It’s throwback Tuesday in my head…
Jesus, Jesus, He is the son of God
Jesus, Jesus, the precious son of God
Sweetest Rose of Sharon came to set us free
Jesus, Jesus, He’s everything to me
Yes, He’s all the world to me
I can’t hear this old song without thinking of Houston, Texas and Greenridge Baptist Church. Thirty years ago. Wow… It looks like more when I write it that way. I was the pianist there, mostly by default. We had moved to Houston for the work, and began attending that little church because it was closest to our apartment. I was a young wife and mother of only one small child then. We showed up one Sunday morning and there was no one available to play, except the organist who was our Pastor’s wife, so I volunteered.
The bench was mine for four years… Until we moved away. Those were four of the most blessed years of my life. I loved that little group of believers, and the pastor and his family became my family. So far away from home, raising a family, a girl needs someone to count on, and they were there for me. Brother Joe Stevens would preach, and Miss Joy and I played organ and piano every service. Their son, Rodney, lead the music while their other boys, Greg and Barry, sang in the choir or played “specials.”
Barry was 16 when I began teaching him piano lessons. He was a natural and already played by ear some… Loved to play the music from the band, Journey. We worked and practiced in between basketball, youth group, another child for me, going off to college for him. And one day everything changed.
We had come home to Kentucky on vacation that summer, but never left. We found jobs here, close to family, and stayed. I was working and couldn’t go back to Houston to pack up the house or say goodbye. Those were some of the darkest days of my life. I grieved the loss of my Texas family almost as if they had truly died. But God is good, and He is faithful to bring joy from the pain.
Because I was gone, guess who ended up on that piano bench every service… Barry! He took over because he had to, and played for years with his mom at the organ. He left there and went on to form a contemporary Christian band in the northern Houston area, wrote lots of his own music, and continues to play every chance he gets.
The song in my head is one that I used to play and sing at that tiny little church, and it’s one of Barry’s favorites. It’s funny (and awe-inspiring to me) how God used my grief at leaving a place I loved, to fulfill His plans for a young man who loves music and loves The Lord. Had I stayed, BJ may never have become the musician he is now. My closed door was his open window!! I still look for those opportunities. When the door is shut, and the window’s not open yet, I try to praise Him in the hallway.
The cover photo is Barry at the piano and his brother, Rodney standing. @1986