19 Dec

The Tale of the Prodigal Son – Revisited

In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells a story commonly known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. When we dig deeper, we find there’s an interesting angle to the to the story that many scholars and pastors don’t focus on. Understandable, because it’s easy, and still meaningful, to take out what’s on the surface; A farmer has two sons. One of the son’s asks for his inheritance early so he can enjoy it while he’s young enough to. He takes the inheritance, squanders it on booze and loose women, and crawls back home having decided to ask his dad to hire him as a menial worker. As the son nears the house, the dad sees him in the distance and takes off running to his long-lost son. His dad tells the servants to prepare a huge feast in celebration.

The interesting angle is: what happened to the son who was there the whole time? When the other son heard the music and celebration and all that was going on, all we’re told is that he was angry with his dad and refused to go in. He told his dad something along the lines of, “I’ve been with you all along, and yet, you’ve never done anything even remotely close to this for me!”

It’s easy to see where the son who’s stayed with his dad got angry, but we get no closure there. What happened? Did the son come to his senses and realize he was being a selfish jerk? What if he wasn’t being a selfish jerk? What if he was justified that his father never celebrated having a “bird in the hand instead of two in the bush?” I was told that a lot growing up: “A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.” It’s a southern saying meaning be glad with what you have. It’s basically another absolutely worthless platitude that’s along the lines of, “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

So what can we take away from reading the story from the other son’s angle? What’s your take on it? I’m thoroughly interested in what you think.

19 Aug

My Paw

My grandfather, Gary Elmo Martin, known to me, my sibling, and my cousins as “Paw” was in the Korean war. While enlisted, he learned to cook. Specifically how to make drop biscuits, and the terrific rolls that were always a staple of eating at his house. Paw’s rolls were so good, when he started his own restaurant, Gary’s Barbecue in Portageville Missouri, he passed them around periodically to all the patrons.  My aunt and cousins kept up the tradition, and to this day, serve them at the posthumously named Gary’s Fish House (Link to their Facebook page).

If fate ever hates you enough to dump you off in Southeast Missouri, Gary’s is one of the best places to grab some grub.

The following pictures are my Paw – oozing with badass – as was his and his offspring’s nature. For father’s day 2015, as a gift for my dad and his siblings, I cleaned up the original picture and added color.

I love how the picture turned out, and I don’t mind patting myself on the back for it.

  • The Original
    The Remastered

18 Aug

When kids are involved, never expect a dull moment.

My kid is so stinking adorable. She went with me into the LensCrafters so I could shop for glasses, and she could offer a female opinion. She made the entire experience a lot more enjoyable by providing a comedic relief. You know it’s at least somewhat funny when random customers are watching out of the corner of their eye and chuckle.

My glamorous movie star’s video is up after the break.

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14 Aug

The mark of passing.

August 16th of 2015 marks the 4th annual reminder that great losses occur in the blink of an eye. My best friend, Evan Burns, was a police officer in Caruthersville Missouri. Evan was killed in the line of duty in a senseless act of violence. A drunk driver struck his patrol cruiser to commit a murder/suicide. The drunk driver survived, my friend did not.

As I do every year, I watch as many of the residents from that area post to Facebook about how much he meant to them, how he was there for them, what he did for them. For me, he was truly a best friend. Every day I wake up is a day he is missed. Not just on this one day. He stood by me when I needed him to; when very few would or did. He was always there for me when I needed him, without fail, without question, without falter.

I update my Facebook’s cover photo and my profile picture along with everyone else, but while some of them do it grieving the loss of a valued community member, I am one of the privileged few that do it because I grieve the loss of friend.

A wonderful friend.

I wish God made more like him.

12 Aug

Life goes quickly.

The great wordsmith Andy Rooney once said “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.” When I was in high school, I thought it was a funny/cute/clever quote, so much so that I used it as my senior quote. I used it so much, my senior class voted on it as our class’ motto, failing only by a few votes. In spite of how much I said it or used it, I had no real semblance to how true it was.

When I was a kid, everything seemed to drag by. Not in a bad way, mind you, but in a way that made me wish it would move at a faster pace. My mom always used to say, “Don’t wish your years away, you’ll get to a point where you’ll wish them back.” I didn’t truly understand what that meant. I knew what it meant, but I didn’t know what that meantAs a child, each year seemed like its own eternity. Each day seemed to drag on forever, and I couldn’t wait for my next birthday or holiday to get here, to see what I’d get from family/santa/easter bunny/etc.

Now, however, it seems like each month that passes has just been days, and each year that passes has been merely weeks.

On my first day of college, I had a philosophical thought. A glimpse of realization that mom knew what she was talking about. Everything I’ve ever known was living with my mom and dad. Depending fully on them to have groceries at home for me to eat, to pay the electric, water, and internet bills. To buy me clothes. I, alone, was then (to a far lesser extent than I realized) responsible for my wellbeing. It still didn’t sink in, even then.

In 2008, I was 21, Brittney 19. Our lives were forever changed when we had a little girl. As I watched her grow before my eyes, I still hadn’t learned how important it was to cherish the years. When she was a newborn, I wished I could just catch a glimpse of what she would be when she could walk and talk, and how smart she would be when she was in school; I just knew then she would be as beautiful as her mom, and share my love of reading.

Now, in what seems like has been just weeks since I wished for my glimpse, my baby is no longer a baby. She’s seven and in second grade. I got my glimpse, but there is no going back and waking up and she’s two again. I see so much of myself in her. The time before her birthday, the excitement and anticipation builds about what presents she will get from family. She ponders what she will ask from Santa for Christmas. And I hear myself saying to her, “Don’t wish your years away, they’ll be gone, and you’ll wish for them back.”

And it finally sinks in. I wish I wouldn’t have wished those years away.