Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Two Beautiful Ladies

It's a rare situation when a man and a woman marry and their parents all become the best of friends. When my brother Weldon married Donna, that is exactly what happened. The two sets of parents became fast friends for the rest of their lives: going to church together, travelling together, having their first grandchild together, etc.

Here is my mother Ophelia and Donna's mother Dorothy in happier days during 1993. My dad was gone by then, but the other 3 were still palling around together. These were beautiful ladies, and probably turned a few heads when they were out eating or shopping. Good days, good memories.

Dorothy is the only one left, and having her own health problems. But the grace of God, His goodness and mercy, are still very much alive.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Mother

This is a small picture of my mother, taken when she was 12 or 13 years old. She was pretty all of her life, right down to the very last. Wow!

I like this picture because of the smile. This was a very bad time in her life. It was taken when she lived with her mother in Ft. Worth. Horror stories abound during this period. She soon went back to live with her grandparents where she received lots of love and family identity.

I also like this picture because I can see my two daughters in it. It is sometimes hard to see resemblances between grandparents and grandchildren because of the physical changes in the grandparents: hair (or none), wrinkles, etc. But in this picture I can see physical resemblances of my daughters, and I can see personality resemblances.

The one thing about your parents passing away is you get no more answers to your questions. You just have to scan your own memory in hopes that something was said at some time or other, and if so, you hope you are able to bring enough of it up to make some sense and answer your questions.

This pictures brings up some of those questions, presently unanswered. But it also just puts a nice smile on my face, and in my heart.

I still love you, Mother.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Birthday to Remember

What a great day I have had. As many of you know, I celebrate the whole month of July for my birthday. And I have had great things happen to me, so far. But the 16th is the actual day of my birth, at 3:50am, in a two-room house on Division St. in Greenville, TX. (See picture below, it was white when I was born. It is gone now, just a church parking lot.)

Anyway, my birthday started the night before at church with a birthday party after the service, and with a greeting from my nephew Chris. A great way to start. It was followed by many other email and facebook greetings. (I don't really participate in facebook, but I get an email any time someone writes on my "wall.")

It rained early on the 16th, lowering the temp about 20 degrees from the 101-degree day before. Judy took me to breakfast at my favorite place, Speedway. Then we rode bikes on the new part of the bike/walking trail that will eventually circle the city. I was lazy all day, just reading books, etc. and enjoying reading what I usually don't have time for because of study and preparation for preaching/teaching.

At 6pm we went to Okie's. It is a really nice restaurant in Muskogee with great food and service. My friends in South Africa paid for the meal. (See the picture above.) We had a piece of cheese cake that was totally unbelieveable! Mmmmm.....

Judy had prayed for the last few months that I would have a great birthday. We have really been going through some very stressful testing, and the day was a nice respite from all that. I got great cards, and two specially designed cards from my dear wife Judy, the graphics artist. She really knows how to do things up well!

This is the best birthday I have had in a very long time. I have not only enjoyed the day, but also ruminating about every aspect of the day. The Lord is good to me.

One kind of sad note. In 61 years, this is the first birthday without my mother. But even that wasn't totally sad, because I know she is so much better off, living a much fuller life than she had here on earth.

Friday, July 03, 2009

A time with Olivia and Ava

Kari, Olivia and Ava came to see us for a few days this week. And we had a great time! We did lots of fun things. Here are a few pictures.

We attended an Air Force band concert in Honor Heights Park. The girls were given flags to wave. They enjoyed marching around and dancing to the music.

One morning Ava, the early riser, joined Mimi and Papa on their walk. She is quite a walker and made the whole journey with us. What a delightful girl she is. Another day all 5 of us went on a walk together.

One of our neighbors has a beautiful flower garden. We couldn't resist taking Ava's picture amid all the beautiful flowers.

Later that same day, the girls wanted to walk with Papa down to Palmer Park to play. Now there are slides and swings to play on, but all they wanted to do was run along the stream between the two ponds, cross the wooden bridge, run down the other side and cross the rocks, and go around again. Around and around they went for 10 or so minutes.

Finally the Canadian geese came strolling by and the girls stood still to watch them pass. It was quite a show to see them in their stately single-file walk.
Our days together were entirely too short. But it makes us look forward to the next time.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Our Two Texas Precious Ones

It is always a pleasure to have my 'little ones' around. It is a special sound to me to hear, "Papa, Papa!" or "I love you, Papa."

Here are some pictures of Brent and Caitlyn. Brent is becoming a hunk of a boy. He commands whatever ground he is walking on, to be sure.

Here they are having fun chasing bubbles. We only had one full day with them, but we certainly made the most of it.

Mid-morning we were off to the greatest water park ever! Right here in Muskogee. Middle of the picture shows Brent holding his daddy's hand with Mama trailing behind. I think Caitlyn, Ms Energy-to-the-Max, was already way ahead.
On the way home from the water park, Ms Energy was all tuckered out. But Papa was soaking up the moment.

Another great moment, at Mazzio's Pizza with sweet, sweet Caitlyn. She is quite a helper and 'hostess.'

In the evening, we sat out on the porch and played with light sticks. We hid them in Mimi's garden and found them, over and over. Look at Brent, he is ALWAYS smiling. A very gentile, pliable child.

We ate breakfast outside, and truly enjoyed the weather and Mimi's beautiful backyard. Caitlyn is helping Mimi in the kitchen. The rest of us are trying to get ahead on the pancakes.

And finally, the only grandson I can play with. He is becoming a lot of fun to be around. Give him another year, and I may take him away from his parents for good. His daddy, Jeff, could never deny his paternity in a million years. He is a virtual carbon copy of his dad.
We are immeasureably blessed with our 3 granddaughters and our grandson. Life just keeps getting better! "Thanks be unto God who always causes us to triumph in Christ!"

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I Am Way Behind

Talk about out of touch! I last blogged in March (see last blog). Lot of things have happened. The biggest thing is my mother, who was living with us, passed away on May 5. We really miss her, but she is in such a better place that we surely don't want her to come back (if she could!).

Well, that is my best excuse for not blogging. You probably noticed that doesn't account for the time between March and May. I have no excuse. And the beauty of a personal blog is, I don't have to have an excuse. I can do what I want to.

I have some cute grandchildren pictures that I will post at a later date, etc. So, now that I am back, check in once in a while and see what's up.

Friday, March 06, 2009

My New Website Is UP!

OK. After many months of Judy's hard work, Victory Ground website is up and running. Check it out. I am so thankful to Judy. I could never have done this. But her great talent and hard work has brought it to life. She litterally had to do many tutorials along the way. My blog - Gary says... - has moved to that site, as well. It is my inspirational blog, whereas this one is more personal stuff. I hope you enjoy both.

And while you are at it, don't forget Judy's wonderful blog: Bible Learning Lab. It is a great place to learn the scope and connections of the Bible. Plus she has just added a blog to that site called "Judy's World". It may not be available just yet.

And get this! Sometime in the future, she plans to have a website for her creative side and business: Gilmore Graphics. Wow! Are we prolific internet people, or what!

Since I am plugging. Don't forget our daughters' blogs. Kari's is Kari's Ramblings. Stephanie's is Finally Recess. They have all the fun, great stories about our grandkids.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Red, Red Roses

My mother has some great friends in Dallas who really love her. Leroy and Jan dearly love her and remember her at every occasion. Here she is with beautiful roses for Valentine's Day. And the beauty of it all, Judy and I get to share in the kindness. We thank Leroy and Jan for their generosity and kindness to Mother. She deserves all the kindness and thoughtfulness she can get. It may seem like a little to them, but it means a lot to her and to us.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Behold! The Great Blue Heron!

The two pictures above are stock photos of a Great Blue Heron. We actually have one that sometimes stops by the two ponds in Palmer Park, which is the little park about a block from our house. Well, here is the story. On Friday afternoon, about 4:30pm, Judy looked out the den window and pointed out the bird under the huge magnolia tree that is just across the street. We looked and looked, and decided that since it was so very big, it must be the owl that lives down at those same two ponds. I had seen him once standing on the curb by the ponds, and he was very big. But then the bird turned its head, and we realized the beak was not at all an owl's beak. Judy was sure it was the great blue heron. Sure enough, it was. I went outside and whistled and clapped my hands, and he rose up on his spindly legs, but did not fly away. So Judy went out on the front porch, and out to the curb on our side of the street to get some up close pictures. (Below is the best one.). Then, before Judy was ready, he flew off. It was an amazing sight. How or why he came up this far from the pond is beyond us. But it was so neat that he did. I would say that while he was perched, he probably stood about 3 to 3-1/2 feet tall. His wingspan was massive. God has surely shown us some amazing things while living here in this house on Howard St. He continually amazes us!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Almost up-and-running

We are almost ready to go "online" with our new ministry website: Victory Ground Ministries, Inc. The website will be victoryground.com. Judy has been working so hard on getting it just right. I haven't been too very helpful because I don't know anything about website design. Right now she is struggling with learning how to get my blog (not this newsy, personal blog) inbedded into the website. She has been dogged about it, and refuses to give up. The new blog will be more spiritual/devotional in nature. This one will keep everyone up on happenings in our life, and the website blog will be more encouragement. I think you will like the new sight. Watch here for the big announcement that it is ready.

Stumbled across my diary from my trip to South Africa and Kenya in 1996. Nice memories all around.

Big winter storm on Monday night and Tuesday all day. Freezing rain/sleet back and forth for 24 hours, then about 1" of snow. I haven't been to work in two days. Refuse to drive on ice, snow not so bad, but ice! Ugh!! I am getting too old for that.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Wife, My Grandkids

Judy and her artwork continue to amaze me. She is so very creative. Imagine opening a Christmas present of your children having been painted by your mother. We were in Branson for Judy's family Christmas get-together. Our girls gathered in our apartment with their girls and boy to open presents. It was wonderful to see their delight at what Judy had done. We removed the apartment pictures from the wall and hung the portraits. The girls climbed up on the divan to get a closer look, and Judy got a snapshot of them. Here is the outcome (click on the picture to see a larger view). Of course, Olivia wanted her picture to be by Caitlyn's, but that was impossible. I am blessed to have the family I do, and I know it! Enjoy the eye candy, while I enjoy the real thing!

Here are the portraits up close.

Olivia and Ava (5 and 4 years old).

Caitlyn and Brent (4 and 1 year old).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pictures of Christmas

As I have said in an earlier blog, we had such a great time with Judy's family at Christmas in Kimberling City/Branson. We stayed in 7 or 8 condos, and would meet up for various things throughout the week (bowling tournaments, mini-golf tournaments, Silver Dollar City, etc.). Often we would stroll over to someone's condo and sit around with coffee and just talk after breakfast. Here is a picture of Judy with two of her sisters and their spouses and her mom and dad. (Bob is watching the birds and the boats on the lake.)

Speaking of birds, we saw some spectacular eagles flying up and down the lake outside our condo windows. I saw one come so close that I could see his individual wing feathers. Wow!

A morning walk was scheduled at 8:30 every morning for those who were interested. Here we are walking through a cool covered bridge.

My mother went with us for the week, and went into Silver Dollar City. We got her a motorized chair, and she went all over the park. She really enjoyed herself. Especially when she drove over the bridge. The pavement was ridged, and so when she drove over it, she got a good bounce-bounce-bounce ride. She laughed every time she drove over it. Here she is waiting for the light parade with two of her great-granddaughters.

We found a great woodworking shop in Silver Dollar City. They had an area set up like a sitting room. The furniture was so very comfortable that Mother and I sat down and rested. I almost fell asleep. Doesn't she look pretty and sharp in her coat and blue scarf?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Great Christmas!

We just returned from a great week in the Branson area with Judy's really big family. (They are about 63 in number with #64 on his/her way.) Here are 53 of them who came from all over the US (Washington State to Maryland). Every two years the effort is made to be together for a week. Most everyone is there, on occasion some cannot make it, or can only come for a few days. But here they are. (Click on a picture to enlarge it.)

Each time we all go into Silver Dollar City for a day to enjoy the Christmas shows and lights, along with parades and all kinds of food. This year we went in on Sunday afternoon. It is so much fun to "go your own way" and run into some family member(s) from time to time. I stayed with my mother, who was there with us this week. She drove a motorized vehicle and I walked along beside. Every so often, you could hear my 3 granddaughters screaming across the crowd, "Papa! Papa! We missed you." At the live Nativity play, I saw Olivia coming in and enjoyed the "Papa! Papa!" routine. I picked her up and we hugged and kissed. Then I asked if she would like to be carried to her seat. "Uh-huh!" she said. "It's hard to walk with these many clothes on!" (I'll be showing more pictures of my little darlings in the days to come.)

Here are Dad and Mom with their 7 daughters (Judy is on your top right in the blue). They are (front row, left to right) Beth - #4, Carol - #2, Dad and Pat/Mom, Sue #1. Then (top row, left to right) Terrie - #5, Sara - #7, Pam - #6, and Judy - #3. Whew! From oldest to youngest is 29 years. And from these 9 people, you get 64.
We had our own church service on Sunday morning. We have more than enough ministers (3 spoke). I spoke on the Birth of Christ, Lance (husband of Pam) spoke on the Life of Christ, and Aaron (son of Carol) spoke on the Death of Christ. We had our own minister-of-music (Ryan, husband of Sara), musicians (Kevin and Michael -guitarists), children's choir, congregational singing, and special music (the 7 Vernon sisters pictured above singing "Sweet, Sweet Spirit").

On Monday, at our Christmas meal/gift exchange, we even had the nativity story acted out.