Hope and Healing through Humor
"God blessed us with a techni-colored daughter.
Then God laughed and laughed."
~ Lonnie Miller
(Peppi never could understand why her dad would say that about her sister, Brenda.)
"Every daddy needs a Peppi. But I'm the only daddy who has one." ~ Lonnie Miller
(Peppi always thought her dad didn't love Brenda and Guy as much as he loved her, because he was
always saying this about her. As she grew, and especially after she had two children of her own,
she began to realize that what he meant, however, was "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.")
Of all daughters, I am most blessed. My daddy was the most genuine man I ever knew. He was the same person at home as he was in public. What you saw was what you got. He never mixed words. Everything he did and said was motivated by love. He loved the unlovely, the down and out, those others rejected.
Mama says she used to cook extra food because she never knew when daddy would find someone on the street and bring them home for dinner. He included his family in every aspect of his ministries. Some of my favorite memories are of getting up early on Saturday mornings and going to visit families of children who rode his bus to Sunday school. That bus route was his heart. He loved bringing Children to church to hear about Jesus.
He loved street ministry and jail ministry as well. One of his favorite places became the Star of Hope Farm in Houston, Texas, an in-house Christian program for the male alcoholic and drug addict. That is where his love for the addicted became his calling and passion. When we would go there, we knew it would be late before we left, because daddy was going to visit with as many men as he could.
In 1971, Daddy brought our family to Mobile, Alabama to begin the Mission of Hope Ministries, also a Christian in-house program for the addicted male. Thousands of addicts have come through this program over the past forty years, to find hope and healing in Christ. Today, this program has been extended to include two homes for addicted ladies, a jail ministry and a street ministry.
My dad had one of the wittiest senses of humor. He loved to joke, pick and tease. He used to drive mama crazy by chasing us kids, the grandkids and great-grandkids through the house. Oh, the squealing, tickling and laughter. One of his very favorite things to do was hide behind things and jump out to scare the bejeebers out of us. Then he'd laugh and laugh. I'm sure he is the one at fault for my.....uhh,...I mean....he's the one who instilled in me the love of laughter and a good practical joke.
Many mission men tell of his jokes and funny stories shared with them during their time on the program. He enjoyed working side by side with the men, never "lording" over them. He taught them many life lessons over a game of chess, or digging a ditch together. Over the years, hundreds of these men considered my dad, their dad. They truly loved him. We had to share him many times on Father's Day. It was never unusual for there to be a knock at the door and for daddy to go out and sit on the front porch because one of the men was having a crisis. We grew to understand this was his calling.
Daddy instilled in us his love for gospel music. It wasn't at all uncommon to find us gathered around the piano in the living room, singing to the top of our lungs, all the old favorites in four-part harmony. Road trips always included lots of singing. Sometimes silly songs, just for fun.
The most important thing daddy ever did, and for which I'm most grateful, is leading his children to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He made sure his children knew about his Savior. Daddy's love and passion is being passed down now to the fourth generation...his great-grandchildren. They are now the ones being led by their parents to take the baton and minister to the mission residents' children, with the Children of Hope Tree at Christmas and Easter, and leading out in family services at the mission. The grandchildren are diligently passing this passion on to their children. What a legacy! Yes, I am very blessed to have been the daughter of Lonnie Miller. What an example! What a legend!
May the legacy continue through me and everyone who was ever blessed to cross his path. I miss him more than words can describe. But I know with a certainty that he is with the One he so diligently gave his life to serve. In that, I have peace and assurance I will see him again.
So, it's not "Good bye" that we say, but instead, "See you soon, Daddy".
Your "Techni-colored" Daughter
May 05, 2011
(Written five days after my dad's death on April 30, 2011)