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Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Community | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains  County Leader on August 20, 2019:

communityAccording to several on-line dictionaries, community is 1) a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common and 2) a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Last weekend I attended the 5th Annual White Chapel Girls Retreat at the White Chapel Bed & Breakfast in Mountain Home, Texas. Every year about this time, a dozen women withdraw from everyday responsibilities and gather for Bible study and prayer along with lots of food and fellowship.

Before it became a B and B, the site of the retreat was simply the home of Julee White, a Donkey twinswoman with a heart that is much bigger than the six acres on which she lives. She has the gift of hospitality, and because of this, she has become the go-to place for strays of all kinds. At present, she has 4 dogs, 4 cats, 7 goats, and 3 donkeys in residence. The dogs and cats have free access through a pet door into the laundry room where they find a variety of food and water dishes which, although intended to be species specific, are often shared equally. The donkeys and goats share their food with each other as well as with the small herd of deer that sidle over when they hear the door to the feed shed squeak open. In addition to the four-legged critters, Julee feeds her feathered friends from countless hummingbird and regular bird feeders. The deer have been known to help themselves to the spillage there as well. Because of her many mealtime guests, especially the goats who have become very well-rounded since coming to live with her, Julee originally named her place the F & H (Fat & Happy) Ranch .

Julee also has many human friends, and her home is a museum of their love. Her lawn is encircled by a walking path lined with yard art, and her front walk is embedded with mementos, all from people who love her. The interior of her home is filled with treasures, and she can tell you who gave her each piece and when.

ChapelHowever, the focal point is the White Chapel, also referred to as the Broken Chapel. Several years ago, Julee felt a Divine Call to build a chapel toward the back of her property. She tried to brush the idea off, but it wouldn’t go away. She wanted it to have special meaning, so she sent out a call to friends for materials that were broken or discarded from other projects, and the response was overwhelming. The resulting chapel is more than can be described in this small space, but it is all she had imagined and more.

In 2014 Julee received a call from two friends who wanted to organize several women’s retreats, and they wanted to know if she wanted to participate. “Now I know why God wanted me to build the Chapel,” she said through tears. “Can we have one here?”

Friend invited friend, and in August of 2015 ten women invaded Julee’s home for the first annual White Chapel Girls Retreat. We were all a little uneasy at first. Some of us knew only one other person, and the teacher had never done anything of this scope, but Julee wasn’t fazed. She spread air mattresses on the floor, pulled casseroles out of the freezer, and by the end of the long weekend, we were all Fat and Happy sisters.

Five years later, the F & H Ranch has become the White Chapel Bed & Breakfast, and the White Chapel Girls, now an even dozen, have become a community. For most of the year, we live in places scattered across the country, but for one weekend a year we live together. I don’t know if that qualifies us as a community, but we definitely have a particular characteristic in common – we all believe in Jesus as our personal Savior. As for the second definition, that fits us to a Tee. Throughout the year, we share attitudes, interests, and goals through Facebook and email so that each year there is a feeling of fellowship as if we had been apart days instead of months.

WCG with paintings

On our last night together, we shared Communion in the Chapel. Community and Communion come from the same root word, and one definition of Communion is sharing or exchanging intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level. As we communicated with God and remembered His sacrifice, we also looked around the circle and thanked God for each other.

Our world has become a scattered place where we can live, work, shop, and travel without ever seeing another person. But like Julee’s menagerie of birds and animals, we were made for community. “Reach out and touch someone” is more than a telephone company commercial.

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

Sunday Dinner |by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 23, 2019:

mad hatter tea partyOn Sundays, David and I usually go home after church and have a light lunch, usually leftovers, but this week Don and Carol asked David if we wanted to go out to eat with them. It sounded like fun to me, so when we pulled out of the parking lot, he turned right instead of left. Everyone must have had the same idea, because the parking lot at Sidekicks was so full we had to park at the flower shop. Don and Carol were already seated at a table for four, but Paul had joined them. When Carol saw us, she said, “Oh, David said he wasn’t sure.” Then, she nodded at the empty table for six behind her, and everybody shifted. It was a little like the tea party scene from Alice in Wonderland  – “clean cup, clean cup, move down, move down.” (more…)

Earn This | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 16, 2019:

The crowdLake County Neighbors hosted their 10th Annual Veteran’s Thank You Luncheon on Tuesday of last week at Lake Fork Baptist Church. It’s one of David’s and my favorite summer events for several reasons – the food is plentiful and delicious, it’s a great time to visit with friends, and the patriotic programs and speakers are enjoyable.

This year did not disappoint. The plate of barbecued brisket and sausage, potato salad, and beans was more than I could handle, so I sent home a taste of the brisket to my neighbors’ dog Floppy – and David was more than happy to finish my peach cobbler. The fellowship was even better with at least twenty friends from the Senior Center in attendance. The highlight of the day, however, was the guest speaker – Lieutenant Colonel Allen B. West. (more…)

Boys and Their Toys | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 9, 2019:

BreakfastOn the first Saturday of every month, the House of Prayer on FM 515 serves a great breakfast in their Family Life Center beginning at 9:00 am. There is a donation jar to help cover expenses, but other than that, that is no charge, and the event is open to the public. The turnout is usually pretty small, but the event is very popular with a number of the Senior Center regulars. The members of the church are gracious hosts and good cooks, and it’s another opportunity to visit with friends.

We met Bill and Susan a year or so ago when they began attending Believers’ Baptist Emory weather mapChurch. They lived about thirty minutes away but were planning to relocate to Emory once they found the right property. While they attended Sunday Morning Worship regularly, they didn’t get too involved in the community until recently when they found the perfect location. Now they live in their RV while they supervise the building of their new home. The wet weather has slowed progress to a crawl, so they have free time to explore what Emory has to offer.

mopar imageSince Bill and Susan had already found a church home, David’s first recommendation was the Senior Center. They began coming for lunch a few weeks ago, and like most of us, they have found it an enjoyable place to take a midday break and catch up on the local gossip. It’s also a good place to learn more about people you previously only saw in their Sunday best. The first thing David noticed was that Bill has almost as large an assortment of Mopar T-shirts as David has of Harley shirts. (more…)

Images of Moms | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 7, 2019:

Last month, I participated in a photo challenge with some of my Facebook family and friends. We were given a topic for each day of the month and were supposed to post a picture related to that topic. It was especially challenging for me since I usually think in verbal images rather than visual ones. Some of my pictures were just something to check off the list, some were pretty good, and a few were almost inspired. It was fun, but it was also a bit of relief when it was over. I guess I’m still thinking in visual images, though. Sunday morning I saw the perfect image for the topic “mom.”

We have a number of young couples in our church and lots of children. In fact, you have to be careful in the halls not to step on a little one or knock over a toddler who’s just getting his legs under him. I’m way out of that circle, but based on Facebook posts and other evidence, I think there are lots of play dates and sleepovers among our kids. There’s also a lot of seat swapping in church – you never know which kids will be sitting with which family. (more…)

Memories of Earl Hill | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 2, 2019:

A spray of white roses adorning the door of the Rains County Leader is a testament to the love and respect given to a life well lived. Earl C. Hill, Jr., owner, publisher, and former editor of the Leader died on March 27, and he will be missed. I don’t have a lot of personal memories of Mr. Hill, but the few I have are good ones.

David and I moved to Emory in February, 2011, and I submitted my first article to the Leader in September of that year. The titled of it was “Your Tax Dollars at Work,” and it was about the Senior Center. Participation in the weekday lunch program was down, and there was concern that the program would be dropped. My purpose in writing the article was to introduce the service to anyone who might not know about it and to encourage seniors to try it out for the first time or to come back. I didn’t hear back from Mr. Hill, so I assumed he didn’t like what I had to say – but then my article appeared in the paper in the “Letters to the Editor” section.

I wrote another article or two over the next several months, and each one was printed. Then, in January of 2012, I received a phone call from Mr. Hill. He said that he had checked out my blog, and that he liked what I wrote. He also said that any time I wanted to submit something, he would print it. I’m sure there were limits to that offer, but I guess never pushed them too far. True to his word, he printed everything I submitted – with the exception of one column in which I mentioned that we were out of town. Company policy didn’t allow articles that might notify thieves of a potential target. He even gave me a column with a byline at the beginning and a brief bio at the end.

At first, I wrote when the spirit moved me, but I began to develop a small following at the Senior Center. People began asking me on Monday or Tuesday if I had a column in that week’s paper, and some were disappointed if I said no. Some even based their decision of whether to buy a paper on my answer, so I began to feel an obligation, both to my readers and to the paper, to become more regular in my writing. The final push to weekly submissions came when Mr. Hill gave my column a title.

Mom and Dad were both raised on farms in West Texas, but they had long since moved to the city by the time I was born. Until David and I bought our two-plus acres in Rains County, I had never dealt close up and personal with the realities of country living. A lot of my columns dealt with the struggles of adjusting – and then I decided to plant a garden. Oh, the writing material! There was wind, rain, drought, bugs, leaf mold and fungus, garlic-eating gophers, tomato-eating squirrels, leaf-eating deer, and much more. I moaned and complained that people from the city didn’t know how to deal with such things, and one Tuesday morning, I discovered that I had become “City Girl.”

All my correspondence with the Leader is done electronically, and I only remember meeting Mr. Hill face to face one time. I believe it was the winter of 2012 when David and I stopped by the Leader office for the Christmas Open House. We met several staff members, and then one of them introduced us to the owner himself. He took us on a personal tour of the building, showing us pictures of earlier offices and owners and explaining the inner workings of the operation. It was obvious that he was proud of the results of his life’s work, and with good reason.

I didn’t know Earl Hill, but based on the care with which he oversaw the operation of the Leader, it was obvious that he was a man of conviction and principle. He knew what kind of paper he wanted to produce, and he refused to bow to money-making trends or gimmicks if it meant violating his principles. On the other hand, he didn’t hesitate to take a chance on something he liked, even if it was a writer like me who had no experience or references to offer. Thank you, Mr. Hill, and may God continue to bless the legacy and memories you left behind.

Blessings,

Linda

Veterans are still treated with dignity in Emory, TX | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on November 14, 2017:

LTJG Brendle

When I sat down to write this week, my mind wandered to the veterans we have been honoring for the weekend surrounding Veterans Day. I found an article I wrote in November of 2013, and I want to share it with you again. The Veterans Day program at the High School this year was a little bit different, and there were only 67 veterans, but the sentiment and respect were the same. So, to all the veterans who are reading this, once again I’ll say thank you for your service.

**

History runs in cycles and so do attitudes toward veterans. When I was a kid, soldiers were respected, and even idolized, often portrayed as bigger-than-life characters on the silver screen. Then came the 60s and 70s, and young men returning from Vietnam were met with disrespect and even hostility. Instead of being welcomed home as heroes, they were spit on and villainized as warmongers and baby killers. More recently, especially after 9-11, attitudes have shifted back toward a more positive view of our military personnel.

But one thing that still seems to be lacking in the treatment of our veterans is dignity. In recent years, restaurants have used Veterans Day as an advertising ploy, competing to see who can offer the best special. Charities vie with one another to offer the most compassion to those who have been wounded or those who have lost loved ones in the defense of our country. Sometimes veterans are used as political pawns in heated campaigns. But there are still places where members of the military, past and present, are treated with dignity. Emory is one of those places. (more…)

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