Tuesday, September 11, 2012


On Sunday, I honestly believe I caught a glimpse of heaven.

The temperature was in the lows 80's.  I was drenched in sweat and my legs pleaded with me for rest, but I overruled their petition and kept moving forward.  I had been swimming, biking, and running in the Nation's Triathlon for over 3 hours.  Last year, I was a chemotherapy patient and spectator, but this year, I was a cancer-free competitor.  I had faced some unexpected adversity on the course and was really hurting during the final miles of the run.

As I rounded a corner, I saw my youngest brother, Jeff, waiting to run me in to the finish line.  He came alongside me and said "You're almost there, Mike.  Once you get over that bridge, you will see the finish line and everybody is waiting for you."  His words put a little bit of pep in my step and we made it over the bridge.  I swear that last quarter mile of road was paved with gold and the word, FINISH, sat atop the pearly gates.  Every part of my body was screaming at me, but it didn't matter now.  As Jeff veered off, I saw the grey cluster of Team Hoj shirts and the cheering got louder and louder; I couldn't keep my lips from quivering and the tears from falling.  Crossing that finish line was unlike anything I had ever experienced before and the floodgates of my emotions burst wide open.  All I could do was nod my head amidst handshakes, hugs, and congratulations.

And just like that, it was over.  The race that had taken all morning to complete was finished.  Months upon months of training had paid off.  A year's worth of anticipation and preparation had suddenly vanished.  I was utterly consumed by the joy of the moment and no longer felt the pain of last year's struggle.  Only one word could do it justice: heavenly.

This race was just a reflection of life.  Every affliction and trial that life brings our way has devastating potential because we can't see the finish line.  We just want it to be over.  We just want to quit.  But Paul reminds us, just as he did the Corinthians, "For this light, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (II Corinthians 4:17-18).

This is one of our foundational hopes, is it not?  Heaven is eternal and its joy is everlasting.  The trials that brought us to it will no longer bring us to tears, but bring us to worship the One who brought us through them.  When we cross that finish line, we will find true peace, rest, and fulfillment.  I only got a taste of heaven this weekend and it has left me starving for more.  The anticipation of running towards the Kingdom and hearing "Well done, good and faithful servant... enter into the joy of your master" is unrelenting.

Everyone has their own course marked out for them to complete.  Finish it by the grace and strength of God's spirit, and give Him the glory when all is said and done.

Considering the cancer chapter officially closed.




Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Where Would Jesus Be?

As I exited I-95 into the bowels of the inner city, I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive.  The buildup to this Saturday had been quite extensive (at least in my mind).  Several friends and FCA board members had told me that this was the worst neighborhood in the entire city of Philadelphia.  In this area ravaged by poverty, people seem to have no money, yet they find a way to get a hold of drugs.  Prostitutes roam the street corners and crime abounds.  The neighborhood is fighting to hold on, yet most steer clear altogether.  If you've seen the Rocky movies, then you've seen this place.  This is Kensington.  

So why would this 23 year old white boy, bred in a polar opposite world, be going into this place instead of away from it?

"This is where Jesus would be."

Yes, this was technically part of my job that I was asked to participate in.  FCA was invited to represent our ministry at a block party in Kensington, hosted by Rock Ministries.  There was a live band, blow-up castles and obstacle courses, classic summer food, and several boxing exhibitions.  We brought a few basketball hoops and free FCA Gear as yet another way to love on these people.  You could make the argument that I was obligated to be there, yet it didn't feel that way at all.  I was so excited, yet equally nervous as I stepped out into a place unlike anywhere I had ever been.

No sooner than we had our sign set up, a man walked up to me and immediately inquired about our ministry.  As we started talking, he began to tell me his story.  He was a home grown, Kensington product that experienced many of the struggles that the majority of its residents do.  He turned his life around and, by the grace of God, is now a member of the congregation at Rock Ministries.  He told me to turn around and as we looked out over the chain link fence, he echoed all of the negative things that I had already heard.  But he folded his arms, and said with a sigh...

"But this is where Jesus would be."

I'm ashamed to say that I can't even remember this man's name, but his words are burned into my brain.    After being asked why He ate with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick" (Mark 2).  What kind of "good news" do our lives exemplify if we disregard these people as unsettling statistics and avoid them like the plague?  These are human beings, made in the perfect image of the triune God who have beautiful little babies and families and dreams.  But they live among streets that are overflowing with destructive behaviors and lifestyles.  They need to experience a gospel whose pre-eminence is love.

It was so encouraging to walk along that street and see the sign for Rock Ministries.  They are providing outlets for juveniles at risk to box, grapple, and even learn skills like music or art.  Buddy, Paul, and all of the other staff there are the face of Jesus to those who badly need to know Him.  They have traded comfort and security to get in the trenches in an area starving for hope.  

What a privilege to be a part of it for an afternoon.  I can't imagine I'll be able to stay away for long.



Friday, May 18, 2012

The Sparrow

Now that the weather has taken a turn for the better, I typically wake up to one of two sounds in the morning.  Some mornings I am slapped out of my slumber by the rumble of mower decks and weed-wackers as the grounds crew attends to the grass.  But on others, the much more pleasant sound of birds chirping provides me with a natural alarm clock.

Last week (on a day that was not mowing day), I woke up to the birds and rolled over to lay in bed for a few more moments.  As I slowly regained consciousness, I laid there for a bit and thought about those birds.  How do they decide where to build a nest?  How do they know where to go get food?  What do they do during a hard rain?  All of these questions revolved the basic necessities of life, and I made up my own answers as a completely uneducated ornithologist.  However far off I may have been, my mind quickly went to a passage in Matthew 6:25-33...

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying 'What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?"  for the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  

Even though I am a bit scatter-brained at times, there was a point to my bird pondering so early in the morning.  You see, the topic of fundraising was on my mind and had been for some time.  It is usually one of the biggest sources of anxiety and worry in my life.  But on this morning, things were different.  I had recently been blessed by several donors who had come alongside me to help meet my budget goals for the upcoming year.  I had been "fed," just like the birds of the air.

I've heard my fair share of sermons on this passage before, and the message is pretty straight forward: don't worry because God will give you what you need (not necessarily what you want), if you seek His kingdom first.  And I agree.  But through this process of fundraising, I have also had to come to grips with another element of this passage: the time component.  "When" will God give me what I need?  Think about the birds again.  God the Creator causes the right worms to crawl up to the surface of the ground at the right time, so that the right bird can gobble it up.  He does the same thing with the seeds and anything else they consume.  He orchestrates that they would have what they need in the right place and the right time.  He could just as easily give them a big cup full of night crawlers like we buy at the bait and tackle shop and say "Here's your portion for the week."  But He doesn't.  Why?

Because there is no dependency in that.

God is constantly moving us towards a place of increased dependency.  I wanted to have a full year's worth of funding in place months ago and He could have done it without batting an eye.  My mind wouldn't be at ease until I had stocked the barn completely, but it didn't go that way.  The funds came in slowly, check by check, but it was not until I was a month away from moving to Philly that the funds were finally in place.  Each and every donation was a reminder that He was providing the way for me to accomplish this enormous task.  His provision was completely sufficient and His timing was impeccable.  

I suppose it is unrealistic to think that human beings will never be completely rid of worry or anxiety about life's demands, but we can never forget that our "heavenly Father knows that you need them all."  He made you and he knows what you need...

And when you need it.  

Humbled yet again,


Monday, April 30, 2012

He Said That?

I don't listen to the radio much, but a few weeks ago, I was without my iPod so resorted to the local stations.  Somewhere along the way, I landed on a Christian station and a song came on that made me frown.  I'd never heard it before, but the lyrics went something like this...

He said
I won't give you more,  more than you can take
I might like you bend, but I won't let you break
Oh, I'll never, ever let you go
Don't you forget what He said

Really?  He said that?  When and to whom?  Hold on to those questions for a moment and read this...

I hear religious-minded people say all the time with good intentions, "God will never place a burden on you so heavy that you cannot carry it."  Really?  My experience is that God will place a burden on you so heavy that you cannot possibly carry it alone.  He will break your back and your will.  He will buckle your legs until you fall flat beneath the crushing weight of your load.  All the while He will walk beside you waiting for you to come to the point where you must depend on Him.

This paragraph comes from Greg Lucas' book, Wrestling With An Angel.  The stories that tug your heart in this book are birthed from Greg's struggle as the father of a disabled child and its many parallels to the spiritual realm.  It is a deeply moving tale that forces its readers to wrestle with the nature of God and how He chooses to mold us and make Himself known.

Now, let's bring it all together.  My guess is that the authors of this song and those who offered comfort to Greg fell prey to a commonly misinterpreted verse.  I Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful and will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."    This verse is citing deliverance from temptation.  But temptation and hardship are two utterly different worlds.

You see, I've also had people tell me that God never gives us more than we can handle.  It's a comforting notion and I searched for the passage of Scripture that says so when I was diagnosed with cancer.  But I couldn't find it.  The fact that we have Christian artists claiming God said things that He actually didn't say  just makes the mess even more difficult for struggling believers.  It's true that He will never leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:8).  But as far as giving us more than we can handle... well that's a different story.  Time and time again, we see stories in Scripture of people who face odds so unbearable that they cannot possibly do it without God.  Moses had to lead Yaweh's people out from one of the most dominant empires on the planet.  A young shepherd boy named David had to deliver the nation of Israel with a few smooth stones.  Job had to put his money where his mouth was as his entire world literally crumbled around him.  The apostle Paul encountered so many trials and tribulations that the Lord finally said to him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."     

Those are His words.  That is the truth that you can cling to and even stake your life on.  This last year of my life has made me realize more than ever that God uses the events in our lives to keep us in a state of constant dependency.  I think Greg would agree (read his story to find out).  He will give us more than we feeble humans can take and it might even break us at times.  But in that brokenness, He is there walking right beside us.  He is ready to consume us with grace when we have realized that we cannot do it on our own.  It is then that we get a glimpse of His total sufficiency and power.  

That is what He said.



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Beside Still Waters

Lately, I have found myself in a constant state of stress about the future.  Like a nagging ache that won't go away, I haven't been able to shake it.  To keep this long story short, I'll just share the remedy.  If you are dealing with any amount of stress, anxiety, or worry (or even if you're not), I highly recommend this.  It is just a simple reminder from Scripture that will fix your eyes back on the truth. 

1.  Find a quiet place and rid yourself of all distractions (technology included).
2.  Take a few moments to confess life's current struggles and stresses to the Lord.
3.  Play this song while lying flat on your back with eyes closed.  Afterwards, don't get up right away.  Just rest in solitude beside the still waters...

There is no greater assurance in life's "shadow of death" than being saturated in the truth, spoken in His word.  Jon Foreman just so happens to offer a very soothing and accessible way to do it.    



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Timeline Christianity

Facebook is a baffling phenomenon to me.  It's a wonderful way to re-connect with old friends or even make new ones.  It can be a great asset in developing relationships for a cause or promoting anything under the sun.  But it many respects, it has created a mask for its users, a false sense of who they really are by granting them the ability to control what they post and what others can see about them.  Among the many things that appear on my newsfeed, I frequently see pictures from the group "Jesus Is My Savior."  The group has over 80,000 likes and over 2,000 people "Talking About This."  The last picture that I saw from them made me cringe when it claimed "Jesus died on a cross for us, yet only 3% of us care about his enough to help spread his word- even though its their Christian duty!  So join the 3% that actually cares.  All you have to do is hit 'share' to help spread this message."  

As much as I enjoy Facebook, I think it has done Christianity a disservice and I need to catch myself sometimes.  While it can be a tremendous avenue for generating awareness, news, and relationships for the sake of the Gospel, I fear that it has tainted the meaning of the phrase "love Jesus."  It seems as if we have been lulled into thinking that updating our status' with Bible verses or sharing quotes from Charles Spurgeon or convicting pictures translates into social justice.  In a sense we have developed a "Timeline Christianity" that supposedly indicates our devotion to discipleship.  Even though it is commendable for us to wear our hearts on our Timelines, is this what Jesus has been calling His disciples to all along?  Recall his conversation with Peter in John 21: 15-17... 

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"  "Yes, Lord, " he said, "You know that I love you."  Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."  Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?"  He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."  Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."  The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?"  He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."  Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."

I am in no position to judge anyone's heart because I have no way of knowing where their conviction spurns to action.  That forever remains between them and the Lord.  But my own heart tells me that clicking the "Like" button is far easier than putting food in the orphan's mouth.  It is more convenient to "Share" a picture than get in the trenches and suffer spiritual warfare with brothers and sisters in Christ.  It is just plain harder to give time to serve the widow or re-route a lifestyle on behalf of the oppressed.  Why?  Because there is a great cost involved, a sacrifice that is counter-intuitive to our nature.  If we really love Jesus Christ, if we truly want to serve Him, then we must feed His sheep.  There are many out there whose lives' reflect their posts and the world is a better place because of it.  This is not about bashing anyone for surface-level Christianity, but rather a challenge for reflection.  I'm going to continue using  Facebook to advance the Gospel and I hope you do too.  

But shame on us if our Christianity is confined to the internet.

If you do too, then feed His sheep.

Striving for real discipleship,


Monday, March 12, 2012

An Exhausted Hallelujah

Oh Heavenly Father,

For months on end, I dreamt of the days when fatigue would no longer enslave me, when days full of dizziness and nausea would cease.  I longed to feel the Resilite of a wrestling mat underneath my feet again and stand in the trenches with my brothers as they prepared, day in and day out, to achieve their dreams.  I was locked in brutal struggle with one of the Enemy's most formidable agents, who wreaked more than just physical havoc.

Lord, Your temple was battered, but it is being rebuilt.  It is an experience unlike anything I have ever encountered.  It is excruciating and beautiful.  At times, it is discouraging, yet seeds of hope are beginning to sprout.  Every drop of sweat is an offering.  Each painful repetition is a "thank-you."  Every shot drilled is an act of gratitude and every sprint is an exhausted "hallelujah."

Your faithfulness is not forgotten.  Please accept these tokens of thankfulness.



Thursday, February 23, 2012


I believe I was in the 4th grade...

On a brisk, fall afternoon, the 4th grade classes of Valley Christian Academy took a tour of a replicated colonial village.  Most of the day was very uninteresting to me.  The mini-seminars on cloth making, butter churning, and broom making didn't exactly get my blood pumping.  However, towards the end of the tour, they did take us into the blacksmith shop.  With cold toes and a face still sticky from the orchard apple I had just eaten, we eagerly huddled into a dimly lit, but warm workspace.  I watched as the blacksmith started with a plain metal rod.  He laboriously heated, re-heated, stretched, hammered, twisted, and shaped the rod into what would later become a beautiful piece of art.  Maybe it was just the fact that this bored young boy was easily amused by metal and fire and pounding on an anvil, but something caught my eye that day.  I was in awe of authentic workmanship.

Hand-crafted products are becoming increasingly valuable in our world today.  All of the advancement in technology has slowly, but significantly bled out the number of true artists who work with their hands, those who take raw hunks of any given material and forge them into beautiful masterpieces.  If you've never witnessed it (or even if you have), I highly recommend you watch this video before you continue reading:  The Forged Rose.

In the grand scheme of things, you and I are just raw pieces of metal, brittle and unrefined.  When we truly encounter the Lord and make a commitment to discipleship, He begins to prepare us for glory.  This formation takes place through every circumstance that we encounter.  But as you saw in the video, the metal has to be heated to an extreme temperature before it is workable.  It's elemental composition has to be broken down for the artist can make something beautiful.  Everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen in our lives is all a part of this process.  The Master Craftsman is forging our endurance through suffering, that our endurance would produce character, and character would produce hope (Romans 5:3-4).  The fire of trials may break us down physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.  Yet it is in these most vulnerable moments that we are most desperate for the Lord.  We are ready to be formed.  And when He begins to work, it is unlike anything you have ever experienced before.  It is beautiful and difficult all at the same time, yet the hope that it produces is valuable beyond measure.  

Nobody likes the fire.  We would all rather God just snap His fingers and turn us into something beautiful.  But there is no dependency on His love in that.  There is no desperation for His faithfulness.  There is no choice.  He knit us together in our mother's womb with feelings, emotions, and a will, not so that trials would deter us from Him, but so that these things would allow us to experience His presence and faithfulness more fully.  Even in the fire, we must ask for the grace to glimpse the big picture.              

There will be a day when everything is made new.  Tears will stop flowing, hospital visits will end, and suffering will be but a distant memory.  On that day, we will be beautiful roses on display, wrought from our Heavenly Father's hands.  All of our radiance will be a magnificent reflection of the glory of the One who crafted us.  We may remember our suffering on earth, but only that it brought us closer to this day.

But today is not that day.  Until then, hold on to some hope.




Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Of More Worth Than Gold"

Last week, I stood in front of several dozen young men that comprise the Central York wrestling team and began to shine some light on the road ahead of them.  In some respects, the season had gone better than we had anticipated and in others, we had fallen short.  The regular season is now behind us and from here on out, they have to win to continue on to the next level.  The sectional tournament is just a few weeks away... barely enough to time to troubleshoot the things our guys need to improve on, get in great shape, and then rest so that they can peak.  But regardless of this time crunch, the coaching staff has put together a plan.  We believe it will put our young men in the best position to attain their goals, but only if they stay the course and believe.  Truth be told, the difficulty in training for the coming weeks won't be a walk in the park.  As I explained this to them, I could see the apprehension in their eyes.  They knew that this crazy, bearded man was going to work them hard... really hard. 

I remember another conversation just like this one, except I was on the receiving end.  Almost 10 months ago, I sat across from Dr. Brad Pohlman as he explained my diagnosis.  I felt just like my athletes as he talked.  I believed him because he had been doing this such a long time, but my nervous smile could not hold back the wave of apprehension that swept over me.  He began to explain what the chemotherapy and radiation would do and how they would work.  But as he rattled off the side effects, I had a hard time believing that this would actually help my body.  I had an even harder time believing it when the nausea, dizziness, and fatigue became part of my weekly routine.  

Whether it's athletics, cancer treatment, or just life in general, situations of suffering are so difficult to process because we can't tangibly grasp the end result yet.  It is so difficult to believe that these situations could actually leave us stronger.  The apostle Peter had something to say about it... 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.  This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.      

(I Peter 1:3-9)

The refining process is not a fun one.  We can experience no growth if we remain in our comfort zone.  But even understanding this, some struggles are still so difficult to digest.  How can we focus on faith, when all we can see is the hurt?  The answer is hope (go figure).  This hope is grounded in a heavenly inheritance; it can never be stripped away from us and it gives us the endurance necessary for any and all of life's trials.  Peter says that this faith to endure is of greater worth than gold.  Think about it.  One of the most valuable material items that we have on this earth can't hold a candle to the value of our faith, which is constantly being proved genuine.  It doesn't mean that we won't struggle.  It's not that the road isn't treacherous.  But it does mean that our faith will be proven as authentic as our hope if we will stay the course.  This course is moving us heavenward toward the goal: our heavenly Father's arms.    

As much as I would like to, I can't guarantee my athletes that our plan is 100% full-proof and that they will be state champions if they buy in.  My doctors at the Cleveland Clinic couldn't even guarantee that I would be cured by their array of advanced technology and medicines.  Such is the nature of being human.  But this one thing is for certain.  After nearly a year or struggling with cancer, my faith is just a little bit more refined.  A few more impurities have risen to the top and I am just a little bit closer to that inheritance.

But most importantly, it all resulted in the praise, glory, and honor of Jesus Christ. 

Constantly being refined,


Friday, January 20, 2012

A Kingdom Partnership

With the start of a new year comes many new ventures, namely...  engagement, a triathlon, cancer-free life, and the commencement of my work with FCA Philly.  Each of these are exciting in their own right, but my ministry is the most pressing because of the fundraising element.  As of now, I have raised over 40% of my monthly goal and have been so blessed by those who have jumped on board right away and helped me prepare for the future.  Obviously, there is still a long way to go to do this full time.  I would like to ask for your help in the expansion of God's kingdom through FCA.  I am still seeking faithful partners to support me monthly; God is using such people to provide me with the means to meet the requirements for this ministry.  

Now a partnership with FCA is more accessible than ever!  Due to my "Prospective Staff" status, my name has been added to the website and you can give online now.  You can choose whichever method is most convenient for you (credit card or check) and you can choose a variety of ways to donate including monthly, quarterly, annually, or as you are able.  It's very simple!  Just visit http://fca.org/DonatetoFCA/ for more details.  Just be sure to indicate that you would like to give to a "Specific FCA Staff Person" and choose "Mike Hojnacki" from the drop down list.  In the event that you have any questions or need clarification about anything, please feel free to email me at mhojnacki@fca.org and I will be glad to help!

Please prayerfully consider if this is something the Lord would have you commit to.  The impact of your giving will be widespread and will affect many athletes, coaches, and communities.  If you aren't so sure, but would like to learn more, please email me and let's set up a time to meet so that I can walk you through the vision of the ministry and my particular responsibilities.  This is a big commitment and I want you to be as informed as possible!

I have great confidence that the Lord will provide.  Would you consider being a part of it?


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Great Gift, Even Better Reminder

Occasionally, the nature of a long distance relationship dictates that holiday celebrations take place over several days.  Such was the case for this year's not-so-white Christmas.  Just a few days before the New Year, I sat in the St. Clair living room as we shared stories of our holiday celebrations and even a few brief recipes for our favorite eats.  We finally concluded with the exchanging of a few gifts.  Lindsay placed the final present in my hands and after I had stripped it of its wrapping paper, I saw this frame:

She had artistically taken these pictures around Philly to fashion the word that has been my sustaining grace for the last 9 months: HOPE.  After I gawked at her creativity for some time, it hit me that this was the greatest gift I have ever received.  Don't get me wrong.  The frame is fantastic, but what it represents is even greater.  Several thousand years ago, God Almighty gave us hope packaged in the infant boy, Jesus.  Nothing more meek and vulnerable, yet the salvation of the world he had just entered rested on his shoulders.  And he did not disappoint.

Neither does the hope that came with him.  This is real, authentic hope, validated through the Gospel of Christ.  It was made possible through his death and resurrection.  And now December 25th is forever a reminder of the greatest gift we ever have and ever will receive.  Not earned, not deserved, but freely given, nonetheless.  

Thanks for this awesome reminder, Linds.