Uncategorized

What’s Next

 

After my mom left her body behind and went to be with the Lord last year, I asked him, “Couldn’t she have stayed longer?”

His answer to me was, “Yes, she could have stayed longer. You did a good job of caring for your mom. Thank you. But if she had stayed longer taking care of her would have interfered with what I have for you next.”

Tomorrow morning, Lord willing, I will turn out of the driveway at Grace Harbor Farms and start my drive to Northern California. I don’t know how long I will serve the Lord there.

This mission trip to California is the “next.” I didn’t know that until Tim and I visited Todd and Sherry a few weeks ago. I have Tim’s blessing to go. I don’t know if he will ever join me there. He has told me to go while he stays connected with Grace Harbor Farms until he is no longer needed here. He knows I will be a help to Todd and Sherry as they transition from one small farm to another, under the direction of Holy Spirit, to establish a stronghold for Him. I have caught the vision the Lord has given to Todd and Sherry. I am excited to be part of it.

So, I am off on the next adventure. If you are praying for me, my request is simple—may His will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Before I got out of bed this morning, I thought of all the times in my life when I acted suddenly, without a clear, thoughtful plan beforehand. Some examples:
• Moving in with Granddad and Grandma Terry at age 17
• Leaving college after just a few weeks
• Getting Married at 18
• Going to Virginia
• Going to Alaska
• Quitting Regent College before I finished my degree
• Inviting Mom to live with us
• Opening Bed and Breakfast
• Marrying Tim
• Starting the goat milk soap business (which has evolved into Grace Harbor Farms)
• Now, going to California

I continue the legacy of the “all of a sudden Terrys”. This was a term that my mother’s family used through the years they were in China. My mom did these kinds of things, so did her mom, and I suspect so did her mother. They all lived “out of the box”.Thank you, Lord, for putting the spirit of adventure in me. I am not afraid to step out into the unknown. I love challenges.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Proverbs 37:4

What is the desire of my heart?
• To love and serve the Lord will all my strength, will, heart, and spirit

How did the Lord shape my heart to love and serve him? What do I love to do?
• I love to study the Word.
• I love sharing the gospel and the word
• I love having a beautiful view
• I love wood stoves, candles and quiet
• I love growing food
• I love hospitality
• I love to cook
• I love to worship, Israeli style—dancing before the Lord
• I love horses, dogs, chickens and goats
• I love getting up early, and going to bed tired

All of these things can be realized where I am going next.

I walk by faith, not by sight.

 

Uncategorized

California, Here I Come

banister-oak-farms

Future Home of Banister Oak Farms

I grew up in the Bay Area, over the hill from Berkeley. I moved to Washington State in 1966 to live with my grandparents. I have lived in Washington State for 51 years–minus three years in Virginia when my husband was in the Army there, and back and forth to Alaska commercial fishing.

Until a couple of months ago I could not have imagined moving back to California. Now I can’t imagine NOT moving back.

Tim and I spent most of last week with our friends, Todd and Sherry in Northern California. We had been anticipating this trip for months, planned it twice and cancelled it twice. The Lord’s timing is always perfect, though.

 

We have been talking to Todd and Sherry for a couple of years about the business and ministry they are establishing in the hills in Bangor, not far actually, from the Oroville Dam. We had two goals for our visit with them. The first was to pray with them over the property and the plans for it.  The second was to seek the Lord on whether or not He wants Tim and me to be part of what Todd and Sherry are doing.

 

The irony of having our trip cancelled twice was that the week we actually went was the week that people all over the world were praying for Oroville. The massive evacuation because of the possibility of the dam failure was just four days before we got there.

 

The property that Todd and Sherry bought was dedicated to the Lord years ago. When I set foot on the ground I could feel a special stillness of peace I have never experienced anywhere before. When we met the former owners we heard some of their stories about the property. They bought it to establish a place for ministry and worship. The stories were wonderful, delightful, and affirming that the Lord has a plan for this property. It is a place where people will come for prayer, for healing, for wholeness, for Jesus.  But they, the former owners, knew that they were not going to be the people to maintain the ministry there. They were starting a work for someone else to take forward. They sold the property five times. Each sale failed until Todd and Sherry bought it.

 

The Lord has given Todd and Sherry a business plan and a ministry mission.. Todd and Sherry have written and illustrated, via PowerPoint, the outline of the mission/business. It is called Banister Oak Farms. They printed copies of the plan into a beautiful booklet. Sherry’s dad is a retired investment banker. He told Todd and Sherry he has never seen such a well presented business plan in his whole career.

 

Todd’s vision is to have a successful business—farming, that supports the ministry. The business part—the farm–will milk cows and goats, raise chickens for eggs, and grow food. Todd and Sherry are already doing  the first two parts of that business where they live now. They are milking eight cows and four goats and distributing the milk themselves. The are raising about 300 chickens. The business is doing very well. It was fun for us to see it because it is so similar to the way Tim and I started Grace Harbor Farms 20 years ago.

 

The food growing part of the  business will start under the direction of Todd’s cousin, James. James is a grower. He started out growing marijuana in the sixties—got in trouble, went to jail, got out, started doing things right and now he grows orchids, currently 93 varieties. He has wowed the orchid world with his flowers. He is already building the soil for the food gardens at Todd and Sherry’s new place.

 

The Lord has shown Todd and Sherry what the ministry will be. We have been talking to them about it for years. We share their passion.

 

Todd and Sherry will be working for the next few months to get the new property ready for the cows, the chickens, and themselves. Their plans are beautiful, and so is the property. Todd has been collecting equipment for years for this project—heavy equipment like excavators and a saw mill, along with hundreds of tools, and commercial appliances. He, like his dad was, is also a skilled, creative craftsman/designer.

 

I think you may be anticipating what the answer is to our second reason for going to visit Todd and Sherry–asking the Lord whether we should get involved with this project.

 

We believe this is what the Lord wants us to do next. We don’t know exactly what it is going to look like, but we know that we are going to go to California and help Todd and Sherry get started.

 

The first thing we will do is move out of the condo.  We will move our stuff back to Grace Harbor Farms. I will go to California. Tim will go back and forth from Custer to California. Since we decided not to sell Grace Harbor International (GHI, the skin care and MSM cream business) to David, I  have been taking care of the website and working to get GHI refocused. Julie, my gifted manager,  will continue to run the daily operations of GHI. The website stuff I can do from anywhere. Tim is still the bookkeeper/accountant for Grace Harbor Farms (GHF, the dairy). His son, David is working on buying the property and the dairy business. Last time I talked to David about that, he hoped to close those deals by the end of March. But we don’t know if that will actually happen then. The Lord knows. Even after David buys the dairy business, until a new bookkeeper is hired, Tim will continue to work for GHF.

 

That’s the outline of the news. I will go to California as soon as we can get moved out of the condo.

 

We are on a short term mission. We will wait on the Lord to show us what’s next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming a Believer, Blessing, Christian, Sibling squabbles, Testing Your Faith, Uncategorized, Walking by Faith, Witnessing

Conversion

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 2:14

 

Conversion June-July 1976

 

My brother’s wedding invitation came to Petersburg Alaska sometime in the spring of 1976. My husband, our two daughters, aged 2 and 6, and I had been living on a boat in the harbor in Petersburg for the past year.  We had been fishing commercially in the summers for several years, but this had been our first winter in Alaska. Eric’s invitation was like a breath of fresh air. The card had a picture of Eric and his fiancé standing under a flowering tree in California. After 18 months in Alaska a flowering tree looked like a beacon of light in the darkness.

I somehow convinced my husband to let me go. I still have no explanation for why he allowed me go except that God had planned for me to be at Eric’s wedding.

I took the girls to California in June.

I was the oldest of the six children in my family. We were not raised in a Christian home even though my mother’s parents had been missionaries in China and my mother had been born and raised there. Several years before my brother’s wedding my sister Janie, two years younger than I, had become a Christian. One by one my other siblings had followed suit–all but Christy and me.  Christy  had become a Mormon. I mocked them all.

Eric’s wedding was lovely. The church even impressed me. I had been surprised to find that the people quite nice, thoughtful and intelligent. In my previous mocking of Christians I joined my husband in thinking that Christians had stopped thinking for themselves—blindly following some ancient ritual.

The week I was there, the Pastor’s son was giving a series of lectures comparing various religions. Every night my brothers and sister would take off for church to hear Ron Carlson. They always asked me if I would like to go along, but of course I was much too stubborn, and prideful, to join them. But the night before my return to Alaska, Ron Carlson would be talking about Mormonism. Again, my family asked me to go along. This time I thought, “What the heck. I might as well try to find out why everyone is so upset that Christy is a Mormon.

I don’t remember now much about Ron’s talk, but having done a lot of studying since then I can well imagine what he talked about. The thing that impressed me was the intelligence of the lecture. Ron Carlson had done his research. These were well educated people who taught and listened to this stuff.

At the end of the lecture I asked my sister, Janie, if I could meet Pastor Carlson, Ron’s dad, and tell him how much I had enjoyed his church.

I suppose my sister was more than delighted to introduce her pre-believing sister to her pastor!

I told Pastor Carlson that I had been impressed with his church and asked him if he could give me a book or something that I could take back to Alaska with me.

He invited me into his office for a private conversation.

“What do you think a Christian is, Jonni?” He asked me.

I really didn’t know the right answer. I wanted to say, “Someone who is born in America,” but I knew that wasn’t right, so I said, “Someone who can love unconditionally.”

“That’s a pretty good answer,” he said, but do you know what the Bible says a Christian is? Have you ever read the Bible?
I told him that I had tried a couple of times but it had never made sense to me.

He showed me the verses from 1 Corinthians 2 that tell us that the things of the Spirit of the Lord cannot be understood except if that same Spirit helps us.

Then he did a very wise thing. He asked me if I would be willing to pray this kind of prayer, “Spirit of God, if you have the truth, teach it to me. I want to know the truth.”

There was no danger in this prayer. If there was nothing there, nothing would happen and I would continue as before, but if the Holy Spirit was there and truth to be known, then I should know it. I agreed to pray.

We got on our knees. I prayed that prayer with him. There were no explosions of light; I didn’t feel anything different; the world went on as before; we got up from our knees.

Then he gave me a Living Bible and a bible study on the book of John. He also gave me the whole lecture series that his son had been teaching on cassette tapes.

The last thing I said to Pastor Carlson as I walked away from his office with all those materials was, “Now I have to go back to Alaska and defend myself to my husband.”  That was like a word of prophecy, but I didn’t know it.

When I got back to the boat I started going through the cassette tapes and reading the things I had brought back with me. But I had to read and listen at times when my husband was not on the boat. I had to hide the Bible and the cassettes from him because he went absolutely nuts!

So I listened in secret and I read in secret.

One by one the questions that I had, and questions that I didn’t even know I had, were answered.

The first one was “Is there a God?”

As I listened to Ron Carlson’s lectures I realized that we could not have gotten here by chance. There had to be a creator.

The second was, “Is Jesus God?”

I had never heard anyone say that before. I had heard “son of God” before but it didn’t mean anything to me.

Again, as I listened to Ron Carlson I realized that God, in order to communicate with us, could have become a man and come to earth to teach us who God is. OK. I could accept that, but the next question was a big one.

What about this “sinner” business. I wasn’t such a bad person.  How could God claim that I was a “sinner” and needed to be “saved”?

Up to this point I had been listening to the tapes in what I though was random order. I had gone through “How we know the Bible is the word of God,” and the lectures on the other major religions of the world. There was only one tape left. It was on the Occult. The date was July 4, 1976—the 200th birthday of the United States. We had been fishing in Taku inlet. We had tied up the boat in Juneau, Alaska for the holiday. My husband went up to town to celebrate. I put the girls to bed and pulled out that last tape.

I don’t remember what Ron Carlson said about the occult, but at the end of the tape he started talking about my sister, Janie. I was shocked!  This was a lecture series that he had been delivering all over the world and here he was talking about my sister!  I know it was my sister. He said, “When Janie walked into my intervarsity Bible study and Diablo Valley College . . . “ There was no question. That was my sister. Janie had been “saved” in that intervarsity Bible study. But the rest of Ron Carlson’s statement cut me to the heart.

He said, “When Janie walked into my intervarsity Bible study at Diablo Valley College she said she could feel nothing. She felt no pain, no joy, nothing.”

I knew that was true about Janie. I knew it was my fault.

I had been so wicked to Janie while we were growing up that I could almost pinpoint the day when she had shut off her feelings so I couldn’t hurt her anymore. I had beaten her, insulted her, excluded her, humiliated her and ignored her.

I fell on my face on the floor (deck) of the boat. I wept uncontrollably. “Oh, yes, Lord, I am a dirty rotten sinner. Please forgive me.” I cried and pleaded with Lord.

When I got up, I was a new person.

There is no way to explain the joy and relief that I felt. I had been radically born again!

As my tears turned to laughter I spent the next hour writing a letter to Janie.

Here is what I wrote:

 

July 4, 1976

Dearest Janie,

How can I express on plain paper with mere pen what is happening to me tonight. Janie—I prayed tonight, all my myself I spoke to God for the 1st time on my own. I thanked him for you. I thanked him for your prayers for me. I told him I loved you and I asked him to bless you.

A couple of weeks ago in Pastor Carlson’s office I opened the door for Jesus. He came to me then, but he didn’t fill me up until tonight. He’s been guiding me—teaching and gently showing the way to learn. Tonight, after several weeks of lessons, he felt I was ready to hear—learn (I’m not able to find the right word). He arranged for me to be alone on the boat and I listed to more of Ron’s tapes. I’ve been listening to them in a rather hap-hazard order. I kind of thumb through and listen to one that sounds/looks interesting. Never before have I listened to more than one in one evening. Tonight I listened to one—and then He had me hear another. He has been preparing me for it for several years, maybe all my life, I don’t know that for sure, but I do know that my learning has followed a definite pattern than cannot have been accidental.

The second tape I heard tonight was Ron’s occult one. The closing thoughts were about you. I wept as he was speaking and I realized that he was weeping, too, If you haven’t heard that tape you should. There can be no doubt in hearing it that Ron loves you—that Jesus, that God love you and me, too.

I had been holding back something—not letting myself all the way open—not telling all—and then you and Ron and Jesus showed me.

I don’t know what else to say, Janie. I hope you can read what I have said already. I’m scribbling, I know, but tonight is our last night in town before we go fishing.

Bob will be home in a few minutes—when he gets here I want to go mail this tonight before we leave.

Please speak to Pastor Carlson for me. I don’t have his address—maybe you can send it to me, and Ron’s too. Please tell both of them how grateful I am. And tell yourself that, too!

Janie, I wish I could hug you. I am so grateful for your prayers for me. I will be praying for you, now.

I’m not going to have time tonight to write this story again for Mom—so if you would, she might want to read this letter, too. She is one of the most important people in my life.  Most people’s mother’s are—but ours is special.

God bless you, Janie, and all of us,

 

 

Love,

Jonni

On the back of the envelop it said “The 1st thing I read after writing this letter was Romans 8, verses 1,2,3,4

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the Law could not do weak as it was through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, he condemned sin the flesh so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 

In reading the letter I wrote to Janie, now as a much more mature Christian, I wish I had been more clear in my confession to her, but I know that she wept with joy when she received this letter. I didn’t know that she had saved that letter until after her death 9 years later. But that is another story for a later chapter.

 

EPSON MFP image

Janie

Christian, Divorced Christian, Uncategorized, Walking by Faith

The Heart of Stone

 beach-stone4

Heart of Stone

“I will take the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

           “I have stopped praying for him.” My friend, Trina said. She was not the first one who had told me this. Since I had been divorced for about six months several people had told me that they had stopped praying for my ex husband. I had not. I didn’t know how to stop praying for him, or even if I should.

I planned a personal retreat to the outside of Vancouver Island on the advice of one of my friends at Regent College.  I was taking a class from Eugene Peterson called Ministry and Spirituality. At the end of the class we were required to write a paper on how we would keep our spirituality once we got into ministry somewhere. Beverly had told me that when she got to that place in the class she took a personal retreat to seek the Lord about it. That sounded like a great idea to me. I had never done such a thing.  Many stories came out of that retreat. This is one of them.

I made reservations to stay at a bed and breakfast inn in Tofino. I wanted to be on the ocean, where the surf rolls in. My home on Drayton Harbor overlooks a shallow bay where the tide slips in and out twice a day, but I felt I wanted to be somewhere with surf.

On the second day of my stay as I went through some of the verses that I believed that they Lord had given to me as promises for my husband’s salvation. One of them was the verse above from Ezekiel. “I will take the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

Later that day I walked on the beach, in the rain. The stones on the beach were wet and gray. But suddenly I walked past a small stone the color of red brick. I turned around and went back to it. It was shaped like a human heart.

beach-stone

“Oh, my,” I thought. “It’s a heart of stone.”

I picked up the cold, wet stone and put it in my pocket. I wrapped my fingers around it. As I held the stone it got warm.

I took the stone home with me and it became a tool for a kind of body prayer. I can’t really explain in words the significance of it. It was prayer without words. I kept the stone next to my bed. When I would wake up in the morning, or in the night, I would pick up the stone and lay it on my body—on my neck or my chest or my belly. The stone would be cold and shocked me when I put it on my warm skin. But as it lay there it would get warm. I would then turn it to feel the cold surface again. Somehow this ritual was working to release me from the one flesh relationship with my husband. I could not have articulated that then, but afterwards I realized that is what happened.

Resurrection morning fell several weeks after I had been praying with the stone. That morning when I picked up the stone and laid it at the base of my neck, it absolutely abhorred me!  I could not stand the touch of it on my skin. I grabbed it off myself and set it on the side table.

“That’s it,” I thought. “I am through praying for him.” I knew it.

 

A couple of hours later I went to the sunrise service for resurrection Sunday at Semiahmoo, a beach on the spit near where I live. Several of the community churches got together every year to reenact the resurrection of Jesus. A friend of mine from Regent was there with her new born son, Blaine. I had been with her when Blaine was born—another amazing time for another story perhaps. Sharon asked me if I would like to hold the baby, Blaine. Of course, I did.

I cuddled him close to my neck. I could feel him breathing. Then I sensed his little heart beating next to mine.

Oh, my gosh!  My knees shook. It’s a heart of flesh!

The Lord had been talking about two different hearts.

He would take my husband’s stony heart, and he would give me a different heart to hold—new people, new relationships.

Stunned I moved toward the buckets of flowers at the foot of cross. We had been instructed to take a flower for ourselves and place it on the cross. As I took out a flower for me, and one for Blaine, I could hardly see for the tears flowing, flowing down my face.  A familiar voice from behind me said, “What’s this, Jonni? Starting over?”

I tried to smile and explain to my former brother in law that the baby was Sharon’s but then I thought, “No, that’s right. I am starting over.”

My friend Tim was at the Sunrise Service that morning, too. I had spoken to him and told him that my marriage was not going to make it.

I certainly did not know it then, but the next Resurrection Sunday at Semiahmoo I was there with Tim, my husband, the heart of flesh the Lord had promised. One day earlier that spring he and I had gone to the beach at Semiahmoo together and I had thrown the heart of stone back into the cold ocean waters.

Now, almost 20 years later, Tim and I have moved back to Blaine. Our home overlooks Drayton Harbor. We walk the streets and pray for Blaine, and for the people we stop and talk to on our walks. Recently a friend pointed out to me that the red headed baby boy named “Blaine” was not only a type the Lord showed me about my new husband, but also the represented the call he would put on my life to pray in and for Blaine.

beach-stone3

Now, 20 years after Tim and I threw the heart of stone representing my former husband’s heart out into the water at Semiahmoo, God still knows where it is. He will redeem it in his timing.

Uncategorized

Granddad’s House

 

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Granddad’s House

“Ain’t gonna need this house no longer.”

Mothers’ Day 2014.

My mom had been diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis. It’s serious. It would kill her. Eventually it would cause heart failure. Nobody knows how long she had but statistically someone with severe AS lives two years or less. How long it take for the hardening of the aortic valve to get to the point where it caused heart failure was up to the Lord.  In the meantime, Mom’s attitude was great. She was ready to go to the Lord when he called her. While she waited she prayed through her alphabet lists.

My sister-in-law, Marlene,  was visiting for Mothers’ Day. She wanted to go see “Granddad’s House.” I had not been back there for years. I even avoided driving by it. But  Marlene wanted to see it, so Tim and I loaded Mom in a wheelchair and we took her.

The house had been vacant since we sold it in 2005. The new owners had been taking care of the yard and keeping the place looking nice, but the house had recently sold again. The new owners had not been keeping it up. The place looked awful. The lawn hadn’t been mowed for weeks, weeds clung to the sides the  building. The paint I had so carefully applied years ago, hung in shredded fragments or lay scattered under the ragged shrubs and roses. My grandmother’s favorite yellow rose bush outside the dining room window had climbed all the way to the second floor. A single crumbled bud still clung to the vine.

Marlene got out of the car to take pictures. I sat in the back seat hurting and stunned.

This had been the house where my grandparents had lived. Every summer when I was growing up, my family would drive from California to spend time with my mother’s parents.  They bought it in 1946 when they returned from 25 years on the mission field in China. My mother had been a student at the University of Washington then. My grandparents had lived in that house until they died–my grandmother in 1977 and my grandfather in 1980.My husband and I bought the house from Granddad’s estate. We had it as a rental house until 1994 when we sold our home in Ferndale, paid off our debts and moved in to it.

At the time that Bob and I moved in our marriage was failing. We were divorced in 1996. When everything else in my life was chaos and pain, I found comfort in being in that house. The one place in the whole world where I had had unconditional love as a child.

I built a white picket fence around the house. The fence had been to contain my border collie puppy, but it had much deeper significance to me. The fence marked my boundaries, my place. This is where I belonged.

As I looked over Drayton Harbor from my quiet time place in the front room I told the Lord I would like to name the house.

“What shall I name it, Lord?”

“Harbor House”, I heard.

That same day I painted the name on the mailbox.

A couple of days later a friend stopped by and asked me if I were opening a bed and breakfast.

“No,” I laughed in reply. “That’s just what I do, not my job.” It was true. I nearly always had people staying with me. My future son in law called them my “waif collection”.

But the Lord had plans. A couple of years later I did open a bed and breakfast there. That is a different story.

I loved that house. I told my friends that I expected to live there the rest of my life. Apparently, the Lord had other plans. In 2005 my new husband and I sold the house to develop our business elsewhere. That is also another story.

Tim had found a piece of property about 10 miles away, on a busy road, where he felt our goat dairy business could prosper. I could not imagine selling Granddad’s house. One morning as I stood in the front room Drayton Harbor looked as if it had molten gold poured over it. The Canadian mountains stood as a snow peaked backdrop. I worshipped the Lord with my hands raised. I praised him for the beauty of the place where I he had brought me. Then I heard his voice.

“Are you willing to give this up so someone else can learn to worship me here?” He said.

Without hesitation, I answered, “In a heartbeat.”

“I have a plan,” He said.

“OK,” I answered.

I called a neighbor who had told me that if we ever wanted to sell it, let her know. In less than 30 minutes the house was sold. Cash. Full price. No inspections. We could take all the time we needed to move. I could not help but see the hand of God in that.

Even though I believed that the Lord had arranged the sale and had us move to the new location on the Birch Bay Lynden Road, I grieved the loss of that house, every day. From the new house I had a view of the busy road. Not only did it have no beauty, it was also noisy. Conversation was impossible on the front porch because of the road noise. I told Tim even before we agreed to buy that property that it would not be permanent. It was not a home. It was business. I grieved the loss of the water view and a place to be quiet before the Lord.

As business prospered through the years. The noise level increased. I fed all the employees at lunch time. They used the house as their break room throughout the day. Customers drove in the driveway. Trucks came in and out. Change was the only constant.

Then in the fall of  2015 Tim and I  moved to this condo on the other side of I never have to move again. But I am the Lord’s bond servant and He may yet have another plan for me.

I still don’t know what his plan for Granddad’s house is. It has been vacant since we moved out 12 years now. It would have failed any inspections in 2005, now it is in ruins.

After Marlene got back in the car we drove down to Semiahmoo, thinking that we would have lunch there. But I was in too much pain. I really could not think about lunch, much less a Mothers’ Day Brunch celebration. We drove back to our place on the Birch Bay Lynden Road.

The next morning while I on the treadmill I heard this song.

“This Ole House”

by  Stuart Hamblen

This ole house once knew his children
This ole house once knew a wife
This ole house was home and comfort
As we fought the storms of life
This old house once rang with laughter
This old house heard many shouts
Now she trembles in the darkness
When the lightnin’ walks about

(Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer)
(Ain’t a-gonna need this house no more)
Ain’t got time to fix the shingles
Ain’t a-got time to fix the floor
Ain’t got time to oil the hinges
Nor to mend no windowpane
Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer
I’m a-gettin’ ready to meet the saints

Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer
I’m a-gettin’ ready to meet the saints

 

As I listened, I thought about Mom’s failing body. She would not need it much longer. The song gave me joy.

When I shared the song with Mom and Marlene, Mom told me that she had painted a picture of a house and put that song title on the picture. She found the picture. The house wasn’t Granddad’s House, but it was on Drayton Harbor Road. The view behind it could be the view from Granddad’s House. The house in the picture was in as deep a state of disrepair as Granddad’s House is.

The picture struck me.

“Ain’t gonna need this house no longer,” it says.

Truth, suddenly, set me free.

“I ain’t a gonna need that house no longer, I ain’t a gonna need that house no more.

“Ain’t got time to fix the shingles, ain’t got time to mend the floors. . . .

“I’m a getting ready to meet the saints!!!”

 

With the truth in my heart, not just my head, I was set free.

With the Lord’s perfect timing he used my fading mother, my sister-in-law’s curiosity, an old song, and a water color painting to set me free of that old house.

When the Lord has set you free, you are free, indeed. Praise God!

this-old-house

 

 

 

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And She Laughs . . .

My daughter’s moving eulogy to my mom, her grandmother.

The Deepest Love

“And she laughs at the time to come,” Proverbs 31:25

Rebecca Terry

The last time I spoke with my grandma, late on an August afternoon, she had labored all day with chest pain and asphyxia. She closed her eyes for the last time just hours after we hung up the phone.

While we spoke, she marveled at the love of her family and caregivers; she blessed me and expressed her joy that I had started a new job; she said something light-hearted about her transfer to hospice; and she told me she loved me.

I told her I loved her too, but I couldn’t find any other words. I didn’t know how to say goodbye. The conversation lasted less than a minute. Death, laughter, eulogy, hope, courage

But in that sixty seconds she gave me, distilled, the treasures of her life: self-forgetting gratitude and light-hearted courage.

Self-forgetting. Grandma held her life lightly. Free of self-importance…

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It’s Always a Glorious Day in the Lord

IMG_1787On this day after the official day of giving thanks, I would like to tell you about a lady I met a long time ago. She knew how to live in that place of constant praise, in spite of losing everything. Her name was Gertrude. Gertrude means “spear” and “strength”.

It’s always a glorious day in the Lord.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

                     I met Gertrude in a nursing home in Blaine. I had gone there to meet my friend, Daphne,  one of the staff members of the nursing home, for lunch. I took a seat in the foyer to wait for her. Gertrude sat across from me in a wheelchair. She had only one leg. I said something to her about the weather and I don’t remember if the weather was good or bad, but the Gertrude answered, “Oh, it’s always a glorious day in the Lord!”

Wow, I thought. Here is someone I need to get to know. I moved over next to her and introduced myself. She told me her name and that she had lived in Blaine a long time.

“You might remember my grandparents,” I told her, “Mary and Myron Terry.”

“Oh,” she exclaimed.  “I knew your grandmother! She painted a head of Christ for me.”

“I remember when she did those,” I said. “She made one for my sister, too.”

“I used to have it hanging in front of where I sat and did my quiet time,” she said. “I loved that picture. But I don’t have room for it here.”

“What happened to it?” I asked.

“I think my kids gave it to the church when they took my apartment apart.”

“When did they take your apartment apart?”

“A month ago,” she said. “I started having some heart trouble and had to go to the hospital. While I was there I got this problem with my leg and they had to amputate it. That’s why I had to move here.”

“Oh, dear,” I said, “you lost your leg just a month ago?  That must be so hard for you.”

“The hardest part about losing my leg,” she said, “was that they couldn’t give me a general anesthetic when they did it because of my heart. So I was awake!  I couldn’t really feel what they were doing, though.”

“Oh, dear,” I said again. “I am so sorry. What a rough time you have had .”

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” she said. “The only thing I really miss is my large print Bible. I don’t know what my kids did with that.”

“Well I am sure we could find you a large print Bible around here somewhere!” I said.

“It wouldn’t do me any good. My glasses are broken anyway.”

Gertrude told me all of this, after she had started by our conversation by saying, “It’s always a glorious day in the Lord!” She had lost her leg, her home, her independence, her portrait of Jesus, her quiet time place, her Bible and her glasses!! I am not even sure what order of importance she might have given to all those losses.

She amazed me. She became my hero, and my friend. I visited her often after that—whenever I came to the nursing home to meet Daphne.

Daphne got her glasses fixed for her, and found her a large print Bible.

I went to the church and found the head of Christ my grandmother had painted. I took a snapshot of it. (This was long before we had digital cameras). I had a tiny print made and put it in a little frame.   She carried that picture in her pocket for the rest of her life. The picture she gave to me I will also carry for the rest of my life.

Update March 20, 2017

I just added a snapshot of the picture my grandmother painted. Just today I received the picture from a friend who received it from the church where it had been hanging since Gertrude had to give up her apartment about 25 years ago. My grandmother painted in in about 1953. Thanks be to God that he care about things like this and the picture is now in our family. Thank you Nancy Dement for sending it to me!