I’m stealing this blog for awhile to tell stories I know the best. Stories about my family and my early years. I’m not that old….. watch it now….. but remembering who we have been and the paths we have walked help to remind us of who we are and the value of our heritage. I have been blessed to grow up in an intact family. My parents were amazing people and I will attempt to retell stories they related to me about their own families.
The Christian faith is intrinsicly intertwined within the fabric of my family’s story. Dad was an evangelist and pastor throughout my childhood and teen years. Mom was the glue holding the home together and had a very tender heart for hurting people. For years, they travelled as itinerant evangelists, driving from church meeting to church meeting, with short stints as pastors thrown in for good measure. They had two children early in their marriage, and then two miscarriages within three years of each other and then had me in late adulthood. My brother, Bill, is 13 years my senior, and my sister, Connie, is 12 years older than I.
Music and ministry were always uniting factors in my family. Dad played the piano really well, so in each church service, our family provided music and Dad preached. We were a well rounded circus for the time period. All three kids began to sing in front of people by 2-years-of-age. We never sang with arranged sheet music, Dad played by ear, so we all learned how to hear different parts and “harmonize” with each other. Although music wasn’t as natural for Mom, we would usually include a song or two during the week- or two-week-long run of services in which she joined in. Mom would also give dramatic readings from time to time. We carried our own sound system so we learned how to set up and tear down the system before and after each “meeting.”
My brother and sister were home-schooled until 7th grade. They were then enrolled in a boarding school where other kids from similar ministerial and missionary families lived. I was home-schooled through first grade. This meant that my brother and sister were each other’s friend and playmate. Because they were so much older than me, I spent most of my time playing alone. I was kind of an only child. We were blessed with myriads of experiences other kids didn’t get the chance to have, yet none of us had the opportunity of living in one community long enough to develop long term friendships with other kids our own age. It was pretty much a mixed bag. But it was our life, so was normal to us. Dad had various opportunities to pastor in a community and put down some roots, but after about 2-3 years, he felt compelled to re-enter the lifestyle of evangelism. As an adult, I’ve wondered if he felt his gifts were better suited to bringing people to a place where they could look at their lives, and evaluate their priorities and life direction. Being a pastor calls for living with people during the messy part of their lives and leading them to develop strategies for growth. An evangelist calls for mountain-top perspective and life decisions. A pastor calls for trudging through the valley and decision implementation. Some personalities give better leadership in each of those roles. I also think God pours Himself through some people spectacularly in one role, but not necessarily the other.
Both my brother and sister have done wonderfully as adults. Bill and his wife, Margaret, live in a New Jersey burb of NYC. Bill is retired from the ministry yet busies himself with writing a daily blog and meeting people in his Starbuck’s office. Margaret is an uber-intelligent, red-headed mom, grandmom, and is head of quality control for an HMO. Their son, Brett, is pastor of a church nearby, but his best job is that of husband to Marissa and father of Ashlyn. They are also expecting another baby. Brett’s sister, Stefanie lives in NJ with her favorite stalker, Andrew Cole….its ok, he’s her husband. They all spend an unhealthy amount of time at Starbucks, too.
Connie lives with her husband, Dan (Butch) Soles in a burb of St. Petersburg, Florida. Butch is the hardworking owner of his own pest control business. Butch and Connie have been the most stable of the three of us. Butch has been the reason for that stability. I admire Butch and Connie. Their children are Holly, married to George with two precocious little girls and live just outside Orlando. One son, Tate, lives with his wife, Leigh, and their three beautiful children…Isabel, Ransom, and London, in Royal Palm, FL. Tate is a youth pastor, surfer, and undersea explorer. Butch and Connie’s youngest son, Travis, his wife, Narnia and two beautiful little girls, Peyton and Riley, live in Lebanon, OH. Trav is also a youth pastor….
Mom lives in an assisted living facility near Connie in St. Pete. Dad was killed in a truck accident in 1985 just outside Santa Rosa, CA. And I’m in Olathe, Kansas living with my daughter, Hannah, 18 and a senior at Olathe South High. My son, Baird,21, lives in Kansas City, MO and attends the University of Missouri at Kansas City. I am proud of my kids. They each love God and are seekers. I think that is important. Each has a unique perspective on their faith and care about other people. I can’t ask for more as they take steps into adulthood.
Ok, this has been an introduction, of sorts to my family story. I’m sure its more information than you want to know, but I love my family and miss them. I truly believe we will one day have a chance to hang out together and tell stories…. stories of how God showed up in our lives. I’m so looking forward to that.
I just love stories…