Did you read that title?! Yes, Growing Old Together! Over the past few weeks I have been sick. Had pneumonia, asthmatic bronchitis, and a serious sinus infection that just would not quit! On top of that I am a diabetic, so this was no fun at all! I had no more sinuses that could be infected. I had to stay in bed and be told what to do by my wife! (She was really on top of it to make sure, I did not do anything I was not supposed to do!) In the middle of all this my wife, Kim, and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary. That is right married to a wonderful, spiritually minded lady who loves the Lord and loves me. In November, 2014, I will also see my 60th birthday. Almost wrote celebrate but I thought twice about that! So………I had a lot of time to think, being in the bed for a couple of weeks. A few questions came to mind. Where in the world did all the time go? Also, what do we do with what is left? Where in the world did my physical strength go?
Kim and I grew up in Indiana. I met Kim when we were both sophomores in high school. She sat between me and my girlfriend in English class. She was gorgeous! We were both unsaved and neither of us grew up in a Christian home. We did what typical unsaved teenagers did in a public high school and all that went along with it. I was quite the athlete in high school and played basketball, baseball, and football. When we graduated from high school I had a full ride scholarship to play baseball at any college I desired to go to. I was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 1973 free agent draft as the 78th draft pick in the country as a pitcher.

After my first year of playing baseball in the Giants system, I came home in September of 1973 and Kim and I got married on October 6, 1973. The baseball money allowed us at the age of 19 to buy a home on the lake, a sports car, motorcycle, and a boat among other things. I thought I had it all, a beautiful wife, material possessions and the life of a professional athlete. But I was not happy and was searching.

Kim and I both went to church some as a child, but most Christians I had run into I thought were weird or worse. I was interested in two things, playing ball and making money. By the time I was 12, I was playing baseball on Sunday during the summer and really had no interest in spiritual things.

In the off season after my first year with the Giants, and after we were married, I did not have anything to do in the winter. So, a friend who owned a local manufacturing plant and who was a local baseball enthusiast thought it would be neat to have a professional baseball player around. So, for the winter I worked in shipping and receiving in his plant.

Not too long after I started working in the plant a United Parcel Service driver came in and starting to talk with me each day. Rick Bratcher was very faithful to witness to me although I told him I was an atheist and did not want to talk about it. I wasn’t sure what an atheist was, but it made religious people stop talking to you when you said it! But, Rick was not to be deterred. He continued to pray for me and gave me a book to read which was The Late Great Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsey. The book got my attention and I began to ask Rick questions. For seven months he took his lunch hour each day to talk to me about the Lord. During this time, the Holy Spirit began to convict my heart about my sin and what would happen to me if I died.

One evening I woke up in the middle of the night and asked Kim what would happen to us if we died tonight? She said, “I think if you’re a good person you will go to heaven, and if you are a bad person you will go to hell”. Well I knew where I fit in in that scenario. I told her I did not know where I was going, but I was going to find out.

Rick Bratcher invited me to his home on November 4, 1974. That evening his pastor came over and of course starting talking to me about baseball. My thought was doesn’t everybody talk to me about baseball? After a few minutes of baseball talk, Pastor Burbrink asked me an important question, “Terry if you died tonight where would you go?” I replied I did not know but I am here to find out. I think I would probably go to hell. He said, “You do not have to go to hell and let me show you how you can know”. He went through the Romans Road and showed me I was a sinner Romans 3:10, 3:23. He also showed me that because I was a sinner, I was condemned to die. Also, that God’s gift to me was eternal life and all I had to do was receive the gift that Jesus gave by dying on the cross for my salvation, Romans 6:23, 10:9-10, 10:13. I bowed my head right there and said, “Lord I am a sinner, I ask you to forgive me of my sins, I repent and turn my life to you. Come into my heart and be my Saviour, I receive you now.”  Well, I knew immediately that something had changed. I was different. I was happy about what happened and I could not wait to get home to tell Kim. I was sure she would be happy about it, after all she had been asking me to go to church (her church).

When I arrived home to our house on the lake, I shared with Kim what happened. To my disbelief, she started to cry. She was really upset. She said, “There is no such word in the Bible as saved, and you get down there with those religious fanatics and they will tear you up!” Oh boy, I was devastated. I tried to find where they had showed me in the Bible, but I could not remember where the verses were, but I knew they were there and it really frustrated me. Later Kim came in with something for me and said, “This is what you need”.  It was the United Methodist Church manual! I looked through it and knew it was not what I needed, but what was I going to do? I prayed and asked the Lord to help me. I told Kim we were going to church the next Sunday. She said, “Fine but we are going to my church”. I said okay. We went to the big liberal United Methodist Church. I took along my Bible because I figured that was what anyone should do. When we got to church, I was the only person there with a Bible! An older couple that sat beside us called Kim’s grandmother after church and said, “I sat beside your granddaughter and her husband this morning in church, is he going to be a Preacher?” Little did she know that was what God had planned. The preacher preached on “Being a Good Boy Scout” because it was national Boy Scout week. No Bible whatsoever and I was looking for something from the Bible. When we got home I told Kim this was not for me. She was not happy when I told her I was going to talk to Rick Bratcher and find out where I should go to church. Rick said, “Look in the paper and phone book for an Independent Baptist Church”. I did and only found one church in our community that was an Independent Baptist Church. I called the pastor and asked when his next service was. He said, “Wednesday night at 7 P.M.” and gave me directions. The pastor was starting the church and it was meeting in a store front building. Kim and I drove up and she said, “This is not a church it is the old Wayne Street Grocery! I use to go in there and buy cokes and candy as a child”. I said, “The man says he is having church in there and I am going in”. She went in but was not happy about it. He was teaching through the Bible verse by verse. That night it was he and his wife, Kim and I and one other man. I loved it, Kim hated it!

I could not wait for Sunday morning. I was up early and ready to go. Kim was in bed and said she was not going! The discussion went on for awhile. Finally after much persuasion from me she decided she would get up but she said, “I will go, but I won’t like it!” We went to both services and talk about a wonderful day for me and a miserable day for Kim. Through the next few days we talked more about what happened to me. After the Wednesday evening service, Kim went forward and asked Pastor Stone to help her. She knew I was a totally different person, and she had been under great conviction about her sin and she bowed her head there in that store front building and asked Jesus to come into her heart and be her Savior. Her salvation started a wonderful life for us. The Lord has been so precious to our life, marriage, and children now over these past 41 years. We were both baptized together on December 1, 1974.

We were faithful in our local church and started running a bus route and had more than 50 children come on the bus each Sunday. We saw many people come to know the Lord and I was teaching a Sunday school class and Kim worked in several ministries of the church. After a year God began to speak to my heart about preaching. We soon moved to Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, TN. That was where the seeds of For the Love of the Family were started.

When we left to go to Bible College Kim was pregnant with our first child. Kim had severe complications with the birth of the baby. In fact, the doctor came out after more than 24 hours of labor and said, “We have severe problems son”. Dr. Clements was a Christian and our daughter was his last baby to deliver after a long practice of many years. He put his arms around my shoulders and said, “I do not give the baby a chance in the world and your wife less than 50 percent”. The night before we went to the hospital I had been laid off my job. After no sleep for more than 48 hours and my whole world crumbling, I got on my knees at 4:00 A.M. in the morning in the Baroness Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and cried out to God to spare my wife and child’s life. I promised God if he would spare Kim and the baby’s life I would do all I could to raise the child for Him. God was gracious and spared their lives.

I told Kim of my promise to God. She agreed that we would commit our lives to rearing our children for Him. Folks, we were a young Christian couple who did not grow up in a Christian home. We knew very little about the matter. We decided that we would study together every passage in the Bible that dealt with the home, children, and marriage. We would not be deterred from the task of rearing our children for Him. The next Sunday after Kim came home with the baby; we both went forward in the Highland Park Baptist Church. The Pastor, Dr. Lee Roberson, came down off the platform to pray for us. I will never forget what he said when I explained what we were there for. He put both hands on my shoulders and he said, “It will be the dedication of your life that will make the difference in the child’s life”. He then prayed for our lives and for me to be the husband and father God wanted me to be. I will always be grateful for the man of God’s prayer. Thus, For the Love of the Family Ministries was born that day although Kim and I did not know it at the time. Kim took the task seriously and worked with our girls to help them grow up to be spiritual young ladies with a desire to serve the Saviour. We both together taught them to have an intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with the Saviour. Our youngest daughter was born September, 1980. Kim home schooled both girls and taught them both how to be spiritual women and both girls have graduated from Bible College, have a heart for God and serve the Saviour today.  She did this all the time being a good pastor’s wife in the churches we have pastored and been a great help mate to her husband.
When it was time for our youngest daughter to leave our home my wife said one of the nicest things I believe a husband could ever hear. She, told me, “I am looking forward to this time when it will just be us together.” She makes my life a joy every day!
Our children have been out of the home now for many years and into their own lives. Kim and I were discussing the other day, how much we love being together. We talk every day, we pray, and both read. We just like spending time with each other.
So, what about those thoughts I had at the start of this article? There is nothing Kim or I can do about time. It will keep moving on. We just have to do the best we can, but our walk with God is so important. Kim will come and share with me what God is speaking to her about in her devotions. I will share the same with her. We share prayer requests together and how God has answered so many wonderful prayers for us. We pray for our children, grandchildren, and are thankful for the opportunity to serve the Lord who has been so gracious to us. We are also very thankful for the people God has given us the opportunity to minister to down through more than 35 years of ministry.
If you are reading this article and you are kind of like Kim and me wondering where has all the time gone? Something Kim and I really want to share with you. Keep growing in the Lord! One of the most important things we have learned is to be a Spirit controlled person, Ephesians 5:18.
Hope Biblical Counseling Center and the counseling we do can really take time and your strength in trying to help people. The thought had crossed my mind, maybe I need to slow down and let Hope Biblical Counseling Center go. Kim said, “You know, we have grown so much and we continue to grow, so we have much more to teach!” She has always been pretty smart!
Never stop growing in the Lord! Continue to develop your relationship with God! Everything in this world can be taken away from you except your intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with God. You know this thought has crossed my mind so much. I am thankful for my girls, but I really wish I knew back when they were home, what I spiritually know today. Kim and I really wish we could have imparted more to them although we did take it seriously while they were home. However, it is such a short time and the children will soon be gone. If you are a parent with children at home take it seriously and spiritually!
I wish, I had grown more! Although I was making a strong effort to grow spiritually. I remember going to my first classes at Tennessee Temple after being saved only a year. I walked down the back alley from our apartment across the parking lot of the post office to school praying, “Lord, I am so far behind everybody else, please help me to learn and grow!” So many times I would have tears in my eyes asking God to help me grow.
The desire was in my heart to have an intimate personal and passionate relationship with God. So, Kim and I have decided what do we do next? First thing is to keep growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Secondly, keep enjoying each other. Be kind to one another! I still think she is great and her care for me has been so kind and loving. I asked her during this time, is there anything you really want to do before we get too old to do it? We have seen a lot of things and been several places. I think we just have a couple of things on the bucket list which we are going to try to do. That doesn’t mean there will not be something else, but I think we are both content with each other and our life. I told her this week, “Thank you for loving me!” She gave me that look like, ok what is next?
We take a drive together each Sunday night after church, and hold each other’s hand and talk. We enjoy meals together, and we hug each other several times a day. I tease her some, but have learned when to and when not to if you know what I mean! I don’t want to miss a minute of being with her. Using a baseball term as we head to the 7th, 8th, and 9th inning of life, we want to make every minute count with each other, and the work God has called us to do.
Another thing I do not want to fail to mention, we both love our dog. He is a Beagle-Bassett mix. We live in the South in Arkansas. Down here people have two names, you know Billie Bob, Billie Joe, Jim Bob etc. One of church folks mentioned this so our dog is name Jersey Boy! It is interesting in my home office, I have dog toys all over the office every day. We put them up and he brings them back out. He will come in and put his paws on my leg with a toy in his mouth. Then I know it is time to play and nothing else matters! He is a great dog, very smart and pretty stubborn! He goes for walks with Kim and plays ball with me! Can’t ask for better. My point as you are growing older enjoy the little things of life! Have fun with it! We have a sign up above his bowl which says, “A house is not a home without a Beagle!”
I read a story one time about an elderly Christian man talking about his marriage and he said, “That he still looked for her when they were in a crowd and his heart still jumped when he saw her. He was excited to get home to meet her every day. He longed for the touch of her hand and the smile on her face. He loved her more today that when they first got married. He could see them as the years rolled by walking hand and hand into the sunset of life together.” I know how he feels, because that is how I feel. Kind of corny, but it has been a wonderful life! But God still has more good things for us, more teaching to do, and interesting things to do and especially our life together. That one last question, “Where has all my strength gone?” Well, guess I better take better care of myself. So, I do not want to go into those changes, because you know, Kim has been thinking too much about that!
The most important thing I can share with you is if you do not know Jesus Christ as Saviour today, I encourage you to make the most important decision of your life and receive Him today. If you need help, let us know and we will help you!