Friday, December 13, 2013

Snow time

Our three children were born five years apart. Ted, little Doug and I spent most of those first five years buried in Minnesota snow as we pressed through for Ted to graduate from Northwestern Bible College. We did not have the blessing or understanding of either of our families-of-origin which meant that we were either going to "fish or cut bait". How unexpected it was then that two years into our marriage and college years came a call from my oldest-by-eleven-years brother in Kansas who was in a desperate time in his life and called us for help. My dear Ted said, "Let's go!". We packed our baby boy between us smack in front of the heater in our '40 Ford and headed down the ice-covered highway thirteen hours to the south, arriving in the middle of the night at my brother's farmhouse. That very night he asked Christ into his life. Ted insisted that our little Doug and I stay with my brother and his little boy in that drafty central-heated house ("central heating" meaning a pot-bellied stove in the center of one room) for a month to help my brother get some biblical truth wedged under his new belt of Truth. God provided a country evangelist who lived down the muddy road to disciple my brother when little Doug and I returned to Minneapolis by train.

Apartment dwellers like us had no garages. Many a morning Ted started his day by shoveling the snow off of five or six cars before he uncovered ours. A common sight was seeing someone lose their footing, land on their kiesters, and slip and slide until they gained some traction to get both feet under them. We never laughed because we could be next.

This week's snowstorm has been nothin' for me. Dee and Brent came and shoveled off my driveway so I could get out if I wanted to, but I didn't want to until Tuesday night when I hitched up my team of horses (Oh, wait, that was a couple of generations ago when I lived on a Kansas farm.)... rather I backed out my Honda 4 X 4 and drove down to the Valley floor to fetch two wonderful women who were coming from Bakersfield for a night and a day who would never have been able to make it up my long snow and ice-covered driveway in their city car.

My Thursday discipleship girls insisted on celebrating my 85th birthday this week. I clearly stated that I wanted no "stuff", but desired that they write down a memorized verse that is transforming them from the inside out, and preferably one that they are sharing with someone who is searching for peace with God. It was a blessed time together; today I am re-reading their verses and notes and my heart is full to overflowing with joy for His faithful transforming work in each of their lives.

Paul Crouch went Home recently. That man reached his goal before the Lord took him: getting the Gospel by way of TBN television around the world. ...another wife/partner left behind to find her way alone. ...and she will. ...just as many before us have. I think of the pioneer women whose husbands died or were killed on the trails to Oregon or California. They dug their own husband's graves, grabbed their children's hands, climbed up on their prairie schooners and hit the trail.

A chaplain friend of mine in a southern California hospital responded this week to last week's blog: "Your sharing your heart is a great blessing to so many, much more than you know. It gives me encouragement to continue sharing mine, knowing that in ways we cannot comprehend here, it is making a difference in eternity." This man himself, Dan, has lost two sons; one a small boy, the other a college student who drowned in Lake Shasta while swimming with his classmates. The pain is indescribable when we lose a child. ...and to try to fully absorb that our Heavenly Father sent His only Son to be born in a filthy manure-spattered barn, then turned His back on that Son as He chose to bear our sins alone,  still eludes me. Again and again, this old George Beverly Shea song thrums in my soul:

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

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mining for gold

In our upstairs office are two 5-drawer filing cabinets loaded with gold. My Ted's sermon outlines have been waiting for me to brave the melt-downs that I know will accompany my taking out each folder and mining the gold that is hidden there. As I open those filing cabinets you can expect to glean more nuggets from my findings. ...but first I must tell you the way our oxen team pulled the load placed upon us by the Lord. Ted was a visionary. I cannot count the ministries he pioneered. A visionary must have teammates that tend to the nuts and bolts that keep the team moving forward. ...kind of like the Nascar mechanics stationed along the racetrack. We accepted two pastorates whose boards did not wish us to even mention the word "discipleship".  Mercifully, our Lord promoted us and turned us loose to go and make disciples.  What a privilege to work alongside a man who knew what his calling was and never missed a beat as we were set free to obey His assignment for us.

Being woman,  most of my senses are usually alive.  While Ted was teaching,  my mind was on leading the worship that would prepare the hearts of the people for Ted's messages, thinking about the lonely people I needed to invite to our home,  and the people-to-people connections I needed to make throughout the week; therefore Ted's messages are more impacting to me now than they were when Ted was delivering them. Is there anyone receiving this blog who can identify with that?

There are many other wives of full-time ministers of the Gospel who are left behind to complete their husband's work. Elaine Stedman is still living and continues to dispense Ray's messages around the world from their website entitled:  Jeanne Hendricks is left behind to gather all of Howie's countless messages and memorabilia and place all in his personal library at Dallas Theological Seminary.  Both of these men were life influencers to Chuck Swindoll, my husband, and countless other teacher/disciplers who are scattered around the world. I have only a handful of Ted's taped messages and have published them under iTunes, 12stoneslegacy, Ted's podcasts and other venues. Now it is time to mine the gold from his printed outlines.

Son Doug's death and the aftermath accompanying his Home going so soon after Ted left for Heaven has a reoccurring effect on my emotions.  Two of my dear friends have lost their sons in the past few days. My heart breaks for them. Grieving the loss of a child is quite different from even losing a spouse. We remember feeling our babies stretching our tummies almost to bursting, their births, nursing them, holding them, bonding with them, watching them take their first steps, beginning to talk...all the amazing things little ones do that only a mother is privileged to see.  We forget whatever pain they have caused themselves and others and remember things about them that no one else knows. Why am I telling you this this week?  I don't know.  Do I have to know? This I do know:  My precious husband and son are safe with Jesus. I read one of Ted's messages yesterday in which he says that since there is no time once we take our last breath on earth, we will all arrive in Heaven at the same time. Ted and Doug, are you in a holding pattern, much as both of you as pilots circled the field until given clearance by the traffic controller?  I don't know. Does any human know? Do we fall back on simply trusting God for everything in the here and now and eternity? The answer is "Yes"!

Yesterday, with the select women the Lord brings to my living room for discipleship, the Holy Spirit insisted upon leading the class Himself. much for preparation.

                                                  OLD HYMN: SWEETLY RESTING
Long pursued by sin and Satan, weary, sad, I longed to rest
Then I found this heavenly shelter opened in my Savior's breast.

In the rifted Rock I'll hide me 'til the storms of life are past
All secure in this blest refuge heeding not the fiercest blast.


Love,  Jo