Wednesday, August 15, 2001

I think I've lost the same five pounds about 200 times--which would be just about enough to make six of me. Actually, I used to weigh almost 50 pounds more, and I lost it a long time ago. But, as you know if you have ever lost a chunk of yourself, the challenge is to keep it off. So I set 165 as my ceiling weight and then 160 as kind of my anchor weight. As my weight starts creeping toward 165 again--which it inevitably will, believe me, I have to reverse all engines immediately. I mean, it's just too hard to fight 20-25 extra pounds. I'd rather fight with five pounds any time...while it's still a more winable battle.

Tuesday, August 14, 2001

If you've ever given a child a helium balloon, you know you had better tie it to something--or soon you're going to have one balloon-less, heartbroken kid. That crazy balloon will just float away and slowly disappear, and all the while that crying child will be pointing at the sky and expecting you to somehow get up there and retrieve it. Now when you go from a helium balloon to a hot-air balloon--the kind that carry people--you don't want that balloon to just go drifting off somewhere. That's why they put those sandbags on hot air balloons--it called ballast. That extra weight holds a balloon down, it helps control the balloon, and, most important, it keeps it from drifting off. Balloons need ballast. So do people.

Monday, August 13, 2001

When our boys were young, I usually knew where to find them on a Saturday morning--watching cartoons on TV. Back then, they were a little more innocent than some of what's offered today. One morning, they called for me to come in to see what was coming on television. And I thought, "Oh great, Smurfs." But when I saw what it was, I dropped what I was doing, sat down and watched it. It was the original episode of my favorite boyhood TV show, "Superman." There he was again in his blue tights and red cape--faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But as it concluded, I felt this tinge of sadness. I remembered what eventually happened to Superman...actually to the actor who played him. His sudden death was ruled a suicide. They said he had been type cast, and it was hard for Superman to get any other roles. He couldn't be Superman for the rest of his life. No man can.

Friday, August 10, 2001

During a recent summer with our "On Eagles' Wings" Native American outreach team, we had some 5,000 miles to cover in about five weeks. In order to make it to all the reservations to which we had accepted invitations, we really needed a comfortable bus. And God wonderfully provided that through some brothers in Christ. Now our bus driver, Josh, really knew his way across the West, and my wife really didn't. It was often her job to drive another vehicle that we needed. That meant traveling many unfamiliar miles - but she found a way to simplify the process. She just kept her eyes on that bus. If Josh turned, she turned. If Josh stopped, she stopped. She made sure she could even recognize the lights of his bus in case they got separated. She said this trip that could have been so difficult and confusing was actually pretty relaxed and simple. She didn't try to figure out the route for herself. She had a great trip because one thing governed all her choices - following the man who knew the way.

Thursday, August 9, 2001

Our church's youth group had just been out whitewater rafting all day. I had been invited to wrap up the day with an inspirational talk. And when I arrived at the rafting facility they were using, I was expecting to see just the youth group. As it turned out, this recreational company had 1500 people on the river that day from many different groups! So, I wandered around looking lost until someone from our church found me. And that night we had a wonderful get-together under the trees. Now, I didn't know that one girl at the back that had not planned to be there at all. See, she was a Girl Scout who had been there for the day with her troop. And they had somehow gone off and left her all alone. And she saw this group of teenagers meeting, so she wandered over to check it out. And she stayed...and she listened...and at the end, she was one of the young people who indicated they wanted to begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 8, 2001

If you grew up on a farm, there's probably a dog in your memories. For my farm girl, my wife, that dog was a Collie cattle dog named King. King was great at rounding up her Dad's cattle. All Dad would have to do was to whistle that certain whistle, and King would start circling and circling those cattle until he herded them in. But there was a problem. One day a chicken got out, and King killed that chicken - which gave that valuable dog the taste of blood. They tell me if you can't cure that in a dog, you can't afford to keep it. The dog either has to be killed or disciplined so he'll never forget. So Dad took that dead chicken and tied its legs around King's neck with some twine. Needless to say, the dog tried everything to shake that dead chicken, but as the day wore on, the bird he killed did not improve with age. By the end of the day, King's head and tail were hanging low. It's a painful way to learn the seriousness of what he had done...but not nearly as painful as the alternative.

Tuesday, August 7, 2001

When I'm on the road and staying in a motel, I'm often leaving early for that day's responsibilities. But by the time I return late that night, something amazing has happened. The bed is made! I have new, clean towels! Everything is straightened and neat. I even have new little soaps in the bathroom! The Room Fairy has been there! Now, I know that not because I've seen the maid (I haven't), but because I can see the results of her work all over the place.

Monday, August 6, 2001

I'm about 5'8". You probably know that because I sound about that tall, right? Years ago, I was carrying 210 pounds on this little 68" body. Goodyear actually offered me a job as their blimp. But thankfully, I have weighed about 45 to 50 pounds less than that for a lot of years. Of course, I've still got the same metabolism that inflated this body many years ago. So, ohhh, do I know about dieting! And I also know the point at which your diet is in the greatest danger. OK, you've really been good...the scale has been giving you good news the last couple of weeks...your diet discipline is holding. Then somebody offers you something that you just can't resist--let's say, a few french fries. You consume them in one bite. So, you buy a whole order of fries for yourself. And now you feel bad. You have blown your diet. You could just get back on track right then. But no--you say to yourself, "I blew it! I've failed! Oh well, what's the use? I might as well have a milk shake to wash down those fries. Hey, and anybody got the number of Pizza Heaven?" Yeah, you messed up. So you give up--and soon return to your former roundness.

Thursday, August 2, 2001

The lady next to me on a recent airplane flight made me feel good about how far I had to travel that day. I only had to cross the country - she was doing that, too, but she had just connected from Europe to America. But she was still excited enough about her trip to Europe that she was happy to talk about what she had seen there. Frankly, I can only remember one thing she told me about - it was something I'd never heard about before. She had visited some of Europe's most majestic cathedrals. And she had learned that underneath the cross atop these cathedrals, the architects and builders had built in a gold ball. In that ball was a copy of the plans for the cathedral - safely hidden away in case something ever happened to that magnificent structure...so folks would know how to rebuild it.

I was at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, waiting for my flight in the lounge of Gate B6. Me waiting for a plane in Chicago is nothing new. But what was noteworthy was what happened at that gate while I was waiting. Before the passengers from my flight could board, the incoming passengers, of course, had to disembark. I had not expected to see the unforgettable, emotional scene that unfolded as I watched.

It was shortly after the Gulf War had ended, and soldiers were coming home. Clustered anxiously around the end of the jetway were a boy in a Desert Storm T-shirt, a little girl, and a wife carrying a flag with a yellow ribbon attached, and a friend with a vide camera aimed down the jetway. The wife was crying what must have been tears of anxious anticipation as her son was hanging on the corner of the jetway door, peeking down the tunnel. It was actually hard not to watch, and many people in the lounge were doing that just that - some were even wiping their eyes.

As more and more passengers streamed off the plane, the wife was fighting more and more to keep her composure. Then, as a flight attendant came out, the wife asked painfully, "Are there any more passengers?" She said, "Only a few." Moments later, as the last passenger left, that precious wife fell into a chair and melted into tears. I want to tell you, it was a heartbreaking moment. The anticipated reunion didn't happen. The one she wanted home hadn't come home.

            

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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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