Day 1 of 16 with the Grands *Settle and Spaghetti*

Our trip home with the three grands on Sunday evening was smooth and uneventful. By mid-evening they were settled into their rooms and had stored their things. I was able to arrange drawers for Ella and Brady who are sharing an upstairs guest room, but in Cole’s room downstairs there are no drawers. “It’s no problem, Granny,” he assured me. “I’ll keep everything in my backpack.”

Shawnna had arranged their schoolwork with their teachers; Ella’s is in packet form, while the two boys work is assigned through the internet.

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Ella does her work on the dining room table, but close by is an antique secretary with a cubby where she places her supplies when she is not working. Ella is nine years old, in the fourth grade, and is an avid student who loves school.

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She also is extremely helpful and eager to work in the kitchen. For years she has been able to set the table, almost entirely by herself, even choosing table cloths, napkins, and placemats. We would be having spaghetti for dinner, so of course, she chose the butler dishes.

dsc_4417In one of the buffet drawers I have kept place cards she has made over the years, and for Pappy’s place she added a tiny violin, as well as a special ornament for each of us other four.

dsc_4420Brady poured olive oil and balsamic vinegar into the tiny butler dipping dishes.

dsc_4423You will never meet a sweeter person than Brady. On his last birthday he became a teenager, and is now in the 8th grade.

dsc_4421You see Cole there, bending over his Pappy to help with his computer? He looks almost exactly like Andrew, his father, did at that age, even down to the hair style. It startles me occasionally when I catch a glimpse of him in such a way that it appears to be Andrew. Cole is in the 10th grade. His long-term plans include an engineering degree, although I’m not sure, for I recall a few years ago when I asked what he wanted to be when he grew up and he replied, “I want to be a candy maker, Granny.”

The spaghetti dinner was delicious. My grands? Exceptional, wonderful, glorious, handsome, beautiful, smart . . .and mine! How blessed I am to have them for these few special days.

The Dogs of Forrest, and A Cat

imageIsabel is her name, she weighs 75 pounds and her proud owners, Junior and Sandy, report she has recently lost 10 pounds, which puts her at a normal weight for an English Bulldog of her frame. I laughed at her repeatedly as I visited my brother, for she is downright funny. She takes three or four plodding steps, then plops down hard wherever she is, which may be right at your feet. Her head is monstrous.image

She reminds me of both a pig–look at those legs, regular hams–and a rhinoceros. Would you believe, though, she gets up quite a head of steam when she decides to chase one of the beautiful chickens. Izzy sleeps in Sandy’s room, although one morning when I arose before the others I found her on the fine leather couch in the living room. She languidly opened one eye, then closed it and resumed her snoring. When Sandy found her there, she promptly scolded Isabel and shooed her off the couch.

Once Sandy dropped off Isabel at an obedience school. When she returned to pick her up after the first day of training, the coach in a friendly way said, “You know what. Some dogs are made to just be companions. We’ll refund your money.” Seems she just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) learn the most basic of commands! Sandy put a leash on her, and Izzy waddled to the car.

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Pugsley is a Shih Tzu, a little ole man, nearly blind, either 12 or 13 years old. He is tended by Sandy, a little touchy and wouldn’t let me pick him up. He sleeps in a crate in the office area. Sometimes when a treat is promised, he performs a little trick.

imageimageimageYou’re met Sally before. A beautiful, sweet boxer, she thinks Pugsley is her pup. One evening as we all sat in the living room, Isabel did something mean to Pugsley. Next thing we knew a dog fight was roaring with Sally atop Isabel holding her down and biting her ears. Junior and Sandy broke up the fight; Sandy held Isabel down hard to the floor a bit for punishment. A little later Sally went to Isabel and sweetly licked her ears.image
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One cold winter night, Junior heard something mewling outside the house. He opened the door, and in the howling weather found a tiny, drenched, black kitten. Kitty is now a beautiful, sleek cat who lives in the Forrest home, mostly in Junior’s area. Name is Gato which is cat in Spanish. Not sure whether Gato is a boy or a girl. Forgot to ask. Sally thinks Gato also is her baby. Sally sleeps in the bed with Junior. Gato sleeps somewhere in the area.

Every morning Junior holds “Doggy Day Care” where he feeds the animals and washes their faces. One afternoon while we were there, he cooked up a batch of hamburger meat for their lunch. He grinned at us when he admitted the deed.

Trip to Pennsylvania–Part 2

Among some Amish people–perhaps all–is a sensitivity to being photographed, so despite my proclivity for wanting to snap pictures of everything, I’m careful to be inoffensive to those about me. Yesterday we trekked to Smitsburg, a small town an hour or so from my brother’s with an extensive Amish population. Not many of them were out and about, but when Junior drove the car in front of a tall white farmhouse to pitch in $2.00 and take up a fat pumpkin, a school bus pulled up and off stepped an Amish youngster.

image“May I take your picture?” I asked, and when he nodded I snapped a couple of shots. He ran up the hill to his house, but I called him back to give him a dollar. His father was watching from the barn. I waved and spoke to him.imageimageEarlier we had eaten a meal in this restaurant, and Junior asked, “Have you eaten perogies” and when we said we had not, he placed a small order. They were delicious. Turns out they are dumplings made from unleavened dough, boiled, then covered with butter and grilled onions. Often stuffed with potatoes, sometimes cheese, probably lots of things. They were delicious. I could have eaten a plate full all by myself! image

imageWe browsed antiques store, tramped down gravel driveways, shopped in chocolate shops and drank water and root beer and handled packages of specialty flour and nuts and popcorn and looked at cases of cheese and followed Amish buggies down the road way, then . . .our last stop.

“I’m cooking steaks for you tonight,” Junior said. My eyes widened at the meat he chose, and the total that rang up. Seven steaks. One rib roast!image

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Jerry found an old tape once we arrived home. What a day! What a trip! What a brother I have!

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A Visit on the Bank of Greer’s Ferry Lake

Lots of life questions hound me, so that I am unsure of many things. Of this one subject, however, I am positive; my life has been unusually blessed by an outstanding, talented family, and by many friends who possess sterling qualities. Two such are the Rev. Jesse Emerson and his charming wife, LaDoyne. A couple of weeks ago, we were privileged to spend part of two days with them at their lovely home whose acreage leads down to the waters of Greer’s Ferry Lake in Clinton, Arkansas.

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Although Brother Emerson does preach from time to time, they no longer are in active ministry and feel blessed to have found this home where they can spend their retirement years.This giant cup holding a magnificent plant speaks to the theme of their lives–I could tell.

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20150321-untitled (46 of 67)Beautiful voices yet, with perfect harmony. At the end of the meal they sang a sweet song–something about where has our youth gone? We grinned and clapped.

20150320-untitled (17 of 67)She was pulling these from the oven when we arrived.

20150321-untitled (55 of 67)Under this magnificent tree, two white lounge chairs await the languid summer days when the Emersons sit and bask in the cool breeze off the lake. Their family often come to visit and to play in the water.

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20150320-untitled (34 of 67)We talked of sun rooms, and storms that ripped out windows, and looked at treasured old books. We spoke of our enduring friendship and recalled the long ago days of their preaching at our church when we pastored. We spoke of motor homes and recalled they lived in one for years as they crisscrossed the United States doing the work of an evangelist. We spoke of health issues and families and friends; of aging and of progress and of regression. Upstairs they have fitted out three rooms they refer to as the Prophet’s Chambers. Consisting of a tiny living room that looks to the lake, a minuscule kitchen, and a comfy bedroom, they open this area from time to time to missionaries and other ministers who need a place to stay for awhile, to catch their breath, to regain their equilibrium.

And then it was time to go, and we left with hugs, and smiles, and promises . . .to keep.

I cherish those days, and guard carefully my friendship with such dear and precious people. How truly blessed I am.

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And what of you? I would love to hear of your friendships–whether we have mutual ones, or you have others to tell us about.

Rebecca’s Gift

Someone had said to her, “Let’s go out front. Want to show you something.”

20140920-untitled (38 of 134)“Oh, that’s a really pretty car.” 20140920-untitled (39 of 134)It’s yours, Rebecca. A gift from your brother Steve. 20140920-untitled (40 of 134) 20140920-untitled (41 of 134) 20140920-untitled (43 of 134) Aw, Aunt Bek, we love you so much.20140920-untitled (53 of 134) 20140920-untitled (54 of 134)We were down at Steve’s to help celebrate his 20th pastoral anniversary when last Saturday all this happened–Rebecca’s generous, giving brother Stephen surprised her with a shiny red Cadillac.

20140920-untitled (50 of 134)I believe I have mentioned before that our dear Rebecca has suffered cruel breaks in life, the major one being extreme and deadly health issues. Literally, she has more than one time been at the point of death. She is divorced and not able to work. Her old car was choking and heaving.

20140920-untitled (56 of 134)20140920-untitled (61 of 134)Sir Winston dressed for the occasion.

In the midst of this disheveled, gone crazy world, where only yesterday in Oklahoma a woman was beheaded in her work place…..there are still those who care, who love, who give. Lots of them.

 

Of Fathers and Sons

Cole had asked to stay with us a couple of weeks ago when their entire family were here; however it wasn’t a good time, but last Monday was. Jerry and I trekked down to Temecula which is roughly halfway between here and San Diego where we met Andrew and Shawnna who delivered two boys to us: Brady and Cole. I don’t believe any of us had thought about this week as being the one that would lead up to Father’s Day, but a better week could not have been chosen. I’ve watched the interaction of Jerry with these two grandboys, and I’ve thought of leadership and heritage and godliness and progeny and transfer of mantles and of undeserved family blessings. Image

In the kitchen I made pancakes and eggs and tacos and poured orange juice by the gallon and fried chicken in a big skillet. We filled ice chests and these gentlemen in training carried down the heavy things and loaded in the folding chairs and took them from the car when we reached the picnic area at the lake and set them up for us.

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They climbed trees and poked at crawdads and didn’t catch even one. They threw sticks into the water, and when their cousin Nathaniel had been doing lawn work for Bill next door, they both helped him finish his job, and at the end when they had earned no money, I gave them each five dollars. Ambitious, hard working Brady earned seven more dollars from me because the $5.00 job I had assigned was bigger than I thought and because he worked so hard.

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The entire family were away from their home several weeks during the school year, so the boys came to us Monday with online and contract makeup work assignments. Cole works studiously. He also is quite an artist, so down at the lake I let him use my camera, and with his excellent eye, he fashioned a fine portrait of his pappy.

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Blessed. Here is a father who has a heart after God, who has led his family into righteous living, who worked long and hard to dress the bodies of his children and to give us nice houses and good food and days of fun and who read scripture to us and prayed for us . . . and who does to this day.

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And now are the sterling grandsons who weep in the presence of God, who say thank you Granny after every meal and who say thank you Granny and Pappy for taking us to the lake . . . and who take their dishes to the sink . . . and upon whom, perhaps, the end of the world will come.

Shoes. Feet. Paths to follow.

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So . . . yesterday Pappy took his boys down the hill to Big Five.

ImageFor there remain long, treacherous, happy, rocky, important paths ahead. And one’s feet must be shod . . .

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Honor to Whom. . .

Since I was a friend of his, Holly had said more than once to me, “I need to meet him. I want to thank him and remind him of how he has influenced my life,” or words to that effect. Then when she heard that he and other dear friends would be at our home on Tuesday, she asked, “Do you think it would be okay if Patrick and I come up and talk with them?”

The situation was this: Quarterly, we three couples–friends for most of our adult lives–rotate to our homes where we share dinner, and a breakfast the following morning: Stevensons, Hodges, and Buxtons. Holly and Patrick Garrett, our young friends who pastor a church in Yucaipa, CA., had not met either the Stevensons or the Hodges. It was in particular Johnny Hodges that Holly wanted to meet.

Earlier in the evening, I had phoned Holly and asked if they would be coming up. “Yes,” she replied. “We’re finishing drama practice and will be up in about an hour.” Our scrumptious dinner was over. Jerry had outdone himself on smoked St. Louis style ribs, (that’s another great story in itself), we had eaten dessert and had drunk strong coffee, Johnny had removed his shoes, and we had all slumped about in delicious old-time-Imagefriend conversations when the Garretts arrived. We made the introductions, offered food and drink, then rather quickly, Holly addressed Brother Johnny Hodges.

“I don’t know if you remember all the details,” she began, and then summarized the story. Her parents, Joyce and Richard Pierce, were not serving God, but because of family connections in the church asked Brother Hodges to marry them. Then sometime later when Holly came into the family, the Pierces asked Brother Hodges to dedicate their baby daughter to the Lord. He did so, and during the ceremony he urged them to continue to take little Holly to God’s house. Thus began the conversion of the Pierce family. He became a minister, and years later started a church in Costa Mesa, CA. It was there that Patrick Garrett found God, and where he and Holly fell in love. They married, have two sons of their own, and now pastor a church in Yucaipa.

“I want you to see the fruit of your labor, Brother Hodges,” Holly said as she pointed to Patrick, who was listening intently.

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A sweet presence of God surrounded us on Tuesday night in our living room as this beautiful young lady sincerely honored the man who those long ago years reached out to her parents, and thus “effected” her salvation, and those of her parents, her husband, her children, and those to whom she and Patrick minister today. I admired her for her thoughtfulness and for her sincerity. It was an unforgettable moment.

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Brother Hodges is now 82 years old, declining, and in very poor health. Many do not recall the days of his youth when he was an honored district leader, and was a preacher of rare skill, anointing, and distinction. Holly, too, has no memory of those days, but she has listened to the stories, and has heard their message, and has inculcated its meaning into her very soul. May there be more Holly Garretts in this world. May there be more Johnny Hodges.

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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.

Sam and Lil White’s 70th Anniversary

“Do you know what today is?”

The gentleman addressed the question to his tiny wife who sat across the living room. Always small, she now is tiny, legally blind, and suffering from a painful Shingles attack. She did not answer.

“It’s our anniversary, Lil. Today is our 70th wedding anniversary.”

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And so it was, as my Jerry discovered today when he talked by telephone with his longtime friend Samuel S. White.

I am so sorry I did not recall their anniversary date, and thus did not call or send them a gift, or at least a card for this very significant day. I am sorry they were alone. . . and almost forgot the special day themselves. I am so sorry, for they are dear and precious people and deserved more from me.

Many of you know these exceptional people. Some of you might not have met Jesus except for this rare couple. We have benefited from her leadership among ladies, from his dynamic preaching, and from their generous spirits, and from their sincere love.

I hesitate to post their address, but I know many of you will want to acknowledge this special day in their lives, so I am posting my own address and if you would like to send a card or a letter I will bundle them and send them on to these our friends. Mail letters: Rev. and Mrs. Sam S. White c/o Shirley Buxton P. O. Box 4577 Crestline, CA. 92325

If you’d like to post a message to them here, I will make a copy of your words for the Whites.

Thank you.

Relief Sites for the Philippines

In addition to church organization compassion and relief sites, the following are programs have been set up to aid the desperate people of the Philippines. Taken from Fox News. Photograph by Reuters

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Visit these links to learn how to help victims of the deadly typhoon in the Philippines:

WORLD FOOD PROGRAM

The World Food Program is working to bring food to refugees around the world and people facing hardship due to natural disasters. The organization is mobilizing quickly to reach those in need in the Philippines, according to its website, and donations will help provide emergency food assistance to families and children in the area devastated by a typhoon.

PHILIPPINE RED CROSS

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has deployed assessment, rescue and relief teams to evaluate the damage from the typhoon and to support rescue efforts.

AMERICAN RED CROSS

The American Red Cross, which responds to about 70,000 natural and man-made disaster each year, is accepting donations to help people affected by the Pacific typhoon, according to its website. Donations can be made in honor of or in memory of an individual.

AMERICARES

AmeriCares is a non-profit emergency response and global health organization.  In a statement on its website, AmeriCares says it delivers medical and humanitarian aid to people in need worldwide in times of epic disaster or daily struggle.

SALVATION ARMY

The Salvation Army is accepting donations specifically for Typhoon Haiyan.  According to a Salvation Army statement, cash donations allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors without incurring many of the costs associated with sorting, packing, transporting and distributing donated goods.  The relief services are funded entirely by donors and the Salvation Army says it uses 100 percent of all disaster donations to support disaster relief operations.

MERCY CORPS

Mercy Corps is deploying emergency responders to the Philippines and will be working with partners on the ground to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of survivors, the organization says on its website.  Mercy Corps says donations will help survivors meet their basic needs and begin rebuilding after the typhoon.

INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has dispatched an emergency team to the Philippines to respond to basic safe water, hygiene and sanitation needs. The IRC plans to expand its response as determined by needs on the ground.