My book is about my walk with the Lord and how he has answered prayer so powerfully. I touch a little in the beginning of how God brought my family through the depression and World War II, which occurred before I was born. It was through my parents’ Christian walk that taught me how to love and live for Jesus. I was inspired to write this book to encourage others to call upon him. Those that do hunger and thirst after him shall be filled. Through this wonderful story of a childlike faith, you will see how a prayer that I had at five years old was answered when I was twelve. Since then, the Lord has answered many other prayers in my life, some of which I share in this book. I know he will do the same for you. I do give God all the glory! To God be the glory!
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Walking with the Lord
By Dorothy L. Cunningham, Mary Ann Owens, Lisa Archer
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 Dorothy L. Cunningham
All rights reserved.
FIVE YEARS OLD
I was five years old when I had my first prayer answered. This was even before I knew Him as my personal Savior. God is awesome!
My father's youngest brother was always special to me. His name was Lester. I had a special kind of love for him. He was a fisherman, and he would tell me stories about his adventures. Uncle Lester showed me turtle eggs, shells, and conks he found while fishing. Everything he would tell me was so exciting. Uncle Lester even had a crooked finger on his right hand. He received this injury from a fin of a fish. I don't remember what kind of fish, but he did tell me so.
Uncle Lester lived in a school bus that was parked in our side yard. This bus was parked near the big oak tree. He had a bus seat sitting outside the bus where he would sit most of the time. Uncle Lester would build fires near the seat to cook his seafood. He did have a little stove inside the bus, but a lot of times he cooked outside. He always wore khaki shirts and pants. His hair seemed to stick up all over most of the time, and he smelled bad. The smell never bother me. When he would go out fishing, he would be gone for days or even weeks. It seemed like a very long time to a five year old. When he came back, I could not wait to see what he had brought home from the sea. One day he had a fire going outside on the ground in front of his bus. Uncle Lester called for me, "Dorothy, come here. I want to show you how to cook turtle eggs." I started to run towards him. My mother called me back. I could hear him say, "Oh Esther, let her come." Momma would say to me, "Not right now. Maybe later." I started to cry, "Why, Momma?" She would whisper, "Uncle Lester is sick right now." I started crying and ran to the porch as fast as I could.
I didn't know at five years old that my Uncle Lester had a drinking problem. I guess my dad and Uncle Lester grew up too fast too young. They both were young when my grandfather died. My daddy was already a Christian when I was born and he did not allow drinking in our home, so I knew nothing about alcohol or the smell of it. My mother would always keep me from Uncle Lester when he was in a bad way. She never said he was drunk. She would say, "He is sick," or "You can't go right now."
Uncle Lester called for me another time, and Mother would not let me go again. I just knew in my heart Uncle Lester would be sad if I didn't come, so it made me upset. I went to the swing on the front porch, peeping at him through the slats. His home in the bus was right there where I could see him sitting with his fire and cooking. I started to cry because my heart was broken. I didn't know the real reason mother didn't want me to go. As a child of five, I thought it was because he was dirty, with his hair sticking up, and he smelled bad. From the bottom of my heart, I could feel the hurt so deep. I kept crying out to Jesus. You see, I had heard that Name above all names many times. I cried, "J-E-S-U-S, please let Uncle Lester wear a suit so I can go see him." I didn't know how to pray for his salvation because I did not have the understanding at age five. Many times after that I prayed for him to wear a suit.
A few years later Uncle Lester left our home place. His bus was moved. I was told he lived on a houseboat behind the fire station on Front Street. He also became the captain of a yacht for a very rich man. I missed him very much, but I never forgot him.
I always looked forward to his visits. Uncle Lester often came by to visit Daddy and us. I remember one special visit when I was about twelve years old. He drove up in a nice big car, his hair was combed so nice and he was wearing a suit! My eyes opened so big. The Good Lord quickly reminded me of all the times I had prayed for him to wear a suit when I was really young. In my heart, while I was smiling, I was thanking God so much for answering my prayer. I said to him, "Oh Uncle Lester, you look so handsome. God has really blessed you." He said to me, "God nothing! I did it myself. I go to AA with friends." My heart sank because I was not used to anyone speaking about God in that tone. I thought to myself, I need to pray for his salvation in a hurry!
Uncle Lester had a reason for coming by. He wanted me to ride with him to Aunt Lavenia's house. She was Uncle Lester and Daddy's older sister. Her home was far out in the country. Uncle Lester said, "Esther, I would like Dorothy to ride with me to Lavenia's." Mother said no to Uncle Lester. I said, "Please, Please, let me go." Uncle Lester said, "Dorothy will be fine, Esther. I will take good care of her." Of course, I said please again. Momma, against her wishes, let me go. I had a great time with my Uncle Lester. My dad and Uncle Lester were so different, yet I noticed they both like to sing. We sang all the way to my aunt's house and back. Many times after the first trip Uncle Lester would come by to ask me to ride with him again. When we were on the road, he would ask, "What is the song that says walk with the Lord?" I would say, "Just A Closer Walk." Then we would begin singing. I believe he loved that song the best. Uncle Lester lived until his eighties. Most every time I would see Uncle Lester from then on he was wearing a suit.
I do believe he did come to know the Lord in his old age. His conversation about the Lord was different. When I had the opportunity, I would talk to him about the Lord. He told me about a preacher who gave him the Bible on cassette tapes. (You see, Uncle Lester could not read or write. My daddy told me he cut school to go fishing, although he did learn to write his name.) Uncle Lester told me he enjoyed listening to the tapes. Uncle Lester had no chance to hear the Word until this wonderful preacher came into his life. It's another story, but this preacher was from Louisiana, and he met Uncle Lester while he was working on a dredge boat in the Winyah Bay. I met Brother Earl (same preacher and this is what I called him) in a church service around the same time not knowing he was the one who gave Uncle Lester the Bible on tapes. It was years later beside Brother Earl's death bed in Louisiana that I learned he knew Uncle Lester. Brother Earl asked about uncle Lester. I said, "you're the one who gave him the tapes!" He said yes. Isn't God good? He sent a man who was full of faith to my uncle, for whom I had been praying for so long. In my adult years, Brother Earl helped me grow too. Like I said, that is another story in itself.
The Good Lord answered my prayers at five years old, and He answered many more through my life.CHAPTER 2
SEVEN YEARS OLD
While I was seven through eleven, there were no special prayers answered for me alone, but this was a time in my life when prayers were answered for others that I felt deep in my soul.
It was a natural thing for my father to read a Bible story and Bible verses at night before we went to bed. My father, Willie, and me knelt beside our bed to say our prayers before going to sleep. Even in the day time when one of us got hurt, we would kneel and take it to the Lord in prayer. My mother and father definitely believed in the power of prayer.
MOTHER'S FAITH: My mother lived the life of a peacemaker. My sister Joyce described her as the "Silent Strength." No matter how long it took for a prayer to be answered, she kept the faith.
My two oldest brothers, Buddy and Franklin, were both married by the time I was two years old. I don't remember anything at all during that time. I would like to share a memory when I was seven. I was wakened in the middle of the night hearing someone crying. You see, this is when my mother with her burdened heart went to the Lord in prayer. Mother would wake up and have a burden for her sons and cry unto the Lord. I remember peeping out the bedroom door and seeing Momma kneeling at the couch calling their names out in prayer. "Oh Father, please save my boys. Please bring them home safely." I could hear a sound come from her like mmmmmmmmmmmm, a sorrowful sound. Mother interceded for her children more often than I even know. God did answer her prayers. I don't know the exact timing, but just as Momma prayed for Daddy for years, it also happened for Franklin. Buddy's salvation didn't come until he was old.
We were in revival at church, and Franklin came to the revival. The Lord was dealing with his heart. My sister Joyce went to him and told him she would go with him to the altar. Franklin became a Christian that night. I was so happy for him. I remember the joyful feeling so well. Franklin changed forever. He didn't mess around with his old buddies anymore but when he saw them, he would tell them about Jesus. They would laugh at him and say, "You'll be right back with us before too long."
When the Lord saved Franklin, He made him new. It wasn't long after he became a new creature in Christ, the Lord called him to preach. God blessed Frank with a ministry where many souls were saved. He also had another calling on his life. He built church houses for the Lord from the ground up. I believe God was preparing Frank all along. You see, he built structures (cart, playhouses, etc.) even as a child. The first church house in his ministry is the one in which I was saved. There were three more churches God used him in developing and building from the ground up. This is really a story he needs to tell. God blessed him so greatly. I couldn't explain with the honor it needs. Thank you, Lord, for Franklin and his inspiration in my life.
There is something else I remember about my mother faith. When she cooked at lunch time during the week and on Sundays, she fed many. I can remember going to her house on Sundays after morning worship eating and again on Sunday nights and her pots would still be full. One day I said to her, "Momma your pots seem to always be full. I can cook for my little family and we empty my pots." She said to me "Dorothy, I have always asked God to bless my pots so I could feed those that come." God is awesome!
FATHER'S FAITH: I noticed when my father prayed, he believed as soon as he asked. It was never a question will God answer but thanking Him for the answer.
I remember when I was eleven years old the church that my brother Frank and another pastor had started was in its third year. We were having Vacation Bible School in the morning hours during the summer time. It was during lunch time when all the children went outside to eat and play. One of the older boys (Bobby) had a bicycle he was riding and chasing the smaller children. He was told several times to stop, but he didn't listen. My younger brother Willie (6 years old) was running around the back corner of the church. Bobby sped up and ran over Willie's leg. Both bones were broken and sticking out the side of his little, scrawny leg. My mother just about fainted at the sight of it. I actually did not see it because Momma would not let me. Willie and Momma were rushed to the hospital by my sister Joyce (Thank God she was visiting us; she was so helpful.) Like I told you earlier, my father was a shade-tree mechanic, and he was working at the time this happened. My father was told about the accident by my sister Joyce, so he rushed to the hospital as fast as he could, grease and all. When he arrived, he saw Momma crying. She said, "Oh Daddy, Willie has to have an operation." Momma said, "I was told that we need $125.00 before they will operate. Willie has to have pins in his leg. It's a serious operation." After seeing Willie in the emergency room, Daddy told Momma to tell the doctor to go ahead with the operation. Momma said, "But we don't have the money." Daddy said, "God will provide." He said, "Esther, I'm going home to clean up and I'll be right back." Momma was still worried about the money. Daddy could see it in her eyes that she was worried, so again he told her, "God will provide! Tell the doctor to schedule the operation, and I will bring the money back before they start." Times were tough for our family with no insurance, but God did provide.
On his way home to clean up, my father stopped at a gas station to get gas. One of his customers (car repair) walked up to him and said, "Mr. Lowrimore, here is the rest of the money I owe you. I'm sorry I didn't come by to pay you, but I'm glad I saw you." Daddy told him, "Thank you. I would talk to you longer, but I am in a hurry to get back to the hospital because my son is going to be operated on." Daddy drove up in the yard and ran in the house to get ready. While Daddy was getting ready, a knock was at the door. Daddy opened the door and it was another customer who owed him money. The customer said, "I remembered that I owed you this money. I'm so sorry it's late." Daddy said, "Thank you. It's okay." (Daddy had a lot of customers who loved his work, but they didn't pay all at once. Daddy would say everyone is having it hard; when you get the money come pay me.) After his bath, Daddy started back to the hospital. He knew he didn't quite have enough money, but he kept on his journey back to the hospital. You see, he knew God would provide. As Daddy was driving on Hwy 521, he saw a car stopped on the side of the road. (Daddy often stopped to help people on the side of the road with no thought of repayment. That was the kind of person he was, to help where he was needed even when he was in need himself.) Daddy started not to stop because he was in a hurry, but something inside said turn around and help them. Daddy turned his car around and went back to the people on the side of the road. It didn't take him long to fix the car so they could be on their way again. The owner of the car handed him some money. Daddy said, "That's okay. I was glad to help." The man did not take that for an answer; he said, "I want you to take this money. I was just traveling through your town and my car stopped. I would still be sitting here for a long time if you hadn't stopped to help me. I want you to have this money." He handed the money to Daddy rolled up, and Daddy stuck it in his pocket. Daddy thanked the man and never looked at the money until he got to the hospital. When he saw Momma, Daddy pulled the money out and started to count. He had the $125.00 plus some. He looked at Momma and said, "Esther God did provide." I heard Daddy tell his testimony in church. Daddy just asked and he knew he would receive. Worry was not in his vocabulary. "Thank you, Lord, for a father full of faith in You."
Something else occurred when I was seven. This was Christmas time in 1957. I never got too much at Christmas like children do today. I would get a doll, a dress, fruit, and nuts. The Christmas of 1957 was different. I received so much I felt unworthy. Yes, even at seven I felt I didn't deserve all what I got. I got a dress, doll, tea-set, iron, ironing board, and a real baby carriage that would hold a live baby. I was so happy in my heart about all my gifts, I couldn't help myself. I was thanking God all morning.
After breakfast, I went outside to stroll my baby doll in the carriage. As I was walking and looking up in the sky, thanking God with every step, I thought of something I heard in church about His coming again. I said, "Thank You, Lord Jesus, for coming to get us!!!" All my life, on and off, I have thought about that moment when I looked up. Even to this day I feel I will see Him come back again. I am 65 years old now, and I have seen this world go from hardly any electronics to everything is computer and electronics. Food is ten times higher than it was. Gas was only 23 cents a gallon, Pepsi 8 cents, and poor boy cake 3 cents, when I was a teenager. Worst of all, the world has gotten wicked. Jesus and what He did on the cross is left out. This makes me so sad. In my opinion Churches are not letting the Holy Spirit lead services.
I know He is coming again. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your saving Grace. I LOOK FORWARD TO YOU COMING!!!CHAPTER 3
THIRTEEN YEARS OLD
Ages nine through thirteen were a growing time for me. I sang specials in church often. My father would ask me to sing "I Surrender All" with him as a special. At the age of thirteen is when I really met the Master. I will tell you later in this chapter. Before I do, I want to share some memories that taught me lessons.
I would like to share how my father and mother helped people get to church service. I think about it now, and I don't know how it worked except by the grace of God. In the 60's there were no seat belt laws. Thank God for that because what I'm about to tell you is true but hard to believe. Of course my sisters Hannah (1955), Marie (1959), and Joyce (1960) were married, but three of us children were still left at home (Audrey, me, and Willie). There were two families (Walkers and Chestnuts) that wanted to come to church but did not have a vehicle or any other way to come. My father told them he would pick them up for church service. My father had an old four-door Ford. (Today I have a Mercury Marques, and there is no way it would hold the crowd.) On the front seat Daddy would be driving, with Willie standing between Daddy and Momma. I would be sitting on the edge of seat between Momma and Mrs. Chestnut. Mrs. Chestnut was blind but very talented. She played an accordion and piano. She and Mr. Chestnut sang specials, and later she became our pianist. When Mrs. Chestnut's daughter came to church, she would sit on the edge of the seat, and I would sit on Momma's knees. On the back seat would be Mr. Chestnut, Mr. Walker, and Mrs. Walker. Audrey would sit on the edge of the seat between two of the grownups. Mr. and Mrs. Walker's daughter Linda would sit on Mr. Walker's knee. Sometimes the Walkers' two older daughters would come also. They also had an edge or a knee to sit on. Through my life as a child, this would be our trip to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesdays. There was always good conversation, laughter, and singing as we traveled to church.
Excerpted from Walking with the Lord by Dorothy L. Cunningham, Mary Ann Owens, Lisa Archer. Copyright © 2015 Dorothy L. Cunningham. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 FIVE YEARS OLD, 1,
Chapter 2 SEVEN YEARS OLD, 8,
Chapter 3 THIRTEEN YEARS OLD, 17,
Chapter 4 "IN BETWEEN TIME", 28,
Chapter 5 THIRTY YEARS OLD, 53,
Chapter 6 THIRTY-ONE YEARS OLD, 77,
Chapter 7 THIRTY-THREE YEARS OLD, 89,