I think our granddaughter was about nine years old when she came home from school and said, "Mommy, Daddy, my favorite holiday, I know what it is. It's Thanksgiving." And they asked her why that is. Well, her daddy is our son and her mommy is Native American, so she came in with a unique perspective on Turkey Day. She said, "I love Thanksgiving because I'm a Pilgrim and an Indian!"
You've probably been speeding down the highway as I have at times, and all of a sudden you'll come to a construction area that says, "Slow down - 35 mph." So everyone, of course, slows down by two or three miles an hour. They're down to 57 now or something like that. And then you'll see as you get a little more into the construction area these words, "Be prepared to stop." Well, I don't want to be prepared to stop. I don't know if you're like me, but I calculate how many miles I've got to go, how long it's going to take. Let's see, "Sixty miles - sixty minutes." Something like that. I don't want to be prepared to stop. I'm prepared to do the speed limit. Sometimes we live our whole lives that way. We're speeding too fast to stop.
Some of our most memorable vacation moments as a family have been spent on the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina. It hasn't always been beautiful for ships that were navigating those treacherous shoals that are off the shores of the Outer Banks. It's estimated that over 2,000 ships have gone down there over the centuries. But a lot more lives could have been lost if it hadn't been for the Cape Hatteras Light, one of the most famous lighthouses in America. Its octagonal tower rises massively above the beach and the sand hills, and it's been the guiding light that's kept many ships from going aground. It's stood there for nearly two centuries. Imagine the storms that she's weathered; including more than a hundred hurricanes! Storms that blew away so many other structures, but the lighthouse still stands.
The Titanic couldn't miss that iceberg. These days, you can't miss the Titanic. Ever since they found the unsinkable ship where it sank two and a half miles beneath the sea, there's been a rekindled fascination with the Titanic. As they have studied the wreckage with the latest underwater technology, they've discovered some surprising new information about what happened to the grandest ocean liner in history. It was the equivalent of four city blocks in length! Now most people have probably pictured the Titanic plowing into this huge iceberg and opening up a gaping hole in it. But now we know that the Titanic basically just sideswiped that iceberg; in fact, many passengers didn't even know anything had happened. And it wasn't some gaping hole that sank the unsinkable ship. It was what one newspaper called, "small wounds that doomed the Titanic." There were six relatively small punctures in the hull - "pin pricks" according to a TV special on the subject. Here's a ship that was 95,000 square feet in size, and it was sunk by little leaks that one article said, all put together, would have been about 12 square feet - about the size of a door!
Yeah, my wife was always this way, I'm this way. We're some of those psychos called marathon drivers. Now I know long-haul truckers have to do it for a living. But sometimes, you know, I've been known to choose to do it, just because, well, we wanted to get somewhere quickly. Of course, like most men, I like to be the one driving, sometimes for longer than I should. My wife would always tell me that our lives start to be in danger from the time I would start rubbing my right leg while I'm driving. Now, what does that have to do with it? Apparently, that's the first tip-off I'm going to sleep soon. So she would gently offer to drive and I would, of course, refuse. She'd offer several other times to drive, and then I would start doing a workout at the wheel. And then I would turn on some obnoxious radio station at full volume. Then I would open the window to let in the 20-below wind chill. Finally, just before we're just about to become a National Safety Council statistic, I would grudgingly pull over to the side of the road. We would change seats, and I would be out before we could start the car again.
As most children learn, there's an art to getting what you want from a parent. And most kids should get honorary degrees in psychology for how skilled they become at doing it. Our children sure did. One approach from the playbook of the three little Hutchcrafts could be called the "United Front Maneuver." One time they pulled out this tactic was when they wanted to get pizza for dinner or to go to a certain clown's hamburger joint. Often our oldest would first dispatch the youngest to approach me with a dining proposal. You know, always use the youngest as the sacrificial lamb. Right! Well, if that didn't work, send in number two child. If two out of three couldn't turn my heart to their cause, then the oldest would join in. And I have to confess, there were some times when I was able to say no to one of my children, or even two, but something happened to my heart when they all came together.
Motivation - that's the art of getting a person to do something. We're all in the motivating business. You may be motivating people to go somewhere, or to do a job, to correct a weakness in their life, to change their ways, to finish what they start, to do what you want them to do. Motivation comes in a lot of forms. You can inspire people to do it. You can threaten them if they don't do it. You can love them into doing it; put an arm around them and say, "Come on, Buddy." You can help them do it. You could pitch in and show them how and be willing to do your part.
You may not remember much of your World History class, but you probably at least remember the nations of Europe fought it out for a long time to see who was going to be Number One. For many years, their biggest way to fight it out was with their big navies. So, if a ship from England saw a ship from France, you could expect some fireworks. Of course, the way you knew what country a ship was from was that flag they flew from the top of the mast - their colors. When they would see a ship approaching on the horizon, they usually lowered their colors until they could see whether that other guy was a friend or an enemy. But occasionally there was a ship that approached those encounters in a radically different way. There were a few courageous captains who would give a simple six-word order to their crew, "Nail our colors to the mast!" But you could just hear the first mate saying, "Captain, that means we can't lower our colors, no matter what." To which the captain would say something like this. "That's right."
My friend Margaret had just been to a family gathering in the Midwest, and she saw many loved ones there, including her deputy sheriff nephew. Now, as she started heading home, her foot got, shall we say, a little heavy. Or at least that's what the officer who pulled her over seemed to think. As he turned to go back to his car with her license and registration in hand, Margaret said, "Do you know Deputy _________?" and she mentioned her nephew's name. The officer did know him. After a few minutes of record checking and paperwork in his squad car, the officer returned to Margaret's car and said, "I'm just going to give you a warning," followed by, "I checked with your nephew."
I have an inspiring view out of my office window. I look out at a mountain with this rolling field in between me and the mountain. The field dips down into a hollow, or a "holler" as they call it in the South. In the spring, some of the trees in the hollow start to bloom in living color. The redbud, the dogwood, they just start setting out their blossoms in all their glory. Well, one spring, someone walked into my office, glanced out that window, and said, "Well, look at those beautiful trees down there." They are beautiful, but you know what? They're in a spot where very few people ever see that beauty.