LEAVING ALABAMA

Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.” (Gen. 12:1 NLT)

Since many have asked about our move from Alabama to Missouri, I thought it was about time to bring you up to date.

Well, a few have asked.

Okay. Two have asked. Two people have asked what possessed us to leave paradise to come here. It has now been a year since our move, and I am now able to try to answer that question.

The verse given above applies to Abraham when God was separating him for the work He had called him to. I do not—even with the amount of arrogance I sometimes seem to have—claim this verse as an application for me in this situation. It was just a good verse to open with.

We were living in a little fishing village known as Bon Secour in south Alabama just outside of Foley and Gulf Shores. It was most certainly a little piece of Paradise.

A large piece of property co-occupied by Gracie’s son, Joe, and his family, provided an ideal setup for us to enjoy our remaining days. We poured ourselves into that place, building and remodeling and creating a comfortable scene.

Gracie and I moved down there first, and Joe and Lisa and the girls joined us a few months later. As I was giving them the grand tour of my old stomping grounds in Pensacola, we went to the Naval Air Station.

I took them to the lighthouse, which they thoroughly enjoyed. While I was waiting at the car for them to soak it all in, I began to cry as a very warm and familiar feeling swept over me.

I’m home now,” I remember saying. It was a deeply satisfying emotional experience.

I had left Pensacola in 1965, had returned for only a brief time in 1969, and had left again only to return for short Christmas visits.

The question has been legitimately proposed by a couple of friends, “What happened to I’m home now?”

While the details causing the move may be boring, they serve to clarify the “Why.”

The house we occupied was not ours. It was a duplex owned by Joe and Lisa. Joe began talking seriously about a dream he had carried for years to once again live in the Springfield, Missouri area. His skills are such that moving there without a job was actually not that risky, even with a young family.

Gracie did not want to be in the position of having to scurry to move if the house sold quickly, so she began looking at any available property in southern Missouri.

We found and bought this little 2 ½ acres in Stockton, MO. Stockton is a small town of about 1800 people on one of the major sailing lakes in the country. It cannot be commercialized since the Army Corps of Engineers maintains the area.

We began looking for a church to join. After visiting a few, I saw a sign off the main road one day, pulled over and called the number on the sign. I told the pastor we would visit the next morning.

It was a very small group of about 10 souls that morning. Nothing really exciting.

The pastor began by telling us of a proposed mission trip to Tanzania scheduled for September. He jokingly said, “If I am going to make this trip, I will need to quit eating Sister Glee’s cinnamon rolls.” (They were really tasty home-made, fresh-that-morning rolls.)

I had been working out trying to get my health under control for almost a year, and was loving the results. I was pursuing getting my training as a personal trainer so that I could do this for others.

After the service, I went to the pastor and asked, “Are you serious about wanting to get in shape?”

I sure am.”

Five-thirty in the morning serious?” I asked.

He gulped, looked up into the ceiling, and said, “Yeah.”

I can help you with that,” I said.

We began the very next morning.

Working with Steve eventually led to my being asked to lead crosstraining classes at the YMCA. It barely pays gas money, but it is a blast for me.

Maybe this is why the Lord wanted us to move here. Steve needed help and we are available.

Allow me to back up in time a little.

February 9, 1988 I wrote in the margin of my Bible next to Pro. 10:24b “Pastor a church.”

I have tried a multitude of times since then to be the pastor of a church. I’ve applied, sent out resumes, called, joined churches that were looking—all to no avail.

Somewhere about the first of this year I was able to completely let go of that desire. I laid it down. “Lord, it looks like You are confirming my desire to be a personal trainer.” It felt good, freeing.

In July, I got a call completely out of the blue to consider becoming the pastor of the local Presbyterian church. I had not sent out a resume nor application. Caught me completely off guard.

We are going through the process and necessary steps for that to happen.

Why did we move to southwestern Missouri?

It could be that the Lord needed us here for His work.

It could also be that we are just being used because we run all over the place following our own personal desires.

But, it could also simply be that Gracie needed to feel, “I’m home now.” This is her old stomping grounds, having been born in Springfield and teaching for 30 years in southwest MO.

BTW—Joe and Lisa are still in Bon Secour.

Words

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

I grew up believing that lie. Now as an adult, I still suffer the consequences of that deception.

Words can break the spirit. Words can wound. Words can kill.

Words can build up. Words can heal. Words can give life.

Pro 18:21

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

It is very important that we learn to think about and listen to what we are saying.

Gracie and I are in a tremendous battle to gain healing from a fight we had yesterday. Words were part of the cause for the pain we both experienced.

So, this morning, on the way to church, I had a good example of how important it is for me to guard my speech and to choose the right words.

I went out to the car ahead of her, and decided to let her drive. So, I got in on the passenger side. The car was running when she came down the stairs. Since she was in heels, she was carefully watching where she was going, walking with that beautiful grace she has. She was coming to the passenger side when I called out, “Wrong side.”

Then I got to thinking about that, and broached the subject with her as we were driving along. I asked if she had felt ‘corrected’ by my statement of “wrong side.” She said no. But, can you agree with me that “Other side” might have been more appropriate? “Wrong” is a negative, corrective term. And even though I had no intention of correcting anything, it could have been perceived that way. Fortunately for us, since we are both very tender right now, she did not receive it that way.

Is this being too picky? Do I have to be concerned about every single little word and nuance before I speak?

For me, the answer is YES.

Jesus said, “The words that I speak are spirit and life.” (John 6:63)

Luk 6:40

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

It is my desire to be like the master to whom I am discipled.