Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sunday School Outing at Camp Bear Track

Our Sunday School class took an outing last Sunday afternoon to Camp Bear Track, near Prim. We were graciously hosted by Jack and Olivia Dowell, aka Papa Bear and Mama Bear, and some of their staff, who volunteered their time to serve us. Class members Colby and Damitra Crow, who live at Bear Track with their daughter, Madeline, and serve as Camp Directors, gave us the royal treatment, and those who attended had fun, ate well, and enjoyed a gorgeous warm spring evening of fellowship. For more info on Camp Bear Track, go to http://www.campbeartrack.com Here are some shots I took while we were there.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Fun at the Lake

Last weekend we took our motorhome to our favorite spot on the lake -- at Old Hwy 25. We were just nearly the only campers there, which is how we like it! We set up camp on Sunday afternoon, and invited family members and friends out for weiner/marshmallow roasts. It was fairly windy Sunday, but Monday morning was gorgeous and calm, until about noon, when the wind rolled in again. Tuesday morning, the wind must have been 35 mph at least, and it nearly blew us over, so we broke camp and came home.

Sunday night's guests were my mom and her husband, Lee, my Mam-ma Polly, Suzanne and Jasmine, Janette, Natalie and Olivia, and Doug, Jennifer and Hogan Privitt. This picture is of my mom, Jasmine, Mam-ma, and Lee (just barely) ;-/. The next picture shows Janette, Natalie, Olivia, Hogan, Jennifer and Doug, and Suzanne. It's hard to get good group shots at a weiner roast... people are all moving around! Hogan and Olivia had great fun playing together. Here are some good shots of them.

Monday morning, the lake was as smooth as glass.

That night, we invited Greg's mom, his brother John, Steve and Kathy Anderson, Bill and Lynn Allbright, and our new neighbors, Fred & Tempa Davis, to join us for another campfire and weiner roast. It was breezy, but a nice night, and we enjoyed sitting around the fire and visiting and eating.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Heaven Gets Even Brighter

Monday, April 3, my childhood friend, Becky Birdsong Monk, lost her 7-year battle with breast cancer. Becky was my friend since at least first grade, and maybe even earlier. But I first remember her from first grade, when she and I shared a playground, if not a classroom. Through the years, we became good friends, not only at school, but at my grandparents' farm (later ours), where our property and her parents' shared a fence, we rode horses together, and we rode my grandmother's school bus with her siblings and mine. We shared church experiences and our faith. We shared high school, telephone conversations, and later on, times together with our spouses.

Becky was my "go-to girl." In 5th or 6th grade, she quietly whispered to me one Sunday night at church that we were now too old to hold hands like young girls do. In junior high, when I was bemoaning the loss of a boyfriend, she told me the quickest way to forget him was to find another! She served cake at our wedding reception. I attended her wedding the next summer. Another classmate and I patted her stomach and listened to her soon-to-be-born son, Brent, kick... a thrill for us not-yet twenty-somethings! Greg and I traveled to Fayetteville to Razorback games with Becky and Jerry, and I think some in Little Rock, as well. When we lived in Heber Springs in the late 70's, Greg and Becky's husband, Jerry, were in Jaycees together, so we attended many events with them.

When Becky learned she had breast cancer several years ago, she attacked the situation with her ever-present stoicism. She worked through it -- almost literally. She endured chemo, hair loss, and who knows what else. But she never complained. I called her one day while she was in her first round of chemo, and she matter-of-factly told me that, despite cutting her hair short, it was falling out in chunks, so she had just had one of her boys shave her head! She said, "Oh, sometimes I wear a do-rag, but it's so hot that around the house I just let it go!" That was Becky! When my dad died in 1999, Becky attended the funeral with her parents, and after the death of my brother and my dad, she called me to see what I needed... and just to let me know, as only Becky could, that she was available to talk, listen, or whatever. That she came to Daddy's funeral while so sick herself truly moved me.

Becky didn't quite make the "5-year mark" cancer free before hers returned... in her bones. I remember her telling me how she went to her oncologist for an MRI, and he asked her, "Why are you here?" She told him he had scheduled the appointment, and he was baffled... he said he never scheduled an MRI at that point in time for someone doing so well. However, it turned out that the MRI showed the cancer had returned. He told her he KNEW why she was there. I'm so thankful that Becky had Christian doctors.

The last three years, Becky has endured chemo treatment after chemo treatment, and radiation, hair loss more than once, and undoubtedly much other cruel suffering. But ask her how she was, and she would always say, "I'm fine." She might tell you she'd be on chemo the rest of her life, but that was about it. Last spring, we began thinking about a 30-year high school class reunion. Becky and I were talking about the plans, and she told me that the cancer had gone to her brain, and while she wanted to help with the reunion plans, she wasn't sure how she would feel. We agreed that she would be on "standby" and others of us would do the legwork. Summer 2005 brought many stumbling blocks for us, including the death of our class president and our beloved friend, Shaun Bailey, in June... he fell dead of a heart attack...and then there was Becky's decline. So, we regrouped, aimed for our reunion to coincide with a schoolwide class reunion of "oldtimers!" and made plans to meet with them in October for a banquet. Becky was there... but she was so dizzy she could barely stand.
Christmas brought a reprieve for Becky, and surprisingly, she was some better, though still on chemo, of course. I talked with her sometime in February, and she told me "my body is just shot from all the chemo." I last talked with her about 3 weeks ago, and she was battling a cold, still taking chemo, and still her usual positive self. She was still upbeat, and still working. In fact, last Friday, Becky went to work and prepared the payroll! Saturday evening, she entered the hospital, and Monday morning, she died.

Becky told me once that she had numerous people try to "help" her with her cancer, but that she was an intelligent woman with good doctors, and she felt she was getting the right treatment for her situation. We also talked about the end, and how she would know when it was time to stop trying for a cure. She also assured me over and over again in conversations that we should not worry about her -- that she knew she was heaven bound! She did worry for her family and their grief and loss, but she knew that God would take care of them. One day she told me, "you know, I could ask 'why me?' but I just have to say, 'why NOT me?'" That was Becky!

The funeral was April 5 at the First Baptist Church. The crowd was so massive that people stood around the interior perimeter of the large sanctuary. I have never seen so many flowers for a funeral -- the dais was literally layered in sprays and arrangements of fresh flowers. The music included congregational singing of "It Is Well With My Soul" and "Oh, How I Love Jesus." Becky's pastor, J.R. DeBusk, a lifelong friend, preached from Isaiah 43:1-7... a passage Becky had requested. His theme was centered on 6 words from that passage that applied to Becky... "But now, fear not, I am." It was very uplifting, encouraging, and Spirit-filled, and Becky was greatly honored by the message and testimony to her life.

Becky leaves a legacy of faith and courage that will be hard to equal. But we can strive... every day... to live our lives in ways that glorify God and give witness to others of His mighty grace, mercy, and comfort. He truly did meet her needs, and I know that she is now healthy, whole, and dancing in heaven... and I know our next "reunion" will be truly glorious!

Monday, April 03, 2006

What Am I Bid?

Saturday, Greg's mother and I went to an auction here in town. It was an estate auction, and there were lots and lots of nice items. I saw several things I liked, but the auctioneer stopped just short of selling them to go inside the house and sell furniture.

The auction started at 10 a.m., and it ended around 3 p.m. -- a very long auction. The items I wanted were -- you guessed it -- on the last table to be addressed! AND... worse yet (or so I thought) the "ringers" were hot and tired, and they grouped the items I wanted with a lot of "lesser" things they wanted to get rid of in the process. So, to get the items I wanted, I had to take some things I didn't. In all, I spent $18.

When I got home, I sorted my "loot" and started looking through things on eBay to see what I might be able to salvage from the "culls." It turns out that the things I "thought" weren't so valuable are probably worth more than what I bought intentionally! One item is what I thought was a whiskey bottle... it is actually a Berring's Apple Bitters bottle, pre-1900, and one just like it sold yesterday on eBay for over $13.50!!!

I also ended up with a couple of little pictures that were "made in Italy" that may be worth as much as $35, or maybe nothing, but similar ones are selling for between $10 and $35! The interesting thing about these pictures is that the "picture" is on fabric!

Greg's mother got some good pieces, too. She has a new computer system, and we are teaching her to send/receive e-mail and watch her items on eBay.

One item I won that I really did want was this beautiful pink vase. I think it's fairly old, and probably worth around $20. The pattern is Heritage by the L.E. Smith Glass Company. Isn't it pretty?!

Auctions in small towns are really interesting. Along with the bidding and hoped-for bargains, you get to visit with old friends (and new) from the community. It's as much a social event, in some ways, as it is an actual auction. And there are "regulars" and newbies and fierce "wars" over the good stuff, and a lot of nuances. I am learning a lot from Greg's mother, who is an auction veteran. She knows the auctioneer from all of her years of attending auctions, and she knows volumes about how to bid, what is good and what isn't, etc. Once, I chickened out on an item and stopped bidding. I looked over and SHE had picked up the bidding and won the item!

We came home hot, tired, and sunburned (me, anyway), and hopefully, in a week or so, we will be a few dollars richer for our day -- I will let you know!!!