We have a four-legged member of our family - our dog Missy. She's a spunky little black and white Shih Tzu. She's not always spunky. I often get up early and when I hit the kitchen there is a definitely unspunky Missy. I can usually find her sprawled out under this white desk we have in the kitchen. She's awake but that's about all. Her head and her eyes and her ears are drooping and nothing I say or do or offer can coax her out of her hiding place. But as soon as she hears any stirring upstairs where her master is, Missy is suddenly out of her blahs, up, standing expectantly at the kitchen gate and wagging her tail. Now my day begins when the alarm goes off, but not Missy. Her day begins when she sees her master.
Now it's always been my impression that the police like to have the element of surprise in their favor. Suddenly there's a police car coming up behind you, or appearing out of nowhere. That's why I was surprised by something I saw when I was meeting with our Latin American team in Guadalajara, Mexico. At night we were driving around with our Director, David Isais and we saw a police car in front of us. Now, he was in no particular hurry, but his lights were flashing - and David said, "You know the police cars here do that all the time, they leave their lights on whether they are on call, or not." Now, that's an interesting approach to law enforcement - let them know you're coming.
The world's best selling book, but hardly anyone knows what's in it. It's the Bible, of course. Maybe you've had a hard time getting somebody to read the Bible, I think I can make you feel better. I mean, your problem is nothing compared to a fellow named Gabrielle. I was at dinner with a leader of an international Bible distribution organization and their representative in the country of Zimbabwe is named Gabrielle. Now his problem is not dust collecting on peoples Bibles, it's the Bible literally going up in smoke. You see, the pages of a Bible in some African countries are thought to be just perfect to roll a cigarette with. So, he met one man and was offering him a Bible and the man said, "Well, I'll take the Bible," but he said, "I need to let you know that if I take it, I'll smoke it." I'm going to give it to you, Gabrielle said, "I'll give you the Bible if before you smoke it, you read it." Well, he did what he said he would do - he read it, and then he smoked it, until, well, that's the exciting part...
Well it was always fun to get the kids together and get all five Hutchcrafts jammed into a car for a long trip. And of course immediately we had turf wars in the back seat, especially as the kids bodies got bigger and bigger, and you've got three kids trying to figure out who gets which third or more, is the ideal if you can do it, of that turf in the back seat. Of course that was only one of our problems. After we'd been driving for a little while, well, sometimes I would hear these really gross sounds from the back-seat, and what was happening was this, our poor first born, our daughter was getting sick and her brothers would kind of imitate some of the noises she would make as she was feeling more and more confined in that back seat because if she got the middle and couldn't get neat a window it wasn't good for any of us! Hey, she had a touch of claustrophobia, she needed some space.
When I was a pretty little guy, my dad thought I should meet Paul Bunyan. He's that legendary giant lumberjack. Well, we were vacationing in Minnesota and there's this tourist attraction there, in Brainerd, Minnesota. Inside was this huge animated figure of Paul Bunyan, I mean, massive! He's sitting down with his giant ax and his giant ox next to him, and a little log cabin at his feet. My dad paid for our tickets and I walked in unsuspectingly, and suddenly Paul's voice boomed out across the park, "Hellooo, Ronnie!" As the kids say, "Freak me out!" This guy knows my name. It took me a lot more birthdays to figure out that the man at the ticket booth had quietly gotten my name from my dad and then relayed it to Paul's voice, who was hiding in that little log cabin. I was totally amazed that he knew my name!
It's the mission the birds made famous. During our ministry trip to California, I had a chance to visit one of the most charming of those old Spanish missions, San Juan Capistrano. If you heard of it, it's because of the birds, the swallows. There are what seems like hundreds of swallows who like to hang out at that mission until about October 23rd every year then like a lot of northerners they fly south for the winter. Oh, but they will return. In fact, lots of local folk and tourists will be at the mission on March 19th, that's the day they will return. The time might vary a little but one thing you could be sure of when you see them leave, you can be sure they will be back.
Recently I was having lunch with my friends Scott and Brenda, and they told me that the view had really improved at their house recently. They told me that everything in their backyard had looked so dirty and so dingy for a long time until the other day. They did something that totally changed the view. They cleaned the big window that looks out on that yard. When you're looking through a dirty window, everything looks dirty.
A dog and bubbles make a very amusing combination. I think my wife discovered this first when our little Shih Tzu dog was just a puppy, a new member of our family, the only one with four legs, and she was still discovering her world. My wife went out and got one of those containers of bubble lotion - you know, with the little wand that you could blow bubbles out of. We used them when we were kids. Missy cannot resist those bubbles. She'll kind of pounce there on the floor on a bubble as soon as it lands, and she attacks that thing. Of course, when there are some in the air, she is watching them come down. She's in an attack mode. The problem is that the bubbles disappear as soon as she gets to them. She starts to attack it or to put it into her mouth. It's gone - leaving this bewildered dog sniffing and searching, and she's looking up into the air at the rest of the bubbles coming down. She wastes an awful lot of energy looking for them.
I guess every neighborhood has its bully. Well when I was growing up, I'll tell you our neighborhood did. "Boomer" this guy, made all us little kids in the neighborhood his victim. So he would beat us up, you know, tower over us and threaten us, took our stuff. And frankly I've got to tell you, one day I had had enough. Yeah, oh yeah, I was little - he was big, but I marched all the way down our little block on the south side of Chicago. I went up the steps on that back porch. I pounded on the screen door on the back of his house. Boomer came to the door, and I said, "Boomer, I want my stuff back." You say, "Man, you were a brave little kid." Well, ah, there's one thing I forgot to tell you - my ah Father went with me. You see, that made a very big difference. Boomer was bigger than I was, but my Father was bigger than Boomer was.
Communicating across the miles these days is amazing, and occasionally frustrating. Not too long ago, you know, you would just call someone, and if they weren't there, you would try later. Ah, today, we have answering machines that talk to answering machines. We have voice mail. And it's helpful, but let's face it, it is frustrating sometimes isn't it? Now I'm Mr. Low Tech you know, and so I continue to be amazed by fax machines. You can transmit your letter or your document on a phone line. I don't get it, but it's great. Then there's e-mail, and who knows what's next in the next few years. Now occasionally there are glitches. Someone gave me a phone number the other day I needed, and so I dialed, and it rang, and this high pitched squeal suddenly is hitting me in my ear, and I said, "What is wrong, is the phone out of order?" No, no, no, see it was the number for this man's fax line. It's not a telephone line really, where you make calls - you send faxes on it. So I just got squealed at. See like a lot of people, he has this one phone line that is totally for receiving faxes. It's not designed for having a conversation with guys like me. It won't work for phone calls. It's called "The Dedicated Line" as I discovered with an earful of squealing. A dedicated line is for only one purpose.