This is not simply taking time to pray quickly and hopefully.  It is taking time to know God more intimately and fully in daily life.

Last night (Sunday), we ended it at Dairy Queen for a relaxing time of friendship and ice cream!