Sunday, December 23, 2007

We're Home!

Ah, it is good to be home for Christmas. We left California on the 17th and got home the 19th. We are blessed to have all our children with us this year. We had a nice visit with my parents the last couple of days, and we plan to celebrate with Rick's parents tomorrow. We expect Christmas day to be a restful time at home with the kids and granddaughter.

I've been so busy since we arrived home that I've not had time to post pictures of our trip here. Maybe I can put a few of them on after the holidays are past.

Granddaughter #2 is expected in about three weeks. We are looking forward to such a blessed event!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. May God bless you in the new year.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Evening Out

I discovered a new word that sounds so cool, it makes me want to repeat it over and over again. Pechanga. (A band of the Luiseno Indians)

Last night Rick and I went to Temecula to the Pechanga Resort & Casino where The Oak Ridge Boys were performing. It has been years, MANY years since we have seen them in concert. They are getting older... but they are still top notch performers.

Rick has worked so hard and has been under tremendous stress trying to keep in compliance, meet overinflated contractor's prices, and keep insureds happy and smiling. He needed the time away from the computer with the phone on silent! We really enjoyed our night out.

I find walking through a casino thought provoking and interesting. We never hang out long because the second-hand cigarette smoke really starts me to wheezing, but if you are a people watcher, a casino is a place with plenty of variety.

Rick rushed me passed the rooms designated "high limit gaming." (I think he was afraid my gawking would be unappreciated.) Just walking the polished walkways I saw all sorts of people. There was the crazy looking "Texas Oil Tycoon" type. You know, the western cowboy hat, glitzy western suit, big cigar, pointy toed boots... the kind of clown dress that embarrasses this REAL West Texas girl. I saw the guy that, from head to toe, was so perfectly groomed and dressed that you would of thought he was a Macy mannequin come to life. He was dressed completely in black. And in his company was a woman -- tall, blond, "perfect" in physical beauty, dressed completely in black as well. They were a perfect match. Then there were the grandmas and grandpas, the great-grandmas and great-grandpas. Those folks who live on fixed incomes, get discounts on their taxes, at restaurants and hotels, and complain about the size of their Social Security checks all while feeding their children's inheritance into the slot machines one coin at a time. I also saw the guy that looked like he just left his hard labor blue collar job at 5:00 and went straight to the casino with paycheck in hand. To finish off the mix of humanity was the young crowd. They were barely old enough to get into the door of the gambling establishment, and they surely didn't have enough to money to get into the big games. I felt sorry for the young girls because obviously their mothers never taught them how to dress for a cold December evening. Likewise, I'm afraid the young men were never shown how to be gentlemen. They were all there, hanging around the bar, sitting in the comfy chairs, just chatting. They were there just to "hook up" or maybe more innocently "meet and greet." (Or maybe not) Anyway, it was a hoot for me just to observe the crowd.

As I trotted along through the casino watching people, (Rick's legs are so long and he was walking so fast I had to trot to keep up) I saw something that made me stop dead still for a moment. Along the wall were some machines that resembled ATMs. The slot machines used cards instead of money, and when a person won, the machine would put money on the card. The winner then took his card to the ATM looking machine to get his winnings. The sign that hung above these machines read, "REDEMPTION CENTER." For just a moment I had a cold shiver and had to blink back a tear. I thought about everything that was happening in the casino at the moment, every thing that might possibly be going through the minds of the varied masses of people that were there. The need for every soul to seek redemption.

Something inside me wanted to shout,, "Jesus Christ is the REAL redemption center! Go to Him and HE will redeem you!" I didn't do it for three reasons. 1-Security would have thrown me out on the street. 2-If I would have stood there long, I would have lost my long legged husband in the crowd. 3-I could not have shouted loud enough to be heard over the noise of the one armed bandits anyway. I suddenly had a heavy heart.

We went on into the concert and were well entertained. "The Boys" sang many of those "old" songs that we loved twenty some years ago. Then they performed several of their "fun" Christmas songs about Santa, cookies, love and snow. Then, as if he knew my heart was heavy, Joe Bonsall prefaced the last several musical numbers by saying they wanted to sing songs about the REAL reason we celebrate Christmas, and that it is all about the birth of "Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior." I couldn't blink back the tears. In the mix of songs was one that presented the message of redemption.

Every person at the Pechanga that night didn't get the message, but at least that sold out concert hall full of folks heard the words. Maybe they went home and thought about what they heard. I did. My heart was a little lighter. I'm glad we went.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Good-bye to Palm Springs and Back to Hemet

One last look out the window at the palm and the snow.
Palm Springs really is a desert town. These are desert mountains.
There are a lot of wind chargers along I-10.
Again, here is the line between the cold snow and the desert below.

Palm Springs Continued

You can see right to the line where the rain turned to snow.
We didn't spend a lot of time in Palm Springs. (Rick had to get back and make some phone calls.) This shot caught my eye as we walked a few blocks soaking up some "local color." We didn't want to soak up too much "local color" as we encountered some of what the West Coast is infamous for. :/
Just driving down the street.
Green palms and blooming flowers beneath snow topped mountains.
Palms, palms and more palms.

Quick Trip to Palm Springs

It rained last night (which is a good thing) and it snowed again up the mountain. Today Rick took a little break and we headed over to Palm Springs. Here are a few pictures of what I saw out my passenger window.

Clouds were clearing and snow is on the mountain tops.

But it didn't snow on all the mountains. Just good old desert sand.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Please Pray! What's Up in California

I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of Jehovah. Psalm 122:1 Litv.

Yesterday morning was grand. As we drove to church, we could see that snow had fallen across the mountain tops. The air was clearer than it has been since we got here over a month ago. We only needed a light jacket, but some of the locals complained about how cold it was. It was a beautiful morning. So good it was to be in the house of the Lord, to worship and rest in the security of God's Word.

Though the church service was rest for my weary soul, I was greatly troubled by a insert that was in my bulletin. It began, "Stop SB777!" From reading the insert, I learned that recently Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that is designed to "protect" students who are homosexual, transgender, bisexual, or have any gender issues. I will quote a paragraph from the flyer.

"References to 'mom and dad' will be considered promoting bias against homosexuals. Any school activities such as having a prom king and queen or gender-specific bathrooms would also be discriminatory. Children as young as five will be subject to the promotion of homosexuality."

This is not just something that is being talked about or thought about or might happen. It has happened! When the pastor addressed the congregation about this issue, he stated plainly, "This is real, and it is bad." This is now law in California.

As I read the flyer before the service began I whispered to Rick, "How did this make it as far as the Governor's desk?" My question was answered when the pastor, in his address, stated, "Christians have not stepped up to the plate." He went on stressing the point that the church has little influence on children when they spend only an hour or two a week in church vs. the many hours spent in school and school supported activities. He said it is a war, "and our kids are losing." We have given our children over to the enemy!

All hope is not lost. A group, Save Our Kids, has started a referendum to over turn this recent assault. You can learn more by going to Petitions are being signed. The campaign must obtain over 500,000 signatures to get the referendum on the June ballot. There is a very small window of time to get those signatures, and that window will be closing in a few days.

I felt so helpless, walking past those petitions that were lying on the tables at the church. I'm not a California voter, so what could I do? What can you do? Oh PRAY! Please pray! This is a serious issues for our country, not just the state of California. If you don't know what kind of an influence California has on the rest of our nation, then you are living in a bubble. So many "trends" and socially acceptable behaviors, ideals and beliefs start here and migrate across the states. Again, THIS IS REAL AND IT IS BAD. It is time, past time, that we all, no matter where we live, step up to the plate! Prayer is our most powerful defense and weapon!

Beyond the issue of SB777, the pastor brought to our attention other "classroom activities" that should make any Christian parent take serious action. He presented to the church a public school classroom handout that had a Thanksgiving poem or song in one column, and partnered with it in the other column a reading about Ramadan. He also showed us a word search handout that when all the words were correctly found and circled, a pattern appeared in the center of the puzzle that said, "THERE IS NO GOD BUT ALLAH." Do you think there is any way a teacher could get by with having students do a puzzle that presented the message that "JESUS CHRIST IS LORD?" I doubt it.

Brothers and sisters, this is California, but this is also Texas, New Mexico, Illinois, Alabama .... if we are not willing take time to pray, prepare, and fight. Heads up Christians! I've got children and grandchildren, and so do you! Let's not give them to the enemy!