Monday, November 19, 2001

Skunks are kind of cute - but you just don't want to get near them. Humans seem to understand that pretty well. Apparently, some dogs just don't get it. Like the one a pastor friend of mine recently told me about. The dog belongs to a man in his congregation - and somehow his canine companion got into a tangle with one of those striped kitties. Needless to say, the dog reeked! His owner did his best to bathe him thoroughly. But the smell was still so strong that, before it was over, and literally the poor man got so sick in the night that he literally had to go to the hospital!

    Friday, November 16, 2001

    Our daughter was doing something she does several times a day - picking up our infant grandson. She bent over OK - but suddenly she couldn't straighten up. A sudden pain shot through her back, almost paralyzing her really. She managed to set the baby down and to lie down on the bed. The pain was almost unbearable, and she couldn't move. Daddy was at the office - and the only one there to call for help was our three-year-old grandson. He picked up the phone, dialed Daddy's office, got the receptionist and gave her a simple but direct message - "Mommy got boo-boo on her back - tell Daddy to come home now!" When he was put through to Daddy he gave it to him direct - "Daddy, Mommy got boo-boo on her back - come home now!" In a matter of minutes, it was Daddy to the rescue. In a matter of days, Mommy was back to normal.

      Thursday, November 15, 2001

      After watching the World Trade Center as part of my skyline for many years, it hit pretty hard that awful September 11th to see those towers come crashing down - and thousands of lives with them. The day after the first attack on the Trade Center in 1993, I was greeted by a TV crew as I got off a flight from Newark. They asked me as a New Yorker how I felt after that bombing. "Vulnerable" - that was my answer. Well, since the events of September 11, and the days since then, I think a lot of us are feeling that way. We watched everyday people like us, doing things we do - passengers on a jetliner, folks at their jobs -suddenly wiped out en masse. We're uncertain about what a new kind of war might mean, what's going to happen economically. And some of us are trying to help our children understand what we're not sure we understand. We feel vulnerable. It's as if some of our own sense of personal security and safety came crashing down with those majestic towers.

        Wednesday, November 14, 2001

        Laura Ingalls Wilder - she'd written some books that enjoyed some success - but her name became almost a household word only after her death. After "Little House on the Prairie", based on her books, became the #1 TV series in America. Even though the series has been off the air for years, you can still find it just about any given day in almost any American city. And Laura's books about her family's life on the frontier have sold far more after her death than when she was alive. And as you read those books, you find that Laura really was a gifted storyteller. In touring the home where she wrote them, we learned one of the reasons why she was such a good story teller. As the TV series portrayed, her older sister went blind as a teenager. And Pa Ingalls told Laura she now had a mission - to be her sister's eyes, to put into words what was going on around them. That gift would later help her tell the stories that would touch the lives of millions.

          Tuesday, November 13, 2001

          She was only 21 years old - but she was well on her way to becoming a superstar. Aaliyah was enjoying huge success with her music, and she was beginning to emerge as an actress with a great future, as well. But that all ended in one awful moment in the Bahamas when the plane carrying her and her crew crashed shortly after takeoff. What made the crash even more tragic was the fact that apparently it was avoidable - at least on the preliminary findings of investigators. The plane had been loaded with something like twice its maximum baggage capacity. And investigators believe that it was all that weight that made that plane go down.

            Part of the incredible impact of the attacks on the World Trade Center was that everyday people suddenly became national heroes. Fire trucks would roll through New York City with weary firefighters on board - and New Yorkers would erupt in spontaneous cheers. Ground Zero, the devastated area at and around the site of the collapsed towers, became known as Ground Hero. Professional athletes, who are our nation's heroes in less turbulent times, kept saying, "We're not the heroes - they're the heroes." Americans will not soon forget those firefighters, the police, the medical personnel, and the countless volunteers who gave everything they had to try to rescue those who were caught in those collapsing towers. The word "hero" may never be the same.

              Thursday, November 8, 2001

              I'm lucky they don't make me wear a nametag when I go to see our dentist. See, he doesn't see me all that often. It's not that I don't need to see him; it's not that I don't pay for it when I put off seeing him. Oh, I'll get around to it--later. Now, don't you think we all have this tendency to avoid appointments that may be unpleasant? Sure we do. And, in most cases, you can put off--even cancel--meetings that you don't want to have. In most cases.

                Tuesday, November 6, 2001

                When our son was playing high school football, he looked like the tattooed man at the circus, with bruises all over his body. He always dreamed of playing football. And he had his dream, but he paid a price. As soon as practices started in August, the coaches had those players running 'til they almost dropped, and hitting, and tackling, and straining, and sweating. Some guys quit because it was just too much. Finally, the season began - and his team started winning - a lot. I remember one incredibly rowdy victory celebration on the bus home after they had managed this 20-0 shutout. He had weighed the pain of playing against the pleasure. What he concluded may help you weigh yours.

                  Monday, November 5, 2001

                  When our son entered high school, he carried with him the study habits that had served him well in junior high school. They didn't serve him well in high school. He learned a whole lot about studying his freshman year. Now his grades weren't awful - they were just, you know, below his potential. So the last part of the year, we resorted to, uh, martial law. We enforced three hours of study nightly and we allowed no calls - no going out until his homework was done. Now, turn the page to his second year in high school. I'd go into my study at night and I'd find him with these books and notebooks all spread out across my desk. Sometimes I'd tell him there was a phone call for him. And he'd answer, "Tell them I'll call them back later, Dad. I'm not getting on the phone this year until my homework is done." Interesting. I didn't have to discipline my son. He was disciplining himself.

                    Thursday, November 1, 2001

                    When my wife and I pulled up late to the Bed and Breakfast we were going to be staying at, I tried to be real quiet. I was afraid we might wake some people up, you know. Not a problem. That B & B was buzzing like a beehive. Inside there were ten women huddled around the dining room table, each one with a sewing machine in front of her. Now, I learned that the other guests--all women--were there that weekend for a Mystery Quilt weekend. They were each making a quilt...some for the first time. And even though I felt like I had sort of crashed a grownup slumber party, I did ask a few curious questions like, "What pattern are you following?" They didn't know. See, it turns out that one of the women there, Millie, does these quilting weekends with ladies...and she has the pattern. It's a mystery quilt because each woman only has instructions what to do with the next piece or pieces; she has no idea what all those pieces will make. The next day, one lady said to me, "I can't wait 'till I can see what all this is going to look like when it's all put together." Good thing she didn't leave early with her pile of pieces, huh? She would have never known what it all made.

                                  

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