My plane had left the gate at O'Hare Airport in Chicago - and I thought we were on our way. Wrong. First, they routed us across the backside of the airport - I think it was in Wisconsin. Then, after a slow, meandering tour of that huge airport, we finally ended up in a long line of aircraft waiting to take of. Well, after a while, I got a little impatient. That's okay. What's important is that the pilot not getting impatient. We don't want him to go until the tower says it's okay. He knows you don't take off until you've gotten clearance from the tower - no matter how long you have to wait.
When I was growing up - when our kids were growing up - when generations of kids were growing up, mommys and daddys read stories to their kids. And most of them had a predictable ending - "and they lived happily ever after." Except for this one nursery rhyme - the one about that uncoordinated egg. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to learn from that one. You know - "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall; Humpty Dumpty had a great fall; all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again." I kept waiting for the happy ending. There isn't one. Humpty's broken, he's in pieces, everybody tries to put him together, and nobody can. Humpty is broken and no one can fix him. Not necessarily.
Well, our kids have reached that age - the age when they're old enough to tell us how we did parenting them. In fact, a while back we got into one of those uproarious "remember when" conversations. The subject was various times we had disciplined them. We explained to them how we had tried to discipline them by the principle of natural consequences - experiencing the most natural negative outcomes in the area where they had disobeyed. So if you did something bad with your mouth, you didn't get to use your mouth for a while - or you got it washed out with soap. If you did something bad with your hands, you didn't get to use your hands for awhile. At which point our eldest son said, "But I never did anything wrong with my bottom!" Which launched a discussion of great spankings we have known - including the ones we are now told didn't hurt. Well, this went on for over an hour. It was a laughing and loving and learning time for all of us - and a reminder of what is probably a parent's biggest challenge.
Waking up early most mornings is not an option for me. If I oversleep, it means missing a plane or a speaking commitment or radio broadcasts or an important meeting. In other words, my clock radio had better work. And it does. Even on the days when many other clock radios don't. Because the power went out during the night, that is. There have been mornings when I have been awakened by my clock radio - and looked over at the other one in the room and seen it blinking at me some time when it was the middle of the night. Now, that clock was plugged into the wall - and sometime during the night the external power supply had failed. Good thing I wasn't depending on that! But mine always comes through - because it's powered by batteries! What keeps it going is inside!
If you've ever stayed in a hotel or motel, you've experienced the amazing work of the Room Fairy. You know, that wonderful creature who miraculously puts your room back together while you're out. Of course, they don't always clean your room. The other day the Room Fairy never came - and it was my fault. Because I was sleeping in and also doing a lot of intense preparation, I hung the "Do Not Disturb" sign on my door. Later in the day, I noticed a piece of paper that had been slid under my door. Here's what it said. "Housekeeping (that's the Room Fairy's real name) did not clean your room today in honor of the Do Not Disturb sign that was on your door." Well, as the kids would say, "Duh." By the next day, the trash cans were overflowing, the towels were shot, the toilet paper and Kleenex were going or gone - the mess was accumulating. All because of my dumb sign.
If you think all American history is boring, you need to check out the greatest American adventure ever - the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It's attracting all kinds of new attention as its bicentennial approaches - a major public television series, a mini-series, best-selling books. And it deserves all the attention. Just as America bought the Louisiana Purchase and suddenly owned much of the West, President Jefferson asked Meriwether Lewis to put together an expedition to explore the unknown territory. Imagine 30 men, going where no non Indian had ever gone, seeing what no non Indian had ever seen - like the Rocky Mountains, animals like antelope and prairie dogs, tribes that had ever contacted.
The first time I heard someone talking about an invisible airplane, my reaction was, "I don't think so." But, in a sense, there is such a thing. Not exactly an airplane that people can't see - but an airplane radar can't see. It's called the "Stealth" bomber. Of course, if a bomber is headed for you, you want to know it. And radar has always been what alerted defenders to that bomber. But the "Stealth" is able to come in under the range of radar - and invade air space undetected - and do damage it might never have been able to do if it had been detected. Nobody realizes they're in danger until it's too late.
When you hear the word "superstar," you think of someone like, say, Michael Jordan or some box office giant. I'm sorry, but that's a pretty lame use of the word when you hear about the kind of star astronomers have recently discovered. It is the largest known star in the universe! Conventional telescopes had missed it because of vast dust clouds. But the Hubble space telescope picked it up. And it's 186 million miles wide and 10 million times brighter than the Sun! That's a superstar. Don't even try to comprehend one star that enormous! Interesting footnote - according to many theories on how stars are formed, a star this large is an impossibility! No, it's not.
Most of the courtrooms I've been exposed to are on TV. But not long ago, I had a moment in a courtroom that I will never forget. It began when we learned the whereabouts of a young Native American friend we had been trying to locate for a while - we'll call her Cathy. We learned, almost miraculously, that after a dark time away from God, Cathy was in jail in Nebraska. We got that word on Friday as I was leaving Michigan to meet our Native American summer team in South Dakota on Monday night. We ate up the Interstate trying to get to Nebraska before Cathy went before the judge. She had no idea we were coming - until we saw her during Sunday afternoon visiting hours.
You've probably seen an actor named Iron Eyes Cody in many Indian roles. He tells an old legend about a young Indian brave, going through the rites of manhood. As he hiked solo into this beautiful valley, he decided to test himself against that rugged, snow-capped mountain that dominated the valley. When he reached the top, he felt like he was standing on the rim of the world. Then he heard a rustle at his feet - it was a snake. Before he could move, the snake spoke. He said, "I am about to die. It's too cold for me up here, and there's no food. Put me under your shirt and take me down to the valley." The young brave refused. He said, "I know your kind - you're a rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you'll bite and your bite will kill me." But the snake said, "No, I promise to treat you differently. If you do this for me, I won't harm you."