Stephen Forrest Buxton

Sixty.

Sixty years ago in the delivery room of St. Luke’s Hospital in Pasadena, Ca. Stephen Forrest Buxton yelped his way into the world, and into the hearts of his mom and dad. Jerry and I became parents that December evening, we knew that. What we did not know was the depth of the  treasure that had been lent to us by God.

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From the beginning Steve loved people, and people loved him.

On his report cards, his teachers noted his considerable intelligence and his propensity to chatter. He was a communicator. He communicated with his dad and with me. After a date, or a youth activity, he often would come to our bedroom and talk with us before going to bed. As do many teenagers, he struggled. As do a few, he persevered. He listened to the voice of God. He became a preacher.

And now he’s sixty.

His love for people, his generosity, and his caring ways extend to Jerry and to me. A few months ago to commemorate our 60th anniversary, which we did not celebrate at the time, because of health issues, he financed a trip for us to Africa, Florence, Italy, and to Rome.

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He is a skillful, passionate preacher. Proof that this is not just a mama’s biased observation is that he has preached virtually all over the world.

DSC_6976I bless that long ago day when you were born, Steve. I am vastly thankful to be your mother.

Happy Birthday!

Our Days of Christmas

Early, it began. We scheduled our (almost) annual Christmas party for the first Saturday  in December, and because it was so close to Thanksgiving some of my children and grandchildren who were here for the November holiday helped with our decorations, especially the outside lights that need to drape over bushes that are difficult for either Jerry or me to reach.

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Thirty-eight persons showed for the party, the crew including family, ministers, neighbors, and other acquaintances from our beloved Crestline. Jerry smoked a 19 pound brisket, I cooked a huge pot of pinto beans, and several pans of Mexican corn bread. Of course we had a tray with great cheese, nuts and fruit. A fine array of tenderly baked sweetness and my “go-to” punch of eggnog and cranberry juice rounded out the food. The variety of guests who came and their jolly interaction with each other produced a joyful party that extended from the arrival of the first one to the departure of the last. Although sparkling lights, whiffs of cedar branches, and a beautiful presentation of delicious food certainly contribute to a great party, it really is the people who are the core of such a gathering. Jerry and I talked about that later, and noted again how blessed we are with exceptional family and friends.

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Andrew, Shauna, and three of their children came to our home the week before Christmas where he spent a couple of days doing repairs to our house. Water had leaked behind the siding and caused significant dry rot on the front of our house that faces the lake, so he and Gentry pulled off the siding, repaired the leak and replaced the ruined lumber and the siding. While all this was going on Ella and I made gingerbread men. Hmm…they turned out to be a sad lot, but we loved them anyway. (Isn’t that how it is with those we love? People I’m talking about now, not cookies.  Maybe they’re not quite perfectly shaped, or perhaps a crack or two shows up, a limped walk, a drooped head . . .yet they’re ours and they’re sweet and special, and we guard them and love them, and pray for them.)

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A couple of weeks before Christmas Day, my brother Nathan surprised me with a phone call telling me that he and his family wanted to visit for a day or two, so here they came on the 21st, and what a great time we had. What a delightful family; sweet, intelligent, accomplished, ambitious, and God-loving.  Only one negative thing about them. They make me look like a midget!

DSC_9010Came early Christmas morning when traditionally we exchange gifts and only one of our children was with us, Andrew and his family. Rebecca and Nate arrived around 10:00,  Michael was quite sick and could not come at all, and Steve will be visiting us later in the week.

DSC_9038Andrew’s gifts to us were exceptional. Two reasons: They were handcrafted by him, and they are beautiful. He presented me with a professionally framed and matted photograph of his dad, which he had taken in an earlier visit. A priceless gift. Andrew also made the knife Jerry is holding, a new skill Andrew is developing. He also made knives for each of his brothers.

When Rebecca arrived she handed around gifts for everyone. Always thoughtful and generous is my only daughter. She is a treasure to her dad and to me.

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In the middle of the afternoon, Jerry called us to gather in the living room where he spoke, encouraging all of us, especially the grandchildren, to be upright people, and to love and obey God. He called on Chloe to read Luke’s beautiful words depicting the Christmas story.

DSC_9062We cooked. We ate.

DSC_9051DSC_9067Cole’s gift to his family was a game named Baconopoly. I played with them a couple of times as did their dad. They loved that game and played it multiple hours

DSC_9076Once when we were playing yet another round, I looked about the room, gazed at the sparkling eyes, the grins, the occasional spat over a move,  and considered the quite firm draw that board games has on families. I reckoned again the inestimable value of families and friends who eat and play together. It’s really not the prime rib, or the bacon trivia, or the yeast rolls. It’s not even a carefully selected treasure of a gift. No, it is time and love and connection.

And so, these few days past Christmas, I, as did Mary, ponder these things in my heart, and know how very blessed I am.

And to my readers, I wish you every blessing of God. May 2018 be a year of joy and of peace. I would love to hear from you.

Buxton Family Days

Some of you may recall that Jerry and I have four children, all grown now, of course, and you probably also have heard me tell of their excellence, their upright and godly ways, and that I am extremely proud of them. You may or may not, though, have heard me express how difficult it is to get them here to visit their mama and daddy all at the same time, and how that distresses me.  Now I know how busy each of them is, especially the three sons. (Our only daughter Rebecca lives alone and has more free time than anyone else in the family.) Steve, the eldest, pastors a thriving church of a few hundred persons in Chula Vista, CA. In addition to that, he is in charge of several churches in the Philippines, to which country he flies several times a year. He also makes other trips throughout the year–both in our country, and abroad. Our second son Michael is also incredibly busy. He is the founder of Buxton Drywall in Lake Havasu, and in addition he manages a construction retail store in Lake Havasu, and for awhile managed (maybe still does) one in Kingman, AZ. Andrew, my youngest, has five children, all still at home, works “9-5” in construction and sales, and is on the ministerial staff of The Anchor, a United Pentecostal Church, in San Diego.

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They’re busy. I get it. But we all have the same amount of time–24 hours each day, and we get to choose how we fill those hours. And I had decided I wanted them to be here with their parents for a fair chunk of hours, and all at the same time. So, this MAMA took things in hand, and around Memorial Day placed a call to each of them.

“Labor Day weekend. Check your calendars. Do you have anything planned?”

No one did, except Michael, and he sweetly said he would change those plans.

This past Friday and Saturday seventeen of our family converged on our home bearing food, smiles, and tremendous attitudes. Children, grandchildren, and great-grands made up the splendid group.

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DSC_8210DSC_8238We laughed, and ate, and ate, and washed dishes, and washed dishes, and washed dishes, and romped, and were funny, and had serious discussions, and took pictures, and collapsed, and ate . . .

I tell you that last Saturday was one of the happiest days of my life.

. . .and in this way the glorious Buxton Family Days of 2017 came to an end. How rich, how very rich, I am.

FullSizeRenderThis annual affair will convene next on Labor Day weekend 2018. All you Buxton and Forrest family members are welcome–actually your presence is coveted!

Mother’s Day 2017

Stephen Forrest Buxton is our eldest, thus it was his birth that made me a mother. Over the years followed Michael Ray, Rebecca Jean, and our caboose, Andrew Brian.

Often, I sit in my home and think of those four children of mine, and I must tell you sometimes I weep. I weep not for sadness, but for love, and awe, and thankfulness. How did it happen that these little rascals of Jerry’s and mine developed into the exceptional people they are? Often I am brought up short when I learn of their accomplishments, their gifts, their triumphant over adversity. None have been without challenge, but I tell you they have taken on the garment of upright people who are making positive contributions to society. They care deeply for their father and me; they assist and coddle us.DSC_7102

So, of course Mother’s Day is a significant one in my life. Let me tell you of yesterday. I began its celebration by jumping out of bed early, drinking coffee, and roaming about the house admiring the flowers and cards that had arrived from said youngsters and recalling the drama that Rebecca and I attended on Saturday. RUTH was the simple name of the Lighthouse Theatre production, so well done, so excellent that both Rebecca and I cried. After Jerry had been up a bit and we had our morning talk, I stripped our bed, washed and replaced the sheets, dusted both our bedroom and the living room, and vacuumed both the floors. I had a little time left before we would leave for church, so I went out back and planted our “farm.” Two tomato plants, three stalks of corn, and one bell pepper. The zucchini and yellow squash must wait until another day for I had used all the potting soil.

I subject you to the mundane list of my Sunday morning activities because I am thankful all my energy has returned! This time last year I was recovering from breast cancer and a subsequent mastectomy, chemo therapy, and 25 radiation treatments. The chemo knocked me winding sucking every bit of energy away from me. But now I’m well! My energy and strength are soaring. I’m extremely thankful.

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We met Rebecca at her church in Rialto; afterwards Jerry treated us to a delicious Mexican lunch at Hortensia’s.DSC_7080

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Early on in the church service the staff had sent a lovely orchid corsage to where I sat. Later, as Bishop Booker prepared to speak, he came to our pew, honored me with glowing words, and pressed a significant bill in my hand. Totally unexpected. Gracious and honorable. This morning, I placed water in this piece of carnival ware and floated the beautiful flower there.

DSC_7123When I called Mike to thank him for the present I had received, I teased him. “What did you send me, Mike? Do you know?”

“Uh, I used to, but I have forgotten.”

“A bird feeder. You sent me a beautiful porcelain bird feeder.”

We laughed together, for I know that most of my son’s wives actually buy such presents. Indeed Mike told me that Melina always shows him the present before she mails it to us, saying this is what we bought.

DSC_7115I’m still reveling in the beauty of the flowers and all the other ways my family (including my sweet hubby, Jerry) and friends honored me yesterday. I’ve wandered about the house taking pictures.

DSC_7111One more thing before I let you go! Another reason yesterday was special to me is that on Mother’s Day when I was 10 years old, I was filled with the Holy Ghost . . .and from that day to this God has lived in my heart. Is that not the coolest thing?

Holiday “Doings” at the Buxton’s

A few days before Thanksgiving, I opened the closet in the study where much of our Christmas decorations are stored and began setting out boxes. At ground level of our front deck, I ducked my head, walked under, opened a storage door and pulled out a couple of boxes that hold outdoor lights. Never before Thanksgiving had I festooned our home for Christmas. This was a first–a glorious first. I reasoned (in case someone would complain, which they did not) that last year because of my cancer surgery, my Christmas celebration had been limited. I’d make up for it this year.

What a season it has been.

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Rebecca brought up a lighted bare-limbed tree and felt leaves on which each of us could write down one blessing, and at the table before the sumptuous Thanksgiving meal, we read aloud our thanks. (Imperial Sir Winston knows he is a major treasure in our lives, and thus positioned himself.)

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The weather described perfect winter holidays. Cold, foggy and snowy. Some of us piled into our trusty Jeep and drove the mile or so down to the lake, where Andrew and I braved the cold and ice to take pictures.

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A soup so great that at the end my guests were tipping the huge crockpot to scoop out one more bowl was central to the food we served at our “almost annual” neighborhood party the first Saturday of December. Twenty-six relatives and other friends graced our home.

dsc_5259Among them was this gorgeous baby boy who resides with our new neighbors who live just around the corner on the street that leads to the woods.

dsc_5153            Mrs. Claus dropped by, as did the “real” Santa, another new neighbor, but I didn’t get a good picture of him. You know how sneaky Santa can be sometimes

And . . .wonder of wonders . . .for a few hours before Christmas Day was done, each of my children was here in our home.

Before we opened our gifts that Sunday morning, our patriarch led us in a simple time of worship. He wept as he spoke of the love of God, and for the love of his family. Each of us, except the very youngest, told words of love and blessing. Jerry asked Nate to read from Luke the story of the nativity.

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The gifts were distributed by a very skinny Santa. Gentry is 6’3 and almost 19 years old. These are his legs.

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Our gifts to each other were simple, for we are a simple family, and are old enough and wise enough to understand value and deep joy lie in places other than within the contents of beautiful boxes tied up with elaborate bows.

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Even a couple of greats showed up with their dad, Chris, and because we were out of beds, they joined the others who had stretched out camp bags and quilts, or snagged a couch for sleeping on Christmas night.

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dsc_5441Winston (and us) was blessed to have four of his dog cousins join us for the holidays. He liked some of them; others, sadly, he did not. You’re seeing Charley here, who lives with Andrew and his clan in San Diego.

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During all the holidays, no one had won a game of checkers against Cole. He is the family champ. On the day before they were to leave after Christmas, he challenged me to a game. He had beaten me badly during their Thanksgiving visit. Embarrassing, and I had escaped him . . .until now. Guess what! I beat the little rascal . . . whipped the socks off him. He grinned, and said, “Want to play another one, Granny?”

You must be kidding, I thought. “Nope, I think not,” I very wisely said.

The deed is done. The 2016 holiday season is finished, and we have moved seamlessly into the year of our Lord Twenty Seventeen. None of us know what the days ahead hold. Both joy and sorrow will visit us; success and failure; good days and bad ones; laughter and wretched tears. For us, the extended Gerald Buxton family, we put our trust, our confidence, and our faith in God, in Jesus Christ, the righteous

Blessings to you and yours.

Days 15 and 16 of 16 Days with the Grands *Preparations for Leaving*

The last two days of this great visit I encouraged the youngsters to be sure they had all their things gathered, so that they would leave nothing behind. I believe I have mentioned before that these grandchildren like to discuss what we will be having for meals. I had told them sometime before that on the 16th day, which would be Tuesday, we would have fried chicken. And so we did . . .along with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans (which they spurned !) and a green salad.

dsc_4564As she had for every meal we ate in the dining room while the youngsters were here, Ella set the table. She always does a fine job, setting the silverware properly and choosing cloth napkins to blend with the dishes we have chosen to use.

Andrew and Shawnna’s plane arrives in the late evening, so arrangements had been made that they would not come to our place until Wednesday morning, which was actually the 17th day.

On Wednesday morning, I did final laundry for them, spruced up the house, urged them to get their bags packed, and helped them remake the beds after I washed the sheets. Jerry had decided to smoke ribs for the big afternoon meal, and Rebecca and Nathaniel would join all of us. The day was warm; we set up tables on the back deck.

. . .and then they were here.

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I became distracted and got few photographs after that.

We spent several hours together before they had to leave, hearing a few of their adventures and seeing pictures of magnificent Hawaii on their computer. Andrew and Shawnna both have quite an artistic flair, and each of them produces beautiful photography. She uses a cell phone. Andrew has a Nikon. The youngsters told of their adventures, and Cole even snookered his dad into a game of checkers.

On the north shore of Oahu, actually within the sea, Andrew had the good fortune of finding a large piece of coral. He and Shawnna gifted his dad and me with this magnificent piece. . .and with this very touching card.

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And then they were gone.

It is quiet now. Too quiet.

 

Days 13 and 14 of 16 with the Grands *The Last Weekend*

Since he was a small boy, Cole has been quite a checker-player, and when he brought the thick board down from the game room to challenge me a couple of days ago, he said he had not played checkers for a long time. Throughout Saturday and Sunday he and I played many games. Sometimes he beat me, and from time to time I “laid it on him.” He also played with Brady, and kind, big brother that he is, he even took time with Ella and instructed her a bit.

One day Ella helped me peel apples and I made a couple of pies. Rebecca had invited the crew to spend the night with her, but Nathaniel was not going to be home, so only Ella accepted the invitation. One of the pies was for Nathaniel and Rebecca, so we drove down to San Bernardino where to Aunt Becky’s place we delivered an apple pie and sweet Ella.

On Sunday we went to church at the Garretts in Yucaipa; afterward we ate together at Farmer Boys, a chain here in California (elsewhere?)  that serves great hamburgers, and a few other things. Had a great visit with Holly who had just spent a week in New York and had lots of pictures to show me. Cole and Brady sat with Zac and Ian, and seemed to have a good time with them.

I continue to be plagued with a cold, and now Brady has joined me in this little fight against pesky cold germs.

These grandchildren of mine are wonderful human beings; responsible, kind, and loving. They’re missing their parents somewhat I believe, but do not seem to be terribly homesick. Every day–sometimes more than once–they FaceTime their parents.

Day 12 of 16 with the Grands *Afternoon at Lake Arrowhead*

After Gentry finished his schoolwork, and after we had eaten lunch, I loaded the three youngsters in the car and we drove to Lake Arrowhead Village. We walked the entire mall, in and out of stores, spent some time down by the water, played around in a small park there, and ended our spree with a stop at McDonald’s for drinks.

dsc_4530dsc_4541“Take my picture here,” Cole said.

dsc_4543Little sweet rascal.

dsc_4539Others visitors were there.

dsc_4550The day was magnificent.

dsc_4551Lake Arrowhead, spectacular as always.dsc_4554End of the outing: McFlurries

Day 10 of 16 with the Grands *Restocking Day*

I had intended that Ella and I spend a chunk of this day down the hill shopping to restock the cupboards and the refrigerator, for both areas were now showing empty spaces . . .and the little mouths, the medium-sized mouths, and the big mouths were still chomping away. But she was tired from the late Disneyland trip, and still sleeping, when it was time for me to go. Brady was up and ready.

“May I go with you, Granny?”

“How about your school work?”

“I only have two more chapters to read, then I will be totally finished. Not just for today, but completely.”

So, he took his book, jumped in the car, and he and I jaunted off to San Bernardino. First stop was the 99 cent store where I stocked up on wonderful sourdough bread, grapes, tomatoes, and a few other things. Second stop was Aldi. Third stop was a remarkable thrift store in Loma Linda, a tiny place, that from time to time places hand-lettered signs on the door that announces spectacular specials. Today a sign read, ALL FURNITURE $5.00. “Five dollars?” I asked the clerk

“Yes.” She smiled broadly. As I say, the place is tiny. Couches were stacked atop each other, fine wing-back chairs were crammed about, and a most magnificent headboard in which I had interest was pressed against the back wall. But I passed it by, for it just was not a good day to be trying to buy a headboard, stick it in the back of the Jeep etc……..

Fourth stop was Wal-Mart, and because my list had nicely dwindled, I canceled stop number five which was to have been Costco. The only problem was I had planned to buy a rotisserie chicken there for dinner. But we had things in the freezer I could pull out.

Home, then. Everyone helped unload all the goodies, and later I baked peanut butter cookies to make up for the less than stellar meal.

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Day 9 of 16 with the Grands *Disneyland!*

It was around 8:00 on Tuesday morning when hubby drove Ella and me down to connect with Rebecca and the boys. The Disneyland day had arrived; their gates opened at 10:00 and we didn’t want to miss one minute. It surprises me a bit, but Disneyland allows food to be taken onto their grounds, so we each had frozen bottles of water, and sandwiches, trail mix, granola bars and such were in the backpacks that were the order of the day.

img_0461The women.

img_0467-2The men.

The day was as perfect as any could be. Warm weather, but not too hot. Slightly humid.img_0516-2

img_0495The mouse ears. Love them and the little girl who wore them all day.

img_0496At the entrance Rebecca and I told the boys they could split off from us if they wanted, and as we spoke we decided on a place to meet later in the afternoon for a meal together. However, it worked out that in the early part of the day we were in the same places, in particular we entered the Haunted House together. Ella was terrified. Nathaniel was so sweet with her all day long. He hugged her up when she was so frightened, and often they walked hand in hand. Ella dearly loves her big cousin, Nathaniel.

img_0541I can ride these tea cups, whirl as fast as they go, and never feel a touch of dizziness. We had met up with a family from Rebecca’s church. London shared a cup with us.

Once when Cole and Brady were with us women and we talked of getting some food, the boys entered a food place where we were sitting outside. Somehow they thought they had to spend their own money for this meal and when I followed them in a few minutes later, Cole said, “I don’t think I want to eat here, Granny.” One slice of pizza was $8.00! We wandered around a bit, found a hamburger joint and ordered our food there; Cole’s hamburger and fries was $12.00!

“What do you want to drink?” I quizzed all of them. The drinks were nearly $4.00 each.

“We’ll get water out of the fountain and put in our bottles,” Cole said. I know I have mentioned it before but these grandchildren of mine are really exceptional; thoughtful and not greedy at all.

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It’s a bit strange, I suppose, but Pirates of the Caribbean has always been my favorite attraction at Disneyland. Ella loved it too, and we wound up going there twice. I think all together we covered most of the rides. I did not like Space Mountain. Too dark and loud. All the kids loved it.

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We closed the place down, and even the boys were  complaining with leg and foot pain before we got to the parking lot around 10:00. I chose to wear these not too beautiful tennis shoes, and at the day’s conclusion had only a little pain over one of my toes.

“Granny, those rainbow laces,” Cole had giggled when he saw my shoes early that morning.

It was a glorious day!