Monday, June 25, 2012

Greatest Hits Volume 2

I'm gonna get you sucka! From October 15, 2010

Disclaimer: I was raised in the country. My heart and my roots still go back to my country upbringing. If you are with PETA or any other animal rights group; if you refer to hunters as “Bambi Killers” or you just don’t think hunting is “right” then you need not read any further because you will most likely be disgusted, appalled and possibly insulted.

When my cousin Jarrod and I were young we had this thing against possums, not opossums - they only have those up north, I'm talking about possums. For the most part they were pesky! They really weren’t bad but they really weren’t good either – they were just always in the way when we were trapping raccoons (coons).

Okay let’s get this out of the way. Yes, we trapped coons! Possibly the highlight of our year as kids I’d say this year event ranked up there with Christmas. It was fun then and I would still think it would be fun today if Grandpa wanted to give it another go! This could easily evolve into a whole series of posts so I’m going to attempt to keep is short.

Every summer when it was about time to pick our Grandpa’s sweet corn (and I’m not about a couple rows, I’m talking a couple acres) we’d trap coons.

Why would we trap those cutesy cuddly wuddly little raccoons you ask? Because if left unsupervised coons will DESTROY, no other word for it, a patch of sweet corn. And something we learned very early was if there was ever an animal I believe to be schizophrenic it’s a coon! Oh yah, they look all innocent and adorable on Marty Stopher’s Wild America, BUT I’m here to tell you that pound for pound they are the meanest animal on the face of the earth bar none!

Again, Jarrod and I have stories; OH do we have stories, but this is blog and not a book. If you throw a biscuit in a room with a three day starved coon and a pit bull my money is on that coon coming away with that biscuit EVERY STINKING TIME! Sorry had to get that last shot in; I think you get the point.

So, in the course of coon trapping the odds were much greater that we would trap a possum rather than a coon. I don’t know why, maybe they got an earlier start, maybe they were dumber, maybe they were smarter, maybe we didn't know what the heck we were doing (double that) but inevitably we would catch about ten possums to every one coon. And it would just tick us off, but possums had to be “taken care of” as well because they could damage the crop too, though not as bad, and if we let them go they would just keep getting back in our traps over and over and over so…it was “dirt nap” for them really without a second thought.

Fast forward to this week…

We come rolling into our driveway here in Ada and look up to see, YES, a possum eating our cat’s food. Something else I never understood about possums is they are never in a real hurry to get away if they even try at all. They just waddle around, act real mean, hiss a lot and look really ugly.

I throw the car in park and instantly, I had flashbacks to being a kid again, listening to Jerry Clower records, Uncle Buddy telling some outlandish story about hook men and hungry panthers to keep us scared all night and checking coon traps!

I’m thinking…

“Dude (possum) you’re toast!”

“I’ve hated your kind since I was a kid.”

“I hate you to this day.”

“You picked the wrong bowl of cat food today bro!”

So I jumped out of the car, which my beautiful wife quickly locked me out of by the way, I walked straight up to the possum; looked him in his hideous face; looked at the shovel that was propped up against the wall AND I………scooped him up and harmlessly pitched him over the fence.

I got back in the car and Christy knowing me better than anyone said, “I figured you were going to smack him in the head with that shovel. Why did you just throw him over the fence?”

Somewhat confused myself, my only reply was, “Well…I don’t know?? I’ve guess I’ve become more merciful in my old age.”

What I really meant to say was, “I’ve grown more merciful and forgiving the closer I have grown to the One who forgives me.”

Did the nasty love child of a raccoon and skunk deserve to die? Heck yah!

Was the filthy retch doing me dirty? Heck yah!

Everything about me would normally say, “smack that sucka’ in the head, the arrogant fool is eating my food right out in front of me no less, HE DESERVES IT!!”

But the more I go through life and realize how jacked up I am and how I mess up every single day and how He still forgives me even when I don’t deserve it – the more I feel compelled to hand out mercy and forgiveness…sometimes even to my old nemeses, the possum.

I am overwhelming with gratitude for Romans 5:8 (NLT) But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

It did not say, God sent his son to die for us because we deserved it.

It did not say, God sent his son to die to show the greatest act of forgiveness and mercy the world has ever seen because we were good people.

It says, God sent his son to die WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS!

I used to be the world’s worst at holding grudges. If Guinness had a world record for it I’m positive I would have been in the book with a picture of me and my Beaver Cleaver plastered comb over hairdo holding a list as long as my arm. When I met my wife about 14 or 15 years ago I seriously had a “list” of those who I was not only not going to forgive but I was actually going to get even with sometime before I died. This is no lie!

But the more God and I have walked together the more he helped me realize, “Man, I am still a sinner! I use and abuse God every day and every day he forgives still forgives me! That's the best deal going! Not only forgives me but throws my mess ups in the Sea of Forgetfulness. So who am I to decide who gets forgiven in my life?”

I read this one time and the topic of forgiveness became more real for me than it ever has, “When we refuse to forgive, what we are saying is; God, I don’t trust you to do your job and I can it better.” If you could use OUCH and WOW in the same sentence I did!

I finally trashed my list and oh what a relief! Like an Alka-Seltzer after a good bowl of crawfish étouffée. Like a weight removed from around my neck. It’s liberating!!

Then I started to feel the gratitude the Psalmist felt in Psalms 130:3-5 (The Msg) when he said…

If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings,
who would stand a chance?
As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit,
and that's why you're worshiped.

Who do you need to scoop up with the shovel and pitch over the Fence of Forgetfulness? Who’s the possum in your life? They have a name. It’s time to tear up the list

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Greatest Hits 1

Okay, since we've drawn closer to the end of our adoption my blogging here on Ordinary Man has dwindled and dwindled. I've been asked multiple times recently when I'm going to start again. I apologize to those who have been loyal readers. To be perfectly honest the adoption process has sapped a lot of my mental and creative energy, BUT I thought I would start back by republishing a few of my fan favorites from the archives to get things flowing again. I hope you enjoy and I've got some new stuff on its way soon!

Stop that van! April, 5 2010

Air police, city police, county police, highway police, store police, fashion police…where will it end? I guess after this one…pray police. Last night I became the pray police.

I was in the backyard spraying weeds and the boys were on the trampoline asking a thousand questions about, what I was spraying , why they couldn’t just walk through the grass if they had their socks on, and Wyatt wanted to know the difference between poison and poison ivy. (Wow that’s a long sentence and I’m sure grammatically incorrect)

Then off in the distance they hear the echoing through the hills of Ada...the ice cream truck! “Dad can we have a dollar, hurry?!” Now if you know me those two words don’t go together in a sentence, as in, “dollar” and “hurry”.

So I thought about it for a second and decided okay here’s four dollars. And left them with a token parental, “…and don’t let your little brother run into the street” as they whizzed through the back gate.

But they weren’t fast enough. The multicolored polka dotted 1982 Chevy EconoVan cruised right by and down hill just seconds before they could get there. And by the way is the 1982 Chevy EconoVan standard issue in the mobile neighborhood ice-cream industry or just the preferred vehicle? That’s another post for another day.

The boys were gone for a little while so as I went to check on them. There I found Winston, disappointed, but patiently waiting at the curb leaning up against the trash cans I hadn’t brought back to the house since the morning trash pickup. I asked what he was doing and he said he was waiting for the ice cream truck to come back up the hill. I stood there with him a minute and couldn’t hear the music, which normally can be heard from 6 city blocks away. I finally said, “Buddy, I don’t think he’s coming back tonight.” Winston looked up at me and said, “But Daddy I prayed to God for him to come back and everything.”

Now being the expert on prayer, raised in a Christian home, and having a Batphone connection with God, and a pastor which has to put me on a much higher level, living in the Bible belt, and because I read my Bible daily I BECAME THE PRAYER POLICE and at that moment instantly my first thought was, “Well son that’s probably not something we should pray for.” Even half the thought transformed into words and came out of my mouth before I caught myself in all my arrogance.

You know, the “right” things we pray for are world peace, the end of hunger, a cure for cancer, “all those who can’t be with us today bring them back at the next appointed time”…NOT for the ice cream truck to come back. I AM THE PRAY POLICE AND I FIND 8 YEAR OLD WINSTON BROWN IN VIOLATION OF A LEGITIMATE PRAYER!

What does this kid know? I mean are you going to tell me he was truly listening to his parents when they said you can ask God for ANYTHING?

Come on!

Can you convince me he really believes Matthew 21:22 (TNIV) “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Or 1 John 5:14-20 (The Message) “And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he's listening…”

Huh! Who believes that? At the Pray Police Academy they teach us that those are just memory verses and somewhere in those verses there must be an exclusion for ice cream trucks and 8 year olds who don’t know any better.

Really?? Who is an expert prayer? A pastor? A parent? Someone who has enough wind to go on for 5 plus minutes? A perfect attendance church goer?

A prayer is not something to be memorized or contain phrases that become so routine they lose their meaning. It’s not something for show. No, prayer is our direct line to God. Prayer is our chance to sit on His lap like a child and tell him our thoughts, praises, feeling, hurts, joys, and fears. Phillip Yancy in his book “Prayer” says “When it comes to prayer we are all beginner.”

The literal true beginners, as in kids being beginners in this world, get it so much better than us “mature adult Christians”. In fact, they hear messages and hear scripture and they believe it! Actually, they go beyond that and here’s what separates them from us…they don’t just believe it…THEY LIVE IT! They pray for ice cream trucks, they pray for dead cats, they pray for the Crocodile Hunter, they pray for whatever they can’t handle but know God can. WOW! And that’s just the out-of-control stuff. Don’t get them get started on what they are thankful for! Candy, dogs and cats that haven’t died, candy, swings, trampolines…

As for the ice cream truck prayer in question, well, after careful review we traced the source of the prayer to Winston Brown’s heart. With that being the case we have no choice but to drop all charges! If God is listening and has time for an ice cream truck prayer then the Prayer Police don’t have a problem with it either.

And, effective immediately I’ll be stepping down from my post as the Prayer Police. I’m finding out that though I’m color blind and my wife dresses me in the mornings I’d have a better shot at Fashion Police. “Hey you! Yeah you! Are those socks you have on navy or black…”