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.

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!

AUW Compound in Nairobi, Kenya

Here in the United States before our trip to Africa I had only briefly met both Pamela and Bishop Ngota Aston, but I certainly came to know them better during those days we stayed on their church compound, and to admire their ambition, their godly ways, and their accomplishments. I salute them today.

DSC_6557If I understand correctly, it was through his burden that he met with Apostolic leaders across Africa, and that in 2014 the Apostolic Union of the World was founded. He became the leader of the organization whose purpose is to facilitate evangelizing Africa with the Apostolic message. The conference we attended was the third such meeting.

DSC_6573His wife is beautiful, hospitable, a great speaker, singer, and musician. She was reared in a very challenging environment, but by the grace of God has risen from its depth to a place of prominence in Africa, and has attained an excellent education.

The compound is impressive. I was stunned to learn that they have only been in that location for seven years. It is completely fenced, boasting numerous structures with a 24-hour guard at the gate. Encompassed in the wide acreage are the sanctuary, the building I have mentioned in which we stayed, school facilities, and a few other out-buildings. Monies from outside Africa have been supplied and appreciated, but I noted in some of their material that one of their goals is less reliance on foreign aid; instead the development of financial independence

DSC_6175DSC_6556Both the impressive grounds and the buildings are kept in pristine condition. Workers were painting just hours before the beginning days of the conference.

DSC_6582I do not have the exact number of persons who attended the conference, but I suspect the final count to have exceeded 500. Most of these were ministers and their families, including some who had traveled as many as four days to arrive there. Several countries were represented. Although the provisions were simple, it astonished me that every delegate was accommodated on the premises. Outhouses were utilized and hundreds slept on mats on the ground. The food was cooked outside a small room on charcoal cookers; the dishes washed nearby with the assistance of a lone faucet. I highly respect my brothers and sisters in Jesus I met those few days in Kenya. Some of them, I was told, do not have enough food, and some are actively persecuted because they are Christians.

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I posted the following words on my Facebook account a few days after the conference ended. Those were my sentiments then . . .as they are now.

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I am raw. Lying open in the sun raw. The conference in Nairobi has ended. Forever in my ears will ring the words–Africa Must Be Saved–as I recall the hundreds of black people who swayed to the burden of their song, who fell mourning to the floor, who wept over the millions who are lost in the hills, the jungles, the cities of their beautiful continent. ……….I will never forget the mama of this beautiful baby who sat in the dirt long side a muddy road and nursed her darling child beside the table where she sold bananas and watermelons and corn . . .I will never forget leaders who taught their women not to be bitter as they asked God to give them food for their children. . . I am raw. Lying open in the sun raw.

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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