Rancho Santa Marta Update

The lovely, 450-acre ranch in the dusty rolling hills of the Baja Peninsula, Rancho Santa Marta serves the needs of 40-45 residential children and about 220 schoolchildren from the surrounding areas up to 60 miles away. Its staff of Directors, teachers, therapists, house parents, ranch hands, and others encourage, teach and build children, many with learning disabilities, into productive students who learn about the love of God in Jesus Christ. Don and I have been involved with this ministry for the past nine years.

I was especially touched by this month’s update and want to share it with you. The group pictured under “Building a High School” (“Menlo Park”) is the one of which we are a part. In addition to the building projects Don has led for the past years, it is a joy to see the ranch children grow from one year to the next, and to renew our friendships with them while there. Some children have limitations great enough that they will never leave the Ranch. Others will become productive members of society. All are loved and given hope for their futures.

Enjoy reading about Cynthia and the progress she has already made: and about Sam and Grant, two young men who have each given a year to minister as therapist and teacher respectively, to the children. If you feel led to be a part of the Ranch’s significant ministry, please contact them directly.

The needs are great; the challenges sometimes overwhelming; stress can be high, and staffing is always critical. I’m so thankful for men and women with a heart to serve these children. Click on the link, then click again to size the newsletter to read.

RSM July 2018

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Blessings to you!



Farewell…For a Season

Don and I attended a meaningful memorial service yesterday for our dear friend, June McCuistion, who left earth for heaven a week before her 90th birthday. The service was a celebration. June had polio at five years of age and has been in constant pain since, every day of her life. Yet I’ve rarely seen a more beautiful, gracious, strong woman.

I never recall her complaining about her pain. This morning Don and I read the following statement: “I call you to lead the life that I have assigned to you, and to be content … Learning to be content is both a discipline and an art: you train your mind to trust my sovereign ways with you–bowing before my mysterious, infinite intelligence.” (Jesus Today, by Sarah Young) As Jan, June’s daughter, shared at yesterday’s service, “Mom’s faith allowed her to choose to accept the life she had, and to be the best she could be.”

June also had severe scoliosis, and a spine that was quite curved, making it harder for her to find clothing she liked. Once, June and Walt and Fritz and Frank Buschman were vacationing together with us in Puerto Vallarta. Fritz, June and I went shopping and found some clothes that were beautiful on June, with her stylishly simple, snow-white hair and beautiful face. That evening she modeled the clothes for her husband, Walt, and the rest of us. Walt’s eyes shone, and June teared up. “I feel beautiful.”

And she was beautiful…inside and out. June regularly listened and empathized and went beyond her pain to hear and feel the needs of others, which may in retrospect have been far smaller than her own needs. She could also speak truth in a firm, but loving way, when women coming to her for advice needed to correct their thinking or behavior.

June’s dear husband, Walt McCuistion, was a pastor and counselor for many years. He and I had lunch together one day when I was in conflict at work. I’d called in sick because I woke up in tears and couldn’t face going into the office that day. My sweet husband called Walt and asked if he could meet me for lunch. Over that brief period, Walt gave me perspective on the situation I was in, challenging me to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). I returned to work with a new attitude and a refreshed heart.

Walt married Don and me. He was getting forgetful, and started to pronounce us husband and wife before we said our vows. Both June and I spoke up.

“Not yet, Walt.”


“We haven’t said our vows yet.”

“Oh, go ahead.”

And with that we simply moved forward through the rest of the ceremony. We’d decided to have a very small wedding–had both had big weddings in our prior lives–and the interruption of Walt’s forgetfulness felt so natural, so comfortable with only eight people there, that it remains one of our fond memories of a very intimate and close time.

Walt died five years ago. June was in a rehab center after a bone break, and the family had all gathered in a conference room to discuss her treatment. As Walt sat in his chair, surrounded by his wife, daughter and son, he simply passed into the presence of Jesus. “Good for him, bad for us,” his son Greg said yesterday. And yet, what a way to go Home, to the eternity that awaits those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ and His atonement for us. We were created for heaven … and, for the believer, death is a transition, a graduation if you will, to what we were made for–unending, perfect fellowship with our God and fellow believers.

June and Walt are reunited. Their memorial services were five years and one day apart. But their lives have impacted many for eternity. I miss them; and their family needs God’s comfort in the loss of this wonderful mother and grandmother. But heaven is enriched because another saint has come Home.

If you haven’t looked at the claims of Jesus, please do so. Read the New Testament book of John to discover his words, his heart, his sacrifice, his gift of eternal life. And consider his invitation to become part of his eternal family.

 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)

“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (I John 5:12) 

See you soon, June and Walt!

Precious Memories

We sat around the dining table, my two older brothers, Mom, a sister-in-law, and Don, looking at pictures from my childhood and growing up years. And of course I recall my Daddy, whom I adored and who has been in heaven’s realm for sixteen years already. I love this picture of Dad with my two older brothers, Melvyn and Arnold.

Other memories … those awful drapes in an early house in Canada before we moved to California when I was nine years old. That mountain scene was repeated across the whole fabric; I’m sure it was considered lovely at the time …

Mom, Melvyn, Arnold and me on the horse swing at Camp Arnes, a church camp on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, a gigantic body of water that we thought must extend to China on the other side. Walking the mile into camp–or even driving it when we visited my grandparents’ cabin there–was always an adventure. The curved, forested roadway wound back and forth like a slithering snake, and at every turn we eagerly awaited seeing the trees part and the lake open before us. It was there that I committed my life to Christ at the age of eight years.

Three cute kiddos sitting on a piano bench.

Then our move to California, and the addition of a third brother, Bob.

Family waterskiing photos.

That’s me on the right

Arnold and I participating in a Youth for Christ Bible quiz team competing for the national title at Winona Lake, Indiana. The old photo on the left reflects our goal to get off the chair in the quickest possible way in order to have the opportunity to answer the question. We also had to complete the question accurately if we were off the electronic chair pads before the question was finished. Thus the pelvic thrust jumps!

And the fun we had teasing others. New friends were sometimes surprised by Arnold’s and my close friendship. Once, when we were perhaps 15 and 17, we told two teenage girls sitting across the table from us at a youth conference that we were brother and sister. “No you’re not. You like each other too much.” My brother looked at me and said “Want to show them?” I knew exactly what he was asking and together, we leaned across the table and wiggled our eyes at them–a rare trait that can be a symptom of drug usage (nystagmus) but in our case happens to be voluntary and divorced from any illegal substance. “We believe!” they yelled.

Laughter. Sharing. Catching up. Telling each other stories of our memories. Hugs. Family. Precious. And there was a photo of Melvyn’s old MG, which Mom thought was white but I thought was red. Arnold argued for green. We looked at the picture as Mel stated that the car was actually dove grey. Same car–different memories!

I realize that I was blessed to be raised in a loving Christian family, and that many have not had the childhood I experienced.

But then I enjoyed lunch yesterday with about 25 women. We were together to honor and say farewell to one of our number, a faithful servant of Jesus Christ who exudes grace and giving, and who is moving out of the area this Fall. As the majority of us waited quietly (“shhh”) in the kitchen for Nancy to come out of another room so we could surprise her, I felt a deep sense of connection with these women, beautiful inside and out, and the reality that we share a common faith in a good Father God. While neither the nuclear nor the Christian family is perfect, because we’re finite, sinful individuals, there is love, warmth and acceptance available when these two organisms function under guidelines given by our Creator God. The God who is “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling … (who) sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” Psalm 68:5-6

As blessed as I am to have had the father and mother and family I have, the greatest blessing in my life is my Father God. He has enlarged my family. He loves me unconditionally; He has forgiven me, accepted me unconditionally because of Jesus’ death and payment for my sin, guided me through joy and sorrow, and then into joy again; and given me eternal life. And that life is available to all who receive His gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

How have you experienced a father’s love, either through your biological dad, other caring male mentors, or through our heavenly Father? I’d love to hear your story.


Oops … Overload Strike!

My friend told me her mother’s memorial service was on June 23. Somehow  the month, “June,” didn’t register, but the 23rd did. Don and I were scheduled to leave for a grandson’s graduation in Idaho on the 24th. “I’m so glad we can attend before we leave.”
We drove an hour over the hill to Cupertino two Wednesdays ago and were surprised the church parking lot was so empty. Surely there would be more people present to celebrate the life of our dear friend, June McCuistion. Where were they? We saw only a few employees around, and in some trepidation walked up to the front doors of the church, which were closed but not locked. Opening them, we looked into a dark sanctuary!
Don and I looked at each other. Oh, my, did I get the wrong church? The wrong time?
Pulling out my phone, I was about to check back in my messages when a lady stepped out of an office.
“Are you looking for June M…” I finished her sentence. “McCuistion. Yes.”
“It’s June 23rd,” she responded. “You’re the second couple who’s been here today.”
Oh my. At least we weren’t alone in our mistake. We could have gotten annoyed with each other (or especially, Don with me!). I’d made several faux pas in the last three weeks, and I could have been down on myself. Well, I was … a little. But we managed to laugh at ourselves, and enjoy the time together as we drove back home. And we’ll return on June 23rd for the REAL service!
I’d had a lot on my mind … meetings with contractors, preparing for our trips to Mexico and Idaho, for social engagements, for upcoming guests coming our way, and for our planned Fall move. Overload! And then things, like the month of a service, slipped through the cracks of my overcrowded brain cells.
Have you done that? I’d love to hear some silly thing you did when you had too much going on.
We are delighted to be home again and to have no trips planned in the next months. As Don planted flowers and leveled a birdbath yesterday afternoon, I took him some iced tea. We sat together on our porch glider, enjoying the beauty and open space that are our view. Variegated shades of green in grass, trees and shrubs; multi-colored flowers; white fences; and the stillness spoke to us of peace and rest. I felt a great sense of contentment as my honey and I held hands and talked. Once again I’m reminded how critical it is in the midst of our demanding lives (yes, even as retirees) to stop and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, to sit with those we love and enjoy each day as a gift. And I’m a better person for stopping to enjoy the moment.

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:30-32)

If even Jesus’ disciples needed to stop and rest, to get away from the busyness of life, how much more do we need to “come apart” for times of refreshing.

May you be renewed with quietness in Jesus’ presence this week!

The Lost is Found

“Look at what’s in front of you,” our friend Dave challenged me.

I looked at my husband’s hand, holding a glass of water. Was the water clearer than before? Don and Dave had worked in the yard most of the day.

“Your hand is shaking,” I said to my tired man.

“She’s not looking at the right thing,” Dave grinned.

I looked again. And there it was, right in front of me, on the third finger of Don’s right hand … the gold, sapphire and diamond ring Don lost in the yard about four months ago. He had missed it, having worn that particular ring from a former company for many years. But we had given up on ever finding it. The ring was significant, given to him by a company he enjoyed working with; and when the initials wore away and an insert fell off and was lost, we replaced them with a sapphire I had, and several small diamonds. Don wore it daily, including pruning and gardening in the dirt, and woodworking.

Today, as Dave raked leaves out by the well in preparation to put in a wooden walkway, he saw a shiny, perfect round something.

“Could there be a ring out here?” he asked Don.

“No, there’s no ring.” Don had looked long and hard for it at the time of its loss.

Dave raked over the leaves again, his mind holding onto what he’d seen.

“Did anyone ever lose a ring here?”

“Well yes, matter of fact, I did a few months back.”

Oh no, thought Dave. Now I’ve covered it again in the leaves and dirt and won’t find it … but there it was, on top of the leaves. Picking it up, he handed Don’s sentimental, handsome ring back to him. And we all rejoiced like the woman in scripture who searched for her lost coin and rejoiced and told her neighbors when she found it.

I thought how we had to give that ring up for lost before the Lord revealed it to us again. We had done that, let it go. And now, months later, God’s grace and Dave’s eagle eye spotted its shine in the dirt. Sometimes God challenges us to give up things that are important to us before he returns them, or something better, to us.  Not because he doesn’t want us to enjoy good gifts, but because our holiness – our focus on Him – is more important to him than our little pleasures.  And He so often develops our character through the challenges life brings our way. He wants the best for us, and the best is our relationship with and trust in Him.

And it is also precious that He cares even about the little things. And in the light of eternity, of world and personal tragedies, a lost ring is a little thing. But we are invited to “Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.” I Peter 5:7.

To what are you and I holding on?

We’re preparing to move this Fall. Much as we love our home in Soquel, the care for three acres is getting to be too wearing. We’re in that process of determining what to keep and what to let go of. Not always easy decisions when much of what we have comes from our travels, from people we love, from our own interests. But we are downsizing and will have to make some tough decisions. I pray that I will hold material things loosely, being wise in what to keep and what to release, for the good of others and our own benefit; and that I will trust God to lead in the process.