New Year, New Peace

We all were eager to end 2020 to begin a new year after the year we have had last year. It is good to have a positive attitude and hope for the future but simply changing the number on the calendar’s year won’t magically change things.

Phillipians 3:13-14 tells us that “I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Things will be no different in 2021 unless we reach forward and fulfilling our calling that Christ has given each one of us.

When people say “calling” most immediately think of preachers or someone in a church leadership position but not everyone are preachers or have a theology degree behind our names. Our calling is to do what we can do to point people to Christ. You don’t have to be a spiritual superstar to do that. You don’t have to preach to people, just point them to Christ. He is our hope and help in this new year. Even if more storms come into our lives, Christ can be our peace.

So what exactly is this peace that Christ can give us when we are sick or losing our business or when our lives are falling apart?

I honestly don’t know what it is or how it works. I just know that it can work if you commit to it. In fact, Jesus told us that we wouldn’t be able to understand the peace that He gives anyway. (Philippians 4:7). Just because we don’t “understand” it doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

I have experienced this peace myself and I know it works until you start trying to understand it or look at the situation instead of trusting in God. Time and again we must put our trust in God and leave the results to Him.

Easy to do? Absolutely not. We are human and we want results. We are impatient and we want to MAKE things happen. Believe me, I am not the expert. I am often the student who has to learn this way over and over again.

It takes incredible faith to let it go and let God take care of things. Peace isn’t something we can find in something tangible. We can’t drink it, we can’t touch it and there is no prescription for it. There is an old saying that goes “Know God, Know Peace. No God, No Peace.”

If we have another year like we had last year, we are going to need His peace to get through it.

Although we can’t understand the peace that Christ can give us, is there anything we can do to make ourselves open to it?

Here are some things that will help:

  • Have some quiet time – you would be surprised how just a few minutes of quiet time will help you to make room for peace. You don’t have to spend hours of meditation. Just start small. Begin with 5-7 minutes. Set your alarm and do it. Just sit in silence.
  • Put the phone down – unplug from social media. Take a break from your phone. Take a timeout from your phone and let your mind breathe.
  • Sing – find a song that encourages you and sing it. The right songs can make a huge difference. I can’t tell you how many times I have found the right song at the right time.
  • Encourage others – nothing helps you more than encouraging others. Be kind to people. Be someone’s answer to prayer.
  • Do what you can, not what you can’t – Know your limitations and let it go. Don’t try to control things that you can’t control.

The new year will be filled with challenges but it also has a place for peace. Give the peace of Christ a chance. Here’s a line from the song “Peace be Still” by The Belonging Co. featuring Lauren Daigle:

Peace be still
You are here so it is well 
Even when my eyes can't see
I will trust the voice that speaks. 

End Of The 10s

Today is the last day of the 2010s decade. It seems that it was only yesterday that we were ringing in 2000 and now here we are on the eve of 2020. I certainly believe the statement that I heard someone say that time seems to pass more quickly the older you get.

Most of you will probably see news reports about the top things that happened over the last decade. Like you, I am reflecting on the past 10 years of my own life. Where were you 10 years ago?

For me, I was in Macon, Georgia. There were a lot of changes in my life that year. Absolutely for the better. If you had told me that I would be in Nashville, Tennessee in 10 years I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Yet, here I am.

In the past 10 years, I have journeyed with my wife from Macon to Tampa, Florida to Nashville, Tennessee. These have been some of the best 10 years of my life. The hardest part was probably the two years we were stuck in Tampa. Actually we were living in a town south of Tampa called Ruskin. It was awful. Somehow we ended up with purchasing a house there. One month into the house and the new job we both wanted to leave. It wasn’t a good fit for us and it took two years for an opportunity for us to leave.

The happiest part of the past decade was marrying my wife in 2011. We both got a chance for a brand new chapter in our lives.

I think the most exciting time for us was just last year when we traveled through Europe. It was the trip of a lifetime as we visited Germany, England, Italy and Switzerland. It was amazing and memories we will never forget. We would love to do it again and maybe sometime in the 2020s we will get to travel there again.

When I look ahead at the next 10 years I wonder where we will be then. My wife and I have moved around a lot in our lifetime so the chances are that we won’t be where we are now. It is both scary and exciting to think that we could be someplace we haven’t even thought of today on the last day of 2019. We didn’t think we would be here either so we will just take it one day at a time and see where it leads us. I have often had the feeling that Nashville isn’t our final home but I really don’t know where else I want to be in 10 years. A decade ago we thought Florida was going to be it for us. We discovered that it wasn’t.

Their are also some major life changes coming as I will be eligible to retire in May. I’m not sure when I will be able to retire but reaching that milestone will open other possibilities for me. In 10 years I will be 65 so I am pretty sure I will be in some form of retirement by then. Again, looking at the next 10 years is both scary and exciting. I am looking forward to seeing what I will be doing next. My wife and I have talked about starting our own business – either related to something vegan or a charity. The vision hasn’t really become clear on that yet but I am hoping it will in this decade. Although I have enjoyed success and stability of my current job, I am ready to do something else.

My Bible verse of the day comes from Ecclesiastes 3:11 which says: “He has made everything beautiful in its time…”. How fitting to read that today. We can’t live our lives in 10-year increments, we can only live it one day at a time and everything will become beautiful in its time. So whatever happens, I am confident things will happen the way it is supposed to happen as it has the past 10 years. I am happy with the way things turned out over the past decade and look forward to taking the first step into the next.

New Year, New Opportunities

Happy-New-Year-2019Here we are at the start of 2019. This is when people make resolutions for a new year. Most people resolve to lose weight or give up some type of unhealthy habit. I’m not going crazy on the resolutions and I’m not going to join a gym. Gym memberships are usually crazy this time of year. Aside from that, I still have a few things on my list that I would like to accomplish this year.

My wife has decided to start “us” on a plant-based diet to start the year. She hopes to become vegan. I’m not so sure I’m there yet myself but I am certainly not far from eliminating meat from my diet. About the only meat I eat now is chicken. I can probably do the vegetarian menu but not sure if I can take the vegan plunge just yet.  It isn’t necessarily to lose weight but to eat better.  It seems that every time we cook at home we ask the same question:  “Why do we eat out again?”

Along with the change in diet, I have some other things I would like to accomplish in 2019.

I would like to be more healthy. I’m not necessarily thinking about losing weight but I think if I make more of an effort in my food choices, exercise and meditation that I can accomplish this.  I think it is just as healthy to focus on the spiritual as well.  I closed last year trying to spend at least five minutes a day in silence.  You won’t believe how hard that is to accomplish.

I would like to find a book agent. If I am going to be successful in publishing a book, I need to find an agent to give me a chance to do that. I can’t make it happen but I need to make a better effort in promoting myself to potential agents.  If I don’t find one, I’m still going to press on.

I would like to worry less about the way others are acting and more about what I am doing. I let the actions of others frustrate me too much. I have little control over others then I shouldn’t let what they do frustrate me.  This will probably be the one that is the most difficult to do.

I would like to get in a better financial situation. I’m not always good with budgets and numbers. I hope I can improve on that this year.  More money isn’t always the answer.

I would like to move to a new house. This might affect the previous paragraph but we have been looking for our house for a long time. Maybe this will be the year if everything falls in the right place.

I would also like to be a more disciplined writer this year. I have my moments but not enough to really sustain momentum with the projects I am working on.

As you can see there are a lot of goals I have set for myself in 2019. I try not to do the resolutions because I don’t necessarily want this to be something directly related to the calendar and starting January 1st because if I have an off day I don’t have to feel like I’ve blown it for the rest of the year.

Most Americans have some type of resolution to start the new year, but how long do people actually stick to it?

A new study says 74 percent of people are still living up to their resolution six months later, while 39 percent make it through the whole year.

When it comes to the most searched goal online for 2019, personal health tops the list for both men and women.

Starting an exercise routine and losing weight are top of mind for millions right now, after a long holiday break filled with food and fun.

It’s recommended adults get at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week. Weight training should be included in routines twice per week.

The second most popular resolution is saving money, followed by sleeping more and spending more time with family.

According to a University of Scranton Department of Psychology study, people who took the time to make resolutions were 10 times more likely to change their lives for the better after six months than people who aspired to do better but didn’t make a formal New Year’s resolution.

We all should set reasonable goals and do our best to meet them.  I think we make a mistake if we set out with a daily resolution because too many times if we fail to keep it one day then we tend to throw in the towel for the rest of the year.  Set reasonable goals and work toward them.  It isn’t about how many days in a row you do something, it is the determination to keep at it and see it through.

As we enter into 2019, let’s aim for something to improve our lives and the lives of others around us.

Happy New Year!

Driving 101:  New Year’s Resolutions For Drivers

As we enter 2017, it won’t be long until the holidays are behind us and we get back into the usual daily driving routines in the Music City.  The light traffic over the past two weeks were nice but soon we will be reminded why traffic is a pain here. 

While most people have a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, I have come up with some for Nashville drivers:

  1. Be more patient on the roads.  Instead of being quick to get angry at other drivers, practice a little patience. 
  2. Slow down.  Don’t drive so fast.  We are all trying to get somewhere too. 
  3. Do what you are supposed to do.  You know the rules – follow them. 
  4. Wait before you honk.  Don’t be so quick to lay on the horn unless it’s absolutely necessary. 
  5. Don’t drive so aggressively.  This isn’t a NASCAR race.  It’s okay to let people in front of you.  
  7. Let it go. When someone cuts you off let the rage go.  It isn’t worth it to escalate the situation.  

If Nashville is truly the most friendliest city in the United States, why don’t we start driving like it?

Happy New Driving Year everyone!