At least for today, let us lay aside our differences and become as one. One human to another, one global citizen to the other, one God-breathed soul to the next, one American all.
I had kept myself–a present both to the one who would be my husband and to me, and now on June 27, 1956, as in the bathroom I made myself ready, my mind whirled: a man, I’m getting ready to be in bed with a man, I don’t really know him . . .And I did not know him, my Jerry. For who of us in truth know the one with whom we have partnered. Indeed, who of us scarcely know ourselves.
I was incredibly young as I entered into my marriage–for in a few days I would reach the wise, noble age of 18 years. No, I did not know Gerald R. Buxton, nor did I comprehend the magnificent path on which God had directed me, as on that significant day I became his wife.
He was a darling.
Of a gregarious nature, he gathered and maintained a wide circle of friends.
Chosen, and set apart, his hands were laid on thousands.
Four of them. This one is called Michael. Stephen, Rebecca, and Andrew rounded out the four. Four excellent humans, gifts of God.
Andrew was the photographer.
Then came the day. We were there, all of us. We had prayed, invited in visitors, talked long, had his hands laid on grandchildren, held hands, and made plans. “We’ll take care of Mom,” the sons said when he expressed concern. We wept in private and on the necks of our dear ones.
. . .then came the moment Jesus took him home. He was 86.
Today is another June 27th. I’ve tried to write this all day, have planned and wanted to do it, but again did not want to, and if I dig in my heels much longer, midnight will come and I will have missed. On that other June 27 I was seventeen with only a microscopic understanding of the magnificent, rare man who asked me to be his wife. Today, 66 years later, I believe it is not possible to truly comprehend the profound grace with which God favored me. I will never get over it. How blessed I am.
A Sunday morning somewhere in the world saw the woman being signaled by another. “Please pray for these children. Lay your hands on them and pray.”
The woman looked and took in an image of three huddled children; two girls and one boy. Their ages appeared to range from six to 12 years old.
“Who are they? What is their story?”
The woman was told . . .told the ugly story that resonates with countless other children who are accursed, disrespected, and tossed headlong into the societal rubbish that is strewn about our globe. Deeply troubled, the children have no set point, no guiding star, no clear direction for their raw baby lives. Physical, mental, and sexual abuse have been their instructors. Confusion, loss, and black abandonment are daily companions.
The woman grieved as she learned the little boy has never known his father. Never. The mother of the children are dead. The man who fathered his daughter, then had erotic activities with that child now fights for custody.
With stretched forth arms, the woman circled the three. “Come here,” she said to them. “I want to pray for you. Jesus loves you. I want you to always remember that. No matter what happens, do not forget that Jesus loves you. He’s on your side.” She prayed aloud as was her custom, the children standing still and huddling close to her. “Jesus, be the guardian of these dear children. Protect them. Keep them from harm . . . ” After the prayer, the conversation was of distances, and churches, and hope.
The woman did not sleep well that night.
I met her when I was 18 years old. Now those two numbers are reversed, and with a bow to frank honesty I acknowledge myself to be 81. (Eighty-one? How can this be so? We will speak to that strange subject another day.) The husband to Lillian was Sam. My Jerry and I called the couple Brother and Sister White. We were all in church work; Brother White was the pastor of a church in Bellflower, CA. and Jerry was an evangelist. We wives toddled beside our men, making our unique contributions to life, and to the Work of God.
We became the dearest of friends. Together we worshipped, traveled, played, laughed (and cried), did business, pastored churches, planned conferences, cooked, ate great meals, celebrated weddings and birthdays and retirements over a period of more than sixty years. By then we had began using close names, and it was Sam and Lil and Jerry and Shirley.
Now, at 98 years old, she is gone, as is Sam (and is my Jerry.) Her sweet funeral was last Friday. (The following pictures compliments of Debbie Akers.)
She truly was a remarkable beautiful woman of God, and I believe it well within the mark to rank her with notable women of the Bible, and to revere her as such.
I nominate her to stand beside the chief women of Thessalonica who were among the first to receive the gospel at the preaching of Paul and Silas. As she labored in ministry with her beloved Sam, she is in line with Priscilla who labored in ministry with her husband Aquilla. I’ve seen her as strong as Deborah, and once when we wanted to begin Ladies Conferences and could be heard rumbles of disagreement in high places, she marched step in step with Esther and said, “If I perish I perish.” She was as capable as Abigail, as full of faith as the Syrophenician woman, as humble as Elizabeth, and as Mary, she was chosen of God. As was Dorcas, she was known for her good works. Perhaps John the beloved says it best when he dedicated one of his books to The Elect Lady.
Now she is gone, resting in the presence of God.
It was five years ago when Sam and Lil were visiting in our home in Crestline that I lined them up near the hearth of our fireplace to take their picture. How beautiful they are. Wrinkled. Used up.
(I would so love for you who knew the White’s well, to take the time to add your tribute in the comment section here.)
Our home sets at an altitude of nearly 5000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California with winters that are typically mild with only three or four significant snows in a season. Around 40 inches of rain fall during an average year. This has not been a typical year. We’re at 60 inches, and the winter–which season I generally love– hatefully drags on, as persistent as the ring of robocalls. The fog–since first light to this hour of early evening–has been as thick as cowboy coffee, and the thermometer hanging just outside my kitchen window refuses to stretch to the 40 degree mark. Within the last hour I saw a report of tornados touching down in central California, an extremely unusual situation.
So, for the second Sunday in a row, we did not go to church. We just don’t do fog. Last Sunday on my Facebook account I mentioned what a blessing internet live-streaming of church services is to Jerry and me, and how it provides the opportunity of being with groups of people all over the United States as they worship God. First thing this morning we went to church in Indianapolis with Pastor Mooney, then to Alexandria, La. with Pastor Mangun. We watched both Brother and Sister Larson minister in San Diego, then this afternoon Cherie Wilkins texted me a link to her church in Texas, pastored by Brother and Sister Tuttle.
Because we couldn’t go to regular church, we ate. Splurged. Indulged.
We’re now a bit on the lethargic side.
We’re warm and cozy.
Weather forecast: Rain all night. Possible snow from 1 to 3 am. Rain all day tomorrow.
Hmm. . .wonder what I can whip up!
Jeanine called on Wednesday before Easter to remind me of the meeting on Thursday. “Don’t forget the contest. The hat contest. Easter bonnet.”
My creative side is limited. Quite limited, especially as regards crafts, sewing things, and such as that. I do write frequently, and am a rather serious amateur photographer. That’s about it as far as creativity is concerned, so when I had heard previously about the hat issue, I paid it little mind.
When I hung up the phone after talking to Jeanine, my vision was caught by a wide, filmy band of ribbon that was fluttered across the back of our living room couch. I had moved the ribbon there from another place with the thought of either disposing of it, or of taking it upstairs and tucking it away with gift-wrapping items that are in a cupboard in our game-room. I cannot say what possessed me at that moment to recall a wide-brimmed straw hat that resided on a high shelf in my bedroom closet–but something did, and with a certain gleam in my eye (I suspect, although I certainly couldn’t see such a gleam) I grabbed up a plastic climbing stool, placed in before my opened closet, reached high and grasped the said straw hat.
I created. A mad-hatter now, I wrapped the ribboned gleam of color about the crown of the headpiece, and with my off-white cord threaded through a wide-eyed needle, I attempted to adjoin the two pieces. The effort was less than stellar as the spaces between the straw formation of the hat were so large that the majority of my stitches snagged nothing but air. Pins. Safety pins. I pulled several of them from the plastic container I found in my seldom-used sewing kit, and voila! Success!
An hour or so before we left for the meeting, as I donned my hat for one last perfection check (by and large to assure that no safety pins were visible), I inquired of my hubby. “Want me to make you a hat, Jerry?”
He eyed me. “I don’t think so, Shirley.”
I think I glimpsed a smirk across his otherwise sweet face.
Out of the fifty persons or so who attended the meeting, when they called for the Easter Bonnet contestants to go forward, the elect group consisted of eight people, I believe. I joined that bevy of the brave and talented who walked to the front and straggled into a semi-circle of hatted people. Three prizes were awarded. First name called–not mine. Second name called–not mine. Third name called: Shirley! The emcee handed me an envelope on which was written: Most Creative. Inside was a ten-dollar bill.
So there you go. My first attempt as a milliner, and I won cash money. What say you? Should I proceed with this occupation? Have I, in the millinery field, at these late years become a sort of Grandma Moses?
. . .and to our dying days, both Jerry and I want to Bless our Lord. May my final moment breathe out His praises.
Our ministries now are limited, our aging and abilities affecting what we can do for Him. But on occasion–as during Easter morning 2019–we lift our voices in praise to our Savior.
Melina said it correctly, “This is a bittersweet day.” Indeed it was, for its curious boundaries metered funeral flowers, eulogies, and graveside committal words. Flowing tears and grievous expression held hands with mirth and laughing aloud.
Two of our sons, their wives, and one grandson, along with Jerry and me, had attended the funeral of our dear friend, Rev. Paul Walker. It was a beautiful service, where loving honor was paid to this great man of God. Jerry was honored by being asked to speak during the graveside service.
Jerry’s birthday had been the day before. He had already celebrated with birthday dinners and breakfasts, a myriad of phone calls from family and friends, and by opening packages received in person, and in the mail. These particular youngsters, though, had not seen him on his special day, although they had communicated by mail and by telephone calls.
“Dad,” said Andrew at the conclusion of the services. “Let’s go eat somewhere. Celebrate your birthday a bit more.”
No one knew a close-by place to eat, so Andrew and Shauna consulted maps and recommendations on their phone, and we all pulled up in front of Billy Qs in Palm Desert. It was a tiny pizza place, with not a table to seat us all, except for one with high stools, so we scurried around, and helped Jerry get seated up there. After we had received the drinks we had ordered, Andrew leaned in, and said, “There’s a really nice place next door. Want to pay for our drinks and go there?”
“No.” I said, “Let’s don’t do that.”
All agreed, and what a dynamite decision we made. The food is outstanding, and the people are fantastic. The female partner of the man/wife owners of the little place was our waitress . . .and she is a hoot.
My husband has a line he loves to use in restaurants–one which causes the rest of us to smile wanly, and take on an apologetic look. Sometimes we tuck our heads. “Do you take food stamps?” he asked Darnelle.
She missed not a beat. “Yes we do. However, you need to provide three forms of ID.” Wide-eyed, Jerry was speechless. The rest of us were howling.
The upward momentum never faltered during that fine hour. When Darnelle learned this was a birthday celebration of sorts, she went next door to Cold Stone, bought an ice cream cake, and set it at the end of our table. She scurried up a make-shift candle, and we sang. Before we left this charming place, Darnelle was in the middle of all of us, and we were hugging and promising to see each other again.
For part of the summer, she and her husband take an RV to Big Bear Lake, which is about 20 miles from where Jerry and I live. “We take a portable pizza oven there, and cook up pizzas for everyone in the RV park.” She wrote her phone number on the back of a card. “Call me. We also take a boat there. Love to take you out on it.”
I love living.
While you Wait . . .
. . .While you wait for the Library of Congress to catalogue your book you can squat and hold a stick like his in your hand and draw lines in the dirt and steal a glance at his little face, and if you do it long enough he may turn his head sideways and look back at you.
. . .While you wait for them to know you should be their pastor you can go in the wee hours. Go to a hospital, to the back entrance where blood drippings will steer your feet. Trudge through the wide doors and look. See. By chance a person on a green plastic chair may haul up his eyes and latch onto yours. While you wait to be a pastor you may see into his soul or hers. It is probably dark down in there.
from my WIP Dream Shards
“You don’t leave racism at the door (of a church), you leave it at the altar.” Rev. Johnny King NO LIMITS CONFERENCE Sacramento, CA.