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Hello, and a happy December to all of our Metro Readers.

I am a proud grandpa again. Brad's wife Valerie gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on November 20. Her name is Olivia Aleksandria McCarty. Grandma and I got a chance to go their a couple days after her arrival to hold her. Congratulations to the proud parents.

With Christmas right around the corner, and the hectic time it brings, I pause for a minute to thank God for just how blessed I am to have a loving wife in Margaret, wonderful kids in Chris, Amanda, Brad, Valerie and Austin, and lovely grandkids in Alexa, Cooper and now Olivia.

As far as a reflection on this past year, it went by way too quick, but I have been thinking about how much the media is biased to report "bad things" and how we as consumers of that media seem biased by a morbid curiosity to follow them. We don't get front-page news that say "50,000 people happy after concert ends without incident," or "millions of parents proud of children" or whatever. It's all about what went wrong, what didn't go well, and how people should be kept "safe" (when absolute safety is clearly impossible). For everything that goes wrong there are things that go right, but we don't seem to linger on those. We tend to remember the bad, and shrug off the good. But the measure of our response to adversity has to reside partly in how we appreciate when things go our way, not just how we respond to problems in our family, our neighborhoods, our city, and our country. We still all could do better, and must do better. But that's life, both sides of it: joy, pain, love, anger, suffering, compassion, and even redemption. It wouldn't be worth living otherwise. 

So, I am going to make a point not to dwell, not on bad things, but remember all the good things that happened this year, to my family and friends, and to look for the spirit of good in people everywhere, and to the millions of small acts of kindness and compassion that are all around us, every day. And on to my final thought... 

Ruth went to her mail box on Christmas Eve, and there was only one letter. She picked it up and looked at it before opening, but then she looked at the envelope again. There was no stamp, no postmark, only her name and address. She read the letter:

Ruth's hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table. "Why would the Lord want to visit me? I'm nobody special. I don't have anything to offer." With that thought, Ruth remembered her empty kitchen cabinets. "Oh my goodness, I really don't have anything to offer. It's already Christmas Eve and the stores will be closing. I'll have to run down out and buy something for dinner right away." She reached for her purse and counted out its contents. Five dollars and forty cents. "Well, I can get some bread and cold cuts, at least." She threw on her coat and hurried out the door. A loaf of French bread, a half-pound of sliced turkey, and a carton of milk...leaving Ruth with grand total of twelve cents to last her until next week. Nonetheless, she felt good as she headed home, her meager offerings of a Christmas dinner tucked under her arm.

"Hey lady, can you help us, lady?" Ruth had been so absorbed in her dinner plans, she hadn't even noticed two figures huddled in the alleyway. A man and a woman, both of them dressed in little more than rags. "Look lady, I ain't got a job, ya know, and my wife and I have been living here on the street, and, well, now it's getting cold and we're getting kinda hungry and, well, it's Christmas Eve, if you could help us, lady, we'd really appreciate it." Ruth looked at them both. They were dirty, they smelled bad and, frankly, she was certain that they could get some kind of work if they really wanted to. "Sir, I'd like to help you, but I'm a poor woman myself. All I have is a few cold cuts and some bread, and I'm having an important guest for Christmas and I was planning on serving that to Him." "Yeah, well, okay lady, I understand. Thanks anyway". The man put his arm around the woman's shoulders, turned and headed back into the alley as a gentle snow began to fall. As she watched them leave, Ruth felt a familiar twinge in her heart. "Sir, wait!" The couple stopped and turned as she ran down the alley after them. Look, why don't you take this food. I'll figure out something else to serve my guest." She handed the man her grocery bag. "Thank you lady. Thank you very much!" "Yes, thank you!" Ruth could see now that the woman was shivering. "You know, I've got another coat at home. Here, why don't you take this one." Ruth unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it over the woman's shoulders. Then smiling, she turned and walked back to the street .... without her coat and with nothing to serve her guest. "Thank you lady! Thank you very much! .... and Merry Christmas!"

Ruth was chilled by the time she reached her front door, and worried too. The Lord was coming to visit and she didn't have anything to offer Him. She fumbled through her purse for the door key. But as she did, she noticed another envelope in her mailbox. "That's odd. The mailman doesn't usually deliver on Christmas Eve." She took the envelope out of the box and opened it.

Here's hoping all our Metro readers have a blessed Christmas and a Happy 2014. Cheers!


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