MAN EATING LADYBUGS

A MAN-EATING-LADYBUG

It’s getting close to the time when I plant winter flowers in the pots in our backyard. We all enjoy the sharp color and contrast of the Annuals, especially in a cooling air.

This is like “The Little Red Hen” child’s story with an outdoor setting. Everyone enjoys the beautiful flowers, but no one wants to help plant them. I have to include myself in that category sometimes…

To be fair, I’m a little like the lazy animals in that children’s story, wanting to reap what I haven’t sewn inside the house as well, but then I’ve always been pretty good at eating!

I can still bribe my little one to hang out with me and help with the outdoor work occasionally. A few years back I bribed her into helping again. While we were flower shopping at the local do-it-yourself-mega-store, we found at the check out line, thin bags of sheer material. Inside those bags were what looked like hundreds of ladybugs, I wondered out loud, “Ladybugs in a bag?” “What’ll they think of next?”

This was a first for us, “Can we get some Dad”? My little one asked. “Sure, I’m all for them eating whatever it is that’s eating our flowers and shrubs”! I answered. We bought two for good measure.

Of course, when we got home the first thing my daughter wanted to do was to release the ladybugs. Oh No, my help and company would have been long gone. First things first, we removed the old dead flowers from all the pots, then we added water and remixed the mulch as needed.

We quickly developed a system, she handed me the little cubed roots of flowers and I’d secure them into their new more permanent homes. Hours and much work later, it was time to unleash our temporarily jailed aphid eaters.

Being a new experience for the both of us, we weren’t quite sure how to go about releasing them. I opened up the first bag and held it out in front of me… Nothing. These must have been the lazy ladybugs who were easy to catch. I shook the bag a little… Still nothing.

I reached my hand into the bag to gently grab some of the ladybugs and release them into the wonderland they had been born for. As I was reaching in the bag, I quickly stopped, looked wild-eyed at my daughter and yelled, “AAAAHHHHH”!!!— “THEY’RE EATING MY FLESH”!!!—“OH NO”!!—“THEY’RE MAN EATING LADYBUGS”!!!—“AAAAHHHHH”!!!

My daughter was frozen with fear for a couple of seconds, then she said, “NUH, UH”!!! It was as much a question as it was a statement. I still had a wild look in my eyes, but the fun of the moment got the best of me as I started to grin. “THEY ARE NOT DAD”!!! She declared, having solved the mystery.

We laughed for five minutes straight. She took her turn reaching into the bag and repeated our new found fun. “Ahh”! “Man Eating Ladybugs”! An instant family classic, the kind that happen out of the blue but define part of a childhood and will be recalled forever.

Since that Sunday afternoon, I’ve never looked upon a ladybug in the same light. I always think of our “Man-Eating-Ladybugs,” and the special time we spent working together to create something more special than just the random occasion.

It seems to always require effort to “create” something of lasting importance, especially fond memories, even if it’s just the menial tasks of responsibility coupled with the right perspective.

Looking back over my life so far, some of the best memories I have are of things that didn’t come easy, the tasks that required self-discipline and perseverance. I’ve heard it said, “In this life, for everything you get, you have to give up something.”

I recall that day and the simple ladybug memory. Whatever football game was on that day was worth giving up to gain the memories of a child and what a little thing, on a simple Sunday, would mean to her for the rest of her life. I think sometimes God is even bigger in the little things of this life.

Self-sacrifice, however, difficult at the any given time, is the cornerstone of any lasting gratification and a great way to teach a child the possibilities in even the smallest things in life.

The most treasured things gained can rarely be measured using a number. A person can spend time and energy filling their pockets with what can be measured by counting.

A life spent measuring happiness by a number, will come up short every time…

I pray my daughter will remember that lesson from her childhood… And, of course, the Man Eating Ladybugs…

SPIT IT OUT!

WHERE I "SPIT IT OUT" FROM

Back in the 70’s the most popular show on TV was Happy Days. It was so popular that now even youngsters who weren’t born are familiar with it or have at least heard about it.

The biggest draw to the show was the “Hood” turned celebrity character of Fonzie. He was cool. He rode the cool bike and got all the girls. He was so cool, in fact, he could tap the jukebox or Coke machine with the side of his fist using the perfect amount of pressure to get a free play or drink.

At the beginning of the show during the credits, he walked into the bathroom at Arnold’s, the local hangout, to comb his slicked back hair. Right before he started to touch the comb to his scalp he hesitated, did a double take into the mirror, then smiled wide and held his arms out to his sides. As if to say, “I look so good, it couldn’t get any better than this”!

A few episodes portrayed Fonzie after having made a mistake, not be able to admit it. When he tried to say the word “wrong” he couldn’t spit it out. He’d say, “I was RRRRR”! “I was RRR, uuhhmm, RRRRR”!

I know a lot of people like that. Maybe that’s why it was so funny? The world’s full of people who don’t like to admit they’re wrong. I can’t say I’m guilt free in this area of self-development my darn self.

In my opinion, this trait is the purest example of insecurity at its ugliest. No one likes to be wrong, but we all get to take our turn. It’s difficult to be completely honest with ourselves and admit we’re not perfect. Even though that’s exactly what we should do, we have a hard time spitting it out.

In a similar way, we eat our words and don’t spit them out when they can and should be used to lift up others. There are different reasons to speak up. Sometimes we don’t want to be involved due to timing issues, dealing with what we perceive as more “drama” in our lives.

Other times we can’t spit it out because we have a fear of what someone might think about us and or ideas. It seems as though many of us in the world are walking through life biting our tongues. It usually is the people that aren’t saying anything that have the most to say.

In doing so, we leave the air open for people who shouldn’t be talking to fill it. If you’ve read much of this post, you know I prefer actions over talk. Sometimes words are the end of the action. The actions of walking over, picking up a phone or computer to ask, “Are you OK, what can I do to help”?

A friend and pastor Rick Efrid said this years ago, and I’ll never forget it. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I find that very insightful. This takes spitting it out in words and deeds.

I think most people will agree that the person who can’t say they’re “RRRR,” uuhhmm, Wrong,” show their insecurity and lose all credibility. On the other hand the ones who can freely admit their mistakes gain credibility.

The people that can voice their opinion with respect, even when it’s contrary to the popular opinion gain respect. Maybe not popularity votes, but were not trying to be popular, just honest.

The ones who speak up and reach out to the hurting are heroes.

I struggled for a year before starting this simple little blog. For those who know me, know I’m a very private person. I like living my life in anonymity. The wrestling match with God over this issue again ended with me “tapping out.”

When you come back to visit, this is where you’ll find me…”Spittin it out”!

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

PRESS HERE FOR LOUIE LIVE

LOUIE (SATCHMO) ARMSTRONG

REPOST-

I really enjoy the song “What A Wonderful World” performed by Louie Armstrong. The authors of the song describe the good and beautiful in our world. The day and night, rainbows, friends, and children.

It’s interesting that Armstrong would have accepted the invitation to sing a song with those type of lyrics in 1968, the climax of America’s racial conflicts.

My guess is, by the age of 68 he had enough wisdom to know that the only true change in people would start in their hearts.

A changed heart is a changed perspective and a changed perspective is a changed way of thinking. I think of all the nasty things Armstrong must have witnessed in his life. The oppression, segregation, and hate. Yet in spite of all he knew about human nature, he knew there was hope.

We all know that pain and suffering is part of this world. We know that death is inevitable for all of us. Everyone has witnessed or lived through difficult times, some obviously more than others.

My sister-in-law has a friend who’s eight-year-old daughter died of Cystic Fibrosis. She was at her friends house when the little girls ten-year-old brother offered to carry his little sisters emaciated body to the ambulance. She watched him carry her out with tears in his eyes.

That family will never be the same.

There is a popular Christian singer/songwriter who shortly after he released a song about his adopted daughter, was accidently killed by another family member. How does one cope with that in this life?

We see pictures of little kids in various parts of the world who are dying of hunger and disease. There isn’t anything wonderful for the eyes to find in those circumstances.

Maybe you’ve heard someone say something like, “If there is a God, how come He allows so much pain and suffering”?

I marvel at the life of Louie Armstrong, his dad left him and his mom for another woman. His mom ended up as a prostitute and Louie lived part of his life on the streets. He picked up the desire to play the Cornet from listening to the live music in downtown New Orleans.

What if he’d been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, say in California? Do you think he would have had the same determination and spirit that motivated him to perform non-stop right up until his death in 1971?

I consider the verse in 2nd Corinthians 5:8. “We are confident I say and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

Those children previously mentioned, according to this scripture are at their real home.

What if the old adage has some deeper meaning than first meets the ear. “Only the good die young.” What if our human perspective is relegated to a brain born in this flesh, with less comprehension of the other dimension where God’s word tells us our souls live forever?

In those horrific things that happen in the flesh, what if God is showing mercy to the flesh? What if God is showing mercy to the ones He calls home?

What if an omnipotent God can use those negative things in our lives to bring about wonderful things in the lives of others?

What if God could use a simple song by a man who had been oppressed, and yet put forgiveness in that man’s heart?

Maybe that little song would give people a better understanding of how we’re to treat one another, regardless of what we look like?

Hmmmmm….. “I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

 

http://theregoi.com/

INVISIBLE LINES

invisible lines

CLEARLY OVER THE LINE

As kids playing at the lake or on the playground, we would take turns dragging our heels backward in the sand to create “a line.” We would proceed to dare the other guys or group of guys to cross “the line”.

It was fun and someone would always cross the line, and the scuffle was on!

As we got older the lines became more precise. The chalk of the first and third base lines in baseball. The chalk of the out of bounds lines and the ten yard markers in football. The circular track lines to represent running lanes in track, and the painted lines of the basketball court.

These were the easiest lines to follow. It was fair or foul, an ample number of yards were gained or you were forced to punt. You crossed the finish line first or you didn’t. If someone stepped out of bounds or was in the paint for three seconds it was a turnover.

The invisible lines in life are a little more difficult to navigate. It started in school. No talking allowed, but they didn’t really mean no talking, just almost no talking. Then again, even that depended on the teacher and his or her mood for the day.

Then the invisible lines got even more difficult. So difficult in fact that if we danced too close to the lines we couldn’t even know if or when we crossed over them. If we didn’t know for sure, who could?

These invisible lines are measured through the heart or what some might call our soul. At the moment of infraction, we might not see or feel it, but God does.

It sometimes takes running the “instant replay” over and over in our mind until our heart finally “sees” it.

As a Lacrosse coach, there’ve been a few times I crossed over the line in our training regimen. I know I had to get very close to that line in order to get the girls in the best possible shape physically and mentally. It didn’t happen very often, I never meant any of my girls harm. I thought I was doing my best for them. Most of the times I did, but on a few occasions I went over “the line.”

That’s how invisible the lines are.

At which bite of food does eating become gluttony?

What action or thought turns ambition into greed?

When does admiration become lust?

At what point does proper discipline of children become abuse?

Is speeding in a car breaking the “law of the land”?

How many times can a person look in the mirror until it becomes vanity?

There are invisible lines that we can address in every aspect of our life. This list is just the tip of the iceberg.

The wisdom or talent to spot these lines in our lives come from our heavenly Father. That’s not to say we’ll ever be perfect at staying within them, but we bring Him honor when we try.

I’m encouraged by the people around me who strive to live within the lines or boundaries set by God. I’m even more encouraged when some of us who can’t see as well step outside the lines and are guided back inside the lines by the wise ones among us.

There will always be something or someone daring us to, “STEP OVER THAT LINE”!

We need to be watching through the eyes of our heart very closely, because… It’s a mighty fine line.

JOANN

MY FRIEND JOANN AND ME (no wonder my brothers teased me)

I got the chance to catch up with an old friend from my childhood. We were best friends for a couple of years a long  time ago. We were quite the odd pair of friends, but we were inseparable.

Our friendship started the way most of them do. By chance, dumb luck or destiny.

I was nine years old and school had just recessed for summer. Summer time was my specialty.. I may have struggled in school, but for this occasion I was a natural.

My brother had a girl friend who lived around the block. Her sister had just finished her Junior year of college. The word on the street was that she was going to be a teacher.

My mom seized the opportunity for a would be teacher who lived right around the block to start her career a little early. I was a mathematical slacker who’s summer and life was about to be altered forever.

Her name was JoAnn, and we became fast friends. She was the first adult person to treat me like an individual. This was the era of “children should be seen not heard.” Unlike most of the other adults, JoAnn didn’t wait until I earned respect to give me respect. She was very much ahead of her time.

JoAnn’s wisdom was the foundation for our friendship. On that foundation we built a relationship that it still supports almost forty years later.

We had a blast. We joked, we shared our dreams and desires. We spent almost everyday of the summer mornings together. JoAnn worked for her dad during the summers operating a catering truck, and I was the official assistant, riding in the passenger seat looking through the backward letters that read, “NO RIDERS.”

JoAnn came to many of my baseball games and was my biggest fan whether we won or lost. We shared all the parts of our lives like best friends do.

As the old adage goes, “All good things must come to an end,” and so did our summers. JoAnn would head back to college and I would start my next year of grade school, much improved at multiplication due to my friend.

We would do it again the next summer, but after that JoAnn and Spike got married and moved out of state to start working on the dreams she had shared with me.

I’ll never forget the night before she headed back to college that first summer. We were reminiscing our summer as I was walking her back home to her parents house. Her tears turned into a cry, followed by mine. I guess you have to be pretty good friends to be as sad as we were, being forced by life to say goodbye to one another.

As we were catching up, I shared with her how old my kids were now and what they were up to. I also shared with her how special our summers were to me and assured her of the spot in my heart carved out just for her and our special friendship. I added how blessed I thought all those kids were to have had such an amazing teacher who made them feel special and inspired them to learn.

JoAnn shared with me as we were catching up that her and Spike just celebrated their 37th anniversary. She let me know how all her kids were doing and where they were. She also proudly told me the names and ages of all her grandchildren.

My good friend who always made me feel special managed to do it one more time. JoAnn wrote, “You know it wasn’t a coincidence that when I started my teaching career I wanted to teach kids your age”!

Isn’t that how God works? The events in our lives are not by coincidence. One friendship can impact many lives in a positive way, even if we never planned to.

During the reflection process of our friendship I realized the style of coach I am, and how I interact with young people is a direct reflection of the person who taught me with her actions… JoAnn.

All those kids x all those years = multiple thousands. I’m still no math wizard, but even I know the beginning of this equation.

It is one + one, my friend JoAnn and me.