TEACHERS, BOOKS, AND MISTAKES

I like old adages. They’re sorta like a Proverbs, well some of them anyway, they use just a few words to make a big point. There’s wisdom in that, maybe genius. The whole point is that they make us think, or at least that’s the intent.

After finishing my post last week and before I hit the “publish” button, I texted my mom and asked her if she could send me a picture. I wanted to post a picture of my first Little League baseball team. The team that I was on that lost the championship when I got tagged out trying to steal home base.

My mom couldn’t find the picture, I knew it was a long shot, she’s got a zillion photo albums. But she did find some other pictures. One in particular I’d forgotten all about. It was a picture my brother took of me jumping off a cliff in Crystal Beach, a spot north of Lake Havasu where the Colorado River runs swift.

That picture made me ponder old adages. Here’s what I came up with after seeing that picture;

“I learned much from my teachers, more from my books, and most from my mistakes.” Anonymous.

It was a different world then. We grew up fast. There was no such thing as “helicopter parents”. Our parents trusted in the Good Lord to send His angels to protect their reckless and foolish offspring.

At the time of that picture my brother was about sixteen. I was ten or eleven. My brother was crazy, everyone in town knew it. I was dumb and that probably wasn’t a secret either. He was smart enough to watch from below and take the picture for posterity’s sake.

That’s me flying at the upper right hand corner.
My brother took it from a lower cliff.

Everyone makes mistakes because none of us are perfect. There was only One. And all of us have regrets. Mistakes and regrets are the necessary ingredients to learn wisdom. It’s not a matter of living in the past, it’s a matter of learning from our mistakes. And if there’s no regret or remorse there’s no fuel to learn.

I like the NIV translation of Job 12:12, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?”

A lot of us are lucky or blessed to be able to tell the tales of our sordid past. I think it’s proof all by itself of the Divine intervention of God in this world.

So this post isn’t a rejection of last week’s, but a clarification of it. I think we should strive to have joy in this life like we had before the days and years left our senses tarnished and calloused. But with the understanding of God’s grace that delivered us from the days of teachers, books, and mistakes.

DAYS OF SUMMER

Franky McGill could burn the seams right off a baseball he threw so fast… at least that’s what it seemed like my first year in Little League. Franky pitched for the Jets. I was playing catcher for the Astros that summer day of the Banning California Little League championship game.

We were good, but having Franky McGill on your team was like having God on your side. It was the bottom of the 9th, two outs, nobody on base, me up to bat with my new cleats.

I started the season without cleats. My parents stretched a tight budget a little further to get them. I felt invincible with those cleats… even if Franky McGill had already struck me out a couple times that afternoon.

image courtesy of hobbylobby.com

I can’t recall the count at the time, but the pitch was low, I shouldn’t have swung, but I was a sucker for low pitches. I do remember the ping of the aluminum bat and my cleats digging into the Southern California dirt as I ripped around the bases for a slide in triple.

A few pitches later I was way off the bag after Franky threw another strike while my teammate watched, knees trembling. Mike Hawkins, the Jets catcher pump faked a throw as a warning to me to get back to third. So I turned and took a couple steps back the bag. Just as Mike threw the ball back to Franky I raced toward home plate like a charging mini-bull.

Franky had to wait for the ball to get back to him and I was already three quarters of the way to home base. Did I mention how fast Franky could chuck a baseball? The ball got to Mike’s mitt before I got to home plate. It was too late to stop with Mike waiting.

I had two big brothers and they weren’t the sweet sensitive type. My brother Bobby was playing Pop Warner football at the time and at that age I was a sponge. I lowered my head and leveled the Hawkins kid.

He was squirming on his back, moaning in pain and trying to suck the wind back into him that I’d knocked out, but that kid was tough, he hung onto that ball… and the game was over.

I like to win as much as the next person, probably a whole lot more, but more importantly, I’m not afraid to play the game and lose.

Too many Christians play this life with fear. They don’t want to risk losing so they don’t chase their dreams and desires. That’s not how God designed us to live life. The “abundant” life Christ is referring to in John isn’t about wealth, it’s about living life without fear because He already knows every outcome that we endeavor!

I reminisce the by-gone days of summer. That memory of my young dumb self God is using to remind me that I need not fear this world. Maybe you too need a reminder now and then that we need to “fear not, for He has overcome this world”.

May we live this life with the joy and excitement that we did in our long gone days of summer.

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

Repost from September 2010

I really enjoy the song “What A Wonderful World” performed by Louie Armstrong. The authors of the song describe the good and beautiful in our world. The day and night, rainbows, friends, and children.

It’s interesting that Armstrong would have accepted the invitation to sing a song with those type of lyrics in 1968, the climax of America’s racial conflicts.

My guess is, by the age of 68 he had enough wisdom to know that the only true change in people would start in their hearts.

A changed heart is a changed perspective and a changed perspective is a changed way of thinking. I think of all the nasty things Armstrong must have witnessed in his life. The oppression, segregation, and hate. Yet in spite of all he knew about human nature, he knew there was hope.

We all know that pain and suffering is part of this world. We know that death is inevitable for all of us. Everyone has witnessed or lived through difficult times, some obviously more than others.

My sister-in-law has a friend who’s eight-year-old daughter died of Cystic Fibrosis. She was at her friends house when the little girls ten-year-old brother offered to carry his little sisters emaciated body to the ambulance. She watched him carry her out with tears in his eyes.

That family will never be the same.

There is a popular Christian singer/songwriter who shortly after he released a song about his adopted daughter, was accidently killed by another family member. How does one cope with that in this life?

We see pictures of little kids in various parts of the world who are dying of hunger and disease. There isn’t anything wonderful for the eyes to find in those circumstances.

Maybe you’ve heard someone say something like, “If there is a God, how come He allows so much pain and suffering”?

I marvel at the life of Louie Armstrong, his dad left him and his mom for another woman. His mom ended up as a prostitute and Louie lived part of his life on the streets. He picked up the desire to play the Cornet from listening to the live music in downtown New Orleans.

image courtesy of nypost.com

What if he’d been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, say in California? Do you think he would have had the same determination and spirit that motivated him to perform non-stop right up until his death in 1971?

I consider the verse in 2nd Corinthians 5:8. “We are confident I say and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

Those children previously mentioned, according to this scripture are at their real home.

What if the old adage has some deeper meaning than first meets the ear. “Only the good die young.” What if our human perspective is relegated to a brain born in this flesh, with less comprehension of the other dimension where God’s word tells us our souls live forever?

In those horrific things that happen in the flesh, what if God is showing mercy to the flesh? What if God is showing mercy to the ones He calls home?

What if an omnipotent God can use those negative things in our lives to bring about wonderful things in the lives of others?

What if God could use a simple song by a man who had been oppressed, and yet put forgiveness in that man’s heart?

Maybe that little song would give people a better understanding of how we’re to treat one another, regardless of what we look like?

Hmmmmm….. “I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

NO MORE DOG EAT DOG WORLD, ONLY ‘DOG WORLD’

Is it me? Or has the world gone to the dogs? Now I love animals as much as the average Joe I’d say, but what’s going on in the world makes me crease my brow and scratch my head.

I apologize in advance because I know that this post is going to step on some toes and most definitely some paws. I’m gonna to try to have fun with what I see is becoming a real issue.

I just got back to Arizona, maybe one of the reasons I’m summertime grouchy, almost an hour late. There I was; first in line, A1 on my mobil boarding pass, but the “special needs passengers” get to board first. That alone makes my blood boil, due to the fact that the majority of those folks lie like a dog… You like that tie in? I digress.

One of the scads of so called “special needs passengers” was a young girl, probably about the same age as my youngest, who didn’t have a dog… she had two… And that somehow qualified her as a “special needs passenger”.

After the gaggle of folks that limped up, rang the boarding bell, then skipped down the jetway, the lady boarding the plane full of liars asked for the girl’s boarding pass. Enter; the beginning of our delays…

To make a long and painful story short, it went from not having the proper documentation for one of the dogs, to the lady phoning her boss, to the girl trying to stuff both dogs into one tiny bag, one yelped like he was dying, to her rifling through her suitcase sized purse to find her emotional letter from her doctor, which was expired, the lady trying to board the plane demanded her boss come and deal with the girl… He finally gave in and let the girl board to avoid any longer delays.

Meanwhile back at the fake front of the line – I’m staring at the situation with eyes like daggers. Needless to say, I spent a miserable flight with kids screaming and a barking dog…

The other one is in the black bag over her right shoulder…

It’s a regular occurrence these days to be following a guy or gal down the aisle at Home Depot with their dog on a leash, even though it’s posted that pets aren’t allowed, service pets only… Without fail the person in front of me comes to stop when they meet the dog wielding window shopper coming from the other direction.

I stand and wait for them to chat while they let their dogs sniff each other’s nether regions. I try to manage my way around them, because I have real business to take care of, only to have that same snout that’s been sniffing the other dog poke me with it… 🤨

I realize that people have issues, anxiety and so forth, SO DO I!!!

How does that give people the right to infringe on other people’s rights? You see, I think that only makes those people’s problems worse. The more folks get self absorbed and lose sight of treating others by the Golden Rule they spiral into an even worse place; themselves.

I don’t usually like the NLT, but I do for this subject; “For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.”

My old dog Larry was way better than all those dogs anyway… I miss him my boy.

THE WORN OUT SWEATSHIRT

Repost and edit from August 2010

What happened to the average I-don’t-care-what-I-wear-on-Saturday people? They’re either gone or they’re hiding.

This was a typical Saturday for me with a few exceptions. Work in the morning, hit the gym early and take care of whatever falls into the “his” category of responsibility.

I don’t dress like Frank Sinatra any day of the week and I’m the polar opposite on Saturday. This is the day that society has deemed acceptable for a person to wear worn out, discolored, wrinkled, outdated or just plain ugly clothing. At least it used to be. Come to think of it, I guess I’m probably the only one at the gym with  holes in my clothes nowadays… Whenever they changed this code they didn’t inform me of it.

I went straight home from the gym, got my wife’s much past due for an oil change car and took it to the “lame lube”. (We don’t pull out into the desert to change oil anymore, I did get that memo) They were even slower and more inept that day than usual. I didn’t have time to let them try to figure out how to reset the oil life percentage read out. My youngest daughter was at home waiting to be taken to her orientation at the library where she has volunteered to work on the weekends.

She is definitely a “chip off the old block.” She loves books even more than I did when I was young. There is a possibility that she has read more books in her life than I have in mine. At any rate, we only had time for her to hop in the car and head straight to the library.

She was a little apprehensive about walking into the library by herself. She wanted me to walk her in. This, a job that she volunteered for without my wife or me coercing her into. I didn’t even know they had such positions. I thought you had to be middle aged, wear glasses, wear your hair in a bun and have strong lungs to be able to say, “Shhhhhhhh!”

What do I know? I know enough to know that she needed to walk in alone and learn to be independent.

“Please go in with me?” She pleaded.

I responded, “Do you really want me to walk you in with holes in my shirt”? A perfect prop for the occasion.

She started again, “I think y-“-RIP!!! I cut her off.

Mid sentence I reached over to my left shoulder and enlarged the size of the hole in my shirt… to ensure independence.

“Okay, Dad.” She smiled as if to say, “That was a good one.”

I finished with, “I’ll wait out here for a few minutes in case they need me and my ripped up clothes to sign anything.”

She walked briskly with intention in her steps, I know because I followed her at a distance. The library is adjacent to the mall and sometimes has some suspicious looking characters hanging around. You know, people with holes in their clothes and the like…

With one hour to kill, I stepped through the parking garage to the mall. I can count on one hand the times I’ve been to the mall by myself in the last two decades. I can count, on the other hand, the times I’ve been with my wife in that same time period.

To my surprise, I was the only one walking through the mall with a sweatshirt on that had noticeable sweat discoloration and holes. Doesn’t anyone else wear their old favorites that should have been thrown away years ago except me?

While discovering a $9.99 baggy shorts sale rack, I got a text from my daughter.

“It’s getting ready to start, I think it’s going to be really good! I don’t need you to come in.”

I texted back, “Good job, girl. I knew you could do it!”

Off in the distance, in my minds eye, I see and taste that bitter-sweet day of my little girls independence…

This worn out sweatshirt soaks up the tears quite well.

I think I’ll keep it for a while…..