GIVING AND BEING THANKFUL

LARRY THE SOCCER BALL EATER

LARRY THE SOCCER BALL EATER

It was a tad bit chilly, but after a grueling Arizona summer it felt pretty good… of course eating my wife’s homemade red sauce can make any setting a sliver of heaven… I’d eat it in Alaska with no clothes on if I had to… (point made!) We finished eating outside with the propane heaters keeping us toasty while we enjoyed the evening rainstorm a few feet away from us.

Our dog Larry was doing his usual stint with his soccer ball, he’s actually quite talented with the ball and can be the evening’s entertainment all by himself. I didn’t recognize his new ball and assumed my wife had splurged for the holiday season. “Where’d he get that ball? – I don’t recognize it,” she asked me. “I thought you got it for him?” I answered.

The bright lime green ball had a few chunks out of it and we felt bad due to the fact that our next door neighbors have two boys, well actually they’re young men now, who’ve played soccer their entire lives, we’ve been neighbors with them the majority of that time. Michael plays soccer in college and Adam I believe is on his way after this, his senior year. Larry isn’t a good neighbor… He steals the inadvertently kicked balls and uses them for exercise, for growling at, and gnawing on like a bone… he believes that possession is 9/10′s of the law.

Over the years Larry has destroyed more expensive soccer balls than any other being I know. The neighbors never complained, they took it in stride and liked Larry despite his poor manners. “It says ‘to Larry?” my wife said getting a closer look at the ball. I spotted it after she did and our daughter picked it up and looked at the words smeared from dog slobber and teeth marks, “Frooooom…. Adam, – It’s from Adam! From: Adam. To: Larry!”

I can’t imagine being that good a neighbor… especially at the ages those neighbors have been through the years when the next door neighbor canine sunk his into their soccer balls after using them for his selfish purposes.

I don’t think about it often, but I’m grateful to have great neighbors. It also made me think about how doing something gracious has a way of bringing out the best in others. Instead of resenting the person or thing that cost us time, money, and aggravation, maybe we really should give them what it is they desire. Isn’t that exactly what Christ said? “If someone takes your coat don’t withhold your shirt.”

The best kind of thankful is about being able to give knowing you have enough. Lifting up others is the business we’re called to. It can be in the smallest of ways… cause sometimes they make the biggest impact… Just ask Larry…

May God bless you and yours this season as we give thanks and grace in all the ways we’re called to. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

THE LAST BATTLE

k2601633 I’ve spent a lifetime as an iron warrior… Pain now is a constant reminder of the life of insecurity that pulled me from among the masses. My body now severely scarred and broken inside and out, but still I press on. As the decades have passed I’ve covered up the body I once worshipped like a temple, but the temple is now old and deteriorating like a fort losing the war with the iron, but refusing to admit defeat. I fight more out of habit now than desire…

Enough battles and time have passed and I’d become weary, tired, worn, and fading from the shining soldier I’d once been. Politics had taken its toll on my attitude and perspective. I began to see the world through different eyes… so much I’d missed… so much I longed for, but it was too late for me. My attitude began to affect or infect my performance. I’d lost my desire to be the iron soldier. For so long the alert eyes and fears of the others brought me inspiration, but pride and ego can only take a man so far… This world is wasting away with the vigor of my youth. My stares last longer, the blinks slower, the pace lessened, the mind catching up.

The race to win leaves the transportation in disrepair, but the human condition finds a way to keep going. Through exhausted eyes flanked with flesh made crevices, though not as sharp as the ancient days of youth, I could see I had nothing else… I was nothing more than the sum of my actions that had defined my life. The wisdom and enlightenment was meant for others, not for a shallow warrior. How would I go out? Would I be the old and slovenly warrior who had lost his edge and desire? A passionless shell of a man?

No… As little as I had, I made a choice to fight to get back and keep what time and apathy were stealing from my shallow soul. With what little I had left inside, I prepared to be the soldier that was now just a memory to all who had ever laid eyes on me. My sponsor reminded me of the inevitable pain… the price of vanity and  glory I suppose…

Months passed and dedication with some fire, fueled by the rejuvenated fear and insecurity of my youth, motivated me to get back to the glimpses of glory I had in the days of honor. My body would take the punishment one more time. My screwed together shoulder and knee along with my battered face would break… but never yield.

I looked pretty good the day before my battle, I could see my abs again… not like before, but my dedication, pride, ego, and insecurity had brought me back from the pits of surrender. It would be a long grueling battle and my sponsor had a good point, after this battle my abs would be back completely… the benefits of war…

White hot pain seared across my face and shoulder threatening to wake me before I was rested from The Last Battle. My sponsor was all smiles as I came to, groggy, “You did good,” he whispered with the smile of a traitor. I nodded… I never lose… Eventually I gathered enough strength, although still unbalanced, I got up to get a look at my abs.

My first glance revealed a set of carved up abs, just like the days of my youth… Then I noticed it… not it actually, but the lack of it. Shock, horror, fear, and hysteria of reality dropped into my stomach like the weight of all humanity… It was my hideous reflection… My left arm had been cut off at the shoulder… My face, what was left of it, must have been used to rebuild someone else’s…

The hell like scream spewing from my belly overflowing with a waterfall of poison woke me from a deep sleep. Now I am scarred and incomplete both inside and out… At least that was my flash of thought as I awoke in a cold sweat…

 

“LIFE AIN’T EASY FOR A BOY…”

k13284063How I loved that silly song as a kid. It didn’t take but a couple of times hearing it to memorize the lyrics by heart, I still remember them, even sang along with them just a few days back. I also have to admit that I still like that old tune, even if it is pretty rough around the edges. After all, I might still have more than a few rough spots myself.

Since I’m a sucker for a good song and story, have been all my life, the old classic was bound to strike pay dirt. I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one of the male persuasion that sang along with the Man In Black. A good song, like a good story, lets us know who the protagonist is and who or what they might be up against right from the get-go.

Oh boy, the old classic got off with  a bang, “Well my daddy left home when I was three and he didn’t leave much to ma and me, just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.” That’s a tough road for a kid and those few words tell a lot about the man and his story. In case you’re not familiar with the the old tune, the road for the antagonist gets worse – much worse.

I remember thinking as a kid it just couldn’t get worse than this. The next line in the song paints and even harsher story, “Now I don’t blame him cause he run and hid, but the meanest thing that he ever did, was before the left, he went and named me Sue.”

A dad naming his son after a girl in the song made the bad man the worst of all human beings. Not only does the man desert his family, but seemingly inflicts insult to injury for good measure and we were left loathing the type of person the song was painting the portrait of. The kid in the song grows up in turmoil, fighting his way through life, “Some gal’d giggle and I’d turn red, some guy’d laugh and I’d bust his head, I tell ya, life ain’t easy for a boy named Sue.”

The truth is life ain’t easy for anyone… even if you sport an ordinary name. Tough times come to all of us, Christ himself confirmed it, “In this world you will have trouble.” As Christians, we’re usually the protagonists in our stories, especially if we’re the one telling the story, but there are times, even as  parents, when we’re the antagonist… Although it takes a deep search to find it since it feels quite the opposite most of the time.

The song spins the tale of a scarred boy who grows up seeking to fulfill his vow to,  “Kill the man who gave me that awful name.” He finds his dad in a tavern, “I knew that face was my own sweet dad from the worn out picture that my mother had.” The fight to the death ensues and the dad eventually facing death admits, “So I gave you that name and I said goodbye, I knew you’d have to get tough or die… cause I knew I wouldn’t be there to help you along.”

The secular song had a profound twist that most likely surprised and influenced the prisoners in Folsom prison that Johnny Cash was singing to on the original recording, “I came away with a different point of view.” Isn’t all of life about perspective? It is the profound gift of free will that allows us to see and feel during our times of trials.

The harshest of times and our darkest hours have brought about the best in us… And why not take heart?

FOR I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD…”

WINDS OF CHANGE

u19414761It was the perfect Sunday afternoon, the weather beginning to cool nicely. The yoke of humidity gave way as the sun surrendered to the turn of the earth. The tardy wind finally arrived showing its invisible force that I’d hoped would have showed up hours earlier.

How I cherished the reprieve from the onslaught of the never ending summer. The cooler breezes grew bolder without the supervision of the sun, it blew gusts that turned the darkening night from relief to dread. I’ve been haunted by wind… Winds of change can be full of deceit, it can also bring remorse of seasons past.

I ponder the dreams spun by the winds of change that I bent to blow the direction of my heart and accented by the tired drapes playing a background cantata while I fell for the deceptive web spun by the false winds…  They were appealing to the hope I had for mankind based solely upon the power I possessed and my happily ever after.

Not all change is good… Hand crafted fabric that makes up new drapes can be stunning, but the smart decorating doesn’t change the window of the view. Switching locations blown by the winds of change can alter the view, the size of the window, along with the amenities, but that doesn’t change the person behind the eyes that swim in the trust and luxury of the finer things in  life.

We even work to make our soul cages and the things we dress it up in match the expectations of our society. Designer shoes, belts to match, maybe a pair of jeans with just the right name on the tag. The right hairstyle, jewelry, and of course the vehicle that keep the Jones’ on their toes.

Like the homes of the stars, it doesn’t matter how spectacular they look on the outside. The perfect architecture and manicured grounds with exquisite curb appeal fail to reveal anything past the window coverings. We can move from the wrong side of the tracks to the mansion on the hill, but what we possess has no indication of who we are behind the drapes.

If the powerful winds of change don’t start on the inside and we buy into the lies of this fallen world, it won’t matter what size windows we have or how fancy the drapes are that flank them. The dread of seasons past reminds us of the wisdom gained along the way.

Dread turns to joy in the midst of life’s storms when we remember the most precious of gifts in this life. The items of intrinsic value can’t be measured by numbers and while drapes flapping in the wind can remind us of dreaded seasons and years eaten by the locust, it can also remind us of the sweet taste and fulfillment of redemption brought by the winds of change as directed by the Hands that are the origin of our souls and the wind.

It’s the season to throw open the windows and let the brisk wind blow through to remind us that our Father uses the winds of change for His glory and our benefit when we’re not hiding behind the drapes of this life in hopes of concealing what can’t be hidden from Him to begin with.

RED ALERT

k10930824“Get your hands outta your pockets, boy!” I recall my dad warning with urgency. He seemed al little angry at the time – surprised by my lack of sense I suppose. I didn’t argue. While I didn’t have a lot of sense, I did have a lick of it… I knew enough to know when my dad spoke with that type of authority, I listened… at least when we he was looking.

I pulled my hands out of my coat pockets to brave the chill with a round eyed look of question in them. We were on a job site, light years plus a half a block from the OSHA impacted days of what was to come; there were open trenches with planks that were well past their structural prime spanning the manmade divides in a place I was less than thrilled to be.

Seeking in my eyes, that it was more than just me being a reckless kid, my dad explained it to me, “If you fall and your hands get caught in your pockets you won’t be able to protect yourself if you fall, son.” The light bulb finally went on. “You always have to be prepared under different circumstances,” he’d add later and more than once to make sure “I got it.”

Some years later as an early teenager, I hopped into my brother’s truck to go to the store that now escapes the fading mind. I remember my brother who’d spent more time around my dad, due to age, jumped on me, “Where’s your shoes?” he demanded. “In the house?” I answered with that now familiar behind the eyes question glinting back at him, the “lights are on but nobody’s home” look. “You idiot! – What happens if we break down?” which was common place in those days, “You gonna walk barefooted?” It was summertime in Arizona after all. “Go get some shoes on!” he chided me.

That’s the thing about being the youngest… you have way more bosses and guidance than any kid could ever want… The whole drive to the store I got the “truth” about being prepared – expecting the unexpected. That ride would stretch on forever… Wearing tight black T-shirts if there might be a fight – Boots in case someone tries to stomp your toes – Hair cut shorter so that the potential enemy couldn’t use it like a handle while he turned your face into applesauce – How to sit with your back to the wall – How to lean back when someone’s passing you in case they take a potshot at you with a shotgun.

Growing up in a violent part of their country left it’s mark on me… Being on red alert was part of living in society. With all the crackpots and freaks killing and maiming in our society, it would seem that my dad’s take and my older two brothers’ beliefs were those of prophets…

But the truth is I’ve done more damage to myself than anyone probably could have done even if they were paid to do it. I’ve spent a lifetime on red alert… to a fault. Like the chosen three hundred God rounded up and tested by Gideon, I’m not lapping the sweet and cooling water with my head buried in the water, but I need not live like a slave to this flesh that I have less control of than any or us would really like to admit.

For the first time in my life not more than a year ago I was able to wear flip flops out to dinner… and out of town to boot… I never knew “freeing” could be so cold on my toes…

THE BANKER MAN

k3913178We have similar and humble origins, but our journeys took distinctly different paths that ended crossing each other’s at this point in our lives. We’ve both been judged along the way, me mostly for my actions and now and then the way I acted, not caring if I were taken for a thug. My pal has been judged due to his last name and complexion, but he’s taken it in stride and done well for himself, his family and career bear that out.

We shook hands as a formal greeting to start our short meeting. He’s got hands like a banker… but then again he is a banker… sooooo… I don’t mind my calloused hands – kinda proud of em’ really. They remind me of a time when I was a little tougher, a little harder. They used to be hardened from earning a living the hard way… I don’t tell anyone these days they’re just from pulling and pushing heavy metal at the gym and they’re nothing like they were in my rough and tumble days of youth.

“Ever seen one of these?” he asked smiling his patented Chesire cat grin.

“More-n-one,” I answered with a grin, as he started to laugh I added, “Way more than I can remember and way worse than that,” I piled it on as he presented his slightly purple and black thumb nail.

“I’m not used to that kind of pain!” the banker man admitted, “It wouldn’t go away! There was no way to stop the pain!” he stated with a hint of a question in his voice looking for a trick he may have missed in life.

“Yep,” I stated grimly, “Nothing you can do with a smashed fingernail but just gut it out.”

“Yeah!” the banker man nodded to a well defined answer in agreement.

“The real bad ones you gotta relieve the pressure,” I added some more wisdom to the subject I know all to well first hand… or finger… nail…

Sharing the hard truth about difficult times and circumstances is light years easier that the taxing times themselves. I’m fascinated how we can refer back to tough times in life and share our first hand experiences with a perspective all but removed from them ever happening. Some of the most difficult times in life and the ones that have had the most impact on us are times of the most significant testing.

Consequences from actions made with something less than wisdom burn into our hearts and minds that leave the scars and memories that can define us. The losses of valued friendships, innocence, and loved ones, can bring more pain on the inside than a hammer obliterating a finger or thumbnail can.

Similar to that pain on the outside, nothing but time can help the coping process… it’s a peculiar thing about the two pains, the one on the outside and the other on the inside; the pain is relieved supernaturally in both cases far quicker than seems possible. I think it’s by God’s design. The bloodied and gnarled flesh begins to throb as pain subsides. Often the purging of poison is the key to relief.

“The real bad ones you gotta heat up a paper clip or needle and drill a hole spinning them between the thumb and forefinger to let the blood shoot out from underneath it,” I told the banker man with a smile on my face, a bit delighted in his horror.

“Ooooo!” he said with his face wrinkling.

It’s not so different than admitting Truth with our mouths after receiving a spiritual wound from the words and actions of others… my buddy the banker man knows that part all too well…

THE COWBOY RIDES AWAY

CLR1045There have always been a couple of ways to rope me into a story; first of all, the story has to be compelling and well told. Although it’s not like I haven’t been amused by the surprise or shocking endings, the two types of stories that find purchase with my soul are the, “they lived happily ever after” stories and, “The hero rides away” type.

Everyone knows the “happily ever after” stories last about has long as it takes to walk from the theatre out to your car to find a new door ding or as long as it takes to lay down the book and walk into the next room to hear a phone ring or a message with reality rearing it’s ugly mug.

“The cowboy rides away” or the hero that disappears after risking life and limb for the well being of others is a horse with different stripes. Those are the stories that grip me. The hero rides into the sunset and the legend grows. The ending where good triumphs over evil and prevails against all odds, yet the hero gains little or nothing monetarily, and still keeps his or her humility… and the hearts of the folks left behind as well as the person watching or reading the stories lives are touched forever.

I never wanted the hero to ride away as a kid – I wanted him to hang out in the new found peace and harmony to “live happily ever after.” It was an internal conflict for me at the time. I guess if I’m perfectly honest, it still is. It would be years before I could begin to grasp that the conflict inside of me was similar to the internal conflict the hero was wrestling with that the writers and characters were trying to wring from most intricate places inside me.

Some of the internal matches that couldn’t be seen were much more grueling and taxing than the ones the heroes were fighting on the outside. Even after kicking rocks on this planet for as long as I have – watching the stories, reading the stories, and living the stories, I still love the happy endings… but they’re never the end of the stories… just the end of the chapters in the bigger story of life.

In those years down here kicking up dust with the body given to me temporarily that too will end up as dust, I’ve found that it’s usually easier to be the hero and sacrifice greatly for a season and move on. That’s what legends are made up of. In real life the hero knows that their faults and shortcomings are usually significantly greater than the beneficiaries of the hero’s courage and honor.

To love and sacrifice for more than a season and stick around through not only the difficult times, but all the seasons of the lives of those entrusted to us, are the actions of the unsung heroes.  We all have internal conflicts, but the actions that we take with courage and honor that point to the Origin of all that is decent and good, despite our struggles, is what true living legends are born of.

I’ve come to figure out that riding off into the sunset is the easy way out and only hides insecurity and sadness. I also know that “happily ever after” comes later…  We’ve all got a story to write and tell as the days stack up into months, and years… chapters if you will. How our living stories end is up to us…  with the free will that enables us to stay in for the long haul or pull down slightly on the brim of our hat, turn, and ride into the sunset…

THE END

TALE OF THE PONY TAIL

k15861821The professional looking envelope sat on our cutting board next to the kitchen sink, an odd place for a piece of mail, but then odd things happen around our house with regularity. Take the ten year old dog sporting the periwinkle blue diaper who lays in a wicker basket that is filled with his lumpy dog-toy-stuffed-animals-that-squeak-when-he-bites-them for example…

I didn’t recognize the company and probably would have chucked it in the junk mail pile had the spelling of my name not been correct, a rarity believe it or not… I peeled back the edge of the flap with the dried glue on the back and worked my fat index finger in and used it as a barbaric letter opener that leaves a nasty and jagged entrance to the contents inside.

I quickly glanced the perfectly unfolded in thirds letter and read over it, “I’ll be… Well that’s a first,” I mumbled to my wife who was sorting through the mountain of mail that would mostly end up in the trash can.

“What is it?” she asked, not looking up from her task. I handed it to her without offering an answer. She looked confused even as she was reading it, “What is this?” she demanded.

“It’s from the last people I sent my hair to,” I answered.

“Oh!” she mused.

“About time, huh?” I asked.

“Yeah, really,” she agreed.

“After all those years of sending my hair, this is the first one that actually sent a ‘thank you’ letter,” I pondered aloud.

If my count is right, I’ve sent in my bound and cut locks seven times… that’s gotta be over six feet of hair. Before you get the idea that my right hand is bragging to my left, let me clarify: my hair grows rapidly and to keep it manicured perfectly would take at least twice a month maintenance at minimum.

It’s not a priority to me, I want fast and easy, and letting it grow while in a pony tail is more of a too busy and too lazy mentality. So I figure if I’m going to be like that, the least I can do is let it get long enough and endure the  inconvenience of the last four months or so when the length bugs me to no end for the benefit of someone else…

The first lopped off pony tail I sent to be used to make wigs for kids with cancer was more than fourteen inches. The last one I sent to the non profit company was the one with the least restrictive tolerances, it was around ten inches at the tip.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t send it to get a “thanks,” I sent it for what I envisioned in my mind to be  beautiful little girls created by our Father who might want to wear a wig while going through chemo… I thought about if it were to have been one of my girls when they were young, which they were back when I started sending in the chopped off pony tails.

While I was considering the other companies who didn’t send a “thank you” note, I thought about the friends that paid for dinner a few weeks back that I forgot to “thank”. I also thought about all I take for granted in my life and how I tend to have an expecting attitude instead of a thankful one.

I reflect on all the days that I didn’t say thank you to my Father and family… I was reminded that we don’t give to get, but we are to be grateful for all things… not the least of which is you… From the bottom of my heart and the tip of my short pony tail, I say “thank you” for being here. I’m honored.

THE SHOE LEATHER EXPRESS

icee-96489The difference between now and then is like comparing the internet to CB radios. I’ll bet there is more than half of the people reading this that have used the term “10-4″ to answer “yes” or “I got it.” When I ask some people for their e-mail address by posing the question, “What’s your handle?” few get it. I should stop using it, but it’s worth the smile… and memories…

The old fashioned attitude of days gone by with the freedom afforded us in society in those days left opportunities. Opportunities to respond the way we were led and the kind that legends are made of.

Kids get driven pretty much everywhere they go these days, but that wasn’t the case in the pre-CB radio days. Even as a kindergartener we walked to school and not by modern means… by all means. The trails led through bamboo forests, people’s unfenced yards where dogs we prayed were chained up, but rarely were. The shoe leather worn paths even led us past old man Hatchet’s place. It was common knowledge he’d kill young trespassers on sight… while eating fried chicken… Running fast was a natural part of life in the old days, so was cortisol from stress… we just didn’t know it had a name back then.

My dad warned my second oldest brother repeatedly about not holding his intestinal air… My oldest brother and I wouldn’t have been as bold as number two. It wasn’t the dead of winter, but it was downright chilly… to chilly to have the windows down in the old hand crank Mercury.

A few more giggles from the backseat of the seatbeltless old car with another devious grin and number two did it again… plum crazy… “I told you, boy! – No more! – One more time and you’ll walk home!” You didn’t question your dad, well not ours for sure, in those days. Little was left open to discussion… Fun was fun, but when “dad” said “enough!” it was fair warning… to go  beyond that was to tempt fate in a losing proposition. The school bully was like cotton candy next to the wrath of our dad.

It wasn’t but a few seconds later when our brave or crazy brother crossed our dad again without even an attempt to roll the windows down in the backseat… to the dismay of my oldest brother and I, not to mention the ire of the enforcer that was always armed with his thin black leather belt that sounded like a machine gun as the not so innocent tip of the belt snapped at the belt loops on his pants as he’d pull it at warp speed from his waist… That sound alone could melt hard men… and boys…

Our dad hit the brakes hard as he pulled over to the side of road not much north of the only market in town that sold Icee’s, but I wasn’t thinking about Icee’s at that moment. “Get out!” he said in a tone just a decibel under a yell. Number two brother looked slightly confused through his patented grin that would be his trademark for life during times of trouble… which would usually mean trouble for someone else…

The king of the castle and the Comet repeated himself just a hair louder and the voice raising an octave at the end of the warning for effect, “Get out!!!” Our middle brother was on the edge of laughing as he got out of the old four door family car. He shut the door and off my dad went. My oldest brother who is seven years older than me smiled… but was careful enough not to laugh… just in case…

I can’t remember if anything was said on our drive home, but I remember the smile and pride on our dad’s face as we pulled up to the house… Bobby was breathing hard with his trademark grin on his face for having beat us home… on foot… A legend was born and a real life lesson learned.

I often wonder if that isn’t’ exactly the kind of parenting this society is so desperately missing these days…

I still have no idea how on God’s green earth my brother beat us home… I’ve asked him now and then how he did it over the last forty decades… He just grins…

“PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH!”

x17116499Forgive? Yep… Forget? No way Hosea… Some mistakes were built to last. “Hey! Make sure you guys keep the doors closed!” I yelled out a warning to the absent minded minors. I barked out that order in frustration more than once in my  life. Living in Arizona the warning is usually voiced over the weather and keeping the hot air out that spins the electric meter like a tornado, but not always…

“Are you trying to air condition the desert?” was one of the sarcastic questions posed to us; the absent minded adolescents of the arid arena. Funny how money means little to the people who don’t have to earn it… “Boy, if you leave that door open one more time I”m gonna make you sleep outside!” Sure dads can be more effective sometimes than moms, but even that warning didn’t stick, couldn’t… not until enough magical time passed for the brain to begin to actually work, or work more often I should say…

I like a good family tradition as much as the next guy, so our girls heard it from me too. Hot Arizona summers or perfect Arizona winters, didn’t matter, they’d hear it from me regardless, “Keep the doors closed!” Like me as a kid, they struggled. Hard to grasp some things as a kid, but I gave the typical “hot weather” speeches along with some of the classic sarcastic questions. When the weather got like the Garden of Eden I’d give them the “cool weather” speech… probably a few sarcastic questions thrown in there for good measure and tradition.

We lived in North Scottsdale at the time, smack in the heart of the most pristine Sonoran desert in the world, “I told you! Don’t leave the the doors open! we’ll end up with snakes! You want a rattlesnake in the house?” Parents… Sheesh… I know of course that no one wants poisonous snakes sneaking into where they cherish safety, but sarcastic questions have a long heritage… and frankly are just to irresistible to pass up…

It was a pristine lazy Sunday when I was going between the house and the casita, (like a small mother in law suite), and inadvertently left the door open to air the place out. The following Wednesday about four o’clock I heard Ali’s blood curdling scream… it sounded even worse than the time when she was in around first or second grade and cut herself with her mom’s razor the she was forbidden to touch…

She was pure white and shaking, “A snake!” She yelled when I got to her in the courtyard just in front of the casita door. Like the good and traditional parent, my first instinct was to not believe her… Parents… Sheesh…

I suspect that it’s beyond coincidence that the mistakes that are made to last are usually the ones we make when we’re being self centered or hypocritical with the rules we say we live our lives by… Isn’t that the biggest turn off for the secular world from the modern church? It’s hard to respect, much less hang out with a hypocrite.

The rattlesnake in our casita was the last straw for my wife and eventually led us back to the concrete jungle… As many times as my wife has told that story and laughed about how I didn’t practice what I preached, you’d think she’d be tired of telling it by now… Not by a long shot…

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