Friday, May 30, 2014

It's all in the will

My back is really hacked off at me. Now I am forced to listen to it because it hurts to do anything but lie around on an ice bag or a heating pad.  I am on the home stretch of life on this earth; therefore the sanctification process is nearing the end. Truth: I've been a race horse all my life.  The sin starts in the mind of my Type A personality which moves at a faster clip than my aging body can tolerate. ...and now the Lord's still small voice has escalated to the level of a megaphone.  He is reminding me that it's His body and not mine. I keep forgetting that.

I must let the Lord re-train my mind,  will and body to:  1) Sit at my computer no more than twenty minutes at a time;  2)  Let a job go unfinished when my body tells me to stop and rest;   3. Walk and sit straight;  6) Don't lift anything that puts a strain on my back;  7) Stop tightening my neck, back and shoulders and tighten the parts of my anatomy that need it;  8)  Stop obsessing;   9)  Stop hurrying;  10) Be anxious for nothing!  11) Enjoy the moment and lace it with praise;  12) Avoid professional victims, professional weaker brothers and sisters and give my fleeting time to the lost who desire to know Him, and to Christians who choose to be His disciples; (Not my disciples. His!) 13) Grieve but not as those who have no hope;  14) Slow down and enjoy the Holy Aroma and Presence of Jesus

I know perfectly well that the habits of my flesh are too deep set for me to change them by shear effort of my will.  "For it is God Who works within me both to will and to do of His good pleasure;" 

                             HYMN: JESUS, I AM RESTING, RESTING

Jesus, I am resting, resting in the joy of what Thou art
I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee: And Thy beauty fills my soul
For by Thy transforming power Thou hast made me whole.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, I behold Thee as Thou art
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless satisfies my heart.
Satisfies its deepest longings; meets, supplies its every need
And surrounds me with its blessings;  Thine is love indeed!

...and now I will crawl back under the covers with my friends, the ice bag and the heating pad.

Love, Jo

Friday, May 23, 2014

Peace in the Valley

Early in the morning on May 18, 2011,  three years ago this past Sunday,  my second son Jeff came through my bedroom door with these words: "Mom, Doug died in the night!"  I have re-lived the shock of that moment countless times.  We had known for a short time that the cancer that began to work its way through oldest son Doug's body five years before had ravaged every vital organ except his heart. The oncologist told him he might have six months to live. He had only two weeks.  My husband and our firstborn son left for Heaven within eleven months of each other.  My memories frequently go back to those five years when there were just the three of us:  Ted, little Doug and me.

Memorial Day, birthdays, Home going anniversaries,  photographs, remaining family gatherings and just about everything bring up pain that cannot be shared by anyone but Jesus.  He cried at the tomb of Lazarus even though He knew He would raise this four-days-dead man to live on earth again. He WEPT ...and He weeps with us. If we attempt to stifle our grieving it will surface in destructive ways.  Read the Psalms to be reassured that expressing the full gamut of emotions is encouraged by our Lord.  I Thessalonians 4:13, 14 give us God's comfort through the pain we suffer when our loved ones leave:  "Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him."  ...a Ted'ism:  "When you read my obituary, don't you believe for a minute that I have died.  I will have just begun to live!"

I mentioned last week that a water pipe split in the downstairs bathroom causing damage that required cutting out walls and discarding carpet and some furniture. Son-in-law Brent brought Tony, Doug's foreman and good friend to take charge of repairing the ugly damage. I trust and love Tony.

Doug Stone was a tough, but deep inside him, a tender man. He had been in terrible pain, telling no one. His strength, endurance and refusal to face pain is what made him a champion wrestler. NCAA All American, featured in the Hall of Fame at Humboldt State College.  One afternoon Doug gathered up boxes of his trophies, took them out into the country and shot them all to pieces.  A young man of few words, this is what he said:  "I am not going to be an old guy who has nothing to talk about except his college glory days."  Son, you simply jumped the gun on what you and the rest of us are going to do when we lay this world's trophies at Jesus' feet. The scholarship that was set up at your Memorial in your name went to a high school wrestler whose dad died a couple of years before you did. This boy's grandparents have since come to know Christ.  Their granddaughter who lives with them has come to know Him, and she has been instrumental in her boyfriend's coming to Christ. God's ways are beyond all human comprehension.

Remember the night you requested that old Gospel song, "There'll be Peace in the Valley"  at a Singalong at Country Oaks Church?  Well,  son Doug,  today, in your honor on the third anniversary of your Homegoing,  I played and we sang your favorite Gospel song in a Sunday School class.

                              "THERE'LL BE PEACE IN THE VALLEY"

I am tired and weary but I must roll on 'til the Lord comes to call me away
Where the morning is bright and the Lamb is the Light
And the night is as fair as the day.

There the flowers will be blooming and the grass will be green
And the skies will be clear and serene
The sun ever shines, giving one endless beam and no clouds there will ever be seen.


"For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made PEACE through the blood of His cross, through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in Heaven.". Colossians 1:19 and 20.

Love, Jo

Friday, May 16, 2014

One verse at a time

In March of 1958 seventy-five teenagers were on the ski slopes in Dodge Ridge with us for three days. Some were from our youth group in Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto; about half were not.  We had prayed with the Christians for weeks, encouraging them to bring their school buddies with no agenda except to be their friend, making the invisible Christ visible through their lives. There were no meetings until the very last night when a Young Life friend of ours gave a simple message about Who Christ is and what His coming means to us. There was no formal invitation, but here's what happened: We were up all night leading teenagers to Christ!  Arriving back home, exhausted and in wonder at God's Amazing Grace, my Ted presented to me a passel of brand new Christian girls to disciple.  Disciple? I had no clue where to begin. I invited the girls to our home after school on Friday.  I thought Ephesians was a very nice Book in the Bible  so I turned to it and began to read to the girls. verse at a time. They came back!  Again and again. Friday after Friday. I am still opening the Bible to Ephesians 1:1-14 with a brand new Christian. There they will discover that the Lord has deposited everything in their personal Bank Account that they will ever need.

Last year Patsy, in her late 60's, went Home to be with Jesus. She has been ready since a night at a ski resort in northern California when she was seventeen years old. Another, Joanne came to see me at Round Top last October.  She has been married to Jim, a pastor for many years. She told me she continues to invite  new believers into the first chapter of the Book of Ephesians!  I wonder where Vicki, Carol and all the other girls are.  God knows.  He has never left them nor forsaken them.

Last Saturday two hired Chimney Sweeps came to clean out my stoves and fireplaces. It's was a dirty and dangerous job, including their climbing around on my very high roof. About half way into the job David came to me with a forlorn look on his face.  "Mrs. Stone, I am so sorry.  I broke your glass table when a piece of my equipment fell on it!"  "David, it's all right. It's just a 'thing'. Nothing on this earth is important except Jesus."  Pause. ... and then he said, "I know that. My oldest daughter has just urged me to get back in church." "Great, David. Do you know Jesus?" "Yes, I do!".  Thumbs up, and he went back to work. When the two men finished, I fetched a couple of copies of "The Message", followed them to their truck to pay them and hand them these simple Bibles. I waited, then knew from the Spirit to ask:  "Would you like to read a couple of verses from these little Bibles?"  Both said they would, so I suggested that David turn to John 3:16 and 17 and read. He did.  Cody was quiet.  I waited, then asked:  "Cody, would you like to know this Jesus Who wrote you these words?" "Well, my family is not religious."  "Good!  Neither am I!  David and I have a relationship with Jesus Who wanted a relationship with us so much that He died on a dreadful cross so we could be freed from all of our sin and have a relationship with God.  Did you know that?" "No".  "Well then, would you like to invite Jesus into your heart?"  "Yes, I would!" I prayed and without any prompting Cody repeated every word after me. ...and then he said,  "I feel so light!"  Tears.  I turned to David and encouraged him to begin to read to Cody each week; one verse at a time. That night a call came from their boss who offered to pay for the table.  In our conversation it became evident that he is a Christian. I told him about Cody and he was amazed.   Do I want him to pay for the table?  Of course not!  That table is worth its weight in Holy Gold as a door-opener for the Gospel!

When Jesus left this earth He very emphatically told us, His beloved children to "Go and make disciples".  Because of His grace to us, by faith we obey Him.  Of course we can invite people into our church, but we are to feed them. bite (verse) at a time.
                                                       OLD HYMN: MAKE ME A BLESSING

Out in the highways and byways of life, many are weary and sad
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife; making the sorrowing glad.


Love,  Jo

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Crud and its purpose

On a Christmas Eve about eight years ago some of us empty-nesters were having kind of a lonely dinner at the Apple Shed without our grown-up kids.  Ted and I had just met the owners, the Novingers. George looked across the table at me and said, "Do you play the piano?" "Uh huh." "Well, get over to that old piano and let's do some Christmas singing."  I am still at that piano on the first Saturday night of every month, bringing fun to myself and many diners who come through the door.

Last Saturday night I had just begun to play my first set when a lovely woman came in,  found a seat, ordered dinner and listened.  Intently.  Pretty soon she said, "You have no idea how you are making my day. I am moving from Colorado to Oregon where I will live near a daughter and family. All the way from Flagstaff today I have been singing 'Holy, Holy, Holy'."  "Well, come on over here to the piano and let's sing it together!"  She did. We sang some more hymns, "God Bless America"  and wound up with some foot stompin' Gospel.

By then the Novingers had come in with guests, sat down and joined in. Then came Sandi and her fellah from Bakersfield, and Tasha, her husband and children. Her little boy wanted me to play "Jail House Rock".  Chick and Patti came in and a bunch of others. ...then came a little boy with a fistful of nickels and a couple of quarters, plunked them down and said, "Do you take change?"  "Sure". "...then will you play 'Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star?' " The party was rollin'!

The other day I heard Dr. Charles Stanley say this on TV:  "When I was six years old I overheard a woman say to another lady: 'I like that little boy, Charles'. That 'little  boy Charles' has never forgotten how good that lady's words made a little fatherless kid like me feel."  Question: Why do so many Christians not seem to get this?  Golden words about our character give us wings!  God is building His character in us from the second we invite Christ in.  Does that not give us the privilege and joy of telling one another that the fragrance wafting from them is delightful!   Hebrews 10:24 and 25  instruct us to love and encourage one another and all the more as we see the Day approaching.  What day?  ...the day we are outta here.  Words have power.  The lack of words has power too.  Jesus says words to us.  He tells us He has made us right with God.  See if you can absorb that before you go on to digest that we now have peace with God and can come to Him anytime we want. You bet we will have trouble, but He is right in the middle of it with us, never leaving us for one nanosecond but is giving us His grace to endure it.  Simultaneously He is building up patience in us as we experience His faithfulness in the midst of the crud. Then. ....Voila! We have grown into being people of character. ...the character of Christ!  Every now and then take a "sounding".  You will find that God's love has been as deep as the ocean all the time.

Today, speaking of "crud", in the downstairs bedroom a crew is tearing out the walls and floors that have been saturated with water from a leaky bathroom fixture. ...not unlike what's going on with my aging body. I wonder what purpose Jesus has for this?  We have been through a hurricane,  a flood and a fire. My son-in-law Brent came to assess the damage downstairs  and said,  "Mom, God has always covered yours and Dad's backs. He will again."  I love that man my daughter married.

Your words of encouragement spur me on.  I hope mine do the same for you.


Love,  Jo

Friday, May 2, 2014


It has taken over eight decades for me to be content with living one day at a time, rather than letting several days eat me up at once. My grandmother and my mother had strokes. They passed down to me their relentless drive to accomplish more than is humanly possible in one day.  There isn't a whit of  phlegmatic in me.  I am basically choleric/melancholy which balances out rather well when I remember to check which one is spinning out of control. The melancholy side of me must have writing, studying, teaching, the out-of-doors with plenty of time to pray and ponder.  The choleric side of me must put all of that into action by teaching, counseling, entertaining,  music, communicating  or doing something I consider productive.  For sixty-some years Ted tried to teach me to pace myself.  He couldn't.  Since he is gone, II Thessalonians 4:17 is "pacing" me;  ... instructing me to  "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, mind your own business and work with your hands".  On the surface it sounds so right, ...but so boring. ...and scary.  I might find myself without a project, for Pete's sake,  and then I might feel worthless, lonely, depressed, weepy and fool myself into believing I was never bored when Ted was alive.  If I flee from being quiet out of fear, then Jesus is edged out of surprising me. ...and He loves to surprise us.

I think Jesus chose all of the basic personalities to be his followers.   None of them had been indwelt by the Holy Spirit yet,  so their old sin natures remained unchecked.   Later, we get a short report about the distancing and later reconciliation between Paul and Mark, but we are left pretty much to our own imaginations about what went on among all these guys before the Cross and Resurrection as they walked, talked, ministered, ate,  served, prayed, healed, sweat, fished, argued, strategized and slept together day and night for well over three years.  Unwelcome memories of their along-the-trail disputes may have provided them extraordinary patience as they put up with the bickering and murmuring that is inevitable when a church comes together.  Not only the men locked horns, but the women squabbled.  I chuckle about Paul 's calling in the troops to tell "Odious" and "Soon-Touchy" in Philippians 4:2 to "knock it off and just get along!"  ...Right!   ...then there's Martha's whining to Jesus about her sister, Mary.  Let's don't even think about the jealousies that went on with the musicians! ...and the choosing of elders?   Everyone was a new believer, so right there, the biblical qualifications for an elder were but a distant dream for the Apostles.  I know that I am writing like a recovering pastor's wife. ...which I am.

That four-year-old little guy,  "Coleman",  in the new movie,  "Heaven is for Real" was right on.  My Ted and his younger brother Art, both of whose lives on this earth ended with a brain tumor, were not imaginative in the least, but both saw heavenly beings while they lay waiting for that Sweet Chariot that was Comin' for to Carry Them Home.

We're still here,  my brothers and sisters, so let's give away all He has given us, which is pretty much everything we ever really needed.

                                             GIVE THEM ALL TO JESUS

Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows?
Are you tired of spinning 'round and 'round?
Wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life
And at the feet of Jesus, lay them down

He never said we'd only see sunshine;
He never said there would be no rain.
He only promised a heart full of singing
At the very things that once brought pain.


Love, Jo