By Ada Nicholson Brownell
Daddy usually sat in the fourth row on the left side of the church, his thinning black hair with a tiny bald spot making him easy to identify from behind. If he clapped his huge hands singing the songs he loved, you didn’t notice because it was a reverent, subdued clap.
He served on the church board, easily approached people, but usually said few words.
Mom sat beside him, her hair the color of flames, and a personality to go with it. She taught Sunday school, served as Sunday school superintendent, and when she sang and clapped, joy flashed around her.
When he grew up, I don’t think Dad attended church much. Mom had been raised by godly parents, but the trials of life and providing for their large family took a toll on them.
Our family experienced the Great Depression and the Kansas dustbowl, but Dad always found a way to feed his children. During a severe drought, he dammed the creek and figured out how to irrigate his garden. Mom and Dad bartered some of their bounty of vegetables so my oldest brother, Virgil, could board in a nearby town and attend high school.
Dad went duck hunting one day, but had ammunition for only one shot. He waited until three ducks lined up in his sights and got all three.
One winter because they had no food to put in the cellar, Dad cut ice from the creek and stored it in the empty underground cave. When a plague of grasshoppers came through, Dad raised chickens. The chickens ate grasshoppers. He still had a cow, so all summer the family ate chicken and home made ice cream.
During those lean years during the winter the family needed fuel to heat the house and cook. A big tree stump was near their home (I wasn't born yet) and Daddy decided to blast the stump apart and use it for fuel. He know how to make home-made dynamite and when he was pounding it into the stump, it blew up. A huge long splinter went straight through his eye. He was blind in that eye the rest of his life.
Mom’s sisters lived in Colorado, so my parents decided to go West. Dad loaded a dilapidated truck that he somehow kept running, piled on a few possessions, seven children, and his wife, who was expecting me.
The local church heard a big family moved to town and started praying for us. My brothers’ and sisters’ friends at school invited them to a little white church in Fruita, Colo. Marge was the first to go, and Mom was horrified Marge wanted to go to the “holy roller” church.
“Let her go,” Dad said. “I’ve heard they teach children to obey their parents.”
One by one the older children accepted the Lord as Savior; then Daddy did, too.
I didn’t know Daddy before he came to Jesus, but what I saw afterward was impressive. Yes, Mom became a fireball for the Lord, but Dad was equally committed. He was a man like the Apostle Paul described when he said, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6). At home, Daddy was the same strong man who attended church. When he said something, you’d better listen because he spoke with wisdom-- and what he said, he meant..
He weighed what we children asked to do, and when he said no, that was the end of it. There was no begging or bargaining.
Although he squeezed his money, he tithed faithfully. When he bought 100 pounds of sugar, he gave 10 to the pastor. He divided other blessings, too..
Despite being late to serve the Lord, he expected his children to live for God, do their best at anything they tried, and he never called us “stupid” when I, at least, occasionally was stupid.
"Don't ever go near the river," he warned. The river was pretty close to our little farm, and I didn't go near it. But when we moved to our big two-story house in town it was much further. I was older and more daring, too.
Well, I went ice skating with my friends on the river. I knew my toes had frozen because I couldn't even feel them as I walked home. I didn't say a word to anyone when I walked into the house. I put them in hot water, They turned black and swelled. Then I couldn't keep the secret because I couldn't wear my shoes. Only through a miracle, I still have feet.
In our family devotions, Mom did the reading while Dad sat on the sofa listening with us. She read Ephesians 6 often because we all could use the guidance there, and Dad took it to heart, including the command for fathers to provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:3-5).
All eighty of us had deep respect for our parents.
Daddy worked many hard jobs to support his family, the last years delivering gasoline to farmers. But I wouldn’t be more proud of him if he were president of the United States.
© Copyright Ada B. Brownell 2014