Friday, February 1, 2019

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Well, my wife said she knew we were in serious danger when I started rubbing my right leg – while driving, that is. See, I'm a marathon driver and I really like to drive. So Karen and I found ourselves in situations where I was starting to drive past my prime alertness. First sign of sleepiness – rubbing my leg. It must have been some kind of involuntary reflex. So she'd ask if I'd like her to drive. Of course not. Second sign – I'd start doing calisthenics to stay alert. And she would ask if I'd like her to drive. Silly girl; no way. Next sign of impending disaster – I would turn on the most obnoxious radio station I could find. Again, she would suggest that she drive and I'd answer, "I'm fine!" Then I roll down the window – even with the wind chill being, let's say, 30 below. Then, a little more insistent, Karen would say, "Honey, please let me drive." Finally – just before we became a National Safety Council statistic – I'd pull over to the side of the road and relinquish the wheel. You know what? I was out cold before Karen could even pull out on the highway again.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

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He was just a teenager and his village had just collapsed all around him. He was one of countless thousands who were affected by a massive earthquake that hit Turkey. In an interview with National Geographic Magazine, this young man offered an amazingly insightful perspective on what he had just witnessed. He said, "I accept this as a geologic event, but it can be taken as a warning. In seconds, billionaires can become penniless. So you must have values you cannot lose." Wow!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

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Oh, those firstborn children. Somewhere inside their brain is this tattoo: "I can do it myself." Wait. I'm a firstborn. So is our daughter. And when she decided at the age of five that she was going to bake a cake, she, of course, didn't need any help. Her "I'm going to bake a cake" moment was a good news/bad news announcement for me. Good news: my little girl is growing up. Bad news: I have to eat it. We heard a lot of banging of pans in the kitchen and ultimately the smells of something baking. Maybe this was going to work after all. Minutes later, my little girl came into the living room, almost tripping over her lower lip. She was sad. She explained: "Daddy, it came out flat." Then she brought in her first cake. Or maybe I should say pancake. It was that flat. That's when Sr. Baking Advisor, Mom, entered the picture to see what our daughter could learn from the cake that fell flat. She'd put in the milk, the eggs, the flour. But she just forgot one ingredient-the baking powder-the anti-flat ingredient in a cake.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

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We were waiting at a stoplight just across the street from some railroad tracks. The gates by the track were up and no lights were flashing. There was no train coming. But just beyond the railroad crossing was one of those little rail inspection vehicles, fitted with these wheels that allow them to ride on the tracks. On the side it said "Union Pacific." But believe me, this was no train. Suddenly, we heard this obnoxious and continuous honking on a horn that sounded like a train horn. The little vehicle wanted to proceed through the railroad crossing, and he was nowhere big enough to trigger the gates or the lights so the traffic would stop. So the operator just kept leaning on the horn as he passed through the intersection, hoping we would all stop for him as we would for a train. We did stop, but we weren't fooled. This was no train. This was a train wannabe! 

Monday, January 28, 2019

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It was early February and we had just gotten several inches of snow – the wet, heavy kind. As you probably know, February is about the time that cabin fever starts to set in for those of us who have something called winter, and we're really ready for the cold to be over. Well, sometimes it isn't at that point; it could last for a few more weeks. But I saw something so amazing that day of the February snow that I went for my camera to take pictures of it. On the south side of our shed, I saw something just barely peeking out from the snow. It was the shoots of our yellow daffodils! I brushed off the snow and captured it on film – the promise of a coming spring in the middle of a very wintry day!

Friday, January 25, 2019

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Tupperware can be a good thing. Those sealed plastic containers can preserve leftover food so you can enjoy it later. Tupperware can be a bad thing, if you forget about it. Sound like the voice of experience? I know from some distasteful personal experience what can happen when you do forget it - intermediate life forms, morphing into something unrecognizable. The problem comes when that Tupperware with leftovers in it slowly gets pushed farther and farther back in the fridge, until it's tucked out of sight behind the pickle jar and a gallon of milk. Ultimately, the lost little Tupperware will make its presence known. Yeah, as you open the fridge and utter those inevitable words: "What's that smell?" The smell isn't going away until some domestic Green Beret storms the depths of that fridge and bravely opens that Tupperware and carries away the rotting contents inside, or beats them to death with a stick if necessary.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

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When our older son was little, he would sometimes wander into the living room, crawl into my lap, and snuggle up so close I wasn't sure how he could breathe. One night he looked up at me with those big blue eyes of his and he told me something I've never forgotten. He said, "Daddy, when I'm in your arms, I feel so safe."

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

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I first learned about the United States Life-Saving Service years ago on a family vacation. We got to see a life-saving station that actually has been preserved at a strategic point along the Atlantic coastline. There used to be a lot of them. In some areas, they were like just seven miles apart, you know, along the coast. Each one was staffed by a seven-man crew. I'm going to tell you, these guys were ultimate heroes in every sense of the word! When a ship was in distress near their assigned area, they'd go out into the surf, out into the storm, even a hurricane to try to rescue the people on board. They lived their motto: "You have to go out. You don't have to come back." They saved countless lives who otherwise would have been lost.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

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We call him Evil Bert. He's not a nice guy at all. I was speaking for our Warrior Leadership Summit conference for young Native Americans when Bert made his appearance. Actually, I had asked a friend to make a puppet for me to use. That puppet had a dark mustache, dark eyes, a dark beard, and a wicked expression. I affectionately called him Evil Bert. Evil Bert carried a plastic bat in his hands as he and I walked through the audience. Suddenly, Bert would lash out and hit someone with his plastic bat. People wisely started ducking when he got close. The really smart young people there figured out the dark secret about Evil Bert. It wasn't really Bert that was hitting them. It was the guy who was using him as a puppet. That would be me.

Monday, January 21, 2019

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I was in Cincinnati, working on the message I was going to give that night, and I had a wonderful view of the Ohio River out my hotel window. But it wasn't until I talked with an African-American brother that night that I realized the significance of that river in the history of his people's long fight for freedom. In the days of slavery, many slaves managed to run away from their slave masters, thus beginning their desperate flight for freedom. If they were captured, well, their fate could be severe punishment or even worse. If they could make it to northern Kentucky, across the river from Cincinnati, they were on the edge of their goal. And, once they were in what was the North, they would be helped to safety, maybe in Canada, or by those who ran safe houses on what became known as the Underground Railroad. Once I heard the history, I saw something very different as I looked out my window at the Ohio River from Cincinnati. I was thinking of slaves looking across from the border in Kentucky, realizing that if they could just get across that river, they'd finally be free.

            

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