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!

Monday, December 23, 2002

It was Christmas Eve - our family was acting out the Christmas Story in our living room. Our daughter was in her bathrobe, portraying Mary. Our five-year-old son was Joseph, also appearing in bathrobe. His little brother was, of course, Baby Jesus, lying in a laundry basket. And I was, appropriately, an angel - sitting on the back of the couch. My wife - well, she was under a sheepskin, crawling around the floor saying, "Baaa." And the doorbell rang. It was two teenagers we worked with in our outreach program. They had left home because everyone there was acting weird due to too much alcohol. And they weren't sure that we were any better off! But we invited them to come on in and join us in the Christmas Story.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Boomer. That was the name of the bully in my neighborhood when I was just a little feller. This terrorist "wannabe" would pick on us, intimidate us, even steal my White Sox stuff. And we never stood a chance - he was big, at least compared to us. But one day I'd had enough. I went where none of us ever dared go - right to Boomer's door to get my stuff back. You say, "What a brave little guy you were." Well - there's one little detail I left out. My father went with me. And that made all the difference! Boomer was bigger than I was - but my father was bigger than Boomer was!

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Parade time in our town, it's always a fun time, comes several times a year - and it's especially fun when you go with two young grandsons, which I have the privilege of doing. They love the fire engines and the siren going off. They love the marching bands and the floats, the candy ... especially the candy. A lot of the folks on the floats, on the trucks and in the cars throw out these big handfuls of candy. As it skips across the pavement, children descend on it like locusts descending on a wheat field. It disappears fast! I've learned to go to the parade with empty pockets. The boys scoop up the candy and I am their personal candy bank. And, of course, I do collect a small tax in the process!

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

If there was one symbol of the Cold War years and a world divided between Communist and free, it had to be the Berlin Wall. Some of the most dramatic images of the last half of the 20th Century involve that wall - the wall that the Communists built to divide East Berlin from democratic West Berlin. There are pictures of the barbed wire along the top of the wall, the armed guards, the people who risked everything to escape from behind the wall, and the people who died trying. I think I was like most of the people on this planet to be honest. I mean, we pretty much expected the Berlin Wall to always be there. We couldn't imagine how it would ever be taken down. But go to Berlin today - the wall is gone. And it came down almost overnight. The wall we thought would always be there is gone.

Thursday, December 5, 2002

It's always hard to lose someone you love. It's especially hard when it's a child. Recently, my friends lost their precious granddaughter Amy. She was only two years old. She went to sleep with a little cold and a little fever. By the end of the night, Amy was gone from a cause that, at this point, is still a medical mystery. As I talked with the family at the visitation, there was, of course, deep grief, but also a little comfort from something beautiful that happened right before Amy went to sleep that night. Her mother began singing "Jesus Loves Me" to her, and little Amy sang along with her. Her last words, "Jesus loves me, this I know." And then she was with Him.

Monday, December 2, 2002

As the Hutchcraft kids were growing up, we had an interesting system of government in our house. I had one big vote, and theoretically, my one could count more than the other. Theoretically. In reality, that didn't happen too often. One technique our children mastered in our family decision process was very skillful lobbying. For example, the kids (let's say) got wind of the fact that Mom was planning to have casserole for dinner. But they wanted pizza. So they would send our youngest as the sacrificial lamb to ask me about pizza instead. Overruled. Pretty soon, I had two sons in my study asking, with their big sister, of course, managing this campaign behind the scenes down the hall. Again, no pizza. But then they would all three come together, telling me how much all of them wanted pizza. After consulting with Mom, we got pizza.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

If I'm ever on an airplane flight where the flight attendant becomes incapacitated, I think I can do the safety instructions. Yep, I've heard them so many times. Actually, these days, they've pretty much videoized the presentation. I like that part where the little yellow oxygen masks drop down from above your seat in the demonstration. In the video, everyone is wonderfully calm in this simulated oxygen problem - very true-to-life, I'm sure! Anyway, the video shows a mother putting the mask on herself, and then on her little girl. The instructions go like this: "If the cabin pressure drops, get the oxygen to your face first, and then to your child's."

            

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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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