My friend, Bob, is a pastor, and he's also a jogger. Which some would say, he's a jogger but otherwise normal. Well one day he went jogging and he came home and he started to do some work at his desk. He started to write his address on some bills he was paying, except his wife noticed it wasn't his address. And that was her first clue. It turned out that Bob had suffered a mild stroke while he was running.
My wife is not your typical American television viewer. In fact, she seldom watches it. And secondly, when she does, I often find her watching nature shows. One time when I walked in there was this program on whales. It did make her blubber a little bit, but I did learn a lot watching it with her. It was about how this killer whale is really not as vicious as you might think he is, even with the name "Killer Whale." They actually had footage of a killer whale lying in the water with all these smaller animals playing all over him. Isn't that cute! The commentator said, "The killer whale is usually pretty gentle." Well, if so, he can afford to be gentle. He knows no one can threaten him, because I don't think anybody's stronger.
We were sitting in the living room of a Native American family who were among the few Jesus-followers in their entire tribe. That's not uncommon. And Mom was telling us about how Jesus entered their family. Her grandmother had been a priestess in the tribal religion until she discovered what she called "the black book" and discovered the love of Jesus Christ. She was the first Jesus-follower in her family. And the village leaders didn't like it at all. In fact, when people decided to follow Jesus in that tribe, they expelled them from the village. So, suddenly, their family had no home.
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?