Dear Paw

Dear Paw,
As I walked the isles of the local Piggly Wiggly today, I reminisced of the weekly visits we took to get enough ration to last until the next trip. As a young lad, I could hardly contain my excitement for that trip into town for vittles and to fill your prescriptions. More than twenty years has passed but under the current circumstances a similar excitement for our family exists. Today, this consists of freeing them from the bondage of our homestead on a mere trek without entry into the local grocery store. The kids sit in the car while I or my wife grab the items needed for the next few days. I’m not sure who gets the short end of the stick on this one. “Stay in the car with three kids” or “enter the danger zone where people are disagreeing about how many packs of toilet paper you can buy at a time.”

 

People are being infected by a virus globally. Some people have died and others fell extremely ill. The Governor has announced a stay at home order to help eliminate the transfer. In your time, these restrictions would be relatively normal.
We spend most of our days working in the yard and playing games with our children. We’ve cooked more meals in our house in the past few weeks than the entire three years we’ve lived here. The most peaceful time is when we sit in the rocking chairs on the porch in the late afternoon looking out over the farmed country side: admiring God’s creations, listening to the birds chirp, the dogs bark and the neighborhood families spending quality time together.
Boy this is an uncertain time Paw, but it feels so much like my childhood spending summers with you and your kind hearted bride.
Days went by without looking at a watch or a calendar. Cousins played ball, went fishing, fought and awoke the next day to do the same thing. We worked the fields, shelled peas and feasted on home cooked meals.
We planted a garden last week and been teaching the oldest how to run a weed eater, how to treat a woman and how God is in charge. When you were teaching me these things early in my life I didn’t completely understand the magnitude nor the importance. Now look at me Paw, I’m trying to teach these young’uns of ours about working hard for a living and loving the Lord with all their heart.
After supper, the kids watch a little television before bed. We have more options on the tube than when you were around. The strange thing is we pay for all this entertainment and we seldom watch more than a handful of shows. The subject matter is mostly too vulgar for the kids to watch and the news broadcasts a lot of negative headlines. Shows like “Dallas” and “Miami Vice” have left and came back again, only to fall in ratings to reality T.V.
The celebration of Jesus’s resurrection is this weekend. Preachers will broadcast sermons over the airwaves and through computer screens. Family gatherings with the aunts, cousins and grandparents may be hindered this year. What a great time we had actually communicating with relatives face to face back in your time. We weren’t all perplexed by highly addictive handheld digital devices.
It’s been fun talking Paw, we miss you. I wish our children would’ve been blessed to meet you and hear your stories. Things have changed since your departure, but for now I will cherish the slower pace. My children may actually experience a little bit of how we were raised.
Well, I better go. My wife is calling. No, literally she is actually calling me on that little addicting device I told you about. She is merely yards away in the kid’s room, but this is our age of communication.

 
Nathan

He Escaped

Came home today to one of our German Short-Haired Pointers on the outside of our privacy fence. He had dug himself a little tunnel and had escaped into the freedom of the neighbor’s yard. Free at last, free at last! 

You would’ve thought “Luke would have been frolicking about with no care in the world, finally set free from the captivity of our half acre fenced in back yard. Did I mention the area is fully furnished with portable lawn cushions randomly spaced out throughout the yard? No matter how many times you place them neatly back in the seat of the chair, Luke and his counterparts place them strategically where it suits them best. 

My wife thinks that water evaporates at a stunning rate. Just last week, I looked into the back yard in amazement. There had to be at least seven or eight of our finest mixing bowls lined up for the purpose of proper hydration for our four-legged friends. I’m talking about wedding presents that have been in the family for seven years or so. She used to panic when the kids dropped one of our finest forks on the floor. When I say finest, I mean not the plastic ones. But now we are using some of our better kitchen items as chew toys for her babies. 

Either way, the dogs aren’t staying at the King George Palace, but I would say it is a step up from the Motel 6. I didn’t have a clue what the King George Palace was until about five minutes ago, thanks to google. 

The funny thing is when I found the puppy, he wasn’t actually trying to explore new areas of the neighborhood. He was literally trying to re-enter the way that he had escaped and barking frantically because he was having trouble in doing so. I can only imagine what might’ve been going through his head at the time: my friends are still stuck inside, I won’t have partners that will help me tear every piece of cotton out of those stuffed animals, one of my brothers will surely pee in my designated area. I must return to the gated community. 

The gated community is Luke’s safe zone. He knows his momma is going to feed him, bath him, provide him with just as many toys as her biological children and provide all the nurturing he will ever need. He was deathly afraid of what might exist on the outside of that wooden fence. 

How many times in our personal life have we played it safe because we were afraid of the unknown? Do we put God in a box so to speak on what he can do through us? Lord, I will do this but only if the situation is just right. Lord, give me a sign but make sure it is your voice coming through my car stereo telling me exactly what you want me to do, step-by-step. 

Get out of the backyard today and allow the spirit to guide you to further his kingdom. 

 

Back to School

School in this area will be back in session in the next several weeks for almost everyone. My children are overly enthused about the opportunity to return to the building where they learn of equations, state capitals and sedimentary rocks. Actually, they are excited even if it is only brief to see friends and the fact that they have the opportunity to get a few new additions to the wardrobe and a new bookbag (I don’t see anything wrong with last years’ bookbag). My wife is now rolling her eyes in light of my opinion on bookbags.

 
Having a career in education for more than a decade has brought about many memorable moments, both good and bad. It would be deceptive of me to entertain the idea that all of my experiences while teaching have been “hunky-dory.” Regardless, there haven’t really been any majorly detestable personal scenarios, only “learning opportunities.”

 
One of the more recent favorable “learning opportunities” came about during a kindergarten physical education class. Surely each of you could envision the compelling environment that exists on an elementary school playground with 60-70 five- and six-year old’s. If not, let me be of assistance. There is an area outside the brick walls of the normal classroom where children feel “freedom” from the constant reminder to “be quiet’ and “stay seated” or “stay in line.” There are no desks, chalkboards or textbooks but to think that learning is not taking place would be silly. Think back to your childhood days in relation to P.E. class and fond memories probably exist involving slides, swings or climbing apparatuses.

 
On this particular day, a student was involved in what could have been a harmless accident or a rude act involving personal space. Either way there was sand and tears all over the young boy’s face. As he approached me with hope that I would be the fix-all in his current situation, I heard one of his classmates approach him with major concern and encouragement. His young friend asked if he had been pushed down as he brushed the dirt away from his face. Words were hard to make out through the moaning and sobbing as the young boy was still very upset. His accomplice was very clear with his response to the situation. He told his friend that if in fact he had been pushed down that if he would merely point out the perpetrator that he would “get them back” for his defeated comrade.

 
For those of you that were concerned that I allowed retaliation, that didn’t happen. Also, we don’t condone violence in our class. However, this was a great “learning opportunity.”

 
Parents: teach your kids to stand up for children that are being picked on or bullied in any way. Teach them that going along with it and not saying anything makes them just as guilty as the ones the actions are coming from. Teachers: form your own opinion about the students in your class. Don’t take the word of the teacher down the hall from you that is on the edge of retirement that can’t wait to hit the time clock one last time. Most likely the students in their class realize they aren’t entirely present and may not give the same effort that they would for a teacher that invests in their life. Don’t allow negativity to creep in before you have even taught the first class of the year. Students: Befriend those kids that seem to be loners. Treat others as you would like to be treated.

 
John 15:13 states, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Love is an action verb. On this day in a giant sandbox called the “playground” this child may not have learned the answer to some great mathematical equation; however, he did learn about love. He learned that regardless of the situation, he could at least rely on this one friend to go to battle with him.

Merica!!!!

Several weeks ago, a team returned from some pretty important games. Games that were won and lost by a matter of inches. A fluorescent yellow ball has a funny way of bouncing for you or against you. This team caught some of the breaks and the ball fell into their gloves.
Certain areas of this country called the U.S.A may have certain exposure from the media that things in our Great Nation are not in the most ideal of circumstances. In LA (Lower Alabama), people are still quite nice. Well, at least most of them.

People came to the games that day that hadn’t been to games in years. They didn’t even have relatives on the team. Most of the faithful fans had been at the complex all weekend long. The excitement built up with each win that this team may be the one to bring the first State Championship back to the rural school. Sadly, enough on the final day of the season the team came up a few games short of the bringing home a giant blue map of the state of Alabama.

If you are one of those negative Nancie’s that claim the world has fallen apart as we know it, take a look at “Merica” as we see it down in LA (Lower Alabama).
• Leading up to the team leaving for the big games, each child in the school greeted them in a “Send Off” where younger students looked on in amazement as they didn’t quite understand the purpose, but knew that these athletes were the coolest kids on the block on this day. Each little athlete dreamed of having school colors on walking with this group.
• A third-grade young boy with no ties to the program pulls one of the coaches off to the side the day that they would depart. “He said yal leaving for State today?” The coach answered, “yes sir.” The boy said, “we hope yal win the whole thing and we will be praying that you do.” Praise Jesus!
• Even though the team came up short and finished runner-up, most of the fans and parents stuck around to capture the moment. The team was kind of down and out about the loss, but there was no need to worry. The Principal of the school decided to try out her gymnastics skills to ensure a laugh out of the kids. She performed what resembled a front roll times two. If that wasn’t going to work one of the parents offered to show her hind parts to get a laugh. Only in “Merica”
• When the team traveled a few hours back to the school on the bus, they were greeted by a police escort in a neighboring town in an adjacent county. They were picked up when the counties changed over and escorted all the way back to their field. A field that had been their home away from home for five months. Sweat, tears and blood were shed on this field. On this night there would be few more tears shed. A lot of the community waited for their arrival. One young child commented, “this is like a parade Mommy.”
• As the team made their entrance, one of the players asked if they could practice one more time. Many days of preparation for competition were dread by so many, but now at the end of the road for this particular group realized that this team would never be the same. The moments and memories from this chapter in history were coming to an end.

There are many reasons I Love living in this Great Country, but rural communities in Lower Alabama has to be close to the top of the list. At times when traveling the county roads, it may feel as if you have stepped back in time through a capsule of sorts, but those people that live thirty minutes from the closest Piggly Wiggly still stand for the National Anthem, they bleed their high school colors, principals are willing to sacrifice their body to lighten the mood, and most importantly young children are taught to seek guidance from Jesus through Prayer(even about the outcome of a softball game).

Extra Mile

Extra Mile

In a one room church off the beaten path a congregation has come together, some young and some old. Paper fans are used instead of air conditioning or any type of modern-day relief from the summer heat. If you have heard of the purge of sin, this place is ideal for anyone entering to extract any perceived or unrecognized faults merely through the temperature in the building. The tall windows are open and the hymns can be heard for a good distance in the quiet of the country side. 

An energetic preacher tells stories and creates laughter from a lifetime of experiences. He begins to tell a story of Jewish Civilians who were forced to carry the Roman Soldiers baggage, mainly containing armor for one mile. The weight could range from eighty to over a hundred pounds. I’m not sure about you, but under even ideal conditions outside I have trouble some days carrying my body weight around let alone carrying what equals to a ten-year-old boy around as well. 

In Matthew 5 verse 41, Jesus is thought to have used this illustration to describe relationships with others. The verse states, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two.” The preacher describes our life today and how it is easy for us to do the minimal required, but when people see us not only carrying the baggage for one mile but two, they will notice the love of Christ in us. They will be drawn to find out more about the reasoning behind these nonessential signs of kindness. 

Several years ago, I walked out of the doors of this cozy country church dripping in sweat having listened to some of the same songs with tears in my eyes and listened to the same speaker who brought clarity through the gospel of Jesus Christ. A middle-aged couple followed me and my family out into the shaded courtyard of the church with a pad and pencil in hand.The man took my shoulder and pulled me to the side as his wife did the same with my wife and kids. Even though we were fairly new to this venue, they seemed to be genuine in their request for any of our prayer needs. It was as if I had known him for years as I poured out my heart, mainly about how my marriage seemed to be falling apart no matter how hard I tried to make things work. He started writing on his piece of paper and before we left, he wrote down my phone number and said a quick prayer before we departed. 

I’ve seen situations like this before. People seem to be sincere immediately and even a few days following, but within a few weeks they seem to have forgotten how desperate you were for their prayers to start with. But something was different. Week after week normally multiple times throughout the week a message would pop up concerning mine and my families’ well-being. While this was flattering, on the home front things seemed to be getting worse.

Never a negative thought came about during those conversations. Encouragement to stay the course and no matter how hard it may get to continue to pray and court my wife as if we had just started dating. Little did I know at the time that this man’s wife had been engaged in conversations with my bride at the same time. I can imagine this couple begging God to help this broken couple in a desperate time of need for their family. 

“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two.” A shining example of going the extra mile for someone that they barely knew has gone a long way. Ultimately their show of affection through their love for Jesus Christ has drawn us closer to each other and in our relationship with or Savior.

What will you do today to carry someone else’s baggage the extra mile?

 

 

Letter to Senior Athlete

April 23, 2019
Dear Outgoing Senior,
As the season comes to an end, thank you for being a part of the softball program at Wicksburg High School. I hope that the season ends on a positive note with us winning as many games as possible. Because winning is nice. It is a good feeling. It feels like the whole world is yours, you can walk the halls of this school with your head held high the day after a win. But that feeling doesn’t last, it passes, but what lasts is the things you’ve learned. Life is what you have learned about. That’s what softball is really about.
In the game of softball, life is played out every afternoon. The misery of a strikeout or loss, the joys of hitting a double and winning the game. There is no way of knowing which way the ball will bounce today or any other day. You may be the hero or you may not be a factor in the result today. Life will throw a lot at you. Some days you will be on the top of the world and some days you will feel like the scum of the earth. So how do you attack the game of life? Take it one day at a time, do your best, take what comes at you and do the best you can. If you strike out, there will be another opportunity. Take the next pitch or opportunity and do your best.
Take what comes at you and run with it. Sometimes there may be long days of sadness where it feels like you are striking out every day, but don’t give up. Never giving up is the point to playing the game of softball and in life. Wanting to win and never being satisfied with what you did yesterday is the point. The game is never over, no matter what the scoreboard reads or what the referee says. It doesn’t end when you come off the field. The game of life isn’t over until your number is called. So, until that day live life to the fullest, treat others as you would like to be treated, trust the Lord with everything and pray to him about everything.
When we started this years’ journey we talked about “Chasing Big.” This phrase means in short to reach for dreams that others think unimaginable. To be the biggest version of you on a daily basis and to make others around you reach their full potential. We have required this type of mindset throughout this season and hope that this proves pivotal in your adult life. I can say without a blink of an eye that I trust you will continue the hard work you have demonstrated on and off the field as well as the classroom in the upcoming years.
Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 Leave your mark and always leave a situation better than you found it. I love you and consider you a part of our family. Come back to see us often and keep in touch.
Sincerely,
Your Coach

Outlandish Behavior

Are you considered a normal tax paying American citizen? What does that even mean, “normal”? Am I normal or are all the people around me normal and I’m the crazy lunatic? Worldly views of our ability to carry on the normal behaviors that are portrayed by others doesn’t always translate into normalcy.

If you ask those that I interact with on a regular basis whether or not Nathan Rainey is a normal U.S. Citizen, I would hope that the answer would be no. 

Some of the things that would be considered odd by others that I feel are completely normal include:

 Turn the stereo music in my vehicle down at the ATM machine. What is the point? I mean I can understand total concentration on the PIN number related to the account or silence to recognize the voice of an armed assailant trying to take my hard-working wages. The machine isn’t giving step by step oral instructions on the process of withdrawing money.
 Take a look one more time in the pantry or the refrigerator. Could you imagine something different appearing in the pantry between the 14th and the 15th time of seeking out something to eat within the past half hour? I think I may have a heart attack from shock. All these years, the practice hasn’t worked and now all of a sudden there it is, a brand-new box of Cheez-Its appearing out of nowhere. 
 Protection from germs in public restrooms. Step one is to enter the bathroom by using your shoulder, elbow to push the door open. Step two is to handle the business at hand. Step three is to release the proper amount of paper towels from the dispenser (enough to roll a small cottage in the country on homecoming night may suffice). Step three is to turn the water on. Step four, SOAP. Step five-wash hands. Step six is to dry hands properly. Step seven is to turn the water off with the help of the paper towels measuring half of a regulation football field. Step eight is to open the door using the same paper or your shirt sleeve to keep from touching the door handle. 
 Rock star in the car. It may not be karaoke night at your favorite local hot spot on a Saturday night or a competitive game of Guitar Hero, but your neighbor at the busy red light in down town could not tell the difference. As I’m belting out the words to “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston in front of the neighborhood market I realize that maybe the car full of teenagers next to me do not fully understand the significance of this tune. I mean it was every couples’ “SONG” in the nineties. 
 Mixing clothing brands. If some name brand clothing company decided to sponsor a high school softball coach in an attempt to further their retail sales, they wouldn’t have to worry about me cheating on their company. I mean who doesn’t know that if you wear Under Armour ankle socks that your entire wardrobe must consist of their logo. I change out my UA phone case when I wear Nike clothes. In Leviticus 19, the bible discusses not wearing clothing woven of two types of material. I took the hint. 

Ecclesiastes 8:15 discusses enjoyment of life. It is recommended that a person eat and drink and be glad. This will accompany him in his toil all the days of the life that God has granted them under the sun. 

These unique behaviors that I call life do not necessarily translate into happiness. However, habits formed even as off the wall as they may seem create patterns and my children will reflect these actions. Recently, my four-year-old flushed the toilet in a public restroom without guidance with the bottom of his short sleeve shirt and refused to touch the door knob as we exited. Without hesitation he remarked, “there is no telling what kind of germs are floating around this place.” Behavior is oftentimes inherited from our environment. Racism, addiction, and being a Christ fearing follower all can be directly related to the strange or normal habits observed from the time of birth.

Eviction Notice

Stuart Little and his little sister have tried homesteading in our attic. When everyone is away, they use our oldest son’s bedroom as a playground for recess time. They must’ve been hiding from the cooler temperatures because they haven’t been real concerned with the numerous snacks that occupy our pantry. Most of their time is spent chewing up toilet paper in his bathroom cabinet and old blankets in his closet. 

Yes, my wife has called the local Pest Control experts multiple times over the weekend with no answer. She would’ve paid an extra five hundred dollars for them to send out one of their trained technicians over the weekend. I believe the comment was made” why wouldn’t they have an on-call service for situations like these?”

Man, they will get a good laugh at our expense when they arrive for work in the morning with the seventeen voice mails and numerous emails sent over the past thirty-six to forty-eight hours from my beautiful wife. 

Maybe our kids watch too many videos on the iPad, but there has been some concern from my youngest about the “neighbors.” Her older brother gets a kick out of walking around simulating some creature that frightens others while referring to himself as the “neighbors.” Let’s throw Stuart Little and his siblings into the picture and you can imagine the fear that streams through her little mind. 

It doesn’t help that my wife has some deranged image of these furry little creatures chewing through her eyelids while she is sleeping. I hurried upstairs with concern as I heard all sorts of screaming and hollering first from my wife and then from my small children. As I approached the floor level of the room, I expected to see numerous varmints racing around the room as if they were piloting our twelve-year old’s matchbox cars on the track at Talladega. 

You can imagine my surprise when I found a poor helpless rodent attached to a sticky trap in the upstairs bathroom. Talk about an overreaction. I guess the critter could have detached from the trap and maybe in time actually made it onto the bedroom carpet. 

She has these kids so worked up my four-year-old is lobbying for us to sell this house and move back to our previous residence. We told him the old house had new owners and that wouldn’t work. The next scenario was extreme but possibly would solve the problem. He suggested blowing this house up to eliminate the mice and rebuilding from scratch. 

Countries outside of the United States find no issues being in the same room as mice. In fact, it is regular in some areas for these small animals to be on menus or prepared in homes for consumption. Some may be out of necessity and others may enjoy the various intricacies of preparing mice meat. Either way our culture and traditions would frown upon these practices.

Modern day Christians have an idea of what a meeting of the body should look like. They have great ideas of what the church building should look like. These ideas have been passed down from generation to generation. Much like the fact that you won’t see Americans devouring the meat of a house mice, most churchgatherings have a certain way that material is presented, music is played, prayer and fellowship. It’s tradition. 

Francis Chan wrote in his book, “Letters to the Church” if we focus on what people want, we will only increase the amount of complaining. The more we try to fulfill their desires, the more they complain when their desires aren’t met. 

We spend more time worrying about what color the carpet is in the church or how loud the music is being projected through the speakers rather than focusing on discipling other Christians with the guidelines outlined in the “Word of God” and bringing non-believers to know Christ.

If you are praying person, please pray that Stuart finds residence elsewhere before we have to hire a private investigator to find his whereabouts and remove him from the property. 

 

 

Road Work Ahead

Construction work on the road ways can be a pain in the rear. Delays in traffic, one lane roads that are usually two lanes, rough road conditions, other drivers who develop road rage and reduced speed limits. I’m sure there is more but you get the idea. 

You can understand the frustration of trying to be on time to an appointment when you approach the first sign. Road work ahead speeding fines doubled. Then, one lane traffic ahead. Road work one thousand feet ahead. Road work five hundred feet ahead. 

My thoughts were of Hope. Maybe the weather is too chilly today for them to be operating outside. Maybe they will wait until late hours of the night in order to eliminate any delays for local traffic. Well, turns out all of those thoughts were wishful thinking. I realized this as I approached the older gentleman holding the stop sign at the top of the hill.

He must have been freezing. The wind was blowing hard enough to take Aunt Peggy’s hair piece for a complete one eighty. The long hair would be in the front resembling “Cousin It” from the popular Addams Family series. 

To make matters worse, the line of cars from either direction hadn’t moved an inch in what seemed like eternity. Being a dad, a husband and a prideful male, I decided to exit my vehicle in order to offer my thoughts and maybe a solution for the stall in the process of the construction. 

The flagman was decked out in my favorite college teams’ apparel. A crimson and white hoodie seemed to be the perfect fit with a faded baseball cap decorated with a script “A” centered on the front. He beamed with pride when I greeted him with a firm hand shake and a “Roll Tide.” Is there any other way to greet a fellow southerner? 

He began to explain there had been some mechanical issues with the heavy machinery and that traffic would be detoured due to the only mechanic that could operate on this type of rig in the surrounding area was coming from nearly an hour away. 

There was something different about this guy. He seemed way too excited to be standing in the middle of the highway on a day that temperatures weren’t expected to make it above freezing. We talked about coaching turnover for the University of Alabama and how Nick Saban is one of the greatest college coaches in Alabama History. 

His take on today’s athletes is they wouldn’t make it a day if they experienced the torment from his day and time. Come to find out, he had played for Bear Bryant in the seventies for a brief stint. He was a highly recruited fullback out of high school that loved the night life more than football. A frat brother introduced him to a white powder that made him feel like he was walking in outer space. He never finished his freshman year before the local authorities had booked him several times for possession and distribution of a controlled substance. 

Luckily the judge was an Alabama alumnus and didn’t throw him completely under the bus. After he completed a ninety-dayrehabilitation program, he headed back to South Alabama to get a job in hopes that he could work his way back on the field. 

Work was hard to come by for a convicted felon and to add fuel to the fire his high school sweetheart had just blessed him with his first-born baby girl. When life looked like it might get the best of him, he hit his knees for guidance from the Lord above. 

An old man took a chance on a kid with a record and offered him a job on his crew working with heavy machinery. On the first day of work the gentleman offered to buy him lunch and to feed him and his small family supper if they came to the local Baptist church on that Wednesday night. 

At this point, he didn’t know where the next meal was coming from. At the bottom, looking for any glimmer of hope, the Lord sent an angel dressed in work clothes driving a diesel truck. 

Today a spirit sent from above holding a stop sign gives reason to a prideful, undeserving Christian like me. A Christian that needs constant heavy machinery from above to keep the surface smooth.

Rainey Family Vacation

The Ford is loaded to the brim. Inside the cab and in the bed of the truck. We are headed north for a few days before Christmas. North is relative, but I believe anything above Montgomery could be considered a foreign country.  

The bigger city that we called home for the weekend was filled with some Christmas Spirit. Spirit from the “Grinch” himself. Automobile drivers who have obviously only acquired their driver’s license in the past few weeks filled the streets. It wasn’t limited to the streets though. Shopping centers were filled with drivers vying for the closest parking spot to the local clothing stores. Have you seen the YouTube videos of the crazy road raged drivers who ended up playing bumper cars in Wal-Mart parking lot? Because someone whipped into a parking spot that the other vehicle had been waiting on patiently for three minutes with the blinker properly turned on. A reality television showcould be made out of some of the sights that were seen. 

What would have been a blockbuster hit though would be the reality going on inside the Rainey Family Vacation.

Of course as many parents would attest there was plenty ofconstant nagging between siblings. Sounds from the back seat may or may not include: do not touch me with the outermost skin particle that is falling off of your fingertips (not even making actual contact), are we there yet, I’m hungry, he ate the last crumb from the box of Chicken in a Biscuit crackers or can we roll the windows down because of the devastating odor. 

Speaking of bodily functions, we stopped seventeen thousand eight hundred and five times to use the restroom. Sometimes we actually made it to a toilet, but others were on the side of the road. Hey, when your four year old (or your wife) has to go, we stop. Driving through what looks like a scene off the movie “Wrong Turn,” and dramatically “I HAVE TO PEE.” The truck comes to a screeching halt, if not bladders will explode and emergency surgery will be required. 

We toured local attractions, finished or started Christmas shopping (either way the job got done), but more importantly we ate. While stopped to refuel at one of the chains, my four year old decided to show us a surprise. When he tells you “I have to show you something,” you may want to warn those around you, because forks or food may fly, he may jump onto the table or off the table. But in this case he tried to show everyone in our general area his birthday suit. You can imagine the shades of red that his momma’s face turned. 

This brought up a legitimate question later in the truck on the way to the next shopping spot. I asked, “Do you know who is coming tonight?”” Yes sir, Santa Clause is coming.”” Well, do you think you’ve made a good impression on Santa and his Elf this year?” After a brief pause, “Kind of.” “Some of the time I was good, but some of the time I wasn’t.” At least he was honest. 

The holidays are a glorious time of year. We decided to take a step back from presents and make memories this year by taking a short vacation. Can I tell you what I hope my kids remember more than any of the toys they receive? Santa did come even if it was for a brief moment.  We swam in December. The two younger kids took turns with assistance swimming around the pool. We played baseball against the oldest from the shallow end. Later we had a snowball fight in the hotel room. The temperature my wife likes to keep the room is conducive for the icy goodness. However, these snowballs were merely oversized cotton balls that wouldn’t hurt if a major league pitcher threw one at your face. 

Most importantly all of our children know that today is Jesus’s Birthday.