Monday, June 19, 2017

Grandma's Coin Jar

I have a sweet tooth.  There I said it.

I don't care how much sugar, how much fat, or how much anything it has in it - if it looks good and I want to try it, I'm going to.

My Grandmother was my favorite person on earth.  She believed in my mind and encouraged everything I ever wanted to do.  When she passed away in 1999, a part of my childhood did as well and I  knew I had to somehow keep the magic and Hope of life alive within myself to keep her vision and "push" going.  My Aunt Vivian once said Grandma could pray the paint off of a wall and that when she passed away, Aunt Vivian looked up and thought to herself "Lord who's gonna pray for me now?"  Grandma prayed for everyone, their pets, and their fleas.  She was the kindest, most gentle and loving person, and she wouldn't think twice about friends just popping in for a visit and she'd have a meal prepared in 5 minutes that looked like it had taken an hour.   "Y'all come on in."  she would say.  "I was just about to put some potatoes on so you may as well stick around and enjoy them."  Before they actually arrived Grandma was probably folding laundry in the back somewhere and potatoes were the last thing on her mind.

She didn't have a lot of money but throughout the  year she separated her silver coins and her pennies (usually grocery store change).

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Candy Bar Story

"Get away from my door!" shouted the old man. 

"Yes please I'll take 3.  Nice to meet you and good luck." said the kind lady next door.  

I learned a lot about sales and marketing from simple candy bar fund raising events as a kid.  I come from a large (church-going) family and when I say we had to work for what we had, I truly mean it.  Our church was a smaller church and there weren't huge budgets for this or that but there was always an effort to keep local youth actively involved and interested in attending our services. Each summer, for example, our little church worked to raise enough money for the youth groups to go to Six Flags Atlanta (I grew up in Georgia).  This was the "IT" thing to do each summer and created great back to school bragging rights.  Since there wasn't a huge budget for these kinds of outings, we all had to put on the famous quote that says "IF IT'S TO BE - IT'S UP TO ME!" 

Our youth group leaders worked hard

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Are All Hearts Free?

My father is a minister and I grew up in his churches (our churches) and under his leadership.  It wasn't  just Sunday mornings for us.  It was Sunday morning, Sunday night, mid-week devotionals, Vacation Bible School, district get togethers, and on and on.  This all happened while my father miraculously worked another full-time job, raised his 6 children, and kept clothes on our backs and food on the table which, many times, wasn't a lot.

People go to church for various reasons.  Some go because that's the way it is, others because they feel devoted to a building and they put however much money into the new bell tower, others from a true relationship with God and their experience with the Lord and others because they love the music services.

With most church services, there's a time for music, a time for announcements, a message, and some sort of call to action.  These calls to action aren't just "go spread the good news" necessarily.  Sometimes the very seat you're sitting in gets awfully HOT - REALLY FAST.

In my father's closings, he usually provides an opportunity for prayer with whomever, or for people to pray together, or confessions or praise.  And  he asks one final question that I will forever remember - ARE ALL HEARTS FREE?

I didn't think that much of it as a kid but today, what a question.  Dad simply wouldn't release the church until he was absolutely sure that he had given time for people to be with their thoughts, to be with their hearts, to search deeply, to ask for prayer, to ask for forgiveness, to give thanks and to be with each other as a church family.   Is there any lingering question?  Is there any lingering doubt?  If time were up for us today would we all be at peace?   Are all hearts free?   Not just yours, not just mine, but ALL HEARTS.

As a family, we held hands at the table to pray.  We had our evening meals together.  We sat by one another in church.  And even to this day when we have a family restaurant outing  (20-30-40 people)  our mom insists that we all wait until tables are aligned and grouped together so that we are all together and no one feels left out (we have literally waited for an hour or more sometimes) but it was worth every hug, every "pass the salt," and every memory or ROFL.

My father,  if my time in this frame ended today and there were only two words on my tongue - they would simply be THANK YOU.

 Always your first,

Billy Jr.

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