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The Seed Of My Father

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All of my life, at least since my earliest memories, my mom did very little except go to church, iron, clean house, a bit of dime store shopping, a few escapades in her Volkswagen (that was “cool” before Volkswagens were cool), lay in the floor and talk on the phone with her legs propped up…all the while doing an occasional leg lift…any way, you get the picture. Mom was a petite lady who was truly the “food police” and wanted to maintain that itty bitty figure, all the while preaching about our responsibility to take care of our “temple!” Wow. She was ahead of the curve!! About 40 years ahead of the curve!! I know you are wondering what happened to me? I was rebellious….nope, no drugs, alcohol, or wild living, just cheeseburgers, birthday cake, and ice cream, and I will add that I am “a work in progress!” I am trying to do better. My point is…Mom has been attributed with her God fearing example for many years. She was a truly a Jesus woman! Everyone that knew her can attest to that. She lived to be 88 years old and was vocal every day of her life about her faith!! But Dad? Most of his story is untold. So here goes.

Anyway, Mom and Dad had a rocky marriage at times. She had a different outlook on life than he did. She considered leisure relaxation a Bible study. He considered flying his airplanes or spending time on his cabin cruiser a great day. He worked so hard, and loved his vices….boats and airplanes (I am pretty sure I am his daughter!!) Hence the conflict was daily. Mom’s lifestyle and Dad’s didn’t gel. He was a conservative “tow the line” kind of man and I never understood why he didn’t attend church with us. I am sure the reason is complex and this subject was a bit “taboo” after he died. But make no mistake, Dad WAS a believer and was a gentle spirit when it came to his faith. He never talked much about God, but did most of his talking with his life. For, he was obviously a giver. He gave to any and all that were in need. The poor, the jobless….the problems of the world seemed to be his responsibility. At least it seemed that way to an 8 year old.

I remember an incident in the early 60s that depicts who he was. He had a favorite country preacher, that I will leave nameless. This round bellied, Bible toting, chicken eating (no disrespect, it’s all true) man of God came to my house. He had journeyed 100 or so miles to see my dad. Dad hadn’t seen this man in a few years, the best I remember. But anyway, the doorbell rang….and in walks this booming voiced preacher that was standing in my foyer…of my house. I had never seen him in this neck of the woods. After all, we were in the city:) Elizabethtown, KY. You know how you see  someone “out of their place?” Like you see your gynecologist at the grocery?….or your teacher at a rock concert?? This was like that, at least to a child. 🙂 I remember that weird feeling I had. That “you are a long, long way from home, and you are in my HOUSE” kind of feeling. Like, “What did I do wrong?” kind of feeling. My parents were originally from Ohio county, KY which was an hour and a half away from Elizabethtown….but we continued to go to church there about every other weekend..that would be Mom and me, no Dad.  Dad? Never. Anyway, this preacher that Dad DIDN’T go hear preach…was in my house and wanted to talk to Dad. I remember being ever SO NOSEY! It reminds me of my grandkids. All of them are nosey. I guess most kids are! LOL Anyway, on with the story.

So this preacher man, in a white dress shirt on a weekday, began to ask my dad if he knew of a building that he could use to hold a revival. They talked, you know that grown up talk that seems a bit foreign and boring…and I remember thinking I wasn’t all that interested in the conversation…after all: It wasn’t like I was in trouble or anything (whew…that was close. I was certain he was going to tell how much Portia and I talk during church!!) My anxiety was eased as they chatted and I think I went on with my 8 year old life. At some point, maybe weeks, or possibly months down the road, this KY preacher announces that he is going to start that revival. He had a building. Dad had worked it out for him. Soon I learn that my dad bought him a church. Yes, that’s right. That seemed to be a big “topic” to a lot of people. It was about 100 seats and a white clapboard building, but Daddy bought it and gave it to him. I didn’t think too much about it. I mean after all: Couldn’t my daddy do anything? I mean he was all powerful? I remember thinking he knew the governor…and I was pretty sure he could solve any problem anyone had. So what was the big deal?? Now…I get it! LOLOL

He didn’t attend the first service,the second….actually he didn’t attend any services, but he bought the building. Go figure? So these meetings started…they were pretty short on music, and after all I had mastered “Mansion Over The Hilltop” in C, D and G. Lack of confidence has never been in short supply for me, so guess who volunteered to play that old upright piano? Yep. You guessed it. Me.  before you knew it I could play a dozen songs…and if they would shout I could really get it going!! That was  boot camp for a young musician. I truly don’t possess much talent, but I maximized what I had, actually spending many years playing as an adult for my family. My favorite thing to do after I discovered the music, was go to church!! We played, sang….and sang some more. We would go early, stay late…..we pretended to have an audience and pretended to have microphones! That’s what kids do! Actually, that is what kids have done for many generations and judging from my grandkids, the tradition continues! 🙂 Anyway, you get the picture. The seed was planted. The love of that feeling was instilled. At the time I didn’t know it was the anointing….I just knew I wanted to cry. The die was cast.

My Dad was a bit of a non-comforist. He had little to say, and if he spoke you listened. He was a brilliant, self made man, with a third grade education and a head full of sense. Something had turned him off as it related to the church. But…he took me to see the Goodmans when I was 10 or 11. I can still see Vestal’s “glory up do” and will never forget Howard pounding that piano with those hands pumping up and down like only Howard could do. He also took me to see the Chuck Wagon Gang when I was in first grade and told me to pay special attention to Anna and her harmonies. He loved God, and he loved music. He loved GOSPEL music, as did my mom. He would rather hear my Uncle Truman sing than eat when he was hungry. My parents had the love of music in common. Sometimes I thought this was the only thing they had in common, but I guess it’s better than nothing! I will never judge nor try and create answers in my mind without the correct information. I don’t know why Dad didn’t want to assemble. I will never know. I just know he didn’t. But here is the part I want you to understand.  Dad planted seed. He was a giver. He encouraged “good” things in my life, Godly things. I am not totally sure why he didn’t go and see what the services were all about. I will never know. Questions? Yes, I have questions. But I know the generosity was there, and I know he loved God, and HOW GOD USED HIM!! As an adult I realize that much of the time he was a “giver” while the church people sat on their wallets and lived in their “stingy” world! Daddy gave, and God blessed HIS finances. Period.

To summarize: The thread that is woven by a man that gives can be the seed that brings forth fruit for many generations. That revival that came to town needed a pianist. I was motivated by those meetings..motivated to learn to play. That old time preacher came because my dad made the provision. That’s the kind of guy he was. He was a “take care of others” kind of man. For me, the seed was planted, time passed, life happened, love grew, music became a tool for ministry, income, and happiness for me and mine. Who knew? As I recall the man that was the most generous heart I have ever known, I am confident that he looks down with pride and a half grin when he sees MY grandchildren sing and play a good old gospel song. We all know there ain’t nothing like an anointed song, sang from an innocent heart.

Thank God for seed planters and people who are obedient, even when it comes to their money!! My dad died an unexpected death at 50. We didn’t have an opportunity to say good by. How ironic that me and my momma were at church that Sunday morning. I was banging on an old piano…and having what I thought was a normal Sunday. I had turned 13 three weeks earlier. Dad was at his office and had a heart episode…the ambulance arrived but it was too late. He was gone. But here is the truth. He lives on…and on…and on. The blood of that generous man passed way down the line….how blessed am I? For the example he gave me, made my life rich in God, family, love, and music. What else is there?? I want to  be a giver. Thanks Dad.

BETTER not bitter

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As I sit here tonight, surrounded by reminders of love (tomorrow is Valentine’s day and Tuesday was my birthday)…..it’s evident that God has blessed me with much. I am spotting birthday balloons out of the corner of my eye, an amazing sheet cake that has enough left for a couple more days of snacking and breakfast, gift bags that held my birthday goodies, a “sweet as pie” husband sitting in the matching recliner beside me, dozens of family photos of all my babies and their babies, a warm comfortable home, and the list goes on. You get the picture. This is a “sweet” week. I am in love with this “time” in my life. I have brilliant, talented grandchildren and  amazing God fearing children that are raising my brilliant, talented grandchildren:)…..and a somber, gentle husband that I married when I was 50 plus…and you know what they say. “They” say that there are NO good men left past the age of 30. Well…that may be an urban myth. Steve Hannah IS a good man. So, after a devastating period of pain in my life, this man signs up to marry me and takes on the entire clan. After all, those that know me know that the entire bunch comes with me.

Sounds like a “Lifetime” movie, huh?

Not really. A year ago tonight I was preparing for open heart surgery, and I had just buried my mother. I miss Momma, but someday I will see her. My surgery was a success and I expect to live a long time (bad news for my enemies!) HaHa!!

Ten years ago I was poised to face the “storm” of my life. I grieved, I cried. I cried some more. Get the picture? Life is tough. Sometimes for a long time. It’s called seasons. A time to laugh, a time to cry….

One day I got up and decided I had to move on. Why? I had to. I moved on for me. I don’t attend pity parties. Not even when I am the guest of honor. My kids will tell you that my most often used phrase when they were growing up was “Get over it”…..and “If you’re not bleeding, you’re OK!” As most people have done at some point in their life, I decided that I must live, not die. I wanted to see my grandchildren grow up. I wanted to watch them giggle in the pool, rub birthday cake in their hair, squeal on Christmas when I gave them a big box…I wanted to have another pot of green beans simmering on the stove, a brown sugar ham in the oven, and a house full of adult children licking out of the mashed potato bowl. Yes, I wanted to live, and I wanted to be happy and whole.

Through all of these complicated changes we quickly found that blood is thicker than water, but it’s not thicker than love. Life is complicated and there isn’t always a blueprint for the hand you’re dealt. But if you prioritize OTHER people, you’re sure to be ok. If you love those that DIDN’T hurt you more than you hate those that did, it helps redirect the bitterness. I learned that I must forgive without an apology. I must take the high road when I could re-pave the low road. I learned that my family is truly better than good. I learned that God really loved me for me. I learned that I AM favored. I learned that I TRUST HIM more than I thought I did. I learned that pain and humor are strangely connected. We laugh to keep from crying sometimes. I learned that a 50 year old unemployed person could start over. I learned to make fun of myself!  I also learned to make fun of others:) Just kidding….:)

If you have been hurt and want to get even. My advice: Don’t go on the 6 o’clock news, don’t post the awful evidence, don’t go on a reality show. Go to dinner and cry with a friend, tell your momma, tell your cousin, or better yet, tell Jesus. He cares. When people throw you to the curb, you are still His princess….or in my case his queen:) (Old women are queens not princesses.) Rejection depletes us, but the Holy Ghost restores us.

That’s about all for tonight. Happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow. I am happy to announce that I am loved, and so are you!! I have been blessed with so many friends. Some I have had for 50 years, others for 15 minutes, but each of you have crossed my path for a reason. You have encouraged me, listened, hugged, loved, and nurtured me when I couldn’t face another day.

I am sending love your way…one and all. If you were here I would share this cake with you…and a Diet Coke. All fat girls eat cake and have Diet Coke with it. 🙂 If you know someone who is hurting, help them process the pain, and live with the gain….for what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Tonight I am pretty confident I could bench press an elephant!!! LOLOL

I am happier than I have ever been in my life and I am sooooo thankful to be better, not bitter. Don’t try and get even, get happy.

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