To the point week of 12-23-10


HAD ENOUGH PRECIPITATION yet? I can’t help but think about all of those months when we didn’t have rain as I look out across the blanket of snow in my front yard. The lack of water falling from the sky caused many of us to stop mowing our lawns because all we were doing was moving dust around; and at one point we were all told to conserve water.

We would see each other in a local store or restaurant; and we’d all talk about how we needed some rain and how this had been the driest summers we could remember.

Now each year there is an “average precipitation” figure calculated for different regions of the country, including Switzerland County. That average is based on historical data and other variables, but it all comes down to someone saying: “If you live in this area, you are going to experience an average of X-amount of precipitation during a 12-month calendar year.”

Notice that they didn’t say “rain”, they said “precipitation”.

The difference?

It’s standing in your front yard.

So, with two big winter storms already under our belts, and with a third quite possibly hitting here as you read this, it seems that Switzerland County’s “average precipitation” for 2010 is going to come down as snow.

Along with that, we were overjoyed this past weekend when temperatures reached 32-degrees – quite the “warm front” for December. It wasn’t too long ago that we were all sweating and complaining about the heat while wandering around the Swiss Wine Festival or the county fair or some other event.

“When will this heat streak come to an end?” we wondered to ourselves – and then cursed the end of the heat streak as temperatures plummeted into single digits.

So, as we near the end of 2010 and head to 2011, take heart that each day that you live through the snow and cold temperatures gets you one day closer to Spring and warmer weather.

Let the countdown begin.


The recent cold weather and snow affects me more this year because of a trip that I took in August, in the heat of summer.

I was part of a group that spent a long weekend in Atlanta, Georgia, working with the homeless in that city. Along with working in the Atlanta Union Mission, serving food to and spending time with homeless people in the largest mission in the city; we also worked to help ready a school for the start of the year and worked in a thrift store that helped fund the mission’s work.

But it was on the final night of our trip that makes me think about cold and snowy nights.

We went to a place called “SafeHouse”, which is soup kitchen in the inner city of Atlanta. No beds, but a place where those men, women, and children living on the streets could get a hot meal and sit down in a safe place and rest – if only for a little time.

We were introduced to SafeHouse by a man named Drew Benton, who runs a program called “Project Live Love”, and he’s a person who has made it his passion and life’s work to do whatever he can to help those less fortunate.

SafeHouse is a small building located in the center of the city. It’s surrounded by a high fence, which is topped with razor wire; and soon after the gate is opened each evening, the homeless begin to find their way in. They take a weathered plastic chair from a stack sitting in the corner of the parking lot; and they wait for a nightly church service to start – or for it to finish if they don’t want to attend – and then for food to be served.

These are hardcore homeless people. They aren’t waiting to get a cot to sleep on inside that night, but instead are just getting a little something to get them through the night.

If you think it’s hot in Switzerland County in August, you ought to try Atlanta; because on that particular Saturday night the temperature was almost as high as the humidity. Hot, sticky, humid weather and a large group of homeless people don’t mix well to create a pleasant aroma.

On that night, as hot as it was, each person received a large, styrofoam cup of chili; as well as a zip-lock bag featuring crackers, some candy, and a few other items. Chili on a hot August night didn’t seem very appetizing to me, but for those people, they took it and ate it and prepared to be back on their way.

I think about those people on night’s like we’ve had recently. As miserable as the hot, August night was; I can’t imagine how they are surviving through these nights.

Reenter Drew Benton, who has expanded his work to include a new program called “Three-Oh-We-Go”, which has more than 70 volunteers currently. The mission of the program? When the temperature falls below 30 degrees, those volunteers get in their cars in different parts of Atlanta and they drive around and distribute hand warmers to the homeless.

That small project now has grown to include the distribution of hats, gloves, and blankets; providing people with simple items that might just save their lives.

It’s not very pleasant to think about things like the problem of the homeless during the holidays, and many of us just write them off as drug addicts and problems for society, but when you stand face to face with them and hear their stories, you begin to understand that they are simply human beings who are down on their luck and who are simply trying to live another day.

I think about those people on cold nights, and I am committed to helping them as I can. If you’d like to help them, too, contact me and I’ll get you connected; or start at, and see the work that Drew and others are doing.


Since is the last issue before Christmas Day, I also want to share something with you that has become somewhat of a tradition with me.

For the past few weeks we’ve all been running around and keeping a frantic pace in our efforts to find just the right present for each and every person on our list. We go into stores and our met with “Happy Holidays”, so we don’t offend other shoppers; and, the truth be told – there’s not much ‘happy’ to them at that point.

But on a personal level I always try and take time each day to stop, pause, and remember why we celebrate December 25th. As I always say, for those who may not consider themselves to be “religious” people, it is not my intention to “preach” at you; but rather to simply share the true account of the Christmas holiday.

It comes from a man named Luke, who was a physician, so he was rather meticulous with writing down each specific and important detail.

In the second chapter of his Gospel, Luke shares with each of us the true “Reason for the Season”:

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.


Merry Christmas to each and every one of you, and may the true joy of this season remain with you throughout the year.