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A Blessed Week of Thanksgiving

It was almost a week–a week of Thanksgiving–beginning Sunday the 22nd after the beautiful Thanksgiving dinner at our church, Christ Alive. It was mid-afternoon when Jerry and I drove the 4 1/2 hours to our Crestline home. Our home is situated in such a way that we pass the rear of the house before making a sharp turn and pull into the driveway in the front. As we drove past the backyard, both Jerry and I noticed lights on in the upstairs area of the house.

“Rebecca must have left on a light,” I thought. She had gone up a couple of days before to oversee carpet cleaners who tackled all our downstairs carpets.

As we pulled up the driveway and into the garage, though, we noticed lights everywhere…and then we saw her car. Our sweet daughter and her son, Nathaniel, were already there, with the house warmed–a crackling fire roaring in the living room fireplace.

And so it began…an exceptional week of Thanksgiving with our family and friends. Except for Michael, who was with Mel at her family’s home, on Thanksgiving day, all our children were with us, along with our grandson Chris and his family. Friends Jay and Holly rounded out the group of 18 who were seated for our traditional luscious Thanksgiving dinner.

Chloe had set the table, choosing to use these combination napkin rings and place cards. Shawnna did the calligraphy. I always want to have the children sit with the adults, but our table just won’t stretch that far, so we set a children’s table…using red plates! (Click on any of the pictures to view them in a larger size.)

You can’t see Gentry at the table, but he is pictured well in the kitchen with his beautiful yeast rolls which he made totally “from scratch.”  Everyone pitched in to cook this exceptional meal. When Steve and Dearrah came in from San Diego, he was bearing two large ham butts which were coated with a scrumptious Cajun glaze. Rebecca bought a huge tom, and together we chopped and mixed and seasoned until the giblet gravy and the cornbread dressing were perfect. Chloe peeled, boiled and whipped potatoes into a fluffy, buttery mound. Shawnna prepared two large casserole dishes of her famous, cheesy green beans, and before Friday night was over, there wasn’t a green bean in sight. Desserts abounded, but before we began to eat, Jerry stood at the head of the table, expressing his love for everyone there, and calling on Nathaniel to read portions of beautiful Psalm 136 that speaks so eloquently of thankfulness.

Gloriously inevitable were the games where we hooted and howled with laughter, and one night after Jerry had gone to bed and we were still at the “gaming table,” open swung the bedroom door on the landing, and the sweet Patriarch growled, “You’re being too loud! Woke me from a sound sleep.” We snickered, and said…sorry…and went right back at it, until finally we were all tuckered out and went to bed.

Friends came by; we ate leftovers and ordered in pizza. We encouraged everyone to take at least one bite of the myriad desserts, never forgetting Chloe’s beautiful chocolate meringue pie. We hugged and patted and washed dishes…and did it again…and again…and went to the store one more time, and put jackets on the babies, and took them off again, and matched up gloves for the cold hands and found boots that fit the growing feet. We opened the second pound of Starbucks coffee beans, made another pitcher of tea, and unloaded the dishwasher and put clothes in the dryer.

I had been disappointed to read weather forecasts that predicted moderate, dry weather…and the forecasts were accurate. But I knew the beautiful weather was a blessing in a way for the youngsters had a great time playing outside, even to a late evening football game. Daddies and one grandpa were running about and huddling with Ella-Claire who is two and with Drake who is three. It was a delight to watch.

But on Friday evening, a cold rain began, and during the night a blustery storm blew in with thunder and lightening that is unusual in our part of the country. Our house shook so that some persons got out of bed and spent part of the night in the living room. I awoke to the crashing of thunder and when our bedroom was illuminated with brilliant lightening but promptly went back to sleep.

Silently and without my being aware, began the snow, so that when I peered from the bathroom window early Saturday morning, the ground was blanketed with two or three inches of that pristine covering. It was a fairyland. The trees were white and icy. The temperature had dropped 23 degrees from Friday morning…and so ended the Thanksgiving week. Snow suits and boots came out in earnest, snow ball fights ensued, and one beautiful snow man was built, sporting carrot features and a bright red scarf and hat.

The day had cleared with peeks of blue overhead, but just before we left, the sky lowered and dark clouds built. Hurrying now, we finished packing and as we drove away, fresh snow was falling. We left Rebecca in our home, and when I checked on her yesterday, she was still there. “Nathaniel doesn’t have to be in school until Tuesday. We’re just hunkered down here. It’s so nice.”

I knew there was plenty of food for Rebecca and Nathaniel; there were fresh coffee beans and lots of wood for the fireplace. I consider it a pretty nifty way to finish up the Thanksgiving week. Hope yours was as delightful as was ours…Now on to Christmas, my favorite time of the year!

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Happy Birthday, Michael


This is a good time to again thank God for this fine man, a man of talent, of a wonderful disposition, and of a heart after God. For more than 25 years, though, he wandered about, untrue to his calling, his training, and paying less than respectful heed to God. Then he “woke up,” and for several years now, he has been a dynamic servant of God.

Fifty years ago today, Heaven sent Jerry and me our second child. We named him Michael. He was nearly bald at birth, but soon golden curly locks covered his sweet head. I’m wishing him a happy day.

Well worth repeating, so again I say this is a good time to again thank God for this fine man, a man of talent, of a wonderful disposition, and of a heart after God. For more than 25 years, though, he wandered about, untrue to his calling, his training, and paying less than respectful heed to God. Then he “woke up,” and for several years now, he has been a dynamic servant of God.

He is a witness for God, the likes of which Jerry and I have never seen during all our years of pastoring. To the wealthy and well-placed of Lake Havasu, to the homeless and penniless alike, Michael shares the story of Jesus, and of the remarkable change that has come to his life. He teaches upward of 70 persons weekly in our Christian intervention program, he leads the worship in our services, and has recently assumed the position of counseling in our church.

Happy birthday, Michael. You are a dear and precious son.

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The Birthday of Rebecca Jean

She was full-term, but tiny; 5 lbs 8 ounces 18 1/2 inches long, when on October 19th, Rebecca joined our family, rounding us out to five now. Her birth was before the days of routine sonograms, so I didn’t know the sex of the new baby, and having thus far only male beings around me, I was hoping for a daughter. Jerry and I had decided her name would be Rebecca. In the delivery room, slightly hazed from drugs, I heard my baby wailing, and the doctor said, “Mrs. Buxton, you have a baby girl.”

“A girl?”

“Yes, Mrs. Buxton, a girl.”

“Are you sure? Are you sure it’s a girl?” I remember feeling warmly foggy, and asking this question, which didn’t seem at all extraordinary to me.

The doctor chuckled, then spoke again, “Mrs. Buxton, I’ve had lots of experience telling boys from girls, and this definitely is a girl.”

The nurses and doctor did their work, then they handed me my daughter. Rebecca. Little did I know at that moment what a precious person had been given to the earth. Today is her birthday, and with all sincerity I say there could be no better daughter than my Rebecca. She loves God, is a remarkable mother, dotes on her dad, looks after me, cares about her siblings, is kind and tender-hearted, beautiful, fair, intelligent and strong. DSC_0021She’s had many rough breaks in life. Severe, life-threatening health issues have battered her about, knocked her down, and ravaged her. Inevitably, she rises, and with rare courage and gutsy strength, she walks again.

Friday, we met for lunch, then while Jerry got a haircut and picked up Nathaniel from school, she and I went to Barnes and Noble and the World Market where we prowled about for a couple of hours.

I am most blessed to say I am the mother of a truly remarkable, beautiful person–Rebecca Jean. And at this moment, I wish her a very happy day…and the kind of future she deserves.

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The Passage of an Angelic Visitation

…and it came to pass in the mid days of September in the year of our Lord 2009 that a decree (well, to be truthful, a request) came to my ears. And when the days were accomplished that we should do so, we traveled to Crestline in the state of California–both Jerry and I–there to be taxed, but more importantly there to be blessed with the arrival of a child–not just with one child, but with five. Five grandchildren! For their parents had been called…and had responded…to a time of vacation.

Hills lay about as we traveled–known as the San Bernardino Mountains: sleek horses grazed in green pastures along the roadside as we neared Crestline, but there were no shepherds. I neither smelled or saw sheep, nor did I see anyone cavorting around dressed in sheep-tending attire. The  skies were devoid of heavenly beings, but not to worry, I knew angels would come later.

They arrived, did the angels, bearing parents with them, stomping up the front steps, pushing open the door, grinning, hugging, yelping, tugging. “We’re here. We’re here, Granny and Pappy!” A small one rushed to where I sat and began helping me fold clothes. “When can we mop?” the little boy asked.

Daddy Andrew took to the floor, rolling his eyes in disbelief. “Mom, at home I can’t even get them to empty the trash.” I smiled and pondered these things in my glowing heart.

Earlier, in an Eastern land–Lake Havasu to be exact–wise people had laid plans, plans whose studying had resulted in the purchasing and laying away in cupboard, refrigerator and freezer, a massive amount of food. And now, although we had no star to follow, we did have The Plan. The Plan allowed each of the four older children to devise a day’s menu, cook the food, select the dishes, table cloth and napkins, set the table, and be fervently involved with the clean-up that would be necessary following such activity. DSC_0030That person could also choose locations for the meal; dining room, bar in the kitchen, or out on the back deck. Six-year-old Brady yelled the loudest to be first, so Monday morning found us in the kitchen cooking up a pound of bacon and frying pancakes. He close shrimp and chicken gumbo for his evening meal…and wonderful addition…Rebecca and Nathaniel drove up the hill, shared dinner with us and stayed into the night. These cousins are close and they had begged for Nathaniel to also miss school during this week and stay at Granny and Pappy’s, but wise mother, Rebecca, said she didn’t think  so, but she would bring Nathaniel up to visit when she could. They came again on Wednesday evening, and on Saturday around noon, staying then until the returning  parents arrived, which was well past midnight, I understand. Jerry and I had to leave at 5:00 pm for we had our Sunday morning service to attend in Lake Havasu. “Dark Hall” was the order of that evening, I am told, a game which  calls for wandering around in the dark playing hide and seek. After the younger ones were in bed Rebecca let the three older ones stay up until Andrew and Shawnna arrived.

These children really get into cooking and setting tables–never saw anything like it. Among other things they chose to cook chicken enchiladas, hamburger steaks, spaghetti with marinara and meat sauce, and when Chloe was choosing her meal, she said, “I don’t care what I cook as long as it has mashed potatoes and gravy with it!” Eight-year-old Cole decided on biscuits and gravy for his breakfast; I showed him the recipe, watched as he took down the ingredients, showed him how to measure, and directed his mixing it together. He did it all, cutting the biscuits perfectly, although I had to help get them in the hot baking skillet. They were especially scrumptious. Chloe prowled through the table cloths and napkins and thought to set the table with sterling silver. That’s okay, Chloe, DSC_0053I had said, but I reminded her it would require hand washing, and so Chloe’s meal of hamburger steaks with onions and bell pepper and mashed potatoes and gravy was consumed with sterling silver forks, knives and spoons. They were wonderful at this task; all flagging a bit at the required clean-up in the evening, but I cheerfuly urged them on, and each evening we left a spotless kitchen–well spotless in a relative way. Helped if your vision was a bit lacking in clarity. 🙂

“They have to do their home work first thing in the morning,” Andrew had told me before they left.  “We’re strict about that.” The youngsters seemed to have a clear understanding of that rule and I believe it was on Tuesday morning as DSC_0019I sat in a chair drinking early morning coffee, here came Gentry and Brady wagging their home work backpacks. It was still dark outside.

Gentry is eleven, and works as does a man. Of moderate build, he is strong and ambitious, and when Pappy set him to work offloading flagstones and a heavy birdbath we had brought from Lake Havasu, he did an amazing amount of work. Thus began the “pay” jobs. Now there were many regular jobs which saw no exchange of money; making their own beds, keeping their rooms and their bathrooms in reasonable order, putting their dirty clothes each evening on the washer, and taking the clean clothes to their designated spot after I had laundered them each morning. They were really good about it. Gentry and Cole’s bed looked professionally made every morning…but then to be honest, there were other things…towels thrown about in the bathrooms and blobs of toothpaste on the counter. But all in all, they were excellent little house guests.

And now the question of paying jobs had arisen. The yard was littered with twigs. We needed starters for the winter fires, so I rounded up containers and set the little ones to gathering twigs. 25 cents a bucket, unless the container was really big  DSC_0046which led then into a few rounds of negotiation. It was definitely a win-win situation; allowed me to be out in the gardens of my beloved Crestline, snap a few pictures, direct the gathering of twigs, and the boys knew their wealth was increasing by the minute. Plus, on our deck now, we have several containers smack full of fire-starting twigs.

Paying jobs emerged inside also, and every child was involved in this one, even two year old Ella who rubbed a rag over the same book for about five minutes. She grinned as I pushed a nickle into her tiny skirt pocket. Our bedroom needed attention, so we stripped the bed to the mattress, flipped it over (had to enlist Jerry for this one), then dusted, washed and polished all the furniture. Pot shelves rim two walls of this very large room, and neither Jerry or I can clean up there. Up from the garage, Gentry DSC_0028carried a tall ladder, and while Chloe and I handed up equipment and held the ladder securely, Gentry cleaned that area.  (I was touched when a week after they arrived home Andrew told me that when he did the church accounts that week, there lay an envelope bearing Gentry’s name. With no prompting from his parents, Gentry had given $2.10 tithe from the money he earned from his Pappy and Granny.)

It’s hard to imagine a better sister to a little sister than Chloe is to Ella Claire. They adore each other, and Chloe virtually took care of Ella while they were with us, dressing her every morning, bathing her in the evening, combing her hair two or three times a day, and in general clucking over her. My job was to change particular DSC_0045diapers, but I decided that job will probably be ending soon, when once Ella scooted down the stairs from the room she and Chloe shared waving a diaper at me. and letting me know she needed a job done.  Once when I was changing her, she reached into the Wipies packet, pulled out one, and handed it to me. “Here, Granny.”

Ella loves books…and loves her Pappy, especially when he takes her up and reads to her. She will listen forever; when one book is finished, DSC_0016go directly to find another and bring it to the reader. When she was with us, she was especially taken with The Three Pigs. “I’m a wolf,” she told me once.

“You are, Ella? You’re a wolf? Are you bad?”

“No, I’m a good wolf,” she soberly replied.

Tuesday’s lunch, sans Pappy,  consisted of ham sandwiches, chips, cookies and lemonade, poured for convenience into a plastic bottle that had DSC_0040previously held strawberry soda. We dined in the woods, our food having been transported by a family wagon with red wooden side slats. As we ate, Ella looked across a meadow and distinctly said to me, “I see Piggy’s house!”

“You see Piggy’s house?” I felt the need to verify the information. “Where?”

“There.” She pointed again over the meadow past the high trees. “There is Piggy’s house.”

We stared. Cole chowed down on his sandwich.


…And it came to pass as the angels were gone away from them to San Diego, that the grandparents decided:

1. They were tired.

2. They are extremely blessed.

3. They didn’t take as many pictures as they had intended and they certainly didn’t take much care with the ones they did snap.

4. They slept longer at night than they do ordinarily.

5. They didn’t miss having the internet during those days for they had no energy to write anyway.

6. Angelic visitations are rare…and coveted.

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Jessica’s Birthday Pizza Party and Photo Shoot

Her birthday is Saturday, and she is so sweet and so beautiful, that Tuesday night I asked Jessica, “Want to go out for a little photo shoot?”

“Sure, Granny. Like that a lot.”

Our little party grew. I invited Melody to go with us because she’s an amateur photographer also, and she’s interested in Jessica and her well-being, and Melody said when I asked her to join us, “Why don’t we have pizza, too?”

I invited Rosalinda and at first she said yes, then remembered an appointment, but she would pick up the pizza and take Jessica to our meeting place at the park. “White pizza would be good,” Jessica suggested for she was familiar with Ken’s pizza place. Around 5:30 we all arrived at the park bench for the hastily arranged birthday party. They giggled as I drew DSC_0016from my bag yellow place mats, birthday napkins, white paper plates (referring to them as our china) and plastic forks (which we pretended was sterling silver, but which no one used!) I also plunked down cans of diet coke and the celebration was ready. It was scrumptious, and Rosalinda was able to stay just long enough for the great meal.

My recent increased interest in photography, and my acquiring a nice set of Hoya magnifying lenses so that I’ve spent a fair amount of time with bugs, flowers and water DSC_0015drops has enabled me to have acquired now a small portfolio of rather nice shots. But although they’re cute as can be, they’re still bugs and rose petals and watery drops. I was wanting now to tackle portraits…and her birthday was coming up…thus the photo shoot with the birthday girl, Jessica.

An indication of my inexperience and ineptitude was that I was lacking in a distinct plan and location for the portraits, but the grassy area just behind our picnic table was beautiful, and the light was perfect. The light was important to me because I don’t have a separate flash unit, and had decided to use only ambient light. We would shoot awhile there, then drive over to the bridge, for the gorgeous sky filled with cotton-candy clouds promised a striking sunset.

Everything went well, and I knew I was getting some good shots, then all of a sudden when my camera wouldn’t snap,  I looked down and my indicator reported a full card. Full? How could that be? Impossible, for I had taken only 30 or so snaps, and had come to the shoot with nearly a full card. But there it was. Full. I took out the card, blew on it, reinserted it, removed and replaced the battery. Nothing…and I didn’t have a spare card. Had one at home. 😦 (learned a lesson there.) I had used that same card for years and supposed it had just worn out.

Later as I loaded my pictures onto the computer, I noted at the bottom of the pictures the word, RAW…and then I knew. Somehow (no idea how it happened) my camera settings had been changed so that I was shooting in RAW mode (which most serious photographers do, but which I had never done). RAW takes significantly more memory that other shooting modes.

So, we didn’t get over to the bridge, didn’t get sunset pictures with beautiful Jessica in the foreground, but we’ll do it all later…and I learned a lot yesterday afternoon.

Later on my photography blog, I’ll post some of the other pictures I took of my beautiful granddaughter. Happy birthday, Jessica.

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How Tough the Love?


“Because they’re your kids.”

After the guest speaker had finished, Michael went around the circle asking each of the students; “What did you hear from him?” and it was at this point that a lively, profitable discussion had ensued. The guest was Darin Craig, DSC_0018a local businessman whose only son has gone through a serious bout of drug addiction, and who had agreed to address our Christian Intervention groups as he spoke of a child’s addiction as seen through the parent’s eyes. The sessions were riveting.

It was the “tough love” issue that aroused lengthy and conflicting views. “Tough love” was not universally endorsed by this group and when it became so obvious, Mike asked for a show of hands. Interesting. About half of the group thought that a child could do nothing that should cause a parent to refuse to support that child. No matter what he does, he should always be accepted back in the parents’ home.

“Why?” Mike asked.

“Because they’re your children,” was the pointed, adamant answer of one young man.

I disagree, as do all the leaders of our group, our thought being there comes a time when parents must be tough, and say, “This behavior is not going on in this house.”After repeated tries, broken promises, defiance, law-breaking, jail time, drugs in the house, drunkenness in the living room–finally, a parent has the right (even obligation) to say, “No more.” Does that mean that parents no longer love the child? Of course not. A normal parent will love his child to the grave–no matter the behavior.

What say you? Are you a “tough love” proponent, or do you agree with many in our Christian Intervention program who say no matter what a child does, the parent should always take him in again, and again?

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Magnificent Obsession

I have proved it to be so; I am obsessed with serving Jesus Christ, and with working in His Church.  I was born into an Apostolic home–to a fiery, caring preacher– spent my childhood around the godly people in the churches he pastored, married a preacher, produced children of similar mindset, and for these 53 years have been constantly involved in ministry. Never have I lived through one moment of wishing I were up to something else, nor of casting about for superior way, nor of sporting a jealous eye fixed on life in the easy, the mundane, the carnal. No,  I am obsessed with Jesus Christ, His Plan, His Church: It is a magnificent obsession.

Think it not strange, this obsession of mine, for my trafficking in this, the greatest organism on the earth, has fashioned for me a life of exceptional peace and joy, of social fulfillment, and of such spiritual underpinnings and faith as to still my soul at any rare moment of stagger. This obsession with Jesus Christ has steadied my too-anxious hand, has carved a warm path for my steep and rocky tramps, has squared my judgment, and tempered my faulty positions. My obsession with Jesus Christ has infused me with anticipation of the highest degree: I anticipate meetings, where, with those of like mind and passion we worship Jesus Christ, where preachers, while fully human, are remarkably transformed into conduits through which the Holy Ghost unquestionably speaks. I anticipate Heaven and its unspeakable glories, planning to arrive there in a victorious and sweeping way, having been caught away by the power of God, either bursting from my dusty grave or being taken alive from this earth and meeting Jesus and the saints in the air!

I’m obsessed with the thought. I’ve whispered the story to many–to my children and to their’s and to their’s. We sing together of the glory that is ours,  and of the greater that yet is to come. We cry at the promise, at the anointing, at the beauty of the revelation. I’m obsessed with Jesus Christ and His Church…and with His love.

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Sister’s Back, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

During the couple of weeks that Chloe was with us, I think she missed her baby sister more than anyone. And…from the reaction when we got together Friday evening in Yuma to “hand off” Chloe to her family, Ella-Claire feels the same way about big sister. She clung to Chloe, laying down her head on Chloe’s shoulder, and staying tightly connected to her most of the two hours we were together.

I had one sister. She died a few years back…and now I have none.

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A Look Back at Mothers Day

Nathaniel slid into a chair across from me. I stared, for Nathaniel lives four hours away, and then I sensed someone behind me, and it was Rebecca, my daughter. I yelped, “What’s going on here?” And knew then it was a surprise, a delightful surprise for Mother’s Day. Rebecca and Nathaniel DSC_0086had sneaked into town and she and Michael had set up this dynamic dinner at Shugrue’s for me. It was wonderful, a total shock.

Again, on Tuesday, Rebecca and I spent rare time together, prowling about the Mission Inn area of Riverside, then eating lunch in the open brick-floored court of The Upper Crust. We shared a sandwich and a cup of soup because we were scheduled to eat with Jerry and Nathaniel before a couple of hours would pass and we wanted to be hungry then. (Actually when it was time to order food at Mexico Restaurant, neither of us was hungry…ate a few chips dunked in fresh salsa, while the two guys ate gigantic burritos.)

I love my sons. They are three, all quite different from the others. They are exceptional and godly; each is immersed in the work of God. I enjoy particularly being with these men, for they are kind, fun, complimentary, interesting and gracious. We certainly don’t always agree on everything, and have experienced serious splits in mind and opinion. But we’re still in love, and for this past Mothers Day I received from each of them a dear gift.

One is the count of daughter. Only one, and I don’t know how it worked out this way, but God blessed us with the finest when He gave Rebecca to Jerry and me. And so, while I DSC_0059adore those boys of mine, it was a special few hours last week when Rebecca and I strolled about; talking, admiring scenery and architecture, and eating lunch in that cool little place.

God has been gracious by giving me both sons and a daughter, for in the mother/child kinship is easily noted a distinct difference as regards the relationship of a mother and her son and the relationship of a mother and her daughter. So while I love my sons fiercely and believe I would give my life for any of my children, there is something a little different about my daughter. About Rebecca.

And so, gratefully, I look back to Mothers Day, and remember the flowers I received and the delicious meals I ate and the touching message I received that made me cry, and the cards and the other gifts. And etched in my mind are those glowing hours with Rebecca as we tramped around downtown Riverside sharing food, sights and our hearts.


Lots of pictures of that day here.

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No Greater Joy

“The elder unto the well beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 1-4 (emphasis mine.)


He came to sit with us when he saw us across the large church in Modesto, and we were disappointed to see that Aisha and the children weren’t with him. “Thane just can’t miss any more school,” the teacher had said. He could not stay with us throughout the service, though, for at the opening word, all the candidates for ordination were called to be seated in the first row of pews.
After the songs, the presentations, the business and the sermon, Joel and the others were called to the platform. An usher came and escorted Jerry to the platform. “We want you to give him the special Bible, and to pray over him.”
It was beautiful. When it was his turn, Jerry spoke briefly to Joel, reminding him of his rich heritage and of his excellent opportunity. He charged him to preach truth. Then Jerry laid hands on his grandson Joel, a called minister of the Gospel. He blessed him.