The Christmas season always involves these big shopping decisions, "What should we get for the kids?" Well, our children over the years were always helpful enough to provide us with a list. Now it's kids and grandkids. And now it's our grandchildren that really have great lists.
A boy from the south side of Chicago; a girl from the Ozarks and they lived happily ever after. It's the story of my wife and me. As we approached our wedding day several years ago, (ahem!) it was a week after our college graduation. We had a lot of love, but no money to speak of.
My wife hates snakes! Okay, let's just get that out there. Her skin crawls almost at the mention of those critters. Of course, growing up in the Ozarks didn't exactly help her learn to appreciate them. And then there were the weeks she spent as a counselor at a camp deep in the woods. Oh, man, that really didn't help.
It's 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, we're talking misery here. 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.
The baby in the family! Now the baby in our family happens to be a boy. Today he is far from that baby, in fact he's a father himself. But we have this one photo that we all associate with his childhood which we love to bring up to him over and over again. It's our favorite; it's his un-favorite. He's about two years old. He's in our back yard, and he's standing next to our camping tent that has collapsed on the ground. In one hand he's holding a tent pole about twice his size. And he's holding his other hand against the side of the tent, looking totally bewildered. He's got this pitiful expression that says, "What have I done?" He was only playing with the pole and the whole thing came crashing down. And I hope he's listening today.
When our daughter was just a baby we had a pretty small house where you could look in all the rooms from the kitchen. During the summer we had this big old exhaust fan on the floor in the kitchen, which was really the only way to suck some air through the house. Well, our daughter thought this fan was kind of intriguing, she thought it would be neat to explore. I had no idea how attracted she was going to be to it. I walked into the kitchen one day and here she is toddling toward that fan with her hand fully extended. She wanted to put her fingers in the fan! Guess what I didn't say – "oh go ahead honey, I love you. No I said, "No!" She tried again a few minutes later. She really wanted to do this. So I kind of spatted her on the bottom and said, "No, no! Don't do that." Now if I tried to explain it to this little toddler, she wouldn't have understood it at all. But I had to stop her. I knew what would happen if she went ahead with it. Can't you imagine what she would've said, if she could've said, "Haven't you heard of love? If you love me, you'll let me do what I really want to do." No, not in this case. Today I think she's very glad I didn't think that was love.
One of the good things about our yard was all the trees we had. One of the really bad things about our yard was all the trees we had; in the Fall that is. See, our town required the bagging of leaves, and we had the exciting challenge of raking and bagging over 100 bags every year! And as the kids left home, one by one, guess what...my labor force dwindled to one. Guess who?
They were very exciting years; those days when God launched our radio outreach to young people. The Lord used that program to present Jesus to young people in almost 400 areas of this country and about 60 countries of the world. And the early ones; the first ones we did, they were especially exciting because it was a new kind of Christian program. We were living in New Jersey. The program originated from Chicago, and it was neat to have two or three children with me for those pioneer broadcasts. We kind of shared the excitement.
For four years my wife and I did whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. It was the first four years we were married, just the two of us. Now I'm happy to say that neither of us required diapers or formula or having to have an early bedtime. And then along came this precious little bundle, our daughter. Our lives were never the same. Maybe you know that experience.
The Mississippi River flood of 1993 was a nail-biter if you had a home or business near the river in St. Louis. The flood had already done unprecedented damage up river, and St. Louis was holding their breath as the crest on the Missouri River and Mississippi Rivers rose.