5 Days

This is the rough part of the day for me. I’m tired, but I won’t sleep. Folks keep asking if I’m excited, or I’m nervous about the move. I think right now I’m on autopilot. I can’t really quantify exactly how I feel because like white light is a combination of all colors… What I’m feeling is blinding.

I’ve played it safe my entire life. I’ve rarely taken real risks. Everything I do is over thought, over calculated, with an almost guaranteed end result. The few times I’ve taken risks it’s literally blown up in my face. This move is the biggest step I’ve taken in my life to date.

I’ve done the math. Calculated the steps. Leapt. Hesitated. I look back over the past decade from the first moment I knew my future was not where I am. Here I am, the next chapter getting ever closer with every tick offl the clock… It is all process now. Cross the t’s and dot the i’s, do the work…

…And walk into my new home.

I took care of getting the utilities ready today. Tomorrow I’ll make some calls and get the Internet setup, as well as trash removal. Over the past month I have torn through my current home and discarded decades of accumulated stuff. As a result, I’ve got even less going with me to Georgia than I brought here.

Friends and family have wished me well, I’ve had a few small going away events, and 5 days from now is the next step. I’m hoping once I settle, I will sleep. Upside, I’m taking two weeks off around the move so I can relax, explore, and find my footing again. God has been with me through this, I am running on faith.

So all I’ll say is I had to take a lot of chances to get here. I had to grow. I had to let go. I had to lose to find the fire within me to win. If there’s one piece of advice I can give anyone today, it is to take chances. Face your fears. God didn’t want me to stand still, and every piece of this puzzle has had a lesson for me on it.

Take chances. Live. Life’s too short, don’t waste it. God bless.

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Hear, Listen, Wait, and Obey

God, if any part of this process is your will, please grant me the wisdom and focus I need to stay the path. If it is not your will, please make this impossible. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

29. That’s the number of homes I was shown by a pair of Realtors in Georgia since December. Throughout the process, I said the prayer above. As each home failed to suit my needs, I kept praying.

As I made bids which were not accepted, I said that prayer. When I made bids that were accepted, and traveled hundreds of miles only to back out of the deal because the home or the area just wasn’t right, I prayed.

When the Realtors who worked with me and showed those 29 homes to me hesitated or were less than honest about something I had interest in… I prayed that prayer.

Here I am, one week away from leaving for my new home, and it finally clicked. I backed out of that last home, decided that I was going to rent, and within a day a new realtor showed me several rentals… And I believe that’s what God intended all along.

I believe that God answers every prayer we make. Even when the response is silence, He is answering our prayers. Should we have the humility to hear Him, listen to Him, wait for Him, and obey Him… We might just save ourselves months of grief and get where we belong sooner than we expect…

But then again, the wisdom He has given me here through this process has made everything worth it. All in His time, not ours. His will be done, not ours. More of Him, less of us.

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.

Micah 7:7
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The story so far…

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be flying home from the warm comfort of Georgia to return to what my security cameras display as something more akin to Superman’s home planet of Krypton. I came down here for the 2nd time to hopefully finalize the purchase of a new home. Life has a way of mixing things up, and nobody knows the will of God, so it’s always an adventure.

This wasn’t my first try to buy a home down here. Previously, I put in an offer, got an inspection, and between the bad news from the inspection, the congestion of the area, plus being sleep deprived from a 16 hour overnight drive, I backed out of the contract. It’s a nice setup here, due diligence gives a buyer the option to back out for any reason and get the deposit back within an agreed upon timeframe.

After that, I continued to put a pair of local GA realtors to work, showing me various homes in a commutable distance to my new office. I learned quite an important lesson (which was reinforced at the start of this weeks getaway) – never trust a flip. There’s a company down here (I believe its nationwide) which will buy a home in cash, put lipstick on a pig, and sell it. Interiors looked perfect, look further and it’s a half-assed renovation full of termite tubes.

After seeing quite a few of these flips, I’d settled on another one (hadn’t learned my lesson yet). The photos showed a few things that I did not like, but it was my backup. The other house I bid on was exactly what I wanted. Single level ranch with a lot over .5 acre. It was priced artificially low (to encourage a flood of bids over asking) and as it seemed to check every box, I bid well over asking… and lost. That’s what lead me to the plan B, the flip.

All of the homes I’d checked out were done remotely. To my benefit, the realtors I worked with were mostly up front with the conditions of various things… just not this one. I hired the home inspector who did his job very well again (same one I used previously), but as I felt I was out of options, despite his warnings and assertions, I decided to move forward.

Even as I toured the home, with a driveway on par with a banked corner at Talladega, a wooden walkway that was far too long and tilting… I did my best to overlook the faults. The kitchen needed to be completely redone. The paint job inside was on par with how I’d do it (not very good). It was multi-story, and there wasn’t much usable property as it was built into a hillside.

That’s the other part, maybe half the property was grass covered, the other half full of trees, and very steep. It didn’t appear anyone setup any landscaping to mitigate the flow of water from the top of the hill to, and past the home. The entire property was saturated and slick. The block foundation was saturated with water, and visibly growing. Water was pooled under the oversized rear deck.

The inside of the garage had been painted (to obscure the effects of 25+ years of hydrostatic pressure). The slab in the garage was cracked from the side entryway to the broken garage door, and water was seeping up from it. Neither garage door opener worked. The HVAC system’s duct had been cut into, and left open. There was water beneath the flooring in the partially finished basement.

Even the deadbolt on the front door was missing a strike plate… and the grounding rod was disconnected. S I looked around, I thought “I can fix this up.” In my mind I was calculating the cost of landscaping, foundation repair, electrical work, redoing the kitchen… On top of an inflated and inflexible asking price, I’d likely have to invest tens of thousands of dollars to make the place livable. A place I didn’t really like.

So I prayed on it. I thought about it. Then I went to sleep. I woke up at 5am the next day and the answer was clear “NO WAY.” I backed out of the contract. Hopefully soon I’ll get my deposit back from the company that was selling the home, but I digress. Things are coming down to the wire now. My home in NY is under contract and closing in the next few weeks. I need to pack up my stuff and go.

After months of no luck landing a new place in Georgia, I’d thought of renting. Get a place I can live in, settle down, and start the next chapter of my life. The realtors (who did plenty of work for me) had concerns about getting a long term lease, and being stuck in it when a good prospect showed up, or that the market would continue to inflate. Both logical considerations. The other option was the put all my belongings in storage and live out of a suit case until I found something. I didn’t really like that idea.

In the end – I went with another realtor who was more familiar with areas of GA that my other realtor was hesitant to help me with. I cannot express how frustrating it was to find properties which checked all the boxes, new construction even, and repeatedly lose them because the drive was too long (for them). I was told it was a 3 hour drive to one property. I joined the facebook group for the town and spoke with the locals about my prospective commute. Try an hour. On a bad day.

Part of me felt bad for these guys, they’d been hustling to help a total stranger from 900 miles away find a new home. Many houses weren’t a great fit, and many homes I liked and bid on – I did not get. The two I did get offers accepted on, I backed out of after the home inspection and my physical walkthrough. In this market, I’d imagine I was one of the more difficult folks to deal with. I wasn’t super picky, I just wanted a single level home with at least a half acre… that wasn’t hot garbage to the naked eye (as opposed to photoshopped listings).

With the money I had on hand, I had a very specific price cap. There were some gems there, many I missed out on completely due to hesitation from the realtor, but much of what I saw was crap. Homes that had been neglected for years and put up for sale at an unreasonable price point simply because the market is so very inflated right now. Homes that had been visibly renovated while ignoring major structural faults.

So partway through the journey, I discussed my frustrations with the realtor who sold my current home. She gave the guys a pep talk (which got them to look at a few homes for me despite the drive) but also got a referral to another agent who was more familiar with the northern areas of GA. After things went sideways with my most recent purchase, I reached out about a couple rentals. My hope being I could find something before I left.

That was yesterday. Today, I found 2. Both are close in price, one being a townhouse with plenty of interior space but limited exterior space, and the other – the single level ranch of my dreams. I just spent an hour filling out paperwork to apply to lease that home. Security clearances ask for less data, but I digress. Like I said, I’m down to the wire here, and running on faith that God will guide me to where I need to be.

I actually looked at 3, the one that was a hard no was in an exceptionally hilly area where at times it felt I was driving up a vertical face with asphalt on it. The drive there was exceptional until those hills. My legs hurt just looking at them. The house itself was fine, and if it had a garage I may have considered it. But this realtor heard what I wanted, ran with it, and found a couple more which aligned with what I was looking for.

In her defense, she hadn’t been dealing with me exclusively the past 2 months… Anyhow.

Where was I? So yeah… I’ve applied to lease a very nice house in a quiet and clean neighborhood. I hesitated a bit before I filled it out. Lump in throat, tightness in chest, doubt and fear seeping from every pore. I’m committing to step outside of my comfort zone in the hopes of finding something greater.

Should I get it, I’ll be moving south in the next couple weeks and finally be able to dig in and explore my new environment. It has been (to me) a very long and winding road. I’ve learned a TON about the homes down here, what to look for, and most importantly – that I can not, will not settle. I’ve also met many great and friendly people, and can’t wait to meet more.

I know what I want, and I believe if it lines up with what God has willed for me, I will achieve what it. I want to make the most out of this precious life I have been given, take chances, face down my fears, and glorify God in the process… None of this would be possible without Him. None of this would be achievable without my faith in Christ. He’s brought me this far.

I can’t wait to see where He brings me next. God bless.

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The Banality of Standing Still

I am exhausted, both mentally and physically. My brain is a Macy’s fireworks spectacular, pre-covid of course. I can’t sleep. Right now I feel like I could easily turn in. If I try, I’ll likely be exquisitely comfortable for a brief time before I give up and get back in front of a book or some electronic device in an attempt to shift my focus enough that the distraction will pacify me.

Back in December, I put my home of 10 years on the market. I think at this point I’ve had near 30 showings and two offers. The first offer was from a lovely young lady who took the time to stop and chat with me about the home and area. A few days later, she toured my home for an hour. The next day, I got a low-ball offer and she refused to budge. It was disheartening.

I worked with my realtor to re-arrange things within the house, I continued purging decades of stuff I hadn’t touched in years while packing the things I’d need moving forward. Amidst the re-organization, the house sold! My home hasn’t been this clean or organized since I moved in. All the while, I continued searching for my next home.

My job provided me with an opportunity to move south, something I’d wanted to do since I first set foot on a beach in Ocracoke, NC. I stood still. Even after a divorce and several job changes, I never took the chance. I’ve been standing still for nearly 10 years now. After I lost my Pop… I began to move. To some, the change seemed drastic, to me, it was like breathing.

I’d held my breath for a decade, and finally let it all go.

As Robert Frost once put it, and Trent Reznor later added a bit of flavor to, what I’ve learned in the past year is that the only way out, is through. I held my breath for 10 years, waiting. Time waits for no man. I sat back and watched everyone around me moving onward with their lives. Man should only wait for God. I had to finally meet Him to understand.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

2 Peter 3:9

Early on, I was impatient and it ran me into the ground. I jumped at the first opportunity I saw, hopped in my car, and drove 16 hours only to realize the mistake I was making. I was looking back. I was clutching for the familiar in an unfamiliar place. As has been the mistake I consistently repeat in my life – I looked for what was known, I looked to remain still.

I went as far as cluelessly reaching out to someone I hurt as I craved the safety of familiarity. I thank her for setting me straight. God has made it clear that if I proceed for the wrong reasons, He will wait for me to do it for the right ones. 3 years ago I said several times that I would move south in 3 years. Who knew? God did. What a great God He is.

Anyone can stand still. Anyone can do nothing. It is deceptively simple and aggravatingly stressful. Some things we are meant to stand still for. We are meant to be still and know God. We are not meant to be still to the point of self destruction. Anyone can stand still, complain, point, and sputter at the world around them.

We live in an age where people seem to pride themselves in pointing out what is wrong, without any actual effort invested in achieving what is right. Unoriginal. Boring. Banal. We stand still and cheer when things go wrong. We praise failure and decry anyone, anything that dares to take a step in any direction away from the black hole of self aggrandizing bullshit.

But I digress.

So I waited. I watched. I planned. I listened. I’ve lost track of how many homes I’ve looked at. Each setback lead me into the wind, “thy will be done, Lord” I would proclaim. But then… I found one. A few weeks from now, I will step out of this house for the last time, and begin again.

I’ll share some photos once I get settled. I thank God for providing this opportunity, and being patient with me… I’m done standing still for this world. I’m done waiting for this world. I’m taking a chance.

Time to branch out. Smell the flowers. Live.

God bless.

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Listen…

So a few months back I managed to cut loose my desire to vape. Medical opinions aside, whether it’s more or less safe than cigarettes, I could care less. It was a vice, an addiction, and difficult to kick. Now after realizing every time that I stopped vaping how ridiculously difficult it was to quit, I decided – never again. Well… then I started smoking again.

Now again – stupidity of smoking aside, despite the fact that it killed my Dad and my Uncle, I started up again. When I was younger, I could casually smoke. Light up, puff away, and move on. Older I got, casual smoking lead to regular smoking, lead to me not being able to stop nearly as easily. So here I was again, puffing away and unable to stop on my own.

Are we sensing a trend yet?

I’d been trying to quit again for weeks. I’d make it a day, zero desire to smoke, but sure as the sun rises I’d walk into the gas station and grab a pack. I’d light up and immediately hate myself. Whatever stress triggered that need to smoke couldn’t compare to how awful I felt after taking that drag. God doesn’t want us to hate ourselves, he wants us to listen to Him.

I can’t tell you how many times I would light up an old smoke after deciding to quit, a half-smoked remnant of the previous day’s idiocy. Don’t even get me started on how often I’d crush a half full pack and throw it into the garbage can, only to dig down and retrieve it. One time I even went so far as walking outside in single digit weather, tearing open the trash, and well…

So last night in my malaise over my seeming inability to put the cigarettes down, I prayed.

Then I saw it. I was taking the remaining smokes out of the pack, cutting them into teeny tiny pieces, and discarding them. Then I took the small sauce pan on my porch that doubled as my ash-tray and filled it with water to destroy the butts that remained. After seeing that, I did it. God knows I’m a visual learner, He shows me what I need to do when I can’t do it myself.

I prayed, I listened, and I obeyed the response without question.

Not going to count minutes, hours, or days here. Just going to move on and thank God.

And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.

1 Samuel 15:22
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Now I don’t want to go off on a rant here…

So I won’t.

There are a handful of local Facebook groups for the town I reside in. Over the past couple months, a resident has repeatedly complained about activities on their road which they think are dangerous. The posts are usually multiple paragraphs long, lecturing and chiding in nature, and generally do not lead to an actual solution to the problem before they delete it.

The first one I caught was some cellphone footage of two quads riding down the road. Now legality of individuals riding an off-road vehicle on a public street aside, myself and others pointed out that they appeared to be doing the speed limit or less, and not being reckless. This resulted in numerous vitriolic responses, straw men, and general nonsense.

The one tonight, apparently a driver sped past their car as they were pulling into their driveway. Again – the long, lecturing post ensued. Now while I may have broken out a little constructive sarcasm while suggesting they get a dash camera… I got another long, lecturing, and chiding response. Another individual referred to me as a “psychopath” for mocking.

Well…

Here’s the thing. I’ve lived in Warwick my entire life. I’ve dealt with folks actually speeding on off-road vehicles, as well as in cars. That’s one of many reasons I made a small investment in dash cams in my vehicles. Once, it caught someone driving over my fence. Physical evidence was provided to local PD, and they acted on it. They did not do “nothing.”

Another time, I witnessed a driver hit a dog, injuring it, and then they fled. Again, I provided physical evidence to the local PD, and again – they acted on it. I can understand the frustration of dealing with motorists and the like endangering myself, my property, and others by driving recklessly. One time I provided just plate numbers, nothing could be done.

It was “my word against theirs.” That’s something the OP stated a neighbor dealt with.

One really cannot argue with physical evidence though. Video. The prices on both dashboard cameras and home security cameras that can take footage that is both high quality and damning – have come down to the point that nearly anyone can hook one up. If the problem is so bad that one demands increased police presence – a small investment seems reasonable.

“I shouldn’t have to install a dash cam.” Well… then by all means, continue to post non-constructive rants on a problem that one is obviously passionate about and troubled by. Just do not expect anything to change. The likelihood that in a town of over 32,000 residents that the individual one is aiming their lecture at will both read it AND alter their behavior is nil.

Hand over some footage however, date, time, and GPS stamped – one might actually effect real change. There’s no good excuse to not do the right thing, unless the goal is simply a sputtering rant to virtue signal and prop up ones ego. If the latter is the goal, then by all means continue, but don’t be surprised when rational thought conflicts with one’s desire for attention.

Lastly… Labelling one a “psychopath” for pointing out that the problem could be addressed and possibly resolved by taking simple actions and investing in easily available and inexpensive technology… wow folks. Just, wow. In conclusion, if something gets one so bent out of shape that they lash out even at people attempting to help…

psy·cho·path: noun

  1. a person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior.
  2. an unstable and aggressive person.

Glass houses, stones, you get it. Happy New Year. 😉

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Divine Intervention!

Divine intervention is the involvement (intervention) of a deity (divine) in the affairs of humans. Its form can be direct, such as the actual visual or auditory manifestation of a deity to humans, and indirect, such as a deity’s influence on weather. In the Christian religion, visions and miracles are often considered forms of divine intervention, with believers feeling they’ve appeared in the midst of a crisis or in response to prayers.

https://www.dictionary.com/e/religion/divine-intervention/

I’ve been subject to divine intervention throughout my life, starting with my birth. I decided that the perfect time to join humanity was during Hurricane David. My father rushed us to the hospital in a Volkswagen Rabbit, driving around downed limbs and power lines to literally – deliver me to safety. Nobody’s driving a Volkswagen through a hurricane without God.

Later on in life, I’d been involved in a hit and run accident while riding my bicycle through downtown Warwick. I was tossed from my bike, landed on the back of my head, and after a short, gibberish filled recovery time walked away with a skull fracture. I thought I looked dumb in my helmet, so I didn’t wear it. God had other plans.

So many instances where I scraped by through dangerous situations nearly unscathed, or things just happened to work out in my favor. Unexplained coincidences. Divine intervention. Even before I acknowledged Him and accepted Christ, He was working and moving through my life. Once He shows me what to do, I do it, I don’t question it.

That doesn’t mean however, that I cannot go off the rails from time to time.

Since the Summer, I’ve been working on a plan to relocate to Georgia. At this start of this month, the process began in earnest with me listing my current home for sale and searching for a new home down south. Now from the start, in a whisper, God has been telling me to be patient. This came through thoughts, words, and the actions of others around me.

Still, I pushed on. After finding several homes in my price range, and subsequently losing them because I didn’t get a chance to remotely view them, I got more than a little aggravated. I reached out to some realtors, lit some fires, and in short order I was touring a few homes via Zoom. After a string of homes that didn’t work for me, I landed one that at first glance, did.

After the remote showing, I planned to put in an offer… but then another I’d looked at previously just had its price dropped. I checked it out. In my opinion, it was a perfect fit. Brick ranch. Near an acre of property. Rural. So I put in an offer. The seller passed and accepted a higher offer. A whole lot of excitement fell flat, rapidly.

Back to the list. I started going through my B roll. All the properties which did not exactly match what I wanted, or were near the top of my comfortable price range. I recall one property which checked nearly every single box, but we had to jump through a handful of hoops to customize our offer in a way to get the sellers attention. It was ridiculous.

When I got the contract to sign, I saw the disclosure sheet. Termites. No way I’m jumping through this many hoops in the hope that they will accept my offer, only to deal with a possible ongoing termite issue. Now the original home, back in Marietta that was to be my first offer was still up for sale. The price had recently dropped, and even after an open house, no buyers.

It was a “fully renovated” 1946 Bungalow style home on a half acre of property in a subdivision. The commute time to my new office was under an hour, and from my recollection of Marietta – close enough to places I was familiar with from my previous trip there. It wasn’t a perfect match, but come Hell or high water, I was going to Georgia!

I put in an offer. It was accepted. I had an explosion of anxiety in my chest that I hadn’t felt in years. All of a sudden my confidence faded and I was rapidly approaching panic. So I stopped and I prayed. I thanked God for the opportunity that He has provided me, and asked that if it is in His will, that it happens – and if not, that it be impossible to achieve. The fear faded.

So a slight snag in the plan, I had to work that weekend. Had I not, I’d likely have planned the trip down a little better, but instead I pushed myself. I pushed myself harder than I have in a very long time to make this work. I finished my job at 7pm, threw my suitcase in the car, and started a 900 mile, 16 hour journey south. Google Maps said about 13 hours. Well…

I set the destination in my GPS and go. About an hour into the drive, I’m not feeling too hot. A bit of a dry cough. Figure it’s just my air freshener allergy and toss mine. About 2 hours in I stop in NJ for fuel and some beef jerky (road trip necessities). I did alright through Delaware and Maryland… My first hiccup was on I-85S in Virginia where the interstate was blocked off.

Delaware around 10:30pm…
Driving under Baltimore Harbor around 11:30pm…

I continued on into Virginia, had my first hiccup due to a highway closure off I-85 south. I followed the line of cars and trucks to the offramp as we all hung a left. GPS showed me no clear way to get around the blockage so I turned around and went back. Turned out the closure was just at that exit, I could have simply crossed the road and returned to I-85.

All in all I think I did alright until South Carolina. As I’m driving south on I-85, a dark, desolate, tree-lined highway – I blink. My car is in the next lane. That was weird.

I keep driving. I blink. My car is in the middle of the road. Crap. I’m dozing off. There’s a rest stop 5 miles ahead. I roll down all my windows and the cold air irritates me enough that I make it. I stop the car, set my phone alarm for 15 minutes, and proceed to black out. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP, I’m awake, rejuvenated. I step out into the 30F night for some air.

I’m on the road again. Occasionally crossing paths with some traffic. I’m a little stunned at how many other drivers at this time of night see my car and expect me to be in a racing mood. Not happening. After about an hour I start to drift again. Damn. Windows down. Rest stop. Power nap. Walk in the fresh and very cold air. On the road again. Rinse and repeat.

Daylight comes as I’m still navigating through South Carolina, I stop and take my usual meds, top off the tank, stretch the legs, and go. I’m now rejuvenated thanks to the daylight and find myself very excited when a small, unassuming sign welcomes me to Georgia. I’d made it. Just a couple hours to go and I’d be at the house where the home inspector was already at work.

10:00am entering Georgia…

I pull in to the driveway, now seeing first hand what I’d only seen over the Internet or a remote video stream. It’s a nice looking house, with a good sized lot (half acre). The lot is covered with the needles of longleaf pine trees, so thick the underlying yard is not visible. The concrete paths are cleared and excess swept up against the foundation of the home. Still, not bad.

12:00pm, the first house

The inspector arrives and I’m able to take a tour of the home. It has been near completely renovated. Appliances, floors, ceilings, walls, electric, plumbing, etc… There’s a closet off the master bedroom big enough to be an office / game room. Boxes are being checked rapidly. The inspector prepares to investigate the crawl space, so I decide to take a walk around the block.

All the homes are newer construction, bi-level raised ranches and bigger. The neighborhood is quiet and dotted with “Neighborhood Watch” signs. Ok, I’m being watched, not a big deal. I see a few people about but don’t have any conversations. One guy sitting in a car outside a house looks at me, shakes his head, and closes his car’s window. Ok then.

All in all, not a bad neighborhood. Crowded though, to me at least. I’m used to open space, quiet days and nights, and great neighbors who are close – but not too close. Outside the secluded neighborhood is Marietta, a suburb of Atlanta which while it has some nice areas – reminds me a lot of the crowded turmoil of NYC suburbs. Death by a thousand concessions.

I return to the property as the inspector finishes up. He proceeds to show me everything that he has found. Termites. Rodents. Foundation issues. Plumbing issues. Roofing issues. Drainage issues. Sulfur water (lived with that for 7 years). Septic issues. I was already regretting my decision and planning to back out of the deal during the due diligence phase.

After a conversation with the realtor, we decided to update the offer with a requirement that the seller repair and resolve all identified issues before we proceed with the sale. I went back to my hotel, had some dinner, and got some much needed rest. All the while, this cold is still working on me. I’m popping Mucinex and Sudafed. Thankfully, no fever or other symptoms.

Tuesday comes along, the paperwork is still in play as I decide to explore the area. I need to pick up some things (Georgia Bulldogs hoodie, a new pocket knife as I’d left mine at home, more meds, etc…) I also decided to check out the area supermarkets. I didn’t really care for Lidl, but Kroger and Publix were both pretty good. So much traffic. So many people.

I stopped briefly in Marietta Square to grab a coffee at Cool Beans and walk around, it’d been years since I walked through with an old friend. I was thrilled to see a “Happy Birthday Jesus” sign hanging openly in the park. That brought me some much needed peace as I worked to make sense of this path I was on. All the while, I’m thanking God and praying for guidance.

Marietta Square on a gray morning…

Later that day, the rain began to clear and I decided to see what sort of entertainment there was to be had. In my specific case, I was looking for a pinball arcade. That lead me to Kennesaw, GA and Portal Pinball. Not only did I get to cut loose and relax while playing on some modern and classic tables, I got to see the GA state champion work on his Twitch stream.

In the mean time, I’d gotten another alert on my phone for a property in Canton, GA. 1,000 square foot brick ranch on 2.6 acres of land, corner lot, for $25k less than the Marietta home I wasn’t sure about. Come Wednesday around lunch, I drive over and I am knocked backwards by how much I liked the place. Yes, it needed quite a bit of work but all I saw was potential.

In the least, it needed a new roof, some new sheetrock, and a few other updates to make it livable. The property though… I walked out onto the back deck and saw a view that made my jaw drop. Also on the property was a massive 75 foot long barn, another smaller barn in a partial state of collapse, trees, meadows, it was BEAUTIFUL. I could see myself sitting on the deck, sipping a coffee, and just relaxing.

Huge. Property. That’s the view from the deck, and it goes all the way back to the tree line (squint).

Then Rocky showed up.

Out of the blue, I’m standing there with the realtor and see a stereotypical “good ol boy” walking up. Heavy southern accent, very friendly. He asks if I was there to buy the property, and then proceeds to explain that he used to live there, and point out every single issue he knew of with the property. Now here you might have expected my heart to sink, it didn’t.

The conversation continued for a bit as he explained the poisoned well, the leaky roof, the nosey neighbors and wealthy folks on the ridge who enjoyed launching golf balls towards the house. Rocky proceeded to walk off into the old barn and I continued checking the property out. This property checked every single box and I finally knew what I wanted.

But, God.

He knew I needed to slow down. He knew I needed to be patient. He knew that He’d have to drop a “coincidence” in my lap to shift my perspective and realize that He was answering my prayers as only He could. In that conversation, I realized that I should not be settling for the less than perfect fit which was Marietta, so I backed out. I also walked from the Canton home.

Now I knew what I wanted though, sure enough. I wanted Pine Island, but in Georgia. Wherever God brought me next, in His time, would be the right place. After speaking with my Mom, she pointed out that this was clearly divine intervention. There is no such thing as coincidence, Samuel! Now I couldn’t exactly slow down just yet though (well, I could have).

So until this point I’d planned to stick around until Thursday, then hit the road at the end of my work day. After the disappointment / affirmation that transpired over the past few days, I wanted nothing more than to stretch out on my couch and relax in a familiar place. So around 5pm on Wednesday, 12/22 – I checked out of my hotel, topped off my tank, and hit the road.

I played it (mostly) smarter this time. Less of a rush, more time during breaks to stretch my legs, clear the cobwebs, and ready myself for the next 300 mile stretch between fuel breaks. I popped a dose of Mucinex before I left and off I was. This time I also played an audio book (which I need to finish) – “The Many Friends of Eddie Coyle” – it’s what inspired the author of “Fire In The Hole” which inspired the TV series Justified. Anyways.

I was pretty solid as far as staying conscious and focused until I started winding through I-81N in PA. I started drifting a bit and got off the road fast to clear the cobwebs for the final stretch. I pulled into my driveway around 7:30am, started a pot of coffee, took a shower, and readied myself for my final day of work before Christmas. It was a little rough, but I did it.

13 hours of drive time in roughly 6 minutes. 🙂

So Christmas Eve comes, still popping my Mucinex to keep the congestion at bay after a solid 12 hours of much needed sleep… I wake up and proceed to make a few loaves of bread, one for my ex wife and kids whom I’ll be having dinner with later, and another for my friend’s Christmas Eve party afterwards. I’m fine through dinner… around 9pm I head to the party.

At this point I’m fading fast. I still have yet to make up my lost sleep, so I think I lasted about a half hour before I headed back to the house. Getting ready for bed I look down into the sink and before I know it, blood is absolutely pouring out of my nose. What the deuce?! I haven’t had a nosebleed in 30 years. I grab some paper towel, sit down and pinch my nostrils.

30 minutes later, it stops. I clean up the mess and go to bed. Next morning I get up, pop my Mucinex (are you sensing a theme yet) and get ready for the day. Christmas with my family upstate, which I am absolutely looking forward to. I step into the bathroom to well, do what one does in a bathroom, and again, blood is gushing out of my nose.

30 minutes later, it stops. I clean up the mess and call my mom. I’m not going to make it to Christmas dinner, I’m not sure why I am getting these nose bleeds, but I don’t want the red sea to flow while I’m doing 65mph in my car. I make it most of the day without any issue, hoping that I’ve seen the last of it. Annoyed that I’ve missed the event. Then I look down and boom.

This time I jam some toilet paper up my nose and drive to the hospital. I get there, one ambulance is leaving as another is pulling in. Not sure what is going on but there’s an entire family there, and one woman who was very annoyed by me sitting down near her. I check in and wait. I fire up my phone and start to search for the side effects of my medication.

My brother shows up and sits with me for a bit, and I decide my nose bleed doesn’t trump whatever else was going on that night to keep the short-staffed triage busy. I check out without being checked out, and decide to stop taking any OTC medication. No more Sudafed (not for the past 2 days at least) and no more Mucinex.

As it turned out, the 12 hour Mucinex DM which I’d been popping like tic-tacs for the past 4 days had some side effects I’d never hit before. One of which was “easy bleeding” and the other was “elevated blood pressure.” Now the Sudafed had done its job, which also included drying out my sinuses to a point that my humidifier was just a band-aid. In short, my nose was a time-bomb.

My blood pressure which normally runs about 105/75 was 150/85 for that last bleed. Perfect storm of me pushing myself too hard, stressing myself out, and driving my body to the point where matter overpowered mind while the meds I was taking to alleviate my cold symptoms drove the last nail in. Yesterday, no more bleeds, thank God. Today I had a minor one which quickly clotted back up.

I just need to be careful with leaning forward and looking down, apparently that’s the perfect combination. I need to slow down, relax, and let my body heal. I’m pretty much over the cold now. I’m also taking a break from the Georgia project until after the new year. God’s orders.

So the moral of the story here is…

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

That is not to say there will be no moments in my life, or yours, where we will not invest blood, sweat, and tears into some project or goal. However, Christ has taught us that the struggle is not necessary, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. If it becomes too difficult, ask yourself, is this really what God has planned for you?

Stop and listen to Him, He will make His presence known, He will provide, and if necessary – He will directly intervene in your life in undeniable ways to help steer you back to the path which He has willed for you.

So here I am… I haven’t looked at a real estate listing for several days… Hopefully I’ll listen more, speak less, act less, and see what God has in store for me next. Until then, I’m taking a breather. Happy New Year, folks.

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False Prophet!

I’ve heard that phrase ring out for a while now, most recently through a TikTok personality that I give a listen on occasion. Many of their videos tend to start out with a brief intro, a dramatic falsetto “False Prophet” and then they dive in, generally referring back to scripture to reinforce their point. In actuality, I think they were identifying themselves.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

1 John 4:1-4

I counter that some spirits can absolutely confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh and is from God, and still be a false prophet. We all know – and hopefully pray – for that type. The saved on Sunday, but treat everyone like garbage the other 6 days type. I generally refer to these lost souls as counterfeit Christians. They may witness and praise – but they are hollow.

So there’s this show I – and many others – have been watching, it just finished season 2, and even tonight I caught a special Christmas episode at the local AMC theater. The Chosen. Now according to TikTok guy (and a few other folks I know) – it’s evil, a false Gospel, and actively turning people away from God. There is artistic license here, I will admit, but…

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 5:14

Discernment. Another word which I have frequently seen used to justify personal views and opinions which exist beyond the confines of scripture. The Holy Spirit grants us discernment, so that we may distinguish good from evil, right from wrong, or in this case – a television show based on the ministry of Christ from the backbone of scripture that has given it life.

The simple truth here is that I am early in my walk with Christ. While He has been with me since before I was born – it’s only been two and a half years since I came to my spiritual senses and acknowledged Him. I do have discernment. It’s what helps me to understand when a statement is full of crap and based in fear, or sealed by the Holy Spirit. Pardon my French.

Tonight I watched Christmas music performed by top Christian contemporary artists along with the premiere of the aforementioned Christmas episode of The Chosen. It detailed the hours leading up to and including the birth of Jesus to Mary and Joseph, within a stable in Bethlehem. Now because Luke didn’t mention Mary needing to hop off the donkey she rode…

Does that make it false prophecy? False Gospel? Counterfeit Christianity? No, it is art, that tells a story based in scripture. In fact, do you know what I did the moment I left the theater? I PICKED UP MY BIBLE AND READ IT. I didn’t know about Luke 1:46-55. Now I cannot confirm the historical accuracy of the scenes surrounding its creation, but…

I PICKED UP MY BIBLE AND READ IT.

And Mary Said:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

Luke 1:46-55

Now a brief aside, while I refer to this scene from My Cousin Vinny:

Try and follow me here, but I think Mona Lisa Vito put it best…

Imagine you’re a deer. You’re prancing along, you get thirsty, you spot a little brook, you put your little deer lips down to the cool clear water… BAM! A f**kin bullet rips off part of your head! Your brains are laying on the ground in little bloody pieces! Now I ask ya. Would you give a f**k what kind of pants the son of a bitch who shot you was wearing?

Here I am. A saved sinner. I just watched a TV show that some claim is false prophecy, but in fact encouraged me to open up the Holy Bible. I turned to God. Worst false prophecy EVER. Now do I know whether or not God frowns upon WHY I got into His book any more than that hypothetical deer cared about Vincent LaGuardia Gambini’s hunting pants? No idea.

So until I meet my maker and He runs His finger down the spreadsheet of sins I’ve committed and He stops at “Watched The Chosen” – I’ll continue to live, laugh, love, watch TV, and thank God every day for the life He has given me while possessing a peace beyond all understanding. Thank you Jesus!

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Live.

Yesterday for Thanksgiving, my family got together at a table full of Chinese food to catch up, chew the fat, and reminisce. Besides a last minute scramble to find a Chinese restaurant which was actually open (called 15, only 1 was) – it went off without a hitch. A few folks said to me something along the lines of “with how well you cook, you got takeout?” It is tradition. I cannot really recall when it began, but at least one holiday per year we would grab takeout.

Nobody would spend hours over the stove only to fill up within minutes, no big cleanup required, just a pile of deliciousness, conversation, and revelry. Most of the day I had a smile on my face, but there was something missing. Someone missing. Last year after we finished dinner, I called the ambulance that would take my father to the hospital for the last time. A year ago this Sunday, he was gone.

I remember the look on his face a few days earlier, his blue eyes open wide in excitement as he smiled and said to me… “I’ll be waiting for you.”

Grieving was new to me. I had lost family, friends, relationships, cats, etc… it made me sad. Sometimes I wept, but I did not grieve. Every pain I felt before November 28th, 2020 was a papercut compared to the gaping wound carved in my heart that day. To this day, it could be a thought, a song, a scene in a movie… and it all comes rushing back, once again upended by grief. In my grief though, I realized just how blessed I truly am.

My faith in Christ removed the sting of death from me, removed the fear of it. It hurt then as it does now, but I cannot imagine going through this level of loss without my faith. I know where my dad is. I know he is within God’s glory, reunited with everyone he ever knew. I can only imagine the conversations he has had over the past year. I know he is free of pain, anxiety, fear, and worry. God is love, and my dad is in a place where the only thing that exists is love.

I miss him. Every day. I talk to him every day. So many times I see something, or I do something and the first thought in my mind is “dad would have loved this.” I believe that he checks in on me now and again, and in those moments he is nearer to me than I can possibly understand. He is waiting for me, but until then, I am taking the long road back home. I know his story as he told it to me, he LIVED his life, FOUGHT his fight, and FINISHED his race.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

2 Timothy 4:7-8

So I am taking a page out of his book. I cannot say I have not wasted some time this year, but down time is as important as uptime to me. Nothing in this life comes to us by chance. Every breath brings about infinite opportunity and possibility. I spent much time over the past year grieving, and reflecting upon the 41 years I got to share with my dad – but for every minute I spent grieving 2 more were dedicated to moving forward.

When that day comes when I stand before God in judgment, I do not want to even consider looking back to my life like I missed out on something. My father left me with a clean slate, he moved on with no regrets between us. Nothing was left unsaid. That is a blessing right there. Time does not stop, and the days have become a blur. While I am still here, I will not be standing still as I wait to see him again. He has inspired me. That is why I am leaving.

Over the past few months I have been preparing, and soon I will be packing up my tent and heading south. Next week, my home is going up for sale as I shift my focus to finding a new place to plant my flag in the state of Georgia. It is a big move. I am leaving behind everything and every one I have ever known to walk the path I believe God has set out before me. This is not by chance, it is an opportunity, and I am not getting any younger.

I do not want to look back 10 years from now and think “I should have gone there,” or “I should have done that.” God moves in our lives every single day, but He also gave us the free will to deny Him. I would like to think I spent 39 of my 42 years doing my best, but I did not take many chances. I played it safe. Countless paths God laid out only for me to get distracted by some shiny temptation that only led to loss and regret. No more. I am listening, Lord.

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21

I will live to glorify God. When I die, I will meet Him face to face, and my wait will be over. Until that day comes, I am going to LIVE. I am going to push my boundaries and follow His path. By God’s grace and mercy, I am going to make the wait worth it. Everything I am is because of my mom and dad, and how they raised me. I could not have asked for better parents. God did that for me. I know my dad is still with me as I take the long road home to see him again. I love you dad.

God bless.

12 as you anticipate and hasten the coming of the day of God, when the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with God’s promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, as you anticipate these things, make every effort to be found at peace—spotless and blameless in His sight.…

2 Peter 3:12-14

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Dear Cuisinart…

A couple years ago, I decided to untether myself from the K-Cup and return to making coffee the “old fashioned” way. Buy beans, grind beans, brew coffee. With that goal in mind, I picked up a DGB-700BC. It wasn’t cheap as it ran me about $151 on Amazon. Great coffee pot. Add beans to the hopper, add water, set strength, set number of cups, set timer, and every morning I was greeted with the aroma of fresh ground coffee.

1.5 years later, it died. Display was black, she was done. Now it came from Cuisinart with a 3 year factory warranty. After putting in my claim, Cuisinart said I would have a replacement in 7 – 12 business days. In 5 business days, I had a brand new DGB-800 on my counter. The experience with customer service was fantastic. I sent back the old coffee maker in the box for the new coffee maker, Cuisinart paid shipping both ways, and I was back in business.

Fast forward 1.5 years. My DGB-800 is still working fine, however the auto shutoff is no longer working. I do some basic troubleshooting, turn it off and back on, unplug it for a period of time and plug it back in, etc… Doesn’t work. I go back through the same website, put in a claim, explain the problem, explain what I’ve done to try and correct it… They reply and ask me to do what I’ve already done. After a brief exchange of information, they give me 3 options.

Option 1: Send me a different coffee maker and a separate grinder. I already have the grinder they’re offering, and I don’t need two of them.

Option 2: Send me a different coffee maker that grinds and also includes a K-Cup option. After repeated failures of the grind and brew pots after 1.5 years of use, and my general hatred of k-cups, no.

Option 3: I wait indefinitely for the discontinued DGB-800 to return to stock and be shipped. If it was immediately available, sure, but I’m not waiting indefinitely.

I proposed option 4. It’s the same style coffee maker as option 1, only it has a thermal carafe, no extra grinder (as I already have one), and is at the same price point as the other 3 options (around $200). On September 13th of 2021, they place the order for the replacement and tell me it will take 10 business days for the new unit to arrive.. However, I need to send them a photo of the current unit with the power cord cut.

Now despite the current coffee maker doing what I need it to, I cut the cord and send the photo. I follow up on September 21st, they reply on the 22nd that the order is processing with their shipping department. On October 1st, 15 business days after my original claim, I follow up with them for an update. They reply about 45 minutes later that it is still processing with the shipping department.

So here I am, 18 business days (24 days) past the order being placed. No replacement yet, nothing but a canned response from Cuisinart. I could literally order the replacement coffee maker off Amazon and have it in my hands tomorrow. How is it that I am nearly a month waiting for a replacement?

This is likely my final Cuisinart coffee maker. When the replacement dies a year and a half from now, I’ll move on. Had they said from the start that it would be 20-30 business days, it would be less than ideal, but it would not bother me as much as being told 10 days and now waiting indefinitely. Requiring that I disable a working coffee pot + waiting this long is also silly.

Perhaps they could require the photo of the cut cord within 10 days of receiving the replacement instead? Pandemic or not, this is sloppy customer service.

**UPDATE**

So I decided to actually call customer service, spoke with a very nice representative who informed me that the reason it was taking so long is because the coffee maker was backordered. Had that been said in the email chain – I’d likely have happily selected an alternate, which I did here. Hopefully get this rushed replacement soon and can put the matter to bed.

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