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Please forgive this very personal blog. And I apologize if my experiences do not match occasions in your life and bring up unpleasant memories for you. I just feel I need to share some events in my life that can be summarized in one word … “Blessed”.

As most of you know, I have three boys who are just great young men. Andrew works for Cru (formally Campus Crusade for Christ) on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill. Steven is in his second year at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston. John Thomas is in his second year at the University of Tennessee.

We live in an idyllic setting, running Hemlock Inn in the beautiful mountains of the Great Smokies. All three boys grew up working here. It can be challenging sometimes helping with the family business, working for Dad, and being on call all the time. But they handled it fine.

But we have had our share of challenges too. John Thomas was diagnosed with Patella Malalignment in the 8 th grade, tore up both knees, had surgery on both, and had to give up sports at a young age. In his senior year of high school, Steven was driving to school one morning when a sudden cold snap froze the roads. His car slid off the road, went over a 50 foot embankment, hit a tree while flying through the air, and landed upright just shy of the Tuckaseegie River. He was able to walk away from the accident. Last Thursday, Andrew called at 12:30am to report that he was standing in the parking lot watching his apartment go up in flames. He escaped with very little as the rapidly moving blaze consumed his third floor apartment.

As I have revisited those events and others in my life, I couldn’t help thinking how I have been blessed. I shouldn’t waste my time concentrating on the “what ifs”. John Thomas can walk; Steven and Andrew both survived very scary and potentially dangerous situations.

Times are difficult right now for many folks. Unemployment remains high. Businesses are closing at an alarming rate while others are struggling just to survive. To some extent, Hemlock Inn is in that last category. But it is important for me to remember that the blessings I have received far exceed the hardships I have experienced. I am embarrassed to admit that I do not always remember that. I need to focus more on being thankful and counting my blessings. But I also realize that there is more to it than that. I am also compelled to pass my blessings to others. If I allow myself to concentrate only on the blessings I have received, I am selfish. Many around me need to receive my blessing through simple acts of kindness, generosity, compassion, concern….giving. That is where Hemlock Inn has been so instrumental. It is a tool where we can touch other people’s lives and be a part of their good times as well as the hard times. I hope and pray that I will always take the time and opportunity given to me to pass blessings not only to my family, but also our guests, our staff, and others.

I am blessed and so are you. I just hope I can be a blessing to others…..