Our skirmishes aren’t as famous as the Hatfields and McCoys, but they’re just as real. It’s a battle of boundaries, territory, the fight over property. The type of conflict can vary, but what sometimes begins as a fight for justice can get twisted, fueled and escalated by frustration and pride.

Hatfields and McCoys

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Seems you can take anything good and decent, no matter how big, how grand, and even a pinch of pride can poison the whole kit and caboodle.

We were neighbors. Not particularly close, we just sorta tolerated one another. But as the old saying goes, “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”. That’s what happened with the Hatfields and McCoys.

It went from being mildly annoyed, to all out war. I should never have allowed them to cross my property line… that’s what I get for being a nice guy.

After they stayed for a season, I couldn’t get them to leave. I tried to gently persuade them, but they refused. In fact, to add insult to injury, they invited their family to join them at my house! That’s when things began to get ugly.

I began to throw rocks at them every time I saw them. It rattled them a bit, but they didn’t leave. I guess to get even with me, they began to defecate even more right in front of our front door. There would be no turning back.

I put spikes up, but they nested between them. I put up more, but the trespassing pigeons just moved up the roof. I spent hours and days putting up chicken wire. They moved to the other side of the roof. I put spikes there, no dice. I put up chicken wire while the flying rats watched me from my chimney. They just nestled beside the new chicken wire.

I read up on my enemy, but none of the recommendations worked. The only thing I hadn’t tried was eliminating them… permanently. Like Solomon said, there’s a season for everything, and it was hunting season at my house.

I bought the most powerful pump pellet gun and hollow point pellets to send my uninvited enemy to the big bird bath in the sky.

I was a decent shot with my brother’s BB guns as a kid, and with my rifles and pistols as an adult… somehow that didn’t translate into pumping pigeons full of lead. With each missed shot over the next three or four months, my frustration and hatred grew. They became so accustomed to me shooting at them, I had to sneak up on them… just to watch them fly away… bird laughing.

It was just before sunset. I’d flanked the trespassers and surprised them as they began to fly away again. I shot. He fluttered and fell… and so did my stomach, hatred, and frustration.

Although they carry diseases and do property damage, the justification didn’t bring me joy.

Not every prudent action we take in life makes us happy. And I’m reminded it should be about perspective… without pride.

Our skirmished aren’t as famous as the Hatfields and McCoys, but they’re just as real.


The eyeball test isn’t so different than playing Russian roulette, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose when it comes to guessing what’s inside book covers.

I didn’t know I’d judged her, but that’s exactly what I’d done, in a good way, finally. She’s probably in her mid-seventies, tall, medium length, tired auburn hair, done in a bun that she’s probably been sportin’ since the 60’s, dark brown glasses to match.

book covers

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She’s the only person in the gym with jeans on, and a street blouse for comfort. She looks like someone from church. The elderly gal is hard to miss, and not just for being tall; she struggles to walk and has two canes to keep her from losing the battle with gravity.

My heart and respect went out to her for fighting through her flesh and not giving in. I felt like I knew her without having ever having talked to her in the year or so that I’d been seeing her, but that all changed a few weeks ago.

The handicapped woman called from behind me, “How much longer are you going to be?” in the middle of my set, about half way through my reps, and with a snide snap in her voice.

I’ve been in gyms my entire life and savvy gym etiquette pretty well, I guess she doesn’t. I didn’t stop, I politely answered, “About five more minutes.”

The handicapped gal made as loud a “Huff”! as she could muster to let me and anyone within earshot know how put off she was that the world didn’t find her at the center of it.

* * * * *

I could feel the short elderly lady behind me in the express lane at the grocery store the day before Mother’s Day. I could sense her impatience and her basket nipping at my heels. I struggled to be polite.

I hate it when the express line moves slower than the regular ones, makes me feel like a fool, and it only gets worse when you’re getting bumped and crowded.

My patience meter had just about expired by the time the checkout gal grabbed and scanned the roses and card. “Oh! What beautiful flowers!” the woman fast on my heels managed. It sounded like she was chewing on her tongue. She’d had a stroke.

Although it was difficult to understand her, she asked about my children, even told me I looked too young to have girls that age, all the while her eyes sparkled with love and life.

I’m almost always wrong when it comes to judging book covers.

I think how we see others has a lot to do with how we see ourselves; too often we see ourselves as fine classic literature bound in fine leather and a lot of other folks as paperbacks.

You can tear the front and back book covers off, but that doesn’t change the Words inside… and when our time is done here that’s exactly what happens to all of us.

It’s only God in us that is beautiful… the book covers only fool the fools.


Bumper stickers are still popular, have been since I was a kid. Not sure why someone would want to deface their possession, pride and joy, or plain ole transportation. Then again, I shouldn’t be too judgmental, I once drew on my white, short-haired hound dog, but that was a long time ago… plus he didn’t have bumpers.

Some bumper stickers are meant to be funny, others are intended to inspire, support, and encourage. While I don’t participate in pasting stickers on my truck’s bumper, that doesn’t mean I don’t read the ones on other people’s.

bumper stickers

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I have to admit, I find reading bumper stickers fairly amusing, most of the time. A few clever ones I’ve read; “I bet Jesus would have used His turn signals”. Or how ’bout, “Sometimes I wrestle with my demons – sometimes we just snuggle”.

One of my favorite classic bumper stickers, I think from the seventies; “Guns cause crime like flies cause garbage.” I also didn’t mind the old yellow circle with the simple smile and the “Have A Nice Day” below it.

Then of course, due to our freedom of speech and bumper stickers, are the other ones, the obnoxious ones. Not so much the silly rainbows or the names of the person’s favorite band, but the rude ones, the vulgar and profanity-laced ones that get under my skin.

I figure that they’re young people, which is almost always synonymous with lacking wisdom; was for me too, still is sometimes.

Of all the bumper stickers that I dislike, there is one type that strikes a chord deep inside, and that pitch brings the blood inside my fallen flesh to a boil. Those stickers are the ones of political persuasion. When I spot certain ones, even though I know these people exist, I double take and strain to see what they look like, almost as if their hair was on fire.

First glance at the bumper sticker and my instinct holds them responsible for tearing down the great American way of life… by removing and mocking God. In that instant, I’ve fallen into the same trap as the bumper sticker brandishing bourgeois; controlled by emotion as opposed to the fearless faith in God Almighty.

The thing about bumper stickers is that each and every one of them reflect and reveal the folk’s perspective on life. People want to tell others, strangers, who they are and what they believe. Some Christians do it with the fish or church stickers.

We all believe in something. We put our faith in what we hope or believe will save us.

After I rein in my emotions, my perspective changes. Those political bumper stickers represent people who trust and believe in other humans for their security… Even after having been lied to by every single one of the people they put their faith in. They, their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents have believed the same lies.

That is the mark of desperation, insanity, and not knowing God…

Maybe I should put that on a bumper sticker.


If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a Christian say how they “put someone in their place”, I’d have a herd of piggy banks, pockets, and a sore back. My ears are just as full and weary from hearing it.

someone in their place

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The “Holier than thou” attitude is melting, but just when I thought it was going the ways of the dinosaurs, it reared its ugly face again… and this time in my own backyard.

My wife has a friend who is a single mom and has had her fair share of struggles. She was surprised when she found out what church we went to, didn’t seem to square with what she knew about my wife and what she had experienced at the church we attend.

When people are hurting they go to different places to find help and answers. My wife’s friend is no different. Instead of searching the honky tonks and bars she decided she’d seek answers and solace at the house of God.

Her son was a little guy at the time so she loaded him up and off to church they went. I don’t know if my wife’s friend even remembers what she heard in the sermon that day. What she does remember is a conversation she had with a stranger, a church member.

The man didn’t introduce himself. He didn’t greet her or her little boy with a “Hi, how are you today?” Nor did he tell her that he was glad she decided to join them. The man told her that the service was not the place for her little boy to be.

My wife’s friend decided that if that church didn’t want her son to be there, then they didn’t want her either… she never went back.

My wife’s friend’s son is in college now and as far as I know that day in church when he was a tyke was the last time he or his mom attended church.

She went to church seeking the comfort that only comes from knowing our Father. What she discovered was a legalist disguised as a Christian.

I don’t know who the man was, but I know the type. They’re always the ones to share with other legalists how they put a sinner in their place, “And I told her ______”… fill in the blanks, we’ve all heard it.

In all the fullness and blindness in that man, he can’t begin to grasp the words of Christ, words he quotes to put someone in their place.

My wife told her friend that she was sorry anyone would ever treat her like that and assured her that wasn’t the norm. She also told her that she is welcome to come with us anytime. I think she might.

Folks don’t want or need to know about the broken rules… until after they learn of the love and broken heart of Jesus Christ.

Putting someone in their place should be smack dab in the middle of His and His chosen’s grace… not on the spot and out the door. Telling them is God’s job… ours is showing them Him.


I wasn’t whistling when I strolled out the front doors of the hotel I’d called my temporary home for three nights in Fort Collins Colorado, but I was feeling pretteeeee good knowing that I wasn’t running late.

I’d done the math backward; flight time minus an hour early = one hour. The drive to the Denver airport = one hour. The excruciatingly dull and slow ride from the rental car drop off to the terminal = one half hour. For good measure and a solid dose of wisdom from experience with missing flights = one hour.

It feels good to win.

Running Late

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I stood in front of the monitor, gave the rushing travelers a condescending glance, then back to the screen to find my flight then gate number. “Flight 639 – to Phoenix – on time – gate C-49. Okey Dokey,” I read and thought to myself. Then I glimpsed the flight time.

If you’ve ever watched a movie or TV show where they use a cinematic feature to show shock, surprise, anxiety, and dread, then you know the “11:30” departure time grew from tiny distant numbers to me standing in front of them, gazing up at them, as tall as the Empire State Building… I thought the flight was at 12:35…

Sheer panic engulfed me and my heart started punching my chest from the inside. I was between a walk and a run when I rounded the corner into the pre-board screening area. It looked like something from downtown Hong Kong.

My hope was my business class boarding status, the line turned out to be fifty deep instead of the one thousand. I checked my phone, less than ten minutes till boarding, standing still in the line of molasses.

I cleared the line only to be stuck behind all the other poor saps loading their personal effects, including shoes, into the trays and onto the conveyor belts. When I finally got through the creepy X-ray scan I hurried to grab my stuff… that’s when I saw them slide my new briefcase into the “Further Assessment” stack. I checked my phone and my flight was boarding.

When they finally released my bag I ran… about a hundred feet to another line for the escalators. Then again to the underground train to all gates. I glanced at the sign, mine being the last. Of course.

As I waited, hanging onto the poles, along with the rest of the mob of travelers, my heart was still rolling thunder and my mouth was a desert, “This isn’t life or death,” I told myself, but there was little change.

The flattened wheel on my rolling suitcase made my run through the terminal sound like a machine gun as I stormed the gate. Folks were still boarding…

I realize that while most of us are better versions of our younger selves, we haven’t arrived spiritually yet. I don’t know the exact date that’s going to happen, but I know that it’s not going to be on this side of heaven.

“Running late – better late than never though,” I told the attendant, handing her my boarding pass that had “A-1” on it… she had no idea what I was really talking about.