I’ve put off writing this entry………trying do decide if I wanted to go chronological or just wherever the whim takes me (a true blog, I guess). Then, some event happens and I want to insert something that has a completely different take on where I want to be………so many people to remember, to think, to touch – so here I go back to my original plan with my entries about church, as that is the foundation that built the wonderful spirit of John Michael.
Taking up from my previous blog of church in Clayton and Stillwater……we were short term in several places as by that time Skip had started his Walmart life…….and, after being in Shawnee for a year (where we were members of University Baptist) short was our time in Ft. Collins, Colorado, but I’ll never forget the pastor coming by to visit us about joining the church – I said we don’t expect to be here long; his response was that no matter where you go, live as though you’ll be there the rest of your life – get involved, meet others, and enjoy. I still remember that conversation so clearly. We soon transferred to Pawhuska, Oklahoma. But, then, we left for lands unknown – and, I smile as I say that, because in our two years in Wyomissing, Pennslyvania, we met great people. Because I’m trying to stay on task with my subject of churches, the other discussion of teachers and friends who made a difference in our lives will have to wait. Wyomissing is where I first put the Ft. Collins’ pastor’s advice to test — at that time, there was just one Southern Baptist Church in Berks County. We visited one Sunday and joined the next. The pastor and his wife were a young couple – around our age. It was a small church – so small, that I was recruited to play piano when the regular pianist was gone. Now, I’m definitely not accomplished enough to be even a fill-in, but I agreed. John Michael had just begun piano lessons and was always quick to point out how many wrong notes I hit during the service – I would request that Johnny, our pastor, pick out only songs with no sharps or flats, but for some reason that never happened. But, what I want to focus on most is Johnny’s wife Robin who was John Michael’s Sunday School teacher – he loved her. She had a beautiful spirit, was sweet and loved those 2nd and 3rd graders. We were there almost two years and have fond memories of Vacation Bible School as both Skip and I volunteered. It was here that John Michael asked to speak to Johnny to say he had asked Jesus into his heart. What great Bible studies we had here – the week before Easter, we would have Seder – introduced and exposed to so much Bible history. Several of the boys in his cub scout den were Jewish, so he began a deep appreciation for others’ faith, while strengthening his own. We then moved to Dickson, Tennessee, and joined First Baptist Dickson…….no need for me to play the piano as the mother/son piano/organ duo was phenomenal. John Michael took lessons from the mother and also played handbells there. This is where he was baptized and began playing handbells – he had the same wonderful touch on them as he did with the piano. We were in Dickson two years; Skip and I were the 5th grade Sunday School teachers, so I won’t brag too much on them. We then moved to Paducah, Kentucky, for a year and joined the a church in the community of Heath. What a great place; as a sixth grader, JM joined the younger youth group and began attending a Wednesday night Bible study class; I remember the older gentleman who taught the class complimenting JM and his insight to everything they studied. This youth group of 6th graders was so active – singing in the junior high choir, the Christmas play, and lots of youth get togethers……..how much I would like to thank Harmony Baptist Church family for ministering to our family, especially John Michael. One of John Michael’s favorite songs with his youth group was “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” His dream was to sing “Angels Among Us” as a solo, but it didn’t happen before we moved. Our next journey would take us to Fayetteville, Tennessee, where we would spend the next seven years of our life – a place JM called home. We joined First Baptist Church and were members there for two years; again, JM was active in the youth group and was the lead in one of the church plays.
We moved our membership to Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, where John Michael began a close relationship with Dr. Calvin Todd, our minister. One weekend John Michael and Dr. Todd were going hunting together – JM volunteered to drive as I had a suburban and they were “out into the deep woods of Middle Tennessee;” Dr. Todd mentioned to John Michael that for some reason his “bottom” was getting quite warm – I had left on the seat warmer. JM also loved this youth group. What great memories I have of being the mom of an ARP youth. Wow….where do I began…perhaps with the two ski trips we made at Christmas time. The first one was to North Carolina; most of the youth had never skied before – John Michael, an accomplished skier, enjoyed coaching them down the mountain…and, yes, riding with Meredith Taylor up the mountain; she still remembers how he would not put the lift bar down – saying if she went down, he was going down with her. The next year, we went to Gatlinburg to a youth ministry summit. My mother happened to be visiting and went along – this group welcomed her as one of them! Meredith, Teela, Lindsey, Shannon……my mother still remembers all of you and what you wore! More about all of you as my blog takes on different subjects. Another trip JM enjoyed was the mission trip into the Appalachians, coming home and telling us about his “deep” theological discussions with the leaders of the program. But what I think JM would say today about ARP was the friendship he treasured with Dr. Todd. This past weekend going through things, I found a “list” (JM was big on lists) of his to do list when he was leaving for college. One was to stop by and have one last visit with Dr. Todd. So, thank you, Berkshire Baptist in Reading, First Baptist in Dickson, Tennessee, Harmony Baptist Church in Paducah, Kentucky, Fayetteville First Baptist Church and Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville, Tennessee…..with a special thank you to Dr. Calvin Todd at ARP.
***Ecumenical Blessings, part 2….yet to come
Dear Marsha, I’m so happy to see that you are back to your blog. I’ve missed your wonderful remembrances of John Michael. I hope Skip and you are doing well. When you write the blog, I always feel that this means you are healing. I love you, Arden
Thank you for sharing those wonderful stories , I enjoy reading your family adventures. Please keep blessing us with your words. Peace be with you and Skip.