Through the Eyes of the Kids . . .

Chris has been here for a while helping me in my recovery after the discovery of, struggle with, surgery to repair, and hospital rehab of my spinal-cord injury. He has been a “God send” for both Sandy and me throughout all of this; but, hey, he has been a “God send” for us since the day he was born!! Chris is not only a terrific son, he is absolutely one of the best men I know – and that covers a bunch because I know some really good men.

When Sandy called and told Chris something was wrong with me because my legs had quit working, he quit his job, packed his stuff, and came home to look after me. That was a huge sacrifice for him. He separated himself from his darling little girls by 5.5 hours, and, obviously limited his time with them. His love and concern for me has touched me deeply. I have tried my best to do anything and everything possible to help him see them all through this time.

Last Thursday, they came for a ten-day visit; it has been delightful. It has all been structured and planned out. Each day has had specific activities. Yesterday, they went fishing in Bamonitias . . . and they came home talking about fishing and, “my Daddy’s boat.” They told me all about him driving the boat. They think that dude is about 10′ tall this morning! Great day for both Chris and his gals. It just made me really happy.

Abi came back to Nana and Pappy’s house earlier than the rest of the group. She joined us in the pool and told us all about fishing and her trip. I asked Abi (2 years old) the color of her Daddy’s boat. She said, “It is yellow, Pappy, just like his truck!” Actually the boat is white and his truck is red.

They made some serious memories yesterday.

When Chris was 5-years-old, I rescued him from school one Good Friday afternoon and we drove from Beeville to Aransas Pass to fish. I bought him a pack of Oreos and a pint of chocolate milk. He caught a 25″ redfish, which I had mounted for him. When we took the fish to the local taxidermy shop, they took a photo of Chris and his big catch. Unknown to us, the taxidermist sent the photo to KIII TV and they selected it as “The Catch of the day” and put it on TV the next day. Our phone started ringing off the hook with calls of congratulations. That is one of Chris’ fondest memories. I suspect what he did with his girls will be just such a memory for the girls!

It has certainly been one of the sweetest weeks in my life!


Jade Helm 15 . . .

The internet is certainly a prime vehicle for the conspiracy-theory folks to peddle their wares and promote their theories. It also seems to be a breeding ground for other theories to become commingled and evolve into urban legends. Further, it seems to be an effective vehicle to recruit new followers.

Some of the theories set forth actually seem to contain certain elements of truth and be almost believable. Others are both silly and comical and involve Star Trek, space aliens, and Big foot; but, for some peculiar reason folks just seem attracted to it all and actually like it. I have to discipline myself because I could be one of them on some theories, but not the silly stuff. I know why I am so inclined, but I am not so certain why others seem so inclined.

I am subject to buy-in for the following reasons:

1. I believe the government has proven time and again that it simply cannot be trusted; crooked politicians and corrupted agencies together have just left me suspicious. It has long been known that the CIA is a larger drug dealer than any of the Mexican cartels, and might very well have originally set up some of the cartels only to have them go rogue. You ask why that could be true? The answer is tragically that the agency has a huge appetite for cash and, with its illegal activities, actually generates more revenue under the table than its slice of the federal budget.

2. Recent elections have demonstrated that important institutions of American democracy have been corrupted. Moreover, actions and decisions of our Justice Department (including the IRS) have been totally political, wrong-minded, and simply evil and contrary to the Constitution. We have seen the Justice Department become involved in the Ferguson, MO, race-riots and be so pitifully blind to the cause of true Justice. The geniuses who served as our founding fathers and the framers of our government always saw the potential of our democracy becoming corrupt by evil men and they crafted enabling legislation that provides for the citizens to overthrow, impeach, and otherwise ban such elected officials from public office – positions of trust! However, easy going, peace-loving folks failed to act. The day the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Madalyn Murray O’Hare, the citizens should have instantly gone to work to impeach every member sitting on the bench who had voted in favor of Madalyn; and thus, voting against God. Failing that, we should have certainly done so the day the Court mysteriously found within the
Constitution the right for a citizen to publicly burn the flag.

3. Of course, none of this is new. The Old Testament bears record of the same evil and self-centeredness in Israel’s governing officials over a long stretch of her history. Revelation, the last book in the Holy Bible, seems to indicate the same sort of wickedness out in the future. History reveals this same corruption of governments across the world.

4. There are always a wide assortment of theories afloat, but one never knows for certain which are something having merit and over which to be concerned, as opposed to those which are just hot-air being spouted by crack-pots.

The most recent theories concern this thing being called: Jade Helm 15 . . . which raises concerns over a new sort of military exercises being conducted in small communities around the country – with something of an emphasis on the State of Texas. The exercises involve public-school buildings, as well as other public property. The allegation is that the Feds are looking to take control of states and impose martial law. Texas Governor Gregg Abbot has lent some credibility to this allegation by placing the Texas National Guard on high alert, “to observe and monitor these military exercises, and protect Texas’ sovereign state’s rights.” Furthermore, there have been numerous news articles published in an array of Texas newspapers, including the Dallas Morning News. A simple Google search will provide you with sufficient information to enable you to understand the concern; and

5. There are also many theories out there about the FEMA camps that the government has expended untold millions of tax-payer dollars to construct and set up. Personally I have not heard a single word of explanation. These camps are alleged to be connected with this “Jade Helm 15” thing. Do a google search on FEMA Camps, and you will be surprised at these camps that are said to be able to accommodate as many as 25,000 people. You will also be shocked at the number of the camps . . . they number in the hundreds, and are scattered all over the USA. There are three (3) most disturbing and unanswered question about all of the camps; those questions being:
. . . 1. Just who it is it that our government intends to house in these camps?
. . . 2. Why will those folks be housed, fed, and guarded by the government at tax-payer expense. . . . 3. Just when does our government intend to put the camps to use?

I often think about the historical truth that there was once a man named Noah. That man built a contraption . . . I suppose he built it in his front yard . . . which attracted a great amount of attention over a 120-year period of time. When folks passed by and inquired about the thing, Noah explained that it was an ark, and he and his sons were building it because it was going to rain, and he said he knew that because God had revealed it to him! Understand, it had never rained before and folks chuckled at the very notion of drops of water falling from the sky. He declared that everyone and everything that was not safely aboard that ark before the rain started . . . would be a goner. It is my understanding that folks got a big kick out of Noah and his sons and that peculiar looking thing they spent so much time working on and talking about. They really laughed when Noah said he was doing what God instructed him to do. The word was that Noah was a first-class nut, but he certainly was a comical rascal. Then, one day huge drops of water began to fall from the sky and the water rose and the ark began to float! Suddenly, all of the laughter, ridicule, and idle chatter came to a sudden halt. In fact, the laughter quickly changed into sad-talkin’ and terrified-walkin’ . . . shouts of fear . . . Pleas for another opportunity, and the cries of the ignorant as they helplessly watched their loved-one drown in something they believed could never, ever happen.

I also often think about the Jewish people living in Europe early in the 1930’s and 40’s. There were many theories about an Austrian-born German politician, one Adolph Hitler, who was the leader of the Nazi Party, and was elected chancellor of Germany in 1933. Some folks recognized the seriousness of the allegations and situation and began to make plans and prepare. Others ignored the theories as being foolishness from radicals. Tragically, and to their own peril, they were simply unable to believe that in their sophisticated culture of enlightenment, education, and sophistication, one man could possibly perpetuate such evil upon citizens while the world idly looked on in dismay! In spite of how unbelievable it might seem to us today, that thing called the Holocaust did, indeed, happen and millions of Jewish people were burned alive while a shocked and unbelieving world silently looked on.

I also think about a group of 909 extremely foolish folks who ignored the theories about a former community organizer . . . an on-again / off- again religious leader . . . by the name of Jim Jones. In their blindness, they rejected the theories, and allowed this disturbed and evil man to lead them to drink his “Joy Juice” on November 18, 1978, in Jonestown, South Africa. As I recall, there were something like 300 innocent children in the group. Beyond comprehension, disillusioned parents actually participated in the murder of their own children . . . and there was plenty of information made public about Jones, yet they foolishly ignored it and followed him to Jonestown!

So . . . exactly what is it I am saying here? Simply that it is wise and prudent people who hear such theories and assimilate them into his or her normal thought-process, while continuing to function naturally in society . . . but just as Governor Abbott told the Texas National Guard, “keep your eyes open, and your ear to the ground.” Follow the Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared.” History remembers . . . folks who banged on the side of an Ark crying for rescue in spite of having scoffed at the repeated warnings of pending danger. It also remembers the cries of terrified men, women, and children in striped pajamas as they were crunched inside crammed-packed metal buildings for genocide/homicide. This was all orchestrated by a man who was evil beyond human understanding . . . and about whom there was abundant information for a prudent decision to be made. While many made a wise decision and prepared, these pitiful folks ignored the warnings as foolishness and being beneath their dignity. NOTE: There is a blog posted herein of a family who heard the theories, realized the possibilities, planned ahead, and had two sons live 50 years beyond those folks who ignored the warnings. That blog post is entitled,
“Two brothers and an Evil Government.”

If you are inclined to dismiss me as an alarmist, please allow me to make three reasonable arguments against making impetuous decisions about what you perceive as warnings of possible danger ahead:

1. More people were killed by their own governments in the 20th century than the number of people who have died in all of the combined wars during the entire history of the human race; and even more urgent

2. All across the free-world, wise and alert individuals are telling lost people about the Good News—the Gospel—that God loves them and has made a way possible for their redemption and salvation. Prudent people respond to that message which, of course, includes an important element of self-preservation—eternal life as opposed to death! Foolish people scoff and otherwise reject the message as foolishness. There is a day coming when they will rue the day they made their impetuous decision . . . but it will tragically be too late; and, finally

3. There is an incredible sense amongst the American people of there being something out ahead of us . . . something that is uncertain and troubling. For the past 50 years, Hollywood has been making movies about all sorts of future perils . . . and they have packed theaters all across the USA and made many fortunes doing so. Publishers have been selling books by the millions about the same things, and folks have bought into the notion. I would conservatively estimate that 70% of the folks I know believe that there is something coming . . . they simply are uncertain what it might be (that group includes PhD’s, MD’s, Attorneys, Accountants, Architects, Engineers, and an assortment of successful business men and women). I encourage you to casually inquire amongst your friends. I suspect you will discover that a good percentage of them are thinking the same thing, even if they don’t openly discuss it.

In closing, by far the wealthiest man I have ever known was convinced that there was pending trouble ahead for the people of United States. When he drank a little scotch at night while on quail hunts, he would softly speak of his fears and concerns. This gentleman amassed a great fortune that consisted of great volumes of oil and gas production, ranching hundreds of thousands of acres of prime, energy-rich south Texas land, banking, stocks, bonds, water rights, financing, and an array of other assets. This gentleman could literally buy Ford Motor Company and he was far from being radical—far from it—he was quite intelligent, educated, sophisticated, well-traveled, reserved, and plenty savvy.

Keep an eye on Jade Helm 15 . . .



The Haircut . . . The Conversation

I went in a cool hair place next to Leslie’ Pool Supplies in Corpus Christi. I was directed to the chair of a 30-ish female hair-cutter. She was polite, friendly, and welcomed me to the place. After I was seated, she grabbed a handful of hair and asked, “What do we want to do with this?” I responded by telling her that I simply wanted a trim – just shaping-up. She got to work and as I watched, I was quite impressed. I told her I would return and asked her name, so I would know whom to request (there were eight-to-ten cutters). She smiled and said, “My name is Precious.” I chuckled and said there was no doubt what her dad was thinking as he looked into the nursery window and viewed her that first time. She smiled and replied, “My mom named me, actually,

I have never seen my dad, and I don’t have a clue who he is,” and she proceeded to tell me her story. It was quite a story.

Later that evening over dinner, I told Sandy about meeting “Precious.” She oohed and awed over such a “sweet name” and asked, “Well, was she precious?” I answered by saying, “No she wasn’t. I would actually described her as pitiful,” and told her story. Here is the story of how I think Precious became pitiful.

She said she had grown up like most any only-child living with a single parent. She asked mom about dad and over the years had gotten a variety of answers that told her nothing, and only made the mystery greater. Finally, weary with Mom, she began asking others: aunts, uncles, friends, and grandparents about her mysterious and absent dad. Everyone claimed having no knowledge—except one aunt (her mother’s older sister). The aunt told her, “Your dad is my husband’s brother, but your mom didn’t like him enough to stay with him.” Armed with this new information, she confronted her mom, only to be told, “She is wrong! I was with that guy for a short while, but he is not your dad. Honey, your dad was a one-night stand . . . and one I have never regretted.” Precious said she told her mom that she was a “floozy” for being so promiscuous, and mom just laughed and shrugged it off and said, “I had a good time and did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to, and didn’t give a flip what anyone else thought.”

As I contemplated her story about her mother (whom she clearly believed was wrong and of loose morals), I wondered about how all of that had affected her own personal choices in her life. Thus, I inquired about her marital status, to which she replied, “I am not married, but I have been living with a guy for about 15 years. I used to hope that we would get married, but I finally gave up. Today, as I think about it, I just see no point.” She said she has three kids with this man. It seems to me that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

My meeting with Precious happened on the same day Sandy and I celebrated out 43rd anniversary. The sad truth is that Precious and her mom are more reflective of our culture today than are Sandy and I. The sadder truth is that this has become the reality during my life-time. I remember when I was a kid almost all of the kids in school were from a two-parent household—and the parents were male and female—and they were married. There was an occasional kid just living with a mom, and even a very rare kid living with just a dad—but those were far and few apart from the mainstream.

Sandy is working on her dissertation for her educational PhD and her study is “Students without Mothers.” In the early years of her doctoral work, I argued that her selected topic was far too limited and focused. I argued that she would struggle with a limited field of data from which to work. Boy, was I wrong—I was thinking of the culture I grew up in. She has had no lack of subjects to include in her study.

Recently I taught the Old Testament book of Malachi in Sunday school. In the 2nd chapter, the
Prophet confronted the Priest directly (and the people indirectly) for two major offenses under the Covenant relationship, those being:

1. Offering inferior sacrifices to God. Duh, a blind cow or a three-legged goat simply was not much of a sacrifice. The entire point of the sacrificial system was that God asked for a worshipper’s best as He offered His best back to the worshippers. The people made it become an offense to God; and

2. The Prophet also confronted the tribe of Judah over its slothful attitude about marriage and commitment. It seems that in that culture, marriage had lost meaning and had become like the people’s attitude about their sacrifices to God.

It occurred to me in the study that the folks whom the Prophet addressed were the last people in a history to hear directly from God. It was with that generation that the very doors of Heaven seemed to have closed and silence between God and man occurred for a space of something like 400 years (until the appearance of John the Baptist announcing “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” and the birth of the Christ child—the Gospel of Matthew).

It also occurred that today’s generation seems much like that generation; we could very well just be the last folks on the planet to have an opportunity to get things right with their Creator. Hmmmmm . . . now . . . It Seems to Me . . . that is certainly a sobering thought and something I would do well to chew on for a while! Just sayin’ . . .


Miss Emily . . .

Courtney and Chris grew up with Miss Emily. There was always an assortment of bird dogs through their childhood years, but Miss Emily was different – she was our sweet little wiener dog. Those other dogs were hunting dogs and they didn’t play a role in the kid’s lives (well, except for Hershey). The bird dogs lived in a kennel, Miss Emily lived in the house with our family. She even went on some vacations with us.

Miss Emily was a terrific dog for the kids. She was well-mannered, gentle in nature, and totally submissive and even obedient to the kids. She was actually a very sweet dog. Sandy has always had a strong dislike and firm rule about “animals in the house.” Miss Emily simply rose above that rule and had complete access, but God help any other dog that tried to follow her into the house! Miss Emily was a gift from Sandy to the kids. Miss Emily even found her way into Sandy’s heart. The kids loved and adored Miss Emily. She was around when Chris was learning to talk and he struggled with pronouncing her name. He called her several variations of her name for a couple of years.

Miss Emily lived with us in Beeville, Aransas Pass, and Eagle Pass. In all three towns, we had a home in a quiet neighborhood, with a fenced back-yard and unfenced front-yard. Sadly, while living in Beeville, Miss Emily learned to chase cars from a neighborhood dog, but she wasn’t very good at it. She never caught one and she managed to get run over by one. She lost complete use of her right front leg, which she (then) simply drug on the ground. The local Vet, George Duffy, suggested amputation to prevent sores developing and more serious problems. Sandy talked with the kids to prepare them for a “big change” in Miss Emily. As she explained what would happen, Chris slowly began to cry and sob. As Sandy consoled him, he looked up at her with sad little eyes and asked, “What if ums makes a mistake and sews a black leg on Miss Emily?” Sandy explained that Miss Emily would only have three legs after the surgery and the
Doctor had promised that she would adjust and do just fine with her handicap. Was that Doctor ever right!!

Miss Emily taught us so much about dealing with adversity and adjusting to life’s challenges. She lost an important limb, and it never slowed her down. She received no rehab training, or trauma counseling. It did not affect her attitude—she was happy before . . . she was happy after.
She loved us before . . . she loved us after. She was active before . . . she continued to be active after.

The only hesitation any of us ever saw her display was at our house at City by the Sea. As she encountered stairs for the first time after her loss of the leg, she looked up as Chris climbed up and beckoned her to follow (he was “teaching her to climb the stairs”), she paused at the bottom and for just a slight second hesitated as she seemingly contemplated the challenge, and suddenly she scampered up the flight of stairs, and she never looked back or hesitated again. She was 100% dog again and she became fearless. She lived like that all of the remaining days of her life. On the coast, there is an ample supply of lizards and Miss Emily was a natural born hunter. She became enemy #1 for all lizards in our yard, and that keep her pretty busy.

In the mid 80’s, Clint Eastwood starred in and directed a fairly good movie, “Heartbreak Ridge.” He played highly-decorated, war-tested, and proven Marine Drill Sergeant, Thomas Highway. He was a typical no-nonsense Drill Sergeant – surrounded by an assortment of Officers who had no experience beyond college ROTC. They were quite frustrating for Highway with all of their theories of war and troop/personnel management. Throughout the movie, he was continually barking about the struggles of life and the hardships of battle as he trained and prepared his green troops. As in all Eastwood movies, he coined a quotable phrase that Americans picked up and assimilated into daily conversation. The phrase he coined in Break Heart Ridge was, “We will adapt . . . we will improvise . . . we will persevere . . . and we will over-come!”

That phrase is the perfect description on our fearless little three-legged dachshund. She was just a model of survival . . . of adapting . . . of improvising . . . of perseverance . . . and of overcoming. Her handicap actually made her better . . . or perhaps what she was forced to do in order to accommodate her handicap was what made her better and stronger. I was amazed time and again what God did to empower her to adjust – some call it instinct – but I know where that comes from. I was chuckling in the pool a few days back telling my friend, Leslie Knight, about how Miss Emily loved to jump in the pool and swim with the kids. Leslie was surprised how a dog could “dog paddle” without one of the paddles. I laughed and said Miss Emily learned to use her tail as a rudder . . . she literally made her tail turn circles when she swam and that allowed her to swim in a straight-ahead mode.

Miss Emily could have been a model case-study on dealing with a handicap. Some folks allow themselves to be handicapped . . . others refuse to be handicapped . . . and instead become motivated and determined to live life to the max. We see both types in our wounded warriors as they return from the battlefield. The truth is . . . both of which is an attitude . . . a choice . . . and we get to choose how we will respond to the challenges life brings. Miss Emily never whined nor complained—but then who would she have complained to? She had two great companions who adored her and saw her as the most perfect dog in Texas—they would not have stopped to listen to her whine—they were delighted she survived the accident and was still alive!

In John 5, Jesus went to see a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. It was at the time of an unnamed festival. The man was at the pool at Bethesda—a place where the sick and handicapped were taken because the common belief was that an angel stirred the water each day and there was healing in the stirred waters—well, for the quick. In verse 5, Jesus reveals an eternal truth about handicaps and life struggles when He asked the man, “Do you want to get well?” I believe Jesus was revealing that one’s attitude plays a huge role in it all—for good or bad.

Miss Emily handled it so well that her best friends completely forgot about her handicap and just came to see her as perfectly normal. A few years later, Chris (maybe about 12 at the time) and I were planting flowers in a front yard flower bed one Saturday morning and I heard him grumbling and mumbling behind me. I asked him, “What is wrong – why are you carrying on so?” He pointed out to the front street where a dachshund was running down the street. Chris asked, “Isn’t that the dumbest thing – a 4-legged dachshund?”