Tag Archives: Michael W. Smith

A three-piece suit and wavy hair

Countdown to Kianna

10, 9, 8 … Kianna, please don’t be late. 7, 6, 5, 4 … Four more days — and no more?

Kishia and Darnell so carefully planned our first grandbaby’s addition into their lives, timing this grand event to meet career, school and financial goals. With that regard, it’s “mission accomplished.” In more than one way, increasing the size of the Brown family was practically scripted.

Until now.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Kianna might not be following the script. She’s due on Sunday – four days from now. She’s in position, mom-to-be Kishia is beyond ready to be un-pregnant, and daddy Darnell needs his daughter to keep him company in that rocker.

Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting

October 1981: Vocalist Jodie, organist Mrs. Irene Grossenheider.

Mrs. Irene Grossenheider was old even to the old people at Faith Baptist Church in Belle, Mo., when I was in high school. She taught piano to hundreds and multiple generations of children. And as the church organist, she knew only one tempo: Hers.

On the rare occasion that I was the worship service song leader, I followed her, even though I used one arm to “conduct” and keep the beat, matching my arm and hand motions to the meter of the song. Mrs. Grossenheider told me she appreciated the way I led, but I think she mostly appreciated that I was really matching my arm movement to her organ-playing.

It was her beat – possibly multiple beats, especially if the hymn was written with a 6/8 time signature. She’d speed up, she’d slow down. She was in command. My youngest sis, Kathy, and I still share a chuckle about Mrs. Grossenheider’s style. It’s not a disrespectful chuckle, but something we remember with incredible fondness. And when you added my mother to the mix, the musical dynamics really ramped up – and not in the hymn notations.

Mom is a classical-trained vocalist and director. SHE would determine the beat and meter. Mix that attention to technical detail with an elderly organist who thought that SHE was setting the beat, and what resulted was Mom practically stomping a foot, looking Mrs. Grossenheider’s way to signal, “Follow ME.” But Mrs. Grossenheider followed herself. Where there was no retard (pronounced “ruh-tard,” meaning slowing or slackening in tempo), Mrs. Grossenheider threw one in, typically in the last few measures of the last stanza.

Those memories and nostalgic laughter came rushing back recently when I found a photo of me with Mrs. Grossenheider. Sure, my three-piece suit and permed hair are worth a laugh, but often it’s what we see on the periphery that gives any scene the most context. The photo shows the attendance and hymn boards. See? Proof of what I’ve said a few times in Jackson’s Journal about Sunday night attendance dropping off dramatically from Sunday morning. The Wednesday night crowd was even smaller.

Then my eye caught the board listing the hymns. I knew that hymn 41 was “To God be the Glory.” I’ll know that forever in the same way I’ll never forget the words to the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song; the same way that “The Beverly Hillbillies” theme sometimes randomly turns on in my head. I pulled my Baptist Hymnal off the shelf to see the other hymns, and it was only fitting that hymn No. 434, “Serve the Lord with Gladness,” has a 6/8 time signature. I suddenly heard Mrs. Grossenheider play the final line of the chorus: “Wonderful is His name,” (slower) “We gladly serve Him,” (even slower) “His great” (verrrry slow) “love proclaim.”

I’m laughing, but please don’t misinterpret my emotion. I’m not poking fun, no more than I was making fun last Wednesday when I recounted Brother Keithley’s drawn-out prayer-starter, “Our Heavenly Father …” The hymns, the prayers, the strong if not rigid examples of faith and practice set by the elderly men and women helped keep me grounded. I am eternally grateful.

When I was 16, 17 years old, few parts of my life were predictable, but I found reliable structure inside the walls of Faith Baptist Church. Mrs. Grossenheider’s organ-playing and Bro. Keithley’s prayers were constant, consistent and predictable. I mean that in the most positive way possible.

Incidentally, the other hymns listed were #330, “Teach Me to Pray,” and #232, “I Am Praying For You.”

I had no idea why I had a picture taken with Mrs. Grossenheider until I turned the photo over to place it on the scanner. This is what’s written on the back:

“To Jodie who sang beautifully

Toleda and Terry Jett’s wedding

Oct. 25, 1981

Mrs. Irene Grossenheider, organist

Miss Kathy Jackson, pianist”

Sorry, but I have no recollection of singing or what I sang. I’m even more baffled that I sang at all, considering my sister was the pianist. She was Toleda (Backues) Jett’s classmate and her vocal skills were far superior to mine. But I was asked to sing?

Here’s our music for Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting: an oldie and a more contemporary tune. “To God be the Glory” and Michael W. Smith’s “Agnus Dei.” The latter is a 10-minute video. Even a Southern Baptist might find himself raising his hands by about the three-minute mark.

Grandpa’s message to Kianna #33

I haven’t been on my “A” game this week. Gee, I can’t think of anything that would steal my focus and keep me kinda anxious.

Oh, yeah: You.

Your Grammy said last night, “I can’t wait to see her little face!” Kianna, you have already brought infinite joy to your parents and grandparents.

Now hurry up and get here. Grandpa’s got some spoiling to do.

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Filed under Kianna Allene Brown, MIP: Memoir-in-progress, Old Time Religion

Countdown to Kianna

We’re at 32 days and counting.

Grandparent-hood is just around the corner when Kianna Allene Brown finally matches faces with those voices that have been coddling and connecting with her the last several months. Despite the sleepless nights ahead and the overwhelming worry that comes with that first fever or rash, I’m sure Kianna’s mommy, Kishia — our first-born — will be MUCH more comfortable when she can also finally see her first baby’s face. I get all sloppy emotional just thinking about that first eye-to-eye contact.

It won’t be long, Kishia. Hang in there. Darnell, that cuddle with Kianna will be even more amazing that you’re now imagining.

Grandpa’s message to Kianna, #6:

Hard as I try, sometimes I just can’t think of something profound to say. After all, I think about you 23 hours and 59 minutes a day. (I do have to work and sleep some). I once heard a pastor tell a man that the best way to be a father was to love his children’s mother, and that the best way for a woman to be a mother was to love her husband.

Not sure if that will make sense to you anytime soon, but what it means is you’ve got incredible parents.

Wednesday night “prayer meeting”

I get a lot of mileage out of joking about Southern Baptist life, about the white-and-homogenous character of the churches I grew up in, and about some of the traditions and customs of growing up as a preacher’s kid.

I’m sure I went literally kicking and screaming at times, but I didn’t miss many services when I was growing up. There was Sunday morning Sunday School and then the worship service, and another dose Sunday evening with what we called Training Union (it was Sunday night Sunday School, except people wore blue jeans and neckties were rare), followed by Sunday night service. I’m not sure where and how the tradition of Wednesday night Prayer Meeting got started, but the mid-week service was more optional than the others.

Somewhere along the way I’ll explain what I loved about the Sunday night and mid-week prayer meeting services. Prayer meeting was what it sounds like. There was lots of praying. Wednesday night was the only time there was a “season of prayer,” where everyone who wanted to took a turn. Wednesday night attendance was sparse, but it was kind of like the varsity members of the church.

I’m going to revisit Wednesday night prayer meeting right here on Wednesdays, so I hope I don’t lose those of you who follow this blog religiously. (Pun intended).

One of the best memories of Sunday night and Wednesday night services was the music. Someone would break out the old Broadman hymnals and maybe the singing was a cappella. And sometimes, when I reached my teens years, I got to lead the singing. To this day I love old hymns as much as I love barbecue ribs.

Here’s an oldie, followed by a contemporary praise song. Click and sing along if you’d like. And let me know which hymns/songs you’d like to see me post.

“He Leadeth Me,” sung by The Martins. If the key change at 2:25 doesn’t give you goose bumps, you’re not paying attention.

http://youtu.be/c_yQeuo7auw

“Breathe,” from a live performance by Michael W. Smith.

http://youtu.be/XgUAvMyclbU

If you get the urge, feel free to raise your hands in worship. Some Baptists do that nowadays. I do it. But if you did that back in the day during a Wednesday night prayer meeting, you’d probably get mentioned often during that “season of prayer.”

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Filed under Inspiration, Kianna Allene Brown, MIP: Memoir-in-progress, Old Time Religion