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A Father's Heart

  • A Father's Heart from Refreshing Hope Ministries on Vimeo.

     

    Transcript: 
    Tomorrow is Father’s day, and though it was created by a greeting card company in order to make a profit, it is a time that we remember our Fathers. Today I am going to be talking about mine, “A Father’s Heart”, and the Heart of our Father in heaven. I am going to be sharing a lot of my personal life in this message, things that I don’t share with many, and that I have never shared publicly. This is not really a sermon, but mostly memories. 

    The Lord tells us to not throw our pearls before swine. Now I can’t see who is actually out there watching, or if you have a curly tail, so I am just going to hope for the best. For you to understand what I am going to tell you, you I need to give you some my history.

    My Dad was born in the early 1930s and grew up on a farm in the South during the middle of the great depression. When he was young, they had no electricity and they carried big blocks of ice from town in order to store their food. They grew most of what they ate and when he grew big enough, he plowed the fields walking behind a mule.

    His Mother passed away at 33 from leukemia and afterwards his Dad decided to sell the farm and move to another town, so at a whopping 12 years old, Dad was out on his own. He dropped out of school in the 5th grade and got a job working with a nearby farmer and the man let him stay in his barn, so he at least had a roof over his head at night. 

    He eventually got a job on a construction site and went on to become a master carpenter over the next 55 years. Though he only had an elementary school education, he could read blue prints and build huge condominiums from the ground up. This is a picture of my Dad with his Dad:

    Dad remained a simple man all of his life, uncomplicated, and extremely frugal. Things that I take for granted, like air conditioning, he considered an unnecessary luxury and preferred to use a screen door and a fan. Once when his car engine was knocking and he didn’t have the money to rebuild it, he cut pieces of leather from an old boot and used it as a spacer behind the main bearings, and then he drove it some more.

    He met my Mother, who was young and wanted to get away from home and they had 3 sons, Randy, Ken, and me, the youngest. They could not have been more opposite. Think of a Vegas show girl meeting a poor dirt farmer and trying to build a life together, and that is about what happened. Here is a picture of Mom so you can get better idea of what I am talking about:

    The simple life that Dad offered was not what Mom wanted, and she divorced Dad and married a lawyer before I turned one. Then she left the lawyer for a judge, and then left the judge for a millionaire. They both loved us kids, but they could not have been more different people, or had more opposing values. Now I still love Mom, she is just who she is. She is special. But it was Dad who raised and shaped us and it is Father’s day. 

    Dad raised us three boys and worked full time. For a while when Randy was in school, he took Ken and me to work with him, and we would play in and around the car until he was done. When Randy was around 10 years old, he quit school to take care of Ken and me. 

    One of our neighbors, who happened to be Mom’s sister, called the department of Social services on us, and they showed up at our house one day and began making plans to adopt us out. Needless to say, that did not sit well with Dad. 

    He needed a wife and fast. He had been seeing a woman, so proposed to her, and they were married. We learned that her first husband had died in the asylum. She had 10 children of her own, 5 boys and 5 girls. Add the 3 of us and there were 13 children, with me being the youngest, and a stepchild. This was me:

    Life was pretty much hell on earth. Several of her kids were in their 20s and 30s and were heavy drinkers. There were open brawls in the house with people being thrown against the walls. I remember looking out the bedroom door and seeing Dad with his shirt half ripped off trying to break them up. Her oldest son would sit in the woods with a hunting rifle aimed at Dad’s head. 

    I got to watch brawls in the yard, cars flipping upside down, cars set on fire, slammed into ditches, and smashed into trees. It was pretty exciting. There was a small junk yard of wrecked cars in a field across from the house. The police would often come, and resisting arrest, assault on an officer, and bailing people out of jail was a normal part of our life. They took me right along with them, and by 6 I was drinking beer and hanging out in what we called the honky-tonks. They were all illegal bars and if the police raided, everyone was going to jail, so your age didn’t really matter. 

    When Dad got paid on Friday, my stepmother would take his check and give him back $20 for gas and a carton of cigarettes for that week. He worked hard, and was usually gone by 6 AM. Then our stepmother would put Ken and me out in the yard, and bring her kids in and feed them breakfast. Cereal boxes and things like that were kept in a cabinet with a padlock on it. There was a padlock on the phone. 

    If we mentioned any of it to Dad, she made us out to be liars and it just caused another fight, so we didn’t say anything much. She cussed like a sailor and at night she would stay up till 2 and 3 in the morning, arguing with herself while everyone in the house tried to sleep, saying things like, “I am not going to put up with this. You think this place is yours, but you will never have any of it!”

    Dad kept his cool and tolerated all of this for his sons and just waited until I became old enough that the DSS could not take me away. One Sunday my uncle Joe came by to see us and Dad was pretty upset; he was trapped and couldn’t afford to leave. $20 a week was not enough to buy a house.

    After listening a while, Uncle Joe made Dad an offer and said: “If you will leave her, I will fix you a place and have the lights cut in for you.” Dad said: “Do it.” And he did it. I believe that I was 13 or 14 when Dad walked in and said, “Get your stuff together boys, we are leaving.”
     
    We moved into a small mobile home that Uncle Joe had set up for us and it became a safe house. I still have it today. It is a 1957 dream home, 10’ by 50’. I remember that in a couple of months time, Dad could cover the entire kitchen table with hundred dollar bills and soon, he had to open a bank account, something that he had never needed before. In a year’s time, he had bought the place from Uncle Joe and soon had it paid for.

    Dad said that all that he wanted was a place that him and his boys could call home, and no one could tell them to leave. He had it. Our Dad was heavily involved in our life. Every day he checked in with each of us to see what we were doing. If one of us was changing a transmission, he was under the car with us. If another was building a shed, he was there. This is a picture of us, From the left is Randy, Me, Dad, and Ken. 

    When my brother Randy decided to build a house, him and Dad worked on it every weekend for a year until it was completed. We worked on car engines together, put clutch packs in motorcycles, rebuilt boat engines, and built houses. It didn’t matter what it was, Dad would tackle it, and he would eventually fix it.  

    It did not matter how bad that we messed up, Dad’s door was always open and he wanted nothing but the best for us. Though if you willingly got yourself into a situation, he would let you learn from it for a while before he came to bail you out. 

    When I began to learn about our heavenly Father, I learned that He is a lot like my own Dad, but so much better in every way. He only wants the best for us. He tries to teach us, and encourage us to be the very best that we can be. He is supportive in every way. Jesus told us this in: 

    Matthew 7:7–11 (NKJV) — 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

    Our heavenly Father is even better than our earthly Fathers, and I had a great one. My Dad laid down his life to keep his sons. Jesus laid down His life to redeem us and He said: 

    John 15:13 (NKJV) — Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

    So today, let us remember our Father’s, and especially our Heavenly Father. 


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18 comments
  • 2
Roseanne Braverman
Roseanne Braverman

Over time I've come to see that is very rare to meet someone who has had what I call a Norman Rockwell childhood. Even rarer is to meet someone who had many obstacles and abuse as a child, but they have grown to be healthy, loving adults. You are one of the latter. What a beautiful testament to your father's love and determination to keep his boys together. Happy Father's Day to you Pastor Dion and may God continue to shower you with His grace. May you and Sylvia have a wonderful day. Roseanne

June 18
  • 2
Sylvia Todd
Sylvia Todd

That is so true, Roseanne! Even if we don't know what they are, everyone's had to overcome obstacles in their lives. We just have to learn what we can from them and look to the future <3!

June 20
  • 1
Maureen Germain
Maureen Germain

So glad I could watch this today as the live stream was not working for me yesterday. Your dad sounds like a wondeful man.  You had a hard life, but God turned that all around. So happy for your family. Also, what a bunch of handsome men! All of you are so handsome, including your dad.  I hope you all have a Happy Fathers day today.

Happy 12th Anniversary to you and Sylvia today

Love you both very much,

Love Moe

June 18
  • 2
Sylvia Todd
Sylvia Todd

Thanks so much, Moe, and sorry again that the stream didn't work! When you're ready, let us know and we will try to work with you on your computer :).

June 20
  • 1
Maureen Germain
Maureen Germain

ok the pca coming today until about 1 pm will today work? Love Moe

June 20
  • 1
Sylvia Todd
Sylvia Todd

How is around 4pm for you today?

June 20
  • 1
Maureen Germain
Maureen Germain

that works!!!! Thank you so much!!! i'll give you my phone number to call on your FB is that okay?

June 20
  • 2
Sylvia Todd
Sylvia Todd

Yup, 10-4 :)!

June 20
  • 1
Maureen Germain
Maureen Germainedited: June 20

done! it's on fb :)

June 20
  • 2
Joseph Adams, Jr.
Joseph Adams, Jr.

Awesome testimony. I can identify with a lot you said and I am thankful for my past, though rugged, we survived. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

June 18
  • 2
Sylvia Todd
Sylvia Todd

Amen, Joe, God uses all things for good!

June 20
  • 1
Maureen Germain
Maureen Germain

I forgot to say, your brother at the end, Ken? in the white shirt, he looks just like Matthew Mcconaughey in that picture. :) 

June 18
  • 2
Joe Brown
Joe Brown

A very Beautiful message today Pastor Dion! Happy Fathers day to All that are fathers or have been a father figure to anyone! I Lift You Up in Jesus name, Amen!

June 18
  • 1
Sylvia Todd
Sylvia Todd

Amen, brother, we all need spiritual fathers in our lives, too!

June 20
  • 1
Richard Mondello
Richard Mondello

It's strange that there are so many coincidences in life among total strangers but ,it only goes to show we're all human and children of the same God. A lot of similarities between us such as my Grandaddy,my father and two brothers.My dad,me and my younger brother. Also,me and my three sons. In each case the father working hard and sarificing himself,a lot of times physically and financially for his children and wife. Although, not exactly the same cicumstances;but I can still relate. My Grand mother was a piece of work toward my Grandaddy and valued work and her own pleasure more than being a mother to her children. God bless my mother though, with God's help,she got her GED and put herself through nursing school to support our family when my dad suffered an industrial accident as a ship yard welder. I won't even go into my story because it's to much for words now and this isn't about me. It's about God our Father and this encouraging messge that you've shared with us Pastor Dion. Thank you so much! This helps my heart heal and I'm glad that I'm still here for my sons and hope that they can say the same someday when I'm gone. I'm thankful for our Father in heaven who takes rough or wrong beginnings and turns them into right and blessed endings! God bless...

June 18
  • 2
Sylvia Todd
Sylvia Todd

Thank you so much for sharing some of your story, Richard! Your mother sounds somewhat like mine, who worked to support our family after my dad was in an accident and later got Parkinson's. So many don't have that kind of commitment these days.

June 20
  • 1
Marie Fletcher
Marie Fletcher

Thank you for sharing your story with us - and as always - very inspiring to listen to you :-)

 

Marie Fletcher

June 18
  • 1
Sylvia Todd
Sylvia Todd

God bless, Marie <3!

June 20