Friday, April 24, 2015

If My people...

This last Saturday I was an invited guest to an event that required nothing of me except to show up and enjoy myself.  Loved it! A small team of Christian women put aside their doctrinal preferences to showcase the Lord Jesus Christ and pray together. Four hundred women showed up! They brought in a fabulous speaker, Sheryl Giesbrecht of KAXL radio, Bakersfield, also an associate of International Christian Ministries. (I am so proud of Phil and Debbie Walker for pioneering and continuing to direct ICM, a ministry that trains countless Africans for ministry.) O.K. ...back to Saturday's delightful gathering: This small planning and praying committee of women rounded up a praise band that represented several churches, invited a half-dozen women to tell us about their ministries outside their local churches, served a beautiful lady-fied lunch, then in the afternoon Sheryl spoke warmly and powerfully again,  and the day was topped off with Michele Lawrence taking us up, up and away with her singing of "Precious",  a song that was born at Round Top Retreat in Texas when Carole Lewis, then President of FirstPlace4Health said to Michele: "You are precious!" That one word so moved her that she went back to her room at the Retreat and wrote the words to the song,  When we returned to California Michele took it to her arranger who turned it into a wow of a worship song that brought hundreds of women out of their seats.  Michele ran down off the platform, raced up and down the aisles of the audience and even pulled some startled women up to dance with her! Now, dear readers,  these women were Lutherans, probably a Catholic or two, Methodists, Assemblies of God, Bible churches, Living Room churches, several brands of Baptists, no-name churches and some women who had never even been to church!  It was holy fun!

I have been alongside Michele for several years as she fled from a religion that gave her no hope. I have dropped my jaw in amazement as she lost,  in less than a year 65 pounds of emotional, spiritual and physical weight and now has emerged as a very slender,  redeemed composer and singer who no longer performs in bars or clubs but hears, writes and sings words that point wrung-out and worn-out people to Jesus. Once she began to dig into God's Word for herself,  Satan lost his grip. Michele can be heard on www.  Call her at 661-609-3744 if you can't figure it out.  I've told you all I know about web sites... somewhere short of a thimble full.   She's ready to take her new show on the road.

No professionals planned Saturday's event nor do any "professionals" orchestrate the coming together of many men every Tuesday night for prayer and Bible study here in our community. If more of you out there would forget your church distinctives and come together to pray,  He just might extend His grace and give us more time to freely share the Gospel without getting our heads chopped off! "If my people who are called by My Name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." 

I am not going around the world any more, or even outside the Bear Valley gate very much. The disciples are going for me!  I continue to love and receive people into my home and arms for Bible teaching, comfort and help in replacing their futile fights with the only one worth fighting: freeing the souls of people who are trapped by the ways of the world, the flesh and the devil.

                        OLD HYMN:  WORK FOR THE NIGHT IS COMING

Work for the night is coming; work through the sunny noon.
Fill brightest hours with labor; rest comes sure and soon.
Give every flying minute something to keep in store.
Work for the night is coming when man works no more.

Love,  Jo

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Happy Feet

I have looked at and walked on commercial-grade ugly carpet in my house for over twenty years. I paid $2.99 a yard for it at the time I managed to squeak out enough money to buy it. I have tried to camoflauge it with area rugs, but that carpet seemed to smirk at me from around the edges.

For over eight years, once a month I have played the old piano at the Apple Shed Restaurant in Tehachapi town.  A glass jar rested on the top of that old piano with a big ol' sign that announced TIP JAR. Some nights were dollar nights  Some nights there were some 5's, 10's or even occasionarlly a twenty dollar bill. I have squirreled away every bit of that money all these years. Finally, a month ago I took it all to the local carpet people and dumped it all over the secretary's desk. She broke out laughing and began to count.  We ordered creme-colored carpet and I left that store, singing! On Monday four men and a boy showed up and began to rip out the $2.99 a yard carpet and install the new. I felt like the Rapture had come! The new carpet has given my home and my heart a cushy spring-time lift!  Every square foot represents a person made happy for a few minutes by a song that brought them joy. Making them happy made me happy!

...and now it's over. The Apple Shed has been bought by an Indian that worships gods I don't care to know about. He has turned it into a bar and re-named it "The Shed".  There won't be any more families who come on Saturday night to listen to music they can sing to. There won't be any more little children who shyly come up to me at the piano and ask if I know how to play "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".  Yes, I feel sad about that. ....but here is what happened last week. I was having lunch at the Mulligan Room, our golf shop restaurant. The manager who has come to the Apple Shed many times came up to my booth and asked me if I would be willing to play under the patio roof on a Saturday night throughout the summer. Would I?  My Yamaha Grand Piano Keyboard has come out of the closet and is ready to make music!  I also plan on having several out-of-door singalongs on my big deck or up under the family tree above my house.  The view from up there is absolutely spectacular, come and visit!  Let your feet be happy feet. We will dance and sing together!

                                      WONDERFUL WORDS OF LIFE

Sing them over again to me.  Wonderful words of life
Let me more of their beauty see.  Wonderful words of life
Words of life and beauty; teach me faith and duty!
Beautiful words, wonderful words; Wonderful words of life. 
Beautiful words, wonderful words, WONDERFUL WORDS OF LIFE!  

Love, Jo

Friday, April 10, 2015


Most of our remaining family spent part of the day before Easter on the hill above our house where both of our sons were married, where five of our six grand kids were dedicated to Christ by Grandpa and where his ashes are buried under a headstone that reads: "To God be the Glory".  If my ashes are buried under that same mighty oak my headstone will read: "Great things He hath done".  The words of that marvelous old hymn pretty much sum up our lives together and continue to sustain me as I press on without my beloved partner.

I feel so sorry for women who are married to sissies. Take Prophetess/Judge Deborah who may have wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and may have had no ambitions to sit under a tree and dole out wisdom by the bucketful to a nation that was pitifully short on men's men. Debbie's husband didn't sign up nor was he invited to be a judge.  Barak, the general would not go into battle unless she went with him.  I don't know for sure if that meant that both were sissies. My training began early on in discerning the difference between a real man's man and a sissy.  Both of my brothers devalued women.  When I met and married gentle Ted at first my brothers made fun of him because he didn't cuss,  lose his temper or belittle women. It is interesting, however that as their lives went haywire Ted was the first one they called.  Ted was not however, swift at spotting Christians with ambition for power and prestige; therefore as much as there were delightful aspects of being the wife of a pastor, there were many sleepless nights for me when I saw trouble on the horizon and Ted fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

In one of our churches there was an elder who actually said to my husband: "You know it is my money that brought you here",  to which Ted replied: "No, that isn't true. The Lord brought me here". That very next week that man left and went down the street and joined another church. Our poor little gathering was in debt up to its eyeballs. That week I went to the church to practice on the organ for the offertory and not only had the man taken his money but he had taken his organ too. (You can chuckle if you want.)  We would meet this same man with a different face in a different place many times throughout our pastoral years. These disappointments were scary to me, but not to my Ted. "Give me the walled cities!" was always his battle-cry! One of his many oft-quoted scriptures was I Samuel 17:47: "The Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's and He will give you into our hands."  I have a number of pastor/friends. One, Mike Loehrer,  has written a book entitled:  "Egoless Elders" (West Bow Press).  I recommend it and am honored to endorse it.

We who have lived a long time are alarmed that our kids and grandkids are ill-prepared for hardship. If Satan has slyly distracted your church by divisions and trivia, get into a good Bible study and strengthen your marriage and your family in scripture. Nothing else has ever sustained us and never will. "I will never leave you nor forsake you." "Go and make disciples, and lo, I am with you always." Ted Stone's quiet and steady trust in a Mighty God was still evident when most of what's left of the Stone clan came together on Resurrection Day.  We were all re-charged for the battle that will continue until we each arrive in Heaven and are...

                                           FACE TO FACE WITH HIM,  IN ALL HIS GLORY

Only faintly now I see Him, with the darkening veil between;
But a blessed day is coming when His glory shall be seen.
Face to face O blissful moment! Face to face to see and know.
Face to face with my Redeemer; Jesus Christ Who loves us so.


Love,  Jo


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Resurrection Peace and Resurrection Miracles

Will you be kind enough to indulge me this week as I write about our first-born son,  Doug? He and I spent most of his early years together indoors as the blizzards of Minneapolis howled outside. Our Daddy worked forty hour weeks and carried eighteen units to prepare for ministry.  Later in life Doug would come in my sewing room, piano room or kitchen and say: "What're ya' buildin',  Mama?" I knew early on that our son had inherited my love of creating lovely things.

Doug's championship wrestling took every bit of his skill and endurance for years, but it was no surprise that ultimately he would find his joy in turning ordinary materials into things of beauty!  I sat in my car in front of his airplane hangar one afternoon this past week. All of the other hangars are nondescript ...but not Doug's!  Inside are unique offices with large model airplanes hanging from cumulus-cloud-painted ceilings.  Private planes are stored on the floor below.  Like sentinels, all along the front of the hangar are tall trees that were left-over shrubs from a local nursery when he planted them a year or so before he so suddenly was taken Home. Over the entry door is a beautifully crafted wood covering that fairly shouts: "Come on in!" Like his dad Doug was a risk taker,  with unbelievable endurance. When I hear a plane fly over I still catch myself listening to see if it is his, flying low over our house on his way to his castle/home, two thousand feet above. Sometimes I glance to the mountainside on my way to town to see if he is paragliding. After four years I still halfway expect to get a call from him to come and see the latest custom home he has built for a couple who had a dream but could not find a contractor who would accompany them into their dream and transform it into reality.

I don't want this blog to make you feel sad. I needed to talk about my first-born son today. Thank you for listening. Now, will you come with me to the tomb of Lazarus?  Jesus knew that He would raise his dear friend to life again; yet his Great Heart broke for this man's loved ones...and He wept. There is no other passage of scripture that comforts me more than this eleventh chapter of John. Most early mornings I visit the Empty Tomb and there I am comforted by The Gardener of my Heart.  I know no other woman, though I am sure there are many, who have experienced the loss of a husband and first-born son in the same year. The shock has been nearly unbearable...but for the Empty Tomb.  I feel so deeply for every one of my children and grandchildren, but there are no human words that can comfort. Each suffers the loss of a different relationship. Separately, we await the  Resurrection Miracle when we will be united with Him and to each other...forever.

Without the Resurrection Peace that dwells in my soul I could not continue to open my home and my heart to those He sends who need reassurance that Jesus considers each of us His only child whom He dearly loves.

                                    EVERY DAY IS EASTER... BECAUSE HE LIVES!

...and then one day I'll cross the river; I'll fight life's final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory, I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know HE LIVES!


Love,  Jo