The last few weeks I have been quite emotional. Maybe because we recently took my oldest daughter to visit a college in the US, maybe because next week I turn 45, maybe because I miss the fall leaves, there are lots of reasons why I suppose.
Usually when I am homesick, I long for a trip to hobby lobby, target (especially now that Joanna and Chip have products there- Why must Satan tempt me?), chick-fil-a, a fully stocked one stop grocery store. . but lately it is to go home, to South Carolina, where I grew up.
This is new for me, I haven’t longed to go back there in a long while. So I tried to figure out where the feelings were coming from. It boiled down to this, that what I was “homesick” for is no longer there.
My parents. Places that held memories with them like church, black’s bar-b-q, the piggly wiggly. My mom’s bed. My dad’s shop. Watching him chop wood in the back yard. Sitting by the pool on a hot July day eating watermelon and shucking corn with mama.
This week makes it three years since my dad heard, “well done thy good and faithful servant.”
And his leaving has left a void in my heart that can not be filled, just like with my mom.
The confession of this missionary daughter, is that I have no idea how to grieve normally. I have never seen my dad’s tombstone. I sprinkled my mom’s ashes within days of boarding a flight with a one way ticket. EVERY SINGLE THING that I brought of my mom’s broke. Even the yellow frog that goes by the sink to put your sponge in, yep that did too. I know that was a deliberate blow to me by the enemy. EVERY SINGLE THING. If you look around my house here you will find things held together by super glue.
Grief is a monster. I haven’t been homesick, it was yet another wave of grief, that I didn’t see coming. Kübler-Ross had it all wrong, it is not a cycle at all. It is the unexpected tornado in the middle of the night, that you had no warning for, and then when it hits you don’t have a “safe place” to run to. I can’t go to the graveside, I can’t go to our favorite restaurant, I can’t go to the beach where I feel closest to my mom. I can’t go to the store and get all of the ingredients I need to make her famous red velvet cake.
It is weird, I can not articulate it well. Grief is grief, and everyone experiences and processes it differently. I am not saying that it is harder because I moved, I feel like I don’t have as many “tools” in my “tool box” to process it all well.
So for whatever reason, this tornado came out of no where.
The day of his funeral, I did something that is extremely out of character, I wanted to stand up and speak for my dad. With a trembly voice, and with my amazing husband beside me, I stood up and conquered the fear of speaking in front of people.
I pulled it up my tribute today to remember what I said, because that day in history is a blur for me. I could only remember bits and pieces. Reading it brought up happy and sad feelings all at once.
It took my breath away. It broke my heart. It made me so proud.
I’ll share it here, to have another record, another remembrance of the man I was privileged to call father.
His steadfast presence is missed. There is so much I want to share with him. When the tar heels won the national championship last year, he was the one I wanted to call. I watched Michael Jordan and James Worthy with him. I learned that Dean Smith used 4 corners to run down the clock. He taught me how to use a stun gun. He made sure I always had an emergency $100 bill in my wallet, and understood that one time going to Outback with my poor college friends was an emergency. (I still carry one, but now I us it mostly to give to whomever the Lord lays on my heart).
He taught me to take care of widows, and be respectful to elderly. He taught me to be true to my word.
He made me believe that I could do anything I wanted. Maybe even fly.
I miss him every single day.
MY TRIBUTE TO MY DAD
I am thankful that so many of you would come here today to honor my dad. So many of you have told me that you think my father was a good man. The truth of the matter is that very few people really understand how good of a man he truly was. Most who had the opportunity to know him at all could tell there was something special about him. Those who really did know my father know that he was deeply private and protective of his family and his personal life. He did not strive to impress any man, nor did he seek honor or glory or power. My father was not perfect, but he was a man that was true to his word even a great cost to himself. He was a very intelligent man who was also blessed with good intuition and discernment about people.
When he decided to figure out how do something, he did it with everything he had whether it was machining, investing, hunting or catfishing. He applied himself until he was so successful everyone wanted to know how my dad did it. He researched, investigated and spent time with the experts and then found a way to do it even better than they did. When he decided he was going to succeed, nobody was going to stop him. In almost every instance he eventually excelled in all he set out to do. He was honest, passionate in what he believed in, hard working and a perfectionist.
I think Robbie might have some understanding of what a perfectionist he was. He lived that way in business and every other area of his life. He expected others to have the same standards and had little tolerance for laziness, sloppiness, dishonesty, disrespect or deceit. And I also add bad customer service.
Being part of the Lamm family meant that my dad was fiercely protective of you. One of the moments that showed me that fierce protection, was on the day of my wedding. We were in an old southern church, waiting for the double doors in the back to open so he could walk me down the aisle to meet my waiting groom. As the music started, my dad paused, and said, “You know you don’t have to do this, I parked my car right there, and the keys are in my pocket”.
A legacy is what is left behind or passed down from someone when they die. Most men want to leave their family with a large fortune or to be known as powerful and influential. Daddy wanted more than anything to leave a legacy for his kids and grandbabies that meant something. What my dad wanted was to leave us an example of a life completely spent in service of the Lord in obedience, generosity and faithfulness. Many people think my dad was wealthy. He certainly could have been. Because of the fact that he was a talented, intelligent, honest and hardworking machinist that consistently delivered a high quality product on schedule, his machining business was not only able to survive the severe realities of changing economies, but thrive. He could have accumulated lots of money, had large houses and fancy toys, been a powerful and influential man, but he didn’t value those things.
Not too long ago my dad said to me, “when I am gone y’all are going to look at my bank accounts and be surprised that there is not much there”. Why is that? It is because he gave it all away. He worked his whole life to be the best at what he did so he could be successful and make good money, so he could give it all away.
Something that you have to know about my dad is that he came from nothing. No one gave my dad a chance to succeed, rather my dad determined that he was going to succeed and he made the choices and sacrificed to see that it came true. But he came to a point as a young husband and father when he recognized that he was headed the wrong direction. It was then he gave his life to Jesus and was powerfully changed. As a young Christian God gave him a powerful spiritual gift few are willing to embrace, the gift of “giving”. Many people say that when they are financially able to give they will, but never do. My dad began to give generously to the church and especially missions when he still had nothing. But then God began to bless his business and he began to see good profits. My dad knew then that God was blessing him so that he could give even more, and He did. My dad began to invest in missions all over the world. I do not know all the places and missionaries he has supported, but I know he supported missionaries in at least 15 countries on 5 continents. My dad also invested in the lives of young men and women in the church. He believed the call of God was on one of my friends, and helped support him through sending him to Bible school, other’s he sent on mission trips and in countless untold other ways. He believed that Bible’s should be provided to anyone who wanted, and supported the Gideons. The list goes on and on.
When Dave and I began to itinerate, my dad gave me the names of some people he thought might give helpful advise on how to raise our support. What I found from talking with them, was that I will never know all the things Sammy Lamm did to support missions . As I called the names on my list I heard story after story of how my dad impacted their life, “Your dad gave me a camper so I could continue to go all over the united states preaching and teaching”. “Your dad helped us finically be able to build an extension.” “Your dad invested time in me, and taught me how to hunt”.
He knew that his business was the tool God had given him to touch the world and countless lives of those around him. He taught us, his kids, to passionately love missions and we prayed for missionaries daily.
I remember when I was in junior high, we had a missionary couple that served in China come to our home. They sat around the living room with tears in their eyes telling dad how he gave to them more monthly than large churches do, and that they were able to go into the interior of Communist China in the 80’s because he believed in them. He invested in people considered lost causes that no one would give a chance to and some of you are here today as a result. He hired ex convicts, men in financial desperation and would give them a chance to learn and the opportunity to succeed with dignity. The truth is that neither I nor anyone else in this place have any idea of the real number of lives, I estimate thousands, he has touched because of my dad’s investment, of not only money but time and friendship. He never wanted anyone to know when he gave and did, He went to great lengths to make sure people did not know. That was who he was. He would hate that I am telling you now.
In all the things he tried to excel at, the thing he truly wanted to succeed in most was to spend his life as a faithful servant of Jesus. He wanted the world to know the hope that can only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He did that by striving to be excellent in all he did to earn money so he could give it away wherever and whenever the Lord told him too.
That is the legacy my dad left me. That legacy is far more valuable than mounds of money in some account. I believe he has already received his reward in heaven as person after person in many different languages came to him to say “thank you for his faithfulness I am in heaven today because you Sammy were obedient in giving, and sending, and reaching.” And I believe he was overwhelmed with joy as he placed that pile of crowns at the Lord’s feet in worship of him.
I did not receive the gift from my father of being able to earn huge amounts of money. (although he did say I liked to spend it!) But I did receive his legacy of being generous in all circumstances, whether I have a lot or a little. I hope to live my life as he did and spend myself in the service of my savior and to pass that same legacy to my own children. I can only hope to effect as many lives as he did.
I pray the same for all of you, that because you knew my father and recognized something special about him that you too will be inspired to spend yourselves so others may come to know Jesus as savior. May you do so in whatever way God has uniquely called and gifted you and let nothing stop you. Strive to leave a legacy of generosity, lavishly spending your life and your talents for Jesus Christ.
And lastly I would like to say. Thank you to my daddy for leaving a legacy that is more valuable than all the treasures in the world.