Newsweek magazine reported on one mans very interesting response during the Popes last visit to Latin America. This man owned a produce stand, it was only a couple of blocks from where the Pope was making an historic personal appearance. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the Pontiff. It seemed as if everyone went, except for "Mr Produce Stand." A reporter asked, "Ah, don't you believe in the Pope?" The dealer gave a very honest answer, he said, "Oh, yes, I believe in the Pope, but I trust in rice and beans!" I guess there's a difference!

    Well one trait that seems to have infected every member of our family is the enjoyment of getting just the right gift for each other. So over the years you would often hear the question, "so what would you like for your birthday, or your anniversary, your graduation, Christmas?" And the least appreciated answer goes something like this, "I don't know, anything is fine." Oh, great! I was hoping for something a little more specific.

      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.

        Our ministry team was together for a night of fellowship not too long ago and somehow we got to sharing memories about our childhood. Now Gayle, my Administrative Assistant, rewound the tape of her life all the way back to her first day of kindergarten. She survived the school part alright, it was that bus trip home that was the problem. She sat in the back and all the other kids got out at their stops and as the bus driver unknowingly drove right past her stop - in fact her stop was near the beginning of the road! But Gayle said she was so painfully shy then, she just didn't speak up. So finally there was just one little girl left on the bus and the driver looked in the rearview mirror and said, "Ah, little girl - where's your stop?" Well, it's a good thing he asked, she might still be on that bus! This is a time to speak up, not to be silent!

          We've had a lot of fun in our family with some of the tapes I made when the kids were little. I can hear what they sounded like before they had much of a vocabulary - before their voices changed. It's special memories. So is the tape of our wedding over 30 years ago, it's always a pretty tender time when my wife and I sit and listen to the day we made our lifetime vows to each other. Happy tapes - and then, there was President Richard Nixon - not happy tapes.

          The Watergate accusations flew back and forth without making any fatal damage until an aid testified that the President had tapes of his oval office conversations. There was a big legal battle over releasing those tapes, but, eventually the world heard the not very pretty things that were said behind closed doors. I wonder if President Nixon just forgot sometimes that the recorder was running, or if he thought none would ever hear what he was saying. Well, he was wrong.

            I was in mid-shave one morning recently, all lathered up, attacking my whiskers with my razor and I heard a little "bang" down the street, and suddenly the power went out. Now fortunately I was still able to find my face in the dark - it was approximately where it usually is. But I knew the rest of the morning was going to be very interesting. You see, it wasn't just a circuit breaker, oh no, no, the power was out on the whole block. No toasted bagel today! No hair dryer, no lamp to read my Bible by - why? That grey cylinder that hangs on that telephone pole down the street - we had no power because the transformer had blown!

              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.

                You know a sunny winter day can fool you, you look out the window and you say, "Oh it looks warm," then you go out there and you shiver your timbers and catch a cold for next week! But that sun can get something really warm. Yeah, even on a cold winter day. You know, if you put a board out there, a two-by-four, and you know the old science experiment, you hold a glass over that board and then you let that same sun shine on that through the glass. Eventually that board's going to get very warm, and it may start to smoke...I mean you could probably burn your initials in there if you did it long enough. Now, it's the same board, same sun, what's the difference? That piece of glass makes the difference. Why? Something transforming happens when you focus all that heat, on one spot.

                  I really enjoy picking out gifts for the people I love, I enjoy giving the gift, I don't enjoy wrapping the gift. In fact, it's tempting just to hand them the present, but it just isn't so special to get a gift in a K-Mart bag. It's nicer to have it wrapped in wrapping paper and bows. But there's something about my motor coordination I guess, the lines must be down between my brain and my hands. My wrapping looks alot like a five-year-old's, so I usually prevail upon my wife, or if it's for her, my sister-in-law. You see, wrapping is extra trouble but a nice gift should come in a nice package.

                    If I'm going to fly somewhere I usually have my ticket well before the trip and tuck it away in a safe place in my brief case. Recently it got a little tense though. As the trip approached, my ticket didn't. No ticket had come! Now I knew that I had a reservation, but of course it takes a ticket to get on the plane, they don't just do it because I have such a nice face, you know. I was scheduled to leave on Friday morning and it was Wednesday, I checked the mail, no ticket. I called the airline, they said it's on the way. I didn't know if they meant the ticket was in the mail, or what! Well, it finally came, late Thursday afternoon. I was worried because I didn't have it in my hand. But the airline assured me it was okay, and I got what I needed, just when I needed it! And no sooner...

                                  

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