Remembering Nani & Pop

Tonight I was running along Lake Guntersville at one of my favorite new running spots, a TVA public access area that is basically across the street from our new house in Guntersville, AL. (Read about our recent move from Kokomo, Indiana to Guntersville, Alabama.) This spot allows me to change my terrain and run on grass. Today I measured a perfect 1 mile loop that I can run completely on grass, and it is by a peaceful area of the lake that is away from heavily traveled areas like marinas and public parks. It was a short, easy workout, so I was taking in the sunset and even stopped to snap some pictures with my phone.


Check out the beautiful sunset view of Lake Guntersville I had during my run today.


I had already been thinking about Nani and Pop a good bit the last few days as we spent time out on Lake Guntersville. Jennifer’s mom and stepdad have a ski boat, and we rode around on the lake for awhile on July 3rd, letting the kids do some tubing. This brought back many childhood memories from the time I spent on Pickwick Lake with my grandparents. Nani and Pop are my mom’s parents, and they both passed away within the last 6 years. They had 2 boats, a ski boat and a 37 foot Jefferson cruiser, at Pickwick Lake, and they spent as much time there as possible. They just loved to be on the water!

This is Nani and Pop's 37 foot Jefferson cruiser boat out on the water at Pickwick Lake.

This is Nani and Pop’s 37 foot Jefferson cruiser boat, named “Alleluia,” out on the water at Pickwick Lake.

I spent a few days each summer at Pickwick, and I have countless memories on the water with my siblings, cousins, parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents. My aunt and uncle now have my grandparents’ boats, and some of my cousins also have their own boats now. We all have a deep-rooted love for the water that was planted by Nani and Pop.

Pickwick Lake and Guntersville Lake (locally referred to as Lake Guntersville), both branch off from the Tennessee River, created by TVA dams. They both have similar scenery, and they both have nice state parks, Pickwick in Tennessee and Guntersville in Alabama. Naturally as we spend more time on Lake Guntersville, I will always remember fondly the times I spent at Pickwick with my grandparents and family as a child.


Today as I was running next to Lake Guntersville, watching the sunset and admiring the beauty of God’s creation, a song called “I’m Going Free (Jailbreak)” by Vertical Church Band came on my running playlist. This has been one of my favorite modern worship songs the last few months, and I am always glad to find worship music that is upbeat enough for running. Here is the chorus:

Glory, glory, hallelujah
You threw my shackles in the sea
Glory, glory, hallelujah
Jesus is my liberty
I’m going free

Watch a live version of the song in this video…

It is a fun song, and it brings a strong message that we can be free from the shackles of our sins only by the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross. When the chorus came on today as I was running by the lake, it instantly took me back to Pickwick with my grandparents yet again. This song was only released in 2013, the year Nani died (Pop died a few years earlier) and long after my last trip to Pickwick with them, but it was the words of the chorus that took me back to my childhood on the lake. Nani and Pop’s ski boat was named “Glory,” and their cruiser was named “Alleluia.” When people were riding around on the lake in the ski boat and we wanted to call them over the radio from the main boat, we would say, “Glory, Glory, this is Alleluia.” My grandparents creatively planned it this way when they named their boats, alluding to the lyrics of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

While this old Civil War song has somewhat questionable meanings, as it basically implies that the Union Army was God’s instrument in punishing the Confederacy and freeing the slaves, it is one of those patriotic hymns that just about everyone knows. Regardless of its origins, many Christians love and find comfort in the song and many of its lyrics. While both “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “I’m Going Free (Jailbreak)” use some similar lyrics and talk about being set free, I actually like the meaning of “I’m Going Free” much better, as it focuses on the fact that our true freedom is found in Christ alone. To Christ all the glory and praises are due, and that is what Nani and Pop believed with all their hearts, passing that faith down to their 5 kids and 14 grandkids.

When I sing the words, “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!” in any song, it always reminds me of Nani and Pop, the great times we had with them on their boats, and the legacy of faith they left for all of us who are blessed to call them family.