Last night as I was driving home, I saw a unique and eerily beautiful sight as I looked north into the foothills just outside of town. In the inky darkness of the mostly moonless and cloudy night I could see the soft glow of white lights at the ski resort. Normally at such a far distance I should not have been able to see the lights as I came up the valley, but this evening a thick, low cloud deck hovered only a short distance above the hills provided a perfect reflective backdrop to magnify the ski slope lights as well as elevating their brightness higher into the night sky and casting those reflections to the great distance from which I first saw them.
I could not help but immediately think of the verse in Matthew 5:14 where Jesus says “You are the light of the world” and then further describes His disciples as “a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” As I thought of the past year’s events, I was struck by a parallel where Sarah and I had been shining our light in our Christian walk in very much an “ordinary way.” We did not have a large circle of ministry at the time still settling into a new city and dealing with the increasing limitations of Sarah’s health. Yet, we sought to be faithful in the witness and testimony we did have. Then as Sarah’s health crisis began in earnest and increased in intensity, God gave us a broader and broader opportunity to reflect that light. Just as the unique atmospheric conditions on this night dramatically and effectively reflected the lights of the ski slopes last night, so too had God brought about a unique circumstance in our lives to more brightly shine for His glory and reflect to a wide audience in a way beyond our normal circumstances. Thankful for every blessing He gives and the way He reminds me so faithfully along the way.
As I now begin terminal leave and depart from my Air Force active duty career, it has been a surreal and often bittersweet moment as I reflect on the past 9 years and 4 years of AFROTC before that. I have been blessed and privileged to serve alongside the best and brightest individuals I have ever known, and humbled by many leaders who made incredible investments in me. It has been an honor to serve my country and be charged with leading and molding many of its sons and daughters. I stand forever indebted to all those I have served with and for the way my Air Force family has truly cared for me during the most crushing trial I have ever faced. Their unending support throughout my entire career has made all the difference. Although I am stepping away from active duty, Lord willing I look forward to many more years of service in the Reserves. As one of my favorite quotes by Adlai Stevenson says, “Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”
My plan is now to be on my sabbatical over the next 8 months while I work on my Certified Financial Planner designation (CFP) and masters in financial planning along with much time to write, read, and reflect. I will be starting my travel around our great country in my RV in April. I am also stepping into entrepreneurship and am thrilled to be launching my own financial planning firm this fall where I will be able to offer fiduciary, fee-only planning to a younger generation and expand upon my work with Military Life Planning in helping servicemembers. As I build this venture, I will create it as an all-digital business allowing me the opportunity to work and live geographically independent thus being able to travel and work from anywhere so I can spend more time with the people that mean so much to me.
Currently I plan to return to my current home out west later this year where I’ve fallen in love with this wonderful place, its people, and my church family. However, I’m open to the Lord’s leading as He directs so I ask for your prayers for wisdom and guidance in this area.
I am very thankful that these plans were laid out in advance of last year’s trial, and that Sarah and I had many opportunities to talk about these plans for 2018 during her final weeks. She never knew a different life with me other than my serving in the Air Force so it has not been without challenges to fill in these details of what was supposed to be this new future for the both of us, but is now just me. Her boundless encouragement and selfless support throughout our entire marriage spilled over in those final weeks though as she shared with me her bright hopes and wise counsel for me. She knew just what to say and her insightful words ring in my mind! Not many widowed spouses get to have such a blessing like I now experience in that way. God’s infinite blessings, grace, and mercy continue to be showered upon me, and I can’t wait to share with you all what He is going to do next in this new phase!
In this new year as many of you consider ways to immerse yourself in Scripture, I’ll share a way that Sarah and I used to keep it literally before us as we rose up in the morning and laid down at night by posting verses on our bathroom mirror. We would choose passages meaningful to us with what we were struggling with or seeking to challenge our spiritual walk in a particular area. The picture here shows what I have been reminding myself of every morning and evening the past 4 months – what a joy it is to delight in His statutes and not forget His Word! (Psalm 119:16)
We live in the day of Bible apps on our phones, access to thousands upon thousands of great messages through SermonAudio and podcasts, almost unlimited exposure to uplifting Christian music, and technology that enables us to encourage each other in so many ways, stay in touch with missionaries, and journal through written, video, or voice format. Never before in the history of the world have we had access to as much Biblical literature and study materials! Yet, with all this privilege and blessing I have to ask myself and urge you to do the same – how much am I taking advantage of these things for eternal purposes, or am I just expending my time on lesser pursuits?
As one who has seen so recently and personally the fragility and temporal nature of this world, I encourage you to remind yourself daily of the importance of God’s Word – nothing else we do each day has more eternal purpose!