Gig Line: In my prayers . . .

Published 9:28 am Saturday, September 28, 2019

When I was a little girl, a close friend of my mom invited her to attend a tent meeting to see a preacher who was coming to an area not far from our house in St. Petersburg, Florida. So, at her urging, Mama decided to go.

I was excited as a small child not knowing what to expect and when the day came, my clothes were laid out for me . . . a white dotted Swiss dress that she had made and a pair of sandals and white frilly socks . . . yuck! Now, at seven years old I was no fashionista and I’m still not today, but just the same I hated to wear socks with sandals! Off we went and soon came upon a huge circus like tent. As we approached, people of all ages were flooding the entrance way to get in and it was a little overwhelming. I knew there were no circus animals or high wire acts so it was a mystery what I would see or experience once inside.

As we entered, I held Mama’s hand tightly and my eyes scanned across a sea of tall and short, old and young folks scrambling to get to a folded seat that rested on the sandy floor. I remember some singing and then the emergence of a very handsome preacher man holding a Bible. He was energetic in his delivery of what I came to know later as “the word” and he preached with great enthusiasm about a God of love and forgiveness and accountability.

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Those in attendance seemed happy – really happy; some laughed, some cried and many said prayers out loud and quietly under their breath, but when I left that tent, something in my life as an innocent little person changed. What I learned that day was that when my parents gave thanks at the table before we ate a bite, they were thanking that great big God the preacher man talked about.

As time passed that summer, I had a very bad experience. My parents visited an elderly couple who were related to a neighbor on our street. When Mama and Daddy were in the kitchen and the lady was showing them something that helped her arthritis, her husband led me away from my parents to show me “something” in their dark living room. It was there that he held me down and molested me.

My parents were totally unaware of what was taking place and the old man threatened me not to tell. I jumped up and tore myself away from his grip and ran back into the kitchen to their side. I remember Mama saying, “Marsha, what’s the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!” I didn’t answer. I held what had just happened inside. As we made our way to the door to leave, I ran to the car. I wanted to get far away as quick as I could.

On the way home and as the tall trees that lined the streets intermittently shadowed the sun light from my side of the car, I thought about what had happened to me and I considered whether to tell or not tell. But I couldn’t . . . I couldn’t tell because I loved my Daddy and I knew if I told, he might beat the old man up or worse and maybe go to jail, so I held it inside. I couldn’t tell anybody except that great big God I had come to know in the tent. I talked to Him in my whispered prayers, just He and I and nobody else knew that man had held me against my will on his lap and inappropriately touched me. My fear of the man we now refer to as a “perv” was real but the love for my good, decent and very protective father was greater.

Since that time so long ago, my reality and my personal relationship with our Lord has grown deeper. I know I can talk to Him anytime, in secret or out loud about anything and that He will give me comfort every time. Are all my prayers answered the way I hope? No, but eventually I come to understand there was a reason and sometimes surprised by His decision.

Now for those of you who read Gig Line often, you may be thinking, what does that story have to do with veterans which is always my focus in my column? So, I’ll tell you. It’s about faith, baby, it’s about faith.

In my prayers each day, I begin thanking God for the day, His love and forgiveness; for His divine creation of this world and the blessings all around us. I thank Him for our health and for the ability to do the things we’re able to do no matter if we hobble, limp or wheel ourselves around. Then I thank Him for our family starting with my sweet husband Billy because it was He who (through divine intervention, seriously) brought Billy and I together; I thank Him for a husband who loved Him, his country; his “brothers and sisters” and all the veterans who served or currently serve. I thank Him for the strong, mighty man who loved me, for our children and grandchildren and for my patriotic husband who so loved our flag and this land we call home. As a U. S. Army veteran having served in Vietnam, Billy taught me valuable lessons about honor, respect and pride in our military and the men and women who serve. He inspired me and there isn’t a single day that I don’t miss him terribly from morning to night.

Billy was proud of Gig Line and when I get a phone call like I did the other day from a gentleman who had two brothers who had served in Vietnam who reads my column, I smile and I get choked up. I thank my Lord for Billy over and over again and for nice people like him who responded to me and touched my heart.

Of course, I can’t dictate what anyone believe when it comes to religion, but what I can attest to is how God has helped me since I was seven years old to deal with fear, sadness, disappointment and forgiveness. And while I can’t possibly know what every man or woman who served in Vietnam and other wars felt then or now, I believe that God was with them and if they didn’t come home, God was there to transition them to Heaven. In other words, I think God never leaves us when we want and accept Him into our heart.

One more thing, when I hear people criticize the situation at our border and that children are “locked up” or “fenced in”. . . I am thankful that they are confined where they are in plain sight, prohibited from walking around freely amongst hundreds of people they don’t know who could do them harm. And no, I’m not paranoid, but I believe in safety first, a watchful eye and care until they can once again be reunited with their actual birth family members, become legal citizens of these great United States along with their family and returned to normalcy and hopefully a better way of life. God bless the little children, the families that are separated and the men and women whose goal is to protect them in the interim and us as well. Their jobs must be horrible – would you want to do it?

In my prayers, I thank our good and gracious Lord for all of you. I thank you for reading Gig Line, too. Please pray for our deployed troops, law enforcement, fire personnel and all first responders. We have so much to be thankful for and imagine just for a second where we would all be without them!

Until next time . . . be happy, be safe and be proud; love each other, our country and encourage goodness in each other. It isn’t a sign of weakness to show mercy, but rather a sign of strength. Stand up for good and you will be blessed. Write to me at or call my cell: 252-202-2058. God bless you and until next time, stay tuned.