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."
Maybe you're someone who watches sports a lot. Maybe you're someone who watches someone who watches sports a lot. But if you're too busy to turn a football game and sit there watching the whole thing, you can do what I do sometimes. Just turn on the end of the game. Some of the most amazing things happen when the game is almost over. Especially after they sound that two-minute warning. Suddenly, everyone knows it's time to throw caution to the wind and go for broke. A lot of teams even practice what they call a two-minute drill - a bold, accelerated series of plays that are designed for those urgent moments when you realize it's almost over.
I wonder if they've ever run out of flowers in England before. Apparently, the florists did when Princess Diana died. No one could have ever predicted the massive public outpouring of love and grief that came from the British people in the week following her death. Remember that sea of flowers that enveloped the front of Buckingham Palace? And Diana's personal residence at Kensington Palace? You couldn't get anywhere near the gates - the flowers seemed to stretch out and around endlessly! Someone who had been close to the Princess said, "Diana had no idea she was loved like this." That's sad. But not unique.
Moving day. Good news, bad news. The process of moving is horrendous - the result - once you find everything you packed - is wonderful. My Administrative Assistant Gayle recently got to experience all that good news and bad news. But actually, the bad news turned out to be not so bad. It could have been bad. Gayle is one woman with some heavy stuff to move - refrigerator, stove, piano. Plus lots of smaller things, of course. I was out of town when Gayle moved - good planning, huh? But I talked to her a few days after the big migration. And all she could talk about was the difference her friends had made. The guys pitched in on the especially exciting things - like the piano. The women carried some of the other items. And even her little nephews joined the team - they carried the little nephew sized stuff. Each person carried what he or she could. Gayle said, "Now when I look at each piece of furniture in my apartment, I think of a person - the one who helped carry that particular burden." The burdens turned out to have a lot of blessing in them - because of friends who helped her carry what she could never carry alone.
Well, I'm happy to report to you that I have no personal problem with the paparazzi. Those celebrity photographers have been very respectful of my privacy. In fact, they could care less about anything I do. But, in reality, these freelance celebrity photographers have been the object of some bigtime criticism - most vehemently after their pursuit of Princess Diana may have contributed to the circumstances of her tragic death. Their prying lenses seem to be everywhere, trying to capture a picture of someone famous doing something outrageous, something sensational, something lurid. And, unfortunately, the personal lifestyles of a lot of people provide those kinds of things to shoot. Of course, when it comes to our lives, we want privacy - no intrusive cameras capturing moments we would rather not have everyone know about. There aren't many people, frankly, who could afford to have a camera capturing everything they do.
I don't know why my friends keep shaking their heads when they try to teach me computer things. I must be a special challenge for them. Recently, someone saw me turning off my computer without going through all the steps you're supposed to. I didn't know - until they told me that day. I suppose my friend was shaking his head, as he watched me. He showed me how to bring up on my screen an option called "shutdown." When you activate the shutdown mode, the computer displays a special shutdown screen that stays on while the internal shutdown work is going on. Then, suddenly, your computer is off. When I asked my technically normal friend what shutdown mode was, he gave me a simple answer - knowing my techno-dork limitations. He said, "Your computer is cleaning out a lot of junk that's accumulated in there - any unfinished business from whatever commands it's been given since the last shutdown." Sounds good to me. Now I never end what I'm doing without going through shutdown mode. Neither should you.
Curtis and his Great Puppy Adventure. That was the lunchtime talk around our office when one of our team members became the proud owner of eight new puppies - thanks to his trusty dog, Sister. Each day seemed to bring a new episode - especially as Curtis would compare the way of the puppy with the ways of people. He told us one day about trying to replenish their food. His intention was to load up their container with lots of good things. But they made it very difficult. The puppies were too busy fighting over two little pieces that were left in the container.
It has been one of the great engineering challenges of our life together as a family - packing our car trunk for family trips. Many times I thought it was going to be a choice between the luggage and one or two of the kids. But summoning all of my tremendous engineering skills, I would stuff every corner, try the suitcases every which way until they went in; find things the kids could sit on. And when all else failed, I called my wife. Well, we finally got it all in, just barely. Then came the big moment - drum roll please - as I tried to close the trunk. It closed! There was dancing in the streets! Then, from behind, came the ambush as one of the kids showed up with one more bag I didn't know about. And there begins the frustrating search for a place to put just one more things in the space that is already jammed.
If you've driven across America much, you've probably seen a sign sometime for Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota. They advertise all over the country. I was in Singapore and I saw an arrow pointing west - it said something like "Wall Drug Store 10,000 miles." This once little drug store in an unknown town has grown into a major tourist attraction - some days they'll draw 20,000 people! But it wasn't always that way. In 1931 a young pharmacist and his wife bought the drug store in Wall, this dusty little town on the edge of the Badlands. And for five years, they barely eked out a living. On the verge of giving up, the druggist's wife had an idea. Because of the new Mt. Rushmore attraction, lots of cars were going by - but they weren't stopping. Her idea? Advertise the one thing those travelers needed after driving across that hot prairie - ice water. They put out signs for free ice water, the people began to stop, and the rest is history. Here's what that couple said looking back over the years at the amazing things that had happened - no matter where you live, you can succeed because wherever you are, you can reach out to other people with something they need!