It was my 13th birthday and all but one of us celebrated my special day ending with Mom’s delicious chocolate cake with white frosting. Yum. Yum. The missing person was my Dad. He was always drinking and had a terrible temper so I was kind of glad he wasn’t home yet. It was bedtime and I went right to sleep in my upstairs bedroom.
Scream. Louder scream. “Larry come quickly your Dad is trying to kill us.” It was Mom’s voice. My Father’s whisky-fueled anger had exploded into a horrid fight with Mom. He said, “I think Larry is going to turn out like me. I’m going to kill him... tonight.” He then headed to the garage for a weapon.
When my feet hit the living room floor my Mom and Sister whisked me out to a neighbor’s car. A police car was in our driveway with pulsing red and blue lights. As we were driving off I saw the police wrestling something from my Dad. It was a double-bladed axe. He was arrested and my Mom filed for divorce.
A few months later we learned he’d been released and was threatening us again. We moved hoping he wouldn’t find us. But he did. A neighbor took us in so we wouldn’t be home if he did show. Show he did. In the middle of the night he smashed the front window with his fist. Peeking through the neighbor’s curtains my Mom saw him and called the police. When the police entered they saw a trail of blood (from his cut hand) on the floor leading to each of our beds where the covers were thrown everywhere. But he had left by the back door.
We moved again. He fled out of state to avoid arrest. Without his income my Mother worked herself to the bone to keep us fed, clothed and in a safe location. Seeing her desperate struggle I accepted an offer that would ever change my life and future.
A farmer in Tillamook County needed help and agreed to provide room and board and $15 a month. I spent my Sophomore and Junior years rising at 4:00 AM to milk cows, shovel manure, catch the school bus, then returning to begin milking at 4:00 PM. Seven days a week. 14 hour days. Phew.
In school a classmate introduced me to the Lord Jesus. Her minister, Don Rodda, taught me the plan of salvation. Guess where? In the barn by the calf pen. That’s right ~ in the barn. Talk about an awesome minister. I was baptized the day before my 14th birthday in Garibaldi, Oregon.
The Holy Bible became my guiding light. I began studying it in earnest. That led to my decision to go to Bible College a couple of years later.
One early morning, as I shoveled manure and fed the calves, I knew something was wrong. One of the calves was lying down while the others hurried to the feeder. When I touched her she was lifeless. The day before I had petted this little Jersey but now she was gone. I felt sad like I’d lost a friend.
“What have you done,” thundered the Farmer? I knew he’d been building a shed nearby but didn’t know he had entered the calf area. His face turned red as he angrily raised the hammer and screamed, “Why you…” as he menacingly approached. It was then a verse came to mind, ”A soft answer turns away wrath.” Softly I whispered, “I only just found her. I didn’t cause it.” Never will I forget how he lowered the hammer and spoke kindly in response.
Solomon said, “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1, NKJV). From that moment on, as my faith increased, I marveled how true the Bible was. I realized the importance of reading the Scriptures.
I chose King David’s personal decision to guide my footsteps as well, “I have thought much about your words and stored them in my heart so that they would hold me back from sin. Blessed Lord,
teach me your rules. I have recited your laws and rejoiced in them more than in riches. I will meditate upon them and give them my full respect. I will delight in them and not forget them.” (Psalms 119:11-16, TLB)
Years later I forgave my Dad, had him over for a family dinner, helped him move from his apartment to another and tried to share Jesus with him. He remained stubborn to his final breath.
Today I continue to store God’s Word in my heart and rejoice at His continuous blessings.
Amy Grant, Thy Word: