You Can Go Home Again!!

Saturday I drove down to Wiggins (vs. driving UP to Starkville on Friday) for an overnight visit with old friends and to participate in the 115th anniversary celebration of First Baptist Church Wiggins. I am pretty sure I was part of the 75th anniversary (am also pretty sure my Mama was running the kitchen that day so I know I was doing something in a supporting role!), missed the 100th, but wanted to be there for this one. Am glad I did.

We came to FBCW when I was maybe two. Moved up the street from the Wiggins Presbyterian Church. I have some vague fuzzy recollection of my Daddy being baptized (he grew up in the Methodist church) while sitting in the balcony of what was, to me, the “Old Sanctuary”.  My guess is that I was sitting with Warrene Watts (Brewer) and that Dr. Perrigo was preaching. In my mind, I just see that – one of my earliest recollections and honestly not sure if I see it because I was told it or that I imagined it from stories.

I do know that I went to Sunbeams with Mrs. Mathis in the “Old Sanctuary” and to Sunday School and VBS.  I remember running down the long hall to the “Old Fellowship Hall” and how I thought that was a big happy room. I absolutely remember sitting as an almost 9 year old in Bro. Metts office on the Friday morning of VBS 1964 and telling him how I realized that I was the world that “God so loved” in John 3:16.

Photo by Peggy Lee Baker

We were so excited when we moved to the new Sanctuary and then to the new education building though I can assure you that it was more fun to be in the old building and run up and down the squeaky stairs and go to BTU and get on the old bus with Nathan (Barber) and later on the new bus with Coach Roberts and go off on adventures of all kinds. It was a great way to grow up and a rich fertile field in which to grow as a young Christian.

I remember after Camille making sandwiches (PB&J) by the ton and literally feeding and caring for hurting people – learned by watching my Mom and her friends and just pitching in and doing whatever was asked. It was an eye opening experience that taught be about living out my faith and being thankful for whatever we had to share.

I saw several folks who had such as impact on me as a kid and realized how many are now gone. I loved hearing Rick Williams, a descendant of one of the founding families say from the platform how much he appreciated what he learned from my Daddy (who was not there) and from Coach Roberts (who has gone on before us).

The pictures were what got me.  There was a GA Coronation (not mine though I did get to be Queen) that included Ivery and me.  There was a picture of Dad with the Building Committee. There was another of Ellen Batson, Mom’s BFF, who taught us missions and probably taught about a thousand kids in K4-5. And no less than 10 people said something to me about how many events there were that my Mama ran the kitchen.

And there was music. I played the organ and piano there, sang in the choir from kids through adult, learned to love “The Messiah” from Gene Clement and met there, for the first time, some guy named Lavon Gray. I listened to Suellen (Batson) Morrison and Laura (Breland) Koch play “Majesty and Glory” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as an organ/piano duet. They played “Majesty and Glory” at our wedding.

Bell from Original (before my time) Sanctuary

I baby sat for the preacher’s kids, played pool in the fellowship hall, and played on the church grounds with all my friends. Not to be forgotten, on July 8, 1989, Steve and I married there as did both my sisters in the years before me (Ivery/Jimmy 1977, Judy/Bob 1987).

Sometimes I don’t make time for things like this – lots always going on here especially this time of the year, but I am thankful I did. I realize that while I live here, Wiggins is probably always going to be “home”, certainly in the historical sense, and FBCW and her people past and present and the God they serve, provided the foundation for my life today.

Philippians 1:3-6 sums up my feelings best:

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Thank You

 As we celebrate Memorial Day 2011, I want to say thanks to some very special people. Most of these I knew personally. One, I know through history, family stories, and, I am sure, a few “tall tales”.

The fellow in the middle in the photo to the left is SSGT Gordon S. McHenry. That’s him, too, in the next photo in the their quarters. Both photos were taken in Japan in August 1946. Dad served as an MP in the occupation forces in Japan and the Philippines. He was on a troop transport on his way to be a part of the invasion forces when the bombs were dropped and the war ended in 1945. Not sure when the photo in his dress uniform was made (“Class A’s” I think they were called) but he looked pretty sharp, if you ask me!

The tall fellow to the right is PVT Thomas Eugene Herlong, my maternal grandfather (known as “Granddaddy to me) and his buddy from Claiborne County MS, Harvey McFatter. Granddaddy went to England for World War I. Before shipping over to the Continent, he acquired appendicitis (a really big deal in the early 1917-1918 time frame). After recovering from his surgery, he built caskets and did other construction in England until he was shipped home.  I know that was the longest trip he ever made.  Probably the second longest was when they loaded him and others from the Biloxi VA up on a plane and flew them to SC to get out of the path of Hurricane Camille.  He loved farming but due to illness and injury was wheelchair bound in his mid 60s.  He lived out his final years in the Biloxi VA. We saw him often.  He loved living on the ward with will all those guys. He loved us coming. He wrote great letters and let us sit in his lap in his wheelchair. He died when I was in high school. I wish that Cille the adult had known him.

This is CPT George Austin McHenry. It is from him I know I inherited my “wanderlust” for he traveled the world leaving my great-grandmother at home to build a house and raise their son.  He served in the Spanish-American War in Cuba as a military physician. He was the original “Ponnie”. My Dad is the second one to have that name.  He settled what is now the town of McHenry in South Mississippi. He was my great grandfather. His only child, Floyd, had six children. My Dad is the youngest of those.  All my life I have heard stories about him. I wish, too, I had known him personally for he was an interesting man.

I would be remiss is I did not mention Steve’s Dad. CPL Luther S Litchfield served with the 3rd Marines in the South Pacific. He was in several major campaigns and was in the floating reserves at Iwo Jima. I wish I have a photo of him in his uniform but have never seen one.  He never talked much about the war but it was never far from him. He had such respect for our nation, our flag, and all we stand for. I thank him, too.

II Chronicles 7:14  reminds us “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” How I thank those who have gone before, are there now, and pray that the rest of us will pray and turn from our wicked ways so our land will be healed.

Sounds of (Not Quite) Silence

Tonight’s insomnia is brought to me courtesy of Steve Litchfield. He snores occasionally (and if we are honest, all of us do that at times). Tonight he has got it going in full chain saw mode!! I am chalking the cause up to some meds he had today and frankly, it is comforting to hear (just from the living room instead of our bedroom!).  I would not like or find comfort in the  sound of silence that would accompany his absence from my life.

Since I am up and awake (trust me – I am both), I can pray for him, thanking God for the gift he is. Even after 21+ years, I am still amazed God knew how perfect Steve would be for me. I can also be thankful that he is here, in the house, with me. In those thoughts, I realize the quiet in the homes of our men and women in uniform while they are away, defending our freedoms, including the right to worship as we choose. And I can pray for our government – federal and state – and for the impact that the unpleasant noises surrounding issues of importance are having on the lives of many especially right now.

I will take my Stevie noise. It is comforting. And I will continue to pray for him and for those circumstances that have us all in a stir as a State and Nation.

I claim again today, this verse from II Chronicles 7: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Everybody Needs A Hero

JoEllen and Bully – February 2011
“Struttin” 2008

This bundle of energy is my hero – she also happens to own a chunk of my heart and has pretty much since she showed up on this earth almost 4 years ago.  You might say she was a birthday gift that was really unexpected (her birthday is the day prior to mine).

JoJo is a student at the Little Lighthouse. Amazing place with amazing people doing amazing things educating JoJo and her friends. She has learned tons there. More than that, though, she is constantly teaching me stuff.  I know a few signs, for example! I know “more” and “diaper” (though fortunately those are no longer on the list).  I know about laughing. I know about perseverance. I know about making friends. And I know about learning how to make choices. 

Sack Race
Struttin 2009

I know she has the best big brother in the entire world. He is all boy but has this terrific compassionate streak and is so loving and caring.  He is already a leader. She easily follows him. And he is fun. Really – how many brothers would sack up their kid sisters in a pillowcase and haul them around the house? And how many big brothers would make sure that I would not use my “Rebel” influence on his innocent sister when “bulldog” stuff is always better (and yes, I gave in).

Oh yeah, and how many 12 year olds would collaborate with Steve and me to plan annual baseball outings to major league parks? (Atlanta, St Louis, and this year – Yankee Stadium!). (Note: their parents are also the best, too!)

Mickey and JoJo and Mom – 2010
Bro & Sis – Summer 2009

JoJo will celebrate her last Little Lighthouse Tea Party at Fairview on March 5. I am not going to be able to be there but am so proud of her and grateful to be a part in a small way of that terrific ministry. To watch JoJo and her friends at their Tea Party and at Laps for Little Ones/Struttin Their Stuff in the fall of each year is a happy, wonderful experience.  If you need to be amazed and encouraged and better yet, to smile, volunteer for one of their events and let them steal a part of your heart, too.

You are the best JoJo. Thank you for loving me, too.

Summer 2010 – Yes, that is Bully on her dress!