Archive for December, 2009

Marriage is a Roller Coaster Ride, So Stay Committed to the Adventure

Posted on December 30, 2009. Filed under: Adversity, Family, Forgiveness, Friendship, Love, Marriage, Weddings | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Life is similar to riding on a roller coaster, and marriage, being the union of two individuals, is no different.  When two people come together as one, they choose to play a role in each others story together, engaged in the ups and downs of the roller coaster ride we call life.  Since life is jam packed with the unknown, at times bearing its ugly side upon us when we are not looking, all of us should be prepared for what lurks next in our day, week, month, or year.

Most of us would like to write our own story of what will happen in life, they are called dreams.  As a child, we begin to dream about how we will spend our lives in our vocations, who we will be married to, or where we will travel.  We want to pattern our life with the things which we believe are valuable, so we attempt to plan ahead exactly how our lives will progress, and how we will take each step of our journey.  When we finally meet “Mr. or Mrs. Right”, we put together a big vision of how our lives will proceed from that point on, including all of the fairy tale aspects we have dreamed of and how perfect all of the facets of our story will be savored.  It is during this dreaming where many of us fail to realize life, including marriage, is a roller coaster ride, and we need to stay committed to the adventure.

On the 28th of December, 2009, my wife and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary.  As I reflect on the last 24 years of our lives together, with all its joys, triumphs, struggles, and mishaps, I grasp an important truth.  My life, or should I state, our lives, has not proceeded, “according to hoyle”, as the saying goes.  When I began my life as an adult, in time getting married, I had many different plans I desired to be fulfilled, many dreams of how the story of our lives would be written.  Then we began making choices, which at the time we believed were in accordance with our plans, to bring us into our reality of how we could accomplish our dreams.  Many of our plans resulted in failure, or were abandoned.  But there is one aspect of my life that is a huge blessing to me and continues to be successful; my marriage.  It is still vital and wonderful, as my wife and I believe in the commitment of marriage; “til death do us part”, as the wedding vows stated.  I acknowledged many years ago the fact that marriage is a roller coaster ride, so I decided to stay committed to the adventure.

There are no guarantees in life, and we are not promised wealth, fame, or love.  When we are fortunate to have accomplished any of our dreams, we may begin to think we have “made it”.  But, we certainly can all attest to the fact that on the roller coaster ride we call life, what goes up, at some point, must come down.  It’s how we deal with life when we have these struggles that I believe makes a difference in our happiness.  Most people can cope with life when things are going their way, but how do we manage the inevitable difficulties and obstacles we are faced with at some point during our adventure?  How we choose to engage in these activities, which can be very challenging and difficult, is critical to our happiness.  Marriage, being a part of many peoples lives, is a roller coaster ride, so stay committed to the adventure.

Unfortunately, when many married couples find themselves in a situation that doesn’t go along with what they believe is their dream life, then they want to bail out.  At times, all of us have troubles, but many do not want to acknowledge this, because it doesn’t fit into our dreams and plan of life.  So, for many married couples, divorce happens.  During the last 24 years of my adventure with my wife, we have had many ups and downs, joys and sorrows, accomplished dreams and had failure.  But, at the end of the day, I still have her by my side, because we are committed to each other, to our marriage, and to the love we share in our family.  When I married my wife 24 years ago, I married my best friend, not someone who is disposable.  She stands by me, and I by her during every day of our lives, without condition.  I trust, and give trust, I forgive and am forgiven, I love, and am loved, and this is how we make it through every day of our adventure.

In the Bible, Genesis 2:24 (ESV) states, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  This sacred union is one that should not be taken lightly, but I feel many do.  It becomes convenient for many in our society to throw their marriage into “the muck” when dealt an unfavorable hand, for they have lost the ideal of the commitment made on their wedding day.  Many choose to forget the vows they made, neglecting to continue the lifelong commitment.  Matthew 19:6 talks about our marriage commitment as it says, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”  If we do not seriously acknowledge that commitment, as well as the fact that marriage is suppose to be a sacred union designated by God, then I believe we will struggle when an obstacle comes in our path.

I enjoy my life and my wife, as she has given me a lifelong commitment of caring, forgiveness, love, and togetherness.  I believe that is what we all want, someone to share life with.  No one wants to be alone, for life is easier when we have a partner.  It is all the more better when that person is our best friend, the one who will do anything for us, even to the death.  My encouragement to those who may be struggling with your marriage is this; remember what you were thinking about when you first got married, and go back there.  Instill in your marriage trust, forgiveness, and love, in order that you will once again recognize the commitment to each other you made in the beginning.  Life and marriage is a roller coaster ride, so stay committed to the adventure.

May your journey through the adventure of life be blessed,

Daryl Dho

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The Christmas Present; Our Journey to the Celebration is Complete

Posted on December 25, 2009. Filed under: Children, Christmas, Family, Forgiveness, Righteousness, Sacrifice, Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , , |

A little boy, 10 years of age and his younger sisters, ages 8 and 5, quietly tiptoed down the hallway of the two story suburban home, whispering to each other, with the oldest girl asking the boy, “are they up yet?”  The boy ignored the question as he lead the two girls down the stairs very slowly, but with purpose, because they wanted to see if Santa Claus had come the night before, bringing them presents.  They were sure there would be presents under the Christmas tree, for most certainly they had been nice this year and were never naughty.  They thought this as they were doing what their parents told them not to do before they went to bed on Christmas Eve night; they were instructed not to go down the stairs before their parents were awake.  But the those instructions did not keep them from the quest of seeing the presents.

As they approached the bottom of the stairs, the youngest girl stumbled, and squeaked out a little shriek.  This action instantly halted the other two children in their tracks.  The boy told the girl to be quiet, then asked her if she was okay.  Of course she was fine as they continued on their journey down the stairs, making a turn and entering the living room, where the Christmas Tree was standing tall and the lights were glowing as it was still dark since it was only about 6 A.M.  When they entered the room, all three children stood there, gazing at all of the presents sitting under the tree, which Santa had carefully set on the floor below the tree.  The lights glistened and reflected off the wrapping paper of the presents, as the three children were now examining to see which ones were theirs. A little chatter was heard amongst the children concerning what they thought might be in the presents, as the oldest girl said to the boy, “let’s go wake up Mom and Dad”.

So, they hurried back up the stairs, down the hallway, opened the door to their parents room, and proceeded to yell and scream, “Santa came, Santa came”, then jumping up and down on the bed.  The Mom and Dad were startled, yet not surprised, as they were expecting this to happen this chilly Christmas morning.  They had finally finished wrapping the presents about 12:15 A.M. the night before, and as it was now 6:05 A.M., they were a little tired, but in the same sense wide awake, as their children were bringing an air of excitement into the room due to their knowledge of what was downstairs underneath the tree. Before we go further, just to clarify, Santa is not real.  I hope I have not just bursted your bubble about the Santa situation, but the parents are Santa.  Yes, every year the parents have to buy, wrap and position the presents underneath the tree.  So that is that, now you know the truth about how the presents get under the tree.  The fun begins.

But what is the greatest, most spectacular and wonderful present you have ever received? Was it a bike, race car set, doll, or something else, like………..? As we conclude this Christmas series about the journey to the celebration, we have to establish what the most perfect present is, the one present that surpasses all other presents as the most memorable present of all time.  As we noted earlier, the presents do not come from Santa, there is not a mystery guy who flies around the earth in one night on a sleigh, bringing all of the children in the world toys.  Yes, the parents put the presents under the tree, and on one night in history, the Father of creation brought us the most perfect present. This present existed before the beginning, before time began as we know it. God sent to earth the baby Jesus, to be born of the virgin Mary in a manger in Bethlehem.  The Christmas present was the son of God, the savior of the world, and we would celebrate His birth forever. Our journey to the celebration is complete, for we have found the perfect present, that of our redeemer.

What a glorious night it was when Jesus was born. As humans in need of a savior, God chose to love and care for us, providing a way we could be with Him for eternity in heaven.  The Bible tells us in Romans 3:10-11 (ESV), “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.”  Then, of course we all have heard what Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”,  We all are in need of a savior, which God provided as the first Christmas present. Jesus, both God and now man, came to the earth to be with us, to walk with us, to die for us on the cross at Calvary. There is not a present, either past, present, or future that will come close to matching the grandeur and splendor of the present that God the Father sent us that one night 2000 years ago. Jesus is The Christmas Present!

I implore all of you who have read my Christmas series to spend time today reflecting about the real reason for Christmas, the real story, the real Christmas present, that of Jesus Christ, who takes away the sins of the world. When we take the time to reflect on Him who saves us from all unrighteousness, then and only then can we truly understand what a perfect gift we have received.  We are not worthy of being in the presence of God on our own accord.  We must have a mediator to pave the way for us, to intercede on our behalf, in order to be cleansed of our sins, becoming children of God, and working towards a righteousness in Christ.  The Christmas present, Jesus, was sent here for you and me to die for our sins, let us not ignore this fact on Christmas 2009.

If you know Jesus as Lord and savior, then reflect on Him now, giving thanks for the present He gave you.  If you do not know Jesus, then I pray and ask that you seek Him out now, that you confess your sins, and be cleansed by the savior of the world.  Jesus is waiting for all who do not know Him to come in repentance, seeking forgiveness and existence for eternity with God.  Jesus is the perfect Christmas present, He is the only present we need this Christmas day.  Seek Him now, He is patiently waiting for you.

May God bless you this day and every day forward.

Your friend and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, Merry Christmas to you all,

Daryl Dho

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The Christmas Card, Here is My Favorite; A Journey to the Celebration

Posted on December 24, 2009. Filed under: Christmas, Heaven, Salvation | Tags: , , , |

My wife and I will be celebrating our 24th Christmas together this year.  Every year we have sent out Christmas cards to our family and friends.  Of course, we also receive Christmas cards, usually from those same family members and friends.  I enjoy receiving them, and at times we have displayed them on counter tops, entertainment centers, and in a card holder box.  It seems like the more cards you send out, the more you receive.  This year, we have received quite a few, but have not sent any cards out.  I wanted to, but as time went on, day after day, the next thing we knew it was Christmas Eve, and there was not any time left in order to get Christmas cards to our family and friends before Christmas.

So, if you are were expecting a Christmas card from Bonnie and I, then I must apologize for not sending you one, because it is not happening.  Trust me, you were definitely in our thoughts, I have no excuse other than this year we just were too busy to send Christmas cards; sorry.  If you get a card from us, it will have to be for a different holiday.

While I was thinking about the Christmas card, and what it means to those who receive them, I began to contemplate about what my favorite Christmas card of all time would be.  After a while, I came up with this one as my all time favorite Christmas card; it is the Bible. The Bible you ask, why are you saying the Bible is your all time favorite Christmas card? You may be saying, “the Bible is not a Christmas card”.  Here is my answer, and it is simple really, since what the Bible talks about is similar to what we talk about and read in our Christmas cards.  The truth, which is spoken through the Bible, is about the reason we celebrate Christmas every year; the Bible is about Jesus Christ, who is God, being born as a child to become a man and the savior of the world.  Yes, on Christmas day we are celebrating His birthday, so let’s party.  When you examine the word of God in the Bible, written by men through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then you begin to understand why I consider the Bible my favorite Christmas card.

The Bible has poetry, songs, history, and is full of the love from God about how we should live our lives in a meaningful and full way.  God sent His son to tell us about and to be an example of how to love one another, as God loves us.  This Christmas holiday, spend time to think about how the Bible can be considered the greatest Christmas card of all time, and how the love, which is sent to us through His Holy Spirit inspired words, should captivate us in such a way that we never want to discard it, never want to ignore it, never want to stop reading it over and over again.

This Christmas card, the Bible, should be a card that becomes part of our lives, for it is the words of God.  We should share the words from this Christmas card with all who will listen, just like I enjoy doing through my blogs.  We should share them in the work place, in school, around town, everywhere we go we should be excited to tell people about how God, through a period of over 1500 years, inspired men to put His words into written form for all to here and understand.  This Christmas card, the Bible, should be our favorite Christmas card of all time, because God, the creator of the universe, came to earth in the form of a man, in order that we would have a path to salvation from our sinful nature and a path to heaven.  This Christmas card is one we should cherrish, as it gives us the details of why we are celebrating tomorrow the birth of the savior Jesus Christ.  Remember, this holiday is about the birth of Jesus.  Let us not take that for granted, for it is not about Walmart having more sales!  Please be mindful of this over the next 48 hours; Jesus, who is God, was born in a manger about 2000 years ago, and on Christmas day we celebrate His birth.  God’s word, sent to us, is my favorite Christmas card, so go ahead and tell everyone you know about it, for it is eternal, and will never go away.

May the love of God be with you on your journey through life,

Daryl Dho

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Everybody’s Got an Invitation to the Celebration, So Don’t Be Late

Posted on December 23, 2009. Filed under: Christmas, Creation, Faith, Forgiveness, Grace, Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , |

Have you ever fallen back asleep after your alarm clock goes off in the morning, then wake up after the time you were suppose to be at work has already passed, it is a frightening feeling.  Today, someone I know was late to open a store for large chain retailer. No, it was not me, but I have awaken later than I wanted before, and I know the feeling of panic, fear, and frustration someone has when the realization of their dilemma sets in.  It is especially disheartening when you are the person who is suppose to open a business, and other people are depending on you to be there so they can work, or shop in your store.

There are other occasions when you want to be on time or at least not past “fashionably late”, such as going to a party or celebration, particularly if you are the guest of honor.  When you are an honored guest, everyone is counting on you, for you are the reason the celebration is happening.  At a wedding, it is critical that the bride and groom show up, as there may have been months of preparation for this one significant event, and without you, the ceremony and celebration will not and can not go on.  Don’t be late for your birth either, or your mother may have to go through some additional pain and suffering due to your not being born on time; of course I realize none of us has any say in this, it just seemed like something to say.

It is only 2 days until Christmas, a day when many people will celebrate the birth of the savior, Jesus Christ.  The Bible tells us in Romans 10:13 (ESV), “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  This invitation to us all comes without condition, without a requirement of our doing anything with the exception of having faith in Jesus to take the burden for our sins, for as Romans 10:9 says, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  What a party this is, as we celebrate the birth of God, coming to earth as a child who grew and became a man, in order to die on the cross for our sins, for as the scriptures say in Romans 3:23-25, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”

This is certainly not a party you want to be late for, since the guest of honor is Jesus, the Son of God. Really there is only one way you can be late to this celebration, that is by completely ignoring the invitation, by not believing you need redemption, by not comprehending the ramifications of a life lived in unrighteousness.  Although, we are late to the party if we just say “no” to God, never accepting the fact we will live forever for eternity; we will live for eternity either in the presence of God, or outside His presence.  Everybody’s got an invitation to the celebration, so don’t be late for the party.

Know one knows the day or the hour when they will pass on from this life to the next, so all of us should be prepared for when that day comes.  We need to take God’s invitation, the one allowing us to spend eternity with Him through the salvation received from His Son Jesus, and go to the party.  We never know when the end of our life comes, so we should ready now, allowing the Angels to sing in heaven as we accept Jesus as Lord.  This is why Jesus was born, why we celebrate on Christmas, so that we can recognize our Lord and savior, putting Him first in our lives.  There is no tomorrow, for tomorrow is today.  We can not expect to calculate the time when we no longer breathe the breath of this life.  Wait no more, you have the invitation, come to Jesus and live the life worth living, a life in which you know you are on the guest list for the greatest party of all time, the party for those saved by the grace of Jesus Christ.  Then, you can go and celebrate with God when the time comes for you to enter into eternity, and enjoy the greatest party of all time.

May God bless you on your journey through life,

Daryl Dho

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It’s a Wonderful Life; A Journey to the Celebration

Posted on December 22, 2009. Filed under: Christmas, Faith, Family, Heaven, Personal Happiness, Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , |

In the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, George Bailey, who was played by Jimmy Stewart seemed to have the perfect life, but as we all remember, he most certainly did not.  There are some in this world who, when the reality that life is not always as easy as they would like, decide they want to check out.  Many times, I believe this comes from where they put their priorities.  If we prioritize money and things we might obtain in our life, equating our happiness to how much we have, then due to the nature of life, we will surely be let down at some point.  We can not predict what will happen next in our lives, and therefore the unexpected happens, resulting in our either being let down, devastated financially, emotionally distraught, or just plain unhappy, all because we put our importance on the temporal things of this world.

So, because of the many variables in life, regardless of how great, capable, and together we might think we are, or how fantastic our life may seem to be going, it is inevitable that we will, at some point, be disappointed.  I think most people, if they truly search their inner thoughts and emotions in an honest way, will discover they know life is not perfect, and someday disasterous things will happen to them.  The problem therefore lies in the fact that most people just do not want to prepare for the impending negative consequence in their lives.  When that awful circumstance appears, many do not know how to handle it, choosing an even worse alternative, such as suicide, or hurting themselves and others.  Most of us have heard the old expression, people don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan.  This expression seems simple enough to understand, but difficult to execute.

Jesus, who’s birthday party and celebration is this Friday, December 25, 2009, had a lot to say about this subject.  He told us in Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV), “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Jesus is telling us that we need to have our priorities straight.  Of course, we have all heard we need to do this, but most of us do not understand this concept the way Jesus describes it.  He is telling us we will be challenged in life if we put our priorities on the treasures of this earthly world, since none of them will last forever.  I believe when are describing our lives to someone, we can truly say with all honesty, “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  But, in order to say that expression honestly, we need to have our priorities on the things of heaven, which are eternal.

I was having a conversation this morning with my dentist, who I have been going to for about 12-13 years now, and the subject of our happiness came up, including if we had any regrets in our lives.  If you have read my Bio, then you know I have not always led what one would call a very wholesome life, including probably doing emotional damage to other people in the process, yet I told him I have no regrets, and I would not change one circumstance in my life.  My life was, excuse the expression, “all jacked up”, for a long time, but I still would not change a thing, because what transpired during my life, was just a part of my journey, part of what made me the Daryl I am today, part of the molding of the character of the man you here in my words today.  I have become a man who is passionate about people and their feelings, about how they will spend not only this life, but the next life through eternity.

Yes, when asked about my life, I would be able to truthfully affirm, “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  Not because I have billions, millions, or even thousands of dollars, not because I drive a fancy car, not because I have a great job, not because I am the smartest guy in the world, not because I am the envy of anyone, for none of those are true, but because of these two things: 1) I have a close relationship with God, the creator of the universe, who’s word in Ephesians 2:8 states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”, thereby my sins are forgiven, and 2) I am continuously working on developing the relationships with those closest to me, such as my wife, children, and friends.

It is also my desire to do what Jesus commanded us when asked by the scribes which commandment is the most important in Mark 12:30-31, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  What a role model and teacher Jesus was.  He knew that in order for us to have a wonderful life, we needed to be close with our creator.  He also desires that we have wonderful, beautiful relationships with those He created in His image, as described in (Genesis 1:26), therefore continuing our relationship with Him.  Jesus told us in Matthew 25:40, referencing how we should take care of the poor and needy, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

As we follow the example of Jesus, walking in His footsteps, we can be assured to have struggles in life, as He did.  But, most importantly, we can be assured of being able to state, in reference to the view of our own lives, “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  I can live with that, can you?  Hopefully the answer is yes, because when you can answer affirmatively, you begin to have the peace that only God can bestow in your heart, you begin to look at life with an entire new perspective, you begin to have that wonderful life which all of us truly desire.

May the journey you are on through life be blessed by God,

Daryl Dho

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Don’t Stress Out, But Relax During This Holiday Season; A Journey to the Celebration Continues

Posted on December 21, 2009. Filed under: Christmas, Family, Personal Happiness | Tags: , , , |

Working in retail like I do, gives me a perspective on how a lot of people are during the holiday season.  This Christmas season, like most, is making a lot of people all stressed out.  I see them every day at the store, as they are in a hurry, worrying about the gift they need to get for the people on the their lists.  Many people are impatient, don’t want to wait in the long lines, are mad when you don’t have the item they want, and are so caught up in the commercialism of Christmas, they are missing out on all of the blessings the holiday season brings to those who open their eyes to it.  My suggestion is this, “Don’t stress out, but relax during this holiday season; and remember that this is a journey to the celebration.”

It is only 4 days until Christmas, and it would be great if everyone was done with their Christmas shopping so they could relax and look at the outdoor lights, get together with families and friends, put their feet up on the lazy boy chair, even read a book if they wanted to, maybe read the Bible, and about the real Christmas story.  My hope is that everyone remembers that this Friday is about celebrating the birthday of Jesus.  We will all gather with family and friends, but let us not forget that we are at a birthday party for the Lord of the universe.

In the meantime, get less of what someone doesn’t really need anyway, one less stocking stuffer, one less gift for someone who would be happier if you just spent time with them.  These last couple of days bring so much stress into many peoples lives because we are creatures who seem to enjoy putting things off until the last minute, then we get stressed out because we don’t have enough time to get the gifts we think our family and friends need.  The retailers love it because people who shop from now until Christmas Eve do not care as much about the price, they just want to find something for the people they are buying for.  This is when people start throwing everything on credit cards, due their panic about having to get presents.

A greater present can be giving of your time.  I know for me, I wish I had more time in my life to give, because those who know and love me would rather have my time than anything I could buy.  If I could buy time, I would, because my time is a far greater gift than any TV, doll, game, or clothes I can find in any retailer to give to someone I care about.  Think about what is most important to you, is it the people you love and care about, or the things you have?  I hope your answer is the people you love and care about, because “stuff” doesn’t last, but our spirit is eternal.  We should spend the time nurturing our relationships, giving of ourselves instead of merchandise that deteriorates and becomes obsolete.

It is time to take our focus away from the material objects of this world, moving it in a direction towards those around us, their feelings and emotions, their needs and wants from a relational standpoint rather than a belief that they only care about us if we give them “stuff”.  It is nice to get presents, everyone wants them, but at the end of the day we would all rather have someone we care for than a present from them.  My father passed away in 1997, and I would much rather have him here with me now than anything the world could show me.  Who really cares about all of the “stuff” we accumulate in our lives.  Let us focus on each other this holiday season, give our love to each other, give a hug to a child, to your friend and to your family.

Several years ago I had the privilege of preparing and serving a meal, with several of my friends, for a group of patients who had Aids and were all dying.  We spent the evening dining with them, sharing our lives together with them, singing Christmas carols with them, and being loved and sharing love with them.  One of the patients said that normally when people come to serve them prepared meals at these functions, the people preparing the meals for this organization just stay out in the hallway while the patients eat.  Eating with them, sharing our lives together was the best part, I would not have wanted to miss out on that time together.  At the end of the night, as we were saying goodbye, one of the patients, whose name eludes me right now, gave me a hug and boldly said, “hugs are free”. That saying has stuck with my, and now I use it all of the time as I am a big hugger.  So, if you are around me, and get a hug while in a situation that may not seem a normal hugging time, I will probably say, “hugs are free” and give you a hug.  We could use more of the spirit the patients at dinner had that night.  They were all dying of Aids, yet happy and grateful they still had life, and were still able to share of their lives with others.

So, I appeal to you one more time, don’t stress out, but relax during this holiday season, remember we are on a journey to the celebration. Take the time to be with your family and friends, realizing most do not have the expectations we think they have about getting “stuff”, and if they do, then they need to readjust their thinking.  With respect to our children, in my opinion, we all have probably spoiled them to a point where we have done an injustice to them, not allowing them to realize everything isn’t free, and our relationships are more important than the “stuff”.  Lastly, the value of your time has no limit, so give some away today!

May God bless you on your journey in life,

Daryl Dho

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Santa Claus, Who is That Guy? A Journey to the Celebration

Posted on December 20, 2009. Filed under: Children, Christmas, Faith, Family, Heaven, Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , |

Santa Claus, who is that guy? Most of us know him as the old, overweight, dude, with white hair and a long beard, wearing a red suit and a hat.  Originally, the inspiration for Santa Claus began with a man name St. Nicolas of Myra, a very religious man who lived in the 4th century, and spent much of his time giving to the poor.  In America, we know him more as the guy who’s legend began in the 19th century, and has the ability to go to every house in the entire world on a sleigh powered by reindeer.  Then he makes himself small enough to go into the house through the chimneys, bringing all the good children of the world toys.  He does this in one night, Santa Claus, who is that guy anyway?

The first time I began to have doubts of Santa’s existence was while I was in the 3rd grade.  A kid living across the street said Santa was not real.  I did not want to believe the kid, so as I recall, I was in the 5th grade before I stopped believing that anyone could go around the world in a few hours to distribute toys to all the kids of the world.  I remember the first Christmas when my Dad realized my brother and I knew that Santa was a fake.  As in every Christmas of our past, all of the presents under the tree said they were from Santa.  Each time my father gave a present to my brother and I, he would say, “To Daryl (or Marc), from Santa, who is that guy“.   My brother was 1 1/2 years younger than me, so the myth and legend did not last as long for him, thanks to me.

Then, I had children of my own, and for my two oldest, their coming to the realization Santa was not real seemed not to bother them, as it was just a time in their life where they matured.  For my youngest daughter, who has a very playful and vivid imagination, her finding out the truth about Santa was very traumatic.  When she was in the 5th grade, her older brother got a Star Wars trash can for Christmas (from Santa) of course.  About a month later, as I went into my sons bedroom, noticed a bunch of trash on the floor and remarked that he should use the Star Wars trash can that his Mother and I got him this past Christmas.  My youngest daughter was standing there, and after I mentioned about my wife and I giving the trash can to my son for Christmas, my daughter began to scream and cry because she now knew the truth about Santa, that he doe not exist except in our imagination.

The big issue with my daughter finding out about Santa was, as she so aptly put it, “you have lied to me for my entire life”.  She was so upset that it took about a day for her to calm down about Santa.  My Son was the one who was able to get through to her about Santa, that it was no big deal, because all we were doing by letting her believe in Santa was giving her a fictional character to have fun with every year at Christmas time.

I am a very faithful to God, and to the believe that Jesus was born on Christmas day to establish a way for me to go to heaven through my faith in Him and His death, burial, and resurrection.  Many Christians would say that believing in Santa, or telling our children about Santa is a bad thing, as if we were worshipping idols.  I know that God does not us to put other gods before him, for the Bible tells us in Deuteronomy 5:7, “‘You shall have no other gods before me.”  Moses gave this commandment he had received from God when he was with Him on Mount Sinai.  Now, if I was worshipping Santa, I would say I have a problem, for God told me not to worship other things, but only God.  So, the question is this; Santa Claus, who is that guy?

Personally, I can not agree with Christians who get all worked up over having some fun at Christmas time with Santa Claus, although I respect their belief.  I just look at Santa as the fictional character he is, a guy who we can have some fun with while the children are young.  We get to take pictures of the kids, while they sit on his lap, telling him what they would like to get for Christmas.  That is fun stuff!  Now, in the case of my daughter, I wish she could have found out about Santa in another way, so that she would not have been upset, but oh well, what are you going to do.

The point is this, Santa is just a fictional character we use in order to have a diversion in life, it is a way for us to break away from all of the reality we live in like the economy, going to work, paying the bills, etc.  Santa is not something we worship or truly believe in.  For children, it is a way for them to expand their imaginations while they are young, for he is harmless guy who brings joy and toys to them at Christmas time.  When they get old enough to realize he is not real, then some of the innocence is lost, and they start wanting to develop other people to look up to like Tiger Woods or Taylor Swift.  We need to remember, we should not worship anyone or anything other than God.

If you are a Christian, then from the very beginning, you should bring your child up with the true meaning of Christmas, that we are celebrating the birthday of Jesus, our Lord and savior.  It is your responsibility to teach your children the truth, but while on the journey of life, it is okay for all of us to have an imagination, to take ourselves out of our normal everyday lives and into a time of letting our imaginations run free.  We are not worshipping Santa, we are having fun with the thought that he brings toys to the children, that’s all, nothing more.  Like when we go to a movie, such as the new Avatar movie which I saw last night, it is not real, but a whole lot of fun to watch.  Each family can do what they want when it comes to their children, but in my view, Santa is the jolly old fellow we see in the cartoons, in the books, and in the movies.  I totally enjoy having fun with Santa.

Last point, have you been naughty or nice, because you know, Santa doesn’t bring toys to children who have been naughty, regardless if you are young or old.  By the way, my wife of almost 24 years says I am just a BIG CHILD, and I have been nice this year; OH YES, I HAVE BEEN NICE.  Bring on the presents Santa!

May God always bless your journey through life,

Daryl Dho

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The Christmas Song-Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire; A Journey to the Celebration

Posted on December 19, 2009. Filed under: Children, Family, Salvation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

“The Christmas Song”, a song written in 1944 by Mel Torme and Bob Wells is an old Christmas standby that is more commonly known as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”.  I guessing that most of you reading this blog has heard this song at some point in their life, probably know the words, and are most familiar with the full orchestra rendition recorded in 1961 by Nat King Cole, although he originally recorded the song in 1946.  The song is a traditional part of many peoples Christmas, and whether you are one or 92, I can not imagine anyone not liking it, as it just seems to capture your heart through the lyrics and the melody of the this classic chorus.  Yes, “The Christmas Song” is one of those traditions that makes you feel like searching for some “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”, then bundle up while you watch the snow falling out your living room window, and drink hot chocolate with your loved ones or friends. In case you have forgotten the lyrics to the song, here they are for your enjoyment.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping on your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,
Help to make the season bright.
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow,
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Santa’s on his way;
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh.
And every mother’s child is going to spy,
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.

And so I’m offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although its been said many times, many ways,
A very Merry Christmas to you

Traditions play a big role in our lives during this Christmas holiday season.  As we grow up, our parents instill in us traditions, many times the same practices they learned as children.  Those traditions that we acquired as children are then passed on to our children, although maybe with some modifications.  But, people usually will live and celebrate similarly to how they did when they were children, that is how traditions continue on from generation to generation.  The season of the year from Thanksgiving to New Years is full of traditions in most families as a result of their upbringing, but over time these traditions may change as life itself may dictate change.  I believe it can be a blessing to learn how other people, or even other cultures celebrate and live out the traditions in their lives.  Even if you have never heard “The Christmas Song”, or you have never eaten “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”, my hope is that curiosity for something new in your life will spawn an inspiration for trying new things, not being so stuck in your old traditions that you might miss something new and wonderful happening.

Curiosity strikes me as to how many readers today have ever experienced and eaten actual chestnuts roasting on an open fire? If you have please, comment in this blog so that others can participate, in what many have not, an age old tradition of chestnuts roasting on an open fire.  My mother once told me that while she was growing up in New York City, you could buy them from street vendors.  For me, I had only heard about getting chestnuts roasted on an open fire to eat from street vendors, until this one moment in my life, when I was pleasantly surprised to find and experience the taste of chestnuts.  It was in February 1983, I was in Yokosuka, Japan when I came across a vendor selling chestnuts roasting on an open fire.  Well, of course I had to try them, since I had only heard about them in the song.  They were very tasty, as we included something warm to drink while we ate the chestnuts.  Another aspect of the memory was the bitter cold on this February night in Yokosuka, so we warmed ourselves next to the fire pit the man was using to cook the chestnuts, thus adding to our experience.

But, this blog is not just about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but rather a discussion to better understand we all live by and enjoy our traditions, although they may change during our life.  One tradition that changed for me was the tradition of understanding why I should be celebrating during the Christmas season.  When I was younger, I did not realize that we were actually having a birthday party, a birthday party for the creator of the universe.  I always thought it was a holiday to gather together with family and friends to eat, exchange gifts and watch football, which I totally enjoy.  Just like most of you, gathering with people we care for and love, sharing gifts with each other when possible, and sharing a meal together is something I always have and always will cherish.  But as I got older, having children of my own, I enjoyed watching their eyes light up when they opened their presents.  In my mid 30’s, my outlook on Christmas changed as I realized that we were having a birthday party for Jesus.

If celebrating Christmas as a birthday party for the Lord Jesus Christ is not part of your tradition, due to your belief system or understanding of what Christmas is to you, then I encourage you to get a Bible and read through the accounts of Jesus’ life in one of the Gospels, either Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.  Make the decision for yourself if this is a tradition you should change, but I encourage you to think seriously about what the Bible says to us concerning our need for a savior in order to be redeemed and to spend eternity with God the Father when we leave this earth.  But, so you can read about it now, I am including the text from Matthew 1:18-21 (ESV);

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

I know that at times in our life, especially when we get older, it is difficult to change our traditions, because they are what we know, we are comfortable with them, and most of us do not like change.  You may even believe in Jesus, but do not think about Him much, even during Christmas.  My recommendation is for you to evaluate what you believe, and begin to look at things from an eternal and heavenly perspective.  Jesus came to this world 2000 plus years ago to save us, now let us celebrate His birthday in style.  Spend time between now and Christmas day thinking about why you celebrate Christmas, who is this day really for, and go enjoy “The Christmas Song” too.  If you know I can find chestnuts roasting on an open fire here in the Phoenix area, please email me and let me know where, I want to start “a new tradition”.

May God bless you and may you enjoy your traditions this holiday season,

Daryl Dho

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Joy to the World-It’s Christmas Caroling Time; A Journey to the Celebration

Posted on December 17, 2009. Filed under: Christmas, Family, Friendship | Tags: , , , |

In 1982, while I was in the Navy, aboard the guided missile cruiser USS Jouett CG-29, we stopped in Busan, South Korea during Christmas for a couple of days of liberty.  The first day we were in port I had duty, which included standing watch on the quarterdeck, (where the gangway is attached from the pier, in order for crew and quests to enter and exit the ship).  While I was standing watch, a local businessman came to visit our ship’s Captain.  As the businessman was leaving the ship, he invited my watch partner and I to go with him the next day for a tour of the city, including the plywood factory he owned, dining, and to experience their culture.  Being sailors without much money as we were, and having an opportunity to see the city with one of its significant business people seemed like a great idea, so we accepted.

The following day, the gentleman came back to the ship, took us out on the town, therefore giving us the tour he promised.  Afterwards, he asked us if we would like to join his family as they went to church for worship at a Christmas Eve service; they were Christians.  At the time, I really did not have any solid religious belief system, although I did believe in God, so we accepted their invitation.  We had a great time at the service, but the evening was not over, as their tradition dictated going Christmas caroling around their neighborhoods.  By the time we began to go caroling, it was already late, now after midnight.  Caroling at this time of night was not an issue, as this course of action was an expected part of their tradition; so we proceeded to walk through the streets of Busan, going house to house, singing Joy to the World and other Christmas carols until about 4 o’clock in the morning.  The temperature was bitter cold, and all I had to keep warm was a sports coat, which was not enough coverage since the temperature was near 30 degrees.  Yet these people were extremely cheerful as they sang Joy to the World, for it was Christmas caroling time in Busan.

It was fantastic being part of their practice of walking from house to house singing Christmas carols all night long, yet this event alone is not what really made this time special for me.  I experienced a genuine level of generosity from my newly found friends, a generosity that I was not used to seeing in people whom I had just met. This family included us as their own, making us feel like we were part of their family.  After coming back from Christmas caroling, with the time now approaching Christmas morning (yes we had been up all night as it was now about 4 o’clock am), it was time to exchange gifts.  Of course, my friend and I did not have any gifts to give, nor were we expecting to receive any.  This family decided to take some presents from their own gifts that were under the tree, and furnish us some to unwrap and enjoy, in order that we would feel like we were part of the family and not awkward in the moment.  Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with how hospitable these people were, as they shared their lives, traditions, food, gifts, and time with my friend and I.  Watching them in this way, helped me understand they were true to their faith and belief in God the creator.  Yes, as we sang Joy to the World to their neighbors, it was special.  Remembering this time makes we wonder if it’s Christmas caroling time again in our neighborhoods?

This week I have been trying to remember a time when I saw people going Christmas caroling door to door, house to house since that occasion in Korea, and I can not recall ever experiencing caroling in this way.  I have watched movies where people Christmas carol, but not live and in person; the only exception being the time in 1982.  If we were to go Christmas caroling, it should not just be for the benefit of those we are caroling for, but also should be beneficial to ourselves as we are spending time worshiping the God of the universe, the creator of all things.  I like how (Psalm 95:1-2) says, “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let us come into his presence with; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”  When we sing praises of worship to the Lord, we are letting Him know how we appreciate Him, acknowledging His greatness, majesty and holyness.

When we sing Christmas carols for ourselves and others, we should be sure of why we are singing.  Are we singing to worship the Lord, or just to be part of the group?  If a person is not singing for the Lord, then I think that maybe this might be a time to reflect on God, and the meanings behind the songs.  In 1982, I did not have a relationship with God, but this time was a stepping stone in the long process of me coming to know Him.  The generosity of the family that I stayed with will live in my memory forever, as they were instrumental in showing me how people can care for one another, giving of themselves, regardless if they know the people they are sharing with or not.  Yes, this time of year we should be singing Joy to the world because it’s Christmas caroling time again.

What a huge blessing the singing and the unconditional sharing of a families life with another can be.  I am greatful for the time I spent in Korea in 1982, and hope that I too, can be a blessing and a beacon of hope to another in my life, through my generosity, and through my faithfulness to my God, the one who is always faithful to me, giving me purpose for living.  If it is possible, I pray that somehow. through song and our actions, we can bring Joy to the World that so desperately needs God’s love.

May your journey this year be blessed,

Daryl Dho

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Love Shows Mercy; A Journey to the Celebration Takes an Emergency Detour

Posted on December 17, 2009. Filed under: Assurance, Children, Christmas, Faith, Family, Righteousness, Sacrifice, Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Last night, at 9:39 p.m., I got a frantic call from my wife concerning our youngest daughter.  My daughter, a very disciplined and highly driven young lady, is a high school varsity cheerleader, enjoys performing, and diligently practices nearly every day.  Last nigh she was at a tumbling class when she missed a double round off back flip and landed on the back side of her neck and head.  According to my daughter and her tumbling coach, she instantly was in terrible pain while beginning to cry.  Her fellow team mates and coach came to her to evaluate how she was, realizing right away that she was hurt and needed medical attention.  So my wife received the call from the coach about her condition, as he instructed my wife that one of the other parents would be bringing her home.  I was at work when my wife called me with tears in her eyes as she was concerned about our baby girl, who by the way, isn’t really a baby anymore, since she now drives.

Rushing home to be there for my daughter, seeing my wife in tears when I walked in the door made me a little sad, but I kept my emotions in control.  We would be taking my daughter to the emergency room upon her arrival.  One of our sons friends came to our house about 1 minute after I did to pick up some cookies that my wife had made for him, and he stayed to see how my daughter’s condition was.  He has known her for about 14 years, and was concerned for her status, and through his love, he showed mercy. Then the parent driving my daughter home pulled up in front of the house, assisting us in getting her out of the vehicle.  One of her friends, who was showing a lot of care, got out and aided her while showing that she too was hurting for my daughter.  Both the parent and his daughter were showing a lot of compassion due to their love showing mercy.

The next part of her adventure took us to Gilbert Hospital, where I have gone before with my mother in law and another friend to their emergency facility.  I have always found that the personnel at this hospital exhibit a lot of care, concern, love, and mercy for the patients, family, and friends.  I realize that someone in this profession is somewhat required to show compassion for those they are treating, but it is not always the case in every hospital or medical facility that I have been in throughout my life.  We are still talking about individuals who either have compassion or do not when it comes to caring for patients.  I can understand that at times it may be difficult for someone in this profession to deal with all of the patients they do, some of them undoubtedly not very coorperative.  But, it is evident that every person in this hospital has the gift of mercy in their heart.  They are truly agents of love showing mercy to the patients, family, and friends that come to their facility on a daily basis. They made my daughter comfortable, relaxed, and gave her confidence in the treatment she was receiving.  For my daughter, this was her first experience in a hospital, other than when she was born.  She even remarked how the medical staff that works at this hospital certainly care a lot for their patients, and that they are love showing mercy.

During this Christmas season, as we celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ, it is apparent to me now how we must also reflect on how Jesus was love incarnate, showing mercy to a world so desperately needing it.  Jesus healed the lame, the diseased, and brought the dead back to life, for He proved that love shows mercy. In Matthew 4:23 (ESV), the Bible tells us the following, “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.”  Jesus, whom is God incarnate, was teaching, proclaiming the truth about God and His kingdom, and healing the people because He truly loves us and it is His desire to show mercy to us.

This is the Christmas story, Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth to reveal God’s love and mercy to us in a way we find difficult to comprehend.  Jesus came to save us from ourselves, from the evil that lurks in our soul, from our tendencies to do wrong when we know right, from our unrighteous thoughts that we keep hidden from all in our midst, from our pride, from all of our actions that prove we are, as the Bible says in (Romans 3:23), sinful, falling short of the glory of God.  Yes, Jesus is love showing mercy to all who accept Him as their redeemer.  He willingly came to serve the needs of all mankind, somewhat like the hospital staff who so willingly accepts the task of being a beacon of hope for those who are sick and injured.  You see, we are all injured when it comes to our ability to do good all the time.  Due to our sinful nature, we can’t help but to do what is evil in God’s eyes, therefore requiring medical attention for our eternal soul.  Jesus is the great physician, willingly serving those of us who know Him, have faith in Him, and trust that He can and will redeem us for our unrighteousness.  Jesus, came from heaven, was born as a human, walked the earth, died a physical death, then rose again three days later victoriously in order to defeat sin for all of us.  Jesus was love showing mercy.  Amen.

May your journey in life be blessed by our almighty God,

Daryl Dho

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