Thursday, September 21, 2017

Grandpa's Prayers

My Grandma Personeus always told young women, "It's better to marry a man who can pray 'the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man that avails much' than to marry a millionaire." Grandma knew firsthand because that was the kind of man she married.

Charles C. & Florence L. Personeus
Charles Cardwell Personeus was born January 13, 1888, in Masonville, New York, the son and grandson of Methodist ministers. He spent 65 years of ministry in Alaska and died at age 98, in Ellensburg, Washington, on October 10, 1986.

Grandpa learned to pray early in life. He began preaching while still in his teens and became superintendent of the first Pentecostal mission in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1910.

He had been preaching for several years when God called him to go to Alaska as a missionary. Feeling he needed to go to Bible school to prepare further, he enrolled at the Rochester Bible Training School in Rochester, New York. There he met my grandmother, Florence LeFevre.

After their graduations, ordinations, and marriage, the couple set out for Alaska by faith in 1917. En route, they joined the fledgling Assemblies of God but received no promise of monetary support.

Arriving in Juneau in November, they pioneered the first Assemblies of God church in the Territory. This year, Juneau Christian Center is celebrating their 100th year of continuous ministry.

During their 65 years in Alaska, the Personeuses also established and pastored small congregations in remote villages, opened a home for children orphaned in the 1919 flu pandemic, ministered to servicemen stationed in Ketchikan during World War II, and served with their son, Byron, on the first Assemblies of God Speed-the-Light mission boat, the Fairtide II.

Today, there are 92 Assemblies of God churches and preaching points from Ketchikan to Barrow.

Prayer was the strength of Grandpa's ministry. He and Grandma began each day with Bible reading and prayer. When anyone was sick, they prayed. Jesus was their Great Physician.

Grandma suffered a number of serious falls and life-threatening illnesses, often when no doctors were available. Grandpa's first response was to pray under the power of the Holy Spirit, and the prayer of faith raised her up.

In the mid-1930s, when she lay dying of advanced gallstones and the doctor could only offer a 50-50 chance of survival if she had surgery, Grandpa prayed. As they praised God for healing, the hard lump in her side disappeared in 10 minutes time, and she was able to eat for the first time in weeks. She lived to the age of 96 and never again had an attack of gallstones.

Grandpa and Grandma had a burden for the lost. One young man stumbled into their mission in Juneau while a service was in progress and sat with his head in his hands in utter despair. After the service, he poured out his story. He had worked hard for years at the Chichagof Mining Camp to save thousands of dollars to buy a house for his parents. On the boat to Juneau, he was enticed into a card game, and two card sharks had fleeced him of his savings. He had made up his mind to get his money back or kill those men.

All night Grandpa and Grandma prayed for him. The next morning, Grandpa located the man on the docks and brought him home for breakfast. During their morning Bible reading and prayers, the Word of God broke through his hardened heart, and he knelt to ask God to remove the hatred. That morning, although he had lost all his money, he gained eternal life. As a result of his testimony, his parents too found Christ as their personal Savior.

One time when my grandparents were visiting us, the clock struck the hour and Grandpa jumped up. "It's time to pray for Africa!" he exclaimed as he headed for the bedroom to intercede for the missionaries and for lost souls.

In their later years, Grandma suffered much pain from cancer, yet she would never take painkillers. Instead, she would ask Grandpa to pray until the pain subsided.

Grandpa set a great example of prayer and service for the Lord. He never lost his fire. Even in his nineties, his hearing nearly gone, he would pray and testify under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Grandpa taught his family to pray and minister too. His two children, Byron and AnnaMae (Cousart), followed in his footsteps in ministry. I too am an ordained minister of the gospel, as is my husband,.
Bob. Through Grandpa's righteous life and effectual, fervent prayers, generations are being blessed.

This fall, I've been invited to speak at the 100th anniversary celebration of the church in Juneau, Alaska, that my grandparents founded in 1917. What an honor!

If you enjoyed this account, you can read many more similar stories in my book, Frontiers of Faith, the Story of Charles C. & Florence L. Personeus, Pioneer Missionaries to Alaska, "The Last Frontier," 1917-1982.

My grandparents also provided the inspiration for my Alaskan Waters Trilogy of historical Christian novels. As I researched their story, I came across true incidents of real people that triggered my imagination.

My books are available in paperback and ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and bookstores. The third book was released this summer. Learn more about them and order at

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Harmony or Cacophony?

Four generations of my family taken on my
parents' 60th wedding anniversary
I've always loved music. In fact, my parents tell me that when I was a year old, I sang out so loud in church that everyone had to wait for me to repeat each line before they could sing the next.

As a child, I loved to listen to my mother and father sing duets, their voices blending together in beautiful harmony. As I grew up, I joined them in a trio.

Then I majored in music in college and met my husband singing in the Choir of the North at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. When we married, we sang duets together too. Now, our grandchildren are  making beautiful music as well.

Harmony is a musical term. It takes two or more instruments or voices to make harmony. A melody is made up of consecutive tones, but harmony occurs when two or more pleasing tones are sounded together.

Harmony doesn't happen by chance. When my young grandchildren "played the piano," the sound was dissonance and discord, not harmony. We covered our ears and demanded that they stop. When they first began to play musical instruments in their grade school band, we didn't want to discourage them, so we gritted our teeth and sat through their performances.

Soon, they learned how to blend together and play the intricate harmonies of the master composers. Nothing is more beautiful than a symphonic orchestra or an a capella choir singing in harmony.

For God's people to live together in harmony, we need to learn the lessons of harmony from an orchestra.


First, we all instruments must be tuned to Concert A. If even one violin string is slightly out of pitch, even if the musicians all play the right notes, dissonance, not harmony, is the result.

For Christians, Jesus is our "Concert A." He is the One by whom we must measure ourselves. If God's people all play in tune with Him, harmony is the outcome.

Another ingredient of harmony is timing. Not only must the right notes be played in the right pitch, they must be played at the same time. Have you ever heard an orchestra warming up? Each musician is playing the right notes in the right pitch, but in their own timing. Cacophony results.

We as God's people must operate in God's time for harmony in the Body of Christ. He is the Conductor. In order to make beautiful music, we must follow Him and those He has placed in leadership positions.

Composers and serious musicians spend years studying the fundamentals of harmony in order to write and play and sing well. So we as Christians must spend our lives learning from the Scriptures how to play in harmony with God's people. We must fellowship with one another as well.

Are you living in harmony with God's people? What do you need to do to facilitate harmony?

Thursday, September 7, 2017


This week the children in New York went back to school. In my training as a schoolteacher, I learned that repetition is essential to learning. I have read studies showing that a child of average to bright intelligence needs a minimum of 500 repetitions in order to learn a fact.

God, who created us, knew that, so He instructed parents to continually repeat His commandments to their children in every possible setting:

A young mother, listening to a missionary, remarked on how wonderful it must be to be the first one to tell someone about Jesus.

The missionary responded, "As a mother, you have that opportunity with your own children."

Have you ever thought about what a privilege it is that God entrusts parents with the awesome responsibility of teaching our children about Him and His love?

As parents, we need to look for and capitalize on every "teachable moment" to communicate biblical values to our children.

I still remember the times when as a child I got hurt doing something I had been told not to do, and my mother would wipe away my tears and soothe my booboos as she quoted Numbers 32:23:

"Be sure your sins will find you out."

As she taught me to ask Jesus to forgive me too, I learned that disobedience has consequences--in this life and in eternity. How thankful I am for that early teaching. It has saved me from many heartaches.

Research also demonstrates that children learn more by observing their parents' lives informally every day than by formal education. Vacations, holidays, and special occasions present wonderful opportunities for creating family traditions and "teachable moments" that communicate our Christian values. This is especially true because the emotion of the occasion will heighten learning. 

What do our celebrations say to our children concerning spiritual truths? Why not establish family traditions that teach truth and and fun at the same time?

What do our everyday actions and attitudes teach our children about God? Do we just send them to religious instruction or do we take them with us to church, thus demonstrating the importance of God in our adult life?

Do we keep spiritual reminders and Scripture plaques around the house?

Do our expectations and discipline of our children demonstrate to them the Father love of God?

As school gets under way again, let's look for memorable ways to
instill biblical values in our children's lives.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Spiritual Aerobics

In 2000, my husband underwent triple bypass heart surgery. Even after the surgery, he still got out of breath frequently. The doctors said two-thirds of his heart muscle, the part that pumps oxygen to the body, had been seriously damaged by the blockages.

Today, after losing weight and years of walking a couple miles a day, his heart muscle has been strengthened. It is still functioning at only fifty percent of normal, but it is twice as strong as prior to the surgery. Episodes of breathlessness are much less frequent, and he enjoys a fairly normal life. That improvement has been made possible by continually stressing his heart muscle through aerobic exercise.
Fireweed after a boreal fire in Alaska
Alaska, where I grew up, is noted for its vast fields of beautiful wildflowers. Vibrant fuchsia fireweed is the first regrowth after a wildfire. God exchanges beauty for ashes.

The seeds of other wildflowers must first endure a freezing winter before they can germinate and produce such beauty.

The cones of some conifers must first withstand a forest fire to release their seeds.

Winds blowing against trees strengthen their roots.

In military training, new recruits are pushed to the limit to prepare them to be able to endure the hardships of battle.

Athletes don't just go out and win without months of physical training.

A first grader doesn't immediately solve quadratic equations, but after years of schooling and testing, solving them becomes doable.

So it is with our Christian life. Hebrews 12:1, 2, describes the Christian life as running a race:

 "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." 

We need to develop spiritual muscles. We don't become mature Christians the moment we come to Christ. Tests and trials and tribulations strengthen our spiritual muscles. Life stretches us spiritually and teaches us to lean on Jesus.

No one is a greater blessing to others than one who has grown sweet and loving, but this doesn't just happen. It takes a long time to become saintly, and it doesn't happen without patiently enduring the tests and trials in the race called life.

Did you know that the benefits of patiently enduring don't end in this life? God has promised a crown of life to those who are faithful to love and serve Him in spite of the trials.
The next time you are tempted to gripe and complain about the trials you go through, remind yourself that they are the means by which God is growing Christ-like character in you. He doesn't cause bad things to happen to us. They are common to all. But God will make "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" that we might "be conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:28, 29, NKJV).

What trials have you weathered that have brought spiritual growth?

The main character, Violet, in my most recent book, Beside Still Waters, faced the choice of allowing the severe trials of her life to make her bitter or better. Notice that the only difference between those two words is the letter I. Taking your focus off yourself (I) and "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews, 12:2), makes all the difference.

Beside Still Waters is available in paperback and ebook. See my website ( for more information about the book. Available at Ambassador International, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and bookstores.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Praise the Lord Anyway!

Have you ever had days when the nagging inconveniences of life seem to gang up on you and threaten to steal your peace and joy?

Yesterday was one of those days. A simple project of replacing my computer keyboard and our modem with a newer, high speed one turned into a complicated process. Then, when everything seemed to be working well, we woke up this morning to discover our internet and phone weren't working. We finally located the problem. The modem power cord had somehow become disconnected.

Rev. & Mrs. C. C. Personeus in Pelican, Alaska, in the fifties
Such inconveniences remind me of my Grandpa Personeus, pioneer missionary in Alaska. Traveling home to Seward from Anchorage one night in the dead of winter, he got a flat tire. He slid out of the warm car, looked at the tire, and exclaimed, "Well, praise the Lord anyway!"

Those irritating yet really insignificant events in the whole scheme of things happen to all of us. They can ruin our entire day if we let them. The best way to keep them in the proper perspective is to learn to praise the Lord anyway.

We have no control over the occurrences of those annoying events. They seem to choose the most inconvenient times, don't they?

But we do have control over our response. We can praise the Lord no matter what happens. As we constantly speak of God's goodness and grace toward us, we bless Him and keep ourselves from being overwhelmed.

The next time a car cuts across in front of you forcing you to slam on your brakes to keep from hitting him, like happened to me yesterday, and you feel that road rage roar to life, tame it by praising the Lord anyway.

When you drop that last egg on your freshly mopped floor and it splatters all over, praise the Lord anyway.

When your toddler smears jelly on your freshly dry cleaned suit as you kiss her goodbye, praise the Lord anyway.

When your computer shuts down in the middle of preparing a report, praise the Lord anyway.

Praise the Lord no matter what happens! God inhabits the praises of His people. Praising will not only bless the Lord and cause Him to draw nearer to  you, but you will feel better too.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lesson from a Solar Eclipse

All the talk about the solar eclipse expected on Monday brought to mind the eclipse of 1994, when New York was in the path of a total solar eclipse.


I was teaching second grade. Remembering my experience of a total solar eclipse the summer I graduated from high school in Alaska, I wanted the children to see the beautiful corona without damaging their eyes. I set up a large tub of water in the parking lot and with the help of several mothers, I took them out one by one to observe the reflection of the corona in the water. The still water gave us an exact reflection of the happenings in the sky.

Proverbs 27:19

Just as the sun and our faces are reflected in water, so our lives give an accurate reflection of who we really are inside.

My Cruden's Concordance has more than seven columns in tiny print of references in the Bible that contain the word, heart. What does the Bible mean by that word?

With a quick perusal of the references just in the Book of Proverbs, we find a wise heart, a wicked heart, a perverse heart, a deceitful heart, a heavy heart, a sick heart, a merry heart, a righteous heart, a proud heart, a haughty heart, a prudent heart, a pure heart, and a foolish heart.

The Bible uses the term, heart, to describe the source of our emotions and motivations. The heart contains all our desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, and affections.

The heart is what we really are, not what we or others think we are.

Our heart determines why we act, speak, and think as we do.

Jeremiah 19:9 tells us that "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." That is why we need to pray with the psalmist every day, inviting God to "search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23, 24, NIV).

Our hearts can deceive us. Only God really knows our hearts. Sin begins in our hearts, so God's daily search can nip sin in the bud.

Growing up in coastal Alaska, I often observed the reflections of the mountains in the water. I noticed that the clearest, most perfect reflections appeared in calmest waters. Only as we quiet our hearts before God can we have our hearts cleansed and purified.

Have you initiated God's search of your heart today?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fight Ever Onward!

In Alaska, where I grew up, the Pacific salmon are now returning to the glacial streams where they hatched. They spend most of their lives in the ocean, where they grow big and strong. Then their instincts send them back home to spawn.


The salmon must fight against the current with every ounce of their strength. Their flesh turns red and gets torn on the rocks, but the instinct to procreate is so strong that they struggle on until they reach the spot miles upriver where they originated.


They face many hazards along the way--bears, fishermen, birds of prey. Yet, so many make it to the spawning pools that often the streams look like blood at first glance.There, the salmon lay their their eggs. Their life cycle complete, they die.

Alaskans had a saying: "Any old dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a real live one to swim upstream."


As Christians, we too must swim against the current of this world. We face many snares that would trip us up. If we are going to make it, we must continually strengthen ourselves spiritually and check our progress, keeping our eyes on goal.

As a teenager, I spent a week on a salmon fishing troller on the Gulf of Alaska. I noticed that when the engines stopped, the ship didn't just sit still in the water. It drifted wherever the waves took it.

So too in our Christian lives. If we are not moving forward in our relationship with the Lord, we will drift along with the current and end up on the rocks.

Just as sailors constantly check their navigational instruments to keep on course, so must we check on our position by studying our life's compass, the Bible. When we see we are getting off course, we need to quickly make corrections. We must not be careless. We can never rest on our oars until we are moored safely at our journey's end.

Have you checked yourself recently? Do you need to make a mid-course correction? Do it today.
Don't delay.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Excerpt from Beside Still Waters

Opening Scene in Chapter 1 
Beside Still Waters 
Book 3 in my Alaskan Waters Trilogy

Boston, Massachusetts, March 1915

Aunt Mabel was dead.
Violet Channing unlocked the door to the three-room flat she’d shared with her aunt, her only living relative, now deceased. The cloying scent of her aunt’s floral perfume could not obscure the rancid odors of garbage and stale food in the stairwell or the medicinal smell of sickness that pervaded the apartment.
Violet clenched her fists. Aunt Mabel was too young to die!
Closing the door behind her, Violet surveyed the tiny living room. It was stuffed with the nicest things Aunt Mabel had been able to salvage when she lost her large, Victorian house in a wealthy neighborhood to the creditors after her husband died.
Slightly tattered lace curtains draped the lone window, the only source of ventilation—if it could be called that. The soot-ladened air from the tenements’ stark chimneys had permanently stained the curtains a dirty shade of brownish gray. Hand-crocheted doilies covered the head and armrests to protect the Victorian sofa she’d managed to save when her house was repossessed.
The apartment felt empty without Aunt Mabel’s dominating presence. She had tried so hard to make this cold-water flat look like her lost home. But the two of them couldn’t even afford enough coal to keep warm in winter or the doctor’s fees when she started coughing.
If only she’d stopped taking a lunch to work sooner to save up enough money for a doctor’s visit. Violet shuddered. Her aunt’s fits of coughing had worsened so quickly. She had refused to see a doctor until her sputum became tinged with blood. By then, it was too late.
“Consumption,” the doctor told Aunt Mabel. “Keep warm and rest.”
He took Violet aside. “There’s nothing I can do for her. Her lungs are too far gone. She probably has only a few weeks.”
“Keep warm. Ha!” Violet spat out, feeling again how her stomach had clenched at his words. She groaned. Her throat tightened, and she sank to her knees on the Persian carpet Aunt Mabel had brought with her to cover the bare, plank floor. The torrent she had held at bay throughout the funeral broke forth like a sudden, angry squall.
When she had no more tears to cry, Violet mopped her face with her handkerchief. The cold had seeped through her skirt. Suddenly aware that she was shivering, she arose.
Hugging her threadbare wool coat closer over her long, black mourning suit, she sat in her aunt’s Boston rocker to figure out what to do. She no longer had the responsibility of Aunt Mabel’s welfare and was now free to choose what to do with her life—if only she could find the means to do it. The rent was paid until the end of the month, but the simple funeral had required all but a few remaining dollars. She needed money.
Violet reviewed her options. Before her uncle died, she had been studying to be a teacher. That’s what she really wanted to do. Because Uncle Chester had mortgaged the house to the hilt to finance his risky business ventures, she and Aunt Mabel were left destitute when he died.
At eighteen, Violet had had to give up her education to take a low-paying job as a seamstress in a garment factory to provide for the two of them. Six weeks ago, she’d had to quit that job to care for her dying aunt. The thought of reapplying there made her shudder—and not from the cold. That ramshackle wooden building, full of dust and lint, was a tinderbox.

But how else could she support herself?

Beside Still Waters, along with the other two books in the Alaskan Waters Trilogy, Till the Storm Passes By and A Star to Steer By, is published by Ambassador International and is available at (Kindle and paperback), (Nook and Paperback), Vyrso, and Christian bookstores. Visit my website at or connect with me at

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Purifying Obstacles

Recently, I was glancing through a magazine and the title, "Purifying Objects," above a picture of a rushing river flowing over rocks caught my eye. It reminded me of the glacial streams of my childhood in Alaska, such as the one shown above. The rocks and gravel over which the water flowed purified the water, making it safe to drink.

Many times, obstacles crop up in our lives like boulders in streams. They cause the water to roil and writhe and tumble us about. But, if we will allow it, God will use those very obstacles to cleanse and purify us so that out of our innermost beings will flow rivers of living waters that will refresh all those with whom we come into contact.

Don't fight the deep waters of trouble that come your way. Remember, God is with you and He will not let you drown. Instead, He wants to use the obstacles in your life to purify you so you can refresh others.

Violet had to learn this lesson in Beside Still Waters.

Beside Still Waters, along with the other two books in the Alaskan Waters Trilogy, Till the Storm Passes By and A Star to Steer By, is published by Ambassador International and is available at (Kindle and paperback), (Nook and Paperback), Vyrso, and Christian bookstores. Visit my website at or connect with me at

Thursday, July 20, 2017

From Firetrap to Icebox

Is she jumping from a city firetrap factory into a wilderness icebox? 

In the third and final book in the Alaskan Waters series, Beside Still Waters, Violet Channing, orphaned at a young age, is tossed about by life's turbulent waters when the aunt who raised her dies. She wants nothing more than to be a schoolteacher. 

Living in a Boston tenement in 1915, barely able to survive, she accepts a job as a live-in teacher for a sick, motherless child in the harsh Yukon Territory. 

Sailing up the Inside Passage of Alaska, she falls in love with a dashing Yukon riverboat captain. Just when her life feels as beautiful as her new surroundings, tragedy strikes again. 

Can Violet allow her losses to make her better not bitter and learn to love again in this continuing saga of the loves, tragedies, and second chances of a Norwegian immigrant family who must battle the beautiful but often dangerous waters of early twentieth century Southeast Alaska?

Scenes Violet may have seen while traveling to the Yukon Territory:

Whales bubble feeding along the Inside Passage

Whale breaching along the Inside Passage

White Pass & Yukon Route Railway between
Skagway & Whitehorse
Lake Bennett, Yukon Territory,
Yukon Sternwheeler "Casca" mentioned in Beside Still Waters

Beside Still Waters, along with the other two books in the Alaskan Waters Trilogy, Till the Storm Passes By and A Star to Steer By, is published by Ambassador International and is available at (Kindle and paperback), (Nook and Paperback), Vyrso, and Christian bookstores. Visit my website at or connect with me at

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Said the Spider to the Fly...

During the summer, spiders build webs on my front porch as fast as I tear them down. When they glisten with dew in the early morning sun, I marvel at their creativity. But when I walk into them, frustration takes over. I've read that peppermint oil will discourage them, but I haven't tried it yet.

Today, I was sorting through a stack of papers I'd saved as a tickler file for my blog. You can understand why an anonymous item in an old youth magazine now defunct caught my eye. I thought you might enjoy it too:

Once a spider built a beautiful web in an old house. He kept it clean and shiny so that flies would patronize it. The minute he got a "customer," he would clean up on him so the other flies would not get suspicious.

Image result for fly
Then one day this fairly intelligent fly came buzzing by the clean spiderweb. Old man spider called out, "Come in and sit."

But the fairly intelligent fly said, "No, sir. I don't see other flies in your house, and I'm not going in alone!"

But presently, he saw on the floor below a large crowd of flies dancing around on a piece of brown paper. He was delighted! He was not afraid if lots of flies were doing it. So he came in for a landing.

Just before he landed, a bee zoomed by, saying, "Don't land there, stupid! That's flypaper!"

But the fairly intelligent fly shouted back, "Don't be silly. Those flies are dancing. There's a big crowd there. Everybody's doing it. That many flies can't be wrong!"

Well, you know what happened. He died on the spot.

Some of us want to be with the crowd so badly that we end up in a mess. What does it profit a fly (or a person) if he escapes the web only to end up in the glue? (to loosely paraphrase Mark 8:36).

In Matthew 7:13, 14, Jesus also warned that following the crowd will not lead to eternal life.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Lessons from the Juneau Gold Mill

When my grandparents, Charles and Florence Personeus*, landed in Juneau in 1917 to begin their missionary work there, the hard-rock gold mines were the primary industry. I recently came across Grandma's handwritten description of touring the gold mills and watching the process of separating the gold from the rock containing it and some spiritual lessons she derived from it. After my post last week about gold, I thought you might find this of interest as well.

Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine at south end of Juneau
Juneau is nestled at the foot of two mountains, Mt. Juneau and Mt. Roberts. In the heart of Mt. Roberts was one of the largest, richest gold mines of Alaska. It employed about 650 workers.

Gray rocks containing the gold were dug out of the mountain and brought by trains through a tunnel to the mill located above the lower end of the town. The trains emptied the rocks into a large receiver where they tumbled down into large crushers. If they were too large, they were first blasted into smaller pieces about a foot in diameter.

Gold bearing white quartz
The tumbling rocks were sprayed with a powerful stream of clear water. As the mud and muck were washed away, white quartz in which the gold was imbedded began to show through.

The white quartz must then be separated from the useless gray rock. As the rocks fell from the crusher, they were met by another stream of clear water before they landed on a moving belt about two feet wide. On each side of the belt stood a long line of men, called pickers. As the belt moved past them, they snatched off each rock that showed even the tiniest bit of white. The belt carried those that showed no white to the rock dumps to be discarded.

The rocks that showed white went to another crusher, where they were broken into smaller pieces. They were again washed and carried to another moving belt for the same separating process. Finally, the crushed pieces went into the tumbling barrels, which contained many iron balls. As they tumbled over and over, the heavy balls pounded the little pieces of rock almost to powder, which could be poured out like a stream of dirty water.

At this stage, the slurry was ready to be poured onto large slanting tables with ridges from end to end that vibrated back and forth while the fine crushed rock was continually washed with water. The gold, being the heaviest, settled into the spaces between the ridges, while the water carried away the dross.

Inside the Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine
Along with the gold ore were other metals such as iron and silver. They were useful too, but the gold must be separated even from them. Some of the gold let go easily. It was called "free gold." It fell out first into the top grooves of the tables. These little gold nuggets were gathered up with great care and formed into gold bricks.

Much of the gold, however, clung to the other metals. The "concentrates" had a dirty gray appearance and had to be refined by fire.

Grandma wrote that as she watched the rocks being washed and crushed and separated and tumbled repeatedly, she was reminded of how the trials of our faith bring us to spiritual maturity. We need to have the washing of water of God's Word continually applied to our hearts to reveal the pure gold hidden under the grit and grime of sin.

The process is not easy. Just as the other metals cling to the gold, the sinful nature clings tenaciously to us. Some things, like the iron and silver that cling to the gold, may not be sin in our lives, but they weigh us down and hinder us in our Christian walk. We need to let them go.

But don't lose heart. We used to sing a chorus, "Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me." Each step brings us nearer to having His image revealed in us. If we persevere through the trials that seem to crush us, we shall soon come forth as pure gold.

*You can read the complete story of the Personeuses in my book, Frontiers of Faith, available at

Thursday, June 29, 2017

More Precious than Gold

Years ago on a visit to my home state of Alaska, I purchased a can of "genuine gold-bearing gravel" to be saved as a souvenir or panned. The label said it was "mined from the fabled dutch hills of Mt. McKinley in the Great Land of Alaska" and was "guaranteed gold in each can."

Bob and I decided to open the can on our 50th wedding anniversary on June 10. With great expectations we opened it only to discover that if there ever was any gold in it, it had all turned to dirt!

Sadly, that is exactly what happened to many gold stampeders too. Their dreams turned to dust. Only a few made it rich.

Juneau, Alaska, was founded on gold.
Juneau, where I grew up in the fifties, was founded on gold. It had been the hard rock gold mining capital of the world in the early half of the 20th century, producing billions of dollars worth of gold, but the price of gold dropped too low to make the expensive process of separating gold from the quartz rocks profitable. Now, all the huge gold mines are closed and are only of historical interest to the Alaska tourist industry.*

Gold has long been considered to the most precious of metals.

But how do we know the price of gold?

Twice a day, at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. London time, representatives of the five member firms of the London Gold Market meet in the the Rothschild Bank to set the worldwide price of gold for the day. Traders call this process fixing the daily gold price, which is based on the happy medium price between the buy and sell orders placed with member firms. The price, always stated in U. S. dollars, is then transmitted around the world.

How did gold become the most precious of  precious metals? Here are some facts about gold:

In about 560 BC, King Croesus of Lydia struck the first pure gold coins to be used as an official, respected medium of exchange. Before that, beans, cattle, pigs, and other commodities were used to pay for purchases.

The Romans designed their gold coins with ridged edges to discourage greedy thieves from trying to slice off a few valuable slivers.

In 1531, Spanish conquistadors helped themselves to Inca gold and melted it down into ingots for easier transport. They melted down an estimated 13 tons of gold objects--one of the world's greatest cultural treasures.

In 1827, so much gold was found in Georgia that a branch of the U.S. Mint was opened there. Other branches are found in Denver, Colorado, and San Francisco, California, sites of famous gold rushes.

Gold bars weigh 27.6 pounds, or 400 troy ounces, the standard weight used for international trading. They are also know as "Good Delivery Bars."

The simple gold wedding band, which symbolizes enduring love, probably uses more of the world's gold than any other type of jewelry.

In 1987, it was estimated that about 20 percent of the annual gold production worldwide was stashed away by investors and hoarders. Of the rest, about 75 percent went into jewelry, about 9 percent to electronics, about 9 percent into other industrial uses, and about 4 percent to dentistry.

Gold is so soft and malleable that one ounce can be stretched into a 50-mile long wire. Skilled gold beaters can hammer gold so thin to make gold leaf that it would take 250,000 sheets of it to make a layer an inch think.

About 100 thousand times more gold than has ever been mined from the earth's surface is estimated to be held in suspension in the world's oceans. Unfortunately, the process for recovery is too expensive to be practical.

Before gold is useful, it must be refined. 
Refining with flame is one of the oldest methods of refining metals. Mentioned even in the Bible, refining by fire is the preferable method for larger quantities of gold. In ancient times, this form of refining involved a craftsman sitting next to a hot fire with molten gold in a crucible being stirred and skimmed to remove the impurities or dross that rose to the top of the molten metal. With flames reaching temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees Celsius, this job was definitely a dangerous occupation for the gold refiner. The tradition remains largely unchanged today with the exception of a few advancements in safety and precision.

The second method of refining gold involves the use of chemicals. Strong acids (n
itric acid and hydrochloric acid) are used to dissolve the impurities in the gold ore and afterwards, are neutralized and washed away, taking the impurities with them. The resulting product is a muddy substance that is almost pure gold (99.999% or 24K). This muddy substance is dried until it is a powdered residue and then heated with a torch or other source of heat to melt the gold powder into useable gold. 
As enduring and costly as gold is, the Bible tells us that the genuineness of our faith is as precious as gold that perishes. Just as a refiner applies extreme heat or strong acids to purify gold to make it useful, God allows tests to come our way to refine and purify our faith.

 If you are facing hard trials today, just remember, God is not trying to destroy you. He is refining and purifying you your faith. With Job you can say, "When he has tested me, I shall come forth as pure gold" (Job 23:10).

*These old Juneau mines play a part in my historical Christian fiction novel, Till the Storm Passes By, Book One in my Alaskan Waters Trilogy. The third book in the series, Beside Still Waters, features the Klondike Gold Rush.The entire trilogy is now in print in paperback and ebook. See

Friday, June 23, 2017

No Outlet

In 1986, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of going to the Holy Land to walk where Jesus walked. Tears welled up as I sat in a boat on the Sea of Galilee and realized this was the site where Jesus walked on the water and calmed the stormy waves with His "Peace! Be still!"

Across the waters was the mount upon which Jesus preached His "Sermon on the Mount" and fed the five thousand with five small loaves and two fish.

At its base was the place where Jesus met with His disciples after the Resurrection and commissioned Peter to "Feed My sheep."

On the other side, Jesus cast the demons out of the Gadarene and into the herd of swine that then plunged into the sea.

 Then we followed the Jordan River through the Rift Valley south to Jericho and on to the Dead Sea. From a distance, its blue waters looked like a shimmering gemstone set in the platinum surroundings of salt formations.

Our guide explained that the area was once the well-watered plains of Sodom and Gomorrah chosen by Lot when he and Abraham parted ways. He pointed out the pillar of salt named "Lot's Wife." Lot's family was warned by the angel not to look back as they escaped the destruction of Sodom, but his wife did and was turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:12-29).

The natives of the area call it the Salt Sea. It contains ten times the salinity of ordinary ocean water. In fact, its water volume is more than one-fourth mineral matter. A person cannot sink in its waters. We were warned not to even stick a finger or toe into the water unless we could wash it thoroughly with fresh water because the water is so caustic.

The Dead Sea is well named. No animal life can exist in it. Fish that are swept into it by the Jordan River soon die.

The Dead Sea region is probably the deepest depression on earth. It is 1,300 feet below sea level. The bottom is another 1,300 feet below the surface in the deepest part. This hole is 2,600 feet in depth--with the Mediterranean Sea only 50 miles away.

The trouble with the Dead Sea is that it holds everything for itself. It has an intake but no outlet. Water flows in from the Jordan River, but none flows out.

How like some people who take in but never give out. Some Christians go to worship services and take in but get so busy with their own lives that they never give out to others. I want to be like a glass held under a faucet. The glass fills up and overflows to others with fresh, life-giving water.

Looking for good summer reading? Check out my newest book, Beside Still Waters, Book Three in my Alaskan Waters Trilogy, available now in paperback and ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.