Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Pity Party and a Birthday Party: Reflections

Last Sunday after church I drove our our children to Norman, Oklahoma to spend Christmas with the extended Burleson family at the Sullivant Retreat Center on the shores of Lake Thunderbird. My wife Rachelle stayed in Enid for work reasons. I left the Retreat Center on Monday and returned to Enid hoping to pick up my wife to immediately drive back to Norman, Oklahoma. Unfortunately, my wife was called in to work. She is a heart recovery nurse in the Intensive Care Unit in one of Enid's hospitals and it was impossible for her to leave Christmas Eve due to the patient load. So, Rachelle worked through the night until 7:30 a.m. Christmas morning. I found myself alone Christmas Eve, at home, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I do not usually throw pity parties, but I had a good one Monday night. It was not the way I desired to spend Christmas Eve. I felt a little like Jonah under the juniper tree - in a place I didn't wish to be.

But within twelve hours the Lord brought me to appreciate my life and my Christmas Eve - even my peanut butter sandwich. While my wife slept Christmas morning I visited a few of our shut-ins at Emmanuel, delivering DVD copies of our last three Sunday morning worship services and wishing them all a Merry Christmas. I visited a church member seated beside his comatose wife of sixty two years, weeping because the love of his life was about to die of cancer - and he of a broken heart. I prayed with a seventy-five-year old women who has no family, but who worked in our church nursery for over four decades and considers all the kids she ministered to 'her kids,' including all four of my own children. I walked into an assisted living apartment where the Christmas music was turned up loud, and a cheerful church member greeted me with a hearty 'Merry Christmas' - and after a few minutes of conversation we both went upstairs to the Nursing Home where his wife, crippled by arthritis and pain, greeted me just as cheerily as her husband. I visited with a forty-nine-year old church member who suffered a debilitating stroke this past year and was preparing for major surgery later this week. In total, I made a almost a dozen calls on people who were all alone, many of whom were in physical pain, and all of whom had no family with them on Christmas Day. I finished that morning having illustrated for me that real joy and happiness is a state of mind and spirit - and can be completely independent of one's circumstances.

As I celebrate my forty-sixth birthday today I am reminded I have so much to be incredibly thankful for in my life. But I carry the lesson taught me this past Christmas Day by the homebound and shut-ins of Emmanuel Baptist Church; genuine joy transcends our circumstances and is dependent alone upon our relationship with Jesus Christ.

For Him, this day, I am grateful.

In His Grace,



Glen Alan Woods said...

Thanks for sharing this. I think I often learn more from the struggles of others, than from their strengths, in part because it sheds light on my own weakness, my own tendency to look at my loneliness, rather than focus on the Lord and the very real needs of others. I appreciate your open heart.

Anonymous said...


I appreciate your post. Sorry you spent Christmas Eve alone, but I am thankful for the blessings God shared with you, and for you sharing them with us. Hope you had a good birthday. Blessings to you and yours.

Dr. Jim Roebuck

Anonymous said...

First of all, Happy Birthday.

I deeply appreciate a pastor who, on Christmas morning, makes the rounds of the shut-ins in his church. My mother spent the last two Christmases of her life in a swing-bed facility in a hospital room, and her pastor dropped by on both occasions. My Dad lived in an assisted living center for his last two Christmases, and his church brought Christmas dinner and about two dozen people who had moved to Arizona and didn't have family there to the dining room in his facility the last Christmas he was there, and they opened presents under the tree in the lobby. His pastor also came. I believe God blesses your ministry when you are willing to do those kinds of things.

Bryan Riley said...

Happy birthday, Wade. My wife was just telling me the other day that when I am sad the best way of dealing with it is to encourage others. I have found that when I am jogging I am constantly strengthened throughout the run if I am in communion with the Father, praying for others. As we give ourselves away, He fills us beyond our needs and wants. It's such a blessing to serve a God who loves us so much.

Thank you for your service and love. I just wrote your Christmas card a bit late, which is why I am up so late.

Love and God's blessings,

knnuki said...

God bless you Wade. Way to take those lemons, make lemonade and share some with others!

Bob Cleveland said...

Happy Birthday.

It just occurred to me that so many folks tell us how highly we ought to celebrate Christmas, and how we ought to feel this way or that. Maybe some disappointment can come from our own feelings about it not measuring up to what we've been taught to expect. Something doesn't seem right about that.

Your birthday is special because you're alive, not because you were born on a particular date. Maybe I should wish you Happy Life. It's your life that's special, not the 27th.

Frank (or Chip) said...

Thanks Wade. I have been having a pity party myself. Some of the other missionaries have rented a Baptist camp and will be spending New Year' there. We were all set to go and on Friday our tenants in Phoenix called to say the heat was out. That's right, the weekend before Christmas and I bought myself a new furnace for a house I will not live in for many years! Our beach vacation is blown but there are some volunteers coming into Quito and we will feed the hungry and share Christ with them this week instead. God is good in how He lets us enjoy Him.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Wade!

A question... what did JONAH feel like under the Juniper tree?

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday. Just think,at your age you will be able to see the thing you Post about, come to passed. You will out live those who like you to go away.
Thanks again for your comments and we will be praying God blessing on you. "The Old Gray Fox."

WatchingHISstory said...

Wade, I left this response on your Dec 21 post. Happy b'day and Happy new Year!

You wrote: "The statement of faith of Pastor Debbie's church states the following about the baptism of the Holy Spirit:

The baptism of Christians in the Holy Spirit is accompanied by the initial physical sign of speaking in other tongues (unlearned languages) as the Spirit of God gives them audible expression (Acts 2:4)."

"This faulty view of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is one commonly held by Pentecostals and Charismatics."

From a former Pentecostal who now attends a SBC, I can say that when a Pentecostal refers to the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4,17 Matt 3:11) generally he differentiates from the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (I Cor 12:13)

There are Pentecostals who still call it the 'baptism of the Holy Spirit', unfortunately, meaning power for service.

The Holy Spirit baptizes into the body of Christ- regeneration. The promise of the Father is Christ pouring out the Holy Spirit upon the believer for service. One baptism (regeneration) many fillings (for service)

For me I am a bold, Spirit-filled, evangelistic Calvinist (5pt)

Charles Page
Collierville, Tennessee

Jeff said...

Wade, Thanks for sharing this with us. Blessings to you and your family.

Alan Stoddard said...

Happy Birthday Wade. I'm glad you got through Christmas. Jesus spent His first in a manger.

volfan007 said...


wow, you and i are almost the same, exact age. i turned 46 on dec. 12. we have so much in common! :)


Debbie Kaufman said...

Happy Birthday Wade. I think we've all been to Pityparty ville. I remember when Merrill first began driving semi. We had been married 8 years and with three small children had never been separated. That changed when he went over the road and was gone a week at a time. I pity partied myself silly,I missed him something awful, not thinking that he was out making a living for his family. There were missed birthdays and holidays. It was then however that I really began to have more time to listen to sermons on the radio, join Bible classes and my spiritual life began a growth spurt. God takes all things and turns them into good doesn't He.

greg.w.h said...

DISCLAIMER: Catholic liturgy ahead...avert eyes if it offends you.

Here are some words for future pity parties:

"Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem."

(Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have pity [mercy] on us. x2

Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace.)


Greg Harvey

greg.w.h said...

Oh...Happy Birthday, Wade!


Bill Scott said...

It sounds like you and the Lord had a wonderful Christmas time alone. It sounds like you had a personal revival of sorts. He blessed you with gifts that money cannot buy.

Happy Birthday Brother.

Bill Scott

Anonymous said...

On behalf on this missionary, thank you for reminding me what it's all about as we live through a tough time of the year while missing our family members and friends back in the states.

Merry Christmas, indeed!

Lin said...

Ah yes, the pity party. I remember them well.

My mom had an antedote for was a ride down to the poor people's nursing home (they had those back then) where she played while we kids sang hymns. Then she would take us around to EACH person where we were expected to hold their hand and talk to them. How could they feel such joy over this, I wondered back then.

On Christmas Eve we would venture out to previously unknown areas and deliver food baskets to the poor. I can remember one small shack had a dirt floor and a tv!

Pity Party officially over. Gratitude and compassion party in full swing.

heath lloyd said...

I have just finished writing my sermon for this Lord's Day -- from Philippians 4:10-13 and then I come in here to read your post. I love it. I think some of these folks you visited are those spoken of in Hebrews 11 of whom it is said the world is not worthy of. The Lord is great and teaches us so much. To Him be glory.
Also, what a nice read based on all of the debates that usually rage on these blogs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. We go Christmas Caroling as a family on Christmas night and have found it to be exciting as well as worshipful. In Montana we usually troop through snow and sing in very cold weather but what fun it is with all of the family!!
Ken Colson

Anonymous said...

God bless you for your service to Him on Christmas.

Chuck Andrews said...


Happy Birthday. God bless Rachelle for taking care of her patients on Christmas Eve. Good nurses hard to find. When we think we have it bad all we have to do is look around. It could be a lot worse.


Bob Cleveland said...

Incidentally, I didn't really notice it before, but you're almost as old as my sons. ALMOST.

I have to leave and go get my shawl and my warm milk.