Friday, June 27, 2014

When He shall come...

The man I married wasn't wired to acknowledge anything unpleasant.  Ted Stone could have lived in an igloo within a snowball's toss of the North Pole and not even noticed that the weather outside was frightful.  We have travelled and ministered in many places in the world. Ted slept like a baby in every climate, every country, on any old bed, or lack thereof.  In Germany I couldn't sleep because of his snoring. I finally gave up on sleep and got out of bed when I heard the milkmaids clanging their buckets in the barn outside our window.  I chatted 'em up as they politely smiled, nodded and kept milking.  I always found local people to talk to in every country while Ted was doing what Ted always did:  teaching  and counseling when that was his assignment.  He loved to explore ruins and museums, reading every little detail written about each item.  Me? ...not so much. When we were in Jerusalem Ted  flew down to Elat to see Solomon's mines and his horse stables.  I stayed in the city with Lily, a Holocaust survivor whom we had met in a hotel lobby. I will tell you about this amazing lady in a future Blog. I will never forget the fun of sitting in the market square on the island of Patmos, questioning and listening to the elderly Greeks who made their fortunes in other countries before returning to their beloved island to die. Ted was walking every inch of the island, re-living John's experiences and revelations.  I took a picture of him in his Bermuda shorts posing beside a Greek orthodox priest in black flowing priestly robes and head covering. That priest would never have believed that Ted was a pastor.

Our first church after seminary with Ray Stedman set us up for life to be disciplers, committed  to working ourselves out of a job.  Ray didn't tell us how foreign such a passion would be to many church leaders who think "volume.".  We were pretty much surprised when we arrived in Palo Alto and discovered that new Christians were teaching Bible studies in their homes and back yards not long after receiving Christ.  Ted had just graduated from a seminary that is known for thoroughly teaching Greek and Hebrew. The people we were meeting in Ray's fellowship didn't know diddly about Greek and Hebrew but people were coming to know Christ by the dozens!  Was Ray's church a mess of sinful people who exploited grace?  No.  I had never met such relaxed,  peaceful, enjoyable and fruitful Christians. ..except for the Young Life leaders we had ministered alongside during our seminary days.

Our next ministry in Bakersfield began with a handful of faithful people. After some minor skirmishes about ways to build a healthy church our ministry of discipleship was accepted and in time, celebrated. After fifteen years, we knew the church was ready to move on without us. Many of the believers were making disciples in the city and around the world.

We were so na├»ve that we assumed every evangelical church understands that the ministry isn't to grow because of the amazing pastor's charm or gift of teaching, but because the believers are encouraged to move into their realms of influence,  love people, lead them to Christ and disciple them themselves.  We would hit a brick wall in about three years. Had I known that I would have left skid marks all the way from Bakersfield, California.. When we were promoted (Ted's word)  the Lord took us into radio ministry on two stations, into the  lives of pastors, astronauts, attorneys, homemakers, business owners and employees,  college students, single career people, drug addicts who were both dirt poor and filthy rich and I can't even remember who else. The next seven years were wild and fruitful. Ministries were launched and are still bearing fruit. Those people are my dear, dear friends. Many have scattered to other cities; some remain in that city, and are going and making disciples.  We would still be there if I had not been so terribly sick will allergies to mold and pine. Ultimately I sank into a deep depression.

Son Jeff was on the Board of a Retreat owned and operated by loving retired missionaries who mostly ministered to people in full time ministry. Jeff sent me to them to see if I felt better in the country,  but I was still very ill.  In that wonderful haven I met ordinarily sane, but hurt people who took bats and beat the livin'  daylights out of mattresses that were hung on the walls for just that purpose. It's called "Primal Therapy".  All had stored up anger from years of stuffing their feelings.  I think Paul may have possibly paused a bit when the Lord told him to write: "Be angry and sin not.". That's a tough scripture to welcome when one's belly is packed with pain from unexpressed hurt. I couldn't get into swinging a bat, but I did gain enough strength from the understanding and love of that weathered missionary couple to return to the city and make it another year until we could sell our home and move to a dry climate.  I have not suffered from blinding headaches for thirty years.  Not surprisingly I now have arthritis. I'm old and mortal and have beaten my body into submission.  It is getting its revenge. Of course Paul had  body agony from all the physical and emotional stoning's  he endured. ...and he had no medication.  I do.  It may be eating my liver but I sure do feel better.

Our next pastorate here in Bear Valley, in three years was going to free us to "go and make disciples".  The leaders were into volume.  We were in the right location for my physical health and for my soon-to-arrive family, but we were in the wrong ministry. By then I knew the drill, so pretty much rested in Jesus' words from the cross: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  I cannot count the faithful but shredded full time ministry people who come through the doors of the very house in which I continue to live and minister.  I love the church, but I love Jesus more.  I attend several assemblies, remain on one mission board and am friends with them all.

Paul's swan song to Timothy included II Timothy 2:2. ...and then his head was cut off. We will see him with all those who have given their lives for the Gospel. ....clothed in white.

                                         Precious old hymn: When He Shall Come

When He shall come, resplendent in His glory
To take His own from out this veil of night
Oh, may I know the joy of His appearing
Only at morn to walk with Him in white.

When He shall call, from earth's remotest corners
All who have stood triumphing in His might
Oh, to be worthy then to stand beside them
And in that morn to walk with Him in white.

Love, Jo

Friday, June 20, 2014

It will always be enough!

Did you know that people don’t wallpaper anymore? The wallpaper in my downstairs was partially destroyed when a pipe broke in the commode.   I checked out the insurance allowance.  To my shock I learned that removing the remaining wallpaper would cost one thousand, two hundred and fifty dollars! I went on a search in the storeroom to see if I could find leftover wallpaper, and there it was. ..several rolls for the bedroom and one for the bathroom!  Then began the search for  a wallpaper- er.   Oh boy!  Nobody!  When I was about to admit defeat Charlene, the lady who comes to clean my house once a month said, “I don’t know how but let’s DO it!”   I couldn’t keep my fingers out of the pie and that night my back hurt so badly I crawled up the stairs and into bed. Awaking at 3:30 A.M. as I often do  ( ...the reason being that the Holy Spirit doesn't get a busy signal at that hour),   I heard a whisper about calling in the Cavalry. later that morning I called Julie.  Her response?  "I don't know how, but let's DO  it!"  (Always keep people around who are gutsy enough to do things they don't know how to do.)   In the bathroom the seams don't exactly come together perfectly because Julie and I had to devise crafty ways to make that one roll work. We figured that when people are being preoccupied with other matters they won't notice.  We had enough  paper except for behind the door.  I have a wall-hanging thingie I bought in some country that perfectly fits in that space.  Jesus and we women are experts at making do with what we've got.  I know a Bakersfield mom who made a soup bone work for three days in a row for her family of six.
How am I processing the fact that my back is announcing its limits?  ...pretty much the same way I always do:  First, denial, then slow acceptance, then cautious praise for the “situation”,  then O.K., God's got a purpose in this so let's watch and see what it is!

Dee, Brent and Jeff will come today and we will switch my upstairs office to the middle floor and make that beautiful office into a bedroom. For two days in that upstairs room I have been sorting through papers that represent Ted's and my life/ministry together: client records, Ted's notes, my notes, Ted's jokes, business papers, day timers, yellow pads by the dozen that Ted used as he was counseling,  articles, this and that and hundreds of Emails from many of you who read this.  In order to guard your privacy I threw away anything that might be read by someone after I have been taken to Heaven.  I have not even started to go through thousands of letters from many of you;  those are on the main floor, waiting for a wintry day when I need your loving words to cheer my heart.  If you ever want to write a book about your life I’ve got your whole story in those letters that many of you write every month with your contribution  You are such an on-going blessing to me.  Many of these communications are from loved ones who are now in Heaven with Jesus, my Ted and my Doug. You and I are a God-work in progress, and the fat lady hasn't come out to sing. ...yet.

Many years ago, Billy Graham brought 90-year-old Daddy Byus from the North Carolina Hills to speak for us in chapel.  By the time he reached the pulpit and students helped him up the stairs, the entire student body was in tears.  As a very new Christian for whom everything was wondrous (and  still is) that dear old man who loved Jesus so much made an impact on my life that continues to this day.  As Daddy Byus hobbled down the aisle to the pulpit, he came singing this song and we students joined in:


Love, Jo

Friday, June 13, 2014

I didn't mean to lie.

I told you last week that I don't have arthritis, but have "computer-itis".  X-rays, however, do not lie. When my doctor viewed them, these were his words: "It is what it is:  Degenerative Arthritis. You will live with it."  He prescribed drugs. Kindly restrain yourself from sending me the name of your chiropractor, herbalist, or divine healer.  I have "beaten my body into submission" all my life. It's pay-back time. Just in case my back pain has increased because of my curvy computer chair,  I threw it down the stairs and enjoyed watching its parts scatter in every direction. A friend carted it off in his truck to computer-chair hell. ...a beautiful sight!  On the sidewalk in front of an office supply store I spotted a simple little straight chair on sale for thirty-nine bucks.  I am sitting on it as I write.  My back is happier.  Life and the blog will go on.

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, mind your own business and work with your hands"  are His thrumming words to me. For most of my life I couldn't get off the wheel that spun 24/7.  Now I can. ...but I keep forgetting that I have the privilege.  My back reminds me.

Last Thursday the fabulous Going Romans Women sprawled on and sat all around my big ol'  king-size bed.  We reveled in Psalm 37:4.  This Thursday I'm moving and sitting without pain.. Thank you, drugs and Jesus. Please, no sermons about drugs. I've preached 'em all to others.  We will be back in my living room this week and verse-by verse Romans 8.  We will move closer to His Holy Bosom.  Did you know that the meaning of  "El Shaddai" is:  "The strong-breasted One?"

I am sleeping on my deck at night.  In the mornings just before the sun appears over the mountain to the east, the bats zing over my head in a frantic fly-over before creeping into their hiding places and sleeping until dusk.  Of course some of them find a way into my house.  Toward evening their alarm clock goes off and they come out and flit around.  Puss'n Boots leap and catch them in the air,  but they wouldn't think of eating those ugly black critters.  The choice I must make?  ...bugs or bats.  A gopher snake slithered across my driveway the other day. The gophers have built a city the size of Dallas under my flower beds.  They eat the gopher bait like it's candy. That five-footer has a guaranteed-with benefits summer job.  I don't like snakes, but in all five cities in which we lived we had lots of them. ...with two legs. Some of those live here too but I have learned to spot 'em before they bite me.  Little birds in the oaks are chirping.  Hootie, the owl, announces that his day job of sleeping is about to begin. The crows, blue jays and woodpeckers are still snoozing, needing more rest for their more prestigious job of screaming, squawking and pecking.  A jet stream high above makes me snuggle deeper into my cozy bed, happy not to have to travel any more.  Down below two young bucks move through the high grass, eyeballing Bootsie Cat, the Mighty Hunter as he sits motionless,  waiting  to feel a slight tremor under his feet, announcing that a gopher head is about to pop up. That head and other body parts will soon be deposited on my doorstep. The full moon went over the mountain a few minutes ago and the stars have disappeared until dusk.  ...the stars appearing to be next-door neighbors that are actually trillions of miles apart. (What IS man that Thou are mindful of us?)

 It's time for breakfast.  Remember the story a couple of weeks ago about the chimney sweeps?  This week, the owner of the business, Darryl sent me two jars of his homemade pomegranate jelly. Slathered on a piece of wheat toast with peanut butter? ...nothin' better to kick start another day.

I must make adjustments in the way I do everything, for I do not want to cause any more pain for my dear daughter, son-in-law and others.  I am using Ted's rolling walker that has a handy-dandy basket attached for toting stuff around the house. Perhaps by being wise his wheelchair can remain in the storeroom. Jeff, Carla, Dee and Brent will move my upstairs office down to the middle floor next weekend. Yes, I feel a loss about that for that many-windowed room opens to breathtakingly beautiful Bear Mountain.  Some of you may be wondering why I don't sell my big home and buy a smaller one. That option may be ahead, but not yet.  I must face what I can no longer do without further damaging my back and hire the help I need.  God will provide.  The generation behind us cannot understand how we older ones feel when we let go of the way we were.  Did I understand my parents' feelings?  Of course not.

The words of this grand old hymn are very comforting and true:  "He Giveth More Grace".

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater;
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase
To added affliction He addeth His mercy
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father's full giving is only begun.


You have prayed and cared and I am grateful.

Love,  Jo

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Our body belongs to Him.

I don't have arthritis.  I have Computer-it is.  I will be hiding in the cleft of the Rock until this storm passes by. The desire of my heart: to escape going through a back surgery.  I am resting in Psalm 37:4.

You will know when this particular storm has passed by, for I will be communicating with you by blog again.

Love, in our ever-present Lord Jesus Christ,