Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Walk

My Dad died this morning.

Throughout the "necessaries" of the day I felt compelled to return to my walk. We lived in a fairly small house and without cell phones, computers, or cable television, my walk was the best way to escape the chaos of the house... and especially to get away from him.

First stop on the walk was the First Baptist Church of Palm City (now called "The Cross Church"). It was in the chilly, heavily-chlorinated water of the outdoor baptistery that I was immersed to mark the beginning of my journey as a follower of Christ.  He didn't come.

From there I would journey down the street to the outdoor chapel of the First Congregational Church of Palm City (now called "Coastal Life Church-" what is it with church names these days?). Seated on the concrete pews I could cry and pray and sing as I looked over the meandering waters of the south fork of the St. Lucie River. He wouldn't understand.

Today I followed the route and stopped again under the street light at the corner of 7th Street and McCord Avenue where on a summer evening in 1977 I said a simple "yes" to what I sensed to be a call to ministry.  I didn't tell him.

My Dad got a lot smarter while I was away at college. As I became a husband and father I learned that maybe he wasn't as bad at either as I once thought. I recognize his work ethic in the ways I conduct my ministry.

My Dad died this morning. As I re-traced the path of my walk I found myself wanting to be near him.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Thirtyone-derful Years

It was August 14, 1982 when Priscilla and I stood before family and friends in the crowded sanctuary of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in Rome to exchange vows, make promises, and begin the journey of marriage. Across the years we have navigated better and worse, richer(?) and poorer, sickness and health, have loved and cherished, and, so far, have managed to not kill each other!

The weeks leading up to the wedding were slammed: Priscilla finished classes for her degree from Shorter; we moved our meager, mismatched possessions to apartment X-5 in Seminary Village; and I completed my responsibilities as Associate Pastor at Fifth Avenue. That church showered us with love, as have the good people of Shively Baptist Church in Louisville, Garden Lakes Baptist Church in Rome, and Towne View Baptist Church in Kennesaw.

We returned from our honeymoon in Hilton Head (Priscilla's Mom could only call it our "trip") and traveled to Louisville, started orientation, and a week later began classes as seminary students. Within a month I was asked to serve as Interim Youth Minister at Shively (where over the next 6 1/2 years I would successively serve as Youth Minister, Associate Pastor, and Pastor). In less than six weeks Priscilla had gone from college student to newly-wed to seminary student to minister's wife!

When I enrolled at Shorter my Dad became prophetic when he said, "you're going to find you a Georgia peach up there and never come back to Florida." I don't much like peaches (except in cobbler) but this "peach" is the love of my life.  I am grateful to God for providing a life-mate with the ability to help me not take myself so seriously, the compassion to invest her life in others, the love she shares so freely with the churches that we call family, the commitment it takes to parent four children (even four as bright and beautiful as ours!), and the sparkle in her eyes that first caught my attention thirty-two years ago.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A New Day

Most mornings I listen to local news-talk radio station on my drive into the office. As a "news junkie" I like to catch-up on what may have happened overnight and maybe receive a "heads-up" on the day's events.

I also like to hear the traffic reports. Sometimes I can tell the interstate is backed-up before I even reach Cobb Parkway. As I hear the reports and drive over I-75, I offer a brief prayer of thanksgiving that my day doesn't start with a long commute.

My favorite part of the broadcast is the weather report. It can be comforting (or frustrating) to know if I have dressed weather-appropriate. This particular meteorologist has developed a "meter" whereby he rates the weather for the day on a "1" (it's going to be miserable- go back home and go to bed) to "10" scale (perfect for the time of year). A "10" is even emphasized with the ringing of a bell!

Wouldn't it be nice to have some sort of meter that could project the day on more than just the weather? The clouds of disappointment, conflict, and fear sometimes obscure the sunshine of opportunity, friendship, and faith.

Or, maybe, each day we could rejoice and be glad for this is the day the Lord has made! Ding!