Thursday, June 1, 2017

This Is Who I Am

I am a son of the South.
I did not ask to born here.
My home is here.

I cannot see myself living in any other part of this nation.

Kudzu....sweet tea....catching fireflies...cutting a watermelon on a hot summer afternoon....front porches.....hide and seek...Homemade ice cream...these were all a part of my childhood.
As well as working the garden.....hauling coal and/or wood in during the winter to heat our home.....banking the ashes at night so the fire could be stoked come morning.....slopping the pigs.....feeding dogs and assorted other farm type crech-tures (as Ernest T. Bass would say)...shelling peas on the back porch...stringing beans....capping strawberries....shucking corn and removing the silk.....catching June Bugs and tying a string around their leg so they could fly, as you guided them. 

Our house was always full of music. WVOK out of Birmingham was usually going as my mother went about her daily chores. Sunday morning was reserved for the Chuck Wagon Gang, a Southern gospel quartet that my Dad liked. How well I know, because of them, that "On the Jericho Road...there's room for just more or no less....Just Jesus and you." 

I spent countless hours ridding my bicycle along the back roads looking for "coke" bottles that could be returned to our local store to collect the deposit so I could get enough money to go the movies. Digging for worms and catching crickets to one penny for every two worms / crickets I could catch. Sold them to Pawdy Moore, who in turn sold them to fishermen in search of bait. This was my childhood.

I learned at an early age that I had a second was the people of the church we attended. Men like Lewis Wood, Don Gentry, Levan Parker, Hugh Chambliss brought the word down that lead me to Christ. The teaching let me understand that through my veins flows the blood of a sinner.  It was the salvation offer to me by Jesus that covered my sinfulness. 

My blood came from the Bynum's and the Perry's. It was blood that was forged in hundreds of revival meetings that were held in countless country churches on hot July evenings. I carry the blood of my ancestors who settled in Blount county long before Alabama was a state. This is the line that I was born into. I guess you could call them God-fearing people. 

My ancestors attended revival meetings where the air hung thick with shouts of "hallelujah" and "Praise God". Many of my ancestors were moved to the "call" of God to take the word to others. I, like them, had to come to terms with my own sinfulness, and such coming to terms has been a part of my journey. Finding the truth for myself that it was the blood of Christ that covered my sinfulness and paid a debt that I could never pay on my own. Without HIS blood, I would have suffered eternal separation from the presence of God. It was during a revival I attended on one of those hot July nights that God called me. I knew it, but I didn't want answer His call. I didn't even want to acknowledge that it was real and for me. I had more excuses than Carter had pills. My excuses became fuel for my running from God. But the call never changed, and it followed me for 33 years. Somehow I knew God would win this battle between us. Now I can't see myself doing anything else. As it was so eloquently stated in the movie "O'Brother Where Art Thou?" I was just dumber than a bag of hammers.

Old faded pictures of unknown creek banks lined with recent converts to be baptized reveal the truth of ancestors who came before me. Men who answered God's call to preach His word. Not many "flowery" words in the teaching of that day. Times were hard and life was harder still, so were the words that came down from the pulpit. Not condemnation from the Pharisees, but rather the reality of where you were headed if you continued to live outside of relationship with Jesus. There seemed to be a collective fear/reverence toward God back in those days. We are much smarter now and have no need to acknowledge God in this way. We have taken His majesty and Presence and boiled it down to such phrases as the "big man upstairs"..."My buddy"..."J.C." Wonder what God thinks about all this? 

If you played the music at the top of this posting, you'll find a piece that stirs a sense of longing and looking back at the journey you are traveling at this time. At this stage of the journey my goals have become fewer and the ones I do still hang on to are more defined. Age has a way of grabbing your attention and showing you what is really important in this old life we live.
That is unless you allow the world to become your god, then you, as it says in Jeremiah, wind up chasing emptiness...and become empty yourself.
My God tops my list of what is truly important in life.
How could I ever repay Him? I can't. He doesn't expect me to repay, rather He does expect me to obey. To live a life that is pleasing to Him. This I will do.

My family comes next....

So proud that my two sons, Chad and Josh, have gone miles beyond what I have accomplished. Their respective wives...Robin and Heather, are the daughters that Vicki and I never had. I love them as such. Never could I ever replace their own fathers, nor would I wish to, but they are a part of my heart and my family.

Grand kids, Tyler and Ashley...They have reached the point that I do not believe I can refer to them as "kids" any more. I look at them and the way they are turning out and I am grateful that God has His hand on each of them. Good man and young lady. I just want to help them in any way I can.

My wife....
Traveler in this journey, we have navigated our share of storms, bumps, differences, and assorted other terms that show that marriage has to be worked on. There is daily maintenance that one has to do if one wants a good marriage.

1.) Laugh...and do so often and daily.
2.) Hold even when there isn't any music....
3.) Go out at 9 p.m. to buy her some chocolate simply because she wants some. She'll balk and tell you not to, but you know that you want to because you love her.
4.) Talk.....and then when you some more. Share your day..share your victories and your setbacks. Talk...
5.) If your spouse isn't your best friend, you may need to step back and reload.
6.) Cover her with prayer. Always have her back. Be her champion. 
7.) Never go to bed angry at each other. Never be afraid to admit your wrong.
8.) Realize that there doesn't always have to be words between you. Sometimes you simply sit and hold each other, drawing strength from the common love and bond that been forged between the two of you.

What am I trying to say in this rambling posting this morning? I'm not sure. I think maybe I just needed to share who I really am, and where I've come from.
Now, here today.......June 1, 2017, there are still a lot of hills to climb...streams to ford....paths to follow....and one voice that leads me. The voice of my Father.
I think maybe I'll see what's around that bend up ahead.

God on you...

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