Saturday, February 18, 2006

This is What a Little Cotton Picker Can Do

My dad was an extremely articulate and intelligent guy. He was a stickler for the English language, and its correct usage. It used to frustrate me that when he checked my homework, no matter what subject, he always insisted on me using correct grammar and spelling. Having grown up extremely poor and on “the other side of the tracks,” he was determined to excel and outperform everyone around him.
I never knew anyone as quick and sharp-witted as my dad. He could do complex mathematical calculations in his head, and his reasoning skills were incredible. He was brilliant in his discernment and assessment of almost any situation, and he could read people with a short conversation. Few things ever got past him.
That’s why I find the following autobiography of him so interesting. It was written shortly before he died, after he was already somewhat senile. I’m going to transcribe it just as he wrote it, complete with misspelled words and grammatical errors. I know in his state of mind, and no doubt on pretty heavy doses of morphine, this must have been difficult for him to write. I am so ever grateful he chose to record this piece of history… and I have it in his own handwriting.

Louis S. Tamez, CAPTAIN, United State Air Force
BORN: 11-23-29, SAN ANTONIO, TX.

Louis was an indusitous individual. The first time he went to Michigan to pick beets. This was the first job had at age 7. These days were though – jobs were rare – So everybody had to work. During
when everyone was at the work – no school!

After the workers accumulate enough money to return to our homes in San Antonio, TX.
At this point, kids that worked had to go to school and catch up on what they had already missed. Since I all ways wanted to learn all that I could, I would complete the things I had to do.
When I was 8, we went to west texas to pick cotton. I would start thinking if I would catch up on my studies when we return home. We picked cotton every year – I started at 8 years old and 9 years, 10 years.
People had to do this so we could have something to eat and clothes to wear – we had to survive in anyway. Many young children never went to school –it was tough to do.
I could see how my mother worked to make do with what we got. She wanted my Sister, Mary and I to do better than our mother – so she would tell us that we had to go to school to learn something.
I loved my mother very much and I wanted to do all I could buy learning all that I could to be better for Mom and for me.
At 11 years of age, I wanted to go to high school – my mom didn’t know how I could get a job that would help everyone. The more I learned the more I knew that someday my mom wold be very happy.
I had a job at a grocery store. After school I would run to the store and work till the store closed – 11 pm. I would walk home and do my homework – we did not have electricity – but I had to be at the armory at 7:00 AM –as I was one of the leaders in the ROTC – I worked very hard, and I learned much.
When the senior year was coming I started to seed how I could graduate, and I was very poor as always – I graduated in my ROTC suit.
At that point if you had money, you could go to colledge, if you did not have money, start looking for a job.
I knew I had to find a job that would pay me well and teach me to be better – the only way I could do this was to join the Army Air Corp. I enlisted as a private, World War II was coming to a stop the war, we were paying private and I was getting $50 per month. I would send $25 to mom. I always needed money – the things my mom that needed and I wanted to help I could. I started a business in my barracks – things my mom taught me – like washing and ironing my buddies that they could do – I was washing and pressing unifords and I made money.
When we left from our place where we were station.
I left this place and when got off the train, and we saw that our station would Washington, D.C.
We went through a bunch of tests, and the took the best 10 men and they started to go to school again. They sent me to the US Coast ^Gurard and Geodich Servey to learn to make charts and maps. We learn how to get arial airiel photography – learn it well – got first promotion.
They sent me to other great schools and I learn more – more promotions
Sent me to Puerto Rico, as one of 10 to do all the charts and mocias – more promotions –sent to French Morrocco to make aerial maps and charts –
Sent back to Washington to do more charting from 2nd World War – we had captured all the photos – we had to make charts and maps of the Soviat empire.
Went to do best on our Air Force in Omaha – they gave me the biggest bundle yet had three men and I Did great job – Promotion to the top grade Master Sargent – I was 25 years old – No more promotions because Master Sargent was the Top.
I disided to get out of the Air Force and work in Washington –
My officers asked me if I would want to go in the Aviation Cadets. I thought they were gr craze out of there heads –
I applied to the program and I finished the program and became as officers and I became a navigator – went to many countries – I had 3 years
I love the U.S. Air Force. I not only made Master Sargent – I got a commission. I retired a U.S. Air Force Captain, retired.
This is what a little cotton picker can do – no other contry gives the people to do what ever we want.


“I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me. “

I don't think Dad ever stopped seeing himself as a little cotton picker. He was friends with anyone (except male nurses.) I still meet people that knew him, and I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything bad about him. What a legacy. My dad was a fighter, and never gave up, even in the end. He didn’t want to die. He wanted to beat the cancer like he beat everything else. He taught me to trust God, but to use what He gave me so I could be a producer. He never wanted any of us to be mooches, and always told me that I lived in the United States of America, the greatest country in the world, and I could do whatever I wanted to and be whatever I wanted to be. He loved us, and showed me how much he loved me until he no longer could. He died gracefully, and he will never be forgotten.
Thank you, Lord, for giving me a father like him. Just as you never have, he never gave up on me either.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pete and Andy meet the Man

It was a pleasant, sunny afternoon much like many others in this small fishing village. There was a cool breeze coming off the waters of the Sea of Galilee, and as most days, the fishing was pretty decent. At least the catch today was turning out to be sufficient to bring a day’s wages at the market. Two men were in the water, stripped to the waist, enjoying the sun, casting their nets, and discussing their day. So it was for Pete and Andy, brothers, who had a thriving business, “Bethsaida Brothers Fishery,” which they operated for years. The fishing business had been good to them and their families, and they were known and respected. Fishing was all they knew, and they loved it.

This afternoon, though, was about to bring some big changes for the strong brothers. As they worked the nets and talked, they watched as a rather peculiar figure approached on the beach. The man paused on the beach, watching them intently. Pete and Andy wondered who this might be, for there weren’t many strangers that came down to the ocean to watch the fishing. But there was something about this stranger, something magnetic; something drawing… there was an intensity in his gaze that neither had ever experienced before. ”Andy, that’s Jesus, the Messiah,” whispered Pete. They paused…

And just like that, he spoke. “Come with me, and I’ll make you fishers of men.” Without hesitation, and for reasons neither of them could immediately explain, they dropped their nets– along with their livelihood and everything they loved and were familiar with – into the water, and followed this strange but comforting man. Pete looked into his brother’s eyes, but neither said a word, they just followed with awe and excitement.

They walked a little further down the beach and soon came to where two other brothers, Jimmy and John, who were working for their dad who ran “Zeb’s Fresh Fish Market.” They were in their boat, fixing their nets after a good day’s catch, and they too, had been watching as the three approached. As soon as they got there, Jesus called to them, and immediately the two brothers jumped from the boat, leaving their father with the hired hands, and they followed Him.

From the account in the Gospel According to Mark, chapter 1

These two sets of brothers had ordinary occupations – secular jobs which, no doubt, kept their families fed and maybe kept a few others employed. They were not scholars, seminary graduates, or professional ministers. I imagine they were brought up fishing for a living, and worked hard at it.

And just like that, they left all that was familiar and comfortable to them to follow Jesus. Now, Jesus was no stranger. According to John’s account in John 1:35-42, they had met Him maybe about a year before, right after His baptism by John.  Jesus had even spoken to Peter, called Simon, and prophesied to him, calling him Cephas, which means “A Stone.”

The idea of leaving one’s occupation to follow Jesus must have taken a huge leap of faith. I can’t imagine what it took for these men to drop what they were doing, leaving behind their tools of the trade, their families, and their hired hands. Surely they had something to lose. Surely they must have had some fear….but they just left to follow Him. Just like that.

What would it take for me to do the same? Honestly, I don’t know. It was a leap of faith for me to just recently change jobs, and it was even in the same field.  God must have been working on changing their hearts for a while. I’m sure their identity and all that they could relate to was tied up in their business. When God calls us into a different place, He prepares us for the change. He gives us the boldness and the ability to make the decision, and then gives us everything we need to fulfill His vision.

Our responsibility is not only to hear His call, but to commit to follow Him, no matter what. And the step of faith we decide to take is merely a step. He provides the strength, we provide the will. He gives us what we need, we give our faith. God doesn’t force us to do what we don’t want to do, He merely asks for our obedience. In turn, He takes us to where we’ve never been.


weird (wîrd) adj., weird·er, weird·est.
1. Of, relating to, or suggestive of the preternatural or supernatural.
2. Of a strikingly odd or unusual character; strange.

1 Peter 2:9 "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light..."

Thank God for weird.

In church this morning, during the worship time, I looked around at some of the people that were there. I looked at the men I have fellowshipped with, worshipped with, sometimes fought with, cried with, and rejoiced with for about the last 15 years. Something struck me as I looked at these guys I’ve been with all these years. We’re heavier now; older, grayer…But God is still changing us and molding us.

These are guys I have known most of my Christian life, and will probably know for the rest of my life – the ones I’ll know in eternity. These are the very guys I’ve encouraged at times, and most often been encouraged by. We’ve shared a lot together. I’ve been humbled by them, lifted up by them, laughed with them, and cried with them. None of us is perfect. In fact, we’re all pretty much weird – stranger than most, each in our own ways. I had to thank God for the weirdness we’ve shared

My friend, Matt, over at From the Morning, shared about being weird. He was wishing we were all a little less guarded at church, and a little more WYSIWYG. I’m glad for our small fellowship of home church folks. It’s really hard to hide behind a Sunday smile when we’re all facing each other in someone’s living room. (Not impossible, just harder…) I know if one of us doesn’t show up for whatever reason, we’ve got someone calling or knocking on the door that afternoon, just to check up.
I relayed to them my thoughts about weird this morning, and how God chose a bunch of us weirdoes to fellowship together. Here’s what I shared in the comments of Matt’s post:

Weird is 2 fishermen throwing down thier nets (and their livelihood) to follow a carpenter from Nazareth. Weird is that the religious culture, who knew the scriptures better than anyone, rejected the Messiah, when he was there among them. Weird is an upright and zealous Jew; a scholar, who persecuted the followers of Christ, suddenly make a turnaround and become one of them.
Weird was Jesus choosing to be in the company of the most hated and rejected of society: the tax-collectors, prostitutes, and the non-religious. And it was certainly weird that the Lord of Lords, who could have called down legions of angels to destroy those that persecuted Him, chose to suffer the most horrible death of crucifixion to fulfill God's redemption of sinful man.
And, yes, it was weird that a 25 year-old, pot-smoking, alcoholic dickhead chose 23 years ago to accept God's forgiveness for my sins and follow Him.

Yeah, I said “dickhead,” to use Matt’s description…it just seems to fit. I just remember what I was like before God got hold of me. And I know what I can still be like, were it not for His grace.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Comfort of the Father

Since I made the decision to leave my current firm, I have been looking for another broker/dealer to keep my registrations current. I have been struggling with trying to decide what direction to take, and who to talk to. It's hard to discern, sometimes, the truth in a recruiting pitch.
When my dad was alive, I could always rely on his advice and know he would tell me the whole story. I was praying this morning and telling the Lord how much I missed my dad and how I wished he was here to talk to. I gave it to God, thanking Him for being my Father, and told him I trusted Him. I thanked Him that I knew he spoke to me, and that I knew He listened when I prayed. I told Him I would keep my ears and heart attuned to Him for my direction.
I received a call from a broker/dealer's office later on this morning, and was on the phone about 20 minutes or so, discussing my needs, their services, etc. The guy asked me for the correct spelling of my name. When I told him, he remarked, "I had a good friend in San Antonio named Lou Tamez." "That's my dad!" I told him. "Well, that cements the deal, then," he said.
I thought about it later, how my dad would have probably given me the name of someone he knew that could help me. It might have been this very man's name he gave me - I don't know.. but I do know that my heavenly Father heard me, and He sent me the right person, using my dad to confirm it. And knowing my aching heart, He filled it with a memory of my dad.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Agreement and a New Move

Sorry for the long time between posts. I have been fairly busy, but more than that, I have been in a decision-making mode, and it required my full attention. I decided to cut my ties with the company I was with and pursue a new career. My office will be here in town, and I'll start making money immediately. It will be a good move; one that Linda and I prayed about, agreed on, and have peace with.
Amos 3:3 says," Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" Linda and I are not experts on the principal of agreement yet. We are polar opposites in our thought patterns. But we know when we agree on something - there is peace. When we have spent time covering our situation and decision with prayer, and we truly seek God, He is faithful to give us both the same answer. And there is peace.
I remember many years ago having a major disagreement with Linda over a situation with an employee. We were truly at a standoff, and neither one of us would budge. Each of us had an equally strong argument to support our stubbornness. We were truly in strife, voices were raised, and I think we even had our arms crossed and were pouting. I don't remember which one of us had the bright idea to "take it to the Lord" in prayer, but one of us, thank God, suggested we put our flesh aside, and inquire of the Lord as to an answer to the impasse. Within a few minutes, both of us had peace, and turned out, neither one of the opinions we so adamantly held onto was the right answer. Each one of us, separately, got the same answer in our hearts from the Lord. "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened for you." (Luke 11:9) The situation was settled with a completely different answer. And there was peace.
The principal of agreement is not only so that there will be peace in a relationship. There can be the absence of an argument if one's opinion or decisions over-shadow the other's - one person is passive, and just decides it's not worth the fight. Lots of couples "agree" that way and avoid external strife. Underneath, though, there is strife, disagreement, and disappointment, which often festers until there is a breaking point somewhere down the road. Then all hell breaks loose.
True agreement allows us to truly avoid strife - externally and internally. It also allows us to work together synergetically, and allow God to take us further in our walk. Solomon wrote, in the book of Ecclesiastes 4:9, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to lift him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken." In my experience, it has always been better when we are in agreement. We get more done without strife, and our rewards for our efforts are much greater.
I'm encouraged and excited about my new occupation. I'll start some preliminary transition next week, as I still have some things to wrap up with my current job. The good new is that I am leaving on excellent terms and have been given an open door to come back. And there is peace.