Newsletter — November 2022

November 2022 (Thanksgiving) Newsletter

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  I Thessalonians 5:18

From the keyboard of Dr. Ross Jutsum

Featured picture above — the “Blomberg Seven” in Guinea — Lisa and Jon (holding twin boys Aaron and Noah,) in front are Solomon (their “Solo” child) and twins Isaiah & Evelyne

Dear family, friends and ministry partners:

We survived Hurricane Ian and then Tropical Storm Nicole (which became a hurricane!)  Having left Southern California in January of this year, along with its earthquakes, droughts,   fires, mudslides, traffic etc., we didn’t expect to deal with a hurricane here in N.E. Florida so soon!  Thankfully, we fared well with only a couple of minor leaks, unlike so many of our neighbors who were inundated with water and the damage that resulted.  We are so grateful for God’s protection and His mercy. Shortly after the hurricane, Tammy admired a pillow cushion with the inscription “give thanks with a grateful heart” and our neighbor gifted it to us as a reminder this season of Thanksgiving that we should always have an “attitude of gratitude” not just on Thanksgiving Day but every day so graciously God gifts us!

This season we are especially proud of our son-in-law, Dr. Ryan McAnnally-Linz (Heidi’s husband.)  Ryan has recently co-authored another book with his mentor, Dr. Miroslav Volf, entitled “The Home of God,” (A Brief Story of Everything.)  The book, published by Brazos Press, came out in late September.  I found this book to be extremely enlightening and encouraging!  Ryan continues teaching at Yale University Divinity School and is Associate Director of the Center for Faith and Culture.  Heidi continues working as Deputy Director of Yale’s Macmillan International Center. It will be wonderful to welcome Heidi’s family here for Thanksgiving.

We will have to wait till next summer to see Lisa’s family. News flash!  The “Blomberg Seven” have completed  their missionary work in Turkey and, for the past few months, are now living in Conakry, the capital of Guinea in West Africa!  God has opened new doors for both Lisa and Jonathan to serve once again with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF.) This is the organization Jonathan previously served  with as a pilot. In this new location, Jonathan will once again serve as a pilot and Lisa will serve as the Country Director for MAF.

Needless to say, this is a major transition for Lisa and Jonathan and the entire family and is especially a challenge for the children who, at their tender ages (6 ½ year old twins Isaiah and Evelyne), 4 ½ year old Solomon, and 2 ½ year old twin boys Aaron and Noah) are attending a French-speaking school.  (Their parents are already totally fluent in French.)  Lisa and Jon have this new calling, along with  a fervent desire to serve God and His precious children in this part of the world.  Please do pray for their safety and security and for their housing and schooling needs to be met, as well as for peace of mind, needed help with the children, and for like-minded friends.

Tammy and I are hoping for our whole family to be together next summer when Lisa and Jon will have a spiritual retreat somewhere in Europe.  We SO miss our grand-children!  In this new community on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, we are finding new ways to minister to our neighbors and to shine the light of Jesus.  We have a number of ministry trips planned around the Christmas season, including one to serve at the Grace Communion congregation in Big Sandy, Texas (our old stomping ground from 1990-1998.)

We thank you so much for your prayers for our family and ministry and also for your support.  Please know that Tammy and I regularly pray for you and yours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

With gratitude, love and blessings,

Ross and Tammy

Newsletter — August-October 2022

August-October 2022 Newsletter


Photo: Ross and Lisa lead worship at Life Christian Fellowship in Pasadena, CA with our 5 grandchildren joining us on stage for a praise dance!

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?  Romans 8:3

Dear family, friends and ministry partners:

Tammy and I just returned from a 30-day trip to Washington state and our old “stomping ground” in Southern California.  It was truly wonderful to spend quality time with Lisa and Jon and their five children!  Because of the pandemic, we hadn’t yet met Aaron and Noah (now 2 and ½ years old!)  Needless to say, they have more energy than a barrel full of monkeys and we are rather exhausted!

We enjoyed leading worship in Orlando at the Grace Communion congregation in May and caught up with many dear and long-time friends. Among them was Derrol Nail, a student of mine back in the 1990s when we were at the Big Sandy, TX Ambassador campus.  Derrol is now the NASA Communications Director at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, about 35 miles south of our new Florida residence.  We can see the rocket launches very well from our place, but nothing quite as spectacular as being right there for a launch, thanks to Derrol’s generous gift of passes.

In addition to the joy of spending such precious time with Lisa and family, it was also a truly wonderful privilege to lead worship together with Lisa at Life Christian Fellowship in Pasadena.  The praise songs we led included “In Christ Alone,” “I Love You, Lord,” “How Great Thou Art” and “How Great is Our God,” “Ten Thousand Reasons” and “Shout to the Lord.”

After a couple of weeks recuperating from our last trip, we leave in a few days to spend some time with Heidi and Ryan in Connecticut, along with 9 year old Grace and 6 year old Gabriel.

We appreciate your prayers for our ministry and family.  Please know that you and yours are in our prayers also.  As the lyrics to one of my worship songs go, “may Your kingdom come, may Your will be done, even here on earth, as it is in heaven!”

With gratitude, love and blessings,

Ross and Tammy

Newsletter – May-July 2022

May-July 2022 Newsletter

“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:31

 Thanks to the pandemic, this was my first in-person program in a church since March 17, 2020.  Ironically, the above event took place this past St. Patrick’s Day, exactly two years since I gave a “Zoom” program from the chapel of Royal Oaks Assisted Living in Duarte, CA for 200 residents!

 From the keyboard of Dr. Ross Jutsum                                                                                                                                                

Dear family, friends and ministry partners:

Happy Spring! We are almost settled in our new home, a 7th floor condo in Flagler Beach, Florida on the Atlantic Coast, about half way between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach. It was quite the herculean effort to scale down from our large home in Southern California to this comfy 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo, but we are very happy to have made the move and enjoy our wonderful views of the ocean AND the sunset over the Atlantic IntraCoastal Waterway behind us.

The above-mentioned program took place at Wellsprings Church in Satellite Beach where our long-time friend Steve Schantz serves as the Senior Chaplain. The audience of about 100 really enjoyed the musical offerings which included some Irish favorites, but also a few original compositions selected purposefully in light of the heartbreaking situation in The Ukraine at the moment — “May Your Kingdom Come” and “For the Least of These”…

All seven of our grand-children together in the Middle East over New Year’s… Solomon (almost 4,) Grace (almost 9) holding one of our almost 2-year-old grandtwin boys Noah, then almost 6 year-old twins Isaiah and Evelyne (with Evie holding twin brother Aaron) and last but not least Gabriel (almost 6.)

We are SO looking forward to meeting the grand-twin boys in July when Lisa and Jonathan and their family will be visiting the U.S. on an extended leave. In the meantime, as we follow the Lord’s lead to serve wherever in the Body He desires (this coming weekend leading worship at a church in Orlando,) our ministry is also supporting Lisa and Jon’s wonderful work in the Middle East and we are also contributing to a Canadian pastor friend’s ministry bringing needy refugees from Africa and the Middle East.

Your continuing support and your prayers are so very much appreciated. We continue to use our P.O. Box in Sierra Madre, CA. We pray for you and yours regularly and long for the day when there will truly be “no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears, no more death.” Indeed, “may Your Kingdom come soon!”

With gratitude, love and blessings,
Ross and Tammy

Newsletter — February-April 2022

February-April 2022 Newsletter

“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:31

Featured Image: Our five older grand-children all very happy together for the New Year in the Middle East — Heidi’s children (Grace, 8 and Gabriel, 5) on outside in grey — Lisa’s three oldest (5-year-old twins Evelyne and Isaiah in pink and blue and 3-year-old Solomon in dark blue)

 From the keyboard of Dr. Ross Jutsum                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Dear family, friends and ministry partners:

Tammy and I wish you a very happy New Year.  We have some really BIG news to share!  We recently sold our home for the past 22 years here in Southern California and are planning to move out of state.  We don’t know where exactly as yet, but, for a couple of months, are renting a place near the Palm Coast area in Florida (on the Atlantic coast about half-way between Daytona Beach and St. Augustine) and we will check out various areas before deciding where to settle.

Down-sizing is something our girls have wanted us to do for some time and we finally did it!  Going through 43 and ½ years of things we have accumulated during our married life, not to mention all of the girls’ things and many belongings of Tammy’s mother from when she lived with us — it is all rather daunting!  However, we have finished all of the sorting and tossing and deciding what little to keep and are having an estate sale.  Then we are off on our new adventure.

Of course, I do not plan to retire from ministry and we plan on keeping our non-profit 501C3, State of the Heart Ministries, in California, where one of our Directors will still be living.  We will be keeping our P.O. Box 56 in Sierra Madre as the ministry mailing address.  Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been forced to scale back on ministry travel and that will no doubt still be the case.  However, we plan to use the ministry funds more to support our daughters and their families’ ministry efforts and outreach.  And of course, we will continue to serve and share in whatever place God leads us to land!

We plan to continue our quarterly newsletters with family and ministry news, along with our ministry web site.  Wherever doors open in churches, retirement communities and other venues, we plan to walk through them and through music and worship, let our lights shine with the love of God and the good news of salvation through Jesus and the gospel message.

As you can see from the picture on the first page, our daughters and sons-in-law have had a wonderful time together with all seven of our grand-children in the Middle East for the past couple of weeks.  (Almost two-year-old twin boys, Aaron and Noah, were not close by for this photo.)  With our potential re-location to the East Coast, we will be closer to Heidi and her family in Connecticut and also several hours closer to Lisa and her family overseas.  We hope to have the flexibility to visit our kids and grand-kids more often.

In a few months we will be entering the 26th year of “State of the Heart Ministries.”  It has been quite an incredible journey thus far and we are trusting our loving and wonderful Lord to guide us in this transition and show us the ways He wants us to continue to be His hands and feet, His lips and eyes as we go forward.

As always, we so appreciate your prayers for our family and our ministry and are so grateful for your financial support also.  We continue to lift up you and yours to our loving God in prayer also.

With gratitude, love and blessings,

Ross and Tammy


Newsletter – November-January 2021

Last quarter, I asked for your prayers for my dear sister Robyn in Australia.  Sadly, Robyn passed away a few weeks ago after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer for more than 2 and ½ years.  Tammy and I had the precious privilege of talking with Robyn a week before her passing and she was ready and even told us of the planned Celebration of Life service a few weeks ahead.  I suggested to Robyn that I would like to compose a special song for that occasion and she said “Oh Ross!  Would you please?”  I was able to complete the lyrics in a day or two and Robyn’s amazing husband, Ian, read them aloud to her when she was awake and able to comprehend that it was from her “little brother.” 

Newsletter – August-October 2021

Thank you all so very much for your prayers for my dear sister Robyn in Australia.  More than two  years after her diagnosis with pancreatic cancer, Robyn continues to amaze doctors, and to inspire all of her family with her positive outlook, certainly due to her strong faith, and the True Hope we all have in Jesus. 

Newsletter – May-July 2021

Featured Images:  Ross gives first 2021 Driveway Concert; Our Connecticut family all dressed up for church; Ross has a Zoom video editing session with his editor in Pennsylvania

I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”  Romans 8:38 (New Living)

Dear family, friends and ministry partners:

Tammy and I hope that this finds you and yours safe and healthy.  Needless to say, we have made no ministry trips in the past 15 months and are doing what we can to serve our neighbors, family and friends.  I just started up another series of Saturday evening “driveway concerts” this past weekend.  About 40 folks spread up and down our cul-de-sac and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the 90-minute program.  We offered 20 of these concerts in 2020 but put them on hold during the cooler weather and when I needed time for my back to heal.

I have been using this time to complete a number of ministry projects that I have neglected when I was traveling so much.  One is the creation of music videos for more of my original worship songs.  These will not only be incorporated into live future worship services, but I plan to share them at no charge on the Internet and via e-mail. If “a picture is worth a thousand words” then perhaps a song is worth ten thousand, especially when accompanied by pictures or videos!  Perhaps now more than ever before in human history has this world needed to hear the message of hope and peace and true joy that is declared in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our Connecticut family, Heidi, Ryan, Grace (7), and Gabriel (5) are looking forward to a summer visit to California after a year and a half at home in Connecticut.  Heidi’s work has been busier than ever as her team responds to the dual economic and health crises that the pandemic has triggered in the most vulnerable parts of the world. She has most recently been working tirelessly helping policymakers and organizations throughout South Asia respond to the COVID-19 surge.  Ryan is writing two books and is wrapping up his first all-Zoom semester of teaching “Life Worth Living” at Yale.  Grace is a budding poet and environmental activist. She enjoys knitting in her rocking chair while listening to audio versions of the Little House books. Gabriel is excited to start kindergarten in the fall. He knows more about dinosaurs than you do!  All have been loving joining their church for masked outdoor services on the New Haven Green.

Wonderful Dad Jonathan and Mom Lisa plus 5 in the Middle East; Almost five-year old twins Isaiah and Evelyne holding one-year-old twins Aaron & Noah, with three-year old Solo in the middle

Our family in the Middle East is growing fast!  The twin grand-boys just turned one-year-old and sadly, we haven’t met them yet.  We hope to rectify that situation later this year.  The three older children, twins Evelyne and Isaiah, and middle child Solomon (“Solo”) are really great with the twin boys, entertaining them and gladly playing with them. Lisa texted us yesterday to let us know that their country has just gone into a three-week nationwide lock-down due to the Covid19 surge.  It is challenging enough to have five young children but not to be able to take them outside to play in the park or at the sea for three weeks is very disconcerting. Please continue to pray for Lisa and Jonathan and their children for their safety and sanity. They are continuing to do wonderful work from home even though movements have been severely limited.

We have been sorry to learn of the passing of a number of our long-time ministry partners this past year.  We greatly miss Suzy Crowell, George Cassat, Don Persyn, Lee Pettijohn, Nick Leaver and Pastor Sammy O’Dell.  We long for the time we can be reunited with all our family and friends forever!  In the meantime, we pray for you and yours and want you know that our hearts are full of gratitude for your prayers for our family and ministry, and for generous support over these many years, especially in this past challenging one.

With gratitude, love and blessings,

Ross and Tammy

Newsletter – February-April 2021

Featured Image: Younger daughter Lisa & husband Jonathan holding 8-month-old twins Noah and Aaron; almost 5-year-old twins Evelyne and Isaiah (holding hands!) and almost 3-year-old Solomon

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors…”                      II Corinthians 5: 18, 20        

Dear family, friends and ministry partners:

The New Year of 2021 is finally here!  Needless to say, we are so anxious to see our children and grand-children in person once again (and to meet our new grand-twin boys for the first time!)  However, we will have to be a little more patient!  I am sure that many of you, dear friends, are also missing being close to your loved ones – Zoom and FaceTime and video clips and phone calls are great but not quite the same!

As I reflect on the beginning of a new year, I was reminded of the above beautiful and encouraging scripture – as followers of Jesus, we are, INDEED, a “new creation” and as He lives in us, using the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit, we ARE Christ’s ambassadors in this world that so desperately needs His LIGHT!  Even if we are still forced to be “hunkered down” we are honored to share HIS Light, HIS Love and HIS Life!

A few days before Christmas we offered our 14th “Driveway Concert” and were so glad that over 50 friends and neighbors “socially distanced” on our cul-de-sac and enjoyed songs of the season, especially the beloved Christmas carols.  Winter here in Southern California enables us to be outside a lot and it is on our morning walks and interactions with our neighbors, and with phone calls and e-mails to friends and family, that we can truly be “Christ’s Ambassadors.”  I have a couple of ministry trips tentatively scheduled in March but don’t know if travel will be safely possible by then.  Also, I have been asked to give programs at local nursing homes and assisted living facilities only to have them canceled due to the ongoing pandemic.  Yet, in the midst of darkness and despair, we can all offer light and hope and comfort, through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

As you can see from the picture above, Lisa and Jonathan certainly have their hands full over there in the Middle East!  Their wonderful work sharing God’s love and the Gospel of Hope continues in spite of COVID!  Heidi’s organization, “Innovations for Poverty Action,” is more needed than ever in the dozens of countries they serve around the world, especially as worldwide poverty has seen a dramatic increase during this time.  (There is a wonderful article about “IPA” in a recent Wall Street Journal.)  Your prayers for our family and for all those incredible workers who serve as the “hands” and “feet” and “eyes” of Jesus are much appreciated.

Thank you, also, for your many prayers for my health challenges.  After almost five months of back pain, and numerous visits to doctors, orthopedic specialists, our chiropractor, acupuncturist and physical therapist, I am happy to report that the pain is way less, and I believe THE Great Physician is answering your (and our) prayers for healing and restoration.  And a heartfelt thank-you to all of you for your kind and generous support of “State of the Heart Ministries” over so many years, but especially during this one just past.

We pray continually for you and yours, that our loving and awesome God continues to bless and keep you and hold you safely in the palm of His hand!

With gratitude, love and blessings,                                                                          Ross and Tammy

Newsletter — November 2020 – January 2021

Clockwise from top left to bottom left: Grace (7) in CT stopping to smell the roses; in the Middle East, Evelyne (4 and ½) sporting the latest in kid’s masks; twin brother Isaiah does the same; Evelyne and Isaiah together at the local park; Solomon, our “Solo,” (2 and ½) enjoys a cable car ride; the Blomberg “boys” – Isaiah and Solomon holding 6-month-old twins, Aaron and Noah; Gabriel, Grace’s brother in CT, (4 and ½) enjoying a rainbow popsicle at the ER for a concussion (don’t worry – he’s just fine!)

Dear treasured friends, precious family and valued ministry partners:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:6-7)

As our good friend, pastor Greg Albrecht recently noted regarding the Philippians passage at the top: “Paul wrote these words when he was in lockdown – the power of the mighty Roman Empire insisted he ‘stay safe at home.’  Paul was social distancing whether he liked it or not.  He was in prison, or at the very least under house arrest.  He had good reason to be anxious about everything in his life and yet he said ‘Do not be anxious about anything…’

In addition to the Covid-19 situation, here in Southern California we had been dealing with horrible air quality due to the recent “Bobcat” Fire in the San Gabriel Mountains above us, and now from smoke and ash being blown in from several other fires!  And, yes, I forgot to mention we were awakened by an earthquake a few weeks back, yet we continue to “rejoice in the Lord always” as we know that His love for us never fails, even in the current distresses!

As I write, Tammy and I should be arriving in the Middle East to meet our two new grandchildren – now 6-month-old twins Aaron and Noah.  Sadly, we’ll have to wait until next Spring to be with our daughter Lisa, son-in-law Jonathan, as well as Evelyne, Isaiah and Solomon.  Please continue to pray for this amazing family as they share God’s love in a very challenging place!

In the meantime, I have been receiving physical therapy this past month for some rather acute back pain due to a defective L5.  I am also dealing with Dupuytren’s Contracture on my right hand (inherited by my siblings and me from our northern European ancestors!) causing my little finger to begin to bend.  Soon I will have to make a decision regarding surgery to correct this or some other option.   I am sure you can understand this could be rather distressing, given how I use my hands in ministry.  Your prayers for complete recovery and healing would be most appreciated.  My hands are His hands and all of us are safely in the palms of His hands!

After giving a dozen “driveway concerts” we had to take a break, first due to rather excessive heat (up to 115 Fahrenheit!) and the above-mentioned air quality.  We were going to resume these community outreaches this week, but once again the air quality prevents that.  It was wonderful, though, for Tammy and me to be able to lead a Zoom worship service with Grace Communion church in Orange County a few weeks ago.  And, of course, we continue to reach out via phone, e-mail and videos to friends, family and loved ones, even though ministry travel has had to be curtailed for the moment.  Thankfully, I am starting to receive invitations for ministry visits early in 2021.

Your prayers for, and ongoing financial support of “State of the Heart” are so very much appreciated.  We are so grateful for each and every one of co-workers in the Gospel and pray for you and yours often.  Please let us know how you are doing (via e-mail, phone or letter) and tell us if you have need of prayer specifically for your friends and family.

With love and prayers and blessings,

Ross and Tammy

Newsletter – August-October 2020

Featured Image: Four-year-old twins, Isaiah and Evelyne on the outside, two-year-old Solomon (“Solo”) in the middle, welcoming home twin-boys Aaron and Noah (now 3 months!) from the hospital!

Dear treasured friends, precious family and valued ministry partners:

Once again, Tammy and I hope this finds you and yours staying safe and keeping healthy. Needless to say, like so many, this season is particularly challenging — we SO miss our families, especially when they live SO far away. We can’t wait to hug our new twin boy grand-babies, and the other five as well! For now, we must settle with regular FaceTime calls and almost daily video exchanges. It’s not quite like being there, but so very much appreciated for the time being!

For the second time in 23 years, I am not including a schedule with this quarterly newsletter!  Needless to say, all planned ministry trips have been canceled or postponed for the foreseeable future.  We are surely hoping that changes soon. I WAS able to give a concert at a local nursing home/assisted living on America’s Independence Day, July 4th.  I was outside in the courtyard and most of the residents were inside, socially distancing, and able to hear through open doors. The welcoming response was enthusiastic as so many residents enjoyed the first live entertainment in almost 4 months. I am looking forward to many other opportunities like this.

Also, since our last newsletter, I have given 12 Saturday evening “Driveway Concerts” for our friends and neighbors. The last one had about 75 in attendance, spread out in small groups up and down our street.  It has been a great way to reach out to our neighbors and develop closer relationships. I usually field many requests during the 90-minute programs and even include some hymns and inspirational songs. We are taking a little break right now due to the very warm summer temperatures, but plan to resume in a few weeks as soon as it is a little cooler. (Most of the audience are seated in the shade but the logistics put Tammy and me in full sun!)

If I have your e-mail address, some of you will have received the daily “musical offerings” of videos of my original compositions, so far 27 of them, accompanied by short messages of the biblical passages on which the songs are based. There has been a lot of wonderful feedback to this project as well. If you have not received these via e-mail, please drop me a note and I will gladly add you to the list, and send you some or all of these “offerings!”

One other exciting project recently completed is a recording of piano arrangements of 100 Best-Loved Hymns and another recording of piano arrangements of A Variety of 100 Popular Songs (including Broadway songs, jazz, folk, classical and more!) Just like the “musical offering” project, I am making these available through a Dropbox link and can e-mail that to you as well. Needless to say, these two recording projects cost quite a bit to produce — I am offering them each at a reduced price of $45. (Each of the 2 sets is the equivalent of 7-8 CDs of music.) You can order via e-mail or, if you prefer, call me on my cell phone with your credit card information.

Last, but by no means least, please keep Tammy and me, Lisa and Heidi and their wonderful families in your prayers. Please pray for their ongoing safety and God’s promise of protection and blessing. The twin baby boys are doing great! Thank you so very much for your heartfelt prayers and your kind and generous support. Tammy and I are praying for you and yours. God’s word tells “all things work TOGETHER for good.” (Not ALL things – especially this pandemic – ARE good!) Our loving God is always FOR us, WITH us and IN us (“Christ in you, the Hope of Glory!”)

With love and prayers and blessings,
Ross and Tammy