Friday, December 20, 2013

I Should Be So Blessed

“One of the deep secrets of life, is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.” -Lewis Carroll

When Deddy was sick, just about anything he could have felt would have been justified. He could have been bitter, angry, devastated, or experienced any other negative feeling one can have in his situation, but he wasn’t. He was disappointed of the circumstances. He was sad that he was leaving his family and friends. He felt responsible for everyone around him and he wanted to ensure that everyone was taken care of. That was the most difficult aspect of dying that he had to overcome, the fact that he would not be here to see people through life. He never mentioned making more money, or buying anything else. He just wanted to be here, and not for himself, but for everyone else. However, in the end, worn down by a year of doctors, treatments, and becoming more feeble, he had accepted his fate. He had made peace with God long before his final demise. That gave everyone around him more comfort than anything.

The lesson I gained during that time of my life was what is actually important in this life we live. It’s not any amount of fame or fortune. It’s not the material things we accumulate. What is most important is what we accomplish as a person, whether or not we make a positive impact on the world and the friendships we make.

I have a lot of friends as most of us do. I know a lot of wonderful people in this world. But the true friendships are really the ones that get you through life. I have many friends that I don’t see a lot and some I have not seen in years. But I can honestly say that many of them would help me if they could in one way or another. They also know that if they needed my help, I would do anything I could for them. As I get older, friendship becomes a lot more important to me. Some of the best friendships I have are with individuals that most people don’t know I’m friends with. Several of those individuals were acquaintances before this year but became great friends to me in 2013.

When life gets difficult in one way or another, that is when you really need the people around you. Those times will come for almost all of us, and there is not an investment you can make at any point in your life that will pay more dividends than friends. My family history is not favorable for me to live a long life and I know that. It actually worries me sometimes. I hope that I can have everything in order before my time comes whether that is 1 year or 60 years. But honestly, the worry for me is two fold: the fact that I may not live to be old and that I may live to be TOO old. I think what worries me more than dying is being the last one left. “The Green Mile” is one of my favorite movies, but the end is really sad to me because all of the people that Paul Edgecomb loved have passed away. Instead of a blessing, he believes it may be a curse.

Tonight I will go to the long standing tradition of “Uncle Boyd’s Christmas Party” where I will be surrounded by family and friends. We’ll sit around and talk, shoot pool, eat, and of course play EXTREMELY high stakes poker with as much as $2 sometimes being in the pot! Without fail, Deddy will be mentioned numerous times. I will be told how much he is missed, funny stories of all sorts about him, and I will be told multiple times that I look more like him the older I get. There will be animated conversations and if any NEW guests show up and get out of hand, I will banish them from the party for at least one year. If you don’t believe me, ask someone. Uncle Sammy made some new rules last year……”NO POLITICS; you can talk about 3 things, 1. Christmas 2. Santa Claus and 3. Jesus!” Then he asked “does everybody understand me?” Everyone understood. Uncle Boyd’s Christmas Party is NOT a democracy. The Council makes the rules and everybody follows them. If you don’t like the process, that is no problem, you were not invited anyway.

Tonight reiterates my belief that friendship is one of the most important aspects of life. In my opinion, second only to family. I am so grateful for my friends. Many of you that read this particular blog may not even realize what a good friend you are to me. Friends are not just people to know, they are people to cherish. When Deddy died, Barbecue Church was PACKED at his funeral. Not only were people standing all around in the church, they were even standing outside. That is a testament of a life well lived. I should be so fortunate to look back on my own life and be able to say the same thing. I should be so blessed to have that many friends.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Greatest Time of the Year

All my life I have loved this time of year. I truly believe the last 40 days of the year bring out the best in people. In a world that has become a never ending pace of chaos, this time of the year gives us a brief period of time to slow down and spend time with family and friends. It’s easy to watch the news or listen to the problems that disrupt our community and develop a negative outlook. But we still have our freedom, we still have opportunity, and we still have each other. We also have the ability to help others. I really believe that we are more generous around the holidays than we are throughout the rest of the year, and we should be. Although most of us can complain about something, the reality is that you know someone else that is having a much harder time than you. I think Christmas allows us be a little more open minded, have a little more heart, and see the needs of others as a higher priority.

When we think about significant moments, we often think of monumental occurrences while we have been alive. However, one of the most significant times in all of our lives occurred over 2000 years ago on December 25th. To think of our Lord and Savior being born in a stable, a star indicating his birth, and three wise men traveling great distances to bow before him is magnificent. The birth of Jesus is truly a beautiful story that I believe in with all my heart.

One of the joys of Christmas is doing good for others. I had much rather give somebody a gift than get one. Expect for some people who have been bad, I don’t give them anything. Not even a lump of coal. However, I can forgive a little more at Christmas.

Most of us get to spend time with our families. That is one of the best attributes of Christmas to me. It's always good to just sit around and talk, discuss the world, laugh and have some good conversation. Christmas would just not be the same to me without “Uncle Boyd’s Christmas Party.” Many families don’t get together much during the year but make a special effort to get together over the holidays. Some families get together several times. I always feel sorry for people that can’t be home; soldiers that are deployed, doctors, nurses, police officers and EMT’s that must be on call no matter what. Those people deserve an extra merit for being committed to the life they have chosen.

Christmas also gives us cause to stop and think about how grateful we are for what we do have. Some of our fondest memories are made at Christmas and although most things don’t last forever, memories do. The world even looks better in a lot of ways during Christmas. Towns, churches, stores, malls and homes are decorated with trees, lights, flowers, and other decorations everywhere you turn. We used to start decorating our yard around Halloween and we worked on it until Thanksgiving. That is certainly a part of my life that I miss. Small towns all across America host parades where families can take their children and watch local marching bands, firetrucks, old tractors, clowns, and of course, Santa Claus roll through on decorated floats. There are Christmas programs on television constantly with “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” highlighting the season. Choirs and music groups host programs that are not only beautiful to listen to but spiritually uplifting.

There is just not another holiday as wonderful as Christmas. It brings out the best in most of us. It gives us cause to care more about others, to appreciate our family and friends, and to be grateful for what we do have. Christmas always brings back fond memories of the loved ones that have passed on before us. Although we regret that they are not here with us, it’s consoling to think about how extraordinary Christmas must be in Heaven. Although I have mentioned the decorations and festivities of the holidays, it’s imperative to remember the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The beginning of a life sent here to save us all. To contemplate that the destiny of the entire world rested on the shoulders of one little baby is very humbling. That gives us more reason than any to be grateful during Christmas.

I hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas season. I hope you all take some time to relax, fellowship, and genuinely let people know just how much you love them. Consider doing something charitable during Christmas for a family, group, or any worthy cause. Above all, take time to pray and thank God for Christmas. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

May you all find peace, love, and happiness during this holiday season and may your families be blessed with the grace of God.