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.

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?



Road Trip

There’s nothing I find more enjoyable than loading the truck bed with enough personal items from our house to ensure that if we came back and Lord forbid something had happened to our home that we could survive with what was packed by my lovely wife. If she could fit the custom designed kitchen table into the back seat, I’m sure that would be a part of our road trip rituals.
What is funny is every time you think, ok I have everything meticulously placed and have squeezed the last bag into a crevice that only it would fit, a new bag or cooler appears out of the garage door. Almost as if these items were dropping from the sky.
Another one that gets me every time is, ok babe I have everything packed and we are ready to go. One of our children decides that their life may not continue if they can’t have that favorite toy that is in their personal bag that is the closest to the cab underneath every other bag that has been thrown in. Reluctantly, I agree that the trip may start off on the wrong foot if their wish isn’t granted. Who wants to hear a three-year-old screaming, “I want my Doc McStuffin’s Phone” for thirty-five miles?
Finally, we are off and my wife volunteers to drive some of the trip to allow me some time to nap, scroll social media or maybe she really wanted someone else to referee the boxing match in the back seat. A twelve, four and three-year-old in the back seat of a pick up truck might resemble a cage match featured on WWE Wrestlemania. Your breath may or may not have come close to my side of the vehicle, allow me to scream for four and a half minutes. I want my cup and now that I have it, I realize the flavor Gatorade is not exactly what I wished for. Allow me to cry for a few minutes. Now, two are crying and they are trying to outdo the other to claim the trophy for the loudest squeals. During this time the twelve-year-old is now whining because he can’t concentrate on the Clash of Clans app on his phone that he has played for the entirety of the trip.
Once this has calmed down, I realize that the vehicle is moving from the solid double lines in the middle of the pavement to the single line near the side of the road and back and forth. If police were behind us, surely a field sobriety test would be in our future. As I glance to the drivers side my wife is fidgeting with hair that is now in her face, the seat is not exactly how she would like and the radio is either too loud or not loud enough according to how loud the children are.
Little did we realize in the midst of all the chaos there was a small-town police officer approaching from the opposite direction. My wife thinks that speed limit signs are merely suggested. When he approached the window and mentioned she was driving seventeen miles per hour over the speed limit, she must have given the young man in his early twenties some kind of look of desperation. As he returned with the license, insurance and registration in his hand, he looked to her and said please just slow down Mrs. Rainey. Might I mention that each time I’ve been pulled over whether for driving one mile per hour over the speed limit or twenty, I pulled away with a citation in hand.
What has been on my mind over the past few weeks is our time on this earth is short. Most of these scenarios could prove stressful and end in heated discussions amongst those involved. One day we will miss having our children in our vehicle when we leave for vacation. I guess we could look forward to uncontrollable body functions as we drive down the road or making sure our false teeth don’t disengage while hitting a pothole in the road. But for now, let’s cherish these times with each other. Even in the midst of major mayhem.

As you can tell this is one of our many road trip selfies.

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.
Your Coach

Days of Our Lives

Women from my childhood enjoyed soap operas. During the summer when I had escaped the walls of Alcatraz, otherwise known as elementary school for a few months. My time was spent with all my favorite ladies. Either with one of my grandmothers, one of my aunts who babysat all the nieces and nephews or with my mom while she worked odd jobs helping the elderly or people with little time to keep their house in working order. One of the common themes in either of these settings was from mid- morning to early afternoon a series of soap operas would appear on most likely the only television in the household.

If you wanted to tick off one of these normally mild- mannered lovely women, try interfering with some of their screen time with even the remotely smallest of noises. Are you breathing harder than normal? Your messing with my show, I’m gonna put you out the house. Lord forbid there be any kind of noise coming from the room on the opposite end of the house. I hear yal playing back there. Take your butts outside, I can’t hear the T.V. When something would happen to one of the characters on the show, you would’ve thought it was actually one of our family members. Are you crying momma? No son, I just got something in my eye when I was dusting the ceiling fan.

Some days around the current “Rainey Residence” could be sold to some big wig in the big city to make a little cash off our craziness. I’m telling you, I can’t make some of this stuff up.

Just the other day, my youngest was complaining that she couldn’t get any of that southern sweet tea out of her cup at a local eating establishment. Being the superhero dad that I am, I thought this would be an opportunity for an easy fix that would earn me the medal of honor of parenting. What could possibly be wrong here? Did she have the straw bent too far that the liquid gold didn’t have a clear passage from the cup to her mouth? Was the straw broken in the process of unpackaging? Was her cup suddenly empty from a near dehydrated state? All of these options likely would be the cause of the problem on a normal day. Today not so much. I sucked on the straw to see if she just didn’t have enough strength to pull the remaining liquid out of the bottom of the cup. You could imagine the surprise on my face when a mass of soggy food that had been lodged came flying through the straw into my mouth like a marble out of a slingshot. We try to teach our children manners at the table. All of that probably went out the window as I spit out the tea and partially eaten cheese quesadilla into a spare bowl laying on the table.

Would DHR need to be on alert if we decided to cover this same child’s crib with some type of fencing you could purchase at your local hardware store? I mean there is no threat of suffocation with even the smallest of holes that are machined in this type of wire used to house chickens and other small animals. It’s not like we would keep her locked in for hours as some sort of punishment. This would be temporary so she couldn’t escape in the night only to sit helpless in the floor of her room until one of us brings her to our king-sized bed that already occupies the middle child as well. Her momma has threatened her with all kinds of cruel and unusual punishment: taking her baby dolls away, no YouTube kids, or even the dreaded spanking spoon. That doesn’t always work, so she has resorted to giving rewards. If you stay in your bed, I will let you eat birthday cake for breakfast or drive daddy’s F-150. How she thought those were feasible for our three-year-old, I’m not sure. Last week, we go into her room to check on her only to find her hiding under the crib with the spanking spoon. She was lightly tapping herself saying you don’t have to spank me, I’ve already done it.

Earlier today my wife asked me the score to the game. I looked through the scores on the ESPN app on my phone to find that Auburn was winning the SEC Basketball Championship game something like thirty-four to twenty-four. Being that she is a “War Eagle” fan I thought she would be thrilled to know that her team was up and was about to do something that hadn’t been done in recent basketball seasons. She gave me some kind of look when I told her the score. A comment followed, something to the effect of that seems like a lot of runs for a softball game. Silence came from my side of the vehicle. Again, another comment of disbelief and that the score resembled a football score instead of fastpitch softball game. I could have gone along with this for hours and made this story even more interesting, but I informed her that the game was indeed a basketball game with pretty big implications. I could write a book of these same type of scenarios that have been discussed throughout our marriage.

Who wants an opportunity to make a few bucks? This thing called life described in our household is definitely more entertaining than “Days of Our Lives” or my moms favorite “All My Children.”

Passing Notes

I read an article today that triggered a memory of a childhood assignment from a thoughtful elementary teacher who would have made the pinterest Top Ten ideas, if there is a such a thing. We were supposed to send a note across the country via a balloon filled with helium. A great idea that could be explained through some sort of fancy science vocabulary words. 

The information in the story provided a heart felt story of a daughter who had lost her father and desperately wanted to communicate with him. Obviously, this is complicated but her mom encouraged her to use a note and a balloon to send her dad the thoughts she wanted to share with him. 

Someone ended up finding the balloon four hundred miles away in the next few days. The recipient reached out to the teenage girl and offered support through gifts she had collected at the restaurant she owns. She was quoted saying “I believe the balloon came to me for a reason and you can make a difference in this world by doing small things for people.”

In my case a response was mailed to the school explaining who found the small piece of paper and a short bio of the happenings in their life. Who needs the postal service when you can send mail via a small rubber flexible bag filled with a colorless gaseous element? The accuracy would be the only aspect in question. Can you imagine trying to explain to the power company how you tried to send a payment through air mail and there must be some mistake to why they haven’t received the package. 

But what if it was this easy to communicate with the ones that have gone before us? What would you tell those people that you haven’t seen in weeks, months or years? Seems far fetched I know, but play along if only for a few minutes. 

Grandpa, you would be amazed how fast your great grandchildren are growing. They are smart little boogers with a hint of an attitude like your son. Some of their mischievous acts remind me of the stories you told me about dad peeing in an ash tray for some odd reason or how you two loved to play catch. You would be so proud Grandpa. 

Hey buddy, I can’t believe it’s been so long now. I think of you often and the fun times we had together. Still can’t wait to have that great birthday barbeque bash we had planned before you left us in the blink of an eye. That infectious smile still gives me a boost when things look hopeless. Man, I miss you so much.

I asked our youngest child what she would tell her uncle who recently passed if she could send him a note. She is three, but she brought tears to my eyes as she in the most genuine voice said, “Happy Birthday Uncle Russ.”

Twelve years ago today eight students and one adult were taken in a devastating tornado that destroyed areas of my hometownincluding the local high school. Navy blue balloons with notes to heaven addressed to these individuals would include things like: you aren’t forgotten, your story is still being told today, your testimony is still changing lives, the entire country knew of your story and laid out support to help your family and classmates, you are a hero, your legacy will live on long after this generation. 


Birthday Boy

The big day that comes once a year has come and gone for yours truly. As the years fly by and I watch my children grow, I begin to realize where I previouslywanted to rush through the years to reach milestones, now I wish time would slow down. 

I couldn’t wait to turn thirteen so I could be an official teenager. What that even means I’m still not sure of. Who wants a squeaky awkward changing voice, hair beginning to grow in places other than your head, and greasy skin causing what amounts to chicken pox?

Surely fifteen would be the next great milestone. I can officially drive legally. A licensed adult is supposed to be present during these trips resembling roller coaster rides. You know the one when the ride goes from stationary to sixty miles per hour in a few seconds and back tostationary in the next few seconds. In between the times of the vehicle being stopped one would think they caught what they call whip lash from the constant jerking back and forth around sharp curves at a high rate of speed. 

If I could only get to the “Sweet 16” mark, certainly all my dreams would come true. I would have true freedom on the open roads. Little did I know, I would end up spending lunch money to get gas in order to make it to school a few times because I spent the gas money my parents gave me on other things and that whole freedom thing was non-existent. My mom was a private investigator before being a PI was cool. She taught me lessons while keeping up with my every move that I will utilize in making sure my children are where they are supposed to be. 

Finally! Adulthood, which meant graduation from high school. A new start with new friends. But also new stresses. Balancing work with college and of course in all of my spare time socialization with other like-minded young adults. Ramen noodles and frozen pizzas represent every category on the Food Guide Pyramid. 

Fast forward several years and I’ve just celebrated mysixth or seventh 29th birthday. Who’s counting. I’ve heard that a part of aging is the loss of memory. I choose to forget how many candles should be carefully placed on the sheet cake from the local bakery. If they actually knew how old I was the cake would be the size of a medium sized suitcase used for carry-on luggage when boarding a flight. 

What I have gained over the years is knowledge from experience. Certainly, every young teenage male anxiously awaited the gift of items like fast cars, jacked up trucks, the newest technology (in my time that would have included a new pager), an after market compact disc radio to replace the cassette player included with the vehicles of the time, or even a baseball hat with a fish hook attached to the bill. Call it maturity or knowledge but the hopes of the current version of birthday presents would look something like a surprise appearance from the auto glass repair man to change out the windshield of my vehicle, a little cash to help pay the mortgage or take the family out to a nice dinner, or even time spent uninterrupted in the recliner to catch up on the latest sports news. 

As a coach, we often times offer former players an opportunity to revisit the campus to discuss experiences of the past or present with current players. Ten out of ten of these conversations end up with comments mentioned such as “if I could come back for one more game,” “if I would have known what I know now back then,” or “don’t take for granted any of the time you have left.” 

We could learn a valuable lesson from these wise words. Spend more time concentrating on the journey instead of wishing our life away because one day you will look back and think was it that long ago that I got excited when reaching a new high score in the game of “snake” on my Nokia.



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. 



Bedtime Stories

I sat on an old wooden pew leftover from a Baptist church renovation. This thing was built for the masses without comfort in mind. Maybe the preacher hand requested the wood to be hard without any cushion in order to keep the congregation alive and breathing through the service.

The man at the front of the room talked so fast that one would ponder if he had some kind of superhuman powers. He never took a breath. He was shouting numbers and giving descriptives about items that were for sale. Some by owner and some by the house.

Local authorities were on stand by at the four way stop up the street because it never failed that some smart tail would wait til the last minute to bid on granny’s gravy urn. Then another would run the price up enormously high on an item they had no intention on buying. Tempers would flare, punches may be thrown and words that would make your momma’s face turn red would be shouted across the room.

Needless to say, in this one room volunteer fire department a lot was going on. People were shopping for Christmas presents, some were looking to turn a quick profit and others just enjoyed the rush of vying for the prize of outbidding the others. If you weren’t careful you may miss some of the “top ten moments” or in some cases “the not so top ten moments.”

Around bedtime near the intersection of Highway 84 and 123 in South Alabama a similar scene is playing out almost nightly. There is shouting, punches being thrown and tempers are flaring. If you aren’t careful you may miss some of America’s Most Funny Moments in our household. There is a lot going on in the blink of an eye.

Simultaneously, my daughter is singing “This little light of mine,” and baby she is belting out the words into a heavenly melody. While she is practicing for a future performance in the praise and worship choir at the local church, her brother thinks that every small detail of life is hysterically funny. He is laughing at the color of the sheets, the smell of the carpet after a fresh shampoo, or the sounds coming from underneath the bed. Soon, the girl is mad because her beautiful orchestra has been interrupted and here come the blows. Kicking, punching and gnarling. He surely will ruin her career in the country music business with his shenanigans.

Suddenly quiet comes over the room for a brief moment. Some kind of telepathic communication must’ve been going on because in sync they both start singing the “baby shark” song. Now they have joined forces against the evil man in charge who tries to make them obey the lights out hours provided by their mother. Did I mention she is asleep?

Next, we need purple Gatorade in our cup. Not blue, red, green, white or yellow, but purple. If there isn’t any purple Gatorade in the house there may as well be someone on a reconnaissance mission to the local Dollar General to retrieve some. There will be no sleep until there is a slither of purple Gatorade in that cup.

In the mix of all this, threats have been made. By now, they are a little more let’s say “stressed.” The girl cries frantically as if she has been suddenly stabbed by a porcupine in a nightmare of a situation. The boy now has reverted to bargaining, I will go to my room dad, but I’m still going to make these noises.

In transition from our bedroom to theirs, the screams and laughs have now awakened the beast of a GSP puppy we chose to love on. The only problem is he thinks someone is dying from all the commotion and starts to bark frantically in order to scare off any harm. The howling resembles that of a long night of karaoke at a place where you shouldn’t have been to start with.

After all that, those little eyes finally give in to the evils of the sleep monster and fade off into a mix of dreams and imagination.

When sleep seemed far from the realm of reality, I questioned what I could do differently. What might work more diligently? How might the night be longer? With drinking some magic potion or counting the sheep to sleep?

But as the sun appears on the horizon, those babies are wrapped up tight next to my body. One with his feet in my chest and the other with her hands running through my beard I think, “man this must be the closest thing to heaven on Earth.”