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Beth Turner.....Lewistown, Montana

(All's well that ends well)

Warm Springs, Lewistown, Montana

I write this as a new 62 year old. My first mistake was to purchase a senior BART ticket (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to use on the way back from San Francisco. Just before I left I turned the ticket over and noticed it was for age 65 and older! So I had to do my favorite thing, which is to purchase a BART ticket from a machine during which people come alongside and ask for spare change. My second mistake as a 62 year old was to get on a different bus than usual and it dropped me at a different entrance to BART and there were no helpers to offer to use my spare change. A good discussion would be "What is Spare Change?" I'm not like most tourists. I bring my own food and stay at a place that has a small fridge. I am a camper in life. I celebrate simply.

Update on San Francisco: the laws have changed and panhandling has been pleasantly reduced!

I am on the state of Montana because much of my life was formed there. When I was 6 I was hyperactive. That was a long time ago and they declared me to be mentally retarded. My parents sent me from just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Ware, Montana (where my grandfather had a ranch) to learn to work with my hands. Where is Ware? It is 25 miles outside of Lewistown via gravel road or dirt road and a river crossing. It consisted of a one-room schoolhouse, which my mother attended, a few mailboxes, and a granary with train tracks next to it to transport wheat mainly. I was to be there two weeks as a 9 year old but I knew I had discovered paradise so I refused to return home until the end of the summer. I am not sure what work I learned to do but I rode a horse called Snickles, shot a 22 rifle at Magpies (birds), fished for Goldeyes and swam in the Judith River. Lewistown was named after Merewether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to find a water passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which at that time meant going from the Mississippi River up the Missouri River and eventually the Columbia River Gorge to the Pacific Ocean. If you met him in the beautiful area now called Lewistown, he would have declared himself to be sent on the mission by Thomas Jefferson.

One of two outflows of Warm Springs, Lewistown, Montana

(Despite hardship, deprivation, and failure to finding the desired waterway, what they found was beautiful!)

I remember asking about the wood shack across the river about a quarter of a mile from the barn. I was told it wasn't used anymore. It turns out that my relative Mary Clearman Blew grew up there. She has written books about our common ancestor surveying the area and quitting to homestead what he earlier recognized as paradise. Her book All But the Waltz mentions my grandfather on the other side of the Judith River as "Small Theo" who wore a baseball cap and laced boots as opposed to the accepted cowboy hat and leather boots. He was deemed as good a cowboy as any other. I remember him as making it all work without neighbors close by. He fixed his own machinery while apologizing that he didn't know how to fix an auto, as he didn't have one when he was growing up. He was up early to milk the many cows and feed the many different kinds of animals. He never ate until all the animals were fed so they would never go hungry. When he was combining wheat it was too far away to come back to the house for lunch. My grandmother made the wonderful and extensive midday "dinner" and took it up to him. We put up a card table with a tablecloth, an umbrella for shade, and ate next to the combine. He was disgusted when I complained it was hot sitting in the sun. His method was to make some kind of noise and change places with you. I slowly changed from a suburban kid to something more appropriate for ranch life. My grandmother pulled the wet laundry from an outdoor tub to hand crank it through a wringer to get most of the water out. She hung it on the line until dry and then ironed it. She always made some fantastic baked good for midmorning. My favorite was cream puffs. On rainy days my grandfather slept. I couldn't figure out how he could work so hard all day and sleep so hard all day.

The new ranch outside Lewistown, Montana

(My grandfather at the old ranch was also far above the house and a long ways from it combining wheat)

My grandfather eventually retired and sold the ranch and moved to a new ranch just a few miles from Lewistown on the east up Spring Creek. By now my younger sister was coming with me to Montana and we had more good times riding gentled but barely broken horses now into Spring Creek and on the Arabian horse ranch land next door and the Black Angus cattle ranch grazing land on top next door. Every evening we would race our horses up the really big hill up to the tiptop at Castle Butte Road and watch the sun go down with a view of all the mountain ranges. At one point there were deep open missile ditches you had to avoid, I suppose at the height of the Cold War. We had half-Quarter horse-half thoroughbred horses so we always won. The pure quarter horse ran even faster. The Arabians ridden by grand kids about our ages as grand kids always reached the top later. In order to keep up the fun we set up 50-gallon drums on the flat and did barrel racing. Our rule was you galloped around the barrel and dropped a rock in a white cloth on the barrel. You raced back to the start, turned around and as you galloped around the barrel you leaned over and reached out and grabbed the rock in the white cloth and the first back to the start won. The complaint was that I always won. I think that is because I went closer to the barrel and leaned over further. My horse loved it too. The new rule was everyone could ride his or her horse but I had to run on foot. I still won. So they reversed it. I was on a horse while everyone else ran. I still won. I'm sure I didn't win every race but I won so much they had to figure out how to make me lose. Years later in 1997 I got on a horse I'd never ridden to try a barrel race course I'd never tried in northern California. I won 3 ribbons in the 40 and over class. I was surprised I still had it in me.

My cousin near where we galloped our horses every evening to watch the sun go down

(The only requirements for riding through grazing areas was a friendly neighbor and that you closed the gate behind you)

On the new ranch we were close enough to town to ride in and be in the July 4th parade which we did every year. I also competed during the fair in the equestrian classes. The first year one of the reins came off and my horse was freaked at being with so many other horses in a strange place. The announcer was talking about me on the loud speaker. He said riders should not bring out of control horses to the ring. I was embarrassed. Next year I was ninth in one class, seventh in another, and fifth in another on the same horse, one I'd trained. I felt triumphant that a kid from Philadelphia who only rides two months a year could do so well with kids who ride year around on ranches.

Riding through the "third pasture" toward the Big Snowy Mountains

(It's easy to train young horses in thick trees...they listen to your commands because they don't know where to go)

My love affair with Warm Springs developed early. My uncle would go fly fishing for trout early and we all would show up at Warm Spring early and have fresh trout for breakfast. Then we would swim all day in the always 68-degree F water. One special day my grandparents took us to Warm Spring and sat in the car all day while we swam and played. It must have been boring for them. They did it just for us. I discovered that you can buy inexpensive underwater cameras and I learned to take pictures of the air bubbles coming up from underneath. I have many such photos. There is good highway between Lewistown and Warm Springs. You pay the rancher the going amount and you are in! It started out as $1/car and the last time I was there it was $3/person. Lest you be cynical that's not much of an increase when you consider the price increase is over half a century.

Underwater heaven at Warm Spring

(The chilly water knocks the breath out of you and you really need a weight belt and mask and snorkel to stay down)

There is so much more I could say but I am hoping my relatives who are believers in Jesus will add their thoughts.

A friend of mine and I took a 70 day trip around the U.S. after her first year of college and after I graduated from high school. I graduated late, as I had been an exchange student in West Berlin between my junior and senior year. It was the summer when all that was on the radio and in the newspapers was Jimmy Hoffa. We decided not to listen or read and not even look at a map but just talk with people. We had points of interest with a time line so we wouldn't miss anything. People directed us to wonderful things not on our list. We made a wrong turn sometime west of New Orleans and were lost. I did pull out the map. I noted the map stated that the San Jacinto Monument looks just like the Washington Monument but is taller. The land was flat and open in all directions. Our plan became to keep a sharp look out and drive to it when we saw it. This is how we met a lunar receiving engineer from NASA outside of Houston instead of being in Dallas as planned. I had wanted to be a physicist and my girl friend had wanted to be a chemist. Based on that we got into NASA on a non-visitor day and were treated extremely well and it seem everyone stressed we would be welcome to work there. I still have my NASA badge.

I mention this trip because all during the trip I would remark, "Oh, there's a church!" or "Oh, look at those church doors!" As I look back God must have been drawing me to himself. As we had come out of Glacier National Park toward Lewistown there was no daytime speed limit on the roads. I remember driving 90 mph. The road would suddenly make a 90-degree turn as it wound around some pasture and I would slam on the brakes and narrowly escape the van rolling over. As I look back I realize I could have died then due to my taking all the freedom offered by the State of Montana. In less than a year I would realize I could have missed eternity with God. I was so lucky not to have crashed.

Due to an accident when I was 10 when the saddle cinch came loose and I broke my arm I rarely used a saddle

(For safety my grandfather never let us ride a horse we couldn't get on bareback on flat ground without help)

After returning to near Philadelphia and talking with a local newspaper reporter and seeing our photo and trip itinerary in print, I immediately left for my freshman year at the University of Michigan College of Engineering (Ann Arbor). During this year I attended a Bible study. Like most people, given just a few verses to read in an entire week, I never seemed to have the time to read even for just a few minutes. I was not racing toward God! In my first semester in Engineering English I wrote a paper on Creation vs. Evolution. I just remember noting order in nature. My honors physics teacher said one time, "The more you study physics, the more religious you become." I wasn't quite sure what he meant by that. I was the only woman in all my classes and this physics teacher did not want a woman in his class so I wasn't going to ask what he meant by that.

Mary Clearman Blew states this butte was called Theo's Butte (my grandfather).
We could go up to the Butte on every other year when the wheat field was fallow. (the soil was resting and the field was not planted)

The second semester a young man, Richard, classified 4F (unfit for service) according to the military, an art student at Michigan State, drove me back to my dorm after the Bible study three times. He witnessed to me about Jesus. I have no idea what he said and he may not have an idea what he said. I remember him rambling. It didn't matter. God, way before word processing software such as WORD, reworked his phrases into something that challenged me. I had strong confidence in myself. One had to be strong to be a woman in engineering school at that time. When Richard told me if I came to God as I am without repenting, God would cast me out of his presence. That made me really angry and I retorted, "Then that's God's last chance to know me!" I had it backwards, of course. I was in danger of not knowing God.

I decided to conduct an experiment. I did not know what sin was so I picked something that I thought assuredly was wrong. If I never did it again in my whole life, I was not really a sinner lost in sin although I knew I was a sinner who did wrong at times. If I did it again, God would win, and I was a sinner lost in sin and without Jesus, I would be lost, instead of Jesus just being a misguided do-gooder. It took 3 weeks. It was custom at the University of Michigan that you kiss and hug total strangers. If you meet someone of the opposite gender persuasion, and don't want to kiss and hug as if you know each other well and long, then you must be creative to avoid it. I met someone on the railroad tracks as I was just taking a long walk. He and I walked back to my dorm together. It was Maundy Thursday (1968). I was supposed to be at church. I hit the elevator button with my elbow (unknown to him) and I was ready to back into it when the door opened. It was a women-only dorm so he couldn't follow. I was not in control of when the elevator would arrive. I kissed him on purpose just to get rid of him. The elevator came, I backed in and the door shut.

Many picnics took place just above these rocks.
One never gets used to how it feels to be on top of the butte. There is always a picnic lunch!

On the way up it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had just done it. I had planned to show affection to him to get rid of him. Isn't this what Judas did when he kissed Jesus so the Roman soldiers and the high priest could identity him and arrest him and kill him? Yes, it was. God was very eloquent. He held up a mirror to me and showed me who I was. I realized Jesus was the answer or there was no answer. I did not know what to do. I looked at my watch. It was 5:20 pm. I was supposed to be at church at 5:30 pm and even if I ran the whole way I could not make it as it took 45 minutes walking. I threw myself on the dorm room floor and burst out with the words, "OK, God, you're right! Hide not your face from me!" In a nanosecond or less I was filled with and surrounded with love. I was under the impression that he had forgiven me of this one sin this one time. After 21 days of reading the New Testament and being loved by God I decided I must have become a Christian! This must be what Billy Graham always talks about!

I gave up my freedom to God who channeled me to a new level of freedom and seeing the world

My horse now saw wide-open pastures, the town and horses and riders from all over at the fair riding competition

It was the end of the academic year. I was now going to pay back the American Friends Service Committee (the social action arm of the Quakers) for sending me to West Berlin as an exchange student by going on a public speaking tour in the South against the War in Vietnam and racism. Suffice to say it was quite a challenge for a new believer who turned 20 during the tour. I was thrown out of more churches than many people have been in. I now believe in the just war theory and I choose not to comment on which police actions or wars the U.S. is and has been involved in have been just wars. As a woman in the late 60's I did not have to face the draft personally although I did express my opinions to President Johnson, I did not have any part in the decision making process. Johnson did what I asked, however. He did not run for President again.

The Lord had given me clear direction in February of 1969. He told me to, "Go somewhere and study the Bible, go somewhere and study love, and you're going to seminary." I decided to take "Bible as Literature" at the University of Michigan, declare it impossible to study love, and I informed God that women do not go to seminary. As with all disobedience, life is not more fun. The Bible as Literature class was without reference to faith. I later learned working with dependent and neglected children at the Philadelphia Home for Children that love has laws. Jesus knew what love was and people's lives changed around him. Those who chose to try and control Jesus rather than respond to his love were the losers. As for seminary, I went to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and graduated in 1976 with a Master of Divinity degree. This means I had the same training as pastors have including reading the Bible in Greek and Hebrew. Although as with the University of Michigan College of Engineering women were admitted by the administration, those who felt women should not prepare to be pastors challenged life on the ground constantly. When I started I was the only woman in the Master of Divinity program. I took 9 months off to check back in with God on some issues. I returned and finished. By the time I graduated I was one of three women in the Master of Divinity program. Two awards were given for academic excellence for women and I had to watch the other two women receive those. I felt I came up short although my grades were good. My best subjects were Hebrew and Old Testament. I wondered why God would require a personal evangelist to work toward and receive the degree of Master of Divinity. I didn't know about the Internet back then, who did? I didn't know I could equip an army of personal evangelists with the tools to lead others to Christ. I didn't know a saved family member could simply email the link to the language page the rest of the family speaks. I did not understand how God could draw individuals to himself in cyberspace. Today I still talk with as many people as I can about the Lord and refer them to

I am at the 2011 Montana Winter Fair in the booth

(None of us knows how much time we have left to make the most important decision of our lives so I'm there in case you haven't heard God loves you and Jesus died for you and he wants to come into your life. After that it's your decision.)

I would like to say, "Do not be afraid of God or afraid if you obey him he will take away who you are." He took me out of engineering and had me study the Bible for 7 years (bachelors and masters) and then took me back into engineering via an electronics degree. I worked in a start-up in the Silicon Valley in Design Engineering. It was as challenging as anything I ever had done. When I got laid off God took me to Israel where I lived for a year on two kibbutzim. He fulfilled all my goals up until then: to live on a kibbutz, learn Hebrew (spoken), go on an archaeological dig, and take a Mediterranean vacation. I lived on Kibbutz Ma'ayan Zvi on the coast about an hour south of Haifa and I lived on Kibbutz En Dor in the Jezreel Valley west of Tiberius, very near the Mount of Transfiguration. Both were for 5 months as part of the Ulpan program where I learned Hebrew and worked for my room and board. I was on an archaeological dig on the coast about 10 minutes north of my first kibbutz where we had gone swimming on Saturdays. I learned to scuba dive in Elat in Hebrew in the Red Sea. I later dove on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. I bought timeshare on the Mediterranean coast on the Peloponnese in Greece. As you can see, God fulfills the desires of our hearts once he has our hearts. If we try and get for ourselves what we want, when we get it, it will not be the same. God can be trusted.

The entire Montana Winter Fair booth

(Gideons hand out New Testaments free. Donated Christian books are free. Salvation is free.)

(I send you home with a creditcard-sized tract with 3 websites stamped on it. where 180 languages can be found, where you can have a page for free to talk about your life and how you follow Jesus Christ, and JesúsEsElSeñ which is partly in Spanish)

One question you may have is how did I get from being pronounced mentally retarded to the University of Michigan College of Engineering? And how did I get on the Dean's Honor List there?

The answer is my father, my mother, and Girl Scouts. My father met every teacher at the beginning of the schoolyear and said, "If you don't teach my daughter, you will never teach anywhere in the U.S. again." My mother spent a couple hours every day in the summer teaching me to read. The reward to me was to be a clock radio, which I did receive. Girl Scouts did not see my school records and just let me be me. In junior high school (grades 7-9) we had split sessions as we are the baby boomers and we are a large group. I went to school from 6:30 am to 12:30 or 1:15 pm. The next person home arrived after 6 pm. No one watched TV in the afternoon back then so I worked on Girl Scout badges. I should have gotten the message when a badge was returned to me to do over. I was told, "We would accept this from another girl but not you." The problem is, when you have low expectations for a person, you get low achievement. I remember telling my 8th grade math teacher maybe my mother could help me. He almost went into shock when he said, "Your mother isn't Mrs. Turner! Is she?" The answer was yes. He was wondering how the daughter of the mother could be so less successful. My mother was working on her Masters in Counseling Psychology to better send us to college. She had to administer an IQ test to someone. She chose me. I remember listening to numbers and repeating them back and putting puzzles together. One puzzle I put together in the last second. I didn't know it was often not finished in the time allotted. We were sitting as a family in front of the TV Sunday night watching Bonanza. She said, "I've added this up three times and I can't find an error. You should be doing better in school." Like a big ship, it's not that easy to turn things around.

I learned from my year as an exchange student in West Berlin that all people must be free

(Within 2 years of returning from Berlin and committing my life to Christ I realize all people must be spiritually free)

My success in school began when in 10th grade I looked at some algae through a microscope. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I started to get an A in biology. Then it spread to other classes. By the time the University of Michigan looked, I was on the honor roll and had immersed myself in the German language and German culture and had experienced the Cold War in East and West Berlin (1965-66). I was now interested in social, biological and physical science. I had also picked up clues to my future as the boy who sat behind me in physics had escaped from Hungary and my biology teacher was from Latvia and surely did not like the Communists. Eventually, after I became a Christian, I smuggled Bibles and did other things on behalf of people blocked from public confession as Christians. I became an activist on a personal scale. As for many Christians throughout history, even in the United States of America, it can be difficult to be a true Christian. You pay a price you never knew was coming but to the extent that you trust God, you live life for real. You write the pages of your life day by day. You do not stay so safe that you write your obituary day by day.

This image has been passed around the Internet and seen by many. If God gives you an open door, walk through it!

This image has been passed around the Internet and seen by many. Aging gracefully is what I call it!

This image has been passed around the Internet and seen by many.
"There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. (Psalm 46:4 Amplified Bible)

Last Updated: 01/23/2015