This morning as I woke to a new day and a new year, I made my way outside for a quick dog walk in sub-twenty degree weather.
As my eyes adjusted to the morning light, a surprise snowfall greeted me. A dusting of snow-covered the ground and trees.
And then I heard it….. silence.
The silence and snowfall were the perfect start to a new year. Like an empty palette the snow-covered the good and bad of last year and provided promise for the year to come.
As gentle snow flakes fell from the heavens, like the wishes of us all for a new year, I stood in the silence and gave thanks to God for a clean-slate filled with possibility.
Isn’t it perfect that a new year starts with the simple beauty of a fresh falling snow?
I’m not one for resolutions. Yes, I need to lose weight, I need to take better care of myself, I want to write more, be more organized, be a better citizen, boss, friend, family member and on and on and on.
But instead of resolutions, I have made one goal for myself in 2018.
My goal is to be a better person this year than I was last year.
I want to be a better citizen, friend, boss, family member, a simple challenge that holds as many obstacles and rewards as any resolution ever could.
Like every year 2018 will be filled with challenges and triumphs, no goal will ever stop that.
There will be abundant joy in 2018 and undoubtedly deep sadness, but if I strive to be a better person through it all, I am confident I will look back on 2018 and be content.
Like a fresh falling snow, 2018 is filled with promise, my wish for you is happiness, health, prosperity and goodness.
Happy New Year friends, may your 2018 be your best ever!
Three days after Hurricane Irma ravaged Florida, she visited Georgia.
At about 9:45 PM on Monday night my lights went out. I had been seeing notes from friends throughout the area notifying when theirs went out and knew it would eventually happen…. it did.
There is something about being in the total dark that is very disconcerting. The slightest noise is magnified exponentially. In the pitch dark it is hard to sleep, it is hard to concentrate, it is hard to think…. it is hard to breathe.
My brain went into overdrive and as hard as I tried to relax and just “get through it” I couldn’t. Of course it didn’t help that the winds and rains from the storm were swirling all around and the giant trees that surround my house were swaying in the wind like an ugly ballet.
After a restless couple of hours of sleep, the day dawned and I could see that my house was OK, I was fine and damages around me were minimal. Just the light appearing from within the clouds and rains that continued through the day made it easier to cope.
I opened the store, where we had electricity, and my team showed up to get our work done. We didn’t have phone service, couldn’t run credit cards and couldn’t get on the internet except through our phones, but we made it work.
As the end of the day approached I came home with dread knowing the power had not been restored. After a nap, surrounded by candles and the flicker of my fireplace I woke up and ran out for some dinner.
After dinner, I settled down to read a book by flashlight.
Around 9PM, the lights came back on, almost 24 hours after they went out.
I’ll admit it, I am spoiled. I appreciate electricity, I want the internet, I want my cable TV, I would have never made it as a caveman!
I realize many others are still suffering and I don’t take their struggle lightly, I know they will appreciate a return to “normal” as much as I do!
Yesterday I witnessed the most amazing act of God’s creation that I have ever seen.
The eclipse that ribboned across America passed directly over Rabun County leaving us in the direct line of totality.
A year ago when I first heard about the eclipse passing over I thought no big deal.
Over the last few weeks I have been more concerned with what traffic would be like in our little town to imagine the celestial magic that would pass directly in front of my eyes.
Yesterday as my brother, sister-in-law and I prepared to go out and sit in the sun for two hours, the heat and gnats almost didn’t make the trek worthwhile.
We took their golf-cart out onto the fairway and waited.
As the moon started to pass over the sun, inch by inch covering the light it was interesting.
When the clouds came I was resigned to the thought that we would miss the eclipse, the one chance in my lifetime I would have to see this spectacle.
As storm clouds loomed, and clouds covered the sun we jumped in the golf-cart to try and find a better place to see the sun.
Just in time, we caught a glimpse of the sun and stopped the cart, there were cars pulled onto the side of the road and I could hear cheers in the distance.
And then, magic happened……
We were in totality, the sun was blocked by the moon, it was nighttime, a 360 degree sunset surrounded us, street lights came on and a glorious light ray encircled the sun!
It was the most amazing sight I have ever seen. Cheers erupted and a sense of excitement filled my entire body, it was God’s amazing handiwork on display and we were all there to see it.
There is no way I can express how amazing it was in these words, all I can say is if you ever have the chance to witness a Total Solar Eclipse, DO IT….. go wherever it will be, you will be glad you did!
It’s nice to think, in a world where we seem to fall short in the basics of life, we can all pause for a moment and just stand in amazement of God’s power and what a wonderful world we live.
This morning when I chose my “Sunday Playlist” song, I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe filled my thoughts.
The words and sentiment of this song have had an impact on me since the tune was first released in 2001. It is one of my favorite songs of all time.
What touches me about the song is that it gives voice to what we all imagine that moment to be, when we meet Jesus and find ourselves in the arms of our Lord.
Like you, I have envisioned heaven to be a place of perfection. A place where the streets are lined with gold and angels fly by like birds living within an arboretum.
When we think of heaven, the beauty is incomprehensible. I think we imagine having anything and everything we could want at the touch of our fingertips, a Willie-Wonka view of what is in store for us in our eternal life.
However, if you dig a bit deeper and imagine what we truly crave, those never-ending Super Bowl Games, the pizza buffet that goes on forever and the ability to eat whatever you want and never gain an ounce really isn’t what heaven is going to be all about.
As my faith and body have matured, I now think about the relationship of heaven and how that will be through eternity.
Have you ever watched one of those videos where a soldier comes home from war and surprises his or her family? In every single one of those videos unapologetic joy bursts from the screen…… that is what I envision heaven to be.
I envision that we will see those reunions constantly, with overwhelming joy as loved ones, friends and a newfound eternal family are united in God’s presence.
Those moments of reunion will be filled with laughter, tears, joy and most importantly love and as many times as we witness the blessing of eternal life it will never grow old.
When I think of heaven, I know that God’s plan will be in place. War, starvation, hate, judgement, lack of grace, all these human emotions will disappear.
When I think of heaven, I look forward to the days where we are all accepting of one another as the brotherhood of man and our unity outweighs any difference.
It would be nice to think that when we get to heaven days filled with double-stuffed pan supreme pizza awaits our every meal, but I think we are actually going to be too busy to worry about such mundane tasks as eating.
The celebration of homecomings, gentle nudges to those still on earth and helping to lead the lost sheep home will be what fills our days.
It’s true, I can only imagine what it will be like and I am sure my imagination doesn’t even come to close to the magnificence of what we will find when we reach heaven.
I’m sure Pizza Hut will be there as will an endless game of football and my 32″ waist, but those will all be sidebars to what matters.
The rewards of heaven will include more comprehensive work for us all. The glory of having our angel wings will be our uniform as we work to ensure those left behind gain their wings too.
I can’t wait to be reunited with those I love. The thought of seeing my friends and family free from pain and affliction is a promise I hold in my faith.
But as much as I look forward to strolling along those streets of gold, the rewards I imagine most are for the works yet to come.
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