Have a Nice Day, Lord!

It’s been a real adventure raising 5 kids. We had Clint, our first, only a year into our marriage..and the parental learning process began. Parenting is one of the most challenging and rewarding things you’ll do in your life. We’ve enjoyed every minute of it even though there’s been plenty of things to work through with each of them. I will say, looking back, that the years of raising kids goes by incredibly fast.

We have thousands of great memories from those years. One of those memories is when we started praying before meals. We’d often take turns and let the kids if they were willing, pray a lot of the time. I’ll never forget how one of our boys, who was about three at the time, often prayed. I’d help him get started and then he’d take it from there. He had just a little lisp at the time and his prayer would go something like this: “God, Bleth Mom and Dad, Bleth my brotherth, bleth MeMaw and Papaw….and uh…..have a nithe day, God!” It was about the sweetest prayer you’ve ever heard. I can’t help but think the Lord, Himself, loved the prayer and especially the part where He was told to, “Have a nithe day.” He probably doesn’t hear that too often.

I was thinking about that recently and I made a little Top-10 list of the things that should help the Father to have a ‘nithe’ day: 

  1. Get to know Him….No, I mean, really get to know Him! *He wants to be relational with you. Interact, and relate to Him as Father!
  2. Receive His ‘gift’! *Salvation is free……Receive it!
  3. Find your place/Discover your destiny! *You’ve been gifted so you can be a functional contributor to the Body of Christ. Get in the process of finding out how you’re gifted!
  4. Gravitate into your ‘sonship’! *He has handpicked you to be His son/daughter. Make the most of it….and keep it simple!
  5. Be ‘who’ you are! *There’s no one like you. Don’t try to be anyone else!
  6. Use your faith! *Learn to be led by the Holy Spirit!
  7. Get along! *Be a peacemaker! Dad’s love it when their kids get along!
  8. Get back up! *Everybody gets knocked down….not everybody gets back up!
  9. Be a ‘learner’! *It’s a lifetime endeavor. Make every day a day to learn!
  10. Be ‘free’! Jesus died for us to be free; free from sin…free from the Law! Enjoy your freedom!

Don’t forget…..He’s already extremely proud of you and He wants to see you succeed in every area of your life! And, maybe sometime in your prayer time, you can even tell Him to “Have a nithe day”!

You might like these, too:

Good Ground Grows Good Weeds, Too!

What If It’s Not to ‘Break’ You,….but to ‘Make’ You?

This Version of the Taylors’ Est. on This Day 49 Years Ago!

It’s a pretty good sized family. Now, about 18 strong….and getting ready to be 19! This version of the Taylor family was officially established 39 years ago. But 49 years ago today is really when it started, unofficially,….at the Stovall Theater right here in Sayre, Oklahoma. That’s when, at age 13, I met up with the prettiest girl I’d ever seen, to sit by her at the picture show. (that’s what we used to call the movie theater!) I have no idea what the movie was that night but I do remember the girl. Her name was Julie Drake. Our parents had been friends for years but we’d only met less than a year before. There must’ve been something magical about that little date at the movie that night because we did it again…and again, and again. And ten years to the day after that first night at the movie theater we were married. And, now, today it’s been 39 years! It’s almost unbelievable how fast those years have gone by.

So, here we are, now in our 60’s,…after having raised 5 incredible kids (and others that we’ll join up with in heaven shortly) who are in various stages of raising their own families and taking on the world themselves. Add to that 8 of the smartest, best looking grandkids (it’ll be 9 by the end of the month!) that you could possibly imagine. And even the staunchest unbeliever on the planet could not argue that this was undeniably a ‘match made in heaven’….in the truest sense of the word!

I’ve done a lot of dumb stuff in my life but I really outdid myself 49 years ago today when I asked Julie Drake to sit by me at that movie. She’s been the perfect wife, the perfect mother…a truly incredible person by anyone’s standards. People would have to wonder how someone like me could’ve ever ended up with someone like her. It’s more than luck….it’s nothing short of the sovereign will of the Father! We’ve been through all the challenges that couples can go through….and somehow made it to hereIt’s obvious that we were made for each other.

Oh, and by the way…she’s still the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen!

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Definitely Our Most Memorable New Year’s Day!

It was exactly 38 years ago today. That, I remember vividly. It was brutally cold, about 15 degrees with the wind blowing about 40 mph! ….typical Texas Panhandle winter night! Julie and I had gone into Canadian, Texas to meet two other couples for supper. The Stuckey’s, Don & Billie, and the Dickinson’s, Bud & Brenda have been great friends of ours for a lifetime (actually more like Family!). The plan was to go to the steak house for supper and then back to the Stuckey’s to hang out, play a few cards, drink a few beers….at least for the guys. Julie and I were expecting our first baby and she was already about two weeks past the due date.

We brought in the New Year and headed home. It was about 40 miles to our house. The we got home another of my good friends, Kenny Bass was there waiting for us. Julie went off to bed and ‘Catfish’ (his nickname) and I decided we’d have another drink or two. Before we even got the first one poured Julie called to me from the bedroom. When I went in there she was as serious as I’d ever seen her! She calmly said, “I think my water broke”! I don’t know if you can grasp the panic that I experienced at that moment. Julie, on the other hand, remained pretty calm. But here we were, 60 miles from the hospital, our car with less than a quarter tank of gas in it…and she’s having contractions only a few minutes apart. 

We were in the car in less than 3 minutes. And, since we didn’t have enough gas to make it to the hospital we stopped at the ranch headquarters, where my folks lived, to fill the car up. Thinking we didn’t have a minute to spare, I had visions of her trying to give birth in the car on the way. We made the 60 mile trip in about 35-40 minutes…and to be honest, Julie’s brown Gran Torino was never really the same after that!

Not sure exactly the time we arrived at the hospital in Elk City, Oklahoma but I distinctly remember Julie having regular contractions just a few minutes apart….and Clint Ryan wasn’t born until 1:35 pm the next day….New Year’s Day. It was a lot of hours of ‘hard labor’!! And, hey, Clint was the first baby born there in the New Year so we were given lots of gifts and certificates for gifts.

It was an experience we’ll never forget. Our lives were changed for the better that day, and made richer than we could’ve ever imagined. It was definitely our most memorable New Year’s Day!

Happy New Year from the Taylors’!!

*If you’re interested in visiting the ‘Archives’ and getting 2016 off to a good start, click the highlighted link and get started! Thanks for joining me on the journey!

Reflect & Refocus #2

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What If It’s Not to ‘Break’ You,….but to ‘Make’ You?

It’s been about 7-8 years ago; I was riding my bike on a 15 mile jaunt. I like the bike for several reasons. For one, it doesn’t hurt my joints anywhere, and …..2, I like it because I can ride and, at the same time, do some serious thinking, praying, pondering, etc. On this particular day my mind was pretty much preoccupied with the dilemma that two people very close to me were having to go through.

As I prayed for both of them, intensely, the Lord reminded me of at least half a dozen people I’d been involved with over the years that were pitted up against, what at the time appeared to be, insurmountable circumstances. In each of those half dozen or so instances the Lord showed me how He came through for them when it didn’t look like there was any way possible. He also reminded me of how those circumstances somehow ‘catapulted’ them into His perfect will for their lives. In each of those instances the outcome was nothing short of miraculous.

As the Lord encouraged me with those examples I heard His ‘still, small voice’ say to my spirit, “Andy, this is not to ‘break’ them….it’s to ‘make’ them!” I knew at once that this was the voice of the Lord. He always knows just the right thing to say….at just the right time! *And just for the record…not once did I think that the Lord somehow arranged these people’s harsh circumstances so He could teach them a lesson! It’s sad to say but there’s plenty of people out there who think that God does just that. NO WAY!! That totally goes against the nature of a father….and He’s a better Father than any of us could be! 

What the Lord said to me totally, and immediately, put their problems into perfect perspective! ….which brings the conversation to you and me. What if these trials we go through in life are not meant to ‘break’ us….but to ‘make’ us?! The Bible often eludes to the fact that we’re being purified like gold. That all sounds great until you consider how gold is mined and then purified so it can actually be used or sold.

Most of the time that ‘rock’, that’s brought out of the mine, looks absolutely nothing like gold. I mean, you can’t see any gold in it at all. It’s only when that rock is ‘heated’ up to insanely, intense temperatures that the gold begins to emerge. When the heat causes the ore to melt….the impurities come to the surface. The ‘dross’ is scraped off the top and discarded….and the heating process starts again. Sound familiar?!! Well, it’s the exact process that the Father allows us to go through in our ‘being conformed into the image of Jesus’!

As we go through these unpleasant circumstances in life it’d serve us well if we’d consider that maybe, just maybe…..“they’re not to break us…..but to make us”!!

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Room at the Inn?

You know the story; Joseph and Mary arrived at the motel late on that fateful night….only to be informed of the “No Vacancy” status. Not one single room available so they had to search elsewhere. The only thing they could find was a barn,…..equipped with animals,….. so they settled in.

Sometime during that night Mary gave birth to her Baby, precisely as the prophets of old had declared. The Angels showed themselves to the shepherds who were working out in the fields at night. And ‘wise men’ came from far away to witness what was happening there. Without a doubt this was an event that the world would forever commemorate, ….and rightly so!

In this busy time with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, some goofy controversy over Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas, our culture has made it all about shopping, money and commerce. But for the wise ones among us, it’s still about Jesus! And the reality that He was born…..and died….and rose again after He finished the work set before Him….is a guarantee that sin would never again hold us hostage, and that our relationship with His Father (now our Father, too!) cannot, would not ever be revoked! 

On this Christmas Eve we oughta slow down for a minute and just say, “Thanks”. My prayer for you/us is that it’ll be a ‘special’ time for you and your family. And let’s not forget to make some ‘room’ for Him!

Merry Christmas from the Taylors’!! *(kinda like the Griswolds’, only scarier…and more of ’em!)

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Why I Say, “Thank You, Lord”, When I See the KOA Sign!

To begin with, December 18, 2006 was not going to be anywhere near a normal day (none of our days are very normal!) for the Taylor family. Nope it was going to be a big day for us. Clint (oldest son) and Kristy were about to have their third baby. A C-section had been planned for about 8am that morning and, as usual, we were there to celebrate the arrival of Preslie Reece. One of the things I like about the Taylors’ is that when something like this is taking place….the entire Crew (there’s quite a few of us!) is there! Pretty amazing family trait if you ask me.

Kristy’s surgery had been postponed for an hour so we made our way down to the coffee shop in the hospital. While we were sitting there my cell phone rang and I could see that it was Cole (our 3rd son) calling in. He couldn’t be there at the hospital with us because of his job with a local sign/billboard company. I was sure he was calling in to see if we’d had the baby yet. When I answered the phone Cole’s boss was on the other end. he said, “Andy, Cole’s been hurt really bad and he’s headed  to the hospital!” 

Within just a few minutes they notified us that Kristy had been taken back for her surgery. So, here we were, having a grandbaby on one side of the hospital….and on the other side of the hospital our son was coming in and we had no idea what to expect…except that it was ‘bad’! It was almost the full range of emotions that we experienced at that moment.

Cole and a co-worker were working  on a KOA sign on Interstate 40 between exit 50-51. Cole was up it the lift bucket, 40 feet up….on his way up to 80 feet when the bearing assembly in the bucket broke and gave way. The lift which telescoped out came crashing down. When it finally hit bottom Cole’s face hit the railing around the bucket. He was knocked unconscious just momentarily. (Cole was as fit as he could possibly be, working out in the gym nearly every day. I’ve always thought that contributed to saving his life that day) His co-worker immediately called 911.

When Cole arrived via ambulance at the ER it was a terrible sight to see for Cole’s wife Kelly, and Julie and me. Eyes were pretty much swelled shut, face bruised and red….but the worst part of all was the absence of 6 of his teeth in the front. *It was only a few days before this that I told Julie how great a smile Cole had! …now….no teeth!

After a battery of x-rays the doctor returned to the ER and said to Cole, “Well, I found your teeth.” Cole answered, “Did I swallow them?” “No, they’re up in here!”, the doctor said, pointing to Cole’s face. All six of his front teeth were pushed completely up into his nasal cavity!

They stabilized Cole, loaded him in an ambulance and set out for the OU Trauma Center in Oklahoma City. We took a good look at our new grand baby girl, Preslie, grabbed some overnight clothes and headed for Oklahoma City, too.

The trauma team worked on Cole for nearly 8 hours that day. Most of that time was spent working in his mouth. We were home by the next afternoon and Cole was holding his brand new niece!

It was just one week before Christmas and we had so much to be thankful to the Lord for! ……and that’s why I say, “Thank You, Lord”, every single time I pass the KOA sign!

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*There’s a great Part II to this story coming within the next couple of months. Stay tuned!

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Prayer Changes Things!

It was the message on a little plaster of paris wall hanging at my Grandmother’s house in Wheeler, Texas. (My Mom’s Mom) I never knew my Granddad, he was killed in a motorcycle accident earlier in the year that I was born. That left her to raise 3 kids who were still at home. (2 older ones already married) She was an incredible person, in my opinion, and I’ve grown to appreciate that more and more as I’ve gotten older and understanding more of what it takes to raise a family.

One of my favorite things to do was to stay overnight, or a few days, at her house. I still vividly remember bedtime at her house. There were two beds in her room…one for her and one for Herman, my uncle, her youngest son. (only 3 years older than me) There’d be a story or two before we all fell asleep and they were always good ones. *(Herman always tried to tell a scary one..so we’d sleep with a butcher knife under our pillow for safety! lol) One story she told me when I was 3 or 4 years old was of an ‘old, old Grandmother by the name of ‘Mamaw Teak’. Well, that name ‘stuck’ and I called her that for the rest of my life.

When you’re a single mother with 3 kids in a small town you just have to do what you have to do to make ends meet. I remember her working at cafes and cleaning houses for people and then coming home completely worn out…but then cooking one of the best meals that you could possibly imagine. One of my most memorable Christmases was when Herman, my brother Monty and I all got our “Rifleman” rifles. We maintained a high level of justice on that block and kept the bad guys at bay in Wheeler, Texas for a good long while!

I think, somehow, the importance of prayer was imparted to me back in those days. That’s one of the things we’d do every night that I was at her house. And looking back and assessing her situation….I think she lived by it! They lived a simple life, a good life….but a simple life. And they got by,…I believe, by the provision of the Lord.

There’s a lot more to say on the subject of prayer. But simply put, “Prayer Changes Things”! 

*When my Grandmother passed on, I asked for this little plaster of paris wall hanging. It means a lot to me!

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Mad at God?? ….happens all the time!

I hear it pretty often from people. Because of how their life is going, or because of something that they’re convinced that God mishandled on their behalf….people do find themselves mad at Him….sometimes very mad. And I’ve seen a few, what I’d call, extreme cases where the anger lasted a lifetime. It seems sad to me but at the same time I can kind of understand how someone could end up there.

I’ve never been mad at Him. Doesn’t make me any more mature, or any more spiritual, than anyone else….I just haven’t been mad at Him. Somehow, some way I’ve known, as long as I can remember, that God is good. Remember now, that’s coming from someone who didn’t grow up in church and didn’t have a whole lot of orientation about God at all. I’ve thought about it quite a bit and I guess it boils down to a couple of things for me. 1) It was imparted to me from my Mom & Dad. I’m certain that this is true, although I can’t tell you when, where or how….it just happened….and I’m eternally grateful to them for it. 2) It’s just, simply, a revelation from the Father Himself. Personally….I think it’s a good combination of both.

I’ve had a great life, but with just as many ups and downs as the next guy. And I guess if I’m being honest, here, I’d have to say that a lot of the downs were, either directly or indirectly, self-inflicted. But not everyone’s hardships are self-inflicted such as the loss of a child or a parent. And these things can leave us wondering if God has let us down.

Well, He didn’t let you down….no matter how convinced you are of that. It’s totally against His nature as a Father to do that. I remember vividly nearly 22 years ago when our family lost a little boy. It was devastating to put it mildly. But right in the middle of our grief He spoke clearly to my spirit, “Andy, if you could see the big picture, you’d know everything is OK.” It immediately brought peace. He always knows just the right thing to say at just the right time.

I had a friend tell me recently that upon the loss of his dad that he immediately blamed God and turned his back on Him for 4 or 5 years…only to find out after that time that God didn’t give up on him…He just loved him more. 

Maybe you’re reading and you have something that you’ve been mad at Him about. (it could be consciously or subconsciously) I can tell you that God can take you being mad at Him a lot longer than you can take it. He’d love to give you His perspective on your indictment against Him….but you’ll have to be open for it.

If you’ll run to Him,….He’ll help!

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“The Way I See It” #200!

Yesterday was another milestone for me as a writer. My post, Weapons of Mass Construction, was the #200th one! That’s 200 since January 1 of this year. Sure seems like a lot when you look back from here. I’ve learned a lot of things by writing on a regular basis, not the least of which is that writing seems to help me figure me out. There’s something about writing down your thoughts that seems to be good for a soul. I’d recommend it for anyone…and I can tell you that the hardest part is to just get started. It took me a few years to write the first one.

I’ll say again that my main reason for writing is to help. Some of the posts are serious, some are funny but all of them are written from a perspective of a life that the Father has blessed immeasurably! My deepest hope is that something you’ve read has helped you to simplify your relationship with Him, and maybe get a glimpse of the Creator of the Universe Who I think modern religion may have grossly misrepresented. He’s better and more gracious than religion has portrayed Him to be…but you won’t find the full truth of that until you’re connecting relationally with Him. 

I appreciate your taking the time to read the posts. I look at every name that clicks the “Like” button. I especially appreciate your verbal feedback. I think it helps me to get better at what I’m doing. If you think they’re valuable in some way I’d appreciate you ‘passing the word’. Every time you click the “Share” button you make it available to an entire new, broader audience.

If  you’re new to the blog….take some time to go back through the “Archives” and play a little ‘catch up’. Best case scenario, go to the site, click the “Follow” button. You’ll get an email every time I make a post.

The posts that have garnered the most “Views” (nearly 41,000 total!) are not necessary my favorite ones. Below, I have listed my Top-5 Favorite Posts. Give ’em a read and let me know which have been your favorites, or ones that have really ‘spoken’ to you. Thanks a bunch!

You May Not Know This, But I’m  Kind of a Big Deal!

I’ve Never ‘Led’ Anyone to the Lord……and I Ain’t Planning on Doing it Anytime Soon!

You’ve Gotta Quit Calling Yourself a “Sinner”!

Quit Telling Me What The Problem Is!!

All I Know Is, God Loved John Very, Very Much!

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The Gospel According to Shaver!

Billy Joe Shaver, that is. If you don’t know who he is, I kinda feel sorry for you…so I’ve made it so you can ‘click’ on his name above and get in the loop, so to speak. He’s actually one of the great songwriters of our time but as a performer or Top-40 country artist…he’s pretty much been flying under the radar his entire career. Personally, I think that’s perfectly OK with him. From Waco, Texas and well into his 70’s now, his songs have been recorded by many of the iconic performers of our generation, including Kristofferson, Willie, Waylon and Elvis. You’ve surely heard of those guys!

Billy Joe wrote a song years back that was really more of a testimony than a song, his own personal testimony to be more specific. And, if you were paying attention to country radio in 1981 you couldn’t have missed John Anderson’s song, “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal”.  (Shaver’s Version) The song reached #4 on the Billboard Country Singles Chart and still gets plenty of airplay on Classic Country Stations.

“I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal, But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday”; It’s not just his testimony….it’s ours’ as well. And, even though it comes from one of ‘Outlaw Country’s’ most notable icons,….it’s actually extremely correct from a Biblical standpoint! You see, the Word says that we’re being conformed into the image of Jesus. It’s a lifelong process at best and the Lord is in for the long haul. He’s patient and long-suffering with us….and believes in us more than we believe in our own selves.

You may wonder why I’d post a song and a story from/about a bonafide outlaw country artist rather than a familiar Christian one. Fair question. I lean toward a lot of these guys that mainstream religion would reject as having anything of value, spiritually, to say…or sing. Their testimony (songs, art, poetry) is authentic, genuine and it appeals to a generation of misfits who don’t ‘fit in’ with the religious establishment. They’re ‘believers’, (or at least they’d like to be), in the truest sense of the word……they just don’t mesh in a ‘sterile’ church environment where everyone ‘looks’ perfect…and expects it of them. These artists like Billy Joe Shaver have a way of putting it….where normal people can understand it!

I may be closer in proximity to an ‘old chunk of coal’ than I am to a ‘diamond’….but at least I’m headed that way!

If you like this one…check these out:

“Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”

“If You Ain’t Lovin’, You Ain’t Livin'”

There’s More Christian Music Out There Than You Might Think

“I Ain’t No Fortunate Son”

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