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April 3, 2014 / danaemckee

A Good and Perfect Love Story, Chapter 17 – Roger’s Backstory, part c

Roger red plaid2
Roger met Celine at a hostel in Rome.  They were two among many young people hitching rides around Europe at the time.  But Celine found hitch-hiking scary in that country, as Italian men were wildly forward.  She asked Roger to travel with her.  Since they both were headed the same direction, he did accompany Celine.  Thus, he kept her safe from men who assumed she was a loose woman (which we was not), and she kept him safe in that she, being fluent in French, could communicate.  It so happens, I was not the first person he introduced as his wife, but men still propositioned Celine in spite of his claiming that intimate role with her.  Roger witnessed multiple guys pulling over, fighting each other to get her into their car.  The duo enjoyed a platonic relationship, made each other laugh, and traveled together to Sicily and Tunisia.  She thought Roger sounded exactly like Elvis when he sang.  In Tunis on Christmas Day, Celine celebrated by dragging a small tree inside, decorating it, and then being sad that she was not home.  Roger encouraged his usually vivacious friend to go back home early to her parents and siblings.

When in Rome, Italy, Roger met some cult people, the “Children of God.”  He did not know they were a cult; they were sharing what sounded like the Gospel on the street.  They invited him to dinner and he went with them.  Inside they showed Scripture passages to Roger from Matthew and Luke.*  They twisted the Scripture with their impassioned commentary,

“We hate our parents; we have taken new names!  We have given everything up.”

When they wanted Roger to surrender all his stuff to them, he asked if he could think about it.  He found his plate of food immediately whisked away from the table in front of him and himself thrown out onto the street!  As he walked away, one of the women followed him repeating,

“You will never go anywhere without Jesus Christ in your life.”

Roger had gone to church when he was a kid, but he had not heard the gospel yet.  It may have been preached, but his ears, his heart had not heard.  Those words of hers stuck with him and echoed in Roger’s mind in the coming months and years.

Riding a cattle train one night in Algeria, Roger fell into an exhausted sleep.  During that slumber he was robbed.  Most of his cash, all his film, almost everything was gone.  His prized Nikon camera was not taken, but the leather strap to its case had been cut part way through.  Thankfully, most of Roger’s money was in Traveler’s Cheques, but he had no way to get to Paris to get his money replaced.  Not speaking anything but English, he was nearly prey again.  Some crooks, uniformed as travel and customs agents, seemed helpful.  Roger somehow realized he was being tricked – there was no reduced fare ticket – and escaped the crooked “agent” who was about to take his last little bit of cash.

Ruby Specko, the blackest man ever, hailing from the Ivory Coast, befriended vulnerable Roger in that travel depot.  They struck up a conversation over an advertised celebrity – this time it was not Elvis, but Mohammed Ali.  Ruby’s white smile broadened as he praised Ali, the Heavyweight Champion of the world.  Roger was also a great fan, and that’s how they met.  Ruby was also going to Paris and, unbelievably, paid Roger’s boat fare to cross the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain.  They journeyed on to France, becoming friends long before they parted.  Finally in Paris, Roger went to the American embassy, replaced the stolen money, and somehow got on a flight without his passport.  So thankful to be headed back home, Roger was now suffering some uncomfortable symptoms from drinking the water while overseas.

Back from Africa, he arrived in Montreal on a cold, winter day.  It immediately became clear that his girlfriend was not expecting him as she had other company there.  Roger was sick and sad. He made his way to Athens, Georgia, riding a train part way, hitch-hiking the rest.  There he cut his wrists one night, went bleeding into a Catholic church, looked up at the life-size crucifix, and cried out to God.  The Lord answered him, disclosing Himself to Roger, whispering to his heart – he must start at the foot of the cross.


* Scriptures used by the “Children of God” that day in Rome – Luke 14:25-30, “ Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish…”
Matthew 10: 37 – “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
(Taking all of what Jesus says throughout Scripture, He would not be advocating mistreatment of parents.  The Matthew passage explains the Luke passage as being a comparison. Compared for one’s love for the Lord, our love for mom and dad resembles hatred.  When we are grown, we love and follow Christ before we follow our parents’ wishes.)

March 21, 2014 / danaemckee

A Good and Perfect Love Story, Chapter 17 – Roger’s backstory… part b

young Roger&horse copy

Roger had fended for himself enough that he was not expecting the good life to magically appear.  And it didn’t.  Hunger gnawed his belly a few times, but he worked at dishwashing jobs or anything he could get, and he stayed temporarily with different friends/acquaintances.  When he had rent money, he made his abode off and on in a room in Jim Herbert’s big, rambling, Victorian house on Dearing Street.  He made a lot of friends there and other places in Athens.  Some friends he met were Keith and Ricky, and Kate and Cindy who would become the B-52’s band.  Roger even played drums for practice sessions for the fledgling B-52’s.  (I say, as an aside, thank the Lord Roger cannot keep a beat!  If he had had a metronome anywhere inside him, he’d maybe have been a part of that famous pop band, and not the husband of one Dana Grim Babb McKee.)

Growing his thick, straight, black hair out past his waist, he tried different drugs and got taken for a bad kid.  In some ways, he was that bad kid.  But one woman, Molly, mom of his friends Jon and Danny B., saw potential in Roger.  She once heard a policeman giving Roger a hard time in a drugstore and let the cop have an articulate piece of her mind.   Molly then told Roger he could stay with their family anytime.  He took her up on it and actually moved with them to Ty Ty, GA.  Molly was a college professor and a great ally for Roger when he was a kid and had no one else.

Aunt Pat had Roger come to Greenville to stay with her when he was eighteen.  He worked as an assistant in a physical therapy practice.  That was the first place Roger worked where he felt appreciated, valued.  These therapists were medical professionals, and they treated him well.  It meant a lot to Roger that they celebrated his birthday, and that they threw him a going-away party when he left to go work as a photographer.  

Photography was an artform that fit Roger’s happy and gutsy personality.  The Snipes family, neighbors off and on when he lived in Greenville, SC, included some of his best friends – Phillip, Gene, and Marsha.  Dad, Cecil Snipes, was a well-regarded photographer, and he taught Roger to shoot his big, long-roll camera when he taught his own son, Gene.  When Roger was twenty, Cecil Snipes got him a job with Nationwide Studios.  Roger traveled around all over the South and shot portraits.  Actually, he did baby portraits just about everywhere.  Well, everywhere but Missouri.  If Roger had done baby portraits there, the three-month baby portrait I had done of Ben might have been shot by him.  Roger can tell by the backdrop, it is definitely a Nationwide Studios photo.

One of Roger’s good friends brought his girlfriend, L_, to SC, and that is when Roger met her for the first time. They were all friends together.  Later, L_ would become Roger’s girlfriend and roommate.  Their morals/consciences were not informed about God’s design and rules for respecting themselves and each other regarding sex, even though Roger had his multiple “perfect attendance” pins for Sunday School at Piedmont Park Baptist church.  Roger participated in the “hippie sexual thing.”  His hormones raged, and he was responsible before God for not controlling those urges.  But there was confusion too in the careless revelry.  Roger, as a little boy, had witnessed adultery.  Other events or matters thickened the fog in this area.  Among those factors, on one side of Roger’s family the men kept prostitutes nearby in a small building of “apartments.”  Roger did not know, and was humiliated when one day a relative implied he was stupid for not knowing, not understanding, that it was NOT a regular apartment building.  Once someone killed a woman who had been staying there… 

On the other side of Roger’s family there were known sexual indiscretions; some people in the community outside the family resembled the grandfather, and it was known that he’d fathered them.  (My family, too, included members guilty of overt sexual wickedness.  One of my grandfathers and an uncle spent time in prison for molesting a little girl.)  Bad stuff.  This uncontrolled sex is a harmful, deadly evil, not to be winked at.^

Later, when he truly met the Lord and was converted, Roger could identify with this from 1 Peter 4 – “…live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.  For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.”

Roger’s friends, some of them, would later fulfill this part of 1 Peter 4: “ With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” 

Some of Roger’s old friends did malign him; others were drawn to the Lord, like Steve, and his brother and sister-in-law, Danny and Carleen.  Roger was happily instrumental in sharing the Gospel with them later when they came to Reno to visit him.

When Roger’s granddaddy, Jack Stephens, passed away, Roger moved into the old farmhouse in Oglethorpe County by himself.  Kate and Keith and Ricky came out to Roger’s place at the farm and hung out sometimes.  L_ visited him there; other friends came too.  He had a couple of horses.  He loved just sitting on the big, wrap-around porch listening to the noisy frogs and crickets in the evenings, and smelling the chicken manure from the nearby chicken houses.  The aunts came around worrying about who all Roger had visiting, though.  He moved to escape their prying.

Roger’s father had cirrhosis of the liver and had been sick a long time.  Aunt Pat called one day, urging Roger to get to Columbia, South Carolina, to see his dad.  He’d had calls like that plenty of times, and thought his dad would likely be out of the hospital again soon, but he did go.  After staying a bit, Roger left.  As he was getting on the elevator, he impulsively turned around and went back into the room to tell his dad that he loved him.  Clark died that night.  Roger was twenty; his dad was only in his early fifties.

Roger was the beneficiary of his dad’s life insurance policy.  That gift of money was Roger’s ticket to traveling around Europe and northern Africa.  Before that adventure, he and L_ moved to Quebec.  He went on his big trip by himself and was gone for four months, visiting England, France, Italy, and then Northern Africa.  He hitchhiked and rode trains and stayed in youth hostels.  He met up with his cousin Mike McKee and his wife, Robin, while in England.  He also happened across the memorable Ruby Specko, a big, ebony-skinned man, and Celine, a pale Canadian woman.  These two spoke French, and it was a great boon that they traveled with Roger.  The two of them would keep my young, American, southern guy safe, guarding him in unexpected ways. 

Notes for Chapter 18 – ^ We all mess ourselves up; we need a Savior desperately… Whether we are guilty of the “bigger sins” – murder, drunkenness, sexual sin, etc. – or the more respectable sins – anger without a cause; self-righteousness; gluttony; pride; slander; scorn; failure to care for the weak, the small, the old, the foreign…, fear of man, greed, idolatry…  We are born sinners.  Thankfully, we have a great Savior – Jesus, the Son of God.

When I say “uncontrolled” sex, what I’m referring to mainly is a lack of self-control.  One Scripture speaks of controlling our vessel.  1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 – King James Version: “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in… lust…”  Other versions or translations use the word body for vessel here.

Other Scriptures use this same Greek word: vessel, and study of these portions of Scripture – especially in context – will expand our understanding of who we are.  In 2 Corinthians 4:7 the word is translated “jars”, speaking of our fragile “jars of clay” holding a treasure – the treasure is the indwelling Presence of God through His Holy Spirit.  

2 Timothy 2:20-21 uses the same Greek word, translated differently.  Here we are encouraged to change the use of our vessel to one for “special purposes”.  It says, “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”  (Here the Greek word for vessels is translated two ways: articles and instruments.) 

The body is our tool (though so closely they are “us,” that we can be tricked into thinking that its desires are paramount.)  That Scripture in Timothy implies that we have a choice about what kind of vessel we are!  Once born again, if we “cleanse ourselves” by following Christ and His book, we become a useful tool in God’s hand for His kingdom. What a privilege!

Our bodies are our earthly homes.  And the “real” person each of us is, who lives in a frail, human body – sometimes that Greek word vessel is translated “tent” – will live somewhere forever.  The amazing and cool thing is, that when we bring to the Lord our guilty sins in repentance, and invite Christ to be Lord, we are born spiritually – “born again” – and He then also inhabits us by His Holy Spirit.  He does not “control” us without permission, but He is very near us, in our “heart”.

(“Control” can also mean legal boundaries around sex, and these laws are important too, such that laws stating sex is not allowed with your neighbor’s wife or husband are good laws, and laws that prohibit sex with children are good laws, etc.)

March 18, 2014 / danaemckee

A Good and Perfect Love Story, Chapter 16 – Separated, Rescued… part d

Lula - moving away copy  Lula - moving away copy 2

Unbelievably, maybe miraculously, Ginger accepted the un-smooth, unskillful flip-flop of our changing stance from: “You can go to CA” to “You cannot go…”  She did not freak out or blow up or run away…  (That had been my biggest fear – that she would run away.)  Wow.  Thank the Lord for guarding our girl, and for leading our family in His path for us.

Roger had lost his wedding ring.  I did not like it that he wore nothing on his ring finger; he thought it was a non-issue.  He was not going to worry about buying a ring when there were so many other demands on his paycheck.

All this time Roger had been staying in hotels during the week.  The kids and I did not go see him in Charlotte; busy with school and life, we could barely keep up while running errands, getting teens to school and work, Aaron to Karate lessons, getting Corrie and Aaron to home school get-togethers, etc., in our little part of Hall County, GA.  The fact that we did not have dependable transportation for much of that time contributed to our not getting over to Charlotte too.  But Roger worked at work; I never had stopped by to visit him there, and did not start now. 

My dad had passed away while I was pregnant with Barney.  Daddy left a few thousand dollars to each of his seven children.  I took my small inheritance and put down payments on two big purchases – a “good” used van, and carpet for the basement stairs and rooms.  Signing up for payments was the foolish part.  We ended up over-extended on our finances…  The van we bought had some problems, and was soon repossessed.  Roger had his company car, thankfully, but the only car we had at home was Ben’s little, rickety, orange VW bug.  And that thing had to be rolled off a hill while popping the clutch to make it start.  Crazy!

Roger’s Charlotte work stories started including some woman named R__.  She was perky; “reminded him of Bette Midler”…  That was a compliment.  Just the way he talked about this woman reminded me of Clay’s first stories about J__, who had also been a woman at work…  Roger was straying from us!  One time he praised her as someone he just got along with so well, flatly stating, “She is much more like me than you are.”  Perfect…

I bought Roger a $15 sterling silver ring and he put it on.  He was surprised that a waitress at a restaurant he frequented noticed and congratulated him on his marriage.  Roger, confused, replied, no, he’d been married for ten plus years.  He told me that waitress story as though it was something unbelievable…

It was time for him to find us a house.  He realized it, and within two weeks he found a good rental for us near Charlotte.  Not before old R__ made a big play for Roger, though, and he almost fell for it.  She came to his room and he confessed to me that he ended up kissing her there!  He didn’t quite admit that it was very bad, though… which omission was a little galling; I wanted some dust and ashes!  But I thank the Lord for rescuing us again.  He provided a way of escape.

I mentioned in passing that Ben graduated high school.  He did!  Ben was a great student and hard worker.  He got the highest SAT score among those graduating in our county that year.  He was accepted at both colleges he applied to – one large and one small – and had scholarships to both.  Ben decided to attend the smaller one, a military school in north GA that offered him the larger scholarship.  He was excited about getting out on his own.  I did not worry too much about my boy, knowing that the Lord is faithful and I can trust Him to care for my kids, wherever they are.  Ben was in the middle of his freshman year in Dahlonega when we left our Lula house sitting empty and headed to NC.

March 18, 2014 / danaemckee

Good and Perfect Love Story, Chapter 16 – Settled, Separated… – part c

Lula3 gang at Norris'  LulaRoger and Barney  Lula - mailbox snow kids

(Crowded Pic above – 3 families of kids – 5 of ours, 4 of ‘Net’s, 2 of Terry and Melissa’s, plus me, and Terry – Roger’s roommate when we first met)

We took a driving trip out west, the older kids flying for part of the trip, and the three little ones in the car with us.  We saw my family; we saw friends.  Even though car rides over days and days can be tying, it was a great vacation.

An Assistant General Manager position opened up – very impressive/good career move for my husband.  This involved moving from GA to NC.  Roger went to Charlotte, while for fifteen months the kids and I stayed in Georgia trying to sell the house.  So, we saw our dad and husband Friday evenings every week.  He called on the phone and talked to us every night, but our weekends with him were brief.  Sunday night or Monday morning early, he had to leave for work and for his hotel room again.

Lula3 copy 3   Lula3 copy 2

As mentioned before, the difficult mother/first-daughter relationship was mine and Ginger’s during most of her teen years.  She was a great kid – beautiful, funny and engaging (with other people), a hard-working student, a good babysitter for her younger siblings; I was trying to be a good and faithful mom…  But we clashed whenever we got within ten feet of each other.  I know, and I think I knew then, that when a child’s spirit closes to a parent, measures must be found and initiated to invite the child out of that shell.  But I did not know how to make the prickly exterior smooth out.  (This only lasted until she was twenty, and until I was addressed…  The Lord confronted me with my angry spirit; that part about me comes a bit later.)   This part is so relevant to our lives and our turbulent love story when the kids ranged from pre-school to college age, that I have to share it.

After their dad came out for Ben’s high school graduation, Ginger wanted to go live with Clay.  We were trying to sell the house and move to NC, so a big move was going to happen, for our Ginger as well as for all the rest of us, sometime soon.  I asked Roger what he thought; he said it was ok with him…  He did not discuss it with me or bat it around at all, just stated that it was a good idea.  Ginger could go live with her dad.  In CA.  Clear across the country.  That surprised me.  I was counting on his saying “no.”

Lula3 copyGinger

Ginger went to the school counselor at East Hall High; that woman conveyed also that going to live with her dad would be good.  We told Ginger we would let her go.

Inside, I was sad; I felt that this was not a good thing.  Though glad Clay was on an even keel, I did not know how stable he really was.  He and the third wife had parted ways, and he seemed to be doing well…  Ginger was excited; Clay was buying furniture for his extra bedroom so he could have a special, welcoming home for her.  Not knowing why my world quaked and heaved, our decision hung over me.  I was burdened and tearful in my prayer times.

I told Roger I was really unhappy and asked if we could revisit the decision or get counsel from the Moreiras.  He admitted that he did not really think it would be good for Ginger to go, but, defended with something like:

“I said that because, you never listen to me anyway”…*

“And, no, do not go to Martin Moreira for counsel.”

Wow.  I was trying out this “submitting” thing, and this is what it got me?!…

Roger had withheld from me his honest opinion.  We’d taken the secular, off-the-cuff counsel from the high school.  Then I clearly heard a Scripture verse in my heart.  It was from Psalm 1; Mom had had us kids memorize that Psalm when I was five years old.  It begins:

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly…”

That was it.  This school counselor fit the description exactly; godless.  Ungodly.  She had, a couple of years before, used her position to block us at the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Gainesville from getting a good, proven, abstinence-based sex-ed curriculum into East Hall High School.  It may sound odd, but right then I knew I had to back the whole decision up.  We had to do an about face.  I figured the resulting fireworks might burn the whole house down.  I needed confirmation, wisdom, prayer, counsel.

I could not go to that new pastor, Jimmy, where Roger had recently moved us from our familiar church.  I called our other pastor, Martin Moreira, and asked if I could come over.  He and his wife Zulema were still gracious friends.  They would pray for us – help me pray for Ginger.  I was so afraid she would not be ok.  Though I was not allowed to ask for counsel, I needed prayer.  They did listen and talk; they did pray.  I can still hear Martin’s deep, Latin voice interceding, praying… “Gloria, gloria, gloria…”

So, I went back to Roger, explained that I wanted to go with what he really believed, and what I thought was right, and back track…  He agreed!  Wow…  In a scared sort of relieved shiver, I almost literally heard the beep, beep, beep warning of a big vehicle moving in reverse…!

* Roger did not think I ever listened to him, because… it was a new thing for me to try to listen.  Maybe I did often steamroll over him.

January 23, 2014 / danaemckee

A Good and Perfect Love Story, Chapter 17 – Roger’s Backstory, part a

Rogerbaby w Mom copy  Roger baby Furman copy

Roger grew up in the South in the 1950’s and ‘60’s.  He experienced things my family only read about in the newspaper – school segregation, racial tensions, white drinking fountains and swimming pools.  White-only restaurants…  Then desegration erupted with dangerous, deafening riots that violated norms and thrust children, teens, teachers, families – entire communities and cities – forward into an unknown. 

Roger was born in South Carolina to Clark and Dorothy McKee.  Dorothy was a hard-working young woman, and put Roger in daycare when he was three months old so she could get back to her sewing factory job.  Roger’s dad, a veteran of WWII, was a gifted salesman who won big prizes for his expertise in sales. 

Aunt Pat had married Clark’s older brother, Tommy McKee, and she was probably the one who introduced her niece, Dorothy, to Clark McKee.  (Dorothy’s mom, Thelma, was oldest sister in a family of four girls where Myrtle “Pat” was the change-of-life, baby sister.  Just writing it down is a little confusing…  Our kids know “Granny Pat” was Dad’s aunt, and they know she was “double kin” to him.  But as to how exactly that worked is a little hard to remember.) 

Pat and Tommy never had any children of their own, but Pat loved little kids – especially boys – so she poured lots of her love and mothering instincts into Roger at different crucial times in his life.  Roger remembers that Aunt Pat bought all his clothes when he was a kid.  As payment for the good quality stuff he wore, Dorothy took him over to Pat’s every Saturday (or many Saturdays) and made him clean all day alongside her, or mow or rake…  It was hard to satisfy Dorothy’s sense of perfectly clean, but he tried.  He remembers cutting his thumb some way one time, and his momma yelling at him for getting blood on Pat’s clean sidewalk! 

Roger baby 4

Roger’s dad changed his birth certificate so that he could go to school a year early.  Daycare cost money; elementary school was free.  After school, Roger had lots of time on his hands.  He was an only child, so there was no one to play with or fight with at home, nobody to tattle on him.  He freely roamed and played with other kids until his mom got home from work.  Roger was never afraid of anything; he was charming and mischievous with strong ADD tendencies.  Of course, nobody ever heard of ADD back then.  Roger was just an active, regular boy to their way of thinking.  A neighbor family began to take him under their wing; they took him along with their kids to the Y for swim lessons, and Roger found out that he was a natural swimmer.  His mom took Roger swimming sometimes too, and he progressed through the different levels until he got an award for swimming a mile when he was six! 

Roger baby2

Neighbors Joe and Gladys Hogg let Roger play with their kids after school.  (Deb, Ronnie, and Pam are friends to this day.)  When he was in fourth grade, Gladys starting making sure that Roger’s homework got done right along with her kids’ lessons.  His grades got a lot better with her help.

Roger never remembers being told, “I love you” when he was a child…  Or saying it either.  He called his dad “Old Fool.”  Roger’s dad stopped working regularly when Roger was in second grade; their home became volatile and angry.  Little Roger stayed out of his parents’ way as much as possible, almost as scared of his mom slinging frying pans around when his father came in as he was of his dad roaring and crashing into things.  Dorothy and Clark separated for awhile during that time; he was seven.  They divorced when he was thirteen. 

Roger young teen copy

Roger traveled back and forth between South Carolina and Georgia, sometimes grabbing a ride on the bus all by himself.  Georgia was where Dorothy’s folks lived.  He and his mom lived with her parents sometimes when she was separated from Clark.  Dorothy’s two sisters, Annette and Lillie, lived in the same community near their parents.  Dorothy had two brothers too, Pete and David, but they were not close.  Each of Roger’s aunts had one son at the time; Aunt Annette had Albert, and Aunt Lillie had David.  (Lillie also had Nancy and Bonnie, but they were little, and Roger did not play much with them.)  Cousins Albert, David, and Roger were nearly like brothers when they all were small.  Roger was the middle one of the three boys. 

Sometimes his granddaddy took him fishing, so Roger felt closer to him than to the grandfather he lived near when at home in South Carolina.  Roger’s grandma had been an invalid for many years, totally crippled with rheumatoid arthritis.  Her body was stiff and useless, but her mind was sharp and good.  She would tell Roger and his cousins they should go check on the apples, and she would be right.  Running to the orchard, the boys would find the apples ripe, ready to pick! 

Roger attended eighth and ninth grades in Georgia – 1967 or so.  Desegregation had been considered for years in the courts, finally being decided – that it was a good thing – in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education.  But it was not until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by Congress that school administrators were put on the hook for implementing integration.  So it began.  Desegregation recognized the inequity of black kids’ poor school facilities – poor in comparison to white schools.  They had Plan A, Plan B, and other plans for getting desegregation done.  Many students, parents, and teachers were fearful or angry, wondering how it would ever work.  Roger witnessed the lumbering vehicle of government as it got moving on the problem.

But Roger, among the shuffled and shoved students, remembers mostly being excited.  First he was happy to find that his friend Bobo now rode his bus and came to his school.  The next wonderful thing was that the black kids’ school band, far better than the white kids’ band, was coming to Oglethorpe County.  And the football team would add strong black players!  Maybe they would win more often.  Roger’s school was pretty small, so though tension gripped many, Oglethorpe County Schools did not have the problems of larger cities – fights in the streets, stores looted…  Roger did see the National Guard called out to insure peace.  But in Athens, ten miles away, the whole town shut down when Athens High and Burney-Harris, an all-black high school, were thrown together.  One of Roger’s cousins made the newspapers in Greenville, SC. A picture showed him as one of the rioting, teen-age thugs who turned over a school bus with black kids in it.  The published image of  white teens overturning a school bus full of black kids embarrassed Roger’s uncle who was high up in the military and state department.  Roger remembers that Uncle George was really mad to see his nephew so involved in the violence…  Roger, the aspiring “hippie”, was shocked too, as he identified more often than not with the underdog.

Trying out for football, Roger was super excited that he made the team.  He went to all the practices, and hoped for the day when he’d do more than warm the bench.  But the coach never put him into the fray of shoulder pads whacking helmets, sweat and dirt clods flung around – not even one time during a game. 

He started growing his hair out.  Many young guys started doing this, wearing long hair to rebel against the rules, to look like the Beatles, or whatever.  Maybe that was one reason the coach did not like him.  Likely as not, though, it was not a reasonable thing that the coach did not like Roger.  No point in looking for reasons in that case. 

young Roger copy

Roger ended up expelled from school after getting into trouble.  He’d done something minor, but the expulsion was punishment for refusing to take a paddling.  This principal was known for giving, and for enjoying, the doling out of really hard swats with a huge boat paddle.  It had holes drilled into it to make the impact sting more. 

The principal drawled, “Well boy, you are going to get three.  You wait right here.” 

Three?!  Two was the usual and hard enough to take!…  When the man left to get the paddle, he locked the door.  Roger didn’t wait.  He climbed out the window and got away before the principle came back.  Walking on the school property later to get his drum equipment from the band room, he got arrested for trespassing.  Roger’s one call was to his uncle, Jack Locklear.

“Hi, Uncle Jack.  I’m in jail; can you or Aunt Lillie come get me out?”

“No.  That’s a good place for you.”  Click.

Roger’s family seemed to side with others who expected him to go nowhere fast… like the law enforcement folks there in Oglethorpe County.  Friends of Roger’s, Roy Bell and Megan Timberlake, came and got him out of jail after a couple of days.  Roger doesn’t remember how they found out he was locked up.

Dorothy married Thomas Sorrells and moved to Thomas’ home in north GA when Roger was in tenth grade.  Roger stayed with his Georgia grandparents the first few months after that.  He tried living with his mom and Thomas once for a little while, going to the high school in Hartwell, but it did not work out.  Before that time no one had even ever asked him where he was going, or what time he planned to be back.  Thomas took charge, took the keys to Roger’s car, and demanded that he go nowhere at all.  It was too big a change.  He was not going to be forbidden to go down the street.  So, Roger pulled a hand gun on his step-father, got his keys, and sped away in his light blue 1963 Ford Falcon; he was out on his own at age sixteen. 

January 14, 2014 / danaemckee

A Good and Perfect Love Story, Chapter 16 – (Lessons in Forgiveness) Settled, Separated, Rescued… part b

Lula picsDana 91bd copy

Roger and I got to go to a Bill Gothard Seminar.  I had always wanted to go.  Bill Gothard’s Basic conference was a big blessing; we agreed with him on probably 95% of his teachings.  Very biblical, great exhortation.  One memorable lesson there was a teaching on submission to God-given authority.  He explained that if one disagrees (that is actually where submission kicks in..) but still supports/obeys their authority, one stays under the protection of the Lord.  That authority can be a father, mother, husband, employer, or even government official, etc.  (Obedience is to be only in the Lord, of course – in agreement with Scripture.)  The cartoon picture on the submission page was of a sturdy umbrella.  If I stay under the protection provided by the Lord, I won’t get wet or hurt.  Very clarifying teaching for me.  It was so counter-cultural, and opposite of what “feels right”, but the truth. 

Mr. Gothard also spoke of accepting one’s parents, realizing God put you in the home situation where you were born and/or reared.  That placement was no accident.  It was not happenstance that my mother and my father conceived me.  And Bill Gothard taught on forgiveness of parents.  I had done that; I needed to do it some more.  There were times that just thinking of my father would still cause my stomach to knot up…

We went to the follow-up Gothard Advanced Seminar sometime after the Basic.  Maybe it was then that Roger and I took Ben and Ginger with us.  They were not thrilled, but went along and sat through it.  After the conference, we hosted some related weekly meetings in our home for several weeks.

For four years, Clay had completely dropped off our radar screen.  He’d moved, and I knew of no way to contact him.  But that four years was about to end.  

One evening’s home meeting teaching was on scriptural forgiveness.  Ben spoke up and said he’d have trouble forgiving his dad for leaving.  We talked about the necessity of extending and receiving forgiveness.  Forgiveness frees us from the offending person.  More importantly, God requires it.  Jesus even highlighted forgiveness in the “Lord’s Prayer” He taught His disciples to pray – the prayer we can pray everyday.  “…And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”  There He teaches us that in order to be forgiven by God for our sins, we must forgive.  Heavy stuff.  Difficult, but very important. 

We prayed for each other, especially asking God to help Ben get past that inability to forgive his dad.  Also, that night Ginger spoke of her desire to “go to California and find Dad.”  I replied with something about California being such a small place…  “That would be great, Ginger…  Just head out there and look around…”  (I always demonstrate such tact with my kids…  Lord Jesus…  Thank You for working on me – changing, mellowing, maturing me.)

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We did pray specifically for Ben’s heart to be wiling to forgive, and we prayed that Ginger would hear something from her dad.  That night he called!  Out of the blue, Clay wanted to begin paying child support!…  He had a plan about settling with me for arrears, and he wanted to come see the kids.  Wild.  God heard and had already begun to answer Ben and Ginger’s prayers and hearts’ desires before they even prayed.  God is faithful and fabulous!

Back to our “good and perfect” love story next.  Roger and I know that our marriage is a gift, and it is good.  But this next part was not one of the perfect times; it was difficult – easier to see the good when it was over…

January 10, 2014 / danaemckee

A Good and Perfect Love Story, Chapter 16 – Football Dilemma, Settled, Tempted, Rescued… part a

Lula pics copyBen on deck 

Ben wanted to play football.  I could not agree with his participating in that rough sport.  I was afraid; I could not stand by and allow my son to get injured.  Ben was so headlong, so all-out,  so fully committed…  I knew he’d get hurt.  I prayed about it, but I had no peace about letting him play.  Roger allowed me to make this decision – to stop Ben’s participation on the team.  He didn’t agree with me, but I felt so strongly…  He backed off his leadership role.  In doing that, he extended grace to me.

Then I read a book.  It came in the mail as one of my Conservative Book Club books.  By George Gilder, it was Men and Marriage.  Mr. Gilder explained to me how important it is for young men to have a physical, challenging outlet.  They are designed for adventure, and need to struggle to hunt or war, or grapple with something huge/meaningful/difficult.  Or they get a little crazy.  In the book Mr. Gilder made several fascinating points about the civilizing of men through marriage, but that book was, to me, God’s answer to a prayer I’d prayed –

“Lord, let me either have peace about Ben playing football, or let him be ok with not playing.  Because I am going to forbid him to play…  It’s not going to make me most popular mom, not that that matters…  Help us, please.” 

God got that information to me about Ben and football!  Ben did play on East Hall High School’s team.  He was a committed, excellent linebacker.  He did get hurt.  We made many trips to physical therapy; he had arthroscopic surgery to repair his knee, etc.  One time I was pretty scared that his neck was hurt, but he was fine.  Thank God.   Ben also wrestled on the wrestling team, participated in Academic Team, and he worked at McDonald’s.  And he kept getting outstanding grades!  We were very proud of our Ben.

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Ginger skillfully played clarinet in the East Hall High School Band with Mr. Crook, director.  She was on the drillteam and also worked close by at Mary’s Restaurant.  Ginger was my built-in babysitter and dishwasher.  She did countless chores and continued to be an excellent student.  We were proud of our girl too, though she and I waded into difficult if common mom/oldest daughter crazy times right around then. We struggled to communicate.  Well, at least we struggled and yelled a great deal…

Lula, Ginger E Hall band2  Old pics Lula, Ginge_Barn

We put Aaron in first grade in Lula Elementary, where he learned to read.  He did well there, but from second grade through junior high we homeschooled him.  Roger’s mom and aunts were not very sold on homeschooling, afraid we were ruining him forever… feared we could not educate him as well as the state school could.  They held that opinion for the first few years, anyway.  We were blessed to be affiliated with a small but growing group of homeschool families in Hall County, GA.  What a completely busy time!  The kids were learning and growing. 

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Aaron,though, at age six or seven seemed in danger of being a lost boy – lost in the middle of our gang.  The big kids had to be taken to school and work; the baby and toddler could cry and pretty much immediately get what they needed…  Aaron played T-ball and liked that a lot, but he dreamed of learning martial arts – probably ever since the Karate Kid movie came out.  The Lord provided a way, and we signed him up for Karate.  Aaron loved it.  He did very well, and as with Ben and Ginger, we were so proud of him.

Some of our Lula days were very lean – not much money, no second car.  Roger had his company car, but the kids and I only had Ben’s car available when Roger was at work.  We learned some hard lessons financially.  Our church bailed us out one time when we were getting behind on the mortgage – very humbling.  Pastor Martin Moreira sat down with us and helped us craft a budget.  It was amazing how we went from hopeless to encouraged.  He took his time to show us that when one cuts out unnecessary spending, gives the Lord a tithe, and prays for wisdom, what is left is enough; the family can make it.  It should have been obvious to us; why did we need somebody to explain 1+1=2, if you have 2 and you spend 3, you will be in debt…?  I don’t know; we need help sometimes.  It was good of the Moreiras and the church to help us.  I remember thinking, in discouragement, “So we stop the newspaper, how is that going to make a difference?”…  It absolutely did.  Of course, it was not just the newspaper.  It was us being willing to do what had to be done.  To afterward see that the money Roger made was enough to pay the bills and put food on the table was such a happy realization!  The Lord was there, helping us, showing us that He would sustain us.  There would be enough.  In this case the church did not just give advice, they gave us $800 for the mortgage arrears and multiple bags of groceries.  What sweet gifts – so generous.  We give thanks for the church.  We moved so often, but God led us to fellowship with His people wherever we lived.  How faithful the Lord is!

Old pics Lula house,Rabbit

Roger worked in Gainesville for four years.  He had a desk job and was not on a route very often, but the job was still stressful.  It took a great deal of his time to service customers and help his guys sell new business.  I volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center in Gainesville a couple of times a week when I could get there, or I answered the phone remotely for them when the office was closed. 

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The church we attended during our Lula years was an exciting place about forty-five minutes from home.  It was called Living Word World Outreach Center.  Milton Martin, Jr., was pastor for the first couple of years.  Martin Moreira was an elder there, but when some gross improprieties were discovered, involving mishandling money, Milton was removed, and Martin became pastor.  Before all that change was completed, Roger was dragged into the middle of what became a personal struggle, Milton Martin against Martin Moreira.  It was disappointing and discouraging. 

When things settled down, Milton gone/Martin new acting pastor, Martin asked us to be on time when Roger or I were teaching Sunday School.  He warned us a couple of times, but we continued to be chronically, slightly late.  One day, late again, Martin asked us to attend Sunday School, but not teach.  Roger had prepared his lesson, and he found that dismissal offensive.  Roger had our family leave the church.  He found us another church, closer.  I did not agree with changing churches, but submitted.*

The new pastor’s name was Jimmy.  The redundant topic of Jimmy’s sermons was how much better this church was than other churches in the area.  Contrast that lame content with the Scripture-filled messages Martin gave, along with the fact that I knew maybe one family in the new church setting, this was an unhappy change.  Roger must have been a little upset too, given everything, but he acted like he was delighted with every aspect of the new church. 

At the new church, I experienced an unwelcome temptation in regards to a beautiful man.  I no longer remember his name, thankfully, but I remember the infatuation…  This blonde hunk of a guy was a young husband and dad; he was musical; he was so good-looking… I found myself thinking about him.  It took prayer and a concerted effort to put him out of my mind.  I realized it was a set-up from my Enemy, a craftily laid trap, but it was such an appealing little pastime… lustful thoughts landed in my consciousness, and I had to make the choice to push them away; think about somebody else.  Lord Jesus!…  Thank the Lord for His providing a way of escape.  I Corinthians 10:13,  “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  1 Thessalonians 4:4, “…that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable…”

Note – * Submission to one’s authority shows trust IN GOD.  When I disagree with Roger, but do things his way (after I have submitted my viewpoint), it is not that I am guaranteed nothing can go wrong with the decision.  But when we are stymied and blocked from reaching agreement – or don’t have time to reach agreement – when I then submit to my husband, I demonstrate my confidence that God will take care of leading us through Roger.