Friday, December 27, 2013

New Years Resolution

There is something cathartic about starting a new year for me. It is the one time that I dedicate to reviewing what has happened in the previous year and make plans for the next year. I have been consistently doing this for my business for the least 9 years, and I am definitely an advocate. While I have not met my goals every year, it forces me to ask the question during the year, “what am I going to do or change to make this goal?”, and that is the real value to me. Without the goal, there is nothing to strive towards or encourage change. Setting personal goals has been more hit and miss for me. There have been times where I have had an accountability partner. That has been the single most important step for me to make and meet personal goals. I don’t have one now, but my first resolution for 2014 is to get one. I am committing to a weekly meeting/purposeful phone call to stay on track. My mandate for all married people – your accountability partner (business or personal) will be the same sex as you. Enough said. After the accountability commitment, my resolutions look way to normal – eat less, exercise more, turn off phone/computer/TV more, read more, help others more, be with family more, pray more, be still more. I feel kind of stupid listing the same things every year, so if anyone has great ideas on how to tackle any of these, I am all ears.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Over 8 million people watched this video since it was posted in 2010, but I missed it.  It is one of thousands of flash mob videos that have become very popular, but I really like this one.  For starters, how did they get the Wanamaker Organ (claimed to be the largest in the world) inside a Macy’s department store?  Secondly, these aren’t a bunch of YouTube junkies that run from site to site trying to get their faces online. This mob consists of over 650 trained singers led by the Opera Company of Philadelphia.  Not many of us get to be treated to a Christmas surprise like this, but I hope I get to be a part of one someday.  The thing I love most about this is it gives me a slight glimpse of what the world could be like if those of us who loved Jesus let it show all of the time.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tragic loss

This week, an Orlando pastor, Isaac Hunter, took his own life.  Regrettably, suicide is not foreign to church leaders and their families.  Last month, Macon pastor Teddy Parker took his life, and in April, Rick Warren’s son, Matthew, did the same.    I don’t know the statistics well enough to know whether suicide affects church families more than non-church families, but those deaths do seem to get quite a bit of attention.   I think people want to believe that church leaders are immune to the problems that could cause someone to consider suicide, or that they are strong enough to endure those problems should they be confronted with them.   I believe that the pressures on  these leaders could be more intense than anything most of us have to deal with.  I also believe that the depression that leads to suicide is a sickness that we are still learning how to treat.  I didn’t know any of these men personally, but I have known one man who committed suicide.  He is the son of one of my close friends.   I feel the pain of my loss, and I feel the immense pain of his family.  They are all believers in and followers of Jesus, and I believe they would say that the only thing that has enabled them to endure the pain is the love that Jesus has shown them both directly and through their friends.  I pray Isaac Hunter’s family is surrounded by the same kind of people this week.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Coming Out

I love my small group from church that meets on Tuesday nights.  There are a lot of smart people there, and I love to listen to them.  One of those people is Dan.  He is like the EF Hutton guy.  When he talks, people get quiet and listen.  This week, Dan mentioned that he had heard that Kirsten Powers, a Fox News commentator, had recently announced  her “coming out”.   I don’t watch Fox News, so I had never heard of her.  This has to be one of the most amazing stories I have heard this year.   If you have time to read and watch, read the article here and watch the follow up interview here.  It may not be what you expect from a Fox News commentator.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I am trying to keep my SpotOnTheLake post all business, but GettingDeeper gives me a chance to get a little more personal.  I feel so blessed to have both of my brothers, John and Craig, in the metro area and much of Craig’s family still close by.   John’s children are in Chicago, so we see them less often.   Both of my children, Michael and Lizzy, and their spouses, Emily and Trey,  and my two grandchildren, Evan and Levi, are all within an hour’s drive.   My mom lives right next door to us.  I also love my church, The Vine, and the new friends that I have made there.  Most of all, I feel so thankful to be celebrating my 30th Anniversary with Caroline this year.  I love her very much.  I hope that all of you have much to be thankful for this year.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Good Sense

I am no history buff, but I do find it interesting.  I just don’t make enough time to read and learn.  I would like to do that more.  You don’t need to be a history buff to know that today is the 50th anniversary of the death of JFK.    I know that wasn’t that long ago, but I was two years old, so that qualifies as history for me, since it is something I don’t remember experiencing at the time.  I regret to say that due to recent press and the media, I think I know more about JFK’s philandering than I do his presidential policies, but there are a couple of things that I do remember that deserve great admiration.  In his inaugural speech, he spoke the famous words: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  If we could all adopt this mind set, I believe politics would work a lot better.   I also know that JFK was a leader in civil rights and that he took an active role in getting people to treat each other fairly.  When Coretta Scott King was put in jail for trying to integrate a department store lunch counter, he phoned Georgia Governor Earnest Vandiver to request her release.  Governor Vandiver was born in Franklin County, has a section of I85 named for him and was married to Betty Russell.  The lake just below Lake Hartwell, Lake Russell, is named for Betty’s family.  (Wow, that was a long way to go to get a lake plug in.)  Anyway, today I choose to remember the good that came from the life of JFK.  I hope you do, too.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Patience Pays

Several months ago, I told you about the terrible time that my daughter and son-in-law had trying to purchase a Bank of America short sale.  They were under contract for over a year when Bank of America “accidentally” sent the property to foreclosure.  After that, we urgently started looking for another property.  I am happy to report that they located and have now closed on a new home in Smyrna, and have happily terminated the agreement with Bank of America.   While the wait for a new home was painful at times, their patience has paid off, and they are delighted with their new home.  I am so proud of them.  Thank you all for your prayers and well-wishes.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Jesus and Britney

I am a fan of live theatre.  I actually had some experience (when I was young and cute) on the stage of the Springer Opera House in Columbus.  My largest role was as Winthrop in The Music Man.  My dad was in the show as well, and this is one of my fondest memories of being with him.  Now that I am old and not so cute, Caroline and I and sometimes our kids, enjoy the theater from the audience.  We had a fun trip to New York several years ago where we took in several Broadway shows.  I have very fond memories of that trip.  I was surprised to see this news story today at   An investor group is previewing a new show telling the life of Jesus through Britney Spears songs.  There is no spoken dialogue and the lyrics of the songs have not been changed, classifying the show as an opera.   I have to say, this raised my eyebrows a little, as I don’t typically think of Broadway, Britney, Opera and Jesus all in the same sentence.  But after some thought, I realized that if someone is passionate about telling the story of Jesus, I am open to hearing it however it can be told (as long as they stick to the script).

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Most of you know that Caroline and I celebrated our 30th Anniversary this year with a trip to Italy and the Greek Isles which we just returned from.   While I was away, Michael, Janet and Bob managed the business allowing me to disconnect for two full weeks.  I feel so blessed to be able to take a break, and not just have things covered, but to have things flourish.  They managed three closings and three new listings while I was gone.  Caroline and I shared the trip with our good friends, Greg and Mary Miller (no relation except for really close friends).  Gary and Mary carried the major burden of planning the trip details, and I am forever indebted to them for including us.  We had a couple of days in Venice before cruising with Norwegian to 4 destinations in Greece.  After returning to Venice, we made our way by car to Cinque Terra, on the western coast of Italy, with quick stops on the way and the way back to Venice.  Cinque Terra was a  highlight for me – five  towns connected by an ancient path with unbelievable views of the sea around every corner.  It is interesting to me that vacations seem somewhat incomplete if there is not a connection to the water.  Lake Hartwell makes coming back to work a little easier for me.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


In July, I reported our disappointment that Bank of America dropped the ball on approving a short sale that would have allowed my daughter and son-in-law to buy their first home.  After being under contract for 11 months, BofA “accidentally” sent the home to foreclosure, forcing us to start the short sale process from scratch.  I am happy to report that since that post, Lizzy and Trey found a better house, put it under contract, terminated the original agreement and have closed on their first home.  While the whole process was extremely frustrating, the end result is now that much sweeter.  Thanks for all your prayers for them.  As Caroline and I prepare to celebrate our 30th Anniversary, my new prayer is that our married kids will learn to love each other more every day.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Constant Prayer

We had our first small group meeting of the season this week.  I know about half of the people from previous small groups and there are several  new couples.   We are watching a video series which is focused on the Holy Spirit.  The topic of constant prayer came up, and one of our new members mentioned how important it was to him that he pray throughout the day.  I had several feelings when he said that: inadequacy, envy and wonder, to name three.  I am pretty good about having some time to pray in the morning before the rest my day gets started, but I am TERRIBLE about praying throughout the day.  I have tried to address this in the past with little tricks to help me, like setting a reminder on my calendar or putting up “post it” notes in conspicuous places where I will see them.  I think anything that helps is good.  But I don’t have to look further than my wife, Caroline, to know what the real answer is.  Her heart, soul and mind are tuned into God and the Holy Spirit, and because of this, she is constantly thinking of Him and talking to Him.  I want to be more like her, so I can be more like Him.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Silver Screen

Caroline and I don’t get to the movies very much, and we are pretty bad about getting one Netflix watch in per month.  It is not in our routine, but when we do go, we almost always enjoy ourselves.  I think the last movie we saw in the theater was Les Mis, and while we had seen it on stage several times, the movie provided a different experience in a couple of ways.  First, the cinematography was amazing and something that obviously can’t be recreated on stage.  Second, I loved being able to see close-ups of the actors as they sang.  My eyes aren’t great, and it is usually hard for me to see the faces of actors on stage.  For Les Mis, I was also amazed at how well the actors could sing, and I was told that they actually recorded the soundtrack as the film was being shot, not in a studio and then dubbed later.  I was impressed.  The themes of love, honor and mercy are timeless.  It’s no revelation that most  current movies spend a lot less time on timeless themes and a lot more time on thrills, suspense, violence and sex.  But I saw a review of the new movie, “Prisoners”, this morning.  I haven’t seen it yet, but after reading this review, I want to.  The film is about a child kidnapping and about all of the evil associated with something that gruesome, but it’s not just about the evil of the kidnappers.  Almost all of the main characters have some darkness that they are struggling with and apparently there are frequent references to God and his prevailing power and grace.  I am looking forward to seeing this one.  Let me know what films, recent or old, that you love.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Why Gen Y?

I don’t usually pay a lot of attention to generic FB shares.  I have been disappointed too many times by something labeled “you have to see this!!!!”.  I usually think fewer exclamation points would be appropriate.  But when somebody I love and respect says “interesting read”, I decided to take a look.  Thanks Emily.  This post talks about why the unrealized expectations of Gen Y yuppies are to blame for their unhappiness.  This is one of those things that you know is true, but it is presented so clearly and creatively that it crystalizes some pretty complex ideas.  I  look at my children and their spouses and hope that they have avoided some of  this trap, but know that it has most likely impacted them as Gen Y-er’s.  Take a look and let me know what you think.  Click here.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Art for the masses

When I was younger, I always wished I could draw better.  I felt like I had no natural skill in this area, and while I always wanted to know how to draw, I never really did anything to develop the skill.  I still have a desire to draw or paint, but no desire to commit to the energy that it would take to become competent.  Just lazy I guess.  The recent popularity of “painting bars”  have made it possible for you to show up at their location with a bottle of wine and a credit card and leave with a Rembrandt of sorts and a buzz.  My grown kids have participated.  I think I might be up for something like that, but I haven’t even gotten that far yet.    As a REALTOR, I do have good access to a nice camera, and I very much enjoy trying to get great photos for my clients.  This week, I was reminded of the original and most famous artist of all.  He is the one who painted this picture and allowed me the privilege of attempting to capture a much of  it as possible with the press of a button.  Our God is an awesome (and talented) God.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


This month, the Corps of Engineers is partnering with the Lake Hartwell Association to clean up the lake.  Click here for more details.    I know that for me, serving seems to get pushed to the edges of my calendar.  Everything else seems to take priority.  Most of those items are either “work-related” or “recover from work-related”.  For the “work-related” items, I could try to build a case that I am “serving” my clients.  I think there is some truth to that, but the main reason I work is to make money to support the “recovery from work related” items.  My company, Keller Williams, offers regular opportunities for serving.  And my church, The Vine, also offers great opportunities to serve.  There are also frequent community oriented ways to serve like the Lake Hartwell clean-up campaign.  I try to take advantage of these opportunities when I can, but I am not sure I do enough.  There is one thing I do know for sure.  When I take the focus off of myself and place it on something or somebody else, my whole world seems to work better.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


The lead story in the world news today is our country’s decision on whether to retaliate against Syria for their alleged use of chemical weapons against their own people.  I couldn’t help but think about what position I would take if I were President Obama.   I am not a political activist.  In fact, I would say that I am at the other end of the spectrum – very uninformed and not motivated to know more.  One of the reasons for this is that for the times that I have attempted to understand by seeking the views of others, I get confused and sometimes angry.  I do not understand how some people can take a black or white position on something that seems so hard for me to understand.  1)  I hate for innocent people to be injured or killed by a counter attack.  2) I would hate for those people responsible for the chemical weapons to unleash those weapons on people in our country, my town or my family.  This is tough for me to resolve.  Perhaps there are other means to prevent additional attacks on innocent people besides attacking them.  I hope that if these options were available and effective, we would choose to use them.    I am more interested in the opinions of those personally involved than those people on the outside looking in (like me).  The video at the link below doesn’t really address the issue of whether to retaliate against Syria or not, but it is important to me since it is a personal story of a guy who had to make tough decisions in the face of danger.  Video.  I would love to know what you think.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Music Moves

One of my first memories of loving music was when I played Winthrop in the Music Man when I was 10 years old.  Part of the story included Winthrop waiting on the Wells Fargo Wagon for his bright new cornet.  In the play, I got to play a few notes, with  “voice over” by the orchestra.  But it was then that I decided I wanted to learn to play the trumpet.  I played in school band through high school and also have some fond memories from our dance band, Cargo, in the last two years of high school.  Our best musicians were black, and we were known best for our covers of Earth, Wind and Fire and the Commodores.  As an adult, I played in a wind orchestra for several years and also led an instrumental group at our last church.  Music has always been an important part of my life.  Several years ago, Keller Williams invited Wintley Phipps to our annual meeting and I shared a link at that time.   This is one of my most vivid memories of how powerful it can be when God-inspired people combine music with a story.  It’s 8 minutes and worth every minute.  Click here.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


I mentioned in an earlier post that one of our good friends from church is fighting Cancer.  We just found out another close friend, Gary, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  We are so sad to know that he will be dealing with this disease.  His world will be turned upside down.  And when I say that, I am thinking of it in a bad way.  He probably won’t be able to do all the things that he is used to doing.  But Gary is one of the strongest Believers I know, and I trust that somehow his world will get turned upside down for good – maybe for his own good or maybe for the good of someone who knows him.   At a minimum, Believers will be made stronger when they see his example of faith.  And for people who don’t know God, but would like to, they will get a pretty clear picture when they look at him and see his response to this disease.  Please pray for Gary and his family and continue to pray for Cheryl and her family, too.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Break it down

Church is very different for a lot of people now than it used to be.  With the surge of mega-churches, church goers are expecting a very high level of production from the service and a message that can easily be applied to what is going on in their world.  The 9:45 Sunday School hour has all but been extinguished due in part to the logistics of figuring out how to put over a thousand people in separate rooms at one time.  Most of these large churches are offering some type of small group program to replace the Sunday School hour.  These small groups typically meet in homes during the week, and give members a chance to get to know each other at a deeper level than can be attained by sitting next to them in the worship center.  The small group is also meant to serve as a support group for members going through tough times, and in the best small groups, provides accountability.  Caroline and I just signed up for a new small group at our home church, The Vine.  If you are looking for a church around Braselton, we would love for you to join us.  If you are attending a church, but not in a small group, now is a great time to get connected.  I would love to hear about your small group experiences.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


This is my second post that has been inspired by Andy Stanley.  I want to keep things fresh in this blog, but I have to say, I could easily use his ideas every week.  He has an amazing ability to simplify complex ideas and then convict me to change my life.  Today, I watched the first lesson from his “Guardrails” series.  Everyone knows what guardrails are.  They keep us from getting hurt really bad, and we hope we never need them.  Andy is encouraging us to set up some guardrails for our lives, and he defines them this way:  “a personal standard of behavior that becomes a matter of conscience”.  In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he talks about living in dangerous times.  Apparently, in the time that he lived, it was just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than the world we live in now.  Paul warned the Ephesians to establish guardrails to keep them out of danger.  Times have changed, but not that much.  You may run into the guardrail and get scratched up a little, but you will be protected from falling off the cliff on the other side.  That is what we are trying to get protected from – a marriage ending affair, a drunk driving accident, financial ruin, failed health, etc.  But we can’t save ourselves after the car is over the edge of the cliff.  It’s too late.  The guardrail that got put up earlier is what is going to save us.  This message is for everyone, but for Believers is sounds like this.  “Face up to what you know in your heart God wants for you and what He wants you to be”.  I know that I have some work to do, and for anyone that wants to build some guardrails with me, I would love to hear from you personally.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Lemonade from lemons

This week I attended the annual meeting for Northwestern Mutual which is where my wife works.  On Sunday, about 2000 people participated in a 5k/10k run to raise money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand.  $85,000 had been raised at last count.  In case you don’t know about Alex, Alex was born in 1996 and suffered from childhood cancer.  She opened a lemonade stand to raise money to find a cure, and after raising $12,000 at her stand, you might say the idea “caught on”.    Her stand turned into over 20,0000 stands, with all of the money going to finding a cure.  At the time of her death in 2004, she had raised over $1,000,000 and her legacy still continues today.  To meet Alex by video, click here, and become inspired.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


I have to admit that I have an addiction to Good Moring America.  If I am working from home, it is usually on.  It doesn’t always get my complete attention, but it is usually there.  I have grown to admire Robin Roberts who hosts the show.  Robin has been through some tough personal struggles including recovery from Cancer and a bone marrow transplant.  She has shared her stories generously with the viewing audience.   Last night, she was honored with the Arthur Ashe ESPY Award for Courage, but after seeing her acceptance speech, I think she deserves some additional awards for grace, humility and faith.  What a tremendous role model for all of us.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Rough Week

This has been a tough week for me.  My daughter and son-in-law have been under contract to buy a short sale in Atlanta for 10 months.  Bank of America holds the Seller’s mortgage.  We were supposed to close on August 10th, and seller's agent informed us on Monday that due to a bank error, BofA  would not be proceeding with the transaction.  They are either inept or unethical, and either is unacceptable.  My heart is broken for my daughter who was excited to finally be purchasing her first home after much patience.  We are still doing everything possible to save the transaction. If they are not willing to meet their earlier commitment, I will be recommending that none of my clients, prospects or friends ever use them for any service that they provide.  This type of treatment is unacceptable, and our only real recourse is to stop using them.  If you are a praying kind of person, please pray that Lizzy and Trey will get this house if it is God’s will, and if not, they will find something better quickly.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Travel Time

I mentioned last week that Caroline and I celebrated our 30th Anniversary in June.   Leading up to the date, we did a lot of talking about how to celebrate the occasion.  We mostly talked about trips to different places, but we had already had a nice 4 day trip to the Georgia coast in May, and we have a trip to Milwaukee in July.  Both of these were already scheduled, so we couldn’t really get away with calling those Anniversary trips.  The trip to Tallulah Gorge that I mentioned at SpotOnTheLake is what we came up with.  While it ain’t too sexy, we had a blast just driving north without a schedule.    To take a day just to be with each other and explore places that we hadn’t been before was fantastic.  My commitment to Caroline is that we don’t need to wait another 30 years to do this again.  Click here to see more photos of Tallulah Gorge

Friday, June 28, 2013


There has been a lot of news this week about same sex marriage.  Same sex marriage is something I struggle to understand.  I have good friends that are gay, and I love them very much.  I did some reading yesterday to try to help me figure out if there is some position I should take due to my faith in Jesus.  The only thing I came up with seems way too simple.  I have chosen to believe the Bible, and the Bible says homosexuality is not God’s plan for us.  I have chosen to follow Jesus, and he is my perfect example of truth and love.  I will continue to seek to understand more, but I realized this morning that there is something else I do know about - my marriage to Caroline.  We celebrated our 30th Anniversary this week.  I thank God every day for putting her into Ms. Jones kindergarten class when we were both 5 years old.  I have done a lot of stupid stuff that has made marriage difficult at times, but I am proud that we have found a way to work through those issues to make room for all of the blessings that God has rained down us.  There is no question in my mind that God intended us to be together forever.  I love you, Caroline.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Counting Sheep

Sleeping is not one of my gifts.   The sleeping part is ok, but getting to sleep is often difficult for me. And it seems that no matter what time I get to sleep, my internal alarm clock is going off between 5 and 6 – if not earlier.  I am ok with the “waking up” part.  I feel like my mind works best before 11am, so I try to take advantage of those early-morning alert hours.  The “going to sleep” part is the part that bugs me.  I find myself lying there with my head spinning about that day’s activities or the things that might be coming up for me the next day.  I think about the same things over and over again with no conclusion and no resolution.  There is one common theme in all of this mental gyration – me.   All of my thoughts are about me - what someone did to me or what someone should have done for me or what someone will do for me.  I have found that if I can stop thinking about me for a few minutes and start thinking about someone or something besides me, I can usually get to sleep.  Thinking of others and being appreciative of the blessings in our life is a lot like prayer if there is a God in your life.   I have heard people say that they are ashamed that they frequently fall asleep while praying.  For me, it is God’s way of letting me know that my mind is finally in order.  “Get some rest.  I’ll see you in the morning.”

Thursday, June 13, 2013

New Arrival!

This week, we were all thrilled at the arrival of Levi Daniel, who was delivered by my daughter-in-law, Emily, who is married to my son, Michael.  I don’t think there could be any single event that is more indicative of a living God than the birth of a baby.  The whole process of conception, development and birth is so strangely wonderful, that it completely confirms for me that only a God with ultimate power and perfect love could imagine and design something as beautiful as this.  The love that I feel for my children, multiplied by the love that I see that they have for Levi is truly indescribable.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


For the past several months, Caroline and I have been participating in a course at church called Perspectives.  Perspectives is mostly about how God is using all of us to take the story of Jesus to the unreached people groups.   Our final project was to find a people group and brainstorm about how we might accomplish the Great Commission with that group.  There is some excellent information online to assist, and one of the most helpful was The Joshua Project.  We selected  the Southern Shilha in Morocco.  This group is part of a larger group known as the Berbers.  There over 3 million people there and 99.8% are Muslim.   With the help of our friends at Café 1040, we came up with a program where our church might partner with them to begin reaching these people.  If you have past missions experience or are interested in learning more, please let us know.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Boat Church

Boat Church on Lake Hartwell
Last Sunday, our good friends, Ed and Linda, hosted Boat Church at Lake Hartwell.  Boat Church started several years ago when a group of us who had home churches around Atlanta wanted to find a place to worship on Sundays when we were at the lake.  Usually, we drive our boats to their dock, which was located centrally, and either sit on the dock or in our boats to sing, pray and learn.  Everything is simple and casual as you can imagine, but the worship is pure.  We had to move Boat Church to their patio last Sunday because 65 people showed up and the dock was sinking.  There were even people in the balcony above! (the main level deck).  We “do” Boat Church throughout the summer, but not every week.  Let me know if you would like to join next time.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mom's Rule

This past weekend was great for me.  I got to be with three generations of Mom’s.  My Mom, Pat.  My wife, Caroline, who is Mom to my two kids and my daughter-in-law, Emily, who is Mom to my grandson, Evan and our second grandson soon to be born.  Caroline took the lead in preparing a meal for all of us on Sunday.  It was amazing, but more amazing is her ability to serve seemingly effortlessly.  I am so blessed to have her with  me, have my Mom living next door to us and to have my kids and grandson nearby.  I hope each of you was able to celebrate with one or more of your favorite Mom’s.  I’d love to hear your stories.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

That Dam Run

I haven’t run a 10k race since the Peachtree Road Race in 1985, but my daughter Lizzy inspired me when she ran a half marathon this year.   This year was the 35th anniversary of the Hartwell Dam Run, so I committed to the race and invited my family to participate.  I was excited that we ended up with 11 family and friends running/walking with their SpotOnTheLake hats on.   I had set a goal to finish under an hour and finished in 57:59.  Setting the goal made preparation for the race easier and almost fun.  It is interesting that this past week, I didn’t run once (with nothing to prepare for).  Chalk one up for goal setting.  Making the goal felt good, but having my family there with me was the best.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

No Easy Answers

I believe we all lost a lot of emotional energy this week following the tragedy of the bombing in Boston.  I wish I had some new revelation that would help me understand how a child of God could be so sick as to want to do something like this.  I wish I understood what I could do to explain how someone could do this.  I wish I knew what I could do that would comfort or acknowledge the loss of those families that were affected.  I have never had anything like this happen to someone that I know personally.  The closest thing that I can relate to is the death of my dad to cancer, and he had lived a long and happy life before his death.  I can only hope that a love like the love that I felt during the death of my dad was available to every person that was affected by the bombing.  That love came from my Savior, Jesus, and from my friends and family that know him, too.

Friday, April 19, 2013

What's in a name?

This week, Caroline and I had the pleasure of meeting with our good friends, Stephen and Christina Byerly.  Stephen has been working with the Wesley Foundation at UGA for the past several years and has recently accepted a position with Café 1040.  Café 1040 isn’t the latest hip coffee joint.  1040 refers to the window of the world between 10 degrees and 40 degrees north latitude.  That region contains the largest proportion of people that have never heard the good news that Jesus brought to the earth 2000 years ago.  Café 1040’s mission is to change that by equipping young people for full time work in that region.   (I still don’t know where the “Café” came from, but it DOES sound pretty hip.)  Caroline and I are currently going through a 4 month study on missions at our church, and while we have not felt the call to go overseas yet, it gives us great pleasure to support our good friends who have.  Click here for more on Café 1040 or feel free to contact me directly.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Nothing Really HAS To Be Done

Caroline and I spent the weekend with our good friends, Greg and Mary, at their cabin in North Carolina.  Getting ready to leave town for some time off is always interesting to me.  I look at my to-do list and when you get down to the day before you leave, each item begs this question “is this something that HAS to happen before I leave or can it wait till I return?”  The lesson I learned is that nothing really HAS to be done, it’s more about what I like to do or what I want to do.  Then when I get on the road, I take a deep breath and try to rest in the fact that everything else can wait.  It is very hard for me, because I love my work and I love for my clients to be happy.  But the  truth of the matter is, it can wait.  We had an amazing weekend.  I felt refreshed by the mountains, the weather, the food and my friends.  I hope that it allows me to be better for my family, friends and clients when I return.  (I have to confess that I was delighted that the accommodations included cell and internet service.  I wasn’t able to completely disconnect while I was there.  Oh well, maybe next time.)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Google celebrates Easter

I had never heard or Cesar Chevez before this week.  Apparently, Mr. Chevez died in 1993, but before he died, he was the most prominent activist supporting the rights of migratory farm workers from Latin America.  As I read his biography, it sounds like he did some amazing things.  Cesar’s birthday happened to fall on Easter this year, and Google decided to feature him in their home page logo that day.  In my research, I was also interested to learn that Mr. Chevez was raised Roman Catholic, and he probably recognized and celebrated that something else very important happened on Easter.  Maybe next Easter, Google will incorporate a cross into their logo, or at least an Easter Bunny.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Unfolding Miracle

One of our close friends, Cheryl, has been battling cancer for a while.  She had a recent set-back when she lost the use of her legs.  She has been admitted to Shepherd Spinal Center where she is learning how to live from a wheel chair.  Caroline and I went to visit with her last night.  It was my first chance to be inside Shepherd.  We had dinner in the cafeteria, and Cheryl toured us through the facility.  They have a large indoor pool, gymnasium and multiple health and rehab facilities.  I was amazed by the facilities, but Cheryl told us that the real strength of the facility is the staff.  She said that each person she deals with is extremely helpful and encouraging.  I was delighted to hear that they were taking good care of her, but the inspiration for me was all Cheryl.  She has the most amazing attitude towards the disease that has attacked her body.  She gives all credit for her strength to her faith in Jesus and the plans that He has for her.   We are praying for the miracle of complete healing, but for me, the miracle is already unfolding in her life and the spirit of God within her.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

That looks fun - Let me in!

I had fun on Sunday.  My niece and nephew who live in Roswell were having their baby, Maddox, baptized at Peachtree Presbyterian.  After attending contemporary worship services at my churches for the last 20 years or so, I loved watching the organist dancing on the pedals and feeling my pew vibrate from the deep rich tones of the pipe organ instead of my folding chair buzz from the bass guitar connected to the subwoofer under  the stage.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love contemporary worship, but there was something very settling about the structured service and the traditional music.  It took me back to First Presbyterian in Columbus where I was first introduced to Jesus.  Four baby boys were baptized  on Sunday.   The minister did an amazing job of personalizing each baptism with a short explanation of the origins of their given names.  “Maddox is a visionary and it is likely that he will be leading many people.”  Infant baptism is something I haven’t seen in a while.  My recent Baptist and non-denominational churches all prefer full immersion of adults that are making their own decisions to follow Jesus.  The infant baptism is beautiful in that the infants are as close to sinless as they will ever be.  The baptism is a chance for parents, family and the church to express their hope and support for the child as opposed to the  child declaring anything for himself.  It was great to see almost all of my family sitting together and expressing their pledge to support and encourage Maddox.  I love this picture of Maddox because it captures the feeling I had when I was at the baptism.  Maddox kept staring at the water in the baptismal font as if he was thinking, “That looks fun.  Let me in!”  I, for one, am praying he has that chance and hope to be near when he makes his own decision.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Half Marathon in Seaside, FL

Tom Miller suprises his daughter at the race
Several months ago, my daughter Lizzy announced that she was running in a half marathon (13.1 miles) in Seaside, FL.  Apparently some of the people in her small group from church had done it before and were encouraging others in the group to join them.  I haven’t ever run further than 6 miles and Lizzy has never been an avid runner.  She put together a training schedule and worked her way up to 11 miles prior to the race.  Caroline and I were so excited for her that we decided to drive down and surprise her.  We tracked her down amidst the 3000 runners prior to the race with the help of her husband, Trey, and snuck up behind her and surprised her.  The look on her face was worth every bit of the 6 hour drive down and seeing her cross the finish line under her goal time was almost as good.  No revolutionary message here, but I believe it is true that a lot of good things can start in church and the joy of loving a child has to be one of the best feelings in the world.  Oh, and the race raised about $300,000 for the Seaside Elementary School.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Kristi Overton - In His Wakes

Kristi Overton began skiing at the age of 4 and held the women’s slalom world record for 18 years.  After retiring from competitive skiing she wanted to find a way to give back to the sport that had meant so much to  her.  She started an organization called In His Wakes.  She sponsors Days To Remember for kids who wouldn’t normally have a chance to be exposed to water sports. 

Watch this video to see some of the awesome smiles that water sports can create.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fugees in Clarkston, GA

I met Luma Mufleh in the Dallas airport on the way home from our annual meeting.  Luma was born in Jordan and came to the United States to go to college.  She also loves soccer.  After graduating, she found a job in Clarkston, GA.    One day,  after making a wrong turn, she came across a group of kids playing soccer in the parking lot with no shoes, makeshift goals and a worn-out ball.  The next day she returned with a new ball and was suddenly the best friend to this group of children.  Luma learned that they were all refugees from other war-torn nations.  They were poor and had very low English language skills.  Luma recognized that soccer might be the bridge that would get them from poverty to a better place, so she formed a soccer team called the Fugees (short for Refugees).  She was their coach.  Her love for the children grew, and she soon recognized that they were being left behind in their current school settings.  Some had received A’s and B’s on their report cards but still could not read.  That is when Luma went from being their soccer coach to their Principal.  She quit her job  and using her own money and donations from others, opened The Fugees Academy for the children.  The children ride their bikes 10 miles to and from school, with a Clarkston police escort.  Well, Luma wanted to be  closer, so she has purchased 19 acres to build a new campus for the children.

It wasn’t pure coincidence that I ran into Luma in the airport.  She had been recognized earlier that day at the Keller Williams inspirational breakfast as someone that dreams big and then does what it takes to make her dreams come true.  Keller Williams then gave her a school bus to make it easier for the children to get to and from school, and a check to help with the construction of her new academy.  I came to Keller Williams for the training and support, but I stay at Keller Williams because these are the kind of people that run our company and these are the kind of people that we are trying to become.

Watch the CBS news piece at this link and contact me if you would like to help her make dreams come true.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Welcome to Getting Deeper with Tom

If you clicked on the GettingDeeper link looking for the SpotOnTheLake Water Depth Guide, this ain’t it.  You can find that information here.   This is the first post of what I hope will be weekly posts, that gives our lake community, and anyone else that might be interested, a chance to share ideas about things that matter.  I know a lot of people don’t have much extra time, but I hope that there are some that do.  Here’s the way it will work,  I will share an idea, a link or a story about something that happened in my week.  You can ignore it, read it, respond privately or respond publicly.  Please know that I am a believer and a blemished follower of Jesus, so you might see or hear about Him.   If you are not a follower, I hope that some of the ideas might still be helpful or interesting to you, and I would be interested to know what you think.  If you are a follower, I look forward to hearing from you, too, but I am more interested in hearing about you and what you think, than being preached to.

Getting Deeper - Week 1

I am blessed to have work that I love, but I feel like the blessing is sometimes a curse.  It seems that I want to work all the time.  While I may not be in the office or with clients 24/7, my phone is on 24/7, and my phone is really good – too good.  I can do almost everything from my phone – text, email, facebook, search listings, get access to any written agreement in Dropbox, take pictures, find out what direction a house faces, shine a light in a dark basement, find out what year Kristi Overton held the world slalom ski record and oh yeah – sometimes even make a phone call.  It’s interesting though that around the lake, making phone calls is the thing it does the worst.   This week my Team Leader at Keller Williams encouraged me to watch a video of Andy Stanley from North Point Church talking about Breathing Room.  Breathing Room is something I haven’t had much of recently, and I think my relationships have suffered because of it.  Those would be relationships with my clients, my family and my friends.  Andy talks about how by not scheduling ourselves to the limit, or to our full capacity, we can actually be more productive in the time that we do commit to work.  I am starting with a half day with the phone off this week.  I will let you know how it goes.  The video is 45 minutes.  I hope you can find time to watch it.  Breathing Room.