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!" 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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Chaco Culture National Historical Park-it's situated in a remote corner of New Mexico. It's a place where a thousand years ago, the ancient ancestors of some of today's Indian tribes enjoyed this thriving civilization. They were, as an article in USA Today reported, "astronomically observant." For modern observers, it's still a great spot to be astronomically observant; a place where you can see the heavens without the interference of the artificial light that's all around us much of the time. Several years ago, a woman came to the visitor's center desk to report something remarkable she'd seen in the sky. The ranger held his breath for another "UFO sighting," only to be surprised by the woman's excited description of a "lane of white powder" she said that she had seen spanning the heavens above her campsite. The ranger had the great pleasure of informing this lady that, for the first time in her life, she had actually seen the Milky Way. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

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I was speaking at a Bible conference, set right near the shore of a beautiful lake. I was responsible for speaking about eighteen times in six days, literally, so I was a pretty busy boy. But I did something that would have made my wife proud, even in spite of how busy I was. I took time to smell the flowers; well, at least to admire the flowers. I have to admit, I'm partially colorblind, but even I was struck by these rich purple flowers blooming all over this sprawling vine in the garden outside my window. The flowers seemed to be everywhere in the garden. I asked someone from the conference what I was looking at. He told me it's a Vinca vine. He said they had transplanted that vine from a pot to the soil of this garden. And I was told a Vinca vine doesn't produce any flowers when it's in a pot-only when you plant it in the ground. Well, what do you know?

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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Kaitlin just lost her long battle for life. She was born with a defective valve in her heart, and that weakness in her heart pursued her through her all-too-short life. Although she had multiple surgeries and times of physical limitation, she had a really positive spirit and often a pretty normal life. Then, after seventeen years, that heart just gave out. They said her only hope was a heart transplant before that, and she eventually got one, but it just didn't work out for her. In her last weeks, she sometimes battled just to breathe, but she never stopped fighting. And in Kaitlin's dying, her aunt-a relatively young woman herself-learned a powerful lesson about life. 

            

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