Friday, July 21, 2017

Connections

Last Friday night I led a Singalong from my keyboard under the cabana at our golf shop. New next-door neighbors drove my truck down the mountain and unloaded the paraphernalia it takes to offer an outdoor singing party. Two elderly ladies soon came, sat down at a table, hauled out their Yahtzee and threw the dice. Game on!  One said, "You don't have to introduce yourself.  I find you wherever you're playing. Just don't ask me to sing."  In a few minutes an elderly gentleman joined them. I asked him his name. "Snelling"."Oh, my goodness, are you Lauraine's husband?"  "I am". Lauraine Snelling is a well-known Christian author who lives down the mountain about ten miles from here. She was off somewhere in America doing what book writers do. Wayne wanted me to play anything Hoagie Carmichael ever wrote. "Stardust" popped up in my memory.  About that time bass singer Dave came ambling in.  I handed him the microphone and "Ol' Man River",  "Fiddler on the Roof", "The Impossible Dream", "Sixteen Tons", "It's Impossible" and  "I Left my Heart in San Francisco" rolled out of him. Nostalgia set in. The diners/listeners leafed through my Singalong book and requested their own favorites. At dusk some folk drifted on home as others of us gathered to talk and get acquainted.  Over the mountain to the west the setting sun announced the end of a lovely evening. My neighbors brought me home, unloaded my electronic stuff,  then walked down the road and around a curve to their house.

On the following Sunday afternoon I entertained from the grandest of Grands at Triassic Winery. Two couples from the Czech Republic wandered in and sat down at a table to taste wines. They could not communicate in English, but sat for three hours listening to the music. I wonder how they will spin that experience back in their home country.  A young Christian couple with two little ones came. The five-year-old sparked to "Do Re Me" from "Sound of Music".  From farther up the mountain came a couple who asked for favorites. The Catholic Chaplain from a nearby prison wanted anything Sinatra ever sang, so  I played "Fly me to the Moon", "Unforgettable", "A Foggy Day" and "Come Fly With Me". Three Filipinos, ...two men and a woman came through the door as I was playing a Gospel song from the 70's: "He Touched Me". The woman came immediately to the piano and said, "This is a miracle! We were just singing that song!" She sat down beside me, we harmonized then morphed into "How Great Thou Art". Two women who had never met before hugged each other as though we had been friends for years. Later in the week this engaging woman, Naomi brought five other Filipinos to my home for a warm time of fellowship.

Connections. ... with music. How I love them. We'll do a lot of that in Heaven, don't you think?

                WHEN WE ALL GET TO HEAVEN
         Written from a bed of pain in 1898 by Eliza Hewitt

Sing the wondrous love of Jesus;
Sing His mercy and His grace. 
In the mansion bright and blessed,
He's prepared for us a place!  CHORUS

While we walk this pilgrim pathway
Clouds will overspread the sky.
But when travelling days are over
Not a shadow, or a sigh!  CHORUS

Let us then be true and faithful,
Trusting, serving every day.
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay.  CHORUS

Onward to the prize before us;
Soon His beauty we'll behold.
Soon the pearly gates will open,
We shall tread the streets of gold!  

WHEN WE ALL GET TO HEAVEN,
WHAT A DAY OF REJOICING THAT WILL BE!
WHEN WE ALL SEE JESUS,
WE'LL SING AND SHOUT THE VICTORY!

Love,  Jo




Friday, July 14, 2017

FEAR vs. LOVE

A wealthy Greek couple who had come to Christ called us to their home. "We want you to take some weeks away from the pastorate. We have two requests: 1) Go to Greece and share the Gospel with our relatives.  2) Go to Israel.  Fly anywhere else in the world where you can get some rest. Now, go!"

We went!  From Switzerland and Austria we flew to Rome, then to Corinth, Athens, Ephesus, the Island of  Patmos and on to Egypt. The Six Day War had ended. There were few tourists. We ventured out into swarms of human beings. Burka-clad mothers broke through the crowd to put their little ones directly in our path, with palms up, outstretched for money. We managed to elbow our way onto a bus crowded beyond capacity, with people hanging on the outside and riding on the roof. When we reached the Museum to view King Tut's sarcophagus we found it covered with layers of dust. We proceeded on to a Muslim mosque and were required to remove our shoes and put our feet into filthy slippers. We braved another bus back to the hotel where I sank into a "Where are You, God?"  funk. Ted proceeded on to the zoo, returning shortly to report that the animals were cleaner than the people. The next day we found our way to the train station, hoping to be transported to the Valley of the Kings. The train stood on the tracks with no indication it intended to go anywhere. Disappointed, we caught a cab to the Pyramids and Sphinx. I rode a camel. Ted watched. Hot and dirty, we returned to the hotel and called the airport for a flight to Israel. Uhh, ...no.  We would have to enter Israel by way of a neutral island. The next day we were put on a single engine plane that delivered us to Cyprus where we made our way down rickety stairs, at the bottom of which was a flat vat of disinfectant. We waded through,  caught a cab to a hotel, showered and slept. The next day I went swimming in the Mediterranean while Ted explored Nicosia. The following day we flew to Tel Aviv, Israel, and that's a story for another time.

The Bible shapes the world. Where there is not such a foundation there will be no freedom of religion, no honoring of women, no cleanliness, no preservation of human life, health and dignity, and no gainful employment for the multitudes. Muslims worship a god of FEAR, as do all other religions.  A civilization will not be "civil" unless its foundation is laid upon the Word of God that extends to us the LOVE of God. Our America was founded upon that foundation. You and I inherited a treasure. ...an exquisite treasure that we have shared with the world. We are the ones who give money and blood that other nations might survive. We are the ones who send missionaries to every tribe and nation to take the message of the LOVE of God Who continues to give us grace because of the determination of a handful of Christians who fled the tyranny of a government that would not allow them to freely worship the One Who gave His life that we might have life. ....everlasting life!

All of us with half a brain know that our country's moral compass has shifted.  The lives of the millenials He sends me to disciple resemble a back-lashed fishing line that would be easier to snip than unsnarl.

Father, dear Heavenly Father, as prophecy unfolds, keep older Christians focused on encouraging action and peace that is found only in Christ to the next generations.

               HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you, who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by my gracious, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow.
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not harm thee, I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose;
I will not, I will not desert to his foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!

Love,  Jo
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Friday, July 7, 2017

Purpose

Rick Warren's book, "The Purpose Driven Life" sold a bazillion copies everywhere there was a book stand. Everybody seems to need a purpose.  I still do, at 88, but am not as "driven" as heretofore. The Lord sends me just enough millenials to guide into scripture and encourage in their faith.

There's not a white chalk mark around my body and I still have a pulse, so there's still time for me to learn to leave alone what I cannot figure out about God. He asks that I trust Him. The evidence is clear: He is trustworthy! Another proven characteristic about God is promised in Romans 2: His kindness (goodness) brings us to repentance when the world, the flesh and the devil wage war against us and our faith momentarily falters.

Do I understand everything about God? Of course not. Ecclesiastes says it well: "I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time; He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no man can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."

Ira Sankey, the "sweet singing Methodist "of the late 1800's wrote this poignant hymn

Encamped along the hills at night, ye Christian soldiers, rise. 
And press the battle, ere the night shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below, let all our strength be hurled
Faith is the victory, we know that overcomes the world. 

Faith is the victory; faith is the victory.
Oh, glorious victory that overcomes the world. 

Love, Jo


Friday, June 30, 2017

Fulfillment

I've done a lot of exciting things in my life, but the most fulfilling of all was being a wife, a mother and a grandmother.

Family is scattered all the way to Heaven but some of us who are left on this mountain sometimes gather with those who come for a visit. Today is one of those days.  Son Jeff and Carla will soon drive in from Sacramento and will be here for a couple of days.  Dee and Brent's Lexi is temporarily at home. Two of Doug and Robin's three children have moved back from Coeur d'lene, Idaho. Their youngest,  Madi Jane and Dee's Lexi came to my house on Tuesday and brought me indescribable joy.  I listened to them laugh and remember the wonderful times we have had as a family in this home. They volunteered to cook and vacuum. I did not object.

We mothers/grandmothers have a choice to make: We can either guilt trip our children into feeling responsible for our happiness or we can have gratitude for His careful attention to our every need, let them go and pray unceasingly as they figure out that without Christ there is no meaning whatsoever to life.

Our Heavenly Father, may those in leadership of our country who know You speak up and may those who do not know you shut up!  May our President understand that this country was only "great" in the past because the leaders understood that "Because You live, we live also." 

                               MY COUNTRY, 'TIS OF THEE

My country 'tis of Thee; 
Sweet land of liberty!
Of Thee I sing.
Land where our fathers died; 
Land of the pilgrim's pride.
From every mountain side
Let freedom ring!

Our fathers' God to Thee,
Author of Liberty!
To Thee we sing!
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's Holy Light
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King! 

In Jesus' Holy Name. Amen

Love, Jo

Friday, June 23, 2017

Summertime Show

Last Sunday morning tree branches outside my patio door were swaying. Wait a minute! I don't have a tree there! Slowly pushing aside the vertical blinds I slid open the glass door and peered straight into the eyes of a full size male Tule elk!  Startling! Beautiful! Majestic! He shook his antlers at me while I fumbled around in my pocket for my I phone camera. By the time I figured out how to use it the animal was ambling up the hill. I managed to snap a picture of his huge hind quarters.

Speaking of  "huge hind quarters" in a few minutes I will join thirty or so older women and men at the pool for exercise. I will follow Marti's instructions to "MOVE it!" Water exercise is not only good for our bodies, but for our souls as well.

Bear Valley Springs is a gated game reserve. We have our own police and fire departments. We drink water from wells. Besides elk our other large animals are hundreds of deer, some bears and mountain lions. The little guys are raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, rodents, skunks, opossums,  bob cats, coyotes and probably some others. Birds? Oh, my goodness! Even condors! Snakes?  We have them. It is soothing to know that 'way back in the Garden after the seductive serpent did his number on the first people, God chopped off his legs, cursed him and told him to "Crawl!"  Yes, I sleep on my twenty-foot high deck in the summertime. Am I afraid? No. In the five cities in which we lived I sometimes was. Now I look up at the stars God calls by name and feel comforted.

In the Millennium lions will lie down and take naps with lambs. ...a lovely visual. "The devil made me do it" will not fly as an excuse for sinning because the enemy of our souls will be bound and gagged. We will be here and will be judging angels. I guess my training for that assignment isn't finished and since you're reading this, neither is yours.

"Summertime. When the livin' is easy. Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high.  Your mammy's rich and your daddy's good lookin'...so hush, lil' baby, don' you cry."  Oh.  Sorry. Wrong show.

Christie is picking me up to go into our little mountain town to the Farmer's Market. We will listen to some music and buy fresh-picked garden sass. That's what my Grandma used to call it.

Do your best to think and speak with gratitude today about something. It will change your mood and bless others.

            Hymn from the 1800's

For the beauty of the earth;
For the glory of the skies
For the love which from our birth 
Over and around us lies.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise. 

Love,  Jo








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