I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad lately. Though he has been gone for close to 50 years now, the gunshot that took him from us, still echoes deep inside. A bad decision by one individual with a sawed-off shotgun forever changed the lives of two families who lost their patriarchs and the many friends and loved ones left to grieve their loss.
Although I have long forgiven the man who wielded that shotgun, I can’t help but wonder how my life and the lives of my family would have differed. I wonder what it would have been like to grow up with my father and for my daughter to grow up with a grandfather. His absence still ripples through the generations and can still be profoundly felt in my heart, perhaps now more than ever as I have spent the last several months working on Planes, Trains and Heroes, a book exploring the history of my hometown and the region that surrounds it.
All along this book project has been special to me. As a freelancer, each and every time I lifted a pen to capture the lives of individuals, families, business owners and churches in other communities across the United States, I dreamt of offering the same opportunity to those with whom I share my geographical DNA. I was thrilled when both the publisher and the City agreed and work finally got started in the closing weeks of 2017.
What I didn’t expect was just how personal it would become. You see, my job as project manager and managing editor, is to call on local businesses, organizations and families that themselves have a story to tell—some people and places whose roots are traced to the beginning and others who were drawn here later to become a part of our blossoming heritage. It has been even more endearing than I anticipated as local business people reminisce and remember events and people of days gone by—including my dad! Yes, Billie Q. Gibson lives on in the memories of people I didn’t even know before now.
Unbelievable and absolutely unexpected that almost a half century since my father was transitioned into the afterlife, people still remember him and fondly so. They worked with him and served with him. They laughed with him and had lunch with him. They respected him and loved him. He WAS real. A breathing, living, work of God. My daddy.
Because he was killed when I was barely eight years old, my memories and even my thoughts of him are from the perspective of a little girl. It’s as if that part of me—the daddy’s little girl part of me—will always be frozen in time; a story that won’t be complete this side of Heaven.
In the meantime, however, hearing that people knew my dad as an adult and hearing that the picture that I had painted in my mind of a knight in shining armor, a true-to-life prince of a man was pretty much true. My dad was an awesome guy –a respected businessman as the manager of a finance company on the corner of Commercial Circle and Watson Boulevard; an active member of the community; a dedicated servant who among other things served on the board of the Civitan Club (it’s good to know those darn Claxton Fruit Cakes served a greater good!); a beloved friend to many; and, of course, a loving husband and father.
Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me this very special walk down memory lane. It was an unexpected blessing that I will cherish forever. Happy Father’s Day to You and to my earthly dad, both who await me in Heaven. I’m proud to be the daughter of The King and the little girl of a true prince
Amen and Ehmen
April 15, 2018
On the surface, it is a dreary, sleepy morning. I awoke to rolling thunder in the distance and now a
rather harsh rain is falling. Of course, with the skylights in my living room, the rain always sounds pretty intense, I imagine much like it does on a tin roof. I have always heard that many people find rain on a tin roof comforting. I’m not sure about that. The sound can sometimes be deafening. It definitely takes some getting used to. Still, even with all the noise, here I sit, safe, sound and dry, tucked away comfortably in my bed, writing you. Now, that is comforting! Insert peaceful sigh, here. I can feel you all around me, Lord. Welcome to my humble abode. Come on in and stay awhile. I love you.
Dear Child of Mine,
I love you, too. I love being in your presence as much as you love being in Mine.
It is a beautiful morning. Listen to the birds just outside your window. Can you hear them singing My praises? They are thanking Me for the rain as they know rain is a necessity of life; a gift from Me to all of creation. When the sun is shining, they thank Me for that, too, as it is also a gift.
You see, child, the birds get it. They understand that I will take care of them, no matter what. They live each moment, come what may. They trust Me to provide and protect. That is how I want you to live as well.
Come what may is a very difficult concept for you. It unsettles you like the roaring noise the rain makes on your skylights or a tin roof. What I want you to understand, my dear one, is that I am like the roof. I am the one that takes the beating so that you can remain safe and dry. I cover and protect you.
As for the sound, I hope you, too, will find comfort in it from now on. Let it be an audible sign to you that I am your protector and provider; that I will never leave nor forsake you. Listen, do you hear it? That, my child, is the sound of true love and devotion. Close your eyes and drink it all in. Live in the moment. Trust. I’ve got you covered. Today and every day, come what may.
Writer’s Note: Though it has been awhile since I have immersed myself in His Presence, conversing via the blank page, I have–this very week–once again discovered that He is always waiting and willing. He loves us, y’all! He really, really does!
Amen and Ehmen!
Lord, you know the needs of this day. I will do my part and clothe myself in the armor that You designed. The Belt of Truth. The Breastplate of Righteousness. The Gospel of Peace. The Shield of Faith. The Helmet of Salvation. And, the only offensive weapon, the Sword of the Spirit, which is Your Word. Please open the eyes of the spiritually naïve, Lord, so that they may suit up and STAND as well, at all times, but especially today when it seems the enemy is being called out to play.
Amen and Ehmen.
On this Saturday, the last day of March 2018, the eve of the glorious day our Lord and Savior arose from the grave, let’s take a moment to reflect on the day in between…
It’s sometimes called Holy Saturday, the Great Sabbath, Black Saturday and Easter Eve. But what is today, really?
Well, I think today—the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday—is just that, the day in between.
The silent day that lay mournfully and mysteriously between the brutal crucifixion of our Lord and Savior and His joyous resurrection. The day between a promise and its fulfillment.
I can’t even begin to imagine how those who loved and followed Jesus must have felt on this day; just hours before having watched as God’s own promise hung tethered to a rugged cross; bloody; lifeless; hopeless.
I just can’t even imagine how they felt when the world’s only hope that God Himself had so lovingly poured into the flesh of a baby more than three decades prior was taken down from the cross, a crumpled and shattered shell; breathless; dead.
Oh the grief, the fear, and…
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To my dear friend who entered the boxing ring this time last year and emerged victoriously, Jesus right beside her holding up her right hand in victory! I’m so, so proud of how far you have come and the woman of God that you are! You are a true inspiration and one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known. I am so glad that God put us on this journey together. Forever the sister of my soul and partner in purpose. I love you, Denny. So glad this came up in my memories today. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Happy Easter!
The Boxing Match Begins…
The journey that had brought me to this point had been arduous, a rollercoaster ride filled with slow crawls up the peak of a steep-rising hill followed by a plummet to the lowest of valleys below.
The difference in a rollercoaster and this life journey was that more times than not there didn’t seem to be enough momentum for my friend to climb the next hill and, as hard as I tried to hold on to her, she would break out so that she could stay in the valley a little longer.
It was so hard to understand what power this deep, dark place held over her, but the fact was it had become so familiar to her that she had begun to mistake it as her safe place. It was miserable. It was scary. It was damp and dark. But, it’s what she knew. And…
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Worry is a sin and I am a sinner.
I am so sorry, Lord. Perhaps, that is what I could give up for Lent.
You want me to give it all up and you will fill the empty places with peace and joy?
Oh, Lord, that sounds perfect, BUT first I need you to help me give up my pride and stubbornness. You know I can worry about not having anything to worry about. Help me with that?
Amen and Ehmen!
Whether you are single or paired on this Valentine’s Day, this is a day we celebrate the very heartbeat of God: LOVE!
Remember what Jesus told us in Matthew 22: 34-40: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”
And, as far as Valentine’s go, you can’t get any sweeter or more perfect than our precious and glorious Lord who loves us beyond compare, without condition, forever and ever. And He’s all yours for the asking.
If you haven’t yet, why not today? The day of LOVE.
Just say something like this:
“Lord, I don’t necessarily understand it all and I’m not sure what to do next, but I do…
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As I sit and stare at the last page of my 2017 calendar, I can’t help but notice how free the day looks. The burden and weight of all the other days are gone, crumpled in the trashcan below; days lived, some happy, some sad and some—more than I like to admit—chalked up to just another day.
But, I realized as I studied this scene, that what looks like trash is actually a beautiful work of art,
each torn calendar page representing yet another day that God loved, cared for, provided for and sustained me.
No doubt, 2017 has been a year of transition and trying times. A year of ripped off Band-Aids, shrinking comfort zones and vanishing safety nets. A year filled with frontline assaults on my income, my health and the health of many of my loved ones and friends. A year that could have easily derailed me and thrusted me into a downward spiral of depression and hopelessness…BUT GOD.
The Bible often introduces similar scenes that are recorded on its pages with these two simple, but powerful words, “But God.”
Beautiful words on which our Lord and Savior rides like a knight in shining armor. Words that have changed the trajectory of the lives of men and women throughout history and have breathed new life throughout time. Words that have rescued, sustained, protected and revived entire nations and individuals, myself included, more times that can be counted.
Yes, 2017 has definitely been a “But God” year for me.
Today, I find it refreshing to recap those “But God” moments as a reminder of how very much God loves me and is always in my corner; a timeline of sorts that proves His unyielding affection and unwavering presence in my life. A timeline that breathes a revival of refreshed purpose, hope and life.
I started 2017 entrenched in a job that was literally sucking the life out of me. Eighty-plus-hour weeks filled with more 20-hour days than I care to recall. Youthful supervisors who made no attempt to hide their agenda to run off anyone who had been in place prior to them. Pay-cuts, complete and utter disrespect, constant patronization, and a schedule of brutal and non-sustainable hours which wreaked havoc on the physical and emotional health of those targeted.
BUT GOD…He pulled me from the wreckage and gave me a new beginning.
In May, when the earth was springing into its annual rebirth, the job that I had held onto for far longer than I should, suddenly came to an end. The writing was on the wall and my self-constructed safety net was in the trash. And, yet, I had peace. Fear and worry danced all around me, but never really took ahold of me. I felt His Presence and knew in my heart that what looked like an ending was actually a beginning, a gift from the Almighty Father in Heaven. I couldn’t have survived what that job had become.
BUT GOD…He sustained me and provided for me.
I spent the next six months without an income to speak of, but never once did I go without. Once again, fear and worry danced all around me, but never, ever got a grip on me. He sustained me. Successful appeals, found money and odd jobs and projects seemed to fall in my lap as I met each month’s bills on time. And while the job market for a woman in her mid-50s is far from burgeoning, God paved the way for a new beginning; a jumpstart on a self-employed career which promises more time, more energy and, eventually, more money to fulfill the purposes He has set before me. I know this deep down at the very core of my being.
Of course, now unable to threaten me with my job, the enemy had to find another area of weakness and soon began to launch attack after attack on my health. For the past six months, it has been one thing after another and my immune system has struggled to keep up. Fear, worry and hopelessness have danced all around me and, I must admit, have occasionally drawn me in. With my body broken, my spirit often tried to follow.
BUT GOD…refused to give up on me, offering me the time and means for healing as He continues to build me up for a purpose-fulfilling future.
For years now, He has been leading me toward changes that I fully believe will re-set and revive my body, healing present ailments and staving off future ones. Before, I didn’t have the time or the willpower to comply, but I have slowly come to realize that, once again, what the enemy means for harm, God uses for good. It is clear that I have to make changes if I want to live the life He has for me and He is now giving me the time and I am slowly gaining the willpower to do so. Yes, hope is on the horizon and 2018 promises to be a breakout and breakthrough year.
Thank you, God, for sustaining me and transforming a tumultuous year into one of hope, promise and confidence for the future. Thank You for replacing my innate tendency to worry and fret with an awareness of Your presence and the confident assurance that You are always and in all ways looking out for me.
Thank You for showing me once again that a life fueled by faith is a life filled with blessings and hope. Though I don’t know exactly what 2018 holds, I can step into it with the confidence that You are already there with arms of protection, hands of provision and a heart full of love.
Happy New Year everyone! Remember that God not only loves you, but He is FOR you. With Him on our side, 2018 has no choice but to be epic. Amen and Ehmen!
To God be the glory…
As night fell, it took the sun’s warmth with it. Mary shivered and winced from the pain. The contractions had begun. The time was nigh and Joseph knew that he had to find a place for his betrothed to give birth to their son, God’s son, the savior of the world. Wrapping his cloak around her shoulders, he reassured her that he would find a place for them to spend the night. She knew it was unlikely as every single place they stopped was filled to capacity; with scores of people–people like them, who had traveled to Bethlehem, to be counted in the census. Caesar had decreed it and nobody was willing to disobey Caesar.
Still, even with the odds stacked against them finding a warm and cozy bed on this particular night, she trusted Joseph and even more so God, even if it meant going through the pains of…
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