This was the most influential events of my childhood; at least the ones that I feel influenced how I would later parent my boys, have two failed relationships that I thought would end up in marriage, and end up working with kids for 31 years. The rest of my childhood went pretty much according to the story. My dad was doing his thing, I was doing mine, and momma was keeping the peace. My dad and I would have our moments of enjoying each other, but mostly we avoided each other. My mother and I continued to be best friends discussing everything, going to church, and growing up. I remember some really good times together as a family; especially going camping every summer with my favorite aunt and uncle. Sorry, all you other aunts and uncles, but we spent so much time with them, had similar interests, and they didnít live that far away. They had a 80 acre farm about an hour and a half away. My parents and I spent every summer there staying in a camper, fishing on the river, cooking out, playing canasta, and living the country life. My aunt and uncle were wonderful. They loved me and we all enjoyed being together. These were some of the best times of my life, being with them. And, when we were with them, me and my dad had no issues and momma was left alone.
There was that one time on Broken Bow Lake in Eastern Oklahoma that will give you a good example how my dad would treat my mom. We all got up at like one AM in the morning to go night fishing for catfish. My aunt and uncle were with us. My mother had inner ear trouble at this time. That made her very unsteady on her feet and she had balance trouble walking sometimes. She was coming down the steps from the trailer and she fell to the ground. My dadís response was ďI knew you would do something to mess up this tripĒ. I was fifteen and had a motorcycle license. I had my bike with me. I ran to the bike and started to take off after I yelled at him ďhow could you say that to her; she might be hurtĒ. He told me to leave him alone. He continued to berate her, so I ran to bike. I was going to take off. He ran after me and grabbed the keys out of the ignition before I could get going. I have thought a lot about this event. I totally feel that if I had made it off on that bike; I would not have come back! I am sure of that one thing. I guess I thank God my dad stopped me because it would have hurt my mother and I believe hurt me. It would have also hurt my dad. These kind of things happened very often at our house. But like I said; we did have some good times.
When I hit 16 and got my license to drive; things were a lot different. I was home very little, involved in Band and Basketball, started my first job at McDonalds, and smoked my first joint. You do know what a joint is, donít you; Mary Jane, wacky tabacky, pot, marijuana, dope. I like that last word because only a dope would smoke it. I truly was a dope! Yea, this saved little Christian who was serious about God, started smoking dope. I canít blame anyone, but myself. I donít know fully why I started. Here are some of my theories; you pick one that you like, or you can just say I was a stupid teenager experimenting with something I knew absolutely nothing about. I had no idea what it would do to me. Southern Baptist Churches; well, I think all churches back in the 70ís, didnít talk about drugs, sex, or abuse. No one ever talked about them. They were subjects totally ignored. Parents didnít talk about them. That was way before ďjust say noĒ. What a stupid line! That was before they were passing out condoms like candy and teaching sex, I mean teaching sex education, in schools. That was before homosexuals found out they could have civil rights, before being politically correct was the model, and before Christ was taken out of all the schools and eventually government as well. And then we sit around wondering what is wrong with our country.
Now we teach our kids without the influence of the one who made them and we are now governed by people who donít acknowledge the one our countryís beliefs were modeled after. We wonder why things arenít going well. It doesnít take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. The bible says woe to the nation who turns its back on God. We have! Sodom and Gomorrah should have taught us something. Just like my past should have taught me something; it didnít. That is human nature. Our evil nature that is at war with the nature of Christ. That is why we need a savior. Well, I am rambling again. You know the Rambler was one of the worst cars ever made. If that is the case, why is worth so much today? It is because it is old; an antique, it brings a lot of money.
Our society likes old things; old cars, old furniture, old houses, old people! Wait a minute; that last one doesnít fit. We donít value our elderly; why is that? They have wisdom, they have experience, and they have knowledge. Why do we like some old things and not others? Old cars, old furniture, and old houses bring you a lot of money. Old people donít have what our society values anymore. Unless they come with a large inheritance and then everybody in the family wants them. Human nature is selfish. The desires of the flesh are what attract us. It is the pleasure principle. We expect to be pleasured. Our human nature desires it much. Our selfish desires though will destroy us. My desire was to be a dad; to be loved and to give my love. I didnít get it with my dad. I wanted it with my boys. I expected it from them. Desire only God! That is the only thing that will bring you true happiness. And as you desire him more, he will make your desires like his and you wonít desire those earthly things anymore. Those things that wonít satisfy you anyway and will leave you empty when the pleasure part is over. It doesnít last. Donít get me wrong! There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a dad; wanting to adopt. But when you place those things as being more important than your relationship with God; they become a problem. The Bible says ďwhere your treasure is; there your heart will be alsoĒ. Desire God first and all the rest will fall into place. I was also hanging on to a secret sin I havenít told you about. I donít feel this is the time to tell you about it. Although it severely affected my relationship with my Heavenly Father and had much to do with why He had other plans for me; I want you to experience this story without that looming over the events. I will tell you when it is time. Cheat and turn the pages to find out now and I will come and get you! I know where you live! Not really! I do believe your enjoyment of my journey will be enhanced by not looking forward to soon! Do what you want though, but God is watching! Guilt is a beautiful thing. It doesnít always work though!
Back to my marijuana. Rambling is a wonderful thing if you have something to say. I hope that I have said something! I donít know if I knew then that what I was doing was wrong or if I knew, or cared, that it was bad for me. My theories: first, I think that I was looking for something. I was a young Christian teenager. I was very active in my church and tried to live for Jesus. I got bored with that. I wanted some excitement, I wanted an adventure, and I wanted to experience life. That isnít life, by the way. I would later learn it was only the way to certain death. I wanted to see what a ďgood time wasĒ. I never thought about it being wrong or harmful; and the church, nor my parents, had taught me otherwise. I also was lonely. Being a young Christian teenager meant you walked alone most of the time. I was the one with a one way Jesus sticker on my trumpet case. I smoked my first joint in my best friendís house while Jimmie Hendrix was playing in the background. Psychadelic sounds and getting high; it wasnít all bad! At least not for a while. I quit basketball because I only wanted to get high. I would work at McDonalds till 1am in the morning; tell my parents I was working until three AM in the morning; party till three AM; go home and sleep; and then go to school the next day. I did this for two years. That is all I did!
I always believed my mommaís prayers were following me wherever I went. I also knew in my heart that somehow God was watching over me. One night at work, I began to feel real sick. I decided to go home. I also decided to go down the main drag; boy that dates myself badly. On my way home to see who was out partying, I found someone. We drank a beer and talked, but I kept feeling sicker and sicker. I headed home. On the way, some young kid pulled out in front of me and hit my car right in the middle of the drag. Everybody was watching. I knew the cops would be on their way. I had a bag of pot and a big pill bottle of seeds in my car. I stuffed the bag of pot down my pants front and took the seeds and put them inside the bumper of a car sitting next to the road. It wasnít enough! The kid that hit me overheard the two cops talking about finding marijuana seeds all over my car and signs of marijuana in the floor board mats. He took me to court and challenged the ticket he got claiming I had pot in the car and was high.
The cops did do an alcohol/drug test, you know the one where they make you walk in a straight line, stand on one foot, close your eyes and touch your nose. They said I passed the test. Since I was a minor, my dad had to escort me to court. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I felt like I let my dad down terribly. I could see the pain in his eyes. I have never seen that look in all of my life. That was the only time. He was in mortal pain. He never said a word to me. He never lectured me nor did he threaten me or anything. It was just the pain in his eyes. He didnít have to say anything. I would never do anything again to cause that look in his eyes. I couldnít bear to do it to him. Despite our differences, I loved him and wanted to make him proud of me desperately. I guess all kids do.
Well, an interesting thing happened in that court room that day. The kid that hit me told the judge the story of the cops finding seeds and pot in my car. The judge asked the cop what he found. The cop said ďnothingĒ. Another interesting fact. If cops suspect drugs, patting you down and doing a search is automatic. They did neither. I walked away from court that day with nothing happening. I should have walked away in hand cuffs. My dad though was deeply affected for a very long time. We never talked about that day. We didnít have to; his eyes spoke volumes. It wasnít like they didnít already know I was smoking dope. They did!
My aunt and uncle were visiting one week. My mother and I were getting the bed in my room ready for them to sleep in. My aunt and uncle were in the room while we were changing the bed. There was a round table with a flowered cover over it; how ugly that thing was. It stretched all the way to the carpet. When my mother moved it to change the bed, there was my bag of pot laying there. She knew what it was. She never even flinched. She took her foot and pushed it back underneath the table cover and went back to changing the bed. She is amazing! I was in Hell! I was praying for Jimmi to come and take me away. That was way before Calgon. Do you remember them ďCalgon, take me awayĒ. The bath stuff for women to soak in the tub with. It was in time for ďbeam me up ScottieĒ, but some how Jimmi seemed more appropriate for the moment. Besides, I have a theme going here.
My mother and I did talk about it. She didnít take my pot. She didnít blow up at me. She didnít punish me or threaten me. Her response always puzzled me. I would have done everything I could to stop my son from smoking pot. I would have had to have done something. She didnít do anything, but tell me how she felt about it and pray for me. She later told me she felt if she preached or grounded me, that I would just run away faster. She was probably right. Evidently, she handled it just the right way. I soon stopped and returned to my Christian values, and turned away from the drug scene. It wasnít doing anything for me anyway. I also watched all those around me; especially those who were older and still partying. They were sad individuals with nothing going for them, but getting high. They looked hopeless. They had no purpose, but to forget. What were they forgetting? What were they running from? Where were they going?
I decided that I wanted more out of life than a temporary high. I also remembered that I used to have a purpose; a reason for being. I felt it was time to rediscover what that purpose was; to return to the one who had saved me and truly loved me. These people didnít. They werenít there for me when I needed them. They only cared about getting high and forgetting. I didnít want to forget. I wanted to return to the One who loved me most; the One who loved me best!
By the time I was 17 yrs. old, I was assistant manager of McDonalds managing kids and adults twice my age. I even went to Hamburger University at age 17. The closest guy to my age was a 24 yr. old guy I smoked dope with every night at the hotel after he took me out to the clubs all night long. I learned to manage people very early in my life and learned also to protect my back! I have many stab wounds in my back from so called good friends and bosses. But I have to say, my first boss at McDonalds, was the best boss I ever had. He taught me how to work hard, treat people right, give them the best service anywhere, and you will get absolutely nothing out of it. Sorry, my sarcasm is a problem sometimes. I heard a saying once that I have lived by. It goes something like this ďno good deed ever goes unpunishedĒ. Iím really not that jaded, but I did learn at an early age that people are out for themselves. My momma taught me to do what was right and donít expect anything in return. Do it because it is right; not because you are expecting something in return.
I wish I had done that with my boys. DHS on the other hand never understood people who would do things for a right reason; they always thought there had to be an agenda in my mind somewhere. They never understood that I was just trying to do what was right. That is how my mother raised me. I trusted too much, I got stabbed a lot, and I donít care! I followed my motherís example well in some areas. I was getting tired though of saying ďexcuse me please, would you take this knife out of my back, it got stuckĒ!
Well, my marijuana days lasted about as long as High School did. I began to see what it did to others around me and I eventually decided that life was not for me. I made the decision to leave all my drugged out friends and find my way back to God. I did realize something though. I remembered why I turned to drugs in the first place. I was lonely. When I turned my back on my friends, I had no one. I went to church, but back then singles programs werenít much and I found it hard to serve and be happy. If you werenít married, there wasnít much for you at church. I went on though and kept managing fast food places. I followed a friend over to Burger King and did this until I was 21. Something happened though while I was working there that changed my direction in life forever. It was what made me decide to work with kids as a career and started my journey in that direction.
I was a fool for thinking drugs would do anything for me. I was looking to the world to satisfy what I needed. A good time, an escape, lonliness, or just trying to satisfy the desires of my heart. You would think this experience would have taught me something when I faced my greatest challenge later in life. It didnít! I had to learn the lesson all over again.
Are You A Fool
The heart of a fool is worthless.
Doing wrong is fun for them.
They think they need no advice.
They have no interest in understanding.
They only want to air their opinions.
Wisdom is too much for them.
The fool talks much, but has nothing to say.
To slander is fun for them.
Babbling fools will fall on their face.
Foolish pride leads to disgrace.
A fool is soon poor.
Those who love pleasure will stay poor.
They are full of excuses.
They want much, but get little.
The fears of the wicked will come true.
Those who follow a crooked path will slip and fall.
A person without self-control is
As defenseless as a city without walls.
Those who stray from common sense
Will end up in the company of the dead.
Even fools are thought to be wise
When they keep silent.
Fools seldom keep silent.
Are you a fool?
One other event happened to me two weeks before I was to graduate from high school with honors and a four year member of the honor society. I finished in the top twenty percent on my college entrance exams. I think that only qualifies me to be a ďsmart assĒ, wooops; sorry mom! I felt like I needed a little affect there. I wasnít near as smart as I thought I was. Iím not now either; but that is another subject. God can even use a donkey to accomplish His purpose. Just ask Baalam; look it up, itís in the Bible. That means there is hope for me yet!
Anyway, two weeks before I was to graduate, I was cleaning above a fry vat in the fast food restaurant I was night manager at; I was seventeen. The law said you must have fry vat covers to cover the grease. The restaurant did not. The fry vats were still on high. They were the old kind with the coils that fold down into the grease to heat the oil up. Well, the counter was greasy; I thought I had cleaned well. I had not! I slipped and in the hot grease vat went my left hand. I fell to the floor saying more curse words than were ever invented and screaming at the top of my lungs. It was the most horrible pain that I have ever felt in my entire life. The pain went right down to the bone.
The next thing that I remember, I was in the emergency room and they were cleaning me up. That was more painful than falling in the grease vat. My parents were there by that point. I was still screaming and making up new curse words. It is a shame those new words never caught on. Something else happened though that I never understood and neither did my parents. The doctor that treated me refused to put me on any pain medication! My parents didnít throw a massive fit either. Why not!!! I wanted those pain medications. I didnít get them. I was in excruciating pain all night long. My dad stayed with me. I donít know what I would have done without him there. He kept talking to me. I donít know what he said, but I could hear his voice. It was the voice of peace. It was the only thing that got me through that horrible night. Thank you dad! I never thanked you for what you did. Iím sorry!
My mom had to leave. I didnít even know she was gone. I was in so much pain. My dad said I would even pass out the pain was so severe. The smell! Have you ever smelled the odor of burning flesh? I remember the look on my dadís face when he saw my hand. I think he threw up. I couldnít smell anything; the pain was too severe. The smell was the least of my worries. The reason given for the doctor not giving me pain medication; he didnít want me to get addicted. I donít care if I get addicted. Give me drugs; it didnít work. I took care of that the next day anyway. My best friend came to the hospital to see me the next day. Lets just say that I slept very well the next ten days I was in the hospital. Thanks Ernie! The nurses and my parents were always amazed at how well I dealt with the pain. I told them I had a very high pain tolerance; especially with qualudes and sleeping capsules in my stomach. That burn doctor was amazing though. You cannot tell I was burned unless I pointed it out to you. I did miss most of my graduation exercises; except the graduation itself. I also got out of taking any finals. This event also did something else for me that could have ruined my life. God can use our suffering to do great things.
I later learned that the manager of the restaurant was embezzling money from the restaurant. He evidently had done it once before and got it blames on two high school boys who managed the night shift; sound familiar. I learned he was planning to frame me as he did those two boys. He decided not to do it because the owner became my best friend following this event. He paid for all my medical bills, he paid me full salary while out of work, and checked on me often to see how I was doing. He was afraid I was going to sue him because the fry vats had no covers which would have kept the accident from happening in the first place. Me and my parents never sued; never thought about it. We werenít brought up that way; even if we do live in the ďsue me stateĒ as some call it.
Anyway, the manager tried instead to pin the embezzlement on the assistant manager. She was a close friend and became like a mother to me. She fought it and managed to show he was the one doing it all along. Evidently she knew it was him, but she was the only one left for him to try to frame. He went to prison.
Did God protect me? Did he use this tragic event in my life and use it to do something miraculous. I believe he did. God has done things throughout my life that have amazed me. From a little thing called adoption, a little Maltese dog I could never find, a cop lying for me, and burning my hand in a fry vat. We canít know the miraculous and wonderful things God does for us. Most of which we never even recognize. He loves us. He wants the best for us. But He is a jealous God. If you find other gods to be more important than He is; He will take vengeance. All things work out for the good of those that love the Lord.
There are many examples in the Bible. Slavery in Egypt/parting of the Red Sea, all the first born sonís of the Israelites murdered/Moses, giants terrorizing Godís people/King David, and best of all Christ being put to death on the cross/rose three days later. That is what God does. He takes our failures and our suffering and turns them into His great successes. Are you up for it? Wouldnít It be cool to see what God would turn your suffering into. The world will be destroyed one day; oh well He will just create another. A new Heaven and a new Earth. Nothing is too big for Him; not even my sin as you will find out later. He could even handle that.
The Marble of Our Soul
The soul is like a block of marble.
A sculptor does not see a block of marble.
A block full of flaws and imperfections.
He sees what it can become.
He has a vision of what it is to be.
A sculptor will toil for years to transform it.
Transform it into the image he sees in his mind.
Cut by cut he will shape it to match that image.
The flaws are even used in his design.
Used to enhance the final result.
Even they could not scar its ultimate beauty.
They even make it more beautiful to see.
Such intense beauty from a rough piece of stone.
The sculptor accepts the imperfections.
He doesnít try to find a more perfect block.
Our eternal soul Is filled with the flaws of our life.
The shame and the guilt of our past.
All the hurt and the pain that life can bring.
All of lifeís suffering and the mistakes made.
The Master Sculptor accepts us as we are.
It takes the Master Sculptor our entire lives
To take cross-like cuts at the marble of our souls.
One cut at a time He sculpts into His image.
A hard piece of stone and all the flaws found there,
Are turned into something beautiful to see.
Fulfilling the vision He saw in us from the beginning,
He uses our imperfections as part of His perfect design.
With great commitment and great loving patience,
He perfects us into the image He wants us to be.
One cut at a time He takes at the marble of our soul,
Until the Master Sculptor makes us complete in Him.
God is the Master Sculptor. He wishes to make something beautiful out of our imperfections until we reach the throne of grace finally to be made perfect in His image. Just as He first created man in the garden and intended us to be. Some of the cuts he takes at our soul are painful. We may even scream out for release. But He loves us and because He loves us, He takes our suffering and our imperfections and makes something beautiful out of them. He sees what we can become; not what we are. It reminds me of my dad who I told you was a master wood worker. He could see a block of wood and see what it could become. He could see it in his mind. I only saw a block of wood. He had a vision of what he could create it to be. God sees us in the same way. He lovingly takes us as we are and then tries with much care and patience to mold us into His likeness. He accepts us as we are; all the flaws and imperfections.
We tend to fight Him on this. We tend to not be able to see what visions He might have for us. That is where faith and trust come in. We must have faith that He can do it and then trust Him that He loves us enough to do it for our benefit. He does it through the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Because of what He did on the cross, we can become like Him. God then takes these cross-cuts in our soul until we are made perfect in Him. What love, what faithfulness, and what commitment He has shown to those He loves. He corrects those who He loves and He disciplines those who He accepts. Want to know if you are a Christian? One good way is to ask yourself if your Father in Heaven loves you? If He does, He will be correcting you! If He does, He will be disciplining you. All in an effort to make you more like Him; to bring you peace and reconcile your relationship with Him. He will turn all our mistakes, bad choices, and even our little secret sins no one else knows about and turns them into something beautiful to see.