Loyalty

Loyalty

I planned to write about another topic tonight, but my heart has found a different direction. Life is complicated. We cross paths with people in times that only the father knows why they are there. I’m getting older. Friends of mine have passed. I am curious to why they have been taken so soon. When things happen to people who are “good to us” it is hard for us to fully understand.

When I say “good to us,” I don’t mean to sound selfish, but human nature is to cling to those who have like-minded ideas and attitudes.

I am a high school softball coach, but have sought out enhanced learning opportunities of the game through visiting the other side of the fence as a travel and recreational softball umpire through the years. I have learned a great deal of information including the management of the game, enforcement of rules and strategies for game-play for my team through experiences behind the plate or in the various positions in the infield.

More than any strategy or rule in the game of softball, I learned from a local rec. and travel director: a lesson in the realm of loyalty. A semi-final game at the Troy University Complex during a high school travel association tournament left me in the air as to if I truly wanted any part of calling games at this level. There had been a judgement call that could have went either way for a local softball expert, so to speak. This call turned south for the local and his immediate take was to slander the credibility of the said umpire.

I’ve been a part of the game for many years and can’t say that I haven’t lost my cool in the area of umpire’s judgement. In this case, the coach was as far from right as the sun was blue, but there was no telling him that. The game was on the line and he hadn’t gotten the call he desired. I tried to calm him during the controversy but to no avail, he would not back down.

Little did I know that this coach would try to ruin any chance of me umpiring games in the Troy area for years to come. It almost worked, before a tournament director and friend stood up for me in the realm of assignments for future tournaments so much that he said, “ if you will allow these uneducated coaches the opportunity to assign umpires for a travel tournament, then you should find your own officials to work these games.” Not long after, the before mentioned scenario happened and those in charge would be finding their own officials for tournaments. The director hadn’t been on the field that night, but he backed me as much to say that he would stop assigning officials for these tournaments if they banned me from calling. I’m sure other factors contributed to his decision, but his kindness towards me will always be remembered. I was so far from being this worthy of his backing, but he saw something that he wouldn’t back down from.

Today, this father, husband and friend died unexpectedly. We hadn’t been lifelong friends and didn’t always agree when he was calling our high school games, but he knew his stuff. He also went to bat for a young in-experienced umpire that didn’t even know what colored pants I should be wearing for the game. Thanks for the memories!

October

For our anniversary a few years back, my wife invested in a few rocking chairs for our front porch. They are a shade of green resembling the color of Mike, the one-eyed creature featured in the movie Monsters, Inc. Probably not my first choice of colors which brings me to the idea that this gift may have been one of those “US” presents. This means she was dying to have decorative chairs on our front porch and our anniversary was a great excuse to purchase them. Either way they have come into some use by our family when you can stand to sit outside for more than a few minutes. If you were somehow oblivious to the calendar system, we are currently knocking on October’s door, but stuck in July temperatures. The heat is still so bad in South Alabama that we have resorted to using non-stick cooking spray on our vehicle seats to keep our legs from becoming one with the leather.

Back to the chairs. I sat on the porch one afternoon this week and noticed a cloud of dust forming down our country road. The dust started small as if someone had just exited a dirt road, but as the minutes passed the view of neighboring structures grew more and more dim. A visitor to our area may have concerns for their safety due to the limited view on the roadways. Could it be some sort of meteorological phenomenon? A crew of roughneck cowboys riding horses through the countryside? What about Tremors (for the newer generation an early 90’s movie)?

The real reason for the giant dirt cloud is its peanut picking time in Houston County. A staple to the area known as the “Peanut Capital of the World.” An industry that has provided employment and income for many families in the Wiregrass area for years. If you’ve never indulged in a boiled ”goober” as some southerners call them, you haven’t actually lived life yet.

The cloud of dust for me personally brings about a sense of gratitude for the hardworking farmers of the area. But on this day while rocking on the front porch, the cloud of dust takes me back to a coach pitch baseball game. Thirty years ago, the pinnacle of my athletic career occurred on a ball that barely made it out of the infield. The crowd roared with the touching of each base. The game was tied and if I scored we would take home the victory. As I rounded third base, another young lad sprinted towards the plate. In a photo finish resembling the “Sid Bream Play at the Plate” in the 1992 National League Division Championship. The umpire emerged from a cloud of dust with a booming SAFE shout and signal. The Enterprise “Mets” had won the game. Our coach met me at the plate with hugs and high fives. The love for baseball began in that instant.

This week is a holiday in our family, the baseball playoffs are starting. Activities in our house that revolve around baseball include: a miniature baseball field in our back yard, trips to watch the Atlanta Braves, recent inquiries regarding a new cable provider with Dish Network discontinuing Fox Sport South (The Braves Network),  random games of whiffle ball or home run derbies and baseball gloves have a permanent spot in our vehicles. When I have drifted into an awakened state of deep concentration, my wife need not be concerned. No wandering of the mind here, just thoughts of why the Braves haven’t traded for a big name closer or if I could beat the “Freeze” between innings at one of their games.

Time has moved quickly. The dust has settled. My cleats have been retired for a number of years. We have a teenager now. When memories are all that are left from a time long passed, may there be an abundance of hugs, love, high fives, peanut boils, afternoon baseball games, concession food and laughter, plenty of laughter, when reflecting on our time together. Love, DAD

Dreaming

My children were getting ready for bed tonight and occasionally this time can turn into a stressful time for the old folks of the house. What kid wants to go to bed with the sun still providing enough light from the horizon to see the path between our house and the neighbors? So much fun to be had. Well, tonight the man of the house was accredited the task of calming the kids down and preparing them for a short hibernation of sorts. Did you know according to the journals my wife has reviewed a child needs like twenty-four hours of sleep every two days? Ultimately, I allowed the kids to play duck, duck, goose in the area of what equates to a shopping cart on my son’s twin sized bed as well as a few tackling drills with their replica University of Alabama football helmets. We narrowly missed the chairperson of the NCAA committee that handles unauthorized practices. Although it would have been a minor infraction, no one wants to see her get angry. 

Currently the house is quiet, each member of the household other than myself has retired for the night. As they have drifted off into a deep sleep, I hope their dreams are of fun events such as the pre-sleep shenanigans that I was blessed to be a part oftonight. 

Dreams have always found a way of eluding me from the time they actually take place until I get the first bit of caffeine as the day begins. I decided to solve this problem by writing down some of these images as I woke up throughout the night. Those small notes would jog my memory of the occurrences that took place overnight in the attic sitting atop of my shoulders. 

The notes section on my iPhone is filling up fast by the way.  A psychologist somewhere would have a field day with these hallucinations. 

A crisp fall Friday night in Alabama involves stores shuttingdown early and mommas praying harder than usual for their babies as they strap on the protective gear involved with High School Football. This particular game seemed more important than most that I had played or coached in. You see I traded in my helmet and shoulder pads in some time ago for a whistle and a play sheet. This Friday night wasn’t much different than the past fourteen years of coaching other than the setting seemed a lot bigger than the normal 3A high school football stadium. But yet it still seemed familiar. As we continued to prepare for the upcoming contest, I realized the stadium was in fact Bryant Denny Stadium, the home of the Crimson Tide. 

In the process of our team warming up a transformation of sorts took place as I headed to the locker room and returned with my own set of pads on, cleats tied up tight and helmet in hand. Anticipation began to build as the referees called for the captains and the opening kickoff marked the start of an unforgettable experience. 

As the seconds on the game clock ticked away marking the end of the first half, the coach looked my way and motioned for me to enter the game. The signal came in and I took the snap, dropped back to pass and delivered a strike to an open receiver. The crowds’ cheers were deafening and as I approached my teammate to celebrate, I realized it was one of my fifth-grade students who had been on the receiving end of the half ending touchdown pass. 

As the team headed up for the inspirational words from our head coach, I was distracted by a gorgeous young woman who was waving at me from the players tunnel of the stadium. Instead of heading to the locker room, my wife and I visited the concession stand and shared a bowl of the finest chili to touch my lips. We shared a quick hug and kiss before I ran off to be with the team. 

And just when the suspense had started to build the alarm clock started blaring in one ear and our overenergized pointer began barking in the other to inform us of the immediate need to exit the back door. 

By no means am I a professional dream interpreter, but here area few takeaways: athletes take it all in. Some twenty years later I’m still dreaming about competing and memories made with teammates. Teachers cannot just flip a switch when they leave the school campus for the day and forget about the students that they come in contact with each day. Many hours of planning and prayer go into decisions made to better our students. Football season is upon us as well as other sports. Coaches spend a lot of time with kids that they claim as their own even though there are no biological ties. Be grateful for the time these men and women invest. Coaches spouses are the glue that hold the family together while all the practices and games are going on and my wife is one of the biggest supporters of anything related to our teams. She also makes a tremendous bowl of chili.

 

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).

Play the Game

Stars are brighter than normal. A long trek between rural towns in South Alabama is lit up by the constellations. The alignment of these stars provides a road map through the winding country roads where the street lights are non-existent.

A mustard yellow shaped vehicle weighing in at twenty-five thousand plus pounds winds through the open road. Up and down the valleys and across the long stretch of black pavement that connects the farms of local legends.

These farmers were the prom kings, the quarterback and the ones voted most likely to succeed by the senior class. They followed a path that was laid out for them far before they had been thought of in their momma’s belly. A four-year degree just wasn’t in the cards. Some of them played baseball at the local community college, but realized in the process that the classroom wasn’t their cup of tea.

The driver of that “cheese wagon” hadn’t known anything but Crimson Tide Football and Atlanta Braves Baseball growing up. An average athlete that couldn’t cut it at the next level was selected to guide seventeen young men to the first state championship in school history.

They swept through the district with little concern. The first and second round of the high school playoffs were much of the same. Citizens of the one stop light town began to talk of a dream that had outlasted even the best of athletes up to this point. The no named pitcher that hadn’t been recruited had been unstoppable on the mound and the summer farmhands who loaded watermelons throughout the grueling months of June and July had become stronger. This created a lineup that would threaten the deep ball on nearly every pitch.

The mixture of diesel fuel burning from the exhaust of the bus along with red clay, body odor, Copenhagen Long Cut and fresh cut grass mixed the air. The smell was similar to any of the other nights, but the sounds heard on the long ride back were remotely different than the first two series of post season play. Normal bus rides upon returning from a successful road trip would include melodies mixed with AC/DC, Metallica and Garth Brooks. Stories were told of dates with the Homecoming Queen and how the timid right fielder mustered up the courage to ask the captain of the cheerleading squad out for a night on the town. But tonight, things were different.

The only sounds that could be heard were the racing of that Cummins Engine along with the crickets stationed along the sides of those country roads hiding in the Bahia Grass. Opportunity had come and gone for the home team favorite led by the humble young special education teacher.

Many aspects were contributing factors to the fall of the best 1-A team in the state. The old men at the filling station who met religiously at 6 am each morning had their thoughts mostly centered around strategic decisions of their fearless leader. He didn’t pitch the star freshman pitcher in the first game of the series and in the third inning the lead off batter forgot to tag up on a routine fly ball that cost them the tying run. Either way the town along with the team were heavy hearted because of the potential of the talented group that had been miraculously positioned together for that school year.

Common knowledge was apparent of the mistakes throughout the game. Nearly every business in the town had closed down early in the order for patrons to make the two and a half hour journey across state to watch history being made. However, not many knew the background story of what went on during the few weeks prior to the playoff run.

Johnny was the pitcher that had shut down the previous state championship team down in the first round of the playoffs. However, his girlfriend had starting slipping around with another boy during the long stretched out months of spring during the games and practices. Johnny found out the day before the series. Adam had his doubts about his skills, but his drunk dad kept those thoughts turning. He wasn’t worried about making mistakes to disappoint his coaches or teammates, only for the car ride home. Turns out the pressure was too much and he made three critical errors in the decisive game of the three-game series. Momma and Daddy always know best. Adam’s Dad who favored the bottle and another parent of one of the kids on the team had disagreed on who should be allowed to play shortstop for the remainder of the season. Adam and this other athlete began to push each other further and further away during practices, bus rides and games. They had been best friends since they had started their high school career on the junior varsity team.

Take advantage of the time left in your high school career. Don’t let outside influences effect the culture built by the leaders of and on your team. Have fun! Not many people will remember how many games you won, but the memories made while playing the game.

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

Battle Scars

Seventeen and nothing could stop me. I’m pretty sure I hit life in the mouth a few times and came running back to see what the result would be. I made it out alive, with all digits, limbs, and extremities. Invincible would be an adjective that would sum up my thoughts about this life to a tee. This way of thinking has got me sinking now that I realize how fast life is racing with every blinking of the eye.

Twenty years from my sophomore year in high school has me thinking about the cumulative scars that make up the mental and physical effects of this crazy life. Toby Mac describes it well. You, you’re not alone. We’ve all been there. Scars come with livin. It doesn’t matter who you are. This world gon leave some battle scars.

As a senior in high school, training for football season was the business that required staying away late and eventual divorce from your significant other. We watched film, worked out with weights, learned a new offense, watched more film, practiced and ran stadiums. Enough time spent at school would cause the faintest relationship to fail. Upon graduation I had a friend tell me how he was fraternizing with all the football player’s girls while they were at practice. In the process of those stadiums, I acquired a massive scar from slipping on the concrete bleachers at New Brockton High School. This caused a gashing wound that if it would have been placed anywhere else on the body would have required stitches. To this day there is a penny sized indention in my shin from the impact.

Later in life my face would take a direct impact into the gravel road beneath me while riding four wheelers with my best friend. The collision would cause a handful of stitches and a few crowns in the middle of my “grill” as they say. Maybe my conscious allows me to notice, but my forehead tells a story of horror along with the discolored replaced front tooth.

As I approach senior citizen status, body parts start to fall apart. My shoulder wasn’t an exception. A few years back the doctors shaved some bone off of the sternoclavicular joint because of the lack of tissue was causing extreme pain. In the process three small incisions have left me with more scars and a story to go along with it. Man the med’s they give you cause you to say the darndest things.

All of the aforementioned required physical harm or pain and left a visual mark on this aging body. However, the scars that take the longest to heal often are not always visible. That heart break of the sweet thang that you thought would never leave your side. That family member who blatantly spread some of the darkest secrets about your life to those that were not directly involved. The pastor who broke trust with privacy issue between you and another member of the congregation. The death of a friend or family member always leaves an unfillable ditch in the human chest of those involved.

No one is immune to the scars of this life. They all hurt with fierce torment that can only be cured with the Love of Christ. The love of Christ teaches us that Faith is required for us to free ourselves from the discomforts of this world. Also, that the Lord is the only constant that we can trust. All others will betray us.

Today allow the physical and emotional scars to be a testimony from which the Lord has delivered us. It’s hard to think about how far we’ve truly come on this journey. But if we take time to reason, our experiences have brought us further along than we would have ever imagined.

Preparation

It’s all fun and games until you get smoked in the face with a dodgeball by a kid half your age at a trampoline park.

There was a fundraiser for our local softball team and we took our kids to help with financially assisting the group. While there, some of the kids from our school, my sixth grade son and several high school softball players along with several other random teenage kids were engaged in a fierce battle of dodgeball.

Hey, what the heck, I’ll show these kids their physical education teacher and softball coach still has a little left in the tank.

Things went well for a few minutes as I successfully dodged a few balls and threw four or five dots narrowly missing each time. The other team must have recognized that I was an immediate threat to their success. What seemed like a reconnaissance mission pitting every member of the other team against myself looked dreadful for the good guy.

I showed off my cat like reflexes by ducking to elude one missile and then bouncing what seemed like twenty feet in the air to avoid another one. About the time I was paced to make my landing it happened.

Boom! It felt like what I would assume a right hook from Mike Tyson would feel like. A shot of pain went through my face into my jaw. I was sure that I may be sipping milkshakes for weeks through a surgically repaired wired shut mouth.

My lovely bride after realizing that I was not concussed found the incident rather amusing. I’m talking about laughing so hard she begins to snort like Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web amused. Hey, I like to make people smile. Maybe next time her laughter will not be at the expense of my handsome face.

I see why places like this make you sign that waiver before entering. It’s for the out of shape middle aged dad, who doesn’t have any business playing games as such with teenagers who are a lot younger and in a lot better shape.

Fortunately after a few ibuprofen and a little time, the pain subsided and I was relieved to realize that major surgery wouldn’t be required.

I did mention that I had a little left in the tank, right? Well, my idea of little may have been a little exaggerated. Instead of a quarter of a tank left, we may be talking about spitting and sputtering into the gas station after riding with the low fuel light on for thirty five miles low. It’s so low that I thought I tore my ACL getting out of my recliner today? That could be directly related to the soreness that my body felt from the other activities from the trampoline park.

With all that being said, I would have better prepared myself if I had known what this trip would entail. I have three children. They would have loved firing away with daddy being the bullseye of the target. I may have ran on the treadmill a few times. Who knew that playing dodgeball would be so exhausting?

How often do you realize too late that you are underprepared? Is it when you drop the game winning touchdown pass, because you skipped out on practice for the week? What if the boss moved up the presentation you were supposed to be preparing, but you hadn’t started? What if a non-believer asked you a question about Christ and you didn’t know the answer because you haven’t been in the word?

Most importantly, when you take your last breathe will you be prepared for eternal life?

Heart Over Talent

The first time we met was on a youth league softball field. There were people screaming unpleasant remarks in my general direction as every play made in this Dixie Softball game hinged on whether or not these kids would lead a profitable and productive life. Sarcasm in it’s finest if you didn’t notice.

The young lady, no more than ten years old, was competing for the next spot on United States National Team. Well not quite, but you couldn’t tell her any different. There was something different about this kid than the others.

Early in the night I could tell the game would be close and every strike and out would count. If you’ve never umpired you wouldn’t understand the pressure that exists with each decision when the game is on the line.

Each time this girl entered the field of play she greeted me with a smile. She told me how I was doing such a good job and appreciated my time. She ran as fast as she could from the dugout to her position. As the inning would unfold, her effort never diminished. Her teammates knew they could trust her to stand behind them in every aspect. She backed up the other fielders and gave them encouragement when the ball may have taken a tricky hop. Nothing but optimism came out of her mouth.

As the pitchers battled back and forth, many of the other members of the team struggled to hit the yellow ball seemingly blazing the catcher’s mitt. Again, she made sure they knew that she was in their corner and that for sure the next at bat would render different results.

As the game neared the end with the home team down by one, the young athlete’s last at bat would prove to be a critical one. With two outs and a runner on second, the first pitch was fouled off past the first base coaches’ box. The second pitch flew right past the bat into the catcher’s mitt. As the umpire, I was praying for the game to end without a close call to make. However, as the third pitch came flying in, I knew that wouldn’t be the case. If this particular pitch was thrown one hundred times, the result would still be the same. But for some reason the bat remained on her shoulders as the opposing team began to celebrate.

There was no hesitation, no throwing of the bat, no look of frustration or feet stomping back. She ran to the dugout to help her teammates through the agony of defeat.

Later in her career, I was blessed with the privilege of being this young lady’s high school coach. She wasn’t the most athletic, but her spirit and effort had never wavered. Her contagious energy was not only a blessing to her teammates, but to me as well.

The fairy tale ending to this story would be that this athlete later was granted the opportunity to pursue her dreams of playing collegiate softball. However, that wasn’t in the cards. But for the record, I wouldn’t have traded her for two division one athletes who could easily go yard.

She will make someone a great wife one day, her commitment is untainted. She will push her children to be their best and never give up. She will make her boss look like a genius with all the extra time and love put into her projects. But more importantly the light that shines through her daily will change so many lives.

Who wants a superstar that no one gets along with, when there are average Joes with indestructible courage that make great teammates.

Unfailing Love

My three year old is trying to learn his boundaries. Boundaries indirectly means “what can I get away with around certain people.” We try to be pretty consistent about what is expected and the consequences of not following direct instruction.

Instructions include: please do not push your sister down, please pick up your toys, hold my hand as we cross the street, please eat something besides Doritos or ice cream sandwiches, and when you are my age you will love taking naps so please close your eyes.

Did any of that sound foreign to you? Some days I wonder if I am speaking a different language or if we need to schedule an examination with a professional about his ability to hear my voice. The outcome of his rebellious behavior has translated into quite a few spankings. Yes, we do still believe in popping our children if it is warranted. Please don’t call DHR. If Grams (Amanda’s Mom) has felt the need to slap his back side you know it must’ve been deserving.

I’ve often thought if I were to practice reverse psychology, would this help? Push your sister down or don’t pick your toys up. This probably would not acquire the results that we are looking for. Regardless of how many times we have to reiterate our desire for him to follow even the simplest commands our love for him doesn’t change.

As a softball coach, we try not to use “do not” statements. For example, before an “at bat” I would not tell a kid “do not swing at a pitch in your eyes.” The result generally would be that the athlete would go into the batter’s box thinking so much about it that they can’t focus or end up doing it anyway.

When I was fifteen, I asked my brother to take his car for a spin on a few roads in the country near my grandparent’s house. I had been practicing with adult supervision and seemed to have everything down pat. There wouldn’t be much traffic out on a Sunday afternoon, twenty or so minutes from any incorporated towns.

His last words before tossing me the keys “Don’t wreck my car.”

Well, I had plenty of experience driving on paved surfaces, but basically none on the gravel freeways of the rural areas of South Alabama. Speed and the lack of experience resulted in his car sideways in a ditch. A tree stopped the momentum of the vehicle, otherwise I would have been picking cotton from the local crop out of my teeth for days.

This will tell my age, but cell phones were not prevalent at this time. I think my father had a bag phone in his vehicle. Google “bag phone” and look at the images if you aren’t familiar. So, I walked a little ways to the closest home and asked if I could use the phone. I talked the couple into calling my grandparents number and explaining the situation because I was scared to death of what the response would be.

We used a tractor to pull the car from the ditch and examined the damage. The vehicle was still operable but in need of significant repair. Up until this point, my brother had not said much. He asked if I was ok. I responded that I was fine and was extremely remorseful. His response which I remember after twenty years was, “we can replace the car, but not you, I’m just glad you are ok.”

Jesus Christ wants a genuine relationship with you. He knows what mistakes you will make before you even make them. He will also be there to scoop you up and encourage you when these mistakes happen. The Bible is full of stories where Jesus showed unfailing love to sinners. Even when you do something he has warned you about.