It's not much fun to perform without an audience, right? Toddlers, oh they believe that for sure. Our family was having one of those rare opportunities we could all get together, and we were having some great conversations, keeping one eye on our little two-year-old granddaughter. And one eye wasn't enough for her. Huh-uh! Using her recently enhanced motor skills, she started running wide circles right in the middle of the room. After her first two spins-which did manage to get our attention-she called out two little words (I didn't even know she knew them), "Watch this!" We did.
When my wife and I would drive somewhere, we didn't lose any time when she drove. In fact, we set some records. Once we were on a trip and I was preparing for the meetings we were going to, she was driving down this four-lane, divided highway. I was looking down. All of a sudden, I looked up and I saw orange plastic cones on the middle line that divides the two lanes on our side. I wasn't clear which lane we were supposed to be driving in, because I hadn't been looking. And as I looked, every vehicle but one was moving into the left lane, to the left of the cones. You notice I said everyone but one. Yeah, that was us. My wife continued in the right lane, and I said, "Honey, what are you doing? Looks like this lane is closing." She said, "Just watch." Well, we passed a line of cars on our left, with a big truck at the head of it. See, that truck had moved into the left lane, and all the other cars said, "Oh, that must be the lane to be in." and all the other cars followed the big truck. The problem was that the truck that they were following was taking equipment to a big tar truck parked in the left lane, so we waved as we zipped by all those cars as they were heading for an unpleasant surprise.
Well, the doctor says I'm shrinking, but I think it started at about 5'8". Now, you might know that, because I sound really tall, right? Yeah. Years ago, I was carrying 210 pounds on this little body. But thankfully, I got about 45 pounds off and then it's been off for a lot of years. Of course, I've still got the same metabolism that inflated this body many years ago. Oh, do I know about dieting! Yeah. And I also know the point at which your diet is in the greatest danger. Here's how it goes! 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. Why don't we try a few French fries. You consume them in one bite. So, now what? You buy a whole order of fries for yourself. And now you feel bad. You've blown your diet. You could just get back on track right then, right? 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, anybody got the number of Pizza Heaven?" Okay, yeah, you messed up. So you give up and you soon return to your former roundness.
One little light. That's all it took to render our car totally unusable. The little light in the rear of our vehicle was left on one night after we unloaded some things, and it stayed on for several days while we were gone. When we got back, everything in that car said, "I'm not starting, pal!" because that one little light totally drained our battery. But then came the hero! Yes, up came our friend in his pickup truck with his trusty jumper cables. And those cables delivered the energy that my flat old battery needed to run again!
It was one of those unforgettable, milestone moments for our family. Our firstborn child was holding her firstborn child. Wow! What a moment! And we got to join them in the delivery room just moments after the little guy's arrival. And I knew this presented a shocking development. My wife was a grandmother! Could you believe it? Me, living with a grandmother! Yes, I was living in denial. And then after becoming a grandmother more than once, well finally, I had to accept that disturbing reality. I am a grandfather!
The folks at our local bakery are some of the most effective marketers I know. They don't just give you a sales pitch. No, they don't have highly creative advertising. They just offer samples. For free...one of my favorite words - free. So, I walk in to buy two bagels. There, on a plate on top of the display case, are these little bites of cheesecake, and a little sign that invites me to try one for free. So, I do, and I walk out of that bakery with my two bagels and a cheesecake. I had not planned to get a cheesecake, but they sold it in the best possible way...just by letting me taste it. The taste made me want the whole cheesecake!
I grew up as an only child. My parents took me to most of the places that they went, but I remember one time they left me home by myself. I was home alone. (You know, maybe somebody could make a movie about that someday.) Well, anyway, we lived in this third floor apartment on the south side of Chicago. It was getting very late. I was sitting near the back door waiting and they should have been home by now. I was worried. I remember hearing sirens and I thought, "Oh, no!" Okay, my imagination went crazy; it was taking me all over the place. I was thinking of all the bad things that might have happened to my parents. I was already there and then the sirens came. I was sure the sirens were for my mommy and my daddy, but they weren't. But the fear I had that night was so great, (How about this?) I still remember it don't I?
Karen's Dad didn't want the holly bush by his carport anymore. But my wife wanted that holly bush. Yep! Dad said if we would dig it up, it was ours to transplant at the little Ozark farmstead that Karen inherited from her grandparents. Sounded simple. It wasn't. It took shovels, a chain, a pickup truck, and some major engineering to get that stubborn bush out of the ground and into the truck. Well, we quickly transported "Holly" to the farm, immediately dug a new home in the ground for her, and got her replanted. Then Karen poured on the water and the nutrients. See, just removing that bush from where it was turned out to be only half the battle. We had to get it replanted quickly in new soil-or it would never make it!
Usually a total eclipse of the moon seems to happen when I'm counting sheep in the middle of the night. But this one started about 9:00 at night, and this one I got a chance to see. It's a pretty amazing sight to watch that shadow slowly move across the moon until it eventually covers it completely. I said to the friend who was assisting us with ministry that weekend, "I just wish we had binoculars." "Me, too," he said. Then it dawned on him, he said, "Hey, I do have binoculars in my truck!" All of a sudden we moved from seats near the back to something like front row seats on this eclipse. Those binoculars revealed the craters and all the fascinating details of that disappearing moon. What a difference it made to see it up close!
Over the years, our family has had some great times at the New Jersey Shore. And I love to see the Atlantic Ocean with all of its many moods: relatively calm, tide out, tide in, building surf, towering breakers, even angry in a storm. When the waves really start getting high, most swimmers make a wise choice; they get out of the water and they call it a day. But there's another breed out there. They're called surfers. Some on surfboards, some body-surfing, and they don't run out when the monster waves start coming. No, they run in! And they ride those monsters!