Notes from Jan

Known By Their Song

April 6, 2018

Spring’s arrived, despite below average temperatures.

This morning’s Boston Globe featured pictures with a piece on birds: Know Them By Their Song.

After reading, just before propping up my knee to ice and elevate for swelling, I put on a CD.

Needed something familiar so chose George Beverly Shea.  After Mama died, I took the CD  along with her Bible and tattered copy of Streams in the Desert. Treasures.

Before most folks knew him, Bev Shea was our neighbor.  When I was about a year old, we moved from Chicago to Westmont, Illinois where Daddy pastored a small Baptist church. My folks loved to tell how I’d toddle over to Mr. Shea’s garden and squat down to feast on his tomatoes until I heard,”Janice Dawn, come home!”

Bev Shea and Mama had Canada in common. They must’ve talked about it but all my folks ever told me was how I  unashamedly pilfered tomatoes from his garden.

I intend to apologize some day.

In the meantime, I took comfort today from his deep, warm voice singing familiar songs and hymns ranging from This Little Light of Mine to How Great Thou Art.

Good for more than birds to be known for their songs.

Bev Shea, God’s Songster, beckoned many of us garden squatters, rise up and head Home, telltale fruit juices dribbling off our chins.

Just as we were or are.

Come Home.

Jesus is calling.

Thanks, Mr. Shea, for singing, for planting tomatoes and teaching through a long, faithful life why you chose to sing for Jesus and let the rest of us listen in.

You didn’t sing it on this CD but I learned it from you.

I’d Rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.

Maybe you and Mama are talking Canada, now that you’re neighbors again.

Hope she’s not reminding you about the tomato thief.

I’d rather be known for a song.






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  • Reply Deb Carter April 6, 2018 at 2:12 am

    Thank you for your blog, your thoughts and stories are such an encouragement. Recently I pulled your Mother’s book, “First We Have Coffee” off our library shelf and re-read it for the umpteenth time. It is like an old friend and is so encouraging to me, I was able to share a copy with a friend going through a difficult time with the loss of her son. She really liked it, so will have to share some more of your Mother’s books! After reading I went online to see if I could find any of her talks or interviews on YouTube and could not. Was feeling sad and then I found you Jan and your blog! Keep on writing!!

  • Reply Gail MacDonald April 6, 2018 at 7:38 am

    And you are known by your song, your humor, your can-do spirit, and your love for Christ! Such a comforting blog, Janny. Bless your day by day healing, friend!

  • Reply Evelyn MorganI' April 6, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    What a neat story of my favorite old songster. He had a way of touching the heart like no other. I’m reminded, once again, to dust off my favorite books and read once again. Lena was my favorite. While down-sizing, your mama’s books surfaced like cream and were saved for future reading. All others found another home. A note of encouragement: The knee will once again become useful. Hang in there and keep looking up.

  • Reply Elizabeth Payne April 6, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    Nothing sounds more like spring than that first Robin. Even with snow on the ground, with the weird weather we are having here in Indiana, snow, rain and tornados all in one week, the sound of a Robin is the sound of spring.

    And nothing tastes more like summer than a warm, sun kissed tomato, eaten straight from the garden!

    My father in law knew Bev Shea when their paths crossed at Moody in the late 1940’s, along with Ray MacAfee who was also a life long friend.

  • Reply Myrna April 6, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing those great memories.He was a great singer as well as nice neighbor for you and your family.

  • Reply Janna Peterson April 6, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    Love this! One of my fondest memories is when my Daddy would stack up all the George Beverly Shea albums on the stereo on Sunday morning. And that big beautiful voice prepared us all for Sunday worship. What a treasure !

  • Reply Ruth S. Wacome April 6, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    Oh, Jan, once again you have warmed my heart. So many memories of George Beverly Shea make me smile. One very special one is of the evening that he had done a concert at Tremont Temple, and my husband and I had been asked to usher for it. Afterwards we were invited to join our friend who was hosting him at a late supper at Pier 4. (Bev said he never ate before a concert.) He told us that his favorite bedtime snack at home were his mother’s oatmeal cookies, crumbled in a bowl and covered with milk. He wrote the recipe on a napkin for me, and I cherish those words “Mother Shea’s Oatmeal Cookies” and the listed ingredients.

    Your Mama’s books are also treasures to me. I should re-read them. Heal soon and well, dear Jan.

  • Reply Eleanor April 6, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    When I was a little girl I used to get Hives I ate so many tomatoes. I would eat supper with my family and then go next door for some of their tomatoes. I have started my tomato Plants and they are doing so well. Have been reading your mother’s books again. I let someone borrow First We Have Coffee and Lena some of my favorites, and they never retuned them. It must have been wonderful to be neighbors with Bev Shea, a great man. We went to Boston years ago to see him. Keep a song in your heart always. Love Eleanor

  • Reply Deb White April 7, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Such great memories to share…sure enjoy your blog…continued prayers for your healing!

  • Reply wendy lane April 8, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    So very thankful for songs, for singers, for fresh tomatoes and for you! May God’s healing touch be extra active on that poor knee. Love you!

  • Reply Darlene Gibson April 11, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    That I should read this today is beyond amazing. Today, the day after I learned that Charlie Austin had joined Heaven’s choir. Today, the day I woke up with you on my heart, Jan. Your voice and Charlie’s, welcoming us to Congress every year. I am very sure that one day we will hear the songs and be able to sing along with voices we never had on earth.

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