Open to Interpretation?

Nativity If you were to walk into my office at church right now, you would notice 6 things: 1. not many books on the bookshelves (I prefer e-books), 2. a shelf full of toys (left over from a sermon series called Toy Box Leadership and kept to have if kids come in with their parents), 3. several Nativity sets (I SORT OF collect them), 4. a TON of St. Louis Cardinal memorabilia (I SORT OF have an unhealthy adoration for them…and baseball in general!) 5. a full green screen, complete with lighting (it’s the ONLY place in the church I can leave it set up all the time. We use it every week for our Announcement Videos.) and 6. a LOT of “stuff” on a rather messy desk (It’s the Christmas season- a busy time in the church- sue me!)
I could write quite a bit about any one of those 6 items. (In many cases, I already have and in probably EVERY case…I will again!) But today, I will focus on the Nativity sets. (I’ll bet the picture was a bit of a “tip of the hat” to THAT fact!) I have a variety of them on the shelves of my office- probably 10 or so in total. And now, I have another one. My wife gave me an early Christmas present yesterday- the Nativity set you see in the picture. I will admit right up front- the picture doesn’t really do it justice. So, let me describe it.
Coming out of the box, the pieces are 2-dimensional pieces of metal- they sort of look like they were cut out with a blow torch. They are in the shapes of the characters from the Nativity- Jesus in the manger, Mary and Joseph, the stable, a Christmas star, a shepherd, a few animals and the Wise Man, They each have what at first glance is an odd metal “flap” that stick out from the bottom. I obviously recognized it as a Nativity set immediately, but didn’t understand the flaps and didn’t understand how any of it stood up. So, my wife explained it!
You bend each piece right where the flap joins the bottom of the piece- the flap becomes a stand that holds up the piece. The, you simply arrange them the way you want them. (And, of COURSE, we ALL know that the Wise Men go on the right, along with any camels, while the shepherd(s), along with any other animals, go on the left. The Holy Family, of course, sit front and center. We ALL know that! (LOL!)
I have never seen a Nativity anything like this one before. It is so unique in both its design and final presentation. Imagine paper dolls with absolutely NO features of any kind…made out of rather heavy-gauge metal! It gives the whole scene an almost…industrial…feel. But it also leaves a lot to the imagination.
In the arts, there is representational and there is presentational. Presentational attempts to actually and accurately recreate…or present…something. A still-life painting of a bowl of fruit is (usually) presentational. It LOOKS like a bowl of fruit. But representational is designed to do just that- represent something. It presents that “something” in such a way that you know what it IS…but it leaves room for your interpretation…and imagination…to be more involved.
Therefore, as much as I love Nativities in general. I have a special appreciation for this kind. Why? Because the story of Jesus’ birth, as well as His earthly life, is presented in such a way that it allows us to interpret it, in part, through our own “lens”- our imagination. In other words, what the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus means to ME is probably different than what it means to YOU. That doesn’t mean one is better than the other- just different.
God has room for you and me. God’s Word is living- it “adapts” to our current situation. We experience His love and power differently, depending what’s going on in our life at the moment. So, a Nativity that is representational seems highly appropriate- the outline of the story is there and God helps us fill in the blanks. Gotta love that!
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

I LOVE Christmas Music!

 

Christmas Song     I love the music of Christmas, don’t you? In fact, I love it so much that it’s not at all unusual that I might have churches I serve sing “Joy to the World” in July! (Why not? If we can celebrate Jesus in December, why not July?!)
Where we used to live, the local Christian radio station starts playing Christmas music on the day after Thanksgiving, and they play it 24/7 until Christmas Day. I LOVE it. In fact, I love it SO much that I tend to drive my family crazy by about the week before Christmas!
The current local Christian station does NOT play solid Christmas music, but instead intersperses the occasional Christmas song. Therefore, it will take longer for me to “have my share” this year!
What are YOUR favorite Christmas songs? Do you tend toward the more traditional “Joy to the World” and “Away in a Manger”? Or perhaps you are more of a Michael W. Smith or Steven Curtis Chapman kind of person at Christmas? Do you prefer religious or secular music at this time of year?
Personally, I LOVE to sing “the classics”. I can’t wait for Advent to start so we can start putting all of those great songs in the worship services! But I also love the more “modern” Christian Christmas music. And I also love the secular stuff as well! OK…I just simply love Christmas music!
For my money, here are the three greatest Christmas recordings of all time (in order):
1. The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole. Written in 1944 by Mel Tormé (The Velvet Fog) and Bob Wells in an effort to “stay cool by thinking cool” on a scorching summer day in California. It is the most-performed Christmas song ever. Torme says, “I saw a spiral pad on the piano with four lines written in pencil- Chestnuts roasting…, Jack Frost nipping…, Yuletide carols…, Folks dressed up like Eskimos. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics.”
2. Christmas Eve/Sarajevo by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
3. Christmastime by Michael W. Smith.
I have used ALL of them during worship at least once before…and they just might make an appearance this year before it’s all said and done!
Music speaks to me like few other things can. It has a way of seeping into my soul and changing me. I have been a singer for 38 years, a musician for 46 years and a music lover my entire life! What are YOUR favorites?

We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

 

Resilient- Be…Be…Resilient!

resilient It’s kind of amazing how resilient the human body…and the human spirit…can be. We have been walking this “cancer journey” for almost 6 months now. 6 months ago…everything was great! Of course, it really wasn’t. The cancer was “percolating” on the inside for a while- I just didn’t know. In fact, I have heard people say that they don’t want to go to the doctor when there seems to be something wrong and their “take” is that finding OUT about a bad diagnosis is always the beginning of the inevitable downward slide. I understand that mentality, but I would like to respectfully call “foul” on that logic. Finding out doesn’t cause the downward slide- it is a result of the downward slide. That’s HOW you find out- your body starts to “throw a tie rod”, so to speak. Then doctors get involved and you find out WHY your body is doing what it’s doing. But I am convinced that knowledge is power!
Anywho- back to my point! The body, mind and soul are all very resilient. When something new has cropped up along the way in MY journey, we have tried hard to simply see it as the next hurdle to get over. And some hurdles have been harder to get over, to be sure. But they are hurdles to clear, nonetheless.
And yet, when I look back over the last 6 months as a whole- the macro versus the micro- a different picture emerges. Let’s see-
1. the facial nerve that was already compromised by the previous brain tumor has a “sister” nerve that runs through the neck…and is impacted by all the crud going on in my neck. So, the partial paralysis on the right side of my face from that event- which I never fully got over- is even MORE compromised by the cancer. I have less control over that side of my face than I did 6 months ago and it shows even more when I’m tired.
2. The ability to taste went away a few months ago and, for the most part, hasn’t come back. Other than a few things (grapes, certain apples, fruit juice, “vinegary” food), I can’t really taste anything I eat.
3. My WHOLE life, I was warmed-blooded- sitting around the house in the dead of winter in shorts, a t-shirt and socks. Now, I wear a sweater and sweat pants, slippers and sit under a blanket when I sit.
4. I have always been Tigger- a bundle of energy. I was like a caged tiger- pacing back and forth just waiting for the door of the cage to be opened. Now, I have to pace myself. I have to admit I can’t things. I have to plan around naps and finding someplace to sit down.
5. I have had to sleep in a recliner for MUCH of the past 6 months, including the last 2+ months solid. The “throat crud” that seems to accompany the stuff going on inside of me demands that fact.
6. I have basically given up sugar and carbs, because they tend to “feed” the cancer.
7. The chemo has caused neuropathy in my hands and feet. The drums are getting harder to play. I have had to “retire” from performing magic and juggling because the neuropathy has deteriorated my fine motor skills to the point that I simply can’t do it anymore. I have to work a decent amount harder to do many things. I drop more things.
8. I had to give up teaching classes at the church. And I LOVE teaching!
The list could go on…but you get the idea. Life is…shall we say…DIFFERENT now than it was 6 months ago. And, if I add all of those things- and the other things I didn’t mention- up together, it’s easy to think, “Why bother? This simply isn’t worth it!” But then, that whole “resilient” thing comes into play. The human body, mind and soul take these things and say, collectively, “OK- one more thing. We can DO this!” God helps you find the “new norm”. And, except for a moment here and there, you can accept that new norm and keep moving.
I tend to be a “big picture” guy. But sometimes, looking at the things you are going through as less of a “big picture” and more of a series of “speed bumps” to get over can be JUST what the doctor ordered. So, what is God calling us to be? Resilient!
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

I Have Beat the “Median”

medianWhat is “Median”?
I am an odd duck- an enigma, wrapped in a riddle and surrounded by a conundrum! I love Classic Rock music. I love really sarcastic, “out there” humor. I love baseball. I love superheroes. I love science. I love archeology. The list goes on. I love a lot of things that many would NOT think should “go together” in one human being. Among other contenders for that lost would be math. I love numbers. They intrigue me and “speak to me” on ways other things don’t.
And in mathematics, there are these concepts that get confused for each other quite often-
mean, median, mode and range. What do they mean? How are they different? Mean media and mode are three different kinds of “averages”. Mean is the “average” you’re used to, where you add up all the numbers and then divide by the number of numbers. Median is the “middle” value in the list of numbers. To find the median, your numbers have to be listed in numerical order from smallest to largest- the one in the middle is the median. Mode is the value that occurs most often. If no number in the list is repeated, then there is no mode for the list. Then there is range- the difference in a list of numbers between the largest and smallest values.
I tell you all of this because I have been thinking about median lately. Friday, June 9 of this year was the day we first heard the words Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer. It was after a challenging couple of days of medical tests, doctors and driving. It was about 5PM- end of the work week- sitting in the empty lobby of a medical office somewhere in the vast maze that is the University of Iowa Hospital. It was me, my wife and our younger son. We were to meet the doctor we had met the day before in the ER of that same hospital to get the preliminary results of a series of needle biopsies I had JUST had done on my neck.
We arrived…and couldn’t find anybody! But then, a woman came out, asked our name and told us he was on his way. At pretty much that moment, he walked in. We sat in the vacant lobby and he dropped that term- Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer. Bombshell. We had SOME idea that “the C word” was going to come up, but it doesn’t quite hit you until the word is actually spoken by someone who is “in the know”.
He went on to say that, while they didn’t know for sure yet that it WAS that type, and wouldn’t know for sure until the full biopsy results returned…it sure seemed like it was. He was nearly positive. And then came some statistics. And the one statistic that still stands out was the median life expectancy of someone with that diagnosis. Remember- median is the “middle” value in the list of numbers. So, in this case, if you took ALL the people who have been diagnosed with this type of cancer and put the amount of time they lived PAST the diagnosis in order, smallest to largest, the median would be the number SMACK in the middle. And the median for people with Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer? Ready? 4 months. FOUR months. That means that, out of everybody who has had it, basically half of them lived MORE that 4 months…and basically half of them lived LESS than 4 months. But the median was 4 months. That made the first bombshell seem like a firecracker!
Now, if you do the math, sitting there at 5PM on Friday, June 9, 4 months would be October 9. This doctor was saying that the median life expectancy of someone in my situation would put me at October 9. It was a little hard to breathe that day. And yet- here I am…almost 2 months past that number with my trusted oncologist comfortable to tell us that we can wait until AT LEAST next February to even RESUME chemo treatments!
The bottom line is this- do I KNOW how long I have? Nope. Have I already beat the median? Yep! So, I get up every day. I go to work. I love on my family. I enjoy the world. I appreciate life. And I live for the moment. WE live for the moment. It’s the best ANY of is can do!
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Thankful: Grateful For God

Thankful Grateful For God    A young coed brought home her new boyfriend to meet her parents. During dinner, her father set out to find out about more the young man. “So, what are your plans?”  “Well, Sir, I’d like to marry your daughter.” “Oh, you WOULD, would you. And what are you studying in school?” “I’m a Religion major.” “A Religion major? Hmmm. “OK- and how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring?” “I’ll focus on my studies and God swill provide.” Alright. But what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in?” “I’ll study and God will provide for us.” “Is that so? What about children? How will you support children?” “Don’t worry, sir, God will provide.” Later, the girl’s mother asks, “Well, how’d it go?” “The bad news is, he has no job and no prospects. The good news is- he thinks I’m God!”
November is the month when our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving! Hopefully, this time of year also turns our minds and hearts toward being thankful. But being thankful can be a challenge in today’s world. So, we are spending this month focusing on 4 things we should absolutely be grateful for. Week 1, we focused on being grateful for “family”. Week 2, we looked at the most basic building blocks of life- our needs being met. Last week, we widened our circle as we looked at what it means to be grateful for church. Today, we “bring it home” as we consider how we are to be Grateful For God.
Here is the backstory for today’s Scripture- Jesus is getting closer and closer to the events of Holy Week…and the crucifixion. He has been doing more teaching, preaching AN healing. He and the boys are now ON their way to Jerusalem when they have an unusual encounter.

     Luke 17:11-19 Now on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As He was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met Him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When He saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him—and He was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then He said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Some things to understand here- “normal” people in the Ancient Near Eastern world did NOT go in, or even too close, to Samaria. You simply didn’t mix with those…Samaritans! They were seen as unclean. And, to make it worse, it wasn’t unclean Samaritans that Jesus and the boys encountered. They were LEPERS- the unclean of the unclean. Some were just “good ol’, plain ol’” lepers. But at least one of them was a SAMARITAN leper. Lepers- you didn’t look at them. You didn’t get near them. You CERTAINLY didn’t touch them!
These 10 lepers stand at a distance…because THEY know the rules…and shout out to Jesus. Notice that- they clearly KNOW Who Jesus is. They call Him by name AND they call Him “Master”. They ask that He “have pity” on them. That’s an interesting way to phrase it. Not “heal us”. Not “help us”. But “have pity on us/ Jesus tells them to go and present themselves to the priests. Why? Because, according to tradition, ONLY the priests could declare them “clean”. They go. And AS they go…they and made clean. As…they…go. Nine of them go ahead and finish the trip to the priest- they want the official “okey-dokey” more than anything.
But one of them, the Samaritan, doesn’t complete the journey to the priest. That means, according to the law. He’s still not clean. But he doesn’t care. He heads BACK to Jesus, praising God for what He’s done. Jesus questions him about the fact that there WERE 10…but only ONE came back to thank God. Jesus tells him his faith has made him well.
People say, “Do you believe in God?” And my response usually surprises them- “No.” But to say “I believe” in something or someone implies that I have room in my understanding for the possibility that the something or someone might NOT exist. Based on the sheer size of the universe, I believe in the existence of aliens. But the Fermi Paradox makes me confess that may be wrong! I believe they exist…but I DON’T know. I don’t BELIEVE in God- I KNOW God. I don’t understand NEARLY everything about God…but I know Him. And because I KNOW Him, I can know other things as well. I know that God has blessed me with life. I know that He has blessed me with wonderful people in my life. And I am grateful for that blessing. And so, I offer up a prayer of Thanksgiving-
“Our Father Who Art in Heaven.”
Yes?
Don’t interrupt me. I’m praying.
But — you called ME!
Called You? No, I didn’t call You. I’m praying. “Our Father, Who art in Heaven.”
There — you did it again!
Did what?
Called ME. You said, “Our Father, Who art in Heaven.” Well, here I am. What’s
on your mind?
But I didn’t mean anything by it. I was, you know, “saying my prayers”. I always say the Lord’s Prayer. It makes me feel good, kind of like- fulfilling a duty.
Well, all right. Go on.
Okay, “Hallowed be Thy name.”
Hold it right there. What do you mean by that?
By what?
By “Hallowed be thy name”?
It means, it means…OK, fine, I don’t KNOW what it means. It’s just part of the prayer.  By the way, what does it mean?
It means Honored, Holy, Wonderful.
Oh, well…OK! That makes sense. I never actually thought about what ‘hallowed’ meant. Thanks. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Do you really mean that?
Uuumm…sure, why not?
What are you doing about it?
Doing? Nothing, I guess. I just think it would be kind of neat if You got control of everything down here like You have up there. We’re kinda in a mess down here, in case You haven’t noticed.
Thank you, Capt. Obvious! Yes, I know; but, have I got control of YOU?
Well, I go to church.
That isn’t what I asked you. What about your bad temper? You’ve really got a problem with that. And then there’s the way you spend money — all on yourself.
Hang on a minute! Stop picking on me! I’m just as good as some of the rest of those people at church!
Well, Excuse ME. I thought you were praying for MY will to be done? If that’s really going to happen, it has to start with people who are praying for it- like you.
OK, so I have some “growing edges”- sue me. I could probably name some more.
So could I.
I haven’t thought about it very much until now, but I really would like to cut out some of those things. I’d like to, you know, be really “free”.
Good. Now we’re getting somewhere. We’ll work together — You and Me. I’m
proud of You.
Thanks! But if You don’t mind, I need to finish. This is taking longer than it usually does. “Give us this day, our daily bread.”
You need to cut out the bread. You’re getting a little…”soft”…in the middle!
Hey, come on! What is this? Here I am, doing my religious duty, and all of a sudden You interrupt me and point out my shortcomings.
Prayer is a dangerous thing. You just might get what you ask for. Remember, you called ME — and here I am. It’s too late to stop now. Keep praying. ( …pause… ) Well, go on.
I’m afraid to.
Afraid? Of what?
I know what You’ll say.
Try Me.
“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”
What about Billy?
I KNEW it! I KNEW You’d bring him up! He lied about me! I’m GOING to get even with him!
But — your prayer — What about your prayer?
I didn’t — mean it.
Well, at least you’re honest. But, it’s quite a load, carrying around all that bitterness and resentment, isn’t it?
Yes, but it’ll feel SO much better once I get even with him. Man, have I got some plans for him! He’ll wish he’d never been born.
No, you won’t feel any better. You’ll feel worse. Revenge isn’t sweet. You’re unhappy- but I can change that.
You can? How?
Forgive Billy. Then, I’ll forgive you. And the hate and anger will be his problem — not yours. You’ll be at peace with it.
Yeah, you’re right. You always are. And although I want revenge, I want to be right with You even more…(sigh). All right- I forgive him.
There! How do you feel?
You know- not bad. Not bad at all! In fact, I feel pretty good! I might actually sleep tonight. I haven’t been doing a lot of that lately, You know.
Yeah, I know. But, you’re not through praying, are you? Go on.
OK. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Good! Good! I’ll do that. Just don’t put yourself in a place where you can be tempted.
What do you mean by that?
You know what I mean.
Yeah. I know. Okay.
Go ahead. Finish your prayer.
“For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Do you know what would bring Me glory — what would really make Me happy?
No, but I’d like to know. I want to please You. I truly want to follow You. So, tell me…how do I make You happy?
YOU just did!

Earliest Christmas Tree in History! 

christmas-tree-3     Yesterday, we got what is, for us, the earliest Christmas Tree in history! (At least…we THINK so!) I shared yesterday that we would get our tree- that would be OUR Black Friday shopping! And, true to form, that’s exactly what we did. Our older son is home for Thanksgiving. And the next time he comes home- two weeks or so- he will only have late Friday night until Sunday dinnertime with us. So- we have to think ahead! (But let’s be completely transparent here- it is my wife…the SMART one…who thinks ahead! She figured out that, while we HAD time on this visit, we won’t have nearly as much time on that next visit.) 

So, we got our tree on THIS visit. And we put up the “non-tree” decorations as well. The tree is on the front porch, protected from the elements but benefiting from the non-heated porch to slow down the “shelf life” of a cut tree. And when our older son is back, mid-December, we’ll drag the tree IN and decorate it. (We go to GREAT lengths to try and make sure that these family traditions can involve all four of us for as long as possible!) 

I cannot remember a year when the weather was any nicer to go out and cut down a tree. We have had nice days. We have been out in the rain. One year, we went out in the middle of what amounted to a blizzard- the snow was pounding, the wind was howling and the temperature was…NASTY! But yesterday was BEAUTIFUL! Our younger son got off work at 3PM. (He literally works across the street and about one city block from home!) So, we were in the car, sitting our front when he got off work. We headed to the tree farm without hesitation. (It closed at 4PM!)  

The parsonage we live in is a 100-year old house with leaded glass, beautiful woodwork everywhere AND…high ceilings! That means we can get a tall tree! Our younger son is 6’4″ tall, so we use him as our “yardstick” when we go Christmas Tree shopping! We can go about 1′ higher than the highest he can reach. The first year we went to this particular tree farm, the proprietor gently tried to tell us our tree was too tall. We assured him it would fit. And…it did! Since that first year, we have had to get somewhat shorter trees simply because we have waited until later in the season to cut one. But THIS year, being out there on the day after Thanksgiving, there were SEVERAL trees in our height range. And we picked a winner! Threw it on the roof of the car, strapped it down and drove it home! Done and done! 

If you have read this blog much at all, you know that family traditions are important to us. And they ARE- extremely important. But the truth of the matter is this- the exact nature of the tradition is MUCH less important than us being able to be together. If we get to do things the way we usually do them, the way we have become accustomed to doing them- great! But if we don’t- we improvise. We modify. We drop back and punt! And we make it work…because we love being together MORE than whether or not every aspect of what we are doing went exactly “as it should”.  

My wife and I celebrated our first Christmas together 40 years ago. 29 years ago, our older son “joined the band”. 17 years ago, our younger son made it a foursome. And we simply don’t know how many more we all have together. So, we appreciate every moment. We laugh…probably more than we should. We act goofy. We reminisce- especially when we decorate the Christmas tree! We live life- to the fullest that we can. 

We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

Black Friday!

blackfridaykarloff

Today is (cue the ominous music)…Black Friday! Some people think this is the BEST day of the year! Others (i.e. ME) would rather have a pointy stick jabbed at them than to have to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. (Although, if I’m honest, I don’t REALLY like to shop the other 364 days of the year either!) Here are some interesting tidbits about this phenomenon known as Black Friday:
It’s called “Black Friday” because it traditionally marked the day retailers move into profitability for the year — from “in the red” to “in the black.” (It’s also used derisively by many retailers to mark a very long day of impatient shoppers, boorish behavior and adults elbowing one another to get a cheap video-game system!)

Everyone thinks that Black Friday is the biggest money-making shopping day of the year…but that’s not necessarily the case. It is almost always the biggest shopping traffic day of the year, but it doesn’t always generate the most sales. In some years, the most sales are generated on the last Saturday before Christmas.

66% of Black Friday shoppers say they are actually shopping for themselves the day after Thanksgiving, according to Consumer Reports.

45% of ALL consumers will shop on Black Friday.

The most sought-after technology on Black Friday LAST year included iPads, Samsung 4K TVs, and LG TVs. In addition, people are shopping from their smartphones more than ever before. About 60% of website traffic and 40% of purchases came from mobile phones. Best-selling toys include drones, mini vehicles for kids, and Lego sets.

In 2015, Black Friday online sales hit a then all-time high of more than $2.9 billion, representing basically 100% growth over 2014. In fact, some companies rebranded Black Friday “couch Friday” since so many people shop without leaving home. $67.5 billion MORE was spent that year in stores. And $617 billion dollars was spent on retail in November-December in 2015! And yet, even with the popularity of today, 35% of American adults start their Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. Roughly 190 million people will visit retail stores and websites over this weekend. 7 people actually lost their lives in Black Friday-related stampedes in 2015.

We ARE shopping today, but I THINK where we are shopping will pretty much guarantee that we will avoid long lines and big crowds. Since our older son is home, we are going out to the Christmas Tree, as in the middle of nowhere to cut down a tree! (I DON”T anticipate MASSIVE crowds!)

Are you going out to shop today? Perhaps you’ve already BEEN out. If you ARE going, please be safe. If you already went- glad you made it back safely! I pray you have a healthy and happy Thanksgiving weekend!

We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!