The author of this little blog has roots are in two panhandles, having begun this journey at the epicenter of the Texas Panhandle, in Amarillo, one of the biggest small towns around. After a couple of stops in California and New Mexico, I landed in the Oklahoma Panhandle, where I attended public schools in the tiny town of Keyes, Oklahoma, which is not the end of the world, but some say you can see it from there. Even though there is not much to note about Keyes as a place, some of the kindest and most resourceful people ever to travel life’s way are from these parts. Memories of the many ways these people have blessed my life come to mind almost every day! It is a great pleasure to make contact with many of these folks once again through the wonders of Facebook!
I graduated from Keyes High School in 1976. There were sixteen people in my class, if memory serves me correctly. Twelve of us started first grade together. After graduation, the United States Navy provided me with an all-expense-paid trip to California, where I learned how to be a sailor at the San Diego Naval Training Center (NTC was closed in 1997) and trained to be a hospital corpsman at Naval Medical Center San Diego. My next stop was Marine Corps Base at Camp Pendleton. Here I experienced a brief indoctrination in the Marine Corps way, so that I could better serve the medical needs of the lean, mean fighting machine.
Since graduating from high school, I’ve had a bit of formal education. The road has been long and winding, but it has taken me through Amarillo College in Amarillo, Texas; the Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas; the International Christian Counseling School in Anderson, Indiana; and Rochester College in Rochester Hills, Michigan. I have to tell you, though, it seems like the most important things I’ve learned have not been in a classroom. Some call this the school of hard knocks. It’s really just life. My thought is: If you pay attention, living is learning.
I’ve always been a believer. At least, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in Jesus Christ. There have been some days that I lived in the foggy haze of not really knowing what it meant to be a believer. I made my share of blunders along the way too. There were many times when I was almost consumed in the spiritual warfare, though I really didn’t even know what was happening at the time. This not to say I have never had any doubts or questions, either. Through it all, I always had a sense of God’s abiding presence in my life. This spark was fanned to a flame in 1979, when, in answer to a cry of desperation, God led me to a band of believers who really took the idea of following Jesus seriously. Through them, God helped me to see Jesus more clearly. I try to keep my eyes fixed on Him and listen to the leading of the Spirit.
This new life in Christ has led to the experience of many spiritual blessings. I could never list them all. There is one thing that I must mention, though. God blessed me with a dear, sweet, loving, kind and gentle woman named Telesa, who agreed to be my wife. She is truly the most genuine Christian I know. She is the most dedicated mother and grandmother on this planet. Whether she is patiently caring for her aged mother, or gently nurturing her sweet grandlings, her Christ-like spirit never ceases to amaze me. Whatever she does, she does well. Together we have four children. Luke is married and lives with his wife Lacy live in Edmond, OK. Matthew and his wife Rachel also live in Edmond. Benjamin and his wife Ginger live in Frisco, Texas. Our daughter Abigail, who is married to Uriah, lives in Edmond, as well. Our children have blessed us with seven grandchildren, who truly are a joy and blessing in our lives. Thus, Telesa and I have graduated to our most fulfilling role in life, that of Nana and Pops!
After nearly twenty-eight years in full-time congregational ministry, I have focused my energies in a different direction. Although I no longer draw a pay check from a congregation whom I serve as a minister, I am nonetheless still involved in ministry. One thing I passionately pursue—something I hope to devote much more time to in the not-too-distant future is my writing. In the meantime I earn a living as a salesman, something I have also always enjoyed doing. This time in the work-a-day world, especially at this time in my life, has given me fresh perspectives on the challenges to our faith and faithfulness encountered by all who live in this world, but are not of this world.
Three things have shaped my life in recent years. No matter who you are, there is little doubt in my mind that we share the first thing, which is the impact of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. We’ve all been impacted by this event in some way. Following the horrific events of this day, I answered a call for chaplains and became involved with the Philadelphia-based Chapel of Four Chaplains. Along with 47 other volunteer chaplains, I served in rotation at Ground Zero in New York City.
The second thing that has shaped my life in recent years is the many opportunities for community service that have opened before me. For several years, I was privileged to serve on the State of Delaware’s Citizen Corps Council, which oversees statewide programs for recruiting and training citizens in emergency preparedness. In addition to serving on the Council, I also helped develop the state’s Community Emergency Response Team training program. In addition to being involved with this program on this level, it was my privilege to teach the Disaster Psychology for several years, prior to moving away from Delaware.
The third life-shaping thing is by no means third in importance. It is really one of the most significant things to occur in my life. After searching for many years, I was able to find my biological father in February of 2003. So, while the sojourner typing these lines is legally Bill Williams, I was born and am in my heart-of-hearts William Harrison Sizemore, Junior. Because of the complications involved in changing ones name nearly six decades into the game, I’ll leave it as it is, though. My Sizemore family has welcomed me into the family circle and treated me with a degree of kindness that I never would have imagined. You can’t imagine what a great thing it was for me when my father called just after 8:00 a.m., on that October morning in 2003 and said, “Happy birthday, son.”
Unfortunately, we lost our father in July of 2013. What a surprising and sad morning that was. I learned of his death via Facebook. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. I am often filled with regret that I didn’t find him sooner…that I didn’t talk with him more often…that I didn’t make a special effort to spend more time with him. But, I am grateful for the time we had…for the times we talked by phone…for the few times we had morning coffee together.
Lord willing, there are still a few high points left in life for this simple sojourner. Hopefully, I will be able to squeeze in a few minutes each week to write about some of these. I hope also to be able to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way. I invite you so spend a little time clicking through this site. Let me know if anything resonates with you.
May God grant you traveling mercies,
(William Harrison Sizemore, Jr.)
a fellow sojourner