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Thursday, April 6, 2006

The wind was blowing so hard that day, I was afraid someone was going to end up in Oz; and this isn't even Kansas, Dorothy. I was in my office during one of those blustery hours, but you couldn't miss the roar outside. At times the winds were approaching hurricane force. I mean, they were knocking out electric power to many customers, tearing branches off trees, and in one case, actually causing the deaths of four schoolgirls in New York City. They were actually in their church-school van when a 60 miles per hour gust whipped down the street and uprooted a 68-foot high maple tree, which fell on the van, killing those girls instantly. But the next day the mayor suggested that this was a tragedy that did not have to happen. Several months earlier, a nearby sidewalk had been paved without a permit, possibly weakening the roots of that tree. It may not have been the storm that caused the tragedy - it may have been the weakened roots.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

I felt like the Big Bad Wolf in that story of Little Red Riding Hood; the part where he's masquerading as grandma. Little Red says, "What big eyes you have!" That was me when I left the ophthalmologist's office the other day. He had put dilating solution in my eyes for an eye checkup. Well, the checkup was over, but my eyes didn't know it. They stayed dilated for the next couple of hours. And everyone said, "What big eyes you have!" It wasn't really much fun. Even though it was basically a cloudy day, I was squinting and I was trying to cover my eyes. With my pupils so big and so wide open, the light was blazing right into my eyes. I wasn't missing anything and it was blinding!

Friday, March 31, 2006

She's a princess in the royalty of Hollywood; one of the most successful, most admired actresses in America. Behind the glamour, there are unrelenting struggles and unanswered questions. Recently, she was given some major recognition at an international awards ceremony, and as she expressed her gratitude, she also opened up her heart in a brief moment of extreme candor. She said, "You know, I play so many roles, sometimes I wonder who the real me really is." You don't have to be a Hollywood star to have that going on.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Maybe you're like me; one of those people who lives in a climate where there are four seasons, where the fall and spring are spectacularly beautiful and where winter is really winter, and summer is really summer. There's probably one change of seasons, then. that is probably anticipated by you more than any other - the end of winter! I've always lived with four seasons. I like them all. I just think one of them lasts a month or two too long. That's why I was so excited during a February ministry trip to South Carolina. Now February is still winter where I was living, but on this February weekend in South Carolina, the trees were starting to bloom! Not only were the flowers out on the trees, but the shorts were even out on the humans! I don't remember seeing dogwood blooming in February! That was early even for the mid-South, but there had been a string of days in the 70s with temperatures that were still mild at night. So those little flowers said to themselves, "Hey, it's warm, guys! I guess it's time to bloom!"

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Our granddaughter was almost three when her parents took her to the place that blew her little mind - Disneyland. She loves Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh and Cinderella, and this was where they live! For many months afterward, she continued to talk about the experiences she had there. But it was her first reaction that was the most priceless of all. They got off the tram and walked onto the main street of Disneyland with a castle in front of them and Disney characters greeting them. Her reaction wasn't verbal, so it's a little hard to convey it. But imagine a dark-haired, dark-eyed, round-faced little girl stopped in her tracks with her eyes wide like saucers, her hands suddenly covering her mouth, and only one audible reaction - gasp!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Your 40th birthday; it's one of those milestone birthdays. For many, not an especially welcome milestone. I've heard many women, in particular, who are dreading hitting that 40 mark. My wife handled her fortieth like it was no big deal; no trauma, no counseling, no plastic surgery, no sobbing. I only hope I can handle my fortieth as gracefully. (I guess it's a good thing I'm not talking about integrity today.) It was our son who threw the curve ball in all of this. He was around 12 years old, and a few weeks after Mom's big 4-0, he announced a calculation he had, for some reason, just concocted. He said, "Hey Ma, did you know you've been alive for 14,686 days?" Forty years she could handle, but 14,686 days? That sounds prehistoric!

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Connie was in the campus outreach club I ran near her high school. In some ways, she was a typical teenager. In other ways, her life was very different from her peers. Every morning about 5:00 A.M. - while her peers were still sound asleep - Connie was at the local ice skating rink, practicing. And when her friends were all enjoying their summer off, well, she was in Colorado in a rigorous training program for ice skaters. A few years later, we were in Holland, teaching a European youth workers conference. As I was in our bungalow, preparing for the next meeting, I had the TV on in the background, with a telecast of the Winter Olympics going. I wasn't paying much attention because the commentary was in Dutch, and my Dutch is slightly limited. But suddenly I heard a name I recognized - Connie's name. I looked up in time to see her on the screen, proudly representing her country in the quest for Olympic glory. Well, I knew how she got there.

Monday, January 30, 2006

When you see how cute our three-year-old granddaughter is, it's hard to believe she's actually related to me. But she really is our little princess. I started calling my daughter "Princess" when she was just a baby, and I've never stopped. But I can't help calling our granddaughter that, as well, and she loves princesses. In fact, she's got a princess skirt and top and tiara that she likes to wear around the house sometimes. She looks like Cinderella at the ball. When she answers the phone, I'll say, "Hi, Princess." And sometimes she'll say, "I'm not a princess!" Then, I have been told, she actually runs the phone like a scanner over the jeans and the shirt that she's wearing. I'm supposed to be able to see what she's showing me with the phone. When I ask her why she's not a princess, she lets me know a clear-cut reason, "I'm not wearing my princess clothes."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

When I was in college, there were certain times of the year when there was a huge crowd of guys jammed into my little room. One was when my mother or my girlfriend had sent homemade cookies. Somehow, everyone knows when those arrive, and then your popularity suddenly skyrockets, of course. But the busiest time in my room was before mid-terms and final exams. One simple reason: I had the notes. I always scoped it out this way. You have to be in class anyway, and you have to learn all this eventually. Right? Why not make the most of the class time, get good notes, learn all you can while the teacher's presenting it. That system worked pretty well for me. It's not that I was particularly smart. Maybe I was just smart enough to realize that it pays to listen and record it when someone's teaching you something!

Thursday, January 5, 2006

If you want to get into Manhattan from New Jersey, you have several choices. You can take a long bridge, one of two long tunnels, a ferry trip, or a long un-recommended swim. The Hudson River is really pretty wide when it reaches Manhattan, but it's not very powerful. If you could see the Hudson near its headwaters in upstate New York, you'd see it roaring along with a very strong current. Upstate its banks are confined and the force is greater. But by the time it reaches Manhattan, the Hudson is so spread out that its power seems almost gone. I know people like that.

                

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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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