Category Archives: Family

Whether the Suck or the Kettle, it Was My Home

If you were to go there today, what you would find is something far different from the place I knew growing up. The community on the Tennessee River is known by a name going back to the days of the settlers, Suck Creek.

If you are unfamiliar with this small section on the Tennessee River just outside of downtown Chattanooga, you may think the name is funny. However, the “suck” or “kettle” was a whirlpool formed by the water from Suck Creek flowing rapidly into the river. It was a serious obstacle to maritime travel.

Family History

My paternal great grandfather, along with his sons, hoboed a train out of Rainbow City, Alabama, and wound up in Tennessee. When he first got here, he went to work in the mountain above Suck Creek as a logger. From what I’ve been told, they didn’t have much and even slept in tents.

But sometime in the 1940’s my great grandfather and my grandfather built my grandparents’ house. It was small, but so well-built you could probably roll it down a hill and it would stay intact! They constructed it out of wood they milled themselves, all true 2×4’s and tongue-in-groove pine. The pine was so hard that when my dad tried to do some remodeling, the saw blades got stuck or broke!

The house that my grandfather built – the one in which my grandmother, my dad, and my uncle would live, too – was in a spot looking down into the Tennessee River Gorge (or Cash Canyon) and right above Suck Creek.

Below is a painting I just finished today. It’s a view of the river as might be seen from the front yard of our house. All I did was leave out houses and “progress” and imagined what it might have looked like 150 years ago.

“Suck Creek as Seen from Home” (acrylic on canvas)

The Whirlpool and Early-American History

But getting back to the story of the whirlpool, most people are unaware of how in 1780 it temporarily trapped the Donelson party. You see, in 1779 John Donelson (co-founder of Nashville) took a large party of settlers in a group of flatboats down the Tennessee River. They were heading to Fort Nashborough on the Cumberland River. But all along the way they were harassed by Cherokee and Chickasaw.

When the Donalson part reached the place where Suck Creek flowed into the Tennessee River, the flat on which Donelson and his family traveled became stuck in the whirlpool. This meant that they became stationary targets, and the result was one death, besides other injuries. The following quote is from an extensive article in Wikipedia.

“Several miles downriver, beginning with the obstruction known as the Suck or the Kettle, the party was fired upon throughout their passage through the Tennessee River Gorge (Cash Canyon); one person died and several were wounded.”

Wikipedia

Skip forward 70-80 years to the Civil War era. Photos and etchings exist of steam-powered paddle-wheelers being tethered to ropes and winched (warped) close to the riverbank in order to avoid the powerful whirlpool.

“Antique illustration of a steamer on the Tennessee River at the mouth of Suck Creek. Engraving published in Picturesque America (D. Appleton & Co., New York, 1872).”

These Days

So, what about Suck Creek these days? Well, to begin with, back in the early 1900’s the government began constructing hydro-electric power dams along the river. These dams raised the water levels of the river just enough to negate the whirlpool and make river travel easier. However, whenever there are torrential rains that cause the creek to swell and flow rapidly into the river, a whirlpool does form, only not as powerful.

And as to how it’s changed since I grew up there? Let’s just say that the old homesteads and property along the river that once belonged to my relatives is no more. Gone are the old shacks. Gone are the front porches where folk would sit and play guitars and banjoes. Gone are the remnants of the long-abandoned moonshine stills. Now all you will find are million-dollar homes, boat docks, and a view that still beats most I’ve ever seen.

Oh, and the old house where I grew up is actually still there! One of my cousins owns it and refuses to sell, even though he’s been offered enough to live comfortably for a long time.

Sometimes a view is worth more than all the money in the world.

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Filed under America, Family, nature, places

“One Man’s Sunset; Another Man’s Dawn”+31

Over a two-week period, just over 31 years ago, things started to get a little weird.

I can’t recall all of the moments that led up to me concluding something bad was going to happen, but a couple stand out above the rest.

The Revival Service

It was in June of 1991. The church that I attended was having a week-long series of meetings. My mother and father did not attend the same church as I did, but on the last night of the revival, which was a Friday, my dad came. The evangelist preached on heaven that night and said something that hit me like a brick. He said, “Heaven will never be real to you until there is someone there you want to go see.”

The Movie

In that very same week, my family went to see a movie. It was a new animated film called An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. In one particular scene, an old hound dog, the retiring sheriff, sat watching a sunset with the little mouse, Fievel. The legendary actor, Jimmy Stewart, speaking as Wylie Burp, said to Fievel,

“Just remember, Fievel – one man’s sunset is another man’s dawn. I don’t know what’s out there beyond those hills. But if you ride yonder… head up, eyes steady, heart open… I think one day you’ll find that you’re the hero you’ve been looking for.” – Wylie Burp

The moment he said, “one man’s sunset is another man’s dawn,” I felt a chill and a heaviness that took my breath. I knew my dawn was coming.

Sunset

Early on Monday morning, June 11, 1991, while working 3rd shift as a security guard in a high-security nuclear facility, my dad felt sick. He asked a cleaning person which bathroom was clean, then went in, took off his gun belt, bent over a sink, and died.

It had only been since Friday the 8th that I had heard that message about heaven. That Monday was when heaven became more real than I could have ever imagined. My dad, Terry L. Baker, went home to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He surrendered his badge, took off his gun belt, and laid down – literally.

Dawn

As the sun rose over the horizon, I sped my Datsun 280Z toward the hospital. When I got there, I asked for my dad, but was led to a room where my mother was sitting. In a sobbing cry, she looked up to me and held out a little plastic bag containing my father’s personal items. She said, “This is all I have left…” That was the exact moment when I found out. That was the exact moment it became dawn.

That’s my father and me on the front row. This was 1987 in Milan, Michigan.

It may have been my dawn, but it was one of the darkest moments in my life. My dad and I were terribly close. We worked together, played together, worshiped together, and preached together. In the week before my daddy died, I went up to him and told him that I really felt like something was going to happen. He told me that he would outlive my grandchildren. But in case he didn’t, I had to make sure of one thing – would I preach his funeral?

The Funeral

Some people could not understand how I did it, but I did preach my dad’s funeral. You see, I was 24, but I had accepted the call to preach when I was 16. My dad had been a pastor, a lay preacher for years. It may have been just guy talk at the time, but in a moment of male-bonding, my dad and I agreed that whoever died first, for whatever reason, the other would preach the funeral. That is why I asked my dad that question. I needed to be sure he was serious. His response was, “Of course. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” So, I did.

My dad presided over a lot of funerals, and he even carried in his Bible a sermon that he used more often than not. The title of the sermon was “The Times I Need Him Most.” So, from his own Bible, from his own outline, I preached his funeral. And unlike I usually do today, I even gave an altar call. Believe it or not, right there to my left, beside the casket, a friend of the family came down to the altar and asked Jesus to come into his life. Never once had my dad led a person to the Lord when he preached a funeral sermon, but this time was different.

The Family Car

There will always be those who think the following is crazy; only coincidence: but God showed up in the limousine as we went to the graveyard. As soon as I got into the car, I asked the driver, who was a Christian friend, to turn the radio on. I wanted to hear some encouraging music. When he did, the DJ on WAY FM out of Nashville played a song by Wayne Watson, The Ultimate Healing. Right after that, the DJ came on the air and said, “I know we usually have songs pre-planned according to a particular format, but I just really feel led by God to play this next song – I don’t know why.”  The song was Where There is Faith, by 4Him. The second verse goes like this:

There’s a man across the sea
Never heard the sound of freedom ring
Only in his dreams
There’s a lady dressed in black
In a motorcade of Cadillacs
Daddy’s not coming back
Our hearts begin to fall
And our stability grows weak
But Jesus meets our needs if only we believe

CHORUS
Where there is faith
There is a voice calling, keep walking
You’re not alone in this world
Where there is faith
There is a peace like a child sleeping
Hope everlasting in He who is able to
Bear every burden, to heal every hurt in my heart
It is a wonderful, powerful place
Where there is faith

Today

Today, my mother’s body is now resting beside my dad’s, but I am comforted with the knowledge that one day I will see both of them again (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). In the meantime, I must carry on in the task that I have been called to do.

Several years ago, I went to the grave, and even though I knew my dad was not there, I read Proverbs 4 aloud. What better words could have been said in remembrance of a committed, consistent, caring, God-fearing, humble father? They were words that I wanted to say out loud because they were being fulfilled.

“He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget [it] not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.” – Prov. 4:4-5

“Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. … Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. … My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. … Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” – Proverbs 4:10-11, 14, 20-21, 25-27

Dad (and Momma), I just want you to know that I am still in the fight. I haven’t given up and I haven’t compromised. I wasn’t a fly-by-night wannabe, but a real man of God. My Sword is still sharp. My aim is still true. I even have some “arrows” that used to be in my quiver; you will meet one day.

Don’t worry, even though I know you won’t. I will keep pressing on and fighting the good fight until the time of my own sunset. Then, when this life is over, I hope I can stand there beside you when Jesus says to you, “Well done.” You did good, Daddy. I’ll make you proud.

Tell Mom we all miss her, too.

Your loving son,

Rev. Dr. Anthony C. Baker

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Filed under Family, Future, Life/Death, Preaching, Relationships and Family, salvation

It Won’t Be Much Longer

Good Wednesday, everyone! I just wanted to give you a quick update and then get back to work.

In about a week or so I will be done with all the writing requirements needed to finish my DMin. Lord willing, I will graduate July 30th!

When I get all of this out of the way, my writing here and other places will start up again, even if slow at first.

In the meantime, as you know, my mother passed away in March, leaving my sister and I without both our parents. My sister flew in from Germany to be here when my our mom died, but COVID red tape kept her from getting here in time. That was very painful for all of us, but especially for her.

A Dynamic Duo!

Once Rebecca arrived, besides the funeral and all that went along with a week of services in two different states, there was the arduous task of going through our mother’s belongings and deciding what to do with it all! She has literally been away from her husband and home for 3 months!

So, today is bittersweet. My sister is flying out of Atlanta, today. The past 3 months have been the best time I have ever had with her. We are closer now than we were when we were children, teens, or even when we played music in a band together. I am going to truly hate to see her leave, but I am happy that she will be able to get back home to her Carlos – I know he has missed her!

Do you know what’s next? For the very first time – ever – my wife and I will be alone! For some people, that’s a dream come true, and it sorta is for us, too. However, make no mistake, it won’t take long before the silence left after 29 years of laughter, tears, and all things “family” will be deafening.

Well, it won’t be long before we head out to the airport, stopping by a Cracker Barrel on the way (a last stop for American food). It won’t be long before we part ways for at least another year. It won’t be long until Valerie and I are by ourselves in a big house.

That all being said, I’m glad that sad departures won’t always be a thing. It won’t be that long until time will be no more and parting will be a thing long forgotten.

I look forward to sharing some stories with you!

Until later,

Anthony

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Filed under Family, Life/Death, Relationships and Family

Happy 25th, Katie!

There’s not much I can say that I haven’t said before about how much I love and how much I am proud of all my daughters.

Katie, Valerie, Alicia, and Haley

However, today is a particular milestone that I want to share.

25 years ago today was the first time I witnessed live birth. Oh, of course I’ve seen puppies being born, but seeing my daughter, Katie Marie Baker, come out of my wife, well, and I’m using a lot of commas, that was traumatic!

It was nothing like the movies. It was nothing like the Cosby show. It was nothing like anything I had ever experienced!

And it was like nothing I had ever experienced before.

Like Bill Gaither might say, “How sweet to hold a newborn baby and feel the pride and joy she gives!” Nothing can truly prepare a man for the feeling of holding his first baby girl in his arms.

Happy, happy 25th birthday, Katie Bug!

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Some Places Never Leave You, Even After You Leave Them

This a view from Edwards Point, the mountain bluff above where I grew up and the pinnacle of every hiking trip I made as a kid.

This is the Tennessee River Gorge. Just across the river is Elder Mountain, where my grandfather hid from revenuers.

To the right is Prentice Cooper Game Reserve. The Cumberland Trail weaves its way through there, down from the top of the mountain, down across the creek, then up to where this scene depicts.

I grew up in the community of Suck Creek. Just out of view, just below the rock bluff, the creek would feed the river. Up until a hundred or so years ago, during hard rain the creek and the river would create a powerful whirlpool capable of pulling small boats under and stopping paddle wheelers.

It was only after a system of dams were built along the Tennessee River (operated by TVA), that the river was tamed enough for safe navigation.

This is also where my Cherokee ancestors on my paternal grandmother’s side resided. They were the ones who actually attacked the early settlers of Nashville when their boats were stuck in the “suck.”

The mountains and the river will always be in my blood. The peaceful drift of the water. The fresh air of old-growth forests. The legends and unforgettable scary bedtime stories from the old-timers.

Unfortunately, much has changed over the last decade. Much of where I spent my childhood and teen years are unrecognizable. Time has exacted a heavy toll from both progress and neglect. And where there was family land that outsiders feared to visit, now there’s million-dollar homes where outsiders moved to “preserve” the beauty.

Yet, I still remember. I still dream. I still imagine. That will never change. Time will only make the memories sweeter and the stories even better.

I may have left, but it’s never left me.

View from Edward’s Point, Signal Mountain, TN

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Filed under community, Family, History, nature, old age, maturity

Gender Neutral Potato Head

Today, the company wants to stop leaning so heavily into this traditional family structure. “Culture has evolved,” she tells Fast Company. “Kids want to be able to represent their own experiences. The way the brand currently exists—with the “Mr.” and “Mrs.”—is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure.”

NEXTAR Media Wire via Fox59.com
See linked article for credit.

Have you ever wondered what it would take for the average person to lose his mind? Would it be a tragic loss or overwhelming circumstance that would break him? Torture? Deprivation?

What about the unceasing and incessant madness of the liberal Left and their determination to swab away all cultural norms from the deck of this sinking ship?

Mr. Potato Head and Mrs. Potato Head are cultural icons. They even walk and talk in the “Toy Story” movies! Yet, because of the desire to let 3-year-old brains shape the future, Hasbro wants to further confuse them with not only a plastic toy potato, but one that can’t even decide which potato potty to enter.

“Culture has evolved,” they say. Tell me, toy geniuses, what is there about evolving that includes the deconstruction of the structural fabric which has been the framework and bedrock of society?

Oh, I get it – it’s a money thing, right? We want to appeal to the little crumb crunchers whose mommies and baby daddies have either ditched their responsibilities and commitments or unstitched and re-stitched their baby-making parts. We want to enable – for the dollar, mind you – a whole new generation of gender-confused part-swappers because leaning too heavily on the current traditional family structure is not good for the brand.

I don’t know how far I am away from losing it, but one thing’s for sure: Hasbro has mashed potatoes for brains.

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Filed under Culture Wars, current events, Family

Best Wife, EVER!

Hey, guys! Just taking a moment out from some sermon prep (gotta preach to the Pakistani church at 1 a.m.) to let you know what I think about my wife.

She is the BEST WIFE EVER!

How do I know this? How can I make such a bold and absolute claim?

Because it’s the truth.

You see, it’s obvious she the best wife ever because she loves me. Not only does she love me, but she has continued to love me since June of 1996! She has loved me, remained faithful to me, and only once or twice thought about having me committed.

That’s no joke.

Proverbs 18:22 – Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

I’m the “whoso.” I might have been a so-and-so many times over the years, but my wife stuck with me.

Yesterday was her birthday. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day (for which she was named). Do you know what she did for me? She ordered a selection of 8 high-quality cigars! Why? For my health? NO. Just because she loves me.

By the way, don’t hate on my cigars… I only have one a year, or so. One would be more likely to get cancer from a chest X-ray.

Valerie loves me, and here’s the proof:

  • She cooks for me.
  • She takes care of the bills (because she’s an accountant)
  • She still laughs at my jokes.
  • She still thinks I am handsome.
  • She tells me she loves me, like ALL the time.
  • She takes care of me when I’m sick or injured.
  • She looks out for my best interests, even at the expense of her own.
  • She never talks bad about me, not even to her mother.
  • She takes notes when I preach and even thinks I should be on Blue Letter Bible! I don’t know where she gets that idea, though.
  • She makes sure I take my medicine.
  • She makes all my doctor appointments.
  • She not only washes and dries my clothes, but she folds my underwear and puts it away.
  • There’s a sparkle in her eye when she looks at me, especially when I come home.
  • She loves it when I sing, especially to her.
  • She loves to play games with me, even when I play to win.
  • When she makes me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich she takes the time to cut it in half.
  • She wishes she could be a better wife.

So, you ;may think you’ve got the best wife in the world, but I’ll support your right to be wrong.

Valerie, thank you for loving Jesus and for loving me. I love you, too.

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A Call to Stand the Line

There are times when I preach that I look back on what I said and wonder, “Did I do a good job? Did I mess that up? Did anyone get it?”

Other times I feel like a failure. That’s actually not as uncommon as you might think, for if a poll was taken of pastors and preachers I believe you’d find that the results would confirm most ministers feel that way a lot. I would say that there are three main reasons for that: 1) we are our worst critics; 2) we rarely see a response to our calls; and 3) spiritual attacks from the Enemy.

But then there are those times when it seems the Holy Spirit just takes control and you just become a mouthpiece. Last night (Wednesday) was one of those kind of nights. If nothing else, God poured over me a spirit of boldness and authority and I courageously spoke what needed to be said.

Therefore, I want to share a link to the church Facebook page where the study from last night was aired live. It has NOT been edited for time or content.

https://fb.watch/2hVAeb7yr-/

Last night was the last night of our study through the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, and the subject was Article XVIII The Family.

My main points were that if we as Southern Baptists are going to say this is what we believe, then we should act like it. Secondly, if we truly believe what we say, then we should draw a line in the sand and declare the hill on which we will fight and die. The reason being that what we say we believe is in direct contradiction to the prevailing cultural sentiment, even our own government.

Our forefathers gave their lives to maintain doctrinal purity. They stood on principle and God’s Word when others called for them to compromise, to comply, and to cower. You’d better believe that what we could be facing with the new administration in Washington could very well test our convictions like nothing we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes.

So, what to Southern Baptists say they believe about the family? What do I believe? Well, sit back and join us for a study through the last article in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

https://fb.watch/2hVAeb7yr-/

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Filed under America, baptist, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible, Culture Wars, Defending Traditional Marriage, Family, Relationships and Family, Southern Baptist

I Wouldn’t Ask for More

They Did It!

Last Tuesday I told you that my daughter Katie was getting married that night. Well, despite my advice to walk away while there was still time, my Katie Bug, Katie Marie Baker, became Katie Marie Pearson.

The father and the bride

Don’t get me wrong, as I stood there alone with her behind the paper-thin walls of the tent, waiting for the moment I was to escort her out into the open for the world to see, I wasn’t expecting Katie to walk away. No, her heart and mind were made up, unchangeable, set “like a flint” to walk that aisle and say, “I do.”

And man! Did she ever!

The Vows

I have a few pictures, but I don’t want to share them with the world. What I would rather do is wait until Katie is able to share the professional photos that were taken of the wedding and reception. The only exceptions will be those you see here.

However, I do want to share with you a couple of other things, namely Gus (that’s my new son-in-law’s name) and Katie’s vows . . . and a video which we’ll get to in a moment.

In my years of pastoral ministry, I’ve performed over 200 weddings. That being said, I have never heard wedding vows more biblical and gospel-centered than the ones Gus and Katie shared. I was blown away! There was hardly any need to say anything else but “Kiss your bride.”

Therefore, if you don’t mind, I would like to share with you my daughter and son-in-law’s vows.

Gus’ Vows:

Katie Marie, from just our first few weeks working at Chick-fil-A, I knew our friendship would be a great one. Whenever I was near you, I felt a spirit of joy radiating from you, and there was no doubt where that joy comes from. God has gifted you with a joyous and bubbly personality, and it is one that I wanted to be around often. Today, I stand in front of our family and friends who have chosen to be witnesses to observe the covenant relationship I am making with you and God in marriage. I promise to spend every day I have on this earth with you dedicated and honoring this covenant we have made to each other before God. I promise to protect you and to provide for you and to trust God to do so when I cannot. I promise to love you, Katie Marie, my bride, as Christ loves us, the church, his bride. I will love you selflessly and sacrificially, and as I grow closer to Christ, my love for you will grow stronger. As the head of our household I promise to honor you as my equal in our new life together, and treat you with understanding as we begin this new journey. When hard times come, I promise to strive to exude wisdom and to point us, in our struggles, to the one that holds everything in his hands. Whether a disagreement, a concern, a crisis, that health, or anything that breaks us down, I will take it to God in prayer and seek his guidance. I promise all of these things with the hope for a future that leads us both toward Christ. It is my goal in this marriage to lead you with wisdom in the path God sets before us, and as Christ showed us by example, the best leaders are those who know how to serve. As we take the next step in our journey, I think it would be appropriate to make a reference to where it all began, and say, “Katie Marie, it will forever be my pleasure to serve you.

Katie’s Vows:

Gus, From the moment I first met you, I knew there was something in you that I wanted. You were so loving and kind and warm and welcoming to anyone, and I wanted that to be in my life every day. Today, I am standing next to you in front of all of these people so that I can enter into a covenant relationship with you and with God in marriage. I promise to uphold this covenant for all of the days and nights that I live on this earth with you. I promise to be your helper and give you my time, my energy, and my focus, even if it is limited. I promise to let you be the head of the household and submit to the authority that God has placed within you to be the priest of our home. In the moments of hurt and shattered expectations, I promise to strive in showing God’s wisdom in my actions and reactions with Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And, in the times when I strive too little, I promise to seek forgiveness. I promise all of these things with a hope for a future that leads us both toward Christ. It is my goal in this marriage to be the second violin to your first, and to trust your lead wherever you feel the need to take me.

What more would make me happy? That both of them had great incomes, perfect health, huge houses in which my wife and I could take up a room when we get old?

Honestly, if they keep their vows – and I’m pretty sure they will – I wouldn’t ask for anything more than that.

The father of the bride with Haley, the youngest daughter of the father of the bride 🙂
The oldest daughter of the father of the bride (Alicia), along with the bride and the granddaughter of the grandfather who’s the father of the bride (Emma).

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Filed under Family, History, Marriage, Relationships and Family

I just caught a breath…my daughter is getting married tonight

Hey everybody, this is spur of the moment, but here is a video that will be showing to the people coming to my daughter’s wedding tonight.

I will be doing a ceremony. 😍

Pray for us. Hard to let go. But I’m proud of the both of them.

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Filed under Family, Marriage