Merry Christmas 2017

December, 2017

Dear friends and family,

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! This past year has certainly been an eventful one. Like any year it has had its high and low moments, but we are confident that in all of these things God is at work. I am reminded of the words of Hebrew 13: 5 which says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” I can say honestly that I had expected to be part of a growing church as a staff member by this stage of life but apparently that was not part of God’s design for us. Instead, I am being repurposed. At this writing, I am about a third of the way through a master’s degree that will allow me to become a licensed professional counselor. I am on target to graduate from Liberty University in the spring of 2019. In the meantime, I am counseling and performing assessments one day a week for The Summit Church in Kernersville as well as maintaining my position at Aflac and working ten hours a week at the Rankin Baptist church in Greensboro as their music director. The work feels rather scattered, but I am grateful for it.

Al and Darleen

Darleen, my rock, and faithful sweetheart continues to work as a customer service representative for Texwipe in Kernersville. As most of you know, her sacrifice and willingness to work full time are what have made my return to school possible. In the midst of her busy work life, she finds time to make hats for everyone and his brother’s cousin. In addition, she also finds crafty ways to bless our grandchildren and various other friends who make requests for quality homemade gifts. Darleen has continued her work as a lay counselor at The Summit Church. She has, in the opinion of the counseling pastor, become one of the most effective counselors in the lay counseling program. Needless to say, I am very proud of her and her accomplishments.


Jonathan continues to make his way through the educational landscape of college. He is doing well as a Computer science major at UNCG in Greensboro. Like me, his graduation will take place in the spring of 2019. Needless to say, we are already planning a huge celebration. He currently works at the Union Cross Park for the Forsythe County Parks and Recreation Department. However, his desire is to find interim work in a company that will allow him to gain experience as an IT professional.


Candace is living near Ben and Amanda in Reading, Pennsylvania. She is working for Target as a beauty consultant. The position was created especially for her. She is told that the sales in that department have increased a great deal since she took over. That isn’t surprising since she is knowledgeable regarding beauty products and adept at sales. This weekend she took a step towards autonomy by moving to her own apartment.


Daniel and Sonya live in Northern Ireland with two of our beautiful granddaughters. Dan is close to completing his internship as a baker. Please pray that God will open the opportunity for him to be full time at the bakery where he works. Pray also that God would provide opportunities for ministry for he and Sonya. In the meantime, God has blessed Sonya with work in the medical community. Arianna is four and Maya is 1 ½.  They both keep their parents on their toes.  From time to time we are blessed to be able to send packages to them through Darleen’s boss who goes to Ireland twice a year.  That has been such a blessing.

Noah and Caleb

Ben and Amanda are preparing to add grandchild number ten to the growing ranks of the Bacon Nation. Aaron is due to be born sometime between now and January 8th. Noah has begun Kindergarten and loves it. Caleb began preschool this year as well. Both boys are flourishing in their new educational environments. Ben is continuing his work as a behavioral analyst for a school that serves high functioning autistic children. As of this fall, he is also being loaned out by his school to other schools who have autistic children and are in need of training. The ever-industrious Amanda has started a company of her own called “Fairytale Journeys.” She is, in effect, a travel agent for Disney. So, if you are planning a trip to the Magic Kingdom, be sure to drop her a line.

Mackie family

Carolyn and Cameron are busy working and raising two children of their own. Carolyn works as a customer service representative for Dedon, a high-end furniture company. Recently she has been promoted and is periodically traveling for the company. Cameron, the ever steady, continues to work in the seed company that was started by his stepfather. The company has sold, but Cam still supervises and is in charge of ordering and all sorts of other things. Hayden has grown so much that he is no longer the little boy that we once knew. He is in the 5th grade and doing well in school. Chloe, our little spark plug continues to entertain us with her toddler sense of humor and antics. There is never a dull moment with her around. Grammy and I enjoy the weekly visits from Hayden and the occasional opportunities to watch them both overnight.

Russell family

Mark and Christie are doing well in the frozen tundra of Vermont. They moved into a house of their own this last year. Mark has been busy fixing and learning the fine art of being a homeowner. He is now firmly entrenched at Cabot creamery as the guy who makes the yogurt. So, support the family and buy a little Cabot Cheese. Mark has also gone back to school to finish his bachelors degree. Christie is going 100 miles an hour as usual. I think she may be like her mother in this way. She works in the office for Union Baptist Church. I am told that she is an integral part of the office staff. She also still homeschools her children which is a full-time job all on its own.  Evelyn is in 2nd grade, Miles in Kindergarten and Elyanah keeps mom busy on the side.

We hope your festivities this Christmas are memorable and sweet and your New Year is filled with much more good than bad in 2018.  We wish we could spend the holidays with each one of you!

God Bless,

Allen, Darleen and Jonathan




Not Yet, Not Fully, Not Finally

I’m struggling again tonight because life seems to have left the happy behind so there’s very little happy anymore.  I remember when I was young thinking how “old” old people were who constantly looked back to happier days.  I didn’t understand.  I do now.

I loved my child rearing days.  I was good at it…very good.  I raised respectful sweet natured children who were the envy of those who didn’t know us in restaurants (more than once someone came by to tell the children how well behaved they were) and of those who did know us well.  The children were hard workers and knew how to relate to adults as well as other children.  I always chalked that up to home schooling, but maybe it was that we expected obedience and respect and made sure it reigned in our home.

Now it is hard to be around children.  They are disrespectful and out of control.  When I see a child genuinely happy and being good…I am drawn to them … because it is a rare sighting.  I don’t blame the children.  I blame the parents…too busy schedules so they don’t have the strength to discipline well…bought into the lie that getting things for their kiddos makes them better and have a better childhood…too involved in having more so that their first priority isn’t raising good members of society and most of all not following God on how to raise their children and making sure they are being taught the Word daily.

I read the Word to my children every morning before we started school.  Did they always follow it?  No.  I have sinner children just like everyone else, but I have to believe it made an impact on their lives because I believe God when He says His word never comes back void.

I’m sad tonight because there is little to no relationship with most of my family on either side.  I thought when I raised six children that I was raising my family that I would have relationship with; but that hasn’t been the case.  When my children struggle or hurt they don’t come to me.  I have a hard time understanding this because I didn’t have a mom or dad to go to…they were gone by the time I was 19.  I have tried to be there for them…maybe I was too easy on them…especially as they got older and made bone-headed mistakes.  One of them told me I should have been more involved during the bone-headed time; but how do you gauge that when they have made it clear they are adults and don’t need you anymore?

So….I’m disappointed in these years.  It seems like all my fun is over.  There doesn’t seem to be a point in life or purpose.  I thought I would be a big part of my grandchildren’s lives, but I’m not.  Most of them don’t really want me around.  I don’t have Jesus to share with them because either I am too far away or they don’t want to go.  What’s the point in life if you can’t share Jesus?

To add insult to injury I see other families way involved with each other.  They call and cry and love and share.

I have often hung onto the scripture that if you give up your life for Jesus your family will be His family…that hasn’t been the case either.  Oh, I now it isn’t over yet.  My pastor preached about Not Yet, Not Fully, Not Finally.  In other words…it’s not over until the fat lady sings…and she ain’t singing. It made a lot of sense.  I just need to take it to heart and gain some hope from it.



Death of Dreams or Desire to Dream

I heard a man once years ago tell about how death of our dreams was an inevitable time of life.  I remember thinking at the time about all the dreams that had died…that was close to 30 years ago and I have watched so many more dreams die since then.

You would think as life was just starting I would have had so many more dreams that were being made.  I guess I did have some. I loved having six children.  I loved fulfilling my dream of educating them apart from this world’s philosophy (as much as humanly possible).  I loved marrying a man who would be true to me and to our children, working hard even when everything we touched seemed to turn to ashes.  I found some wonderful times in those early years….but I also had to let go of some of my dreams like…

*having my mom around when I had children to encourage me and teach me and love on them

*having my dad as a constant source of protection and security

* having family close so we could take our children and give them a sense of family

* having good health so I could carry out my duties as wife, mother and pastor’s wife with energy, vitality and joy

*Having a thriving ministry where we were loved and made deep connecting friendships

Today?  What did I want so long ago that hasn’t come to pass?  I thought things would be easier by now.  I thought I’d be neck deep in ministry.  I thought we’d have at least a little bit of this world’s goods so we could visit family. I thought I would have opportunities… that have gone to others.  I thought I could be near my own children and their children to encourage and love on them.  I thought my children would enjoy being with me so much that they would seek every opportunity to be with us…this is actually funny…I’m not a very likable person.  I’m not the life of the crowd.  I’m not a doting sweet person who everyone wants to be around because they make you feel like a million bucks.  Come to think of it, I don’t know anyone like that.  But I grew up on The Osmond Family Christmas specials and Bob Hope’s Christmas Special.  When I was growing up, I was a part of a large family and I was the last child of the Grandma and Grampa that everyone wanted to spend Christmas with.  I missed that for my children and thought, “Oh well, when they grow up and we bring everyone home for Christmas, it will be like that.”   It hasn’t worked out that way.  Either the in laws take up all their time or they can’t afford to come…so Christmas and holidays have become very lonely where I remember all the good times when the children were small and gifts plentiful because God provided…not big expensive gifts…but gifts that meant something and we spent hours playing the games or putting together Legos or watching videos and snacking all day long with everyone around us.

I guess in my own way I have lost the desire to dream. What’s the point? This life has nothing to offer that I think it can deliver. We aren’t the Italian family that blows up and just continues to love anyway and goes to Grammy’s house every Sunday because if we didn’t she’d blow her top. I don’t blow my top…I just quietly sit with my hubby wishing the kids would come…and the grandkids….

I think what really spurred this on is we went to visit a family with a lot of teens…all their friends were there to picnic, swim, play carpet ball…and I miss that. I miss those days so much. 😦

So my advice? lol Don’t ask me. I don’t know what it is to have a lot of fulfilled dreams…just ones that died somewhere along the way. But … if you are that young couple with children…enjoy them. You may be that family down the road that gets together all the time…or you may end up like us…alone on the holidays wondering how to make them special…without the babies you rocked and hugged and loved and woke up with all those years…when you were too tired to dream any further.

I don’t want to end this so scarily real and sad. At least I know someday in Heaven we will have all of them with us. They will want to celebrate there…birthdays together like we used to, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving. We’ll have an eternity there.

So when someone says to me, “Maybe they will come back someday.” And my heart says “No…that will never happen” because it is too tired to dream…I will remember that my hope and dreams may only be in the afterlife…but that’s just a few short years away and I can dream of then.

A Letter of Promises To My Grandchildren

Dear Ones,

Someday you will read this and understand why Grammy was the way she was.  I can see it in your eyes today that you don’t understand.  You desire for Grammy to be all fun and games and always giving in to your every whim.  You see even as tiny babies I didn’t give in to you.  I love you too much for that.  It is my desire that some day you will be such bright and shining stars reflecting the love of the Savior that you are a wonderful addition to His kingdom and bring many with you.

I promise you that I do love you…more than life.  My tears have often been prayed to my Savior for your salvation and for your obedient lives to Him.  I promise that when you refuse to take a nap, I’ll make you…because you need one whether you know it or not.  I promise that when you abuse your mama and daddy that I will reprimand you.  You are not God and the fact that they don’t give in to your worship is your first step to realizing that and that you need a Savior much bigger and more able to meet your needs than you ever will be.  I promise that when you disobey me I will be swift and final with your rebuke.  You must learn to obey the authorities in your life.  This is why our world is in the state it is in today.  Even grown ups must learn to obey someone…and many don’t…and we all suffer.

So, yes, I do love you…and we will have tickle fights.  I will read you books because TV will suck your brain cells out of your head and especially what they have on today for children’s shows.  Will we watch movies together?  Yes.  But be prepared for lessons along the way of the truth and untruth of what you are watching.  I will not allow you to believe lies as much as it is in my ability to keep you from them.  I will play good music for you…about Jesus…from the Great Composers…worship music…fun music…because to love music is a wonderful part of life.

Right now…Grammy is the bad guy most of the time.  That’s okay.  It’s because I love you too much to allow you to stay babies and not grow or mature or call out the best in you.  You have abilities far beyond who you now desire to be…and I will call out your best qualities.  You will get tired of hearing me say the same things over and over because you didn’t listen the first time.  I will not nag…I will teach and train and teach and train.  Come to think of it that’s why your mama or papa are who they are today.  I spent endless hours training and they have become wonderful people who love Jesus.  Learn to listen…you’ll be listening the rest of your lives.  Learn to be kind and think of others before yourself.  Learn to tell yourself “no” so others don’t have to.  Learn to distinguish between good, better and best…and choose the best.

I love you little ones…and even when it seems like Grammy’s the big meany…know my heart.