By Julie Paysen

It’s hard to ignore the recent challenges of recent days. Whether it be from a global perspective in the devastation from hurricanes in Puerto Rico, or a National standpoint with disastrous flooding in Texas and Florida. Or random shootings at a public gathering of thousands at a concert in Nevada. What was supposed to be a fun and entertaining night on the town, ended in sheer terror. And just this week, small town USA was attacked, a little church where 50 gathered to worship last Sunday morning, only to be gunned down instead. And in our own hometown as the past few months have been riddled with heartbreak in what appears to be the senseless loss of life of our loved ones. Lives taken seemingly way too soon. Our own Toccoa Falls College just this week hosted a memorial service of the 40th anniversary of the dam break and flood at Toccoa Falls in 1977. That was a life altering event in this community still evident, even after so many years. All so tragic and often hard to understand.

As the season of Thanksgiving is upon us, we naturally reflect on the things for which we are grateful.  We live in a community full of reasons to be thankful.

Though at times it’s hard to be thankful when there is so much tragedy all around us, when we personally fall on hard times or see the ones we love suffering. However, it is often in the difficult times of life when we are drawn closer together and closer to Almighty God as we are reminded that we are not in control, but we are comforted to know that He is in control.

It’s been said, true character is revealed not by life’s circumstances but by how we handle those circumstances. What I have seen time and time again in Toccoa-Stephens County is when tragedy strikes, we come together. Whether it directly affects our community or those in a neighboring state or country! We consistently respond with an outpouring of love. Toccoa steps up! 

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I am and continue to be so grateful to be part of this community. I have always said that it’s the people of Toccoa-Stephens County that make this community different and the same is true today! We rally around those who are hurting and reach out to those in need. A very special, heartfelt “Thank you” to all who donated time and money to the cause and to those took the time to bring supplies that filled two truckloads that we delivered to Texas and Florida this fall for hurricane disaster relief, individuals and companies alike. Coming together, meeting the needs of others. Many of us have before been in a place of need how that life experience has lead us to want to be part of blessing someone else in need. What a beautiful picture of The Church, together in one accord…helping others, sharing Hope. What a joy to be just a small part of how the Lord chooses to faithfully provide for our every need. How grateful I am to live in Toccoa-Stephens County, a community that comes together for those in need. Thankful.