Friday, February 3, 2017

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Okay, imagine a train traveling about 1,000 miles and the passengers are almost all teenagers! I was one of them. You say, "You mean they had trains back then?" (Leave me alone!) Yes, they had just been invented. Thousands of us were on our way to this national youth convention on specially chartered trains. And don't you wish you could be a chaperone for something like that? (Oh, a dream come true!) Well, our train was traveling all night, and I decided I wanted to beat the morning rush in the bathroom so I got my suitcase and I started making my way through one car after another to get to the one that had a men's room in it. Unfortunately, most of the other people on the train were sleeping in every conceivable position, including various body parts hanging out in the aisle. Here's the picture: dark railroad cars, boy moving down the aisle with a big suitcase in his hand, trying to keep his balance on a speeding train, and bodies hanging out into the same aisle. You get it? Bonk! Clunk! Uhh! Many unsuspecting sleepers had a rude awakening that night and I was very unpopular, and obviously very un-smart. Unfortunately, the problem? My baggage kept hitting other people!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

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We knew our grandson was about to learn to walk. He was showing all the signs. He'd been crawling. He'd been pulling himself up to a couch or a table. And he would just laugh when one of us took him by the arms and, you know, let him walk step by step in front of us. And then one day he tried it by himself. And you know how he learned to walk? Same way I did, the same way you did. Step-boom! And when he fell, he had a couple of choices. He could have just laid there and said to himself, "That's it! I tried to walk. I'm not cut out for this. I failed." Can you imagine? So, let's say he is 18 years old still lying there in the middle of the living room! His mother is vacuuming around him. His friends are rolling into his room with him. That's not what he did. He did what every other baby has always done. He got up. And he went step, step-boom! Then step, step, step-boom! And he learned to walk pretty well because he got up when he fell down!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

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It may be a common term in the military, but I don't think I ever heard it before until I saw an interview some years ago with some American soldiers who were working to establish an air base at Kandahar in Afghanistan. They were busy finding and clearing land mines, repairing and expanding the runway – and, at the same time, carefully defending their perimeter. The soldiers pointed out that there were still Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters hiding out – and waiting for an opportunity, of course, to do some serious damage. That's when one soldier referred to what he called "high value targets". He said the enemy still had the capability to take out some "high value target" like an incoming aircraft, for example.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

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She was only 21 years old – but she was well on her way to becoming a superstar. Aaliyah was enjoying huge success with her music, and she was beginning to emerge as an actress with a great future. But all that ended in one awful moment in the Bahamas when the plane carrying her and her crew crashed shortly after takeoff. What made the crash even more tragic was the fact that apparently it was avoidable – at least on the preliminary findings of the investigators. The plane had been loaded with something like twice its maximum baggage capacity. And investigators believe that it was all that weight that made the plane go down.

Monday, December 12, 2016

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It was a beautiful day for sailing, and our friend Dave had invited us to go out on Long Island Sound with him and his wife. It was not hard to decide whether to go, believe me. The Sound was actually relatively calm that day. There was a very gentle breeze and not a cloud in the sky, but suddenly Dave announced to us, "We're heading in." I couldn't think of a single, rational reason to waste the rest of such an idyllic afternoon. I said, "Why Dave?" He said, "To beat the storm." Right?

Friday, December 2, 2016

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I remember seeing it first in the news from the first Gulf War, and then in Afghanistan. Well, you continue to see it as we have conflicts around the world; those amazing high-tech weapons that hit their target with this pinpoint accuracy. Oh, yeah, they say that there are "targeting errors", but for the most part, those weapons go right to their intended target – weapons like Cruise missiles or what they call "smart bombs". I still remember back in that first Gulf War, a correspondent was in Baghdad, and he described this Tomahawk missile roaring in over the city. It paused, and then it literally made a sharp turn to the left and went straight down into this military facility. Apparently, its tracking system determined that it was slightly off course, so it corrected it, and "boom!" it went right to the target. That's amazing stuff!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

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Maybe it was the dumb voices I did. But the kids used to love it when I read "Winnie the Pooh" to them. Tigger with his irrepressible "hoo-hoo!" bouncing everywhere. And Eeyore with his head down and his ever-present gloom. I'd rather be Tigger than Eeyore maybe without the bouncing. I mean, I want to be the one to leave sunshine in the room, not storm clouds.

Friday, November 18, 2016

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One summer our staff had a picnic at the home of one of our volunteers. And this volunteer has a swimming pool. Actually a few people came prepared to go in the pool that day, but I knew one of them would be our son-in-law. He was there only minutes before he was in his swim trunks and diving in. What I didn't expect was who was in the pool with him – our one-year-old grandson. He looked so small in that big pool. But he was loving the water and floating along fearlessly. Not because he could swim, of course. Look, he was advanced – of course, our grandson, but not that advanced. No, his daddy had him sitting in his own personal inner tube, so he had no trouble staying afloat.

Friday, November 11, 2016

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Missionary pilots are some of my personal heroes-especially since the incredible job they did moving our Native American team across Alaska some years ago. Often there really wasn't much of a runway to land on or good weather to fly in, but they always got us there safely. On one flight, I was in the co-pilot seat (yeah, of all things) in a little six-seater aircraft, and our pilot, Gary, was flying us to a Yukon River village through some low visibility, low ceilings-just generally lousy weather. And as we neared our destination, he said, "I hate this part. We're in the dead zone." "Dead zone" isn't exactly what I want to hear from a pilot when I'm flying with him, so I asked Gary what he meant by that. He described that part of a flight where you cannot communicate with the tower or with any other aircraft. You're kind of all alone. It doesn't last long, he explained, but if you're in trouble or you're going down, nobody knows. It's a lonely stretch. Well, after a couple more minutes, Gary broke into a big smile and he said, "Good. We're back." I smiled, too.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

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Florida has many beautiful things about it – great beaches, great theme parks, and great weather. But to be perfectly honest, it's not one of the most exciting states just to drive across. I mean, it's like terminal flatness sort of. You know, like Illinois where I grew up. There's nothing wrong with the South Florida landscape that a nice mountain or a hill wouldn't help. Well, in West Palm Beach there is one. A hill, that is. It actually rises to the breathtaking height of 55' above sea level.

            

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