Our preschool grandson at the time? I think he overheard the weather forecast before his bedtime. It went something like this, "Chance of rain, maybe a few snow flurries." I guess that's all he needed to hear, because he began to pray fervently that night, "Jesus, please make it snow tomorrow." I know he's not the first child to pray that. Now, flurries are barely snow, but apparently the mention of them is enough for fuel for hope, and for faith...especially faith. And when he went to bed that night, his mom and dad...they prayed too. They said, "Dear Jesus, would you please answer a little boy's prayer?"
Back when my son and his friends were going into their sophomore year in high school playing football, they moved up to the junior varsity and the varsity team. And they got word that they were going to have triple sessions in August and September practices. That's exciting... triple sessions meant that you get to go, not for the regular two-hour practice of calisthenics, and running, and working hard, and running into things, and running into each other. No, you get to go for four hours. Hey, you guessed it: not even four... you get to go for six wonderful hours of that!
King George and his army must have had a really good laugh. George Washington and his Continental Army had been whipped in battle after battle in their campaign to become independent from Britain. British troops had driven the Americans out of New York City, across the Hudson River, across New Jersey, and finally into Pennsylvania. Then came the winter of 1777, at a place outside of Philadelphia called Valley Forge. Washington's troops faced not only a physical winter there, but an emotional winter. Discouragement and defeat may have been their worst enemies. But General Washington wasn't about to let those enemies win. He fought back by immediately deploying his soldiers to fortify their camp. Then the drills began. A veteran European military officer began to drill those soldiers every day, teaching them a single set of maneuvers rather than the multiple approaches that had just created confusion in the past battles. That winter, they were learning one way of doing things while Washington worked on getting more recruits and building his army into a real fighting force. Many historians believe that the outcome of America's battle for independence was actually decided at Valley Forge more than any battle - because there was an army that came out of Valley Forge to stun the British with major victories. One army went into the winter at Valley Forge - divided, discouraged, demoralized. Another army emerged from that winter. They were unified, they were fortified, they were confident because of what they had done with their winter.
I dropped off a Christmas poinsettia at a friend's house - she was getting home from the hospital that day. Her husband died of cancer the week before and she was laid up with back surgery. For her, I guess the words "Merry Christmas" might have sounded kind of hollow.
Now, we've driven some pretty desolate stretches of the U.S. For a guy who used to wait 'til the last minute to get gas, those stretches were life-changing. A couple of bad experiences and you become mister "fill up at half a tank." But America's desert and wilderness stretches take a back seat to some of the wilderness of the Middle East; especially some of the desert traversed by God's ancient people as they went from Egypt to the Promised Land. Recently, a writer named decided to physically retrace some of the geography of the first five books of the Bible. Including the still-challenging Sinai wilderness where God's people wandered for forty years. He spent time with the nomadic Bedouins who make that wilderness their home. He walked the hot sands, the daunting mountains of that wilderness. And, in the process, he found himself on an unanticipated journey of spiritual discovery. And he learned something about why God led His children through the desert - and why He still does. Here's what this author said: "In the desert, there's no such thing as independence - only dependence."
So who needs an alarm clock in our neighborhood? We've got ravens! Yeah, those big black birds discovered our backyard. Now, ravens apparently are early risers, a little earlier than most people are. And they are also, shall we say, active conversationalists. Which makes them wonderful alarm clocks for those early morning hours whether you want them or not! Now I don't mind it. It's great to have all the birds singing their little spring concert in our yard. Actually, they do more than sing, they preach!
The funeral plans for Matt were in the works. The Park Service had announced that Matt was one of five people who had been killed in a plane crash on a mountainside in Montana. The funeral never happened. Suddenly, Matt's bereaved parents heard the stunning news: although he had been badly injured, their son, along with one other Forest Service worker, had just been rescued alive, miles from the crash site. Rescue workers at the scene of the crash had concluded that the charred wreckage and the scattered human remains indicated that the crash had been "un-survivable." But amazingly, Matt and his fellow worker hiked for 29 hours, often in subfreezing temperatures, until they reached a highway where a motorist picked them up. One news magazine called it, "A Miracle in the Snows of Montana" (Newsweek, October 4, 2004).
Well, I'd been asked to speak at an adult couples thing at our church. And they did this auction sort of deal. It was sort of a "Let's Make a Deal game." I think some people call it a White Elephant Auction or something like that. It's the kind of game where you go to your garage and you get something you really want to throw away, and you wrap it up in real pretty paper and you bring it to the auction. And what happens is this: One person goes up and has to pick one of those packages, and they open it and then they have it. From that point on everyone can either take an unwrapped package and take their chances on that, or they can trade for something that's already been unwrapped that looks interesting.
Oh, it was a great time to be traveling out East! I got to be there at cherry blossom time. I was where those pink beauties were popping out everywhere! I'm so glad. I mean, wherever we went there they were. One of the gals on the Weather Channel was broadcasting from Washington, DC, and she had this beautiful backdrop of these exploding cherry blossoms all around the Jefferson Memorial.
I was on an airplane flight and I overheard a conversation in the seats behind me. Eavesdropping? Maybe. In any case, there was this boy flying with his Dad and he was full of questions...I mean the little guy. He said, "Daddy, what are all those lights for? Daddy, why did part of the wing go down? Daddy, why is it called Lake Erie?" See, the pilot told us the name of it, but he didn't necessarily tell us why it's named that.