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ART | billie buckley

“PUT SOME GOOD ON MY LIFE”


F OLLOWING G OD ’ S W ILL L EADS
A UTHOR B ILLIE B UCKLEY TO A S CHOOL IN H ONDURAS

B TEXT BY ROBYN JACKSON


PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF BILLIE BUCKLEY

Billie Buckley never set out to be a writer, but an


invitation from the religion editor of the Hattiesburg
American to write a guest column one week turned
her into one.
That was 24 years ago, and Buckley is still going
strong. She has been writing a personal column for the
newspaper since 1986, and she includes that first
essay in her first book, “Put Some Good On My Life
(CrossBooks, $13.99), a compilation of 51 columns that
she has revisited and revised. She found common
themes among the hundreds of columns she has writ-
ten and divided them into 10 chapters: Sharing
Secrets, Just Being Real ... Period, Celebrating
Ordinary Days, Meandering Through Marriage and
Other Relationships, Solving Pesky Problems of Life,
Growing Up Days, In the Classroom for 32 Years, My
Yo-Yo Emotions, Let’s Play Ball, and Listening to
Friends and Readers.
The selection process was long and hard, Buckley
said. “From over 1,500 columns, I chose 50 to rewrite
for the book.”
Buckley, a retired sixth-grade teacher who lives in
Petal, shares her faith and stories about her family in
her columns, whether she’s quoting from love letters
written by her father to her mother during World War
TO ORDER A BOOK
II, talking about her “Favorite Preacher,” as she calls
“Put Some Good On My Life” husband Gerald, pastor of Sunrise Baptist Church, or
is available for $13.99 from making fried okra for her grandchildrens’ breakfast.
CrossBooks.com and Her stories can be funny or heart-breaking, but the
Amazon.com. thread that ties them together is her faith, which cen-
Copies are also available at ters around these words of Jesus Christ: I am the Way,
Main Street Books in
the Truth and the Light. No one comes to the Father
downtown Hattiesburg.
To order an autographed but by Me.
copy from Billie Buckley, “As a nine-year-old little girl in Laurel,
send a check for $15 to Mississippi,” she writes in one column, an open letter
P.O. Box 1133, to a non-believer, “I heard these words and somehow
Petal, MS 39465. knew I needed a heavenly father. My earthly father
For more information on the
was killed in a foxhole in Germany during World War
Good Shepherd’s Children’s
Home and School, or to II. I have learned from his letters and life (as told to
sponsor a child, go to
http://thegsch.org/FR/Fund.
html.
me by others) that his faith was not a sham or
a crutch. What a waste his life would have
been if this were true. My hope is that your
life will not be wasted either.”
Buckley had two goals in self-publishing her
book. The first is to leave a legacy to her sons -
Steve, owner of Bucko’s Cleaners and head
football coach at Petal High School, and Stan,
pastor of First Baptist Church of Jackson - and
her five grandchildren - Adam, Neal, Anna,
Slade and Annaleigh - so they would know
who she is and what she stands for. The sec-
ond goal is to raise money for the Good
Shepherd’s Children’s Home and School in
Honduras. For the last 10 years, her paychecks
from the Hattiesburg American have gone to
support the children there, and the profits
from book sales will go to the school.
Buckley learned about the school in 1998,
when Gerald was interim pastor at the First
Baptist Church of Mount Olive. Billie was
teaching a Bible study class, which had
“adopted” a young girl at the school and was
sending financial support for her monthly.
Dwight and Margarette Carr, directors of the
Baptist Medical and Dental Mission
International, a Hattiesburg-based nonprofit,
were members of the church and invited the
Buckleys down to Honduras for Gerald to
preach and for them to see the work the min-
istry was doing there.
“I was moved to secure uniforms for the
children to wear to their school on the grounds
of the home,” she said. “They did not have a
feeling of belonging and all children wore uni-
forms to school in Honduras. They got their
uniforms. They now belong. That was the
beginning.”
Buckley continues to support the home, and
to let others know about the children and their
needs.
“It is what I am supposed to do,” she said.
“I really don’t have a choice. This is what my
Lord wants me to do for the 200 children.”

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