Trina, a sister to our late daughter, Suzan, is my facebook friend. She lives in Independence, Missouri. She had been reading my posts about the peace and joy I have in the Lord, so she contacted me saying, “I want the same peace in my heart that you have. I want to come down there and be baptized.” I explained that baptism is what takes place after we confess our sins, believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins, and that she would have to first confess her sins and place her trust in Jesus. Trina brought her six month old baby, Jaslyn, and her 13 year old son, Gannon, with her, and they spent the night. We invited Ryan, Paula, Addison and Hayes Palmer to have supper at our house with her. After we enjoyed a good time together around the table, Pastor Ryan explained to her all that she needed to know in order to follow Jesus. Trina said gladly that she wanted to do just that. and there in our dining room, she made a profession of faith, and declared her desire to follow Jesus in baptism. And on Sunday morning, at South Haven she was baptized. Before Pastor Ryan lowers a person into the water he asks the question, “Is Jeus Christ the Lord of your life?” In answer to this question, Trina said, “Yes!” After being baptized she came and sat with us for the rest of the service, and said she liked it a lot. But since she lives in Independence, MO, she needs to find a church near her home where she can connect with other Christians and grow spiritually. She will be hunting for one. We are helping her and so is Pastor Ryan. To celebrate her new life in Christ, we took her and her family to Lambert’s for the “throwed roll” experience and that was a lot of fun! (I took a picture of Trina, Gannon and Jaslyn at Lambert’s, but the picture didn’t turn out.)
The temperature here has hovered near and over the 100 degree mark. So, I asked Swad to recall stories about being hot (as in too warm, much too warm). He told me the following stories:
When I was just a boy, my brothers and I slept upstairs in the old farm house. Whenever it got too hot to sleep upstairs, Mom would give each of us a quilt, we would carry our quilts outside, place them on the grass under a big oak tree and sleep there.
MONDAY WAS WASH DAY
My mother always did her washing on Mondays, rubbing our dirty overalls over and over on a scub board to get them clean. She liked to heat the water with the chips from where dad sharpened fence posts. And she gave Junior and me a bushel basket and told us to go fill it with those chips. Of course, Junior and I were both barefooted, and I said, “Do you want to walk in the path on the way, or on the way back.” Junior said, “I am the littlest and I get to walk in the path both ways. We got into a good fight over that, but in the end my little brother walked in the path both ways, while I walked on the old weeds and rocks that hurt my feet. I didn’t think it was fair then, and I still don’t!
PUTTING UP HAY WAS A HOT JOB
We put up our hay by cutting it with a mower, raking it, put up loose on the wagon, and then from the wagon we pitched it up to the barn loft. It was very hot in those fields in the summer, but in the barn loft (with a tin roof) it was extremely hot. Dad liked to fill it clear to the top. Many times I thought I would pass out from the heat. Once we filled the loft all the way to the top, and left only a little space at the barn loft door. I couldn’t even get back over to the ladder. My dad said, “Son, Jump and I will catch you.” That was a very long jump for a little boy, but I trusted my daddy, who was standing on the wagon. I jumped, and he caught me.
Later, when we had hay to put up, Betty would sometimes ride her bicycle out to our farm and help in any way she could. She would drive the team of horses, while my brothers and I threw hay upon the wagon.
HOT AND LAZY
My dad told a story about a man who was about to be put in jail for not paying his bills. His neighbor, knowing the man’s plight, told saw him sitting on the porch. Stopped and told him. him, “I will give you a wagon load of corn. You can have it to pay your bills. The man asked, “Is it shelled?” The neighbor said, “No,” and the lazy man said, “Well, just go on then.”
HOT ROAD WORK SUPERVISOR
When we lived on a farm near Chadwick, the state had just put in a farm-to-market road. One of the supervisors, dressed in a white shirt and tie, came to our door and asked my mom for a drink of water. Mom replied, “I’m sorry, sir, there is not a drop of water in the house, but down by the foot of this hill, is a big spring and the water is always nice and cold there. So the man went down the hill. He was gone and gone and gone. Mother was about ready to send one of us boys down to see about him, when he appeared again at the door. There wasn’t a dry thread on him. Mom said, “Sir did you find the spring?” He said, “Oh yes mam, I found it, but I’m thirstier now than when I went down there.”
HOT NIGHTS IN “LITTLE HOUSE”
When Betty and I lived in Lawrence, Kansas, we lived in a converted garage. We just loved it, and we loved the Griswolds, the couple who lived in the big house. Our living space was downstairs, and we climbed a ladder to our bedroom. Of course it was hot in that bedroom that my ever creative wife would put the sheets in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator when we left for work. Just before time for us to go to bed, she would take out the sheets, spread them on the bed quickly, and we tried to get to sleep while they were still cool. (1951)
HOT MARCHING IN THE ARMY
I got drafted.. When I was in basic training at Breckenridge, Kentucky, the summer of 1052. It was HOT, HOT, HOT! It became so hot that they cancelled our afternoon activities. They got us upat 4:00 a.m. and worked us until it became so unbearably hot that nothing was productive, and we had to return to the barracks.
On a number of afternoons we had to do our training with our fatigues, rather than full uniform, and quite a few of us passed out. They hauled us to one of the few air conditioned barracks, so when we came to, we were in air conditioning. When you pass out from the summer heat like that, you don’t just get over it. It zaps you for days. That’s when they changed to getting us up at four and we would train until one o’clock, then go to our barracks (which were very hot) and stay there until late in the evening and then resume our training.
One evening, the sergeant said., “We are getting up in the morning before daylight, and we are going to take a little trip.” I thought, “By doggies! It’s time they did something nice for us!”
That little trip turned out to be a twenty mile hike. What they didn’t tell us is that we were going to walk that distance. I was marching behind a little fellow named Donald Smith from Topeka, Kansas, and He didn’t have his back pack on right, and it was way down his back rather than on his shoulders. I thought, “that little shaver won’t get very far until he passes out, and when he does, I’ll wait until the next shady spot I see, and I’ll pass out.”
Well, I just kept watching him, and about sundown I looked up and we were marching back into the gates of Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky. I made that trip by keeping my eyes on a fellow soldier, Donald Smith.
HOT AND COOL WEDDINGS
I’ve done 1,030 weddings and some of them were not very comfortable. Wedding clothes are hot, and I did a wedding at Silver Dollar City at the Old Wilderness Church. It was so hot that the candles melted and started dripping. They finally just removed them. I thought the bride was going to faint any minute, (and I have had a bride or two faint on me) so I said the ceremony fast. When I finished the ceremony there wasn’t a dry thread on me or on the wedding party. The relatives who were in charge of bringing the punch didn’t show, so we had to get some lemonade from one of Silver Dollar City’s stands. I was never so thirsty for lemonade as I was that day.
One of our youth, Robert Jones, at First Baptist Church, Richland, was a guide at Bridal Cave, near Camdenton, Missouri. When couples didn’t have a pastor, Robert would tell them. “I can get you a preacher.” Then he would persuade me to come do weddings at the cave. It The weddings were in the cathedral room of the cave where the stalagmites and stalactites had grown together, giving one wall of that room in the cave the appearance of a huge pipe organ. The guide would strike those formations with a mallet, making a musical sound. The people touring the cave made up the congregation. I would say the ceremony. Then after refreshments were served, the bride and groom would leave for their honeymoon, and the tourists would go on to other rooms in the cave. I think people are still getting married in Bridal Cave, but when we moved to Springfield in 1970 I stopped doing weddings there.
Weddings at Stone Chapel at Drury University here in Springfield were always very hot when I was performing them. (I think they have air conditioned the place now.) It was a beatiful sanctuary, and brides wanted to have their weddings there because it was such a pretty place. Sometimes they didn’t realize it wasn’t air conditioned until time for the wedding rehearsal. I’ve seen a lot of sweaty brides there, and this preacher, in his tuxedo was sweating, too!
When dad was pastor of Pythian Avenue Baptist Church in Springfield, we had a Baptist Brotherhood. A man we called, “Paddle Pool” made the chili one night. It was not fire hot, but it was very, very pepper hot. Betty’s dad, who had a very dry sense of humor, took one bite and said, “Well, I’ve preached about hell for over fifty years, but this is the first time I ever tasted it.”
KRISTEN (23) is engaged to Joshua Bloyd, and they are planning their September 29 wedding which will be at Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin, MO. She showed us pictures of her elegant wedding dress, and we know she will be an absolutely gorgeous bride. Kristen is beautiful inside and out, and of course we are very proud of her. Both Kristen and Joshua are students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Kristen is studying to be a childhood education director in the church. She has two part-time jobs: Lifeway Book Store and the associational office which is next door to the book store. Joshua is a ministerial student. He is Youth Director at Trinity Baptist Church in Fort Worth and also works part-time as an electrician for the seminary. We are excited to be adding Joshua to our family. Joshua and Kristen recently took a group of youth from Trinity for a retreat to Durango, Colorado, where they did rock climbing, rappelling, white water rafting, hiking, and Bible study.
ANDREW (17) will be a senior at Joplin High School in the fall. Since the May 22, 2011, tornado totally destroyed the high school building and everything in it, the juniors and seniors have attended school at a remodeled building at the mall (the old Venture building). School in this building is very high tech, so Andrew doesn’t mind a bit. He lettered in golf for Joplin High School. At six feet, two inches, Andrew is the tallest member of our family. A young man of few words, he had a very creative way of inviting his date to the prom (see picture). In June he went with his parents and sister to Destin, Florida, where the whole family enjoyed beach activities. This summer he is working as a Life Guard at a Joplin country club pool, and enjoys interacting with the children there, because they all seem to like him and respect him. He is currently taking some time off to attend a Young Life camp in Minnesota, where he hopes it is much cooler.
CHRISTINA (17) has just returned from Europe . She was chosen as a band member for Kentucky Ambassadors (a select high school group). She plays trumpet, and reports that she could not have had a better time, making new friends, experiencing new cultures, seeing new and wonderful sights. The band performed concerts in London, England; Paris, France ; Seefeld , Austria ; Crans Montana , Switzerland ; and Rotenberg , Germany . She will be a senior at Lone Oak High School in Paducah , KY when school begins. Between now and then she will spend a week at marching band camp. She is active in all of the youth activities of Lone Oak First Baptist Church , where her dad is Minister of Music, and often plays the keyboard for the contemporary worship service.
OLIVIA (14) has been to Big Stuff Camp with the Lone Oak First Baptist Church Youth, and she recently spent a week at her other grandparents’ home near Cox’s Creek, Kentucky, taking a good friend with her. While there, they went to a big mall in Louisville and to the Louisville zoo. She and Christina and her parents spent a week with us in Springfield, MO , earlier this summer. When Mark’s family is here, we always play a lot of games. Olivia and I played a lot of Buzz Word, just the two of us, because both of us like word games. She will be a freshman at Lone Oak High School in Paducah when school begins. (And they begin early in Paducah – August 9th, I think) She plays the French horn and piano. She is very active in youth activities as Lone Oak First Baptist Church , where her daddy is Minister of Music, and sometimes plays keyboard for youth worship. Olivia has been working at church this summer for her daddy.
Cooler weather was promised, but it was still terribly hot (in the nineties) as we set out for South Haven Sunday morning. Parking lots with all that concrete reflecting the sun are particularly hot. But the inside of our church was comfortably cool.
When we walked in a tad late, the congregation was singing, “Jesus Saves.” We joined in on “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” “Grace, Greater than our Sins,” and an old South Haven favorite, “He is Here.” Worship Pastor Danny Heath led the choir in a lovely anthem, a totally different version of “Jesus Saves.” And a wonderful soloist, Michelle Brown, (new to us) sang, “Hallelujah, Praise the Lamb.”
Pastor Ryan Palmer’s good sermon was taken from Ephesians 4:17-24, and he gave it the title, “Two Ways to Walk.”
The Way of the World is: 1- Empty, 2-Blind and 3- Desensitized (hardened)
The Walk of a Christ Follower is 1- Rid yourself of what is no longer fitting (just like cleaning out a closet) 2- Renew your mind and 3- Replace former vices with new virtues.
After encouraging us to rid ourselves of all of the things that hinder us and tie us down our pastor closed his message with this wonderful parable:
“A farmer found a baby eaglet on the ground after it was knocked out of its nest during a storm and abandoned by its mother. The farmer put it in his chicken coop and nursed it back to health. After a couple of years of being around the chickens, the now fully grown eagle was pecking around the pen like all the others. Eventually, the farmer decided the eagle needed to learn to be what it was made to be.
“He took the eagle in his hands and said to it, “You are an eagle, and you were meant to fly, so FLY!” He threw it into the air and it came down with a thud.
“He then took it to the loft of his barn and said the same. Again, the eagle came down with a hard thud.
“So he took it to the edge of his property where a high cliff overlooked a river valley. Again, he said, “You are an eagle, and you were meant to fly, so FLY!”
“As the bird began to plummet to earth, instinct took over and it stretched out its wings and soared!”
The Mission Minute was about the 79 students who are leaving Friday to do mission work in Denver, Colorado. We prayed for those students, and will continue to do so.
Our Bible Study:
Jack Tuckness continued the theme of living a victorious Christian life with a lesson from Romans, chapters seven and eight, a record of the Apostle Paul’s struggle to live like Jesus.
Lunch with friends was like icing on the cake. Then we relaxed the remainder of the day, just enjoying each other and counting our blessings.
The Glasses and The Presleys
Few things in life give us more pleasure than enjoying events with old friends. So we were thrilled when we learned Joe and Janelle Glass of Lufkin, Texas, were coming to Branson! Last Thursday night we met them at The Presleys Country Music Jubilee, picked up our complimentary tickets and drove to Cracker Barrel for supper. The Glasses had reservations in Estes Park at the YMCA, but when the fires occurred near there burning 22 homes, they changed their plans and came back to Branson, where they spent their honeymoon a year ago April. We talked and talked and listened and listened, catching up on what has been happening in their church and their lives since we were last together, and they catching up with us.
Then we made our way back to The Presleys in time to participate in the mezzanine gospel sing. A wonderfully talented man sings, plays piano, harp, harmonica, and leads those who gather early in songs ranging from “The Old Rugged Cross” to “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.” Joe is an accomplished singer and sometimes I stopped singing just to listen to him. Swad was sitting directly behind me singing tenor, and sometimes I just listened to him, and thanked God that he is doing so well following serious heart surgery in August of 2011. We always enjoy The Presleys! And never tire of the antics of Herkimer and Cecil, top notch comedians – the best in Branson! Eric Presley, who plays Cecil, broke his foot two days before opening night and had to revamp his whole routine. He uses crutches, a knee
scooter and a motorized wheel chair, and we thought he is even funnier than usual. His six year old son, Ben, is hilarious as Little Cecil. Several years ago, Eric married Kelli Cogdill, a South Haven girl, and Swad had the privilege of marrying them. The music at the show is very good. We especially enjoy the men’s quartet. Bruce Haynes does a magnificent job on “Praise His Name,” a song he wrote. The Glasses were going to see Joseph and were going on a dinner cruise on The Branson Belle, the next two days, and we drove back home (because we had other responsibilities) happy to know that they were going to join us at church on Sunday.
Patriotic Service on July 1 at South Haven Baptist Church
I wore my red, white and blue and arrived early at South Haven so Swad could join the combined Saints Alive Choir and Chancel Choir in a pre-service rehearsal, While he rehearsed I watched our church family come in and visited with friends in anticipation of the service. Sure enough, Joe and Janelle Glass joined me on our second row pew, and sang with us and our church family, “America the Beautiful,” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” and a chorus, “Think About His Love.” Worship Pastor Danny Heath led the combined choirs in the inspiring, “Heal Our Land,” and Swad looked great and I’m sure sounded great in the tenor section in his red choir shirt This anthem was new to my ears, but I liked the words of the chorus, “Heal our land, Hear your people pray, Help us seek your face, Heal our land!” I was able before and after the service to introduce Joe and Janelle to several of our friends.
The Men’s Quartet sang a medley featuring “I’m Proud to Be An American,” and received a rare in worship service standing ovation.
My heart swelled with love for our Lord, and love for our country, and I thanked God for our freedom to worship in this place and with these people.
Pastor Ryan Palmer’s excellent message was titled “How Firm a Foundation.” His text was Psalm 11, and he guided us to reflect on America’s Crumbling Foundations of 1 – Crumbling Family (a George Barna survey revealed that 33% of Christian marriages end in divorce, a statistic no different than non-Christians.) 2 – Crumbling faith 3 – Crumbling Financial (It would cost each person in our country more than $500,000 to pay off the national debt! 4 – Crumbling freedoms
Pastor Palmer then asked, “What is God Doing? 1 – God is reigning is power. 2 – God is testing our faithfulness. 3 – God is assuring His justice.
And then, “What can we do?” 1 – Stand firm in our faith (Ephesians 6:13) 2 – Remain faithful (Revelation 2:10 3 - Pray. (Psalm 11:7)
Joe and Janelle went with us to Sunday School.
Our teacher, Jack Tuckness was late because he stayed in second service long enough to watch the dedication of his newest grandchild, Delaina Gammon. But when he came, he made up for lost time, and skillfully got the entire lesson into a shorter time. The lesson was from John 16. Jesus is telling his disciples that he must leave them, but it is to their advantage because He will send a Comforter, who will counsel them and guide them.
We are so blessed to have Jack as our teacher. He became our Youth and Music Director at First Baptist Church, Richland, and on July 4, 1971, he and Winnie followed us to South Haven where Jack also served as Youth Director for a long time. Now he coaches Speech and Debate at Central High School, Springfield’s IB school. AND he teaches our senior adult Sunday School Class which averaged around sixty in attendance every Lord’s Day.
We took the Glasses to Hemingway’s for their delicious Sunday brunch; then went downstairs at Bass Pro long enough to take pictures in front of the big bear and other wildlife displays. Joe and Janelle followed us home and visited for too short a time before returning to Branson.
Fireworks at the Bilyeu Farm (more fun with old friends)
We cherish any invitation from Bob and Connie Bilyeu, dear friends from Chestnutridge Days in the 1950s! So we were happy to join Connie’s extended family on the shady lawn of the home in Spokane, MO, where Connie grew up. We took niece Becky Swadley with us to enjoy a hot dogs picnic, with all the 4th of July trimmings including watermelon and home-made ice cream. We confess to eating inside in air conditioning. So, did many others, and we especially enjoyed getting to know a granddaughter of Rick and Gay Lea Thomas. Little Nora is two years old and sang for us part of “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” So cute.
Later we went outside; positioning our lawn chairs so we could watch the many children gathered there shoot their fireworks. There were continual pops and sizzles for over three hours! We watched a lot of fountains and colorful smoke type fireworks. Everything around us is so terribly dry, and temperatures have been hovering around 100 degrees for many days. Because of fire danger, bottle rockets and most aerial items were forbidden. Jody Bilyeu stood ready with a hose, and kept the fireworks site, a grassy field, watered down. More fun than watching the fireworks even was watching the older children enjoy them and the younger children cover their ears with their hands! Jody and Mark had planned a finale with just two or three colorful bursts shooting high and lighting up the sky. We drove home giving thanks to our Lord for old friends – the Glasses and then the Bilyeus – who made the last few days in our lives very happy ones!
On the actual Fourth, Swad and I sat in our cool family room and watched Cardinal Baseball, and then The Boston Pops, which is our favorite TV celebration of Independence Day. Music ranged from “The Stars and Stripes Forever” to the finale of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic! We love the Boston Pops!
My wonderful daughter in law, Sheri, always makes a living wreath for me. Her dad, Jack Alexander, makes the grape vine wreath, then Sheri plants it with beautiful flowers and brings it to us. It stays on our front porch all summer to welcome our guests. Thank you, Sheri!
Marketplace, South Haven’s version of VBS, is this week. It is always an exciting time with over 700 children and 300 leaders learning more about the Bible. This year the theme is the life of Joseph, and instead of a Israeli village, the shops area has taken on an Egyptian flair
Maria Neider, newscaster for the local NBC affiliate, is one of the preschool leaders. When I asked her if I could use her pictures in my blog, she graciously gave permission. We aren’t there this year, because we are both 83, Swad is still recovering from August heart surgery, and the temperatures are in the high nineties and even over 100.
So, we’ve stayed home and prayed for those working, and for the children. And we’ve enjoyed Marketplace through other people’s Facebook posts.
This is the 21st year for Marketplace. For old times’ sake I’ve included two or three of my pictures from earlier years, when Swad was a greeter and a story teller.
When they pulled out of the driveway
When they pulled out of the driveway headed for their home in Paducah, a red bird, high in the Holly tree, was singing at the top of his voice.
From my perch on the front porch bench, I asked the bird, “Why are you singing? Don’t you know Mark, Beth, Christina and Olivia are gone, and we won’t see them again until late September when they come for Kristen’s wedding!” The red bird told me to quit feeling sorry for myself and to get happy by remembering the wonderful week we’ve had together.
Shortly after they arrived on Monday evening, John came from Joplin to have supper withthem and us. I made chicken noodle casserole, green beans, crock pot corn, hot rolls and ambrosia, with angel food cake, strawberries and ice cream for dessert. (Sheri was at AWANA camp in Arkansas, and Andrew was lifeguarding at a Joplin country club pool.) We had a great evening visiting, exchanging church news, John showing us his Thailand pictures and remembering other fun times with the family. Continue reading
Swad is one of five retired pastors
Swad is one of five retired pastors who sings in South Haven’s fifty member “Saints Alive” Choir. The choir is directed by Bob Woolley, who is the retired Director of the Music Department of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
Bob and Margaret are now active members of South Haven, and we enjoy being in the same Sunday School Class with them. The choir is so good, in fact, Bob Woolley received an invitation for them to do a forty minute concert at the Southern Baptist Church Music Convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 6th.
They chartered a bus, bought lovely new blouses and shirts and headed to Tulsa. We rode with Bob and Connie Bilyeu rather than on the bus.
When I was a little girl, my Daddy, (who was 57 years old when I was born) would tell me about his life as an evangelist and church planter in Missouri, Oklahoma and Colorado. My mother didn’t like to hear stories about the old days, so he didn’t tell them very often.
I loved hearing about how he and the other ministers were invited to ride their horses up Lookout Mountain as a part of the funeral procession of Buffalo Bill. He told of being in on the ground floor of churches like Pythian Avenue, Grant Avenue, Boulevard Baptist Churches in Springfield, and that he planted First Baptist Church of Golden, Colorado. (We went there once on vacation and verified this.) Continue reading
Our granddaughter Kristen became engaged to a fine, Godly young man, Joshua Bloyd. Kristen is a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He wanted to propose to her in her home town, so on the day he asked John for permission to marry Kristen, he also asked for suggestions for a romantic outdoors place to propose. John steered him toward a little brook and bridge.
So on May 29 he took Kristen for a hike to the bridge and surprised her with his proposal. Continue reading