Sunday, February 19, 2012

Solid Defense: Grass Forts, Guns, and More

I always find trouble trying to start these posts . . . but I guess the best way to get better at writing is to keep at it!  It seems again that the only connections I can make for this blog are those which relate to my faith . . . but that is fine with me as I feel it creates a solid theme for my posts.  But, before I get into any of that I have adventures to share.

Much like Calvin, my parents found ample opportunities for me to build character as I grew up; today I speak specifically of digging trenches.

Don’t misunderstand, not those kinds of trenches in the pictures, we never had any WWI or anything like that in Fort Collins where I grew up.  The trouble we had was with pirates, castles, and wild animals, specifically cheetahs.  Don’t believe me?  The internet never lies: American Cheetahs.

Well, maybe I stretched the truth a little.  Most of the socio-economic-cultural-warring-beastly-type problems were those of my own imagination.  But, none the less, they did at times take a lot of work.  Forts had to be built! I did grow up in Fort Collins.  However, the forts I speak of were typically made from carefully balanced sticks and extra grass clippings.  I wish I had a picture to show—they were awesome!  Not only was the balancing difficult, but I also had to motivate my dad to mow the lawn so the structures would have roofs.  And, as I mentioned, there were also trenches to dig.  A healthy trench around the solid grass fort provided additional defense.  And often, I would also fill it with water from our garden hose (I guess technically a moat at that point?).

While the memories are dim.  I do remember one such moat that took an afternoon of work.  I wish I could describe in detail the attacks of the day, or the layers of defense.  I am sure I had many animals, but all I can really remember is the cheetah who lived in the grass fort.  I had spent most of the afternoon building, digging, and the moat was quite full.  It was also getting quite late and near dark.  I had even elected to go inside to get a jacket.  I had become much occupied with the cheetah and the fort when a dirty trick was played on me. 

Mostly moving around on my knees and feet I suddenly found that the moat / puddle of water had been relocated.  It had literally shifted and I now found I was kneeling down in the water with my legs and arms thoroughly soaked, and very cold.  I don’t really remember what happened after that (I probably was fine till I got inside and started to cry there), but I do remember the shock and the cold.  All the hard work seemed to backfire, and fun was gone.

I still like playing with toys . . . but these toys are better.
(Yes, we clean up our litter)

However, any “shifting of puddles” with the toys I have now would result in much different consequences then just being momentarily wet and cold.  There are rules to follow, precautions to take, and double checks to make. 

These are the pieces I took apart
One thing with shooting is being sure that the gun is not only working properly, but for lasting use it needs to be kept clean and well maintained.  In preparation for an awesome date I had yesterday I decided to do a thorough cleaning and check on the firearm.  Seeing as I am fairly new at owning a shotgun, I was not entirely sure on what I was supposed to be doing, but I had the rule book, and I was able to follow it.  

I cleaned the barrel, wiped the other metal surfaces . . . and saw instructions for further disassembling the gun.  Hmmm. . . ?  I was curious, if I take off just one more part, I could put it back on fairly easily.  I felt inside the chamber, located the release lever . . . pop.  Not one, but three clinks and various parts fell onto my work space.  Not one, but I had successfully taken apart three pieces and cleverly rearranged them with my dropping them on the towel randomly technique so as I did not know how they first came out. My first thought Wow, I am glad I am not doing this tomorrow morning before my date, now I have all night to get this back together.  Well, it did not take all night, but it did take me a good 45 minutes (now I can do it in like 30 seconds as I know what I am supposed to do).  The trick I found was that while it only took one lever to release the pieces, two levers were required to insert the pieces back into the gun.  And while they simply fell out when I released, it required an alteration of forward and backward motions combined with alternating with the levers once each to insert the parts back into place.  While it took me a long time, I doubt I would have been able to do it at all without the instructions as vague as they were and as inexperienced as I was.  The shooting with the date went wonderfully, and the gun was put together correctly, as my face did not get blown off when I shot it.  I figured I should shoot it first, as it would be really difficult to get a second date if it blew up on her.

Cleaning the gun, I need to use a different cloth every time.
There is a certain beauty that comes with shooting shotguns.  The explosion from the barrel and the shattering as the clay pigeon suddenly splits in several pieces in the air—halted in its path, dropping to the ground is remarkable.  You can put a stress on every pigeon and feel the sigh that comes as one by one they are blown to bits.

Things did not always work out with my fort building.  Whether my own fault, or the act of some mysterious force, I found myself wet, cold, and definitely done playing outside for that day.  Shooting shotguns, I do not always hit every pigeon.  In fact, I do not think I hit a single one she threw on my date (we can blame it on nerves).  But, because of careful preparation, it was safe, fun, and we didn’t shoot each other (maybe a second in the future?).

Similar to our journey through life, as we grow up, the challenges we have become increasingly more complex and with greater challenges.  Choices that seem simple, but are wrong can take great amounts of time to fix.  We are not perfect, and we do make simple mistakes.  I certainly make my fair share and then some.  But I know how important it is to fix them, and fix them how the Lord would have us do it.  I am not sure how well it would have worked, but in trying to put the pieces together again I found I could almost fit the pieces in backwards how they should have gone.  But I did not try to fully insert them in that manner.  If I would have rushed the job and done it wrong, serious consequences would have happened.  With a shotgun assembled incorrectly I could have quite probably blown my face off. I do wish I had eyebrows again, but I do like my face just fine and I am not to that point.  With spiritual matters, consistently correcting the small deviations keeps us from the severe deviations which have exponentially greater consequences.

I think that is one reason why the Lord is so willing to forgive and help us repent.  I know He loves us, and I know He is concerned with helping us find greater joy and peace, even such as He has.  I know through Jesus Christ we can make the small course corrections and avoid the major pitfalls or spiritual “blow up in your face” moments.  Just as I had an instruction book for the shotgun, God has given us the scriptures.  While I found the instructions vague and difficult, as we rely on the Lord, His Spirit is the perfect communicator.  However, bad things do still happen.  The wonderful thing about Christ is that He has also paid for those more grievous moments as well.  He has the ability to bring us ultimate healing through His infinite love no matter what our situation.

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