Yesterday, we started the journey on my required 10 page autobiography. This is part 2. Click on the previous blog post to read part 1.
A tragic event occurred in 1958 that impacted my family when my six-year-old uncle was run over and killed. I was two and don’t remember the event but it has affected my family to this day—in many ways both nearly positively and negatively. Being the oldest grandchild and close to the age of my Uncle Clint, I became extremely close to my uncles, aunts, and particularly my grandmother. Her Godly heritage and special love was the mortar on the strong foundation I was privileged to have.
At age four, my parents moved us to the country on family land in a hamlet called Dry Creek. We lived in a log house for a year as my father and family built the house where I grew up. I started school on the first day a new consolidated school opened and spent the next twelve years in that school, East Beauregard High School. Our school was small (I graduated in a class of 29) but many of them were my classmates for our entire school experience. I also received a good solid education. What our school lacked in accelerated classes and science labs, it made up for in good teaching and interaction.
At age seven, our family attended a large revival at the football stadium in DeRidder. During the invitation, I went down with a friend and we were counseled on what it meant to become a Christian.
Looking back years later, I realized I was not under Holy Spirit conviction and did not yet understand what it meant to fully trust and follow Jesus as my personal Savior. I was presented to our church and subsequently baptized but I clearly believe I was not born again.
Our family was involved in many community activities, especially sports. My father was a superb athlete and loved softball, basketball, and volleyball. It was a true bond in our family, especially between my father and me. As I got older, I always counted the heads of the older players hoping some were missing so I could fill in.
I’ve always loved the outdoors. I grew up hunting, camping, and hiking. I still hike yearly and have completed several sections of the Appalachian Trail. I like the feeling of carrying one’s supplies on their back and seeing new country. I’d an odd combination of a man who’s lived in one place all of his life but loves to travel and have adventure.
One of the benefits of growing up in Dry Creek was the presence of a large church camp in our community. Southwest La. Baptist Encampment, more commonly called “Dry Creek,” was the scene of huge annual camp meetings beginning in 1925. When I began attending at age 9, an emphasis toward youth, GA’s, and RA’s had replaced the earlier family camps.
My official beginning at summer camp was not impressive. The first two years, I left homesick during the week. I jokingly say I set the record for shortest distance homesick (4 miles) and shortest stay (Tuesday.) My youngest son Terry later shattered both records. When I finally stayed for the whole week, I fell in love with all things about this special place. The camp and our local church (Dry Creek Baptist) shared the same location and most of the workers and staff were close to my family.
The summer of my 13th year, I began riding my bike daily to the camp and hanging around. I helped with the trash and mowing. The camp manager, Albert Hagan, finally said, “If you’re going to stay around here all day, we might as well put you to work.” Thus began the lifetime association I’ve had with Dry Creek Baptist Camp. I served as a staffer for the next six summers.
My parents continued a positive influence in my life. My dad was a surveyor for the Highway Department and my mom, who’d stayed at home until all of us entered school, became a teacher’s aide.
As I entered high school, my spiritual life was not yet in order. I’d get “on fire” for God during the summer and drift back into old habits when school started. I wasn’t really bad (not too many chances to be yet) but I wasn’t living for God and my language, habits, and actions did not represent Christ.
Part 3 tomorrow . . .