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On Good Friday: Why We Miss Most Of The “Good” We Will Ever Get

Of course, today is Good Friday.good-friday-india

Of course, the day we commemorate was not originally called good. There was very little good which anyone could fathom coming out of such a day.

Good Friday was a day on which not only a man died, but dreams died with him. Jesus’ disciples had “hoped that he would be the messiah who would redeem Israel.”

Good Friday was full of anguish, pain, tears and disappointment. And it took several days for people to understand the good which God was working that day. All they knew on Friday was what they could see and hear and feel.

I am afraid that we humans have not changed much. Not that anyone was supposed to get what Jesus’ crucifixion was about that day. But we humans often let the good slide right under our noses, unnoticed. We do not see how things worked in our favor until after the fact. We do not feel the joy or love that we often feel we we look nostalgically at a time. Instead, we just grind through a stage of our lives, groaning about our lot in life. And it isn’t until years later that we look back and say that those times were the best, or the most fruitful, or the most fun.

There are people who have terrible things happen to them – they get cancer or a tragedy strikes them, or they lose their loved ones. And those of us on the outside can never understand how they can find redemption or hope or, yes, even good in their circumstances. But somehow, they do. I do know that my wife and I have been trying to have a child for four years now, a trial that most people just want to get over with. But I cannot tell you how fruitful, how enriching how good this trial has been for our marriage and our spirits.

Good often disguises itself as pain, or disappointment or loss. And we just try to fast-forward through all those parts so we can get to what we think will be the “good” parts – the easy parts, the planned-out parts, however we define “good.”

Maybe on Good Friday, we can learn to see “good” in all its disguises.

Have a happy Easter, friends.

There Is No Such Thing as a Free Hug: Our Society In Which People Pay to Be Loved

Did you know that there are people who make a living by cuddling strangers?download

Yes, professional cuddlers.  People who snuggle with perfect strangers for money.  It’s like a massage or a therapy session.

Or maybe it’s like prostitution, except, you know…platonic.

Yes, I know this sounds almost unbelievable, but the Sunday Morning Show ran a story last weekend about just such a phenomenon.  I would not have believed it if I had not seen it.  You can check it out for yourself if you do not believe me.  People spend up to 120 dollars for an hour or so of snuggling.  It might start with a standing hug.  Then a hug lingers into an embrace.  Then it moves to the couch or a bed.  But nothing sexual.  Just prolonged human touch.  Even Mo Rocca who was doing the report seemed incredulous.

And by the laws of supply and demand, since there is a supply of professional cuddlers, then there is some contingent of customers demanding professional cuddling.

And on this day, just before the national celebration of love, what does it say about us that professional snuggling is a thing in today’s America?

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Why I Don’t Worship Eight Pound, Six Ounce, Sweet Little Baby Jesus

You know I love sweet little baby Jesus.babyjesus

Sweet little eight pound, six ounce, newborn baby Jesus.

And that little baby in the manger is the reason for Christmas, right?

Well, here’s the thing.  I love Christmas.  I love baby Jesus.  But I’ve rediscovered something recently, through conversations with friends and singing old songs and revisiting well-worn stories.  Sure, Christmas isn’t just about shopping and toys and eggnog.  But Christmas also isn’t just about a baby in a manger, arms outstretched like he’s in a classical painting.  It isn’t just about a mom looking reverently at her baby, looking positively divine, mere moments after giving birth.

What if even our Nativity scenes and songs about that baby even missed the point of Christmas?  What if we’ve managed to turn sweet little baby Jesus into an eight pound idol?

I think I’ve relearned something that just might save my Christmas this year…

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“Keep Christ In Christmas?” Who Says Christ Even Wants to Be Kept In Christmas?

I genuinely love Christmas…

I feel your pain, buddy.

I feel your pain, buddy.

Well, I try to love Christmas.  I try really hard.

Because between the decorations that have been on display at Home Depot since Halloween and the Black Thursday insanity and the stress of shopping and social events, I have a love-hate relationship with the holiday now.  Christmas has become hard to love.

Of course, there are a lot of people who are trying to combat the disease that plagues Christmas by waging a war on Jesus’ behalf.  There are signs in my neighborhood yards now that say:

“Merry Christmas! (Happy Birthday, Jesus!)”

Yeah, if you didn’t catch the “Christ” in bold, they spell it out for you by wishing Jesus a happy birthday.

And of course, there is the annual tradition of demanding that store clerks wish us “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.”  After all, Jesus said, “Why do you wish each other Happy Holidays?  Do not even the pagans do that?”

It’s all in the name of “keeping Christ in Christmas.”

But I ask you: does Christ even want to be kept in Christmas?  Did we ask him in the first place?

Maybe it would be best if we just left Jesus out of the whole thing altogether.

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How To Teach Kids The Awful Truth About Christmas (Maybe)

What do you do when your kids find out…022_acs_041_santa_4

…the awful truth…

…you know, about Christmas?  About Santa?

I’m not a parent, but as a teacher, I can identify with all the other teachers out there.  It’s that time of year when kids restart the eternal debate.  On the one side, the kids who still possess their childlike faith.  On the other side, the kids who possess only worldly cynicism.  Both sides will argue endlessly until a teacher threatens to cancel Christmas.  Funny how both sides seem to believe a teacher can do that when presents are on the line.

Maybe the eternal Santa debate is good practice for the future when kids will feel the need to defend their faith from all perceived threats (or debunk someone else’s faith because anyone whose beliefs are contrary to their own is seen as a threat.)

As a non-parent, I fantasize now and again about some of the momentous days my children might one day have and how I might handle them.  The day they learn the truth about Santa is not a day I dread but anticipate.  Here’s why.

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On Being Thankful In All of Life’s Trials: A Thanksgiving Blog Post from My Wife’s Hospital Room

John Lennon said that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.09-03-25

I think he was right.  For better or worse, the events that shape and mold us the most are often the ones that sneak up on us.

This week, life happened.  I’ll try to keep things brief.

My wife was sick over the weekend.  Like, sicker than she’s ever been.  But Monday, she was much worse.  And Tuesday, she was worse still.  We were up all night, the both of us.  And when we went to our doctor and they could not get a blood pressure reading, we knew we were in trouble.

Now, I sit here next to my wife in her hospital bed.  She was so dehydrated when I brought her that her blood looked like syrup.  It took an hour of repeated sticking to get any blood to drip.  But her body is distended with excess fluid.  She is extremely painful and anxious.  And as for me, I watch helplessly.  I bring her things she needs but I don’t feel like much help.

And this is all related to our journey to becoming parents, the awful side effect of fertility treatments. Yes, there is a steep price to pay for some of us.  You know the risks when you read the fine print, but you don’t really count on it.  Our doctor says she is only her second patient in eight years to react this severely.

Yes, we covet your prayers.  But even in this midst of this, something else is happening.  Something to be thankful for.

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