Thursday, September 20, 2018


Nothing was going right.  The Mulligan Room head waitress had not been informed that I was coming to entertain singers and diners. Hungry people were arriving. The Women’s Golf Association had left the patio tables and chairs in disarray.  The meat bees had been informed that we were coming. Anticipating this, I was armed with fly swatters and a can of RAID. A few arriving people muttered. 

None of my fellow musicians could join me. They were scattered all the way to Spain.  I flipped the on switch to my microphone.  Dead.  My keyboard came alive.  Hoorray!  The sun was glaring straight into my face.  A resourceful woman found a piece of cardboard and tried to block it out. Didn't work. Five Bakersfield friends ambled in from Down Below.  Any thought of  cancelling the show evaporated.  I invited the growing group to turn to # 4 in my Singalong book. Ol’  Bill Bailey may have left his weeping wife but he’s always good for launching a toe-tapping Singalong. …then “Sweet Georgia Brown” and "Ain't She Sweet?"  and a floundering party just might be on its wobbly way. 

I’m thinking: These people don’t know each other. This is not my first rodeo. What have I done before to pull together an unconnected crowd?  O.K., I’ll invite them to tell about their summer travels. "W., tell us about your trip to Kentucky.”  She had had a terrible traveling experience which put her in the hospital for a hernia operation.   We need to change the mood here, so I called on Lauraine,  my writer/friend who always brings smiles to every gathering.  She told us about her upcoming motor home trip to Minot, North Dakota where she and Wayne will rendezvous with Norwegians that gather from around the world.  Picture THAT! Hundreds of Scandinavians. Remembering. Connecting. REconnecting. Laughing. Discussing. Probably arguing. Eating.  I hope they dance.

G. and R. told about the missionaries they will soon visit in Australia. Ahh,  thought I.  The word "missionary"  might trigger a conversation about the Lord. I called on D., a dear Bakersfield friend, and asked her to say a few words. Her “few words” took us right where I hoped they would. 

Some fellow, whose name I do not know stood up and said: “O.K., Jo, you’ve got us talking. What’s your story?” I thought they’d never ask. …so I told them the short version of my long story. …which is all about traveling with Christ.

We sang some more. The night grew chilly. The local folk filtered out toward their mountain homes; the flat landers lingered to sing some more before traveling back down the mountain.  Despite the fact that almost everything that could go wrong, did, everybody had a good time on a Fallish night, outside, at the Mulligan Room, in Bear Valley Springs, California.

Tell me the story of Jesus.
Write on my heart, every word.
Tell me the story most precious
Sweetest that ever was heard.

Love,  Jo

Thursday, September 13, 2018


Before we figure out how to use a new device, it's obsolete.  I am just figuring out life. So are a great many in their 80's and 90's.  I will tell you about a couple of women who are not "obsolete". Both are in retirement homes. One, in Houston; the other in Fresno. They don't know each other.  They will. Before long.  But not quite yet.

The one in Houston is not computer savvy.  She can't read my blog, but manages to stay reasonably "with it"  anyway. She is Swedish.  Despite that, she has a sense of humor.  Her penmanship is perfect.  Mine looks like chicken scratches, so I call or type letters to her.  She always responds, reporting first of all on the weather. What I have never told her is that we left Houston because of the weather. 

Then there's R.  In Fresno. She's 93. ...or maybe 94. Doesn't matter. She is still a barrel of fun.  R. and F.  were the couple Ted and I chose to counsel our daughter and her man before their marriage.  F.  was a new Christian.  He didn't know much scripture but he sure knew how to live life with integrity.  R. and I have lots of laughs.

I hang pretty much with people who can laugh at their own humanness.  Take my current pastor.  He does that. ...chuckles at himself.  I like that.  On Sunday mornings I sit practically under his nose. …for two reasons:  I don’t hear so well anymore. The other?  People tend to download their agonies on me. …so I wear my pretend horse blinders …the kind my dad put on his four- horse team to keep them focused on the job.  My “job” is to stay as sane as possible in an insane world.

The aortic aneurysm in my chest hasn’t blown up yet. The hiatal hernia is just hanging out in my rib cage. All of you readers have something “hanging out”. …so let’s just cut our losses and enjoy what we’ve got left.

Tonight:  another Singalong outside. It will be chilly. Oh, well. 

Do all things without murmurings and disputings, that you may be blameless and harmless in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.  …holding forth the Word of God.   Philippians 2 something or other.

Love,  Jo

Friday, September 7, 2018

Soup Kettle

At another time and in another place Ted and I were on the staff of a ministry launched by guys who had just graduated from seminary. Here’s how the format was set up:  A group of believers build relationships with people with no belief in a Higher Poweer.  All are invited to a discussion  in homes, offices and schools about “Life and God”. The discussion is to last only fifty-nine minutes. ...which it did   Just when the conversation was going somewhere, the time was up.  …very unsettling to me, but not to my husband.  He was far more at peace with "dangling ends" than I. 

The leaders of this ministry were of the opinion that the human soul contains only a MIND.  I have wondered how many of their marriages ended up in divorce. …or murder.  One more of their conclusions went like this: All around the globe, people have only twelve most asked-questions about “Life and God”. I have double that number of questions every morning before breakfast.  

God’s pilgrim-children, down through the ages have been allowed to ask God all kinds of questions about Himself and about Life. All have expressed the gamut of their emotions. Not very often has He struck them dead.

In the Soup Kettle of my mind this morning simmered a mixture of feelings and thoughts. Then a wisp of a scripture intruded:  Take every thought captive.”   “Absurd!” I thought.  “Utterly absurd!”. …then came another bit of scripture: "Whatsoever is worthy of praise, THINK on these things”. 

Now, that’s the tricky part: Deciding to praise Him in the midst of awful situations, and then actually doing it. I think that must be the meaning of offering to our Lord "the sacrifice of praise."  What do you think? 

Love,  Jo

Friday, August 31, 2018

How big is God?

We cannot prove to the world that God exists.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately (but then, I think “a lot” on any given day, having only two self-serving cats that live under my roof) about the huge chasm that immediately formed between God and the very people He created.  For adults to admit our need for God requires that something has come crashing in that  reveals the fact that we are not in control.  

My dad was 75.  He had been a hard-working farmer. Ted and I knew that my parents deserved to enjoy an easier life. We orchestrated their move from the Kansas farm to Palo Alto, California, where we were in our first ministry after seminary. The believers in Ray Stedman's Peninsula Bible Fellowship enfolded my parents into the sweet love of Christ.  When my dad became sick, nearly unto death those Christians were right there beside him.  He came to Christ.  He is with Christ. I will see him.  I will be able to have a conversation with him that I longed to have on earth. I could never quite close that emotional gap that had existed between my earthly father and me. In Heaven there will be no "gaps".  Oh, can we just pause for a few seconds and anticipate?

Last Sunday I nodded a "Yes" as a friend of mine spoke in a nearby church, saying these words:  “I hear Christians declare that God doesn’t test us above what we can bear.  Oh, yes He does!" 

Life is hard. Nobody is equipped to navigate through it without God.  If you’re a young reader you may think you can handle whatever is thrown at you. You can’t. You don’t have to.

My Ted was given a marvelous ability to relate to men of every culture, color and educational level.  He understood the male pride and called their resistance to the Gospel "The death rattle of the male ego."  

Stuart Hamblen had been a "resister".  He came to Christ during Billy Graham’s first big Crusade in Los Angeles. He wrote this song: 

            How Big is God? 

How big is God?
How big and wide,  His vast domain.
To try to tell, these lips can only start.
He’s big enough to rule His mighty universe
And small enough to live within my heart.

Love,  Jo

Friday, August 24, 2018


Before the wonder fades I come to my computer to write. The moon has not quite reached its perfect round.  Overhead a plane climbs up, up  and away from the airport far below.  The lights of another blink,  on its way to a far away place. Where are they all going?  Who are these people?  Bootsie, my cat lifts his head, curious about a noise down below,  stretches then resumes his sleep.  The cricket choir ratchets up. surround sound.

God's heavens seem close enough to touch. Since there is no time once we leave here it is silly to wonder what my loved ones are doing in Heaven. ...what they look like. ...but I do wonder anyway. They are not waiting.  I am.

Today was so good.  How can tomorrow be better?  The music director at our church came to fix some plumbing.  His name is Zack. I like him. My new driver, Brenda took me shopping in town. ...then Karen came to take me to Joanne's for Bible study.  Sabra, our young teacher works at night as a guard at the prison.  While the inmates sleep she studies dear J. Vernon McGee's commentaries, goes beyond to research and draw maps, then comes every Thursday to teach us,  the next two generations. Why would any of us snatch that privilege from this young woman who will be teaching long after we are in Heaven?

Yesterday I spent an hour or so in scripture with a new Christian. neighbor. In the afternoon Margaret and Jerry came from nearby Golden Hills to visit. They brought home-grown tomatoes.  Like me, they have traveled many a mile. We needed one another's encouragement.

It's Mulligan Room time again.  I had my old Singalong books recovered.  The people kind of liked the coffee-stained ones. They may not like the new ones. There's a whiff of fall in the air.  We notice and participate in the weather up here on this mountain.  Some of us notice and participate with God. He most certainly "participates" with us. 

I am thinking of an old song George Beverly Shea used to sing: 
Bottom of Form

            THE WONDER OF IT ALL

There's the wonder of springtime and harvest
The sky, the stars, the sun.
But the wonder of wonder that thrills my soul
Is the wonder that's only begun.

Oh, the wonder of it all; the wonder of it all.
Just to think that God loves me.
Oh, the wonder of it all; the wonder of it all.
Just to think that God loves me. 

Love,   Jo