Happy Birthday, Mommy

Today my Mother would have been 90.

I never imagined my Mother dying. I thought she would just live and live, until the Lord returned. He had other plans, and I don’t argue with Him. I see His hand in her life, and in her death. I feel His comfort in my loss, though the missing doesn’t stop. As I watch my friends mourn their own mother’s, I know the missing never stops. Moms are just too much a part of us. We enter life listening to their heartbeat. They become the rhythm of our life.  Their absence is always profound.

I have friends who did not have good mothers. Or, lost their mother very young. So, I know I was blessed to have a mother like mine, and to have her as long as I did. I am grateful for every minute we shared. I wish every memory was a good one, and I wish I had no regrets. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that way, when it comes to those loved ones we have “lost.” However, I am so grateful for what was good.

And, there was so much good.

  1. Saturdays when I was a kid, when I go with her on her visitation rounds, checking up on families from the church. We listened to classical radio as we drove up Slauson Boulevard. She made her rounds every week.
  2. When it was time for me to cook for her, I had to learn how to make fried eggs. I was so intimidated by this task, but I got pretty good. Of course, she never complained if they weren’t right.
  3. McDonald’s Filet of Fish. I think the first time I recall her eating them was in Hawaii. Always her favorite item on that menu.  With fries, coffee, and an apple pie.
  4. Pink robes. Pink nightgowns. Pink slippers. Pink flowers. Pink t-shirts. Pink lipstick. She loved pink.
  5.  She loved Christmas. She battled the blues during the holidays, but she never let the blues win.
  6. I started gardening, because she couldn’t do it alone anymore. It was one of the happiest days when we re-potted all the house plants. I will always be thankful for that day, for that gift.
  7. Babies were more than a delight to her: they were a sign of life. Her compassion for children was deep-seated, and only exceeded by her determination that they know Jesus.
  8. She was a leader, and she didn’t apologize for it. God bless her!
  9. She was outspoken with the truth. And, she didn’t apologize for that, either.  She taught me that truth was worth dying for, her life was not more important than its defense.
  10. Her respect for the Holy Spirit’s anointing and His presence, and her desire to never offend Him, is something I am still learning to understand.
  11. Mother’s greeting cards were as reliable as the sun. She always remembered.
  12. Walking with her in Cleveland, when I was five. Talking. Telling stories. She walked me to school for years. She would take afternoon walks. She would walk to the bus to go downtown. I remember hiding from the wind in her coat.
  13. Mother loved hugs and kisses.
  14. She loved the underdogs. She noticed the people no one else paid attention to, and treated them like they were her best friends.
  15. Mother always walked.
  16. She was indomitable. Picture a blizzard. Snow already quite high. She insisted on making her walk to the corner, to mail her letters. I couldn’t believe what she was doing, but she would not be stopped. Seriously. It was a blizzard!
  17. She missed my Father the rest of her life without him. She could not bear to see pictures of him. Said it made her too sad. I understand that a little now.
  18. Sitting in her doctor’s office, when she received news that she likely had kidney cancer, I cried. I couldn’t help myself. She looked at me kindly, then said to the doctor, apologizing for my behavior: “She’s my best friend. We’ve been through a lot together.” I know she did not know I was her daughter in that moment, but I’m glad she thought I was her friend.
  19. We had some fun times in bathrooms. I never enjoyed that particular task (I don’t have her nurse’s matter-of-factness), but I learned how to do it and tried to keep it light-hearted, because I know she felt sorry she needed help. So, there were definitely some laughs. Surprisingly, some good times.
  20. There were moments when I could tell she was remembering a little more than usual. I am glad for those times. I never got tired of hearing her talk about Cuba.
  21. Preparing her trays. She appreciated all the little things. A new mug. A special pitcher for syrup. A pretty bowl.
  22. Her gratitude was abundant. I did not deserve as much as she gave.
  23. My Mother was so friendly. If it were up to her, she’d speak to everyone in a room. She was curious about people, and cared about them sincerely.
  24. She had a way of holding court. It was kind of cute.
  25. Mother made mistakes I want to learn from—mistakes that were just a consequence of life. I wish I had known her better.
  26. She was a lady. Always a lady.
  27. She worked as hard as anyone, and not being able to work hard was the hardest thing for her.
  28. When TV became too stressful, cooking shows became her favorites. Jaques Pepin and Lidia Bastianich were her favorites.
  29. Nothing meant as much to her as a good cup of coffee.
  30. She was devoted to her sons-in-law.
  31. Her many “adopted” children.
  32. She loved life, but she looked forward to eternity. I can’t wait to see her, again.

❤️

P.S. I know 32 is a weird number to stop on, but it’s just where I stopped. No meaning in it.

Happy Anniversary to My Elkanah

To mark our 32nd wedding anniversary, I thought I would share some photos. It’s kind of an odd assortment. I just chose pictures that stood out to me and offer a glimpse into our past. As we move into our future, I am just so thankful for this man I see these days as my Elkanah, a godly servant of the Lord, faithful and kind. Thank you, dear Doug, for all the seasons of our life together.


Let’s Talk about Ravi

If you go to the RZIM.org website, you can read a report on the illicit behavior of Ravi Zacharias.

Admittedly, no one wants to read this report. Some may think it’s wrong to read it, or even talk about it. I understand. Trust me: this has been extremely difficult for me. I take no pleasure in writing about this. I have cried over this report. It is devastating. Whether one received from this man’s ministry or not, to know a leader in our faith was the worst kind of man possible is devastating. He appeared on the world stage, representing Christ—or so we thought—for us all. He defended our faith before world leaders, and we rejoiced.

Now, we mourn. We weep. We cry out in real pain—we have been betrayed! We trusted him. We shared his videos, bought his books, and gave to his ministry. We thought he was not only a man of God’s Word, but a man of his word! Instead, we have learned he was a master charlatan. He was an actor. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing—a monster! He denied his actions, and falsely accused his victims, even bringing a false defamation lawsuit against one. We know he was still receiving images from his victims at least up until February of 2020, three months before his death. So, there is no appearance, nor evidence, of contrition. One may only hope that before he breezed his last repented and confessed his sentence Period

We must pause from our own pain, though, and remember the women he victimized in person: his wife, his daughters, and the countless women he used for his personal gratification. I will not enumerate these evil deeds—at least those we know of—because the report submitted by Miller & Martin, the law firm RZIM hired to investigate the allegations, does an adequate job. However, I will tell you that his actions were all for his own pleasure, and there was no price he would not pay. Only God knows how many ministry dollars he used to satisfy his longings. He had a charitable fund established expressly for this purpose! Without accountability, he could spend this money on anyone he chose. What this fund did not cover, he would submit as an expense. The ministry paid for everything.

Let me be clear about something: Ravi was not a man with uncontrollable urges, an addict, for example. No. He was a predator. He was a planner. He picked his victims fully knowing that it would take time to gain their trust, win their hearts, and manipulate their will.

One perfect illustration of this is a series of photos found on one of his phones. They cover an 18-month-long period of time, starting with a photo of himself with the young woman in a hotel lobby. One can easily imagine this young lady feeling so proud to have her picture taken with a the great Ravi Zacharias. Over time, the woman sends him pictures that graphically illustrate his abuse. First she sends him ordinary selfies, but as the months pass she acquiesced to his demands and the photos became increasingly suggestive and immodest, concluding with a pornographic video of herself.

This is not just sexual sin, dear friends. This is not a lapse of judgment. This man is the Jeffrey Epstein of Christian apologists! Who knew that sentence could ever be written? This is inconceivable, yet, the evidence is plain to see. He was intentional. This was malice aforethought. The report proves that.

Personally, I will be processing this for a long time. There are many things here that need to be considered—not the least of which is why didn’t his wife stop him? As the wife of a husband in the ministry (a husband who is a former sex addict, for the record), the only way I can believe his wife did not stop him is because she misunderstood her role as her husband’s helpmeet. That’s very possible. And, honestly, I would rather believe she was a victim of false teaching, then believe that she knew and did not stop him.

However, people within the ministry did know something was going on, and they did not stop him. In fact, some defended and excused him. Those who dared to speak up were ostracized, or “sent to Siberia,” as one described it. They would be met with his wrath. People have asked what should happen to the ministry, and I say any conversation about RZIM continuing should end quickly. They failed to hold themselves accountable, And that resulted in countless acts of wickedness—some even committed in the name of Jesus!

And, what of the many, many other ministers with whom he was in a relationship? Did none of them discern that something was wrong with their “brother”? We do not know when this behavior began, but we do know it was going on for at least the last 16 years of his life. That is a very long time. Their silence leaves me very troubled.

You know, I only learned of this report about 24 hours ago. Earlier on Monday, I was having a conversation with one of my sisters. We were talking about the wickedness in our government, and I told her that I believed we would be seeing things uncovered in the church next. I said that we have always seen ministers called out for immoral behavior, but that I believed there would be larger things revealed, perhaps within denominations or organizations. You cannot imagine my horror, when my husband notified me of this report only a few hours after that conversation with my sister. Who will be next?

What have we become, friends? I am so disgusted by this fraud of a man of God, but I am more concerned about my own life. I am more concerned about what wood, hay, and stubble I am carting with me to heaven. Am I living an authentic, Christian life? Will I have any precious gems to lay at my Savior’s feet? Will I have any holy treasure to present my King? Will my life have been worthy of the cost He paid? This, for me, is how I begin to process the wickedness that this man left us as his inheritance. If nothing else, let us all examine ourselves. One day, we will all stand before God. This is a good day to examine our lives and our choices.

With much love for you, because still, somehow, Jesus loves me, too. ❤

A Time for Disgust

This man, Attorney Michael Van Der Veen, really got my attention yesterday, the last day of President Trump’s second impeachment trial. I watched a few of his post-win interviews, and he was always humble. Low-key. Not gushing over his win, but disgusted by the blatant dishonesty in the hallowed halls of our Capitol. I think his disgust with the deceitful media and politicians is a tribute to his character.

Mr. Van Der Veen says his family has faced persecution, his home was threatened, he has suffered more insults than he can count, and his firm is under attack—all because he dared to defend an innocent man. It really begs the question: why? I am waiting for God Himself to answer that one.

Meanwhile, I keep watching for Justice to arise.

The Editor

[A Poem]

I live with an editor,
She shares my room with me.
And, every thought or idea
Passes by her, before it passes by me.

Sometimes, we argue—I should say—
She shouts at me throughout the day.
“Don’t say that! Now, stop that, you!”
She will not listen, so I shout, too.

Oh, so ruthless is my editor.
“Hold your tongue; don’t roll your eyes!”
She cuts me off and pulls me back,
“No free speech here,” is my bitter reply.

by The Saxophone Player’s Wife

The Silent Killer

We recently learned that less than 10,000 people have died in the United States from Covid-19 only. The virus might have played a part in the other deaths they currently include in the total, but they don’t actually know that right now.  

Know what they do know? They know that every year at least 20,000 women will be diagonosed with ovarian cancer, and 14,000 of them will die from it. This year.   

That’s an awful lot of women, and it’s like that every year. 

MY STORY
I started to feel sick in early 2009, but it took more than two years to find out what was happening to my health. There were many visits to many doctors, until my endocrinologist finally noticed something amok with one of my hormone levels. And, she said something curious: “We’re having a hard time locating your right ovary.”

I went home and searched the internet for the hormone she’d mentioned—I had never heard of it, and had no idea that I should be concerned. Then my search came back with one answer: ovarian cancer. I clicked a link, and found a long list of symptoms. I fully expected I would read down that list and be completely reassured that I did not have cancer. Instead, I could recognize almost every one. In fact, I almost felt relieved to have all of those symptoms point somewhere.

Nine years ago next month, a basketball-sized tumor was removed from my body. I did indeed have cancer, but I do not have cancer today. I praise God for that, and I urge you to become familiar with the symptoms of this awful disease. I know it’s scary to think about it, but it’s better to discover a problem sooner than later—especially a problem called cancer.

DON’T IGNORE THESE SYMPTOMS
There is no diagnostic test for ovarian cancer, and because the symptoms are so varried, it’s often not discovered until Stage 3. That is why this disease is so deadly: they find it too late!  

14,000 women
will from
Ovarian Cancer
in 2020

While any woman can have any of these symptoms and not have ovarian cancer, if the symptoms persist for more than two weeks, please make an appointment with your OB/GYN.

  1. Pressure or pain in the abdomen or pelvis (I remember telling one doctor that I thought I needed to do a juice fast or detox, because I felt so bloated.)
  2. Difficulty eating; feeling full quickly
    (By the time dinner was ready, I’d lost my appetite. If I did eat, I could only manage a few bites.)
  3. Urinary concerns, such as urgency, frequency, or difficulty emptying your bladder (Had pointless, invasive, and completely unnecessary tests.)
  4. Change in bowel habits; constipation and/or diarrhea (Yup.)
  5. Unexplained, unusual, excessive vaginal bleeding (You don’t want to know.)
  6. Weight loss (Yes. That’s what scary.)
  7. Weight gain
  8. Nausea (I ate a lot of watermelon that summer. It was almost all I could stand.)
  9. Shortness of breath (This was awful. I could hardly do anything, without needing to rest.)
  10. Vomiting (Yes. Almost daily.)
  11. Tiredness, low energy (Oh, yeah.)
  12. Painful menstrual cycle
  13. Painful intercourse
  14. Abdominal swelling (I looked nine-months pregnant.)
  15. Dull ache in thighs or lower back

    oca bracelets copy

HELPFUL WEBSITES 
Presidential Message
Ovarian Cancer 101

Ovarian Cancer Awareness 
Cancer Center 
CDC Ovarian Cancer Fact Sheet

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You Play A Part

You may look at some people in your life and wonder what they’re doing there.

[They may not matter much to you.]

Yet, the truth is you have no idea how important they may be to your future.

[Or, how important you might be to theirs.]

God is not random. He has a Big Plan, and it has to do with people.

The people…
…who always seems to show up;
…you can’t seem to lose;
…who rub you the wrong way;
…you see everyday, yet they are strangers to you;
…you wish you could know more.

All those people. 

So, don’t ignore them.
Consider them.
Reconsider your relationship with them.
Give them your respect.
Treat them with gentleness.
Help them, encourage them, and bless them.
Look for the opportunity to love them.
Pray God’s will for their lives, lift them up when they are down.
A little time and compassion matter.

And, always remember that no matter what you might think about their life right now, or the choices they’ve made so far, God has always had a plan and a purpose for their lives.

Maybe,
just maybe,
He’s been waiting for you to play your part.  

14 August 2011

Every Tool in the Box

“Oh, no.”

I could hear from the tone of the Saxophone Player’s voice that something really bad had just happened. 

Doug was installing a new shower head we’d received for Christmas,  when the water pipe that pokes out from the shower wall broke off right into his hand. It didn’t unscrew off, mind you. It was sheared right at the point where the threading starts and it screws into another pipe.

This was not good.

Doug texted our son-in-law, and asked if he could check it out the next day. Tim’s a handy fellow, and conveniently lives in the upstairs apartment. So, the next afternoon Tim came down with a pair of pliers in hand. I was surprised he only had a pair of pliers. I imagined the tub wall would have to be opened to get to the rest of pipe, and said so to Tim.

Cheerfully, (he’s a pretty upbeat guy) he said, “Well, maybe not. If I can remove the rest of the pipe, we shouldn’t have to open up the wall.” He explained that he’d checked on the situation earlier, before leaving for work, but the pliers he had used didn’t do the trick. “Hopefully, this pair will work.”

I went back to what I was doing (making applesauce), while he did his thing. About a minute later, he calls out: “I got it!”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah, thanks to my grandfather’s pliers.” He laid them down to show me. “I couldn’t find them this morning, but I had a feeling they would do the trick.”

There are lots of pliers in the world, and they all work just fine, but that particular pair was just what Tim needed for that particular job.

I don’t use pliers often, but I use other tools. We all do. Some tools we reach for everyday, and some maybe only once a year. However, even that tool you only use once a year, like the hacksaw that Doug uses to make a fresh cut on our Christmas tree, is irreplaceable. Nothing else can do what it does. 

As I thought about tools, and how thoughtfully designed and carefully crafted they are for their particular purpose, I started to think about us—you and me. We’re actually tools, too. We were thoughtfully designed and carefully crafted, too. And, the Master Craftsman who designed us created us for a very particular purpose. 

Stop and think about that.

Now, no analogy is perfect, but I think there’s a measure of truth here. The Word of God tells us that we are gifted by God with certain talents: something we can do. These aren’t always talents like we normally think of talents—performance talents. It might be a talent for bringing order to chaos. Or, maybe you can turn a carrot and an egg it into a tasty and beautiful birthday cake. Maybe, you aren’t a singer, but you can make the singer’s voice heard above the drums in a room filled with 1,000 people.

As many tools are in any toolbox or kitchen drawer, it’s still just a drop in the bucket of how many different talents God has gifted His creation—you and me. Whether we have several, or have trouble thinking of even one, I can promise you that God has given you a talent, and He means for you to use it for the very purpose He intended.

So, what’s your talent? Does something come to mind? If you’re like I used to be, you might feel too insecure to say what you think your talent is, and that’s OK. I would probably still have a hard time admitting out loud that I have a talent for doing anything more than making gravy, and when I was younger—and so much more insecure—that’s the only talent I thought I had to offer the Lord. I baked cookies for the homeless, I cooked for church suppers, and I took meals to the sick. I took the only talent I thought I had, and used it every chance I could. As I kept serving the Lord with the talent I had, and doing anything else for the Lord—including things I was definitely not talented at doing—I discovered and acquired other talents.

Now, a reasonable question right now might be, “How do I find out what my talents are, and what God’s purpose is for my talent?”

Well, this is my simple answer: first, start doing whatsoever your hand finds to do for the Lord.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NKJV)

That’s one reason we need to be in church. In church, there are so many opportunities to serve God. Some opportunities might not sound very appealing. Or, we might be tempted to say, “I don’t think I have a talent for that.” Yet, as we start doing whatsoever our hand finds to do, we start to discover there are some things we’re actually really good at, and really enjoy doing. That’s a good sign. Our leaders are going to recognize our talents, too. We might not think we’ve a talent for something, because we compare ourselves to others, but our leaders can be more objective.

Now, your next reasonable question might be: “How will I know God’s purpose for my talent?” That answer is even simpler that the last answer. The ultimate purpose for any talent is that it glorify God.

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV)

Now, if we happen to attend a church that doesn’t have many opportunities, we can ask our pastor to help us find a local ministry that needs help. However, I suspect most pastors will have something for a willing person to do. We might start serving in just a small way, or in a way we really don’t think is using our talent (or that we are talented at doing), but that’s how God leads us to those works that He has prepared in advance for us to do. 

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

Start doing something, and see what God does next. 

 

 

On A Road That Faith Built

I sent a press release to the Portland Press Herald, when my mother decided to make a trip to Africa in 2000. I thought it might make an interesting story, and they agreed. They sent a photographer and reporter, and this is the resulting article, written by C. Kalimah Redd and published on November 11, 2000. For the record, the writer got a few facts wrong. We’ll ignore those for now.

Following the article are a few photos from her trip. On the day before her flight, Stella was hurrying downstairs to give Doug some information he needed to arrange the transportation of the three keyboards she was taking with her for the churches there. As she came downstairs, she missed a step and seriously injured her leg. We really thought she should cancel her trip, but she refused to do so. She even extended her trip, despite the pain and challenges she encountered once she was there. 

My mother was always a role model for me in life, but even in death she continues to remind me how to live.


ON A ROAD THAT FAITH BUILT
Author: C. Kalimah Redd

The Rev. Stella L. Mosqueda lives in pain.

A leg problem forces this 69-year-old Kittery resident to walk with a cane (though she walks an hour every day), and the severe arthritis in her joints has long slowed her down. But these things will not prevent her from stepping on a plane Wednesday for a two-day journey to Webuye, Kenya. There, she will work as a missionary and preach for a month.

“If an opportunity comes up for me to do something , even though other people think I can’t do it, well — I’m Irish, and I can,” she said. “I’m stubborn and independent. I have no interest in doing the same thing every day.”

Mosqueda (pronounced Mos-ke-da), who technically retired from the ministry in the mid-1980s after her husband died, has lived a life reminiscent of a Hollywood script: A farmer’s daughter moves to Cuba as a missionary without knowing a word of Spanish, meets and marries a Cuban evangelical preacher, escapes the county during the 1959 revolution, then travels throughout South America and the United States championing missionary causes while raising three girls.

Steven Spielberg, eat your heart out.

But Mosqueda’s life is no fable, and her journey next week to the east African country represents a lifetime commitment to helping others. Her faith, she says, tells her that she will blend in and love the people there, that everything will be all right.

“God really has been good to me,” she said. “It’s easy for me to love people, so I expect to have the same result in the Kenya.”

Years ago, it was Mosqueda’s faith that led her to the decision that would change her life forever.

Then Stella Cooper, she left her house in Columbus, Ohio, for Miami, against her parents’ wishes and with less than $10 in her pocket. She had a one-way ticket to Cuba.

Until then, at 21, Mosqueda had never left her home state and had never even met a Spanish-speaking person. She grew up on a farm with no electricity, the fourth of 11 children. Her family had gone to the small church closest to her home and only once had she spoken from a pulpit, when she was 9 years old and was called upon to read from the Bible.

One day, Mosqueda briefly met with a Cuban missionary who came to visit her church. They kept in contact and he invited her to join his family in the tiny country to work as a missionary.

“I knew nothing about being a missionary but figured there are things that I could do, and those I didn’t know, I would learn,” Mosqueda recalled.

Getting to Cuba was the first challenge. It was 1952, and no one could enter the country with a one-way ticket, she said. The airport clerk receiving Mosqueda saw the discrepancy after first questioning why “a pretty girl like” her wanted to go to Cuba.
Telling the clerk of her goal to be a missionary produced an unlikely outcome: He paid for her two-way ticket in full.

Upon arriving in Cuba, she could not remember what her Cuban visitor looked like and she could not speak Spanish to ask. Luckily (Mosqueda would say miraculously) she ran into another missionary woman from Ohio who led her to the missionary’s home.

Within six months, Mosqueda had control of Spanish and began working throughout the country teaching children and spreading the gospel of the Pentecostal church.

In 1955, she married Ignacio Mosqueda, and the two canvassed the country preaching and establishing churches. Many of these congregations still operate today.

By 1959, the Cuban revolution was in full swing. Ignacio knew Fidel Castro personally, but that connection did not mean he and his wife had less to fear from an unpredictable government. The Mosquedas escaped the country that year by disguising themselves as tourists, donning colorful clothing, sun glasses and a camera while boarding a government plane. “I was shaking like a leaf,” Mosqueda remembered. “I could hardly get on that plane.”

Safely in America, the couple continued their missionary crusade. They lived in or traveled to Puerto Rico, Mexico, Costa Rica, Hawaii and throughout the United States. They settled in California, where they raised their three daughters and Stella Mosqueda received a bachelor’s degree from Latin American Theology Seminary.

Mosqueda’s husband died in 1986 of a heart attack, and she returned to nursing to support her children. In 1997, she moved to Kittery with her eldest daughter, Caroline. There, she has enjoyed helping to raise her two grandchildren and volunteering in the community.

Less than one year ago, she joined the Dover Church of the Assembly of God in New Hampshire, where she occasionally preaches. Her pastor, Glenn Hurley, 32, said he is in no way surprised by Mosqueda’s desire to travel to Africa, and he is confident her journey will be a success.

“It’s years and years of trusting God and years and years of Him supplying the need,” Glenn said. “Once you learn it, you never go back.”

For her part, Mosqueda hopes to go back to Cuba to visit her family still living there soon. After her return in December from Africa, Mosqueda will likely tutor a Latin American family in English. She is considering avoiding the cold Maine winter by visiting one of her other daughters in Florida.

Mosqueda said she has no plans for any more big trips. Her physical limitations and increasing age turn simple tasks like packing into a major chore. “(But) who knows,” Mosqueda said. “My life is open.”

Copyright (c) 2000 Portland Press Herald


If anyone is interested, I would be happy to scan and share the rest of her photos from Africa. These are just the few that included her.