The reality is that life is fragile. It can be taken away. Quickly.
since Glenn's heart attack scare, I am breathing every moment with him
as an extra gift of life. I know the Lord could have taken him home.
But He didn't. I am looking at life differently. I have realized
Family is important.
Thinking immediately of my mom, I see the Alzheimer's
disease slowly eating away at her mind. She can't remember her grand
children's names, she forgets where I live and work, and she doesn't
know what happened yesterday. However I must focus on the fact that I
love her. I have memories. Delicious memories of her fried chicken,
okra, biscuits and gravy, and Mexican pile up dinners. I love her even when she might not remember my
name. I love her because she is my mom. My desire is for my children to appreciate and love me as much as I love my mom.
I have experienced losses in the past several weeks and months. Losses hurt. It is painful. I have lost a dear friend. I have lost the things of "how they use to be". I can't go back to retrieve them. I could have lost Glenn. Praise the Lord I didn't. It is what it is. I have an empty feeling of disconnect with family over the many miles. There are losses of being a mother far from my children (although now I am enjoying being a Grammie). ....But now I am gradually losing my mother.
In conclusion, I am thankful to God my Savior. Thankful for life. Extra life. Thankful for family. And thankful for God's grace.
...And I am trying to be thankful for the losses in my life.
Glenn has had a flurry of doctor appointments recently. He has met with his nutritionist and they have discussed his plans for eating the right food and monitoring his weight.
Have you ever gone to a dietician and they recommend tortillas, black beans and papaya juice as part of your diet? I guess we live in Guatemala. Glenn has substituted the tortillas with whole wheat toast but has enjoyed his fresh papaya.
Since Glenn's heart attack on Sept 17, he has cut way back on his excesive activity levels, cutting his work load back to just 40 hours a week instead of the 65-80 hours he was doing. For someone who loves to "help" folks it has been a difficult change of life style.
Glenn and I are walking every morning and sometimes in the evenings - 50 minutes.
Glenn will have a stress test on Thursday morning (THANKSGIVING DAY!). I think he will be thankful when the test is over. So, instead of watching the Macy's Day Parade, Glenn will be marching to the beat of a different drum. Again, we are thankful for the excellent care we've received through the Cardio Care office.
Glenn and I drove 5 hours to the NE port town of Puerto Barrios, Guatemala with the intention of taking a boat across to Punta Gorda to help the Herringtons renew their 90 day visa.
Upon arriving, meeting with the Immigration officials, discovering the unexpected cost of passage on the 12 passenger vessel and realizing that it was going to take us longer than expected, we decided not to go across the bay.
It was an ALL Day adventure, a good adventure. We were able to visit with the Herringtons while we traveled in their "new" Isuzu Trooper. We talked about their ministry, their challenges, their hopes and their dreams.
When I think about it, our original plans were to have lunch in Belize and then come right back. Those plans were changed. But I don't believe it was a failed trip. It just was not what we had originally planned.
The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.
In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.
Last week Glenn and I shared the day with many others who gave tribute to Ron Baker.
It was a great reunion from "Camers" who have served and worked together on the field and in the states. It was a bit like a little "home-coming". It was a little "slice of heaven", a small snapshot of when we'll all be together again.
Earlier in the week we had taken Marcia over to the Camino office so friends could see and visit with her. We took her to Mardel's and she picked out a special Guest book. I had folks sign it. And then that same guest book as placed at the back of the church for folks to sign as they were arriving for the Memorial Service.
Continue to pray for my dear friend, Marcia. I look forward to our next time together when we can continue making memories. ~J
Several weeks ago, I made a concerted effort to contact a good friend, Ron Baker. He had sent me an email saying he was praying for us after Glenn's recent heart attack. I tried several days by email, skype and texting to connect with Ron. No luck.
Finally on Friday morning an unfamiliar voice answered the phone. It was the neighbor across the street. Sadly, she announced that Ron had had a heart attack the day before. She handed the phone to Marcia but she was still very confused and very much in shock.
Several days later, Ron died.
Ron was one of 3 team leaders in 1977 when I travelled with 50 other young people through Mexico and Central America
He teased me constantly
I got iPhone lessons and learned about his favorite apps
Ron had genuine concern for the Guatemalan brothers with whom he worked
You could count on him remembering important dates in our lives and the lives of others. He would contact all of us by a phone call or note
Joking, teasing, laughing
The Bakers helped me survive a 2 week experience of Wycliffe Bible Translators' Jungle Camp in southern Mexico
Ron had a tiny mustache comb he would pull out and use to get a laugh
He certainly had a big heart for people
Ron and Marica were always together and would often be color coordinated
He had genuine love for others and especially his sweet wife, Marcia
Last year, we had a team meeting with the 3 new families who were heading to Guatemala. We invited Ron and Marcia to join us at Spring-Creek Bar-B-Que to share his Guatemalan experiences with the "rookies".
Ron was constantly telling me that I had such a cute grandson. So back in June, I took my mom and 2 year old David to the Bakers' Mesquite house. David loved meeting his new friend.
I am thankful for
Ron and Marcia's 35+ years influence in the Stewart family
Their ministry with Camino Global (formerly CAM International and Central America Mission)
Most important, his BIG, BIG heart that he had for God, the folks with whom he served, his family and for his friends....and he had a LOT of them.
Several months ago, we got an email from a long lost cousin. She was wanting information about the Stewart side of the family. I tucked the email away back in the corner of my mind. Then, upon arriving in Southern California, I remembered her mailing address was near San Diego. We started corresponding again and on our last day in the Los Angeles area, we connected with Marilyn.
Marilyn's grandfather was the brother to Glenn's grandfather. Get it. I think that says "Second Cousin".
Marilyn has done extensive research on the Stewart side of the family. Her mother had boxes of information that helped her in the research.
Our 2 week cruise came to an end in California. We made the most of it by visiting friends we hadn't seen in over 3 years.
We enjoyed reconnecting with Pamela and Gary again. Thinking we hadn't seen enough of the water, they drove us to Huntington Beach to stroll along the parkway, witness a beautiful sunset and celebrate my belated birthday by tasting some 'to die for' fish at Duke's Restaurant. (Also famous for its location in Hawaii.) They also blessed us with their Jeep Liberty to drive up to Fresno and around Southern California. Thank you Gary and Pamela!
We were blessed to spend some time with dear friends, Ken and Mary!
And to top it off, we did some letter-boxing with Mary. She had planted one within walking distance of her house. What a treat! Ken even gave us a mini concert on the piano. We are so blessed to have these friends who love us, care for us and counsel us along our life journey.
An added bonus was having lunch with Lois and the Seifords, retired missionaries from Camino Global (formerly Central America Mission).
We connected with my "OLD" youth director from Northwest Bible Church days. Thank you Mark and Jeannie for your support over these 30+ years.
And finally we saw Tom, who served with us in Bolivia 25+ years ago.
As I think about the people God has placed in our lives, I smile as I see and think about how just our Southern California friends have blessed us in every chapter of our lives. We knew Gary and Pamela from Moody and Foster Ave Baptist Church days, Ken and Mary from my Practical Missionary Training days, Lois and the Seifords from Central America Mission days, Mark and Jeannie from high school days and Tom from our years living in Bolivia.
We sailed to a new port I had never heard of Huatulco, Mexico in the state of Oaxaca. There were homes hanging on the cliffs in this beautiful port town.
Again, we walked through the town, got a taste the local culture, sipped on some local coffee and watched the people. We found a taxi driver who took us to a cobbler who repaired and polished Glenn's dress shoes, all for 4.00$
Our next stop was Puerto Vallarta. We took a taxi into town and then the public city bus back to the dock.
While Glenn was getting a haircut, I sat in the lobby and connected to the internet.
...and my favorite port of call was......Cabo San Lucas...
And my favorite shots: Reflecting on a relaxing time.
Thank you Jesus for new life and another new day. ~J