January 4, 2012


“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it—but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” —Oliver Wendell Holmes

As I write these words—yes, I still write with a Pilot V5 pen rather than type on a keyboard—and begin the third year of “Wednesdays with Dr. Joe” blogs, I am profoundly grateful.

First and foremost for the gift of life.  So many of my contemporaries have written the last page of their life stories.  For some reason, known only to Him, God has seen fit to extend my life beyond the biblically “three score and ten.”  The last time I was in the hospital for surgery, I watched with morbid fascination the digital zig-zagging on the screen that monitored my faithful aging heartbeats.  Each time it descended, I found myself wondering if this would be the time it would stop and never go up again.  Finally, I had to turn my eyes away; the stress was too much!

Second, for the gift of awareness.  One in every five of us will die mentally before we die physically.  That happened to my beloved mother.  Such a phenomenal near photographic memory she had!  Able to retain thousands of pages of short stories, poetry, and readings in her memory banks—then, one fateful day: the light of awareness flickered out of her eyes.  When we entered her room after that and looked into her eyes—there was no one home anymore.

Third, for the gift of family.  One of my cherished friends, an erstwhile millionaire, lost everything (job, house, bank account, solvency) in this recession.  When I asked him how he was coping, there was a long pause before he answered with, “You know, today my financial life is in shambles, I couldn’t even buy a used bicycle on credit—much less a car!  Belatedly, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only real bedrock in this unstable world is God, family,and health.  I still have God, a family who loves me, and my health.  I’m ever so blessed as long as I still have all three!”  I too am oh so grateful I still have a wife, children, and extended family who love me more than I deserve.”

Fourth, for the gift of friendship.  How bleak this world would be without friends!  Every Wednesday morning for over fifteen years now, I have met with Conifer Kiwanis!  Even though our numbers have shrunk from what they were before the recession, we still show up each Wednesday.  And each year, they grow dearer.  One is so fragile with age we rarely see him—and oh! How we feel his absence each week!  But I’m blessed with so many many friends.  My church family, my Zane Grey’s West Society family, my student/colleague family (generated during over a third of a century in the classroom), my alumni family (those who came into my life during my growing-up years), my Focus on the Family dear ones (I’ve shared Christmas with them in their Chapelteria and book store for sixteen years and counting), my publishing family (from twelve publishing houses) who continue to enrich my life.  And last but anything but least all those thousands who have come into my life because of our 76 books and counting, blogs, media interviews (between 500 and a thousand), and tweets.  One family (besides my family and agent, Greg Johnson) owns all 76 books.  But I’ve recently become aware that I have a wonderful extended family in all those who own all 20 (or 22) Christmas in My Heart books.  I call them “Christmasaholic completists.”  What can bring two people closer than a shared obsession?  By next year, I hope to have a list of as many of them as will check in with me.  I need their help as we together vote on the “20 Greatest Christmas Stories Ever Written.”

Recently, someone said to me, “Have you ever wondered how many people who’ve read your books through the years have had one-sided conversations with you?”  I’ll never know the answer to that question—at least on this earth.  So many times I’ve signed for ten to twelve hours a day—yet the Lord has miraculously saved me from carpal tunnel syndrome!

* * * * *

So, Dear Friends, whoever and wherever you might be, Connie and I are so grateful you’re taking time out of your hectic weekly schedule to spend a little time with us!  Let’s together make 2012 “a very good year!”

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14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Happy New Year! Thank you for much for taking your time to spend every Wednesday morning with us, your extended family! I so enjoy my morning break with Dr. Joe and a cup of Jo. May God richly bless you and yours in this new year.

    • Dear Linda, appreciate so much your kind words. Dr. Joe

  2. Thanks so much for reminding me and all of us about the blessings we should be thankful for every day. I am thankful for you and Connie.

    • Tim, good to hear from you. May you and yours have a blessed 2012! Joe

  3. I have all 20 of your Christmas in My Heart Books plus many others of your books and I consider them among my greatest treasures.

    • Dear Marilyn, Good to hear from you. I’ll add you to the list of those I know have all 20! Bless you! Joe

  4. I thank God for you, Connie, and all my ZGWS friends!!!

  5. Tengo los 20 Christmas in My Heart y muchos otros libros. Leo todos los miercoles los blogs con alegria anticipada. Este de hoy es uno de los que mas ha tocado mi corazon por ver la forma maravillosa en que Dios ha cuidado de ti para seguir compartiendo bellas historias con la gente que necesita unirse como familia y dejar de entretener a sus hijos con tantos juegos electronicos. Me sorprende q escribas con Pilot V5 pen… Thanks Joe, hermano, thanks Connie, thanks Greg for your wonderfull visit last week.

    • Dear Virtudes, I”ll add you to the list of those who have told us they have all 20 Christmas books. I’ve always written with a V-5 Pilot pen. It was such “gozo” being with you and Rafael! Con mucho amor, Jose

  6. What a wonderful piece, Joe. May your blessings continue for many years to come.

    • Margie, glad you liked the blog so much. Joe

  7. My week has been busy – my step-father had surgery on Tuesday for bladder cancer and my husband had surgery on Thursday for hernia repair. Thanks for the gentle reminder of all of God’s abiding blessings!

  8. In september of 1901, when William McKinley lay dying from from the bullet of an assassin, he was heard to say, “We are all going”. How true- 100 years from now we will all be a corpse, because “we are all going”! I remember, Mr. wheeler when you were 25 years old, and now you are in your seventies. I also remember when I was 15 years old in 1961, and now I will turn 66 in February. It is truly amazing! I wish I could live another 100 years, but that is impossible. Life is truly fragile. No wonder why we look forward to the life to come. One of the reasons for human suffering in my opinion, is that God does not want us to get so comfortable in this life that we take our eyes off the eternal prize. Lot’s wife looked back, and we know what happened to her.

    • Dear Donald, Most provocative comments re aging! Bless you! JW

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