Stories about my family

Day: August 17, 2020 (Page 1 of 2)

The Nickle, Chapter 4, Page 3, “We Family

   THE NICKEL DOESN’T BELONG TO ME

During our Christmas reunion the family was reminiscing about family stories when, our daughter, Cynthia told about going to the store recently to buy a few items, including two bags of ice.  Later that day she realized that she had paid for only one bag.  She immediately returned to the store and paid for the extra bag of ice.  Cynthia reminded us of the story which had provided her a guide in such matters.

In the 1960’s, her grandfather Burr, had traveled to Muskogee to borrow money from a bank because he was struggling to make ends meet.  When he returned to Warner, he discovered that the cashier had given him a nickel too much.

Cynthia and her mother, Phyllis

Although it was only a nickel, he went back the same day and returned the money.  When asked why he would do such a thing? He said , “The money didn’t belong to me,

it belonged to the other man. ”   Cynthia was only a youngster when it happened but she remembered because the family had told and retold the story many times.

Since her grandfather had set an example, she felt compelled to do the same.

  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  Colossians 3:2

The Diggs Front Porch, Chapter Four, Pg 2, “We Family”

 THE DIGGS FRONT PORCH                            

Phyllis and I are travelers.  It started when I enlisted in the Army in January, 1960.  But it did not end there.  Tracing our post Army travels is like reading a travel brochure.  From the Army, we returned to Tulsa and stayed a long time, 4 years.  If I can remember from there:

Springfield, Florida, Springfield, Texas, Minnesota, Texas, Arizona, Minnesota, Texas, Springfield, Muskogee, Texas, Broken Arrow, Florida, Tulsa, Indiana, Wisconsin. Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma.    

Now why would I tax my mind to recollect these places?  It is to tell the story of kindness of strangers, especially in trying circumstances.  First, let me start with the Diggs.  Phyllis and I were young and on our own.  I was 19 and she was 18, married 18 months, living on $142 a month, Army pay.  No worry we were soon getting a pay rase of $38.    

All of this to say, most times money lasted about 3 weeks a month, if we were careful.  We lived next door to an elderly couple, who after a few months, adopted us.

Well, really, Phyllis.  Apparently the Diggs were psychic.  Without prompting they would show up with food and give some lame reason.  Like, I fixed too much food for us, and we can’t eat that much.

They seemed to know when we needed help and they willingly provided what we needed.  The fact was, they were extraordinarily kind people.  We remember the Diggs from 60+ years ago.

The next event of exceptional and timely kindness happened in an airport in New Jersey.  We were on our way home from Germany when we attempted to board the plane to Tulsa, we were informed that our luggage was over the allowable weight.  $100 over weight.  Well it may as well been a thousand dollars.At that moment a lady stepped up and said she overheard our conversation and offered to take us to her house so that we could make travel arrangements.  She explained that she had seen her military husband off to Germany for an unaccompanied tour of duty.

We called around and found we could travel by train with the money we had and one would be leaving shortly.  She took us the the terminal and we said our goodbyes and boarded the train for Tulsa.  We never saw the nice lady again.

The neat thing about the train was the observation car.  We could sit high above normal seating, surrounded by windows to watch the passing scenery.  The most pleasurable part was watching Rick who was almost 2, visit with the other passengers.

Carrying on conversations was what he did with us all time.  An exceptional social youngster.  And the passengers seemed to enjoy his stories and friendly banter.          During our travels several kind people have stepped up to help at the right moment.  I’ll share one more.This couple we met in Decator, Indiana as we both waited for the Service Center to finish with our motorhomes.                        

When the couple learned that we were going to the Black Hills, they started telling us of all the things we must see.  And since they lived near the Park, they will be a tour guide.  They said it may take several days.  They were right and they were first rate guides.  Mostly, they were kind.Finally, Phyllis and I are grateful for all those we have met and made friends with many of them.                          We met John and Lisa in Decator, IN and joined us in Creede, CO and traveled the Silver Thread with us.

Some still stay in touch through Facebook and messages.  It was our good fortune to be so blessed.  God is good.

Full Time RV’ing, Chapter Four, Pg 1, “We Family”

 FULL TIME RV’ING    

 Phyllis and I were ready to retire and ready to move on.   I was 55 and Phyllis a year or so younger.  It seemed right.   And it was right. 

We were excited about our new camper and were looking forward to December of 1995 That’s when Phyllis and I left Springfield for an extended vacation or more like living on wheels.

Now, that we decided to spend winters .

somewhere warm and summers somewhere its cooler, we know what, we only need the where.  Victoria Palms was our choice

The Rio Grande Valley was our choice when its cold and Michigan when its hot.

The people indigenous to the Valley are helpful and friendly.   We decided to rent an RVspace a year in advance.

 Enjoying the company of the residents and the amenities offered as well as good service.  Victoria Palms was a good choice,

Fresh fruit and vegetables were plentiful and inexpensive.       For the first two years we played golf almost everyday.  We found a course that we could afford to play as often as we wanted.

One of Phyllis’s favorite pastime was playing bingo.  Sometimes I would go with her. 

Other times we would team up with friends and go sightseeing, out to eat or other things that retired people do.  Go to flee markets was on top of the list.

Usually in April or May we would return to Tulsa for a few weeks before heading North to Michigan.  One of the most unique places we visited was Mackinac Island.                                                             

On the island, automobiles have been banned for more than 100 years.

We traveled to Mackinac on a ferry that departed from St. Ignace (at the north end of the bridge) or Mackinaw City.

We saw sailboats upon sailboats as we

crossed the bridge to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.We spent the day sightseeing and crossed into Canada for a few blocks. 

After our evening meal we crossed back over the bridge where we we were camped near the East end of the bridge.

The Mackinac Bridge is a suspension spanning the Straits of Mackinac to connect the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.  We continued our sightseeing alone the Northwest side of Lake Michigan near Traverse City    We usually stoped by Tulsa for a few weeks before heading back to the Rio Grande Valley. 

It usually takes 2 days to travel the distance but we have made the trip once in about 13 hours.  However, not pulling the camper.        

Back to Victoria Palms until April or May next year.  The Hot Tube one the other side of the pool and the left side was my favorite.  Especially after a day on the golf course.

In the spring of 1998 Dr Kennedy asked me to come back to Baptist Bible College.  I should not have answer the call to go back . 

I’ve been told, it’ s never the same when you do.  Experience is not the best teacher but it is a good teacher.  I resigned a later.   

A Promise Made, Chapter 3, Pg 9, “We Family”

 A PROMISE MADE,  A PROMISE KEPT

It was the summer of 1995. Our three children were married and had children of their own. Phyllis and I lived in Springfield, MO and were busy with our own lives. From time to time, Phyllis reminded me of the promise I had made many years earlier when she and our family followed me all over the United States and to Germany.

I had promised that someday, after the kids were gone, we would enjoy life by traveling around the United States. We had been out of the Army for about 10 years when I became the librarian at Baptist Bible College (BBC).

My long suffering wife had not pressed the issue even though our kids were grown and making lives for themselves. We were both busy.  Cherry Street Baptist Church was a major part of our lives.  Phyllis was in the choir and involved in other activities. I was involved with Church administration and teaching classes. During this time I unsuccessfully ran for a position on the Springfield Public School board.  We were too busy.  In retrospect I can see that volunteering for this and that good cause can be a good thing but our lives were out of balance.

Further, we were foster parents for a while when Cynthia, our youngest was still at home. All of us fell in love with the girls and enjoyed them immensely. As the Librarian at Baptist Bible College, I occasionally went on business trips.On one of these trips Phyllis and I took our fifth wheel camper to Florida where the Association of Christian Librarians (ACL) held their meeting that year. The ACL supported Christian Colleges and Universities all over the world preparing men and women for the cause of Christ.

After parking the camper and getting everything set up, I went to the ACL meeting.

The Board members finished Association business, and then, out of the blue, the Secretary place my name in nomination for President of the ACL. Since I had been a member for only three years, I was surprised and flattered.   Obviously, the secretary had talked to each of the 12 board members because everyone voiced support for my nomination. The meeting adjourned about midnight. I was elated thinking about all the things I could do as President as I returned to the RV park.         

Excitedly I told Phyllis about the meeting and my potential election as President of the Association. She did not share my excitement and asked me a simple question. “Do you remember the promise you made to me when you got out of the Army?”

Every bit of the excitement I had felt a minute ago vanished. Of course, I remembered and was suddenly overcome with guilt. Phyllis had been patient with me for all those years. What I was planning to do would change the direction of our lives. Different from the life I had promised Phyllis.

Two days later we returned to Springfield, MO and I submitted my resignation to the President of BBC. We sold our house a few months later.

 

We enjoyed our travels around the US for over three years in the late 1990”s. Mainly we spent the winters in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas where we played Golf and Bingo.

We traveled north in the summer to Michigan where we played Golf and Bingo. We both had a great time.            

I kept my promise.

Phyllis Talks About Her Grandma, Chapter Three, Pg 8, “We Family”

   PHYLLIS TALKS ABOUT HER GRANDMA

My name is Phyllis Burr.  I am going to tell a story about my Grandma, Rachael Ninetta Prater. My grandma. Nina Prater quilted with other women from her church.  I sat under the the quilt which was stretch out on the quilting frame permitting several quilters to work at the same time.  I recall watching the needles going up and down.  I’m sure these early experiences explains my interest in sewing. In particular, my interest in making quilts.

Grandma was a believer in prayer. Whenever I was visiting and told her I was sick, or sometimes she just intuitively knew something was wrong and she would kneel and start praying.  When she did so I knew she loved me.  One time we played church.  Ronnie liked to preach but, he was too small to see over the pulpit in the living room; therefore,  he stood on a kitchen chair and preached away.

PHYLLIS WAS CUTE

During the exhortation, he pause  and asked me to get him a glass of water.  He took a gulp and suddenly sprayed Billy and I.

At the same time, grandma walked into the room.  She was not pleased with our behavior, disrespecting God’s Church as we did.  She gave us a light spat on the

rump and banned us from the living room except when it was used for real church.I was a quiet child and I had been told  I was an emotional child.  I suppose I was, which explains why I have fond memories of my grandma.  She was my best friend.  Especially, when someone said things to me that hurt my feelings and I would cry.  Grandma understood and and gave me sweet hugs.

It was a sad day when she passed away in 1989.   She was 89 years old.  I know I will see her again because she led me to my Lord and Savior,  when I was 12 years old, and taught me that when I trusted Jesus as my Savior that I was saved and would go to heaven because Jesus loves me.

I know that….Jesus Loves me… and  she taught this song so that I would never  forget “Jesus Loves Me This I know, for the Bible tells me so”.

This song and the knowledge of God’s Grace is a great comfort to me now that I am 79 years old.  I owe much to my Grandma.

JESUS loves me this I know,

        For the Bible tells me so,

            Little ones to Him belong;

                They are weak, but He is strong.                                                              

                      Yes Jesus loves me!

Dad Can Read, Chapter Three, Pg 7, “We Family”

DAD CAN READ

Epilepsy is a debilitating medical condition which afflicted dad during his childhood years. I have chronicled how this was so in previous stories .  Consequently, dad was removed from school before he learned to read.

Some experts  believe that when a child does not learn to read during his formative years, as a matter of practicality, it would be extremely difficult to do so as an adult.Johns Hopkins School of Education reported that one’s ability to learn peaks at a young age and then tapers off slowly with age.

Further, primary mental abilities improved gradually until about age forty at which time the abilities tend to stabilize until approximately age sixty.  Learning abilities begins to decline at that age.  The study noted that self learning in older adults depends on motivation, verbal skills, problem solving ability, cognitive skills, and intellect to be a successful older learner.

Skipping ahead about 60 years.  Phyllis and I were living in Springfield, MO and working at Baptist Bible College.  We were talking one evening about all our relatives who were saved by the Grace of God.  As we counted off the list, we thought about our parents and decided we should make it a point to find out for certain. We believed they were, but felt compelled to ask each of them.We made a trip to ask them and all four gave a testimony of faith.  And then dad done something that surprised Phyllis and I. He pulled out his Bible and went to a well worn page he had marked.  In a halting voice he read the Beatitudes from Matthew Chapter 5.  We were brought to tears.Dad said he had learned to read by listening to the preaching and teaching in the church he attended a few blocks from where they lived in Warner. This church was a block or so from the church he and mom had started in the mid-50’s. Mom was the secretary and dad organized men in the vicinity to build a concrete block structure that became the Pentecostal Assembly Of God.

The blessings of God came full circle.

An Addition to the Family, Chapter 3, Pg 5,

      AN ADDITION TO THE FAMILY

In 1989 Phyllis and I learned of the acute need for foster parents in our community. Such a shame that so many innocent children are in need of parental love and supervision.

Because of Phyllis’ deep and abiding love for children, we decided to become foster parents.  Christa was a beautiful nine month old child.

before  we could become foster parents, Phyllis, Cynthia and I had to attend training sessions.

Because our foster child had sleep apnea and required a night time monitor, we were required to learn how to use the monitor to detect chest movement and heart rate.                                                                                                              
Because our foster child had sleep apnea and required a night time monitor, we were required to learn how to use the monitor to detect chest movement and heart rate.  Our daughter, Cynthia, was living at home while attending Baptist Bible College also attended the sessions.

Christa came to us from a dysfunctional family. Her biological father was involved with drugs and was not around. The mother, Mary, was having diffi-

culty coping with all the responsibilities of parenthood.  As a result, Christa was removed from the home.  The first night we had Christa, we nervously hooked up the leads on her little body, fussed over her a bit and set the machine to alarm if something went wrong.   After everyone was asleep a loud alarm caused the three of us to rush to Christa’s bedroom. When the light was switched on we saw Christa sitting up in her crib with a monitor clip in her hand and a grin on her face.

Perhaps it was a triumphant smile. After we determined that everything was OK, we laughed with her. Christa had a wonderful personality.  Always smiling and eager to please

others. Ultimately, all of us wanted Christa to return to her biological mother.  But first the home environment needed to improve.  The social worker admired Phyllis’s work as a foster mother and asked her if she would help Mary.   Of course, Phyllis agreed.  Mary loved Christa and wanted her back.  However, she saw the need for placing her child in a foster home in the first place.

In fact, she taught Christa to call us “Mama Phyllis and Daddy Jack” and was willing to share her daughter. Mary was a willing learner.

She learned home making and child rearing skills over the next several weeks.During the process,Mary became a good friend and a better parent. When it was time, the social worker told us that Christa should be returned to Mary.Mary invited us to visit Christa whenever we wished.   Mary was gracious with her daughter.  She let Christa stay with us on weekends and once we took her on vacation to Colorado.  Another time she visited us when we lived in Muskogee, Oklahoma several years later

Still as a teenager, Christa continued to call us “Momma Phyllis and Daddy Jack”. She grew up to be a responsible adult.  Christa is a wonderful person and loving parent.

NOTE: Mary went to church with us for a while and Phyllis and I believe she was saved by Gods Grace and she permitted Him to be a part of her life.                                                                                                                                    

Springfield MO, Chapter 3, Pg 4, “We Family”

   SPRINGFIELD MO

When I retired from the Military we moved  to Tulsa.  Four years later we moved again, this time to Springfield, MO. 

The decision to move was an easy one to make.  First, in the Army we move every 1-3 years.  It became habit forming, but more importantly, we moved because Randy, our youngest son had accepted God’s call to the ministry.  Further, our daughter, Cynthia, having graduated from Webster High School wanted to be a Christian School teacher.  Randy was already attending BBC and Cynthia intended to go.  So, Phyllis and I sold our house and moved to Springfield.  I decided to go to Baptist Bible College (BBC) since I would have GI benefits.   

We bought this house about a year before going full-time RVing.  At the time the college enrollment was about 850 students.  I should mention that Rick our oldest child remained in Wichita, Ks and subsequently married Susan. 

Randy married Donna before going to BBC.Cynthia lived at home for five years after High School.

This was nice for all three of us. Cynthia and I graduated together in1988. 

Randy decided to enlist in the Navy and I accepted the position of librarian with the provision that I would commute to Columbia to obtain a Masters in Library Science.

                               Phyllis in a Fashion Show at Cherry St

Phyllis and I joined a large church, Cherry Street and became active in church ministries.

We became friends with several members and attended social activities, playing stupid games as depicted in these pictures were a part of socializing at that time.

We also went camping and played other kinds of games.

I drove the 140 mile one way to Columbia MO, 2 times a week for two semesters and graduated 1989 to become a College Librarian.   

 

A Hard Heart, Chapter Three, Pg 3, “We Family”

  A HARD HEART     

Phyllis and I decided in the the early 80’s that we would retire from the Army.  She had been talking for some time that we needed to “get in Church”.

Looking back, we can see God’s hand at that pivotal point in our life. He created circumstances that made the decision the only practical one. We moved to West Tulsa in 1981 and joined Bethel Baptist Church.

Everyone in the Burr family was involved in church activities, from teaching, yard work, to kitchen help. God was doing a mighty work in our lives, blessing each of us.  As was our custom on Wednesday evening, Phyllis’s father and I went on visitation.

On this particular visit, Bill choose to take the lead and started the conversation with the older gentleman, who was lying in bed, obviously very ill.

He told Bill, the doctor said he didn’t have much longer to live.When asked where he expected to spend eternity. The man replied, “I’ll be in Hell with

all my buddies”.

You don’t have to go there, Bill said and started telling the man about Jesus. The man stopped him and said he didn’t want to hear that stuff.

We concluded our visit and started for the door, when Bill turned and started to say something. He changed his mind and we left. It was obvious the man had hardened his heart toward God and sealed his own fate.  A sad story but repeated too often. God’s Grace is available to all, but is effectual only for those who believe.  It is appointed unto man once to die; and then the judgment.

Cynthia the Teacher, Chapter Four, Pg 6, “We Family”

  CYNTHIA THE TEACHER

Our two sons frequently accused their parents of showing favoritism to the   youngest of our family.

 I must admit, for me there is a bit of truth to their assertion, which I suppose happens more often than not in a family such as ours.

Although I could say much about her early childhood,  I will start this story when we moved to Tulsa in 1981.  Cynthia was 15 that year.  

Our first priority after we settled in Tulsa was to join a local church and be active.  We did both.

Phyllis and I were saved at an early age, however we had not been faithful for many years. Our oldest child, Rick, had been saved earlier at church camp. 

Randy and Cynthia were saved a few weeks after we joined a small Baptist church on the west side of Tulsa.  Praise the Lord for His unlimited Grace.

To leave the military and move to Tulsa was one of the wisest decision that Phyllis and I have made 61+ years of marriage. 

The move was especially good for Cynthia.

She joined the Webster High School Marching Band and enjoyed her high school friends.

I think most people reach a few seminal points in life where decisions they make have unforeseen and far reaching consequences. 

It’s like a fork in the road, make the right choice and it leads you on a path to beneficial and far-reaching places.  It is virtually impossible to know the effect of moments such until many years later.

 

One such moment occurred in the summer of 1982.  Cynthia was teaching a Sunday School class in a small room.

Her class had grown from 5-6 students to 25-30 young girls in just a few weeks.Chairs had to be removed to permit standing room for her growing class.

One of my duties each Sunday morning was to check on each class to see if all teachers were present and if any needed help. 

As I peeked in on Cynthia’s class, I was taken aback as I watched the girls mesmerized by the teachers’ story of Joseph and his coat of many colors.

I too, was caught up in the story with the empathy and conviction in her voice.  No one noticed as I stepped inside to listen and learn.

It was clear that the Holy Spirit was at work.  I knew at that moment that she was a teacher with a profound God given talent.

After class I told her that God had given her a special gift and added that she was going to do great things.  In introspect, I could not imagined the success she would achieved.

At that moment I think she decided to  become a Christian School Teacher.

A few years later our family moved to Springfield, Mo where  Cynthia attended Baptist Bible College and became an outstanding teacher.

I graduated with Cynthia from BBC, Randy took leave from the Navy for the occasion.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say a few words about the mother/daughter bond that developed into something special.  

During her childhood years the two were almost inseparable.  Even sharing  about her dates when she was a teenager, Cynthia would come to our bed-room, sit on the edge of the bed and talk incessantly.

After a bit of listening I would drift off to sleep only to be awakening an hour later by laughter and more talk.

That bond strengthened over the next several years as Cynthia married and had three wonderful children.

During this period of time Cynthia continued her teaching profession,

obtaining a masters and ultimate a PHD in her chosen field of education dealing with student success concentrating on the  transition from high school to college with a focus on community colleges.

Helping young people succeed in school became her mission in life. 

Cynthia’s tenure at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Mo formed the basic building blocks of her success as a pioneer in the field of student success.

Presently she is the Vice President and Executive Director of the Texas Association of Community College’s Success Center.  Mainly, Cynthia works with trustees and regents of governing boards, and chancellors and presidents of the 50 Texas community colleges.

Her focus  is to implement changes in policies and procedures focused on student success.

Cynthia works with Texas State Legislators and Cabinet Level.

Administrators aimed at improving state and local policies.She also serves a national leadership role in strategic planning and support for a network of 14 other states.

Primarily her goal is to promote the Texas model of success and to educate other in policies and procedure that work. 

She works closely with national leaders who are interested in success of  community college students.  Cynthia’s work has generated millions of dollars in grants given for the specific purpose of implementing her educational models.

Recently Cynthia gave a seminar in Houston, TX and was the main speaker for a gathering of 450 Presidents, Board Members and other community college leaders.   Her services are sought after because of her reputation for results.

She and her husband Ben now live on a log house on ten acres a few outside of Dripping Springs, TX.

They  sit on the back porch and admire the valley below. 

 

 

 

It is a flat valley floor where deer and other animals feed,  A stream flows across the back of the property, beyond the valley floor.

 

When it rains the stream flows briskly with a beautiful waterfall.

 

A perfect place to retire, if they ever do

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