Friday, August 29, 2014

Our Perfect Parent

The Bear Valley Coyote Chorale tuned up at 3:30 this morning. The appointed pitch-setter sounded an "A",  and the concert was what sounded like a dozen coyotes joined voices.  There were probably only two or maybe three participants but three coyotes can sound like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I faced the reality: sleep-time was over.  My day had begun.  I watched the planes far to the east as they ascended from and descended into LAX and then spied a satellite high above my head, steady on its orbit around our world.   An early morning commuter who may make the long trip to L.A. every day to earn a living,  winds down the twisting mountain road across the valley.  My son-in-law Brent will be on his way in a few minutes to either Edwards Air Force Base or Palmdale where he has for well over a quarter of a century engineered for Boeing.  Many parents, in order to bring their children up in a reasonably safe community sacrifice greatly to live here. 

Had my Heavenly Father not taken us by way of Texas before bringing us here we would not have met some of His finest folk.  Let me tell you about two of them.  Charlie and Ann Towery lived in Tanglewood. .... a community right next to River Oaks where the old Texas wealthy have lived for generations.  Did you ever hear of Ima Hogg?  Serious.  Her daddy owned a chunk of Texas.  Now why parents would name their only child "Ima" when their last name is "Hogg"  boggles my mind.   There was a rumor that she had a sister named "Yura" but it was only a rumor.  Anyway,  Ima was a lovely Christian woman who never married.  She lived ninety years,  graciously enduring smirks and guffaws about her name.   One of those who loved Ima was Ann Towery. 

Ann and Charlie were unable to have children of their own.  In their thirties they adopted four little ones who had been abandoned by their parents. The school system in Tanglewood prepared children for Ivy League schools in the East or for studies abroad.  The little Towery adoptees could not rise to the high educational expectations of the school system so Charlie and Ann moved out to their ranch in Waller, Texas and enrolled the children in a small country school.  Charlie thought it would be a good thing to get the children into a Sunday School but there was none in the one church in Waller, Texas. Charlie bought himself a Bible,  began to read it and teach the stories to his four little children.  He led himself to Christ. ...or rather...Oh,  you know what I mean.  Soon Ann fell in love with Jesus too.  Charlie commuted into Houston for years, making that sacrifice for his four wounded children. The Towerys  employed Jessie, a black man with nine children to help with ranch chores.  Jessie,  a strong Christian  shared his simple but powerful faith in Jesus with Charlie as they worked side by side on the ranch.

By the time we met the Towerys their children were raised and mostly gone. We were invited to their ranch and thus began a friendship that will extend throughout eternity. Our family loved to be with Charlie and Ann.  Our firstborn Doug, now in Heaven, built his beautiful home on the back side of their ranch.  Years after we moved back to California Jessie Shepherd went Home to be with Jesus. Doug flew back to Waller for Jessie's memorial, came back and said,  "Now those people know how to have a funeral!!"   Apparently, they were singin' and dancin' their feet off because Jessie got to go HOME!  (If you attend my memorial would you please dance and sing instead of weep?)

...back to our Texas years: On one very hot summer day I called Ann to see if the coast was clear so Dee and I could drive to the ranch and lounge in cooler peace by her poolside without a lot of other people needing to talk.  She told me that no one was there.  What she didn't tell me was that Ruth (Binky) Stephenson and her two children were on their way to the ranch at that very moment.  Dee and I arrived and there was Binky, already relaxing beside the pool and drinking sweet tea served by Perfect Hostess Ann.  Ann had "set me up"!   Before I could settle into the chaise lounge Binky fired this question at me: :  "....and what do YOU think about evolution?"  Binky had two children who were allowed to interrupt adult conversations.  Dee, well acquainted with my short fuse about children's being allowed to yank on their mother's dress or punch her arm for attention grabbed the two kids (mostly for their protection) and took them on a long tractor ride.  In spite of my not caring a whit about evolution OR Binky on that hot day she came to Christ.   To this day she and I could meet and immediately chuckle about Ann Towery's "selective truth" in order for Ruth (Binky) Stephenson to come to know Jesus.  Her real question wasn't about evolution at all.  She was miserably lost and she knew it.

Ann and Charlie became acquainted with a few students from nearby A&M and the University of Texas.  A most amazing ministry began to unfold.  Students by the score began to come for the weekends, rolling out their sleeping bags, bedding down in the lovely "Sun Room" Charlie and Ann built for them, umbilical cords longing to attach to this loving aging couple.   One summer Ann decided that she and Charlie should go visit Edith and Francis Schaeffer in L'Abri, Switzerland to learn how to "properly host students."   I told her they were already doing that but they went anyway. During their stay, one day they were driving in their rented Fiat along a narrow Alpine road  (within view of The Matterhorn)  and came upon Frances himself who was taking his daily hike.  They stopped and asked if he would like a ride back to the chalet, he accepted and climbed into the back seat of the tiny car.  Ann turned around in her seat and taking advantage of having this famous man up close and personal said:   "Dr. Schaeffer, I often feel insecure. Can you help me with that?"  Not at all impatient with her this great man replied:  "Madame,  EVERYBODY (rolling his 'r's) suffers from insecurity".  "Oh", said Ann.  "I didn't know that!".  These two, some of Texas' finest, spent thousands of dollars for a trip to L'Abri to learn that:  1)  "Everybody suffers from insecurity"  and  2)  They were already "properly hosting students" who just wanted to hang around an older couple who desired to show them how Jesus loves.

There are L'Abri's in Switzerland, Canada, England and Brazil and other places I do not know about.  My Ted, son Doug (or was it Jeff?)  and I heard Frances speak in Houston.  He foretold exactly what sins would bring America under the judgment of God.  ...and he was exactly right.  We are there! 

My new Messianic Jewish friend Gideon is bringing his Navajo Indian wife from an Arizona reservation for dinner and an overnight stay tonight.  ...and then on Sunday night, my music partner, Gayel and a guitar playing gentleman I have recently met will have dinner and put together an Old Fashioned Gospel Singalong in conjunction with a yearly gathering of Old Time Fiddlers on the weekend of September 19.  Yesterday the Thursday girls, plus two new ones came.  We have been basking in the heart-warming truth that we have "been made right with God by the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ".   Lest we look on our Aslan as a big ol' Pussy Cat that we can stroke into letting us get away with giving in to our Old Sin Nature with no consequences,  we are taking a side trip from Romans into Hebrews 12 where we will study the right ways our Perfect Parent RE-parents us during our short stay on this earth.  I want to know my Eternal Father as best I can before I meet Him "face-to-face in all His glory".   How about that for a segue into this week's old hymn?  

                                           HYMN OF THE WEEK:  FACE TO FACE

Face to face with Christ my Savior; Face to face,  what will it be?
When with rapture I behold Him; Jesus Christ Who died for me.


Only faintly can I see Him with the darkling veil between
But a blessed day is coming when His glory shall be seen

What rejoicing in His presence when are banished grief and pain.
When the crooked ways are straightened and the dark things shall be plain.

Love,  Jo

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Cost of Discipleship

We who are still here have an important, finishing work to do. ...and it isn't for the faint of heart.  As the Thursday girls left  today I sank into an exhausted sleep.  The mothers in my class are adjusting to empty bedrooms as teenagers leave for college. ...or marriage.  Elderly parents are dying; some girls are wedged into the "sandwich generation".   How well I remember!  None in my class has lost a husband yet, but most are wounded,  requiring more wisdom and energy than I humanly have to handle their multiple cultures, personalities and needs.   Discipleship is always about working ourselves out of a job.  I am requiring more of them now for I will be leaving them one day;  the Lord does not tell me when. 

For the first time in my life I need to have assistance carrying, putting away and cooking food.  My helper came at 10 this morning, whipped up a fabulous cauliflower soup for guests,  made chicken salad and stored it in one-helping containers, replenished my kitties' food stash, and set my kitchen in order before the others came through the door.  Listening to their sister-chatter is music to my ears.  At a quarter to one, the girls split into twos, quoted II Timothy 2:2 in whatever translation they chose,  prayed for one person they are telling about Jesus, and then we headed into Romans 9.  We are re-tracing our interrupted summer steps and opening our souls up even more to God's sovereign Plan for the Israelites and us,  His grafted-in chosen beloveds.  .My own immediate family is scattering to the north of the United States,  all the way east and all the way to Heaven. There won't be any more Thanksgiving dinners with fourteen of us around Ted's and my dining table. There won't be any more sharing of scriptures, praying for one another by name, laughing as six grandchildren race through this grandparent house, screaming with laughter when playing "Duck Duck Goose". There won't be any hide-and-seek games with grandparents, parents and children hiding in every nook and cranny of this house. There won't be any Doug outwitting everyone when all the lights are turned out as he clings to the rocks at the very top of the fireplace where no one thinks to look. There won't be any hide-and-seek games outside, and little girls racing to us terrified by the "tiger eyes" caught in the beam of the flashlight.  Like a mobile,  people, families and disciples are always shifting.  In Heaven all of my family will be together and "Oh, that will be glory".

...a brief wild-life report:  When my helper arrived this morning she burst in the door,  excitedly saying: "Come quick! There are big birds perched on your roof!."  A call to our local police affirmed that the three giant birds are California condors. ...a rare sight here.  They floated away on the thermals. The bear has disappeared from Dee and Brent's property;  no elks have napped in my driveway this week and the moon has disappeared for awhile.

Tuesday night  I looked around my assigned table at a fund-raising banquet for International Christian Missions. There was my beloved  daughter,  her college daughter and friend,  a new Messianic Jewish friend, and a precious couple whom I love.  I am so proud of Phil and Debbie Walker,  once teenagers whom our church sent off to live on a kibbutz in Israel, now for  twenty-six years,  President of a mission in Kenya that is training thousands of Africans for ministry.  While the news reports of Iran's hatred of Israel and American leadership's discounting God's Covenant with Israel can take us into despair our Sovereign Lord is redeeming others by the millions.  Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith requires perspective and constant disciplining of our minds.

I was not in a Sunday School class, youth group, youth camps, Bible conferences or church gatherings as I grew up.  My timid widowed grandmother who was forced to give up her home to my parents and three children must have suffered terribly.  I know there was never a swear word uttered in her home when my Grandfather Harlan lived.  I wonder: When I slip through the Gate will he be waiting? ...this righteous man whom I have learned about only through obituaries?   My mother fled from the Lord and eloped with my handsome, dancing, drinking Irish father.  She was my grandparent's only child.   Her choice of a husband must have broken their hearts.  Colonel Harlan Blair was, in my thinking the one who led the way to Jesus for me and all who come after me. His first wife died in childbirth and that son died of diphtheria during one of the many plagues that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people during the First World War.  Do we notice that many of the strains of influenza, small pox, measles, polio, cholera, dysentery and other plagues have practically passed from our vocabulary?  In their place is cancer, aids, STD's, diabetes, depression, obesity,  alcohol and drug addiction, and dozens of other diseases whose names I cannot even pronounce. ....all as a result of sin that works its way through the bodies, minds and spirits of human beings. 


All the way my Saviour leads me; what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy who through life has been my Guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know whatever befall me, Jesus doeth all things well
For I know whatever befall me, Jesus doeth all things well

All the way my Saviour leads me; What have I to do beside?
Gives me grace for every trial, feeds me with the living Bread
Though my weary steps may falter, and my soul athirst may be
Gushing from the Rock before me,  Lo a spring of joy I see

All the way my Saviour leads me; Oh, the fullness of His love
Perfect rest to me is promised in my Father's house above
When my Spirit clothed immortal wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages, Jesus led me all the way.
This my song through endless ages, Jesus led me all the way.

Love, Jo

Friday, August 15, 2014

Though billows roll

I can't sleep.  Mr. Moon, Moon, bright and shiny moon has again lured my kitties and me out to the deck to sleep.  I don't want to miss one of these gorgeous bright-as-day nights

Many years ago after ten years of grounding a fledgling ministry in the Word of God we were graced by a trip given us by a grateful couple.  Their generous offer to us went something like this:  "We can see that you are exhausted.  We want you to go first class anywhere in the world you want to go and stay as long as you possibly can. We have but two requests:  Go to our native country and tell our relatives about the Christ we have come to know. ...and go to Israel."  Hurriedly we secured passports;  friends and my parents willingly signed up to watch over our three beloveds. Many of our flock came to see us off at the airport.  Our own little Dee Dee was lost in the crowd and we did not even get to hug and kiss her goodbye.  I cried all the way to Lucerne, Switzerland and that's not the only time this mom has cried an ocean of tears while flying over one.

In Switzerland we rented a Fiat and drove through herds of sheep along a two-lane highway to the base of an awesome Alp. It was the traditional day the farmers move their Swiss Brown cows to upper levels for the summer where the grass is greener.   Having just left brown Kern County, the grass in the lowlands looked green enough to us.   The lead cow wore an enormous bell, the next in line wore a smaller one and the third was bedecked with an even smaller one.  The three chosen for this important assignment would convey to the farmer the whereabouts of the herd.  (I wish I could have put a bell on my three kids when they were growing up!)   The farmers wore knickers, a red vest, long woolen socks, walking shoes and a hat with a feather. These men and their herds would spend the entire summer above the 13,000 foot level,  constantly moving to virgin pasture.  The townspeople had turned out for this festive goodbye-for-the-summer ceremony. There we met Rosie Wickli, a ski instructor.  It was her day off and she was spending it .....skiing!  She invited us to accompany her on the cable car that would take us to the top of the mountain.  We stepped out into  silence.  ...except for the yodelers  yoo-hooing across the mountain tops.  Upon our descent Rosie invited us for tea to her home. ... an ancient three-storied residence that housed three generations of Wickli's.

We drove into the Tyrolean Alps of Austria where we spent an afternoon climbing up and up to watch the farmers make their many kinds of cheeses. We had bought a loaf of bread, a chunk of cheese (not "Swiss" that the locals told us is "not fit to eat") and a bottle of wine.  That night we drove higher and higher to a touristy restaurant where instruments played lovely music. We travelers harmonized, singing "Edelweiss" which by the way is not the national anthem. 

We flew down to Italy, sat at night around the ancient fountain of Trevi  where Gregory and Audrey filmed "Roman Holiday".   "Three Coins in a Fountain" was written about this very fountain.   The Mediterranean countries are hot and dry. ... the reason the Parthenon and other enormous buildings, statues, mosaics  and frescoes have been preserved all these centuries. Shopkeepers close at noon, eat and nap until late afternoon, open again for shopping and gathering around the piazzas and fountains far into the night. We learned that many marketers do not have an office but carry out their businesses sitting around the tables in the piazzas.  The Vatican, the magnificent arches,  the amazing waterways,  the  Coliseum, the catacombs, the Mamertine prison,  the Appian Way were all intermingled in our minds with the sobering history surrounding the Neros and Caesars. Here, our beloved brother Paul was finally taken Home by a head-severing knife to be forever with the Saviour he loved and served.

The next week in Greece is another amazing grace story in my memory. We had spent a couple of  days in Corinth midst partially- standing statues, rows of communal bathhouses and privies,  still-colorful tiled mosaics, the Mount of Artemis where sexual orgies, the religion of the day drew thousands for "worship".   We imagined Paul, Priscilla and Aquilla,  and oh, so many others who were sent by Jesus to Corinth to break the cycle of sin and death.  We arrived at the port of Piraeus to purchase tickets for an overnight trip across the Aegean Sea to Ephesus where we were told that all ships were booked to capacity,  but "Just maybe we can squeeze you in if you are willing to sleep in the doctor's quarters".  Monies from tourism sustain many Mediterranean countries and this was August, the peak month of the travel season.  As the shoreline faded from view we realized that the ticket agent in her hurry to shove us up the gangplank had kept our passports.   We began a search for the purser and eventually someone pointed him out to us in a crowd on the third deck. ... in civilian clothes.  We had been told emphatically in Piraeus that no ships travelled from Ephesus to Patmos; therefore we purchased only two fifty dollar tickets for an overnight voyage to Ephesus. When we found the purser we asked him why he was not in his uniform but was wearing civilian clothes. ...and then the reason dawned on both of us:   "Oh.  This ship is overloaded and you are hiding from the authorities on the shore."  ...slight pause and then an affirmative nod.  Always the pastor, Ted's response went something like this:  "I'm a minister and sometimes I like to get lost in the crowd too."  That statement would usher us into the world of the rich and famous.   We settled into the doctor's quarters, then came a knock on the door. The purser, now dressed in uniform, beckoned:  "Come.  I have a stateroom for you. ...and by the way, you are on a seven-day cruise of the Mediterranean. We will drop you off at Patmos and return for you in a couple of days.  In a few minutes a steward will come and escort you to the Captain's table where you will be his guest.  Please dress for dinner." ...and then it struck us!  A "minister" in Mediterranean country means "ambassador".   ... all of this for $100 we had paid for an overnight trip when for the first and last time in our lives we were on a first-class all-expense-paid trip.   At the Captain's table were the Ambassador and his wife from Italy to Greece.  The wife got slobbering drunk immediately, laid her lolling head on Ted's shoulder, while Ted and I shared Christ with her  husband who seemed not to notice his wife's behavior. After a  sumptuous dinner that extended over many courses, the Ambassador said to us:   "If I believed what you are telling me about Jesus I would lose my job".   ...and that was that.  ...or was it? 

On to Ephesus, a once-thriving seaport city of a million people now lying in ruins.  I told you a few weeks ago about having a delightful two days visiting in the market square with retired Greek men who had returned to their beloved Patmos Island to live out their days.  One of those,  Mr.  Faraclas whom I told about our missing passport reassured me: ." My cousin is a travel agent in Piraeus.  I will wire him. He will meet you when you dock, will give you your passport and escort you to a hotel." ...and he did.

...but I must return for a moment to that night on the Aegean Sea. The ship was tossing and pitching violently.  I donned my robe and started roaming up and down the passageways looking for someone to ask if I should be as scared as I was.   Finally, I found the Captain in the pilot house and asked him: "Is this normal?" "Yes, Madame.  It is.  This stretch of the Mediterranean is the most turbulent of all.  You are safe. Go on back to your cabin and go to sleep." ...and surprisingly, I did.

Isn't it comforting to read scripture and discover that all the saints before us have been tossed about on wild seas that are "normal" for His disciples?  I am sure that on that night on the Aegean my thoughts went to Paul and the sailors who were shipwrecked on Malta for an entire winter.  Satan does not mind if we warm a church pew the rest of our lives, but when we sign up to bear fruit that remains we become not only his target, but his bulls eye!  Take heart,  you who are in the battle for souls.  Whatever the enemy means for evil,....Go ahead.  Quote the rest of it!  Waiting at the Gate is Jesus and my Ted, along with countless precious others who have fixed their eyes on Him as the tossing waves have all but washed us overboard.


I'll trust in God wherever I may be
Upon the land or on the stormy sea
For come what may from day to day
My Heavenly Father watches over me.

I'll trust in God; I know he cares for me
On mountain bleak or on the stormy sea;
Though billows roll He keeps my soul

Love,  Jo

Friday, August 8, 2014

Song of Moses

I had just sat down at the old piano and played a  few songs to get my mind focused on entertaining the diners who would soon begin to stream into the Apple Shed.  A lone man was sitting over by the  window.   He looked to be in his late 50's,  was outdoorsy looking, and was no one I had seen before.  "Is there a song you would me to play for you?"  I asked.   In an accent I could not identify he asked if I knew "Amazing Grace".   I have learned that the world has adopted that song as its own so am careful not to assume that the requester is a Christian.  Other patrons began to fill the tables. I made my way to this man's table and asked if he were visiting.  His reply: "I came to Tehachapi to go fishing today and thought this restaurant looked like one with local flavor".  "You are right. This restaurant has been here for many decades and draws local folk as well as travelers who find it on the internet, swing off Highway 58 and stop by. Tell me, what is your country?"  "I am a Hebrew from Israel, married for eight years to my Navajo Indian wife who is also a Christian. We live on a reservation in Arizona. I am an electrical contractor for a new Wal Mart being built in Oildale in Bakersfield and have been here two months and have one more to go.  I stay in an apartment in Oildale and try to get out and about on the weekends."  All of those answers sparked more interest so I invited the gentleman to move to a table closer to the piano so we could chat in between sets.  "Gideon" is his name.  He was born and grew up on a kibbutz in Israel. As did many survivors of the Holocaust his parents fled to this communal way of life after their escape from the ovens.  Most Hebrews are actually atheists.  "I was taught to despise Jesus but even as a child, it didn't seem right. When I came to America I was made aware by the Spirit of God that only He could have created such beauty.  I met Christians who loved me to Jesus".

As I continued to play the diners' requests, I knew I was to invite this man to come to my home. Gideon's reply to my invitation let me know I had listened to the Holy Spirit: "I will call my wife and see what she thinks."  "When she answers, let me talk to her".   I did and her response was:  "Really? Oh, that would be very good." ...and so he came,  he slept,  we breakfasted and I learned much more about this man who loves Jeshua.  I took Gideon to "The Living Room",    a small fellowship that I knew would bless him. 

In the late 60's and early 70's a revival was sweeping our nation. Oh, dear lord, send another!  In Bakersfield where we pastored the Spirit was moving through schools, businesses, neighborhoods and whole families. Our church sent six high school graduates to live for a year on a kibbutz in Israel. Debbie and Phil were two of those. They came home,  finished their schooling, married and returned to Israel to live and minister on a kibbutz. They led so many to Christ that they were required to leave Israel.  By God's Holy Plan they were led to Kitali, East Africa where they established a training school for pastors.  Thousands of Africans have graduated from that school and are dispersed throughout Africa.  About ten years ago Ted was invited to Phil's seminary to teach.  Of course I went along.  I was not going to miss seeing our two "kids" who had never been to seminary themselves being used of God to live out II Timothy 2:2.  Read it if you will, and note that there are four generations in one verse. This verse is the focus of every ministry Ted and I have ever spearheaded.  It still is.  Last Thursday, for the second week a brand new member of the Body of Christ came and blew our socks off with her passion for God's Word. The wonder of the transforming power of God in people once lost in darkness but now living in the Light of Emmanuel, God WITH us keeps me from asking God to take me Home.  As I near the end of my life on earth, my body is slowing down but His Spirit in me is being renewed every morning.

On the 19th of this month many of us including Gideon will attend Phil and Deb Walker's fund raiser for International Christian Ministries,  their mission started years ago.  Stephen Maori, humble Bishop over a million or so East African Christians will be speaking. He, his wife and children came to be with us for a few days some years ago.  All around our dining table were the Maori's and all ten of our family who lived here then.  Lexi, Dee and Brent's precious daughter remembers. She attended the fund-raising dinner last year, hugged Stephen and went back to see him as the rest of us waited in the car.  She will go again this year and take her good friend, a student at Stanford.  I have faced the reality that I cannot go back to Africa but I have six grandchildren who have been infused with the life-giving Gospel.  The dear Lord gave me Isaiah 59:21  to claim for them many years ago. 
In Israel and many places in the world this is the lie that is believed:  If one is not a Hebrew or a Muslim, then one is believed to be a Christian.  That means that Hitler is believed to have been a Christian!...and that is the lie that the Spirit of God revealed to a little boy named "Gideon" on a God-distaining kibbutz in Israel.  Jesus is showing up in dreams to countless lost people, including Muslims. The Arm of the Lord is not shortened!   As the world becomes oh, so dark, the Light of Jesus beckons ever brighter as hope in man's efforts fades.  Do not lose heart.  Get out of the saltshaker and sprinkle!  Gird up your loins and go and make disciples, for Lo, He is with us always, even until the end of the age!

                                    HEBREW HYMN: SONG OF MOSES

KI'  G'O GA' A

I'll sing, I'll sing unto the Lord for He has done mighty deeds
I will exalt Him, I will exalt Him; The Lord in majesty

The Lord is my strength and my song and He has become my salvation
His right arm does valiantly; He has destroyed the enemy

Adonai is the Man of War,  The Lord of Hosts is His Name
Pharoah's chariots and his army He has cast into the sea.


                                    I AM THAT I AM

Love, Jo

Friday, August 1, 2014


"Dog Days",  we called them on the farm.  I never asked why. I do remember our dogs and every other living creature's tongues hanging out for several months.  Except for a trickle,  Elm Creek below our barn nearly ran dry. The cattle and horses jockeyed for space around the metal tank that was kept full of clear cold water that was pumped from a deep well that never ran dry. Today if you were to walk up to my front door the sound of a stream of water from that one-hundred-plus-year old pump would welcome you. Many years ago, our sentimental son Doug travelled to the now deserted farm in Kansas and retrieved that pump for me.  One of my guys attached a small motor that pulls water up from a  garden pool,  producing a refreshing sound that soothes the soul.

It took a long time for Husband/Dad to understand that the rest of us simply could not thrive in the city. Deeply buried in the souls of our three children and their mother is the love of our Creator's creation.  At great sacrifice to himself  Ted made it possible for all of us to return to our beloved mountains. When Doug lived here his home was a magnificent castle at the 6,500 foot level, surrounded by the largest rocks he could find in Bear Valley. Coffee cup in hand most of his mornings began by his scanning the mountains all the way to Mount Whitney.  His sister Dee's home,  a quarter mile below, is surrounded by giant pine trees that husband Brent found here and there when they were pitiful little Charlie Browners.  He nurtured them along until now they are a sighing forest.  Shimmering quaking aspens add a sound that is calming.  For the last couple of weeks a very big black bear has been paying them a daily visit, thoroughly enjoying swatting their humming bird feeders around and around.  Son Jeff, six hours to the north lives at the base of the Sierras where the deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe glisten.  Their family bikes, jeeps or motorcycles up, up and away when they can break away for even a few hours.

Their mom finds no reason to go anywhere else to vacation. I simply step outside my patio door, snuggle down under my electric blanket,  say goodnight to Jesus Who created the wonder all around me and sleep soundly.  Today, now that I have given birth to this blog, I will hunker down for the rest of the day and finish reading "Safe in His Sanctuary"  by Robert Rasmussen who was raised alongside my boys while their dads' brains were stretching to learn Greek and Hebrew at Dallas Theological Seminary. Bob, you have lovingly caressed an all-too-often deal-breaking doctrine.  Your dad and Ted would be proud of you.  So would Dr. Walvoord,  Howie Hendricks and dear Dr. Dwight Pentecost who just this past month slipped away to Jesus at ninety-nine years of age!

Tonight I will sit down at the old piano at the Apple Shed and entertain whoever comes to dine. I will have  to wolf down an extra pain pill because it is getting tougher to sit and entertain for several hours. ....but I won't quit until my fingers refuse to fly any more.  I love bringing fun to people who come in all bored with life and each other.

I have been working very hard but having fun this summer re-decorating my home.  After the water did its saturating job downstairs that large bedroom has been turned into a coral and blue-green sitting room/parlor.  The Thursday girls prefer to meet down there where it is delightfully cool and cozy. The upstairs where we officed for decades has been turned into a cheery open-to-the-mountain- view bedroom/sitting room.  In a junky, dusty warehouse I picked up a gorgeous 8'x10' wool rug for $25 that Julie who has a good eye for value says is worth big bucks.  It looks fabulous under my second hand dining table.  For $30 in the same junky warehouse a curvy coffee table tried to hide. With a coat of paint and a little gold here and there I have an unusual beautiful sofa table. For my safety and their peace of mind my family moved my office to the middle floor. Now I can change a word in this blog and other communications by a quick visit to my computer rather than climbing the stairs for a longer thinking and writing session.  Have you heard on TV the ear-piercing scream of the woman who fell and couldn't get up?  That scream has probably sold a billion dollars worth of Life Alert buttons.  I now wear one, but I couldn't stand to have it hang on that hideous black cord attached to it,  so I bought a long gold-plaited chain and put that button in a pretty little mesh bag and hung it down the front of me inside my clothes.  It connects to somebody I will never meet on the east coast who will alert the fire department a half-mile below my deck. ...whatever works.  

Yesterday, a six-day old new Christian was our guest of honor in the coral and blue-green parlor downstairs. The Thursday girls gathered Sabra into their arms and together introduced her to scriptures that she will know for the rest of eternity.  This lovely woman,  32 years old,  a security guard at the nearby prison saw the Light of Jesus years ago in Randy and Bea Grounds when they lived here.  Randy's prison work moved them to Monterey where he became the Warden at Soledad.   I called them last night to tell them how their sowing and watering has led to a new life in Christ.   Oh, how amazing is God's team that has a working crew that includes the angels!

                                        SONG OF THE WEEK:  THERE IS A RIVER

There is a river and it flows from deep within
There is a fountain that frees the soul from sin
Come to this water; there is a vast supply
There is a river that never shall run dry.

And there was a thirsty woman; she was drawing from the well
Her life was so ruined and wasted; her soul was bound for Hell
And He said: "If you'll drink this water, you'll never thirst again.


Love,  Jo