Love Is Love

So, Blaire and Jess did a thing …

Our baby daughter married her best friend and gay partner this October.  The Wedding was THE most beautiful we’ve ever experienced and our endless gratitude goes to the wonderful staff at Drakewood Farm for your amazing talents and skills.

Our little “Blaire-Blaire”, the “Blairest” of them all, came out of her Mama’s womb breach, feisty, strong-willed, and Independent.  Just ask every baby sitter, teacher, grandparent, and friend who’s ever known her!  Jess came into Blaire’s life through mutual friends around Nashville, and they immediately “knew” … she’s the one.  We all knew.  And, it’s been beautiful to watch their love grow to this amazing Day.

Blaire and Jess were surrounded for the past few years by their amazing community of LGBTQ+ friends and family in Nashville.  We had met a few of these beautiful people, occasionally during quick visits to Nashville or Birmingham, but had never truly spent any quality time with them.  We had only learned of their love and care for Blaire and Jess via random incidents of COVID-19 trauma, job changes, errand running, and simple acts of Love.

As I walked our Baby Girl down the aisle last Friday evening under the canopy of Greens, Yellows, Blues, and other amazing hues of nature that our Father provided, my heart leapt into my throat, of course.  This was It.  The Big Day. Her Wedding Day.  I was “giving her away”.  Or, that’s what I felt for a moment.

As the ceremony flowed, so did the laughs, the tears, the joys, and the vows.  Those vows!

Blaire and Jess wrote out their vows the morning of Wedding Day.  Life had been so busy for us all, with our relocation from the Coast, to CV19 concerns, to booking the venue, to preparations for the Day.  So finally, they jotted down the vows that were in their hearts, individually and privately.  Then, at that ceremonial moment, they both spoke words that both had felt for months leading up to this moment, “… you are the sky. Everything else, it’s just the weather.”  

Wow. Tears. Hankies. More tears!

Photos, dance, music, wine, beers, and food followed.  More photos, and more dance!  Then, began the Toasts.  Many beautiful friends shared their love and memories of Jess and Blaire, their “firsts”, their budding relationships, their own individual remembrances and nuances of moments with both our girls.  Then, my brother Danny shared his thoughts and the Love.  Then, his boys shared.  Then, our boys shared.  Then, it was my turn.

I wanted Blaire and Jess to know how deeply LOVED and EMBRACED they are.  By their friends, by their Nashville family, by their family of origin, but mostly by the Father.  He LOVES them.  More than ANY of us can.  More than any of us will EVER love them.  And, He desires for them to know Him — more fully and wonderfully than ever.

I shared a few words from my extemporaneous ADHD heart, many of which were probably my typical filibuster, but from the heart nonetheless.  One thought that I do recall sharing is that … the Love of the Father has become more fully significant to me through this marriage of my Daughter and her Bride.

John 3:16 means SO much more!

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 NLT

So does 1 John 3:16 mean so much more!

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” – 1 John 3:16 NLT

Blaire and Jess have lived out these two very simple LOVE passages from scripture.  So have their friends.  So have the plethora of Nashville community connections who have created safe spaces for gay and queer people who have been abused, rejected, bullied, harassed, objectified, and thrown aside.

We have learned, all over again, what Love really looks like.  Love is Love.  The old hymns and the new worship songs call God’s Love … wondrous, greater far, boundless, measureless, strong, enduring, deeper, eternal, endless, reckless, beautiful, holy … and unconditional.

Love is Love. It is all those things from the hymns and songs.  It is all those longings we feel for our beloved spouses and partners. It is all those hopes and wishes that we all feel for our babies. It is that yearning we always feel down deep in our soul for our Father.

So, congratulations Blaire and Jess!  We celebrate You.  We bless You.  We see You.  We embrace You.  And, we release You to go and Love others with the Love that you’ve been so graciously shown.


Daddy’s Home

Home, where there is no night
Home, where the Son is the light
The place I’ve been dreaming of so long
Loved ones there to welcome me
But His sweet face will be the first I see
When my journey’s over
I am going Home

(c)1983 Charles Aaron Wilburn | Rusty Goodman | Tanya Goodman Sykes



Lonnie Myrick went Home to be with Jesus on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.  He was 80 yrs of age and had lived a long and full life.  We are so grateful to the Riemann Family and to the precious caregivers who walked with us through Dad’s end of life here.   Please share and comment on his Obituary page as you feel led.

Dad’s life here was filled with lots of love from his high school sweetheart and their family together, with all sorts of small town boy adventures, with world travels, with a bit of music and ministry success, and with his own very personal turmoils and strife.

Everyone who knew my Dad realized that he was a restless heart, eager to race towards his calling as a Gospel preacher.  Raised on a south Mississippi farm, Dad knew the value of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears.  He knew the hardships of the common man.  He knew from childhood that this life was filled with heartaches and sorrows, but that there was more to this life than just living and dying.  And, he was going to find his path somehow.

Dad answered the Call to Gospel ministry at the tender age of 19 yrs old.  He fell in love with Rosemary, his high school sweetheart, a country girl with amazing musical talents.  They married young, completed “some college”, started ministering the Gospel in rural churches, and soon after started their little family.

Fast foward ten years, and The Rosetones would be fully engaged in touring across South Mississippi and the Gulf Coast, recording Gospel music albums, and singing on stages with Southern Gospel Music’s most famous talents.

Lonnie would proceed to lead some of south Mississippi’s most dynamic evangelical churches, leading hundreds of souls to faith in Christ with his sometimes fiery salvation messages, calling lost souls to the altar for repentance and forgiveness.  He rallied young preachers alongside him in ministry, and built some of the Gulf Coast’s most evangelistic Baptist churches, reaching record numbers of converts in the 1970s and 80s.

But, with all that “hellfire-and-brimstone” conviction … there was also a tender mercy that spilled from Lonnie’s spirit, a Christ-like gentleness that caused the most weary of wanderers to know … maybe God loves even me.

Lonnie and Rose, and their boys, along with several renditions of The Rosetones, would eventually produce seven full-length vinyl records laced with top 40 Gospel favorites.  Their most stellar production was the 1983 Gloryland Gold album which featured Danny Myrick‘s top hits — the title track, along with I Know He’s Coming Back and the #1 hit song Jesus Is The Light, made famous by the award-winning Dixie Melody Boys Quartet, also known as DMB Band.

With great music and ministry sucess also came intense anxiety, leadership demands, and the neverending needs of growing churches, not to mention a touring family band.  Lonnie, by his own admission, was unable to cope with the demands without the relief of pain medications and therapy.  Eventually, Lonnie would succumb to narcotics abuse and addictions, which would end his public ministry and result in more than a decade of very difficult family struggles.

But, God had a greater plan.

Lonnie would find redemption, recovery, and restoration through dozens of addiction recovery programs and ministries, not the least of which was his successful graduation from Home of Grace in Vancleave, MS.  His dear friend and co-laborer in pastoral ministry, Bro. Bill Barton, would extend mercy and help Lonnie through the darkest years of his life.

For more than a decade, my Dad fought through addiction recovery, re-entry into ‘normal’ life, and was eventually able to find refuge and fellowship in the very churches where he had ministered as a much younger and healthier pastor.  God brought another prodigal son home!

As Dad and I tried to recover the ‘lost’ years, we discovered just how grueling the path of recovery can be for the addict.  And, for the family of the addict.  Somehow, God used Dad’s story, his testimony, and his witness of God’s amazing Grace, to help others who struggled with same or similar addictions.  Pastors who loved Dad back into the fold were invaluable to his recovery.  Church folks who showed overwhelming love, mercy, and compassion gave Dad the motivaiton he needed to simply … belong.

I was with Daddy that Tuesday evening before he went to be with Jesus forever.  His frail body was letting go of this life, and racing towards the glory of Heaven … which I’m certain he could see with his spiritual eyes.  I sang his favorite songs to him, cooled his brow, stroked his thick wavy grey hair, and told him how much I love him.  I told him he was a good Dad.  I told him what an amazing preacher he was.  I reminded him of the thousands of faces I see when I think of our travels and revival services.  I recalled our tours with all the great singing groups of the 70s and 80s who loved our family and supported our little band.

And, I told him once again … You are forgiven. You are loved. And you are valued. God loves you. We love you.  And, you can go HOME!  So, he did.  Tuesday night around 10:30pm … Daddy ran to jesus and the Father in Heaven.  The prodigal came HOME!

I’ll miss my Dad.  I’ll miss our talks about the good ole days.  I’ll miss our Waffle House meetings. I’ll miss having him ride along with me to a revival meeting, and sitting proudly in the congregation to support my music ministry.  And, yes … he always requested his favorite, I Know A Man Who Can.  Kirk Talley sang it so much better than me, but Daddy loved to hear me give it my best shot!

Daddy, I love you.  And, I’ll keep telling the Story, as long as folks will listen.

Jesus, thank you for loving my Daddy.  Thank you for Salvation.  Thank you for Grace.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit.  Thank you for paying the price for our sin.  Thank you for being our Friend.

I’ll tell everyone, everywhere, just like Daddy did … I know a Man who can.

The Little Blackbird and My Grace Awakening

“To show grace is to extend favor or kindness to one who doesn’t deserve it and can never earn it …”  – Charles R. Swindoll, The Grace Awakening (c)1990 W Publishing Group

As a child of rural south Mississippi farmers who loved folk music, I grew up surrounded by gospel and bluegrass tunes of the 1950s and 60s, enjoyed childhood hunting and fishing on Grandaddy’s farm land, and of course, the good ole southern country cooking that comes with farm living.

I’m not sure exactly when I understood what grace really was, or what it meant, until one day when my brother and I took a little fishing trip with Dad, down the trail to Grandaddy’s pond.

It was probably summer, and we grabbed a couple of cane poles, a rod-n–reel, catalpa worms and crickets for bait, and Grandaddy’s .22-caliber single shot rifle, bolt-action, sorta like the cowboy heroes of 1950s TV land used.

Long story short, we were walking down the dirt trail from Grandaddy’s house to the pond just down the hill from the cow pasture.  We brought along the rifle to shoot at birds, squirrels, and tin cans for target practice.  At least, that’s what Dad and Grandaddy always said … target practice.  As we were walking along, humming and whistling familiar tunes with Dad, enjoying the sunny day that God had provided, I noticed a lone little blackbird perched on a tree limb along the trail.  It was a perfect target, in plain view, and not more than 20 yards ahead of us.

I hushed my brother and quickly asked Dad for the rifle.  He slowly and carefully loaded it and handed it off to me.  I slowly and carefully gripped the rifle in my best aim-to-shoot posture, just like Grandaddy had taught us.  Focused my little blackbird target in the sights on top of the gun barrel, took in a deep breath, slowly exhaled, gripped the trigger … and POW … my target flailed and flapped and fell to the ground.

WOOHOO!!  I did it!  I hit my target!!

I was only eleven or twelve years old at the time, but … I did it!  I shot my first “wild animal”, all by myself.  Dad and Danny celebrated with me for a moment, then we ran to bag our prey.  As we approached the little blackbird, I could see that it was still struggling to breathe, its wings flittering and flapping, its little body flopping randomly.

I vividly recall, even now, the rush of emotions I felt in that moment. The adrenaline rush of excitement over my first kill, and the country boy anticipation of ‘bagging’ my prey … was quickly reduced to a flooded moment of horror, panic, fear, and sadness.  I felt nauseous.  My heart raced and I felt short of breath.  I felt a sharp pain coming over my entire little body.  Just as that little blackbird must have been feeling as it lay dying under that lone oak tree on the trail to Grandaddy’s pond.

I looked on as that little blackbird took its final fleeting breaths.  I watched its eye darting to and fro as it desperately sought it’s final breath, under the bright blue sky and the warm sunshine near that lone oak tree on the trail to Grandaddy’s pond.

After a few somber moments, Dad gathered up the lifeless little blackbird, tucked it into my hunter’s backpack — the squirrel bag, as Grandaddy and Dad called it — and we proceeded to walk on down the trail to Grandaddy’s pond.

As we walked, I could feel the warmth of the little blackbird’s body in my backpack.  I had seen the bullet wound in it’s belly before Dad picked it up and I saw the blood spilled on his hands when he tucked it into my backpack.  I watched Dad wipe the blood off his hands with a sweaty cloth and on the pantleg of his trousers, an old pair of blue jeans, if I recall.  I could feel the warmth of the little blackbird’s body cooling with nearly every step as we proceeded down the trail to Grandaddy’s pond.

I took off the backpack at the pond, we baited our lines, and then we fished and caught bream and catfish for what seemed like a few hours.  Dad helped us string up the fish and tote them back to Grandaddy’s house, back up the trail, where we would pass by the lone oak on the trail to Grandaddy’s pond.  My heart sank, once again, as Dad carried the string of fish, and as I carried the backpack, with the now cooled and lifeless little blackbird tucked in, as we passed by the lone oak tree on the trail to Grandaddy’s pond.

We cleaned up all the fish, threw off our sweaty clothes, grabbed Mamaw’s garden hose and sprayed ourselves down after a fun-filled day of fishing … and my single gun shot at the little blackbird target.  Then we enjoyed a country boy’s dream of home-cooked fried fish with all the fixins at Mamaw and Grandaddy’s table.

Later, mom and Dad would tuck us in for bed, probably to the tune of a favorite gospel or bluegrass song, and probably a Bible verse or two.  And, I would try to sleep, but my little mind was ravaged by the scenes of my first kill.  Of that little blackbird.  Of the awful pain it felt.  Of the pain that I felt in my soul.

I continued to fish and hunt through my teenage years, and on into my adult life.  Admittedly, I have not fired a rifle for more than 30 years, not even at a firing range.  Probably, because I ‘see’ that little blackbird in the sights of the rifle, at least in my mind’s eye.

That day is forever etched in my memory.

I’ve never forgotten the pain I felt that day, amidst all the fun and laughter of fishing with Danny and Dad at Grandaddy’s pond.  I’ll never forget the Holy Spirit nudging me all day, to consider what Grace feels like.  To consider what life and death feels like.  To begin to understand what regret and shame feel like.  To try and sort out right and wrong.  To realize the power within my own little hands, to take life, for sport, because I could.  And, to feel the pain within my soul, once the deed was done.

I prayed to God that night to forgive me for taking that little blackbird’s life.  I asked God to please give that little blackbird a thousand trees in Heaven to enjoy.  i asked God to never, ever let me forget the life that little blackbird lived and the joy it probably brought its little blackbird family.  And I begged God to never, ever let me forget what it feels like to need forgiveness for taking something that — at that time — I felt did not belong to me.  And, I asked God to please forgive me, even though I felt I would never deserve it.

I have prayed that prayer again and again, many times over, and for countless other reasons.  I have asked God’s pardon, His Grace, a thousand times.  I have sought to understand His kindness and mercy, His undeserved favor, everyday.

And almost everyday, when I pray those prayers for Grace … I remember that little blackbird under that lone oak tree on the trail to Grandaddy’s pond.

This Thanksgiving …

My sweet precious Sheryl posted her thoughts about this Thanksgiving on her social media page today.  I will let her words inspire you today …


“Holidays always bring mixed emotions for me. For anyone that has spent 5 minutes with me, knows that I love Christmas, and I’m pretty sure it’s because of my momma, but it also brings a bit of sadness.

This was Thanksgiving 2011. The last one that we would celebrate together on this side of heaven. The picture has changed drastically. We’ve added new faces, we’ve gotten older, the little ones in front are no longer little, and the 3 chairs are empty now.

Some of you are facing your holiday season with an empty chair for the first time, and I understand how difficult that can be. This is not my first Thanksgiving without them, but the feelings are there. You cannot avoid the missing part.


So I challenge all of us that have a missing piece of our heart, to celebrate the time that we did have, the memories that were made and talk about our loved ones. Laugh, cry, unplug and make intentional memories with your family. Time is a gift. Make it count.

On Thanksgiving Day, take lots of pictures, look people in the eyes and savor every second.”

Music Missions: The Story of Parkway

Parkway Baptist Church in Pascagoula, Mississippi is a Story that is ever-unfolding in the hearts of local Jackson County Mississippi Baptists.

Most recently, our dear friend and co-laborer in ministry, Pastor Martin Britt, served this church faithfully while fighting his own personal battle with terminal cancer.  Martin had previously worked in Christian Counseling and touched thousands of lives during that career.  He was an impeccable Bible teacher, especially on the themes of Heaven, the Second Coming of Christ, and the Kingdom of God.

Martin left us for Heaven on September 6th and left an indelible legacy at Parkway and across the Mississippi Coast.  We are forever grateful for his ministry.

As I worked alongside Martin this summer, it became painfully obvious to us both that Parkway was in dire need of a music minister, as they had been struggling to fill that position for the past few years.  Sunday morning services had become sparsely filled with soloists, worship videos, and sometimes special music guests; but, as all who love to gather in worship realize, it’s just not the same as ‘live’ worship with a worship leader and a musically gifted team to lead you every week.

In July, I offered to fill that gap as a solo worship leader, singing from the piano, leading a few worship songs and hymns for the few dozen Sunday morning worshipers. The moments were sweet and somewhat somber as we all knew Martin’s days with us were soon coming to a close here on earth.  The worship team at Church on the Rock Pascagoula would soon join me on Sunday mornings — quickly working through our 9:15am sound check, loading up our cars to trek up the road to Parkway (( less than a 5-minute drive )), lead a 3-or-4 song set of songs for Parkway, then scoot back to COTR for our 11am start time.

We have continued to follow that Sunday Morning pattern since Martin’s homegoing to Heaven and our lives have been supremely blessed and changed for it.  We love the folks at Parkway, and they are loving us in return by singing, increasing in attendance and participation, and affirming us weekly with their appreciation.

I first heard the term “music missions” during the Brownsville Revival, when my mentor and friend Lindell Cooley, founded his worship ministry label as such.  Martin and I both loved Lindell’s music and we are both avid students of revival in the Church.  We discussed ‘kingdom’ principles all the time, and how that the various congregations in our cities must somehow find the way to work together, as is the model of the Kingdom of God, to bring about unity, revival, and missions for the salvation of lost souls, hurting souls, and broken people.

We believe that “music missions” is coming to fruition through our music ministry efforts at Parkway and across our Mississippi Coast.

Parkway Baptist Church is in a season of grief, but not without Hope!  Parkway is a beautifully diverse congregation of people from very different socio-economic backgrounds who have loved one another through the death of their beloved pastor, through the trials of a changing congregational dynamic, and who are now walking through the “refreshing” of a new and wonderful Hope that God will revive them for His glory, and for the increase of His Kingdom.

I would ask these immediate prayer requests;

  1. PRAY for Parkway Baptist Church … as they love one another, as they re-evaluate their opportunities for ministry, and as they seek pastoral leadership in the days ahead.
  2. GIVE if you are able … to our Music Missions efforts as we serve Parkway, Church on the Rock, and other local small town churches who are diligently searching for worship leaders and worship pastors.
  3. ATTEND a Sunday worship service with us if you are near the Gulf Coast!  The folks at Parkway and Church on the Rock are a beautifully diverse “family” of sister churches, loving one another, serving one another, and unifying our community.

Click here to GIVE NOW … simply memo your gift:  “Parkway Missions”.