One of my favorite worship songs written by Lenny Leblanc and Lindell Cooley is “Love Came Down”. The opening lyrics say almost perfectly what I feel, most days …
Everybody’s got a story
Everybody’s got a song
Every one’s a little different
We all went wrong
Then the Savior came
And He took the blame
(c)2001 Lenny Leblanc, Lindell Cooley | Integrity’s Hosanna! Music
So, as a child of the 60s from small town Bible Belt Mississippi, born and raised a country boy and a missionary Baptist, my worldview and understanding of life included only a few necessary life lessons:
- God owns everything, and you do not.
- Mama talks to God daily.
- Don’t cross Mama
With that very simplistic view of Life, it was inevitable that I would become a Mama’s boy, a musician, and a lifetime lover of the Bible, of good food, and of family. These simple elements of life continue to drive my heart and soul.
I began singing gospel music on church platforms at around 6 years of age with my brother Danny, one year younger than me. We were like twins, though born a year and 10 days apart, like two peas in a pod. In many ways, we still are. We helped Mama start the family gospel band at around 7 and 8 years old, adding family friends to the mix, and by the time we hit high school, we were touring the entire Southeast, making records, and even scoring a top Ten song, written by Danny and recorded by another family band, The Lesters of Branson Missouri fame.
God blessed our little family band for about 10 years, and we had the time of our lives. We met all the southern Gospel icons of our day, and even had the chance to sing alongside many of them in our little town civic center, on a few larger stages, and even in some county football field stadiums. It was the 1970s, and the roots of Moral Majority America were sweeping the Bible Belt. We were caught up in it and were flag-waving, gun-totin’, Bible-thumpin’ believers … three piece suits, revival tents, and all. It was quite a show!
Fast forward 10 years, and it’s the 1980s. I graduated high school with a diploma from an online school in Chicago, since the family band was touring across Texas, Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast. Then I met a girl. No, I met THE GIRL. MY GIRL!
We married in 1984, took church music and school teaching jobs, and were a real pair, setting out on our [my] life goals of marriage, ministry, and possibly, somehow, getting those college degrees. One day. Meanwhile, there were souls to be won, and church pews to fill, and we were making our headway through ministry life, together. Or, so I thought.
Another decade passed and we were now a house filled with elementary school kiddos, holding down three-to-four jobs between the two of us, and just trying to make ends meet. The ‘dream’ of achieving those college degrees was fading fast. Revivals were ‘breaking out’ across the Coast and spreading across the Bible belt, so there were meetings to be booked, concerts to promote, conferences to host, and new music to record. The big dream at that time was to possibly land a Christian worship record deal, like all the ‘big-name’ artists were doing! It’s the 1990s worship music wave after all, right?
With a few dear friends, we produced a few very semi-professional records, a live worship project, and then all hell broke loose. Marriages failed, churches divided, and the World Trade Towers fell. The world was going to hell in a hand-basket, and I felt as if I was “working for the Lord” harder and faster than I ever had in my life. But, something was off. There was something just not right. God was “moving” across the land and church houses were filling with massive numbers of people in this ‘modern worship’ revival movement. What could be wrong? How could life still be so confusing?
A new millennium arrived, the Y2K scare came and faded, the world did not actually end, and now the Information Age was changing everything. Phones were now made for our pockets, and no longer were attached to a wire. The world was moving at warp speed towards whatever was “next”.
Hurricane Katrina, August 29, 2005. The big one. The 100-year storm. And, yes, we were there. It was horrific, and terrible, and fascinating all together. Like most folks along the Gulf Coast, we lost nearly every material possession that we held dear. And, we learned that the most valuable ‘things’ in life were looking back at us in our mirrors everyday. Stuff no longer really mattered. People, and especially loved ones, were and are EVERYTHING.
I’ll hang out here a minute. And I’ll hold off on the “next” chapter. For now, let’s just say my Story is only now beginning to unfold. My Story is Our story: Me and Sheryl and our babies. But our story began a long, long time ago, way before the two of us were even conceived.
That’s THE story. And, I can’t wait to tell you what’s NEXT!