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America California Christianity/Religion Church Death Friends Goodness of man Grief Pentecostal Photography Shirley Buxton Photography

Lillian White

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.)

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California Christianity/Religion Crestline Flowers/Gardening God Life Photography Shirley Buxton Photography

Not I

You have not seen me. Nor have I.

Invisible. Only the ages will reveal

me. My soul, not picked out, yet is I.

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America California Christianity/Religion Church Crestline Culture Family Food God Home Lake Gregory Life Photography San Bernardino Mountains seasons Weather/Nature Winter

Another Foggy Sunday

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.

Sorghum Molasses

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!

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California Children Crestline Flowers/Gardening Friends grandparents Home Life mercy Photography San Bernardino Mountains seasons Spring Weather/Nature

Of Daffodils and Forgiveness

My camera has been in the shop, the weather has been the wintery kind that lectures people with bodies a bit on the agey side such as mine to stay indoors, and I’ve been busy with the wrap-up of Dream Shards. Such are the reasons I have not taken many pictures lately, and why my photography fingers have been itchy. (NEW SUBJECT stuck right here in the middle of this paragraph: I’ve decided to take up word invention. Consider the word right there in the third line–agey. My dictionaries indicate there is no such word, while my common–or inventive–sense tells me there should be. Aged is available–a regular, ole word, but that just does not have the right sound–or look. So, agey it will remain, at least here on my column, although my smarty-pants dictionary built into my Mac snarks a red line every time I type the word!) Anyway, I got my camera back, tugged cleated boots onto my feet, slipped my hands into warm gloves, plopped a fuzzy cap atop my head, and set out.

The grey birdbath aligned by the side of these daffodils is filled with water that through the weeks of this long winter has alternated between a state of frozen slab and of liquid thin enough that the occasional bird has dipped its head, and taken a drink. At the slender feet of these magnificent flowers is a spread of white, a remnant of the record-breaking snow and rainfall we have experienced here in the San Bernardino Forest this year.

We have planted bulbs since we moved here, adding to the number that pushed through the earth and revealed themselves the first spring we lived here in Crestline. When the daffodils are in full bloom, as they are now, they sketch a golden swath of color across our front bank, truly magnificent.

Ken and Nancy, who live across the street are the best neighbors anyone could have. Three of their grandchildren are visiting now, and a couple of days ago they came onto our front deck. “What’s up, kids?” I asked them

Jake, the eldest, handed me an envelope, even as he was chattering away. “We’re sorry . . .about the flowers.”

Krista is a beautiful little girl with long black hair. Six years old, I think. Her face wore fright and sincere sorrow. She said nothing.

I opened the envelope and read the notes.


They’re allowed to play in our yard, and in the neighbors to our right, for their grandparent’s property has little flat ground. It seems they had started up a little business; selling daffodils to each other. Our daffodils, and Kerry’s who lives two houses away.

I told them it was okay, and that I knew they wouldn’t do it again. I really can’t even tell any of the flowers are missing. “Kerry thought it was a really bad thing,” Jake said in a defensive, little bit arrogant way.

A couple of days after this happened, as Jerry and I were walking back from the woods, I looked intently at Kerry’s yard. They have no daffodils. Every single flower is gone.

But Krista’s letter. Did you notice it? At the bottom, I believe she said, “Do you forgive me?”

I do. I hope Kerry does.

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America boating California Children Christianity/Religion Church Crestline Death family celebrations Food Goodness of man Grief Honor Life Photography Social

A Happy Day

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.

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America California Christianity/Religion Church Conferences/Seminars Culture God Goodness of man Integrity Life Pentecostal Photography Religion Social The World

Leaving Racism

“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.

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Blogging California Crestline Death dogs Family Food Photography Weather/Nature

A Snowy Day

The months have been dry, even to the extent that a severe water shortage had been declared, and we were admonished to use restraint in our usage, especially when irrigating our lawns and flower beds. The drought has continued through the winter, and here we were into February, little rain, and our snowfall of less than an inch had been disappointing. A couple of weeks ago it started raining. And raining, and then again, until I threatened to gather gopher wood, and I thought I glimpsed a thin line of animals trekking down our lane. Last night came heavy snow, mounding on our deck tables, ledging on our window frames, and spreading over the new daffodil shoots that bravely this morning are still pointing skyward. Snow is forecast to last throughout the day. Yes! We need it, and I love it.

Winston hates the rain. When he must go out, I give him a little shove down the back steps, he does his business and shivers his way back up the steps. But snow? He loves snow! Trots rapidly, pushes it around with his nose, and when we were almost home after our walk this morning, he turned in to Ken and Nancy’s across the street and barked for Shelby, their golden retriever. “Come out and play,” but Shelby didn’t like the snow too much and when Ken opened the door to let her out, she held back on the deck while Winston loudly barked at her.

“What shall we have for breakfast?” I asked Jerry after Winston and I were back inside, and he suggested waffles and bacon and that was deliciously fine with me.

Do you know about our waffle iron? I suspect not, for I have been dilatory about posting faithfully on this blog, and have a hunch I have not told you. Since I’m positive you want to know, I’ll tell you now!

During the Memorial Day holiday here in our mountain communities we have mountain-wide garage sales. Hundreds of people organize (or sometimes not!) their things, set them out on tables or blankets on the driveway, or . . .you know the routine. and we shoppers cruise by and if someone’s offerings appeal to us, we park our cars (often with great difficulty here) and browse through the items. It was three or four years ago now when Andrew and his crew were up for the event, and we were involved in said activities, when by the side of the road we spied a mound of boxes and bags and a sign that snagged us: FREE. There among the stuff set this beautiful, red waffle iron. Now I have never owned a waffle iron, and I said, “Look at that!”

“Want me to get it, Granny?” said dear little Brady.

“The rest,” as they say, “is history.” The perfectly operating red iron has now waffled out scores of crispy treats, its count increased this morning when Jerry and I chomped down on a couple of our own.

Those daffodils? They’re vulnerable. Because it is in their DNA, they have pushed through the cold earth . . .but they are fragile, and before their blooms burst into their intended glory, death and destruction will try to snag them. Disease. Rodents. The stomp of a hard-soled shoe, the wayward strike of a hoe.

I care about those plants on my front bank, and will see to them. See to their safety and to their progression.

We’re all daffodils. We lean on each other.

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California Family affection family celebrations Food Friends Goodness of man Life Photography Travel

Birthday Number 86

Occasionally the celebration of a significant event aligns so well with the vision in my head that its conclusion brings about glowing chatter, face-stretching smiles, and a sated sense of perfection. Such were the days surrounding Jerry’s 86th birthday.

It began with The Nieces.

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Three of them live in Louisiana, the other two in Texas. “We’d like to come out and visit Uncle Jerry for his birthday. Would that be a convenient time?”

Of course it would, so although I hadn’t planned to throw a party, that these dear ones would make that long trek to California certainly called for a major celebration. I told Jerry I had decided on a birthday party, but I told him nothing of the trip his nieces would be making. Debbie flew to San Antonio, Nita and Pam drove to the area in Texas of Linda and Sharon’s homes, where, with their mounds of luggage, they all piled into Linda’s van and headed west.

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Rebecca and Holly beautifully decorated the room we reserved at The Claim Jumper in San Bernardino. The party was scheduled for 2:00 on Saturday and all the guests had arrived when I drove Jerry into the parking lot. My children knew of the secret guests, passed the word to the others as they arrived so that the only ones seated at the table when Jerry walked into the room were his dear nieces. He was stunned.

The party was perfect in every way. The food was delicious, pristinely presented, and served without a flaw. The guests consisted of a sweet mix of family, ministers, neighbors, and other friends from Crestline. During the meal various persons stood and in moving ways–sometimes humorous–spoke accolades to Jerry. It was a glowing, memorable afternoon.

Although we would be a bit cramped, the nieces and Michael and his wife went home with us, filling up all the guest rooms, and throwing down mats and blankets for sleeping. We had a blast.

Jerry opened his gifts.

DSC_9313We ate breakfast . . .and more meals. We went to Stater’s, bought a whole brisket, and Jerry cooked it all Sunday night. On Monday we feasted.

DSC_9315Some had to leave. Others came.

DSC_9343We did lots of this.

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On Tuesday morning, these precious women headed home, to their families, to their jobs. They left behind magnificent memories of hugs and kisses, of deep and meaningful conversations, of  tender tears and of uproarious laughter. Jerry has said more than once, “I just can’t believe they drove all the way out here to celebrate my birthday.”

There are some really fine people in this world. Several of them belong to the Buxton family.

 

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California Christianity/Religion Crestline Flowers/Gardening God Lake Gregory My Home overcoming adversity Photography Weather/Nature

Trying to be a Tree

I spied the little fella yesterday as I was cleaning out a flower bed, noted his beauty, and since then at length have considered  his lesson. This morning as I set out for another day of yard clean-up, I carried my camera down the stairs with me for I was remembering from yesterday this little creation.

He is trying to be a tree.

He was ordained to be a tree, and somehow in his “guts” he knows he is destined to be such a living thing. It is in his genes, his DNA. Even so, it has not been easy for him. He has fought obstacles including the beating about of fierce winds that come off Lake Gregory and that tear around the corner of our house. Through the winter months cold, edgy snow piled high over him, drenching rain poured off our roof at the spot where he lies, and even sometimes after walking Winston if the garage door is closed I toss a little doggie business bag in that area, that stays there until later when I will retrieve it and plunk it into a trash can. Even that, as you can see, did not deter him. He pushed and shoved. He grew, he grunted, he persevered until finally he was strong enough to crack open his restrictive acorn walls, to flaunt his bright green oak leaves. For you understand, don’t you, that God designed him to be a tree.

DSC_7141 I actually did not know he was there until yesterday, and even then I paid him scant attention. It was only when my rake hung up on him, and I found him to be well rooted into the ground that I considered him. It matters not to him that neither Jerry or me, or anyone else for that matter, had taken note of him, that no one encouraged him with pep talks, or strokes, or positive words. Alone, he continued on his way toward being a tree. He’s a winner, this little seedling of mine. He’s rare. Rare, you say? An acorn? There must be millions in existence, or billions. Yes, there are, but I tell you that out of the mounds of acorns I bagged today, only this one will be a tree. The others have lost their way. Their dreams have died. Their visions of soaring into the sky, of birds nesting among their leaves, of little boys climbing and building club houses in their branches have vanished. Tonight they nestle against the other losers in black trash bags that set near the fence on the east side of our drive way.

And what of you? Of me? What of the gifts God and genetics have placed inside us? What of the urging to break through the binding walls that threaten our going to our graves with our potential unfulfilled, our talents silenced, the world deprived of our gifts. Let not the wind, nor the cold, nor loneliness, nor pressure, nor agedness, nor youth, nor past mistakes, nor anything else now or in the future defeat us.

. . .for even a few rare acorns become trees.

__________________________________________

My little fella is growing in a place that is undesirable. That I now consider him special, I will transplant him into a container. Because we have many oak trees and no room for another, I’m offering him as a gift to you who live close by. Any takers?

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California Crestline Culture Family time Flowers/Gardening Home Photography San Bernardino Mountains Shih Tzus Weather/Nature

An Unexpected Storm and Manzanita

Rain last night, accompanied by such lightening and thunder as we seldom see here in Crestline. Our forecast indicated a slight chance of rain, with no mention of thunderstorms. When I heard the first rumble, I looked across the living room and quizzically stared at Jerry. “Is that thunder?”

It was, and thus began the hours-long visual display of lightening, and the drum-like sound of the accompanying thunder.

Much earlier in the day, well before we drove away for our Sunday morning worship, Jerry and I had walked with Winston. On leaving the house, I saw that the light was glorious, carried my camera with me, and snapped these two shots of the men in my life.

dsc_4738dsc_4755Winston’s placid moments were to give way to sheer panic, though, when in the evening the thunderstorms moved in. He was terrified. Once when he went out in the back, a thunderbolt sounded so loudly, that he hid under the ground-level stairs and would not come up, necessitating my going down and carrying him into the house. He trembled for hours. Nothing we did seemed to calm him. He spent the night under our bed.

The storm raged for hours–throughout the night, and has continued today.

Between showers we took our Monday morning walk, and I snagged a treasure. I had eyed the gem from time to time as we walked between our house and the woods near Thousand Pines Camp; today I decided to take it home with me. The small manzanita branch was red, full of leaves, and when I bent to pick it up, I found it to be slightly attached to the earth on the side of the hill. With one firm tug, I uprooted the woody piece, and began the short drag to our house.

dsc_4764“What are you going to do with that?” (Guess who asked.)

“Oh, I’m not sure. Lay it around somewhere. Look how pretty it is.”

“You’re a sight dragging that branch down the street,” hubby sweetly noted.

dsc_4766dsc_4771Manzanita is beautiful wood, drought resistant, and our variety presents itself with  a rich mahogany color. My piece has small orange leaves and resides now on a table that sets on our front deck. Its final place will change over the course of the months and years, for despite its humble delivery to our home, the formation is suitable to anchor a centerpiece for the most formal of occasions, or to be plopped onto a rustic plank in the back yard for a picnic or a barbecue meal.

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The storm is reluctant to leave. While I have composed this piece sitting on our living room couch with a small fire burning within a few feet of me, Winston is still hiding, for numerous showers accompanied by persistent thunderbolts and flashes of lightening continue to fill the air here in the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains.