As the words “2018 was a rather difficult year” passed from my lips, I was immediately embarrassed and humbled because that statement was made to a gentleman who truly has experienced some very bad years! In fact, his years of hardship make what I faced in 2018 seem like a picnic, a walk in the park, and an oasis in the desert. You see, we had been honored to be included in a New Year’s Eve dinner with 22 old and new friends at our local club. We are usually stay-at- home old fogies these days because we don’t like big crowds, and we really do like to be sawing logs by 9:00 or so. But this was an offer too good to pass up because they are all such fun people and New Year’s Eve is a special night, saying good-bye to the old and getting excited about a better year ahead. At the end of this message is a video of Tom Kirk. Please watch it and say a prayer of thanks for what he did for all of us. Yes, every citizen of the USA should thank God for Tom and others like him who served during the Vietnam war (and all other wars and conflicts). Tom was held prisoner by the Vietnamese for 5-1/2 years. You can’t even imagine the torture he experienced, yet every time we see him, this remarkable man has a smile on his face and warm, friendly words. His positive attitude always make us feel better. Now I think you know why I felt so humiliated when I had the gall to say 2018 had been a difficult year. Tom’s reaction to my stupid comment was one of concern and caring, not judgment. Yes, there were challenges in 2018 for many of us, but for those who are still breathing the pure, sweet desert air (or the cold Northern air or the air anywhere), it was also a year of blessings untold. In Oswald Chambers book My Utmost for His Highest he writes these words that make me think of Tom Kirk. “God does not give us overcoming life; He gives life as we overcome. The strain is the strength. If there is no strain there is no strength. Are you asking God to give you life and liberty and joy? He cannot, unless you will accept the strain. Immediately you face the strain, you will get the strength…..God never gives strength for tomorrow or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the minute.” Happy and blessed New Year 2019 😊 Please watch this short video about Tom Kirk!