Friday, December 03, 2010

Christmas at the Gilmores

Our Christmas lights (inside and outside) are all up at the Gilmore house this year. I wish I could tell you they were all working. Ugh! This year, I purchased a little gizmo that helps to fix lights that aren’t working. It is quite miraculous in its simplicity, but works about 90% of the time. Better than without it, though! Anyway, I have a third of a strand of icicle lights not working, one out of four pillars wrapped in lighted garland not working, a couple of strands on our pre-lit Christmas tree not working, and one topiary covered with lights not working. After trying very hard to fix them, I confess I have lost the burden. (No Christmas pictures this year of the outside of our house - I could sneak one in from last year, if you insist.)

I am so glad that the wise men of yore did not have that problem when following the Star. Imagine their bewilderment in trying to find the Christ child. And what of the heavenly choir of angels, if some lost their glow, and the shepherds didn’t take them seriously.

I am thankful that the Savior of the world, the Light of the world, doesn’t have the problems I have had with my Christmas lights. His light is sure, steady, and dependable through all the ages that have come and are yet to come. The deeper the darkness, the brighter His light shines. And more importantly, His light shines brightly in me, and I hope, through me to others. Let your light so shine…

Every time I see those lights that aren’t working, I am reminded of the Light of Christ that is. I am so thankful for His light – and the reminder through my lights. In the lyrics of Michael W. Smith: Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness, Opened my eyes let me see…

So…Here I am to worship!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Our Fall Yards

God has so blessed us with a marvelous house in Muskogee. And God and Judy have created such peaceful and beautiful scenes for our eyes. Here are a couple pictures of part of our back yard. These we see every day as we eat on the back patio, either breakfast or supper. You are seeing the morning sun play across our beautiful crepe myrtle bushes.

And here are pictures of our front yard and flower beds. Judy has a wonderful green thumb. It is normal to see cars driving by our house very slowly, then turning around and coming back.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Beauty of God

We are blessed of God where we live. We are just 3 blocks from one of the most beautiful parks ever. It also serves as a workout place. This is a man-made waterfall. From the top of the falls to the lowest part of the park there are 185 irregular sandstone steps. By the time we walk the three blocks, then go down the steps and back up, we have had a great workout. Year before last I dropped 25 pounds!

Besides the workout, we have the most wonderful scenery to view. There are all kinds of flowers: crepe myrtles, cannas, dogwoods, azaleas, redbuds, irises, verbinum, lilacs, privet hedges, roses, hybiscus, etc. Throughout the spring and summer and fall, the park changes over and over with different flowers blooming. The park workers are so good and diligent, and kind.

Here are more pictures of our great Honor Heights Park. (Notice the waterfall in the middle of the 6th and 7th picture below.)


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Moms in My Life

Sunday is Mother's Day, and I wanted to give a shout out to all the mothers in my life. I am blessed with many of them. Here we go.

On the left is my mother, Ophelia, also known as Torchy. What a great lady she was. She passed away last year (May 5) here with me. She was such a loving, guiding mother. She really prepared me for life, and always stood behind me in my ministry. Without her, I would not know about Jesus. She is sorely missed. She taught me to drive, taught my Sunday School class growing up, taught me to cook and clean and sew, etc. She had the funniest sayings (from Texas, of course), more than you could count. Right to the end she was sharp as a tack, and full of fun. She delighted in telling the people of my congregation about me as a little boy. Once or twice I had to stop her, some things are just private (or I think they should be).

Next to her is Dorothy. She is actually my sister-in-law's mother, but she is a surrogate mother to me. My children call her Grandmother. Dorothy lives with her daughter Donna in Dallas, but she and my mother were such great friends. At church, when you saw one, you saw the other. They were great pals. When my mother moved up to Muskogee to be with us, they spoke on the phone every day. Dorothy is a blessing in my life.

This is Mabel, my wife Judy's mother. Mabel was a glorious servant of the Lord; teaching, serving, guiding. She was the center of a home filled with love; love for her husband, and her 5 daughters. I loved talking about the Bible with Mabel. You would have thought she graduated from a Bible college. But she was just self-taught. She passed away a year after we married. In her last month on this earth, she was memorizing the book of James, even though she knew her time here was almost gone. And she had the greatest humor. She and I and got to where we tried to support everything we said with a Bible verse, even if we had to misquote it. What a great way to learn scriptures (you have to know them to misquote them) and have fun, too.

Who could possibly replace such a great mother-in-law as Mabel? Well, God can. Without any aspersions on Mabel, I can say that I have the greatest mother-in-law in the world. I don't know what I would do without her. She came to the family almost 2 years after Mabel passed away, and she fit in from day one. Imagine marrying 5 daughters and two sons-in-law (one of those was/is pretty cantankerous), bringing with her her own daughter, then eventually birthing one more (that's 7 girls if you are counting). After she married in August, she got right into the work of helping prepare her new daughter Beth's (daughter #4) wedding in December. And she hasn't stopped since. She is the most giving, supporting, and child/grandchild/great-grandchild enjoying lady you will ever know. She picked up the love mantel where Mabel left it, and has carried it so wonderfully for almost 40 years.

Although not my mother, Judy is the mother of the world's greatest girls -- mine! And she is the world's greatest wife. She is just always there when you need her. Wife, mother and grandmother (Mimi), she has made our family the great family it is. She always has a smile, and always has time for each person individually. Not only is she a great homemaker, she is also a great graphics artist. Her website is on the computer screen behind her. She has built a website for my ministry, her art work, and one to teach others the Bible (check out,, the new one is not ready for viewing for another few days). Judy is a great Bible teacher, as well. And the most amazing thing: she has a thousand new ideas every day!! Where does she get them?! Judy has always supported me to the fullest in all that God has called me to do. What a helpmeet she is.

Just have to talk about my two daughters, mothers both. Kari is my older daughter. She has two beautiful girls, 5 and 6 years old. She is fun-loving, great to be around, and a mother to the nth degree. I am constantly amazed at her abilities. She has had a lot of hardships in life (3 preemie babies, each at about 6 months), but she just keeps going, keeps smiling and laughing, keeps making others feel so special. And she loves the Lord with all her heart. (A great cook, too!)

Last, and certainly not least, is my younger daughter Stephanie. She is the organizer in the family. She is married to a great man, has a beautiful daughter (5 years old) and a son (2 years old). She is the life of the party, also. She teaches first grade, and all her kiddos love her. Jeff takes such good care of her and the children, and gives her the things she needs to be a great mother. She is involved in church, teaching Sunday School when it is her time in rotation.

Can you tell I love all the "mothers" in my life? And for good reason, too!! Now give a shout out for the mothers in your life.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ah! Spring!

I must say that I do love spring! The flowers, the green, the smells, etc. Judy's gardens are beginning to 'color-up'. (Yes, I made up that word. Good, huh?) I just had to share some of the pictures. The grass (my job) is about half-way in the greening process. Just turned the sprinkler system on last week, and this week we are getting rain. No better watering system than what drops from the sky. God is the best at watering and growing.

Here you can see the light green Lamb's Ear along the sidewalk. It really does feel soft and fuzzy, just like a lamb's ear. At the far right is white Candy tuft. At the corner is a pink dogwood. She planted the dogwoods when they were about 2 inches high, so after 3+ years, the first one of them bloomed (6 pink blooms). If you click on the picture (to make it bigger) you can see her cinnamon stick fern between the red azalea and oak tree. Of course the big red bushes are azaleas. The hydrangeas are not yet blooming, but you can see them just to the left of the oak tree. And there are hosta plants all along, as well.

Standing in the street, you can see yellow irises, some red flowers that edge the garden (we can't remember what they are called. Anybody know?), some small clumps of daffodils called Lauras, some pansies, and of the course, the youpon holly bush standing up in the center of the garden. It is beautiful in the winter with all its red berries. In a few weeks, this round garden will be edged with white alyssum. And soon, scattered around both gardens, the foxglove will bloom with whites and pinks and yellows. (Foxglove is what is used to make digitalis for the heart, but can be poisonous if eaten in this stage.)

Just a last shot, standing in the yard. All along the sidewalk edge, Judy has planted small impatiens which will grow to give a nice red edge to the garden. Watch the growth of her garden throughout the summer, right here. And maybe I will be able to include her backyard gardens and vegetable plots in days to come. Also, my apples, pears, blueberries and kiwi.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Springtime notes

Hallelujah! It is spring! My favorite time of the year. So much is happening to bring life again to the earth. Our yard is beginning to fill with flowers, the grass is turning green, etc. My blueberry plants are putting out. I am happy about this because I wondered about their survival through the winter, but all three made it. My apple trees are in full bloom (could be a bumper year). My pear tree is absolutely loaded!! The above picture is the Texas Red Quince in my backyard. It is one of our first flowering bushes to show out. Judy's 4 baby dogwoods are doing well, and one of them is actually blooming this year - a pink one, with 5 blooms! Our baby red bud is blooming for the first time. And after 5 years of waiting, our Kiwi vines are going to give out fruit. Wow! It is so exciting!

Here are some of my babies off to school. Olivia and Ava are with us at present. So they are enrolled in Muskogee schools. It is so much fun to get them ready and drop them off at school. They are so delightful, no real problems, always so cheery. They love to do everything for themselves, so they are no trouble at all. We enjoy Kari, their mother, having an extended stay with us, too.

Now who is this young group of men? Well, the skinny guy at the piano is yours truly. Hmmm.... Yep, after 40 years, the bass singer contacted me and sent me this picture along with about 5 of our songs that we recorded in our college days. When I learn how, I will post a few of our quartet songs. Really they are pretty good for kids (you can kinda hear the piano in the background). To name the guys, they are from left to right, Jim, CK, Dan, and Rick. Of course, in my mind they are all young still. My hair is thin and white, and I am not so thin anymore. Still have the serious face. And after 40 years, even I think my piano abilities have improved.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring is just around the corner!

Well, as much as I enjoyed winter and all the snows, I am now ready for spring. Just a few warm days in succession can do that. We have had jonquils blooming since February (the only ones in our neighborhood). And yesterday, a friend brought me some red canna bulbs for planting. We have had yellow ones for many years, but I always thought it would look so nice to have red ones interspersed with the yellow. So Saturday, I will be planting cannas.

Judy has been cleaning up her gardens/flower beds for spring. And they look so nice and clean. It just does a body good to get out and do some spring maintenance. Our grass is greening, the fruit trees will soon explode with blossoms, the rose bushes are pushing out new leaves, the dogwoods are showing the beginnings of flower buds. It is just glorious all around.

Thank you, God, for spring!

A good time was had by all!

Last Thursday I had the joy of taking my young friend Cody to ORU for participation in the Whole Life Scholarship contest. He spent the day in interviews and tests, and then visiting classes. I spent the day visiting old friends. It was a good day, everyone was in their office and had time for me.

I even ran into some people whom I thought I would not get to see. Happenstance is a glorious gift of God. So, I spent the whole day going all over the campus, and up and down myriad sets of stairs. It was good to see friends, AND to see the nice changes all around the campus. Buildings look so good, the Prayer Gardens are exquisite, and the refurbishing of the creek that runs through the property is coming along nicely.

The University also provided a sumptuous continental breakfast, and a lunch in the style of Olive Garden, for the contestants and those that brought them. I was so proud to show the campus and people off to Cody. And he reached max overload of good things by the time we needed to turn toward home.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Catch-up Stuff


For those of you who read my blog, I put in a picture a few weeks back showing my backyard from my office window. You will remember the pine tree limbs were hanging way down, almost parallel with the trunk of the tree. So here is a picture of them after the snow left. There were pine trees in the area that lost limbs due to the snow, with an undercoating of ice. We were blessed to have missed that ordeal.
I am happy to say that I have successfully pruned my apple and pear trees (only 3 in total), and have put the coating of dormant spray on them. After the blossoms have come and gone, I will need to spray them once more to protect the new fruit. I did prune the tops of the apple trees in order to strengthen the root system. I hope to be able to report an apple crop later on. One tree actually comes due the 1st of July.

Here is my grandson, Brent, enjoying a new figurine on our living room coffee table. He may be small but he has no difficulty reaching things. He simply climbs onto a table or shelf to get at what he wants. I probably should be concerned about that, but he is so cute and sincere with his activities, it is hard not to let him get away with things. And then, being one boy in the midst of three girls, I have to give him some leeway.

I want to remind all that I do have an inspirational blog as well. Click here to enjoy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fun Weekend

What a marvelous time we had last weekend. It was the ORU alumni homecoming. Since both my girls and my wife graduated from ORU, it was a nice time for all to get together. It had been a while since everyone was at home here. So we did some fun, and crazy things. One crazy thing is that we took a hike through Honor Heights Park. The wind was quite bad and cold, but we got out anyway. (click on any picture to make it bigger)

We parked at the water tower parking lot at the top of the hill. Here are the girls all ready for the hike. I took the picture, but where is Brent? (2 granddaughters from St. Louis, 1 from Dallas. Is it possible to all have the same coats?)

Next picture is at the top of a very tall water fall (see water to the left of Judy). It is over 100 rough hewn sandstone steps down. Ava and Brent led the pack, going down lickety-split. (Ah! There's Brent!)

We finally reached the bottom and took another picture with the water fall in the background. (Just think, we have to go back up the steps at the end of our hike. We did, too, with no trouble at all.)

In the park, we couldn't resist a picture on this big rock. With everyone on top, except for the two old folks, Mimi and Papa, we got this picture.

Getting ready to go back up, we stopped for this picture of Mimi and Papa with their precious grandkids (l to r: Olivia, Brent, Ava, Caitlyn).

After a trip to Incredible Pizza, we made it to the game. Boy! Everyone had such fun, and they really watched the game all the way through. We got some little basket balls (3) that were thrown into the crowd, some posters, and of course, popcorn. We won by one point with about 8 seconds left in the game. A really close and exciting game!

At one of the time outs, you could go out on the floor with your parents (Mimi in this case) and dance with Eli the Eagle to the tune of YMCA. Brent decided to have fun all by himself, instead of dancing. He would run and throw himself down and slide across the floor. He gathered quite an audience, too.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Happy Camper

All my grandkids are just about here. 2 from Dallas, where they have had 12.5 inches of snow, and 2 from St. Louis where there is snow, as well. All weekend long! Now that is my kind of Valentine's celebration. May even have a birthday party for Ava, who will be 5 on Tuesday!

God is so good to me. One 2-year old Brent, 2 5-yr old Caitlyn and Ava, one 6-yr old Kari. Right here with me. Guess I will let Mimi love on them a little. (Pictures to come.)

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Snows of 2010

What great, and fun, snows we have had this winter. Our first snow was the night before Christmas, 2009. It was 6-inches of great fun, more of a dry snow. My brother had never had a white Christmas or shoveled snow. (That was remedied.) And we had Judy's parents with us also, which is always a delight.

In January we had another snow of 6-inches, this one a wet snow. But truly just as much fun as the other. Judy helped me shovel snow this time, although shoveling isn't all that hard when you learn how to use a snow shovel like a snow plow. Makes for warm, cozy days inside looking out and enjoying the snow with a warm cup of something in your hand.

The above picture is the scene I have outside my office window. Very relaxing, very motivating, to say the least. (The light in the upper right of the picture is a reflection of my office light.) God has blessed us with this house in so many ways, but one that stands out during the snows is the many windows we have. (Notice the limbs on the pine tree are greatly weighted down. As soon as the snow melted, they popped right back up.)

Here is a picture from our front porch. I am blessed to live where we can get the occasional, great snow! Seems a shame when the first foot-prints, or car tracks, are made. I call snow "the great equalizer". The ugly yards that are messy and unkempt are just as beautiful as the neat and well-kept yards.

Here is our front yard from the porch with the street light on. The light is hidden by the oak tree, but the color from its glow gives a wonderful awe dimension to the snow.

The picture below was taken today, February 8, during another, smaller snow. If the temp had been below freezing, we could have had about 3-inches. But it was gone immediately after the last flake fell. And it was leaving all during the snow.

Notice the man in the tree harness/swing. The electric company came today to clear out tree branches in the path of the power lines that run across our backyard. I have been working since early fall to get them to come out before a winter storm might take out our electricity. Finally, they made it out today. But it makes for a good picture, and our electricity is a little more safe-guarded. (Click on any picture to make it larger.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Weather, Weather

The weather has changed again - that's Oklahoma. We have been told we are under a severe weather situation. So last night, rain was changing to freezing rain (ugh!) which means a possible bad ice storm. Did that in January of 2007, more than enough, no need to repeat.

What would I find when I got up this morning? At 6am the temp at my house was 34-35 degrees. Not bad! There was ice on the trees, but not enough to break a limb, just make them hang down.

Today we should get 2-5 inches of snow. It is just now turning to snow outside my window (11am), so we will see. I really don't mind the snow, just not the ice. But...the streets are basically clear of ice, thanks to the above-freezing weather.

Sunday, we drive over to Tahlequah to preach (about 35 miles). They are forcast to get up to 10 inches. But surely tomorrow the roads will be worked on. Oh, well, we will just start early and be prepared for whatever comes.

It's winter, that's what you get!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I have great friends! Everybody ought to have some. And my friends just have to know that I love giraffes, and collect them (because I tell them). Some of my great friends have given me giraffes.

Yesterday, I looked out the window to check the mail, and there was an oblong package on the porch. It was from a great friend of mine in North Carolina. When I picked it up, I knew what it was - a giraffe (see the picture above)! I have named this giraffe Sharon. Isn't that a nice name? It fits this giraffe, because the name and the giraffe show such elegance. It really made my day.

The natives of Africa have a belief that God made the giraffe with such a long neck so that he/she could look over the edge of the earth and see where the sun went. This giraffe is doing just that. And I believe that she is also announcing, "Here it comes again!" Sharon gives me hope for the new day.

My shelves are covered with giraffes of all shapes and sizes, from less than a inch to over a foot. Each one is very special, and many of them remind me of my friends who gave them to me. I have 23 giraffes that stand by themselves that are made of wood, brass, leather, ceramic or cloth. One is made from the root of a tree. I have two giraffe clocks, a giraffe candle, a giraffe picture frame, three giraffe pictures (one is a photo I took in South Africa and one is drawn by an artist friend), a giraffe magnet, a giraffe mouse pad, and many giraffe greeting cards. Below are some of my giraffes that share space with my books, and below that a single shelf on the wall that holds some of my friends. I am holding two (my latest one and a tall one made of leather) that stand on a chest of drawers in the corner of my office. I even have a VHS documentary on giraffes that a friend taped and gave to me. (My wife has a giraffe on one of her purses, but I am NOT going to carry that one.)

I hope you enjoy my giraffes, and if you visit me, I will gladly show you around. (Click on the pictures to make them larger, if you wish.)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Special Christmas Gift

Christmas has come and gone for another year, but I am still relishing every part of the Christmas of 2009. One of those memories is shown above. Jim and Kari, Olivia and Ava were in Tulsa, but couldn't get down to Muskogee until the day after due to 6.5 inches of snow here, and 8-10 inches in Tulsa. Because of the snow delay, they decided to stay over till Monday, thereby going to church with us!

Of course, our two Christmas packages (see their dresses above) sang us a song or two at church. The people loved it all, and we were beaming. I only wished we could have had our other two grandchildren with us, but scheduling was a mess with weather and other family commitments in Texas.

Also, in church with us that day was my "little" brother. Christmas this year was such a treasure. After about 35 years of the least possible contact because of James' lifestyle choices, we were re-united in '09, just before my mother's passing. James has turned back to the Lord and has changed and is changing his lifestyle. As a boy, he had the most precious personality. Everyone loved him, everyone wanted him around. He was just the best boy ever! Well, what made the 4 days of Christmas so special is that that personality was back. I was so blessed for the restoration. He is all the family I have left; father, mother and brother gone. (Let me say that I do have a sister-in-law who is a treasure, and far from an in-law.) I thank God for James and for the renewal we have experienced together. God is good!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Christmas 2009

We have so much fun decorating our house for Christmas. Judy has something like 8+ huge plastic storage boxes of items, and then there are 5 black bags of wreaths, garland, lights, etc. We don't always use all of it, and generally not all the same items each year. But we just begin the week before Thanksgiving on the outside of the house and work our way into December decorating. Above are pictures of what you would see passing by, and the front porch. (You also get to see inside a little.) This year we added the swagging garland with lights, and a wreath on 3 of the front windows that match the two wreaths on our double front doors.
Then this year, we had an open house for some of our friends. Judy made lots of goodies and munchies, etc. And we just had fun with everyone.
Kari's family was with us the weekend after Christmas, but our special guests for Christmas were Judy's parents and my brother, James. Because of the 6-inch snowfall on Christmas Eve, we were pretty much house bound, but we had fun anyway. James had never had a white Christmas, and certainly had never shoveled snow. Those firsts are behind him now. I would love to show you a picture of James, but I didn't keep my camera handy.
I hope you all had a great Christmas, as well. (I will make sure to keep my camera handy in the days to come.)