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On the Road Again in 2013

Articles are sorted with the most recently posted at the top.

Finding the Perfect Christmas Gift
Posted December 12, 2013

by Bill & Marcie Burris

I've often spoken of seeing God's deeds in hind sight. I had no particular reason to send this article to our friend in Pittsburgh, so I was humbled when I learned how she used the article to reach someone who was struggling and searching. You never know who you will reach by a single event you put into motion. We have an Awesome God.

Our friend passed the article along to an acquaintance. He, Michael, had grown up in very bad circumstances, which left him with serious mental and emotional scars. Then he met Nemmy and they lived together for about 10 years until she passed away. He said until he met our family he didn't know people could be so nice. He said he should have treated Nemmy better but he didn't know how. He has been a Muslim and was also involved with other religions, but is definitely searching. He reads the Bible regularly, drinks too much on his days off, is lonely and searching. Our friend's husband told Michael one day that his Mom would be very upset if she does not see Michael in heaven and that she is waiting with open arms. That really had an impact on Michael.

Our friend said the article made her think about how God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform.

Well, it's that time of year again and everyone is out looking for that perfect Christmas gift to share with family and friends. In doing so, most will not even think of the reason we celebrate Christmas. I can think of a lot of gifts I've received that seemed to be perfect for that Christmas. That first BB gun, bicycle, a special hug from Mom. I grew up in a Christian home with loving parents who struggled to get by with five sons. We never felt we were missing anything as they always provided the things we needed, even with a sacrifice to themselves.

When I think about all the sacrifices they made for us it gave me a good example of how to live my life. I have been very blessed in my life and never more than I am at this point. After going through a difficult time, God brought Marcie into my life and I've believed that to be his perfect gift to me. As some of you know, she has been very instrumental in my finally finding Christ. I had always believed in God and Christ but was somewhat drifting along day to day. Marcie helped me to become more focused and she pointed the way for me.

On a recent Sunday, Ann gave us a lot to think about when it comes to Christmas and how we see things in this world today. It was truly an eye-opening moment for me. When Marcie and I travel, we find ourselves more and more in tune with God's creation. You can see that in my earlier articles. From now on, I'll see things through different and clearer eyes. Thank you, Ann.

All of this has caused me to think of what could be my perfect gift to give this year. My mind has wondered for some time on this and I think I've finally figured out what the perfect gift should be. When you truly think about Christmas and the birth of Jesus, what better gift could we have ever received in our lives? With that thought, a perfect gift for us to give is to give our hearts to God. Even if we have done so before, it makes sense to renew that each year at Christmas. If you've not done so in the past, think about it and how living with Christ and the Holy Spirit in your heart would make you feel.

In closing, I want to send a special Christmas thank you to our choir. When the Chapel was dedicated in December 2003, the choir gave us a wonderful night of music. Those who were in the choir at that time will remember that they dedicated the night to my late wife Connie. I had not seen her beaming smile in a long while. Sadly she was gone within the week, but she carried that night in her heart through to the end.

Merry Christmas.

Skyelar's Gift
Posted December 5, 2013

by Kay German

I'm sure most every person who has attended the Chapel and watched Skyelar as she has matured and witnessed the love that Don had for her has a story. This is mine. Blessings.

Dave and I were in charge of Children's Church and the theme of the lesson was, "Gifts." I think it was probably near Christmas and Dave was in mid-stages of Alzheimer's.

Skyelar Robinson was our only attendee, but that did not deter us. The activity that day was to wrap another person as a gift, and I was prepared with wrapping paper and lots of ribbon. It was decided that Skyelar would wrap Dave as her gift. I'm not sure who had the most fun, but when Don came to pick up Skyelar, he saw quite a sight. Unfortunately, I did not have a cell phone camera and there were no pictures.

Don and Skyelar became very special to us and Dave always had a smile on his face when he saw Skyelar. They visited us in the nursing home and this event was always mentioned. This is my special memory of a precious family.

Would My Stuffing Make My Grandmother Smile?
Posted December 5, 2013

by Jane Osborn

We all look forward to the holidays, but there is an understanding that a certain amount of unexpected events will occur. My first, this year, was Thanksgiving.

My husband, Jim, and I were invited to join our daughter-in-law's family for festivities. Our son, Bill, asked me to bring dressing and sweet potato casserole. As my grandmother's recipe for stuffing requires broth from the turkey, I was planning, now, on taking turkey, dressing and sweet potato casserole, and I was pleased that they were requested.

The night before Thanksgiving, Jim and I gathered all supplies for my donations, including day-old cornbread (required to be slightly dry) and the turkey and headed for our apartment in Dallas. Thanksgiving morning I arose early and began preparations.

I needed salt for the dressing – sadly, all that was available in the apartment was a large box of Morton's. "I can sprinkle this," I thought, in a moment of insanity. In an instant, my stuffing had more salt than the Gulf of Mexico! "I can't take this," I wailed to Jim. So, with a list in hand, Jim went on a mission to gather supplies to start all over. Using bouillon to substitute for turkey broth and a brand-new batch of cornbread (which was a huge disappointment), plus new celery and onion sautéed, I remade the stuffing, re-stuffed the turkey and put everything back in the oven. I was now an hour behind.

It wasn't long before the phone rang. Bill asked, "Where are you? Everyone is here but you!" Almost in tears, I explained the situation. "We also have a turkey here in the oven," he replied. "Bring yours and we'll put it on the grill. It has an oven area, so just come on."

So, once again, Jim and I loaded up the (extra) stuffing, the stuffed half-done turkey and the sweet potato casserole, and headed to the home of our wonderful in-laws, Liz and Doug Tyler. Our greeting was enthusiastic and warm, Bill whisked the turkey to the grill, and happy visitations continued.

The result: My turkey was ready before the other, and it was served, along with stuffing and sweet potato casserole and so many delicacies prepared by the Tylers. The second turkey was carved for those special take-home packages, and I believe my grandmother smiled with the success of her stuffing (even with modifications!)

It was a very special day.

Seeing God's Power, Feeling His Mercy
Posted November 7, 2013

by Bill Burris

Tropical storm Karen was roaring into the Gulf of Mexico as Marcie and I prepared for our annual trip to Destin, Florida. After much concern and a lot of prayer, we began our journey. However, we did have a "Plan B" in case Karen actually became what the forecasters were predicting.

On the second day of our trip the weather was fine as we stopped in Mobile for our customary visit with cousins at Butch Cassidy's Restaurant, which is owned by one cousin. While there I contacted the rental folks in Destin and they confirmed that the weather was fine with only rain predicted the next day, Sunday.

As we continued our trip we learned that Karen had become very disorganized with winds greatly diminished and only rain coming ashore. While greatly relieved it didn't take long to think about the time the Apostles were afraid of the storm on the sea and they were saved by Christ calming the seas and wind.

We had wonderful weather with some rain on two days of our two-week stay with plenty of time for communing with God's creations, the sea, his artistry, Marcie's dolphins, and of course some really great seafood while we celebrated Marcie's birthday.

When the day came to head home, I had to drag Marcie away from the water. While on the road a little north of Mobile a tire pressure light flashed on the dash. It was raining, but I pulled over and checked the tires. They all appeared to be fine. I decided to drive on a little further and stop at a more suitable place and recheck the tires again. Well, the right rear was down.

I called AAA and waited a long time for a no show with promises of soon. Because I contacted AAA I turned down several offers to help. Tired of waiting on AAA , I finally jumped at an offer from two young men who asked if they could help.

Within 15 minutes they were done and soon we were back on the road. We were 50 miles from Hattiesburg and needing to find someone to repair the flat instead of continuing our trip on a temporary spare. We had previously contacted our daughter to let her know we were delayed. Well, she became an angel that day (again) and located several tire repair places in Hattiesburg. It was Saturday and we found just one open and he closed at 5 p.m. sharp. We made it in time to get the flat fixed and were back on the road. We both felt our ordeal was over because of God's mercy once again.

The lesson we've taken from this and other adventures and woes is that no matter what struggle you face in life, God is there to help if you just take the time to call on him.

Trekking off to Minister to Russian Orphans:
My Journal, Part 3
Posted October 31, 2013

by Ann McAlpin

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

No sightseeing today – visits to two orphanages. The first was very nice and offers the kids numerous opportunities for extracurricular activities. They even design and make costumes for theatrical productions. No apparent lack of financial support here, but it didn't have the warmth and love that we saw in the other visits. There were only a very few children who participated in our activities.

After lunch we went to the orphanage for visually-impaired children – what a contrast! Here the kids were eager to have us visit. My group had the young group – kindergarten to 1st or 2nd grade. With our help they decorated crowns and proudly wore them. We didn't have a structured lesson, but spent most of the time playing with the children. As usual I spent most of my time on the floor playing ball or being doctored by the children. Again I left with my face well "stickered". It was a good day! In the evening we attended a Russian Folk show that was great.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

We had an early start this morning as we had a 3 hour drive to Tihvin outside of St. Petersburg. Our first stop was at a Russian Orthodox monastery. The tour guide there gave us a great lesson in Russian history and especially in the history of the monastery and the Virgin Mary icon of the church. Following the tour we went to the orphanage for lunch and a time with the children. Lunch was very good – salad, borsch, chicken and mashed potatoes. The director gave us a tour of the orphanage and her pride in the children and their accomplishments was very evident. The girls did a lot of needle work projects and we could buy items. The money would be used to buy more supplies for them. They did quite well with their sales!

Our group for VBS was older teens. They were great and participated in all the activities. As we talked about God's purpose for their lives, they began sharing their hopes and dreams with me. One boy asked me to go to his room to see some of his art work. We went, but the cabinet where it was kept was locked and the teacher was out of the room. Even without seeing his work, I had the opportunity to spend some time with him. Mildred spent some time with a girl who had come into the class late. Personal time with the kids is a blessing for both the child and the adult.

God is sovereign.

Trekking off to Minister to Russian Orphans:
My Journal, Part 2
Posted October 24, 2013

by Ann McAlpin

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Today began with a visit to the Hermitage. The building and exhibits were elegant! Gold, gold and more gold. One can understand why there was a revolt against the tsars. Yet the people today are proud of their history and the preservation of the museums is very important to them.

After lunch we went to Orphanage #7 where special-needs children live. What a wonderful time with these children! There were five children in our group with varying development problems – 4 boys and 1 girl who had Down's syndrome and didn't talk. The children loved being hugged and interacting with us. They listened to the story and then made crowns for themselves. With a little extra time we got out beads and cord for them to make bracelets. They each diligently worked on making one. The caregiver in this room was so proud of the children. You could feel her love for them.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Again we began with sightseeing – St. Isaac's Cathedral. Beautiful and reverent. After lunch we headed to the country to visit our orphanage of the day. The drive out was beautiful – open country and golden autumn leaves. At the orphanage we had a group of older children – 16 & 17. This was a difficult group. They were not open to receive our teaching, touching or interacting. We had been warned that often times the older children are hardened.

However, after we had the story and were working on the Bible verse as a craft, one of the girls came over to me and showed me how she had woven some beads to make a small necklace. I told her how pretty it was and then she handed it to me and said "for you!" Later, I had the joy of helping her select new boots as we fitted them for their shoes. We also visited the boys' woodworking shop and I bought two pieces from two of the boys from our group and told them that I would always think of them when I looked at these. It was a tough day, but a good day. God is sovereign.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Began the day with tour of the Church of the Spilt Blood - a beautiful church with a great amount of history. Then at the Volkhov orphanage we worked with mixed age children. I sat on the floor and played with some of the rowdy boys. I had lots of stickers on me, but I got lots of hugs and laughs. Mildred had some "one on one" time with a boy about 11 or 12. He had lots of questions and wanted her address and email. Of course, she could not give that to him, but promised to pray for him. Today's word for me is 'joyous chaos!'

As I looked at the kids' work, I would say good, fine, nice, pretty… One of the girls asked if all the words were the same. I told her that they were and that English can be confusing, but for me Russian is difficult! So my word for today is FINE, GOOD, NICE, PRETTY AND GREAT! God is sovereign.

Trekking off to Minister to Russian Orphans:
My Journal, Part 1
Posted October 17, 2013

by Ann McAlpin

Friday, October 4, 2013

Mildred (Jackson) and I loaded my car and left White Bluff at 10:00 a.m. Thursday morning. We were all checked in at DFW by 1:00. The flight to Frankfurt went smoothly – just long and tiring. Once there we met up with the rest of our group and then flew to St. Petersburg. Again all went well and all our luggage arrived with us. Only problem was with the group of Buckner workers who were supposed to arrive in St. Petersburg early. Their plane was delayed and they won't be here until later tonight. Natasha, the Buckner contact here in St. Petersburg, was at the airport to meet us. She is a lovely energetic lady. From the airport we went to a nice restaurant for dinner and then to the hotel to check in. At this point we are getting settled and looking forward to a nice night's sleep and a busy day tomorrow. We will begin with some sightseeing and then a visit to an orphanage. Excited to see what the Lord has for us.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

We had a wonderful morning visiting Catherine the Great's summer palace. Then on to a restaurant for a traditional Russian lunch. After lunch we went to an orphanage in the country outside of St. Petersburg. This was a holy experience. We had the opportunity to interact with the children through the Bible story, craft time, recreation and getting their shoes. Our group had 3 girls and 4 boys – all early teens. The highlight of the day came when two of the girls gave Mildred and me the bracelets that they made during our craft time. This brought both of us to tears. As we were leaving the two girls came on the bus to give us one last hug. What a holy moment! Tomorrow we have a morning of sightseeing and then visit a special-needs orphanage in the afternoon. It will be a day of more blessings.

Finding Brigadoon
Posted September 5, 2013

by Jim Browder

Brigadoon is a mythical Scottish village that appears for only one day every hundred years.

While I've never found the highway to Brigadoon, I did discover the road to Bloys Camp Meeting--a mystical West Texas village that appears near Fort Davis for only one week each August.

Even if you own a cabin at Bloys, you can use it only one week per year, and that's during camp meeting.

Bloys Camp Meeting has been held each year since being founded in 1890 by Rev. W.B. Bloys, a Presbyterian minister and circuit rider. His first pulpit was an Arbuckle Coffee crate. The first campers were 48 people from remote ranches and towns in far West Texas.

They slept in tents and wagons. Family groups had chuck-wagon meals, sharing with guests. In the early days, families brought in cattle and goats to slaughter for fresh meat. Baptisms were held in a nearby watering hole.

In 1902, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists and Disciples of Christ incorporated the cowboy camp meeting.

Today, these same denominations send some of their most talented ministers to Bloys, to preach in a huge open-air tabernacle (there is no air-conditioning at Bloys). Three primary services are held each day, plus Bible studies and numerous programs for children. Old West traditions prevail.

For example, here are some camp rules:

No pets.

No air-conditioning.

No Kodaking on Sunday.

No boulder rolling.

No alcohol.

No firearms.

No applause during worship.

Max Bentley once wrote about the camp:

"This gathering is the biggest thing in the lives of the Davis mountaineers and adjacent country folk, no matter how far a man has traveled from a ten-dollar-a-month cowhand to a powerful cattle baron. No circus, no world's fair, no big rodeo, no travel to distant cities can draw these folks away from the meeting or take its place in their hearts. The camp meeting is the pivot of the year. Its influence is the dominant element in the life of a people scattered thinly over a territory greater in area than most states. And it answers the question that the first-time visitor finds himself wonderingly asking: 'How has it come that the ranch people of Western Texas are so filled with religion?'"

Lanette and I were camp meeting guests of Ann and Jim Duncan last month. Ann has attended Bloys camp every year of her life. Jim has missed only two years while serving Uncle Sam. Ann's dad attended every year of his life. Ann's mother missed only one year in the 94-years of her life--one year her family was too poor to travel from New Mexico to Fort Davis. Five generations of Ann and Jim's families have attended.

Someone said it's like attending a really big religious family reunion.

While the first camp drew 48 folks, today's camps attract 4,000 to 5,000 visitors during that one week in August. It's like opening up a town twice the size of Whitney, then closing it down after one week.

Meals are served in six huge dining sheds. At the Jones-Finley-Espy camp (Ann was an Espy), you can expect the same food each day: Breakfast--bacon, pancakes, cantaloupe, biscuits, gravy and coffee; Lunch--barbecue (beef and goat), corn on the cob, brown beans, green beans, potato fries, cantaloupe and ice tea; Supper--fried steak, salad and various vegetables. Good ol' Texas grub.

At the tabernacle there are wonderful sermons, a fantastic choir and various talented soloists. Lots of old-fashioned hymns are sung.

There is only one land-line telephone in camp, and most cell phones don't work.

And miracles are evident daily: You don't find any kids playing electronic games. Wow! Instead, they climb the adjacent mountains, enjoying going into the bat cave. They gather for impromptu ball games--little kids and big--having fun together. They swing on rope swings. They play card games. They just have fun in the outdoors and play "chase" after dark. And no loud noises are allowed after 11 p.m.

Practically every cabin at Bloys Camp is constructed of corrugated metal. However, most have electricity and indoor plumbing--but no frills. Each cabin is numbered--but they are numbered in the order they were built, not by location. No. 1 cabin may be adjacent to No. 429.

Nothing can be bought or sold at the camp meeting. Donations can be made to cover the cost of meals. The collection plate is rarely passed during services--just once, I think, to raise money for a charity.

This truly is "that ol' time religion" at its best.

Down the Road with Kid's Klub
Posted August 28, 2013

by Harriet Carrell

In the fall of 2008, Glenn Carrell and I were attending White Bluff Chapel. We were relatively new in the area and had previously lived in another resort community where our church had a children's choir ministry. For years I taught pre-school aged children and designed costumes for children aged 4-12.

When we came to the chapel, we loved the music, the preaching, and the people. However, the only ministries for children at the chapel were a nursery, a Sunday School class and VBS.

Many of the VBS children were grandchildren of chapel members. Around November, I began to wonder if there were enough children living in White Bluff who would be interested in singing and acting out the Biblical story of the birth of Chirst at Christmas time. I asked Pastor Maurice Martin his opinion. He was open to the idea, so I sent out a letter inviting interested families to participate.

The children seemed happy to learn the story from the Bible, sing a Christmas song, and try on costumes (mostly square white pieces of fabric with a hole cut in the center and tinsel sewn by hand around the hole), worn over their clothes with tinsel halos for angels. So ten children acted out the Christmas story and sang in the 2008 White Bluff Chapel Christmas Eve program.

Out of that effort, Glenn and I began a Kid's Klub group that meets once a week during the spring and from October to Christmas Eve.

Kid's Klub meetings consist of three main parts: music, missions, and Bible memory. For music, we keep the steady beat to rhymes or recorded music, do pitch matching activities and sing songs. Then we pray for people who have requested prayer from our chapel members. Each child sends a form prayer letter with the name of a person needing prayer written in (Dear ____). They sign their first name only and then decorate their letter with bright watercolor markers, stickers, etc. Missionaries receive prayer letters, too, as well as church staff. Children also take home Bible memory sheets. If they memorize all passages for their grade level in a year, they receive a medal. Skyelar Robinson is the only child to earn this medal from 2009-2013.

Games have been planned for every Kid's Klub meeting since Glenn has been a part of it. We have played indoor basketball, Chinese checkers, ring toss, etc. Small prizes are given; winner picks first.

Thanks to White Bluff Chapel for allowing and encouraging us to provide this ministry. My heart is blessed by the children. I pray the Lord has blessed their lives through this ministry. May each child grow to know and love Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord.

To God be the glory!

Where did I study music? I have no degree in music. I took a few voice and piano lessons and have sung in many choirs. However, I observed a musically-gifted college professor work with young children for years. Her name was Virginia Irvin. Anyone who knew her will "sing' her praises. She loved the Kodaly music method and told a story of meeting Mr. Kodaly (in Hungary, I think). When he found that she taught young children, he fell at her feet in respect for the work she did – not with college students – but with young children. So, Kid's Klub really was inspired by the Lord and influenced by Ginny Irvin.

Thanks to Ginny!

Seeking God's Creations
Posted August 1, 2013

by Bill Burris

Marcie and I have been blessed to see many of God's creations in our current life together and in the times before. Today we both seem to be more aware of the extent to which God gave us such beauty. I owe much of that to Marcie as she has been my rock and guide. Each year we have been fortunate to be able to travel and see more of His works in the US Virgin Islands, the California coast and wine country, the panhandle of Florida, New England's White Mountain foliage, Maine coast and Acadia National Park, the grandeur of Mackinac Island and so many more.

Middleton Place in Charleston SC is a great example of how God brought together the talents of many to produce a beautiful array of color. In Ft. Lauderdale we were able to sit on the hotel veranda and enjoy our meals and the magnificent view of the His ocean.

Wherever you travel, all you have to do is look around you and you will see many of His creations. But you don't even need to leave White Bluff to see God's wonderful creations, such as our wildflowers, wildlife, beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

When you look around White Bluff and think of the people who have settled here, you have to believe that God's hand was certainly involved with their arrival. Where else would you find so many wonderful, talented, loving, caring and Christian people in one place? Think about that when you drive out of White Bluff, and you will realize how unique this place really is in our world.

Driving out of the "Baptist Bible Belt"
Posted July 25, 2013

by Jim Browder

You never know what's around the next curve in the road.

While growing up in a small Texas town, and having limited knowledge of the rest of the world, it was a given that the biggest church in any city you visited was Baptist. And along any country road you could easily find a Baptist church. Still can.

This summer while passing through the small town of Paris, Idaho, we drove past a huge building. A quick U-turn brought us back to the Paris Tabernacle to take some pictures. We had discovered the largest structure in town and it wasn't a Baptist church. We're not in Texas anymore, Toto.

While we were shooting photos, a gentleman offered to give us a tour of this Mormon tabernacle, designed by a son of Brigham Young (one of his 56 children). Built between 1884 and 1888, the building has been faithfully maintained. We walked on the original squeaking hardwood floors, still held in place by handmade square nails. We marveled at the workmanship on the individually crafted doors, made of pine, but stained to resemble hardwood. We peeked into all the nooks and crannies of a building which has changed very little since it was built.

One of the "new" additions to the tabernacle is a pipe organ installed in 1928. It replaced the hand-pumped original organ. The tabernacle has a capacity of 1,500--way more than the population of the town which is 512.

We discovered that Paris was founded by a wagon train of 30 Mormon families in 1863. The colonizers thought they were in Utah. It wasn't until 1872 that they discovered they were in Idaho. (Even in olden days, men didn't stop to ask directions.) Too late to turn back now.

Anyway, they spent about 20 years hauling in stone by horse and ox teams from a canyon 18 miles away. In the winter they hauled the stone over frozen Bear Lake.

Citizens of Paris today are 97.4 percent Mormon, 1.3 percent Catholic and less than 0.1 percent Baptist.

However, around another curve in the road we did find a Baptist church. It is the modest Bible Believers Baptist Church. It wasn't open for tours.

A Day in Nature
Posted March 28, 2013

by Lisa Hooks

Dawn awakens life again;
The dew glistens on the leaves.
A baby is born;
There is joy in this life.
So small and innocent, unable to do for myself,
I am held, I'm cuddled, I'm fed, I'm washed and changed.
I have a full life ahead of me,
Adventures and hope just waiting to be found.
The sun is above, high in the sky,
Feeding the ecosystem, healing the earth and warming our hearts.
I've grown now,
Education completed and career goals are made.
I travel, I laugh, I cry, I experience, I love and I create.
I bring in a new life into the world.
Now I am not the innocent one in need, I am the one responsible.
I protect, I feed, I change, I love and I teach.
The dusk starts to set in,
The colors rich and beautiful.
The sunset of my life is here;
I have loved and I have been loved.
I still adventure, but at a slower pace;
I go to sleep feeling the aches of worn out muscles and bones.
Soon I will need to be fed, bathed and changed,
But that is not today.
Here comes my baby with his new baby,
And we are ready for the sun.

I Saw God Those Days
Posted March 21, 2013

by Bill Burris

In my life I've seen numerous things that remind me of God and cause me to look closer at things as I travel this earth. A beautiful sunrise or sunset, the majesty of the pound of an angry surf, the many different cloud formations or the roar of rainfall on a metal roof, to name a few.

During my married life with my late wife, Connie, we were not blessed to have children. It was something we adjusted to and told ourselves it would be ok. For 41 years it always felt ok. When she'd lost her battle with cancer I felt a pain for her to have lived her life without knowing the joy of children. Oh, we had the pleasure of knowing families with a whole range of children from bad to good but saw how each parent loved them no matter what.

With my marriage to Marcie, she has blessed me with not only children (adults obviously), but with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. While it took some getting used to, I have never felt more blessed than now, as I think about what that all meant when it finally sank into my heart. God had a plan for me, as he does for everyone. Part of that plan was to give me the joy of knowing the thrill parents have when they look at or talk about their children.

The adult children in my life today have given me a sense of pride and love that I never knew existed. Add to that the recent experience of holding a one-week old great-grandson and a week-old granddaughter and I'm convinced I saw God on those days. I was overwhelmed with the words of the George Strait song.

Vocal Obituary
Posted March 14, 2013

by Lisa Hooks

Verbal communication died today;
It was a slow and painful starvation.
Technology is to blame, I would say,
So now there's mourning in our great nation.

I-pods, I-pads, text message and e-mail,
They type TTYL and LOL.
Used to, society would speak without fail,
I now wonder if they can even spell.

They listen to music, looking downward.
They spend their time texting, using strange words.
Sitting next to friends not looking upward,
Looking down at cell phones, pecking like birds.

In their own private worlds they tend to stay.
Not me, I'd like to hear what they might say.

What The ?...... Oh!
Posted March 7, 2013

by Lisa Hooks

Raining again
So dark and bleak
The ground soaked like my p.j's s after night sweats
I drive home from work
Another traffic jam
Brake lights glowing red
Now I am like a bull angry at the color
I long to be on the couch, under a blanket
The darkness soothing my emotions
Wait, what's that?
I squint against the light
Is that the sun peeking out?
All of a sudden I see more than gray and red
A rainbow appears
The multiple colors shining like a lighted crystal on a wall
I roll down my window and feel the sun on my face
I feel my body absorb the vitamin D
I feel a renewed strength
The day's havoc starts to fade
The red glow of brake lights disappears
The rainbow colors turn into deeper, richer colors
And the sky gives way to the majesty of deep purple
Accented only by a brilliant orange
Only God can paint such a beautiful portrait
I smile for the first time this day
I am ready to reface the world

My Jesus Cross
Posted February 28, 2013

by Kay Lea Scott

At White Bluff Chapel we recognize, appreciate and respect different views and practices of baptism. Last Saturday, Pastor Terry Cosby conducted an informational session in which he outlined the meaning, practice and process of baptism and communion practices, with regard to our White Bluff Chapel interdenominational fellowship. Children, their parents and/or grandparents, and adults seeking to know more about affirming their personal relationship with Jesus were encouraged to attend.

That opportunity caused me to pause and reflect upon my own baptism. In gratitude to the Lord for accepting me, I offer the following as just one individual's experience along the road to seeking salvation.

I wear a cross around my neck. Over the years, people have asked me about the charms I always wear. Sometimes I tell them about the day my Jesus Cross became one of those charms.

65 years ago this summer, sponsors carried me down the aisle of a little country church in Minnesota. Reverend Scharlemann was waiting by the baptismal font. He cupped his hand and poured water over my bald little head three times saying, "I baptize thee, Kay Lea Harriett Siewert, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

That was my baptism and that's what I grew up thinking baptism was supposed to be. To my knowledge, everyone had to be baptized once, as an infant. As a child, I even felt sorry for people who weren't baptized because I thought their names didn't belong to them without that baptismal ceremony.

But I learned that baptism meant much more than bestowing a name. And later, at 13, following a couple years of study, my baptism was confirmed and I began to participate in communion as a member of the little church.

About 15 years ago I met Donna. She may have sensed a lack of confidence in my faith because she invited me to her church. Until that time I had been a member of a church family no matter where I lived, raising my son with the same baptism and confirmation experience as I had had. Although regular church attendance was an important part of my Christian walk, something wasn't complete. I didn't feel good enough and never really tried to hold up my half of the covenant with the Lord.

Continuing to visit Donna's church, I realized what was missing in my relationship with God. I had never personally sealed the deal by publicly stating, "I belong to Jesus." Then came the day (uncomfortable as it was) when I answered the altar call.

I hung my Jesus Cross around my neck two weeks later, and then I dried my hair.

Seeing the Breath of God
Posted February 21, 2013

by Ann McAlpin, Churchill, Manitoba, Feb 17, 2013

Sun spots, magnetic fields, bursts of energy – the aurora borealis.  The lecture is complete; we have all the facts.  We now await the experience of seeing it.  Leaving the classroom, we look outside.  Snow is falling; the wind is blowing; the temperature is -30F.  Nothing will be visible tonight, so we each head to our rooms for a good night’s sleep.

Suddenly I’m awakened by the lecturer in the hallway shouting, “show time”!  It’s midnight; the skies have cleared; we are under the aurora oval; the “show” is beginning.  Quickly I get into my “artic” gear and head outside.

Green, yellow, white and the slightest tint of pink begin to dance across the sky.  The facts are now experience; I am experiencing the aurora borealis!  Then there are wisps of color that seem to gently float across the sky.

 I feel as if I am seeing the breath of God!

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created….

3 MPH on the Road that Takes You
Around the World
Posted February 14, 2013

by Jim & Lanette Browder

On a trip to visit relatives in Colorado last summer we did a fair amount of walking.

We strolled along a mountain stream. We hiked up to Buffalo Bill Cody's grave. We walked around daughter Julie's neighborhood in Castle Rock.

Our busiest day found us powershopping for hours in a huge outlet mall, taking the train into Denver and walking all the way across downtown to a new museum where we walked through exhibits for three hours.

Our feet hurt. Our legs were tired.

Next day we joined granddaughter Emily for lunch with one of her friends, Polly Letofsky.

We didn't dare mention our aching feet. You see, Polly is the only woman to ever officially walk around the world. That's right--a journey of 14,124 miles that took five years. The requirements for the Guinness record book are 1) start and finish in the same place; 2) walk at least 14,000 miles; 3) walk across at least four continents; 4) fly to the next continent when you reach the end of one; and 5) have a witness sign your records every day to confirm that you walked that portion. Document everything with photos and records.

Polly had dreamed of doing this walk around the world from age 12 in Minnesota. Finally, after 22 years of dreaming and three years of planning, she began her walk in Vail, Colorado on August 1, 1999. Her walk was dedicated to breast cancer awareness. This proved to be very difficult in Asian countries where some women never see a doctor. During her walk she connected with Lion's Club International members who eagerly made arrangements, looked out for her well-being and helped her spread the message about breast cancer. All monies collected throughout her walk stayed in each country to promote awareness for breast cancer.

Polly encountered many obstacles during her walk including weird food, strange and fearsome people, terrible weather conditions, plus the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001. She wondered if she should give up her dream after that attack, but also knew women with breast cancer have to keep going and moving forward in their quest for renewed health, so she would keep going as well.

After collecting $200,000 for breast cancer awareness, going through 29 pairs of shoes and recording a lifetime of memories, her walk was completed on July 30, 2004. Upon returning home, Polly wrote a fantastic book: "3 MPH: The Adventures of One Woman's Walk Around the World."

Her definition of commitment: "When you find a way over every hurdle in your path and nothing but success is an option."

One such hurdle was a flying cow in India, something most of us will never encounter. An out-of-control truck careened around a curve and hit a cow, sending the animal flying right toward her. "Of good God, I thought. Please don't let me die like this! How will my parents take the news that I was killed by a flying cow? The cow dropped a few yards ahead of me and bounced on the blacktop. Dead."

Polly says she is grateful that her obituary didn't include farm animals.

On occasion, we make a two-mile round trip walk to our White Bluff post office box. It's a small commitment to keeping healthy. And, we realize that we're 14,122 miles short of Polly's commitment. But we keep plugging along.

Commitment is no more than putting one foot in front of the other until a goal is reached.

On the Road to the Chapel: Exercise & Faith
Posted February 7, 2013

by Kay Lea Scott

I recently joined the exercise group at the chapel. It's great fun and is certainly doing something for me. I feel it in lots of interesting places, including my heart and my brain. Last week, while lifting weights one more time, the thought hit me that exercising and my faith walk have things in common.

Momentum – When I use built-up momentum to move the weights instead of concentrating on muscle contraction, they move easily and quickly but the muscles get little benefit from the exercise. Is my Christianity like that? Do I attend chapel on Sunday morning because of the momentum of friends and husband? Do I attend because it's the thing to do or am I really there to praise and worship the Lord? Does my worship reflect the majesty and glory of our King? Is it really about Him? Am I there to learn or be entertained? Has my faith walk become a habit?

Focus on the right thing - When I don't think about nor sometimes even touch the specific muscle that an exercise is working, I can fail to benefit from the exercise. In fact, I can exercise the wrong muscle if I'm not careful. The same happens in my walk with God. If I don't keep my heart on the prize, thinking of my salvation in gratitude to Him, it's easy to slide off Christ's path.

Motivation – Sometimes it's hard to garner the motivation to go to exercise class. It can be difficult to bring my prayers and cares to God. With exercise, taking that first step can be all the motivation needed. Friends willing to serve as accountability partners are a big help. Every day I pray that God will fill me with His Spirit. His Spirit is all the motivation and inspiration I need to find places to serve in my Lord's kingdom.

Core – Whenever I exercise, I try to keep my core in mind. Strong core muscles supports every move I make with other muscles. With Jesus at the core of my faith, I have the strength and courage to face all life's trials. My faith core keeps me pointed to everlasting life with Father God.

Balance – When I'm involved in an exercise program, I find my physical balance improves. Faith is the secret to balancing all that's thrown my way each day, week, month and year. Sometimes I stumble, but God always catches me or helps me up.

Looking good - Do I exercise to feed vanity? Do I serve the Lord because of the attention it brings to me, or for the right reasons? Exercising is about much more than looks. It's about health and adding years to this life. Faith and a right relationship with Christ keep me serving my Lord and my brothers and sisters. Eternal life is the prize He has already won for us. Spiritual disciplines (exercise) help us to enjoy it for all it is worth.

Exercise and Christian fellowship make a wonderful team. Join us in the Fellowship Hall at 9 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday.

Angels I Have Known
Posted January 17, 2013

by Jane Osborn

All of us know, or have known, angels. Angels are lovely beings who are there in special ways and at special times. Sometimes they come into our lives to comfort. Sometimes they protect us. Sometimes they are in an event that gives us hope. Everyone has a different definition, but it does seem to be a universal truth that they touch our lives.

Angels come in all shapes and sizes. Certainly one was my precious neighbor in Indianapolis. At home with my first newborn, Dannette would arrive at my door soon after my husband, Jim, left for work. Still in her robe, but bearing a cup of the most delicious coffee I ever had the privilege to sip, she would take the baby and say, "Go for a while and relax." In my eyes, her halo was bright.

Our daughter-in-law, Laura, the mother of a brand newborn, had been very ill for several days. Her doctor had prescribed fluids and rest. I drove to John's and Laura's home to offer help and it was after dinner when I arrived. By this time, Laura was barely able to lift her head. Our son, John, didn't need to say a word. One glance at his agonized eyes and I knew.

With Laura's parents staying with the other two children, I carried newborn Jackson and John carried Laura to the car and we raced to the Emergency Room. The receptionist took our information and told us to wait. Over an hour went by and at this point our Laura could not hold her head up. John took her to the car so she could lie down, knowing I would call when it was our turn. Holding baby Jackson, I sat in a nearby chair and began to pray.

A sweet voice next to me asked softly, "What is the problem?" Almost in tears, I told her. The sweet voice said, "I'm a nurse and she needs to be admitted now." Taking a paper and pencil from her purse, she wrote a number and said, "My name is Katy. The doctor I work for is a specialist in this field. Have your son call this number and tell the doctor I said he is needed. He'll have her admitted."

I flew to the car, gave John the number and ran back to the ER, in case they called us. Within five minutes, John came sprinting by with Laura's tiny body limp in the wheelchair. He called to me, "We're going to the third floor! They're waiting on us with IV's!" I turned to thank our Katy, but she was gone. Laura recovered with the gentle help of an angel.

Angels also have four legs.

Jim, and I, found Lady in a service station garage. She was a tiny golden puppy, in a box alone, with hard kibbles as her only food and she was crying desperately. We heard her and, predictably, Jim and I left with Lady curled against my neck. Lady grew up and by then, we had a new family member. Bill was just a toddler when we played with other neighborhood children in our back yard.

One neighbor had a lovely collie named Gracie. Gracie was a gentle, sweet dog, or so we thought. One afternoon, as the mothers' group sat on my patio watching toddlers play, Gracie walked by my Bill. When she did, he reached out to pat her back. Inexplicably, Gracie's lip curled, a growl came from within, and she spun. Unable to possibly reach her in time to stop this oncoming tragedy, I screamed.

From out of nowhere, a 20-pound golden comet launched herself into the side of Gracie's face. I grabbed Bill, and Gracie was banished. Without our wonderful little Lady, who knows what the damage might have been? We never found out what caused Gracie to do what she did, but I know why Lady did what she did. She loved us and she wore wings and a halo.

I forget sometimes, but I try to remember to look for angels. They are all around us.

Made in Ghana
Posted January 10, 2013

by David Briggs

[Part 6 of a series]    Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4    Part 5

The following entry comes from a journal that is the product of a three-week visit to Ghana in 1995, during which the group from UNT studied the economic and medical sociology of the country. The people and places we visited during our stay provided key insights into these topics and the culture of the West African country.

While in Kumasi, we visited the Suame Magazine. This area accommodates thousands of enterprising workers who are engaged in "appropriate technology" manufacturing.

Our first stop was an automotive re-manufacturing area. The methods were primitive and the materials were all salvaged automobile and truck parts. Sheet metal was being cut by hammer and chisel into small pieces to make into parts. A man sat on the ground with outstretched legs straddling an engine block against which he chiseled the metal pieces. Another man was re-making brake pads and drum feet. He somehow was able to take the worn parts from larger vehicles and cut them down to be used on smaller vehicles.

Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Rubber tires were recycled in numerous ways. One fellow was cutting washers from sidewalls and motor mounts from the used tire treads. Car seats were stripped down to the frames and springs. The cushions, frames, springs, and fabric were all reused to manufacture replacement seats. Sewing machines whirred away on the upholstery fabrics. Another young man specialized in salvaging and rebuilding radiators. He had devised a gas- powered, back-mounted compressor for pressure spraying a water/soap solution to clean the dirty and corroded radiators.

In another section, I observed a young man salvaging and rebuilding broken plastic car parts. He used hot irons which he heated in a small bellows, injected into a charcoal furnace to melt broken pieces together. I watched him work on broken light lenses, horn assemblies, and a police warning flasher. Near his operation was a food stand that was plucking and butchering chickens which were then cooked and served…all under the same canopy/awning!

1st Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

I was impressed by two other nearby manufacturing concerns. One was producing steel, concrete block molds. The devices were painted bright blue. A large handle/lever mechanism was used to eject the concrete blocks after they had hardened. We saw many of these machines in use along the roadsides as people made bricks to construct their homes. The other product displayed along the street, and with the same blue paint jobs, were four-wheeled hand carts that were made from salvaged car axles and wheels. They were all metal with a grate-like platform. The front wheels were steered by means of a handle bar across the width of the device. We saw many in use for toting heavy or awkward loads that couldn't be carried on their heads.

Other areas of the Suame Magazine produced, from non-automotive materials, such things as toy trucks and cars, kerosene lanterns, and other useful and decorative gadgets. This was a fascinating area to visit. I was disappointed that we didn't have more time to explore this vast 55-square kilometer community.

Proverbs 22:4 By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life.

Boot Camp for Grandmothers
Posted January 3, 2013

by Jane Osborn

It has been said by wise and learned people that it is never a good idea to ask a woman her age. I don't feel that way. I have silver white hair, I am battling gravity with every exercise and diet that comes down the pike, and it's obvious that I'm over 21, or even 35. However, in spite of the silver hair and the stand-off with gravity, I can still babysit with the best of them. That's what I thought.

A while back, I had the golden opportunity to babysit my three-year-old granddaughter, Madeline, and two-year-old grandson, Jackson. What better to please them than lunch at their favorite hamburger place? Finishing chicken nuggets and a hamburger, Madeline and Jackson had their eyes glued on an enclosed playground right outside the door. Being the soft touch that I am, I thought, "Oh, a few minutes won't hurt." It didn't hurt them, but let me tell you what it did to me.

Opening the door to the playground, my little ones scooted out while I turned (for a split second!) to put a sack in the trash can. When I looked back, Jackson was disappearing, the wrong way, up a twisted enclosed slide. Madeline was peering inside watching him. Now, this little boy's mother was a track star and his daddy a basketball star and coach. He's got the genes to get him anyplace he wants to go at warp speed.

By the time I got to the slide, Jackson was 2/3 of the way up to who knows what kind of danger. I bent over and started striding up the inside of that slide. One young boy, on the way down, saw this wide-eyed woman coming at him and clutched the side of the tube as I stepped over him. I caught Jackson as he stepped onto the top rung of the ladder leading to the top of the slide and breathed a thankful prayer of relief. Then it hit me: Madeline was by herself, on a playground, in the middle of a crowd of people I did not know. A chill went down my spine as I envisioned the possibilities.

Turning onto my back, I pulled Jackson to my chest and with a prayer, "Protest her Lord," began sliding down that slide as fast as it would let me go, yelling at the top of my lungs, "DeeDee's coming, Madeline! You stay right there!" When Jackson and I hit the bottom, Madeline and at least 20 strangers were staring at us in silent amazement. Maybe that's shock. Anyway, after fighting back grateful tears at the sight of my little granddaughter, I hugged both children to me, gathered what dignity I could muster, picked them both up and cheerily said, "Time to go home for naps!"

I didn't go to my fitness club that day. In less than five minutes, I had done sprints, climbing and weight lifting. Instead, I closed my eyes in grateful thanksgiving and made myself a promise. No more playgrounds without Grandpa.

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