My father didn’t have the best of childhoods.  The son of a hired farm hand, he and his four brothers and sister lived in various old farmhouses, some not much better than a shed, on others’ land.  Although a good man, my grandfather had one major life problem.  He was an alcoholic.

Dad's graduation in 1956. Yes, that's me in the, my grandfather had one major life problem. He was an alcoholic.

When my father was very young, there was never enough money to feed the entire family and so he and several of his brothers lived with families in the community and worked for their room and board. He was never a good student in school probably because he was inconsistent and never had time to study or those to help him learn.

When he was 14, he took a bus to California to live with a family friend who kept writing and inviting his mother to come to “Sunny California.” Cecil and his family took Dad in and gave him something he didn’t expect. They introduced him to the reality of the Holy Spirit.

Dad had become a Christian at the age of 9 but had not really understood all the ins and outs. Face it, he really hadn’t had consistent role models.  At Cecil’s church, he actively participated in the young people’s group.  God used Cecil and the group to fan the flame that had been started years before.  This son of an alcoholic dedicated his life to the ministry.

With barely an eighth grade education, he determined he would go to college to study for the ministry. The first stop on the plan included enlisting in the Marines and then going to college on the G.I. bill.  At age 17 he headed to Korea as a tank driver and chaplain’s assistant.

He eloped with my mom toward the end of his tour of duty. After the Marines, my mom, who had a year of college to her credit and always very good in English, helped him get through Bible school.  He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Central Bible College in 1956.

Never a full-time pastor of a church, he was a part-time pastor, interim pastor, fill-in preacher and friend to pastors.  To take care of his family which included three children, he worked for over 30 years at the University of Missouri as a steamfitter and foreman.

My dad started the legacy of blessing in our family.  He saw what he didn’t want, namely the life and problems his father had created.  He could have spent his life angry and blaming others. Instead, he set about to obtain what he wanted—a better life for our family in all aspects, physically, mentally, spiritually.

The first in his family to obtain a bachelor’s degree, my brother was the first in our family to obtain a master’s degree.  My nephew graduated last year with his bachelor’s and recently got married. He has worked in churches and his dream is to go into ministry.

Yesterday, on what would have been my dad’s 80thbirthday, my daughter left on a month trip to Hong Kong and Vietnam to teach English to middle school and high school students. My dad, whom the kids called Poppy, was dancing a jig with Jesus. I’m sure of it.

What about you?  What blessing have you started for your family, your friends or those you run into each day?  It’s never too late to begin. What your life is today is nobody else’s fault. It’s up to you.

What do you want? Who are you blaming for not achieving that?