Posted by: Terry | August 7, 2015

Tim, a glimpse of the heart of God

The house on Harrison in Milwaukie was built on a lot that mom and dad bought from the Williams, Glen and Ella. There was a Filbert, Walnut, Golden Delicious, Bing Cherry, and a Red delicious tree, surrounding the house. It was a 1200 square foot, 3 bedroom, one bath, one car garage, family room house — middle class America in the late 1950’s.

The first project was a lawn, and Dad being Dad, put it in himself. I remember those days of leveling the dirt, planting and watering the seeds, the stern warnings to not walk on them. There would be other projects, but the project that defined the house on Harrison Street was the basement.

Being young I was not privy to the discussion that led to the decision that we needed a basement, but it happened. Like the lawn, Dad was determined to undertake it on his own. Weekend after weekend was spent, unwillingly by this 12 year old, digging by hand. Throwing dirt into contractor size wheelbarrows, hauled out by a windlass like arrangement using a tireless-wheel on our jacked-up Willy’s Jeep. Dad was creative if unrelenting.

Church was the only excuse for not digging. Not that Dad and Mom attended regularly in those days, but I was freed from the shovel if I went to church. Thus if there was anything going on at Milwaukie First Baptist I was there. My early devotion was driven by work avoidance more than faith, but it did change my life.

Thanks to the basement, which was never finished, I was well entrenched at church when I was 14 and my parents separated and divorced. It was the youth group there that got me through it. Jim Gwinn, a seminary student at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, was the youth pastor. Jim befriended me when I needed it. Jim got me involved with some of the best friends I would ever have. They were my new family, replacing the one that had fallen apart.

It was there that I met Tim, my oldest friend in the world. We got each other though both of our parent’s divorces, learned to play guitars so we could lead singing in youth group, and spent many hours talking about God and life. Tim was there when I began my real love of God and the Savior.  We both went to Chicago to be counselors at the Moody Church camp, Jim Gwinn was the director.  The following year we counseled at Lake Samamish Bible Camp in Seattle, Jim Gwinn had moved to Seattle and we followed.

It was then that our lives diverged. Tim to complete his studies at the repressive Bob Jones University, me to enter a marriage that would not last, but which did produce two great sons. Tim eventually married the daughter of the pastor of Milwaukie First Baptist Church, became an English teacher, then a writer and editor living first in Oregon City, then San Diego.

Meanwhile I drifted from job to job, never content and never settling, eventually the intensity of my faith cooled as well.  My marriage ended and I moved into a houseboat on Jantzen Beach in Portland. A year later I married Tricia and moved to Seattle, another story for another time. But thanks to Tricia I got back to God, and stayed.

Tim was mostly a memory, we had lost touch, I only heard of him on occasion. As far as I knew he was still in San Diego. Then, a few years ago, I heard that he was back in Portland, on a whim I tried to connect, and we did. The friendship is stronger now than ever. We have changed, both in many ways. Our connections with God have changed as well. Tim finds himself single now, dealing with issues that I faced 28 years ago.

Tim was the best friend of my youth and we shared a common faith. I embrace him today as a great friend who makes me laugh, makes me think, and he would be there no matter what. He truly is a friend that is closer than a brother, and I thank God he is in my life; we need friends to show us the heart of God.



  1. Good memories and some not so good memories. God is always with us no matter what comes into our lives.

  2. What a wonderful tribute to both of you, few can tell a story such as this. Life cannot be scripted and many times the best of plans, hopes and dreams crumble. My heart hurts for the wounds of the past and even the present in your lives. I am always sad when religion vs a relationship with God wound as well. Knowing from where you both come, I am certain those wounds are there. In friendship we can walk the bumpy paths of life on a plane that would otherwise be most difficult. Blessings on both of you. An ‘old’ friend.

  3. Oh Terry, I am thick-throated and gobsmacked by your graciousness. And smiling to myself at your (our) memories…thank you.

    Hah, ‘old friend’!….claudspot, you young thing, you….

    If there are wounds (and of course there are…to live is to wound and be wounded, it seems…), then mine are thankfully negligible. I am more content than I’ve ever been, surrounded as I am by love on so many levels, from such deephearted, expansive, radiant friends and family and neighbors. Terry, you’re at the top of that list…

  4. Yes Tim, I would agree that wounds are part of life. I work in the yard, come in and find a cut on my arm, but I have no clue where or how it happened, its part of the process.

    thank you

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