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Addiction Alcoholism Children Christianity/Religion Evil Family affection Flowers/Gardening God Goodness of man Life Photography

What Will We Do With This Moment?

Photo courtesy of AP/Andrew Harnick

“Together, we represent the most extraordinary nation in all of history. What will we do with this moment? How will we be remembered?”

President Donald Trump

Jerry and I had watched the clock and before 6:00 arrived had tuned into Fox News on our computers, as we were eager to hear the State of the Union address by President Trump. Although the purpose of this piece is not to critique the speech, it seems appropriate to note his thoughtful, patriotic, uplifting words to be of the highest caliber.

It was his words, “What will we do with this moment? How will we be remembered?” that resonated with me, and it is of that I speak.

I recalled a day at the beach as I watched a man with his children. What of their moment? Where will they go? What will they do?

She was afraid, I recall, for while you cannot discern it here, there was a chasm, a drop-off, a scary place. Seeing her fearful crouch, he took the hand of his young daughter, and led her across. He taught her in that moment he would protect her, that she could trust men, that her daddy loved her and her mommy loved her, that she could conquer fear; indeed that sometimes it was okay to be afraid.

Others. Rather. Memory loam foul for the dig, deep the findings of scream and stagger. The hate. Hide and cut. Reach. A hand? ……..Any? Is there none? A slap, that’s a hand

Didn’t you know that?

And you new in my heart. A moment. To take. Of peace, Divinity, sobs, shame. Reach. A hand? ……Any? There is one and another ……and that is love. And forgiveness. And care.

Didn’t you know that?

And the good man I watched . . .as he watched . . .as he yet watches. And now is her birthday. She’s twelve. She’s safe.

New blog post on God Things. Link below.

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Addiction Alcoholism Christianity/Religion Courage Friends God Goodness of man Life mercy Photography

On The Cusp

Occasionally we finger the edge of it; our touch reckons it to be uncommon, even of the eternal. From our deep, issue thick tears, even as our breath catches. Rarified has brushed against us; encounter with glory laces our world.

Compelled to know the depth of this story, I recognize it now more than ever, to be our story, Jerry’s and mine, and in an unfathomable way, he is as our child. He who nearly killed Jerry. We weep . . .for him. . . for his people . . .for ourselves . . .for mankind. Journal words grip . . .his father discarded by drugged parents–orphanage drop-off, as casual as the mailing of a post office package. Rage. Violence. Carried to new generation . . .and to another, kicked as a bent can down the wretched road of drugs and alcohol and anger.

“My father, an Italian man was racist, called flies on the wall niggers. My mother mentioned that she did not like me at one point because I was David Jr.” A sense of aloneness in his family engulfed him, he told me yesterday, and still at this time in his life, he intimated, “I have a sense of aloneness.”

And so we met, and talked, and cried, and loved. We apologized. We forgave.

 

Dave and his wife, Dana.

At the Claim Jumper, we ordered food we could not eat.

And they had brought their copy of A Thousand Pieces, and I wrote in it, and then did Jerry, and maybe at that moment none of our eyes took in the dedication page: To Jerry, who lived it.

So here we are. On the brim, the edge. Delving, Searching. We read. We write. The last chapter? On the margin of enlightenment, self-understanding, reckoning with ourselves, finding our way ever deeper into the presence of God. The Buxtons and the Esteys . . .on the cusp. . .

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Addiction Christianity/Religion Courage God Goodness of man Life overcoming adversity Religion

A Rare, Noble Man

As soon as it beeped, I reached for the phone beside me and as I lifted it, I saw the number was an unfamiliar one. A text message read:

 

This is Dave Estey. The man that was driving the truck. I have read the book and want you to know how sorry I am. This is my contact number if anyone would ever need to speak to me further. With the deepest regret. God bless. Dave
 

I did not know anyone named Dave Estey, but as soon as I read his message, I knew that indeed, I did know him. He was the driver of the truck that twenty-five years ago had struck my husband as he stood beside a disabled car, leaving him so critically injured that he spent five months in St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, CA.

Some of you will know that several years ago I wrote a book entitled A Thousand Pieces in which I told the story of Jerry’s death in the street, the lady who revived him, his almost unbelievably severe injuries, and his remarkable recovery. I also told that the driver of the truck who hit Jerry was driving with a suspended license, had no insurance, no assets, was drunk, and was high on methamphetamines.

 

A Thousand Pieces has been an inspiration to scores of people, and is now in its fourth printing. Among other places, it is available at Amazon.

So, as I looked at my phone on January 17, 2019, I came to the reckoning that Dave Estey was that driver.

“Jerry,” I called across the room. “Listen to this text I just received.”

The details are too many to include here, but know this: Jerry and I during the past two days have come to know that Dave Estey is a rare man, one of meekness and goodness; of sweetness and of love. He has fought demons most of his life and is a deeply wounded man. But now, in his early fifties, he has come to himself,  is analyzing his life, and is making restitution. He is humble, remorseful, and truly repentant. Two days ago, he sat by Jerry in a restaurant, looked him square in the face, and, prefaced by several long sentences, said, “I am sorry.”

And my husband . . .in his sweet, slow way, put his hand atop Dave’s, and said, “I forgave you twenty-five years ago.” The sweet presence of God hovered about us, and we all, I believe, wept.

As I said earlier, the whole story is too long to tell here, but you should know this. Sometime back, Dave began searching for Jerry Buxton, and as he did, he came across this blog, learned through it of A Thousand Pieces, and ordered a copy from Amazon. He then made the contact to which I have referred, and made other contacts, which resulted in our meeting together. He lives 450 miles away from us. Last Tuesday he drove down to our area, and along with his wife, and two of our friends, Patrick and Holly Garrett, Jerry and I met him at the Claim Jumper in San Bernardino.

I have essentially finished writing a book called Dream Shards and was working on some drafting of it when the first text from Dave came. The gist of the new book is that each of us has dreams and at one time or another they all shatter. The issue then is what we do about it? Do we wallow around in the ashes, the shards, or do we pick up the pieces and fashion a new piece? A new dream? The coexistence and interaction of Jerry’s story and Dave’s story must be a part of that book. So even though I was through writing it, I am adding another chapter. Dave and I will be communicating by phone and email and the rest of his story will be told in that book.

In the meantime, I submit to you that Dave Estey is a rare and courageous man, and despite his sordid history, he is a good man. We are still shaken about this meeting, and believe it involves more than can be seen or understood. No doubt it is of the spiritual realm, and is directed by God. Both Jerry and I believe Dave has caught a vision of righteousness and godliness, and we will continue to do all we can to lead him to a full biblical experience with God. Please pray for all of us.

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Christianity/Religion Christmas Courage Culture God Goodness of man Life overcoming adversity Photography

The High Road of Humility–Part Two

Sister Garrett had asked my husband to speak with the young men if he felt it was the right thing, and so came the time after we had eaten when they all gathered in the living room, and Jerry spoke a few words to them. They were so quiet, so attentive, and so obviously moved by his words.

I don’t say too much about it except with our family and close friends, but my husband’s childhood was quite rocky, and that he so effectively pushed through significant challenges is a source of pride to me, and I believe to our children. He was reared in the state of Louisiana, the youngest of twelve children, and more than a few times he has said to me, “We were so poor.” They had no running water, no telephone, no indoor bath, and no car. When he was four years old, his mother died. When he was thirteen his father died.

The Buxtons are great people and his siblings did their best to help him through those challenging years. He lived with some of them from time to time, but he was not really happy. “I never felt I belonged anywhere. Always felt I was in the way.” For a couple of years while he was in high school he lived with a family who had a dairy farm. He rose at 3:30, milked cows, then delivered raw milk to people in the neighborhood before his first session. “I was so sleepy, I often fell asleep in class.”

I believe it was when he was a high school Junior that he went to live with his brother, Bill, who was already a school teacher, and who helped Jerry enroll in a college after he graduated from high school. He worked his way through those four years and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree. A young man having a college degree today is not considered especially significant, but in those years, it was an unusual accomplishment.

He had received the Holy Ghost when he was 13 years old, and during his Junior year in college, God called him into the ministry.

“The rest,” they say, “is history.” He has taught school, founded a school, pastored three churches, married a pretty good wife (feel free to snicker here), and sired four children who all are living good lives, and who are filled with the Holy Ghost. So to those young men Saturday afternoon, he gave the good word, “You Can Make It!” No matter your challenge, no matter your situation, “you can make it.” Some of the young men have solid godly families, some have sketchy relationships with their fathers, and some have no fathers at all in their homes.

So ended the afternoon of a memorable, blessed day. Look carefully at the last picture, and you will see that not everything was of a spiritual, holy nature. . .which is quite as should be!

 

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Christianity/Religion Christmas Culture Food God Goodness of man Home Life love Pentecostal Photography Weather/Nature

The High Road of Humility

During the exceptional funeral of the late George H. W. Bush, our 41st president, former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson in his droll way said, “Those that travel the high road of humility in Washington are not bothered by heavy traffic.” In my living room, I smiled and considered the heavy truth of the matter.

While I never had the pleasure of meeting President Bush, and while I am not familiar with the little traveled high road of humility in Washington, I am well acquainted with an exceptional couple who traipse about on a similar road here in California. Pastor Patrick Garrett and his wife, Holly, are the leaders of an Apostolic church in Yucaipa, CA.  I’m overcoming my lack of fondness for cliches, when I say to you, “They walk the talk.”

The combination of very cold weather, and our decreasing wood stack which our son Steve heavily contributed to a few months ago, prompted a conversation between Jerry and Pastor Garrett. “I”m bringing you wood, buying it, . . .and  some young men are coming with me to stack it on the deck for you.” The response to Jerry’s insistence that he pay the young men for their efforts was, “No, I checked with them, and they will not accept any pay.”

On Saturday morning, here they came; nine strong, willing, young men, along with their pastor and his wife; exceptional Christians, people with the true love of Jesus Christ emanating from them.

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Pastor Garrett did not find that truck load of mixed hard wood sufficient for us, so after the first was unloaded and stacked on our deck, he pulled his truck out of our driveway and drove back to Yucaipa for another load–close to an hour’s drive.

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I was astonished to see and hear what those young men did next. While their pastor was gone, they took it on themselves–in 40 degree weather–to tackle yard work around our place. As though it were a spring cleanup, they grabbed rakes, hammers, trash bags, and blowers. Cleaned our property until it was spotless. They hosed decks, folded tarps, repaired wall hangings, swept under the front deck, reorganized containers, and from time to time asked, “Is there something else we can do?” My jaw had dropped.

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During the original discussion Jerry told Pastor Garrett we would cook up something for the workers, so on Friday evening around 7:00 Jerry fired up his smoker and for 14 or 15 hours he smoked to perfection a Farmer John Pork Shoulder. from which then he deboned the meat and formed delicious pulled pork sandwiches. I whipped up cole slaw, a huge pot of pinto beans with ham hocks, and crusty corn bread baked in iron skillets. Holly brought desserts . . .and we had a feast.

dsc_0863.jpgOnce while I was in the kitchen one of the young men came to me, so thoughtful and thankful. So sweet, so very sweet. “The table looks like it is for rich people.” His deep brown eyes stared into mine.

“It is for rich people, Caleb.” And then I expressed to him that people with principles and spirits such as this group possessed were rich; indeed they are the richest people on earth. In honor of these rare and treasured people I had set the table with shiny red porcelain plates. and their red and green cloth napkins were held by festive Christmas napkin rings.

IMG_1581Our ears ring daily with horrific tales of disgusting, dishonorable, evil activities. But there are others. Among the few who conscientiously tread the high road of humility and of true godliness are Pastor Patrick Garrett, his wife, Holly, and a number of glowing, exceptional young men.

Just before they left our home, I again thanked Pastor Garrett. “You are a true Christian.” As is his way, he bowed his head, and wept.

I continued. “And following behind you in a steady tramp is an impressive row of young Christians–just like you.”

When President George H. W. Bush removed his coat to warm a cold usher at church one Sunday morning, I was not there. When he wrote personal notes to scores of people, including some I know, I was not there. When he adorned our White House with exceptional ethics and grace I was not there. But recently, and often, it is my distinct favor to mingle with a godly couple and with an expanding flock of beautiful people who contribute to the beauty of this world as they walk the high road toward Heaven. Jerry and I are beneficiaries.

(Sad PS. That is either Gabriel or Joseph whose head I neatly sliced. My sincere apology!)

 

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Christianity/Religion Courage Family family celebrations God Goodness of man grandparents Integrity Life Marriage/anniversaries

My Jerry of 62 Years

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credit for photo to Buxton Photography

Vividly I recall the moment. Tulsa was the place where my eyes first swept across  his image.  A chapel service. Apostolic College. Both of us students. A number of days (maybe weeks) later, I looked across a room and had this “knowing.” I would marry him.

And I did. Sixty-two years ago. At Swan Lake he had asked the question, and on June 27th in Marshfield, Mo. a pastor said his words, we told our vows, and we became a couple.

Doubtless God ordained this coupling, for our lives together have been unusually happy, and I like to think we have made positive contributions to God’s work, and to our society in general. I know he has. He has taught in both public and private schools, pastored two churches, founded a still-thriving Christian school in Rialto, CA., then when he was 75 years old, well after he had officially retired, we went to Lake Havasu City, AZ. and there he planted a church. When we left 3 and 1/2 years later the group averaged 40 to 50 people, and our top attendance had been 92. Statistically, this represented a remarkable accomplishment.

Husband. He was–and is– my husband. I was young, so very young, lacking a few days being 18 years old, naive, not worldly-wise at all; I could have been utterly fooled. That June night as I changed into a lovely negligee in the small bathroom of the Circle C motel we had selected at random as we traveled on our three-day honeymoon toward Kentucky where we had our first revival scheduled, I recall a panicky moment. For a sudden understanding had come to me. I really did not know this man with whom I was about to share a bed.  (No one knows. Ever. For scarcely do we know ourselves.) But God had directed both of us. We had listened, and today find ourselves elderly, showing a few physical imperfections, happy, still full of faith in each other, and in God, who throughout all these years as been the center, the core of our home.

We started with little. Everything we owned was in that car of Jerry’s –well, it was sort of his, his and the finance company’s. One suitcase held all my clothes, Jerry’s outfits were meager, and his wallet was far from bulging. My dad had cast a doubtful eye on the car tires, and before the wedding had seen to a new set being mounted. We climbed, stared-down challenges, were faithful, kept our vows, and that wonderful husband God gave me has carved out for us a beautiful home. Our four children are of the highest calibre, all God-fearing, upright peoples of this earth. Our grandchildren are beautiful and smart. They leave notes around when they visit and occasionally they call us. Our little greats show promise, no doubt on their way to being exceptional!

No better husband could ever be than my Jerry. He is kind, thoughtful, giving, handsome, consistent, romantic, grateful, and humble. He is a man of God. How blessed, unusually blessed I am.

And so at this moment, in this way among others, I will say I love you to my charming, unusual man, My Jerry. My lover. My husband. Happy anniversary!

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Christianity/Religion Culture God Goodness of man Pentecostal Photography

Youthquake

Oxford Dictionaries, a part of Oxford University, has selected youthquake to be the top word of the year 2017The abundant use of the word came about because of the unexpectedly strong turnout of younger voters in the 2017 snap election in the United Kingdom. My reading of this information, and my observations of several young people over the last few days prompted this piece, which although has some negative parts, comes to a positive and hopeful conclusion.

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Youthquake. I like the sound. My initial thoughts on hearing the word, which is not a familiar one to me, was of the positive, enthusiastic, energetic qualities of young people, and of the dynamic influence they can have on this world. I considered our society, which in many ways spirals ever-downward, the needs of our churches, wide-spread famine and other challenges across the globe–and was sure young people can truly cause a quake–an aggressive, beneficial shake-up of the ground on which we stand that could contribute to the solution of many of these problems.

DSC_9200DSC_9186Then I chanced to be near an adult child who spoke in an arrogant, disrespectful way to his/her father. My insides shook.

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I eyed the father. I willed him to be strong, for it was his right–indeed his obligation–to quiz and to direct the young person who, although grown, yet lived at home and indulged in its benefits. A good kid, probably, just a bit too frisky for the moment, a tad too full of itself.

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Because it is my way, I thought of an account in the Bible where children were disrespectful to a man and came to an unfortunate end. As I contemplated  this piece of writing I reckoned with the thought that many people would think this reference too harsh, and the subject too edgy, and after all kids will be kids . . .and they must “sow their wild oats,” and this is a new generation, things are different . . .True, perhaps. Yet I persist in thinking that we who are in charge, whether parents, grandparents,  senators, teachers, or whomever must defend the mores of a God-fearing, decent, cultured, polite society. A bit of quaking in our spirits and in our consciences is likely a good idea.

DSC_8995But I liked my first response to Oxford Dictionaries youthquake and I thought of several young persons who I believe I can count on to shake up this world for the better.

The two guys with red apparel above are my nephews, both in their twenties, both in college. After a meal in our home a few days ago, their parents directed them to clear the table and wash the dishes. I was astonished. But cheerfully they rose from the table, and did the deed, even  as they embellished it with frivolous entertainment. David, the one you see in the midst of an aria there, grabbed a broom and swept the floor.

My granddaughter Chloe initiated a student Bible study in the college she attends.

My grandson Nathaniel is the youth leader at Hilltop Tabernacle in Chula Vista.

By live streaming tonight I watched my young friend Julio lead before service prayer at The Anchor Church in San Diego.

Gentry works like a man. Brady has the sweetest of spirits. Cole is artistic and is kind to me.

I hope you’ll make the effort to add names in the area set aside for comments. The ones you know. They’re out there. Young people. Good ones. God-fearing, upright people who truly can bring about an earth-shattering youthquake.

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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.

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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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Animals Christianity/Religion Crestline Devotionals dogs God Life Photography Shih Tzus Weather/Nature

Leash

20150219-untitled (35 of 45)Usually I walk Winston along our street, sometimes going into the woods that is a part of Thousand Pines Christian Conference Center here in Crestline. Yesterday, though, I put him in the car and drove the mile or so down to Lake Gregory, where, in an area near the San Moritz Lodge, we accomplished our morning walk.While he nudged small stones, and snuffled around fallen leaves, trying to sniff out at least one of the myriad animals who prowl about the area, I reveled in the day. Getting on toward the end of February, the weather should be described as storms of snow and rain; instead we’re having Spring, and although I’m wanting the cold weather, I’ve decided (since I can do nothing about the amount of heat or cold that stacks up about me) to enjoy these gorgeous days, and to avoid too much whine about the other stuff.

Winston walks on a leash. A leash that I control. I snap it on him, and take it off him. I’m in charge of Winston, and I tell him where we’re headed, when to go, and when to stop. Sometimes he obeys me. Others times not. Sometimes he doesn’t want to come for the leash and he’ll dance around, and tease, but before we head out for the walk, he is securely tethered by his leash–the leash that is in my hand.

20150218-untitled (2 of 45)I  wear a leash too. Despite, though, how closely you look about my neck or how thoroughly you peer about my shoulders, you will not see my harness. It is invisible, rests easily about me, yet is highly effective. I’ve worn my leash a long time now, and should it slip away, should it be lost, I would suffer. My leash is of The Spirit. My leash is the Holy Ghost. I cherish this restraint, for it guides me through this very treacherous life, along roadways littered with stumbling stones, through neighborhoods of evil report.

With David, I cry:

Prepare my goings in your paths and do not let  evil rule over me. Psalm 119:133 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

And to my Savior, I lift my hands, and extend my body for the leash for He has said:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go. Psalm 32:8

20150218-untitled (3 of 45)We care deeply for Winston, we provide for him, we pamper him. Despite being the smart little rascal he is, without us he would lose his way. One day he would frolic away to the camp or to the lake, not remembering the coyotes that prowl our woods and our streets, nor the occasional huge cat who might very well rest in the limb above his furry little head.

20150219-untitled (40 of 45)Sometimes he’s in danger and has no sense of it at all.

And so Winston wears a leash, as do I. For sometimes I’m in danger, sometimes I head toward the wrong path, sometimes ungodly creatures lie in wait for me, but I’m safe, for I yield to the leash.

My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled. Psalm 17:5

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Christianity/Religion Devotionals Friends God Goodness of man My Home Pentecostal Photography

Seven Thousand and Counting

It grieved me to hear that a highly respected elder minister of the Gospel felt in good conscience he could no longer attend the church he had pastored for many years. The relative who had followed him as pastor has chosen a “new” gospel. The names lack significance. The message cracks with consequence.

As a counterpoint to the short piece above that I recently posted on Facebook, and which received many affirming comments, I present a young couple. Their names are Anthony and Shauna Allen.

ImageAnthony Allen is a young minister, and he and his darling wife stand as the antithesis of the relative noted in the paragraph above. On Sunday at the conclusion of their (and his parents) short visit in our home, Jerry spoke a short devotional.

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ImageAs I gave a final hug to Shauna, she spoke soft words me: It is such a blessing to be in a home where I feel so strongly the presence of God.

Image Our Sunday morning devotion in our living room ended in this way and I was reminded again that across the world there are innumerable honest, ethical, God-fearing people who are not deviating from the doctrines found in the Bible. Young ones, middle-aged ones, and older ones. I recalled that great prophet Elijah who once got to thinking he was the only one doing right. God rebuked him and cited 7000 who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

I smiled. . . and decided to tell you about it.