My parents are struggling almost all of the time these days. At the time of this writing, my mom is suffering with shingles, among other things. My dad is in a rehab nursing home; unable to walk yet, because he fell on the ice and broke his foot.

Days like today remind me of what my parents taught me.

My parents lived in Cleveland, Tennessee for about ten years. Most of their friends thought they were a retired ministry couple, because who else moves to Cleveland, Tennessee in their retirement years? (Cleveland, TN is “headquarters” for many ministries, including my tribe, the Church of God, Cleveland, TN)

Their friends thought they were retired ministers because: 1. they attended Sunday School, 2. they attended morning and evening worship services 3. they attended Wednesday night Bible study 4. they joined church / ministry related groups; early morning devotions with a man named Max Morris. You may not know who he is, but for my parents he is a legend. Years ago, he sang a little song for my brother Joel, who was a baby at the time. Things like this stay in one’s mind. Mom was in a women’s circle group, and also a church group of red hatters. 5. They attended every church related event possible, not because they were retired preachers, but because they considered this the normal life.

My dad was a postman, and my mom a “stay at home” mom, as we call it today. That tag is quite inaccurate, because my mom was very active; hosting Bible studies for the neighborhood women who wanted to know “more about the Holy Spirit.”

Here’s what you need to know about my mom. She dropped out of high school when her family moved from the coal mines of Kentucky to Detroit. Mom went to work, instead of finishing high school. After marrying in 1957, and having three boys, mom graduated “night school” in 1968. (I loved to tell friends that my mom graduated in 1968, because I was born in 1962!) My mom’s essay, one of her graduating requirements, was about the Church of God. She still has that cherished paper in her cedar chest.

My mom sat my older brother and I on the couch and taught us the scriptures. My mom walked through the house, praying; mostly in English, but often in a heavenly language. She often sits at the piano and sings, (she plays by ear). Ironically, mom, to this day, thinks that she isn’t very smart.

My high school friends would often talk about where they were going to attend college, and what they were going to do in life. Most of them said that this is what their parents wanted them to do.

One day when I was in high school, my dad picked me up from school after work. I was probably at wrestling practice, or drama club. When we pulled up into our garage, I asked my dad, “what is it that you want me to do?” Without hesitation, my dad said, “that’s not for me to decide. You’ve got to do whatever God wants you to do.”

Maybe some would conclude that my dad took the easy way out. I think not. At that moment in my life, my dad had just released me to hear the voice of God above every other voice in my life.

My parents led me to Jesus. That’s what my parents taught me.