We knew it was coming. With each passing birthday, we knew a spiritual giant of our lifetime would be in heaven soon.

It's still hard. And even more real for me, having just come from Billy Graham's funeral service. For so many of us, he embodied the best of Biblical faith. Even though his last crusade was in 2005, there's still this sense that we have lost something irreplaceable.

Leaving many asking the graveside question his pastor posed: "Billy's gone - what happens now? Who will take Billy's place?"

    Bottom line, Billy Graham was a farm boy who became a preacher.

    But his death is obviously a big deal. Because his life was a big deal.

    How many preachers have been on Americans' "Ten Most Admired" list more years than any other person? What was it about him that gave him the unofficial title, "America's Pastor"?

      I was privileged to touch just the edges of Billy Graham's life. He touched mine all the way to its core.

      There are many who knew him intimately. What he taught me often came just by watching his life. And sometimes through connections at Billy Graham events where I had the opportunity to speak over the years.

      But the Jesus-power and Jesus-presence reflected in Billy Graham's life radiated far and wide. I probably learned more about a Christ-honoring life from him than any other single person I've known. Sometimes you have to see it to be it. In Billy Graham, I got to see it.

        I'm glad I didn't hear it until after last week's shoulder replacement surgery.

        The student nurse told me, "I've seen just about every kind of surgery there is. Except for the one I don't ever want to see." Turns out it's the very kind of operation I just had!

        I asked why. I will not soon forget her answer. "Because power tools belong in the workshop, not the operating room!"

          So all eyes are on Korea. And for once, it's not about missiles and nukes.

          It's all about some of the world's greatest athletes, converging on Korea for the Winter Olympics. If you happen to be an Olympic junkie, there's great news - you can watch 176 hours of the games on TV! And Olympic stars like Lindsey Vonn. Shaun White. Nathan Chen.

          For me, the Winter Olympics bring back memories of a teenage gal my wife and I worked with in our youth ministry years ago. She was especially memorable because of her relentless dedication to figure skating.

            I haven't heard the song for years. But recently the chorus keeps playing in my head.

            "We go on hurting each other."

            It was a huge '70s hit for The Carpenters. But lately it seems it could be our national theme song.

            Cyber-bullying so brutal it's driving teenagers to suicide. Heartless cruelty at school and on social media. "Me Too" victims, scarred and shamed by sexual harassment and abuse by exploitive men. Political vitriol and horrific crimes that suggest the evening news should be "R" rated.

              This is crazy. Suddenly I'm all excited about a plant.

              I can't remember ever taking care of a plant in my life. That was always my wife's department. But this Christmas I actually ordered a special plant, and it's getting my special care.

              Because of what it represents to me about Christmas. And about the "long winter" that began the day the love of my life was suddenly gone.

                Every year, about this time, Linus comes marching on stage with his trusty blanket. And he uses a passage from the Bible to help poor ol' Charlie Brown understand "what Christmas is really all about."

                ..."And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in the manger."

                Until recently, I had no idea how loaded those words were.

                  "Avalanche." "Tsunami." "A cultural watershed moment." "A day of reckoning."

                  Those are just some of the words being used to describe the relentless accusations of sexual misconduct by powerful men. The quake is shaking cultural epicenters of this country from Hollywood to corporate boardrooms to state capitals to the halls of Congress. And most observers believe this is only the beginning.

                    My wife couldn't read faraway signs when she was driving. That was my job. I'm farsighted. She was nearsighted. Until we went driving on a long trip. Suddenly she was reading everything. And noticing scenic details she'd missed before.

                    She'd just had Lasik surgery! Suddenly she was seeing things she'd never seen before.

                    That's what thanksgiving does - helps you see things you may have never seen before - or you need to see again. Not thanksgiving, the holiday. Thanksgiving, the lifestyle. Thanksliving, I call it.

                                  

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