Friday, January 25, 2019

Dress Rehearsal

Paul did not know how long he would be here when he wrote Philippians.  It didn’t matter. To live?  Christ;  to die?  Gain.  How long did it take him to figure that out?  ...most of his lifetime. 

I was eleven years old when the second World War broke out. ...on two fronts.  One of my brothers fought for our country in the Air Force in the South Pacific.  He was gone for three years.  We hovered at our mail box,  hoping to hear from him. ...tuning into radio for any news from that theater.   The other brother and his wife moved to our farm to help my dad.  My grandmother was dying, leg amputated from diabetes.  Young German soldiers from a nearby prison camp worked for us at harvest time.  Few American homes were unaffected,  drastically, by the hell of war.    

There was little time or energy for my parents to think about my future after high school. There were no scholarships available.  I so much wanted to go to college. My boyfriend, Ted left for the Navy;  the Shepherd/Collie puppy he had given me was killed in the road. I walked that country road in despair.  My farmer dad who worked so hard for every penny paid two hundred dollars for a year in business college.  That degree opened a door for a job on a college campus. In that college town I was invited to a little church where the "real-deal Christians" loved me to Christ.  A very young Billy Graham came to speak on a Sunday morning.  In a few months I would meet him again in Chicago at Moody Bible Institute's Flounder's Week where he would be the featured speaker.  (You knew I would drop his name. ...once more.  ...couldn't help myself.)  He invited me to his Christian school in Minneapolis.  Finally I was a student in college. Ted mustered out of the Navy, came to Christ and came to college, on to Dallas Seminary and into ministry. Many of you who read this blog are part of the rest of the story.  There would be no story worth telling without you.

For sixty years we served the Lord together.  My darling has been in Heaven for nine years.  I didn't think I could make it for nine DAYS without him, but the Lord, my family, my mission board and a host of supporters have come right along beside me to help me to the end.  When will that come?  I have no idea.  My body is shutting down but the "eyes of my understanding" seem to be opening wider. Again, I "walk a country road".  ...not in Kansas, but in Bear Valley Springs, California.  ...with my cats.  I am not in "despair" as once I was, at seventeen.  Now I am ninety years old.  Mine has been a rich, fulfilling life.  Apparently, it is not over. ... not quite.   I continue to feed a few sheep at a time.  Precious ones like you are scattered around the world, feeding more sheep.  Rarely a day goes by that I do not hear from some of you.  Keep telling me how He is using the Word of God through you.  I will pray for you. Never, ever compare your ministry to others. He is using you in a unique way with just the people He chooses to send to you.  

This last chapter of my life is much quieter, but it is very precious.  When it is time for a NEW BEGINNING,   He will come to fetch me and usher me into the "crowd of witnesses"  that is already there.  Will I see Ted and my son immediately?   I don't know.  It doesn't matter.  Many things do not "matter" as once they did. You know, don't you that this life is but a dress rehearsal?  The BEST is yet to come!

Count your blessings;  name them, one by one.
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done. 

Love,  Jo

Thursday, January 17, 2019


Since we moved to this mountain a small chorus of crickets has chirped in my ears. Tinnitus is not uncommon for high level dwellers.  A few days ago these phantom critters brought their relatives.  A diesel truck delivered them.

When something unusual shows up I call Cathy and Rick, my next door neighbors to see what they think.  They came.  They listened/   In the tenderest tone of voice such as is reserved for very small children and elderly neighbors, they said to me:  "Jo, there are no crickets and there is no diesel truck." 

Yesterday C and R. insisted on going with me to my doctor.  Dr. Hall cleaned out my ears. ...or tried to.  One of them is refusing to give up whatever is stored in there,   so I am oiling it for a few days.  Meanwhile, the band plays on and the truck keeps right on running.  

I'm on a roll, so I might as well tell you about my eyes:  They have little whirling circles in them. ballerinas in tutus.  There is no cure. 

Because it is becoming frustrating to read I listen now to books on audio.   C.S. Lewis' "Screwtape Letters"  seems to be  what I need to counter the current aggravations.    

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. 

Love,  Jo

Stop it!

Since we moved to this mountain a small phantom chorus of crickets has chirped in my ears.  They have thoughtfully kept the volume low.  I have been able to tune them out.   A few days ago suddenly the United States Army Cricket Marching Band showed up,  along with a diesel truck , with motor running.   It was a startling moment.

When something unusual shows up I call Cathy and Rick Nextdoor.  (That’s their last name:  “Nextdoor”.) They hurried over.  walked around and through my house, then in the tenderest possible tone of voice such as is reserved for very small babies and elderly neighbors,  they said:  “Jo, there is no truck and  there are no crickets.” 

Yesterday, the three of us went to see my doctor.  (Her name is Dr. Susan Hall.  She comes to my Summer Singalongs;  therefore I like her.)  Her P.A. went to work.  ...pushing a pointy light into first one ear, then the other.  Whatever was in one ear dislodged.  Not so, the other.  Meanwhile, the band plays on and the truck keeps right on running with a steady, low-pitched hum. 

 I am guessing that some of you suffer from Tinnitus.  One person told me about the “ear candle” treatment.  I am not a big fan of pain, so will  stick with my doctor’s efforts to get rid of whatever is chirping and roaring.

I'm on a roll, so I might as well tell you about my eyes:  They have little black and red whirling circles in them that go ‘round and round. ballerinas in tutus. This pesky distraction also has a name:  Macular Degeneration. 

Those parts of me are all I want to talk about today. ...maybe ever.  Send only tried and successful suggestions. 

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. 

Love,  Jo

Friday, January 11, 2019

Now, Lord?

You actually had to be there to believe it.  No one who lived during The Jesus Movement of the 60's and 70's saw it coming.  We were swept up in it.  We remind one another that it can happen again. This would be a good time for it, don't you think? 

Love,  Jo

Friday, January 4, 2019


Over Christmas I spent five days with members of my family who live to the north of me.  Our son Jeff and his dear wife  Carla are in full- time ministry as counselors and professors in universities.  One of their daughters is in law school;  the other will soon be a third-generation Dr.Stone.  As she watched her grandfather’s life ebb away from a cancerous brain tumor she made up her mind to become a brain surgeon.

We all need purpose.  What’s mine?  As my 90-year-old body tells me daily that it is 90 years old I must adjust my thinking regarding what is “purposeful”.   Some days,  just getting out of bed and getting dressed feels like an accomplishment.

My love language is "words of encouragement."    I love to give them and I love to receive them.  Deeds are  good, but without words, something is missing.  "Silly?”  you say.  Probably.   Over sixty years of marriage my husband sent me many birthday and anniversary cards with carefully chosen printed words he simply could not articulate.  I kept them all.  As he lay in his hospital bed for eleven months I read those cherished words back to him.  He would smile and sometimes squeeze my hand.

Pulling the New Covenant card on Our Father will not cut it.  The First Commandment has always been and always will be His requirement.  You know what it is.  Like Rachael,  Jacob’s favorite wife,  we can try to hide our idols by sitting on them, but  God knows who, what and where they are.  He wants us to finish our race unencumbered by idols that needs be pitched into the ditch by the side of the road.

Some fellow pilgrims carry a weight of guilt from being told they do not have enough faith.  This question comes to mind:  "How much faith was required of Lazarus as he lay dead for four days in a grave outside the little town of Bethany?"  I think the question better asked is: "How GREAT is my God?"   

Love,  Jo