a miracle in disguise

One of the things I don’t think this world does very well is consistently honor those who think differently than we do. Even though technically after the season, the Intramuralist wishes not to miss the messages of peace on Earth and “goodwill to men” that are visible when we do honor and respect one another. Thus, as told by Morris M in “TopTenz” and Rheana Murray in the New York Daily News some 5 years ago, note just one of the practical ways we can love on one another, starting with this special season of the year…


“If you’re a single mom struggling to make ends meet, getting into a car crash the week before Christmas is probably the last thing you want to do. So when Kim Kerswell rear-ended Sherene Borr on her way to get some last-minute presents, she had plenty reason to curse life out, big time. Only it turned out life was dealing her an unexpected favor…”


Single mom Kim Kerswell thought getting into a pricey fender-bender was the worst thing that could have happened to her weeks before Christmas.

It turned out to be the best.

Not only did the woman she hit forgive any damages to her car, she volunteered to save Christmas for Kerswell and her family.

“You could tell she was stressed,” Sherene Borr told the Daily News on Tuesday.

Kerswell rear-ended Borr in a Milford, Mass. parking lot last week, outside the Panera Bread where Kerswell works. As the women exchanged information, Kerswell divulged she was struggling to make ends meet, and raising two kids on her own.

An accident was the last thing the 30-year-old mom needed.

“She wasn’t sure if they could even afford Christmas,” Borr said.

“I explained to her that I grew up in a single mom family, and know how difficult it is.”

Borr, 37, offered to adopt Kerswell’s family for the holiday season and make sure her children had presents under the tree.

“For me, she’s like an angel,” Kerswell told WBZ-TV.

Borr, who also has two children, enlisted friends to help purchase all the gifts — including One Direction memorabilia for Kerswell’s 12-year-old daughter and a toy truck for her 3-year-old son.

“I have a good sense of when people are really in need,” Borr said. “I could just tell. We both ended up in tears.”

Borr, who is Jewish, adopts families every Christmas season with help from her synagogue. She’s making sure Kerswell is stocked with groceries, gift cards, and toys and clothes for her kids.

Kerswell vows to pay Borr’s kindness forward when she can.

“I know things are going to get better and when they do, my daughter and I, and my son, we’re going to help another family,” Kerswell told WBZ-TV.

The moms say they’ll “absolutely” be friends well after the holidays are over.


“Think about that for a second. Some people freak out if you so much as look at them the wrong way. Go smashing into their car and there’s no telling what might happen. But Borr not only didn’t get mad, she went out of her way to help this clearly stressed-out woman provide a Christmas for her kids that would have been unthinkable under normal circumstances. It just goes to show that, even in our rough-and-tumble world, people are still capable of the most heart-warming actions.”

Oh, how I love the practical ways we can show love and respect to one another. May we always be challenged to grow in this area… to value all…


one word in a new year

So there are certain things the Intramuralist will always advocate for…

… respect…
… humility…
… growth…
… intentionality…

… each near the top of the list.

A year ago, we introduced the new year concept of picking a word — a single word.

As blogged by the self-described “regular guy,” Mike Ashcraft, on his “MyOneWord” site (with a few select edits by moi):

“I love the time between Christmas and New Year’s. Just a couple days after one holiday and a couple of days before the next, the week between gives me a chance to think about the year that was, and the year that is lies ahead.

The wonderful chaos of Christmas is behind me and there’s the proverbial ‘calm after the storm.’

What will you do with the relative calm of the next few days before work and routine begins again?

Once the presents have all been unwrapped and company has gone home, we’re great at looking ahead to next year and all the ways we want it to be different. We’re ready for a fresh start. A new wall calendar. Maybe a gym membership. Perhaps a January cleaning or organizing spree.

But what about bringing this year to a great close?

How can you finish the journey of 2017 well?

Think about this like a journey on an airplane. You take off, reach cruising altitude a few months into the year, then you can feel free to move about the cabin a while.

Soon after Christmas you hear the captain say: ‘Flight Attendants, please prepare the cabin for final approach.’ This means your trip is almost done. The journey is about to end. You are getting ready to land. But have you prepared for landing?

If you don’t intentionally land in a plane, what do you do?

You crash.

I suspect most of us just crash at the end of the year. We’re exhausted from the speed in which the year ended, and slightly dazed from the Christmas celebrations. Engines off. No preparations made for a final approach. We just shut down and crash until the new year appears.

And in our exhaustion, we fail to make time to intentionally land the year we’ve just lived.

I want to invite you to use this week a little more intentionally — not just to prepare yourself for 2018, but to bring 2017 to a close — to finish well.

For many of us, the end of one year and the beginning of the next happen in the same moment. There is a ten second count down. There are kisses and confetti, party horns and people all around us. Fun, but not a real conducive environment for reflection and stillness.

Can I suggest you schedule time in these days between the holidays to finish well in 2017?

Make an appointment with yourself.  Carve some space over the next few days. Don’t just wait for the new year to begin — but rather land the plane before you take off again.

This time of year provides an incredible opportunity to look at the past and the future — without regret or fear. We just need to prepare to land.

You can find a great resource to guide you through a personal retreat here.

Finishing well is a critical part of starting strong. Maybe, this will become your favorite week as well!”

The days until the end of the year are nearly done. But let us start 2018 well… with respect for all… humbly, always… being intentional… and committed to individual growth.

Cheers, friends. And happy new year!


victors in the midst of strife

Still desiring to intentionally focus on what’s most important and the joys of the season, I’ve repeatedly had one song running in my head (… and thank God it was neither about Grandma getting run over or whatever marshmallows have to do with Christmas).

I can’t shake the words shared in “The Hymn of Joy.”

More commonly called “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” after the hymn’s first line, Henry van Dyke penned the poem in 1907 with the intention of musically setting it to the infamous “Ode to Joy,” the final movement of Beethoven’s final symphony.

Van Dyke felt he shared “simple expressions,” expressions of feeling and “desires in this present time.” As I keep singing along with the ongoing tune, I can help but believe the “present time” extends to now.

He starts first with praise, recognizing someone, something bigger than he…

“Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love…”

He then shares a vulnerability, transparency, and submission — a submission that is nothing short of beautiful…

“Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.”

And then the power that submission has, with a clear awareness that sin is real for each of us, although it doesn’t have to be damning…

“Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away…”

The great big God of the universe is acknowledged as the source of gladness and light — no doubt a gladness that extends to peace, hope, and a true, unshakable inner joy…

“Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!”

And while the rest of the joy-filled song of trust and hope goes on to acknowledge more of the characteristics and creation that can only be attributed to God, there is one line in the song that seems the reason it resonates so loudly in my head — the reason it’s evident of the feelings and desires of this present time.

It’s an area where each of us seems challenged… and where each of us could indeed grow… no matter our age, stage, or any ethnic, religious or other demographic category…

Right after acknowledging the works of the Almighty — both on this Earth and in each of us — Van Dyke writes:

“Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine…”

Look at the unparalleled joy when we learn to love one another!

And yet, too often, for too many self-justifying reasons, we — yes, we — intentionally withhold love from another. We act as if another doesn’t deserve our love and respect. They are less worthy, we have somehow concluded.

Oh, how we fail some days amidst the strife. Oh, how so often intelligence seems to get in the way. Intelligence and wisdom are so not the same thing.

Lord, teach us how to love each other.

Let us “join the happy chorus…”
Let us recognize you “reigning o’er us…”
Let us be “victors in the midst of strife…”

In this present time.


hope (still after Christmas)

[Borrowed once more — and slightly edited — from a blog by Justin Taylor, Crossway Sr. VP & publisher, in a historical account giving each of us hope amidst our pain — putting life into perspective… still relevant when Christmas is done for the year… as first posted in 2016…]

In March of 1863, 18-year-old Charles Appleton Longfellow walked out of his family’s home on Brattle Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and—unbeknownst to his family—boarded a train bound for Washington, DC., over 400 miles away, in order to join President Lincoln’s Union army to fight in the Civil War. Charles was the oldest of six children born to Fannie Elizabeth Appleton and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the celebrated literary critic and poet. Charles had five younger siblings: a brother (aged 17) and three sisters (ages 13, 10, 8—another one had died as an infant).

Less than two years earlier, Charles’s mother Fannie had died from a tragic accident when her dress caught on fire. Her husband, awoken from a nap, tried to extinguish the flames as best he could, first with a rug and then his own body, but she had already suffered severe burns. She died the next morning, and Henry Longfellow’s facial burns were severe enough that he was unable even to attend his own wife’s funeral. He would grow a beard to hide his burned face and at times feared that he would be sent to an asylum on account of his grief.

When Charley (as he was called) arrived in Washington D.C. he sought to enlist as a private with the 1st Massachusetts Artillery. Captain W. H. McCartney, commander of Battery A, wrote to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for written permission for Charley to become a solider. HWL (as his son referred to him) granted the permission.

Longfellow later wrote to his friends [Sen.] Charles Sumner, [Gov.] John Andrew, and Edward Dalton (medical inspector of the Sixth Army Corps) to lobby for his son to become an officer. But Charley had already impressed his fellow soldiers and superiors with his skills, and on March 27, 1863, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, assigned to Company “G.”

After participating on the fringe of the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia (April 30-May 6, 1863), Charley fell ill with typhoid fever and was sent home to recover. He rejoined his unit on August 15, 1863, having missed the Battle of Gettysburg.

While dining at home on December 1, 1863, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow received a telegram that his son had been severely wounded four days earlier. On November 27, 1863, while involved in a skirmish during a battle of of the Mine Run Campaign, Charley was shot through the left shoulder, with the bullet exiting under his right shoulder blade. It had traveled across his back and skimmed his spine. Charley avoided being paralyzed by less than an inch.

He was carried into New Hope Church (Orange County, Virginia) and then transported to the Rapidan River. Charley’s father and younger brother, Ernest, immediately set out for Washington, D.C., arriving on December 3. Charley arrived by train on December 5. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was alarmed when informed by the army surgeon that his son’s wound “was very serious” and that “paralysis might ensue.” Three surgeons gave a more favorable report that evening, suggesting a recovery that would require him to be “long in healing,” at least six months.

On Christmas day, 1863, Longfellow—a 57-year-old widowed father of six children, the oldest of which had been nearly paralyzed as his country fought a war against itself—wrote a poem seeking to capture the dynamic and dissonance in his own heart and the world he observes around him. He hears the Christmas bells and the singing of “peace on earth” (Luke 2:14) but observes the world of injustice and violence that seemed to mock the truth of this statement. The theme of listening recurs throughout the poem, leading to a settledness of confident hope even in the midst of bleak despair…

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
, their old familiar carols play,
 and wild and sweet the words repeat, 
of peace on earth, good will to men.

 I thought how, as the day had come,
 the belfries of all Christendom
, had rolled along the unbroken song
, of peace on earth, good will to men.

 And in despair I bowed my head:
 “There is no peace on earth,” I said,
”For hate is strong and mocks the song
 of peace on earth, good will to men.”

 Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
 “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep; 
the wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
 with peace on earth, good will to men.” 

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
 the world revolved from night to day,
 a voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
 of peace on earth, good will to men!

Respectfully… with hope… always…

Christmas greetings

We tend to go, go, go…

And when we go, go, go, we may miss it when we step on someone else’s toes.

We may care not if we hurt or unfriend another.

We may not make the time that it takes to wholeheartedly listen to another, especially to the different.

We may not work whatever it is out.

And we may act as if the respect and love that all deserve isn’t all that necessary, when in reality, that decision may be more made because we go, go, go; we withhold love and respect because it’s easier, more convenient, or more something. It thus seems that such a decision is way more about us than it is about them.

We don’t have the time, take the time, nor give the time.

But at Christmas, we intentionally pause…

Even the Walmarts of the world close down.

We pause and take time for what’s most important…

… peace on Earth…
… goodwill to men…
… an o’ so holy night…
… and a star chased after for years, noting the miraculous hope it holds.

I continue to marvel about all that babe in a manger some 2000 ago means to us today… if we only take the time to pause and reflect… to consider its impact… what it means… and not to simply go, go, go.

Merry Christmas, friends. Today, Happy Christmas Eve!

Whether near or far, solemn or celebratory, may we reflect upon what’s most important… never sacrificing peace on Earth nor goodwill to any. May we be generous with our love and respect…

… to all.

Best wishes and blessings to you…

maximizing the meaning

This Christmas season, let us slow down somewhat. Let us pause long enough to reflect, grasp the meaning, and ask even the tough questions.

But let’s not wait until the 24th or 25th or even for any annual new year resolve. Let’s pause now. Let’s ask the questions now. Let’s maximize the meaning of the season….

Proclamations resound, calling for peace on Earth, goodwill to men…

What does peace on Earth take?
What does it look like?
Do I have a role in this?
What gets in the way?
And how am I contributing to it?

What about goodwill?
Do I really believe in it?
Do I believe instead in goodwill only toward some?
And is that dependent on if another has wronged me?
If they think like me?
Have I limited who I am and who God is by withholding goodwill?

They say the season is miraculous…

Do I believe in miracles?
Do I think they only happened long ago?
Do they happen only in the big stuff or in the practical, too?
What would it change in me if I saw miracles daily? … in my routine?
What keeps me from seeing miracles?

It’s a season of faith, hope, and joy…

Is there an area of my faith in which I know I need to grow?
If I’m refusing to look at that, why?
Where have I assumed I have all the answers?
And hope — pausing this moment to acknowledge what grieves me — am I recognizing the great hope shared this season?
Is it enough for me?

It also is a season of giving — although I don’t think it’s so much about stuff…

Am I focusing more on presents or presence?
Am I spending too much?
Am I focused on stuff?
What about consumerism?
Have I bought into the lie that more is better?
Am I worshipping the so-called god of more?

This season, friends, let’s pause before the actual holidays. Let’s pause long enough to ask the tough questions, maybe refocus a bit, and maximize the meaning of the season.

Respectfully… with a few added Ho-Ho-Ho’s…

the intentional giving of thanks

What I love about Thanksgiving is the intentional giving of thanks.

What I love about the intentional giving of thanks is the removal of focus on self and the sincere acknowledgement of someone else.

Allow me to thus acknowledge someone else…

Thank you to each of you — for joining us here and participating in the Intramuralist.

Thank you to my family and friends — for your awesome encouragement and consistent support.

And thank you to the great big God of the universe — for making all things possible. I could not do this without you.

Allow me one more brief thought on this day of great purpose, as sweetly and succinctly articulated by Joe Fazio in his poem of “A Thousand Thanks”…

* * * * *

“To He who is all powerful, thanks for the many
blessings you have bestowed on me.

To those I love, thanks for all you do.

To my friends, thanks, for teaching me the
meaning of friendship.

To those I have angered, thanks for your patience
and your understanding.

To those I have disappointed, thanks for your
forgiveness. I’ll try to do better.

Thanks, to the strangers along life’s path, for
their kindness.

Thanks, to those who do for others and remain
without acknowledgement.

Thanks, for the charity of others, extended to
those who are less fortunate.

Thanks, to those of differences, who arrive
at the point of compromise.

Thanks, to all in their journey of life, who
attempt to make this, a better world.”

* * * * *

Many thanks, my friends.

Many blessings, too… this day and always…


Respect, Cheers, and Happy 4th…

241 years ago, the Declaration of Independence — a brilliant document written by Mr. Thomas Jefferson — was adopted by the Second Continental Congress. At war with Great Britain, the 56 signers announced the independence of the 13 sovereign states and that the American colonies would no longer be under British rule. The colonies seemingly operated independently for decades; this, no less, was the official decree…

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

The Intramuralist is no historian. I come from a layman’s perspective at best. But even sifting through the historical papers and accounts depicting the times, I still can’t completely grasp all that led up to such a decree. Learning much regarding those key political events from grade school on (… thank you, Mr. C… thank you still, Miss Jane…), after Britain neglected their American children for so long, when they finally did step in and attempt to actually focus on those across the Atlantic, Americans must have felt as if government was so out of touch… the rulers had been too distant and did not have Americans’ best interests in mind.

So what does one do? What does one do when our sense is that government is so out of touch?

I don’t believe we’re going out on too much of an editorial limb here to assert that a significant number of Americans — all over the partisan map — has felt government has been out of touch for years… decades, for some. Our self-evident truths have been distorted… “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

The truths have not changed, but perceived distortion has been prominent.

Noting first that according to the declaration,“Governments are instituted among Men” in order “to secure these rights” — and also, that government’s power comes only from “the consent of the governed” — it seems we are struggling as a society for multiple reasons — reasons far bigger than the ego and efforts of any of the recent elect.

Distortion of the self-evident truths comes when we are judgmental… We sometimes look at ethnicities, ages, genders, and the religious faithful, etc. as something less than equal. We, for example, at times feel emboldened to judge both the LGBTQ and evangelical community. My sense is that we are not to aver nor render consequence upon either.

Distortion comes when we are demanding… We sometimes declare that in order for “me” to pursue “my” happiness, “you” need to accept what “I” do as good… “you” need to believe what “I” do… for “you” need to realize that “I” speak truth and therefore “you” do not. Friends, I wholeheartedly believe there is a respectful way to embrace “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” without demanding that everyone else thinks like “me.”

And finally, distortion of these truths comes when we no longer thank nor acknowledge who our unalienable rights have been endowed by. Government is not the giver of every good and perfect gift. Government is not omniscient nor omnipotent — especially in a government that only has power because the people governed have consented to such.

While the rhetorical, political climate seems to continuously digress — with each so-called “side” believing they are somehow justified in their denigration and denouncement — I am increasingly concerned that more will advocate for a separation from “the political bands which have connected them.” Granted, there’s a key difference between now and 241 years ago…

The persons who were out of touch in 1776 lived approximately 3,539 miles away. Today, the persons we may perceive to be out of touch might live right next door. Hence, a separation is not helpful, healthy, nor effective. Also not helpful is judgment. Demandingness. Nor a lacking in true thanksgiving.

This 4th of July, may we follow the founders’ final written words… together… with our neighbor… who may or may not think differently than we… “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

A brilliant declaration indeed.

May we mutually pledge our respect and support to one another.

Cheers. And happy 4th.


dear graduate

Two years ago, when my oldest son graduated from high school, I penned most of this post. As son #2 experienced the pomp and circumstance so sweetly yesterday, I sat down to craft something new. Yet as I reread the below, I was pretty sure this still needed to be said. Hence…

Dear Graduate,

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.

Now that you are formally entering adulthood, allow us to address a few more brief truths as you take these next few, albeit humongous steps…

First, there is that time for everything — every activity under heaven, every season under the sun. The reality is you will not enjoy nor desire each of these times. But one of the quiet truths in life is that how you respond to circumstance is typically more important than the circumstance itself. Such is a key to wisdom. Seek after wisdom. Always.

Remember that you have a choice in how to react; too many forget that. Instead of intentionally weighing the wisdom, it’s tempting to become self-focused or demanding. Resist that. Learn the difference between enjoy and embrace. When the time comes to tear down or turn away, embrace the time; when the time comes to grieve, grieve… dance, dance. Maybe even dance a lot. But remember that learning from the experience is most important. The wise one learns and grows from each season, even embracing that which is hard.

Second — and don’t let me shock you — but contrary to perhaps your long-held belief (or some fictional, parenting mantra) — you cannot be whatever you want to be. I’m sorry; remember: we are wrestling with reality. Similar to the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and jolly old St. Nick, there are a few things we’ve told you for some reason, that aren’t actually true.

You cannot be whatever or whoever you want. Also true is that you are not entitled to any of those desired positions. However, you can be something better. You can be all that God created you to be. Embrace your gifts. Utilize the individual, unique wiring within you — the wiring that makes you distinctly and beautifully, uniquely you! Don’t compare yourself to another, falling prey to society’s hollow teaching that another person’s wiring or set up is somehow better or worse than your own. Simply embrace your strengths and grow from your weaknesses. Quit attempting to cover them up. Seek God first; seek his intention for your life. Then be who he created you to be.

And third, our brief rapid fire of encouragement…

Love deeply. Offer grace generously. Never view grace and truth as opposites, as each can be applied in full measure. Always. Wash your sheets — at least before you have company. Don’t be selfish. Be slow to anger. Be fast to forgive. Be humble. Forgive again. And again and again. See the wisdom in forgiveness. Recognize that sometimes intelligence gets in the way. Don’t be bitter; you will be the only one harmed in the long run. Eat healthy. Know when to not. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, as well. Separate the reds from the whites. Be charitable. Be noble. Save some; spend some; give some away. Don’t be afraid of sorrow. Recognize that you can feel sorrow and joy both at the same time. Turn off the XBOX. Sometimes. A lot of time. Value other people. Be sharpened by their differences. Chew with your mouth closed. Don’t ever think of equality with God as something to be grasped. Listen to the elderly; invest in the young. Bow and curtsy when appropriate. Open the door. Show respect — in what you say and how you think. Remember that respect does not mean accepting all as equally good and true. Know that all things are not equally good and true. Know when to be loud — when to be silent. Look another in the eye. Use your napkin. Watch what you put on Snapchat. Be discerning. Be aware that just because something feels good, it still may not be wise. Be prayerful. Figure the faith thing out; know that another can’t do it for you. And embrace each and every season shared above… the time to laugh… the time to cry… the time to grieve… and yes, that time to dance.

There is a time for everything. God has made everything beautiful for its own time.

Graduates, without a doubt, now is your time…

Sweetly, With a Special Salute to Our Grads…

here’s to moving forward in 2017


Each year seems marked by its uniqueness…

’41 was the attack on Pearl Harbor, the escalation of WWII and the USA’s involvement…
’63 was when a nation mourned the death of its sitting President, stilled by the poignancy of his young son’s salute…
’97 saw the deaths of two of history’s most beloved, benevolent contributors in Princess Diana and Mother Teresa…

It makes me wonder how 2016 will be historically remembered, as there was division manifest in far too many arenas. How do we move forward? … through the masses? … how do we do so wisely?

Allow me to return to my family’s unique experience a year ago. We found ourselves in the middle of Times Square as the ball and confetti dropped at midnight on New Year’s Eve. We had never done that before — “a bucket lister,” said one enthusiastic son. And so with an approximate 999,995 others, we did our best packed sardines imitation — albeit mostly without the odor and oil.

Picture the most crowded place you can imagine — a stadium, a massive conference room… people everywhere… with little room to do anything more than raise arms with your smart phone, in order to capture the next snapshot, chat, whatever. But unlike such typical scenarios, where a crowd of massive size would be aware of varied interests and individual wants, needs, opinions, emotions, etc., we were all focused on the same thing…

We were all excited about the same thing.

We were all looking in the same direction — eyes focused — waiting and wanting for the big ball to drop.

Without a doubt, there is something inherently beautiful laced in the meaning accompanying the dropping of that New Year’s ball…

Instead of focusing on our differences and maximizing what we don’t have in common — noting that in an actual, estimated crowd of one million people, countless significant differences exist — we shared something greater. Indeed, it was far greater… so great, in fact, our individual differences did not matter…

Our individual differences were also not watered-down. They did not have to be ignored or removed in order for the celebration to ensue. We were each excited about a celebration greater than self.

Hence, after the uniqueness of 2016, I’m wondering if the way forward is to find a way to focus on the same thing. What could that be? What could be that good?

I’m reminded of the interaction between my youngest son and an older New Yorker that night. Josh, that incredible kid who has never been disabled by his special needs, said ‘hello’ to an elderly New Yorker. Note that previous to our trip, we had (sadly) cautioned him in regard to taming some of his typically more overt, overly friendly interactions in Manhattan. But after a brief, positive acknowledgement from the gentleman, Josh was encouraged. He meekly continued, “Hey… want to be friends?” The man was first taken by surprise; there was a slight pause. And then he lit up with a humongous grin, articulating a hearty, warm Italian response, and said, “You just made my whole night!”

Here was a man and my son who from most first glances had little in common. The individual differences were obvious. But they did not matter. Their focus on the same thing brought them great joy — and helped them navigate through the masses (and sardines) in a beautiful, God-honoring way.

Here’s to the start of 2017, friends… as we wrestle with our individual differences, may we always do so respectfully.