As the calendar turns to fall each year, my heart is filled with mixed emotions.
I am an old soul with ties to the Midwest. I love the crisp air of the fall, the leaves changing from green to orange and yellow. However I live in California, where the only change in color is when the landscape goes from brown, to orange and yellow to black as wildfires blast across the land ravaged by another hot summer.
The Fall also leads up to the big family holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. And who doesn’t like that.
However as the years have gone by, the Fall has also had its share of family tragedy. This week will mark the 30th year since my Mother lost her battle to cancer. In November it will be 10 years since I got the call that my Dad’s health had taken a turn for the worse and he was heading to hospice care.
Over the years I have spent a lot of time battling depression at the end of the year, as the holidays roll in and I am left with just memories of two of the people I loved the most.
As the years have passed, I have gotten better and with conversations with friends and family, along with the Men of The Grove, I have been able to talk about the good times without reliving the bad times.
That is a big thing for a guy that LOVES to tell stories. And in the past year, as I am making family plans of my own, I have found myself able to talk about the past and tell stories from my childhood about my Mom and Dad and not get choked up, and lose it.
Just last week at Bible study we were discussing how we carry ourselves as Christians, and I brought up what I learned from my Dad. How he always lead by example. and would never judge others. He would let you know where he stood on things, but never beat you over the head with it. He instead chose to live out his life as an example of his love for God.
As I was talking about this I found myself in full storyteller mode, and I brought up how he had these people he knew at work, Jim and Cheryle Parsons. I didn’t really know all of the people in the room, but I knew the Parsons had been prominent members of our church at Liberty Baptist, prior to Jim’s death a few years ago. I knew everyone would know who I was talking about (one of the people was even wearing a JKOMs T-shirt, the brand sold by Cheryle).
I talked about how at some point God put it on my Dad’s heart to bring the Parsons to church. Our families had interacted on occasion, his kids and their kids were the same age. So he started going over to their house and inviting them to church. It didn’t matter that they drank and smoked, or didn’t have the “right” background. My Dad did not treat them as if they were something less, he just let his actions do the talking and they responded.
They started coming to church with us at Magnolia Ave. Baptist, and were saved. Our families spent a lot of time together, especially in the months leading up to my Mom’s passing.
That was more than 30 years ago, and the Parsons and the Goffs are still together. The younger Parsons, Travis is married to my sister, Betsy. I sit in church in Sunday school and church with Josh Parsons and his wife and kids.
Despite my Mom and Dad and Jim not being around anymore, our families are as tight as ever. We celebrate the good times together, we mourn the bad ones. And we do it all in the Faith that we got from our Parents.
The point of my story was that it would have been easy for my Dad to go in guns blazing, thumping the Parsons over the head with his Bible, telling them to repent. It would have been easy for them to reject what he had to say.
I am so grateful for how things turned out. I am am always trying to live up to the example that my Father set. And as I head into a life of raising three boys, I pray that I can leave the same kind of example for them.