So today will be a sort of sad day. To paraphrase Miranda Lambert “the house that made me” will be sold. I lived at 1105 51st Street South for my most formative years - from age 4 till I got married I called it home. I remember the day we moved in in September of 1966, That house has been a part of our family for nearly 50 years. It's been just a few days more than four years ago that dad died and the memories are strong.
I remember running home from school (we lived about 3 blocks away and I could walk to school those days even in Birmingham), it was my birthday and I grabbed the handle of the door to go in and grabbed a yellow jacket that stung me and started crying but as I opened the door I was greeted by the smell of mom’s strawberry cake! I remember as a growing teen searching the cabinets for anything to eat and finding a box of brown sugar cinnamon and eating the whole box! I only remember seeing my dad visibly angry three times in my whole life - two of them were in that house. I remember sitting in the floor of the great room and “testing” light bulbs each year as we put up the Christmas Tree. I remember finding where “the gifts” were hidden on December at about age 9. I remember the tree roots growing into the plumbing and the squirrels getting into the attic and dad’s ongoing fight to get rid of them. I remember moving a black and white TV set into the living room one year at Thanksgiving so we could watch two football games at once. I remember May 15, 1972, the day George Wallace was shot and hearing it come over the radio as we turned into the driveway and mom audibly gasping in unbelief! I remember sneaking out the basement window late one night but not knowing what to do or where to go when I got out! I remember when we remodeled the two car garage basement to be a nice family room. I remember getting my own room down in that same basement. I remember the Wednesday night we came back from church and had been robbed and the feeling of insecurity for months after. I remember each year at Christmas inviting the whole church over for Open House with the Jenkins. I remember hauling my first big old computer mainframe, screen, printer, mouse and keyboard home Thanksgiving of 1984 and everyone laughing at me and then as I got ready to head home for Christmas a few months later dad calling and asking me to bring it back and by the next Christmas dad having two of his own computers! I remember when Jeff broke "the cup" and Carey and I broke the wall. I remember football in the front year in the fall and basketball at the side all summer. I remember stumbling on a baseball game on a little transistor radio late one night and being happy. Most of all I remember being happy. Not always - but I chose to remember being happy. Mom and dad and four kids.
Obviously I could go on and on what I want to close with is a little drawing back of the curtain.
Church leaders often ask me "how do we reward a good preacher?' or "how do we get our preacher to stay?" Here you go:
In the early ’70’s dad was thinking about moving. He’d been at Woodlawn for five or six years, already longer than most preachers were staying. There were bigger churches calling and with a family of four kids offers of more money surely were appealing too (nothing wrong with that - read 1 Timothy 5:8). Going through dad’s old files I found two interesting documents. One is an old bulletin from Woodlawn with a candid note from dad in it: Many of you have heard that I am moving to Nashville or Arkansas and I want to let you know that I am staying in Birmingham. The elders and I have worked everything out. The other is an agreement between the elders at Woodlawn and dad it gave dad half the house at 1105 with another 1/4 of the mortgage to be forgiven in five years and the final to be forgiven in five more years. And dad stayed, and stayed, and stayed. For the rest of his life he stayed. He and mom lived and loved and raised four kids in that house. And he lived there until a few month before he died. And sous were strengthened and saved and the church grew strong and became a light to all around. And dad was a part of that because he stayed, because the elders made a non-traditional, risky, wise, over the top decision that blessed him, made him feel secure and wanted and loved, and because God blessed the whole thing. Thank God he stayed.