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Two Things About Shadow Valley

grazing sheep

This post is unplanned. Though I’m trying to get on a regular schedule of posting and plan ahead what I will be posting, this wasn’t it. It is inspired by my devotional reading this morning. Yep… the Lord told me to write it.

Today I read from Psalm 23:4:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

It got me thinking about what “the Lord is my shepherd” means.

Two things come to mind.

Thing one:

The Shepherd, Jesus, is with us through the many and varied hardships we all face in life. When the bottom drops out, He is there to lead us back to safety. He doesn’t necessarily lead around Shadow Valley. It is a valley which must be passed through.

  • He goes before us.
  • He walks beside us.
  • He comes behind us.
  • He is with us as we navigate the valley.

Having been through some dark valleys, I have known the Shepherd’s presence. Still, He guided me through the valley. Not around.

Thing two:

Shadow Valley is not only a valley of hardships, it is often a valley of sin and temptation.

This aspect of Shadow Valley is less obvious. We don’t often think about the Shepard leading us through temptation. We pray, “deliver us from temptation,” which He does. Still, we manage to get ourselves lost in the valley of sin and temptation, and when we do the Shepherd is there to lead us through to the other side.

He leads us through to:

  • Guard us from going backward.
  • Encourage us to move forward.
  • Depend on Him.
  • Make us stronger.

Final Thoughts:

When we come through the valley the Shepherd provides:

  • Green pastures
  • Still waters
  • Restoration for our soul
  • Guidance in righteousness
  • Food and comfort

These are just a few thoughts I had as I read Psalm 23:4 this morning. What do you think? What is your experience with Shadow Valley? Leave a note in the comments.

You will want to visit Starr’s Mill, Georgia

Starr's Mill

During our visit to Georgia last week I posted an article suggesting two places to visit. They are the town of Senoia, and nearby Starr’s Mill. The pictures in that post came straight out of the camera. I wanted to get something up quickly while I was still on the trip. Now that we are home and I’ve had some time to do a little processing and upload the images another post is in order.

Canada goose chick - Starr's Mill, GA The mill is the centerpiece of a beautiful park just off the highway. Not necessarily a destination spot, we did make a point of going there for a few images while we were out driving around the Georgia countryside. It was quiet. A man was fishing in the stream when we arrived. He sternly warned me about snakes before packing up to leave. I felt a little like I had disturbed his fishing spot. A few minutes later, a family from New York stopped to take some family photos in front of the mill. I gladly helped them out. You meet some of the nicest people when traveling.

Swallowtail butterfly - Starr's Mill, GA I’m not sure how much wildlife there is around Starr’s Mill. As I was warned, there are apparently snakes. This is Georgia after all. What I did see was a family of Canada Geese and a few Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies.

About Starr’s Mill

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information available about Starr’s Mill. What I did find came from a site called Millpictures.com and another called Scenic USA.

Starr's Mill, GAThe site, on Whitewater Creek, was owned by Hannaniah Gilcoat who built the first mill before his death in 1825. It was less than a mile from Creek Indian territory. Between 1827 and 1866 the mill had several owners and several names until Hillard M. Starr bought the mill in 1866.

The current building was constructed in 1907 by William T. Glower. It is the third mill built on the foundation after the previous mill was destroyed in a fire. The site also included a cotton gin and a dynamo which produced electricity for nearby Senoia. The turbine mill ran up until 1959, and although not operating today, it is now restored and owned by the Fayette County Water System.

The mill was painted in 2002 to look good for Hollywood. It was used for the glass-blowing shop scenes in the movie “Sweet Home Alabama”. It has been painted again since then.

Hope you enjoyed this little trip to central Georgia. If you find yourself back there take some time to visit Starr’s Mill and nearby Senoia, which will be the subject of an upcoming post.

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Visiting Georgia? Here are Two Gems You Won’t Want to Miss

Senoia, Georgia

Note: Since writing this post pictures have been posted to my gallery.

Senoia

This is my second time visiting Georgia. Today we took a short trip down to the small town of Senoia. Small yes, but it is gaining some big fame as one of the filming locations for the series, “The Walking Dead.”

It is also a great place to do some browsing at the shops lining the streets of the historic district.

The Waking Dead Cafe There are also a handful of restaurants in town. We were there after breakfast and before lunch and didn’t eat, just wandered through some of the shops. I did think this was a cleaver name for a coffee shop in this town.

“The Walking Dead” isn’t the only show to bring Senoia fame. The town has been referred to as, “Hollywood South,” and has entertained such movies as “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Fried Green Tomatoes.”

Here’s a list of Senoia’s film credits.

Starr’s Mill

Starr's Mill One of my reasons for visiting Georgia is the great rural photography. The last time I was here I was taken around to a bunch of different spots. A few images are living on my Flickr site. While this trip didn’t include a lot of photo time, I did manage to get some. After leaving Senoia we drove a few short miles to nearby Starr’s Mill.

Starr's Mill It’s not a crowded spot or a big attraction. You could easily miss it, and I almost did, except for the help of GPS. The star is the old mill and man-made waterfall.

About these photos

These photos are SOOC (straight out of the camera). No editing has been done. I shot both RAW and JPG so I could get them posted right away. Edited versions will be post on the Website when I get back from visiting Georgia next week.

These are just two places I recommend visiting in Georgia. Do you have any you would like to tell us about? Tell us about them in the comments.

Church is Now Open Between Easter and Christmas

Church is now open between Easter and Christmas

It is the Monday morning after Easter and I just couldn’t resist posting this picture adapted from one I saw on Twitter.

Church was packed yesterday. I sang in the choir and had a great view of the congregation, and while it was great to see new a lot of new faces, I know I won’t see them again until Christmas perhaps. That’s just the way it is. But it doesn’t have to be. After all, church is now open between Easter and Christmas.

I am a “church-goer.” That doesn’t mean I never miss a Sunday. I have missed plenty. There have even been stretches of weeks, perhaps even months, when I didn’t attend church. The reasons vary, but when I take time away from my church family my relationship with the Lord suffers. It becomes distant.

Many of you reading this may have made your semi-annual visit to church yesterday, Easter Sunday. You may have even gone more than once last week, perhaps attending a Maundy Thursday or Good Friday service in addition to Easter. Three times in one week. Isn’t that enough?

No. I don’t believe so.

Here’s why.

Church is now open between Easter and Christmas.

These are the two major celebration days on our Christian calendar, but the Lord commanded that we set aside one day each week to come together and worship in community. It is one of The Ten (Exodus 20:8-11), and Paul writes about it in Hebrews 10:19-25.

The Lord places much more emphasis on our worshiping together at least one day a week than we ever do. It would seem to me that Christians should take note of this and stop pretending that church does not need to be a priority.

Jesus sacrificed Himself for our sins.

The very least we could do in return is sacrifice back to Him one day a week of worship.

I know there are reasons good reasons for missing church on Sunday. I’ve had enough. But it isn’t about Sunday. It is about worship, which you can do anytime, anyplace. Still, there is something about worshiping together with a church family. As I noted above, when I take time away from meeting together with my church family, I begin to feel disconnected from Jesus. It’s a feeling I never like.

This leads to a third point.

Church is a connection point.

You cannot stay connected to Jesus without staying connected to His people. I really believe this. The church, other Christians, are the physical representation we have of Jesus while we sojourn on this earth. We are all flawed and imperfect, but we are what we have, and together we encourage one another as we wait expectantly for Christ’s return.

In my business we talk a lot about plugging in and staying connected, and we have weekly meetings. Just like church, when I miss meetings, when I don’t plug-in, my business begins to suffer and I begin to feel unmotivated. The meetings, even though they are relatively the same week after week help to motivate me and keep me on target. They are needed.

Church is needed. It connects us to the power.

What are some other reasons to continue attending church between Easter and Christmas? These few are just the beginning of the conversation. Church is now open between Easter and Christmas. As a Christian why would you not attend? That could be an interesting discussion too. Post in the comments.

Worship the One Who Conquered Sin and Death

Good-Friday-worship the one who conquered sin and death

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day we remember as the one on which Jesus gave himself as the final sacrifice for mankind. The day the penalty for our sin was paid and holy justice was satisfied. The day the innocent one gave His life so the guilty ones could walk free.

I will be attending a communion service at my church. Consider this an invitation to those who are able to join me to worship the One who conquered sin and death. Here are the details.

Before his arrest, Jesus shared the Passover with his disciples. As they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, then broke it and gave it to the disciples saying, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then He took a cup and gave thanks. He gave it to the disciples and said, “All of you drink of it, for this is my blood of the covenant. It is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Easter-worship the one who conquered sin and death

On Sunday, worship continues as we worship the One who conquered death. Again, if you are able, I would like to invite you to attend services at Lincoln Presbyterian Church in Stockton. Here are the details.