Finding Floyd

HEARTBREAKS AND TEDDYBEARS

Repost from March 2013

I see it in my daughters, I remember seeing it in girls growing up, along with my sister and even my mom in hindsight. Girls naturally played with dolls, nurturing their God given instinct to care and love. They; like all women loved with a strong passion to be loved. Loved by someone special who would be willing to lay down their life for the purpose of true love. It doesn’t seem to matter how old girls get… They’re still little girls who love deeply and yearn to be loved deeply.

Likewise, little boys get older, more sophisticated, a bit cynical, and insecure enough to hide true feelings and hide behind the mask of indifference; but it’s just an act, they too are still living with the hopes, dreams, and desires they were born with. We played cowboys and Indians or army and pretended to fight and die for a just cause.

How many little boys have said the now famous words, “Look mom!” Sometimes it was said while holding our hands toward the sky while peddling our bikes, sometimes it was on top of something we’d climbed or conquered – whatever it is we were showing our mothers was for the same reason; we wanted to be acknowledged for our courage and bravery for that built in need of being respected to be fulfilled.

How many marriages melt into vapor because a woman doesn’t feel loved and/or a man doesn’t feel respected or significant? We’re all in need of the same things and our actions point to the fact that it is the desires we were born with.

All those things ran through my mind as she walked across the crosswalk. I could see the little girl in her even though she walked with a bad limp. Her clothes were worn and dirty along with her jeans faded to threads. Her white top and tennis shoes were dingy, gray and stained.

The vicious wind whipped her long gray hair back from her face revealing deep lines and age. She was carrying her life’s belongings in a cloth sack opposite her bad leg. We watched her walk into a drug store parking lot while I waited for traffic to allow a left turn.

My conscience wouldn’t allow me to drive on without trying to help the little girl who lost her dreams and was now old and homeless… No matter – she’s still someone’s daughter and child of the King. The little old girl was cynical, “We don’t want anything – we just want you to have this.” She finally lowered her cynical gaze, accepted the gift and answered, “God bless you! – God bless you for this!”

HEARTBREAKS AND TEDDYBEARS

The little girl is older now. So am I, but we’re still children – God’s children. I just needed a reminder that day of heartbreaks and teddybears from our Father. As the aged little girl limped across that street with her things in a knapsack, the big brown and dirty teddy bear she held to her heart like a child was my heart’s reminder…

A VICIOUS STORM

a viscious storm

THE TREE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING

A vicious storm ripped through our neighborhood earlier this week. It blew roof tiles off the house, ripped apart an umbrella that was closed, and turned tables and chairs over in the backyard.

As if that weren’t enough, it tore down shrubs and trees, blew water under the front door and crowned it’s show of strength with a lightning strike to the neighbors tree directly across the street.

Our neighbors had the half of the tree that got blown off by the lightning cut up and hauled off the same day as the storm. I was impressed. I was less impressed with my timeliness responding to the clean up effort.

It’s been a busy week. I have plenty of excuses. They all sound pretty good, but I’m having a hard time convincing myself that any of them have merit.

It dawned on me as I looked at the mess day after day this week while putting off the inevitable, that this was a good example not only of our physical world, but also our spiritual one as well.

How many times in life does a storm pass through and leave a disaster in our hearts and lives?

Most of the time in life I’ll have the same response spiritually as I have this week physically. I’ll live with the mess in my spiritual life. I’ll step over debris, or kick it out of the way. Just enough so that I can still function without tripping over the mess.

To start the clean up process in either scenario, whether within or without takes one very important ingredient… Action.

I’ve also found in life that in either case procrastination usually makes things worse, and the clean up process more difficult.

I finally got around to cleaning up the backyard yesterday. It didn’t take too long, but soon after I started the regret of procrastination was again a reality. If I had cleaned up the same day of the storm like my neighbors did, I wouldn’t be burning my hands on hot metal furniture.

The shredded umbrella canvas wrapped around the bottom of its stand had become the new home of a few ants and spiders. It had also become a new target for our dog Larry to mark as “his territory”.

“Sure wish I’d cleaned this up sooner,” I said to myself out loud. I knew Larry was listening and I was hoping he felt bad. He probably did, but he just can’t help himself. I’m glad he couldn’t answer, the last thing I wanted to hear from him was, “You should have cleaned it up sooner.”

I hope I learn a lesson from this incident, I need to be a man of action in my physical life, but more importantly in my spiritual life.

In fact, I think I’ll start getting ready for the next storm in life today. I’ll batten down the hatches and secure all things inside and out.

I’ll seek God through His Word in study and in prayer.

This won’t stop the next storm, the storms in life are inevitable, but being prepared spiritually assures the weathering of them.

When the next storm blows through leaving some spiritual damage, I think I’ll try to get my spiritual house in order that same day.

Putting off the clean up process only makes matters worse.

Maybe I should get some gloves too…

WOULD TAKE A MIRACLE

It sounded like a faint shotgun blast. I knew instinctively what it was, I’ve heard it before, lots of times. When the echoing glass sound is that loud it means a bird has ended his or her life. For a bird to survive that kind of shot would take a miracle.

I first checked the French doors closest to where I was sitting. I knew it had to hit close to me due to the sound of the bird crashing head first into glass. There was no sign of a bird on the ground. I was stumped, but not for long.

The top image isn’t a cloud. Note the fluids and feathers.

The window at the back of the family room had movement. I strolled over to it to find the body fluids from a bird slowly running down the glass, a gruesome sight… especially for Easter morning.

I know it’s a fallen world as well as the next person, I suppose, but the last thing I wanted was to be reminded of it on Easter morning. We’ve all had our fill of the reality of this fallen world lately.

I’ve seen a lot of imprints of birds on our widows over the years, but none as harsh as this one today, Easter morning. I’ve had to dispose of a lot of birds over the years, mostly hummingbirds, my favorites, and usually during the Springtime.

I reluctantly went outside to find the bird, or what was left of him. It was a dove… the last bird I wanted to lose, symbolically, on Easter.

The dove wasn’t dead, but not far from well. He was crouched on the ground, sitting in body fluids and feathers stuck in it. He looked at me, blinked, but couldn’t fly away. I went back in the house. I figured his brain was so scrambled that even if he could fly, he probably couldn’t remember how.

I thought of the verse in Matthew 10. The one about how the Creator of all things knows when even one sparrow dies. I prayed for the dove. I prayed for a miracle.

I checked the dove awhile later and he was still in the same spot, not moving. I nodded with understanding… it’s not a perfect world. We’re promised trouble in this fallen world, but for those of us that know the Father, know that once we’re free of this fallen flesh, we will be perfect.

I know where the freezer bags are… I’ve slipped more than a few critters from our backyard into them over the years.

It’s amazing how God can use the small things in life to get your attention and to make you think about Him, His will, His love, mercy, and grace.

When I went back outside the dove was gone. I checked around the other side of the barbecue. As I did the dove flew across the pool to a boulder on the other side of it, one last feather falling from him.

I looked up to ray of Light piercing the overcast sky and said a prayer of thanks to the One Who cares about all things, little and big in this fallen world.

To get the world to see the Father’s sovereignty in this fallen world would take a miracle… they happen everyday. And Easter is our reminder.

 

IF YOU’RE A HILLBILLY

Excerpt from one of my manuscripts. If you’re a hillbilly.

You’d never be able to guess from laying your eyes on us, or hearing me talk, but I was born in Arkansas. Just like my daddy and his daddy before him…  I’d be the last. It took a while, but I finally figured out that you can take the hillbillies out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the hillbillies. That takes generations.

My dad and his siblings were born to a half breed American Indian man who was a cotton picking sharecropper. He ran moonshine to put beans on the table and for the spirited perks. Theirs was more like a prison sentence than a childhood. Folks reared in those harsh times lived by the unspoken oath to teach kids to be tough for fear that otherwise it could mean certain death. Or worse, disgracing the family name and tarnishing the only thing they ever owned outright; their pride.

The brood born in the struggling south couldn’t trade that pride for milk, a chicken, tobacco, tomatoes, okra, or a swallow of shine, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t valuable. They couldn’t trade any of those luxury items for any leather bound copy of the Good Book neither, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t worth more than silver or gold. It’s just that everybody they knew already had one—even if they couldn’t read it or never did. That was the job of the preacher man I suppose. One thing they learned good and fast was to quote the parts of the Good Book that justified their lives and actions, but that’s not an art practiced only in the South, maybe just perfected there.

image courtesy of Amazon.com

My dad’s oldest brother, my Uncle Buck, swore it was Troy and Leatha dropping him in a gunnysack and nailing him to the wall of the shack that made him so damn mean. That shack they called home was more like a shelter than a house, and if it happened to snow outside, a fair amount ended up inside.

The nail they used to hang Buck on the wall of the shack was a lot like them, and all of us really. You push and beat on a person enough, whether it be mentally or physically or both, and pretty soon the weak part shows up where we bend just like it does in a nail.

There’s a place in all of us that is softer than the rest of us, a place that is apt to bend first. It’s our weak spot, like the weakest link in a chain. And once we bend in a particular way and place, we’re prone to bend there over and over… even after meticulous re-straightening.

A bent nail is close to useless… not suited for the job it was designed for. It almost takes a miracle to drive a bent nail. I suppose that’s why all of us, just like the nail, try to keep our loved ones on the straight and narrow… but the paths of this life are beset with detours.

If you wanna make a boy tough, you take him into the cotton fields. You wanna make a boy mean, you trap him in a sack like an animal and pin him to a wall with a good and straight nail until he thinks like a badger. Or, if you’re a hillbilly, you do both.

A DAY OF REMEMBRANCE

Perry asked me to pass on that Jacquelyn’s celebration of life will be on Saturday the 24th at Impact Church in Scottsdale. 15650 N 83rd Way Scottsdale, 85260, at 11 am.

This is the day that Jacquelyn Kim Vettraino went home to be with the Lord. From now on this day will be a day of remembrance.

Perry, Jacquelyn, Max, Christian, and Roman

Jacquelyn left a legacy that touched many lives, the most important being her family; Perry, Roman, Max, and Christian. She was a devout wife and mother who was used by God to help shape all of them into people of honor.

I’ve witnessed more people passing from this realm to the next than I ever cared to, but Jacquelyn was the first to do it with the ease from seeing it as an opportunity to show God to the rest of the world. And that’s exactly what she did. One of Jacquelyn’s friends came back to faith by seeing her faith and seeing her walk the walk after years of talking it. And that’s just one of many people she touched while navigating the most difficult part of her life.

A few days ago, after fighting a valiant battle with cancer for eight months, Jacquelyn whispered, “I want to go home.” She didn’t mean their house, she meant heaven.

We watched Jacquelyn fight the disease and speak boldly of her faith in public and private. I thought she might be less certain at the end. After all, that’s what I expect from most people, myself included. I was wrong, she never wavered in her faith and trust in God… Who took her home this morning with a smile on her face.

Jacquelyn was as beautiful in death as she was in life. And that also is a first for all of us.

I’m honored to have been a small part of Jacquelyn’s life, and of course my life long friend Perry and their boys as well.

If you’re a praying person, please send some up for Perry, Roman, Max, and Christian on this day of remembrance.