I was around a lot of construction people when we were building our Ministry Headquarters, and there's nothing that means more to a tradesman than his tools. The good old hammer is your basic, fundamental tool. And the capabilities of a hammer literally run the gamut. I've seen men make things with a hammer. But, then again, I've seen men break things with a hammer, too!
No matter how big you expect the Grand Canyon to be, it's bigger. And when our family has had the privilege to visit there, we've all been impressed with this awesome, divine masterpiece. One big problem there though has been our boys, because they think they're part mountain goat. Of course, mountain goats cannot read the signs that tell you to stay behind the fences. Apparently, our boys couldn't read them either. They always had this irresistible urge to venture out as far as possible on those rocks that overlook the canyon. Of course, one false step, and it's over – actually, you're all over. All our lectures about going too far for safety's sake made a lot more sense the morning after we had stopped at one particular overlook. The morning paper reported that on the same afternoon we had been there, two young men went to that same overlook and one never came back. He ended up dead at the bottom of the canyon. The reason? Yeah, you know. He got too close to the edge.
We're not horse racing fans, but I happened to stumble onto a horse race on TV when I was looking for the evening news. It was a few years ago. It was The Preakness; the second race in that three-race series they call the Triple Crown. Those races are, in essence, horse racing's World Series. The first race in 2005 had been won by a horse whose odds of winning were 50 to 1, beating the odds-on favorite, Afleet Alex. Then came that second race, The Preakness. As the race passed the halfway point, Afleet Alex made his move. He quickly caught up with another horse who had been in the lead – who, for some reason, swerved unexpectedly right into his path, and both horses started to collide and stumble. Well, Afleet Alex's jockey ended up hanging onto his horse's neck, fully expecting to go down in a potentially deadly fall where they could all be trampled. But amazingly, Afleet Alex somehow managed to regain his balance, surge into the lead, and win the race in a dramatic finish. The headline the next day said it all: "From stumble to stunning finish."
It's one of those hidden natural treasures that not a lot of people know about. They call it Buttermilk Falls. People had told us what a picturesque spot it would be. They just didn't tell us about the road you have to drive to see this picturesque spot. So, we turned off the paved road where our directions said to and suddenly we found ourselves on a dirt road that was one crater after another. There was no way to miss these massive potholes. In fact, one guy in a Volkswagen in front of us just totally disappeared. (Well no, not really.) I mean, I had to drive about two miles an hour with the kids reminding me that they were not having much fun. Well, neither was I. It was really tempting to turn back, but we persevered. And I'm glad we did. We finally reached this magnificent waterfall, cascading down the rock walls of a cliff. There was even a trail where we climbed to the top and got this great view from the top of the waterfall. We loved it! And in spite of the miserable road to it, we went back several times. And it was worth it!
It was early February and we had just gotten several inches of snow – the wet, heavy kind. As you probably know, February is about the time that cabin fever starts to set in for those of us who have something called winter, and we're really ready for the cold to be over. Well, sometimes it isn't at that point; it could last for a few more weeks. But I saw something so amazing that day of the February snow that I went for my camera to take pictures of it. On the south side of our shed, I saw something just barely peeking out from the snow. It was the shoots of our yellow daffodils! I brushed off the snow and captured it on film – the promise of a coming spring in the middle of a very wintry day!
Now, CNN doesn’t often do a news stories about high school football player, but there was something very special about this South Carolina player they described this way: “Sometimes the biggest heart on the field can fit into the smallest player.” Well, the name of the player--Kos, a Siberian orphan, adopted by an American family, and as they told the story, he has no legs. He lost them the day he and his friend decided to hop aboard a freight train. For some reason, his friend pushed him and he landed under the wheels of that train.
We've got a close friend who moved from Arizona to the Midwest. She loves the green. There's not much of that in the semi-arid area that she's from. And she loves all the things that bloom in that new part of the country, but that's not to say she doesn't miss what she grew up with. She really misses the beauty of the Southwest. Some might travel through the long, largely barren stretches of her part of the country and not see much beauty, but it's there. Yeah, it's a different beauty from the lush, green parts of America, but there is a stark, wild, wide-open majesty in the desert. It's got a beauty all its own.
Goodbye, Chicago! Hello, New Jersey! It was time for our first major move as a young family. Our ministry was pretty consuming, even back then, so we looked for the most inexpensive moving help we could find. We found a private moving company owned by a friend. Tom showed up with one other guy and they did a great job navigating our earthly possessions down this narrow apartment staircase. Some days later, we met them on the other end. The problem was that we were facing an even more challenging staircase to get to our new second-floor apartment. Probably the greatest challenge of all was our refrigerator. It was a heavy old bear...I mean, even to try to move it across the floor let alone up those stairs. But Tom said, "I'll take care of it." He proceeded to strap that refrigerator on his muscular back and carry it up that narrow staircase all by himself. All I could do was lamely yell, "Go, Tom, go!"
Maybe it's a guy thing. Maybe it's just a Ron thing. But I hate to waste time or waste effort. You know? Here's what that it looks like when I've just returned from the grocery store to restock our empty refrigerator and shelves. I basically look like a mule – yeah, with bags all over my body, carried on almost every appendage. I don't want to make any more trips to the car than absolutely necessary, oh no, no! So I'm willing to try whatever calisthenics, to tolerate whatever overload will enable me to get everything in the house in one trip. This approach has been known to have its problems. Sometimes I drop a bag or two or one of them rips open; thus, making more work. And I've got this shoulder. Yeah, wrecked it pretty well. You think it might be traceable to carrying too much too many times?
This is crazy. Suddenly I'm all excited about a plant. I can't remember ever taking care of a plant in my life. That was always my wife's department. But this Christmas I actually ordered a special plant, and it's getting my special care because of what it represents to me about Christmas. And about the "long winter" that began the day the love of my life was suddenly gone.