A SIMPLE THING

a simple thing

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It’s been a busy week. I’ve been trying to get all I need to get done before the holiday. Due to lack of time I’m posting something that I wrote at the end of the summer. This was August 15th McKenzie’s birthday, the night before Ali went back to college and Gurm started Jr. High School. Please bear in mind these are some of the things I am truly grateful for not just this holiday, but every day of my life. Happy Thanksgiving to every reader and God bless you and yours.

–There was actually a time in my life when I was content, even happy to have a full tank of gas in my car and $40 in my wallet. That seems like a pretty simple thing doesn’t it? I bet there was a time in your life when it was less complicated and simple things brought you joy or contentment…Dare I say even happiness?

What happened to us? When did we become so sophisticated and successful that only complex things bring us joy? In fact do complex things bring us joy or happiness at all? How about peace?

Yep, we had big dreams and set about to turn those dreams into realities. When they finally started to become realities we took the proceeds and started to knit together a pretty complicated lifestyle.

How do you like your life now? Many times in my life, I’ve taken the blessings from God and cashed them in for idols. I don’t mean to, it just happens. It’s part of living in the flesh. Soon instead of worrying about honoring and pleasing the Provider we worry about and honor the provision.

No wonder He sometimes allows it to be taken away. He knows what’s best for His children, similarly to how we know what’s best for our children.

Nobody likes lessons in life. They’re generally uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. After the lesson is grasped and more wisdom is gained, do you find peace and joy in the simple things? I do.

I rediscover that simple faith in God that I found so many years ago. In Him, I enjoy rest. I find myself at peace with my Heavenly Father. The simplest things bring true joy, the understanding of His grace and mercy that has chosen me. Knowing He will never leave me nor forsake me. His sacrifice for me and mine.

When I’m one with God in spirit and living my life above my selfishness I find the most simple things in life bring a smile to my face.

This morning I gave McKenzie a big hug, pulling her off center with her shoulder against my chest topping it off with a kiss on the side of her forehead. Even though it was early and I hadn’t had a cup of coffee yet, I said, “Happy Birthday Girl”!

She beamed her beautiful smile that I love to see. It’s the same today on her 22nd birthday as it was as a child. That simple smile could alone make my day.

Tomorrow Ali leaves for college again to start another successful year in life for her. I’m proud of her for her accomplishments, but more importantly for who she is in God. It’s a simple thing, but it brings my wife and I great joy.

I have to wrap this up because Gurm starts 7th grade tomorrow as well. She’s nervous, excited, and I want to spend time with her so she can’t dwell on it too much. It’s a simple thing to know our daughters know God and live their lives by His rules in spirit.

For me, that simple gift from God brings a smile to my face.

So does playing catch with my youngest. It’s a simple thing…

REJECTION

rejectionI’ve received some pretty encouraging rejection letters from prospective literary agents. If you have a “The glass is half full” life perspective that is.

The last one? Not quite as good… In fact it was so bad there was no response… Ouch! There I was waiting patiently, playing by the rules, one agent at a time. Nothing… Crickets chirping…

I don’t know if a “Hey buddy, you stink.” Would have been better, I’m not sure I really want to know.

So I’ll stick with the things I do know. It just so happens that the book I’m trying to breath life into is a non-fiction Christian Inspiration. The title is “The Common Threads Of Greatness.” In the text, I consider the character traits that make up truly great people from a Biblical perspective.

Oh Great! Now I get to practice what I preached.

I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, God cannot be mocked. Although I certainly don’t speak or write as an authority on any of the covered topics, I do pay attention in life and these are my observations. Maybe God wants me to possess a little more mastery of the subjects?

Some of the topics covered in the manuscript are ringing in my ears and mind. I’m considering the very motivations I wrote about. In one of my recent blogs titled, “It’s A Fine Line,” I asked readers the same question I’m asking myself.

“Floyd, is your motivation selfless or selfish? What side of the line am I on? Is my desire to be published for selfish reasons? Starting with gratification, slowly drifting over the line in pride and ego?

In truth, I felt God leading me to write to begin with. My undertaking started with a pure heart and an obedient spirit. I’m sure since then I’ve danced back and forth across that line like I did as a kid standing on the California/Arizona border.

I’d jump on one leg onto the other, declaring in my youthful exuberance, “I’m in California, now I’m in Arizona, – California – Arizona”! I’d continue until made to stop… My poor parents.

One of the topics in one of the chapters in my manuscript is perseverance. So I will put up or shut up.

The truth is I truly do believe that never giving up on something, especially something that one has a passion for will ultimately bring gratification regardless of the outcome.

The game of golf is a good example of that I think. I’m not a golfer, but I have a lot of friends who are. They talk about the frustrations, the close calls, the endless hours always with passion. Even though frustrated and never completely satisfied with their game. They love it. They live for it.

Passion is another subject covered in my manuscript. That is the thing that all the writers, golfers, artists, and just about everyone else in the world who keeps on keepin’ on despite any and all setbacks have in common.

In chapter 10 I cover hope. Hope from a Biblical definition is nothing like most of us use the term in our daily lives. Many of us use “hope” in a sentence when we should be using “wish” or “wishing.” The Biblical definition of hope is basically “confidence” or expectation.

I’ll continue to “hope” in what I what I believe is God’s call. I’ll use these things that I do know to continue on through the situations I don’t.

I love to learn new things and I’ve learned a ton since I’ve started this new journey. I have tons more to learn and am looking forward to it.

One thing’s for sure in my life, I’ve heard “NO”! light years more than I’ve ever heard, “YES”!

There’s a good chance at some point and time someone’s going to say, “OK, OK!! “We’ll give you a shot.” Just to shut me up…

WHAT IS HAPPINESS?

hapiness

Hap-Hap-Hap-Happy Place! image by Photobucket

How fleeting is happiness in this life? I think about some pretty cool things I wanted or wanted to accomplish. After I received them it didn’t take long before I wanted more or something different. Some years back before the huge increase in the cost of old sports cars I was caught up in buying and mostly keeping those old cars. I dreamed of having those cars all of my life. I admired and appreciated them anytime I saw one, in fact, I still do. That’s about the only thing that will turn my head these days. I learned an interesting lesson from that period in my life. I should say I confirmed in more graphic detail the truth regarding such matters. The best part about having a passion for something like those cars was just that; Passion. Call it desire, want, need, or obsession, it’s all the same. The feeling of wanting and working to achieve something is the greatest part of the process. From the day I drove those cars home, I slowly had less desire for them. In time, I’d wash and start or drive them sometimes out of guilt. I eventually sold all of them. I felt like I had to. It seemed sinful to have something of value that I didn’t have time to care for in a matter that showed respect and stewardship. The best memories of the cars now aren’t when I acquired or sold them. It was when I took family members for drives. I mentioned last week one of my favorite pictures of my daughters is one taken with all three of them sitting in the driver seat of one of them. There has even been enough time pass for me to tell the story of how my wife damaged and wrecked the 56′ Vette and I can now laugh. There I was, standing in the garage on the phone with the garage door guy. My wife had torn the garage door off the tracks and it was laying on top or her SUV. No problem, I had it under control until I looked over and saw a big divot on the trunk of the 56′. My wife enjoys telling how I jumped up and down pointing like an idiot while talking to the garage door guy. A couple months later while driving the 56′ for the second time she ran into my work bench which drove it almost through the house wall. The original chrome bumper was destroyed and the hood damaged. I think God has a way of rearranging priorities. It was easy to measure happiness.

STEPS OF HONOR

steps of honor

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I love tennis shoes. I love bright ones, sleek ones, light ones, basketball and cross trainers. I even have a couple pairs of red patent leather ones. It’s time for another pair. I know this due to the pain in the ball of my left foot reminding me the current pair are in need of retirement. This is one of those pains brought on by a life of steps taken in shoes I now regret.

This last pair have been workhorses, they took me a lot of places, some comfortable and easy, some difficult and somewhat dangerous. Not like the old pairs, they covered ground no shoes should ever have to.

I think back to the places that my shoes have taken me in my life. I consider the steps, some honorable, some not so much. I’ve been down some wide paths in my shoes over my lifetime. Those wide paths of destruction were easy to get to and very easy to navigate in the flesh.

Those were the steps I’ve taken that would fall into the “dishonorable” category. I regret those steps, and yet God uses the memory of those steps that led into pathways of destruction to remind me of His grace, or undeserved favor and mercy.

My shoes have walked deep inside old mine shafts, jumping over holes inside of those caves that you couldn’t hear a dropped rock hit the bottom of. My shoes have run down the same jagged terrain at full speed to find them completely shredded by the time we got to the bottom. My old shoes have also been high above a mighty river, worn to protect my feet from a jump too high to accomplish without their protection.

My shoes have bravely marched into harms way, sometimes unknowing, sometimes knowing full well the possible consequences, but the obedient shoes steered by the ignorant navigator ventured in.

In days gone by I would wear shoes that were uncomfortable, as long as they looked cool. I let what other people thought of my shoes define the ones I’d wear. I’d even walk in the same paths as the people I was trying to look good for. Of course in hindsight, those steps taken led to dead ends and sometimes close to spiritual and physical death.

I thank God for the redirection of my steps. He placed my feet upon the Rock, the firm foothold that led off the slippery slope of destruction, to the narrow much closer to straight and level path now traveled.

The steps I take are still prone to wander, (Lord I feel it) but the wisdom He’s given me along the paths of my life allow me to fail less and take fewer dishonorable steps.

Imagine that your footprints could be seen by everyone everywhere you went. What would the paths chosen and their footprints say to the world? I guess you’d be able to tell a lot about a person by knowing where they went and how they spent their time. “If those shoes could talk what tales they’d tell.”

I still appreciate a nice pair of shoes, especially tennis shoes. They need to be lightweight, comfortable and supportive. If they look cool, that’s just a bonus. The most important part of my new shoes are the steps that will be taken in them.

I pray to God for guidance along the paths He’s chosen for me and mine. May I walk with steps of honor.

BIG BOYS DON’T CRY

big boys don't cry

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I’m fascinated by the events in a person’s life that helps determine who a person really is. The lumps along the path of life are common to all of us. It’s how we process the pain that eventually heals into a scar we get to carry forever that is the difference.

Up until I was in about 2nd or 3rd grade I had a speech impediment. Before the age of “Political Correctness,” I was fair game. Even adults back in those days made fun of me. Not fun for the kid who couldn’t pronounce “R’s.”

Around that same time in my life, my grandma on my dad’s side passed away after a long bout with cancer. We had some good times even during the process.

Kids weren’t allowed in hospital rooms in those days. My mom and dad told us, “You’re going to get to see Maw-Maw through the glass.” They said it over and over like it was extra special. I know it was, but the way they carried on about it, I thought “The Glass” was magical.

They gave us directions to go around the hospital, turn here, go over there. I didn’t pay too much attention to the details, I left the navigation up to my big brothers to lead us to “The Glass.”

We climbed up a small grassy hill and there was my Maw-Maw in bed, my mom and dad standing beside the bed waving. I thought to myself, “That’s It”! – “That’s, “The Glass”? “That’s just a big window”! I waved, pushed my sister and started running down the grassy hill in hopes of inducing a game of tag.

I remember my uncle Buck driving his truck into the middle of our front yard in the middle of the night. I vividly remember him pounding on our front door calling for his brother.

I could hear my uncle Buck telling my dad to get his boots so they could go get those “Sons-a-_itches.” I listened as my dad calmly said, “Buck, you know I don’t do that anymore.”

I was the only one of my siblings who wasn’t tall enough to see over the edge of the casket at my grandma’s funeral. My dad didn’t shed a tear at the funeral. My uncle Galen the youngest of the nine siblings cried like I’d never seen a grown man do before. My uncle Buck, the oldest of the surviving siblings didn’t cry either. I watched in wonder, learning the lessons of life without shedding a tear as well, just like my hero’s.

I’ve pondered the many events and the ultimate impact they might have on my life. These few incidents are just a thimble of water in the swimming pool of life, but for the few and total here’s what I’ve got so far.

I didn’t let my speech impediment damper my love of Halloween. Sometimes even while laughing at the way I said “Tlick-a-Tleet,” I scored double the candy. That speech impediment landed me in Special Ed. The kids in that pre-PC society fondly referred to the class as the place for M-R’s.

I received one on one teaching with a specialist. Once the speech therapist finished, I would come to speak plainly and read at a college level while in grade school.

My dad was the only person in the world to have some control over my uncle Buck. I learned of my dad’s quiet strength. I learned of his self-control, sacrifice, and love for his family. My dad’s priority was God and his family. I watched it in times of testing. He never failed.

I think God spared me the confrontation with death at an early age. I held up the line as long as I could on my tippy-toes trying to catch a glimpse over the edge of the casket at my Maw-Maw, before being gently moved along by my dad.

I wondered most of my life if I would be strong like my dad was in public. I wondered if I’d scream with nightmares in the middle of the night like he did after he lost his mom. I’m certain that everyone deals with death one way or the other. I just wasn’t sure how I would deal with it. It was something I was hoping to put off as long as possible. God did give me enough years to know how I would respond.

God used all the events in my life to bring me to a place of understanding. His will is perfect and everything that happens in our lives has a purpose. I thank God for the place He’s brought me to.

Just before God took my dad home, I told him how proud I was to be his son. I shared with him how honored God and his family were by “The good race he had run.” My dad cried… My mom, wife, and though big boys don’t cry, I myself joined them.

At my dad’s funeral, I cried again… I know for sure it won’t be the last time…