Gabe’s First Day at The Big House or “That Guy is only 16? I Thought He Sang Lead for ZZ Top.”

Around the first week of August, 2015, I drove my son, Gabe, to his first day at what I had, up to that point, referred to as “the big house.” His first day of high school had arrived with little fanfare. He hadn’t seemed nervous at all which was not terribly surprising. He had already moved from the child development center at our church to the elementary school for kindergarten and then, after 4th grade, from the elementary school to the middle school. Those transitions hadn’t been a big deal so there was no reason to think his move to the high school would be much different. And, in all honesty, it wasn’t…except from the time we pulled into the parking lot of the school until the time I turned left onto Highway 14 to make the short drive back home. Not for him, mind you. He handled it like the calm, cool, and well-adjusted young man he was becoming. If his dad had ever been calm, cool, and well-adjusted (not likely) it wouldn’t be happening that morning, at least not in those four or five minutes of time spent in the drop off line.

The first wave of emotion hit me as I turned off the main driveway of the school onto the part that would wind its way up to the front door. It was then that I noticed all the cars that had already arrived and parked in the main parking lot in front of the school. Not teachers and administrators and other staff…students. Students who were old enough to drive. A car. Alone. To school. They looked so big compared to the skinny little, fair-haired boy who sat next to me, apparently unmoved by the scene unfolding in front of us. Teenagers of every sort greeted friends they hadn’t seen since school dismissed for the summer back in May. Big teenagers. There were guys with beards standing next to behemothian four wheel drive vehicles with lights and stickers and huge wheels. There were young ladies wearing makeup with splendidly coiffed hair and looking every bit old enough to put on a pantsuit (does anyone wear pantsuits anymore now that Hillary Clinton spends most of her time roaming the woods outside NYC instead of campaigning) and go to work at some office crunching numbers or selling real estate or running a company or any number of other incredibly important jobs. Anyway, in that moment, I realized how young and little my boy was, at least compared to these kids, and I felt a little nervous for him. Heck, I felt nervous for me! How would he handle the much stronger and freer personalities of these older kids? What if some big dude decided to pick on him? How could he defend himself against them? How would I handle the various and sundry situations that could crop up in this new, similar, yet very different environment? I almost panicked. I might have thought homeschooling sounded pretty darn good all of a sudden. I could probably learn the new math if I absolutely had to!

We made a right turn and then another right turn and there we were, on the homestretch to the front door where what looked like hundreds of younger kids mingled with a few older ones who, for whatever reason, hadn’t been able to drive themselves to school that day. The sense of foreboding grew more intense as I scanned the crowd for a familiar face, wanting to be able to say to Gabe, “Isn’t that so-and-s0? You can go stand with them until they open the doors. They’re nice, right?” We finally made our way to the unloading zone and I saw Gavin. Gabe knew Gavin, also a freshman, and assured me that they were friends. As quickly as we pulled up and stopped, he reached into the back seat, got his backpack, and opened the door. Here it was. The moment was at hand. Time for a quick word of fatherly advice and encouragement, right? I guess so. If you consider, “Have a great day! I love you!” to be the stuff of inspiration then, in the parlance of my people, I cranked a sho’nuff dinger that day. “Love you, too” he replied and then the door slammed and he was gone. At the risk of the parent behind me honking their horn to get me moving along, I watched him walk away. Probably no more than five seconds. There was no hint of reluctance or fear on his face or in his gait. I took my foot off the brake, crept over two speed bumps, and made the final right turn that would take me to the traffic light that, with its green hue, would guide me away from my little boy at that big school with all those big people.

And on that 200 yard stretch of asphalt from the corner of the building to the traffic light, I cried. Hard. I guess I really wasn’t completely sure why at the moment but in hindsight, I think it was the realization that my little boy was no longer a little boy. That sounds so cliched, I know, but I guess one of the reasons cliches are repeated so often is that there is so much truth in them. I think in those moments that morning, somewhere in the deepest recesses of my memory, maybe even subconsciously, I saw Gabe as a baby and felt the unexplainable joy of holding him for the very first time. I saw him as the toddler who put practically every toy he had that would fit into a hole in the back of our old recliner. When we bought a new and moved the old one out, it was like Christmas for him getting all those toys back! When that many memories start kicking around, even in your subconscious, you’ll have a rush of emotions of some sort. Mine, whatever sort they were, exited my body that day in the form of tears and what my dad would’ve referred to as blubberin’. Bless the poor people who had to look upon me as I sat in the line to exit the campus that day. I’m not much to look at on my best day. When I cry, I’m ugly as a mud fence.

Gabe is now in the final few months of his sophomore year and he’s not only survived at the big house, he’s thrived and I couldn’t be more proud. But that’s really not my point. As we slide in toward his 16th birthday next month, he has he has grown to be almost as tall as me and he looks more and more like a man and less like a kid practically every day. When school starts next year, he’ll be one of those kids…er…students who pulls his car into the parking lot and greets friends he might not have seen since school got out. He probably won’t have a beard but he’ll be even bigger than he already is while some other poor, nervous dad or mom drops their freshman off at that same front door I did in 2015. And now, at long, laborious last, here is my point, another cliche: TIME FLIES. Gabe is big and tall and will be driving himself around in only a few weeks. In a real car and not a plastic John Deere Gator. His little sister will be 11 in less than three weeks and, if things go as they did with Gabe, she’ll be sauntering up to the front door of the high school in the blink of an eye herself and I’ll wonder again where the time has gone.

The kids won’t be little forever. We’ve got to love them and teach them how to live in the limited time we have with them. Before they go off to college and get a job and get married and, well, you know how the story goes. You and I won’t live forever so making the most of today is of paramount importance, not just for our kids but for all of us.

Here’s to hoping I can do a better job in the days I have left of living in the moments that are and not the ones that have been or may never be. Hopefully, I can encourage others to do the same. I aim to try harder to do just that. Life is brief and entirely too short to spend so much of it in fretful anxiety. I’ll try it if you will.

Psalm 118:24, John 10:10, Matthew 6:25-34

 

 

 

 

 

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Flag Flap Foolishness

This Confederate flag situation has to be one of the most useless responses to something so tragic that I’ve ever heard of. Allow me to reference scripture here even though that is frowned upon by the more “enlightened” among whom we commoners dwell:

“24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”” Matthew 23:24-26

Jesus is chastising the scribes and Pharisees because they tithe (a good thing) but they ignore numerous other, vitally important aspects of His teaching. In other words, they want it to look like they’re doing something great but what they’re actually doing pales in comparison to what they SHOULD be doing.

Sounds like He could be addressing a joint session of congress. It’s certainly something they need to hear. While much hay is being made on both sides of the aisle regarding removal of this flag from practically any and every place it has ever been displayed, race relations continue to go to you-know-where in a hand basket.

The ever-growing crowd of PC do-gooders can fight and fuss and scratch and claw until anything that even resembles this flag has been legislated completely out of existence and it won’t, as my mama would say, amount to a hill of beans. Why? Because a flag isn’t what caused Dylan Roof to commit mass murder and regardless of how good it makes the PC peddlers feel to not see it over a government building or on the grave of Confederate soldier, removing it solves nothing and, in fact, looks to be making things worse. If I make my way down a particular stretch of Bourbon Street in New Orleans and take down every rainbow colored flag I come across, will that magically transform every homosexual to a heterosexual? Dumb question? Yep. Not any dumber than what the anti-flag crusaders are doing.

We could be dealing with things that matter. Doing things that might make a difference in race relations and the growing divide between practically every demographic in the book.

That’s just my opinion. I’m just a white, southern, conservative Christian. What do I know. SCOTUS will probably find me unconstitutional in a few years anyhow.

The Party of Lying Legends

The Democrat cult…er…party never ceases to amaze and enrage me. Your former Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, took to the Senate floor during the last presidential election and lied about Mitt Romney not paying his taxes. He lied and admitted it in an interview and when asked if he regretted it, he said that Romney “didn’t win, did he?”

The Clintons have built not one but two political careers that have been based on lies and deception from almost the beginning. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” Sound familiar?  “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” That statement is among the most asinine I have ever heard and yet Mr. Clinton is a hero among democrats. Benghazi, being shot at as she ran from an airplane in the middle east, the current email fiasco…Hillary Rodham Clinton is pretty darn savvy at saying and doing anything to save her own rear-end and/or gain more power.

It’s not that I’m so naive to believe republicans are pure as the driven snow. They’re not and it really chaps my butt when the party I most closely identify with practices what I’ll refer to as the Clinton Plan to gain power and pad their own pockets. Politicians of every stripe lie. Democrat politicians, though, have perfected it, embrace it, and use it more effectively than any institution this side of the Sanhedrin.

For the record, I think that many republicans in the Alabama house of representatives, specifically Speaker Hubbard and his minions, have been a huge embarrassment and if they were truly interested in doing the right thing, they’d do whatever they can to make sure Hubbard doesn’t wield the gavel of that chamber for one more day.

In other words, their recent behavior and decisions would make them really good democrats. Perhaps democrat legends in the making.

Blessings

Today is my first Thanksgiving without either of my parents. There are so many wonderful and warm memories that mean so much, most of which are of the simplest things. I don’t know that I’ve had a dumpling since mama made her last ones several years ago. When I was little, she let me “help” her by rolling out the dough with the rolling pin. I’d float back and forth between the kitchen and the living room where my dad would sit at the end of the couch with his Bible in his lap studying his Sunday sermon before my three sisters and their families arrived. Our house was holiday central and I loved every minute of it.

Things have changed an awful lot over the years and, looking back, I wish I’d paid more attention to all the little things that at the time seemed to be little more than exercises in the mundane. I guess we all do that to one degree or another. Life is brief and it’s unfortunate that we usually don’t consider that until we’re reminded by the passage of many years or tragedies the likes of which our community has experienced this week and, it seems, all too often over the past several months. Though we needn’t grieve without hope, we grieve still. We struggle to embrace a new normal that finds loved ones gone from this earth and relationships that once were, no longer.

My prayer today is that we will hug longer, laugh more heartily, and express our love to our family and friends more openly and passionately while they are still here with us. I firmly believe that if we examine closely all that remains, even as we mourn that which is gone, that God can and will reveal to us blessings that we may have previously overlooked. He loves us more than we can fathom. He proved it when He allowed His Son to suffer on our behalf. He is able to give us a heavenly perspective of hope that transcends the temporal things of this world. That hope exists in the person of Jesus Christ. That is something to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving.

A God-Shaped Hole

There are many ways that people seek and find comfort, at least temporarily, during difficult times. One immutable truth I’ve discovered in my life is that when things are the most hopeless, when people can fall no deeper into despair, it is God who they cry out to for help, whether publicly or in the privacy of their own thoughts, and it is God who supernaturally does exactly what He’s promised to do for those who will simply allow Him and that is to love and give comfort beyond human comprehension. It defies logic and is beyond what any human mind could even begin to understand but it is as real as the replica of my mama’s nose that resides in the middle of my face. I have seen it in the lives of friends and family. I have experienced it in my own life more times than I can count. Tonight, I saw it in two fathers and a mother who suddenly and tragically lost their 16 year old sons only 24 short hours ago. I believe that there is, as one Christian musician sang, a God-shaped hole in all of us and when our very souls shudder with fear and burn with pain so intense we wonder if we can live through even one more breath, He fills that hole, maybe even against our will, with peace and love and mercy so great that it is beyond explanation. I don’t know how and I surely don’t know why. I just know He does and for that, I am eternally grateful. He is Jehovah-Shalom.

Justice? Yeah. Right. What a joke. Sharpton in Ferguson

An unarmed 18-year-old young man was gunned down by a police officer. Not that it matters, but the police officer was of a different race than the unarmed teenager. That 18-year-old young man was my cousin, Gil Collar, and he was shot and killed on October 6, 2012, by a University of South Alabama campus police officer. His mother and father were devastated, as was the rest of his family and much of this community. I wish people who shout loudly and frequently for “justice” when a Michael Brown or a Trayvon Martin is killed really wanted justice because if they did, they would have shown up in Mobile two years ago to make sure justice was served.

Al Sharpton and his ilk sicken me. Self-promoting fools who get rich by fostering distrust and outright hate between races ought to be treated with contempt rather than hailed as heroes, regardless of the color of one’s skin. Sharpton and Jessie Jackson aren’t crusaders for black people. They’re opportunists who make a handsome living by capitalizing on the pain and misfortune of others.

While they grandstand and inflame racial tensions in places like Ferguson, Missouri and Sanford, Florida, there are still two grieving parents in Wetumpka, Alabama who are patiently awaiting justice of some sort, whether that justice comes in this life or the next.

Real justice doesn’t care about the color of someone’s skin. It’s a shame that that seems to be the only thing Sharpton cares about.

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/1958480/

Vladimir Putin: The Rise of Gog and the Prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39

Really interesting piece. Don’t know about the accuracy of the historical places but compelling arguments.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Putin

We may be seeing a biblical prophecy fulfilled in front of our eyes.  Ezekiel 38-39 foretells the coming invasion of Israel from a northern land known as Magog.  The ruler of Magog is said to be Gog, a name that most biblical scholars identify as a title rather than a proper name itself.

The prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39 is fascinating because it is so specific in the way it names a coalition of nations that will come up against Israel.  The prophecy foretells this axis of evil that invades Israel will be miraculously destroyed by the hand of God and that Gog, himself, will be killed.   What is remarkable about Gog’s defeat is that the Bible declares he will be buried in Israel and not in his homeland.  This will be a sure sign as to the literal fulfillment of this prophecy.

It is no secret that Israel has her…

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