My friend Bethany & a band known as Third Day – they have gotten me through a whole lot of stuff over the years. Saturday night, B & I had the opportunity to see one of Third Day’s final performances at the Fox in Atlanta. Third Day is on their Farewell Tour after 25 years together. There is nobody I would have rather been beside at that concert. As we sang along, I couldn’t help but think of all the times over the years that we have lifted our voices together. When we were little girls at Gordon First Baptist Church, we thought we could sing and our parents and the sweet church members never told us any different so we regularly serenaded the church with our trio act – me, B and our dear friend (who also happens to be my cousin) Ashley. So we have sang together a lot at church functions & youth camps over the years & we have been to our fair share of secular concerts too. I add that just so you don’t get it twisted – we are not angels & we have made our share of questionable decisions especially back in our college and bar hopping days but as we stare down at 40 it is pretty cool to still be side by side. We have experienced lots of life together and thankfully I can say that our experiences sent us running TO God instead of away from Him. Thankful for our individual God stories and trust that they will be used to point others to Him:)
Here is a little more detail about each of these gifts in my life and the backstories:
Bethany: I have known her my whole life. I was born in June of 79’ ‘ & she followed in November. Somewhere there is a little bible that was gifted to Baby Miller from Baby Outler. To say that we have experienced lots together is an understatement. We have decades under our belt at this point:) In the 80’s we were in elementary school, the 90’s brought middle school & high school along with crimped hair, then big curls & we finally straightened. There were youth camps & family vacations with B’s parents and then there were proms, dances, boyfriends, graduation & college. Lots of parties, LOTS of lessons learned, broken hearts & always laughter. The first tragedy we ever faced was fairly early in life, I was 15 & B was a month shy of 15. We lost B’s Daddy, Mr. Steve. Everyone that knew him would tell you that Mr. Steve was a treasure. He worked hard, he loved the Lord and he loved to have fun! He was always happy, always laughing and was just a great man. Mr. Steve and B’s mom, Mrs. J always let B’s friends tag along no matter where they went and when we weren’t following them out of town we are hanging out at their house. Now that I am a parent, I realize just how gracious they were:) We can’t understand why we had to lose B’s Daddy so soon & we still can’t make sense of it but it also wouldn’t make sense to serve a God we could fully understand. So while there is lots we don’t know, we do know we will see Mr Steve again one day and get to hug his neck along with all the others who have beat us home.
Life rolled on and eventually, I married Brad and B married Tim. For those of you that have been following me long, you know the first 10-12 years of my marriage were trying to say the least. B was always one of my first calls and she often played an active role in whatever was going on. Sometimes that looked like just coming over and holding my hand while I cried (of course she cried too) & sometimes that meant she rode with me in the car for a few hours when I needed to drop Brad at a rehab. We were just talking about a drive we took to Union Point, Georgia to drop him at a 6 week program at the beginning of our journey. We left him sitting outside on a picnic bench and it still ranks as one of the saddest things either of us has ever done. The night that it all fell apart in 2013? B was here with me. She was there for me and my kids that whole year while Brad was away and has celebrated with us ever since over a changed man and restored family. By God’s grace, Brad and I will celebrate our 16th Anniversary this summer & B and Tim just wrapped up year 10. Somewhere along the way, we each had babies (2 for me and 3 for her) & now we are raising them. It seriously takes a village. We are still learning & still growing but so thankful for all the lessons that life has taught us through the good times & especially through the bad. As I have said before, I love a mountaintop but the real gifts of spiritual growth can only happen in the valley. From the beginning of our lives God knew what was ahead for each of us & He knew what each of us would need. And the storms we have each faced? He built us for them. How cool is that? That the God of the Universe cares enough to be in all the details of our lives and yours. I am so glad Bethany has been a key character in my story. When I write my book, I will give her an alias name so I don’t spill all the beans:)
Third Day: They have been playing together for 25 years & I have been listening for almost that long. Mac Powell’s voice is one of my favorites of all time. I listened to them when I was younger but the music was just a good beat until I faced my first big trial. When my heart was hurting the music came alive. “Cry out to Jesus” was my anthem for many years.
In the early 2000’s I knew Brad was struggling his Dad’s death & the opening line to “Cry Out to Jesus” is “To everyone who has lost someone they loved, long before it was their time.” Another stanza says “to all of the marriages struggling just to hang on. They have lost all their faith & love & done all they can to make it right again & it’s still not enough”
Then it says “For the ones who can’t break the addictions & chains. You try to give up but you come back again. Just remember that you are not alone in your shame & suffering”
It was like he was writing about my life & had a window to my soul! Then the beautiful chorus reminding me that I was seen & I was held:
There is hope for the helpless.
Rest for the weary
And love for the broken heart
And there is grace & forgiveness
Mercy & healing
That you will meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus
Wow. It spoke to the depths of my soul. I thought “these guys get it”. Then last summer, I had the chance to meet Mac Powell at a low key, Memorial Day Picnic & I hugged his neck & told him what his music has meant to me. I told him about the addiction & the pain. The marriage that was broken & then redeemed. I also told him of the little boy that he serenaded to sleep night after night. Lawson has always had trouble drifting off so when he was a baby, I would strap him in his car seat & I would drive all over town listening to Mac Powell & Third Day until he was finally asleep. So, not only did I get a pic with one of my favorite musicians but I also snapped a pic of Mac & the baby he sung to sleep all those nights who is now 13 years old. The Farewell Concert that we attended Saturday was out of this world. They played for three hours and we heard all our favorites. It was a sweet time and I am so glad that B and I got to be a part of it.
So me, B & Third Day. We go way back. May you all find a friend as true & a band as great as these two.
Mac Powell pics were taken last Memorial Day when I had my random bout with Bells Palsy and the other pic is me, B, our husbands and kids at our annual Christmas breakfast tradition)