Finding Floyd

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…

 

 

TUGGIN’ ON SUPERMAN’S CAPE

superman's cape

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There are some things in life that you’re just not supposed to do. The list is enormous, but there are some popular “don’t’s” that stand out. We heard them as kids and if a person is lucky enough to get old will probably repeat them.

“Don’t play with fire!” Did anyone, or maybe more accurate a question would be, did any boys ever keep that command? My mom didn’t catch me in the act, but she definitely knew someone had burned our cats whiskers off and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I was the culprit.

We all know the rules, the do’s and don’t’s, but we tend to break them anyway. “No scuffling in the house!”I can’t remember how many stitches I’ve had from breaking that one. “Look both ways before you cross the street!” It took me a while before I started paying attention to that one too.

There were the so many as a kid how could we remember all of them? “Don’t pick your nose!” –  “No double dipping!” Blah-blah-blah…

Jim Croce a popular folk/pop singer from the early seventies even had a song using some popular cultural fictional icons and common sense to make a point in the song, “Don’t Mess Around With Jim.” Here is the chorus, at least the way  I remember it.

“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape

You don’t spit into the wind

You don’t pull the mask off the ole’ Lone Ranger

And you don’t mess around with Jim.”

Point made. Jim was a tough and dangerous guy. Although young, I understood the connection and enjoyed the bit of humor. If Jim was in the same category as Superman and the Lone Ranger, then Jim was one bad dude! I mean, only a fool would tug on Superman’s cape, spit into the wind, or pull the mask of the Lone Ranger!

Some more serious rules were talked about back then as well, namely the Ten Commandments, the Biblical belief or perspective that our country was founded on. I find it interesting that our society now kind of picks and chooses which of the Commandments they agree with for their life. Many of us will justify actions that come in contrast with the Commandments we do agree with.

A society that tries to enforce the rules like the Ten Commandments as rules or laws for life  without acknowledging the sovereignty of the Law Giver perverts the laws. The first four rules or Commandments that our forefathers based our Constitution on are the laws that acknowledge the author of life and all laws- God himself.

The fifth law is more like the first four in that it’s about acknowledging and honoring someone else. In this case, it is our parents who God calls us to honor. Not that all parents deserve honoring but have you witnessed some people who haven’t honored their parents? What do their lives look like? Hummm. Maybe there is something to these laws after all?

The other laws most everyone agrees with, in general are, no murder, no adultery, no stealing, no lying, and no jealousy. The Commandments are obviously given in order of importance. If a person doesn’t think the first 5 have merit, they will certainly struggle with the last 5.

As a reminder to some who think we are evolving and becoming like “gods.” The standard we’re held to was defined by Jesus Christ. He reminded us that if we commit any of these acts in our minds we are guilty as if done in the flesh. With that as the standard of good, we all fall short… No wonder we need a Savior.

Looking back, tuggin’ on Superman’s cape and taking the mask off the ole’ Lone Ranger seems like harmless child’s play compared to mocking The Almighty…

FEAR AND DIFFICULT TIMES

fear and difficult times

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I remember a lot from my childhood, that may or may not be a good thing for you the reader, but it certainly gives me many things to reflect, ponder, and share.

I watched my dad step toward a small group of men working on a tire at a gas station, the tire obviously had the men frustrated. We were stretching our legs as my dad was pumping gas into our car.

“HEY”!!!!! “YOU WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE OVER THERE”!!! My dad yelled startling me and everyone else. The  man who was doing most of the cursing stood there stunned with a tire iron in his hand. My dad left his big index finger at the end of his outstretched arm pointing at the men for a few seconds after he confronted them.

I watched wide-eyed as the men studied my dad… I’m not sure if they realized there were women and children around or if they saw their potentially dangerous future in my dad’s eyes, but they were silent no more cursing.

My sister and I had already heard all the words they were using to express their frustrations, I know my dad probably knew it too, he just couldn’t allow something he considered wrong to go down in his presence without taking action.

I also recall my mom and dad helping others including family, friends, and strangers who were in need financially. This while dealing with their own financial difficulties.

It’s during those tense moments that define a person’s life. Will we keep silent for fear of physical harm even though we know what the right thing to do is? Will fear of not having enough keep us from helping out people who are worse off than us?

I was reminded of these type of things this week. My brother who lives in a different city about 3 hours from where I live is in a city affected even worse from the economic downturn than most. The last statistic I heard was that the particular county where my brother lives is leading the nation in home foreclosures.

We had a piece of equipment that we sold last week for less than half of what it was worth a couple of years ago, but we sold something in a place where to have sold anything could be considered a bonafide miracle.

My brother took his portion and divided it with his youngest son who works with him. That very day a good friend of their family and fellow Christian called my brothers son offering to sell them his very elaborate metal working tools for less than 10 cents on the dollar.

My nephew knew his friend was in a desperate situation. That same nephew and his family who are in their own financial difficulties told his dad he was going to take his portion to his friend. My brother gave him a third of his portion to go with my nephew’s.

When my nephew arrived at his friends house unexpectedly to drop off the money, he found his friend was in such a bind financially the only thing in the house to feed his wife, children, and himself, was baby food…

One of my mom’s famous sayings from our childhood came back to me once again… I heard it in my head like it was yesterday, she’d say, “You can’t out-give God.”

Since all things come from the hand of God, I’d say she’s right. My brother has more than enough reasons to not have shared with his friends, but that’s not the man God made my brother in heart, having been shaped by the hand of God through our parents. Nor is my nephew the man to fear the world when others in his shoes might fall apart like wet kleenex, due to the same shaping of God through his parents.

In this world, there will always be fear and difficult times ahead, but I’m not so sure there will be enough people left like my brother and nephews…

There’s a very good chance the legacy we leave behind won’t be measured by material things, but by the decisions and actions demonstrated during the tough times.

Fear my friends isn’t from God. I’m glad my brother reminded me of that this week…

SACRIFICING FUN FOR HONOR (and fun)

sacrificing fun for honor

THEY DON'T LOOK LIKE TOUGH LACROSSE PLAYERS! left to right, Carson, Brittany, Alexis, and Lily on a short spring break.

As we arrived at our gate at the airport we were pleasantly surprised to see Alexis, Carson, and Brittany there waiting to board the same airplane as us. Alexis commented that the coincidence should be worthy of my blog… How could I argue with that?

Like our little one, they are on spring break. The difference for them and the friends they’re going to meet is this will be their last spring break as kids still at home. Next year they’ll be at college, most will be at different colleges, some in different states.

I know these girls pretty well, I coached them for years. Which means for almost 6 months of every year I saw them almost every day of the week, year after year. To look at these girls and all the other girls I coached, I realize no one would probably ever be able to tell how dedicated they are.

A person might never be able to guess how much sweat and blood spill from their bodies over the years. Although all of them are good students and most of them excellent students, they’ve already learned what some people don’t learn their entire life.

Yes, they live and understand hard work, they also grasp the perseverance that has to accompany it. More importantly they savvy the sacrifice it takes to succeed in life.

While most kids their age are taking a full week off from school and all things associated with it, they’re just taking a long weekend. They will cut their vacation short and head back to Arizona to play Lacrosse.

They are continuing a tradition I began seven years ago. This trip for me is the first one I’ve taken without cutting it short like my lacrosse girls in those seven years. The program I was honored to be part of and contribute to has been and continues to be pretty successful, not just because we won more times than we lost, but because we all sacrificed in order to be able to say we did all we could do to succeed… “No Regrets”!

It is my opinion that there is no success in life without sacrifice. If someone considers sitting in front of a TV as the pinnacle of they’re life a success, I think they’re lying to themselves.

The question of sacrifice becomes who or what are we sacrificing for? It’s a delicate line between selflessness and selfishness and most of us dance back and forth over the line. When the sacrifice becomes an obsession it picks up too much steam and crashes through the barrier and falls into the valley of “too much of a good thing.”

That is my tendency… I’ve crawled out of that valley, up it’s slippery sides more times than I can recount. After all the trips back out I’ve sort of left myself a trail. It’s easier for me to recognize now when my sacrifice is ill-motivated or done with proper intention just taken too far.

Sometimes in life moderation feels like average. In truth, I think it does take passion, perseverance, and sacrifice pushed past center in order to succeed. It’s not easy to push, work, and sacrifice, if it were easy a lot more people would be doing it.

I hope as those girls push forward and sacrifice they take the time to consider their sacrifices and their motivations behind them. I especially hope they consider daily the ultimate sacrifice of Christ that allows confidence, power, and freedom over their flesh.

When I see my lacrosse girls my heart is always lifted, the pride rises in my soul. I’m proud of all of their hard work and sacrifice. I respect them for their choice to be the small minority of people who will push and sacrifice in order to find success that can only be defined by their attitude and action.

The next day I watched the U of A Wildcats take on the number 1 ranked USC Trojans. Three of my Lacrosse girls I coached did the brunt of the damage. Sacrificing fun for honor, they led the Trojans until about 8 minutes left in the game. The Wildcats ended up losing by 3 goals. I apologize to my girls who are now on their way back to Tucson, I can’t post the picture my wife took of them after the game. Mel, Kelse, and to my daughter Ali, I couldn’t be more proud. Those girls defined success today…  What an honor to watch…

I know they will carry what they’ve learned with them and pass it on to others and maybe even their children someday.

Where ever those girls go, whatever they do, they will take a piece of my heart with them… And they will wear it well…

CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGES

changes

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“All good things must come to an end.” – “Nothing lasts forever.” – “Change is inevitable.” We’ve all heard sayings like these our entire life, I even quoted a few of them myself along the way.

It’s part of life, indeed everything does change in this physical world, the spiritual world I believe is another matter. Sometimes the physical world has an effect on our spiritual world through the emotional ties that bind the two together.

Some changes are gradual, although the wrinkles on my face seem to be picking up steam. I can’t pinpoint the day, week, month, or year when I started actually thinking before jumping down from out of a pick-up truck bed. I’m a long way from jumping off roofs racing my fellow workers to the lunch truck.

I was reminded of the inevitable changes in life again last week. I’ve been going to the same gym for over 15 years… Got notice the last day of this month is also the last day that the gym will be open.

I guess it’s true we’re creatures of habit, I’m not the only one lamenting the closing of that gym, I’ve made some good friends at that gym along the way. The interesting thing about many things including that gym is how it parallels life. Over the years going to that place it’s easy to look back and note the changes in thought and action along this road.

There was a time when I was more faithful to that gym than I was to God and most certainly any church. In the earlier days my priorities were almost the polar opposite of what they are now. It wasn’t as much about health as it was my pride and ego. Oh, it wasn’t just vanity, it was also the fun of healthy competition, pushing each other to do more, but it was all physical.

I remember the five different owners over those years, I recount some people who impacted my life that I’ll never get to see again. I can still see all three of my girls as toddlers and little kids doing their time in the children’s day care. My wife and I still laugh about how the little one used to say, “Daddy, I don’t want to go the gym.” How we imitate it now is how it was pronounced at the time. “Daddy, I doan-wanna-doe-ta-da-dim”!

I can also still picture my older girls and all of my lacrosse girls as high schooler’s working hard at that gym, many of them still do. They began an exercise regimen with a proper perspective, for immediate and long-term benefits.

Inside the doors of that gym led to lifelong friendships and business relationships outside the doors of that gym, into the doors of one another’s homes.

As with many changes somewhere along that 15 plus year timeline, I’ve become a little more mature. God’s opened my eyes to many things, I’ve gained a different perspective on life. In the end it’s really pretty simple, It’s the exact opposite of how I use to think.

It’s not always easy, in fact, it takes work and concentration to look and find it. It is this: It’s not all about me… Amazing it took so many years to figure out something so basic, but to know it in the head is much different than knowing it in heart.

Another change… I’ve had a few of them the last few years, many of us have. This reminds me of what God’s word says; all things in this world are temporary, only God and His sovereign will are eternal.

I’ll use this change to remind myself to enjoy the temporary gifts, to make the most out of each encounter. With any given person, we encounter in this gym of a life, we never know if it’s the last time we’ll have an opportunity to make a difference in their life. I’ve missed more than my fair share.

Who doesn’t want a pat on the back, a “How you doin’ today”? Those words spoken in earnest that lets someone know they matter. To all the people I might well never see again, May God call you and make your paths straight and narrow before you.

I will truly miss you…