DUMB AND HAPPY

I can tell by the way he acts, he’s dumb. Dumb and happy. Springtime makes him reckless. The almost constant roar of sirens going to pick up sick people doesn’t even phase him. He’s distancing himself from everybody except the one who’s caught his fancy. He shows off for her.

He doesn’t know it, but as I watch, he’s showing off for me too. I’m impressed at his lightening speed and grace. He’s got God given gifts. I’m tellin’ you – that boy can move.

And as the world crouches in fear and wrings their hands in anxiety – worrying about life, he’s living his, and at full speed.

It’s not just him, although he’s the center of attention, it’s all of life in the world that is my backyard. Although I’m almost as busy as usual, I’ve been able to take a few minutes here and there to watch the simple, yet magical, world of the birds and the bees from a front row backdoor seat.

A lot of us are worried about tomorrow. It’s hard not to ponder the “what ifs?” Not only that, many of us ponder the lives of the less fortunate. How will they make it if this Corona Crisis lasts? I don’t have the answers.

I have two daughters and a son in law on the front lines. They’re close and some personal with those that have contracted the virus. Their employers don’t have enough masks. One is using a mask a week. The masks are supposed to be tossed at the end of every shift. The other has been told to use her mask indefinitely…

Those yellow bells to the left of the umbrella is Mr. Hummingbird’s favorite nectar

And as the world goes to hec in a hand cart I recall wise words. “Let tomorrow worry about tomorrow,” the words of God Himself. Matthew also recorded the words of the Messiah regarding the two sparrows being worth almost nothing monetarily, and yet He knows and cares when one dies.

As I watch the life of the birds and bees go on without the slightest idea of the trouble we face, I’m also reminded of the Lord’s Prayer. One specific line repeats in my mind, “Give us THIS DAY our daily bread.”

The animals, the birds and bees, have been given the instinct to trust their Maker… They live each day and make the most of it. They don’t worry about tomorrow… even in drought, storms, scorching days, and freezing nights.

Those of us that know God have the infinite wisdom and instinct to know that He will provide. It might not be exactly what we want, and it certainly isn’t what He wanted, but this fall was a choice. We’re all related to Adam and we’re all related to one another and this fallen world is reality.

Maybe Mr. Hummingbird isn’t really dumb and happy. Maybe he’s just happy. It could be that even his pebble sized brain grasps that God will see Him through all the days He’s granted him. There’s a lesson in to be learned for all of us. And it might just come from your own backyard.

DIRTY LAUNDRY

They say music is timeless, you won’t get an argument outta me. Lately one song in particular seems to be stuck on the turntable of my mind, with the arm up. I hear the keyboard. I sing it; duuuh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh. Repeat. Then the heavy drum intro; duc-u-doon-duc-u-doon, “I make my living off the evenin’ news… just give me somethin’ – somethin’ I can use. People love it when you lose. They love Dirty Laundry.”

That little Don Henley ditty from ’82 speaks to the human condition and emotions. “It’s interesting when people die, give us Dirty Laundry.”

With the news of uncertainty, and a good dose of speculation tossed in, it’s easy to get caught up in the growing hysteria that is sweeping our nation and the world.

According to Newsweek, the week before this last one Fox saw its ratings jump 89%. CNN soared up 193% and all the other major and cable news outlets increased significantly as well.

I guess Don Henley was right; people do love Dirty Laundry. Business is booming for the news outlets. The more watchers, the more they charge for advertising. They’re going to squeeze every last penny and human emotion they can out of this crisis. They’re not about to let a good crisis go to waste.

Being informed is one thing, but letting our entire lives be consumed by this crisis is another.

This verse from Isaiah I scribble out has been sitting next to my bath sink for over ten years.

For one, I cut all the overhead I could from within our company that I could and worked even harder and longer than before. But the most effective action I took? Dropping to my knees.

I studied countless Bible verses on “fear”, Old and New Testament. With time, study, and prayer God granted me peace in the midst of the storm. While I still have moments of anxiety in this crisis and face, once again, risk of loss in all ways, I have gained enough wisdom to know that God’s will is going to be done… regardless of my emotions.

In a nutshell, from back in the day, I gained a deeper understanding of how fear separates us from God. Our God, who promises to never leave us or forsake us, has no fear.

If and when we give more reverence to a crisis, or anything, that sits in the palm of His hand with us, we spiritually slap the face of the One who is sovereign over His creation.

I’m not a doctor, but I highly recommend lowering the daily doses of Dirty Laundry.

TOILET PAPER

It’s a crazy world. That’s not new news… We just haven’t been reminded of how crazy until the next crisis comes around. I rarely write about personal or controversial things, but today, I’m gonna make an exception. Today we tackle toilet paper…

People are actually getting in physical altercations at stores over grocery carts and toilet paper. The world has gone mad. Anxiety and fear over the pending pandemic have a strangle hold on them.

I was out of town this week and came home to an Old Mother Hubbard kind of cupboard and frig, even the mustard bottle was on reserve.

The grocery store parking lot was jammed. It had more cars in it than I’d ever seen before. I had to park by the McDonald’s.

As a young man I was a little embarrassed to buy toilet paper. I’d have been proud to have some in my basket the other day, but there’s not a stitch of it at the store. The shelves look like something from the depression.

It’s peculiar how you can see fear in people’s eyes. Tough times are like truth serum; it exposes people for who they really are. The manners, for the most part, were gone. It was every person for themselves.

I know I might say it too much, but I have to remind myself that God either causes or allows all things. To fear a situation more than we do the One who caused or allowed it is to bring dishonor to Him. The Coronavirus is sitting right next to us… in the palm of His hand…

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My dad was born into a cotton picking sharecropper’s family. He was smack in the middle of nine kids. I suppose the first time he ever saw indoor plumbing was at school.

Old habits die hard. I recall as a little kid my dad rubbing folded toilet paper together. It looked like someone trying to warm their hands up, only with the paper in-between his hands.

I learned that when he was a kid they didn’t have, nor could they afford, toilet paper. They had the Sears and Roebuck catalog sitting in the outhouse… They made their own toilet paper.

There were a few times as a kid we’d run out of toilet paper. And I learned first hand, or hands, that you can turn a piece of notebook paper into a soft piece of toilet paper… it just takes time.

I suppose if the world doesn’t come to its senses we can all use the stacks and stacks of junk mail that gets delivered to our homes every day and turn it into toilet paper.

We all have some anxiety and fear, some more than others, but I refuse to give into the enemy and let running out of toilet paper occupy a second of my life.

When it’s our time to go, God doesn’t need a virus to fulfill His will. And as Paul pointed out, it’s better to be absent from this body and to be present with The Lord.

Where we’re going we won’t need any toilet paper…

IN LIVING COLOR

The neighborhood looks different, older, a little tired. Like me. Of course everything looks different if you add over forty-five years to the equation.

As I drove north on the street my mom still lives on, a memory hit me. I don’t have a lot of choice as to when I stroll down memory lane, especially when I’m driving on the lanes of my childhood. I looked for the house on the east side of Eastwind.

Back in the day it sat all by its lonesome. All those vacant lots are history. I searched for the short and steep driveway. The once offensive bright orange front door was long gone or painted.

I was hanging out with my buddy Dave D. All kids in junior high are looking for fun… Even if the fun is at the expense of someone else. Using the telephone to ask the local store owners if they had Prince Albert in the can doesn’t last all night… especially in a small town with only a couple of stores.

Occasionally we’d knock on a door or ring a doorbell and run like the wind. I admit that night it was my idea. It was my neighborhood after all.

I slowed my truck to a crawl. Yep. The steep driveway and the wide front window between the driveway and the front door brought that night in nineteen seventy five back to me in living color.

There aren’t but a handful of streetlights in Lake Havasu City and there are still none within five miles of that street. The night was pitch black. It was hard to see the top of our tennis shoes walking.

There were people inside the house. It was winter and the front window was open. We could hear them talking inside.

I was half way under the wide window when I glanced back. Dave had stalled a couple of feet from the window. I waved him toward me silently, fighting back a snicker.

Dave was having serious second thoughts. Then again, he and JC were the smartest ones in the class. He shuffled backwards and headed back down the driveway.

I never did make the trek under the window to the front door. Still crouched in the middle of the window, hidden by the stucco area underneath it, without a coherent thought, I acted.

I jumped with my arms up like a gorilla, “AHHHHHHHH!!!!” I yelled at the top of my lungs.

All four of them jumped, but none higher than the middle aged man with the glasses, hands locked behind his head, reclining on a green sofa, right next to the window.

I didn’t give much thought to that steep driveway. Not until I was sprinting full speed toward the road that I couldn’t see.

I can’t recall if I tore my jeans or shirt that night, but I remember vividly all the skin I tore off my palms skidding on the pavement. That’s close to instant justice.

A few days later, back at home, there was a group text going around the family. It was a video of my grandson, Mr. B, at his aunt Ali’s front door. Her Ring picked up a video of him ringing her doorbell and running… He’s three…

I think God has a sense of humor…

WHEN LOSING WINS

REPOST FROM JUNE 2013

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She sang quietly along with the music. I didn’t dare offer a glance as we drove home. I was singing along with the good ole’ tune too, but significantly louder than her. I wanted to study her and listen to her sing, but that’s not what she wanted – she didn’t say it, but I knew it instinctively… A dad thing.

We had just dropped her teammate off on the way home when she reached over to my stereo and hit the reverse arrow to take us back to track three; her favorite song on my new/old CD I’d picked up a few weeks before while I was waiting for her at her favorite place on earth; the bookstore.

“You wanna harmonize?” she asked quietly and out of character, “I memorized the whole song.”

“Sure,” I answered, turning it up to drown myself out and make her more comfortable. We sang along with the old song all the way home. Even started it over a couple times. It was the first time she asked me to sing along with her, not that we’d never sung an impromptu duet, we do sometimes, but usually don’t plan or organize it like my youngest did that night.

I knew it wasn’t about the music… It was therapy. It was her way of dealing with the reality of life. She’s learned that we don’t always get what we want in this life…

It was a night filled with hope. A day that had been in the back of her head for a long time. It was a night of trials. It was testing herself. My youngest had watched her sisters navigate the same waters, but this night would be her turn under the bright lights… It was a night of loss…

Our youngest daughter’s lacrosse team made it into the second round of the playoffs via a first round bye due to their record. Records and reputation can only take you so far in this life, then there is a time of testing. There were tears, her head parked in the nook between my chest and shoulder for a little while followed by a return visit later. They were tears of sorrow, but they were also tears of joy… a hard concept for any of us to grasp, even this many years removed from those days that we remember in vivid detail our entire lives.

My daughter knows me too… she knew I was somber and she knows it has little to do with winning or losing. She knows I believe and have coached enough kids to understand that winning is really about giving every ounce of mental and physical dedication with perseverance and honor that defines winning… and the winning takes care of itself.

Our little one knows that the reality of another year gone makes me feel the same emotion as she does. I have sorrows, but I also have joy. My love for our little one has nothing to do if she wins or not… If she conducts herself with honor and has fun in the process it’s all good. I can’t help but believe it’s more similar to our Father’s relationship with all of His children.

“Another lacrosse season, huh Babe?” I asked the obvious question rubbing her back before turning in.

“Yeah,” she answered.

“I’m proud of you, Babe.”

“Thanks, dad – goodnight –  love you,” she smiled timidly.

“I love you too, Babe, sleep tight.”

Regardless of the number, it’s hard to imagine that night as anything other than a win…

That’s when losing wins…