If you take a moment and think over the last few years of your life, it’s probably obvious (on this side of it) how some things worked out to get you where you are now. Sometimes these are subtle shifts and changes and sometimes that memory is something major. Nonetheless, we end up where we are because we have been through them.

For Whitney, Travel World of Crosby and me, 2019 was that “thing”. To be honest, it was the toughest year of our lives – by far.

The year started with receiving the greatest blessing we have received outside of accepting Christ as our savior – our sweet baby boy Parker was born. The way Parker has shifted our priorities is amazing. In fact, we moved our office out of the home because it was incredibly difficult for me to get any work done. All I wanted to do was hold him, watch him, listen to him and make funny faces to get a reaction (something I said I would not do when we became parents).

Before, during and after Parker’s birth, we were facing a battle with a person who abused his power, convincing others to join his efforts and even went so far as to request (and get) an Attorney General’s investigation into me and my team from a prior employer. This lasted for a little over a year. Even when you know you are right and you’ve done the right things, it still puts knots in your stomach as you watch someone try to question your integrity and damage a reputation you have worked so hard to build.

We finally received the peace and confirmation we knew was coming although it was not fun to endure. Not only was the outcome to our favor, but the Attorney General went so far to say there was no basis for the claims made against us. To say it was a relief was an understatement, but it didn’t negate the stress and hurt experienced over an entire year.

During this same time, a vendor we worked with through our travel business stole over $60,000 from us. This was pure theft – not a data breach nor did it affect our customer experiences. In our attempts to seek remedy, we found that the person was using a fake name and had what we believed to be several fictitious businesses and fled the state which she committed the crime and moved across the country. In the end, it was a huge loss.

It’s one thing to have your reputation questioned and to endure the attacks of false accusations that you know will soon come to light, but it’s a whole new level of “tough” to have over $60,000 stolen from you, while at the same time you are welcoming your baby boy into the world. I would be lying if I told you we didn’t feel anger, hurt, resentment, betrayal and many other emotions. But, in the end, what we felt most was gratefulness.

You might wonder why gratefulness would be anywhere in this article. What we really didn’t see in the moment was God trying to get our attention. I firmly believe He used 2019 to do just that. He knows I’m not a good listener, ok call me hard headed, but He knows how to make sure I stop and pay attention to Him first and foremost.

When we reflect on 2019, we take away these three blessings:

1. An intentional pursuit in becoming whole-hearted followers of Christ.

Whitney and I both grew up trusting the Lord and have been in church over the years. But, in 2019 we made the commitment to serve and engage in our church – to go “with” church instead of going “to” church. We are so thankful for the church community that we have discovered at Watkinsville First Baptist Church. We are blessed to have an amazing Pastor and church staff, a fun and encouraging Sunday school class, a small group that is vulnerable, open and honest, a men’s and women’s bible study group led by two folks who truly exemplify God’s love, and an awesome children’s program that we know will help us raise Parker to love the Lord. We feel that God used 2019 to refocus our spiritual life which sets the foundation for everything else.

2. A marriage that is stronger

I can truly say we have always had a great marriage. But what we now have is a new level of “great” that we didn’t even know was possible. Through being intentional in our pursuit of becoming whole-hearted followers of Christ, we are now trusting him with our WHOLE life, including our business and not just portions of it. The clarity He has given us in how we live our lives – what gets our attention (and mindful to what we say no to) and our time has been awesome. He has used the challenges of 2019 to draw us even closer to each other by drawing us closer to Him, creating an even stronger marriage.

If you’ve been reading and wondering why this is on our business page, keep reading.

3. Clarity in how we serve our customers through God’s business that we manage

When we trust God with our whole lives, there isn’t an asterisk that says “only applies to Sundays and how you raise your child”. This means that business is a part of our life and God has something to say about how we conduct “business.” Through 2019 we feel that God has been providing clarity on how we serve customers. I firmly believe He used the challenges we faced as a way to get our attention and provide us a new focus and direction in our business as well. He has really helped us see that selling travel isn’t unique, but what makes us unique is our immense level of knowledge and experience around cruising. Knowing that we were created for community, we feel called to refocus our business to create travel experiences that are built around community. For our customers, this is where the rubber meets the road in how you’ll experience our renewed focus and expertise. We will now specialize in two main areas: 1) Escorted Tours: Our escorted tours create the perfect environment to build community with new and old friends. 2) Custom Group Cruises: Whether it’s a multi-generational family, a group of friends or any sort of affiliation group, when we build your group cruise, you’ll live life with others, without the hassles of planning.

The peace, direction and purpose we now have over our business is indescribable.

With an intentional pursuit in becoming whole-hearted followers of Christ, an even stronger marriage, and a clear focus on our two areas of business strengths, we are positioned to serve you better than ever before.

2019…what a year of blessings. When I see it this way, it’s hard for me to have dry eyes as I see the rich blessings He has provided us through this. I share this story to not obtain an ounce of sympathy, but to encourage you. We are all facing battles, struggles and challenges. He wasn’t and isn’t surprised by any of the challenges we face. The pain and hurt may still be present during the hard times but the difference is the inner peace you feel knowing that you’ve given it all to God and He has it. Cast your burdens on the Lord. I know we will face many trials and tribulations in the future, but with us submitting every department of our life to God, I don’t worry about how we will get through them.

I hope you might be encouraged to trust God with your whole life. We look forward to serving you and are here to help you in any way we can!