Saturday, March 31, 2012


I hate the part of my personality that is melancholy. I am friends with the part of me that is choleric for my choleric gets me going on a purposeful project and I forget all about the funk I was in. …but this darned broken hip has stopped me in my tracks. It hurts so much to move that I don’t…and that’s a sure formula for…DEPRESSION.
Depression is my worst enemy. It comes over me like a tsunami, unannounced and powerful, sweeping away every Bible verse, every item of my long gratefulness list and leaves me totally without any energy at all. All I want to do is sleep and sleep. It hurts to move so I have to use every shred of will power I can muster to walk and exercise. Someone that doesn’t suffer from depression cannot empathize nor should they be expected to. My daughter, sanguine like her dad, suffers something awful when I am struggling and she doesn’t deserve that. Some days I just want to go home for Dee and Brent’s sake. They have not had a life of their own since 2009.
…but then there was yesterday, so let me tell you about it. Kate, our amazing 19-year-old helper, came about noon and threw out the old food and chopped fresh fruits and vegetables, placing them in air tight plastic sacks for me to cook later. Every sack is perfectly lined up in the refrigerator drawers. At 2:15 Garrett came to fetch Kate and me and take us to the teenagers’ Bible study in Golden Hills. By this time I have hopes of waking up enough to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice. I sure don’t want to hear that other guy’s who relentlessly tries to drown out the Spirit’s. Around Lynda and Bob’s dining table were eight beautiful kids whom I have come to adore. They have bonded. They pray for each other and for the kids they want to reach for Christ. Depression has fled; joy has flooded my soul. Afterwards I take an hour nap before Paul and Terry come to take me to a Bible class with beautiful Christians at Jody and Ernie’s house. I shoulda known. I was pushing the envelope and could hardly hold my head up so Paul and Terry scooped me up and brought me home, fed my kitties and tucked me in bed. God’s kind, Spirit-filled chillun. There’s no one on the Planet like them.
…and there are the Wednesday women. Sometimes there are two; sometimes 4, 5 or 6. ….but they are precious. I can feel lower than a snake’s belly, and in pops Michele, Pam, Patricia, Shanita, Lynda, Terri, Evie,(and Patti wants to be here so much I feel her presence.), sometimes Julie and I am almost instantly alive and well again. Pitiful, aren’t I? One of my dearest friends, Nick, in Round Top, Texas, will say, “Josie, are you still pitiful?” …and I will respond: “Yep. Are you?” “Yep. …me too.” …and we chuckle and promise to pray for each other. what is this enemy, depression, about? I don’t want to think of myself more highly than I ought to think, but have I been targeted by Satan to keep more fruit from the Kingdom? I can nearly hear Satan’s accusations in my ear. My emotions have been so depleted from Ted’s and Doug’s deaths, diverticulitis, shingles, a family matter, and then at the time I broke my hip, an all-too familiar division at the church I attend. I take all these things ‘way too far into my soul and I know that. So does Satan. After a lifetime of fighting spiritual wars with him, I just want to coast into Heaven….and I want to take ever so many more with me….so what’s left of my life is going to be filled with happy people. I will let you in on the strategy after I figure it out.
When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more
And the morning breaks eternal, bright and fair
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blessed Assurance

Dear Ones,

Let’s start with a hymn today instead of ending with one: You’ll know it for its beautiful truth runs deep within most souls:


I was newborn. Cliff Barrows was leading this song before thousands. I looked around to see if others were crying, as was I., JESUS IS MINE? I couldn’t grasp it. I still can’t. By faith I accept it, but now I have years of His faithfulness that cannot be denied. He IS mine, and I AM His.
The wonder increases rather than decreases as I approach the “glory divine”. We haven’t seen anything yet.

Look at those words: We are “heirs” of salvation. Full heirs; nothing to earn; nothing to be scared of for He paid for our salvation in full. His checks don’t bounce from lack of funds. …and His Spirit gave us birth; Babies are bathed in fresh water. We were washed in His very blood…the blood that will never run dry. To our father we are worth every drop of that blood for that is the essence of John 3:16. I Have noted resistance to that truth. In every instance that person speaks of being unworthy and eventually words of debt and masked humility leak through. Eventually joylessness will show itself. …but Jo, won’t that persuasion lead to pride. Yep! The right kind. Pride that is mixed with the wonder of it all (another old song).

…and this is my story; this is my song. That’s why I praise Him…because He loves me so much He measured my worth to Him by every drop of his precious blood.

Tonight I will be with friends outside my home for the first time in nine weeks. We will be loving on and praying for a couple that are starting an entirely new era of their lives. What a blessed time it will be.

Love, Jo.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Whiter Than Snow

Ted and I had been on the staff of a Covenant Church in Minneapolis, a Southern Baptist Church, a Church of Christ and Scofield Memorial Church in Dallas, Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California, Fruitvale Community (now River Lakes Community) in Bakersfield, prior to going with Overseas Crusades, with Dr. Ed Murphy and his wife, Loretta to Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Viet Nam. (Just look at the hodgepodge of doctrinal preferences we were subjected to. But our Dallas Seminary anchor held our boat steady). Prior to this teaching trip to Southeast Asia we had relocated my aged parents from California to be with my brother in Kansas and had more or less settled 19-year-old Jeff and fourteen-year-old Dee for three weeks in a new home, church, culture, schools and strange, wet climate. With tears streaming, we flew to San Francisco to meet the Murphy’s, barely connecting with our flight to Japan. I sobbed all the way to Tokyo while Ted slept like men do, thus departing our plane refreshed and ready for our wild introduction to tough ministries in every country where we were welcomed as the “experts” who had been sent by God Himself to hammer out the inevitable disagreements that smolder under the surface of most church and mission teams. By the time we reached Viet Nam, near the end of the war, I was frazzled to the max and just wanted to go home……But where was “home”? Arriving back in Houston we walked into a house in which our family had no history.
…but there was no time for adjustment. Our new church had cut us grace to take this Southeast Asian trip and they were ready for this jet-setting couple to go to work. What no one but God could know was that neither Ted nor I would ever be able to scale down our passions to one church. Ever again. There’s an old World War I song my family used to sing around the piano: “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm After They’ve Seen Paree (Paris)”? The next event in the Houston church was inevitable. A couple of members of the Board of Elders could not understand why we were always reaching out beyond the church territory or why we spent so much time with people. God graciously cut us loose and opened doors into multiple echelons of Houston society. We would be there today if I could have tolerated the tropical climate which finally put me to bed most days of the week.
God brought us to a little group in Bear Valley, and with reservation, we came to a flat piece of ground that was waiting for a building. My Ted worked himself nearly to death to give the people what they wanted: a beautiful building. Our home housed the church office and people came and went by the dozens..…but again we were “out of sync”. We were hurt and demeaned. We had given all we owned, but it was all interpreted as suspect. We were accused of everything from extortion to being alcoholics. Since then I can’t count the couples who have come here, broken in spirit from bashings by their elder Boards and congregations. Most never go back to the pastorate; many never return to ministry. Some turn away from God altogether. We went on the associate staff of Agape International, with Campus
Crusade, helping with our veteran experience to prepare the young candidates for the realities of the mission field. …for seven years.
Since then we and now “I” continue to work with the church without walls. Our best team and family years were after years of mixed joy and pain in the church with walls. Around this world there are millions of Christians in hidden groups worshipping Jesus and bearing fruit. One of my Board members, Nick, continues to warn me, “Josie, stay free. Stay free!”
This last smackeroo (Don’t ever laughingly tell somebody to “Break a leg”) has knocked me physically and emotionally winding but I will come out of it. I have to. I have grandchildren and others to teach.
Sunday Morning:
My son Jeff has just cleared off enough snow to make it out of our long driveway to the paved road. He came Friday night. Yesterday he followed the to do list his sister left for him to a “T”. Jeff was always my fix-it boy/man; yesterday our day was spent talking while he fixed. Then Dee, Brent and Lexi returned from Lexi’s medal-winning swim team meet, Jeff practically lifted me into our 4x4 Honda and we entered a piece of Heaven for me with Jeff, Dee, Brent, Lexi and me at Dee’s house with a roaring fire and the snow coming down outside. We were a family again. The men talked “man talk”. Oh, how I have missed that. Brent, in a new job of great challenge, and Jeff the same. Both men are leaders, hard workers but with godly motives: to glorify Christ.
I am energized by family again. I have learned more than I wanted to know about breaking a bone. The healing is slow and takes tremendous energy. I have had little to give anyone else and that has been disconcerting. Surely this B12 and B every other number will pull me up out of wherever I’ve been the past few weeks. The fatigue has been beyond any I have ever endured.
I am looking out my window, far below, at a herd of deer searching for grass below ten or so inches of snow. The trees are glistening with ice; therefore “Hymn for the Week”:
Lord Jesus I long to be perfectly whole; I want thee forever to live in my soul; Break down every idol, cast out every foe; Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Love, Jo

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Schindler's Cat List - some make the cut

On the farm, when one of our horses broke a leg, out came the rifle, the horse was blindfolded, and the hapless creature was ushered off to horse heaven. Farm life was brutal. I’ve seen people treated the same way lately and I don’t think I can bear much more.
We had cats. In the springtime, the cat population escalated to forty or fifty. My mother, a fanatical cat lover, would collect a gunny sack full of baby cats whose eyes were not even opened and with tears streaming down her face, head for the creek below the barn, put a rock in the sack, throw it in the creek, and run toward the house, where the rest of the day she hibernated, unable to face what she had been forced to do. As I said, life on the farm was brutal. Life on this Planet isn’t a whole heck of a lot better. Every once in a while some kind, deeply caring and sacrificial Christians come around. Cherish them deeply. In fact, CLING to them and never let them go. My dear Charlotte is with me today. She has been reading scripture to me and our imaginations have visited some intriguing places.
Cats. A few of our cats were anointed indoor cats who never once whiffed a breath of winter air, with privileges the outdoor cats did not dream existed. I never did figure out how the royal ones made the cut. The outdoor cats were tough, growing thick hair for the long winter months, snarlingly territorial, staking out their hidey holes, if they were female, for birthing their litter of mewing little babies in late spring. Our hay loft, one of my favorite hiding places when I didn’t want to cut green beans or peel tomatoes for canning, was a virtual high rise apartment complex for kitties. I spent hours in that loft, impatiently waiting for the mama cats to escort her babies, one at a time, into the world of light.
My dad and brothers milked many cows early in the morning and late at dusk. The mama cats showed up for both times, mouths open ready for the men to squirt fresh warm milk down their throats. The milk of one cow, cream and all, was always reserved for the cats. You see, these were working cats. Without them the rats and mice would have eaten any critter that moved. One calico cat named “Cal” spent her entire life guarding a sack of oats, curled up in a ball on the opening to the sack. She died there. On duty.
I’m not a farm horse so nobody has threatened to shoot me, (yet) but yesterday, after weeks of declining strength and frustrating fatigue, Dee, my precious Dee, took me to see my doctor, and he shot me ….with B12. I have been wary of so much emphasis on vitamins, and I have not done myself any favors by clutching my old fashioned belief that eating right is all I need to do. …Not this time. All of my energy was being sapped by trying to heal and there is none left over. Please grace me by not sending me your vitamin suggestions. I am set up now. Thoroughly. My caretakers have become duly concerned about my lack of energy. I had X-rays to see if pneumonia has sneaked in, blood tests to see if diabetes (planted in my family genes) has moved into heckle me. On Monday I am hoping for a fabulous report. “There is nothing wrong with you except that you have three nails in your hip that don’t belong there.”
A teenager came to Christ this week. I don’t know how it happened. I never do. Other teenagers are taking what they are learning and becoming involved in the lives of lost kids. Absolutely nothing is more important.
My precious Dee said to me this morning, and the tears are still flowing all over my laptop that my boys bought me: “Mother, I am here to work behind the scenes and keep the details of your life as organized as possible so that you may continue to let the Lord use you as He see fit.”
Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our life’s wild, restless sea.
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth, Saying, ‘Christian, follow me.’

Love, J

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Gravel in Their Gut

I have finally faced it. I am old. Now what affect that will have on me remains to be seen….probably not much. I have a 93 year old brother in Kansas who lives alone, is nearly blind, still drives (!), has finally taken the gospel seriously and before long will join his wife and oldest son in heaven.
Christ not only brought peace by way of the Cross but He also brought a sword that separates families. From the time I was nineteen I was separated from my family. My mother and dad, at 75, decided for Jesus. Ted and Doug are with them and their heads will be bobbing above the crowd of witnesses when I show up….but I don’t want to go yet. This hip interruption is about to get my goat, but that’s only on my blind-as-a-bat days when I don’t see clearly.
My caregivers are hand-picked by my Abba and my daughter, who has nearly equal power over my current puny status. 1) My oldest friend, Char, whose parents pioneered River Lakes Church and many other ministries, has missionary blood coursing through her veins. She is a warrior. She comes every week to bless and care for me. Char and I are connected at the heart. One of us will take care of the other until earth fades away, more than likely.
2)Then there’s Marti. Ted married Marti and Ron 40 years ago. Ron, diagnosed with cerebral palsy, has pushed past the pain and humiliation, has taught high school for years and is recently retired. Their youngest, Kelsey, lived 22 years, unable to function without help. Marti comes every week. She’s an organizer. My pantry, my refrigerator, my drawers of unmentionables deserve to be featured on a tour of my home. Marti and Ron await God’s guidance for the next era of their lives. They are warriors and will no doubt enter back in to work with lost teenagers.
3)Then there’ Kate, 19, driven to finish her college in record time on-line. She is our pastor’s oldest daughter. A recent missions trip to the Phiippines has added possibiities to her future. Kate is a driven warrior. She is a joy, bringing my coffee to my bedside every morning, loving my kitties, and just being a general servant. She has plenty of time for her school work which she takes ever so seriously.
4)Then there is my daughter, who masterminds this whole shebang. She is an amazing organizer, sacrificer, comforter (I do my best not to cry around her for we have been through so much she doesn’t deserve to have a mopey mother), business women and closest family/friend.
5) Brent, my one-of-a-kind son-in-law who comes running to fix my cars, my house machines and my heart that so misses my men. How I love him. He is so like Ted—man with a happy heart.
6) My second son, Jeff, with whom I connect for exactly two minutes on some mornings before he starts his day of counseling and professoring. Those two minutes send my heart soaring, for I am reassured that I still have my most precious family.
There are many others….many friends…six grandchildren. I am a rich lady….but one that needs to regain strength, for I become so weary so quickly..
I continue to minister under Family Life Resources which Ted wisely launched in 1982. In case you’re wondering how I put food on the table I am supported by my former and present disciples. As a young mother I worried about how we would be taken care of in our old age because we as pioneers had no retirement plan. I am still discipling and teaching nearly every day, as much as my limitations will allow, and don’t ever plan to quit.
Today I am having a hard time believing that Doug is really gone. He should be coming through my door, heading for the refrigerator, foraging around for the big jar of artichoke hearts that I always kept there for him. Doug had many sides but the side that I miss is the side that only a mother remembers.
I have several weeks of rest and physical therapy before my caregivers will trust me to be by myself. Last Wednesday my dear women came to study 1 John 4. By next Thursday the teenagers will come to my house. I see in them future warriors…and they’re going to have to be.
I am from a generation that spawned a revival and pioneered missions around the world. Our mentors were Billy Graham, Bill Bright,(Campus Crusade that continues to bring the gospel to millions around the world), Ed Murphy, (at 87, still doing warfare work in full armor in South Africa), Bob Pierce, (World Vision), Dick Hillis (just died at 95, spawned Overseas Crusades while millions of Chinese Christians were being murdered)) and Ray Stedman who influenced us the most about what a church needs at its core: expository teaching and discipleship. That’s it. No less and no more. We were able to “pull” that off in our first church, but never after that. ….so we went out on our own and formed Family Life Resources, teaching and training others , always working ourselves out of a job, which I think is the reason more pastors and leaders don’t do it!
I am sick at heart at what’s going on in some churches…pastors in face book affairs, on pornography, affairs of the most degrading kind that are breaking up families, worship team hanky panky… back to my little gathering of boys and girls that have, as my son-in-law would say, some “gravel in their gut”. I am thankful, Heavenly Father that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty, through God. I cover myself with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and proceed
Hymn for the week: “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.