2010 Christmas Message

By Keith Miller | December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wishes for a blessed Christmas come with this note!  I tried to write a blog for this week, but couldn’t.  Here’s what happened instead.

Andrea and I were all set for a quiet Christmas in Austin together since we had been with kids and grandkids for Thanksgiving.  One night earlier this month, after watching a Spurs basketball game, I began to feel a sharp pain in my stomach, and I began to wretch with the dry heaves from this very sharp pain.

Because I couldn’t stop, and the pain grew very intense, Andrea called 911.  They arrived very quickly and took me to the emergency room at Seton NW hospital.

After X-rays and an ultra-sound, the ER doctor said I’d had a gall bladder attack and I should see my doctor to talk about having my gall bladder removed.  A few days later we sat together in the office of a surgeon, listening to his explanation of where the gall bladder is and what it does…and how it is removed.  He suggested that I sign up for the nearest Monday and have mine out.

Since Andrea and I have been trying to complete the writing of a four-year book project, I was reluctant to undergo general anesthesia for the third time this year.  The first two had set me back mentally so much that I was afraid I’d “lose” my train of thought about the book.  So I was determined to put my surgery off until we completed the first draft—which I estimated would be about mid-January.  I figured I could tough it out until then.

The surgeon said it was a “reasonable risk.”  But he added, shaking his head, that if I had any more attacks I’d need to go into surgery ASAP!

All went well until last Friday morning at about 5:00 a.m.  I had another bad attack, and I had misplaced the emergency gall bladder medicine I had gotten.  I felt like Ray Milland in the 1945 movie The Lost Weekend about an alcoholic on a four-day binge, looking frantically all over his house for a bottle of bourbon he’d hidden from his family.  Finally we located the pills and in about an hour the pain subsided.  As soon as the doctor’s office opened, I called and was scheduled for the first opportunity available, which was the following Monday. So I had to wait all day Saturday and Sunday for surgery on Monday morning, just hoping that there would not be another attack.

Looking back, I can’t believe how arrogant I was.  The phrase, “I am older, though “wiser” is not something I can relate to today.  But I have learned once more that the philosopher was right on when he said “Advice we may listen to, but pain we obey!”

I tried to write a blog about Christmas for you today, but it’s a little difficult to be spiritual when one has made a complete fool out of himself—at least it is for me!  So instead, I’ll offer this newly acquired wisdom for the coming holidays:  Pay attention to your stomach while you’re over-eating at Christmas.  Cut down on greasy food, and drink plenty of water.”

I am very grateful that the surgery was successful, but am ashamed about my arrogance in thinking my work was more important than the gift of health God had offered me in my 83rd year.  I think the Lord may be speaking to me, telling me to provide food and medical attention for other people who are more willing to be more obedient and not so cocky about their ability to control their lives.

Andrea and I wish you and your family a blessed Christmas!

Lord, thank you that you continue—again and again—to give us new chances to grow up and become the people you made us to be.  And thank you for giving Andrea the patience to stay the course when I stand up and rock the boat.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?”

Mark 34-37, The Message

26 comments | Add One

  1. Jim Schaap - 12/23/2010 at 8:51 am

    Keith–Thanks for the story. Hope to see you in January anyway, and I’m glad that, at least for now, things are looking better for the two of you. Merry Christmas to both of you and your family!!!

    Jim

  2. Robert Wolgemuth - 12/23/2010 at 8:53 am

    Keith: What a story. Glad that you’re okay now. Merry Christmas to you and Andrea. Robert & Bobbie

  3. Reesie Petree - 12/23/2010 at 9:04 am

    Keith, bless your heart & your stomach! I am a nurse, so Iknow how bad your pain is. I am married to one just like you! Work comes before his pain. Your story is most humbling. I wish you & Andrea the best of health. Would love to come hear you in person someday. Anxious to read your new book!

  4. Don Traylor - 12/23/2010 at 9:11 am

    Thank you my friend. This is a Christmas story. You and Andrea are very dear to me and I consider you both my “balcony people”. I sent “Joseph loves Mary” to my daughter. She says that she listens to it when she drives and really likes it. Merry Christmas!
    Don

  5. Judy DuBose - 12/23/2010 at 9:16 am

    Hi Keith – I’m so glad you had the surgery and are on the mend. If you are still ‘learning’ God’s word and ways, I have a long road ahead of me. But, I do think back to those long ago conversations with you and Andrea and what I learned then – it’s never left me. Best wishes to you both for a wonderful Christmas.

  6. JoAnne Cage - 12/23/2010 at 9:26 am

    Dear Andrea and Keith, Both my older children have gone through the same operation (in their 50’s) and am so glad it has ended for you in a blessed Xmas. (Think it has to do with the hot spicy food in Texas.) Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to you both. JoAnne Cage

  7. Alma Clinton - 12/23/2010 at 9:32 am

    Thanks, Keith, for this and all your writings through the year. When my husband was not doing well for a few years before his death in 2007, I made sure I took care of myself because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be any use to him or anyone else. He is with our Lord now, but I still feel this way. God bless you and yours this wonderful time of year.

  8. Bram Floria - 12/23/2010 at 10:12 am

    The ‘Texas Florias’ are prayin’ for a swift recovery and a clear mind.

    Concerning “it’s a little difficult to be spiritual when one has made a complete fool out of himself.”

    I’d just say “The fear of gall bladder attack is the beginning of wisdom.” Yes, the Lord is in the gall bladder, as much as anywhere else…

    Blessings to you both.

  9. Kristin - 12/23/2010 at 10:19 am

    Keith, Thanks so much for being willing to share so vulnerably about your tendencies. It is truly so much more of a gift than stories of victory after victory. It gives me hope, helps me be gracious with myself and not ashamed to keep learning. Blessings this Christmas!

  10. evangeline holt - 12/23/2010 at 10:20 am

    God be with you & yours this Christmas. Enjoy your readings on e-mail. Daily Guidepost has been on our table for 10 years.
    Get well soon.

  11. Nancy C. Brainerd - 12/23/2010 at 11:08 am

    Keith, my best to you and your family at this special time of year. I join many others in wishing you good health now and in the coming years.
    Nancy

  12. Emilie Griffin - 12/23/2010 at 11:49 am

    Dear Keith, glad to hear of your successful surgery and recovery. God bless. Emilie Griffin

  13. Ralph Osborne - 12/23/2010 at 12:59 pm

    Good lesson for all us stubborn ones here. Thanks

  14. SCOTT AND JANIS IRVIN - 12/23/2010 at 1:56 pm

    HI
    JUST HAD A ROUND WITH THE SURGEONS MYSELF. GLAD YOU ARE ON THE MEND – ME, TOO. OUR AFFECTION AND PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU BOTH.
    SCOTT AND JANIS

  15. David - 12/23/2010 at 2:05 pm

    Dear Keith, yout book, “The Taste of New Wine,” is the first Christian literature I read when I first gave my lonely life to Christ. Thank you for feeding His sheep for so many years; me being one of His – thank you for feeding me for so long. Like you, I don’t know how to be spiritual during times of suffering, only to say that beyound the fear, discomfort and after some painful surgeries, He has calmly and tenderly taken wonderful care of me. He will take loving care of you. Marry Christams to you, Andrea and all your family.

  16. Carol - 12/23/2010 at 3:02 pm

    Keith and Andrea, I am sending you love and hugs, as well as prayers of gratitude that you have taken care of YOU. Thank you so much for letting us know and your words are Spiritual, in that they come from YOUR experience. love, carol

  17. Sarah Wilcher - 12/23/2010 at 3:59 pm

    You are not alone in your stubborness. Rest and recover.
    Sarah

  18. Dave Cutherell - 12/23/2010 at 4:11 pm

    God bless you and I wish you peace in your recovery as you have been an inspiration in mine. Hope to see you soon!

  19. carole goettsche - 12/23/2010 at 5:23 pm

    Keith & Andrea, Have a Blessed Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2011. Keith, Thank God you are healing & hopefully feeling better and better everyday! Relax and enjoy the holidays together.
    Let us know when you do finish your new book!
    Carole

  20. Paul Williams - 12/23/2010 at 5:32 pm

    Keith, your story just makes me more pleased to know that God is control and that I am not. May His Blessing and healings fill your time of recovery. Much Love Paul

  21. caren - 12/23/2010 at 10:55 pm

    Merry Christmas to you dear friends. Surgery is always humbling, so please don’t get down on yourself. The book project will be done on time (God’s:) and perfect!

  22. Bob Kinney - 12/24/2010 at 4:12 pm

    Hey, Keith and Andrea,
    Blessings on you for a steady and certain recovery. Enclosed is a little patience … use as needed. As my 83-year old creative writing mentor in college, David Madden wrote to me while announcing publication of his new book of fiction a few months ago … “Keep working on your writing, old friend, work hard.”

  23. Peter Larson - 12/26/2010 at 8:08 am

    Dear Keith: I thank God that the surgery was successful and pray that you are on the mend.

  24. Sheila - 01/2/2011 at 10:21 am

    Just a note because I can…thank you for being you!! Thank you for your web site and sharing years of experience with hope for each of us. Thank you for enabling ordinary people to touch extraordinary people as if we are friends.I admire your work so much! God’s best to you both.

  25. Anna Maud Dodge - 01/2/2011 at 4:54 pm

    Keith, I am so sorry I am so late Replying to this e-mail. I must admit I skipped by it due to some family difficulties at the time and I thought it was one of your weekly “letters” you send me and I just did not have the time at the moment to read it. With all the hustle and bustle of the season I did not get back to it until today. At 85 yrs. I run a little slow. I did send you all an e-mail asking where you had been sometime before Christmas, I do hope you received it. Understand now why there was no reply. God Bless You. I do hope all is going well now. My love to you and Andrea and again PLEASE Forgive Me. I do pray you are making a quick recovery. I miss your presence in church. Love you both, Anna

  26. Keith Miller - 01/5/2011 at 9:52 am

    Thanks for your comments and prayers. I’m ok now. Got released by the surgeon and we’re into 2011! Hope you all have a good year.

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