Monday, December 26, 2011

Offended Much?

Are you offended when someone wishes you "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas"?  (or vice versa?)

I'm not.  I do not expect everyone to greet me in my cultural preference.  It would be nice, but I don't expect it.  (I sure hope they don't expect me to greet them in their cultural preference if it's foreign to me!)

Instead, I appreciate the warm wishes & return them in kind.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I fully understand what is celebrated at Christmas.  I rejoice daily in the incarnation of the One Whose coming is from long ago and Whose coming provides hope where there would be none otherwise.  My hope is certain because He came.  My sins are forgiven, and will be forgotten.

In fact, it is because of His coming itself that I dare not be offended.  I have received grace beyond measure from my Lord, as I deserve ABSOLUTELY NOTHING from him...nor from anyone else.  As a follower of Jesus Christ, I will not be offended by something as silly as being wished "Happy Holidays."  My Lord wasn't offended by actions of nonbelievers when He walked among us.  He was, however, highly offended by by the actions of the uber-religious legalists who had missed the point entirely...*clears throat*  (Note: stop & ponder just how winsome it is[n't] to pitch a hissy fit because someone doesn't say "Merry Christmas"...)  I do not expect others to behave in a certain way.  I especially do not expect nonbelievers to act like believers.  I didn't act like one before I came to faith.  (Sadly, I didn't for a number of years after too...but that is another topic that was covered in this space last December.)

If being wished "Happy Holidays" offends, then, with all the love I can muster, you should read the news more.  Be offended by sectarian violence in Iraq...religious persecution of Christians in bombings on Christmas Day in Nigeria...child slavery & human trafficking all over the world.  Please don't be offended by someone wishing you well!

Similarly, if my wishing you a "Merry Christmas" offends you, you too should read the news more, and be offended by those same things instead of by my well wishes.  Please don't be offended by me wishing you well!

I conclude by wishing all of you the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years.  Or if you prefer, I wish you the Happiest of Holidays.  Basically, I wish you the best with this post.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

The first time...and the next time.

The first time, He came in obscurity, in a small out-of-the-way part of the world.
The next time, He will come in such a way that all the tribes on earth will see him.

The first time, He came as a helpless baby.
The next time, He will come as a victorious King.

The first time, His coming was celebrated only by animals & a few shepherds here on earth.
The next time, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess.

The first time had been anticipated, prayed for, and dreamed of by patriarchs & prophets for centuries.
The next time has been anticipated, prayed for, and dreamed of by peasants & pastors for centuries...(and by a rather obscure Business school professor in south Mississippi for several decades now.)

The first time ended in an amazing way when what appeared to be a total defeat was turned around by the total triumph of a resurrection.
The second time will be even more amazing, because there will be no doubt.

He came once.  He's coming again.  I can't wait! 

Merry Christmas!

p.s. - "For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you."
(Isaiah 54:10 ESV)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Back to Houston/MDA

So, I forgot to tell y'all this:  I head back to Houston Thursday, 12/15!

A different sort of trip for a couple of reasons, but first, the schedule:
Thursday, 12/15: drive out to Houston
(just me; retail isn't very conducive to having time off this time of year!  Trips like this are why ipods & podcasts were invented.)
Friday, 12/16: 2 Dr. appts @ MDA - both with new Drs.!
Dr. Homsi, my melanoma oncologist since I first went out there, has recently moved to MDA-Phoenix. Thus, I'll be meeting my new (to me) melanoma oncologist Dr. Bedikian at 11:30.
Also, I'm adding a new piece to the MDA-mmbeachbum medical care team: my first appt w/ a dermatologist there, Dr. Mays.  Totally at my request.
After the two appts, eat fantastic Mediterranean food @ Dimassi's while waiting for lunch traffic to clear a bit, & then drive back home.

That's it!  No P.E.T. scan this time, although I do get bood drawn.

As an added bonus, I'm staying w/ some friends who used to be in our Sunday School class back in youth/college married w/ 3 young kids, & he's recently accepted a ministerial position @ FBC Houston.  Looking forward to that!

Expectations: I pretty much have none, since despite having been out there 25 times in 3 years, this will be a completely new type of visit.  (Although still in the same fact, dermatology is also in the melanoma dept.)

Prayers are *most* welcome for safe travels.  (And, selfishly, for traffic- & construction-related delays to be minimal...)

Thanks much!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


37 years ago, and yet I remember it like it was yesterday.  December 14, 1974.  Heart attack.  He was 5 years younger than I am now, a reality that I cannot get my mind around.

I remember the pastor coming to the house to be there when Mom told me. I remember taking it very badly. For about 10 years, actually, but that's another story that's been told here. I remember many people in our living room, though I see only a crowd & not individual faces in my memory.

I remember selecting a casket. I remember an aunt explaining death to her grandson there in the funeral home. I vaguely remember that the church was packed to overflowing on Monday. I clearly remember stepping out into the back yard after the funeral, literally shaking my fist at the sky, and letting God have it. I told Him if this is what He's about, I'm finished with Him..."leave me alone!" Thankfully...graciously...He didn't.  (As I wrote about in this space this time last year.)

I remember presenting his brother with the Christmas present I had purchased all by myself for Dad. I was so very proud of it: Hank Williams' Greatest Hits. His brother--a huge help to me in the years after--lost his country boy/military officer composure there for a brief moment.

I remember a group of friends awkwardly inviting me to hang out with them a few days later. I will always be grateful to them for just being present in my life, and for reminding me that life does go on, even when it seems like it shouldn't.

December 14, 1974 changed much about my life's course. But oh my...the 15 1/2 years prior really affected my life's course! Mom & I agree that I got more "daddying" in 15 years than many people get in a long lifetime. For which I am forever grateful.

Dad wasn't a perfect man. Nobody is.  But he was a very, very good one. I still miss him very hard on a regular basis. But especially at Christmas time.  And especially on December 14.  (Which explains the occasional random tear or smile or chuckle or faraway stare tomorrow...)

I would so love to introduce him to his daughter-in-law; I know they'd love each other and enjoy each other's company. And it is with a physical ache that I long for him to know his grandchildren and more, for them to know him. This was a man who had a poem "The Little Chap Who Followed Me" printed on the back of every business card he ever gave out for Madaris Printing & Office Supplies. Who taught the 3-year-olds in Sunday School for 15 years until he left us. You know how you think some things might be a certain way? Well there are two young adults in MS who I know would be dearly loved by their grandpa and who I know would love him and enjoy his company. I'd love to talk about, well, grownup things with him. Business. Money. Politics. Church.  And, of course, there's our shared love of Alabama Crimson Tide football.  (Related aside: I am totally confident that he would also proudly wear Ole Miss Rebel garb since his grandson & namesake went there.)

One grandson is an engineer.  Another is in the Air Force.  Both of those two are newlyweds.  Grandson #3 is in his last year of pharmacy school.  Granddaughter #1 is training to be a cosmetologist.  And #2 is about to begin high school.  He would be nuts about every one of them.

Our nation faces a severe shortage of men.  Oh, there are plenty of males around; that's not what I'm talking about.  I mean MEN.  Who take responsibility for their actions.  And for the families.  And for their churches.  And for their communities. Who know how to love & honor & cherish a lady.  (That is in desperately short supply these days.)  Who are good stewards of their financial resources.  Who are wise, regardless of their education level.  Who are not selfish punks worrying about getting "disrespected".  I knew one once, and still miss him.  Perhaps one day I'll live long enough to be more like him.

Until then, I will live in the grace of God and in the hope of Heaven.  And in thanksgiving for one very good man in whose orbit I once lived...and still do.

With love and hope because of Christmas,