Finding Floyd

A BEDTIME RITUAL

a bedtime ritual

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“Can we do Whooshings tonight Dad”? she asked. “Sure,”–“Where do you want to do em”? I replied. My youngest would usually pick our bed. Sometimes I’d warn her, “If you pick our bed they’re gonna be really BIG Whooshings”! “OK”! she’d say scared and excited.

The exact definition for Whooshings might not appear in the Webster’s dictionary. The exact meaning of the word Whooshing as defined in our house is this: To throw or be thrown, the act of tossing a person in or on a specific target or bed from a significant distance, securing a safe landing. The name was actually invented by chance.

I’m sure the game’s origin could be traced back to me tossing her sisters into swimming pools. I’d hold them like a cradle, their back resting on my curled left arm with the back of their upper legs in my curled right arm. I’d stand back from the bed and with each count of a number I’d swing her left toward the bed stopping and rocking back toward the right readying them for the next number.

It went something like this, a big swing to the left with a loud audible “ONE”! Back to the right then a big swing back to the left and another loud “TWO”! One last move hard and fast to the right shifting quickly back to the left with an even louder “THREE”!!! As my little one would sail through the air flying toward the bed I’d yell, “Whoosh”!!! Hence, her made-up title of “Whooshings.”

After the first one, she’d shout “AGAIN-DAD-AGAIN”!!! “One-Two-Three”!!! And it would start all again. After 5 or 6 times, I’d have to calm the Whooshing Monster and ready her for bed. That was one of our rituals, we had another bedtime ritual that our youngest opted for sometimes.

This ritual was titled, “The Wrong Bed,” of course named by our little game-name-giver. It started by chance, I’d pick her up in that same cradle and as I walked toward her room I’d stop and set her in the wrong bed. In the beginning, it was usually her sister’s beds.

I’d play the part of the sincere dad, “OK Gurmy Girl, there you go, sleep tight, I love you, OK then”–“Dad”! Was her next line in the ritual cutting me off. “Yeah Babe.” Was my line, her next line was improvised, it went something like this, “Dad, this isn’t my bed”! I’d say cleverly with shock in my voice, “What”?! -“Are you sure”? And onto more improvised dialogue.

It got to the point when I’d pick her up from the first spot I’d lay her on other things– that was the fun of the game for her, then of course to tell me it wasn’t her bed with a sweet smile…

My little one got put to bed on just about everything in the house over the years. The breakfast table, dining table, kitchen countertop, bath countertop, coffee tables, my desk, even a few pinball machines.

Whatever the bedtime ritual, it always wound up in her bed and a prayer, me usually first then her. It always ended with a good night, “I love you” and an “I love you too.”

Something we were talking about made my little one think of the old rituals last night. She asked me, “Remember Whooshings Dad”? I laughed and said, “Of course I do” — “Do you remember, “The Wrong Bed”? I replied. “She laughed and answered, ” Yeah” —  “That was fun”!

A while later she announced she was going to shower, a little bit after that she came back in to say good night…

The days of Whooshings and The Wrong Bed are in the ever distancing past. I know from our older girls that our little one is right around the corner from being gone…

No more good nights or good mornings…

There were difficulties, I can’t say it was all perfect, but even in the discipline for everyone involved in different ways there was joy, in the end there is honor and the sweetest of memories.

Most of us with short memories can relate to the old adage, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

I can envision someday my grandkids and great grandkids asking their mothers, “Mommy, can we do Whooshings”?

My girls smiling at their pride and joy’s, sometimes with their eyes swelling with tears…

Remembering us…

They too will take them in their arms and form a gentle cradle as they begin to count, One!- Two!- Three!!!

They too will have to practice letting their babies go and trusting they have set them on course for a safe landing…

 

 

THE PATH CHOSEN

the path chosen

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I was stopped at a red light at one of the cities busier intersections mid-afternoon a few days ago. A pedestrian was taking his turn making his way south via the crosswalk. As the walker got in front of my truck he caught my attention.

It was a guy I knew from high school. I’m pretty good with faces and I definitely recognized him right away although I don’t have a clue what his name might be. I don’t even know for sure which high school I knew him from having attended two.

I do know that time hasn’t been kind to this old classmate…

I’m fascinated with the paths we choose in life and how they’ll cross back over the people’s paths who we once shared a common path with. Our paths go on for so long and there are so many forks in the roads that eventually the people we started our journey with are gone. We eventually have to navigate our paths without the friends or acquaintances we started the journey with.

That old familiar face took me to thoughts and places I haven’t visited in my mind for some time.

I recall Joe, we lived in the same neighborhood, had a few classes together in high school and both of us were on the football team. We shared the same path or sidewalk to and from school every day.

One spring morning Joe, who was usually walking a little behind me happened to be in front of me. A man in his late 20’s in blue Dodge Demon ran a red light, hit Joe and Mark in the middle of the crosswalk just in front of me.

Mark, although busted up drug himself of to the side of the road. Joe laid there with bleeding head injuries, he lost his life that afternoon in the hospital. Joe’s path ended in that crosswalk early spring many years ago.

The old adage, “it’s nice to see a familiar face” has some meaning to it. It’s enjoyable to catch up, reminisce and share time with people we’ve shared some of our life with. Isn’t that why school reunions are so popular?

I love the movies based on true stories where at the end they give the viewer “where are they now” wrap-ups. Even the fiction movies wraps have something very powerful and drawing to our human hearts.

I remember as much about the fictional summaries of the stars in American Graffiti as I do the movie itself.

As time goes on I find it a little easier to pick out the people who have taken intentional paths and the others that kind of roll with the flow or take the path chosen to strike their fancy without much thought to their eventual destination.

In truth I jumped paths in my early adult life leaving some important parts of my life up to fate, sometimes I’d believe myself to be bigger than life, able to control with my hand, heart, and mind the paths regardless of the direction they were headed.

Maybe the paths that zig-zag and cross each other throughout our lives is for a purpose. Maybe we’re supposed to share with others who’ve taken some wrong turns along the way directions to the path that leads to everything they’ve been searching for their entire life.

To navigate the paths of this world in search of peace, joy, and meaning without the designer and Creator of all paths and lives guiding us is like trying to find a needle in a haystack the size of Texas… It ain’t happnin.’

God says in Proverbs 4:10 “I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.” (NIV) One of the most famous of all scripture is the 23rd Psalm. For brevity, I’ll only quote part for this purpose.

“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name sake.” “Even though I walk (or my path leads me) through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” (NIV)

I watched my nameless classmate clear the south side of the crosswalk and disappear between some stores.

Joe’s path never made it to the other side of the crosswalk…

None of us know when or where our path ends for sure on this earth, but one thing is for certain.

There’s only one straight and narrow path we can choose here that will lead us home…

A SQUARE PEG IN A ROUND HOLE

square peg in a round hole

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Some problems are more easily solved than others, take driving to Disneyland as an example. Even if someone hasn’t been there it seems obvious that there might be more than one way to get there. A mathematical problem is a completely different animal, you miss one step or process and you’re sunk.

Who doesn’t love a good shortcut? Not me that’s for sure. I enjoy streamlining processes, turning tasks or goals into regimented steps to get things done systematically and light years easier.

Sometimes in many processes there are no short-cuts, following the given or natural directions is the only way to complete a task successfully. Some of us catch on quicker than others…

It seems one of the most important keys to unlocking the solution to many of life’s problems a little more quickly and easier is that elusive trait of patience.

I’ve watched small children play with their Fischer-Price type toys, you know the ones that have basic shapes like balls, square blocks, and triangles, made to fit into the corresponding hole in the housing of the toy.

Some kids patiently, methodically work through the process looking and thinking. Other kids insist on forcing that square peg a round hole. That trait follows some of us around for our entire life, but sometimes even the patient and intelligent kids lose patience. The same is true in adults.

Even my wife who generally rolls with the flow loses it sometimes. We found out the last flight we took leaving for spring break was delayed after we were dropped off at the airport. Not surprisingly to was delayed again, add another delay before backing out of the gate and my wife finally said, “Good Grief”! “What’s taking so long”! “Who knows”! I answered with agreeing colorful sarcasm.

When we finally started moving toward the runway we must have taxied for ten minutes. My wife finally hit empty on here patience meter, “ARE WE GONNA DRIVE THIS THING TO CALIFORNIA”?!!! It was hilarious and broke down the tension a bit.

We as Christians, who are held to different laws than the lost world, are often like the stubborn child insisting on forcing the square peg into the round hole of our lives.

We all get difficulties and many of us have our share right now. Even though we have the wisdom to know from past experiences that the tough times usually result in blessings and more wisdom, we fight them like a war and dread them like the plague.

How much time do we spend praying and striving for the tough times to go away? Isn’t that like trying to fit the a square peg into a round hole?

I’ve spent my fair share of time like many of us doing the praying and striving for the weight of difficulty to be lifted from my shoulders. God seems to have made it pretty clear we won’t find the correct answer to this equation by taking any shortcuts. No fancy word prayers or even earnest desire will streamline this process.

It is my opinion that we have the cart ahead of the horse so to speak. God causes or allows all things according to His perfect will. God is in the business of changing hearts and a changed heart is a changed perspective.

Maybe the proper perspective and the key to unlocking the next path of our journey should be to pray and strive to be OK or good despite our difficult times.

It could be the only things holding us back is ourselves, the fear we nurture in our flesh, and impatience with the process…

I can tell you first hand trying to fit our square spirit’s into God’s round shaped spirit holes can get a bit painful. We’ll need to take a step back and take the route God’s leading us in and has shaped for our lives.

For the record, the plane did finally get off the ground…

Just not in our desired time frame…

 

HONEY! HAVE YOU SEEN MY SELF CONTROL?

!have you seen my self control

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There I was, going along, making my way, doing pretty well. I was walking above my flesh for the most part subconsciously thinking, “I guess I’m doing alright, God’s done some pretty good things here.” Then “PRESTO” I go from zero to Floyd in less than 100th of a second.

I didn’t even see it coming! He was back in an instant, almost like he never really left…

We were headed back home after a week out of town on Spring Break. The problem was that so was everyone else in the city and Southwest Airlines had canceled a good portion of their flights due to a maintenance breakdown on a flight the day before.

There were people sitting on the floor everywhere, hardly enough room to even walk through to get to the gate. When we arrived at our gate there were only a couple of seats available and none all together for all of us.

My wife sat in a seat at the end of an isle and my daughter sat on the suitcases next to her as I went off for a bottle of water. I’m not good in crowds…

When I got back to the seat my wife got up and announced her and our daughter were going to get something to eat. As my wife was getting up for me to take her place luggage watching I noticed the guy next to her seat’s foot.

He was a big guy and very tall, his crossed leg was half way to about the center of our seat. It would be difficult if not impossible for me to be able to actually navigate a path into the seat successfully, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself, I never actually got to that part of the thinking process.

I heard a sermon many years ago by Kent Hovind. Hovind used the analogy of a simple nail to represent the weakness in our flesh. A simple nail a carpenter might use to fasten pieces of lumber together.

He pointed out that our life’s like a brand new unblemished shiny nail start the same way, but in a short time nails like our lives can bend. Once a nail is bent, even after meticulous re-straightening it will be prone to bend in the exact same spot when pressure is applied. Just like our weaknesses in life.

I didn’t even realize pressure was being applied to the head of my nail and I was about to lose self control. God either caused or allowed another blow from the mighty unseen spiritual hammer, I bent before I even knew it.

The big guy was bullying or at least being rude and inconsiderate to the people surrounding him, but not his wife, he could have just as easily crossed his other leg in front of her face. Oh No! Not Mr. Tough Rude Guy…

At this point, I’m all human, no Mr. Christian good guy blog writer. He’s gone… The potion had been administered and Dr. Jekyll was nowhere to be found, leaving only wild-eyed, incensed, ready for action Mr. Hyde.

“YOU’LL NEED TO MOVE THAT FOOT”!!!!! I demanded as I started to push it with the outside of my thigh as I was nearing to sit. Mr. Bully Tough guy moved his foot back over his boundary line. I’m not done, the potion is still in full effect. I immediately took the biggest portion of the arm rest between us.

Dear reader and God forgive me, I went back to by gone days and saw the vision in my mind of a violent situation. Then? I reached for my pad of paper to write my Christian blog……….Wow…

The potion or poison did wear off,  although I still believe the man was rude and basically a bully. I can’t remember how many times as a kid my dad made me apologize when I didn’t want to, even when I knew it was the right thing.

There I was now being compelled by my heavenly Father to do the hard thing once again. As we finally got up to stand in the line like cattle I said to my new pal, “If I was rude earlier I’m sorry.” I pause and continued, “I apologize” holding my hand out to shake his. He gave me a good hard grip, I returned it, grinned and walked off…

How many times my nail has bent there is countless…

Only God knows that number…

It’s the same number as the times He’s forgiven me for it…

 

BOB

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Big personalities seem even bigger in small towns, maybe the “big fish in a small pond” analogy has some merit, then again maybe the personalities would be gigantic anywhere. I grew up in a small town and everyone pretty much knew everyone else, but we had ourselves some bigger than life fish.

Of all the local yocal famous folk, there was none bigger than Bob. Bob started catching everyone’s attention even as a kid, I guess he was watcha’ might call a “man-child.” Bob just seemed to be full grown overnight while in early Jr. high and he never had what us regular folk called an awkward phase as a kid.

No Sir, he was just big, fast, quick, and what some of the parents considered handsome, not to mention he had some brains to boot.

In Jr. high while most kids were stuck in class trying to get a passing grade, Bob was paling around with the vice principle in his fancy car traveling over to the high school to arm wrestle the guys on the football team, only thing Bob had to do to keep good grades was just keep winnin’. He never did lose…

Bob use to make extra money by bettin’ kids how far he could ride a wheelie on his bicycle. I saw him ride around the block twice, I swear… I ran beside him to make sure he wasn’t doin’ any cheatin’. This was long before the BMX bikes became what it is these days.

I can’t recall how many bicycle frames Bob snapped jumpin’ over cars, creeks, kids, or anything that struck his fancy. A few years later when people started drivin’ the foreign jobs, Bob would bet people he could pick up the back of em’. Did one while the car was tryin’ to back up…

No one was too surprised when Bob took playing football seriously, after all he had what it took. More than the sport itself, we all knew Bob didn’t mind puttin’ the hurt or a beat down on someone he thought deserved it.

Don’t get me wrong, Bob wasn’t a trouble maker, you might say he was more like a good old fashioned vigilante. If someone was picking on weaker kids or disrespecting friends, Bob never stopped to consider anything other than his own brand of justice.

Those of us who knew Bob well knew that certain smile on his face meant certain pain and damage to someone else…

Bob took that physical dominance with him to the football field. You might say football fit Bob just like a glove, wasn’t too long and he was even more famous in our little town than before. Folks can over look a lot in a small town when they’re football team is winnin’ football games.

Soon even big city folk took notice too, Bob got letters from colleges all over the country. Seems they all wanted that big ole’ frame with his speed, quickness, agility, and skill.

Some things just aren’t meant to be I guess, least that’s what Bob says nowadays. See. A teacher, prone to mistakes like all of us made a couple of em’ that changed the course of his life and Bob’s life forever. The teacher pushed the wrong girl, then with the teachers throat in the big left hand of Bob, he made one last mistake. He hit Bob in the face…

They hauled the teacher off in an ambulance and Bob was kicked out of school, had to go finish the school year in another state. The big city colleges weren’t too interested after that, I guess they figured Bob was one wild bronc they couldn’t bust… They were right…

To hear Bob tell the story at first you might think he’s still wild, he’s not, that’s just passion. He’s got no regrets. Bob says God himself broke him, quieted his soul.

Bob will go on to tell you that everything happens for a reason and he wouldn’t trade his wife, kids, or grandkids for anything, definitely not any amount of fortune nor fame. He says God’s blessed him more than he could have ever imagined.

I talked to Bob just last week, I’ve talked to him quite a bit over the years. The folks who never really knew Bob would never guess how much he’s taught so many. Then again, only a handful of folks outside our home ever really got to know my big brothers, especially Bobby. If I don’t miss my guess, they probably likened Bobby to handling a stick of lit dynamite…

Bobby doesn’t talk like he use to these days, he talks like God really did calm the raging beast inside him. In fact, right before we hung up the phone he said, “I love you brother”…

I said, “I love you too Bobby”…

I guess I’m pretty blessed to have older brothers that give me good reason to look up to them.

Interesting how different the reasons are now than they were then…