Surely the most exciting Christmas-happening around town is the Christmas parade.

Because of rain-threats, the phone lines at The Depot the day of the parade were busy, "Is the parade still on?," "Has the parade been canceled?" "Rescheduled?"

To the delight of participants and viewers, "The parade was on!" and in spite of a quick rain shower, "It was a Holly Jolly Christmas for all!"


Hearts were filled with anticipation, excitement and amazement of the Christmas Season last weekend as the First Baptist Church Choir imparted the story of Christmas in the musical/drama presentation of "The Greatest Story."

Thank God, that after all these hundreds of years, hearts are still softened by the story of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Quoting Max Lucado, "Tears represent the heart, soul and spirit of a person."


There are beautiful stories of family bonds and continuity in the assemblage of the choir at First Baptist.

Soprano soloist Jean Landrum (Charles) Yates has been a member of the choir "for a long, long time," and a "long time ago" was joined by her son Stan Yates.

Three generations of the James Byars family are represented in the choir.

First, there is Neda Byars, her son, David Byars, who is a member of the choir, his wife, Roberta, the drama team director, and their daughter, Carly Byars Rounsaville, who sings alto in the choir.

Brothers Joey Kilgore and Steven Kilgore sing tenor; Joey's daughter, Anna Beth, sings in the children's choir.

The Max Loper family is represented by his wife, Betty, their daughters, Abby Jenkins and Kara Kabore', and grandson, Hayden Jenkins, whose father, Ryan Jenkins, and grandfather, Ronny Jenkins, are members of the audio visual team.

Todd Loper and his children, Layla and Dylan, are members of the chancel choir and the children's choir.

Phoebe Henson and her daughter, Amelia, are members of the orchestra.

As couples, Gail Turner is in the choir, her husband, Steve, in the orchestra; both Dr. Tom and Elizabeth Frohse are members of the choir.

William Smith directs the chancel choir, his wife, Melanie, accompanies the youth choir, while their children, Courtney, Matthew, and Wesley are in the children's choir.

Barbara Yates Edwards is a member of the audio visual team, her husband, Mike, sings tenor, and their son, Ian, a member of the children's choir.

Jennifer Prince is a member of the chancel choir, her daughters, Callie and Cal, are members of the children's choir.

Peggy Scales was a temple worshipper, her daughter, Kamilla, in the children's choir.

Kay Durant was in the chancel choir, her children, Sam and Kaitlin, in the children and youth choirs.

Aaron and Marion Tucker were members of the drama team, their daughter, Gracie, in the children's choir.

Ryan McKay sang bass, while his niece, Laney Turner sang with the children's choir; Troy Hight played trombone, his son, Casey, sang with the youth; Nikkie Walton sang alto, her daughter, Rayleigh sang with the youth; Jackie Cheatham, a member of the chancel choir, her daughter, Caroline sings with the children, and while Donna Alford played flute, her daughter, Madison, sang with the youth choir. Robert Thomas' granddaughter, Kiley Garner, sang with the children's choir.

My advance apologies for any mistakes I made with names or proper position in the choir.

The greatest blessing of the Christmas Season, and all year long, is that we are all members of the family of God, with a promised place in His kingdom. Merry Christmas!


A banner reading "Happy 90th Birthday, Hal," decorated with little brown paper sacks, hung over the dining hall at Peggy's Restaurant on Nov. 28.

Quoting Hal's daughter, Jane Kynerd, who along with her daughter, Bonnie Coggins, and granddaughters, Sadie and Baylor, made the decorations, "Daddy loves 'paper tape,' and he can fix just about anything with it. See the holes in his clothes (elbows out) that he patches with good old paper tape."

The same little brown paper sacks, personalized with a making tape "H," were distributed as "goody" bags. Inside was the scripture Prov. 17:6,

"Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers," chocolate chip cookies, toy airplane, raisins, tangerines, little candies and peanuts.

Jane made tiny clay airplanes with an "H" on one wing, "90" on the other, as place markers for everyone to take home.

They were reminiscent of the model airplanes Hal once made and flew by remote control.

The "H" and "90" were repeated on the birthday cake.

Although the party was a complete surprise to Hal, spontaneous words straight from his heart became a "wise man inspirational on what I know now."

Hal's granddaughter, Mandi King, read "90 reasons I love Hal," which she wrote, producing both tears and laughter.

Hal was born Dec. 22, 1923.

They had the birthday early, because quoting Jane, "Everybody could come for Thanksgiving, but it was going to be hard to get them all here for Daddy's birthday so close to Christmas."

And come they did! "Every One of His Children," John Russell and wife, Pam from Richmond, Va., Jane and Rusty Kynerd of Philadelphia, Kay and husband, David Walker from Dallas, and Jeff Russell and his wife, Teresa, from Ridgeland.

Grandchildren present included Mandi (Bart) King of Madison, Bonnie (Scott) Coggins and Kelli Tullos of Philadelphia, Jennifer (Daniel) Kilman of Jackson, Jessica Russell of Jackson, Russell Walker of Dallas, and Blair Landwehr of Collinsville. Hal's great-grandchildren included Noah and Ella Jane King, Baylor and Sadie Coggins, Caiden Tullos, John Sterling Landwehr, Grace and John Russell Rosemond of Richmond, Va.

Other guests included Rusty's mom, Velma Ruth Kynerd of Bailey, and Hal's nephew, Russ Morgan and Helen of Augusta, Ga.

Hal's wife, Peggy, left this advise to her family before she died in July 2012, "Be happy and get together, as a family, often!"

"We did what Peggy told us to," Jane told me, "and I'm glad. It was a great time for all of us."

Happy Birthday again, Hal, come Dec. 22!


My apologies to Richard and Linda Brewer whose names I omitted from the JOY group at East Philadelphia Baptist Church who attended the Celebration Conference in Sevierville, Tenn.


Being that Ray Marshall drove his wife, Mary, Miriam Hardy, Charlotte Nicholson, and his sister, Jean Marshall, to Newton for a family visit and lunch with Aunt Freddie Barnett, let's call this story, "Four hens and a rooster."

To Ray's relief, there was another rooster at this hen party in the person of Billy Barnett.

Even though Aunt Freddie is 90 years old, she prepared and served her guests a delicious feast of roast beef with potatoes and carrots, corn, butter beans, yams, congealed salad, yeast rolls, gravy, and chocolate pie.

After the meal, the ladies retreated to the back of the house to see Freddie's gorgeous quilts made over the past few years.

She still works on her quilts up to ten hours each day and every stitch is done by hand.

Her many patterns include the wedding ring, log cabin, hexagon, black and white, red aand white, a Santa quilt, and a very unusual handkerchief quilt which amazed and delighted her family.

90 years old and still going strong!


I have heard it said, "Say what you mean, mean what you say."

The B.A.L.L. group at First Baptist Church do just that.

They mean it when they say, "Be Active Live Longer."

On Nov. 18, members and friends of B.A.L.L. boarded a bus for Branson, Missouri. Erma Young shares their active schedule of activities with "Friends."

"We arrived at the Branson Towers Hotel around 7:30 p.m. After refreshing, we were treated to a catered meal provided by Southern Hospitality Tours and Philadelphia's own Tony Wilson. Later that night, several of us met and played Mexican Dominoes.

"Day 2, we had breakfast at the hotel. After making a group picture, we boarded the bus for the Bretts Show, the Song of Christmas. They also performed a World War II-themed patriotic mini-play, "I'll Be Home for Christmas." We had lunch at the Lone Star Steakhouse. Those who wished to shop, had a tour of historic downtown Branson. That night we traveled to the Sight & Sound Theatres for Miracle of Christmas. Sight & Sounds counts it an honor to bring the Bible to Life. Like the Christmas story, the cornerstone of our Christian faith, Miracle of Christmas has become a cornerstone of Sight and Sound repertoire. Year after year, this show continues to bring families and friends together, connecting and uniting those of all ages in celebration of Christ's birth. Back at the hotel, we enjoyed an ice cream social.

"Day 3, we went to see Cassandre' & friends, featuring variety, hilarious comedy (Aunt Erma), and incredible music at the Americana Theatre.

After a wonderful lunch at Mel's Hard Luck Diner and entertainment of the singing waiters, we spent the afternoon shopping at Tanger Outlet mall. Later we went to Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction and ate with our fingers.

"Day 4, we boarded the bus for home. Southern Hospitality Tours and Tony Wilson did grand job of dining and arranging shows for the B.A.L.L. group."

Those enjoying the trip, along with their sponsor, William Smith, included Ricky Bengs, Jackie Johnson, Faye Moore, Gwen Newman, Erma Young, Sara Hutcheson, Anna White, Gwenette Broome, Gary and Sue Keen, Gloria Burke, Eunice Jones, Glenda Green, Gail Long, Jean May, Glenda Williamson and Ann Ethredge.

The B.A.L.L. group brought home exciting news about the "Jonah" show which will premier in Branson March 26-Dec. 31, 2014.

This massive production features breathtaking effects, including a multifaceted 40-foot-tall ship that breaks apart right before your eyes, and an immersive underwater scene with a shocking reveal of the big fish that swallow's God's misguided prophet.

This sweeping musical intertwines powerful themes of love, mercy, obedience and second chances.

Watch as Jonah sojourns on a trek of rediscovery to where he eventually finds himself and the all-merciful heart of God.

Sound like something you would like to attend?

Find you a B.A.l.L. friend!


Here is a wonderful account of what makes Philadelphia the Philadelphia we love, the City of Brotherly Love, as shared with "Friends" by one of our newest residents, a remarkable Thanksgiving story that involves a coconut cake.

"This new resident to Philadelphia was in the hair salon on Tuesday before turkey day when she overheard another customer talking about a coconut cake.

She chimed in that her husband just loved coconut cake but she could never make one for him because she doesn't have any talent for baking.

She actually offered to buy a cake from the other salon customer who replied that she did not sell her cakes.

"The two ladies continued to chat about one moving here recently because this is her husband's home town and where they had purchased a home. After her hair appointment was finished, she went on her way to run last minute errands. About five hours later there was a knock on the front door - and you guessed it, that other salon customer was standing there with a gorgeous, freshly-made coconut cake!

She didn't even know this generous lady's name, but the family that gathered for Thanksgiving dinner two days later, certainly enjoyed this very special dessert. What a welcome to Philadelphia - the City of Brotherly Love - our fair city!"

Note: I have met this "newest resident" and her husband, and they are definitely one of us - filled with brotherly love!