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Monday, February 25, 2008

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Larry Walters was just tired of sitting in his backyard, watching the same old folks in the same old neighborhood do the same old thing. He was ready for a change. So he decided to do something different. He went out and bought 45 six-foot helium balloons and attached them to his lawn chair, which was tethered to a car to keep it from taking off. Then, he donned a parachute, packed a bottle of soda pop, a CB radio, and a BB gun to shoot out balloons so he could come down. He thought he'd get a great view of his neighborhood. He got a little more than that. When his friends cut his lawn chair loose, he shot a thousand feet into the air in a minute. Before long, Larry and his flying lawn chair were 16,000 feet over the Los Angeles area. That's like three miles up, man! A TWA pilot radioed the tower and said, "We've spotted a man in a lawn chair at 16,000 feet." I can't even guess what the tower must have said back to the pilot. Meanwhile, Larry is yelling into his CB radio, "Mayday! Mayday!" He eventually managed to shoot out enough balloons to come down, where he landed in some wires and caused a power outage in Long Beach, California. He got down OK, he got some TV appearances, and an FAA fine. Not bad for an ordinary guy in a lawn chair.

Friday, January 18, 2008

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Kaitlin just lost her long battle for life. She was born with a defective valve in her heart, and that weakness in her heart pursued her through her all-too-short life. Although she had multiple surgeries and times of physical limitation, she had a positive spirit and, often, a pretty normal life. And then, after seventeen years, that heart just gave out. They said her only hope was a heart transplant before that, and she eventually got one, but it just didn't work out for her. In her last weeks, she sometimes battled just to breathe, but she never stopped fighting. And in Kaitlin's dying, her aunt - a relatively young woman herself - learned a powerful lesson about life.

Monday, January 7, 2008

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It was #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and then a major motion picture - the story of one of the most famous race horses of all time, Seabiscuit. While many of us may not be excited about horse racing, the story, set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, illustrates some things pretty inspiring. Seabiscuit was the son of a champion but definitely not like his father. He had been forced to run with better horses so they would gain confidence by beating him. When he raced, he did what he was trained to do - lose. Because of the poor treatment Seabiscuit received, he became an angry, almost uncontrollable horse. Until he was given a chance by a trainer that many considered to be too old and a young man most thought was too big to be a jockey - a man blind in one eye and bitter from his parents' abandonment.

But Seabiscuit thrived in the care of people who believed in him and became one of the greatest horses of all time, along with his jockey. The trainer sees in the horse something that others have missed. He says when Seabiscuit's eventual owner is deciding whether to buy this apparent loser, "You don't throw a life away just because it's been banged up a little." And when the trainer wants to fire his jockey, the owner reminds him, "You don't throw a life away just because it's been banged up a little."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

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A while back my wife took me to a county fair with her where I experienced another new world. It was a 4x4 pull, where people in all kinds of four-wheel drive vehicles were competing. The challenge: pulling this massive sledge as far as possible. The first event featured standard, unmodified pickup trucks. All the drivers were male, except one. The engines roared for about an hour as one truck after another revved, pulled, and finally slowed down until it could go no further. Do you want to guess who won the 4x4 pull? Uh-huh, the little blonde-haired girl in the blue pickup truck. And I think I know why she beat everybody. She studied every competitor ahead of her; especially that sandy spot in the arena where most of them seemed to bog down. And she skillfully maneuvered around that soft spot and went the farthest, at least partly because she avoided what had sunk others.

Friday, August 17, 2007

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Every once in a while as you're cruising down the highway, you'll see one of those trucks - the ones that are carrying a truckload of smashed cars. We're talking, you know like, steel pancakes here. Sometimes you'll drive by the scrap yard where these junkers end up, and there you'll see row after row with stacks of these flattened old vehicles. "Junk," you say. Today it is, but there was a day when that hunk of steel was someone's dream come true. It was the new wheels they'd hoped for and saved for; a prize they wouldn't let anyone touch - now flattened.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

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Hundreds of thousands of Kurds had fled Saddam Hussein's Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, and they were spread over miles of mountainside on the Turkish border. Christian agencies flooded in with food, medical help and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But most of the Christian workers connected with the people there only from trucks and distribution points, where they handed out food and blankets. But the missionaries from one particular mission organization really broke through the barrier that others were encountering when they talked about Jesus. They had a unique way of getting close to the people and winning their respect and their trust. Here's their radical outreach strategy. Ready? These missionaries offered to pick up the garbage. See, it was everywhere on those mountainsides, and it was pretty gross. Nobody wanted to do the garbage, but those who were willing to were the ones who got listened to.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

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I am much too young, of course, to be having senior moments. Although I think I've been having them since I was about 25. One of those is when you seal an envelope and you suddenly realize you left something out; maybe it's a check or a letter. And you've already gone to the trouble of addressing it, putting your return address on it, maybe even stamping the envelope. Then, too bad. You're going to have to open up what you just sealed. Good luck. You probably won't be able to use that envelope. Once it's sealed, it's meant to stay that way.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The setting was a beautiful Christian conference center, nestled in this idyllic spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Now Rocky Mountain fans won't be impressed, but some of the mountains around the conference center rise to five or six thousand feet. I had been speaking there, and the director began to tell me some interesting stories from their last few months at the center; like the man they had to go looking for at the top of a nearby mountain in the middle of the night. See, he'd gone too far, and he'd stayed out too long. I asked the obvious question: "Well, was he lost?" The director said: "He didn't think he was."

Friday, May 11, 2007

He may have been the greatest American hero of his time; his name was Meriwether Lewis. When President Thomas Jefferson bought the massive Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon, the size of this young country was more than doubled overnight. The land stretched from the Mississippi to the Pacific, much of it known well to Native Americans but largely unknown to white Americans. Well, Jefferson tapped his personal aide and a distinguished war veteran to lead the incredible adventure we know today, of course, as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Following the long and winding route of the Missouri River, Lewis led his expedition all the way from the point where it ends near St. Louis to its headwaters in Montana. His longtime dream had been to find the source of that river and to drink from it. He got his dream. If only it had satisfied his thirst.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lake Cumberland is a nice place to go in central Kentucky. It's not a nice place to have come to you. And that's what the Army Corps of Engineers has been concerned about. The Wolf Creek Dam holds back millions of gallons of water from Nashville and other communities along the Cumberland River. And the Army engineers have expressed some growing concerns about a possible dam break. They said a break could kill many residents and cause over three billion dollars in damage. A Corps spokesman said that failure of the dam wasn't imminent but that evacuation plans would be a good idea. They're lowering the water level in the lake and they're trying to fortify the dam, because that dam is all that stands between a lot of lives and a major disaster.

                

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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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