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“Let’s Do Something Crazy”

I have some pretty incredible grandkids, nine of them as of now. (the number will be 10 in a few weeks!) They’re all amazingly unique in their own ways. I had no idea, going in, that being a grandparent would have so many blessings attached to it. It has been a source of great joy for Julie and me for, now going on 19 years. I was talking to a friend about how much we enjoyed grandparenting and he gave the usual reply, “Yeah, you can spoil your grandkids and send ’em home”. I said, “Not us; we spoil ’em and keep ’em there”! Pretty much sums it up. We’re extremely blessed in that of the 9 grandkids we have, all but one little girl (2 hrs away), lives within five miles of us!

Our newest grandchild is Timber. She’s something! She’s about to turn 3 and like all the rest she’s been an unbelievable blessing. Clay and Chelsea are great as first-time parents. A few days ago they were at our house and Timber was playing around and just doing her thing. She ran from the kitchen into the living room full of excitement and said to Clay, “Dad, let’s do something crazy!” Without hesitation, Clay jumped up, grabbed Timber and threw her into the air….her little head nearly touching the ceiling. She cackled and said, “Let’s do it again!” And they did; but, this time he threw her up and spun her around in a 360* and caught her again at the same time. “Do it again, Dad!” This time he grabbed her by her little legs, held her upside down and flipped her up in the air and, just like clockwork, caught her again. She was laughing almost uncontrollably throughout the whole process. I guess it would’ve gone on all evening if Dad hadn’t given out.

Little kids have an incredible level of trust in their parents. We love to stand them up on the table and then tell them to ‘jump’ to us. They’ll do it every time! Why? ……’cause they trust us. They know we’d never let them fall. Wouldn’t it be something if we had that level and depth of trust with our Father!? I think it’s something we should shoot for!

Can’t you imagine how excited God might be if you woke up tomorrow and said to Him, “Let’s do something crazy!!”

 

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The Lessons I Learned from Jeff

The last year we lived on the ranch in the Texas Panhandle I had the responsibility of taking care of 2500 head of cattle. About 1800 of those were close to 40 miles away north of Canadian, Texas on the expansive Urschel Ranch. I’d go up about three times a week and spend the day horseback checking the cattle; getting a decent count on them, making sure they had water, making sure none of them were out of the pastures they were supposed to be in. It’d make for a long day but it was enjoyable to me.

I was about three years into my walk with the Lord. Didn’t know much but I was learning a lot. I had given my testimony a couple of times and was already feeling the call for ministry…even though I had no idea what all that might mean. A friend and I had a cowboy church service (years before anyone ever heard that term!) at the Hemphill County Expo Center in Canadian and I preached the message. That was a first! I have no idea what I preached about but I do remember that one of my friends since childhood (a few years older than me) got saved that day. Let’s just call him, Jeff.

Jeff was a cowboy and had been in some of the very worst combat fights in Vietnam. In three different battles there were over a hundred US troops under fire….and all three times less than fifteen came out alive. Jeff was one of the ones each time. But, it had left an indelible mark on him. He struggled with deep depression, was separated from his wife, had trouble sleeping and agonized over the things he was ordered to do in Vietnam. Jeff was a scary looking guy, well actually if you weren’t friends with him….he just didn’t look scary….he really was scary. He’d done plenty of crazy things and the locals weren’t sure what he might do next! He hair was cut short on the top but long in the back…..way down past his collar. He had about 6 top front teeth totally gone! He wore denim shirts with the sleeves cut out of them and he had lots of tattoos; something not that common in those days. He spent a lot of his spare time at the gym pumping iron and was quite a specimen of a man.

Part of my regular routine the times when I’d go up to check cattle was to make it back to the Dairy Queen on my way home and catch Jeff after he got off work. I made it a point. I was doing my best to encourage him and give him good, sound advice. I’d pray with him every time before I headed home. One particular time we were in the DQ when a Greyhound bus made its stop there. The place was completely full of people. Jeff got there before I did and saved me a spot. His intimidating look had the attention of just about every person in there. Bear in mind that when he talked, Jeff talked really really loud; maybe louder than anyone you’ve ever known! I asked him that day, as I always did, “Jeff, how are you doing?” He replied in his loud voice, “Andy, I’m doing really good!”. I knew that I needed to press in a little more. “But, Jeff, …..how are you really doing?” And in a voice a lot louder than you need to be talking in Dairy Queen he said, “Yep, Andy, …….I’m doing so good I got rid of all my plastic explosives yesterday!!” You could’ve heard a pin drop! Every eye in the house was on us! It was funny, ….in a crazy kind of way; all those people started gathering up their food without saying a word and getting out the door as fast, but as inconspicuous as they could. It was like they didn’t totally believe him. I bet some of them are still telling that story today!

I learned a lot in my experiences with Jeff. I made it a mission of mine to help him. I wanted him to be OK; I wanted him to be well. Julie and I had planned a little vacation and were planning on being gone for about a week. I got real worried that if I wasn’t there to check on Jeff that he wouldn’t be alright. I even told Julie as much. I was actually afraid to go on vacation fearing he would implode. But, the Lord spoke clearly to my spirit at that point and said, “It’s Ok, Andy, …..you’re not the one that’s taking care of him anyway.” That put it in perspective for me. God always knows the right thing to say, and always at just the right time.

I wish this story had a happy ending….but it doesn’t. Several years later Jeff was living downstate in Texas and took his own life. I can’t help but believe that the Lord has lots and lots of grace for people like Jeff. 

I’ll never forget the things I learned…and I look forward to seeing him in Heaven.

Try these:

“It’s Not Your Job to Fix Them!”

Identity Theft

The Thing About Unconditional Love

Double Check Your “Invitation List”!!

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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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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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VIP’s #10 – Cliff & Charlene Taylor

Obviously my VIP Blogs are not listed in any order of importance. If they were these two would be right up there toward the top of the list. Cliff and Charlene….that’s my Mom & Dad. I wish you all knew them. They’re two of the most incredible people you could ever meet. They’re now in their 80’s and live only a few blocks from us. I like that. I’ll go there at least a few times a week and have coffee and visit with them. They amaze me in that they’re still telling me stories that I’ve never heard before….and they can do it with nearly total recall.

Now seems like a proper time to write them up as VIPs since just about three days ago they celebrated their 66th Anniversary! Pretty amazing when you think about it. That’s setting the bar up there pretty high for the rest of us Taylors’. Good job, Mom & Dad! There’s no way I could come close to telling all the good qualities they have…and the good qualities they’ve passed along to Mont and I. It’d take a good sized book to get that done. But for the sake of time and space, I’ll try to give you a little insight on ‘who’ they are.

They have been the hardest working pair I’ve ever seen. Dad has always been a cattleman so we learned at a very young age to handle cattle and horses with the best of ’em. Dad had Mont and I doing things that most men couldn’t do when we were just little kids. We learned how to do it right. When I was 12 I started riding colts for other people for pay. I did that successfully, at least at some level, for the next 25+ years. Most of our  lives were spent on a ranch. It was a great life. Besides handling every aspect of the cattle business (receiving, shipping, gathering, doctoring, buying and selling) we learned to build fence, repair windmills and water gaps and about every other thing you need to do to run a ranch the right way.

Mom was the best! I can remember as a little kid, her pulling broomcorn to help make ends meet. She’d come home tired, dirty and worn out but always managed to get us one heck of a supper cooked, without fail. Later on in our rodeo days there were many times we’d roll into the ranch in the middle of the night with a carload of buddies. She’d get up even if it was 2 am and cook us up some chicken fried steak, french fries and gravy. There are retired rodeo guys all over the United States and Canada who spent time at our house and who have the greatest amount of respect for my Mom & Dad. Oh, and incidentally, when we’d come in to the ranch in the middle of the night and have that great meal….Dad was always gracious to let us sleep in ’til 5:30 or 6 in the morning before we started whatever project he had planned for the day…….and there was always a project! Most serious ranchers work their cattle according to the Zodiac signs. Dad always said that when there were a couple of carloads of rodeo friends at the ranch……that the ‘signs’ were right!

They sacrificed, and went without, to haul us to junior rodeos all over Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. They gave us a ‘leg up’ that way and enabled us to have a successful career in professional rodeo. We were both inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2008. And in our acceptance speeches we made sure that they got the credit they deserved. In all actuality……they’re the ones who should’ve been inducted.

I could go on and on with those kinds of things but they gave us far more important things than teaching us cattle and ranch work. In my 62 years I haven’t seen them do one person wrong. I have seen them wronged plenty of times but they always handled it with class. They’ve lived their lives with the highest degree of integrity. Their ‘word’ has been their bond in the truest sense of the term. We didn’t go to church but they somehow instilled in us that God was ‘real’.…..and that He was good!

All those things are important but the most important thing of all is that we were loved……in word…..and in deed. We let them down plenty of times with some of the dumb stuff we did….but they hung in there with us, always having our back and always believing in us, and never, ever wavering in their love.

In the final analysis I’d say if, when it’s all over, if I’ve been half as good a person as they have been…..I’ll have done pretty decent.

Cliff & Charlene Taylor, VIP’s to anyone who’s had the good fortune of knowing them!

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There’s Just So Much of This Stuff in Life We’re Gonna Have to Learn the ‘Hard Way’!

It seems like it’s just a universal trait of humanity; this learning stuff the hard way. I was re-reminded of this a few days ago when my littlest grandson, Maverick, got his most recent knot on the head. He’s a year and a half old and the cutest little guy you’ve ever seen. (a little partiality here, but you understand!) He had two wrecks in the span of about 4 days that put two good-sized nicks in the ‘ol noggin’! The first one happened when he tried climbing up on a big heavy chair made from a old style tractor seat. You can imagine how heavy that was. Well, he got up about one step and the chair tipped over backwards with him and the edge of the heavy seat caught him right under the left eye. Miraculously, it missed his eye or it could’ve been really bad. Off to the ER they went to get him tended to. We were out of town when it happened but I “Face-Timed” Cole & Kelly (his dad & mom) later and got to talk to Maverick, himself. It was just an hour or so after they got home from the hospital. His eye was swelled shut but he was already in a good mood. 

The other wreck happened as he was playing with the front yard gate at his house. It’s just a little 4′ gate made out of inch and a half square tubing. He was just having fun pushing it all the way around one way….then all the way around the other way. He built up a little confidence and got a pretty good run at it pushing it around. Well, you know, every swinging gate has a ‘stopping place’…..and Maverick found it…with his little forehead! I saw it coming from 30′ away but no way to get there before it happened. Immediate tears and a fifty cent piece size knot on his forehead reminded me again of how our lives go sometimes. Five minutes later he was running and playing again!

As much as we try and help our kids and grandkids avoid those kinds of things…it just seems like a fact of life that quite a few of our lessons are going to be learned that way. We could only wish those kinds of hard lessons ended with our childhood….but not to be true. It even seems that as adults we’re determined to defy logic, intuition and common sense, sometimes, to learn those lessons.

The good news is that “experience is a great teacher”!! Nothing like a hard lesson to help us not to do it again! And, you know, the Lord will let us just run past the wisdom, foresight and instruction of the Holy Spirit if we’re determined to. I’m trying to do better. I’ve had all the “lessons learned the hard way” that I really want. I think I’ll spend more time trying to listen to the Lord….and pay attention to what He’s saying to me!

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**Disclaimer: Being a ‘Taylor’ might make one have to learn more than their fair share of ‘hard lessons’!!

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‘Ol Mile Marker #62 – Well, That Sure Didn’t Take Long!

When they were telling us all that stuff about how fast life goes by….I was listening. But I had no idea it would happen this fast! I didn’t think I was ever gonna turn 21….Now I can barely remember when I was. It is amazing, looking back, how fast the years do go zooming by. So, here I am clipping along at 62, ….with 70 in sight. And, as it appears….no slowing up!

There’s a good number of milestones along the way, as I see it. It’s kind of a big deal when we hit 13 and become teenagers. Then, of course, 16’s the next one….when we start driving; that was a big deal. Next stop, 21….we can ‘legally’ go to the bar then! After that it’s 30 then 40. You know, “Life begins at 40”.….Makes me kinda wonder what was over at 39! Yep, 40 seems like a big one. It’s kinda like saying, “Adios” to the young life and “Hello” to middle-age. Then it’s 50…and the time between 40 and 50 went by in no time at all for me. I enjoyed my 50th birthday. The Perry’s (Daryle & Carrie) totally surprised me with a party at their place with about a hundred friends and family there. It’s one of the most memorable of my whole life. I tell everyone when they’re approaching 50, ’cause there’s usually some kind of thing to commemorate it, to really enjoy it….’cause when you turn 51….nobody cares!! lol

Then it’s the Big ‘6’ ‘0’!! Survived that one without much hoopla. And the 60 thing….it wasn’t painful at all. After all, 60’s the new 40, you know?! Well, that was two years ago. So here I am at the ‘ol #62 mile marker today and wondering how I got here so fast. I’m guessing 65 will arrive at my place in record time, and without much warning as well!

If you’re a youngster reading this I’d encourage you to ‘get ahold’!! It’s all gonna happen pretty fast. The Bible even says, “Life is a vapor”. I can totally relate. So, what’s a feller to do?? Well, to each his own but for me….I’m gonna keep my body movin’, I’m gonna try to worry less and laugh more. I’m gonna love and enjoy my wife more than ever. I’m gonna keep on enjoyin’ watching my kids become great parents themselves. I’m gonna keep on doing the one thing I know I’m good at…..being a Grandpa! I’m gonna see my Mom & Dad as often as possible! I’m gonna keep on enjoyin’ my friends! I’m gonna keep on helpin’ anyone who cares, …..to know God as a Father.

And, I’ve took a look out there; I can see out there a ways….65, 70, 80 ……….It all looks good from here!

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