My Mom told me once, "Son, you'll only have three true friends in this life, and one of them is your Mother". Well let me tell you. I was about 15 years old when she told me that and, like all teenagers, I thought my Mother was simply a ridiculous, misinformed, out of touch, old fashioned ninny. I had hundreds of friends. And we were all so much more intelligent than out parents....The river flows, life happens, hours drag and the days fly by. Through the years I've been disappointed many many times by my "friends". I forget sometimes how long its been. This morning I'm feeling all of my 47 years; and my Mother (as always) was right.
Donnie (the third of those true friends) e-mailed me this morning. It just started me thinking about how little I get to see him and Roy (the second of those three friends). Now, before you say anything...I know I know, my wife should be my best friend...I've heard it all before. Here's the thing. That's a whole 'nuther thing. To say Tilena is my friend is like saying a Ferarri is just another car. See Tilena is something no one can ever touch in my heart. She is in me, she is me. We are me. She is an entire category unto herself. So, that put to rest, and let me get back to my thoughts...I look into the mirror nowadays and don't even recognize the face looking back. The face that I expect to see there should have peach fuzz that's never felt a razor, a head full of platinum hair hanging over my shoulders and down my back, and smooth soft creaseless skin unlined by worry. But, instead I get a shock every time I see myself and all the wrinkles, hard grey beard, scars and scalp....lots and lots of scalp. When did this all happen? I still think of myself as a kid....until I try to get out of bed in the morning. Isn't it funny too? I'm getting out of bed these days about the same time I was getting into bed 30 years ago.
Me, Roy and Donnie...the things we've done and seen. But you've heard it all before. Our motto back then was.."what you see here, hear here, say here, and do here, stays here, when you leave here". We began living that long before Las Vegas came up with a similar slogan. So I guess we'll just have to leave that there. The important thing though, is Donnie and Roy's understanding of friendship. See, we all have friends...many, many friends. But what seperates the friends from best friends? Here's my thoughts on that. When you're enjoying the best of times, you'll find your many friends...when you're facing the worst of times, you'll find your best friends. That's where I found Donnie and Roy. I didn't realize it until I was a 30 something grown man...but sooner or later, truth will always prevail. I found my true friends in the midst of one of my darkest times. The fact is, they had been my best friends all along, and I had failed to appreciate it. See, when you're stuck in the bottom of a dark well and finally get smart enough to quit digging, looking up is you're only option. The people still hanging around trying to pull you out become pretty easy to see. Those folks who come to your party, or who hang out with you after work or sometimes even those who come to your wedding...they're not necessarily your friends. Those people are aquaintences. Now when you've made the greatest mistake of your life. When you've embarrassed yourself and your family. When most folks avoid you because "you're a loser or an idiot". When you're so alone...that's when you'll discover who your friend is. An aquaintence comes to your house warming party. A friend is the guy who helped you move. It's tough being so far away from my two true friends. Some days I really miss them. I still have dark days now and then.
Thanksgiving is upon us. I will be taking a little extra time out to thank God Almighty for blessing me with true good friends. Mom is long gone from this earth and that first true friend now abides with the Savior. But Donnie and Roy are still around and will always hearken upon a call. And Tilena...another story for another day...she remains. Thank God for your blessings folks. They're not all on the dinner table...
Call your true friends today...tell them how much you love them. Then thank God.
Palm Trees and Sand.......................
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Day sixteen of my self imposed incarceration. I'm doing a lot of what I have tended more toward the older I've gotten...listening. I don't think its been out of any great introspective enlightenment. More likely its no more complicated than, after 47years, I've already heard everything I've got to say. I don't think I've ever learned one single thing while my mouth was open; with the possible exception it is possible to fit my foot in it. So, please don't consider me rude if I'm not much of a conversationalist when you're around....I'd just much rather listen. Two and a half weeks of mostly just me and the dogs now. Me, Bowden and Pepper communicate quite well without a word passing between us. There's a lot to be said for that. As I've thought about this today, and listened to the news on TV, some thoughts came to mind.
The national news this morning ran a spot concerning the pastor of a California Church who opined his insistence his church members have more sex, more often. Now there was precious little detail given in the 15 secons spot, so I'm just assuming he meant "with their spouse". Before I could fully digest this bit of news, out steps a charter member of the "Americans for Better Nutrition Board". This dude is piping up on national TV about how the government should step in to ensure no restaurant in America be allowed to prepare a single dish containing trans fat. Now, don't get me wrong America...I know darned well there's a lot of well meaning people out there. And I'm sure they're healthy, and sexually sated...but if I choose to be neither, either or none of the above...let me be. Mind you, the day has now come; I've got a preacher wanting to control me and my wife's sex life, Mr. multi-grain wanting to run my kitchen, every rookie cop who ever came through the academy telling me how to run a police department...and everyone, and I mean everyone who ever fell off the turnip truck telling me how to raise my children. And you wonder why I don't talk...I'll say it again...there's really nothing wrong with a little quiet time. God gave every one of us two eyes, two ears, two hands, two feet and one mouth...think about it. If we would all look for problems twice, listen for needs twice, then use those two feet to go and those two hands to do...there would be a lot less time to talk about it. If what I'm about to say isn't directly and immediately beneficial to someone...there's probably no need to say it. I know a number of folks who simply talk out of meanness, selfishnessness, boredom, or habit. Some who really think other people enjoy listening to them. I even know one woman who talks because there's oxygen in the room. Why do some of us feel so uneasy in a quiet room...nobody ever got sick because there was nothing to say.
There's a whole "nuther" world out there for our senses to experience. Spending two weeks watching Bowden and Pepper has given me a little insight to share. These two dogs...these guys know a world completely invisible to me. They hear it and smell it. They relate to their surroundings in a way completely foreign to me. It's almost as if they know something I don't. They know the garbage truck is coming five minutes before I do. They know Tilena is home before I see her car. They're attuned to their senses. I've never known them to bark, unless they've got something to bark about. Could we as Christians live a little more like that? Could we bark a little less and experience a little more? We certainly "know" things most people don't know. We will get to experience things most people never will. Christians see things, hear things, sense things the world can't fathom. Why don't we take a little more time to relish in that ability? I'm telling you guys...silence is golden. To feel God's breath on your back is beyond belief. To hear his words in your heart is joyous. But you can't smell perfume in a pig pen. You can't feel his breath in a maelstrom, you won't hear his voice when you're talking...be still...be quiet...listen to the King.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Have you ever known someone who just seems to "hit the lottery" with everything they do? I'd have to say our little groundhog "Ryan" falls into that category. That skunk called me last night from Perry. He went up with Tilena last Thursday and was out hunting with his lifelong friend Tyler. At the time of his call, he was sitting in a tree stand out in the wilds of Taylor County. He had just killed his very first deer....an eight point buck! Can you believe that? The first deer he's ever even fired a gun at and he kills an eight point. As always, his first thought was to tell Dad, and he called me before even climbing down from the stand. You can't have better kids than I have. Those three never cease to amaze me.
Ryan has had that sort of fortuity before. He decided to start playing football as a ninth grader. He hadn't played since little league after opting out throughout middle school. He went out for JV and played 2-3 games as their starting center when he caught the eye of the varsity head coach. The next week he was suited up on the varsity sidelines when the starting senior center went down with an injury...the rest, as they say, is history. Now let me say, he got his ever loving backside worn out, kicked around, beat up and handed back to him on a platter that Friday Night. He thought he was a big strong kid until he got a close up and personal interview with those defensive lineman from American Heritage. But he lined up again every play that night. It's gotta be hard to keep getting up when you know you're getting whipped every play. He played every single game following that night until he went down himself in the third game of his own Senior season. Even following that devastating knee injury, he would miss only three games. He came roaring back and played right through the playoffs relying on grit, a brace, and mule headedness. He played those last five games with really only one leg. He hurt so bad sometimes, he would just be shivering next to me between drives. Sometimes a Dad has to let his son learn something about himself. We both liked what he learned about himself those five games. As much as it hurt him tearing up his knee, I think the worst injury he ever suffered was the heartbreak of realization he had played his last down as the clock ran out on the last game of that Senior season. I don't know if my heart has hurt much worse either. As a parent, knowing your kid's heart is breaking and not being able to fix it...well...you know. Thank God I was led to snap a photo as Ryan trotted off the field that night. This was as he was coming off the field following his last drive. We didn't realize it at that instant, but God had led me to snap that shot at the very instant Ryan was taking the last step on the field he would ever take. The Tigers never got the ball back and two minutes later it was all over. There aren't many Dads who get to live out the dream of having a son who's a four year starter on the varsity ball club. Even fewer who spend those years standing on the sidelines with them. By the end of four years, Ryan would be one of those guys who he had lined up against as a freshman. Over the years though, he would win many more battles than he would lose. The Fighting Tigers rushed for a many a yard behind the "Sheriff" as they called him. Big ole #52 posted some weight lifting records on the wall of the Tigers weight room that will be there for many years to come. Larry Antanacci sai Ryan could curl a Harley, bench a Volvo, and squat a Cadillac. "For the Glory" "you had to be a part of it to fully understand the context of that phrase" I was blessed to be a Chaplain for the team. Following every game, me or Jimmy "the other Chaplain" would pray for both teams. Every prayer ended with..."For the Glory"
I expect T-Bug and Ryan back sometime tomorrow. Nick stayed behind to help me out. I know he really wanted to go to Perry too, but he stayed around to help me without saying a word...again I'll say "the best kids a man could have". We did have a fun day yesterday watching football and eating fast food. We'll both be glad when Tilena's kitchen is open again. Bowden and Pepper are ready for some "leftovers of value" too. Bowden is restless I think. He's grown accustomed to walking with Tilena every day. This morning he was sitting in the hallway just staring at the closet door where we keep his halter and leash. Although there's no doubt he's "Daddy"s Dog"...he does know who his exercise partner is. I'm still not able to go outside. My skin is sizzling. As my Uncle Clyde was fond of saying..."I'm hot as a hummin' bird layin' a goose egg". With God's good grace, I'll over all this before next weekend. I am feeling better than before. I don't expect but a couple more really bad days now.
Well, I'm gonna go feed my dogs. Tilena called a few minutes ago and she got to eat lunch with Emma Grace today. I don't think she called to give information, I really think she was bragging.
Serve the Lord everyone. Serve Him gladly... For the Glory.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Nick and his friend "Jessica" are all set for the Homecoming Dance. I didn't know at the time, but it was to be one of the rare bright spots in the week gone by. Last night saw us wave goodbye to the strength, pride, and prosperity of the United States of America. It's probably only a matter of years now until we regress to levels beyond the point of return. This experiment has played out time and again, country after country, continent after continent over the last two hundred years. When a "person" like him takes over....we'll soon be a nation of unicef refugees. Spread the wealth is like opening the bank vault. There'll be a huge party for a few days...maybe even a few years...but soon, the money is gone and so are the toys, ssi checks, welfare checks, unemployment checks, and medicare checks all gone. We are destined to be a nation of beggars. Don't be so indifferent to those images of Central and North Africa....THAT may likely our future.
Times will be miserable. Prosperity long gone...You can be sure of that. In time these shiny buildings, retirement accounts, and green landscapes will be memories. I can't stress hard enough how serious the ramifications of last nights election will be. There may well be serious threat to our freedom of worship in the not so distant future. Even Wall Street knows this. The huge gains made yesterday when the hopes for a mcCain victory have been wiped out. Trillions of dollars vanished just on news of Obama's election. I'm afraid this is only the beginning. The American Dream will become a nightmare. For me and Tilena I don't despair so much, because these things take time to gain traction, but traction they are gaining. Hopefully, our Lord will call us home before the worst comes. The damages done in the next 4-8 years will likely be the end of our country, but the slide will likely be gradual initially and the slope will steepen with time. But for Christy & Carlton, Ryan, Nick, Jessica, David, Emma Grace, Angela...all the kids of generation next. I feel convicted of the weight of failure. We let these kids down. They will likely never know Social Security, Medicare, Retirement let alone any semblance of prosperity. The will likely know great persecution for their Christian beliefs. Millions and millions of children will be murdered, filling their lungs with blood rather than air for their first and only breath in this world. Who knows, maybe God has allowed us to do this to ourselves in order to redirect our focus. After all, we had allowed the prosperity to become an idol to us. I don't think anyone can argue that..I can't stress enough, what an evil dark thing we've set in motion in this world. I think it was Abraham Lincoln who once said..."I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go". My loved ones, we now have no where else to go. We are no longer in a "what if" situation. We have taken the step down the path toward annihilation. We have handed over our future, prosperity and our security to an immature selfish child who's sole purpose seems to be a personal axe to grind. The sadness of the whole thing is that those with the most at stake, those who will suffer the most, are by and large, the ones who elected him. My heart aches for us all. We have failed our children. I fear the serpent may be loose.
Now my family and friends, having said all that...hold these words. You pray. You pray honestly openly and with great fervor. Pray for these young people, pray for your enemies, pray for your friends and family and listen...listen very closely...pray for Obama. Yes you read that right. You promise me you will pray for Obama daily. Pray for Godly men and women to intersecect Obama's path daily. Pray for conviction in Obama's soul. Pray for a miracle akin to Saul's Conversion. This disaster we're living out is not without precedence. We can see the majesty of Jehovah God here. Only God can help us now. Only by the true conviction of the Spirit will we have any chance here. And our God can do that. My God has done greater works than this. My God has no fear of Islam. My God has no fear of Socialism. My God does not fear Marxism. My God does not fear a misled, immature child who finds himself leading a nation. God CAN change hearts...not even Obama is immune to my God. Obama will kneel to Jesus the King now or he will kneel before him later.....but know this...he will kneel.
The outcome is in God's hands. What will you pray him to do? The God I serve is omnipotent. But he does have a history of allowing his children to suffer the consequences of their actions. We're at that juncture today. We're at a fork in the road. Which way will you go? Take the wide open freeway if you want....but as for me and my house...you'll find us climbing this steep and narrow path.
I love you all. I pray for you all. I pray too for Obama......will you commit to join me?
Don & Co.
Palm Trees and Sand..........................