Monday, April 21, 2003

It's still one of the most amazing medical procedures ever developed - actually taking the heart of one person who has just died and shortly thereafter transplanting it into another person whose heart is failing. Today, over 2,000 of these heart transplants are performed every year in the United States. The first one took place in 1967, actually, in South Africa at a time when that country was racially divided by the system called apartheid. And the heart of a black accident victim was transplanted into the body of a sickly, 59-year-old man who happened to be white. And Christian Barnard, the heart surgeon who carried out this breakthrough operation, would go down in the pages of medical history with the giants.

Friday, April 18, 2003

It was a cold and snowy January afternoon in Washington, D.C. The passengers aboard Air Florida Flight 90 were anxious to get out of the city and to their warm Florida destination. They never made it. The jetliner couldn't clear the 14th Street Bridge, crashed into it, and then into the icy waters of the Potomac where it went straight to the bottom. Only five passengers and one flight attendant made their way out of the submerged wreckage and made it to the surface. They clung to a small section of the tail that remained afloat. The first responders were aboard a National Park service helicopter, lowering a ring-shaped lifeline to the people who were clinging desperately to that piece of wreckage. One of the survivors was described as a 50-ish man to whom they lowered that lifeline. Each time, he passed it off to someone else - until finally he was the last one left to be rescued. But when the chopper returned for him, he was gone. He was the one who didn't make it.

Monday, April 14, 2003

I had an 18-hour layover in Rome, a city I had never been in before. My missionary friend was willing to take me on a whirlwind tour, rainy day and all. We began at the ruins of the ancient Coliseum, a must-see for all of us Rome tourists. I left most of my luggage in an airport locker, but I was carrying my camera and my personal bag over one shoulder, an umbrella in one hand, and my camera in the other hand. Suddenly, we were surrounded by a small gang of pre-teen street kids - many of whom, as I learned later, frequent that area to hit up tourists like me. As they encircled us and started chattering and grabbing at us, I tried to make sure they didn't get any of my things. My friend got rid of them with a brandishing of his umbrella. We were about a block past the point of our encounter, when a dark-haired little girl came running after us, waving something blue in her hand. It was my passport! It had been in the vest pocket in my coat. It had somehow dropped out in all the confusion, unbeknownst to me. She handed it to me and then she ran away. God bless her.

Thursday, April 3, 2003

They were almost home. Then suddenly the white plume trail of the Shuttle Columbia fragmented into an unthinkable personal and national tragedy. And in a moment, six of America's best and brightest - along with an acclaimed Israeli hero - were gone. Once again, President George Bush had to address a nation stunned by another violent tragedy. What he said was all about "going home."

Well,

Friday, March 7, 2003

I don't know how it happened, but my wife and I somehow ended up with the smartest and cutest granddaughter in North America. Great - now I'm going to hear from grandparents all over the continent, contesting what I just said. But, look, I'm just being a granddad, right? Our little darlin' when she was just a few weeks old, oh man, she was really checking out her world. Now, of course, she was only beginning to understand what her fingers are for and how they work. But even then it was obvious what she wanted to do with those fingers. Initially, she was just feeling our fingers when we held her. But then she started reaching up with her infant coordination and reaching higher because she loved to touch the face of the person who's holding her!

Well,

Thursday, February 6, 2003

Tom is an acquaintance of mine who just became a daddy. Now, he didn't go to the local hospital for his baby - he and his wife went all the way to China. She's a little girl - and since families are restricted to one child in China, little girls can have a pretty rough time. This one did. She was found by a doctor, abandoned on a doorstep in the middle of a cold night. She was taken to an orphanage where they named her "Precious Treasure" in Chinese. It's almost ironic in light of her being abandoned, isn't it? It took several months, but Tom and his wife were eventually able to arrange the adoption of this precious treasure. She's got a mom and dad now who love her very much - who will never forget the first moment they took her from the folks at the orphanage and held her in their arms. Believe me, she's not an orphan anymore.

Monday, January 20, 2003

The first time I ever landed in New York City, it was at LaGuardia Airport. And as I chatted with the folks who met my plane, they told me something I wasn't sure I wanted to know. They said, "You know, Ron, your plane just landed on the garbage of New York City." Excuse me? Well, they explained to me that LaGuardia Airport is built on landfill that extends out into Jamaica Bay. Landfill - as in the garbage of New York. Well, so far none of those runways has sunk into the bay. It's pretty amazing what engineers can do with our garbage, huh?

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Our friends John and Marie have a lovely family area in their home that they call the Great Room. And it really is a great room - big fireplace, lots of comfortable couch and chairs, tastefully decorated. It's just one of those rooms that people are drawn into like a magnet, and you don't want to leave. And on the wall near the fireplace, there's a beautiful painting. That's new. See, it hasn't always been there ... until the wall cracked. Now, they tell me it was some kind of water damage, but it has left this really ugly hole in the wall. Hey, but who would know? It's all covered up with this lovely painting!

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Their name calls up some of the most breathtaking spectacles in circus history - the Great Wallendas! This world famous circus troupe has amazed circus-goers with their high wire act for oh, about three generations. I was interested to read in Decision Magazine about Tino Wallenda's commitment to Jesus Christ. Tino described what he's done for a living - walking on a cable that is 5/8ths of a inch thick, suspended between 30 and 100 feet in the air, at times suspended over dens of lions, between buildings and even over a pool of sharks! This is not what I want to be when I grow up! Tino said his grandfather, Karl Wallenda, started him out on a wire just two feet off the ground. He taught Tino how to hold his body rigid and how to place his feet on the wire and how to hold the pole with his elbows close to his body. But this great performer writes that "the most important thing that my grandfather taught me was that I needed to focus my attention on a point at the other end of the wire; a point that was unmoving and would not shift."

Monday, January 6, 2003

When three American soldiers were held as prisoners in Yugoslavia during the Kosovo crisis, their loved ones in the United States tied yellow ribbons around the trees in front of their homes. We've seen yellow ribbons before when loved ones are being held prisoner. I think my first recollection of seeing them was during the Iran hostage crisis when the American embassy staff in Iran was held hostage for many months. Now, the people who loved those being held hostage tied these yellow ribbons around the trees in their yards - and they wouldn't take them down. The yellow ribbons were a symbol of their hope that the one they loved would be back home. And when those hostages finally did come home, man, there were yellow ribbons everywhere!

            

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