Brian and His Sweetie

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Brian met his Sweetie in first grade in a one room school-house where he sat behind her and pulled on her pig tails. They lost contact when his family moved out of their soot filled garage apartment and he began attending school in a different district. It was 9 long years later as a 10th grader, his family having moved back, that he saw her walking down the hall in his high school. It was love at first sight! Soon after that she happened to attend a dance where his band was playing and they had their first dance followed by their first kiss when he dropped her off at her home after the dance. Wow, he was hooked!

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Her smile and joyful laugh lit up a room and she became the light of his life! They were inseparable and did everything together though their dating life was often interrupted by band engagements when Sweetie had to sit on the sidelines and watch while Brian was performing.

After graduation Brian’s band “The Entertainers” broke up as many band members began new chapters in their lives with education and family. Brian toyed with college taking a couple preparatory courses but after graduation he ended up choosing a drafting job instead at a national electronics company. He and his Sweetie planned a wedding the next spring but to prepare Brian was required to attend confirmation classes at Sweetie’s church so the pastor would agree to marry them. He did well in the classes and learned much “head knowledge” about God and the Bible but the teaching didn’t reach his heart and there was no lasting change in the way he lived. Their marriage was an ornate event with some of his new workmates, family and friends attending and they started housekeeping in a little 10×40 mobile home not far from where he grew up.

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Four years quickly passed and by then Brian and Sweetie had two young sons to raise. Times were tough on the young couple with money problems and strains on their marriage that reminded him of his childhood when his parents had split up over similar issues. He wanted to keep his family together and be the provider so he got a part-time job working nights at a local gas station. One night his oldest brother stopped in at the station and told him of the wonderful changes that had come into his life since becoming a Christian. He told Brian about his faith in Jesus and asked him to receive Christ as his Savior. He said he would think about it but actually had no plans to make such a decision, but the seed had been sown and began to grow in his heart and mind. (to be continued)

See final chapter “Brian’s Decision & Destiny” below:

https://lobochronicles.com/2015/09/01/buds-decision-and-destiny/

Brian and the Band

Entertainers

This story left off with Brian living with relatives while his mom was in the hospital. The cycle of living at home and back and forth with relatives took place a number of times in Brian’s young teens until at age 15 a remarkable thing or you might say a providential event occurred. It went like this. He was visiting a friend and Gary, his friend’s cousin, was there playing the guitar and singing. Brian joined in with him as he sang “My Baby Does the Hanky Panky”, a 1966 hit by Tommy James and the Shondels, and Gary suddenly stopped playing and said “Man you can sing! Do you want to be the lead singer in my new rock and roll band?” To which he quickly answered in the affirmative and so began a three-year adventure as the band was formed, practices began, songs were learned and their first engagement arrived.

They were a 4 man “combo” and called themselves “The Wandering Kind”. Their first gig was in a firehouse and they played for a birthday party full of elementary girls. As they began to play the girls all rushed up to the stage and started to scream as if they were the Beatles and Brian thought, “Wow this is going to be fun!” It was the first and last time that happened, but he was in his element and really enjoyed singing and performing which gave a needed outlet from his dysfunctional family life and would provide opportunities for his Heavenly Father to show His hand of protection and guidance but I’m getting ahead of the story.

Within a few short months the band went through a transformation from a “combo” to a “big band” as they added a Hammond organ player, trumpet and saxophone players and another guitarist. They renamed the band “The Entertainers” and became known as a white soul band since their style of music had changed to the Mo-town genre as they performed songs by The Temptations, The Four Tops plus Smokey Robinson and other Mo-town stars. Engagements flowed in and they began performing every weekend at high school dances, night clubs, fraternity and pool parties.

At one job Brian met the drummer for the band The Parliments which was the main band playing at a teen night club called The Sunny Club. Brian’s band was the back up band and played when The Parliments were on break. Brian asked him if he was the only white guy in the band and he responded by taking off his sunglasses revealing bright pink eyes as he said, “Boy, my momma and daddy are black as the ace of spades!” Lesson learned, don’t ask an albino any questions!

A real highlight for him was when he managed to get the band booked for a Friday night dance in his own high school cafeteria. This was a huge event for him. Here was a wayward kid from a broken home who wasn’t the best dressed, who had insecurities and who struggled in school, with an opportunity to prove he was somebody in front of his classmates. He sang his heart out and the band was a big hit. Brian walked tall the next week in school and the remaining months of his school years.

His guardian angel worked overtime in those years as the teenage band members each took their turn driving their band vehicle which was a 57 Chevy stick shift school bus painted black with the band name emblazoned on the side in BIG white letters. Their travels took them over back roads, up and down mountains and bouncing down highways all over Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Entertainers Bus

They also found themselves in places where drugs were available, alcohol flowed freely and other temptations for teenage boys were present which could have ruined their young lives. Providentially, not one of them fell prey to these pitfalls. God also made Himself known in a powerful way at one practice when Gary, who had originally recruited Brian, announced that he had gotten “saved” at a church revival meeting and was “born again” plus he got his draft notice into the army. Bud didn’t know what saved or born again meant at the time but he was to learn up close and personal about it in a life changing way not too many years into the future. (to be continued)

See “Brian & His Sweetie” below:

https://lobochronicles.com/2015/08/31/bud-and-his-sweetie/

 

The “Plus 30” Plan

House Light

From the very moment we open our eyes in the morning the world cries out for our time and attention. Work, housework, exercise, yard work, appointments, shopping, errands to run, kids crying for attention, on and on it goes. Where do we get the energy? How do we keep everything together and going in the right direction? From where do we get our guidance? How do we answer life’s questions which inevitably face us as we move through our day? I suggest before you do anything take time every morning to look up. Yes, look up to God and seek His face before doing anything else to start your day.
The place to seek God and hear from Him is in His Word the Bible and I suggest following this simple plan by reading the book of Psalms to start your day. The Psalms have been referred to as the hymn book of the Bible or better yet the “Him” book. The Psalms are right about in the middle of your Bible and there are 150 chapters but I don’t suggest you read all 150 each day.

So here’s a plan I heard years ago at a Bill Gothard seminar which breaks it down into daily 15 minute installments. Start with reading the chapter for the day of the month you are in. For example today is the 12th so today I started with reading chapter 12 and then I added 30 and read that chapter, plus 30 and read that chapter, plus 30 and so on until I reached the end of the book and had read 5 Psalms, chapters 12, 42, 72, 102 & 132. By following this plan in a months time (with 30 days) you will have read the entire book! One side note, save Psalm 119 for months with 31 days since that Psalm is huge and just read that one chapter on the 31st of the month.

Why the Psalms? You see, the writers of the Psalms, many which were written by King David of Israel, also Asaph a worship leader and even some by Moses, were written from a human perspective about trials, circumstances, emotions and burdens that the writers were going through. Many call out to God with questions that we might even have today. Many are filled with praise in days when we need to get the focus off of ourselves and toward God. Many have answers and can encourage us in our deepest valleys. Many contain God’s answers that will match the very questions and circumstances you are facing and many will reach into your very soul and you will experience God’s presence! The Psalmist cried out in Chp 63 “O God Thou art my God early will I seek Thee, my soul longs for Thee….”.

So tomorrow get up 15 minutes earlier, find a quiet place, pray “O God open my eyes to behold wonderful things in Thy law” then dig into the Psalms and search for “Him” and don’t forget “Plus 30”!

Brian’s Haven

Flower 2

A warm breeze floated over the meadow as Brian lay in his hideout in the soft grass in a shallow ravine beside the hay-field. A bumble bee floated by his face on the way to the blue and white wild flowers that bordered the field. He rested there after a morning of sweating through the task of throwing heavy hay bales onto a farm wagon for their new landlord. He hated the job but the promise of a pair of champagne rabbits as pay for his labor for his mom’s “nature boy” was worth the effort. Their break from his dad in the previous month was quick and final. HIs mom found a cheap but drafty apartment in huge two family two-story frame house that also contained a small grocery store. It was on a strip of land sandwiched between a two lane country road and a four lane highway. Farm fields dotted the area and there was a small creek just down the hill. A small trailer court was next door and a makeshift barn was across the street that housed a few cattle from time to time.

Little by little they moved their few belongings into the new place before his dad knew what was happening. That was until Brian and his twin brother Bruce came home from school to an empty house one day and his dad pulled into the driveway right behind him. Walking with them into the empty house he said the obvious, “I guess you’re moving!” Then with no emotion he turned, got into his car and drove back down the lane and right out of their lives, at least for the time being.

In the new apartment their family shared a common stairway to the second floor with the family next door who were also the proprietors of the store. That made it interesting at bedtime when Brian would hastily run up the stairs in his pajamas hoping not to be seen by the lady next door. The house was a step or two down from their previous home with drafty windows and cracked panes. A coal fired heatrola stove in the corner of the living room provided the only heat with its stove pipe disappearing into the ceiling and was exposed in the bedroom above which was a welcome source of heat in their bedroom where on cold winter mornings he would often wake up and find snow on the inside window sill. Winter would also bring rodent visitors from the barn across the street which made life interesting.

But Brian was in his haven. He loved running the fields and playing in the creek. Oh the creek! It wound lazily through a low meadow in the valley below the house and was alive with creatures. He loved wading in and turning over rocks to see what he could find or catch and keep in a mason jar.

Tunnel

It was a big adventure when he followed the creek as it ran under the towering bridge that supported the four lane highway. The bridge tunnel opened up into another meadow and seemed like a world that was far away from home. Another favorite activity was gathering eggs from bird nests. He treasured his egg collection which he kept in a grass lined cigar box on the window sill in his bedroom. He often climbed to the top of the tall pine tree beside the house seeking black bird eggs and he could almost see the top of the house from his precarious perch.

But the problems of a single parent household were quick to catch up with them. His mom worked double shifts at the local truck stop cooking and waitressing and she even brought left over food home from time to time. Though the rent was low it was still hard to keep up and the kind landlord would often stop in for whatever portion of the rent his mom could provide. Brian knew that his mom’s bad nerves were getting the best of her and her family came periodically to see how she was doing. It wasn’t long until they saw the need to take her to a mental hospital to get her some help. Brian’s heart was broken and he wondered what would happen to his mom and especially to him. He felt like an orphan but a loving uncle and aunt welcomed him into their home. They took him to a church service which was a new experience.

That was the first time Bud heard about God. Oh sure his mom had him say their rote prayers at meals and betime but this was different. Through the songs they sang and the words of the preacher Brian learned that the Creator of all the wonderful creatures in his life was also a God that loved and cared for Him! This was the comforting message that began to wrap itself around his heart. It would be many years later until he took a saving step of faith, but God had begun His persistent pursuit of His future child. (To be continued)

See “Brian & the Band” below.

https://lobochronicles.com/2015/08/25/bud-and-the-band/

Brian’s Beginning

God In Sky

The Almighty has a plan for every life but forces His will on no one. Lives begin in myriads of circumstances and social settings and we have no control over the world in which we find ourselves. But God’s hands are always there to comfort, to nudge and to beckon us to seek Him. Here’s the first chapter and story of one such life.

Brian came into the world a baby boomer and was skinny and struggling for life as his mother tried everything to help him grow and she almost lost him trying formula after formula until she finally found one that he could keep down. Bud hung onto life knowing instinctively better days must be ahead, but not yet.

His family was scourged with what was called “the drink” in that day and so his very first memory was a fight between his parents as they lived in an old cabin in the mountains. Bud was just four but can vividly recall the vicious emotional and physical battle between his parents. Then his dad drove away in an awful thunderstorm. His mom, an emotional wreck, watched him retreat as she stood weeping under a great oak tree while the rain poured down and lightning flashed all around her. Brian looked on through the screen door the vivid image imprinted on his mind forever.

Somehow the family was reunited which was a cycle that would repeat itself again and again in the early years. They moved into a little garage that had a kitchen sink and cabinets hastily installed along one wall and sparse furniture scattered around the garage bays sitting on a throw rug which formed a living room. A couple of small bedrooms were in the upstairs and there was a smoke belching oil pot furnace that provided heat at the bottom of the steps. One morning they all woke up and looked quizzically into each other’s blackened faces as the furnace had malfunctioned during the night and showered soot over everything. I suppose their guardian angels kept them from tragedy and may have chuckled at the comical sight. Brian knew a better life must be ahead, but not yet.

Their next home, purchased through the kindness and support of his great-grandmother was a dream come true and the whole family thought they had arrived. Brian ran the fields and the forest pretending he was exploring the frontier as he climbed trees, gathered fossils, caught crayfish and frogs in the nearby mountain stream. But heartache wasn’t far behind as the “drink” and its caustic effects began to again seep into the family’s life.

The mortgage payments were way behind and one dark dark night as he lay in bed Brian heard the fighting begin again and then he was dragged into the kitchen joining his mom as they stood trembling along the wall as his dad pointed a single barrel shotgun at them threatening to pull the trigger. The gun wasn’t loaded but they didn’t know that. His father threw down the gun and stormed out of the house. His mom said that was it, they were moving away from dad for good and she meant it. Brian thought life would finally be better, but not yet. (to be continued)

For the next chapter see: Bud’s Haven

O Most High

Chapel

I guess going to church is in my genes and it’s a good thing! My great grandfather Samuel Wolfe founded a little chapel in the mountains of Lebanon County PA pictured above and his son took the reigns of leadership from him so future generations would benefit. In the same time period my grandmother Margaret Anspach on my mother’s side took the leadership in her family, in spite of grandpa’s resistance and made sure her family had a Bible in the house and her children were in church regularly.

In my devotions this morning I read these passages which talk of this very thing:  “I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the house of the Lord. It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name O Most High. To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night. For You, Lord have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands.” (Psalm 122:1; 92:1,2,4)

The fact is, all of us have an “O Most High” in our lives. It’s either the real O Most High, the creator of heaven and Lord of the universe or “Me, Myself & I”. Granted the MMI god has it’s benefits, no getting up early on a Sunday morning, no offerings, no sermons, no list of do’s and dont’s. I’m sure you could name a few more. On the other hand, the OMH God brings an eternal list of benefits out of this world. A relationship with Him through His Son is offered by a step of true faith (John 1:12), a family of believers to support and pray for you (Oh yes there are hypocrites but aren’t we all at times?), a place to hear his Word preached which gives the fuel for the week ahead and a place to give back to Him and others in need. I could go on but you probably get the picture.

I close with one of my favorite Psalms chapter 63:1-2, “O God thou art my God, early will I seek Thee, My soul thirsts for Thee, My flesh longs for Thee, In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have sought Thee in the sanctuary to see Thy power and Thy glory.”

It’s pretty dry out there, won’t you join me in seeking the real “O Most High”?