Part of the incredible impact of the attacks on the World Trade Center was that everyday people suddenly became national heroes. Fire trucks would roll through New York City with weary firefighters on board - and New Yorkers would erupt in spontaneous cheers. Ground Zero, the devastated area at and around the site of the collapsed towers, became known as Ground Hero. Professional athletes, who are our nation's heroes in less turbulent times, kept saying, "We're not the heroes - they're the heroes." Americans will not soon forget those firefighters, the police, the medical personnel, and the countless volunteers who gave everything they had to try to rescue those who were caught in those collapsing towers. The word "hero" may never be the same.

Thursday, November 8, 2001

I'm lucky they don't make me wear a nametag when I go to see our dentist. See, he doesn't see me all that often. It's not that I don't need to see him; it's not that I don't pay for it when I put off seeing him. Oh, I'll get around to it--later. Now, don't you think we all have this tendency to avoid appointments that may be unpleasant? Sure we do. And, in most cases, you can put off--even cancel--meetings that you don't want to have. In most cases.

Tuesday, November 6, 2001

When our son was playing high school football, he looked like the tattooed man at the circus, with bruises all over his body. He always dreamed of playing football. And he had his dream, but he paid a price. As soon as practices started in August, the coaches had those players running 'til they almost dropped, and hitting, and tackling, and straining, and sweating. Some guys quit because it was just too much. Finally, the season began - and his team started winning - a lot. I remember one incredibly rowdy victory celebration on the bus home after they had managed this 20-0 shutout. He had weighed the pain of playing against the pleasure. What he concluded may help you weigh yours.

Monday, November 5, 2001

When our son entered high school, he carried with him the study habits that had served him well in junior high school. They didn't serve him well in high school. He learned a whole lot about studying his freshman year. Now his grades weren't awful - they were just, you know, below his potential. So the last part of the year, we resorted to, uh, martial law. We enforced three hours of study nightly and we allowed no calls - no going out until his homework was done. Now, turn the page to his second year in high school. I'd go into my study at night and I'd find him with these books and notebooks all spread out across my desk. Sometimes I'd tell him there was a phone call for him. And he'd answer, "Tell them I'll call them back later, Dad. I'm not getting on the phone this year until my homework is done." Interesting. I didn't have to discipline my son. He was disciplining himself.

Thursday, November 1, 2001

When my wife and I pulled up late to the Bed and Breakfast we were going to be staying at, I tried to be real quiet. I was afraid we might wake some people up, you know. Not a problem. That B & B was buzzing like a beehive. Inside there were ten women huddled around the dining room table, each one with a sewing machine in front of her. Now, I learned that the other guests--all women--were there that weekend for a Mystery Quilt weekend. They were each making a quilt...some for the first time. And even though I felt like I had sort of crashed a grownup slumber party, I did ask a few curious questions like, "What pattern are you following?" They didn't know. See, it turns out that one of the women there, Millie, does these quilting weekends with ladies...and she has the pattern. It's a mystery quilt because each woman only has instructions what to do with the next piece or pieces; she has no idea what all those pieces will make. The next day, one lady said to me, "I can't wait 'till I can see what all this is going to look like when it's all put together." Good thing she didn't leave early with her pile of pieces, huh? She would have never known what it all made.

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Man, I almost forgot how much wood there is in a cord. I remembered real fast the last time we got a cord of wood delivered to our house - and dumped in our driveway. I got to stack it all by myself. But as I did, I thought about all those great fires we would have in our living room fireplace all winter long, and of how much our sons would enjoy those fires when they were home for Christmas. They have loved a roaring fire in our fireplace since they were little. And that's okay. But imagine if I had come home one day when they were in high school and I smelled smoke coming from one of their rooms upstairs. I am alarmed. I call upstairs, "Do you smell smoke?" "Yeah, Dad. I built a fire." "But, there's no fireplace in your room!" And he answers, "I know, but I just love fires." I am very alarmed. We have a big problem here. When you have a fire in the fireplace, it will make you warm. But when you have that same fire outside the fireplace...well, you get burned. Well,

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

During our most recent mission to South Africa, our hosts were kind enough to take me to an incredible game park where I could see African animals in the wild. And I did! Rhino, giraffe, ostrich, baboon--not the kind of animals you usually see wandering around the New York area. But the highlight was coming around this curve and meeting a great bull elephant in the road. He put on a real show for us for several minutes.

Recently, I picked up my local newspaper and saw a news article with that game park as the dateline. The article was about the young male elephants there--the ones the rangers call these teenagers. Apparently, in the last few months, these teenage male elephants have been on a reign of terror in the park, doing things that elephants don't usually do. They have attacked other animals like rhinos. They have attacked tourists, inflicting death or serious injury. And finally the park officials have figured out what's gone wrong with these young males. When they were newborn, they were taken from another game park and brought to this one. But their fathers--the bull elephants--were not brought with them. So these teenage elephants grew up without a model of how a grownup male should act--and they're out of control.

Monday, October 29, 2001

When your life moves as fast as mine does, your food has to often move pretty fast too - as in drive through orders at fast food restaurants. Now, the one closest to us is a Burger King. This is not an endorsement, it just happens to be close to us. I, needless to say, know their menu pretty well after all these years and my order is pretty predictable, including my drink, which is usually an iced tea. Frankly, I'm not a real tea drinker, but, this tea is pretty good because it is pre-sweetened. To me, tea without sweetener tastes just a little bitter - just a little bland. So, being a fast food frequent flyer, I expect all Burger Kings to do it my way. The way my Burger King does it! Well, they don't. In other parts of the country I've gotten my iced tea, taken my first drink and discovered an unpleasant difference. They gave it to me unsweetened! And it isn't nearly as good that way.

Friday, October 26, 2001

It was one of those real short nights. I had just spoken for a large youth event, and the night went late for the best of reasons: God brought hundreds of young people to faith in Christ that night. The counseling of all those kids took a blessedly long time. Now Jason, who was one of the organizers, took me to my hotel that night and told me he would be picking me up in a few hours for my very early morning flight. I said, "I'm sorry you have to get me so early when you've been up so late." He said, "Oh, don't worry. I'll just roll out of bed, throw on a baseball cap, and come on over." Well, bless his heart, that's just what he did. When we got to the airport, I asked him if we could pray together before I went on my plane. He respectfully took off his baseball cap, and we had a neat time of prayer. When I opened my eyes at the end, he still had his cap off. And a very creative hair style--I mean, it was all over the place! He even laughed about it. The cap covered what he didn't want anyone to see--except when he was praying.

Thursday, October 25, 2001

When I was in Junior High School, we usually bought one copy of the local newspaper each day. Until the day after I won the County Spelling Bee! Aren't you impressed? (Autographs will come later.) Well, that day we got about 20 copies of the local newspaper. What was the difference? My name was in it this time.

            

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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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