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A Valentine

Jerry has macular degeneration now. He almost never drives. He can hardly use his phone because of his limited sight. We’ve had snow on the ground for weeks, and today alone we have received almost six inches of rain. Sort of snow bound here in Crestline.

Yesterday, he said, “Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I didn’t get you anything.”

I brushed the remarks aside. “Jerry, that doesn’t matter. You know that.”

This morning our furnace quit belching out heat. Jerry traipsed down to the basement. Came back. “The flame is lighting, but the fan doesn’t come on, so then the flame goes off .”

Jerry called Ken, our across-the-street neighbor, who is the best neighbor anyone could possibly want. Ken’s a little younger than we are . . .but still an old man, I suppose. A couple of weeks ago he had cancers removed from his nose and ears, and for a few days when we would see him, the end of his nose would be white . . .with bandages. Both men poked around in the basement.

The called furnace man came. His poking around in the basement led to his saying, “Your furnace is 40 years old, has this and that problem. You need a new one.” We ordered a new one. Wrote a check for half the charge. Will pay the other half when he installs it.

Later I stood by Jerry as he sat on a stool tending the fire in our fireplace. “I’m sorry I didn’t get you anything for Valentine’s Day.”

“Doesn’t matter, now does it?” I placed my hand on his shoulder. “Red hearts, chocolates, cards . . . It really doesn’t matter, Jerry.”

We’ve made babies together. We’ve bought furnaces and paid water bills. Once upon a time we were young, and now we’re old. A time or two, we stared down death. We swatted the tush of our sons, and of our daughter, and now, they with ease, place an arm about the shoulder of a fellow and say, “Let me tell you about Jesus.” We’ve wrecked cars and bought hamburgers and pumped gas and eaten in joints. We’ve settled into the skinny seats of planes, then tramped the ground in countries not our own. We’ve cried in our living room and in our churches. We’ve hooted in laughter. We’ve cooked biscuits and gravy, and grilled spareribs on our back deck. We’ve buried friends. We sleep with Winston, and drive ourselves crazy trying to make him mind us. We’ve looked wide-eyed at our kids as they took us in hand to tell us about Alexa and Siri. We’ve ridden horses in the Sawtooth mountains, and I fell off, and we’ve waterskied, and preached, and taught, and sang. And loved.

A box of chocolates? A rose. A card. Some glitter. . Sorry I didn’t get you anything, Shirley. Are you kidding me?

Categories
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!)

 

Categories
Christianity/Religion Culture Family Life love Photography Shirley Buxton Photography

The Phone Call

“Calling to check on you, Mom,” the adult child said when the woman answered the phone.

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The mother smiled. Ordinary conversation ensued–the mundane, the heat, how are the dogs, slim talk of daily activities, progress, and regression. Then the child said the other  words.

A tense sliver of silence. “That hurt me. You should have told me about that.”

“I’m sorry, Mom. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I apologize.” The child told explanatory  words that went to the heart of the matter for the child had tried to spare the  mother the sorrow of the untold fact.

Again. “I’m sorry, Mom.”

“I know you are. I forgive you.”

“I know you do. I would never hurt you on purpose.”

“I know you wouldn’t.”

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Hours later, I think on this scene. It makes me happy. Happy? you ask. Yes, for by now you must know that life is imperfect. People are. People who love each other, with no intent for hurt, do just that thing they would never intend to do. DSC_9550

At  that moment, each person has a litany of choices. We can continue with the hurt, or not. We can apologize or refuse to do so. We can gather in the sorrowful words, or reject the apology, We can dredge up prior hurts, or not. We can sulk, feel old, not needed,  rejected

Or not.

My child and I chose the high, logical road. No hurt was intended, indeed quite the opposite, no hurt would be nursed.

Such is the good life. How blessed, truly blessed I am

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Categories
family celebrations Family time Food Friends Goodness of man love Love of Family Photography

And Now I am 80

Today I am 80. Eighty and one day to be exact, for yesterday was my official birthday, and although I have been pulled kicking and snorting into the century with old people, here I stand. I am 80!

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Even though my birthday was not until the 24th, the festivities began on Saturday the 14th with my four children and their spouses working together to execute a family party with the number 80 connected to it. My eldest son opened their beautiful property for the event which was a dynamic success. Grand kids bounced about, along with four dogs, all Shih Tzus.

My brother was there: my brother who lives in Pennsylvania, and who a few days before had been in Australia! He strolled from the house to meet me on the patio when Jerry and I arrived, grinning. “You rascal,” I said, “surprising me like this.” I thumped him on the chest. What a guy he is. You will never meet a finer man on this earth.

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They brought presents, food, five or six cakes, fried chicken, couches for pictures, funny items for photographs, a clothesline with my childhood pictures on it, old-fashioned candies, including a moon pie tree. The grandkids told funny stories–one is so great_DSC0126that afterward I went to Chris, and said, “I want you to tell that story at my funeral.” (Stay tuned!) Won’t bore you with all the details. Trust me. It was magnificent. Perfectly done.

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That’s me in the middle in case you didn’t recognize me.

My favorite picture follows here. I was sitting on one of the couches with Steve and Rebecca beside me when my Michael leaped and spread himself across us. Andrew handed his camera to someone else, and joined his siblings. My four exceptional children. Aren’t they gorgeous! Not a picture of my dear hubby in sight, but he was there in fine form.

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_DSC0030My favorite part of the weekend festivities? On Sunday morning we all went to church together. Yep, that was my absolute favorite part. I have a great video I want to post here that would help you understand how special that was, but I’m not sure I know how to get it to this page. I’ll keep trying.

After church we went to a great Italian restaurant in Chula Vista where they serve outstanding food, one of them being an asparagus dish with a delicate cheese sauce. The first time I ate that lusciousness I threatened to lick the plate. Well, now that I’m 80, and not quite responsible for my actions, I . . .you guessed it . . . licked the plate! The owner came to our table for a hug and a picture. The chef emerged from the kitchen and with a great baritone voice, in Italian, belted out Happy Birthday.

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On Sunday, the 22nd, as Jerry and I worshipped with the wonderful people of The Lighthouse Church in Yucaipa, I was called to the front and presented with a huge basket of presents in celebration of my impending birthday. I was stunned, having absolutely no idea they would be making such a presentation. So sweet, so very sweet.

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Yesterday. The day. My 80th. One of the first messages I received was from my greats, Franky and Gabby, who by way of video sang Happy Birthday. I cried, it was so dear to me.

Jerry planned a dinner down the hill at The Claim Jumper, where I thought we would be eating only with Rebecca. When we arrived, though, there were our very special friends, the Garretts, and Kate, one of my Crestline friends. We ate delicious food, they gave me presents, we took pictures and ate cake, then Jerry gave me his gift. A banjo! Yep, a banjo. When several weeks ago he asked what I wanted I told him about my wanting a banjo. I took it out of the box, and played it! (I’m quite sure all the Claim Jumper guests enjoyed such rare dinner music!)  Before I went to bed I watched a YouTube video to help me learn to play it. Have to get me some picks first, I believe.

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DSC_0464So there you have it. I’m 80. Hard to comprehend, can hardly believe it is me. It’s old, I know that. I am now an old lady–no denying the fact. But I’m thankful for life, glad God chose me to be born, grateful for my wonderful husband Jerry, for all my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, other relatives, and my multitude of friends. God has been good to me–so very good.

Categories
Animals Courage dogs Family affection Grief Life love Nikon Photography Shirley Buxton Photography

Of Buddy

A text message alerted me to call Rebecca. I called.

She asked. “We’re putting Buddy down tomorrow. Can we come up and have you take pictures?”

Buddy is one boy’s dog. Has been since Buddy was rescued from an animal shelter and presented to Nathaniel when he was in the 4th grade. Nathaniel who is now a man. Nathaniel who graduated from high school last year, Nathaniel who takes college courses now, and who works as a roofer. Buddy is a black dog, nine years old (they think). Buddy is sweet. Has kidney failure. He’s big, and can be scary.

Buddy is one family’s dog. Truthfully, since Nathaniel has reached his manhood and taken on such responsibility, much of the care of Buddy has fallen to Rebecca, my daughter, Nathaniel’s mother. We’re all lovers of animals, and both Jerry and I were attached to Buddy.

“Sure, all of you come on up,” I told Rebecca.

I did not take a picture of Buddy wearing a diaper, for it seemed demeaning to that beautiful animal. Blood and urine and pain. Nathaniel would dig a grave . . .in their back yard.DSC_3376We talked. All of us spoke of grief and love and attachment.

“It’s worth it though, Granny,” Nathaniel said once. “The fun, the love, the good times I’ve had with Buddy makes this time of sorrow worth it.”

Rebecca sent me pictures of the grave and of Buddy’s body. Jerry said, “I don’t want to see them.”

I cried . . .as have we all.

 

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Categories
Automobiles Family Goodness of man Life love Photography

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.

 

Categories
Culture Friends Goodness of man love Marriage/anniversaries Photography

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.

Categories
Culture Death Goodness of man Life love

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.

Categories
Culture Family Honor Life love Photography

A Particular Day

Relationships are the nib and ink whose line pivots to mark the canvas of our lives. Rich are we whose relationships are many and varied; relationships of differing tones, of diverse depth–some many-layered, others thin, a mere wisp as we pass on this universal trail. Congruent–and inevitable–concerning those with which we have a rich connection is certain pain and certain joy. For of such is life, and those who can bear truth must speak these words. Only those so inclined will dare.

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I looked across the table yesterday and admired Shawnna, the wife of our youngest child, Andrew. Yesterday was her birthday–her 41st, so Jerry and I traveled down to San Diego to have breakfast/lunch with Shawnna, Andrew and two of their children, Chloe and Gentry. Andrew chose a place in beautiful Point Loma, and we sat at little round tables near the sidewalk for a couple of hours, munching and talking.

Shawnna has never said an unkind word to me in the more than 20 years that now she has been a part of the Buxton family. She is elegant, tall and willowy and is of a distinct and quiet bearing. She is intelligent. She is a loyal wife, and when their family has faced significant challenges, she has not once complained within my earshot. She has birthed five exceptional children. I’ve never seen one of her babies dirty or neglected.

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“Look at these little vases,” she said to me across the table, and she lifted the tiny arrangement, its orange flower aglow in the ocean air, for of the small she can take notice.

A man walked past us as he left the cafe, dressed in white from head to toe. To Andrew I said, “Wonder what his occupation is?”

“Rich. That’s real. He’s probably very rich.” And on the way to our car, I saw the man again. “His chauffeur is picking him up,” Andrew said. ImageI wondered at his life–his pain, his joy.

A tremendous conclusion to a delightful day was that we brought Chloe and Gentry home with us, and in San Bernardino we stopped by Rebecca’s house, took in three pizzas from Pizza Hut, ate them, swooped up Nathaniel, and roared up Highway 18 to 138, to our home in beautiful Crestline.

We laid easy plans last night for the three teen-age grandchildren. They’re going to the lake today, taking food and fishing poles, and money to rent little boats. Right now, though, they’re still asleep. So much for early morning adventure.

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Categories
Family Life love Marriage/anniversaries My Family Photography

Our 57th

Seven years ago we celebrated our 50th with great festivities and, sadly, with a few sorrows. You might want to click on the link which will lead you to several posts about those special days. Part of the plan was that our dinner/celebration with many of our friends, Jerry would sing to me I’ll Be Loving You, Always. What he did not know was that as a surprise I would join with him on the chorus.

untitled (1 of 1)…more years have passed and today we celebrate our 57th wedding anniversary. We’re spending a quiet day here, poked about in our gardens, and ate a simple breakfast. This evening we will go down the hill for a special dinner, and Saturday we’re also doing something special.

We’re long past the giddy giggling isn’t he cute, isn’t she a doll state, but are now deeply ensconced in enduring love and in steadfast devotion. It’s a rich place, safe, secure.