Monday, December 1, 2014

Who let the alligators out?

Today I came across a memory jogger at the resort here in Florida where we are staying for a couple of weeks on the beach.  "Hey, is this the pen for the alligators?" I joked.

I chuckled to myself as I recalled an event from my childhood.  As I am telling the story to my husband, I realize that it must be scrapbooked on the page with my Daddy's livelihood... his service station and souvenir shop.

The story goes something like this...

Many years ago it was perfectly legal to sell baby alligators.  (This is before they were almost extinct, I suppose.)  So that my Daddy did.  You can bet he got a great deal on them and was making a lot of money selling them.  I can't recall how much they sold for or any of those other details.  (Maybe $1 each?  Who knows?)  I do remember how he built a small pool on the north end of the store and built a caged cover so that the tourists could see through the top and pick out the one they wanted to take home with them.  He would keep the pool filled slightly with cool water.
This jogged my memory. (The "alligator pen")

These little babies would crawl all over each other and nip at each other.  Perfectly harmless!  However, as a young child (I must have been 4 or 5) I was totally afraid of that pen.  So I would run past it whenever I had to go north.

I would literally run past it, and hold my breath.  (As if that helped??)

But wait a minute.  My sister who was four years older than I was, absolutely loved  that pen.  She would pull out a baby, chase me around and scare me to death.  She also liked to entertain the tourists by holding a baby on its back and rubbing its belly until it went to sleep.  It was obvious that my sister had inherited my father's sales ability.  She seemed to be successful selling those baby alligators most of the time.

Well as the story goes, one day my Daddy went out to put water in the pool... and there were no baby alligators!  What in the world... who let them out?   "Cathy!!" my Daddy shouted at me.

But it was not me.  Remember I would not even get near them!  I had to remind the man that it was not me!  How could I let them out if I could not even STAND close to the pen??

It was later decided that after an exhibition of Alligator Sleep Induction the previous day, my sister probably had left the pen's cover a little less secure than it should have been, i.e., the concrete blocks had not been lifted on the corner to secure that "latch".

For many years after that we found alligators in random places.  I remember as a teenager that we went out to take a swim in the pool and there was a 3-foot alligator that had walked into the pool (it was not fenced in) and was unable to get out.

Uh.  Yeah.  Right.  No swim that day, or for a few days after that.

As I consider scrapbooking this story, I think of how I can paint a picture without a picture... only words.  Or maybe a re-creation of this word picture.  And how the alligators themselves kinda represent my scrapbooking supplies.  They started out small.  They got out (of hand).  They grew threefold.  Chuckle.  Ever hear of "being up to your knees in alligators"?  That's me and my scrapbooking supplies!

So with this story, I intend to bring back a picture of this moment in our everyday life back in that day, for there was never a dull moment with my Daddy!  He was a man who made life fun.

And then there was the day my Daddy trapped a monkey.  

Well, that's another story for another day.
I can't seem to escape those alligators!

A Few Clouds May Give you a Clearer Picture

This afternoon while photographing a sunset I realized that I was getting some really good shots because of a set of dark clouds that suddenly moved in.  What a great thing, I thought to myself.

I certainly could apply this photo tip to a lot of my adventures in photography.  In fact I have been told by professional photographers to wish for a cloud cover for an outdoor wedding day.  Who could wish for that if you are Mother-of-the-Bride, Mother-of-the-Groom or even a Guest?  And why?  Rain usually follows those clouds, right?

Just apply this tip to your life.  A few clouds roll in and after you wait and wonder... suddenly things are clearer.  Maybe its a season in your life; maybe a life situation that seems permanent.  Maybe it's an illness.  Maybe it is a family relationship.  Whatever is clouding up your life right now, just wait... things will become clearer when your mind takes a photograph and you sit back to analyze the situation through that clear picture.  

I am told there would be clouds (trouble) if I followed the path of righteousness.  John 16:33  "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace and confidence.  In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer!  For I have overcome the world."  In this clear picture of ultimate hope and restoration, I see the end result.  So no matter what my trouble is, Jesus has already overcome that problem for me.  

Today as I look again at this perfect picture of the sunset that I was able to capture with my camera, I also received the message of hope in my time of distress through the clouds that shaded just what light needed to be removed.  It's amazing how God works the universe, isn't it?  
The Master Artist gives us beauty and hope every single day.  All we have to do is look for it.