Tuesday, February 5, 2019

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Once upon a time, there was a heifer named Muffet. She lived on a little dairy farm in the Ozarks. So did my wife - who wasn't my wife then. She was the farmer's young daughter then, and she told me that Muffet had a harder life than some of the other heifers, but it was her own fault. See, Muffet was a stubborn heifer. Would she stay inside the fence that was there for her protection? Oh no! She found ways to crawl through that fence. Which meant Muffet got a yoke attached to her head - basically a sturdy Y-shaped branch that made it impossible for her to get her head outside that fence. It was for her own protection. Now, it was a nuisance, but it was made necessary by Muffet's stubbornness. Other times, they would try to get Muffet to move, and without serious coercion, she would just plant her feet. Then there was the time she refused to stand still to be milked, and she started to charge toward the door. My wife's Mom - whose job it was to keep the cows inside that little shed - quickly slammed the shovel across the door to keep her in. Well, Muffet ran into the shovel and lost part of the cap on one of her horns. This is a difficult little girl here. They tell me from that day on, though, she went right in and stood there quietly for milking.

Friday, February 1, 2019

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Well, my wife said she knew we were in serious danger when I started rubbing my right leg – while driving, that is. See, I'm a marathon driver and I really like to drive. So Karen and I found ourselves in situations where I was starting to drive past my prime alertness. First sign of sleepiness – rubbing my leg. It must have been some kind of involuntary reflex. So she'd ask if I'd like her to drive. Of course not. Second sign – I'd start doing calisthenics to stay alert. And she would ask if I'd like her to drive. Silly girl; no way. Next sign of impending disaster – I would turn on the most obnoxious radio station I could find. Again, she would suggest that she drive and I'd answer, "I'm fine!" Then I roll down the window – even with the wind chill being, let's say, 30 below. Then, a little more insistent, Karen would say, "Honey, please let me drive." Finally – just before we became a National Safety Council statistic – I'd pull over to the side of the road and relinquish the wheel. You know what? I was out cold before Karen could even pull out on the highway again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

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Oh, those firstborn children. Somewhere inside their brain is this tattoo: "I can do it myself." Wait. I'm a firstborn. So is our daughter. And when she decided at the age of five that she was going to bake a cake, she, of course, didn't need any help. Her "I'm going to bake a cake" moment was a good news/bad news announcement for me. Good news: my little girl is growing up. Bad news: I have to eat it. We heard a lot of banging of pans in the kitchen and ultimately the smells of something baking. Maybe this was going to work after all. Minutes later, my little girl came into the living room, almost tripping over her lower lip. She was sad. She explained: "Daddy, it came out flat." Then she brought in her first cake. Or maybe I should say pancake. It was that flat. That's when Sr. Baking Advisor, Mom, entered the picture to see what our daughter could learn from the cake that fell flat. She'd put in the milk, the eggs, the flour. But she just forgot one ingredient-the baking powder-the anti-flat ingredient in a cake.

Friday, January 25, 2019

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Tupperware can be a good thing. Those sealed plastic containers can preserve leftover food so you can enjoy it later. Tupperware can be a bad thing, if you forget about it. Sound like the voice of experience? I know from some distasteful personal experience what can happen when you do forget it - intermediate life forms, morphing into something unrecognizable. The problem comes when that Tupperware with leftovers in it slowly gets pushed farther and farther back in the fridge, until it's tucked out of sight behind the pickle jar and a gallon of milk. Ultimately, the lost little Tupperware will make its presence known. Yeah, as you open the fridge and utter those inevitable words: "What's that smell?" The smell isn't going away until some domestic Green Beret storms the depths of that fridge and bravely opens that Tupperware and carries away the rotting contents inside, or beats them to death with a stick if necessary.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

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We were nearly 3,000 miles from home when my wife was hit by this agonizing attack of gallstones. The situation was so acute we had to get her to a hospital where it was quickly determined she was going to need surgery to remove the stones. From what we understood (and this is the old-school way of doing it) it could take six weeks for her to be able to travel back after the operation. Back home a cure would have meant this invasive incision. But God, of course, had this planned all the time. The hospital that friends directed us to just happened to have on its staff one of the premier laser surgeons in the country. Now, they're more common today, but not back then. He zapped those gallstones with a laser beam and they were history. My honey was good in just two days! A while ago, a friend of ours lost his glasses - for good. He had a laser procedure on his eyes - lasik surgery - and almost immediately his vision deficiencies have been corrected. Who needs glasses? Gallstones gone, vision corrected - with the power of a laser - with the power of focused light.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

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Mackinaw Island in Michigan is one of the special places in America. It's a romantic island. It's surrounded by three of the Great Lakes. There are no cars, just bikes, horses and carriages. For my wife and me, it's a very special place. It's where we honeymooned many years ago, and again on a special anniversary when our kids gave it to us as a gift. They gave us some nights on our honeymoon island to celebrate that milestone anniversary. When we were newlyweds, we couldn't afford to stay in a hotel on the island. We could barely afford a cheap motel on the mainland. This time we actually stayed on Mackinaw Island, and we had a great time. Being there actually took us back to the very beginnings of our life together, when there were no children, no grandchildren, and a lot less responsibility. It was good to get back to where it started – one man and one woman in love.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

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When you’re taking a team of Native young people to nine different reservations—a lot of them in pretty remote places—you need a combination command post/prayer room/counseling room/supply room on wheels. So we got this rented RV; it served all those purposes. Now I’m still getting used to this RV thing. Some of them are like entire civilizations on wheels. They’re like living two zip codes everywhere they go. Ours was a lot simpler, but it did the job. One challenge for me was the distance from the RV to the ground. I think that there may have been some mix-up at the factory and some NBA player got part of my legs maybe. I don’t know. All I know is it looked like a long way to the ground for Mr. Vertically Challenged. But the RV had a cool feature. As I stepped out, a step automatically came up under my dangling foot and helped me land safely every time.  

Thursday, December 27, 2018

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My friend, Bill, was talking to me about his son's expectations. He called them microwave expectations. Bill was in his early 50s, and his son Ken had been married for about a year, and his son wanted everything fast-like a microwave. Bill said, "I can't believe it. They want all this stuff immediately! They've been married one year and they want a home, they want furniture, and they want a new car. They want in a year what it took us 20 years to get!" That's not unusual; the child expects more than the father had.

Friday, December 21, 2018

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It's the king of all the classic TV Christmas specials: "A Charlie Brown Christmas" of course. We know those familiar scenes of Charlie Brown sadly looking for the meaning of Christmas, Snoopy's Christmas decorations on his doghouse, Lucy's Christmas pageant, Charlie's pitiful little Christmas tree, and Linus' appearance on center stage to answer Charlie's question about what it all means. Linus quotes straight from Luke's account of Jesus' birth. Those are all things we know about that special. What I just learned recently is contained in an interview with one of the co-creators of that show. When Charlie Brown creator, Charles Schulz, first suggested including the mention of Jesus in the special, he met with some pretty serious objections from the network. They almost tubed the project because they feared they wouldn't be able to sell advertising on a show that talked about Jesus. You know what Charles Schulz did? He stood his ground and he simply said, "If we don't do it, who will? We're going to do it." The rest is history.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

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We had been working on our college production for our Junior-Senior Banquet for months. It was an original musical drama, written and directed by my roommate and me, based on the book of Esther. The orchestra had rehearsed night after night, the chorus had rehearsed, the actors, the light crew, the sound crew; we had prepared as much as we could. The night before, we had the dress rehearsal. But all those months of preparation and practice came down to one evening-the night of the big performance, and it was show time!

            

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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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