Thursday, September 1, 2011

September 2011



I am in Granite Bay this morning with my beloveds, Carla, Jeff and Lainey. ...and yes, I drove myself. Once I stop taking risks, just bury me...but wisdom must increase as the years unfold. I don’t want to add any more pain to my remaining family who has lost so much recently, so I watch every step, check and re-check what’s underfoot, but still I fall sometimes, and then I cry, not being sure what is causing the tears.

I noted this morning when I awoke in J and C’s gorgeous home, with the sun streaming through my bedroom window, that I did not pour my first cup of coffee and feel compelled to curl up with my Bible and get juiced up for the day. ...then came the realization that when my family was and is all around, their strengths give me a false sense of security. In my own home, with only my twin cats to greet me in the mornings, I know that if I am going to float on the wings of God’s strength that day, it is up to me to go to the Source. Immediately. ...before the world, my flesh and the devil kick in.

Conclusion: I am in a good place as I near the end of my race. The encumbrances are easier to identify. The people who sap my strength with no intention of growing up show their bland colors quicker. My husband is in a safe place and doesn’t need me any more; my oldest son, Doug, is in a great place with Jesus, his dad and all the other children of God who are in Heaven. My children that remain here walk with God, take in His Word and live by it. It’s all I ever wanted from the day when I was nineteen, the Lights came on about who my everlasting Parent is and will always be. It was lonely for awhile because all in my family turned away from me. ...even my boyfriend of three years. ...but then you know the rest of that story. ...or do you? I said a clear goodbye to him (then kicked myself for letting him go). In a few months he showed up in my life again, born again. Well, “Shoot”! I said to myself. “I guess this means we are supposed to be married”. ...and we were and we had 60 years of more or less happiness, depending upon whether we decided that day to grow up or stay stuck in adolescence.

Our Jeff is venturing into new challenges. Of course. There is one Christian University, William Jessup Christian University in Northern California and Jeff has signed on to head up the Psychology Department. He spent yesterday with the rest of the faculty and came home really jazzed. I have a sense that this opportunity will feed into the lives of some of the young people my Father is edging into my life.

I am made aware this morning that my family kept me entertained for sixty years with their risk taking and new ventures. Now, if I am going to be “entertained” it’s up to me to provide it. Now, don’t preach me any sermons on that. I know that “It is God Who works in me both to WILL and to DO of His good pleasure”. I also know that I can assume the “Poor Pitiful Pearl” attitude, get lots of sympathy and Jesus will still love me. ...but naw. I know quite a few of those victim mentality people and they’re no fun at all! “Pick up your mat and WALK!”, Jesus said. He didn’t even offer to carry the mat for the old guy with the tin cup!

I’ll be home by Wednesday noon to wrap my arms and heart around the beautiful women who will come through the door to soar in Philippians 2. On Thursday, an assortment of teenagers will show up at the Howells and I will poke scriptures into them with the strongest of hope that they will call them up when they start to mess up their lives.

Old hymn:

My Jesus, I love Thee; I know Thou art mine
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign
My blessed Redeemer, my Saviour art Thou
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.




Last Saturday as I was writing the Blog, lightning was striking all over our mountains, triggering many fires. A few were not easily conquered. I didn’t tell you about it then because you dear readers have endured enough Stone traumas. I could hear Ted saying: “Wait and see!”

Ted and I dodged more than one bullet over our many years of marriage. Early on, I was “heavy with child” our firstborn, now in Heaven, and Doug and I were broadsided at a Minneapolis intersection and thrown into the back seat. Car demolished. We weren’t. My little baby was born healthy and lived 60 more years. ...and I’m still here.

As we travelled from Minnesota to Kansas, many times blizzards and ice storms threatened to spin us off the road. Tornadoes skipped all around us in Kansas and Texas for years, we survived a flood that nearly swept our summer residence down a Kansas river in 1957; in 1960 we missed the Six Day War in Israel by a week or so; in 1975 we fled Viet Nam with our missionary hosts when authorities knocked on their door and told us to leave. ...immediately. On 9/11 we were staying in White Plains, New York, deciding whether to return to New York City that day, but opted to head for Niagara Falls instead.

Last weekend, with fires all around, a vivid memory emerged and I was calmed. In 1984, we were restoring our Spring Branch home in Houston in order to move back into it from Kingwood, a suburb where we lived for a year and a half. An arsonist flipped a match into some cleaning liquid in our newly rennovated Spring Branch home during the night while we were still packing in Kingwood. The house didn’t burn down but when I saw it I wished it had. With the counsel of a “burn contractor” we made the decision to “gut” the place and open it up to the surrounding woods. When we finished it was beautiful, our insurance paid for all but $50, we put it up for sale and the first people who came to look at it bought it. NObody was selling anything then; oil prices had been sucked into the Gulf of Mexico, the market was just like it is now. Flat! Conclusion: Our house burned so we could come back to California where our family would settle, probably for the rest of our lives. Romans 8:28 is imbedded in my very soul.

Is it any wonder that it took me eleven months while my Ted lay in a hospital bed to process the probability that he was actually leaving us? He had survived all of the above, four pastorates (no small feat), four major surgeries, prostate cancer, and 60 years of marriage to me! I truly thought he was indestructible.

What did I enjoy this week? “Philippians girls”; how I love them...and Philippians. My “John teenagers”; how I love them. ...and the Book of John; teaming with Andy, our pastor, playing and singing an old hymn at the end of the morning services. Tonight my fiddlin’ music partner, Gayel, and I will wrap up the District Fiddler’s Contest with a Gospel Singalong.

What DIDN’T I enjoy this week? ...the meltdowns that sneak up on me at any time of the day or night.

Dee and Brent take excellent care of Robin, her children and me when we need them. All four grandchildren who live here are involved in many activities. The Sacramento branch: Jeff and Carla share an office at Cornerstone Counselling Center; Jeff is still “professoring” at Fuller and Chapman Christian University; Lainey is in college and working; Lauren is in Azusa Pacific.

I am a blessed lady! I must “press on” and “strive forward”, knowing in my heart that “fun” as I have known it may never be again. ...Ah, but joy? Oh, yes! There is no joy like giving out the Word of God and beholding the transformations that only our Lord can bring about.

1887 hymn
I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ Who died for me
How He left His home in glory for the cross of Calvary.




My Ted and son Doug are “seeing His face”. I found one of Ted’s 3x5 cards that he used as a reminder when conducting memorials. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints”. Note the words: “in the sight of the Lord”. We are short-sighted. He is not. We are instructed to “live by faith”, and not by sight. More Ted words: “This is a promotion; a coronation, a celebration. A believer is never buried because deity does not die.” ...and now he is experiencing all he taught so many others.

“He who believes in Me...out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38. During some seasons of life that “river” seems to diminish to a tiny little trickle. ...but it has only encountered an obstacle and is working its way around it. ...or it may go underground for miles and then bubble up somewhere below as a spring. In John 4 Jesus promised the Samaritan adultress at the Well a fountain of spring water. I love the lilting word “spring”. As a little girl on our East Kansas farm, I would often whistle for my shepherd, pick up my single-shot rifle, which I still have, and walk a mile or so to the creek that was fed by a spring in the upper pasture. Wild life gathered there often, preferring the fresh water to the more sluggish water nearer our barns in the lower pasture. I experienced many days and months alone as a child. As I walk my road from my house to the paved road I am reminded by my Lord that I am not that same lonely little girl who had no source.

If I don’t stay focused on the source of my river/spring, there is nothing “precious” about the death of my dear husband and oldest son. Come to think of it, there is nothing “precious” about anything if I don’t discipline my mind to gain His perspective. If I focus on the obstacle, the “obstacle” can become ME.

I want that living water to keep flowing through me. It has taken so many weeks to recuperate from physical and emotional onslaughts that I did not know if anyone would show up this week when I started teaching Philippians and John. ...but they did! ...and nothing brings me more joy than to see the hearts and the minds of choice saints of any age become excited about memorizing and applying His Word. Nothing but His Word can take us around the obstacles and go underground with us, then emerge as a spring of LIVING water.

There was a thirsty woman who was drawing from a well
You see her life was ruined and wasted and her soul was bound for hell
Oh but then she met the Master and He told about her sin
And He said, “If you drink this water, you’ll never thirst again.”




While Ted was in several pastorates, each Sunday morning everyone received a devotional that he wrote for each day of the week. Before he was diagnosed with cancer we found those devotionals and for several months some of them were put on pdf and audio on our “” website. As the brain tumor began its slow, deadly march, Ted eventually had to stop broadcasting. Just this week I am editing, printing and soon will resume broadcasting the rest of his devotionals. They are like gold. I am understanding more and more why my husband was such a man of relentless faith. He lived and breathed the Word of God. How did he continue to “fix his eyes on Jesus” all his life until he really did fix his eyes on Him as He gathered Ted in his arms and delivered him to the Father? I read the answer in a devotional of his just yesterday: “We must look away from everything else”. there are two facets to “fixing our eyes on Jesus”: looking away, and looking toward Him. “Looking away” is the tricky part, for even though we know this world is not our home, it envelopes and consumes us. Isn’t it wonderful for Ted, Doug and all of our loved ones that now there is:

Nothing between my soul and the Savior
Naught of this world’s delusive dream.
I have renounced all sinful pleasure
Jesus is mine; there’s nothing between
Nothing between my soul and the Savior
So that His blessed face may be seen.
Nothing preventing the least of His favor
Keep the way clear; Let nothing between. (Old hymn)

At times, during our sixty years of marriage when I would let circumstances get in the way of my straight shot to the heart of Jesus, Ted would say (always kindly, but firmly), “What are you doing under the circumstances?” His faith in the perfect love of God for him was sometimes irksome to me, but I learned not to waste the breath I suspected I would need later in life by suggesting that he get down in the pit with me. He wasn’t cold; he simply refused to get “under the circumstances”. I cannot recall one time when he was angry or openly discouraged. The only time I saw him cry was when he was speaking about the grace of God.

My study in Philippians is now on our website under “JO’S LESSONS”. This week my little group of precious women will gather at this river of fresh water that flowed from Jesus through Paul not long before Paul joined his Savior in Heaven. On Thursday, at the Howells, I will begin meeting for the first time in weeks with a few teenagers. I am so ready. I have a root canal appointment in Santa Barbara next week, but compared to bronchitis, shingles and diverticulitis which seem to have moved on to torture someone else, that’s nothin’.

I want to tell you this: It is becoming more clear to me than ever that my personal relationship with Jesus is at the very heart of my existence. I feel that my entire life has been a preparation for this last leg of my race that is assigned to me. Remember how Jesus looked death square in the face? Peter rebuked Him for telling the boys that “....he must be killed and after three days rise again?” Jesus turned straight toward Peter and rebuked him back, even calling him “Satan”. “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men”.

Do you and I have in mind the things of God or the things of men?