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Posts tagged ‘Church Family’

Learning to be spontaneous | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 15,2022:

Spontaneity used to scare me – probably because as a child and later as a teenager, when I said or did something without proper forethought, I usually ended up putting my foot in my mouth or doing something awkward and embarrassing. As a result, I became an adult who makes lists, plans menus, and wants to know all the whens and wheres of an upcoming trip.

David, on the other hand, hates to plan. I’ve tried to explain that you miss some pretty spectacular events and experiences in life if you don’t make plans in advance, but he still prefers to follow his nose and see where it leads him. However, they say that married people become more alike the longer they’re together, and after over twenty-two years, we’ve both mellowed a bit. He’s learned that it’s a good idea to find out of someone will be at home before you go for a visit, and if the cook doesn’t plan in advance, he might not get his favorite German chocolate cake for his birthday. I, one the other hand, have learned that an afternoon motorcycle ride that turns into an overnight visit to Jefferson, Texas can be a lot of fun, even if you have to buy jackets because you didn’t plan for the cold front that came in overnight.

I recently experienced a lesson in spontaneity that will stay with me for a long time. Several times a year Believers’ Baptist includes a Family Fun Night in the schedule. In the past, this usually meant that, on a Sunday evening, we gathered on the parking lot bringing lawn chairs, outdoor toys and games, and desserts to share and spent the evening enjoying each other’s company. Earlier this year Family Fun Night was taken to the next level, and we had Church in the Park. We gathered at Sandy Creek Park where Red and Lori Lewis fried fish, hush puppies, and French fries, and the rest of us brought cole slaw, potato salad, watermelon, coolers full of soda, and enough desserts to send us all into diabetic comas. The children made full use of the splash pad and the playground equipment, and kids of all ages played football, corn hole, and other games. But mostly we simply enjoyed being together.

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Berry Pickin’ Time | by Linda Brendle

Just when I think I’ve experienced all that country life has to offer, I find something new – or at least new to me. In the eleven years we’ve lived in Emory, I’ve heard about the “you pick” farms, but I always seem to miss the seasons, and I always seem to hear about the picking parties after the fact. But this year was different.

I did miss the strawberries – they came and went in a hurry. And I thought I had missed blueberries when I saw a post that one venue had been picked out in three hours. But then a couple of weeks ago I saw a post from Alford Family Farm that they had lots blueberries ripening in sequence. When I asked David if he’d like to go on a berry-picking outing, he replied that he’d like to have some fresh blueberries, but he didn’t think he wanted to go in this heat.

I was a little disappointed but not crushed. I’ve not been a huge blueberry fan in past years. I enjoyed a blueberry muffin now and then, but after I had a major allergic reaction the first time I ate fresh blueberries, I swore off of them for a while. My doctor said he’d never heard of anyone being allergic to them, but whenever I ate anything blueberry, my face would itch so I continued to avoid them. But blueberries are everywhere, and a mixed berry cobbler is hard to resist. Eventually I ventured a taste here and there, and when I didn’t swell up and turn beet red, I decided maybe the doctor was right. Who knows what caused that initial reaction, but whatever it was, I seem to have outgrown it and blueberries have made their way back into my diet.

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Church in the Park | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on June 9, 2022:

The leadership of Believers’ Baptist Church puts a big emphasis on building relationships among the church family and the community. The Sunday morning schedule is set up with a fifteen minute gap between Sunday School and Morning Worship to allow time for members and visitors to meet new friends and touch base with old friends they haven’t seen in a week or so. It works so well that it’s often difficult for Pastor Jason to settle the congregation when it’s time for the service to begin.

On the last Sunday of the month, we have a casual Brown Bag Fellowship where people are encouraged to bring food from home or pick up fast food and spend some time together over lunch. We also have cookies and tea following business meetings, occasional potluck dinners, and an annual chili cookoff. And several times a year, we suspend regular Sunday evening studies in favor of Family Fun Night which usually takes place in the church parking lot. People bring lawn chairs, desserts, and outdoor games and enjoy more time together. This past Sunday we did something different and had Family Fun Night at Sandy Creek Park.

My research, which included a few minutes on Google and a note to Heather Rollins, indicated that the City of Emory purchased the land for the park sometime before 2015. With the help of various grants and other funds the City added bridges over the creek areas, a beautiful walking trail, several picnic tables and a concrete pad with some electricity for events. Recent City add-ons have included a splash pad and permanent restroom facilities. In addition, funds raised by dedicated people like Heather Rollins and her Keep Emory Beautiful projects have paid for an amazing children’s playground and a number of covered picnic tables as well as restoration of the arch bearing the Sandy Creek sign. They also planted some trees, but unfortunately, these were stolen. The hard work of all these people has turned Sandy Creek Park into a lovely retreat in the heart of Emory – the perfect place for Church in the Park.

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Happiness is a Country Breakfast | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on August 17, 2021:

Big country breakfasts weren’t part of my childhood. Mom joined the work force when I started school, and with everyone in the family leaving the house for different destinations at different times, our morning meals usually consisted of a quick bowl of corn flakes or an over-well egg and a piece of toast that became a fold-over sandwich to be eaten on the run.

However, on Saturday mornings, Mom sometimes cooked breakfast. It wasn’t a real country breakfast because we never had gravy with our biscuits, and we didn’t waddle away from the table after having consumed several days’ worth of calories, carbs, and fat. But waking up to the smell of bacon frying was a real treat. And occasionally Dad would fix breakfast for dinner. Nothing elaborate – usually oatmeal and cinnamon toast – but special nonetheless.

A regular breakfast hasn’t been a part of my life as an adult either. My son wanted bacon, cereal, powdered sugar donuts, or some combination of the three – and his father’s breakfast consisted of Dr. Pepper and cigarettes. David would love to have a big breakfast every day, but cholesterol and weight issues make that a bad idea for both of us. For most of our life together, breakfast has been cereal with something more substantial thrown in for a special treat now and then.

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Brown Bag Lunches | by Linda Brendle

Published by the Rains County Leader on July 27, 2021:

When was the last time you carried your lunch somewhere in a brown paper bag? I took my lunch to school most of the time, and it was usually in that simple sack. My mother was one of the few women I knew who worked outside the home, and since she had to leave earlier than Daddy, he usually packed my lunch. We didn’t eat much peanut butter at my house, but we had a lot of bologna and pickle loaf with tuna salad sprinkled in now and then. Sometimes if we were out of those, I’d get a sandwich made from leftover pot roast, meat loaf, or even scrambled eggs and bacon.

Some who grew up with more sophisticated lunches and fancy lunch boxes might think I was deprived, but if we were poor I didn’t know it. There was only once when I remember being embarrassed about my lunch. We were out of small paper bags, and this was before the era of plastic bags, so Daddy improvised. I took my lunch to school that day in an empty Kleenex box, and I thought I would die of shame!

When preparing my son Christian for Kindergarten, a lunch box was the first thing he picked out. He was a very picky eater, and if he had to eat away from home, he wanted to be sure his mom fixed his lunch. That worked until he entered fifth grade and began attending a school where he wasn’t allowed to bring a lunch. He was terrified until he learned that, in addition to a hot lunch line, they had a sandwich line which always included PB&J. He made it through six years at that school without starving, and he even expanded his tastes a little bit.

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A Lone Indian Paintbrush and Paul McMerrell | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on November 17, 2020:

David and I visited with our dog friend Spike this weekend while his people took a break from raising cattle. Spike was unusually subdued, maybe feeling the pressure of 2020 like the rest of us. More likely, though, his calm attitude is because of the strict restraints he’s under to keep him from chasing several new calves. Instead of having the run of the ranch, he stays in the barn, the house, or tethered on the patio, and he walks on a leash. He’s a country dog living a city life, but he doesn’t seem to mind as long as there are plenty of treats and an occasional session of petting.

Sunday morning I woke up a little before 6:00 am. I thought I might catch a few more winks, but I must have stirred around too much because Spike appeared at the bedroom door and did his I-need-to-go-out dance. I knew more sleep was probably out of the question, so I dressed and took him for a quick turn around the yard. He did his duty and we came back inside for a treat and a cup of coffee – his treat and my coffee. He had his breakfast while I had my quiet time, and once the sun was up enough to take the chill off the air, we took another walk to the gate and back, about a quarter of a mile round trip. He ambled along at my pace, sniffed a few bushes, and barked at a passing car. On the return trip I noticed a splash of color in the grass between the gravel driveway and the fence. It was a single Indian Paintbrush waving happily in the breeze, unaware that it was completely alone and out of season. It was a hopeful sight, a promise of Spring in the midst of bare branches and fallen leaves.

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Answering the Call | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on June 2, 2020:

curbside pickup signLast week I wrote about the fact that normal life is beginning to call to all of us because social people cannot stay in isolation long. The call to community is too strong. One of my calls was the fact that I needed a loaf of bread – not a long list of items that would meet the minimum requirement for a curbside pickup order, but just a single loaf of bread. I got my bread, but not by actually entering a store for the first time since March 13. After checking my list, I realized a Walmart run was overdue, I placed an order for bread and 25 other items, and we drove to Mineola. While I waited for the order to be brought to the car, David braved the elements and went inside in search of a particular car care item I hadn’t been able to find online. He returned with a smile of success and a request for hand sanitizer, just in case.

I also mentioned in my previous column that vanity might call some people to the gym, Gym wipesthe hair salon, or the shopping mall. Although my weight has fluctuated a bit in the last couple of months, I’ve pretty much maintained my pre-isolation size, and David has actually lost weight, so the mall hasn’t tempted us. And since I’ve cut his hair for years and mine for several months, we’ve avoided the salon with no problems. However, the gym is another story. (more…)

I was glad… | by Linda Brendle

Published  in the Rains County Leader on May 19, 2020:

Drive in churchI’ve missed a lot of things during self isolation: lunch with friends at the Senior Center, picking out my own produce and meat at the grocery store, going to the library to choose what books we would read next, and going to the gym several days a week among others. The thing I missed most, though, was meeting with my church family.

Even before the shutdown officially began, the elders at Believers’ Baptist Church began recording devotions and sermons and making them available for those who chose to stay away from public gatherings. As isolation continued, they explored options for keeping Lawn Chair ChurchBBC members and friends connected. For several weeks there was drive-in church where the congregation gathered in the church parking lot and listened to worship music and Pastor Jason’s message on KRER 102.5. Windows were rolled down and waves and greetings were shared from family to family, but everyone stayed in their cars. Then, last week a group of almost one hundred met for lawn chair church in front of the Family and Children’s Building.

David and I chose to forego those meetings and to catch the services on YouTube. One reason for our decision is that we are both in the vulnerable age range and both have health issues that might put us at increased risk. In addition, our car radio turns off five minutes after the engine is shut down, and it has no accessory switch. Finally, our inexpensive folding camp chairs have passed beyond their “best used by” dates after spending several Texas summers in a metal storage building. But when plans for resuming services in the building were announced, we were ready. (more…)

And it was good! with Stacy Rolen, Guest Columnist

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 14, 2020:

writers blockThe coronavirus isolation has not been kind to my creativity. I write about people and life and community, and my community is now limited to David and Kitty. I love them both dearly, and they provide plenty of writing material – but I’ve used most of the good stuff in my books, so I depend on outside contacts for inspiration. Consequently, when I sat down at my computer Sunday afternoon, I would write a sentence, delete it, and go to the kitchen to do a little prep work for dinner.

This went on until everything was in either the oven or the InstantPot, and I was giving serious thought to running an old column. Then I clicked over to Facebook and saw a post from Stacy Rolen, wife of Pastor Jason Rolen, both of Believers’ Baptist Church. As I read her thoughts about Easter in isolation, I wanted to share her words with my readers. I messaged her, and she graciously agreed to be a guest columnist this week.

By way of explanation, Believers’ has been doing drive-in church for several weeks. TylerDrive in churchJones, BBC worship leader and media expert, pre-records Pastor Jason’s message and several praise songs which he then submits to KRER 102.5. On Sunday mornings, the church family gathers on the parking lot where they stay in their cars and attend church through the magic of radio.

One last note – the Rolen family is made up of Jason, Stacy, Bree Allie who is a junior at Alba-Golden where Stacy teaches, and Brady – aka Bubba – who is working on his masters degree at Dallas Baptist University in Dallas. Following is a look into Easter with Rolens – and it’s very good.

We talked this week about how crazy it felt to not have the same kind of Easter morning we have had for every year of our lives. For the first time ever, there would be no plans made of what to wear, who gets up when to make this sunrise service, this breakfast, this praise team practice, this Sunday School class, or that service. We decided that we would just sit on the deck to see the sunrise together, in the quiet and the still. And it would be good!

Then the alarm went off, and the rain hit against the roof, and the thunder roared. So we snuggled in tighter and snoozed. And snoozed. Slept five hours past Jason’s normal Sunday morning alarm. It was different, but it was good.

Finally got up and ready for the day. A different kind of Easter morning. No fanfare. Caught an early service message on TV, followed by our normal Sunday morning Spotify playlist – but this time we were at home, together, and it was good.

All showered, all dressed for a different kind of Easter. But it was good!

Rolens on EasterHow wonderful to see our church family! We miss everyone so much, but getting to gather in the parking lot for waves of hello to those whom we hold so dearly – it was beautiful! The smiles, the joy – it surely does the heart good! Then came Tyler’s voice over the radio, and I wept because it was beautiful. All this was followed by the reminder from Jason of the final act of humiliation which brought the first act of exaltation to Christ our Savior! A reminder that in these different days, our God is the same! He is still seated at the right hand of the Father. He is the same – yesterday, today, and forever. For He is risen indeed!

Easter 2020 will be a year to remember. We sure do miss our family today! We sure do miss the fellowship with our church family! I SURE DO miss my Bubba whom I haven’t seen in forever!!!

Times are different. But…things are still good. And that is beautiful! Love you all!

Thank you, Stacy, for sharing your Easter morning with us.

Blessings,

Linda

Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

KIDZ Church | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 11, 2020:

KIDZ ChurchI had a new experience Sunday morning – I helped with KIDZ Church, a program at Believers’ Baptist for children from four years old through second grade. These children begin the service in the Sanctuary with their families where they experience worship in prayer, singing, and presenting offerings, and on the last Sunday of each month, they stay in the Sanctuary for the whole service. The rest of the month, though, they are dismissed to the KIDZ Church room in the Family and Children’s Building when Pastor Jason stands up to preach, and there they experience worship aimed at their level of understanding.

In order that no adults consistently miss Morning Worship, volunteers serve as teachers and helpers on a rotating basis – usually two adults and two of our older students for one month a year. This week they were short one adult, and when Betsy sent out a request on the church Facebook page, I said I would help. It wasn’t a difficult task – mainly to be present to help maintain some semblance of order. One thing to keep in mind when working with young children is that you will never achieve perfect order. There will be noise, talking, wiggling, inattention, and more, but the goal is to walk the narrow line between tyranny and anarchy. (more…)

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