When it comes to the Olympics, it seems as if there are always certain athletes that give the Games a personal touch for us. In the 1994 Winter Olympics, we all wanted to see the women's skating showdown between Nancy Kerrigan and Tanya Harding. In 1998, it was two teenagers named Michelle and Tara. Michelle Kwan was heavily favored to leave Japan with the gold medal; 15-year-old Tara Lapinski was expected to bring home the silver. But in a stunning performance - and Olympic upset - Tara Lapinski captured the gold. Michelle Kwan - who had skated an almost flawless program - was disappointed, but gracious. She won a silver medal that so many would love to win, but you know it still had to hurt. Some of that hurt slipped out as she sent a message to her family as TV carried it around the world. She said, "I love you, Mom and Dad, and Karen and Jimmy. I hope you still love me."
Now I don't do movie reviews, and I sure don't recommend movies. But I laugh just hearing about this Bill Murray movie called "Groundhog Day." I understand that it's a pretty popular video rental. It's about this TV weatherman who goes to Punxsutawney, PA - the hometown of the famous ground hog - to broadcast that fairly goofy American tradition. We're supposed to be able to predict whether or not there will be six more weeks of winter weather based on whether or not the ground hog sees his shadow on February 2nd. But that's not the point of the movie. The weatherman, who has a serious attitude problem, wakes up at 6:00 A.M. the next day, only to experience exactly the same events he did the day before. And every new morning, the clock radio goes off at 6:00 A.M. and awakens him to the same old song - "I Got You, Babe" by Sonny and Cher. And day after day, he sees the same people, he experiences the same relationships, the same places, the same rhythm - even down to the guy in the diner dropping a plate the same time each day. It just about drives him mad - experiencing the same day over and over again.
She was only one woman - actually an inmate on Death Row - but she became the center of a public opinion hurricane. Karla Faye Tucker - convicted of a brutal pickax murder in Texas, sentenced to die, on Death Row for almost 14 years. Reporters from across the country and around the world descended on Huntsville, Texas in the days and weeks before her scheduled execution. And millions of us heard Karla Faye speak for herself as she explained the dramatic change that had taken place in her life. Karla Faye explained that she had trusted Jesus Christ to be her Savior, believing that the sin He died to forgive covered even the heinous things she had done. The way she lived in prison, the way she seemed to speak from deep in her heart lent credibility to the story of rebirth that she told.
If you've got a tie that's gone out of style, hang onto it. It will probably be back in style eventually - and you can be cool again. In fact, a lot of clothes are in, then out, then eventually back in again. But it's not just clothes - it can happen to toys, too. For example, that classic toy - the yo-yo! They were popular when I was a kid! And, no, they weren't made out of stone back then! But they say the yo-yo is actually making a comeback! In this age of computers and high-tech video games, a lot of kids are interested in that little round wooden toy at the end of the string. It's great. And they're learning the same old tricks - they're doing "walk the dog" and "around the world." I feel like I'm in a time warp! I never could master all that fancy stuff. But there was always one thing I could count on with my trusty yo-yo - when it got to the end of the string, it started coming back to me! Unless, of course, it wasn't attached.
If you're like me, you turned on the water this morning and never gave it a thought. You probably didn't grow up in the middle of a desert, then. Some years ago Hollywood produced an Oscar-winning movie about the life of the legendary Lawrence of Arabia. After some of the victories that made him famous, this British hero took some of his Arab friends to Paris with him. since they had grown up in the desert, they were amazed by the running water in their hotel room. On the day there were packing to go home, Lawrence found them trying to remove the bathroom faucets. They wanted to take them home with them - so they could have running water back home! Lawrence explained to them that the water actually came from the reservoirs in the mountains outside the city, not from the faucets. They thought the water was coming from what it actually was coming through.
Several years ago our whole family had to go for blood tests - the doctor said it was time to check everyone's cholesterol. Which means needles. Which meant one of our sons decided to leave us for a little while. He had just had some blood drawn, and he said, "I'm feeling a little weak." Yup. He proceeded to pass out. Now he might have been the strongest person in our family - but each person's reaction is different to this little exercise. A few moments later he came to and muttered that famous question, "What happened?" Then he passed out again. Later, he told us what he remembered from opening his eyes that first time - his mother's concerned face - and, in his words, "seeing this real old nurse." It's funny how strong those just-waking-up impressions are.
I will never forget my Grandmother Irene. She was one funny lady. She laughed a lot, she gave me money a lot, she was the life of the party. Some people in our family think she was a big influence on my personality. That's not a very nice thing to say about a woman who is no longer here to defend herself. But there's no doubt my grandmother had a great impact on my life. But I almost never got to meet her. She had a serious bout with cancer before I was born.
It was another crazy day in my life of crazy days. I was speaking in downtown Philadelphia early in the morning and then out in the suburbs later in the morning. The Billy Graham team members had organized all this had arranged for the committee chairman to lead us from one meeting to another. The only way we could make both meetings was to race out of Meeting 1 and take the fastest possible route to Meeting 2. We got behind the chairman and began what turned out to be a modern version of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. He really knew how to get around that city - including skillful maneuvering in and out of lanes. We had only one hope of getting to our goal - staying very close to the man who was leading us.
When you get into Missouri and Arkansas, you are entering cave country. And the tourist signs prove it, believe me. You could spend an entire vacation just touring caverns, using your imagination to see how that stalagmite looks like Snoopy or an Indian chief. As we were roaring down the Interstate one chilly day, we saw this sign that said, "Fantastic Caverns - a warm 60 degrees." In winter, 60 sounds pretty warm, I guess. What do you bet they change the sign in the summer. "Fantastic Caverns - a cool 60 degrees." And in summer, 60 degrees sounds pretty cool. Interesting - the seasons change; the cave never does.
It's possible you only know me by radio. And that's a good way to know me - you don't have to look at me and you can turn it off. But when you know someone by radio, you only know their voice - it's sort of a one-dimensional relationship. And it's always amusing when people meet me and see how the guy with the voice looks - it's almost never what they expected. And it's almost always disappointing, I think. Now if I were on TV, you'd know me two-dimensionally. I enjoy meeting listeners because we can shake hands, look each other in the eye, interact. When you meet someone you've only seen or heard before, you've got a 3-D - three-dimensional relationship. That's the best kind.