Summer. A time where friends and family come together for picnics and reunions. A time when the sun bears with us just a few more hours so we can get home from work, wrestle with the kids, & put the hamburgers on the grill before the night begins to fall. A time where we sit and admire the masterpiece of colors that invade the sky – knowing God painted it just for us – at that specific moment – speaking to each one of us in His own way.
Is it really here already? Maybe I’m a little behind. I think it’s been summer for a few weeks now.
Regardless – I’m sitting outside experiencing a warm breeze that somehow brings cool refreshment and a flood of memories that nearly drown me as I sit here.
My mind drifts backs to some of my favorite summers….where my parents would drag us kids from church to church to talk about Haiti. Where we would spend Sunday evenings standing on the back of trailers in church parking lots singing songs about the Master-Builder. We would remind the audience that – Can He, Could He, Would He – Yes He Can, He Could, He Would, & He Did.
We would spend several days each week practicing – fighting for the solos – believing each one of us was a Rockstar – at least in our own mind anyways. Mom would be at her wits end begging us to ” stop fighting and get it together” so we could praise Jesus already!
We would travel to camps and meet some of the most amazing staff and kids. Since we were the mission speakers – the majority of the kids at camp were never in our age groups. So that meant we got to do what we want! While kids were having sessions we were swimming laps in the pool – playing tennis – taking long walks – hiking the hills…..yeah right – we were raiding the camp kitchen! (Remember we’re Owens!)
We would always do special 4th of July programs. Yes – my parents, my brothers & sister – all of us would dress alike with red, white, and blue clothes and normally a top hat that looked like an American Flag! Besides doing skits & speeches – we would sing specials like – God Bless the USA, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Born in the USA, and the ever popular and timeless- Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy!
We’d ride hours in the station wagon which often had no AC – and so the windows were down causing my long hair to smack me in the face as the wind blew in. I always had terrible car sickness. So my brothers would pick their nose and pretend to wipe it on me – hoping that would initiate a series of vomiting that would cause the car to stop and me to spend several minutes on the side of the road. That would give them a chance to stretch their legs out and take a brief walk before we got back in the car and drove several hours more. (yeah – seriously they did that).
I spent the first 10 years of my life in Calhoun, KY. We lived on Main Street. Our house was attached to Calhoun Christian Church. On the right of us was the Baptist Church and on the Left of us was the Methodist Church. We basically shared the parking lot with all three churches.
The Baptist church seemed to have more weddings in the summer than any of the other churches. They weren’t really good about locking their doors either – you know – small church – small country town. My best friend was Troy the son of the Methodist pastor who lived next door. I was in first grade and he was in Kindergarten. We would sneak into the Baptist Church and hide in a Sunday School class until the wedding was well underway. Then we gladly joined everyone in our Sunday Best at the receptions and ate some of the best cake you ever tasted! I think Troy & I (7 & 6 years old) were the first real “Wedding Crashers”.
When I was little I loved teaching. Let’s face it – I just loved to talk! 🙂 I must have had 100 stuffed animals that I would line up and teach about Jesus. I had felt boards and chalk boards and yes – often times I had to put the teddy bears in the corner for talking during class.
When we lived in Calhoun we had several dogs. They were typically street dogs. Our family would walk in the evenings – all together. As we walked – random dogs would join us and before we knew it – those dogs became our dogs. I remember when I was little I was given a dog that I named Bumper. Guess with a name like that it shouldn’t be a surprise that it was indeed a bumper (car bumper) that took my doggie from me.
I began to worry about the salvation of our other dogs. I mean do all dogs really go to Heaven? I wasn’t sure. So just like my stuffed animals – I lined up our 4 remaining dogs and began to teach them about Jesus. My dad talks many times about how he’d look out of his church office window and he’d see all those dogs just laying there – all in a row – listening to me teach them. I’m sure he thought it was because the dogs knew they didn’t get fed until the lesson was over – but I knew really they just loved to hear about Jesus.
Where am I going with this….I have no idea. Crazy how a warm breeze can blow by and bring back a string of memories that would otherwise lay dormant. I guess the crazy thing is that when we were little we couldn’t wait to share with others about Jesus. We loved all the long trips and all of the silly skits!
Teaching my “stuffed animals” and the “real ones” was something I took seriously. I was truly concerned about their salvation. I’m not kidding when I tell you that it was within a two week period when all 4 of our dogs were hit and killed. We did live on main street and they were street dogs. The only thing that brought me peace was I knew they knew Jesus because I took the time to share with them.
I don’t know what it is about growing up but as time passed that conviction I had as a 7 year old somehow went away. I sit here right now thinking about many sweet friends – many sweet family members – that are no longer here. I just wish I would have had the same passion to share with them as I did with my stuffed animals.