BIG BOYS DON’T CRY

Edited repost from November 2010. I’m fascinated by the events in a person’s life that helps determine who a person is. The lumps along the path of life are common to all of us. I heard early and often, “Big boys don’t cry”. Many of us learned to silently process the pain that eventually healed into scars that we carry forever.

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.”

image courtesy of iTunes

I remember my uncle Buck driving his truck into the middle of our front yard in the middle of the night. I remember him pounding on our front door calling for my dad. I heard him telling my dad to get his boots so they could go get those “Sons-a-_itches.” My dad calmly told him, “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. My uncle Galen, the youngest of the nine, cried like what was forbidden. My uncle Buck didn’t cry either. I was learning the lessons of life without shedding a tear, just like my hero’s.

I’ve pondered the 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 “Trick or Treat,” I scored double the candy. That speech impediment landed me in Special Ed class with the kids that rode the short bus. Partially due to speech therapy, I 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. I watched it in times of testing. He never failed.

I think God spared me the confrontation with death at an early age. I strained on my tippy-toes trying to catch a glimpse over the edge of my grandma’s casket, but my dad nudged me along gently.

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.

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.

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… so did I.

I think maybe big boys don’t cry from physical pain. At my dad’s funeral, I cried again… not caring who thought what…

CHANGE YOUR STARS – PERSEVERANCE

Repost and edited from October 2010. I write because I enjoy it. When I can relate to others with words it brings gratification. Like many labors of love, the payoff is worth the struggle. The process to change your stars takes perseverance.

Sometimes when I write, the words push out of my pen sorta’ like pushing a rope uphill. Other times the words flow from the end of my pen like water from a faucet.

A blank page or screen is available to everyone. What a person does with their thoughts and a blank page or screen can be magical. The world of words is like everything else in life, it’s crowded. There are far more books written every year than get published.

There are scads of wildly gifted writers who’s work will never see the light of day. Being gifted alone will get a person almost zero. A God given gift without perseverance is like trying to see the world by sitting on your couch.

It doesn’t matter what the dream is, without perseverance it’s not going to happen.

I enjoyed the movie “A Knights Tale,” starring the late Heath Ledger. It was a story about a peasant who worked hard to hone the gift of Jousting, a sport restricted to Noblemen. The character William was sent away by his father as a lad to apprentice for a Noblemen. As William was disappearing into the fog his dad shouted after him. “CHANGE YOUR STARS, WILLIAM!”

image courtesy of fan pop.com

When it was discovered during a Jousting match that the grown up William was not of noble but of peasant ancestry, he had a chance to run in order to save his life. He chose to stay and face imprisonment because he believed, and said, “I am a knight”.

Though it’s a fictional story, that is a truth of this life. What you believe defines who you are in all aspects of life.

When a person sets their sights on “Changing Their Stars,” they come in conflict with the rest of the world. Whatever it is we’re trying to change there will be forces trying to prevent it. Just like that story, so it is with the story of real life.

The Noble’s don’t want competition. They want to keep their small world unchanged. The door to their exclusive country club is not open with a tidy welcome mat.

Likewise, the masses want to keep the rest of us equal with them. They don’t want to see someone “Change Their Stars”. Misery loves company. The masses have settled for mediocrity and don’t want to be reminded of that fact by someone getting ahead.

For anyone who has broken through the barriers to “Change Their Stars”, my hats off to them.

If someone has changed their stars due to a gift from God that they’ve coupled with perseverance and desire to accomplish it, I say, “Good for them”. That means it can happen again, it’s not impossible.

I’d be disappointed in myself if I gave up striving, that’s for the masses.

The truth is I just need to persevere to change my stars. Isn’t that the true definition of success?Recognized for it or not, I’ll write…

MAN EATING LADYBUGS

This is a repost from September 2010. I’ve reposted it a few times, because it’s a good memory of Man Eating Ladybugs.

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 Arizona air.

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?”

“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.

image courtesy of animals.sandiegozoo.com

When we got home the first thing my daughter wanted to do was to release the ladybugs. No chance. My help and company would have been long gone. First things first. We pulled 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.

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 stopped, looked wild-eyed at my daughter in terror 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…

LEGALISM OR SUPERSTITION

I broke a rule the other day. It’s a silly rule, but one I follow religiously. It’s not against the law to break the rule, society’s laws anyway, but rules followed earnestly begin to feel like legalism or superstition.

I often write with a pen and paper. I know it’s old fashioned, but I still like it. I won’t use it for writing manuscripts anymore, but I usually still scratch out blogposts and songs like the ancients did.

Blogposts are written on yellow legal sized pads of paper. Considering writing a blogpost on white paper makes my eye twitch.

Songs are written in a small leather binder with white paper. Considering writing a song on yellow paper makes my other eye twitch.

I appreciate pens. The one I use for writing blogposts is chrome with black onyx stripped inlays running parallel with the shaft of the pen. It was a gift from my daughter. I never write with the cap slid over the back of the pen, it messes up the balance. Plus, that would be worse than stepping on sidewalk cracks.

legalism or superstition

The pen I use for song writing is chrome with polished brass accents, including the clip. These are hard and fast rules I go out of my way to follow.

Following rules like these seem pretty silly to a wise or sane person.

Some other rules in society, and especially in churches, really aren’t significantly different.

It’s not as bad as it used to be, but some of the legalism still hangs on like a monkey does a banana with his hand inside a cage.

I don’t even want to go into the list of traditions that have gotten passed off as Biblical doctrine. I’m scared I might roll my ankle stepping on toes.

It’s always a matter of the heart. And none of us can read the heart and soul of another… save God Himself.

I closed and clipped my leather binder and slid it back into my briefcase. Then I screwed the pen cap back onto the chrome and onyx body…

I was fairly shocked at the mishap or mistake. I know it makes no difference in my writing; it’s not the pen that deserves the praise, or the blame in most cases… It’s not the pen. It’s what what’s inside me that spills out onto a piece or paper, a computer screen, or into my daily life via my actions that communicates. The pen is just a vehicle, not so different than my truck.

This is my reminder to myself that following a rule doesn’t make me right – and especially not righteous.

There is no Truth in legalism or superstition.

ANOTHER NEW YEAR

I have Christmas songs still playing in my head. I hate to admit that one of them is Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer… but it is. I also have my annual fresh cuts and bruises on my hands from wrestling the Christmas tree to the ground and tying it like a steer and stuffing it back into the two boxes that are the size of coffins. And I’m contemplating another new year.

365 sunrises and sunsets. Seems like a lot when you think about it like that, but with time that perspective changes. For many of us; we know the reality is that we have less years ahead of us now than we have behind us. That’s life.

In some ways 2017 has been a tough year. There have been family illnesses, close friends fighting for their lives, and the stress of business along with the personal struggles of life. It’s been busy. This is the first time I’ve punched out a new post in about a month.

I met with one of my good friends yesterday. He was recollecting his past, which is eerily like mine, and brought up a name that I hadn’t thought of in years; Malarky’s. Malarky’s was a nightclub in Phoenix that fools like us would frequent. It was the eighties. We were young and, it goes without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway to remind myself, dumb.

image courtesy of goosehollowfurniture.com

I can’t remember the year, probably ’85, and I was with a buddy of mine and our girlfriends to ring in the New Year at Malarky’s. It was wall to wall young people. That mixed with alcohol is a recipe for disaster.

Two guys went at it in the lobby, one ended up breaking a beer bottle and using it like a multi-knife on the other guys face. That was as much blood as I’ve ever seen.

That was back when a year closed and another New Year opened with a kiss. Most years close and another one starts these days while I’m sawing logs. Although I’m known to throw a firecracker or two if my youngest is around.

I think most of us have done dumb things, I’m still not immune from them. We all have memories, good and bad. We’ve all shared these years, good and bad. We’ve endured hardships, heartaches, and headaches, caused a lot of them ourselves. But we’re blessed to be here and it’s due to the grace of God.

So here we are, celebrating another New Year together at this time in history. I’m honored to have another New Year with you. May your New Year be blessed by God. Happy New Year!