Friday, December 20, 2002

Boomer. That was the name of the bully in my neighborhood when I was just a little feller. This terrorist "wannabe" would pick on us, intimidate us, even steal my White Sox stuff. And we never stood a chance - he was big, at least compared to us. But one day I'd had enough. I went where none of us ever dared go - right to Boomer's door to get my stuff back. You say, "What a brave little guy you were." Well - there's one little detail I left out. My father went with me. And that made all the difference! Boomer was bigger than I was - but my father was bigger than Boomer was!

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Parade time in our town, it's always a fun time, comes several times a year - and it's especially fun when you go with two young grandsons, which I have the privilege of doing. They love the fire engines and the siren going off. They love the marching bands and the floats, the candy ... especially the candy. A lot of the folks on the floats, on the trucks and in the cars throw out these big handfuls of candy. As it skips across the pavement, children descend on it like locusts descending on a wheat field. It disappears fast! I've learned to go to the parade with empty pockets. The boys scoop up the candy and I am their personal candy bank. And, of course, I do collect a small tax in the process!

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

If there was one symbol of the Cold War years and a world divided between Communist and free, it had to be the Berlin Wall. Some of the most dramatic images of the last half of the 20th Century involve that wall - the wall that the Communists built to divide East Berlin from democratic West Berlin. There are pictures of the barbed wire along the top of the wall, the armed guards, the people who risked everything to escape from behind the wall, and the people who died trying. I think I was like most of the people on this planet to be honest. I mean, we pretty much expected the Berlin Wall to always be there. We couldn't imagine how it would ever be taken down. But go to Berlin today - the wall is gone. And it came down almost overnight. The wall we thought would always be there is gone.

Thursday, December 5, 2002

It's always hard to lose someone you love. It's especially hard when it's a child. Recently, my friends lost their precious granddaughter Amy. She was only two years old. She went to sleep with a little cold and a little fever. By the end of the night, Amy was gone from a cause that, at this point, is still a medical mystery. As I talked with the family at the visitation, there was, of course, deep grief, but also a little comfort from something beautiful that happened right before Amy went to sleep that night. Her mother began singing "Jesus Loves Me" to her, and little Amy sang along with her. Her last words, "Jesus loves me, this I know." And then she was with Him.

Monday, December 2, 2002

As the Hutchcraft kids were growing up, we had an interesting system of government in our house. I had one big vote, and theoretically, my one could count more than the other. Theoretically. In reality, that didn't happen too often. One technique our children mastered in our family decision process was very skillful lobbying. For example, the kids (let's say) got wind of the fact that Mom was planning to have casserole for dinner. But they wanted pizza. So they would send our youngest as the sacrificial lamb to ask me about pizza instead. Overruled. Pretty soon, I had two sons in my study asking, with their big sister, of course, managing this campaign behind the scenes down the hall. Again, no pizza. But then they would all three come together, telling me how much all of them wanted pizza. After consulting with Mom, we got pizza.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

If I'm ever on an airplane flight where the flight attendant becomes incapacitated, I think I can do the safety instructions. Yep, I've heard them so many times. Actually, these days, they've pretty much videoized the presentation. I like that part where the little yellow oxygen masks drop down from above your seat in the demonstration. In the video, everyone is wonderfully calm in this simulated oxygen problem - very true-to-life, I'm sure! Anyway, the video shows a mother putting the mask on herself, and then on her little girl. The instructions go like this: "If the cabin pressure drops, get the oxygen to your face first, and then to your child's."

Thursday, November 7, 2002

It's still okay for grownups to read the comics in the newspaper. I mean, sometimes you actually stumble upon one of those "hmmm" kind of insights in a comic strip. Last week I had one of those "hmmm" moments. It was a "Family Circus" cartoon where the Dad and the little boy were in a cemetery looking at Grandpa's gravestone. Pointing to the epitaph on the tombstone, Dad says, "Those two dates are the year Granddad was born and the year he died." Then, pointing to the mark between his grandfather's date of birth and date of death, the little guy says, "That means that little dash between the years is Granddad's lifetime!" Hmmm.

Monday, October 21, 2002

For many months, our ministry team joined thousands of believers around the world in praying for the release of missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham. Philippine rebels had kidnapped them from a resort where they were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary and held them for ransom for more than a year. Well, when a Philippine army unit moved in to rescue the hostages, Martin Burnham was killed by a stray bullet and Mrs. Burnham was wounded. For both of them, a terrible ordeal ended in the jungle that night. Gracia went home to America, and Martin went home to heaven. At his memorial service, it was reported that the last thing the couple did before the raid was to pray together. Mr. Burnham told his wife, "We might not leave this jungle alive, but at least we can leave this world serving the Lord with gladness. We can serve Him right here, where we are, and with gladness." Wow!

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

I'll never forget the day when I was a little boy when my Dad took me to Riverview, the big amusement park in Chicago. We had a ball until he insisted on taking me - against my serious objections - on "The Bobs." That was Riverview's biggest roller coaster. I had seen the people on the TV commercials screaming like death was near, but he persuaded me to go. And I was not a happy camper. Oh, I didn't scream, I didn't cry. I didn't do anything. I just froze. I gripped the safety bar, I stared straight ahead, I never blinked, I never spoke the entire ride. My Dad was frantically trying to get me to say something, but I just couldn't. It was a long time after before I ever rode a roller coaster again. I was so glad to get off!

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

When we went with our Native American team to Alaska, I probably ate more salmon and learned more about salmon than I had all the rest of my life. One day in the Kodiak area, our host took us out to a swimming area with this charming little waterfall. And I saw a salmon trying to jump up that waterfall to the stream above it. And eventually, he made it. I thought, "Man, that's the gutsiest fish I've ever seen!" Our host explained to us that the salmon was actually heading home - back to where he came from originally. Apparently, after a salmon is spawned, he heads downstream and ultimately out to sea where he spends a lot of his life. But eventually he seems to hear the call - to go back to where he came from, even though it means a rugged upstream swim. Something summons him to fight his way back to where he began.

            

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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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