Whiskey and Milk

by Bill Kramer
By age 10, I was an accomplished cook.

I usually opted for mac and cheese. We rarely had milk, so I substituted tap water. Then I settled into familiar surroundings on a faded couch, which closely matched the color of my meal and conveniently doubled as my bed. Our small house was a bedroom short. As the youngest, I was forced to sleep in the living room. Besides the obvious lack of privacy, the room featured the added bonus of lingering cigarette smoke.

By 8 o’clock, I had the house to myself, sort of. My dad was passed out from an afternoon of heavy drinking. Straight whiskey, by the pint. Mom rushed out to make it on time to whichever area town was hosting a bingo game. Two older sisters were smarter than me. They hung out with friends until late. Or had sleepovers.

My dad wasn’t violent, just drunk. My mom wasn’t drunk, just absent. Still, I hoped each day my life would somehow get better.

I started going to church, thanks to a church bus outreach (remember those?). Thank God for the bus that stopped each Sunday morning on North 15th Street in Collinsville. I attended regularly. Church was my refuge. I still remember the powerful fragrance of the Wednesday evening churchwide meals. Thank God for good cooks!

At age 12, the direction of my life changed. I placed my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit took residence. I began reading the Bible daily. Still, home life was hard. My parents divorced. I felt ill-prepared when I left for college, barely 18. I went to UCO, courtesy of a low-income grant and a vocal music scholarship. Thank God for His provision!

I had a Godly roommate who attended church with me and taught me the value of a daily quiet time and how to memorize Scripture. God rescued me out of that rotten home and placed me on the front lines sharing my love of Christ with others. Thank God for answered prayers!

I was introduced to a group of men who modeled Christ-like behavior. They were affiliated with a para church group called the Navigators. Men who helped mold me, like Gene Warr. John Repass. John Crawford. Lorne Sanny. Bob Boardman. Mike Gilbert. They were the reflection of Christ I needed in my life. Thank God for them!

I met Debra in 1992 at the Baptist Student Union. She loved God as I did, and I was smitten. No doubt God sent her to UCO to become my wife. A smart man once said your spouse can double your ministry or cut it in half. We committed to teaching others and sharing what the Lord provided. Thank God for women who desperately love Him!

I have a job I love. My degree is in newspaper journalism. I was a reporter at The Oklahoman before becoming a public relations coordinator. I still write. Thank God for a job, which helps sustain my family. Our grown children (Kaylee, 23, and Tim, 20) love the Lord as we do. God continues to reveal His plan for them. I have no doubt they will model a Godly home of their own soon. Thank God for children and the joy they bring!

What do we take away? If you’re facing a lousy situation, pray! A preacher once said, “God never promised to take you out of the fire, but He promised He will walk with you through it.” I cannot predict when your hard times will end, but I am proof that God rewards the faithful. In 2008, I had one of those trying times. A stomach ache turned out to be metastatic cancer. God sustained me through two surgeries and five rounds of chemotherapy. Now I have a story to share and the ability to help others cope when facing a similar trial. Thank God for situations that make us stronger! Well, it’s about time for dinner, and It’s my turn to cook. We’re having mac and cheese, with milk! You’re always welcome!