CaringBridge Needs Your Help by December 31st

Make a gift to CaringBridge in honor of Steve and you’ll help even more people surround each other with love and support this holiday season. Donate Now

Steve’s Story

During Easter weekend I began to feel out of sorts and experienced some unusual symptoms. On Monday morning I went to the doctor, who did tests and made a preliminary diagnoses that I was having gall bladder issues. He sent me for a ultrasound, which turned out to be negative for gall stones, and then a CT scan, which revealed a small mass on the head of my pancreas. On Wednesday I was able to get in to see a wonderful surgeon at Emory who was 95% certain that I had a malignant tumor. Because of the location, the tumor was blocking the bile duct and causing me to become jaundiced, but it is also operable. The decision was made to do a Whipple procedure  which is a complex, but effective surgery.  That surgery is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 6.

My wife, Sharol or I will be posting updates under the "Journal" tab of this page on a regular basis. We will also be monitoring comments in the the "Guestbook" section.

Latest Journal Update

December 17--Hopes and Fears of All the Years

Hopes and Fears of All the Years (first posted on MyBigJesus.com)

by Emilie Wagner

"O Little Town of Bethlehem”…not one of my favorite Christmas carols, but when we sang it at church last week I was caught by this line: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” I started thinking about this unbelievable promise that came with Jesus. This everlasting Light, fully human, fully God, came to redeem his people lost in darkness. Lost in their hopes and fears. Lost in themselves.

I understand the theology, but practically speaking I’m full of questions. How can this be? How are all my hopes and fears – the ones I can name, and the ones I haven’t created yet, and the ones I forgot about long ago – how are they all met in Jesus? 

So, I sat down to make a list of some of my hopes and fears. Some are big, some are small, but all feel significant in some piece of my heart. I quickly noticed that most of my fears are right on the other side of a hope, and vice versa. Here are a few from this week, in no particular order:

  • I fear I’ll forget the many details I’m juggling this week.

  • I hope our kids will stay healthy so we can spend holidays with family.

  • I fear that my dad, who has cancer, will have dark, painful days ahead.

  • I fear that I won’t adequately express my love and thanks for so many dear friends during this season. I hope I can focus outside myself even as I have so many things on my mind.

  • I hope this stuff we keep teaching our kids about faith and love sticks with them. I fear that our mistakes will be stronger in their memory than the grace we try to extend.

  • I hope I can be an agent of reconciliation as our community continues to wrestle with issues of race. I fear I’m not brave enough. I fear I have nothing meaningful to add to the conversation.

With some of these, just speaking them aloud gave me space to see where Jesus is already at work. For instance, I know Jesus loves our children even more than I do, and that there is incredible grace as we parent. But others loom large in my mind. Can it be true that Jesus is who he says he is even in that? 

I am approaching the manger this Christmas with my hopes and fears in hand, with faith that Jesus is indeed the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7). It’s an impossible promise you can count on. 

What are your hopes and fears this Christmas? Will you admit them before the manger? Will you join me in awe of Jesus?


34 people hearted this



Julie Emry
By Julie Emry
I take comfort in the words "He knows our prayers (our needs) before we can even speak them!" (Matt 6:7-8) In our voicing, we recognize He is already there. That is truly comforting! Thank you for voicing your fears, which are shared by many, for we can trust God is with us.
Ray Jones
By Ray Jones
Thanks for the beautiful reminder of all that matters. Y'all stay in y prayers!
Felicia Anderson
By Felicia Anderson
Thank you for reminding us of what is really important amidst all the Christmas celebrations! Thank you for the challenge about hopes and fears and our awesome Lord.
Jennifer Fogarty
By Jennifer and Mark Fogarty
You Bet we'll join you in Awe of JESUS ! We understand your fears. Good message that ministers to us as your parents messages do. You have their gift! We pray constantly for your dad and wish you ALL a Beautiful Celebration of the Christ child.
Kathy Otterson
By Kathy O
I see that Emilie has inherited her parents' thoughtful mind and eloquent way of expressing herself. What a wonderful reminder that amidst all the blare of the holiday season, the real questions are timeless. Although I had read this via Facebook the other day, today it has an entirely different meaning. Thanks to Emilie, and thanks to you, Sharol, for posting!
Lisa Harper
By Lisa Harper — last edited
Thanks for posting this profound reflection, Sharol. I never thought of that phrase so deeply: "hopes and fears of all the years" coming together in the person of Jesus. Profound. Really. Thank you. Know that you, Steve, and your family are in my prayers this holy-day season. Your Jesus Sister, Lisa
Peggy  Good
By Peggy
Thank you, Emily...a great reminder. I will remember many-a-Christmas Eve and Day, gathering around the manger at your house feeling like part of the family because that's how the Hayners made everyone feel. Of course the one I will always remember most vividly is when baby Jesus was wrapped in a note(?) announcing the (yet unnamed) baby Drew! All of you will forever hold dear, dear memories in our hearts. We love you and hold you close in prayer! xoxo...
1 person hearted this
Gail Thompson
By gail thompson
Gotta love our dear Em. Started reading on her blog and finished here. Tears. Joys. Fear. Hope.
Deb Stratman
By Deb Stratman
So beautiful and true and wonderful to read. We love you and your family.
Stephen Bowie
By Steve Bowie
I absolutely will admit them, Emily. I echo Peter's response to Jesus at a time when droves of folks were leaving the entourage, having had their expectations "underwhelmed": "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." God bless all dimensions of your family in the season of Nativity.