Memoir One

Coffee with Mom

I had coffee with my mom yesterday morning. Good things always happen when I have coffee with my mom. I’ve written about her countless times here, but she truly is an amazing woman.

Guam

She asked me what my earliest memory was, and we spent a good twenty minutes talking about Guam. That’s where my first memory began. Dad is a teaching pastor in the Church of Christ, and in 1977 he accepted a pastorate in Guam. My brother Joel was a toddler, and I was barely five-years-old. I don’t remember the flight there at all, and the only way I “remember” anything before Guam is from pictures. Conscience memory is interesting because some people can remember before they could walk. I was not one of them. I remember the little basketball goal on our back porch of the parsonage in Guam, and I clearly remember riding in the van dad drove around the island in. I remember the native divers flying off enormous cliffs into the deep Pacific waters, and I remember watching Three Stooges episodes on a movie theater size screen at Shakey’s Pizza. Yum.

Guam was surreal in many ways. My childhood was surreal because how many children grow up in so many different places? It made what I’m experiencing now that much more significant, not that no point in life is not significant, but that it underscores the thankfulness I have for the stability Carey and I have created. A boy learns what he experiences, but life is never a neat little package tied up with a bow.

Memory and the creative process is a fascinating subject from which many artists create their best work. I’m no exception. As we age I think that process becomes more refined because as I recall there was a “short story” my third grade teacher instructed our class to write. Mine was about a football game, and that is ironic because we were a basketball family. It was also foreshadowing of the future because I married into the Earheart family who has a great love for football. Carey’s dad David, and her sister Megan also went to the University of Tennessee Knoxville, and so did her cousin Travis. David could talk for days with his best friend Phil about Tennessee football, and he talked with Travis and Taylor about football. I loved to listen. We are missing our David horribly. I’m thankful he sent us Wrigley. Wrigley has a heart on her butt, and a University of Tennessee T on her chest. Talk about a sign. Thank you David. Thank you Abba Father.

I did not think this post was going to turn into grief, but there you have it. Grief sneaks up on you when you least expect it. I don’t digress because grief must be expressed, and when you grieve don’t hold the tears back. Let them flow. Nothing makes the grief process more acute than denial or delay. Life waits for no one, and it waits for everyone. If you stoic through the suffering you’re only postponing the inevitable, and it’s certainly never pretty when it’s forced out. Lament, wail and mourn even if you’re in the middle of a busy restaurant.

Jesus touched people in church, the marketplace and homes. His power was not regulated to healing water pools or the synagogue. Neither is it today. His power will go out everywhere anywhere. Keep your heart soft. Let it soften after it’s been hard. Be patient with those who’s hearts are hard. Draw boundaries when they drain you, but check in when you’re strong.

My brother Jason was born in Guam, and I’m delighted to mention that his blog Bring Back the Poetry is a delightful place that will inspire you as well. It’s one of the blogs listed above. Click on the blog link, and you’ll see a short bio about Bring Back the Poetry. There’s also a link to his blog.

Guam is a US territory, so I’m assuming the building of the Bible school next door to the parsonage was easier than building one in a non US connected island or country. I see images of the cinder block construction in process, but I do not remember it being completed because we moved.

I do remember the sandbox, the campouts in the backyard with my dad, and the veteran missionary who lived behind us. I remember the taping up of windows, hoarding of can goods and batteries before the typhoon (Pacific hurricane) hit, and remembering the flying palm trees during the Pacific hurricane that hit Guam. I’m not sure how extensive the damage was, but it must have been minor because I have no recollection of major damage like some of the hurricanes we are familiar with here.

Funding Runs Out

Money is a strange bedfellow. It’s toppled governments. It brings down cities. It destroys families. It makes missionaries have to move back. Nashville became my home for a few months right behind Crieve Hall Church of Christ where I also continued Kindergarten. Money can be a powerful tool for good. Some of the most Christ-like people I know are affluent. Never judge a book by it’s cover. Just because they are rich doesn’t mean they are bad, and just because someone’s poor doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled. Walk softly because God is in Heaven, and we are on earth. He sees things we don’t, and despite what is going on in our world He is in control. He always has been.

Hollywood, Florida became home after Nashville, and the great Ira North paid dad’s church a visit for a good old fashion gospel meeting. I don’t know if anyone gave their lives to Christ or rededicated their lives to Christ. I hope they did. I do know during those years that Adam Walsh was abducted from a Hollywood mall, and he was not reunited with his parents. John Walsh used that crucible for good by putting thousands of criminals behind bars through America’s Most Wanted. That tragedy left a lasting impression on my young mind, and I have to wonder if it was a contributor to my clinical depression. It made me a staunch protector of my brothers, and created a love for children in my mind as I still think about the Walsh family to this day. The next time you go to a retail store, and you see on a glass window or door ADAM in all caps know that was created to let children know that that is a safe place to go when they are separated from their caregivers. No child should be subjected to that kind of Satanic evil, but sadly they are. One day that will not be the case. Come soon heavenly Father.

Love my ma, love my pa

Jeremy, my third brother was born in Helena, Arkansas. Yup, we moved from sunny Florida to Arkansas. I’ll leave it at that. You be the judge! LOL. The church was on a big hill, and we’d slide down that hill on big pieces of cardboard. I started the second grade in Helena with Mrs. Etoch (pronounced E-tosh), and I remember taking swimming lessons. That was a good thing because years later I’d become a lifeguard. I’ve always loved to swim whether it’s in PCB or the wave pool on Briley here in Nashville. The pool at Pepperdine is okay, but I’d rather just run through the sprinkler in my Donelson front yard with my daughter.

My memories might be inspiring you to share yours with others. It doesn’t have to be a public blog. It might just be a handwritten journal where just one other individual reads it. It’s cathartic either way. It brings clarity to your primary and secondary calling. People need to hear your story. I’m going to spend the next few posts telling you my story as you see I’ve started.

Family of Origin

Both my parents are still living, and they live here in Nashville. I have three younger brothers, and we are extremely close. Jeremy is the youngest, and he we will be forty in November. We are all married with children, and all of us are devoted followers of Jesus Christ, not because we were raised that way, but because we have lived life, and we are convinced he is indeed LORD. He was crucified by our sins, he lay in the grave for three days, and the Father resurrected him on Sunday. When he ascended back into the literal presence of our Abba Father some time passed before the Helper (Holy Spirit) was sent to dwell in the hearts of those who put their faith in him. Genesis through Revelation, or the Bible, is all about that incredible promise that no one can destroy. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts are specifically about the story of Jesus of Nazareth. He was the most dynamic human being to walk this earth, and you either think he is liar, lunatic or LORD, but no one in their right mind has denied his existence. He is as real as world leaders today, and he continues to show himself to those who have rejected him. There’s nothing he hasn’t seen, and he is unphased by the things we experience now. He is in control, and as our stories unfold he longs for each one of us to totally surrender to him. He doesn’t force it, but when you’ve been touched by the love he offers continually you can’t reject it.

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