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Pastor takes a humorous look at life

By Staff
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
A white house with a big wraparound porch is what drew Harold Fanning to Hartselle nearly a decade ago. He said the historic house immediately reminded him of his grandparent's home and the throngs of family and neighbors who passed through its welcoming doors many years before in rural Madison County.
After he and his wife, Deborah, purchased the home, Fanning found the porch to be a perfect place for reflection, meeting neighbors, and preparing his sermons for Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Priceville where he has pastored for 10 years.
He also found the porch to be a perfect spot for writing his first book, "Life in the Skillet–And Lessons Learned Along the Way."
"I've had a passion for writing since high school," Fanning explained. "It's my escape. People take life way too seriously, so I like to be lighthearted and humorous in this messed up world. It's my way of coping with stuff. I can either laugh or cry and I would rather laugh."
Readers are sure to laugh right along with Fanning as he takes a trip down memory lane to his boyhood home of Lick Skillet, a community woven tightly into the fabric of the town of Hazel Green in northern Madison County.
"My favorite story in the book involves my wife and an outhouse," Fanning said with a chuckle. "Everyone has crazy times, crazy neighbors and a story to tell. This book is my way of escaping to the past for a little while and sharing those stories."
Fanning has shared the stories for many years through church newsletter columns. Dr. Junior Hill of Hartselle, an evangelist, encouraged Fanning to compile the stories into a book and share them with the rest of the world.
"Harold Fanning has a unique and charming way of sharing actual everyday events, seeing the humorous side of them, and then carefully weaving into the story clear and helpful spiritual applications," Hill said in the book's foreword. "He's a master storyteller!"
Fanning easily applies the teachings of the Bible to his memories of and lessons learned by frog gigging with his pals, drag racing with his grandfather, hunting with a cowardly dog, and playing the waiting game with his mother.
"Jesus said, 'I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly,'" Fanning explained. "Enjoy life. Don't walk around all tied up in a knot. God wants us to be happy."
"Life in the Skillet" can be purchased locally at Suzy's Hallmark and The Gathering Place, or online at,, or