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