Finding Floyd

LAUGHING

laughing

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It’s easy to get aggravated and short with younger people, sometimes when youngsters are being blatantly disrespectful our anger can have some merit, but when they’re just being their age and living youthful exuberance I think it’s another matter. Kids know how to laugh.

I could write endless editions sharing stories of my younger days being funny, silly, disrespectful, ignorant, and just plain stupid. Most adults can…especially men.

I’ve come to realize the people that can no longer interact with younger people without becoming negative usually are insecure and sometimes scared people who have forgotten how to laugh at themselves.

Let’s face it, all of us say and do dumb things sometimes, young people say and do dumb things more often than some of us who’ve been there and done that. The great thing about young people saying and doing dumb things is that sometimes they’re thinking, talking, getting reaction, learning, and laughing.

Many of the older generations have given up and are scared to push the envelope, scared of saying or doing something stupid and looking foolish.

A long time ago a bunch of the guys I was working with got “rained out” so we went to have breakfast and hopefully wait out the rain. Sure enough, the sun started winning the wrestling match with the clouds and we started to leave to head back to work.

The restaurant had things like crayons, paper, and masks to keep little kids occupied. It just so happened they occupied young men too… Well, the masks anyway. The waitresses were about our age so were more than willing to go along with some immature behavior.

There must have been at least 6 or 8 of us who walked out of the restaurant with “Cap’n Tug-Boat” masks on. You may have already figured out that we drove back to work disguised as Cap’n Tug-boat.

Yes… Of Course, we waved at people in adjacent cars at stop lights! Please stop asking obvious questions so I can get to the point!!!

Some of us who didn’t know when to say “enough” decided to work with our Cap’n Tug-Boat masks on. None of us expected our boss to show up on a rainy day, he didn’t seem to share our brand of humor…

“What the H- – L are you doing?!” he asked in an aggravated tone. I pushed my mask to the top of my head, smiled an awkward smile and embarrassingly admitted, “Pretending to be Cap’n Tug-Boat!” as I started to laugh realizing the moment.

He reluctantly smiled, shook his head and announced, “You goofy b- – – ard.” While a young man acting like a kid while doing his job isn’t earth shattering, the idea of having fun, listening to music, being happy, and producing more than other union crews at the time was.

I didn’t then, and I still don’t comprehend how people acting grim, solemn, mean, or serious makes anyone think they’re more of a professional or should somehow be taken more seriously.

Some people even carry that persona with them after work, trying to look mature and be accepted by others as such. There is plenty of time for being serious in this life and I’m not suggesting anyone should bury their head in the sand and ignore the serious side of life.

I can find something to be sad about every day, that’s easy. The challenge is to find joy, happiness, peace, and even laughter during good and bad times. Life is a gift, it should be opened and enjoyed like one. The gift is from God and no two people have the same one.

When the kids were little, I rode their skateboards, did my stint on the pogo-sticks, and more often than not hit the ground laughing.

Someday when I have grandkids, you can bet that I’ll be wearing their Cap’n Tug-Boat masks… laughing.

PLAYING THE LOTTERY

playing the lottery

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I don’t know about you, but many times in life I’ve felt I lived the old adage, “A day late and a dollar short.” Things don’t always seem to work out as I had hoped or often planned for. To be honest, some of the things I truly desired would have been disastrous in my life if attained.

These thoughts washed back over me a few days ago when my oldest brother called and reminded me of a few years back that he’d purchased some lottery tickets for us. He gave me a brotherly reminder and basically told me that with the jackpot up around 180 million, it was time for a payback.

Oh well, fair is fair. I pulled into the nearest convenience store and gave the government more money, they certainly do need it. I’d never purchased any lottery tickets before so I was a little clumsy as I traded my green paper with printing for their white paper with printing on it.

I mentioned to the girl behind the counter during the transaction what a waste of money I thought it was, she countered with, “You probably won’t be saying that if you win!” I immediately considered her comment and politely added, “I bet all that money would come with its own set of problems!” She responded laughing without hesitation, “Yeah, I’m sure it would, but I wouldn’t mind giving it a try!!!” I chuckled, “I hear ya!”–“Have a good day!” and out the door I went.

I must be getting more mature because in that brief moment of thought during that conversation with the convenience store worker, I really realized that God has given me everything I need. In that moment, I realized all the ugliness that could be possible to go along with that prize.

I’ve heard some real sad and pathetic stories about winning when playing the lottery and the percentage that end up broke and worse off than where they started.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having money, I just think until it’s earned and understood the chances of hanging onto it are pretty slim. From what I’ve seen in my life the old adage, “A fool and his money are soon parted,” is certainly true. I’ve worn that hat more times in my life than I like to admit.

The point is that sometimes winning isn’t winning and sometimes losing isn’t losing. The Bible speaks of being richly blessed which has significantly more meaning than just money.

I failed and lost many times at many different things in my life, in the end those losses and failures created the map in my life of perseverance and desire I follow with God’s guidance to live a blessed and fulfilled life.

Proof of that is the fact you’re reading this, not because I’m a great writer, but due to the fact that God directs us in ways that bring Him honor and us success. That success isn’t always measured in dollars.

I’ve known people, including ones from my own family that missed out on being rich and famous by what some people call a simple twist of fate. I see it a little different than most others would, I believe God spared them from things that would have directed them away from Him and ultimately ruin their lives, physically and spiritually.

I don’t need a winning lottery ticket to have all I need.

It’s a peaceful place with God to be able to say, “I have all I need.”

Sometimes in life… Less is More…

THE LAST WALKIN’ COTTON-PICKER

the last walkin' cotton-picker

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“You know son, I guess I’ve gotta be one of the last walkin’ cotton-pickers left.” He stated quietly as if the realization just crept up on him. “Really”? I answered, caught a little of guard.

My dad went on to explain the details of some of his childhood that I’d never heard from him my entire life. I knew my dad was born to a poor sharecropper family in Arkansas. One of the first times I got in trouble at school was for making fun of another kid, my dad used some of his childhood memories to teach me one of many life lessons.

I was used to teasing and being teased by my big brothers and friends, it was a pretty tough area we grew up in. It seemed kinda natural to make fun of the kid in my class that ate baby food. He must have had something wrong with his stomach or something, but  I didn’t bother to worry about that part of the equation.

I was only considering the laughing and having fun part, not the other people’s lives, feelings, and future impact I might have on one of them.

When word got back to my dad through the usual channels, he was not amused, to say the least, but he wasn’t angry. Even at a young age I could tell he was deeply disappointed. Enough time has passed for me to recognize that he was heartbroken by my actions. These kinds of acts were never part of my dad’s life, he was a champion of the weak or downtrodden.

It would take many of my dad’s stories about his life and experiences to teach a hard-headed son.

My dad didn’t even whip me for making fun of Ronald at school. You see I knew enough about my dad’s life from my brothers and uncles to know that my dad was a tough, strong man. He’d rescued his brothers on many occasions and I knew he’d boxed in the Air Force, to name a few of the stories I built the vision of my dad around.

That afternoon he took me into his room, this is where we’d sometimes get whipped for blatant disobedience. The lesson began–“Sit down son”… He began to tell me of his days in school as a kid about my age. My dad shared with me how there were many times in his school days that his family didn’t have enough money to buy him or some of his brothers shoes for school.

I was horrified. He shared with me how sad and heartbroken he’d been as a kid when the other kids would make fun of him for something he couldn’t do anything about at that age. My dad also told me how disappointed he was that one of his own children would make fun of another person the way the kids had made fun of him.

I was learning the other untold side of my dad and who he really was in heart and character. You gotta know by that point, as much as I hated getting whipped, it would have been way less painful than this lesson I was learning.

Whippings were a bit painful on the outside, this punishment was painful on the inside. I never cried as hard over punishment or groundings as I did that day. The next day when I apologized to Ronald I meant those words from the bottom of my heart.

I gotta give my dad credit, he taught me a good lesson. I never, ever made fun of anyone like that again. Oh, there were many more lessons for a kid like me to learn and it usually was the hard way, but not this lesson. This one I got.

I was proud to know and tell others that my dad was one of the last walking cotton-pickers. My dad and I talked about, and he carried that title of realization for about a year and a half after that… Now he’s gone…

I miss my hero, the last walking cotton picker… He taught me a lot…

I share his stories with my kids and friends to teach and inspire them and me to live a Godly and humble life like my dad did.

I’m honored to carry the title and share the memories of the last walking cotton-picker’s son…

EXITS

ExitsLast week I was on Interstate 10 traveling west, there’s about 12 lanes of traffic in this particular area. I was in the HOV lane (legally this time!) when I made a mental note of one mile to my intended exit.

I was in a little bit of a hurry and calculated I could reel in another dozen cars or so before I’d make my gradual move over to the turtle lane for my exit.

It never seems to work out exactly as planned, I got within two lanes of the exit lane before I decided I might end up killing myself or someone else in the process. I missed my exit… I was a little frustrated, mostly at myself for not paying close enough attention.

I had lunch a few days later with a good friend and brother, he was sharing with me his desire to draw closer to God. His analogy was his life as a road. “I feel like if I stay on this road it will keep veering me to the left, eventually taking me away from God.” He continued, “I feel like I need to make a hard right and make this change.”

I immediately thought of how many times in my life I missed an exit. I wanted to pass a few more cars and steal a little more time. I think of all the people God offers an exit that want to steal some time or put off His desire for their own.

We as humans always tend to think there will be another chance, another exit in life to pull over and submit to the One who offers the only rest stop that offers true rest. The exit God puts before us offers more than just rest, it also offers peace and joy.

Peace, joy, and rest, while the rest of the world speeds by at warp speed to an unknown destination. Many of us see the exit sign and think, “I have more fuel, I can make it a little further before I have to surrender to the need for The Fuel of my soul.”

Even the lost know that a merciful God is going to offer another out or exit. So they keep the vehicle that houses their souls moving so fast the exits start to become blurs. The super highway of life has never been navigated by any of us, we don’t know how many exits God has planned in front of us.

Often times the road ends without warning. It’s a one-way freeway and once the end is reached, it’s a sheer cliff drop off. The prayer for another exit at this point could be a little too late.

I wonder how many Christians like me sometimes know the freeway and recognize the exits and yet we try to get a few more under our belts before we look for the next exit? The Master knows the needs of our lives, that’s why He offers rest or exits. God knows when our soul needs fuel, we just ignore the blinking “check engine” lights.

These are the times God allows us to breakdown, He knows we need an exit even when we’re too stubborn or ignorant to take them. He allows us to sit roadside in panic or just completely stopped until we come back to our senses.

God then sends out the tow truck and hauls us back to Him. God’s mechanics who sometimes are strangers, sometimes friends ask us, “Didn’t you know you were low on gas”? or, “Didn’t you see or hear the blinking warning signs”? We answer with regret, “Yeah, I just thought I could go a little further on my own.”

Thank God, literally, for those breakdowns. This is His mercy on His chosen. The road doesn’t last forever, everything in this world comes to an end.

We never know when we have passed that “Last Chance For Gas” or “Last Chance For Eternal Life” exit. Once we’re past it, no matter who we are there is knowledge.

The knowledge of truth one exit too late…

THE ELECTRIC WINDOW RACE

electric window race

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Most people I know care what other people think about them to one degree or another and I fall into that category like everyone else in the world. When I was younger, I cared a great deal about what people thought of me. I think it’s pretty common for kids.

Many people paint themselves like a canvas to portray the character they want the world to see. I’ve known people who have worn glasses because they wanted to look smart, I can tell you it never worked for me!

I remember being around 7 or 8 years old sitting in our car in the church parking lot after the service waiting for our mom and dad. Minutes seem like hours when you’re not playing as a kid. We were parked next to the Buchanan’s car at church. They had the nicest car at the church, a Lincoln Continental which was right up there with Cadillacs as the nicest cars around in those days. (this was when the only notable import was the Volkswagen Beetle)

We had a Mercury too, but ours was an old four door Comet and it was the only car we had. My brothers knew a lot about cars and enjoyed nice ones like that Lincoln. So with a tad of covetousness and a car load of boredom my brother Bobby challenged the adopted Buchanan kids to an electric window race.

One of the Buchanan boys quickly accepted my brothers challenge to the electric window race with enthusiasm, they too must have been bored out of their gourds.

Sure enough, even though we didn’t have as near nice a car as the Buchanan’s or live in one of the biggest houses that overlooked the whole town, we had faster electric windows, or so the Buchanan’s thought.

Although I was much younger than all the participants involved in the electric window race, I was astonished at how gullible or sheltered the three of them were. Our car wasn’t made with electric windows, it wasn’t even an option, neither were seat belts in the “affordable” cars like ours in those days. The only kind of cars with that kind of luxury was the Caddies and Continentals.

Bobby hunched forward a tad, leaned his left forearm on the armrest and on “GO” he would reach over his lap with his right arm and turn the window crank moving only his wrist. A pretty impressive feat since I could barely roll the window up or down with both my hands.

No matter, we were the electric window race champions of the church parking lot! We had proved we had something they didn’t, we had much more than they had, it would just take a little more time to gain that wisdom. Nice car? Hummph!

The problem with caring about what other people might think about us in this life is that we ignore the fact that everyone has issues or problems and their own set of insecurities to deal with. Adults and children alike.

My sister and the youngest adopted Buchanan girl were the same age, imagine how jealous I was when my sister got invited to go swimming at the Buchanan’s house? I only knew of two families that had their very own built-in concrete swimming pool in town. One was a doctor who lived in the prestigious Bel-Air Estates and the Buchanan’s who’s house overlooked all of ours.

It looked like the Buchanan’s had it all, but in time we would begin to see the cracks in the Buchanan family canvas. Though they were prominent members of our church and Mrs. Buchanan was a regular singing solos, my siblings and me decided the Buchanan’s must be giving a lot of money to the church, otherwise no way they’d have let her sing as bad as she was.

We all got thumped by our dad’s big ole’ finger one time or another trying not to snicker in church and especially when Mrs. Buchanan sang. Sadly, we didn’t have to hear her sing for too much longer after that electric window race.

The oldest son Donald shot and killed Mrs. Buchanan… Last we heard he had died in prison.

That was one of many lessons I’ve got a front row seat for in life. Our old car and house weren’t fancy, my two brothers and me shared a 9×9 room, all six of us shared the shower.

My dad was a blue collar man and my mom’s job was to stay at home and take care of us. We had discipline and we had love, even then I knew I wouldn’t trade what I had for anything, not even a fancy house or car.

I didn’t realize at the time we were rich beyond my wildest dreams…

 

Linked to Hazel’s site at http://letmetelluastory.blogspot.com/2012/04/true-story-blog-party-week-5.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FwsBvD+