Posts by tonja


March 31, 2019

Today I went to church. The church I have grown up in. The church that has helped mold my life. The church that is family as sure as my genetic family.

I started attending this church when I was in the 6th grade. We were attending a small country church, and my parents thought the bigger ‘city’ church would offer more opportunities for sister and I. And, it did. Southside quickly became ‘our church’ and the people there became family.

I still remember the first time I attended. I remember the sweet lady who was teaching…she became one of the dearest people in my life, (JCK). I sang in the youth choir in this church. I went on youth trips with the other kids. I learned about missions in this church…I was a GA and an Acteen. I stood before the church in my cap and gown when I graduated from high school. I left for a few years to go to college. I got married in this church. My husband and I raised our boys here. Many of the same people who loved and poured into my life, did the same for my boys. They followed through doing some of the same things I did…youth trips, lock-ins, VBS, youth choir…and then they stood in front of the church in their cap and gown when they graduated from high school.  They were all 3 baptized in this church.

I served in this church in many capacities through the years…mostly with children and preschool. I learned to love missions through the influence of my parents and godly women who taught me well. I became a leader in some of the same groups I once was taught in. My mom and I arranged 14 mission trips for the ladies in our church. She was very active in the mission teaching at Southside. My Pop was always a deacon and a leader in many ways, especially in missions. My sister and her family were as involved as we were. Sister serves as pianist even today. So, my church has been an extension of my own family.

In 2009, things changed. Mom left us to live with Jesus, quite unexpectedly. Our church family was there for us and helped us all through this difficult time. There were so many people who loved my Mom. It was hard to go back to church without her there…sitting with Pop on the 4th row from the front on the right side.

There were some other heart breaking incidents that occurred in our church soon after Mom passed. But God provided grace and strength for all involved. He knew it all along and allowed it, and it has been used for His glory.

Today, I went to church for the first time since my Pop died. A little hard…but, expected. The last time I was in our sanctuary, his casket was lying in front of the altar. Today, my immediate family at Southside numbered 3. Where once there had been 15 of us. Now, we are down to 4 active members. The others are all actively serving the Lord in their own churches.  And my Mom, my Pop, and my Mother -in -law all worship in Heaven.

I feel sort of a deep sense of regret when I look around the congregation and see those that are missing…who have gone on to Glory. I remember them so fondly, and with great love. I see many of those dear saints that I looked up to for so long, sitting and listening and worshipping. They are still encouraging and teaching us how to be faithful until…

I love my church family. I love those who are still here and those that attend elsewhere. I love those that are worshipping at the feet of Jesus today. The bond that was formed many years ago stands strong because it was a bond formed of love. Love of God first and love of others. Love that was a serving love…the older teaching the younger…and the younger becoming the teacher, in due time. And so it will continue.

My church looks different that it did 10 years ago. And, in another 10 years, it will look even more different. And, so it goes. Things change. People die. Families take different paths. It’s just change. But if things don’t change, they die.

My thoughts are tumbling over and over themselves in my mind as I write…so this post may be a little discombobulated. That seems to happen to me more and more, the older I get. I think there are just a lot of ‘thinks’ that need to get thought and dissected and put into perspective.

All it boils down to is…I love my church family…those here and those elsewhere. I miss my Mom and Pop  and Don’s Mom being in church with me. I miss my boys being in church with me. But, I am happy in my heart for the legacy left by the many Saints I was, and continue to be, blessed by.

May God continue to bless the church on the corner of Cottonwood Road and Appletree Street.



And so, Christmas 2018 is in the books. We prepared, shopped, cooked, shopped again and again, gathered together and had a wonderful Christmas celebration. We sort of spread it out a little this year.

We decided last Christmas, that this year we would try to make it easier on the ones who have both families here. So hard to visit both places in one day. So we decided to have our big family celebration on the Sunday before Christmas…this year that was the 23rd. It really turned out well and the best thing was that we all were together! Alex was feeling well enough to be up and enjoy the day. And Pop, at 92, did very well. But, was ready to go home right after the presents. Our 2 little ones, John Thomas and Levi performed for us. JT played the guitar while Tara sang Silent Night. Then Levi quoted some scripture he had learned in school. I let these guys fill in the blanks while reading the Christmas story from Luke. Amazingly, they could quote most of the scripture whenever I would stop! So proud of them!

Now, some pics from Sunday…the whole family…and from Christmas Day…our immediate family! And, we got Alex again! What a blessing!


Don and I in our aprons..sstarted cooking at 5:00 AM

Donald and Tommy at lunch…it was warm enough for some to sit outside on the porch.
Tara and Will at lunch
Uncle Alex and Levi
Joy, Pop, and Tonja

Suzanne and Tonja
Levi and Lulu…happy
Levi and Lulu…silly
John Thomas playing Silent Night on his guitar
Ian, Alex, Tonja, Levi, Don, Adam, Suzanne
(sorry about that bright light around my head…it’s so hard to hide a halo!)
Townsend, Owens, McKibben, Bush Families
Lori, Tara, John Thomas
Lunch Time
Uncle Alex and Levi
Tonja and the boys…
Levi and his tree
Don and the boys…
Adam and Suzanne
Our beautiful Mother, who celebrates Christmas in heaven now. We miss her so.
Thank you, Lord Jesus for blessing our family. Everything good comes from you. We acknowledge that and give you honor and praise and glory!


One day last week, Levi and I made ornaments together.   I have a big trunk filled with plastic Christmas balls just ready to be filled with whatever strikes his fancy!  Feathers, little reindeer, tiny beads, pictures we drew…anything and everything.  We have lots of things to string and hang and lot to make garland from.  We save it all…year after year…and we have quite a collection now.

After we got a little weary of that, we opened up the other boxes that belong to him, and pulled out all his favorite ornaments.  We started collecting little red trucks carrying trees when he was just a baby.  Now we get any color truck and have branched out to other vehicles….motorcycles, cars, campers, firetrucks…anything that goes!  I think we have about 40 now!

As we worked together, side by side, on his tree, he was talking up a storm.  These words really touched my heart…

“Lulu, I remember doing this. We have done this before. We always put my tree right here and it always makes me happy. Is that called a MEMORY?”

I answered…“Yes, sweet boy, it is a precious memory. Those are the kind that stick in your brain very well because you really enjoy doing something. It is a sweet memory for me, too.” 

He spoke again and said...” I think it is because I like when we do things together.  It makes me happy when  you and me can make things.   I love all my tree things and the ornaments I made, and today you taught me how to tie a slip knot!  It was hard, but now I can do it!  This is a good day!”


I thought…”Oh, my little man…you have no idea how I treasure every day we can spend together…you’re 7 now and things will continue to change for you. Other things will become more important as time goes by and spending these kind of days together will get less and less. It’s the way of the world.  I hope we can still have special days together.  But these precious memories are locked away in my heart of hearts forever!”

That’s all.  Just sharing a sweet moment between grandmother and grandson.  Making memories.  Hope you make a lot of sweet memories this Christmas, too!




Thanksgiving 2018

What a great day!  We had lunch at Joy’s and per our tradition, went over and decorated Pop’s house for Christmas.  Not all our family was in attendance, but those of us who could, gathered together and made a wonderful day of it.  We missed you, Adam, Alex and Will.

So, here’s a few pics from our day…


We missed Mother…




Well, Thanksgiving celebrations are winding down and folks are going home…stuffed.  Our dinner was wonderful, we all contributed and there was an abundance of everyone’s favorites.

I, roused out of bed at 5:oo am to put the turkey in the oven.  To be clear…this is the new Butterball Roast in Bag.  It was easy as could be.  Open the outer bag, place turkey in roasting pan, cut 4 slits in bag, slide into the oven for 4 hours at 375 degrees.  Just the same as my Jennie-O.

I went back to bed and soon the aroma woke me and I went to check on it and all looked well.  It was browning nicely.  Lots of juices in bottom of bag.  I waited the allotted time and removed from oven.  Let it sit in bag for 20 minutes.  Then I was ready to open it up.

Here’s where the trouble started.  The bag was stuck to the turkey.  As I pulled it away, all that glorious browned skin came off with it.  This has NEVER happened with Jennie-O.  My plans were to take the turkey in its all together state and carve it when we got ready to eat.  No.  That was not what happened.  I finally got the bag off and tried to lift the turkey onto the platter.  It fell to pieces.  The bones slide out and the turkey…she had no shape at all!  This has also NEVER happened with the Jennie-O.  I ended up having to use a large knife and tongs to get all the meat out of the pan.  It was not the vision of loveliness I expected to share with the family.  Instead, it was sliced as best as I could do.

Now the taste…it was good.  BUT.  Not as good as the Jennie-O.  There was not the same seasoned flavor that we all loved.  But, it was just fine, as far as turkeys go.  Everyone said it was good and they certainly ate it up and took leftovers home with them.

To sum up…the Butterball Roast in Bag was tasty, but the appearance was disappointing.  The Jennie-O Cook in Bag is both extra tasty and pretty to look at when done.  So, I will continue to search diligently for Jennie-O and hope to be reunited with her before next year…but if not, the Butterball is a fairly good second choice.

Hope your day was as special as ours was.  We laughed and talked and heard wild stories.  We prayed together and feasted together and then went over and decorated Pop’s house for Christmas.  A wonderful day filled with sweet memories.  God is so good!