Caterpillars are ugly. Now I don't mean to be critical, but let's face it, those hairy crawlers are not the beauty queens of the animal kingdom. I've never heard of anyone with a caterpillar collection, have you? Oh, I suppose someone could try a makeover on a caterpillar, you know, just shave off some of that hair, give him a little color. But who could ever imagine that one of the uglier critters around could actually become one of the most beautiful animals in the world - a butterfly! You don't see many pictures of caterpillars on things, but you see pictures of butterflies everywhere! A critter covered with ugly black hair becomes a butterfly splashed with amazing colors. An animal that lives off the leaves on the ground becomes the connoisseur of flower nectar...and a creature that once crawled everywhere becomes one that can fly everywhere. We're not talking makeover here. We're talking miracle!

Sounds crazy at first. People trying to cause an avalanche. Actually, there are people who do that for a living. One of the many things you can learn watching the Discovery Channel! Obviously, people who get caught in the path of an avalanche of tons of snow have little chance for survival. Skiers, snowmobilers, hikers have all been the tragic victims of what is called the white death. Now enter the specialists they call the avalanche hunters. They drive into areas where potential avalanche conditions exist and, using this slender, hand-held cannon, they fire shots into dangerous snow masses. Well, these folks are not crazy. They actually trigger a small avalanche - which removes some of the buildup that can later cause a major avalanche.

I've got this one black blazer that I really like to wear. Unfortunately, it has this one little problem. It's wool. Which means it's sort of magnetic - especially for lint and anything else that might jump up and attach itself to that jacket. I'm having to brush that blazer off all the time. It just picks up all this stuff!

I've traveled outside the United States many times, but I've never had to wash my feet to get back into the country. Except for the last time. It wasn't exactly my feet that had to be washed, but the shoes on my feet-and all the shoes I had worn on my trip to the United Kingdom...because of concern over an epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease. So many British cattle and sheep had been destroyed because of that highly contagious disease - and while people can't catch it, they can carry it. So, as an important precaution, all of us travelers returning from that part of the world got to go through a separate line - where all our shoes were washed in a strong disinfectant. And none of us really minded. If we were contaminated, we sure didn't want to drag any disease back home with us.

It was one the causes Princess Diana was most passionate about. A little-known organization that addresses this issue won the Nobel Peace Prize. It's not an issue we think much about, but it's one that costs countless lives every year - land mines. They are the deadly leftovers of old battles, and many innocent people are injured or killed by them. A land mine is, of course, not where you can see it coming. It's buried. You're just walking along and suddenly the ground beneath you explodes, maiming or destroying an innocent person.

It was the end of the day at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics - only a few thousand spectators were in the stadium as the last of the marathon runners were carried off in exhaustion to the first-aid stations. More than an hour earlier and Ethiopian runner had been the first to cross the finish line in this grueling 26-mile event. As the remaining spectators prepared to leave, they were stopped by the sound of sirens going off and policemen blowing whistles. There, entering the stadium came a lone figure wearing the colors of Tanzania - his name was John Akhwari. He was the last man to finish the marathon.

Last fall, we were having a fun family outing at a nearby theme park – until we found out that our grandson was in the infirmary with his parents and with the park’s emergency medical staff. The problem was that he had somehow gotten a small metal object in his eye – which resisted all efforts to remove it. Well, without hesitation, we quickly brought our park outing to an end and headed for the hospital – where, thankfully, a specialist was able to remove that object from his eye. But we had to take it seriously – he had something potentially damaging in his eye – and that could affect how he sees things from now on.

The National Park Service called it a "controlled burn" - they set a fire near Los Alamos, New Mexico to remove 900 acres of dry trees and brush. But the controlled burn got out of control. It destroyed some 5,000 acres of private property and parkland, it caused the evacuation of the entire population of Los Alamos, and it destroyed some 200 homes. And saddest of all, the Weather Service had warned the Park Service that there would be high winds, high temperatures, and low humidity - prime conditions for a fire to spread. But apparently their warnings were ignored, and a fire they thought they could control did more damage than they could have ever imagined.

An alarm may be annoying but, face it, most alarms are your friend. The alarm clock in the morning - without which you'd lose your job. The smoke detector. The fire alarm. Now most us don't carry an alarm with us, but for some people, it's a very positive idea. Recently, my wife was in a nursing home on an errand of mercy when suddenly this loud alarm went off. Immediately, a nurse came running to a door where she intercepted one of their elderly residents who was headed for that door. The manager explained that some of their residents are afflicted with serious memory loss or disorientation, so much so, that they have left the building and wandered off, not knowing where they were - including right into the middle of the road! So the woman who triggered the alarm has been fitted with a special bracelet - one that triggers an alarm whenever she is on the edge of a possible danger zone. Apparently, she does remember what the alarm is for. When it went off, she instinctively stopped where she was. That alarm could literally save her life.

As a New York Knicks basketball fan, I've had some victories and some play-off games to cheer for. But I've had my share of disappointments, too. And too many of them have come at the hands of one particular opponent - a player named Reggie Miller. This man has done more to stop my team than just about anybody I can think of because something happens to this man in a close game, when there's suddenly just a minute or two left. He's on fire! He may or may not have had a lot of points earlier in the game, but somehow he seems to save his best for last. With time running out, Reggie suddenly becomes a scoring machine, making fantastic shots, often scoring enough points to send my team home for the season. Any player is a powerful force when he knows the end is near and lights up to makes a difference!

            

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Ron Hutchcraft Ministries
P.O. Box 400
Harrison, AR 72602-0400

(870) 741-3300
(877) 741-1200 (toll-free)
(870) 741-3400 (fax)

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