It's sure not uncommon to hear that a hurricane coming up the East Coast is headed for the Outer Banks of North Carolina. When I hear that, I flash back to an old white frame building there and to the story I heard there that has followed me ever since.
The basis of a good working relationship is a clear job description. All of the good management people will tell you that. When you take a job, you should be able to get an answer to the question, "So what do you expect me to do?" When you're in college, they give you this syllabus with all that's going to be expected of you. Now, here's when the papers are due, here's all the reading you have to do. And even though it's a little overwhelming, it's sort of a job description for a college student. Here's what we're going to expect of you. When you go to football practice and you work on the plays, the coach lets you know that we're in this situation, this is your job; this is where you're supposed to be. That's your job description.
So I'm settling into my hotel room. I'm out of town, and I'm going to turn on the TV probably to get a little of the local flavor. I especially like to watch the local weather and the local news. That's pretty much what I do at home. Now, if I'm in the U.S. listening to the local news and weather, that's easy. It gets kind of frustrating in another country sometimes.
It wasn't just another news story. It was loaded with so many layers of tragedy. It was one of the worst I'd ever seen. Maybe you remember several years ago when Japan had a massive earthquake and then a massive tsunami, and then the nuclear emergency. Now, those kinds of things tend to disappear from the front page. But, I'll tell you what, this particular situation, well, it's had lasting effects for a long, long time.
Like the workers at the damaged nuclear power plants. They had to know that something bad was happening to their bodies and their futures as they kept working in that radiating place, but they continued to go in there. They also knew that lives were at stake in their efforts to try to contain the invisible killer that was leaking from those plants. And they heroically risked it all.
Our sons had always dreamed of playing high school football. When they finally got to realize that dream, they got to play for one of the winningest coaches in our area. He turned what was once a team known for losing into a team that was usually in a championship series. And because I worked with the team for several years as sort of a spiritual coach, I had an opportunity to observe one of the great secrets of his success. He was a genius at knowing what position each player could play best. A lot of times they disagreed with the coach; they saw themselves as being a star at some position they really wanted. But he could size up their capabilities like no coach I'd ever seen. And invariably, the guys who thought he was wrong about the position he gave them, well, they'd end up being all-conference and all-county in that spot.
It was always pretty exciting traveling with my wife. Well, but my wife with her camera was really exciting, because she could see things that I didn't see. Oh, yeah, I'd have to stop the car for what appeared to be no reason because she'd go, "Stop! Quick!" And, you know, when I'd see the picture, then I'd realize why we had to stop back then.
Oh, sometimes it was a little sign that later told a powerful story, or she'd seen one face in the middle of a hundred faces, or that one face captured on film some very poignant human emotion. Or we all got to see that glorious sunset, or that bird she saw in flight, or some very interesting scene that she saw and I missed.
Okay, do the math! At one point in time, we had one grandchild. I couldn't believe my wife was old enough to be a grandmother! Can you believe that? Well, you know what? Within a matter of years, that one became nine grandchildren!
It was a 911 call that alerted the first responders. A man was slowly wading out into San Francisco Bay, inching his way to ending his life there. Pretty soon a group of firefighters, and a crowd of about 75 people, were watching as this desperate man went a little deeper and a little deeper, and sadly occasionally glancing back at the shore. They stood there watching for an hour...and they watched him die, without anyone making a move to help him.
Over the years, I've learned a few lessons about how to meet a little child for the first time and how not to. I used to stand there all big and adult and come on real enthusiastic, "Hey, how you doing, Billy?" Well, at that point the child promptly turned his head and disappeared somewhere in his mother's leg.
When it was 7:00 a.m. in the Hutchcraft house, the word "chaos" took on new meaning - a typical school day morning. It was very exciting to get two teenage sons up, get them around, and get them dressed and out to school. Of course, both of them were a little crazy like their Mother, and that contributed to the chaos as well. Finally we were able to get them off to school.