Gary DeSalvo

In the late summer of 1992, I moved to Temple, TX to begin my first teaching job at nearby Ft. Hood. The first Sunday I was in town, I visited First Baptist Church. The second Sunday, I visited Temple Bible Church. I never went anywhere else. Gary DeSalvo was the pastor, and he had been there since 1981, when the church started. He remained the pastor until yesterday, when he passed away.

I had the privilege of sitting under his teaching for nine years. I’ve never sat under another pastor who communicated truth with such warmth, conviction, humor—often at the expense of Aggies!—and faithfulness to the biblical text. He was an encourager, a friend, and a man of integrity. He was an Italian-Cajun, native Louisianan and an avid LSU fan. He loved Bluebell ice cream. He loved baptizing people, and he loved teaching the Bible.

He was a shepherd. Under his leadership and the atmosphere he engendered at Temple Bible Church, I steadily grew in my faith. Despite the tremendous growth of the church during those nine years, he still made himself available to me and Dana for pre-marital counseling, and to us again when we were contemplating a move back to my hometown.

Gary loved life, and Sunday mornings were a joy to be a part of as he modeled both delight in our God and the necessity to take God’s word seriously as the only right guide to life. He encouraged the church to engage in our community and around the world—being active himself in the community and in ministering to a church in the Ukraine and refugee camps in Africa.

Gary was always praising others, giving credit where credit was due, encouraging other ministries and churches, and encouraging generosity from us all. The ministry was never his, always God’s, and so he was free to love his church and let God supply what God wanted to supply. We grieve the loss, but we rejoice in a life well-lived and a life finished well.

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And Just Like That

It’s back to school for Rebekah and I. We started on Tuesday with another year of Classical Conversations.

For Rebekah’s senior year she is doing a half day at CC: Shakespeare, Philosophy, and Chemistry. She’s doing two classes at home: U.S. History and Pre-cal. She’s taking a website-coding class from a homeschool dad in the community who does that for a living. And finally, she’s taking piano lessons.

I have five students this year, compared to the eleven I had last year.

For the first time since we started CC, I am not changing levels, but staying with Challenge II (Algebra II, Latin II, Logic II, British Literature, Western Cultural History, and Biology). And for the first time since we started CC, I don’t have one of my daughters in class with me. The downside of that is trying to keep up with my stuff and Rebekah’s.

We have Lauren for just a little longer. She goes back to school on Tuesday.

Jenna started teacher inservice this week and she’ll get her kids on Tuesday for a short orientation type day before she starts full days on Wednesday.

Dana is babysitting again for the CC community. And she and Rebekah will continue to babysit for another church on Sunday nights.

Other than cherry tomatoes and some mini romas, the tomato side of the garden is about done. The Okra and peppers are still doing well. And Dana has planted some more cilantro and kale. This past weekend, I planted a bunch of irises, and will work on another bed this weekend. This fall, we’re planning on getting a couple of trees cut down: one is too close to the house and is showing signs of rot at the base; the other is shading a prime spot for another flower garden. Hopefully, those will supply enough fire wood for the following winter.

On August 10, we passed the nine year mark here in NC and at Christ Community Church. I am about a month away from finishing up a series on the Sermon on the Mount at church. It has been one of my favorite things to preach through besides the life of Jacob which I did back in 2011–2012.

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Last year, Dana went to an Extension Service workshop where she inoculated some logs with Shiitake mushroom spores. We have finally begun to harvest some.

Lauren comes home from camp tomorrow, and Jenna moves to Texas on Wednesday. Thankfully, Rebekah is the constant. We’re keeping her for at least another year.


Posted in Family, Moving, Nature, Travel | 1 Comment

Mowing and Other Summer Activities

At the old house, I would need to mow the yard quite often: at times every five days was not too frequent. The grass was thick, the yard held a lot of moisture, and the yard was big—two hours was about normal to get the whole thing done.

At the new house, things are a little different. The yard is much smaller, taking a little less than half the time to mow. The grass is much thinner, and sitting up on a knoll, the yard holds relatively little water—I can actually mow in the mornings. But the best part about the new yard is with more shade and thinner grass, I don’t have to mow as often. In fact, I mowed two days before we went to Texas. I mowed again a month and two days later. Granted, a small part of the yard was could have used a good trimming long before that. But the every five day thing is thankfully in the rearview mirror.

Another benefit of not mowing for a month is seeing what grows. When the french drain was put in a rose bush was in the way of progress. But surprise, it has come back and bloomed. I have no idea how to care for rose bushes, but I suppose it is now time to figure that out.

We enjoyed our annual two-week trek to Texas. It was good to see family and friends. Some kids from our youth group and all our kids and some of their cousins spent the week in Mississippi at their mission camp.

A week from today we get Lauren back from camp where she has been working all summer. And then the following week we help Jenna move to Texas to start her new job at Regents Academy in Nacogdoches.

The week after that is orientation for the new school year, and then Rebekah and I start Classical Conversations the week after that. This will be the first year I’ve done CC without one of my own kids in the class. I will have six students this year as opposed to 11 last year.

After throwing away tomato after tomato that had been eaten by worms, we’re finally starting to harvest quite a few, as well as peppers and okra. Our garden probably gets a little too much shade, but it’s doing well nonetheless. It’s about time to can some jalapeños.

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Camp Cherokee

We’ve finished another wonderful week at Camp Cherokee.

We hosted 38 kids from the tutoring program our church is a part of for a week long day camp. Our youth group plus another dozen kids or so from various churches in the area planned, organized, and led the camp. The weather cooperated, which is a good thing as some of the activities are outside. This year we had a family night to finish off the week on Friday, inviting the families of all the kids for dinner and a short program at the elementary school. We really had no idea how many families to expect, but we had a good turn out and a great evening with some of the families. It is so encouraging to see our youth invest so much time and energy with these kids. They do a wonderful job. And as always it’s good to have the cooperation of other churches. At the last minute we were down a vehicle to pick up kids and a local church let us use their church van.

And, of course, I am grateful for our volunteer youth leader, Tim, who puts in so much time with our youth, encouraging, discpling, and loving them into Godly young men and women who care more about others than themselves.

Just a few pictures from the week.



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Weddings and Camp and Garden

For the second time in less than a year, we’ve attended a wedding for one of the kids that used to be in our youth group at church. The first, last August, was close to home; this one was in Alabama. And three more kids that used to go to our youth group are engaged. I guess that happens.

Lauren’s first week with campers is coming to a close. Hopefully, we’ll get to talk with her tomorrow and see how it went.

We are gearing up for the day camp our church puts on for kids in Andrews. That’s happening in a couple of weeks. Training for all the teens that are helping is next weekend. The same week as camp, Jenna is headed to Atlanta for a Classical Christian School convention for work. And later this week, I’m headed to SC for my annual training for Classical Conversations. And, of course, we’re less than a month away from our annual trek to Texas. This trip will probably include a stop in Nacogdoches at some point to see where Jenna will be living and working.

The garden is doing well—so far.

Peppers and Okra

That one pepper on the second plant from the left is supposed to be a bell pepper. I think the label was wrong. Curious as to what it is.

And tomatoes

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Home Away from Home

After driving to Mississippi last weekend for Jenna’s graduation, we drove to Mississippi and back today (just under 15 hours) to drop Lauren off at camp where she is working as a counselor all summer.

And yesterday, Jenna accepted a job in Nacogdoches Texas to teach at Regents Academy. She’ll be teaching 7th and 8th grade grammar and composition and an 8th grade Literature/History block. So she really will be away(s) from home, but she’ll be close to much of our Texas family, and we are excited for this new stage in her life, even though we will miss her—14 hours is a lot further than 8. But we are glad that we’ll have her home with us most of the summer.

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