Protection . . .

The things I love in this life . . . are (in this order):
1. The Lord;
2. My family; and
3. Marine vessels
Believe it or not all three actually have something in common, that being . . . taking action to protect each one.
1. I need to take action and submit to the Lord daily and strive to live a life that is pleasing to Him. That is not easy and demands focus and attention. In Colossians 3:10-11, the Apostle Paul spoke of the on-going war waged between the old man and the new man. My own experience is the old man will not give up an inch of space without a war. In order for me to enjoy any victory, I must resist my own natural inclinations.
2. My family requires special attention. I must overlook, forgive, and accept any and all human flaws and simply love them just as the Lord commands me to do, all the while hoping that each of them does the same for me (the Lord knows I need that more than anyone).
3. One of the things I learned about owning a large marine vessel that stays in the water year-round is that the sea is both a friend and an enemy of your vessel. The truth of the sea is that it both keeps your vessel afloat, but also attacks the very structure of the vessel. One of the things I had to learn early on was that I had to get over the expense of bottom jobs and changing the zincs on the vessel. I had to understand that sacrificial anodes works on the principle similar to electrolysis, according to which if an anode and a metallic strip are dipped in electrolytic solution, anode electron will dissolve and deposit over the metallic strip and make it cathode. In the case of a large marine vessel, sea water acts as an electrolyte and transfers the electrons from the anode by oxidizing it over the steel plate and making a protecting layer. If the metal is more active, it will be easily oxidized and will protect the metallic compound by making it act as cathode. The anode will corrode first sacrificing itself for the other compound and it is, thus, called sacrificial anode.
That is a somewhat technical but the simple explanation and is the same for all three . . . ignore the truth of the matter and experience costly and damaging results!
Be wise . . . Be alert!

“Boy” . . .

I taught the Sunday school lesson about David and Abigail (1 Samuel) . . . and she came in really very late. After class she came by and apologized for being tardy . . . and commented on the lesson that sometimes a woman simply needed to give a man a push in the right direction. She went on to tell me that she had done that very thing for her husband early on in their marriage. She said he was unhappy with his job and every day came home declaring that he just wanted to quit his salary job and start his own business. She chuckled and said, “One day I just told him “either do it or shut up . . . I am tired of listening to you.” The next day he quit his job! He went on to start a very successful business that before he sold out would have plants in 28 states and employ thousands of workers. He became a multi-millionaire!

As we talked, she related things about him that I never knew (in spite of the truth that he was my good friend whom I admired). She said his parents had moved to California when he was very young and that he went to elementary school dressed in bib overalls and lace-up work boots. He chuckled and told her that the kids on the playground circled around him to look at how he was dressed. She commented that would have made her cry . . . it simply motivated him! She told me that he was an only child and his dad never once called him by his name . . . he simply called him “Boy”!

Well, Boy became a wise and successful man! He had a great heart and he loved his fellow man! I am not sure how wealthy he was, but I know his home was valued at something close to $10 million and he had a yacht docked behind the house that was worth more than the house! The yacht was so large and impressive that it had a laundry room with six washing machines and six dryers. Knowing a bit about large vessels myself, I asked her about that much laundry on board. She chuckled and said, “Not a problem . . . we can make 5,000 gallons of fresh water per day from sea water!” I was dumbfounded . . . the city of Houston could not do that at the time!

Boy became quite a man! Just what is it that changes an elementary school kid on the playground dressed in bib overalls and work boots with the other kids laughing at him . . . and drives that kid to become a big-balling, shot-calling dude at the top of the heap and everyone calling him, “Sir”?

He was a class act . . . a very good man. He sailed the world in his first-class yacht and was admired by many. He backed up from no one, but gladly stepped aside for others . . . but make no mistake, he just did so out of respect, not because he had to. Once while visiting his beautiful vessel, I observed an AK-15 in the cabin and asked about it. He chuckled and said, “There are areas of the world where a man must defend his family and property from pirates.” In shock, I asked him if he had actually had to do that. He never paused and declared the he had on a number of occasions . . . I knew from the look in his eyes that he had, indeed!

Yes sir, Boy became a heck of a man. I would wager that no one called him Boy except his Dad, and if his dad had only known . . . but perhaps that was part of what drove him.

 

When Life Gets Confusing . . .

My dear friend, Gini Sims from East Texas, contacted me last week and shared the tragic report of an accident which claimed the lives of her 33-year-old Pastor and his 26-year-old brother-in-law. The young men were both married with young children. The brother-in-law’s mom and dad were also critically injured in the accident, and may not survive. The news report said the family was on vacation in Silverton, Colorado, where they had an accident rolling an ATV off of the side of a mountain. The young wives and the small children were back at the campground.

The Holy Bible is replete with promises for those who trust, obey, and serve God. It also offers warnings for those who refuse to obey God. I could cite a hundred different passages, but I will just quote Psalm 1, which reads:

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers.

Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. (NIV)

Mankind is wired to believe and accept that there are consequences for behavior . . . both good for good . . . and bad for bad. That is just the way we tend to view life . . . and the Bible certainly says that . . . and says it often and clearly. Yet when we learn of something like this tragic accident, it baffles us. A fine young husband, dad, and Pastor . . . killed in an accident while on vacation? What does this say to his Church? To those who love him? Do things like this accident refute the Bible? Do they cast a cloud of doubt over the Scriptures? My answer is simple: that only happens with and in foolish people.

Here is the hard truth . . . the Holy Bible certainly says there are consequences for behavior . . . but that is not all that it says! It also says that there is an enemy to be resisted . . . mountains to be climbed . . . rivers to be forged . . . battles to be fought . . . burdens to be born . . . and victories to be claimed! These things are part of the life experience, and they are equally true with those promises or consequences for behavior. The struggle for us is to find balance . . . and to abandon the notion that every event in the life process must be reconciled to our understanding here on earth. Such a short-sighted view causes much grief and confusion.

When life hurts . . . when it becomes confusing . . . we are inclined to try to explain it in simple terms, and in doing so we complicate the dilemma for ourselves and for those grieving. The simple truth is we just don’t know what to make of such tragedy, yet we feel compelled to offer comfort. The proper response to these times of confusion is a simple declaration that I just don’t know why . . . but I trust the Lord and I am certain that He is in control.

The story of Job in the Old Testament is a real mind-bender. It begins with God declaring that Job was a good man . . . fair in his dealings, consistently treated others well, was kind-hearted and generous, and he tried his best to honor God in every area of his life. Yet, in Job’s story all of his children are killed, his wealth is lost, his health is destroyed, his wife turns against him, and his friends condemn him with faulty theology. In fact, Job’s story troubles most of us and our theology. The truth is we simply do not know how to explain Job’s experience . . . nor things such as the tragedy that has impacted this Pastor’s family . . . the mass murders which are becoming so frequent . . . why illness and death come upon one home while passing over a hundred others. The truth is that not everything that happens in life is what is earned or deserved. The Master Himself declared that it rains on both the just and the unjust.

Here is another hard truth: it is really all right for me not to know all of the answers, to not understand everything, nor be able to articulate a reasonable explanation for everything. It is in those times I can best help my family and friends by simply standing alongside, praying for the peace that is promised in Scripture, and letting them know that I care. It is in those times of sorrow, pain, and confusion that I do well to lean on those everlasting arms . . . and cling to Romans 8:28. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12 cautioned us to be mindful that we see things today as if we are looking through dark glasses (or like a bad reflection in a mirror), but to realize that one day . . . face to face . . . we will know! Until we know . . . we simply must live by faith.

Please join me in praying for these two young widows and their small children (as well as the parents who remain in ICU in Denver).

A Great Story . . .

Last Sunday, I taught the great story of David and Abigail (1Samuel 25). I love the story for a number of reasons, the main reason is the great influence a good woman can have on a man.

In the story, David is on the run . . . hiding out from a very angry, jealous King Saul—who wanted to kill him. David had returned home to Bethlehem to collect his aged parents to protect them from Saul’s wrath. While there, David encountered about 400 angry men who were frustrated over the way things were in Israel, but seemingly powerless to change much of anything. These men fell in with David, and became his army. He delivers his folks to Moab, where the family obviously had kin folks (remember Naomi, the mother-in-law of the Moabite woman Ruth . . . who—along with David—is identified in Jesus’ genealogy?)

David, now responsible for providing for 400 men, becomes something of a warlord . . . acting as a de facto government where no government existed. In this capacity, David and his men provide protection for the folks who live in the wilderness area of Judea. David and his men are honorable and in spite of their strength they treat the local folks well and protect them from the evil people who would raid and steal their goods. Of course, a fee for such service is expected but to David’s credit, he seems to leave the amount of payment up to the person being protected.

As spring arrives, the land-owners begin shearing their animals and selling their wool and mohair. The largest and wealthiest owner in the region was a man named Nabal. David sends a group of young men to see Nabal and suggests that the time is appropriate for payment for services rendered. Rather than graciously paying his bill, Nabal insults the messengers, insults David, and refuses any payment. The young men return to their camp and report to David. Upon hearing the slander, David ordered his men to arm themselves for battle and vows that not one man associated with Nabal will be alive at the same hour the next day.

Meanwhile, one of Nabal’s shepherds goes to Nabal’s wife, Abigail, and tells her what a foolish thing his master had done and that he was certain of how David would respond . . . he feared they were all at considerable risk. After hearing the young man out, Abigail agrees with his concern and flies into action. She has an assortment of goods loaded up, she gathers a group to help her with delivery, and she sets out to try to encounter David, convinced he is headed toward them.

She does encounter David and his men . . . she apologizes for her foolish husband’s rudeness and then appeals to David’s better judgement. She encouraged David to think like a king . . . not like an angry warrior. She appealed to him that if he went forward with his plan of judgment and destruction, he would arrive at his destiny with blood on his hands and his conscious. David was touched and his anger was diminished . . . he graciously accepted the gifts, thanked Abigail and rode away. I would argue that Abigail made a lasting impression on David . . . an impression of what a woman ought to be. Later, David gets word that Abigail’s husband had died . . . and he remembers her very well, and fondly. I am certain that he thought, “A woman who could be so convincing to an angry warrior in the field, could be a great influence to a king in the palace.” David send some of his men to present his proposal of marriage to Abigail . . . which she promptly accepted.

What a great story. It has all of the elements needed for a great action movie, but who could play David? Who could play Abigail? It would not be much of a challenge to find one to play Nabal.

One of Many Differences . . .

I read an article about a large number of mosques (Muslim worship places) that have recently been built in the State of Florida . . . the number is about 100. I also read that it is considered to be “the fastest growing religion in the world.” From this information one could get the wrong impression.

I am a Christian. I believe in Christian values, but I know the truth that Christianity is not about religion . . . it is about a relationship between a confessing sinner and a merciful Savior. That relationship makes one right with the very loving, but yet also the “just” Creator. The Creator that chooses to provide mercy as opposed to demanding sacrifice.

I also read about the hatred bred into Muslim doctrine and teachings . . . I see the evidence of that around the world. I am amazed that anyone could be so incredibly ignorant to believe in a god (so called) who encourages hatred, violence, intolerance, and terrorism . . . of such a violent nature. Such a god is the figment of a confused mind.

The real God . . . the One and only God . . . the Creator of the universe . . . is Love, and He calls His creation to love. He sent His son Jesus to live amongst people so that they might see the Creator. He did that as a demonstration of His great love (John 3:16) and as a propitiation for the payment of sin for confessing sinners.

A relationship with Jesus comes by faith and confession (Romans 10:9-10), which makes the confessing/believing sinner “right” with God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Upon confession and invitation to Jesus, the Savior moves into the sinner’s heart and the “exchanged life program” becomes a reality. It is in that the Savior lives through the sinner . . . and as He changes who the sinner is, He also changes what that sinner does. There is a pretty famous and well-received declaration in Christian teaching, that being “God loves you just the way you are” . . . but it is equally true that God loves you too much to leave you “the way you are!” God’s declared intent is to “conform each Believer to the image of Jesus” (Romans 8:29). It is in that, we are called to reflect God’s love. The truth is that God really does not need to use any one of us to meet out His Justice . . . He can do that all by Himself, contrary to what the confused Muslim cries out in ignorance.

The difference between Christianity and Islam (the name of the Muslim religion) is really very great . . . yet also pretty simple: Islam is all about people “striving to do” what someone told them God requires,” while Christianity is not at all about “doing” . . . but is instead about “being.” This is “being in Christ” . . . and “Christ being in you.”

Of course, the differences between Christianity and Islam are endless, but I know of no better illustration than that told to me by my friend, Justin. Justin faded away for a few years, then surfaced again on social media. Occasionally he would post photos of a dark-skinned toddler. I assumed the child was the result of an affair he might have had with a Hispanic woman. One evening a while back, I asked Justin about the boy, about 12 at the time. Justin told me that he had met a young woman who was pregnant . . . and wanting to have an abortion. Justin talked her out of the abortion and they moved in together, and the child was born. Justin said he really felt guilty living like that and finally told the girl he was moving out. She demanded that he take the infant with him when he left. He told me of walking and carrying the baby in the wee hours of a winter morning to his mother’s house. Upon arrival at his mother’s home, he sat at her table and wept as he told her that he desperately needed help as he knew nothing of caring for a baby. His mom helped and Justin struggled to make a home for the little boy. He married a couple of years later and he gave his name to both his new wife and the dark-skinned little boy.

As Justin related the story, he told me that the child’s biological father is a Muslim clerk in a Houston convenience store. So here is the illustration in my mind . . . one man (the biological father) through a sinful act produces an illegitimate child . . . and abandons the woman and child . . . all the while condemning fair-skinned people of the West as being evil infidels (the dude cannot marry an infidel and raise a half-breed child). Yet, on the other hand, here is a guy who was taken to Sunday school as a child where he was taught about love, decency, and morality. As a young man, he finds himself in a sinful arrangement, but draws the line when faced with the reality of abortion . . . the senseless, selfish murder of an innocent baby. That early childhood teaching kicks in and Justin does the right thing in a wrong situation . . . he saves the child’s life and accepts and treats him as his own son.

Islam reaches hatred and violence . . . Christianity calls for love, forgiveness, and acceptance. Justin raised Andrew as his son . . . he gave him his name . . . and Andrew has made a delightful young man. He is an honor student . . . and a model servant in his small Baptist church in Weatherford, Texas, where he plays a key role as an assistant in the food bank. Raised as a Christian, Andrew is a humble servant with a pure, loving, servant’s heart. If he had been raised as a Muslim, he would be an angry young man . . . filled with hate.

The evidence condemns that false religion!

 

Confused . . .

Recently I have encountered an assortment of confused, fractured, troubled, and uncertain men. In my last post about Gabriel, I made reference to a couple of fellows (middle-aged men) who have been reduced to riding bicycles as their mode of transportation. One of those fellows is named Alan. Let me tell you a bit about my new friend, Alan.

Alan had been living in Kentucky for a number of years. He came to Aransas Pass a few months back. He tells me that he used his Obama phone to call his sister on her Obama phone and let her know that he had fallen on hard times. I suspect that means that he got a DUI and was in trouble. At any rate, when his sister got her income-tax check, she bought him a bus ticket. The sister has four dependent children so she gets a large earned-income-tax-credit check, in spite of the fact that she really worked very little. Once here, he moved in with the sister and her kids . . . but that didn’t work for long.

He is willing to work . . . well, as best as he can. He is forty-three years old and his health is about the level of a 70+ year old man. He was recently in the hospital and was diagnosed with COPD. The heat and humidity along the Coast are very hard on him; thus, he is limited in his ability. He is further limited in his ability to work in that he has no form of photo ID and cannot cash checks at the bank.

I have been letting him do some odd jobs to earn a little money and have been helping him with some food and clothes. A few weeks back he asked me to loan him $100 to buy a bicycle from Walmart . . . I agreed. Today that debt on the bicycle is up to $250. He works a couple of hours (at $9.00 per hour), says he is “worn out, but desperately needs $20,” which I let him have. I fear his greatest desire is a six pack and a pack of cigarettes each day.

I try to engage him in discussions about life . . . and living. He is agreeable to most of the truths of life I talk with him about and always thanks me for “giving him things to think about.” As Alan and I discuss life, I am certain that he lives with many regrets . . . regrets about choices he made . . . decisions he acted upon . . . and the things he did . . . as well as things he did not do.

Today, Alan is dislocated . . . far from his home in Kentucky where he tells me he has a 16-year-old daughter. He is also dislocated from his sister and her family . . . the very ones he came here to be with. He tells me that he has no other family. It is tragic, but during the four days he spent in the hospital here, I was his only visitor. It Seems to me . . . my new friend Alan tends to burn his bridges and keeps ending up isolated . . . and alone.

He is also incarcerated . . . .not in the typical sense of being locked up at the county jail, but he is clearly in lockdown. He is not behind bars, but he is in chains . . . chains that he put on himself. He suffers from the chains, pains, and stains of addiction to a bottle. He has clearly consumed large amounts of alcohol in his short years to have damaged his body to this extent.

But to his credit, the dude is still optimistic as all get out! Just the other day, I gave him a ride to Walmart and he pointed out an old ski-boat . . . bright green and while in color . . . with the price of $300 printed in white shoe polish on the windshield. The boat was sitting on a park-and-sell lot, but I am not sure how they ever got it there . . . as the trailer is about rusted away! He commented that he wasn’t very sure the guy really wanted to sell the boat. I inquired why he would come to such a conclusion. He smiled and said, “I have called him a dozen times and he won’t even answer!” I was blown away and asked him, “Are you thinking about buying that boat?” I swear, the dude set up straight in my car, squared his shoulders, and proudly stated that he was, indeed, thinking about buying the boat and declared that it was, “a hell-of-a good deal, and a man would be a fool to pass it up!” In shock, I asked him, how could you pull it with your bicycle? Never batting an eye he declared, “I will get something to tow her with!”

As much as it embarrasses me to admit it, I kind of understand his thinking . . . if a man is gonna live surrounded by all of this water, he really needs to have a boat!

 

Gabriel . . .

Sandy wanted to spend a few days at the Burnet house before she had to return to school. I knew the exterior of house needed to be cleaned up, so I took a pressure-washer along. The location of the house, the large number of trees in the neighborhood, together with some nearby acreage being plowed and farmed just seems to get the exterior of the house dusty and it needs to be rinsed off about once a year. This trip was the appropriate time for that task. The problem: I just did not want to do it all by myself! So, I decided that I would try to locate some kid who wanted to earn some money while playing in the water on a hot summer day. I am generally pretty god at finding folks to work.

As I pulled into McDonald’s to get my morning coffee and breakfast, I saw an older bicycle parked on the sidewalk (the bicycle was something an older guy would ride). I hung around a bit waiting on the rider to exit. As I look for help in such situations (which I do quite often since I own rental property scattered around the state), I always ask the Lord to cross my path with someone needing a kind word, a bit of encouragement, a little money, and a little help. As I waited in front of McDonalds, I asked the Lord to help me find the right fellow that morning. Sandy chuckles and says I have a radar to find struggling people.

I thought the fellow who had ridden the bicycle to McDonalds might just be a struggler. Recently I am encountering more and more middle-aged guys riding old-style bicycles . . . guys who have lost their driver’s license because of a DWI, but still need to pick up some work. After a while and the pilgrim not exiting McDonalds, I got the sense that I ought to look elsewhere. I drove out of the parking lot and spotted an old-style street-preacher setting up his equipment on the corner, so I pulled over to hear what he had to say. I listened for a few minutes and then eased off. At the next corner, I spotted Gabriel . . . a tall, skinny kid with a wild and unkempt head of hair. I pulled over to the curb and told him I was looking for someone to work a few hours. He said he was desperate for work. I hired him and we drove back to the house, where I introduced him to Sandy.

He was a great worker and got busy. As he hooked up the pressure-washer I asked him if he was hungry. His eyes lit up and he said, “Yes Sir, I haven’t eaten in a while,” so I got him breakfast. He ate like he was hungry. He has a sad story and situation. Twenty-two years old and homeless. Sandy and I took him to lunch later and he told us some of his story. Basically, he was the offspring of a peculiar pair who had no parenting skills nor inclinations . . . the kid has been on his own and living on the streets since he was 15. As we sat in the small Mexican food restaurant he selected for lunch and watched him eat, Sandy sent me a text saying: “This kid is breaking my heart . . . he is starving!” I felt the same way. He told us that he had met a man who was taking him to Church and allowing him to stay around his house . . . but not inside. He sleeps on the bed of the man’s flatbed ranch-style truck. He said the family had no room for him inside the house, but would let him come inside to rinse up in the mornings.

As we talked over lunch, I asked him when he had last slept in a bed. He said just a few days before . . . at his Grandparent’s house in Elgin. He then told us that his Granddad had driven him to Burnet and let him out. He wasn’t mad at anybody and seemed like he thought it all was quite normal. After we left, I asked Sandy if she could even imagine a circumstance under which we might ever drive Ali or Abi to a neutral town two hours away and leave them on the street . . . no money . . . no food . . . no bed. We both just wept at the very question.

I paid him very well for a few hours of labor, and made a deal with him for work on Saturday. We agreed that we would meet at McDonald’s at 9:00 am the next morning. As we parted company, Sandy asked him if there was anything he needed and he said, “a package of white t-shirts.” That afternoon we went to Walmart where Sandy bought him a package of t-shirts and a nice tent.

I was at McDonald’s at the appointed hour, but Gabriel did not show up. I drove around the area for a bit, but did not see him. I have no way of knowing what became of him . . .

A couple of days later I was driving to the YMCA to use their pool and as I drove along, I looked off to the side of the road and lo-and-behold there was Gabriel walking down the street. I pulled over and offered him a ride, which he gladly accepted. I told him that I had waited at McDonalds as we had agreed and asked what had happened that prevented him showing up. He replied, “Ah, I decided to give myself the day off!” Poor kid.

 

June 3, 1972 to June 3, 2016

June 3, 2016, marked our 44th wedding anniversary. It has been quite an experience living together as man and wife all these years in this modern throw-away culture. Not many of our friends or siblings have remained married to the original spouse. One year on our anniversary, we wanted to go someplace on the Mexican end of the Gulf of California . . . Puerto Vallarta Mazatlan . . . or Cabo San Lucas . . . I don’t remember for certain, just that the travel agent managed to get us on a group package out of San Antonio. We were able to fly on the charter and stay at the same hotel at the discounted group rate, but we were otherwise free from the charter group and free to do our own thing. Sandy mentioned to someone that it was our anniversary . . . at that time like 25 or so. The Captain made an announcement over the PA system offering congratulations . . . and had the flight attendant deliver a bottle of champagne to us. That was the first time I realized what an oddity we were in our culture. Over the next few days around the hotel we had many of our fellow travel companions approach us . . . amazed that we were still married . . . and celebrating it . . . and traveling together. I got the sense that we were the only married folks on the charter . . . well, at least married to the one we were traveling with! Several of the men told me that the woman traveling with him was not his wife. It really made me sad. I knew that I was far from being a good husband . . . but faced with all of that, I did feel like I was a pretty good man. I mean I had made a commitment . . . taken a vow . . . and I stayed and took care of my wife and kids. The truth is that was not something many Melton men had ever done . . . I grew up with former aunts and cousins scattered all over the place . . . everywhere except living with my uncles (their dads).

The truth be told, I have never achieved anything close to the status of being a good husband. In fact, while that is absolutely one of my most important roles, sadly it is also my weakest in achievement. I have been a pretty good provider . . . I have stayed in one place . . . been a pretty decent Dad, but I have failed to be what Sandy needed in the way of being a soul-mate. In fact, I have been bull-headed, opinionated, selfish, and strong-willed (all strong, dominating family characteristics for the males in my family tree). I have fought it through the years . . . off and on . . . more conscious of it sometimes that others. I really get what the Apostle Paul meant in his epistles about the raging, constant war between the old man and the new man. The new man wants to do better . . . to move to a higher level; however, the old man will not give up one inch of territory without a war. Unfortunately, I am not always up for such an internal war . . . and the old man prevails.

Another truth is that Sandy is largely the one who is responsible for our remaining married all of these years. She has been much better than I ever deserved . . . and pretty much everyone reminds me of that truth regularly. In fact, in any disagreement between us, everyone in the family asks me, “Now, what have you done!” It is just a foregone conclusion that I am in the wrong.

Every year on our anniversary date, I think of the things I want to do better in the coming year . . . and feel remorse and regret that I failed to do better over the past year. I am reminded of the old adage, “inch by inch, life’s a chinch; yard by yard life is hard.” I am thinking that I can improve my performance this year in the smaller, everyday things. That is my plan . . . so onward and upward.

Happy Anniversary, Honey! Thank you for putting up with me . . . I know I have been a handful, but I really did sire two great kids . . . and that evolved into two world-class granddaughters! I love you . . . and always appreciate your goodness and faithfulness.

Over the recent months, the great old blues singer B. B. King passed away. I read an interview he had granted a few months prior to his passing. The interviewer asked him a great question, “What song do you wish you had recorded, but did not?” B. B. smiled and said, “You were Always on My Mind!” The interviewer asked him why. B. B. chuckled and said, “I could never sing that song with the feeling and emotion with which Willie Nelson sang it! If I could have, I would have sung that song every day!”

I know exactly what B. B. meant . . . you were always on my mind! I wish I could have been better at making you know that!

NOTE: Johnny wrote this on June 3rd; Sandy is just now getting it posted on August 12, 2016!

The 9:00 Rule . . .

Those who come to work in my firm are taught “Rules of Survival” . . . One of which is, Don’t call me before 9:00 a.m. If you have an emergency, call 911 or your immediate supervisor, but leave me alone until after 9:00 a.m.

Question: Do I sleep late? Answer: Nope . . . in fact, I actually rise early . . . this morning at 5:00 a.m.

Question: Then why can’t I call early? Answer: because I simply don’t want to talk to anyone that time of the day!

Question: What do you do during that time frame? Answer: actually that is none of your business . . . but the truth is, that is my quite time . . . I think, I pray, I read the Bible, I write, and I get my mind prepared for the day.

Truth: periodically, some folks come aboard and simply do not get the whole concept. Those folks tend not to hang around long. I had a new guy call me twice yesterday morning . . . both times before 9:00 am. I told his supervisor to discuss it with the dude. I will kiss your foot if that goofy dude didn’t call me this morning at 6:45 a.m. I fear his days here are numbered!

I always wonder . . . are they really that dumb, or is it simply a matter of defying authority? It really doesn’t matter . . . it simply reflects an attitude, mentality, disposition that works against the principles upon which I started my company, and we all do well if they simply move on down the road.

A Trip to the Market . . .

Chris brought Ali (8) and Abi (3) to spend last week with us. Sandy had knee surgery two weeks earlier and was still at limited capacity and ability. She was required to sit often, but it did not prevent her from doing that grandmother thing . . . holding the girls in her lap and hugging on them.

Since I am really on the mend physically, I stepped up and took on more of the duties. I spend quite a bit of time around the Rockport Community Pool (actually, I serve on the board of Friends of the Pool, Inc.), and pretty much know my way around there, so I scheduled the girls for the best of swimming lessons available . . . small groups in the mornings and private lessons with “Mr. Bill” in the late afternoon. I drove them over and back each day, with daily stops at McDonald’s drive-thru for a take-out lunch, or at Sonic Drive-In for a frozen drink. One day we actually did both . . . drinks from Sonic and lunch from McDonalds. In addition, I cooked breakfast each morning and dinner each evening. I really enjoyed cooking for the girls. I told them their first day that I had set out a bag of fresh Redfish for dinner. Abi looked up at me and declared, “Pappy, I don’t like fish,” to which I replied, “Well, little miss prissy, you have not tried Pappy’s fish yet.” We had dinner and she ate fish like it was going out of style and said, “Best fish ever!” In fact, I took dinner orders each day and each time Abi yelled out “More fish!” She even asked for fish with her scrambled eggs one morning. After three nights in a row, Nana declared no-more-fish. Abi is now a real fish lover!

One afternoon I discovered that I needed to go to the supermarket for provisions. The gals wanted to go with me, so off we went. I enjoyed pushing the basket around with them tagging along and trying to educate me about how to buy groceries. I was not surprised that each one found several things they wanted and really needed. When we arrived at the check-out counter, the clerk handed each of the girls something that looked like dollar bills and off they went to something of a large vending machine 10- or 12-paces away. The girls inserted the things the clerk gave them, and were given small rolled tickets from a return duct. It all looked innocent enough, so I returned to the task of checking out and paying for our bill of goods. One of the items we had purchased (at Abi’s insistence) was a large watermelon that I bet weighed 40lbs. I was just in the process of overcoming a very painful lower back injury, so I requested a carry out. An older man came to assist. As we passed by the girl’s and their vending machine (where they had been joined by a dozen other kids), I announced that we had to go. Abi informed me that she still had “some Buddy Bucks” to spend. I told her to save them for another visit. Good grief . . . you would have thought she was about to get a shot in the doctor’s office! So there I was with a basket of goods, a very large watermelon, a screaming 3-year-old, and a smart aleck old dude pushing our cart and looking down his nose at us. People all around were looking to see the dirty dog abusing the screaming child! Finally, we made it to the car and as I helped her and her Buddy Bucks strap into her car seat, I looked down at her and said, “Abi, I don’t think I am going to be able to take you to the store anymore.” I am pretty sure that as she processed that information and reflected on the fun she had shopping and the goodies she had gotten, that thing we call ‘reasoning’ kicked in for her. She looked up at me with those big brown eyes (of course as I look into them I am always a “goner”) and said, “Pappy, do you remember the time when just you and me went to Walmart and I did really good? I think next time we should leave Ali at home!” Of course, she was referring to last month’s visit that I took her to Walmart while her Dad took Ali fishing on the boat. As I drove us home, it occurred to me that I had just witnessed human nature at work in a 3-year-old . . . that incredible ability to excuse oneself while affixing the blame to someone else! Prisons are filled with “innocent men” who when given the opportunity to speak will quickly declare “Some other dude did it!”

Waylon Jennings wrote and sang a country song in which he speaks of women and says, “they start learning when they are babies.” I think the truth of the matter is that we all learned selfish ways as babies and had to learn to temper them as we developed socially and even more so as we develop spiritually. I am confident that Abi and Ali both have great, tender hearts and will develop beautifully.