Friday, August 28, 2015

Early Morning Thoughts

My first cup of coffee in hand, I have been languishing in my bed on the deck for over an hour, watching the full moon disappear over the mountain to the west and welcoming the dim glow of First Light over the mountain to the east.

Peggy Klubnik, in her 80's in Texas sent me an Email yesterday to tell me her Jim slipped into Heaven last week. I cry for her for I know the terrible loneliness that will set in when everybody goes home to their own lives.  Every once in awhile the Spirit moves me to call my widowed friends who are in their 80's and 90's. Dear 90-year-old Lillian Sundstrom is adjusting well to her Assisted Living facility in Houston/Katy, Texas. Several of her children live close by. One is here in California. Harriet Rudell,  92, is being cared for by her oldest son who lives with her in her Santa Rosa, California home. All three of her other sons and families are nearby. Elaine Stedman, 92, in Medford, Oregon is in a retirement home, not  far from her four daughters. She struggles to talk now, but  reads my emails and responds.  She forwards my blogs to her daughters. ...very honoring to me since her husband Ray was our mentor. Maybe tomorrow  I will call Ruthie Hoover, or she may call me. I think she is 88 or 9, living in an apartment in an upscale facility in Fresno, California. Her daugher is close by; all three sons are in California.  I will call dear Pat Welbourn, whose loss of Ed is so fresh. I remember so well those first days as reality sets in. Pat also lives in her own apartment in an upscale retirement facility in Houston, Texas. She is 80 something. Their daughter and son live nearby; one son is in Phoenix.   I don't think there is an "upscale retirement facility" in my future because they cost big bucks, and the last I checked my stash doesn't qualify. I have no idea what lies ahead between today and when He takes me Home.  I so desire to go quietly, in the night. ...but then, who doesn't?  ...and oh, dear Robin. In her 80's, she walks a Carlsbad, California beach nearly every day, telling all who will listen about Jesus. Her son Gregg and family just returned to the South of France to live and tell those folk about Jesus.  Oh, how she will miss them, but Robin would not for a minute want them to turn away from God's calling on their lives. She and Gene served Him together with Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) nearly all of their lives. Her other son lives near her and her daughter is in Idaho. She lives alone, as do I. We talk and pray on the phone and support each other financially.

Our precious daughter and son-in-law have been right beside us as Ted endured many surgeries and health issues for the last twenty-two years of his life. She was right by her dad's bedside, along with her brother Doug for eleven months as the brain tumor steadily did its deadly work. How could any of us have known that Doug would follow his dad to Heaven eleven months later?  Jesus, what are they doing right now?  Are they in a Holy Holding Cradle until we all receive our glorified bodies at the same time? You don't tell us much; we wouldn't "get it" if you did.

Lexi, Dee and Brent's 20-year-old will leave soon for her last two years of college at UC Hayward. I am so glad that she will be close by, but even so,  I will miss her so much. On this early morning, I have worries about all six of our grandchildren . Lord, do the Jewish Rabbis really know what they are talking about regarding what they believe is coming down for America in September?  Lord, wasn't it David, your mighty warrior who said: "What time I am afraid, I will trust in you?" Thank you that our wobbly faith keeps us running to you every day for reassurance.

Should I go to water aerobics this morning and jump around in the pool with other aging men and women?  I must  exercise and you know how I resist it.  The water is so relaxing, but then I want to sleep all afternoon. ...and I must eat right, and I must prepare something wonderful for lunch at Doug and Susie's Living Room fellowship tomorrow. A "son-in-Christ" is coming from Bakersfield to join me, so whatever I cook must be hearty.  Another "son-in-Christ" has slipped into my life. Maybe they can meet tomorrow. You made me to love connecting people with people. Lord, thank you that you give me a precious holy, eternal family that keeps growing.  Thank you that Thursday you brought to my living room lovely women to study Hebrews, share what they are learning, pray for each other and for the people they love who do not know you. Thank you that your true Church can never be shut down. Oh, dear Lord,  remind me to "think on these things". 

Thank you that my remaining son and our daughter and their spouses will be here for the Labor Day weekend. We will all be aware of the losses, but it will be a sweet, comforting and energizing time together. Maybe Lexi will show up. You know how much I  miss the way we were.  Will we know we have been family when we are in Heaven with you? Well, again, eye has not seen, nor has ear heard the way it will be for us,  your blood-bought children.  Until then my heart will go on singing, then breaking, then pondering, then praying, then trusting, and then singing again. ...and then will come the peace that surpasses all understanding.

I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship you, oh my soul, rejoice.
Take joy, my King, in what you hear; 
May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear. 

Love,  Jo

Friday, August 21, 2015


God tells the stories of the struggles and victories of His people from Genesis to Revelation. I am going to share the story of one of my precious friends who has given me permission to publish it, requesting that I include her name.  My friend, as with all of us who live in this terribly broken world depends upon His Word to give her His courage to continue the race assigned to her by the Lord Jesus Christ Whom she dearly loves.

These past couple of weeks there has been a lot in the news about abortion,  following Planned Parenthood's selling of baby parts. Of course this angers those of us who know that life is life whether in the womb or out of the womb.  For me, these past few weeks have brought much sadness as I reflect on the personal side of abortion. It touches me and my son deeply. I almost aborted him.  I was at the clinic, on time for my appointment. I had saved my paycheck from work to pay for it. Due to unforeseen circumstances that I know to be God's grace I had to leave the clinic that day (I Corinthians 10:13). Outside the clinic were voices of those urging me to choose life. They will never know how much their words echoed in my mind as I walked away that day and made the choice to never go back. That was thirty-one years ago. 

I listen to all the reasons people give in favor of abortion. I did not have to look far into my own circumstances to reason that an abortion would solve many problems. ...or so it seemed. I do not pretend that alternatives to abortion are easy. At the time of my pregnancy I was a confused and frightened 18-year-old, living away from home for various reasons, looking for someone to fill the deep voids that no person can fill. Much of the first year of my son's life was spent living with different relatives, relying on the mercy of others to provide diapers and shelter, staying in motel rooms where I could not let my baby crawl because of the filth on the floor. ...all while facing the heartbreak of broken dreams of the life I would share with his biological father. 

When I looked into my son's eyes for the first time, and many times since, I thought: "This is WHO I would have destroyed." I will never forget the reaction the first time I told him those things. He grabbed his chest and said, "That takes my breath away!" I have had the opportunity to watch a young man live the life I almost destroyed. No matter whether his parts would have been sold or trashed, just the thought of what I almost did causes me to shudder, and I am thankful that it does.

I always hesitate to tell my story because I know there are many who did not walk out of the clinic, and deeply regret it. I have seen their tears and my heart breaks for them. At the same time I am thankful that they can cry. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." (Matthew 5:4) In Charles Spurgeon's devotional that I read this morning I was reminded of the sinfulness of our own hearts and not just the sinfulness of our nation.

I find it difficult to live in a society that cannot cry for the child in the womb; therefore I pray a prayer of thanks for those who have tirelessly sat outside clinics, wondering if they make a difference. Know that you do. I pray a prayer of thanks for the many Pregnancy Centers that help men and women make a life- giving choice for their babies. I pray a prayer of thanks for those who are on the front lines, fighting to change this nation's laws. I pray a prayer of hope for sinners like me who know the guilt, shame and regret of not just actions, but a heart that leans toward sin. I pray a prayer of repentance for those who cannot mourn.

Sherry Neis

Sherry's story can be downloaded on Face Book.


Tell me the old, old story of Jesus and His love
Of Jesus and His glory; of Jesus and His love.
Tell me the story simply, as to a little child.
For I am weak and weary, and helpless and defiled.

Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in
That wonderful redemption, God's remedy for sin.
Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon;
The early dew of morning has passed away at noon.

Tell me the same old story when I have cause to fear
That this world's empty glory is costing me too dear.
Yes, and when that world's glory is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story: "Christ Jesus makes us whole."


Love, Jo

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Ultimate Choice

I want to tell you about some sweet family news.  Last Friday Granddaughter #2 received her physician's white coat and her stethoscope at Temple Medical School in Philadelphia. ...two generations after her grandfather Ted walked away from becoming a medical surgeon to become a spiritual surgeon. Several years ago Lauren received a college degree in music from Azusa Pacific with the offer of a full ride for a Master's degree, turned it down, worked for a year with a government-funded organization in Salt Lake City, became disgusted with the monies wasted, went to work with Hospice, and worked with the poor in a ministry she started herself.  All of this led to her decision to head down the path toward full-time medical work. ...and there she is,  doing just that.  She was all excited about working on her first cadaver when I talked with her last Sunday. Her dad, our son Jeff, a Doctor of Psychology and Professor at William H. Jessup Christian University, and Lauren's mother Carla, Psychologist specializing in children's needs were there for the ceremony. Of course they were! How I wish I could have been. I am so proud of this precious granddaughter. Wouldn't you be?

I am alarmed that three quarters of young people raised in the church abandon their faith after their first year in college.  Not all young people, however are being persuaded to believe satan's lies. Many have come through the state schools with their faith intact. My granddaughter Lauren is one of them.

Where was I and what was I doing when Bible reading and prayer were expunged from our public schools? What am I doing as the copying of the Nazi plan for gun control is unfolding right before our very eyes? What am I doing as the legalizing of cold -blooded killing of millions of unborn babies and the harvesting of the fetus's body parts are being sold for "research"?  What am I doing as the forming of a Police State is quietly being organized? What am I doing as the legalization of same-sex marriage is not only accepted but celebrated?

Yesterday as my little band of women met to study the Book of Hebrews and to pray,  I could barely keep from weeping. I cry so much. ...sometimes in overwhelming gratitude for His grace and sometimes in sorrow for our country.

In Gethsemane our Lord had a choice: to take The Cup or refuse it. He saw you and me in our hopelessness, stretched out as far as His Holy eyes could see and chose to die so you and I might live.  Forever!

Who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man He humbled Himself  and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross! 

Dr. Francis Schaeffer saw all of this coming a generation ago. I remember sitting with Ted and our children as we listened to him speak at a gathering in Houston. We listened, sober and quiet. ...and now two of my men are with the One Who bled and died for them. The title of Dr. Schaeffer's book: "How Shall We Then Live?" is still the question on the table. Will I, will you, as did many Christians in Germany sit in our churches, being entertained with louder and louder music that muffles the cries of the lost who are hurtling toward death?

Oh, I believe that this life with its great mysteries
Surely one day will come to an end.
But faith will conquer this darkness and death
And will lead me at last to my Friend!

I believe that the Christ Who was slain at the Cross
Has the power to change lives today
For He changed me completely; a new life is mine;
That is why by the Cross I will stay.


Love,  Jo

Friday, August 7, 2015


The upside of living alone is that I have lots ot time to think.  The downside of living alone is that I have lots of time to think. Making the decision not to lean to my own understanding is a choice I must make every moment of every day. As I watched the Republican candidates I saw displays of righteous anger and some display of UNrighteous anger. Some years ago one of those was among a select few who were invited to dinner in New York with Billy Graham. There in the short time it took to dine he was graciously offered the Way of salvation. From his attitude it seems that "the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for other things choked the Word and it became unfruitful." A friend and I prayed just before the debates: "Oh, dear Lord, let the redeemed of the Lord say so!" . ...and some did! Praise Him for their courage not to deny Him.

My mind goes back to the late 60's and 70's when the Jesus Movement was in full swing across this nation. People of all ages were coming to Christ in our little city of Bakersfield. Many were pouring into our church to be fed the Word of God. The head of one of the most militant right-wing movements, by his own admission not a Christian showed up at our church to see what was going on. Ted challenged him to read the Book of John and report back if he discovered Who Jesus Christ was and is. He opted instead to start at the beginning, reading Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. ...then invited Ted to lunch and announced:  "I've been your blood brother now for several weeks!" We rejoiced!  He put a great deal of pressure upon my husband to preach political messages, but my husband did not let anyone trump the Holy Spirit's leading about what he would teach. He and his wife brought with them many others from their patriotic organization and we welcomed them. One Sunday morning this leader angrily confronted Ted as soon as my husband walked off the platform. Pointing to the cover of a popular magazine with a picture of Billy Graham at lunch with the president of our country at that time he shouted: "How can you believe that Billy Graham is a Christian? Look who he's with!"

God knows how many emotional stamps He has allocated to each of us. When we ask Him, He gives us wisdom about how to spend them. Be angry and sin not. UNrighteous anger siphons off 'way too  much energy.

When I was twenty years old I was invited to have lunch with Billy Graham in Chicago, Illinois. In one short hour he offered to me a cup of cold water and I received it.  Jesus was with the Samaritan woman for an hour or so before the boys came back from lunch in town.  News of the miraculous transformation in her life spread throughout the city. Never underestimate the eternal effects of an hour spent with a thirsty person.

We do not know what our future as Americans holds, but we know Who holds our future. Will the gates of hell prevail against His church? No, of course not.  At the risk of their lives. in many places in our world millions of Christians secretly meet. As you are reading this some are being tortured and beheaded because they will not deny Christ.

"Consider it all joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." 

...a couple of Ted'isms: "I doubt if sheep need a shepherd if they're going to hang around the barn." One more: "God knows when the last one, before He comes to fetch us will come to Christ. At that exact second, He will say: 'I'm wrappin' it up and bringing you Home!' "  As always, when I write or speak Ted's words the tears slide down my cheeks.

This hymn brings us such encouragement.

               HE GIVETH MORE GRACE

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater;
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
To added afflictions 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.

His love knows no limit;  His grace knows no measure.
His power has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

Love,  Jo