Learning to be thankful from a song…

Thankfulness is important. Our world would be much better if we learned to be thankful for what we have rather than always wanting more. I am not saying that you should not try to better yourself and be successful, just that you should be thankful for what you have when you have it. As I began to think about this I recalled a song by Ray Wylie Hubbard, “Mother Blues” which he says is autobiographical. I’ll get back to this song later.
David the Psalmist wrote inspired lyrics such as: Psalms 118:24 – This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Also he wrote in Psalms 136:1 – O give thanks to the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endures for ever. If you cannot find something to be thankful for in these lyrics you need to, in today’s vernacular, check yo’self!
Louis Armstrong’s hit “What a Wonderful World” is a testament to thankfulness. Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors” teaches us to be thankful and even proud of our circumstances. Garth Brooks’ “Unanswered Prayers” tells us to be thankful even when God works things out for us and it is not the way we had it planned. Another is Travis Tritt’s “It’s a Great Day To Be Alive”. Each of these songs is worthy of a listen even though they do not constitute a complete list of contemporary music urging us to be thankful.
Now back to Hubbard’s tune. As I said earlier he wrote it about his life, and it is a great little story. But it is the last couple of lines that are the most profound. Hubbard sings, “And the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, Well, I have really good days.”
It is ok to have high expectations, just be thankful for what you have!



Wilson Trapper

It’s Baseball Season! And since the boys of summer are gearing up I thought it would be a great time to share a story that my dad wrote. By the way, I was named after my dad and as a kid they called him Rusty too. I guess it just stuck longer with me than with him. Anyway, this is a Christmas story but has a baseball theme. Enjoy!

“Hey, somebody wake that kid up so we can get the rest of you home,” yelled the school bus driver. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and we all have some plans.

Rusty wasn’t asleep, he just seemed to be dozing. Actually, he was deep in thought, wallowing in self pity, and just being a typical twelve year old kid who was not going to get what he wanted for Christmas. Man, Daddy made enough money to get another new car so vacations and weekend trips would be more comfortable for the family so why couldn’t he rake up a few more dollars for a Wilson Trapper first base mitt.

Finally, an older boy shook Rusty and roused him from his trance, pushed him toward the door and started him toward his home. It was not a long walk, just down the drive past the milk barn through the yard gate and across the yard. Today it seemed like an eternity until he got inside the door.

Once inside the door, his somber would was shattered by Fran, the baby sister, who was watching the cartoon show that they both usually watched while they ate their snacks, and before Rusty began his daily dose of homework. Fran, a seven year old, never had homework and never wanted anything special for Christmas, just some other stupid doll or for Daddy to build her a dollhouse or doll furniture. Man, she had an easy life!

Mom seemed unusually excited today too. She was making supper early, was all dressed up and anxiously waiting for Daddy to get finished with the milking and the clean-up of the barn. Sure a shiny new 1953 Ford Station wagon was a big deal to both of them. It didn’t matter that the 1951 Ford car still looked new, or that it had only made two trips back to Oklahoma plus the weekend trips they both loved almost every Saturday – Daddy worked hard and liked his toys too.

That, unfortunately, became the family plan for Christmas Eve 1952. A trip to Phoenix to get the new station wagon, and to get the Christmas presents – new clothes for the second semester. Good-grief! That didn’t seem fair at all when for just a few dollars, actually three dollars and ninety-five cents, Christmas 1952 could have been completely unforgettable. With just some TuffNut jeans and some pull over shirts it was BLAH!

After Daddy showered and everyone ate, it was off to Phoenix. The little red car seemed perfect, but after signing some papers and a handshake, it belonged to the Ford dealer, and we drove to the other part of town to shop. This drudgery didn’t take long, and Rusty did get a trusty TuffNut pocket knife in the hip pocket of his jeans. But the thoughts of a seventh grader still using a fielder’s glove to play first base still overwhelmed him. Why couldn’t they see the stress this was causing?

Rusty hit the bed that night without the thrill usually associated with Christmas Eve. Fran was going to be excited in the morning. Mom was happy because Daddy was happy with his new car, but Rusty was wallowing in a bad case of spoiled brat syndrome.

“Get up you dummy!” it was Fran, shaking and hitting like a wild animal. “We can’t open presents until you get your lazy, crybaby self up!”

Finally, Rusty trudged into the living room to go through the motions of having an exciting Christmas morning. Mom had wrapped the jeans as one package, the shirts as another, and a third package appeared to be new shoes. Shirts first, and Mom and Daddy both yelled “Ooh”! Then the jeans, and they both yelled “Ooh”! Finally, Rusty opened the shoe box looking package and Fran yelled, “Now quit being such a crybaby!” That shoebox contained a present that is still in existence today, and although it is not used like it was for the first few years he owned it, still treasured. Yes it was the awesome Wilson Trapper model first base mitt!

1952 was also the Christmas that Rusty really awakened to the fact that Christmas is not just about getting presents, and that although they enjoyed practical jokes and keeping him off guard whenever possible, he did have truly wonderful parents.

“Time out” only part of the solution

Many people now are rearing their children using only the “time out” technique for discipline. I will agree that time out is effective but only as a part of a whole disciplinary act. I believe that the techniques used by my parents and subsequently by me have been proven effective. I’m telling you that DVD’s of this discipline system could be sold and seminars given and the money and time invested would be well worth it.

The Clark Child Disciplinary System is as follows:

First, once the child has committed an offense, you must sit down look them in the eye while making them keep eye contact and lecture them. Ten minutes is the minimum lecture for the youngest of offenders (those just old enough to hold a conversation and understand your lecture). The time should be increased as the child grows older. It should be an uncomfortable time in which you remind them repeatedly about why they are being punished and about the upcoming swats they will receive.

Secondly, administer the swats. Never spank when you are mad! Calm down first! The lecture is as much for you as it is for the child. It gives you time to compose yourself and to give an intelligent argument to your child about why they are being punished. Just as the time of the lecture increases, the number of swats increase with age and or the nature of the offense.

Next, and this is very important, hug your child and tell them you love them. It will absolutely blow their mind and may even make them mad. But your child needs to know that you love them even when they are not very lovable.

Now it’s time for “time out”. Send them to their room to think about what has just happened and get themselves composed. Tell them they can come out when they have gotten over being mad or upset. The more you use this system the less time they will spend in time out.

Skeptical? Look at my kids! They are awesome. None of them have ever been “in trouble”. Ethan has graduated from college and is a well liked man with many friends who is starting a brand new chapter in his life. Alex is a college junior and was voted by the student body “Mr. Hillsdale” and is an Academic All-American student athlete. Neither Ethan or Alex had to be spanked after they were 11 years old. Trent is a high school senior. He was introduced to the discipline system later in his development (6th grade) but he has gone from a kid who was struggling in school to one of the “Big Men on Campus” at Keys HS. Morgan is the only girl. She is a hard worker and very independent. She is her mama made over and realizes it more and more each day.

The Bible says “spare the rod, spoil the child.” Time out by itself is a recipe for problems. Just as time out by itself is not good, whipping a child without telling them why they are getting the whipping is just a beating. Beating children in anger is wrong so keep your composure. Remember you are the adult, act like it.

This system of discipline is not easy to administer. Being a parent is not easy. When your children are young they need you to be a parent. Someone has to be in charge and with this system your kids will know you are. Learning from mistakes and punishment is an important part of growing up. Kids who don’t learn how to deal with punishment when young have problems with authority when they are older.

Finally, disciplining your child is showing them love. Teaching them how to get along with others, teaching that there are rules that must be followed and teaching that there are consequences that occur if rules aren’t followed are ways to love your child. Why wouldn’t you want to give them the tools to be a productive member of society? This is simplistic but make no mistake it is hard and time consuming. But if your kids turn out half as good as mine it will be successful for you too!