I’m going to tell you a story. A seemingly impossible one. It may seem to you that I am sharing too much because; when people share the history of their families, it is usually the disinfected version. Mine will not be. For those of you who know me, this may just be old news, so you bear with me as I tell it to others. For those who are reading this for the first time, allow me to say, that history is rarely the predictable path painted by Hollywood.
In the lineage of Jesus, was a prostitute named Rahab, there was a cowardly man named Abraham who tried to give his wife to Pharoah to sleep with her so he wouldn’t be killed. There was Jacob…a deceiver, and David a shepherd boy turned King. God never colors his history to make it smell prettier.
After World War I, Raymond M. Martin now deceased since 1978, had a decision to make. He was the illegitimate son of a wealthy Kentucky banker. When he was born, the banker, his father, wanted nothing to do with him and so, he lived with his mother, bearing the shame of being an illegitimate child. He grew up on a farm in Bowling Green was taken into a loving home when his mother re-married and lived as the 5th child. When he was called to go to war, he went and fought in the trenches in France near Alsace Lorraine. The Germans used mustard gas against the allies and my grandfather breathed in a lung full of the poisonous gas. He was taken to a field hospital and nursed back to health, but his lungs were scarred for the rest of his life.
As he stood discharged at the end of the war, he didn’t really know what lay ahead of him. He could return to Bowling Green but thought to himself that there was also the promise of a job offer up in Kokomo, Indiana as well as a relative who lived there. He dug deep into his pocket and found a coin and with very little thought, said to himself, “I will flip this coin, and if it’s heads, I will go to Indiana, and if it’s tails, I will return to Bowling Green.” He flipped the coin and it was heads. With no regrets, he gathered his belongings, bought a train ticket and headed for Kokomo Indiana. Not long after his arrival, he met a young girl named Ann Gerard Buckley, courted her, became engaged and was married. These two individuals became my maternal grandparents. My mother; their firstborn, was named Lorraine after Alsace Lorraine where he was nursed back to health.
Born in 1924, both my mother and my father shared the month of February as their birthday month, with my father born on the fourth and my mother the twenty third. My mother was raised in a solidly Christian home, with all the characteristic virtues but my father was a different story. He is the part of the story that some would say to avoid, but I say embrace it. You can run from it but God is glorified through it.
Lee Pacheco was the third of four boys born to Ramon and Rosa Pacheco in San Antonio Texas. My father grew up in a very poor home (something he also had in common with my mother) but was left with no real moral compass to guide his life. His earliest memories that he related to me were that his mother and father were from Puerto Rico. He recalls a troubled marriage with an abusive, philandering, bootlegging father who had to be; on more than one occasion, forcefully removed from the home of a prostitute by my grandmother Rosa.
On one such occurrence, she had all four boys in tow as she yelled to my grandfather from outside the prostitute’s home to come out and come home. Ramon Pacheco had been a tough kid raised on the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico. As a child he had been forced by his father to work the fishing docks cleaning out boats in order to earn enough money for his family to live on. After serving in the Merchant Marine in World War I, Ramon saved enough money to immigrate to the United States and worked in Houston at shipping docks, finally making his way to San Antonio.
He had met my grandmother Rosa shortly thereafter, but I was never told where and how they met. As a boy, my father Lee, learned the reality of poverty, going to school many times with no breakfast or lunch. His mother who doted over her son, would roll cigarettes on a home rolling machine, place two cigarettes in his shirt pocket and tell him to smoke them at lunch to kill the hunger pangs. Forced to leave school in 8th grade, he went to work, first shining shoes and then as an upholsterer and never returned to school.
He signed up for the Army at 17, asking his mother to sign for him and was shipped to Fort Sam Houston where he became an undefeated Golden gloves boxer. He eventually was shipped to Camp Atterbury in Edinburg Indiana where he met my mother who; after graduating from High School, became a volunteer for the USO and went with a group of women and a chaperone to Camp Atterbury to socialize and serve the troops stationed there.
After a brief courtship, my mother and father were married in November of 1943 and just two weeks later, my father was sent overseas to Belgium with the army Corps of Engineers and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. During that battle, the young sergeant at the tender age of 19 years old, sat in a crater formed by a shell explosion with his rifle and scant numbers of his allied brethren around him. Enemy fire coming from all angles, the young man knew they were outnumbered and began to weep, realizing he would never see his young wife again and mourning the lost opportunity of never having children.
Ordered to advance, Lee jumped out of the shell crater and began running forward praying, “Our Father Who art in Heaven…” Falling into another shell crater, a rally cry from behind him informed him that two divisions had arrived. He was saved from certain death. The enemy began to retreat from their entrenched positions.
He suffered mild frostbite on both of his feet, but survived and was honorably discharged and returned Stateside after VE Day. For 10 long years, my parents were unable to conceive. My mother, with her Baptist upbringing knew that prayer changed things. She had agreed to become Catholic to marry my father, but her Protestant roots would always come through. Praying began and four children were the result.
1957 was a very impressive year to be born. Dwight Eisenhower was inaugurated for his second term as president, Elvis was on Ed Sullivan for the third time, the FBI arrested Hoffa, Hurricane Audrey hit Cameron Louisiana killing 400 and American Bandstand joined ABC. Actor Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Dorsey of Big Band fame both died that year. Father Knows Best was a big hit on television, gas was about twenty-seven cents a gallon and in the month of December, my mother begged me to wait to be born just one more day so she could celebrate Christmas…and so, I obliged, waiting until 11:15 am December 26th, 1957 to make my entry onto the mainstage of life.
Your story is as miraculous as mine. God has gone to great lengths to make sure that you were born. YOU ARE SO IMPORTANT TO GOD’S PLANS IN THESE DAYS!!!The odds against our being born were incredible! But God reaching into the earth made sure that you and that I came into existence at the right time because He had purposed it from eternity past!
Those of you reading this that were born in the 70’s 80’s 90’s and beyond, survived to live today through the American bloodbath of Abortion. That you are here is simply a miracle! HOW SPECIAL IT IS THAT YOU ARE ALIVE!
This is a reminder to you that God has chosen you. It is also a proof to me that we as humans do not have control over our destinies as is so popularly imagined. It may sell a lot of self-help books and help people feel good but we are not in control of our future lives.
As for me, I am the product of the flip of a coin…or so it would seem. I had no control as to what the verdict of that coin toss would be, I had control of nothing in the events leading up to my father and mother meeting, nor did I have any control of when my parents would conceive me. But I am here, and so are you! You have been wonderfully and awesomely made by the decision of an eternal God eons past who knew your name before you ever existed. This time in history, is a time when all things are coming together. Seek God to discover what YOUR portion in God’s story is and run after it!