Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “repentance”

Gramma’s Favorite

There was a time in my life when I could do no wrong.  Actually, I could do wrong many times, but not in the eyes of my Gramma.  She told me that I was the best boy in the world.  Often.

My sister was, coincidentally, the best girl in the world.  Each of my cousins was either the best girl or best boy in the world.  When my cousin Bob got married, his new wife became the luckiest girl in the world.  I have over the years reminded Lynn that she holds that title.  Bob reminds her too.

It might seem to you that Gramma was inconsistent by having more than one grandchild be the best in the world.  But to her, who was without guile, she meant it every time.  She believed it.  We all could simultaneously be the best.  She often was scared by how awesome we were.  She would say, “________ (fill in the blank with the name of ANY of her amazing grandchildren) is so smart it scares me.”

Our respective parents did not always share in Gramma’s opinions.  My own mother recklessly endangered my self esteem by pointing out my failings, such as when I broke Gramma’s garage window.  Return with me now to the thrilling days of yesteryear.  I was around four or five years old at the time.  I was not yet in school.

Gramma scolded Mom for being a tattletale.  “Betty, he did not mean to break it.  He is such a good boy.”  (You will recall that I was the best boy in the world or at least tied with Cousin Bob).

Mom persisted, “He did it on purpose.  I saw him hit the window with his gun.”  Our house was next door to Gramma’s house, which put Mom in an excellent position to spy on The King of the Cowboys.

I had indeed done it on purpose, for a good and noble purpose.  My friends and I were playing cowboys, as usual, and I had seen Roy Rogers or the Lone Ranger or one of those good guys use the butt of his pistol to break a window to get into the outlaws’ hideout.  It is, clearly, the accepted procedure when capturing outlaws.  The next step would have been to crawl through the window, despite the shards of glass, and get the drop on those badmen.  Mom was obstructing justice by interrupting what I was doing to keep the world safe.

Mom did not understand, but Gramma did.  “He was just playing.  What an imagination.”  Gramma automatically turned what I did into a compliment to me.  She admired my imagination.

I was remorseful after Mom pointed out that now Gramma, not the outlaws, had a broken window.  In my imagination, as Gramma recognized, it was not Gramma’s window but merely a window in the outlaw hideout.  Gramma knew that.  She did not view herself as the victim of vandalism.  I was still the best boy in the world and I had the best imagination in the world.  Gramma saw the situation so clearly for what it was.  It was her sacred privilege to have the best boy in the world break that window due to a superior imagination.  She was the most fortunate of grandmothers.  I believe that she actually felt sorry for all the less fortunate grandmothers whose dull grandsons lacked the imagination to break their garage windows in pursuit of justice.

“I’m sorry, Gramma,” I told her with all sincerity.  I might have even cried.  This was not going right.  The Lone Ranger’s mother never interfered like this.

Mom wanted immediate measures taken.  “We are going to call your father at work and tell him what you did.”  She was not one to wait until Dad came home for the news to be delivered.

Mom lifted me up and sat me on the kitchen counter so I could reach the phone.  She dialed, then handed the phone to me.  I asked the receptionist if my Dad was in.  He was.

“Dad, I’m in big trouble.”  I got right to the point.  No sense asking him about his day.

I had to explain about breaking Gramma’s window with the butt of my gun in order to climb in.

Dad told me, the best boy in the world, that what I did was wrong and that I needed to tell Gramma I was sorry (which I already had done) and then he came up with some penance for punishment.  Dad said that we would fix Gramma’s window when he got home.  I needed to fix it, but he would show me how.

So Dad and I fixed Gramma’s garage window.  It was the right thing to do.  After all, Superman and I both stood for “Truth, Justice, and The American Way.”  So did Dad.

Gramma was happy.  She told me I was the best boy in the world.

I miss Gramma.

I miss Dad too.  He was one of the good guys like Superman, Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger.  I miss them all.

I wish that I had gotten Gramma one of those tee shirts that one frequently sees.  You know, “World’s Best Gramma” tee shirts.  She deserved it.

Jesus Died For Your Sins Too

Jesus was harder on the Pharisees than he was on other sinners, such as the woman caught in adultery.  To her accusers, He said, “He who is without sin throw the first stone.”  He did not say that she was not guilty and deserving punishment, but made the point that her accusers deserve judgment as well.  And, He said to her, “Go and sin no more.”

The problem with the Pharisees was that they did not see themselves as sinners.  They believed that they were better than “the general public.”  That self-righteousness bothered Jesus, as he knew their hearts, not just that they followed rules religiously. 

Jesus praised the Publican who prayed, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.”  That is a better prayer than, “Thanks, Lord, for making me better than other men, such as that Publican over there, who does not follow the rules that I proudly follow.”

The poor Pharisees struggled, it seems, with the sin of pride.  Their attitude of superiority troubled Christ.  The woman caught in adultery was forced to recognize that she was a sinner.  The Pharisees did not see that they were sinners.

Lord, we acknowledge that we are sinners and are grateful for Your loving mercy. 

We are in need of repentance, like the penitent thief who was crucified next to Jesus, and was told, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

This week we remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ dying on the cross for us.

We remember the rest of the story as well — the Easter message of Christ’s victory over death. 

Jail Bird Dog

Retrievers are considered bird dogs because they are bred, and should be trained to (guess what!) retrieve birds.  They get the birds that hunters shoot, often swimming out to get the birds that fall into a pond or lake.  That is their purpose, when given the opportunity.


But who hunts every day?  So, during their days off, Retrievers look for other tasks for which they are fitted.  Often they fetch balls, sticks, or frisbees.  All such activities are appropriate and can be very fun for dog and owner alike.

Beau is a Yellow Labrador Retriever.  As I have written in other blogs, he is a water dog.  He can swim.  He can also pull on hoses and plumbing devices in order to free water that is being otherwise directed for human purposes.

Since getting him from the animal shelter, we have wondered about Beau’s life story.  We have wondered why someone did not neuter him, apparently not train him, and give him up to a shelter.  We now have a credible theory.  Basically, he is an outlaw.

I have written about his sinful nature, including thievery and vandalism.

I was recently provided reasonable evidence persuading me that he came from a criminal home wherein he was brought up in a criminal lifestyle by, well, an actual criminal.

Earlier this week, I was talking to a local breeder of Labradors and told her about our Beau.  She told me that she might know the very dog.  She had, a couple years ago, sold one of her male pups to a woman who then called her a few months ago and asked if the breeder would take back the dog and keep him while that woman served her jail sentence of several months.  That convicted criminal’s dog was intact.  The dog was about two years old.  The dog was, she thinks, Beau.

So, now that he is our dog, and since he was surrendered to the pound when the breeder declined taking care of him during the term of his prior owner’s imprisonment, Miss Sugar does not want to give him back to his criminal past owner.  Neither do I.

However, sometimes I am conflicted.  This morning, our criminal dog stole Miss Sugar’s shoe, again, and tried to sneak it outside.  When I used my lightning reflexes to close the door before the thief could escape, the young delinquent taunted me.  He would not bring it back.  He ran upstairs.  When Sugar got him to relinquish it, even as she was praising him for dropping the shoe, he unrepentantly grabbed a bra that was in the bedroom and ran downstairs with it.   He had that evil look in his laughing eyes as he shook the bra like a rag.  He was not feeling guilty.  He was not sorry.  He shows no remorse.  He was, and is, per my amateur diagnosis, criminally insane.  He might lack the capacity to distinguish right from wrong.  Or he could, like Satan, know exactly what is wrong and delight in doing wrong.

evil eye

Insanity is a defense.  Evil intent to deprive another of her property is not.  Both types (insane or evil) need to be locked up.

Do we have a duty as citizens of the county to report Beau’s crimes to the Sheriff?

If the District Attorney chooses to prosecute Beau, as the husband of the victim of his crimes, I have an inherent conflict of interest and cannot represent him.  Will the Public Defender urge Beau to plead guilty?  Must the prosecutor prove “mens rea” (criminal intent)?

What is the sentencing guideline for “Theft of Brassiere?”  Is it Grand Theft if the bra is DD?

Assuming that Beau will be convicted (after all, there are two credible eye witnesses), is it feasible to rehabilitate him in prison?  If put on probation, is he doomed to fail to meet the conditions of probation?  One standard condition is to “refrain from engaging in any unlawful activity.”  Does he have it in him to so refrain?  He is, after all, a repeat offender.

I need some guidance.

Tough Love

This  is about redemption and repentance.

Terry is a friend I have known since 8th grade.  We are still friends, though our lives have taken different paths.

Terry married his wife soon after graduating from high school.  They had a baby while I was still in college.  They bought a house while I was still in law school.

They raised three children, all of whom went to college.  This is a story about their middle child, a son, whose name shall be changed to protect his dignity.  Let us call him “Junior.”

While Junior was attending a university in a different city, numerous telephone callers to the home of his parents asked for Junior.  After a number of calls, Terry asked one of the callers to tell him what he was calling about.  Terry identified himself as Junior’s father and offered to help.  Then he did help.

The caller was a bill collector for a credit card company.  Terry said his son had no credit cards.  Terry was wrong.  Terry, upon being convinced that Junior owed money, paid the credit card bill over the phone.  That seems like an indulgent parent, bailing out his young adult child.  I will tell you the rest of the story, and you will admire Terry as a hero to parents everywhere.

You should know that Terry pays his bills on time.  He usually pays his entire monthly statement for credit cards, leaving a zero balance.  As a result, he has an excellent credit rating, built over time.  He was paying for his son’s college expenses and did not know why Junior would need to run up a credit card debt.  He certainly could not relate to ignoring billing statements.

So after paying off Junior’s credit card debt, Terry reached his son and informed him that he had learned of the debt and paid the debt.  Next he informed Junior that now he owed his parents and, since he owed his parents for a debt of several thousand dollars incurred by him as a surprise to them yet paid by them, he needed to quit college and move home.  He was offered free room and board while he worked to pay his debt.  Junior complied and got a job.

And so it was until one snowy day Junior’s father returned home from driving a truck throughout a snowy night.  Terry was surprised to find Junior in bed.  He gently inquired why he had braved the storm but his son had not.  Junior explained that he called his work and told them that he would not be coming in because his car was snowed in on the driveway.  So, since he was not working, he was sleeping in.

Terry did not empathize with the situation.  He told Junior to move out of his house.  Immediately.

Junior called his mother at work.  (Apparently, she had gotten her car out of the driveway.)  He whined at how unreasonable his father was being.  He asked his mother to intervene for him.

His mother agreed to speak to his father on Junior’s behalf.  She said, “Sure, I will ask your Dad to let you stay … until the weekend, so, you know, you have time to find a place to move.”

They were a united front, which is good for parents to be.

So Junior moved out, worked until he could pay his parents back for the unauthorized credit card debt, returned to school, graduated, got married, became a father, and has, so far as I know, been living happily ever after, with great respect for his parents and with genuine understanding of the temptations of misusing credit cards.

There are great advantages to having strict parents.  His parents love Junior enough to redeem him.  Look at what “redeem” means.

Does that remind you of anyone?  It is Good Friday.  Our Heavenly Father redeemed us.  Praise God!

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