Friday, September 28, 2018

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I'm a city boy. Where I grew up, kids were about the only things that grew. We didn't even have grass in the backyard of the apartment building where I lived-just dirt. So over the years I've had a lot to learn from the farm girl I married, as well as my many friends who are farmers. I was traveling in the heartland with one of our leaders, and he had spent many years in farming, and he taught me a pretty memorable lesson as we were driving down a country road just past a cornfield. He was explaining how a farmer harvests his corn and how the end row may get knocked down when he turns the corner from one row to another. That leaves some corn stalks knocked down, lying horizontal and broken. And they're often in the shade of a stalk that's still standing near it. But don't count that stalk out. No, not just yet! The pollen from the overshadowing corn stalk filters down onto that broken corn. And amazingly, that plant that has everything going against it starts developing another crop and eventually you'll be able to pick corn off that old boy! (How about a city boy telling you that!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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While I was speaking at a conference, our hosts gave my wife and me a picturesque cabin to stay in, right on the side of this beautiful mountain. I was unusually motivated to get my exercise there, because it involved hiking up this scenic mountain all the way to the top. As I headed back down and neared our cabin, I had this notion that it would be nice to make the last stretch a romantic walk with my honey. There's a song I used to whistle to her outside her dorm window. (This is the place you go "Ahhhh!") Yeah, we were in college and we were engaged-a song we later had sung at our wedding. It starts with the words, "Because you come to me." Lapsing into romance mode, I started whistling our song. Little did I know my wife wasn't there! So no one came. I walked alone. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

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It was centuries ago, when all of North America belonged to its Native people. One nomadic Indian tribe in the Great Plains, according to the story, was blessed with a chief that was beloved and respected by everyone who knew him. He was known as a man who deeply loved his people and he showed it. And he was a man of absolute justice and fairness and he showed that. One day some braves brought a very troubling report to him; there had been several mysterious thefts from people in the tribe. The chief wanted to nip this kind of stealing in the bud so he announced a pretty severe penalty for the thief. He would be tied to a post when the sun was high, his back laid bare, and he would be beaten with a whip twenty times. Then the chief set a trap. He asked two of his trusted braves to leave some animal pelts in front of a teepee one night and to watch all night from another teepee. It was the middle of the night when one of those braves awakened the chief with the news, "We've caught the thief." "Then bring him in," the chief ordered sternly. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

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Our daughter was always a curious little thing, and she asked endless questions, especially when it was time to go to sleep at night. And she liked to look into things that she found, even trying them at times. Most of those little explorations were harmless. Not the day, though, that she got into a drawer in the bathroom and pulled out some stuff she saw Daddy using to get ready in the morning. Deodorant-no problem. Toothbrush, toothpaste-that's okay. My razor-oh, problem. She'd seen her father run that razor up and down his cheeks, so she decided to do what she saw Daddy do. Bad idea! Scratches and cuts on her face. Oh, I'm glad to tell you, no permanent damage, but not something she did twice. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

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When he was young, our grandson had a rainbow of interests, including drawing. In fact, he came away from a local art show with several awards for art for kids his age. Now that didn't come from his grandfather, I can tell you that. I think the lines are down somewhere between my brain and my hand. Something happened there; there's a malfunction! They make it from my brain to my mouth, but I can't… Well, I can't even draw a recognizable stick figure. Now, our grandson apparently had been watching how cartoonists and some caricaturists draw people. Because he really liked to draw some folks the same way they do-very little bodies and very big heads! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

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Beslan-it's a Russian town that joined the ranks of places known for the terror that happened there. Some have called that three-day terrorist takeover of a school in Beslan, and the violent deaths of hundreds of school children and adults there, Russia's equivalent to America's September 11. In the midst of Beslan's horror, there emerged a photo that embodied hope in the middle of death. It showed a girl's bloodied hand clutching a golden cross. Viktoria was hospitalized with shrapnel in her brain, but she was still a survivor. The fourteen-year-old said that she prayed every day while she was being held captive, always clinging to her cross even after being wounded in the violent ending of that awful siege that killed more than 330 hostages. Even as she lost consciousness, she never let go of the cross. In Viktoria's own words, "I felt that if I had that cross in my hand, then everything would be fine." 

Friday, September 7, 2018

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Each generation has its unforgettable events and photographs that sort of sear those events into our memories. So often, those images are tragedies: the falling towers, of course, of September 11, the bombed out Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City. Before either of those, came the images of the sudden explosion of the Challenger shuttle over Cape Canaveral-those horrible trails of smoke against the sky, reminding us of the deaths of all those heroic astronauts aboard. After an extensive investigation, that cataclysmic explosion was traced to a simple O-ring that malfunctioned in cold weather and started a chain of events that doomed the shuttle and its crew. Then came the more recent explosion of the shuttle Columbia; this time apparently traceable to a loose piece of foam that came off during liftoff and ended up causing the loss of everyone aboard. 

Monday, September 3, 2018

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Larry Walters was just tired of sitting in his backyard, watching the same old folks in the same old neighborhood do the same old thing. He was ready for a change. So he decided to do something different - really different! He went out and bought 45 six-foot helium balloons and attached them to his lawn chair, which was tethered to a car to keep it from taking off. Then, he donned a parachute. (Yeah, you know where this is going?) He packed a bottle of soda pop, a CB radio, and a BB gun to shoot out the balloons so he could come down. (This is the real deal.) So, he thought he'd get this great view of his neighborhood. Oh, he got a little more than that. When his friends cut his lawn chair loose, he shot a thousand feet into the air in a minute. Before long, Larry and his flying lawn chair were 16,000 feet over the Los Angeles area. That's like three miles up, man! A pilot radioed the tower and said, "We've spotted a man in a lawn chair at 16,000 feet." I can't even guess what the tower must have said back to that pilot. Well, meanwhile, Larry is yelling into his CB radio, "Mayday! Mayday!" (Yeah, I guess!) He eventually managed to shoot out enough balloons to come down, where he landed in some wires and caused a power outage in Long Beach, California. He got down OK, he even got some TV appearances, and an FAA fine. Not bad for an ordinary guy in a lawn chair, huh? 

Monday, August 27, 2018

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Power-that's what mattered most to Napoleon. He wanted power, and he got it. Under his leadership, the armies of France won some stunning victories. They extended control well beyond their borders, but that wasn't enough for Napoleon. It is said that one day he gathered all the top officers together around this large table. Laid across that table was a map of Europe with a big red spot on it. That spot was England. He pounded his fist on the table, and he raged: "If it weren't for that red spot, I could have it all!" 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

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"Y'all come see us!" You hear that pretty often in the South. It's called southern hospitality; sort of an open invitation to stop by, as they say, and "visit." That's why I was surprised at the welcome mat they had at a cabin we recently stayed in. I was speaking at a conference in the south, and my wife and I were wonderfully given a picturesque log cabin to stay in. But then there was the welcome mat. Well, it was sort of a welcome mat-maybe more of an unwelcome mat. You walk up to the door, you look down at the mat, and you're greeted with these wonderful words, "Oh no! Not you again!" 

            

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