Sometimes Almost Always
By Jon Michael Lawrence
Ch. 1 The Family
Both of John’s parents came from humble families. John’s father was born in the small port city of Biloxi, Mississippi, which nowadays is one of the biggest casino cities in the southeastern portion of the United States. John’s grandfather Eugene was part of the United States Air Force. John’s grandparents had separated when his father was at a young age, so at a young age of just 12 years old Bill felt the need to do whatever he could do to help and take care of his mother and 4 younger sisters, Alice, Michelle, Mary, and Stacy. When he was only 9 years old they had a guest speaker at the small Baptist church where his family attended. The speaker was a missionary to Africa and this really intrigued Bill. At the end of the service, the speaker had an altar call for those that, wanted to be saved and for those that God was calling them to ministry. Bill went forward because he felt God was calling him to become a missionary like the speaker. At the altar, all of the adults gathered in front to greet the ones who came forward, and when he went forward there was one of the older women there who gave him a great big hug shoving his little 9-year-old head between her big bosoms. For a few seconds, Bill could not breathe and just want this woman to let go of his little head.
Bill loved to learn and especially liked learning languages and science. Bill was a member of the Latin Club in high school which would help him in the future to learn other languages like Hebrew, Ancient Greek, and Spanish. He always thought of going to other countries to help the needy as a doctor, but God had other plans for his life. He learned how to knit scarves, sweaters, gloves, and hats that he would give as gifts. Since Bill did not have much money he would knit sweaters or other items for friends and family as Christmas gifts. He worked hard getting very good grades and went on to get Georgia State University getting a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry so that he could go on to Medical School and become a doctor as he had dreamed.
Once he finished his university studies God showed him that this was not what he should do, but that he would train to become a pastor. So he started out on his next journey to go to Bible College getting the education he needed to become a pastor and later on his life continuing on getting a Master’s Degree in Divinity and after many years a Doctoral Degree of Divinity.
At this point in time, the United States had gotten involved in the Vietnam War and had a draft for all men over the age of 18 that were not studying in the university, so they called Bill to go for the required physical exam and the rest of the processes for the mandatory draft. They made all of the men enter a big auditorium and take off all of their clothes waiting to be seen for the physical, psychological, and other exams. Once Bill was finished all of the exams that he had to complete the military personnel decided not to enlist Bill because he was too skinny. If they would have taken him to war he would have been used in intelligence, but the military personnel believed that he was eating soap to lose weight and so was not be taken to war. The fact is that Bill was 6 foot 3 inches tall but at the time only weighed 119 pounds. He was so skinny that most people he knew and worked with thought he was not eating. An older black woman who Bill worked with once gave him a cherry pie and told him to go home and eat the whole thing and see if he would actually gain some weight.
Meanwhile, his future wife, Janet, the second daughter of a great couple was living in the southern suburbs of Atlanta. Her father was a craftsman who was a very good carpenter and had a lot of skill in creating new furniture or restoring antiques. He was also a pastor and their family when they were younger lived in and cared for the local churches where they pastored. Janet’s father also worked for many years as a paramedic in Atlanta. This was a very difficult job for James because he frequently saw terrible car accidents or shootings. At times James was able to help the people getting them to the hospital in time for medical care, but on other occasions, James and his colleagues did not arrive in time and they watched the person die as they were doing all they could to give them the help that they needed. James was a very kind man who loved his family and cared for others. Janet’s mother was a wonderful loving woman named Pearl who worked at different schools cooking for the children. Pearl loved people and had a kind heart. She treated everyone with a lot of love and kindness all the way up to the time when she became very ill and died. James and Pearl were married for 51 years before his beloved Pearl passed away going on to be with Jesus. Janet had an older sister Diana, a younger sister Caroline, and a younger brother Tommy. Their family were fairly good singers and when Janet was younger her family had a musical group that would go to different churches singing as a family choir.
Janet’s family and especially some of her siblings went through many difficulties making some wrong decisions. One of her sisters went through a difficult marriage when she was young from which she had a daughter and later in life married another man who treated her very well. She and her second husband had a daughter. Another sister married a man who had served in the Vietnam War and with this man she had a son and a daughter. They had a good family with two children.
Janet continued on to study at a university in the city of Lakeland, Florida where she would obtain a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Once she finished her university studies she went with a friend, Mary all over the United States working as children evangelists. Their group sang songs, told stories, and used puppets to engage children and telling them about God. They traveled around the country like this for more than 2 years going from Atlanta through Texas and Oklahoma to the city of San Francisco.
When Janet completed her time of travelling around the country she returned to her home with her family to see a long lost friend that she knew when she was younger - it was Bill of course. Now Bill had liked her for many years but was timid and did not want to approach her. They started to get to know each other and after some time they got married.
Once they were married Bill and Janet moved to the city of Springfield, Missouri where Bill continued to get his training as a pastor. They went through some tough times in Springfield. There were some very long and hard winters where their cars would not start because the gas lines would freeze or the coolant in the car would freeze.
After a special time of great memories - but also of hardships they moved back to Atlanta to work in local churches as well as worked in local jobs. After just 5 years of marriage, they had a baby girl, John’s older sister Mary Sue. It was a long labor that ended in a c-section but they were happy to have their baby girl. She weighed 9 pounds 5 ounces. They had a very happy family.
They lived in Atlanta which is the most important city in the southeastern portion of the United States and one of the top cities of the country. This city is primarily known for being the home of Coca-Cola, the hub of CNN News, The Georgia Aquarium (one of the biggest in the world), the home of the 1996 Olympic Games and for being the business hub for the southeast.
Just 2 years and a half after they had Mary came their baby boy. John was the second and last child that Bill and Janet had. John was a chubby little baby with blond hair and bright blue eyes, who loved to eat. John was born on one cold day in April. Some people claimed that Mrs. Lawrence had to have a c-section because his head was too big and she could not have a normal delivery. The truth is really that at 10 pounds and 6 ounces he was quite a big boy and it would be easier on his mother as a c-section. His older sister was happy to have a brother. She always wanted someone in her life that she could take care of and help.
John’s family lived in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia where his parents worked very hard as pastors and to provide for their family. Their mother, Janet, worked in a private school as a Kindergarten teacher and later as a secretary at a company that sold delicious desserts. Their father also worked at the same company as a security guard while he was getting his master’s degree in Theological Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. Many times when Janet would go to work she would take the kids with her so that Bill could take them to school and later back home.
When John was 3 years old his older sister had to have a surgery to remove a strange growth and bump that had developed on one of her thumbs. He was scared to see his sister in the hospital having her finger all bandaged up. It was an easy surgery and did not have any complications after that.
John was a very quiet and calm boy but did give his parents and especially his mother a few scares. Once when he was three years old he got hungry at about 9 pm and decided he wanted to eat a bag of peanuts that was in the kitchen. He had some trouble opening the bag of peanuts and he saw a steak knife in the next drawer. He decided that he would just poke the knife through the bag and slice it open. He thought that there be nothing wrong with a 3-year-old handling a sharp steak knife like that. Instead of the knife staying in the bag of peanuts it went all the way through the hole in the bag and went into John’s middle left finger. Since John was so quiet and calm he was not alarmed with there being a good bit of blood on the kitchen floor so he thought that he was just clean it up himself and no one would notice. There was too much blood to just clean it up. He was not so quiet anymore when his mother came into the kitchen seeing all the blood and how her son was she screamed which scared John and he also started to scream and cry. Since Bill was out of town Janet had to leave their daughter, Mary Sue, with some friends while she took John to the hospital. They had a long night in the emergency room where the doctors put five stitches on John’s finger. Later they gave him some candy for behaving so well.