One of my more anxious moments related to air travel, and it actually had nothing to do with an airplane. It had to do with my two sons, who at the time were pretty young. We were going through the security checkpoint on the way to our gate, and all of a sudden they started joking about the one word you don't mention at airport security.
It had been a pretty rough week. Missy lost her mother the day before and Andy's wife filed for divorce that day. And a friend had texted recently, heartbroken over his sister-in-law's cancer verdict. And then we had some reservation friends of ours that were grieving over one young suicide after another.
There's a lot of sheep-talk in the Bible, which puts "city boy" here at a distinct disadvantage. I grew up in Chicago, we didn't have them there. No, if the Bible used like cockroaches as an example, I'd be all set. But I've had to learn about sheep from friends who have been around them a lot. One of our ministry team worked with ranchers a lot with their sheep. And he told me about how the shepherd gets his sheep to go where he wants them to go! There's a way that works and a way that doesn't work. My co-worker said that he has seen people get behind sheep and try to push them along. Notice I said, try! It doesn't work, no matter how much noise he makes or how he waves his arms. When they are pushed by a shepherd, sheep just scatter. But when he gets out in front of them; when he leads them the way he wants them to go, the sheep follow after him. Not a bad idea.
I think it all started when the bananas started going bad. That's when our daughter decided to bake them up into four loaves of banana bread. Then she asked their church for some folks who might need a little lift right now. With that cheer-up list in hand and our then four-year-old and two-year-old grandchildren assisting, she proceeded to drop off some banana bread blessing at four homes. She took the boys with her into each house, and they actually are the ones who gave the resident the gift. First house, the man's wife had just died. He was so thrilled over their gift that he gave each boy a dollar which he refused to take back. Second house, a man with a very sick wife. He insisted on thanking the boys by giving them candy. Third house, a lady living alone, very serious, until the boys gave their gift. Big smile! And the fourth house, another lonely woman and a big hug for each boy. As our daughter debriefed her little banana ambassadors, our four-year-old recounted the unexpected gifts they had received in the process of giving, including a big smile and a big hug. Then the little guy summed up his feelings about the day: "Mommy, today was such an adventure."
It is no fun to be sick on Thanksgiving Day. My honey was. Much of the family was together for Thanksgiving, but she was the one person who just felt too sick to join the festivities. I mean after all, she had 101-plus degree fever, swollen glands, a burning sore throat, a full nose and ears. Nothing fatal, just really feeling crummy. And she didn't want to give any of us a Thanksgiving gift that we would not be thankful for.
Well, you probably know the feeling too, you go in the other room to get something, and you can't remember why you went there. Until you go and sit down in the other room again, and then you remember. How many times do we do that? I guess that's the harmless kind of forgetfulness. But too many of us have had loved ones who, as the years went on, remembered less and less; sometimes even the people who loved them. When people's memory goes, they can become very easily disoriented; they can make some very bad decisions and even place themselves in great danger.
If you look on the backside of an American nickel, you'll see a picture of it. It's that domed mansion of President Thomas Jefferson, known as Monticello. It's a living monument, really, to the genius of one of America's great minds - the author of America's Declaration of Independence.
A lot of my writing, including for these visits we have together, takes place while I'm on the road. There was a time my wife did a chunk of driving to some ministry events, and she did that often. So me and my little friend laptop could do some work. Now, I had about 12 hours of writing work to do and my computer battery lasted for maybe two or three hours. No problemo! Power strip that I can plug into the cigarette lighter, and when I plug Laptop into that, he's running on the power in the car, not just the power in himself. Which means there's basically no limit to what we can do together!
My friend, Ian, is unexplainable. He may very well have been at that time the best known Christian leader in all of New Zealand. A powerful, popular speaker and he had a great Christian TV program. If you heard him speak in any public setting, you'd have been very impressed. I was, and you'd want to meet him when he came off the stage. And he would extend his hand, and probably begin to stutter. You might kinda laugh and go, "Come on, you're kidding." And then you'd realize he's not; this is serious. See, Ian had a noticeable stutter when he spoke to other people anywhere but in a large meeting. But when he got up to speak about his Lord in front of a crowd, it's just amazing. Something happened, but not necessarily something unique to him.
Our friend Mark grew up on the farm; actually on an Ozark Mountain farm. And that means rocks in your fields! One local grandfather used to say, "Every time it rains I grow rocks in my field." Mark knows all about that. Over a period of time, his mother made him clear hundreds of rocks out of one of their fields when he was just a little guy. Well then, Mark bought some land from his mother as an adult. And as he started to work one of those fields, he was really pleasantly surprised by how amazingly rock-free it is. Then it dawned on him, this was the field he had made rock-free when he was a boy!