My bride put the ring on my finger a long time ago. I've never had if off since she put it there. Then came my surgery a few weeks ago; my first surgery ever. My rotator cuff basically wasn't there, my doctor said, and there was no choice but shoulder surgery.
Our grandson was loving kindergarten. He loved learning and he loved the friends he was making there. In fact, there were very, very few bad moments since he started school. But, there was one. His teacher had to leave early that day, so for the afternoon she put him in an art class with older students. He was the only "little kid", you know, in the room. That was okay as long as the art teacher was there, but it suddenly wasn't okay when she left the room for a short time. The older kids started to pick on him verbally and say the mean kinds of things that school kids are really good at saying. That night, our grandson was in bed and mom was there to sing and pray with him. As he debriefed his day, he talked about the mean things the older kids had said. But amazingly, he didn't seem angry with them. He said, "Mommy, I know why those kids are mean. It's because they don't have Jesus in their heart." Wow! So, the next day he took action on that insight. He took little bags of candy to those kids with a little Gospel booklet inside.
I think there was a time when people thought workers were demonstrating loyalty and nobility if they showed up for their job even if they felt sicker than a dog. More and more, people think you're not very smart if you do that! You may be one of those who drags yourself into work no matter how sick you are. You're there, all right, but so are your coughs, your sneezes, and your "cooties." Strangely, over the next few days, one co-worker after another comes down with symptoms that look suspiciously like what you brought to work with you. The poet was right, "no man is an island!" You're contagious!
My wife would have said "creature of habit". I prefer to think of myself as "structured," you know. But I do exhibit some behaviors that are a bit compulsive. I don't think I'm dangerous. For example, it does not matter what time I get in from the airport or the interstate after a trip, there is one thing I will do before I get to bed. I will unpack. Sure, it's 2:00 AM, but I will get everything back to its proper place. An unpacked suitcase will pursue me all night long if I don't. Now sometimes my sweet wife would try to inject a little common sense by simply asking, "Why not unpack tomorrow?" Of course, she didn't understand why that's totally illogical. I'm not home until I'm unpacked. Neither are your children.
Throughout military history, the Army Rangers have been there in some of the most dramatic, most heroic combat events, like scaling the cliffs at Normandy Beach on D-Day. They were climbing right into the face of enemy fire. It's no surprise that the Rangers played a part, along with other Special Forces, in the rescue of that Iraqi prisoner of war years ago, Jessica Lynch, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. When you're fighting in the heat of battle, it's important to know that your comrades are going to go looking for you, no matter what. That's what happened then. That POW rescue was one example of a commitment that is expressed in the Army Ranger Creed; a commitment that's echoed in other branches of the military as well. Here's what the creed says: "I shall never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy." That's good stuff!
It was the largest oil spill in American history and in a sense, it was largely the fault of one man. The tanker Exxon Valdez, you might remember, ran aground on a reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound. The resulting oil spill did incalculable damage to the local fishing industry, to the environment in that very majestic piece of America, and to a lot of wildlife. The Commander of the Coast Guard said the passage there is ten miles across. He said, "so wide your children could pilot a tanker through there!" So how did this happen? Well, an unlicensed third-mate was on the bridge that day, piloting the vessel. He was where the captain should have been. The captain was down below! That disaster happened largely because the man who should have been on the bridge – wasn't!
Over the years, my wife, Karen, and I were guilty of what they used to call in college PDAs (public displays of affection) - mostly at home. Who says you can't hug or kiss in the kitchen or the hallway? It's been interesting to watch the reactions of our kids over the years. Like our youngest when he was still a baby in the high chair in the kitchen. Karen and I would be, well the kids would call it "smooching", and suddenly we realized that he was laughing, he'd be pounding on his tray, and he'd be applauding. I don't know how you like kissing to applause and laughter, but I find it a little distracting. But our baby loved it when we were affectionate! I guess all three of the kids did. Sometimes when Karen and I were hugging, we would suddenly feel this little person in between us. We'd look down into big blue eyes and hear them asking that question, "Will you let me in your love?"
Apparently, the airlines know you have to keep us Americans amused. They try to keep something happening on those video screens during a lot of the flight. If it's a long flight, you get a movie. If it's a shorter flight, you get shorts-not to wear, but I mean the kind you watch on the screen. And I'm usually so busy amusing myself with all the work I have to do, I don't pay a lot of attention to the screen. But on this one flight, I did occasionally glance up at the girls' gymnastics competitions they were showing in the sports highlights. I was interested, because the big competition was between the United States and Russia, so my star-spangled blood was pulling for you-know-who. After each girl performed, they would do this little replay. I never saw a replay of anything that they did right. They insisted on showing two or three times where she messed up. "Look, everybody-see the one thing she did wrong." That bothered me.
I admire my friends who are marathon runners. I don't want to be one of them, but I admire them. I actually did have a bit of a running program going when my kids were little. Every morning, I used to run around the block twenty times, until my son moved the block! Sorry. I've never run a marathon. I've watched some, and I've talked to my friends who have done the whole 26-mile distance. If you've ever watched or run a marathon, you've seen those volunteers, probably, that are stationed all along the way-the ones with the orange slices and water. As the miles become more and more grueling, the body can actually begin to shut down. Water is desperately needed to avoid dehydration. The potassium in those orange slices replenishes an important deficit in your body. I think it's probably questionable if many runners could make it if it weren't for those little like refreshment stands.
We didn't have a lot of money, but who cared? We had each other. We is my wife Karen and me, and we were on our honeymoon! Now someone has defined a honeymoon as the period between "I do" and "You'd better!", but that definition doesn't work for me. Most of us married people look back with fond memories on our honeymoon. Karen and I were married in Chicago, and we drove up to Wisconsin and Michigan for our first week as man and wife. It was a lot of years ago, but it was a week I will never forget; the tandem bike rides, where I ended up doing most of the pedaling, the chili dogs and onion rings, and the smooching as our kids later called it, the horseback ride, the boat ride. But the best part of the honeymoon wasn't the sights or the activities. It was that glorious feeling that, for one week, there was nobody else on earth but Ron and Karen. We just totally focused on each other.