January 17, 2022

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If you say the word "garden," I immediately think of my friend Mel. Man, he has one of the best-kept, most productive gardens I've ever seen. I've eaten some of the fruits and vegetables of his labor. Growing up as I did in an apartment in Chicago, I've got a lot to learn about gardens, believe me. I'm horticulturally challenged shall we say. Well, Mel taught me a lot. I mean, one section of his garden is dedicated to his grapes. And when those vines start growing, He does something that looks very strange to a city-slicker like me. He goes after those vines with pruning shears. He starts cutting away branches - a lot of branches. Of course, it's called pruning.

January 7, 2022

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I had to make a 6:30 A.M. flight. My dear wife was the lucky one who got to drive me to the airport. As I staggered to the car about 5:00 in the morning, I said, "Where's the sun?" Obviously, the sun was on a later flight that morning. But what made the drive really challenging was not the absence of sun, it was the presence of fog. I'm talking thick fog all the way to the airport. Our visibility was really limited. The traffic reporter on our news station said that it would be difficult even driving roads you knew like the back of your hand. And believe me, the road to the airport is one we knew all too well. As we traveled toward the turnpike exit that leads to the airport, the fog got really thick and disorienting. We were in the right lane with almost no sense of exactly where we were, when suddenly we saw the sign - "Turnpike." That was our turn, but we were practically right on it when we realized where we were. So, my wife turned just in time, and I even made my plane. As we got on that ramp, she said, "It's a good thing I didn't trust my instincts. It just didn't feel like we were at the point we were." She only had a second to decide whether to trust her instincts or the sign. I'm glad she trusted the sign.

January 3, 2022

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Some of the ugliest scenes from the 20th Century, of course, come from the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. And some pretty inspiring scenes, actually, come from it as well. One of the most famous accounts of those awful years was written by a Jewish psychiatrist named Victor Frankl - a survivor of the concentration camps. Frankl told of how the Jews there had almost every freedom stripped from them: they were imprisoned, they were awakened any hour of the day or night, they were treated like slave labor, humiliated, always facing the specter of death. But he lived to tell us about the one freedom they learned no one could take away from them - the freedom he saw in many of those who survived the horror. And it's the one freedom that could make you a survivor.

December 23, 2021

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Our boys used to approach Christmas as methodically as like a military campaign. They painstakingly made their Christmas lists sometimes like October? You know, you must get the jump on anybody who wants to buy you underwear or socks. Right? So, they listed what they wanted in priority order, with what they called "the big one" right on top, circled and surrounded with big stars around it. One year, our oldest son had the year's hottest toy on top. I knew I would have to break my pattern and do this particular shopping early. So right around Thanksgiving, I bought it before it became virtually "ungettable." But my son must have reminded me about that like twenty times between then and the day he got it - that very happy Christmas Day. Of course, I just smiled.

December 16, 2021

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Besides all the other upheaval of 2020, it was like a record year for hurricanes. They went through the entire English alphabet of names, then they started on the Greek alphabet! It's reminiscent of those two massive hurricanes that hit within days of each other. Remember? Harvey swamped Texas. Irma devastated Florida.

December 13, 2021

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If you want to have some fun at a gathering where there are married couples, just ask a simple question. "How did you two meet?" You'll get some run-of-the-mill, maybe average type stories like, "We knew each other since we were six days old." But you may also get a few of them who start laughing out loud before they tell you why. They start rolling their eyes, they look at each other, and one or the other of them will say, "Do you really want to know?"

December 7, 2021

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It was a perfect winter scene: father and son sledding down a hill, on a beautiful new snowfall, together on one sled. My son was laughing as we reached the bottom. We'd had a great run down the hill, and suddenly I shook up that happy little feeling. I just suddenly shouted, "Jump!" and he did. He rolled right off the sled. I did too. He didn't ask why, he just jumped.

November 18, 2021

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It was the only kind of day they have at O'Hare Airport - busy. It was August, and I was one of the thousands of passengers there who had plans and schedules, things we had to do, places we had to be. But, as far as I know, none of us made it. No, Chicago had a record-breaking storm that day - over nine inches of rain. There was massive flooding, in fact so much that the airport was literally flooded closed. That created an interesting dynamic with no one able to come in or go out. It was sort of like Camp O'Hare all of a sudden. Many of us spent the day trying to find either a way out, or a phone to call out, or a place to spend the night. It was before cell phones, and it was a few years ago and that's why we didn't have all the technology to contact somebody. Virtually no one did what he or she had planned to do that day. Oh no! Our plans didn't go through all because of one storm! The rich, the poor, the powerful, the famous, the unknown, the young, the old - didn't matter. Suddenly your destiny was out of your control. You know what? Storms will do that to you.

November 12, 2021

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We had heard so much about the Stealth bomber, and it comes under the radar at night, you know, virtually invisible to ground defenses. So, some years ago, we were shocked when we heard that one of those had been downed during NATO's bombing of Serbia. We saw the burning plane wreckage on Serb TV, but there was no mention of the pilot. Well, my wife and I stopped as soon as we heard the news and we prayed for the safety of that pilot wherever he was. And as it turned out, our military launched an all-out search for him as soon as they learned his plane was down. In fact, their rescue tactics are so sophisticated no one really told the whole story of how they went about it. But I was impressed, not to mention all the other pilots who were risking their lives every day over Serbia...at how they were committed to the rescue, whatever it took. Boy, you know, the pilot knew it. And they brought him out!

November 2, 2021

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We went on this guided tour of this large cave near us. You walk through these winding and really narrow passageways and you admire the wonders that God has created from stalagmites, stalactites, and underground rivers. We entered this one large chamber, and the guide turned on the light and directed our eyes to this high vaulted like cathedral ceiling. You can probably guess what animals we saw hanging up there - bats, lots of bats. The guide told us that the early explorers of this cave had found large quantities of what she called bat guano. If you don't know what that is, never mind. It's gross, that's what it is. But they made lots of money selling that stuff. Really? Who would buy it? I mean, "What good could bat dung possibly be?" Surprise! She said they make gunpowder out of it! And even more surprisingly, they said they can turn that gross stuff into makeup like mascara and lipstick!

            

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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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