America California Children Christianity/Religion Church Conferences/Seminars Family My Family Pentecostal Photography Social

Santa Maria Camp Meeting 2007 Grand Finale

More than 70 persons received the Holy Ghost during the camp meeting, and much of the credit for this goes to outreach teams who “worked” the streets, the malls and the parks during the hours preceding the evening services. On Friday, Gaylen Cantrell’s drama team was on site at the park just down the street from the fair grounds, so a few minutes after 5:00 I drove over there to observe, and to be support for them. Lively music was playing through the portable sound system, and while the drama teams performed, dozens of other persons were distributing invitations to the evening service. Some approached persons in the park, while others moved up and down the surrounding sidewalks. Young men rushed to cars that slowed to hear the performance, and leaned inside as they handed out the cards. I watched as they gestured toward the fairgrounds in invitation.




View Shirley Buxton’s map

Taken in (See more photos here)

On both Thursday and Friday nights, there were such a dynamic and convicting move of God, that well before the sermon, spontaneously, with no one orchestrating it, throughout the tent, people began receiving the Holy Ghost. One of those persons was my grandson Cole. He’s six years old. There are many people–sincere people, I believe–who maintain that the Holy Ghost, as demonstrated on the Day of Pentecost, is no longer available today, and that speaking in tongues was only for that day and time. If you are reading this and have such beliefs, I wish you could have been in one of those services. I wish you could have seen a child–a child who has not a clue that there is controversy about the Bible and about God–stand in a crowded altar area by his dad, and, feeling the presence of God, raise his slight arms and begin to speak in a heavenly language. Incredible and true. His cousin Joel (in the blue shirt) was actually praying with him when Cole received the Holy Ghost.




View Shirley Buxton’s map

Taken in (See more photos here)

And then it was over, and by the thousands, the chairs were stacked.

But next year is coming. The first week in August. Be here!


My devotional blog is here.. MORE CAMP PICTURES.

America California Christianity/Religion Church Conferences/Seminars Devotionals Music Pentecostal Social The World

Pentecostal Camp Meeting in Santa Maria–Finale

Well, I told you I’d get back on Friday if I could tear myself away. Sorry, but I was so tied up–bound almost–by joy, excitement, grinning, laughter, eating and drinking with God, my family , and with my friends, that I didn’t even approach my computer, not even to rub my hand over its white smooth cover. 😦

Friday–everything about it–was better than Thursday, which, please recall, had neared perfection. The first thing that made it better was that Steve, my eldest, arrived. Now all of my children were together with Jerry and me in Santa Maria, along with assorted and various grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren tucked in the mix! Talk about wonder and glory and joy! I’ve had it the last few days.


Steve talks with his dad here. Many of you will recognize the other gentleman to be Sam White, who for scores of years pastored a church in Bellflower, Ca.

Camp consisted of lots of this:

Settling Their Decision

…and a birthday party for Thane who turned four.



View Shirley Buxton’s map

Taken in (See more photos here)

…but most important of all, lots of this. I’ve brought over a video from YouTube that you may want to watch, as this shows a typical Pentecostal conference/campmeeting worship service. This is not a video from our camp meeting, as I don’t have one available, but the feeling, the energy, the dynamics were the same. Take a look and a listen. The video was taken at one of our conferences in Stockton, California–sponsored by Christian Life Center, pastored by Nathaniel Haney. Landmark is the name of the conference.

Early in the service on Friday night and other nights, there were a bunch of mine with hands raised (Rebecca) men dancing in the aisle, Andrew, Michael, Joel and Kyle, on the far right (Shawnna’s nephew). Take a look at two little ones who are following in the steps of their parents and grandparents. (Thane–4 years old Ethan–not quite 2)

Rebecca Worshipping

My Boys!




My Grandbabies Worshipping

The preaching was dynamic. Scott Graham, the evening speaker was absolutely powerful


America California Children Christianity/Religion Church Conferences/Seminars Family My Family Photography Recreation Social The World Travel Uncategorized

Camp Meeting Santa Maria 2007 Part 4



DSC_0082, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

Yesterday was the finest of this year’s camp meeting–for several reasons–the first and main one being that a great number of my kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids arrived! I got so excited and became so involved with everything that I could not bring myself to break away and trek to this spot where I have an internet connection. But I know you are eager to hear of my activities in this most wonderful of meetings, 🙂 so here I am sitting in my blue Jeep Cherokee that is parked in front of the Fairpark administration office. It had been rumored last year that by this time there would be high-speed internet service throughout the fairgrounds, but, it really hasn’t happened. It’s not bad at all though; I’m only a few hundred yards from my motor home. We’re parked just to the left of the motor home you see pictured above.

The second greatest thing about yesterday was the dynamic services, beginning with the early morning message by Pastor Rojas from Oakland, California. (I’ll be updating my devotional blog and sharing some camp sermon summaries next week.)

After the morning service ended, Jerry and I went to lunch at Bakers Square with our very dear friends, the Donald O’Keefes. I love those people. I do believe we are as close as family, and I delight in being with them. We ate a delicious meal, lingered long over coffee, and finished up with shared pieces of pie. It was nearly 3:00 when we left the restaurant.

When we arrived at our site, there were Andrew and his clan, and Mike and Evan! I think I may get as excited as a child when I get with my children and their families. It’s absolutely the greatest. We hugged and talked, and when I missed Shawnna, Andrew told me she had gone to buy helmets for the youngsters. The fairgrounds is a state facility and even to ride bikes or scooters, every person must wear a helmet.

Andrew had off-loaded all the bikes, scooters, skates, etc. and now came the “great tent erecting.” They had brought a bigger tent than Nathaniel had, and all the boys set to erecting it, which they quickly did. They laid out their sleeping bags, and decided where each of them would sleep. It gets so cold and damp here at night that I thought they wouldn’t actually sleep in the tents, but they did, declaring this morning, they were toasty warm all night. Amazing what young boy blood does for one!


It is impossible for me to imagine a better service than we had last night. The worship was phenomenal, led by Steve Saiz who is in charge of the camp meeting committee this year. Some of our children were in children’s church, but the rest of us were stretched out on a long row, and I looked down and saw three of my children standing side by side, hands raised in worship with tears flowing down their faces, and I was so full of emotion, so charged with thanksgiving, that I could hardly contain myself. Most of you know, but let me remind you, that for more than 25 years my son Michael was out of the church, and in no way professed to be serving God. Now, because he had drastically changed, and because he has been fervently serving God these past two years, I have quite concluded it to be beyond my ability to express how I feel when I see him standing with his brother Andrew and his sister Rebecca, his life fully surrendered to God. (The one sad part about this camp meeting is that my eldest son, Steve, did not come. Were he here–it would be close to heaven on earth…well, it’s pretty close anyway!)


It is a distinct blessing to have Sam Emory as one of the preachers of our district. For years, he was an evangelist, but several months ago, he assumed the pastorate of the church in Merced. He is a dynamic preacher, singer and worship leader, and is in charge of the worship here at camp. We love Sam Emory and his precious, beautiful wife. He’s hugging Mike here.



And here, he’s sharing something funny with Shawnna, and Andrew.

My Lord, have mercy, I’m having a wonderful time. More tomorrow. (if I can tear myself away.) Again, and with all sincerity…wish you were here!

America California Children Christianity/Religion Church Conferences/Seminars Family My Family Social Travel

Camp Meeting Santa Maria 2007 Part 3

The morning was an eventful one. The service had already begun when I entered the beautiful, white tent. I looked around until I located Jerry, who sat beside Berl and Lavelta, and Summer, one of their granddaughters. Summer’s husband, Nick, was preaching–I mean preaching. He did a dynamite job naming his sermon The difference between a well and a cistern. It was powerful. Immediately on sitting down, I discovered I did not have a pen with me, and although Jerry offered to let me use his, I could see that he needed it from time to time, so after Nick’s sermon was over–during the transition to the next speaker–I went to the motor home to grab one.

I hadn’t eaten any breakfast and by now it was after 11:00, so I opened the fridge, and finished up some tuna salad we had made for sandwiches the day before. Just as I finished chewing, through my open motor home door poked a familiar head. Joel had arrived. They left San Diego later than they had intended yesterday, so they didn’t quite make it to Santa Maria, but instead stopped in Ventura to spend the night.

“Think I can park my rig here by yours, Granny?”

We thought it would work, but when Joel checked the connections, all the electrical outlets were taken. I went back to the tent and asked Jerry if he had an electrical Y.

“No, ” I don’t have one. “Have a pigtail, but not a Y.”

Back at the rig, Joel and I poked around in our bays, but could find nothing that would work. Finally Joel decided.

“I’ll move the rig here and go to an RV store and buy an electrical Y. Think I’ll be needing one anyway.”

I went back to the service and was able to hear the conclusion of Fred Foster’s Bible study on The Cross. At the conclusion he called for musicians and the service was concluded with the singing of the beautiful old hymn, The Old Rugged Cross. As the melodious sounds wafted through the atmosphere, he asked for all preachers to go to the front, and then opened the altar area for any persons who needed special prayer. It was a glorious ending for our first morning service.

Now, here in the middle of the afternoon, Joel has set his rig into place, we’ve all had lunch, and his two youngest are asleep. I haven’t yet seen inside their 5th wheel, for they have had company in there, and I wanted to give Aisha time to settle in. Nathaniel took down his tent and repositioned it, and we left a big enough spot for Michael who will be arriving tomorrow in his old Volkswagon Pop-up Top Camper. It will be a hoot, I know.

I’ve probably said it before, and likely will do so again, but camp meeting is my favorite of all church meetings. Love it. Wish all of you were here.


America Bible California Christianity/Religion Church Conferences/Seminars Devotionals Family My Family Social The World Travel

Camp Meeting in Santa Maria Part II

We have devised–Rebecca and I–a plan so that we can all be dressed on time, without bumping into each other too much in the motor home. The plan for yesterday was that I would have the bathroom just before dinner, we would serve dinner between 4 and 4:30, then the bathroom would be Nathaniel’s, then Rebecca’s, and finally Jerry’s. Worked out well, although we changed about a bit. Anyway, a little after 6:30, Jerry and I walked over to the tent for the first service. Nathaniel joined us a little later. “Where’s your mom?”

“She couldn’t find the motor home key, but she found it, and she’ll be here later,” he whispered back to me.

It was a great service, with phenomenal music, wonderful worship and a dynamic sermon. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or make you feel left out if you’re persuaded otherwise, but I’m so glad I am a Pentecostal. It’s marvelous to have been taught the joys of freely, and with passion worshipping my God. It comes natural to me, for with such I have been surrounded all my life. It’s not at all awkward or strange feeling–rather deeply satisfying. Recall that on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Ghost was poured out, and when the plan of salvation for this dispensation was proclaimed, the demonstration of those on whom the Holy Ghost had settled, was of such a nature that the onlookers thought them drunk! Read about it in the second chapter of Acts. On second thought, I’m going to print it out for you. 🙂

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

6Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

7And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

8And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

9Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

10Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

11Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

12And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

13Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

14But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

15For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

16But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

17And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

18And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

It’s a few minutes after ten now, and I don’t want to miss too much, so its off to the big tent for me. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted about the 2007 camp meeting in Santa Maria.


My devotional blog is here.


America California Children Christianity/Religion Church Conferences/Seminars Family My Family My Home Photography Recreation Social Sports The World Travel

This Year in Santa Maria

DSC_0031, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

“Some Jews had been able to find their first taste of true equality by immigration to America; however, most Jews in nineteenth-century Europe remained locked into a repetitious cycle of anguish. They looked, as they always had, to a return to Palestine. This longing had never left their daily prayer and was reemphasized in the yearly Yom Kippur greeting, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Leon Uris in The Haj

When many years ago, I first heard of this Yom Kippur greeting, Next year in Jerusalem, I was struck by the poignancy of the statement. It is especially touching because of the understanding that, according to the Bible, Jesus, their anticipated Messiah had already come. Sadly, His people failed to recognize Him.

Inherent in God’s people is an almost overwhelming desire to be together, to congregate, to chant prayers, to worship side-by-side, to muster forces; all-in-all to recount and to celebrate the victories of our eternal King. While I am Jewish only in the Spirit, I strongly relate to the connection the Jews have to return to their own land, and their annual words of hope spoken to their friends and kin, Next year in Jerusalem.

Each year the Western District of our church organization has a camp meeting in the city of Santa Maria, CA. Read here and here concerning the meeting of 2006. (If you want to read more about 2006, just check the posts before and after those I have linked.) Tonight will be the first service of 2007, but already the fair grounds are filled with rigs of all sorts–from very expensive Prevosts to humble tents. It’s CAMP MEETING TIME!

Last Wednesday, Jerry and I arranged our rig for traveling, pulled out of our space at DJ’s RV in Lake Havasu and drove to San Bernardino, where we parked our Country Coach motor home in front of Rebecca’s house. Trees hang low over her curbs, and just as Jerry was about to park, we heard a loud snap from the ceiling area of our rig. Later I found a broken horn lying in the gutter. A branch too low and too big had snagged on the roof-mounted horn, and had broken it off. A sad and costly thing. Couple of hundred dollars, probably.

It was hot in San Bernardino, and Rebecca had gone to a funeral, so after waiting for a bit, we decided to head on up to Crestline where we would spend the night. At 40th and Waterman, which is where we start the rapid climb into the mountains, it was 101 degrees. When we had accomplished the mere 15 mile drive to our home, our car thermometer showed 84 degrees. It was heavenly.

Not long after being in our house, our neighbor Nancy called and invited us over for dinner, which invitation we gladly accepted. She had remembered my birthday, and for dessert we had scrumptious cake. This was birthday cake number 2.

Rebecca’s son, Nathaniel, was at Junior Camp at Camp Seeley, which is about 5 miles from our home, and since he and Rebecca would be riding with us to camp meeting, on our way down Thursday morning, Jerry and I drove over and picked him up. At Rebecca’s, we discussed meals and snacks for the upcoming days, and while she finished loading her things into our motor home, I went to Stater’s and bought groceries.

“Look, Mom, I made you a birthday cake.” She showed me the dark chocolate cake, all prepared for traveling. Birthday cake number 3!

We had planned to spend the night in Ventura at a place called Rincon which is operated by the County, and is a stunning area where RVs park right along the ocean. They take no reservations, however, and we could not find a spot, so we motored on to Santa Maria, checked in, and claimed our spot.


Nathaniel brought a tent, along with plans for his cousins Gentry and Chloe, to spend each night there with him, once the cousins arrive on Wednesday. What Nathaniel did not bring were the tent stakes, (not stakes–the rods that hold up the canvas. Don’t know what they’re called. :() so for Rebecca it was off to try to buy some. The sales person had assured her the parts would fit, and after hours of trying to assemble the contrary things, they were found to be the wrong size. Off again, finally having to buy a new tent.


Nathaniel considers the procedure…

Nathaniel had also brought along a new battery-powered scooter, and much to his dismay, at fully charge mode, it would only last about 20 minutes. Back to the store, and despite a new charger, the next morning, the same situation was evident. Back to the store. New scooter, which Nathaniel and his friends assembled. It’s a blasting, fast one, and they roam all over the fair grounds here.


…finally, Nathaniel (and his friends) have it finished.

It’s great to be have been here a few days early. We visit, stroll around, shop, and occasionally catch a snooze.


America California Christianity/Religion Education Evil Outrageous Patriotism Schools Social The World

Muslim Prayer Allowed in San Diego–Christian Prayer Denied in Bayonne

Somehow I missed hearing about this story until yesterday, and when I did so, I listened carefully, then read thoroughly about this development. My ire is raised…for it is reported that in Carver, a San Diego elementary public school, a time during class hours has been set aside for Muslim led prayers, and that the school is now offering classes in Arabic.

Carver school no longer serves pork and other foods which conflict with fundamental Muslims diet restrictions. In addition, single gender classes for girls have been set up there.

When I read this, my mind raced to Jeremy Jerschina, the valedictorian of his graduating class, who was forbidden to include a prayer in his address to the assembled people during the ceremonies.

Please carefully read both of these accounts …and think…what you’re reading. It’s outrageous!

Muslim prayers in school debated

S.D. elementary at center of dispute

By Helen Gao
STAFF WRITER San Diego Tribute

July 2, 2007

A San Diego public school has become part of a national debate over religion in schools ever since a substitute teacher publicly condemned an Arabic language program that gives Muslim students time for prayer during school hours.

Carver Elementary in Oak Park added Arabic to its curriculum in September when it suddenly absorbed more than 100 students from a defunct charter school that had served mostly Somali Muslims.

OVERVIEW Background: The U.S. Department of Education’s guidelines say students can pray at public schools during school hours by themselves or with fellow students. However, Šteachers and other public school officials may not lead their classes in prayer, devotional readings from the Bible or other religious activities. What’s happening: A substitute teacher claimed that Carver Elementary School in San Diego was indoctrinating students into Islam, and that a teacher’s aide led Muslim children in prayer. An investigation failed to substantiate the claims, but the allegations have thrust Carver into a nationwide debate over prayer in schools. The future: Carver, which has set aside a 15-minute break to allow time for students to pray, is considering alternative prayer accommodations. Religious and civil rights groups are monitoring developments.

After subbing at Carver, the teacher claimed that religious indoctrination was taking place and said that a school aide had led Muslim students in prayer.

An investigation by the San Diego Unified School District failed to substantiate the allegations. But critics continue to assail Carver for providing a 15-minute break in the classroom each afternoon to accommodate Muslim students who wish to pray. (Those who don’t pray can read or write during that non-instructional time.)

Some say the arrangement at Carver constitutes special treatment for a specific religion that is not extended to other faiths. Others believe it crosses the line into endorsement of religion.

Article continues here.

The Bayonne High School graduation ceremonies on July 20 were marred by a controversy over the inclusion of a prayer in this year’s Valedictory Address.

Traditionally, the top student of the graduating class speaks during the ceremonies, often expressing feelings about the past and hopes for the future.

But a few days before the June 20 ceremonies, Jeremy Jerschina – this year’s valedictorian – was asked to submit his speech for review.

The speech ended with a prayer to God, which was deemed unacceptable by school officials.

The article continues here.

Here is Jeremy’s “offensive” prayer:

Dear God,
I am to You forever grateful for Your Creation. You placed Your eternal Hand upon the Earth and created Man. You have created him of every tongue and race, and gave him the capacity to grasp at least some of the vast multiplicity which You precisely engineered.
Thank You, Lord, for bringing us together tonight to celebrate both our achievements and those individuals who have helped lead us to this level of accomplishment.
Also, lest we forget about You in the midst of our individual successes, I ask You impart in us an understanding and remembrance of Your omnipresent power and might.
Lord, I pray that You guide, protect and bless us.
I give You all praise and honor for Your Creation, for Your love, for Your mercy, and for the life that You proffer to us daily. In Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.

What is wrong with our country, our Christian nation formed on Judeao-Christian values? What has happened to our throats that sing loudly, God Bless America, and on whose coins is stamped In God We Trust?

Who is behind these wretched decisions that provide for Muslims to have special menus, class arrangements and adult led prayers during class time, but who deny a high school valedictorian the opportunity to say a godly prayer in which Jesus Christ is mentioned? Something is terribly wrong here.

I will get lots of flack from this post–I know that, but I am prepared for it. I hope too, that you who are of like thinking as I, will also speak. We must not be silent against the terrible war that is raging against our country, and that threatens to destroy the freedom to practice our cherished Judeo-Christian values–values that were brought at great price.


My devotional blog is here.

Addiction Alcoholism America California Humor Photography Social The World

Face of a Clown, Soul of a Man

Ding A Ling’s Face, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

All faces are masks. Lurking beneath the smooth buttery skin of youth, or behind the deep cragginess of the aged are secret stories, unspoken lusts, restrained tears, ragged dreams and unattained vision. There, too, may be lofty ambition, frank accomplishment, unseen generosity, even rare midnight poetry, whose words at the moment were tucked away–humbly poked to the back of the keeping place, well hid from the peer of judging eyes.

DJs RV park here in Lake Havasu is a such a place, a place of both face and mask, of openness and closure. Consistent with the human being, the face is the easier to see, but, know also, that the face of DJs is a mask, a covering that shields people of dream and vision, and covers those of decay and plunging despair. In its 102 spaces are sleek, expensive rigs, at some junctures set side by side with the most modest of dwellings. Inside these units, whether regal or humble, is the soul of DJs.

One such person is Andy Anderson, whom Jerry met a few weeks ago, and who since then, I have had the pleasure of meeting. He is a charming, club of a man, whose twinkling clear blue eyes somehow seem misplaced in his bunched-up furrowed face. His stories are captivating as he frankly tells of his life of sorrow and crime, and then of his ripping off the chains of alcoholism some years back.


View Shirley Buxton’s map

Taken in (See more photos here)

The following is a reprint from a 2003 issue of Home and Garden.

Now a devout Christian, Andy admits to succumbing to one youthful indiscretion after another, from petty crime and vagrancy to alcohol and drug abuse. “If I had any money then, I probably would have been a compulsive gambler too,” he says. Not surprisingly, his hard living costs him dearly . a divorce and a five-year-stint in the Nebraska State Penitentiary were the bitter fruits of his aimlessness.

After a successful tenure as a truck driver, Andy embarked on a career path that would change his life forever. He became a clown. Literally. “I had a lot of sorrow, hurt, and heartache in my life,” he says. “I wanted change. I wanted to make people happy and see them laugh.”

To realize his goal Andy attended clown school at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. At graduation, he became Ding-A-Ling the clown , a hobo/tramp clown in the style of Red Skelton and Emmett Kelly, though unique, of course. “Rule Number One at clown school,” says Andy, “is that you don’t copy another clown’s face. Ding-A-Ling is my own creation.”

As Ding-A-Ling, Andy worked as a rodeo clown (“Now they call ’em bull fighters” he laughs) for nine years. during the off-season, he used to work birthday parties, grand openings, picnics, parades, etc., where his specialty was in balloons. “At the time, I could make 68 different figures out of a balloon. Now I can barely blow one up,” he laughs.

The height of Andy’s career as Ding-A-Ling was an appearance he made with Emmett Kelly and Red Skelton at a fundraiser for a children’s hospital in Florida. The lowlight came at a rodeo performance, where he was knocked down by an angry bull and savagely bitten in the arm. At the hospital, he had to have skin removed from his leg to act as a skin graft for his damaged arm. Yet he still considers himself fortunate. “People get killed every year on the rodeo circuit. I was lucky that nothing really bad ever happened to me or the other rodeo people I worked with.’

Like an aging NFL quarterback whose reflexes are slowing down, Andy wisely retired from his physically dangerous occupation in the late 1980s. He still loves clowns, though, and is an avid collector of clown paraphenalia. His most prized possessions are a pair of authentic, bright red Bozo the Clown shoes and an Emmett Kelly doll. At one time, his collection totaled more than 350 items. “When it’s time to go to the big rodeo in the sky,” he says, “I want to donate my collection to a children’s museum.”

On December 20, 1996, Andy suffered a stroke. Five days later, on Christmas day, he had a life-affirming heart-to-heart chat with God, vowing never to touch alcohol again. Recalling the experience still brings tears to Andy’s eyes. He’s been clean and sober ever since.

Because of Andy’s unique story, and because of his honesty and frankness in talking about his past mistakes and his winding road to recovery, he’s frequently called upon to speak at substance abuse treatment centers and alsohol rehab clinics throughout California and Arizona. He’s also spoken at high schools, colleges, and churches. His life hasn’t been an easy one, but it’s filled with lessons that others can learn from.

“I’m not afraid to let people know who I am and what I am, so long as I never forget,” says Andy. “My message is simple and straightforward. If you commit your life to alcohol and drugs, you’re gonna end up in one of three places–in the state pen, in a mental hospital, or in a horizontal position wearing a suit and tie.”

Though Andy’s message is often blunt and to the point, he always sprinkles his talks with humor and amusing anecdotes from his life. He puts it this way: “For the first 45 minutes, I got’em laughing; but I got’em crying for the last 15.”

Andy knows that his inspirational story of recovery won’t change the hearts of everyone, but he keeps plugging nonetheless. He believes that if enough people–especially kids–listen to his story, he can make a positive difference in their lives. The key is to get them not just to hear, but to listen.

“You know why God gave us two ears and one mouth?” smiles Andy. “It’s so we can listen twice as much as we talk.”

I’ll finish up this article tomorrow.


My devotional blog is here.

America California Conferences/Seminars Flowers/Gardening Food Photography Social Travel

Fine Dining at Vintage Press


DSC_0029, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

My enjoyment of a wide variety of experiences extends to my delighting in an assortment of eating places. I’ve taken meals in the most modest of venues, have dragged up a stool at many outdoor haunts, have eaten in assorted foreign countries, and indulged in ethnic food in the back places of various cities. I love it all…from the simplest to that of the elaborate and elegant.

One of my favorite places to eat is The Vintage Press in Visalia, CA. A couple of months ago, during the time of our district conference, Jerry and I, along with our dear friends, Berl and Lavelta Stevenson, took another trip to this fine restaurant. I believe their orange umbrellas are new, for I don’t remember such a vibrant brush of color as was present on that day. I would have been happy to eat outside on the patio, but our friends wanted to enjoy the magnificent dining room, so we opted for that experience. It is a stunning place with outstanding food. If you’re ever in the area, please take a meal there.


View Shirley Buxton’s map

Taken in (See more photos here)