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On the Road to Recovery

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

Moving Forward With a New Life Together
Posted June 8, 2017

by Bill and Marcie Burris (Part 3 of 3)

Marcie had grown up in the Pittsburgh, PA area and had lived there until 1986 when she moved to the Philadelphia area.  In the late 70's and early 80's Bill made many business trips to Pittsburgh.  They've learned that the hotel Bill normally used was close to Marcie's office.   Then in the early 80's Bill began making business trips to Philadelphia. Bill is sure that somewhere along the way their paths crossed. 

While it was a short time between Connie's death and Bill and Marcie's marriage, they believe it was truly meant to be. So many friends in WB, family and other friends joined them for a wonderful celebration of their marriage. They also believe it was God's plan for them from birth. 


Marcie had told everyone that she was never getting married again.  She had found her life in WB comfortable and spent weekends with her daughter in the Canyons.  Emily and Barbara also provided opportunities to see more of the area making trips to movies, the annual Dallas boat show and others.  Marcie and her dog Sadie made a great twosome and were comfortable in their life, enjoying each other's company. 

Bill was busy with work, making a daily 200-mile round trip to Carrolton, TX.  Evenings were quiet for Bill and his dog Shadow.  It wasn't long before he was feeling like a hermit.  Bill still attended Chapel services, but that was the extent of his social agenda. He thought it would be nice to have an occasional dinner out or movie with someone instead of always being alone at home. 

In March of 2004, after Connie had passed away, Bill put the Thousand Oaks home on the market so he could move back to WB.  That process put him in contact with Marcie regularly at the real estate sales office.  Bill's home sold quickly and he bought a lot in WB to build a new home, but later bought a home to prevent multiple moves. That brought more visits to the office and time together.  Marcie and Emily spent time helping Bill pack things for the move. 

Once all was moved into the new home, Marcie asked Bill if he would like some help setting up the place. Bill quickly agreed and they spent two wonderful days together, watched the Kentucky Derby and later had a great dinner and evening together.  That was Saturday, and on the next Wednesday Bill asked her to marry him.  Upon their marriage in July of 2004, Bill became a parent for the first time.  He inherited Marcie's four children, eight grandchildren and six (soon to be seven) great-grandchildren.  Bill says that it has been a wonderful blessing in his life.  Marcie continues to provide spiritual guidance and helped Bill accept Christ as his Lord and Savior in July of 2007.  His faith and decision was reconfirmed during the 2017 Tennabrae service.

 

On their fifth anniversary in 2009 Bill and Marcie wanted to renew their vows.  Their daughter Sherry offered her deck at her home in the Canyons.  Bill had heard so much about the impact Pastor Paul Ferrarone had made in Marcie's life.  He was able to fly him in from Atlanta to officiate their renewal.  During the ride from DFW Airport to their home, Bill instantly understood how Paul could have such an impact on someone's life.  Pastor Paul remains an important person in their walk together with Christ.


They've had a wonderful life together with many opportunities to see the wonderful sites within God's magnificent creation.   Bill's love for the Caribbean was matched by Marcie's.  They've seen the majesty of the sea, the beautiful Virgin Islands, the foliage of New England and sunsets in Destin, FL and the Pacific coast.  Everywhere they go together they find the beauty of His works.


It's often been said that when God closes one door He opens another.  That's not found in the Bible, but Bill thinks it should have been.  They both know that when their doors were closed, He opened their current door as part of His plan for them at just the right time in their lives.

"The measure of God's love is that He loves without measure".  Bernard of Clairvaus


Moving Forward After Losing a Spouse
Posted May 25, 2017

by Bill Burris (Part 2 of 3)

I was in the Air Force when Connie and I started our life together in August of 1962.   After leaving the service in September of 1966, I began working for Raytheon and we relocated several times with my job transfers.  With each move we found new friends and another place with sites to see.  In all there were ten relocations to seven different states with both Missouri and Texas twice.  We were almost relocated to Amsterdam in early 1974, but the transfer was canceled at the last minute. 

After returning to Texas in 1990, Connie finally found a job with a pay increase and upward mobility.  That was a blessing.  Before that, almost all of our vacation time had been spent visiting parents in Michigan and Illinois.  Now we had two great sailing trips, one in the Virgin Islands on the 75-foot schooner Satori, and a Windjammer cruise on Polynesia out of St. Martin.  A love of the Caribbean was created for me then and it continues today.



Connie and I moved to White Bluff in early 1999.   We both continued working in the Dallas area and were able to commute together. She was diagnosed with cancer in July of 2001.  She continued working for two more months.  We didn't have the benefit of a friend to support us like Marcie's friend Donna, but we had discovered a wonderful caring neighborhood and community in White Bluff. 

Sandy Cannon and Zelpha Tomason spent many hours with Connie while I continued working.  They got her involved in Critters, which helped her pass the time.  Many other ladies in White Bluff took the time to stop by to visit her as well.  Connie wanted to return to the church, so we began attending church services at WBC the fall of 2001.  We rarely missed a Sunday Service after returning to the church at the Chapel.

When we sold our WB home and moved to Thousand Oaks in July of 2003, the WB ladies continued to visit.  Connie had an easier time with her battle with cancer than was the case with Marcie's husband Jerry.  When her last eight weeks became more difficult, I was allowed to work from home.  About a week before Connie lost her battle in December of 2003, the new Chapel held a dedication service by the choir.  Before they began, Cynthia announced that in addition to dedicating the Chapel on that occasion, they were dedicating the evening to Connie.  It had been a long time since I had seen that big of a smile on Connie's face. 



After her death I continued to attend Chapel services.  The following is a quote from Brother Ron:

"It is the love of God and knowing that our family has been truly blessed with God Loving parents, who even today touch our hearts and makes miles seem like grains of sand."

Part 3 is our Story.



Moving Forward After Losing a Spouse
Posted May 11, 2017

by Marcie Burris (Part 1 of 3)

Some of you know that both Bill and I lost our spouses to cancer.  I lost my husband Jerry in August of 1999 and Bill lost Connie in December of 2003.  We both had family and friends to help us get through the loss. The following is my story.  

After Jerry passed away, my good friend Donna left her job in Pittsburgh and, with her husband's blessing, came to spend a year with me in the Philadelphia area.  She found a job and was a great gift of support for me.  A major event happened to me following Jerry's death.  I began attending church again at the church led by the Pastor who had conducted Jerry's funeral.  One Sunday Pastor Paul made an altar call.  The song being played was "Come Just as You Are."  Donna took my hand and led me to the altar.  My life changed that day because I accepted Christ as my personal Savior.  I was born and raised in a strict Catholic home but never really understood what Jesus did for me on that cross. 

I had spent a difficult 14 months during Jerry's battle with cancer, trying to balance work and be with him the many times that he was in and out of the hospital.   Near the end he told me to sell the house and move to Texas to be near my daughter Sherry.

My home sold quickly and my neighbors who were vacationing in another state invited Donna and me to use their home until I decided what I wanted to do.  I rented an apartment but quickly decided that apartment living wasn't for me.  In July of 2001 my daughter Sherry, who lives in Dallas and spends weekends nearby at the Canyons across the lake, convinced me to move to White Bluff. I found a house that I felt I could manage without a mortgage, but all the closing costs presented a real challenge for me. I decided that if God wanted me to be in White Bluff He would find a way. I got the house and three years later I had a new life with Bill.  God certainly had a plan!  


Soon after arriving in White Bluff I began working as the office manager for Southwest Realty, just outside the White Bluff gate.  Emily Morris and Barbara Dudley were very instrumental in keeping me occupied and feeling at home in White Bluff.  Little did I know that it would put me in regular contact with Bill after his wife Connie had passed away.

Part 2 is Bill's story.



Update on Aaron Browder's Battle with Life
Posted January 19, 2017

by Lanette Browder

Update on Aaron Browder's Battle with Life

Members of White Bluff Chapel have prayed for our grandson, Aaron Browder, many times in the past 11 years for his various health issues and surgeries.  Because of his original birth defect both his arm and leg on his right side are affected.  He has overcome many obstacles and is a happy and busy sixth grader.

Some roads to recovery take longer than others.

Our son sent the following message in December to show how Aaron is doing.

-------------

Jason wrote:

A little over 11 years ago, we had two wonderful boys, Alex and Aaron.  Four months later Aaron had his first of seven brain surgeries.  He has had to deal with tens of thousands of seizures, cerebral palsy and Autism.  None of that has stopped him, nor has it slowed him down much.  He has always found a way to adapt or overcome most every obstacle that he has come across.  He continually amazes me and last night was no exception.

Last night Aaron played the trombone in his first ever band concert.  When he came to us and told us he wanted to do band this year, I honestly did not think he could do it.  But he proved me wrong again.  Not only did he play, but he played great.  He was very nervous before the show; nervous like I have never seen before. 

But when it was over he was jumping with excitement.  He had a glow about him.  I don't think I have been any more proud of Aaron than I was last night.  For all that he has been through in 11 years, he has accomplished so much and will accomplish so much more in the future.  I can't wait to see how he surprises me next. 

 Even though you have limitations, don't let them limit you.


Having A Heart Attack While In The Arms Of God
Posted May 25, 2016

by Bill Burris

On the night of April 23, 2016, my brother Ron was scheduled to speak at a gun club gathering in Ann Arbor, MI.  Ron is an avid hunter and currently serving as the President of the Michigan United Conservation Club.  He is a regular speaker throughout Michigan. This night was going to be like many others with a great meal, fellowship and a chance to speak about his passion for conservation and hunting.   While sitting on the stage waiting to speak, Ron had a major heart attack.  Three nurses were in the audience and sprang into action utilizing CPR and an AED. The EMTs arrived quickly and the Cardiac Care unit of the University of Michigan Hospital was nearby.  Had this happened at virtually any other place, he'd be watching over us from Heaven!!

There were several days of not knowing if he would survive.  My brother Ray was there and mentioned a lot of science was going on in his room. This particular Cardiac Care unit is one of very best in the USA.  He had fluid in his lungs and they began processing his blood outside the body. The attack was caused by 100% blockage in the "widow maker artery". He was heavily sedated to keep him still because of all the tubes and equipment attached to him.

Around the middle of the week, the Doctors indicated that they believed Ron would make a complete recovery.  Coming from where he was earlier, this was wonderful news and gave us all hope.

On Sunday May 1 they had removed all tubes and he was able to speak.  He could only whisper due to the ventilator that had been installed that first night.  The next day he was sitting up watching TV, probably an outdoors show.  On May 3 I was able to speak to a brother that for a time I feared I might not get that blessed event.  After a small setback on May 3 he bounced back with two great days.  I also heard his clear voice speaking to me.  On May 9 I spent a few minutes with him on FaceTime.  That was a major blessing.  He was discharged and home on May 16.  On May 19, their twenty sixth wedding anniversary, Marcie and I spoke with Ron and had a great conversation.  I'm a firm believer that Ron was in the arms of God at the time of the attack.  How else could all of the time sensitive events take place?

Ron is a strong and faithful Christian man and it's a true blessing and a gift from our merciful-faithful-awesome God that I'm writing about recovery rather than putting together his eulogy.  If you were to spend some time with Ron you would see the brilliant light of God shinning through.  It's evident that God has more planned for Ron here on earth to continue shining His light the way Ron gives of himself with kindness and humility.  His success in life rests on a simple phrase of 10 two-letter words "IF IT IS TO BE IT IS UP TO ME".  I'm sure he has always mentally added two three letter words "And God". 

We all want to thank everyone for their prayers and support during this difficult time.


God Using Hands To Help Those In Need
Posted April 14, 2016

We know that God is always working in our lives. Most of the time we may not see or hear about His actions. We live in a community that when they hear about or see a need people rally around that need and do all they can to help.

When Glen and Madeleine came to the decision they needed to sell their home, a lot of work was needed to make the home ready for sale. There were items to pack up and things to move and sort. Additionally the grounds required a general clean up. Because of their situation it was impossible for them to manage this effort on their own.

A call went out for assistance from Linda Wilmarth and over 30 people arrived one morning to help in any way they could for friends in need. Ned and Linda Wilmarth, David and Marie Fuller, the Men's Ministry and a host of other friends have participated in helping Glen and Madeleine get their property ready to sell. It is just another example of how God does use our hands to help those in need. Since that first day, many days of assistance have been rendered. One such day is chronicled in the anonymous article below. White Bluff is a most unique neighborhood with many Christian, caring and loving neighbors.

Helping Hands

Teamwork Makes Quick Work!

Submitted anonymously

Many Chapel members know of the unfortunate accident that befell Glen Lively a couple months back.

Many Chapel members, as well as other White Bluff residents, OFTEN say how probably the single most defining asset of living at WB is how residents join hands "in a heartbeat" to help their neighbors -- even neighbors they don't know or barely know -- in times of deep need.

This happens ALL the time! Every week! On an ongoing basis. So ... this is just one such story; one such example. It does NOT place this effort as anything anymore extraordinary than LOTS of others. In fact, readers are encouraged to submit their stories of what Helping Hands things go on that otherwise are just part of the unnoticed fine fabric of the WB woven story.

The Lively's unexpectedly -- in an instant of life changing change -- have MANY many needs. Just one of those is to sell their beautiful home on White Bluff Drive they have cherished for almost two decades. MANY Helping Hands have pitched in to aid the Lively's in preparing their home for sale. Just one such need that was addressed was tree trimming.

If you have ever been to their home, you know it is large acreage (for WB) with MANY trees. A professional arborist has assisted them to care for them through the years. But Glen's accident came at a time when a year or so had passed since the last work. Trees grow. Trees die. Storms come. Storms go -- leaving a trail of broken, downed and dead limbs; and, overgrown living trees. Some routine maintenance was needed to "spiff up" the property for Listing and Showings by the realtor selected by the Livelys.

This past Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (3/23-25), a team of six volunteers pitched in -- for free ( including supplies, etc.) -- and donated the work -- MANY hours of work. And tree trimming, brush stacking, brush hauling, and burning off the brush is NOT exactly fun work! An estimated 3,000 cubic feet of limbs and brush were removed.

Helping Hands included:

David Murphy lent the trailer for hauling off the brush.

Robert Hook and Schelly Storm helped gather the cut limbs as they came down into MULTIPLE large brush stacks for the hauling crew to cart off.

Thomas Ortega and his helper from Ortega's Lawn Service and Jim Birth of White Bluff loaded the stacks of brush, hauled it away, and, saw to it all being burned off.

What a Team!

Jesus has no hands on earth but us. These six volunteers cannot be thanked enough for their Helping Hands!


Fighting Cancer at 25
Posted February 18, 2016

by Bill Burris

This is a story about a young couple that were high school sweethearts. One graduated from TCU and the other from UTA. April and her husband Preston were married in June of 2013. Both had a deep faith and had a whole life ahead of them with good jobs. April was in the high fashion industry and Preston had a job in coaching, his life-long goal. They were enjoying life to the fullest.


On September 21, 2015 the unexpected happened and truly tested their faith. Preston was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Following his surgery on September 25 a scan confirmed cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. He began six weeks of chemo on October 19 that failed to impact the cancer. His next and only recourse was major surgery to remove the lymph nodes. The doctor gave no guarantee this would be successful.

His surgery was completed the first week of January 2016. April summed it up for all saying "I'm shaking from relief". They then had to wait again for the test results of scans done a few weeks after his surgery. On February 1 April's heart was once again racing when they learned he no longer had any trace of cancer. Preston will be monitored over the next 5 years. He has now returned to work.

If you knew Preston and April you would know instantly that they were meant to be together. They openly share their faith and made life commitments to each other long before their marriage.

April summed up her thoughts saying "For my friends and especially MY FAMILY, you got us through the hardest thing we've ever had to endure and hope never to endure again. You all were our backbone and we love you for prayers, support, love and encouragement. I'm speechless".


April and Preston had a very large prayer group interceding for them. White Bluff Bible study groups were part of that effort.

It was a blessing to the young couple to see the results of their deep faith and all the prayers. They wanted to personally thank all of the White Bluff folks that prayed for Preston during their trial.

For the record, April is our granddaughter.



On the Wings of a Dove
Posted June 10, 2015

by Laura Smith

On June 8, we celebrate my son, Bartlett’s, 27th birthday. Wonderful son, full of pranks and fun, life of the party, demon fighter.

On a hot July night four years ago, Bartlett chose not to fight any longer and he took his life.

In the weeks that followed, as I closed down his life, I was sitting at a red light in Denton, Texas and that emotion that has no name overwhelmed me and I cried out “WHY BART?” And like a soft breeze, I heard the voice of God. “I know your grief. My Son, too, chose to end his life. I will walk you through this.”

And that’s when I felt the “Wings of a Dove.”

Wings of a Dove
When troubles surround us and evils come,
The body grows weak, the spirit grows numb;
When these things beset us, He doesn't forget us.
He sends down His love

On the wings of a dove.
© Bob Ferguson

Listen to Laura sing this anthem as she presented it at WB Chapel service on June 7, 2015, accompanied by Chris Whisenand.


Clyde's Recovery and Hope for the Future
Posted June 10, 2015

by Bill Burris

This is the story of Clyde, a young boy who was growing up in an environment of crime and drugs in a difficult area of New Orleans. Around age 10, Clyde met Phil and Debbie Smith of Wee Can Know Ministry, an advocate group for young folks in the New Orleans area that White Bluff Chapel supports.  Clyde instantly made a connection with Phil as his Sunday school teacher. 

For the most part, Clyde has grown up without a father in his life. His father appears to be an alcoholic.  Clyde was the main caregiver for his mother after her stroke, and she just died last year.  Clyde and his sister are very close.  Clyde, his sister, a half-sister, two nephews, two nieces and a step-niece all live together. They have moved several times, but the church they were attending has always found a way to get them to services.  Phil and Debbie have been a part of this effort, as well. 

Once Clyde and Phil became acquainted, Phil led Clyde to the Lord.  Since that time, Clyde has had many conversations with Phil about life, politics and Christianity.  Phil has helped him with school projects and has become a father figure for Clyde.  This whole process has helped Clyde move away from the crime and drugs environment of his earlier life.


Clyde's graduation from high school has marked a real accomplishment for him and shown him that success and hope can be parts of his future. He is an avid reader, reading all types of books.  He has a speech impediment but chooses to read aloud.  With the help of Phil and Debbie, and I'm sure our Lord, Clyde has earned a $3,000.00 scholarship.  While Phil doesn't readily take credit for Clyde's scholarship, he assumes that he will be helping Clyde settle into college. 

Clyde's motivation and desire to learn has been an amazing and major part of his success.  He comes from a society where young men are killing each other and going to jail.  But Clyde is a remarkable kid.  Phil and Debbie believe his salvation decision was a turning point in his life.  He was struggling with a lot of guilt and Phil helped him through that phase of his life.

This is just one of the many children that Wee Can Know has helped as they minister to the children of a depressed area of New Orleans.


Prison Ministry Helps Women Find the Road to the Lord
Posted September 26, 2013

by Elyse Short

Hebrews 13:3 - Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you, yourselves were suffering.(NIV)

Nearly two years ago, the Lord laid on my heart a desire to serve women in prison through a project of teaching them how to crochet.  I shared this with Becky Watkins and Pam Cosby when I first began laying out plans on how to do this. Then, of course, the devil raised his ugly head and convinced me that if I couldn't take scissors or crochet hooks on an airplane, there was no way that I could take these items into a prison environment!

So I was discouraged, but the Lord never let me give up on this desire.  In April of this year, after getting the initial approval from the Huntsville Human Resources Department (which controls the activities and ministries allowed in Texas State Prisons), Becky and I attended a training session in Marlin, Texas, to see how we needed to proceed. 

The training was not encouraging.  What we wanted to do would not be allowed; I didn't even get to ask about bringing in scissors or crochet hooks. We would be forbidden to have a one-on-one conversation with any inmate and would face many other limitations. We would not be allowed to share our faith unless we were in an already approved ministry by the State.  Needless to say, Becky and I left our training class disappointed, so my initial desire was put on hold. 

About two weeks later, I was introduced to Sherry Pritchett and Mary Ray, through what can only be described as a ‘God-thing.’  Schelly Storm had put me in touch with these ladies, and soon I was convinced that this is where the Lord had been leading me. 

Mary and Sherry have been ministering to the women incarcerated in the Hillsboro Correctional Institution. Many women, including some of the guards, have come to know the Lord through their ministry. This prison ministry is called "Chains Broken," one in which women are led to break that chain that got them incarcerated.  By the direction of the Lord, Mary and Sherry have established a "transitional home" for the women coming out of prison. It is a safe house called “Women at the Well,” a place where the women can be guided through their spiritual growth while being taught economic, financial, parenting and homemaking skills. 

This project so resonated in my spirit; I knew this is what the Lord laid on my heart!  After meeting with Mary and Sherry, I contacted the owner of a large house on FM 933 which would be perfect for this mission.  We are in prayer that the Lord will show us how to start a non-profit organization, how to finance the purchase of a property of this magnitude, and what other steps we need to take.  None of us has ever done this before, but all of us have been given the same vision, so we are walking each day and trusting with each step that we are being led by the Holy Spirit. It won't be done by our knowledge or endurance, but rather by the Lord and those He directs to bring for help and support.  Praise the Lord!  His grace is sufficient!!!

The Lord is moving in the hearts of these incarcerated women in Hillsboro, and as they have come to know the Lord and His salvation grace, they have lifted up their prayer concerns and are requesting prayer from the body of Christ to strengthen their walk with our Savior.  Please pray for the special needs of these women.

Nancy:  Please pray for knowledge on how to lead other ladies to Christ.  I want to be able to help other women in prison and when I get out.

Carla:  Thank you for this ministry and for what God is doing.  God works in mysterious ways.  Praise God and please continue to pray for me.

Dana:  Please pray for me and my son and for the judge to have mercy on me and God's will be done.

Asha:  Please pray for me and my children and that God's will be accomplished in my life.

Dana:  I will be released in late September.  Please pray that I will be granted custody of my children, for spiritual growth, for my grandfather, Ken Voss, who has lost 50 lbs in 2 months and had his leg amputated.  He has been diagnosed with throat cancer.  Pray for his life to be at peace.

Carla:  Please pray for Gwendolin Halsell, my mom, who had a heart attack in her sleep.

Michelle:  Please pray for acceptance.

Nancy:  Please pray for my brother and for my journey in prison.

Candy:  Please pray for my family and children, for guidance and strength.

Denise:  Please pray for my son and for guidance and strength.

Rhonda: Please pray to bring me closer to God and that my children will be kept safe.

Shun: Please pray for my son, my family, and that God will walk with me through the situation that is my life now.


Residents of West Are Seen as a Temple of Faith
Posted May 2, 2013

by Harry Seurkamp

This fellow said, "I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days". Mt. 26:61

The residents of West are a temple of faith. They will not rebuild their city in three days, but they will rebuild it.

After watching the devastation on television until 1 a.m., I was relieved to receive a reply to my text message. The reply was from Kirk Wines, the owner of Old Corner Drug in West. Kirk is a volunteer fireman for West. His text read, "I am OK by the Grace of God." Thanks.

I have worked for Kirk for over 14 years. Over the years I have grown to know our customers and the people of West well. They are a tight-knit community, held together by their love and faith in God and their love for one another.

I went to West the day after the blast. I knew Kirk would be in no shape to work. It was hectic, to say the least. I was able to talk to many who came in for emergency prescriptions. There was no "Why me's?" or "Why did God do this?” Quite to the contrary, I was hearing, "God was looking out for us."

They were saddened by the loss of lives and thankful to be alive. One person remarked, "Thank God it happened when it did.” (Meaning that two hours earlier people would have been inside eating; two hours later people would have been in bed; it could have happened while school was in session.)

There were many people outside watching the fire. They saw the explosion, and they felt nothing, but after turning and looking around, they saw the destruction of their homes.

On Thursday, the night after the blast, the people of West gathered for prayers and a vigil. Even though the First Baptist Church was badly damaged, their members gathered on Sunday for an outdoor worship service.

Recovery is day by day: Almost everyone has water service now. Most will rebuild. Some will not. For a while, most are with relatives. At this time, there is no middle school, no high school, no nursing home, no assisted-living complex and no ambulance center building. They will rebuild.

One thing they won't have to rebuild is their love for and their faith in God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On Tuesday, April 30, after watching Jimmy Matus' funeral possession pass by the pharmacy, I talked to some ladies.

"Everything was blown off my walls but my cross." Another stated, " My crystal cross was untouched, among the broken china and glassware." And yet another had two crosses on a wall of an otherwise destroyed home.

It's not about their personal losses. It's about their neighbor's loss and about life and the will to move on, while having their faith in God.

There was no "Where is the help?" Their friends and neighbors and neighboring communities reached out to them. They were directed to resources and accepted. 

Pray for the residents of West as they rebuild. Some will rebuild their lives due to the loss of their husband, father or brother. Others will rebuild their lives due to injury. Still others will rebuild their homes. Pray that they never lose their common denominator, their FAITH.

GOD BLESS WEST


Dorothy's Iris, the Rest of the Story
Posted December 13, 2012

by Charles Stalmach

Our family took the unusual event of an iris blooming on Dorothy's birthday (Nov 9th) as a special sign from Dorothy. We all know that iris don't bloom in November; they're a spring flower.

The rest of the story: On Dedication Sunday, December 2, where the new back-lighted cross was dedicated in Dorothy’s memory during the White Bluff Chapel worship service, that same iris plant burst forth another beautiful bloom! Cheryl brought it to me in a bud vase and wanted me to get permission to put it on the altar as a sign from Dorothy. I told her, "No, Dorothy's getting enough attention today."

On December 3, the bloom shriveled up.

Are we getting communications from Heaven, or are these events all just happenstance?

Pastor Terry Cosby offers this response to Charles’ question:

Is the question rhetorical? Do we read into events what we desire or do the events communicate to us truth or messages we need? An agnostic neurosurgeon has no belief in God until he has a near-death experience. Now he has a best seller: Heaven is For Real.

Science will tell us that indeed there are strains of iris that bloom in the fall. I would point out that this iris never did. A botanist would say that the drought and warm temperatures somehow mimic-ed (sic) spring and "forced" the bloom. I would point out the timing...Dorothy's birthday and the cross dedication.

As with nearly all things of faith, a choice is required. “Seeing is believing,” says the rationalist. Yes, but “believing is seeing,” says faith. Together, a horrible drought and an exceptionally warm fall bring the budding of an iris, but God chooses a birthday and a special Sunday for it to actually happen.

The truth of all miracles is in their timing. (God has been turning water (rain) into wine -- grapes fermenting for millennia).

I choose to believe and see a beauty and remembrance whose timing is suspect apart from the gentle heart of Christ.

Cos


Dave's Trip
Posted July 12, 2012

by Kay German

Recently, there was a story in the news of a missing woman with medical problems in the DFW area.  After a couple of days, she was found in a DFW Airport bathroom curled up in a fetal position.  Her husband said she did not have any money and he had no idea how she got there.  I think they found a train ticket stub in her pocket.  Her husband said he may never know how she got there, but the most important thing was that she was home.

This brought back a special memory to me of when my husband Dave was diagnosed with Alzheimer's by our family doctor.   Some of us may have a loved one who is at risk of this sort of experience, so I hope this story might open people's eyes to the danger of driving alone that is faced by those who show signs of dementia.

Our family doctor advised us that Dave should not drive. Suggesting I get a specialist's opinion, he arranged an appointment with a neurologist. This doctor confirmed the diagnosis of our family doctor but said he saw no problem with Dave driving.  Dave was thrilled with this news.

Since Dave had begun leaving his credit cards and check book at different businesses, I removed them from his wallet and gave him ten or twenty dollars to have in his billfold.  We had recently been on a trip and he had spent all of his money.

A Waco carpet company was due to deliver a couple of area rugs to us, and Dave always liked to meet our guests at the gate and guide them to our home.  When the carpet company arrived around 4:30 and there was no sign of Dave, I became worried.  I looked for him and soon decided it was time to call security and the fire department.  Eventually the sheriff's department was called and a report went out for him.

The cameras at the front gate had just been installed that day, and after watching the tapes many times, Rogers Henderson determined the time when Dave had driven out the gate.  My prayer was that he would run out of gas and a policeman or some good person would find him.  We spent a long night with many friends, and one which many in our congregation will remember.  Jim Browder drove almost to Waco looking for Dave.  About 5:00 a.m. I received a call from Dave and he had indeed run out of gas. A Lewisville policeman had stopped to check on him on Hwy. 121.  Dave could remember 694-9964, and the policeman was able to determine the 254 prefix after questioning him further. 

It was truly an answer to a prayer.  Sarah Torbett had left my home around 3:00 a.m., but when I called her, she and Pat got up and went with me to Lewisville to pick up Dave at the Lewisville police station.  I will be forever grateful to that policeman who could have handled the situation much differently.  Dave's only explanation was that he was cold and he reached for me and I was not there. 

Dave said he had stopped at a filling station and asked for $2.00 in gas.  (I know he probably got more and drove away.)  I was so relieved to find him that I did not want to stress him with more questions.  Later, I tried a few times to discover more details, but he never could communicate how he ended up in Lewisville or where he might have been going.  It was very scary, and I can imagine what that husband was going through when his wife was gone for two or three days.  God answered my prayers and the prayers of family and friends for Dave's safety. I'm sure this husband feels much the same.


Meet WBC's Own Wounded Warrior
Posted July 5, 2012

as told by Tom and Kristina Hopkins

We’re all decked out for the 4th of July, with 300 American flags surrounding our Chapel, when God drops in our midst our very own Wounded Warrior, Tom Hopkins, E-4 Specialist US Army. Tom, wife Kristina, service dog Duke, daughters Kassandra and Kailee (ages 11 & 9), and Tom Sr., Tom’s dad who is also a disabled vet, just moved to White Bluff from Racine, Wisconsin this June. They moved to Texas for health reasons, for the warmth to ease the pains of Tom’s severe arthritis, and to be close to Kristina’s aging parents.

The timing was part of God’s plan. They had barely arrived in June when Kristina’s mother succumbed to her fight with cancer, but at the same time, WB Chapel’s Vacation Bible School opened its doors to welcome Kassandra and Kailee, who have now fallen in love with their new home.

One will always see Tom accompanied by his purebred chocolate Labrador retriever Duke, who helps keep him calm. Suffering primarily from the ‘silent wounds’ of TBI (traumatic brain injury), resulting in severe short-term memory loss, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder-also called shell shock, or combat stress), syncope spells, and chronic neurological impairment, Tom has also endured surgery for severe back injury and is rapidly losing the use of his legs. His two-year old service dog can anticipate when Tom’s legs are giving out on him or a spell is coming on, even before Tom knows, and Duke then guides Tom to safety. Duke has the work ethic of a hunting dog, since his mother comes from a line of champion hunters, and he gets his service mentality from the long line of service dogs on his father’s side.

The silent wounds, so called because no one can see such things as PTSD, spine injuries, chronic neurological impairment, etc., are the most difficult injuries to overcome. And because they are not evident to outsiders, war veterans endure a lot of harassment from a non-understanding public. While he doesn’t do crowds well, Tom is a most charismatic person and handles interactions with individuals and small groups just fine. He enjoys fellowship time at church, and considers it not so much a crowd of people but rather a group of individuals. It is worth noting, however, that care should be taken to avoid startling him from behind, for example, with loud noises such as outbursts of laughter or shouts. Folks should approach him from the front.

Hopkins served in four deployments over a 4 ½ -year period, spending time in Afghanistan, Hawaii, Qatar and Iraq. He sustained his first brain injury in Afghanistan in 2003. His last deployment was spent with his entire unit serving a straight 18 months in Iraq. It was in Iraq in 2007 that he suffered his major brain injury when a huge machine gun barrel fell on the back of his head. But Tom was kept on another six months after the accident before being allowed to come home, so difficult was it to replace him on the job.

Hopkins was a self-taught machinist and welder whose skills enabled him to serve the 82nd airborne division in a highly-specialized capacity. So much so, that the army didn’t want to let him go. Because of the nature of his job, they couldn’t spare him, so he usually worked 18-20 hours a day and did over 1000 hours of welding. In Afghanistan, he was instrumental in finding a way to release the flood gates of a dam to supply water to 55,000 people. In Iraq, he switched the aviation structure system to aviation welding and machinery, a skill that very few mechanics knew how to do. And also in Iraq, Hopkins maintained a record of 90% readiness for the helicopter fleet, where the average in that area is usually 60%. The army has since adopted some of Tom’s inventions and even purchased one from him.
 
Tom and Kristina met in Wisconsin after he returned from his last deployment. She was a single mother with two daughters, and had gone out one evening with some girlfriends following a PTA meeting. Tom was out with the guys, and once he spotted that gorgeous brunette across a pool table, he had stars in his eyes from that moment on. They married on Cinco de Mayo, 2010, and he promised her 60+ years of devotion. She’s holding him to it.

Today, with each of them just 30 years old, both are officially retired, and Tom has been classified as 100% disabled. They feel like they fit right in with their White Bluff neighbors. “We’re just a regular retired couple, like everyone else out here. We didn’t think it would come as soon as in our thirties, but it has. We’re now in our ‘new normal’ phase of our life.” And with Tom’s bald head, he looks like just another one of the guys.

Kristina quit her work as an office assistant to become Tom’s full-time caregiver. For that, she now receives a modest monthly government stipend, but she also spends countless hours weeding through the bureaucracy of Veterans’ hospitals and medical facilities, making appointments, and doing relevant research on Tom’s conditions and new discoveries on how to deal with them. She works passionately as an advocate for veterans’ benefits, as well.

Both have gotten involved in Wounded Warrior projects, helping to raise funds and awareness for the organization. Tom has competed in a 58-mile recumbent-trike race and gone on a bear hunt in Alaska. While there, he took a little time to build a wheelchair-accessible ramp at the hunting headquarters. An avid hunter and fisherman, he is eager to learn the seasonal and species differences in the fishing and hunting here in Texas. Watch for him, his dad and Duke on their golf cart returning from the lake after a fishing trip to the marina, fishing poles and American flags hanging out the back. “I can do anything I want with the proper adaptations,” he says. And Kristina adds, “A rule around the house is that we use phrases like 'do’ or ‘do not;’ there is no ‘try.' Nor do we say, ‘I used to’ or ‘I should be able to.’ Those phrases make a comparison to the man before the injury. Tom can do anything he once did, just that there are times he needs adaptations or modifications.”


Flowers and Birds
Posted April 5, 2012

by Becky Watkins

When Tom was sick and we were traveling between doctors and hospitals, I would watch the seasons of flowers in the fields and the different birds that came through. Even in the drought flowers were able to bloom. I clung to the promise of God's love in Matthew 6:25 -34, the assurance that God cared more for me than those beautiful flowers and birds that he provided for throughout the seasons.

God took Tom home. Tom's home-going left an angry, ragged hole in my heart and life. For a while I wallowed in that hole.

Then I noticed the birds singing and flitting from tree to tree and the wild flowers blooming, and I was reminded again of God's Promise. He loves me! He cares for me enough to provide salvation and a home in heaven. His love is not just a future promise but a right-now promise of loving care.

There is still a hole in my heart and life, but it is not so ragged and angry. God has soothed it with the balm of His loving care and mercy. Will the hole ever fill and not hurt? I don't know, but I can trust God to soothe and care for me more than the flowers and the birds.


The Amaryllis is Blooming!
Posted March 15, 2012

by Ann McAlpin, written on April 14, 2011

In the fall of 2007 a friend brought a bag of bulbs to Bible study.  “I’ve divided my bulbs and have plenty to share,” she said.  “Anyone who wants some may take them.”  I took three of the Amaryllis bulbs and planted them that fall.  Since then each spring I have watched the green shoots appear and waited expectantly for the bloom.  But there was never a bloom!  Then only two days ago as I looked at the green foliage, there it was – a bud and today a beautiful red bloom!  All this time the plant was alive, but just not ready to burst forth in bloom.

Is this a picture of my last two and a half years?  When John was diagnosed with cancer did my faith stop blooming?  I know the bulb was alive within me.  It was only the power of the Holy Spirit that enabled us to make the doctors’ appointments, to face the rigors of chemo and to continue to live during the hard days.  Following John’s death the only thing that kept me going was my faith in a loving powerful God.  The bulb was there and the green shoots appeared, but where was the bloom?  It has taken God’s gentle hand of nurturing to bring the bloom back into my life. 

Yes, the Amaryllis is blooming today and so am I!  Thank you, Lord.


Our Journey with Ole Al
Posted March 1, 2012

by Kay German

It has often been referred to as the creeping disease and the long good-bye disease, but My Dave and I referred to it as Ole Al, short for Alzheimer’s.

Ole Al did creep upon us and he was not a welcome visitor, but we lived, laughed, cried, and loved with him for many years.  Dave suggested that we get rid of him but we knew he was here to stay.  There were many stages and we would think that life would be good if we could stay at this one, but of course, we didn’t and moved on to the next one. 

I have felt that we were among the lucky ones as there were few instances when Dave was not his usual sweet self.  He did have this thing about pushing his chair away from the table while eating and got a little testy one evening when we were eating at a Cleburne restaurant with Marcia and Patrick Kane.  I also remember that he decided that he liked a friend’s food better than his own at Bob’s Steak House in Dallas.  Fortunately, she was very good friend and we can now laugh about it.

I substituted in a bridge club at the Livelys one evening as Dave watched his Westerns while we played.  He received so much attention that he thought he was the guest of honor.  He had a bad habit of cussing before I met him.  We worked on that and he had gotten much better except for an occasional slip.  We were having an argument one night and I committed the unpardonable sin of saying, “Shut up.”  He got very serious and said, “I’ll tell you one thing, we’ll not have any more of that cussing.”

We had stopped at a barbeque place on our way to San Angelo and as we were leaving, he went over to a group of men and shook their hands and told them how good it was to see them again and how much he enjoyed the visit.  I told them that we had Alzheimer’s and they understood.

Many will remember the first Christmas Eve Service after he went into the nursing home, when Amy and Tommy Edgar helped us come to the service.  We sat on the back row and as everyone was leaving after the service, he got many handshakes and hugs.  It was a precious time for us.

One of my saddest moments was as I was hugging and kissing him, he looked up at me and said, “What’s your name?”    

One of my sweetest moments was shortly before he went into the nursing home, we had parked in the Chapel parking lot and he reached over and patted my hand and said, “I love you.  Now let’s go praise the Lord.”  I know that he is now free of Ole Al.


Valentine's Day Without You
Posted February 9, 2012

by Becky Watkins

Valentine’s Day!! Another commercial about Valentine’s Day! My heart breaks a little more. There won’t be a sweet card this year. No brown eyes looking into mine to tell me of his love. No goofy smile as he tries to be romantic! No gift to give, no gift to receive.

GOD I know YOU have healed my sweet Tom; I know he is home with YOU. But LORD, I miss him so. I hurt so with longing for him. I curl up at the foot of the cross. “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, Rejoice.” REJOICE! REJOICE? Yes...Rejoice.

We had made a mess of our lives, yet YOU blessed us as we repented and stood together and vowed to serve YOU through our marriage. YOU brought our three families together and made us one. We worked together in YOUR church and YOU allowed us to see Your Mighty Work. YOU allowed us to build a company together.

Oh, and we had so much fun together! YOU allowed us to play and enjoy life together. Lord, YOU gave me a man who loved and worshiped YOU. He put me before himself. Every decision he made, he thought of how it would affect me first. A man who held me the night before YOU took him home and apologized to me because he had promised to take care of me and he knew he wasn't going to be able to do it anymore.

Yes, LORD, this Valentine’s Day I will rejoice. YOU gave me a wonderful sweetheart and I will rejoice in the blessing you gave us in our time together.

Lord, most of all I rejoice because YOU hold my heart and my soul in YOUR merciful hands. YOUR Will was perfect for me then, and it is perfect now. Through the tears I will rejoice in YOU, my LORD.