Christianity/Religion Church Devotionals God Grief My Family My Home Pentecostal

A Scrap of Wisdom

The following was actually written sometime ago and given to a person who had requested me to write such a piece, and who had planned to include it in a book, that, as far as I know, was never published. I came across it a few minutes ago as I was cleaning out old email files, and feel it might benefit someone today.

A Scrap of Wisdom


Shirley Buxton

My mom was a quiet, unassuming, very intelligent woman, who accomplished second and  third grade work in the same year, then when she was older, also passed through the seventh and eighth grade in one school year. She was a godly person and a pastor’s wife for as long as I can remember. Of a retired, unassuming nature, she was a behind the scenes person, so much so that I don’t recall her ever teaching or actually doing anything on the platform of our church. She was a great cook, whose pies were in wide demand at the elementary school I attended and at the dinners “on-the-grounds” at church fellowship meetings. My parents frequently kept ministers in our very modest home, and I recall her doing the personal laundry of evangelists who stayed with us.

I was the eldest of three, and when I was twelve years old, she died.

It was a frigid February night in Springfield, Mo. when my Aunt Bertie rousted us out of bed and took us to St. John’s hospital to see our mother. But she had died before we could get there, and on the cold, wide steps of that hospital in the pit of night, my dad said to his three shivering children, “Your mother is not here anymore, Kids. She has gone to be with Jesus.” Donna stamped her feet and yelled and we all cried, and throughout that desolate night Aunt Bertie and my dad did their best, despite their own heavy grief, to comfort us.

Mother had died in childbirth–actually a few hours after the baby was born–from a pulmonary embolism. Baby Terry was still living and the kind hospital staff came to our ragged huddle and asked if we would like to see our brother. Sure, we would, and so the nurses shuttled our icy speechless group into the neonatal ICU and let us look at our tiny brother who was even then clawing at life. A few hours later he also died.

It’s an awful thing for a child to lose a mother; somehow it just doesn’t  compute, and were the world perfect, there’s no question but what all mothers would live to rear their young. But it’s far from a perfect place we inhabit, and so, helpless, having no vote, I endured that cutting blow.

I believe I adjusted alright, and a year later my dad married a fine woman who was good to my siblings and to me. And although I don’t dwell on the subject, or even mention it often, a hole dug into me that February night, and when I think closely of my mother, I discern that tender spot to be yet there.

One December night Steve, my eldest, was born; I was now a mother, myself, and as I held that fine child, I wished desperately to show him to my mother. I think it was at this point that I missed  her  more than I ever had. Look at his ears, Mom, his hair, his tiny fingers. Look, he’s perfect, I wanted to say, but that was not to be and I sorrowed for my loss.

Fast forward to today. Fast forward to this moment, the middle of the year 2008 as I grapple with the writing of a bit or two that could by some generous stretch be called wisdom.

Life is at once incomprehensibly glorious and insanely cruel. It is the mundane and the magnificent, the superb and the sorrowful, the divine and the sinful, the miserable and the marvelous, the ascendant and the dank of grave. Life is a daily presentation arriving naked and raw demanding our dress-up, our cloak, our face.

Within me and describing my complete being is the driving force that calls me to serve Jesus Christ. I have come to understand that He, with no hesitation and with no error, directs my way, orders my steps, charts my course. Thinking of that sterling truth eclipses my pitiful thoughts, smacks down any questions that might lunge my way, and whisks aside doubts that worry my head.

So God knew about my mother and about my early loss. Now whether He implicitly directed her death, or whether it was merely the result of mortality on a flawed planet (that’s my own opinion concerning the matter) God allowed her death. But because He orders my life and directs my steps I have been incredibly enriched through the years by people with whom I have come in contact.

I’ve sat–literally at times–at the feet of the most godly men on this planet. I’ve heard preaching that probably causes angels to swoon. Music of such lyrical perfection it must have originated in Heaven (I mean that and believe that) has anointed my ears and my brain and my heart. I’ve listened in private conversation to pointed instruction and such profound wisdom as should trace the ages. Around innumerable supper tables and breakfast bars, I’ve taken in penetrating and canny ideals and ideas. At conferences across our land–from fruited plains and oceans both–I’ve listened, mouth agape as brilliant and rare direction was charted.

So, my shred of wisdom is this: Relax in Jesus Christ. Understand that He knows the way you take, He fully comprehends you, sees absolutely every thing that is going on around you…and with no error, with no lapse, He directs your path.

You may be as successful as you have written in your most detailed plans; likely you will not be. You probably anticipate health and vigor into a rare old age; instead you may suffer sickness and disability. You may plan beautiful, godly, well-behaved children; perhaps one may stray, and the church may stay small, money is scarce, and sometimes…truth be known…you are afraid.

Relax. Jesus Christ knows you and has plotted your path.

Several years ago here in southern California in the autumn season came raging fires which burned through our  splendid forests and our beautiful villages. The town in which I live was evacuated for eight days. Finally the fires were out, and I recall driving sadly through the denuded areas. Blackened ruins lay about; embers still smoldered.

And then it was spring, and I noticed what seemed to be unusually lush growth and spectacular wild flowers. It was as though thick carpets of flowers had somehow been spread over the land. As one drove over the mountain roads as far as could be seen, from deep canyons to the highest peaks, was a stunning show of vibrant flowers, vines and buds.

Why? An article in a local paper gave the answer. Deep within the ground are rare seeds that in ordinary seasons never sprout. Lacking favorable conditions they languish in the cool earth. They are buried so deeply and there is so much surface growth,  they cannot emerge. But when forest fires rage, the mundane weed and common flower are burned and swept away. Finally, then, the scene is set; the stage is ready, the curtain is pulled, and the rare flower, feeling the urge of something which he in no way understands, yet obeys, pushes upward, twisting and turning, past the rock, the sand, the embers, until finally there emerges the bloom of a rare and beautiful flower.

God knows where we are. He knows the way we take, understands our history, our drives, dreams and ambition. He sees our battles, our losses, our hits and unfair breaks. But He is the planner, the map-maker, the navigator…He knows the way we take.

America Animals Family Goodness of man Life The World

Junior Joins in Search for Elusive Lions

It is a shame.

I have the sweetest brother in the world, but since we have been grown, we have never lived close to each other: Completely across the country were our homes; his in the East, mine in the West. We both led busy lives, and we let years go by without visiting as we should have. It is a shame.

Now, he is living in South America. He had already retired, but after the death of his beloved wife, he was persuaded to spent an extended time there to oversee the use of a unique conveyor belt used in mining–an important apparatus that he invented. I told you earlier he is sweet; now I tell you he is smart. If I can round up a picture, you will see he is handsome.

Last week in a post about books, I referenced my remembering the library in my hometown of Springfield, Mo. has having stone lions near the entry of the building, but that someone had told me the library never had any lions. Well, my brother, from far-away South America, has joined in the search for the elusive lions. (Told you he was sweet.) A couple of days ago, I received these emails from him.

From:     fforrest@

Subject:     FW: Library Lions

Date: April 23, 2009 12:40:29 PM GMT-07:00

To:     shirleybuxton@

Cc:     fforrest@

Dear Sister, I have been searching the Net in hopes of finding those “elusive Lions” in our home town.  I remember seeing some lions somewhere, but just can`t seem to be able to remember where.  I don`t remember a lot from that time era, but I do remember seeing Lions at some public place. I was impressed with these beast. Any way I have attached this email to you to make sure this was the Library that we used to go to. Say hello to all family and please keep writing. I visit your blog almost every day. Love, Jr.

From: (tlc) Michael Glenn []

Sent: Jueves, 23 de Abril de 2009 14:52

To: fforrest@

Subject: Library Lions

Dear Mr. Forrest: Your question about statues of lions on the front steps of the original Main Library in Springfield, MO was forwarded to us. We check photos of the library from different periods and there are no statues or carvings of lions on or near the stairs. The stone steps wer originally unadorned, later a stair rail and light two light standards were added.  Two different styles of cast iron light posts are evident.  Intioally , afixture toped with three glass globes.  Later this was replaced with fixtures featuring a single  light housing. For online images go to The best known “library lions” and oftened pictured are at the entrance of the New York(City) Public Library. We hope this information is of value to you

Michael glenn Local History Librarian Springfield Greene County Library


You know what: I’m beginning to think there were never any lions at our library in Springfield. Strange. I remember them being there. Note that Junior remembers seeing them too….I wonder…do stone lions ever spring to life and run away?

Books/Library California Children Home Lake Havasu Life Photography Uncategorized

Some Books I Know

That I can recall, the first episode of my life concerning books is when I was three years old, and I suspect I wouldn’t remember that except for the dead horse that lay near the gate. It was gray. We had gone to visit friends who lived in the country around Springfield, and the sight of that huge animal must have shocked me, so that it forms my earliest memory. (I was surprised to read somewhere a few days ago that a gentleman has faint memories of his birth, and when I mentioned that fact to Andrew he spoke of knowing someone who has a similar memory…an interesting topic for another time.)

Anyway, there was the amazing dead horse near the gate of our friend’s home, and later in the day, I crawled under their front porch–a high porch–and there I found an old book. I hauled it out, and of our hosts who were sitting with my parents on the porch, I asked if I could have the book. My dad protested, and there followed the first course in social graces that I can recall, “Shirley, you don’t ask people to give you things.”

I couldn’t read at three, I know that, but what has developed into an enthusiasm and attachment to the printed page must have begun early in my life…and continues…and around me at all times are lots of books. Usually books bring me pleasure, but through the years they have also been sources of grief, such as times when I turned them in late at the library and must pay a fine.

“Once, I lost a book and was scared of the library for a while, that is, until I got the money together to pay for the mysteriously vanished tome. I don’t know if I thought the librarian would send a policeman to my door or that someone would snatch me off the bus one Saturday in order to extract the price of that book. What a relief when I had paid the debt and again could stride up the central steps and check out more books.” From my book, Road Tales.

My favorite childhood book was The Boxcar Children, and I cannot tell you how many times I read that account of a family of orphans who settled into a boxcar to live. The illustrations were vivid black and white cuts, but I suspect I would have seen them had there been no pictures, for in my mind, they were alive. I walked with them as they prowled about a dump to get dishes and pots and pans, and as sickness befell them. Many years ago, when we were still pastoring in Rialto, I found and bought an old copy of that book, but alas, I took it to our school there, and somehow it never returned home. That saddens me, for I wish I had that copy back.

My second favorite was actually a group of books, biographies of great Americans: scientists, inventors, social workers. I have three old ones at home in Crestline, and one day I will take a picture and show them to you. I loved those books, and as I write here I remember learning of Jane Addams through that series. I even recall the opening pages that told of her being a small girl sweeping the porch and the wind kept blowing leaves to the spot she had cleared. You may know she formed the Hull House in Chicago.

A few weeks ago I saw in a thrift store a sign that read: All Books 10 cents each. My heart thumped, my hands were eager, but my mind put the skids on my plans to fill a basket: Remember, you live in a motor home. Okay, okay, I snarled at the sensible section of my brain, and came home with just a small stack.

Some years back, I made an attempt at counting the books in our home, and came up with a number around 3000. We probably don’t have that many now, for I’ve earnestly tried to downsize lots of things. When we first moved into our Rialto home, we had beautiful library shelves built in what was designed to be the living room, but which we called the “piano room,” for in there we had a grand piano, a couch, a desk, and hundreds of books. When Jerry retired from pastoring, we put our things in storage for four years and traveled extensively in our motor home. After that, we purchased our Crestline home, which didn’t have enough shelves for our books, but we’ve installed shelves since then. From the time we took our things from storage, I’ve been culling our books, but I must confess there are still boxes of them in the basement.

Why then did I come from the thrift store with these?