Garret and Jennifer Jones

Garret and Jennifer Jones
Garrett and Jennifer Jones

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Trilogy

Mary and Joseph have fianally made it to Bethlehem and of all the rotten luck, the only place for them to bed down is Eli Youseff's Stable and DIY Delivery. After settling down and getting the hay spread around just right, Mary say's," Joey (her nickname for Joseph), could you be a dear and move those sheep to the other side of the stable. The draft through the doors comes right across their pen and I'm downwind. And that olive kiesch we had is really workin on me, so how bout some goat milk to settle my stomach? Wow, that moonlight sure is bright tonight. Almost like really bright star....."
DEC. 25TH, 2001
We have celebrated our first Christmas without our oldest son, Brandon. He was 19, almost 20, and had finally been cured of cancer on June 10th. But it happened right before he took his first step into Heaven.The pain is still here, and the traditional Christmas Eve Family Reunion had been sad, but not terrible because we knew the year before that he wouldn't survive another year. On this Christmas Day,we are packing our luggage for a trip to Cyprus, in the Mediterrainian Sea. We have dear friends who are missionaries there who have allowed them to bring Christmas to their kids. Also making the trip was around 50 lbs of chocolate candy. Hershey's chocolate, which was not available on the island. What a reuinion took place, much happier than the one in Hueytown. But as we backed out of our driveway that Christmas afternoon to drive to Atlanta airport, we were given a double hairy moon sendoff..... compliments of our two sons.
Dec. 24th, 2011
We are preparing to go to my sister-in law & brother in laws house (formerly JayMomma's house) for our Christmas Eve get together. Last year there were 15 of us. This year, 12. It's hard to believe. JayMomma left us In February, Jennifer, our precious new Daughter-in-love, April 27th. And once again, an awesome young man I am proud to call my son, Garrett, is absent. All three have joined Brandon, who know doubt took them to meet the REAL star of that Bethlehem night, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. I am so happy that they are all together, for I'm sure Brandon was missing us. And this has to be his best Christmas in 10 years. But oh, is the pain so real. Yes, I am thankful for the fact that I am going to see them all again because they all had asked that Saviour born that night in Betleham, to live in their heart. I have two grandsons that will begin to fill the emptiness that seems to never let up. And I have a host of friends, some I know, thousands I don't, from Facebook, who are praying for us very hard these days. And...........(gee this is hard), we will make it through. Ya'll have prayed down the strength that has brought us this far. And we thank you very much.
I know from the nightly posts, we still have a lot of people hurting and needing physical healing. We have a lot financially hurting and needing financial healing. We have mental trials, anguish and feargoing on in some, that need the calming peace only God can give. Janis, Stephanie and I, as administrators of GPW's homesite, care for each and every one of ya'll. From the Jones house, we thank you for the last 8 months of your lives that you have taken us in, shared, prayed, cried, visited and posted. Please remember at this time of year, but all year long really, that our God is what ties us all together. No matter how you "celebrate" Christmas, please reach out to someone you don't know this next week or month, heck do it once a month, and be a blessing to them. Whether you bring the guy with the "homeless need help" sign at the end of the interstate ramp, a Big Mac and fries, or whether you and 5 friends get together, go to a trauma or ICU waiting room and take homemade sandwiches and chips and bottled water to them. Or better still, help a GPW who has posted a need.
One of the last things Brandon got to do was share. My sister's husband,a traveling evangelist, had come to visit Brandon. He was bed-ridden by now, so David stood by his bed and they talked. He asked David how his ministry was going, and David mentioned a group that was trying to get 1,000 Bibles printed in a certain language to take to a group of refugees here in the states. Brandon told David to look behind the head of his bed, and open the cabinet door and hand him his wallet. Brandon took out $100 and gave it to David, and said "here, this will do 10, I hope it helps".
Last year, Garrett and Jennifer heard that I was collecting funds to provide toys for 3 kids abandoned by their parent, left w/a grandparent who was on $SS. They didn't carry cash around. But he went to the ATM, and came back with $100, and said "'Dad, if you don't get enough, let me know. No kid should go without gifts on Christmas"
I have these precious memories of my sons showing God's love, that I wouldn't take a billion dollars for. I hope your family makes memories this year. They are one thing that death cannot destroy. Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas, everybody!!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brandon Remembered #4: I See a Pattern

With the report of the cancer being 98% eradicated, our focus and talk turned to his right leg. The tumor located in his hip was mega-size, and growing (turns out after surgery it was determined to be the size of a pro football, no I'm not kidding). And his health other than the tumor was the best it had been in 9 months. So surgery options were examined and teams of surgeons discussed pros and cons. The course of action they decided on was one of replacement of the femur bone with either a cadaver bone or a metal one, specially designed and built to his specifications.
(I will add here that when cancer was discovered and a chemo regimen was decided on, the doctors wanted Janell or I to sign the authorization papers to begin it. One of us were going to take off work and go to the hospital and do so. Yes, we were working, because Brandons request from the diagnosis of cancer was that we not treat him any different, keep life as normal for his brothers as possible, and should the time come, care for him ourselves and not hospice. The last one almost did us in, but thats another story. He was to call us when the doctors started making rounds on the floor. He didn't call and finally after a couple of hours past normal, Janell called him to see what was wrong. Brandon said nothing was wrong. He had researched things and knew that in the state of Alabama, a 16 year old has the legal right to make his own medical decisions So when the doctors came around he signed the paperws himself, because if something went wrong and he didn't survive chemo, he didn't want us to be able to blame ourselves)
Anyway, we are meeting with the surgeon and discussing the surgery, and right out of the blue Brandon asks the doctor "What about amputation of the leg?" I looked at Janell and said "Where did that come from?" She looked at me and said, I'm not surprised. I looked at Brandon and then at the doctor. He was as surprised as I was. He told Brandon " Well, thats always an option, but only as a last resort" Talk went back and forth for a few minutes, with me throwing in my two cents every once in a while, but in the end, when we walked out the door, Brandon made the call to take the leg off. I was beside myself. On the way home, I asked him, "Son, why not let them do what they feel is best?" He looked at me and said "Dad, don't you think I want to walk again? Don't you think that if I thought that was the best option I'd tell em to go for it? But the truth is God told me it has to come off". Again, I looked like I'd just seen a ghost. I said "GOD said to do it? He looked at me and said "Yes sir. He told me that people wouldn't understand. But He's always right, Dad." I was beginning to see a pattern here. Didn't Jesus say he came to confound the wise? But He didn't say he'd be shut up juice for Dad's. Oh well.
Surgery was set for two weeks later on a Monday. On the morning of the surgery, Kevin told Brandon. "You be sure to tell the doctor I left a brother here and he better not send me a sister home! Typical brotherly love! Now for over a year, we had been used to seeing this swollen mass of a leg (he was 6'-5") and it was always propped to ease the pain and discomfort it gave him. But when we walked into the recovery room (yes Janell's threats of unit destruction were taken seriously) we were not prepared to see a blanket laying flat below his torso, and we both almost passed out from the shock of it. We walked over to his bedside, with the tube still down his throat and he peeked through swollen eyes lids and grinned. "I told you I'd pray you through it, son". He raised his hand in the air and pointed to Heaven and shook his hand and pointed again. I got his message, God got him through it. And I said to him "Yes He did, yes He did". The next afternoon a bunch of his buddies have shown up, and are in his room trying to come up with a new nickname, they said "Bubba" had to go. The two finalists were "UNO" and "Ilean". About that time the doctor came in, asked how he was feeling, checked his bandaging, and then got serious. He said "Brandon, I don't how you knew what you knew, but you made the right call. Had we done the surgery we wanted to do, we would have cut about 2 to 3 inches lower than we did. However, your amputation decision required we cut higher in the groin. By cutting higher, we missed slicing into the tumor by two inches. The surgery we did kept the tumor with the leg. Had we cut into it, the cancer would have spread throughout your abdomen and groin. Your decision probably saved your life". Well, it did add about three years. Brandon asked when he could go home. The doctor said probably a week. He would have to do all the exercises in Physical therapy's regimen and that usually takes about 5 days. The next morning, Brandon goes to physical therapy, does every one of the required functions, and we left the hospital in time for him to be at church that night. He drove himself!
I'll be back..........

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Brandon Remembered #3: Incredible Faith

After 5 months of massive swelling in the broken leg and bone that wouldn't heal, June '97 brought xrays that showed behind the steel plate and rods and screws, the bone had finall healed together. So Brandon was given the ok to walk on crutches. July 5th Xrays showed 5 inches of bone disappeared. And on July 10th, a biopsy showed a mass in his upper right thigh and spots in his lungs. A quick lab examination brought the diagnosis PNET (primitive neuro ectodermal tumor), a cousin to the terminal Ewings Sarcoma. The doctor offered to go into his room and break the news, but I told him that was my responsibility. After leaving recovery, I met Brandon in his room. As I got close enough for his fogged over eyes to focus on me, he saw a face with swollen red eyes, that had lost it's usual lighthearted glow. "It's cancer, isn't it Dad?" I choked up, pause and answered "Yes sir". He said, "From the look of your face, I'd say that it's pretty bad". "Yes sir, it is, at least according to the doctors. The swelling in your leg is a massive tumor that has eaten part of your bone. And there are tumors already in your lungs." How long do I have Dad? "The doctors say probably no more than six months."
He dropped his head for a minute, then looked back up to see the tears covering my cheeks. ". Thats a real bummer, isn't it Dad". I wasn't expecting that, and a grin popped up and I agreed, "Yeah, a REAL bummer, son." His next comment made me look at my son not as a 16 year old, but as a young man, wise beyond his years. "Well dad, in 6 months I get a miracle or in 6 months I get to go Home, I don't lose either way do I?" I silently, in the midst of tears, thanked God for what I had just been shown. A faith that put mine in the shade. A faith that over the next four years would seven times, deliver him from deaths door, just to confound the wise and show others, not Brandon 'cause he already knew, but to show others who was in control. It was his faith and gift of speaking that God bestowed on him that led four different pastors to describe my son as "the closest thing to a modern day Paul", that they had ever seen. My son taught me true faith.
In November, when the chemo had quit working, and his oncologist brought us in for a conference, we were told he had less than 3 months. His lungs were 60% covered in cancer, and she saw no way that that would change. Brandon asked her how his death would probably come and she explained breathing problems, shortness of breath, and congestive heart failure, probably dying in his sleep. He thanked her for her honesty, her care and her handling his case. He then told her to schedule a lung scan for March and he would see her then. She tried to tell him there was no need for
it. He told her that if he wasn't here, she could give his appointment to someone else. "God and I are now gonna make the calls, and I just ask you to do what I ask" She agreed. And in March when we returned for the scan, 98% of his lungs were clear. His energy and appetite had increased and he had grown 1/2 an inch. Now 6' - 4 1/2" and 250 lbs. Once again God and my son showed me what faith is all about. Little did I know a foundation was being poured inside of me that would one day hold me up like I had never needed it before.
I'll be back..........

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jones' Progress (not Pilgrims')

Janell went back to work today and managed to get in eight hours! She has been somewhat sleep deprived in the last week, due to taking care of the grandkids for a few days. But, oh, how she enjoyed that! If I made enough on my own, she could stay home and do just that, if Tina (their other grandmother) would let her! Does anyone out there need a good Christian salesman/customer service/mfg rep (no insurance, financial planning or home remod. sales, please!) I love where I work but I'd need to double my salary! Back to Janell, she is doing very well. This week will be rough on her mentally moreso than physically. But I believe she was ready to go back.
I spoke in my home church yesterday morning and I have a new appreciation for preachers who have so much to say and try to get it in within 30-40 minutes. I omitted the special music portion of the service, giving myself an extra 5 minutes and still filled up 50 minutes. And I left some out as I went along just in case. But the congregation was so polite. No one got up and left, I heard no cell phones or watch alarms at 12:00, and though there were no public decisions, so many kindly spoke to me afterwards. My pastor described it as the most incredible down to earth testimony he's ever heard. He knew nothing of Brandons journey except that he was called home. I think he was being kind by saying down to earth because a speaker I AIN'T! But people, it did feel right. I had the same feeling there as I did the time 20 years ago when I went in studio and recorded a casette project (yes between 8 tracs and CD's). I knew my first minute behind that big ole'mic w/windscreen that I was where God wanted me at that moment in my life.
I am still praying that if God wills it, I will be asked to speak or sing somewhere Sunday evening, the 27th., as I return from Gulfport. But if not, I'll just stop in somewhere between there and home, and worship with unknown brothers and sisters. How many people visit somewhere on Sunday night anymore? Still yet, how many churches have dropped their evening services? Why this old Southern Baptist geezer just might take in a Pentecostal, Church of God or Holiness service. But bet your bottom dollar, I'll check the stage area for those snake boxes! I didn't follow through last week on my Brandon Remembered Series, and I apologize. I was so involved with laying out my story for Sunday and taking care of grandkids, I just forgot. But I will start again this week, I promise. Also, I heard from the writer for the Birmingham News this week that our story will appear sometime the week of Thanksgiving.
I'll be back....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Brandon Remembered #2: Change in the Chapel

I mentioned last week that I would try to share stories of our journey with Brandon, which I hope you will enjoy.
In January of 1997, Brandon was in a classroom where some horseplaying was going on before school started. Some guys wrestling around fell against him as he stood leaning against a chalkboard. They feel against him and his right femur (upper bone in the leg) split longways, and he was rushed to Childrens hospital. Because of his size, about 6'-4", 275 LBS. and only a sophmore in high school, the head orthopedic specialist for UAB sports medicine was called in. Surgery involved plates, pins and screws to put everything back together. But severe nerve damage was done during the break and he experienced excruciating burning sensations in his foot. At times, he could not stand to have a Kleenex touching it. In March, he was admitted to UAB so the pain management team could try some medications and a TIMS unit to try and improve his condition. During this stay, I came into his room one day after getting off from work, and Janell's mom, who stayed with him during the day while we worked, told me she could no longer stay with him. His personality and demeanor was changing. He was becoming combative, argumentative and disrespectful. She left to go home. I asked a nurse for a list of his medications. She brought it to me, and I told Brandon I needed to go to the chapel and pray about what to do. I was going to eleminate some of his medications, not even knowing what they were, but I wanted God to guide me. I asked Brandon if he wanted to get in a wheelchair and go with me. (note: cancer had not yet been found, but the bone was not healing in normal time and they were getting concerned, but never suspected cancer) He said he'd go with me, and down to ground floor we went. With him sitting beside me, I sat on the end of a pew, and prayed. After several minutes, I told him I was through and asked if he needed to pray or wanted me to pray for him about anything special. He looked at me very sternly, and said "Yeah, there's a few things I want to tell God", and the way he said it sent chills down me. I thought this doesn't sound good. Brandon's anger was intensifying weekly. He knew that football had been taken away from him, even though Auburn coach Terry Bowden had shown some interest already. I watched as he prayed silently and I saw the trembling lips, the tremoring fists, and the cold stern expression on his face get worse. And this silent battle went on for ten to fifteen minutes. I then saw a change starting to come over him. Stillness took the place of trembling, color returned to his relaxed hands, and softness replaced sterness. After about another 10 to 15 minutes, with tears coming out of his eyes, he opened them, looked at me and said he could go back to his room now. I asked what had taken place. He said "Dad, everythings OK now. I am saved now, and I wasn't when I came in here" Talk about shocking! I asked what happened. He said he just told God he didn't appreciate having everything his future had held being taken away, what kind of thanks was that for all the church services, prayers, choirs and things he had "done" for God? He said he pretty much told God if that was what being a Christian meant, having your dreams crushed, he could do without Him. And jokingly, I asked "What did God have to say about that?". Then he replied, "God told me He had listened to me, and now it my turn to listen to Him. He said I knew in my heart I wasn't one of His, that all those things I tried were to fool everybody into thinking I was a Christian, when I was just a hypocrite, and I wasn't fooling Him." By this time I'm beginning to feel like my eyes are gonna pop out of my head. I asked him, "You literally heard God say that? Brandon replied "As clear as I'm hearing you, Dad." I was blown away. Never had I heard an audible voice from God. Just that small little "voice" that speaks when your doing something you shouldn't be, or going over options of a situation, and having that voice let you know when you said the right one. And so I had to ask the obvious follow-up: Did He say anything else? And Brandon replied "Yeah, He said that what I'm fixing to go through, I won't make it without Him." I said What does that mean?" Brandon said, "Dad, I don't know but that's what He told me. But I don't have to worry, cause He's in control now. I just gave it all over to Him. We're in this together." Four months later, cancer is found.
I'll be back......

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Brandon Remembered #1

This last week I received a very nice reminder of my firstborn. I'll have to look back at my posts because I can't remember what I may have written about Brandon. and I don't want to be repititious. But we tried to raise our 3 the very best we could. We tried to teach them that though there were other kids with richer parents, we were not dirt poor but just plain folks. We drove older cars, got reduced lunches early on, and their Easter clothes were always bought by their Aunt Sugar. But we tried to instill in them that there were folks not as blessed as we were. And to always treat everybody the same. We may have been looked down on in some circles, but we didn't look up to others or down on anyone. Go out of your way to help someone that may need a friend, because someday, you may need that person. I wanted to share the story sent to me because it brougth tears to my eyes, that Brandon was once again remembered by someone. Over the next few weeks I'll try to share some of the stories of our Brandon Journey. I did not ask this young lady's permission to share this, so I won't reveal her name::::::::
I can't remember the exact year, but Brandon had already lost his leg at this point. I was very young, not even 16. Brandon had asked me to go with him to a football game away from PG (Pleasant Grove-fj) and, of course, I obliged. I came home from school, told my dad about our "date" and began to get ready. My dad, as most dad's should, forbade me to leave the house with any boy unless they got out of their car and knocked on the front door properly. This one time, he decided to make an exception. Though he felt that any boy picking up his daughter should show enough respect for her parents and walk to the door, he wasn't trying to prove anything here by making the kid with one leg tromp up the driveway. I was sitting on the couch when I heard the truck pulling into the driveway. I fussed with my hair for a split second and took off toward the door. When I reached the bottom of the steps and could see through the window in the front of our house, I froze. Brandon was already out of the truck and reaching into the bed for his crutches. "Dad, he's already out of his truck," I remember saying because I didn't know what to do next. Should I run out so he doesn't have to trouble himself any further? Do I wait so I don't embarrass him and waste his already given effort. My dad answered me before I could give it much thought, "Get up here and sit down," he said to me looking out the window to see Brandon lumbering up our uneven driveway on his one leg and crutches. "I'll be damned," were his next words. So I sat down, waited on Brandon to knock on the door, listened to the embarrassing rundown my father gave him about safe driving and curfews.
Brandon and I were never more than buddies, but I'll tell you this: I had lots of boys coming to my house to pick me up and lots of boys who had to suffer that same speech from my father. All of those boys I have forgotten. Except Brandon.
I'll be back,,,,,,,

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Tale of Two Stories

(Stephanie here: I got behind on posting Frank's FB notes the past couple of months, but got them all caught up today. So even though all the posts are dated Fri., Oct. 21, they go back to August 25. Keep scrolling down to the first "Oct. 21" entry to catch up, and my apologies to my brother and all of you.)

It's late Thursday, in fact in 9 minutes it's Friday, and while this was fresh on my mind, just thought it should make the page.
Shortly after Garrett's passing, we received a call from a reporter with the Birmingham News, Veronica Kennedy. She had written several articles on the victims of the tornadoes, which were written before his death (you don't know how hard it is to type that). But she was intrigued by what all she was told about this "perfect couple", and wanted to do a more indepth piece, but if possible, with our imput. I told her that when we felt more comfortable doing so, we would call her, and kept her name ond number on our message board by the phone. Then two weeks ago another reporter, Mike Oliver, contacted us about a series of articles he is doing for The News on different aspects or angles of the storms, and wanted our input on some pointed questions. I told him of Veronica's interest and that if cleared it with her we'd be honored to help. Together tonight, they came, pen in hand (literally - no recording like Denzell asked Julia permission for in The Pelican Briefs?) and sometime in the next few weeks, an in depth article and a brief analysis will be published. They were both very nice to work with. And the subject of a book came up, because Veronica reads our GPW page. Besides the award winning articles she has written, she has also been instrumental in several Pulitzer winning articles written by her husband. And her comments were encouraging. So though I have been humbled by readers comments, I've tried to just let that ship sail off in the sunset. But the sails are getting bigger on the horizon instead of smaller. Where is the airport?
Also, tonight while reading The Alabama Baptist, I see where Frank Jones has resigned his staff position with Calvary Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, and moved back to Birmingham to concentrate on Frank Jones Ministries. I have known Frankie (yes for 50 years he was Frankie) and we were able to keep our names separated that way. Now Frank(ie) is an outstanding and gifted musician, comedian, speaker and minister. Nothing like me. But just as it seems that the Lord is opening doors for me to share our story with folks, Frank (ie) is cranking up Frank Jones Ministries. Obviously, God has a sense of humor, putting us in the same town, with the same name, he is a Minister of Worship - I'm a minister of music, we both sing (he's done more weddings than funerals, I'm just the opposite which should tell you something right there). So pastors, if you wish to have polished professional perfection instead of an accomplished ameteur audition, Frank (ie) can be reached at and you can't go wrong. If you accidently book me instead, prepare your next sermon on Forgiveness is Divine.
I'll be back ... yawn,,, (wow, it's 1:00AM!)

How it All Began

(Oct. 17, 2011)

This weekend Janell went off with her brother and one of her sisters to Gatlinburg. It was a good time for her to get away from speech therapy, the house and me. They were going anyway and stayed after her till she gave in, and I think she's having a good time. But I do miss her. She'll be home soon, and though she's been gone only three days, it seems like a week. She is definitely my better half. I can't say enough good about her. She keeps my feet on the ground when my imagination will sometimes pull a Tinker Bell and make me think I can fly.
March 4th, 1973, I was driving down Bessemer Super Hiway, after church on a Sunday night coming back towards Central Park, with Daryl Thomas and Jim Gill in my '65 Volkswagon, headed towards McDonalds. In the lane next to me was a '68 Buick Wildcat, and I almost traded paint with it changing lanes. The driver hit the horn, I pulled back sharp, and this Buick with 5 girls in it pulled along side. This real knockout was driving, and Daryl rolled down his window and she did the same. I hollered an apology to her and she accepted. I offered to buy her a Coke if she'd pull into McDonalds. She hollered she couldn't, that they were late getting out of Shoneys aqnd had to hurry to get everyone back home, it was a school night. She drove on off, and I pulled in to McD's and turned off the engine. Daryl asked what I was doing. I said I was waiting for "that girl" to come back. He and Jim both laughed and said I was crazy if I thought she was coming back to meet me. I said "laugh all you want, but she's coming back". To which they responded "Oh yeah, what makes you so sure?" I looked 'em straight faced and said "That's the girl I'm gonna marry". Well, the whole car shook while they had fun with that statement. But ten minutes later, here came that Buick. We all three got dates for the following Friday night, March 9th, and as they say, the rest is history. I told her on our third date, I'd have her married in two years. She was 16 1/2, and went home and told her mom what I had said. To which my future mother-in-love replied "You better get rid of him, he sounds like trouble." One year later to the day, at El Palacio's, I proposed in the same booth we had on our first date. We were married nine months later, on Nov. 23rd. (made it with 3 1/2 months to spare!). And till the day he gained a second son in law (about 16 years), my father in love would always introduce me to someone new with,"This is Frank, my son in law. He's not much but he's the only one I've got". He even told me the night I asked for permission to marry his daughter, "just don't have any kids cause you're ugly as H_ _ _ !!!
I have never regretted pulling in at McDonalds and waiting. Yeah there were fireworks and heavenly voices going off in my head when I saw her that night. But thats not what made me know she was the one. It was the still small voice that I heard over the fireworks and Hallelujah Chorus. And I love her more now than I ever have. I don't know what she heard that brought her back, she'll tell you she felt sorry for me. But I believe if she heard what I did, it's been replaced with the hum of a C-PAP and bellowing from the shower. But she's still here, and she probably deserves several crowns for that. Brandon, Jennifer and Garrett have probably already picked 'em out.
I'll be back.......

Ministry Date Open

(Oct. 13, 2011)

Frank here~As I shared a couple of weeks ago, God appears to be adding another form of ministry to my life. After discussing things with my pastor and with his blessings and encouragment, I have set some dates for congregations that expressed an interest in me coming to speak and/or sing in one of their services. I am excited but nervous about this new avenue of sharing my faith, I don't mind confessing. Singing has always come easy, but speaking is something someone else did, not me.
Anyway, the Sunday evening of Nov. 27th (the Sunday night after Thanksgiving), I will be enroute from Gulfport, Miss. (where I speak that morning) back to Hueytown, Al., about a 5 hr. trip. If there is a church between here and there that would feel led to have me come that evening, I am available. No telling what my nerves may be like after that morning, (LOL) but since I won't make it back to my church in time for services that evening, I could share with another congregation that night. Another church in or within 3 hours of Gulfport would be ideal, to allow me time to get there and meet with the church sound sytem operator who could run my solo tracks ( CD's &/or cassettes, yeah I'm an ole geezer with 40 years of buying solo tracks, but no 8-tracks!)
So if your pastor is interested, please get in touch with me at 205-966-6604. You will get my voicemail between 8AM and 4:30 PM, M_F, but you can call up until 9PM. I have no promotional materials and no CD's to sell. I hope to have one by early next year if God provides. But for now, what you see is what you get.

Life Goes On

(Oct. 11, 2011)

Wow, what a difference 5 1/2 months make. I drove through Garretts neighborhood this weekend, and there are signs of new life in the community. The carpet business at the bottom of his hill, which was wiped off the face of the earth, just like Jennifer's and Garrett's house, is almost rebuilt. The grocery /gas station is just about completed with it's restoration. There are new houses going up across the main street (Warrior River Road). There is actually new life staring to replace the devastation that has been the landscape for what seems like years. Yeah, years. I know how long it's been since I had my last neck massage from those huge hands. I know how lomg it's been since I had a hug and a smile from my newest daughter in love. It was the Sunday before April 27th, Easter Sunday. The last pictures ever taken of them are stored on a four GB memory card you can hide under a postage stamp. Yet the hole it's left in my life can only be filled by the Creator of the universe that holds this planet in His Mighty Hand.
The neighbors of G&J's that lived to the left of them, whose house also was blown apart, (a 2 year old and it's mother and father survived it) are down their every week cutting their grass. They've cleaned up their lot, but can't rebuild. Yet they have found the strength to tend to the lot, keepiing it just like it was at 4:30 PM on April 27th, 2011. I can't keep it together long enough to go down there and recover some concrete blocks that I might have a use for. But they're not going anywhere. They are reminders of just how fragile earths foundations are. With life at it's best, everything to live for, and thinking you have decades of grass mowing ahead of you, 30 seconds wipes out your past, present and future. But I hope I am a better father, a changed man and a stronger Christian for the trials God chose to send my way. Though the pain is simply overwhelming at times, it always draws me closer to the one who can soothe it. As Janell put it yesterday, Life Goes On. You can't get off when you want to and feel the need to, and then climb back on. Not even having a stroke will give you that opportunity.
I'll be back.......

Time Released Medicine

(Oct. 6, 2011)

Frank here: This has been another of those weeks when for some reason, my mind is reliving different days in the hospital with Garrett. Mainly the last time I was able to speak to him and he could respond before they put him to sleep, and the morning we held his hand and watched his chest rise for the last time. I've thought back to the day that we took him to church, a few weeks old, and dedicated him to the Lord, just as we had done our other two. And it has been really thought consuming, hard to concentrate at work, and night dreams full of Jenn's and Garrett's faces. Waking is almost a relief each morning.

And then last night, I am contacted by a former co-worker of Janell's from years back. I sang at her husbands funeral and she attended Garretts. But she knew nothing of FB. She said God had just put me on her heart last week and she had been praying for us, and out of the blue asked her pastor that if she could get in touch with me, would they have me come down for their 5th Sunday night singing. He was excited about it, and so she was calling to ask if I'd be available. I was just floored by what seems to me to be a God thing. Then at church tonight as I'm in the sanctuary doing one of my weekly solitary practices where I just sing to different tracks for an hour or so, my pastor comes in and says the Birmingham Baptist Assoc is interested in me singing/speaking at a pastors meeting/luncheon in February, and he also feels God wants me to take a Sunday morning at our church and share with our folks what I feel God is doing in my life. I am taken aback at this because for any pastor to yield his pulpit on a Sunday morning is just, well, special.
So it appears I will be in revival at New Faith Baptist in Pleasant Grove Oct 23rd thru the 28th. I'll be in Stanton/Maplesville on Sunday night, October 30th; speaking in the morning service at FBC Sandusky on Nov. 13th, tentatively in Gulfport Miss Sunday morning, November 27th, and hopefully, Lord willing that same evening speaking somewhere between Gulfport and Hueytown, and then The BBA Pastors luncheon in February. And somewhere in there, if He provides the means, I'll be going into studio to cut a CD, which has been a prayer request for years, and I feel the time is near, just waiting for him to confirm it. This has been the right medicine at the right time. And we all know He's never late.

Who is Watching?

(Oct. 2, 2011)

A few years ago there was a movie titled Eagle Eyes and it was a story of how some people had built a computer "Eye in the Sky" so to speak. And they were able to watch your every move with surveilance cameras and satellites and all. I realize this is not science ficttion, but it was a reminder of you're being watched. Now there is a series on CBS "Person of Interest" and I have to admit, I'm a fan after two episodes, but it has a similar vein of thinking in it. But before all of this for centuries, we as Christians have been watched by the world.
Take last Friday night for instance. I had gone to see a good friend, Squire Parsons (singer/composer of "Sweet Beulah Land") who was in concert close by. By the way, please add him to your prayer list , he is battling a form of leukemia, which they caught in the early stages a year ago and seem to be controlling w/medication. But doing 3-5 concerts a week on the medication is very very difficult. Anyway, I stop on the way home to grab a Milo burger and fries to take home for Janell and I a late supper. (If God doesn't have these in heaven, we're going to have a serious discussion!) She is at home w/the grandkids. And at an intersection close to home, a pick-up turns right on red without stopping, and I have a green light making my left turn. when I realized he wasn't going to stop, I hit my brakes and my horn, and watched in horror as the sack with 'God's best on earth french fries" nose dived into my floorboard, and see those golden sticks of cholesterol, cheese salt and starch spread themselves across my passenger floorboard. Now it's a fact that I clean out my car twice a year whether the trash is touching the glovebox or not. And, had three or four weeks of newspapers (I read 'em at lunch) been in the floor I could have claimed the 30 second rule and Janell would never have known. But no, they made it to the floor mat which hasn't been vacuumed in a year (Don't look so pious, I know there's some of you just like me out there it's a work car for cryin out loud!) But as I realized the seriouness of my loss, not to mention the driver never slowed down, EVEN THOUGH HE SAW ME COMING, never pulled over to apologize or even knew of or offered to pay me for my loss, they saluted me with one finger and just kept on going like I was the one at fault. It's a good thing there won't be cars in Heaven, I'd be kicked out in a week. That's a whole 'nother story. But after I hollered "You stupid idiot" at the top of my lungs (and I have some pipes folks), I was reminded of what so many people have told me over the last ten years and a couple already in the last couple of months: We have been watching you, or "There were (are) people watching you". And even though I'm sure nobody heard me or saw my anger, I knew God did. And once again, I had let Him down. Remember, you may be the only sermon some people ever hear. What will they get out of it? Will it be enough for them to seek Him because they want what you have? And as someone once said , a picture is worth a thousand words. ( In case you're wondering, I stopped, got the fries that didn't touch the mat and finished filling Janell's cup. I put the remainder in mine after blowing them off real good. There are worse things than throwing away an order of Milo's french fries, ....I'm sure there are.... gimme time I'll think of one....
I'll be back, I'm still thinking......


 (Sept. 27, 2011)

As I have gotten older, I have noticed a trait or quirk or wahtever you want to call it, emerging. HUGS. I need hugs. And I'm not sure what is causing this. Now I know there are going to be positive and negative feedbacks on this one, but hey, what else is new?
As I look back over my life, I can't remember any real affection being shown to us kids from my parents. Mostly the opposite, and seems I was the recipient of most of that. I do remember affection being shown between the two of them. So I've always enjoyed hugs. As a teen, I was the dweeb, the dork, the unpopular one. I remember the popular guys who would always get the hugs from the girls in the halls, or at the game or whatever. I was the poster child for the plague.
When I went to Sandusky FBC as minister of music, there was a pastor emeritus named Archer Thorpe. And all 5'2", 140 lbs of him was solid hug! He might give a handshake on 1st encounter, but the second meeting, here came the hug. Even for a circumferencly challenged individual like myself. And as my sons became men, I have enjoyed, even craved their hugs even more. At 6'6" and 290 lbs, Brandon had a good hug until cancer destroyed his shoulders. At about 5'10" and 190, Kevin still has a great hug. And Garrett, oh my goodness, 6' 4" and 285 lbs and shoulders at least 3 foot wide was the recipe for a bear hug. And now, I'm getting those "Love you too, Papa" hugs. And those are priceless.
But now in my "Autumn" years, I find that hugs do me a lot more good mentally than ever before.
So if I am fortunate enough to ever meet any of you for the first time, I'll try to remember my southern gentleman manners and extend my hand. If you want a hug, go for it! But on the second chance meeting, watch out. And when I get through those pearly gates, and find the neck of my Saviour, I'll get the hug of the ages. But immediately after that, if they aren't close by, I'll search out their mansions and get the hugs I so desparetly miss. And just maybe, if our bodies ARE perfect, Bro Thorpe will finally get his arms around yours truly. Hug somebody in the next twenty four hours. Better yet, hug several people. It could do you both some good!
I'll be back.....

Ministry Opportunities

(Sept. 21, 2011)

I mentioned last week my availability to come speak if needed/wanted. I spoke with my pastor this evening and he is supporting me 100%. He suggests that I simply let everyone know I am available at least one service per month for the rest of the year. If someone is interested, just contact me. I will let my personnel committee know the services I will be gone and I will get a supply person for those services, if it happens to be a morning service. And we will just see what doors God opens. He told me, "Frank, if God is in this, I would not want to be the person that stood in the way or said no. Our ministry for Him should be bigger than we are, so go where He leads." So if it's Texas, or Gulfport, Clanton or Hueytown, just as long as I'm in my office chair Monday morning. I just want to make a difference. I kinda feel like His foundation has been poured, and cured. He will now start the walls. Can't wait to see what He builds!
I'll be back.....

What Do You Do With Anger

(Sept. 18, 2011)

As I start this post, please let me say up front that I am never trying to toot my own horn or pat myself on the back. I am not worthy to even be writing this except that God has allowed me to experience many things in my 57 years and suddenly, He's given me a forum to tell others how He's brought me through the valleys. Especially the last 14 years.
The other day the friend that cuts my har and has for almost twelve years asked me, she is a Christian herself, how can I still be smiling . How can what you've gone through not made you angry and bitter?
I thought a minute, and just told her this. What would anger accomplish? What would it get me? Bitterness and anger, the best I can remember, have never been a part of my adult make-up. I don't remember really ever having anger.... I take that back. When our boys were small, I can think of a few times I really got angry with them, mostly Brandon. He really tested us a few times. And several times when one or two out of the three would not do their yard work chores, I would get angry. But I can't remember going to bed mad. Now in 37 years of marriage, I'm sure there has been a time or two when I went to bed mad at Janell for something. But I can't remember them. God says in His Word, to not let the sun go down on your anger. And in the last 14, I can't remember ever going to bed mad at all. If I have something that gets me heated up, before I go to bed, I've dealt with it in my own mind. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I'd rather just forgive and forget. And I MEAN forget. I don't have a good long term memory, never have (except for song lyrics - strange). But I just see anger and bitterness as emotions that can cancel out happiness and good things. Sure, in 10 months I've lost a brother, mother in law, aunt, daughter in love and a son, and my wife has had a stroke. Mad?.....No...Questions? lot of 'em!. Bitterness?.... none yet (won't say never but ...) Someone close to me said, "I don't mean this ugly, but it's almost as if you're not even phased by all this." Well, I hurt inside, and I often (almost daily) ask God to let me see my boys and Jennifer, if only for a few seconds. Two or three people I can name say they have see Brandon or Garrett, post homegoing. But not me ....yet. We had Brandon for almost 20 years. Garrett... 25. We were so blessed to have them, know the love that comes from being a parent. I saved a few card Brandon gave me on Fathers day, because we knew his days were numbered if God didn't change things. I never saved any of Garretts, I don't think. Just thought he'd be here to bury me. So yes, I have my pity parties where I'm the only attendee. But I have SO MUCH to still be thankful for. God gave me three sons, not just two. I know folks who could never have kids, and weren't able to adopt. I have grandkids. I know people that died before ever holding a grandchild. I have another great daughter in love! Yes, my wife had a stroke, but I've seen so many stroke survivors that have suffered major physical and neurological damage. Janell's dictionary just got cloudy. But the sun, I mean Son, is shining thru now. Life is too precious with family, friends, God's calling on your life, and work. Don't just stop and smell the roses. The smell after a rain, the smile from a stranger, the encouragement of friends, the lyrics to a song remembered, the colors of a sunset, yes even the snapping of a 17 game winning streak by your favorite team,..... they are all worth moving to forefront of your mind. Don't let anger or bitterness rob you of a minutes happiness or enjoyment. You can't get that minute back. And, I can testify, life is too short.
I'll be back...

Music Notes II

(Sept. 15, 2011)

Frank Here:
Some have messaged and commented on possible venues outside of my home area that might be interested in hearing our story. I am not a professional speaker or singer ( not even polished). But no matter the occasion, if you would like someone to come share about a journey most people have never traveled, I will do my best to accomodate you. I have a full time job M-F , 8-5, and I am part-time music director at a church. I will soon be discussing with my church about occasionally being gone for speaking/singing engagements. I believe they will understand about an event here and there. Sunday evenings will be easier to miss than mornings. Between now and Christmas I do have choir rehersals on Sunday afternoons practicing our Cantata which will again be done in unison with FBC Roebuck Plaza. But I have prayed and let God know that my heart is full and bursting with stories and songs of His mercy and grace during our families trials. And my desire in 2012 is to do more for Him than ever, and if He would open doors I would go. Whether by land or air doesn't matter. If that means resigning my church and fulfilling the opportunities He sends my way, I have no problem with that. He will provide what will be needed. I live on the western side of Birmingham, five minutes from the interstate. So if you pray about it and feel the need to contact me, my email is and I'm in the phone book under Frank & Janell Jones (yes we still have a land line!). As long as I can be back in my office chair Monday mornings at 8:00, I'll try to be as available as my current obligations will allow.
Ill be back....

Music Notes

(Sept. 14)

Just wanted to quickly let those who have been asking know some event information. The church I have served for 21 years, FBC Sandusky, is celebrating our 125th Anniversary this Sunday, with worship services starting at 10:00AM. Besides my choir doing a couple of numbers, I will also be singing a couple of solos. Everyone is welcome to come, and there will be covered dish luncheon afterwards. Anyone who wishes to, please come and worship, celbrate and then hug my neck.
Janell is doing VERY WELL in her recovery. In about a weeks time she has completed over 3/4's of the goals set by the speech therapist for a month. Thank you all for loving on us and praying for us.
Darra McCrories worries has been eleviated and thanks for the prayers. All of her reports are coming back great.
I'll be back, soon, I promise.

Rains on the Just and the Unjust

(Sept. 8, 2011)

Thanks to everyone for your prayers over the last week. I know 95% did not know what you were praying for, but I had to keep Janell's privacy wishes. But I've received permission to share the last few's days events with you. Last Thursday evening, after a full day at work, Janell came home and cooked supper. We finished and she fixed me a plate of leftovers for lunch the next day, and said she was feeling tired and went to lay down for a few minutes. Within 15 minutes I heard her talking rather loudly and went to check on her. She was trying to tell me something but the words were all jumbled up an not making sense. When she answered my question, "Janell what is my name?" with "yes", I knew she was apparently having a stroke. I rushed her to St. Vincents hospital.
We spent the next 5 days being assessed, tested and regulated on blood thinners and tortured on hospital food. She has suffered a very mild stroke caused by a blood clot. It has ONLY affected her word retrieval ability and hearing comprehension. No physical impairments at all. Everything about Janell and all her memories and vocabulary are still there, she just has to find a new pathway to retrieve her words. The doctors and therapists are just amazed at her improvement in one week. She is expected to maske a full recovery, it just might take 2 weeks or 2 months, we don't know. For this brief amount of time, I'm enjoying a respite from her always having the last word. But I know that is what's driving her to full recovery at such a fast pace! The usual result of such a stroke located where it happened is much more debilitating. So, though we wish it had never happened, God was good to us. It could have happened a week earlier on a cruise ship in Alaska, or on an airplane. It could have happened during the night where sleeping hours would have made a big difference. And it could have been much, much more damaging.
So again, thank you to all who lifted us up in prayer without a clue of what was needed. I went back to work yesterday, and someone said to me, "when I heard what had happened to Janell, I thought to myself, "why would God allow this to happen to such a Christian couple who try to live for Him?" I told her that He says in His Word that it rains on the just and the unjust. We are nothing special in His eyes. We are being tried by fire, just like gold, and He's hoping to burn out all the impurities before he makes us into that final eternal being that with walk and talk with Him just as two of my sons and my "daughter" are today. I have more to report on in coming days about our trip, and some thoughts I've had about our childrens homegoings that I'll share in the coming days.
Please remember Darra Graham in your prayers. She has a real prayer need right now, and I will try to bear that burden with her as she has mine the last four months. I ask you to join me.
I'll be back.....

Trip Tidbits (Mon, Aug. 29)

We have arrived back home after an eventful conclusion to our Alaskan cruise. I'll pass that on in another post. The sights were awsome. We took a helicopter ride to the surface of a glacier and i actually got to drink glacier water while laying on the ice. 30 degrees with a 30 mile an hour wind! We took an old engine train ride up an old gold minig route that went up thousands of feet in elevation in old timey rail cars. We took a seaplane trip to see bear in their natural habitat in federaly protected grounds. We had to stand on the pontoons of the plane because we could not step out on land legally. We went whale watching Sat. night. Those were the exciting parts of the trip. But the down side is to the pounds I gained eating fresh pineapple and 3 or 4 meals everyday that my doctor is going to berate me for (not to mention Janell's chastisment) and I've got some serious dieting to do. I treid to enjoy myself with some restraint, but wasn't as successful as Janell.
As far as pictures, I will have to wait untill we get them on a disc where I can try to learn how to pull them off and post them. If you knew what I did to the pictures on the memory card when the 2nd grandbaby was born, you'ld understand why I will wait till the disc is made. Believe it or not, I truly missed Facebook, reading and praying for prayer requests on GPW's page, and just the comraderie. It will take a while to get back into a routine, but will jump back in with both feet.
FYI, I start revival services this Sunday at New Faith Baptist in Pleasant Grove this coming Sunday morning w/Bro. Doug Moore (former pastor at Bethel Baptist in Pleasant Grove) doing the preaching. I haven't sung in over 3 weeks, so I have to get back in voice pretty quickly. Your vocal nodes are muscle and since I haven't worked them out in a while, I'll have to do some serious shower singing this week!. Poor Janell, pray for her ears. Hope some of you will come out to at least hear some good preaching.
I'll be back...

Blogging from Afar

(Sorry, I am very behind in posting Frank's FB notes. This one came out August 25, 2011)

Just a quick few words to say hello from Alaska. Yes, Janell and I flew out last Sat.morning and our ship, The Norwegian Pearl left Sunday afternoon from Seattle. We have been to Juneau, Skagway and the Glacier Bay area so far, and will visit Ketchikan and Victoria B.C. before flying back home this weekend. A great time for relaxation and the rest we needed has come in spurts. We surprised my sister, Stephanie her husband Jack and my Niece Dawn, (who was in on it) and are enjoying some time with them. We had booked this before the storm and decided it was important for us to go through with it. I will be back with some reflections next week. I have prayed for those on GPW pages, though its too expensive to use the internet on board. I must get off now, my time is almost up. Love to all!

Friday, August 19, 2011

25 yr. Capsule, Part 2

There are a few things I inadvertantly left out last night as I was trying to finish before church started. (and my spelling and punctuation was atrocious!... so sorry). I mentioned Garrett played baseball for about 10 or 11 years. He started out a catcher and then a pitcher combined with 1st base. He had Brandons gait, they neither one could run but watching him reminded you very much of Brandon. And was it ever funny to watch peoples faces as we'd holler for Tiny Man when the kid at the plate was 1/2 again as big as any other player. But he was following in his biggest brothers shadow. Brandon at age 17 was 6' - 6" and weighed around 300 lbs. Garrett's last trip to the gym (which was a favorite activity), he was around 6' - 4" and about 285. He and Jenn were a morning regular, and even the gym staff has FB'd how much they miss their morning visits.
Another omission was Garretts first 2 jobs. He worked for a small screen printing shop here in Hueytown, and I believe the owners just kind of adopted him. He was trustworthy, honest, dependable and a quick learner. He then landed a job with Winn Dixie and worked there, if I'm not mistaken, till he went to work for Vulcan.
In the latter part of 2009, Jennifer Leonard found my #3 son in a search on MySpace or Facebook, I don't remember. She had entered parameters, according to her, of Christian, fun, mountain lover, tall, and like a 25 mile radius of Birmingham. Or something very close to this anyway. And Garretts profile comes up. She makes contact, they meet and start dating. And within a year, he pops the question in Gatlinburg. We could not have been happier for him. She was just what he wanted and needed. They were so very happy. Garrett taught her what being frugile meant, and by doing that, they were able to buy what they wanted, when they wanted and pay cash for it. They had bought a new car just before getting married and had financed it for 3 years to help establish credit. Both of my married sons were blessed by God with great helpmates!
Garrett also loved to fish. Bass fishing was his favorite, and I like to believe he got that from me, although Janell's dad, POP, was a good fisherman as well. But Garrett and I had some fishing afternoons together and a couple of lake trips, too. He had also, over the last five to six years, become a do-it-yourself man. He was learning to work on his own vehicles, (that's POP's genes taking over!) he would tackle computer issues, and with Kevins help, was fixing things and doing home improvement projects that I would just hire out if I ever got the money. But not Garrett. If he had to pay somebody, that was money he could be saving for something special he or they wanted. I looked up to him for that. I know my limitations. He pushed the envelope. And he was also a guy that would help out someone in need. Sometimes it was the guy at the end of the exit ramp. Or it was a cause he would hear about and just open his wallet. It would be a family that needed their A/C fixed, and he'd "find" the parts to get it done. Garrett was also the quick-wited, sarcastic and comedian of my bunch. Kevin is too, and when the two would get together at supper at our house, oh my heavens. You could barely eat for laughing. But he also had Janells memory and quick-thinking ability. I do not think quickly, I tend to disect and formulate and respond much more slowly than the mom and son pair. And yes, I suffer for that inability still. Janell doesn't forget much and thats a cross I bear.
Garrett and Kevin had also gotten very close, especially after Kevin got married. Garrett would spend the nights at Kevins on weekends, and after he and Jenn started dating, the four were together all the time. They took trips to Florida together, went to Auburn games together, spent weekends cooking out or fishing and just being each others best friend. And the last few months of his life, Garrett seemed to be trying to get closer to me, I feel. He knew I wanted him to be living closer to God, and several times he called and asked me questions of Biblical or religious nature. And he said that he and Jennifer were beginning to look for a church home, because he felt they needed it in their lives.
If you can't tell already, I fell like I lost not only a son. but a man that left this world a better placce because he had been here. And that is the way I feel about all of my sons. They have been and still are, better sons than I deserve.
War Eagle Brandon, Kevin and Garrett! Dad loves you more than you'll ever know!
I'll be back.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

25-yr Capsule, Part 1

Many have asked what Garrett was like, his interests, hobbies and such. So I thought I would try to capsulate his twenty-five years. He was born on 3/7 (of 86) and weighed 3 - 7. Because my first comment about him when Janell asked if he was whole (there had been concerns because of medication she was on when she conceived), I said he just looks like a tiny little man. And Tiny Man stuck. When he wa real little you could count his ribs if he went shirtless. And he could pacify himself better than any little kid I'd seen. If you gave him two little action figures, he could spend hours creating battles and stories. as he got a little older, with two older, faster and bigger brothers, he became the brunt of their pranks. And so did any of his friends that visited. Especially when Janell and I weren't around. I remember once when after he took a shower and was coming out to go to his room to get dressed (about 7 or 8 yrs old), his brothers stripped him of his towel, and shoved him out the front door. He had to walk across the front yard butt naked and barefoot, and make it to the back yard. And he called Janell at work to tell on his brothers.
He loved baseball and played park ball from 5 yrs old till he was 16 and got his first job. But as an adolescent and early teen, he helped take care of his oldest brother, Brandon when he was diagnosed with a terminal cancer. He could physically do things to tend to Brandons personal hygeine and care (when Janell and I weren't around) that the other brother had great difficulty doing. And as Brandon's ministry grew, he became the one to help push him in the wheelcahir, especially when Brandon would be speaking at some church on Sunday. Janell and Garrett would see that he got up steps or whatever to get to where he was speaking. And for that effort, he "charged" his brother a "brother tax". And depending on what love offering or gratuity was given to Brandon from that engagement, Garrett got a percentage! But this time was also where Garretts tender and caring personality started to grow. He loved the underdog, always, unless it was Alabama or whoever was playing Auburn. And his love and passion for Auburn grew fast and deep as he went through high school. Brandon's illness and death had a maturing effect on both Kevin and Garrett. They had to face an ugly side of life very early and it pushed them into manhood very quickly. Garrett had many friends, but a few very close. None closer than his brothers, but almost. He lost one of his best friends around age 19-20, when this young man was accidentally stabbed while trying to stop a fight. That had a lasting impact on Garrett and I believe he struggled for a while with his faith. during this time he also went to Bessemer Tech and got his Long Certificate" in A/C and Refridgeration. And a great company, Vulcan Heating and Air (commercial) hired him before graduating. He progressed and developed a reputation os one of the most conscientious and polite, but knowledgeable technicians they had. And it was so evidenced at his funeral when almost every one of his customers came to the funeral home to say goodbye, and hug our necks.
I will continue this tomorrow night. (no spellcheck tonight, I'm at church and service is about to start) I'll be back.....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Are You a David?

I have not written many posts lately, as I just wait for the Lord to give me something to write. I still reflect on all that happened since The Storm. Strange, but that now is our reference point for so many things. "Well, prior to the storm..." or "Since the storm..." and etc. At one time it was "Before kids..." or "Before grandkids..." or "Before cancer..." But again, I digress.
What I started out to say was that before April 27th, I struggled to write a couple of paragraphs to my sister in an e-mail. And my friend count on FB was around 30. And yes I had lost a son to cancer and did not realize how many people were watching our family, and especially me. But this time, for some reason, I kinda feel like David. Please know up front, I am not in any way strumming my own harp (sorry, I couldn't resist!) and just because my first name IS David, I am not even in the parking lot of comparison, much less the same ball park. But David was the least likely of the eight sons to become a King. No, I'm not announcing a run for office. But he simply made himself available when he got annointed by Gods messenger. God had already put His blessing on David before he left to take food to the soldiers. But then as David went to meet the giant, he stops long enough to get his sling and pick up five stones. Ever wonder why He got five? I have. He knew that God was going to deliver Goliath with one stone. So why pick up the other four? Any ideas? But back to my point. He made himself available and God used what David knew and was good at and used it. I never intended on this journey becoming what it has, and reaching as far as it has, and lasting as long as it has. I just picked up my computer with all my ignorance and inexperience using it (completely opposite of Davids expertise with a sling) and started to share with whoever would listen, my pain, anger, fear and hopefully faith. David had faith far beyond what I have. But God has used a nobody, to somehow spread His message for the day or the week. Have you made yourself availble for Him to do whatever? There may be a ministry that has your fingerprints or voiceprint on it that God is waiting for you to take up. It may be a ministry to the elderly, to cancer patients, to the illiterate, to widows. It may be a nursery worker or childrens Sunday School teacher. It could be a weekly visit to a nursing home to play checkers or read books to the residents. Whatever it may be, He's waiting for you to make yourself available. And every day you procrastinate, you are missing the blessings He promises. I get them in messages and posts every day just about.
Hopefully, this week will bring a response to the many requests I've had about sharing some insights on what kind of a son and person Garrett was. I've started a couple of times, but it gets hard to see the keyboard for some reason. Thank all of you for reading...........I'll be back.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

His Timing

The last few days have for some reason just been kinda blank. I'm not sure how to describe it. I have felt the loss of my #3 son and #2 daughter in law in a different fashion this week. It's been just a deep hurt. It hasn't neccessarily be dibilitating. Just a deep down sense of loss that I've not felt for ten years. Tuesday night, we met with our insurance agent from whom we purchased a life insurance policy on Garrett many years ago. This is the second time we've done this. I had not seen Garrett's death certificate till then. As I read over it, it seemed each word seeped through my skin, muscle, (to be honest fat too,) and down to the very marrow of my bones. And an extreme sadness and hurt just invaded me. Last night, I had been asked to share this Facebook ministry with my church family, and had there been another program available, I probably would have asked that it be substituted at the last minute. But as I read through some of my posts of the last two months for them, it just seemed to go right through my lungs and into my blood and travel to every cell. And then, as I sit down to catch up on this site and PfGJ, the local Fox affiliate airs it's Storm of Destruction or whatever it was called. And I sit here and watch for the first time, scenes of what happened that day, and the following days. You see, Janell and I were in the hospital waiting room with no TV for 5 1/2 weeks, except what we might see when we came home at nigh to shower or feed the dogs. And because I would not change the channel, I sit here typing with dried tears on my cheeks and fresh ones appearing every few minutes. But this is all part of the healing process. And these hours or days will come every now and then, and you never know when they will strike. But hopefully, last night will be the first of many times that I get to share with people what so many of you have encouraged and helped me write. So I guess I should be thanking ya'll. And I do. Each of your prayers and the requests to continue posting do give me a sense of being needed in a diffrerent way. His timing is always right, we just have to adjust.
I'll Be Back.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Theres not a central thought or theme running through my head tonight, so if you looking for deep thought or spirit laced meanderings. well, it's not starting out this way so read on at your own disapointment.
Flashback a couple of months to a request for some pool assistance. I just did not have the time or willpower with all tha was going on to prepare my pool for Garrett coming home and needing some physical therapy the pool would provide. Well, a schoolmate and friend of many years ago, came to our rescue. And I never mentioned them to you, I don't think, but I should have and feel badly that I have taken so long to publicly thank them. It was in writing thank you cards out this week that I remembered this oversight. Ginny and Frank Pearson came to our rescue and as Frank put it when I insisted on paying for their services and materials, "Ginny said I better not accept one peny from you for this". So to both of them and their sons who helped as well, Janell and I say thank you so very much. Though Garrett chose a crystal river over a really clean nice pool, your kindness to us will not be forgotten. Janell has made good use of it, though not as much as she would have liked by now. And if I can ever do anything for them, I hope they wil call.
More than just a few of you have mentioned that I should write a book about this journey. And after many urgings, I did contact a Christian Free Lance writers association. I explained to them our story, gave them the FB pages and blog site and asked the vice-president of the association, whom I was communicating with, to read and get back to me. He did do research, but came back with the opinion, that to go into writing something of this without a guarantee from a publisher would probably not be the way any of their writers would normally go. He mentioned they could do a magazine article and it would probably be picked up by someone, but that was the best he could offer. He would mention it to a few of their members and give my contact info to them if they were interested. Well, no one has come forward, so I take it that if God wants it to happen in book form, somebody out there will know somebody that knows somebody that would want to do it. But I feel he was right, that it will take interest from a publisher, and they will have someone they can assign to do it, kinda like Rick & Bubba's publisher did (a local radio personality duo in the Birmingham market, syndicated nationall).
But another small avenue of sharing our story in person has opened up for this Wednesday night at my church, as my pastor is away and the chairman of deacons came and asked if I would discuss the minstry the FB postings have had. It is my prayer that churches would call, and offer me the opportunity to come and share our journey, possibly combined with some music. It may mean retirement from being a bi-vocational minister of music for a while, but if I can impact His kingdom in a positive way doing that, I would humbly accept that assignment. I don't mind if it's local or long distance. He'll provide a way and replace the income I'd lose by retiring, if it's His will. And I'd have to be convinced of that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
I will be in a revival at New Faith Baptist Church in Pleasant Grove beginning September 4th, Labor Day weekend, with pastor Doug Moore, from Mt. Olive Baptist Church, preaching. Everyone is invited to come visit.Not yet sure of how long and the times, but you can call the church from 8-noon and get the info, or I'll try to provide later.
I'll be back

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mixed Emotions

From soon after Garretts and Jennifers meeting, Tues or Thursday nights were the night when when Kevin and Marlo and Garrett and Jennifer would come over to eat. It was usually recipitated by a phone call from one of the sons asking for fried chicken, or weiners and krout or some other favorite that their taste buds were craving. Heck, half the time they would call that morning and Janell would always say come on and then make a mad dash to the store on the way home. Finally she got smart and established the 24-hr rule. And that worked most of the time. And Jennifer caught on real fast. She'd get the urge for something and persuade Garrett to call and pretend it was his request.
I believe it was two weeks before the storm that Jenn and Garrett made their last dinner reservations. Kevin and Marlo were on a cruise, so it was just the four of us. But when it was six, oh was it ever a circus. One brother crackin on the other, or both making fun of their old dad for something he once did. One of them bringing up something that Brandon did and they were a part of or knew about that was never exposed to Janell and I. Kevin asking for the tea pitcher to be passed down, and Garrett emptying his own glass and then refilling it before passing the pitcher to his waiting brother. These were nights I waited for. The grandkids were at their other grandparents house so sometimes the conversations would turn to adult subjects tha 30 years ago, parents and their kids NEVER discussed. Come on folks, you know what I'm talking about because it probably goes on around your table sometimes, if you have adult kids. But none the less, I will always remember them.
Yesterday, Kevin called and made reservations for tonight. First time for them since March. I wondered how the four of us would handle it. Seemed like everyone did OK except me. I hung in there OK until talk turned to the recent arrival of the bills from UAB for Garretts medical care. Then my mind just started that replay of that 5 1/2 weeks, and I tried to put a pause on my minds projector. The first one is now over, and the next will be easier, and the next, and the next. But I don't want them to stop. Just get easier. And they will, I know. One day we will all sit around the great banquet table and partake of what has been prepared by the angels. Now, I doubt there will be any pull my finger, or risque conversations going on at our table. But one thing is for sure. We have all called ahead and made our reservations. I hope each of you have.
I'll be back.

What's Your Sauce?

It is really special when you're not expecting a revelation or a lght to come on, and suddenly you here inside you "there's a post", and you don't really have to think or dwell on what to write but it just flows through your fingers. I'm sure this is meant for someone besides just me.
Last night (Tuesday) Janell as she sometimes does, came home and cooked supper for me. I have an incredible wife, if you didn't already know that. There were very few days in the 18 years we had boys in school, that she didnt come home from work and cook or, if she wasn't employed outside the home, had a supper on the table 4-5 nights a week and most Sundays - LUNCH. My boys grew up eating supper at the table with their family. OK, I digress, but I can't brag on her enough.
Anyway, it's a once or twice a month we have cubed steak and 2 or three vegetables. So when I saw it on the plate, I never thoiught twice about about it. As I usually do, I got up grabbed a bottle of special BBQ sauce that Tina, my daughter - in - laws mom, makes for me every once in a while. I went through one piece along with my butter beans, potatoe salad, and raw onion when Janell says "How ya' like that deer meat". I just stopped chewing a minute and said "Deer meat?". Sure enough, she had hammered a couple of slices of tenderloin and cooked it just like BEEF minute steak. But did this ole trained palate ever catch on? No siree. Why? Because I had hidden the true taste of the venison with Tina's BBQ sauce. And while I finished the last piece without the sauce, a little voice inside of me asked "How often do you cover up a blessing or a message or a truth of Mine with a sauce called Luck or Coincidence or Fate or Ego? How often do you really fail to worship Me as I want to worshipped because someone is pulling your emotional chain with feel good preaching or singing a chorus 27 times? When was the last time you actually "heard" Me speak to you or "felt" Me touch you. What is your sauce of life that is keeping you from really knowing Me. I had to answer that to myself and to Him, but you'll have to answer that for yourself. Is your sauce "too busy", "too tired", "too jealous", "too materealistic". Whatever it might be, you might need to put the cap on it and ether put it on the back shelf or throw it away. No Tina, I'm not talking about your sauce. Keep it comin', girl.
(no spell-check tonight) I'll be back.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Joys of Grandfatherhood

Flashback to Sunday evening when I wrote aout my grandson Ethan, waking me up at 6:00 AM Sunday with a straight from the stomach "Good Mornin PaPa". Well, his gift just got stronger by Monday morning! I hurt so bad when I woke up yesterday that I knew the office was not gonna be a reality for the day. And during the day it got worse. I got up at 7 when Janell left, got something to drink, washed my face, called the office and left my supervisor a message, (no sound effects though) and went back to bed. I slept till after 1:00 when my Pommeranian let me know she wanted out. So I got up, ate some crackers, my son kevin came over, against my advice, to activate my new smartphone. Yes my 14 years with Nextel (Sprint) has ended. I now have a phone that can check my stock portfolio (if I had one), take pictures and videos, act as a GPS,play Battlehip with some bloke in England and play Scrabble with my daughter-in-love in Homewood, give me the absolute latest news from all the horribly biased news outlets, and let's not forget oh yeah, it makes phone calls. But I'm NOT tying in to Facebook. I'll still come home and check that on the PC (yes I still have one of those. Garrett told me to just get rid of it and set up my laptop which has twice the memory, but old habits die hard.....I.E my Motorola I-870).
So, those reading this on Tuesday morning or afternoon may ask, "You didn't go to work today?". Nope. My fever finally broke about 3AM, and now I just feel like a bottle of Geritol (wow is that a blast from the past or what) may be needed. I'm realy weak and tired and don't think I'd last very long at the office. So I may try to catch up on some 'thank you" card writing which I've not found time to do. Thanks again for all my 57th birthday wishes. On my 58th, ya'll can send Cracker Barrel gift card's with 'em.
I'll be back.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Wonder

Well, hopefully things are going to start settleing down and we can start drawing full pay checks and feel like contributing members of society again. You know, doing our part to pay down $14.8 trillion dollars. We haven'd had 40 hours in a while. Both of our employers have been very understanding and it's a blessing to work for these kinds of folks. I don't write the following to make anyone sad, or to illicit pity or anything other than it's whats been on my mind for several days, and maybe writing it down will help get over it.
I still find myself thinking of Garretts and Jenn's final minutes together and what they must have been going through. I know Garrett was doing all he could to protect his soulmate and I can't imagine what he went through mentally for the two weeks he was conscious. I wonder if he was allowed to see her or Brandon during his weeks of battling this lifes fiery darts. I wonder if he is allowed to look down on us and watch us from time to time. I wonder if God lays out the mansions for family members close to or next door to each other. (Janell will probably ask for hers and mine to be at least a few blocks apart!) I wonder if my sons miss me. I wonder if they know when our birthdays are, or their earthly birthdays are (for truly that is one of our hardest days of the year). I wonder if dogs go to heaven. We found out yesterday that the dog Brandon actually picked out of a litter (not on the side of the road as were led to believe), LUCY, has an enlarged heart, a malignant tumor on top of her shoulders and one on her side. But she doesn't seem to be in any pain, still eats well and struggles with her displasia, (bad hip joints). Garrett adopted her after Brandon went home, and he would actually get down in the floor and lay beside her and hug her and agrivate her and make her bark. Who would have though that at 14 she would have outlived her two real masters. And that now she will probably leave here in the not too distant future, with the same illness as one of them. If you would have told me 38 1/2 years ago that my life would live out this way, I probably would have tried not to love, as I had once or twice before. But, both of them broke my heart and I still fell for Janell, so that may not be a true statement. But my days are full of questions that I don't seem to find answers for anywhere I look. But if He is reading this, I'd ask Him to just let me briefly see my three kids that have been taken from me way too soon. In my living room, in my driveway, all at once or one at a time. I really don't have a preference. But even that won't stop me from more wondering.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Positives and Negatives

This last week has been both a mental and physical challenge for me, and I want to thank all who prayed for us. Janell is the family member who has been sick, and I'm thankful to say is now home, as of lunch today. We arrived at St. Vincents ER Sunday night around 8:00 and days later, were told she had been hit with an intestinal bacteria. She has recovered for the most part, still weak from 5 days on ice chips and water. But it is so good to have her back home. I didn't even ask her to cook supper for me! I'm just kiddin' folks! But she did make me a pitcher of her awesome tea which I really missed!
This week I was reminded of some of the NEGATIVES of saying goodbye to Garrett and Jenn. Every week we would swap neck rubs. His hands were the biggest in the family to go around my 21" neck, Janell's can't work it any more, and his strength was comparable to his size. I don't know what I'll do now. I have chronic neck pain because as Kevin so lovingly puts it, I have a basketball for a head, only it weighs twice as much. Just a few weeks before the storm he put brake shoes on his mom's car. There goes my cheap auto mechanic. Jenn always gave me a hug that you could tell she meant it! Garrett and Kevin always threw a football around before a televised Auburn game. Kevin said the other day at the hospital, that he is not looking forward to football season. I've never heard that from him. Garrett was my go-to guy when I had a computer question. He picked out my laptop I got for Christmas from Janell. I just know how to get in trouble with one. I can't fix memory problems or software issues. All I had to do was call him. I knew he was rolling his eyes when I would try to explain what it was or wasn't doing. And I could go on.
The POSITIVES , if there can be any, are seing Christian brothers and sisters come together for a brother and sister that most of them didn't know. I've been reunited with friends of days gone by, and with special people in my life that have long been just a memory. I've been first handedly, reaquainted with a loss os such magnitude that I can only claim God's strength and peace as my refuge and comfort. I've seen God work through strangers and friends to sustain my household when things were very tight. And for the most part, I've seen the best side of companies and individuals who are striving to make our troubles and burdens as easy to bare as they can. And I could go on.
How in the world can a family who doesn't know the love of God, the cares and help of Christian friends, and the peace of knowing that separation from family members called home is just temporay, HOW CAN THEY COPE? I am just blessed beyond measure! Though the pain is still very real, and the tears still come when least expected, GOD LOVES ME! And that is an eternal POSITIVE

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Quickie

I appreciate the prayers this week as a close family member who doesn't like being mentioned on FB has been in the hospital. The issue they were admitted for has eased up considerably, but secondary issues may put a damper on things. I know I'm being vague, but I have to honor their wishes and not publish what I would like to. I will be able to soon.
The events of the last week have brought home so much the scripture that "it rains on the just and the unjust". But some "just" seem to get floods when they don't need them. Rest comes in many ways, and though I am just a few hours shy of sleep this week (plus many hours short for the past 60 days), physical and mental demands, as well as professional have not co-operated in my desired siesta. I have worked some, but not as much as I needed to.
You know, we all make decisions every day. And most of them come natural, and we give very little thought to them. But I've thought back this week to the day of the storm, and how decisions made that day have foerver impacted our lives. I often think "If I'd just called Garrett and told him to come to my house because I was alone and could use the company", or "Go to JayMomma's she has the underground storm shelter", or if my sweet kids had just stayed at the restaurant where they were, or if.........The harsh reality is, it was Jennifer's day, decided on before she was ever born, and June 5th was Garrett's, period. However, a decision they both made ealier in their lives has also had an impact on our lives. We know we will see them again, just how soon is still unknown to us. I will get to hear "hey daddy-o" again some day. Thank God they both made the decision for Him to be their God, and His Son to be their Savior. But their decision to do so, has impacted more than just family. And we know this because of all of ya'll who have testified in this media. And each of your decsions to share our grief, and your decsion to lift us up, continues to be valuable decisions to us.
Don't forget the event in Homewood Park on July 23rd, and don't forget to go by and help out the Christmas in Dixie for Tornado Survivors booth where they are attempting to raise funds for replenishing Christmas decorations lost by storm victims. Thank you for your patience.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fingers Can Talk

Well, the weekend has continued to be a real battle of emotions, but we willmake it. Don't understand why it's just now hitting, but it has. Both of the grandsons spent the night last night, so it kept our minds occupied. But after there departure, it has been a struggle, especially for my sweet wife. It really hurts to see her hurting so bad. And all I can do is hold her, and most of the time she doesn't even want that. So I just pray for her. And ask ya'll to lift her up as well. You almost want to go around and take sown their pictures around the house until some acceptable day in the future. But yet, we need to see 'em. Even when I said the blessing tonight, I found it difficult to know what to say. I pretty much thanked Him for our food, and home and friends, and whn I mentioned family, it just hit me right between the left ventricle and the right ventricle. And I said, "God we do love you, but we don't understand you", and I don't know where that came from. I'm not seeking sympathy or desiring to dampen anyones evening, just doing what seems to come natural, vent.
But something that has also entered my thoughts today, are the staff at the hospital that came to mean so much to us. These are truly special God called people, whether they claim Him or not. I have had my share of hospital experience, not only from a personal side, but also as a minister of music and my hospital visits. And these people are special. There were probably 15-18, including Doctors who loved my son so much that we could sense it when they were around. And I was told that they try not for that to happen, because it makes results like Garretts very difficult to get over. I'll not mention names, but they know who they are, if they get to read this. One doctor, primary care type, actually had a whole week off for the arrival of his new daughter. The night of Garretts viewing, he was on call and couldn't come, but his wife said she had to come meet the family of the patient who had so enveloped her husbands thoughts and mind. She was so sweet. So, when ya'll think about it, please lift up this staff of Trauma ICU, 9th floor, UAB in prayer. Send them a GPW card c/o Beth, Dayshift Charge Nurse. They will forever be family to me, and I hope our paths cross again, but not as before. I've kinda gotten away from the direction of my recent posts of dealing with spiritual things, but as most of you know by now, it's whats in my mind that seems to come out my fingers. Hope everyone is in their place of worship tomorrow.
I'll be back.

Substitute Hugs

Sunday night , on the way home from church, I stopped to visit a dear old saint of our church. She was diagnosed w/Parkinsons several years back, and it recently has bedridden her. Her swallowing ability has left her, and she is sleeping a lot. In fact, when I stepped n the house, the caregiver, (also one of my altos) told me Miss Jane had been sleeping for almost 24 hours, and even changing her and her bed had not awaken her. I said I would go in to speak to her anyway, just in case she could hear me. I told her how much I appreciated her prayers for Garrett before his homegoing, and her prayers for us since. As I was speaking, she opened her eyes and turned her head towards me. I told her I was sorry she was unable to communicate with me, sorry she could no longer attend church and but that she was probably close to her homegoing and seeing her husband again, family and friends and most of all her Saviour were enough to make me jealous. Of course, I told her, I could beat her there, that I might not even make it home that night from her house. And then, where this came from, I don't know. I said, "Miss Jane, if you make it up there before I do, would you do me a favor?" She looked at me and her eyes widened. "Would you go look up Brandon, Garrett and Jennifer, and hug their necks for me? I am really missing them right now, and if you could just hug their necks and tell them I love em', and "WAR EAGLE" for me, it would mean so much." I'd swear she frowned when I said that cause she is Bama thru & thru. But I have no doubts she'll pull it off.
For some reason this week has really been tough mentally and emotionaly for Janell & me. I've had to get up a few times and leave the office for a few minutes. I've had to clear my eyes because the wipers on my car couldn't seem to "clear the windshield". And when I try to post, it's as though my fingers weigh a ton and the screen and keyboard won't stay in focus. Just couldn't get into it. Janell says it's starting to sink in that he's not gonna call for "dinner reservations for 2". That she won't have to patch or sew up those holy khaki shorts for the 137th time. That she literally has nothing of his like we do Brandon's, for Garrett had moved the last load of his stuff out just a couple of weeks before the storm, because she told him it had been in boxes in the floor long enough. But as we well know, these days and weeks will inevitably repeat themselves for about the first year. And they hit when you least expect them. So when you see Janell or me anytime in the next year, remember, we accept substitue hugs as well as ask others to deliver them.
I'll be back.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I had a pastor once that told of a mission trip he went on to Kenya/Tanzania. When almost reaching the border, there was a crude blockade built on the main road they needed to travel. It was a quicker and smoother route, but thugs had blocked it off, and were demanding "pay-off" to travel it instead of the detour. The detour would take longer, was full of potholes but actually had prettier scenery. The leader of the mission instructed the drivers to take the detour. They did not understand, but did as he said. When they reached their destination, one of the drivers asked why he chose the detour. He said in the end, that it allowed them to see more of God's beauty, but it also did not aide the thugs in breaking the law.
I've thought about this for several days and have seen something I believe God wanted me to see about both Brandon's and Garrett's journey. Both were given the longer journey. For Brandon, 3 weeks shy of 4 years when he was given six months. And our family saw more of God's beauty and plan, while experiencing some very painful potholes, and saw Brandon grow in God's grace. Not to mention saved souls. And a valuable sidebar result was a lesson to me of how a Christian should live and die. And it took away Satans intent to make his death meaningless.
Likewise, Garrett should have been killed instantly as was Jennifer. It would seem merciful to most folks. But yet it gave Kevin, who helped find him and dig him out, time with his brother that was both critical and fruitful. Finding him as quick as they did had a bearing on us having 2 weeks of communication with Garrett. Though limited, it was immensly valuable and productive to our family and friends who came. Yes there were major potholes, but the coming together of patient family with unit staff was a thing of beauty and love. And that five & 1/2 weeks was the time God wanted for Garrett's Prayer Warriors to become what it is today. Again robbing Satan of a sensless death.
Think of some other detour takers: Moses, David, Jonah, Sampson, and many others. ( Enoch definately took no detour!) So when things aren't going quite the way we planned, better ask yourself, "Who planned my way?"
I haven't told all ya'll lately, but thanks and lots of love from our family.
I'll be back.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Self Reflections

I never write these posts to get any kind of a response, so if I get none here it's O.K. with me. I have just been A.) Perplexed B.) Confused C.)Overwhelmed D.) Humbled and E.)Scared, in a sense. All from the reactions and responses to so many of you who have shared my journey. I say my journey because I can't tell you what Janell or Kevin truly feels. I know I look at life and it's blows or challenges totally different than they do. And I respond to each stumbling block along the way differently. I trust people to a fault, if that little voice in me says I can. But sometimes that little voice says "don't", and though I can't explain why, I'll watch my back around that person. But first impressions are very big with me.
Please don't anyone take this the wrong way. I strictly mean I see it as a visual, on the surface, correlation of what I'm going through to what Moses went through. He asked God "why Me. Who am I that Pharoah would listen to me. I am nothing". As for Frank Jones, I barely graduated high school. And with the exception of just a few individuals from church, I was not friendless, but not a part of the "in"crowd. I had a 3 wheel mail/police scooter instead of a car! Talk about jokes and jeers. I had chores at home which precluded me from going out with friends. My father was a very strict, old fashioned baptist preacher, and I was by todays standards, an abused child. I was told this by people (adults) that knew me growing up and would speak a kind word when we would meet about how I had turned out well in spite of my upbringing. I though my discipline was normal for Christian family kids, never suspected it was abuse. I even lost my 4 year childhood sweetheart around age 11 and that just tore my world apart. I've always been this way: If you have ever been loved or liked by me, you still are! Those few people in life that affect you that way are worth loving for life.
But all this attention to my journal (which is my heart) has brought new friends by the thousands, which have been very scarce in my life. Until Brandon met Mark Weldon, I had no male best friend that I could talk to daily. There was a former choir director that was (is) still very important to me, but we didn't communicate that often back then. So when now, in a matter of a few months, people are being "uplifted", "changed", "inspired", "blessed" and other superlatives, just because I feel the need to spill my guts or express a thought, well.... that is scary my friends. I have no idea how or why God takes what I write, and turns it into a blessing or a message. I am not worthy of this kind of attention, nor do I feel it merited. I won't write something just to be writing something. It has to be something I'm feeling orsomething I've witnessed or experienced that I feel it's worth sharing. So some days may not produce a post. But I promise to make it from my heart when it does happen. I do encourage everyone not to take tomorrow for granted. As I was recently corrected by that "old Flame" ( l meant that lovingly LH) we are all promised a tomorrow, just not an earthly tomorrow.
I'll be back.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


What a day today has been. Started at 7:00, getting up, getting grills (yes 2 of them) ready, going to store to swap out bad slaw, get some ice, and grab a biscuit and gravy from Jacks. But coming from the car to the house , a bag of ice turned my gravy & bisuit up sideways, and when I got in the house, all my gravy is in the bag. Not a good way to start my holiday! Got concrete pool deck sprayed off and pool vaccuumed, strarted cooking meat. Six grills full, ribs, hamburgers, wieners, country back bone, chicken and smoked sausage. We fed 12 adults, 2 teenagers, and 5 kids. And a ton of meat left over as usual. Uncle Sam's BBQ place is gonna be hurtin.
I'm reminded of a holiday, I believe it was the fourth of July, about 6 years ago. I had been preparing the back yard as I did today, and the neighbor who lives behind me (I'm on a corner) had come over to the privacy fence to talk. He mentioned how much he missed watching all my boys, including Brandon with one leg, enjoying the pool during the summer like they used to. There would be 4 or 5 friends come over while Janell and I were at work. As long as their chores were done, it was O.K. The neighbor mentioned how much fun it was to watch them jumping off the roof into pool. I said, "excuse me, did you say the roof?". He replies, "Oh yeah, they would line up across there, and one at a time off they'd go. I said "oh really...?"
He looked surprised and asked if this was news to me. "Yes it certainly is, but you don't mean all of them do you? Are you saying Brandon was in on it too?" Sure he replied. Now how he got on the roof with one leg, I never found out, but he would hobble across that roof on 2 crutches and 1 leg, balance, drop the crutches and jump." Needless to say this was somewhat disturbing. Now I knew Brandon could go deer hunting with a special designed tree stand that his grandfather built for him, and that was a sight to see him climb 30 feet up a pine tree and settle in for the wait. But this pool stunt was incredible. So around the table that holiday, when both Garrett and Kevin are rousting it up and stuffing their face, I popped it on 'em real smooth. "So, anyone care to tell me how Brandoon used to get on the roof when all you guys would be swimming in the summer?" Heads were bowed getting bites, but eyes looked up at each other like "Ah Oh". One head shook and then the otther like ESP was in effect. "Did you tell him....No I didn't tell him I figured you did" " I didn't tell him". They had been caught but it was 6 years after the fact, so no discipline needed, but did we ever get the laughs that night...............Didn't have any revelations or laughs like that today. Just a strained attempt by all to have a good time, but to be careful not to say anything that could be mood changing. Man could he put away some BBQ ribs. We had way too many left over........