We were speeding along the interstate in Texas, and suddenly there it was - a huge, illuminated metal cross. It just dominated the landscape, especially on the flatlands of Texas. That cross is actually 19 stories high and it can be seen from 20 miles away. They claim it's the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere. We've been by there before, but this was the first time we ever stopped and looked at it more closely.
Occasionally my wife would flip the TV on to one of those home shopping channels. And there actually were some good deals that showed up there, and sometimes I couldn't get to the remote fast enough. One day she saw this 14-karat gold bracelet and she decided to order it. When it arrived, it looked just as beautiful as it had on television, until our then two-year-old grandson got interested in it. He saw it on a dresser. Fascinated with this bracelet, he picked it up, played with it for a moment, at which point the bracelet totally fell apart. My wife said there was one drawback to ordering from television or catalogs; she just couldn't hold the jewelry in her hand and feel the weight of it. The bracelet turned out to be very attractive on the outside but hollow on the inside.
During a break for our hard working Native American team, we took them to an action park. Many of them were attracted to the maze at the park. We love to capture team memories on video, so one of our guys managed to find a spot looking down on the maze to shoot some video. And, it's really pretty funny because everyone is running down these twisting passageways, hoping to be the first person to find the exit. Unfortunately, most of those passageways of course lead to dead ends. So people are going full tilt, right into a dead end, hoping - even expecting - that this is the path that will get them where they want to go.
Marie was a teenage friend of ours, and Tom was the big guy she really cared about. It was a long-distance romance since she lived in New Jersey and he lived in the Midwest. So, needless to say, his visits were pretty special. And Marie knew he was coming the very next Friday. So on Wednesday she attacked her room trying to get it under control. She was at the point where she had everything in piles covering the floor, and she was in her grubby clothes, all hot and sweaty and grungy, and her hair's all matted down from the sweat. Suddenly, the phone rang. It was Tom telling her how much he was looking forward to seeing her. No sooner had she hung up than there was the man in her life standing at the door of her room. He had called from just downstairs. "Hi, Marie. Surprise!" She was flabbergasted, she was stunned, and of course, she was embarrassed at her condition and the condition of her room. All she could say was, "I didn't expect you to come this soon."
I was with a group of young people who had the enlightening experience of going on a Trust Walk. They got into pairs, one was blindfolded, and the other got to lead that person wherever they wanted and however they wanted for five minutes. Then they reversed roles and the one who had been led got to be the leader, while their former leader got to be the blindfolded follower. I'm actually glad we videoed it, it was really something to watch. Some led their partner by the arm, others with the follower's hands on the leader's shoulders, and some just lead with their voice. And some led very carefully and considerately. They told them exactly when to step up or down, maybe there was a curb or some stairs. But then there were those who couldn't resist taking advantage of the situation, like Matt, he led his partner into a picnic table, over the picnic table, right into a tree, and right into a toy truck on the ground. You should have heard our discussion afterwards as people were talking about how they felt about being led and how they felt about the person who led them!
When Queen Elizabeth's mother, affectionately known to the British as the "Queen Mum," died at the age of 101, reporters did a lot of reflecting on her very special place in British hearts. A lot of it was traced back to the way she stood by and supported her husband, the king, as well as the British people during the darkest days of World War II. Night after night, the German bombers would rain down destruction on England's largest cities. London lived largely underground at night, trying desperately to hold out against Hitler's determination to conquer their little nation. At one point, there was a rumor that Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, then just little girls, were going to be sent to another country for their safety. When the "Queen Mum" was asked about that, she gave a very famous reply: "The girls can't leave unless I leave and go with them, and I can't leave unless the King leaves. And the King will never leave."
Nine years old and I was oh so proud! I was proud of the gift I had just bought for my mom for Mother's Day. I picked it out myself. I paid for it with my own allowance. And I ruined it all by myself. It was a two-carnation corsage with a plastic bumblebee. I still remember it - it was really cool, especially the bumblebee. I was pushing the speed limit on my bicycle with the white florist box perched on my handlebars. You've probably got the rest right? I hit a bump, it went flying, I ran over my Mother's Day present. The flowers were crushed and so was I.
I saw an ad for one motel chain that had an interesting slant. Apparently, they wanted to highlight how very restful a stay at their motel can be. So as you watch the front of one of their facilities, you would hear only the persistent ringing of a room phone. It would continue to go unanswered as the narrator would point out that you may sleep so soundly at their motel that you might sleep right through your wakeup call. Now, assuming the motel guest has a flight to catch or appointments to keep that day, is that really a good idea?
My wife wasn't ever really very big on jewelry, but she took special joy in pieces that were family heirlooms, like an engagement ring that originally belonged to my grandmother. Over the years, the three small diamonds that had been in that ring had been removed. So, all that was left was a gold band with three empty settings. Well, my wife managed to get a great deal on some stones that she could have set in that ring. It wasn't particularly beautiful before. It's really beautiful now.
I think it seems like, well, maybe America's spiritual national anthem sometimes. I mean, how many times during times of tragedy have we heard the same hymn? Going way back to September 11, 2001. You heard it a lot then. You hear it in police funerals, fireman funerals. It's that centuries-old hymn, Amazing Grace. For years, they've played it at the funerals of fallen policemen and firemen and a lot of everyday men and women. It's been the subject of a public television documentary. And on the emotional anniversaries after September 11, at Ground Zero, what song do those bagpipers play as they approach the site which has now become hallowed ground? Of course, you hear the haunting strains of Amazing Grace. Even for people who don't go to church or know much about the Bible or even believe much of anything, they know Amazing Grace.