It was the day of our class elections, and I had hoped to be elected class president that day. I lost by two votes. Later, I found out that my girlfriend and my best friend had somehow gotten so busy that day, yeah, they hadn't gotten around to voting. While subsequent events actually showed what better plans God had for that year, I wasn't too happy on that election day. No, especially with two people who were pretty close to me.
Non-verbal communication. You don't always need words to communicate what you need to get across. Well, our 18-month-old granddaughter didn't. It might have been one of those times when Mommy was preoccupied with one of the thousand things that, you know, you have to stay on top of. The little one didn't try to make any big noise about what she needed. She just toddled from the living room where Mommy was, into the bedroom, picked up a diaper, toddled back into the living room, and laid herself down right in front of Mommy, diaper in hand, with her legs in the air, ready for a change. Get the idea, Mommy?
They advertised a special on "flying sharks." And the TV channel didn't disappoint the people who tuned in. They showed an island off the coast of South Africa where great white sharks jump as much as 15 feet in the air with their prey, and the seals are their meal du jour. The area around this island is called the "Ring of Death"...and a whole lot of seals would agree. No one knows exactly why the sharks there get airborne as they do. It's apparently the only place on earth where they behave like this. But the TV special showed real footage of a shark suddenly coming up underneath an unsuspecting seal, grabbing it in his jaws, and soaring into the air with his catch. Now the seals have learned something about these jumping jaws. The sharks seldom attack when they're traveling together. So they tend to stay in groups of seven or eight. Smart! But occasionally a stubborn seal will just go off on his own. And the scientists say when a seal goes off by itself, he is just asking to be shark lunch.
Over the years when the Hutchcraft family moved into a motel room for a night we had the same experience: we walk in, the room is all neat and tidy. The five Hutchcrafts are there and all the work that the room fairy did to make the room neat is destroyed in a matter of minutes. See, each person has unpacked their clothes which some put in drawers, most just start littering the beds and the chairs. And as people start using the sink, that becomes chaotic too! We've got brushes and drinking cups and various toiletries, hopelessly intermingled. Now, look, I'm a firstborn. I value order, you know, and this drives me nuts. So I developed a simple system, well at least to make it clear which was my stuff. I announced that my things would always be on the right; the cup on the right was my cup, the toothbrush on the right was my toothbrush, the towel on the right was my towel. And how do you expect your family to always remember that you might ask. Well, I gave them a simple motto to remember, one that I thought would serve them well for years to come, I just simply said, "Remember guys, Dad is always right!"
The scene: the maternity ward in a South Carolina hospital. In one 24-hour stretch, they had five sets of twins born! Did you ever see nurses on roller skates? Did you ever see women in a maternity ward taking numbers? One obstetrician actually met himself coming out of the delivery room! I mean, this is pandemonium! Five moms, ten deliveries, and five totally bewildered fathers! But sometimes the arrival of just one set of twins can make for an amazing night in the maternity ward. Like the birth of Alicia and Jasmin in Queensland, Australia. Yeah, it was in a hospital there. Mom is from a Jamaican-English background, and Dad is German. As for the twins: one is black, the other one is white. I was looking at a picture of them. They're calling it a million-to-one medical miracle.
Maybe it's in the testosterone. Guys are just wired to build something; a business, a church, furniture, home improvement projects. Some men build a team, some build financial security for their family, some just build a name for themselves. Even if I've felt motivated to build a few things, I'm the ultimate un-handyman. Like there was this little tree house - well, more like a tree platform - but the kids enjoyed it. The dollhouse for our daughter. The miniature barn for our son. There's a reason that God puts this building thing in guys. Some of us have a really big project to build!
Normally, Hainan Island is thought of as a tourist attraction. But the 24 American military personnel who were held there by the Chinese in early 2001? They probably didn't feel much like tourists. As the Americans reported it, their reconnaissance plane had been disabled by a Chinese jet that had flown too close and crashed into them. The jet pilot was lost and the American crew almost was, except for some extraordinary flying that managed to land their damaged plane on that Chinese island. There were days of tense negotiations, with the Chinese insisting on an apology and the Americans insisting on the release of their crew. The stalemate was finally broken by two words that the President of the United States included in a statement to the Chinese; words that expressed our sorrow over the loss of the Chinese pilot, not over the incident. The words? Yeah, you might have guessed, "I'm sorry." That's all it took. The next day our crew was on their way home.
I never had a sister when I was growing up, but my sons did. Our daughter is the oldest, and her two brothers each came at about two year intervals after that. As I watched their relationship over the years, it was interesting to see what I had missed: a lot of kidding around, some exciting disagreements, some hugs, some advice, some conflict, but a lot of loyalty. One thing was always really clear, say between our daughter and her older brother. No one had better do his sister wrong. He was always her personal "look-out-forer." Is that a word? And until our son-in-law came along, no guy had ever been good enough to get her brother's "thumbs up." Two years younger, he was always her protector. You know if you're a sister, it's nice to have a brother like that.
It seems as if every summer there are raging fires in the American West that destroy hundreds of thousands of acres of timberland, and sometimes homes, businesses, and sadly, even lives. When a major fire broke out near an Indian reservation that our Native team had ministered on only a few months ago, I paid pretty special attention. Sadly, that fire spread to parts of the reservation, consuming the very timber that's a major part of their already impoverished economy; along with homes and property outside the reservation. I knew it was going to take a long time to recover. You know what the cause of that very costly fire was that made the whole thing even sadder? It was started by a government firefighter who was hoping there would be a small fire that would give him some work.
My dad was a great man, and I still miss him, even though he's been gone for a lot of years. I'll often think about his laugh, his favorite sayings, his great personality, his fun sense of humor, and his unconditional love and support for me. Because he's buried in a place where I don't often get to go, it's been quite a while since I've been able to visit his grave. But I did not too long ago. And I was impressed with the simplicity of what, besides the dates of his birth and death, is engraved on his gravestone. It just says, "John Hutchcraft, husband and father."