New is a small three-letter word that brings happy thoughts to mind. It has become popular in our society and almost has a meaning of its own; for example the “new car interior smell.” But I like to look at the dictionary meanings of words that we use so frequently we often don’t remember exactly what they mean. “New” is an adjective and adjectives describe nouns (things) so here are some definitions to consider:
1. not existing before; made, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time.
• not previously used or owned.
• of recent origin or arrival. (a new baby)
• (of vegetables) dug or harvested early in the season. (new potatoes)

2. already existing but seen, experienced, or acquired recently or now for the first time.

• (of a person) inexperienced at or unaccustomed to doing (something).
• unfamiliar or strange to (someone).
• in addition to another or others already existing.
• (in place names) discovered or founded later than and named after.

3. just beginning or beginning anew and regarded as better than what went before

• (of a person) reinvigorated or restored.
• superseding another or others of the same kind, and advanced in method or theory. (“the new architecture”)
• reviving another or others of the same kind.

Over the past month or so we’ve had a lot of “new” in our lives and I’d like to share some of that. Starting with the second definition, already existing but seen or experienced for the first time. New England autumns have been around forever but until this year I had never seen or experienced the beauty myself. I’d seen pictures, but never been. Pictures I have seen and the ones we snapped ourselves just don’t capture the brilliance of the colors, but here are a few examples:

We were told by some of the locals that we hit the leaves at their peak colors, but this year wasn’t one of the best. It was still new and beautiful to me and I couldn’t help but wonder how someone could believe all of this beauty could “just happen” without an intelligent designer and creator.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Ecc 3:11

We’ve also experienced newness in the category of never existing before when our daughter in St. Pete called to tell us she was pregnant again.


This precious baby is an answer to many prayers and we are so thankful, even if we are a bit nervous about it. I am confident, however, that this will be a beautiful rainbow baby and I’m excited about a new baby, and yes another new experience.

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Ps. 139: 13-14




I’ve heard all my life that “any man can be a father, but it takes a special man to be a dad.” I believe that to be true and I’m fortunate to see three generations of dads in my family right now. I’m blessed to have my dad still with us and I look forward to seeing him later today. I’m confident that anyone who knows my dad could not come up with anything bad to say about him even if they wanted to for some reason. His integrity and character are unquestionable; he is kind and patient to everyone, and if anything would try his patience it would be raising two boys who pretty well covered the spectrum between being okay at times to fighting like cats and dogs at times. Daddy has ALWAYS been a “dad”. Other than my wife, he is still the person I run to when I need advise, or when the car breaks down, or when I’ve had a bad day. He is the man I wanted to emulate as I was growing up and it is still my goal to be like my dad. It is also a goal I realized some time back that I would not achieve but it is still my goal. He and Mama laid the foundation that has held firm throughout the euphoric highs and the devastating lows of my life and I’m so thankful for them and the job they did preparing me for adulthood.

The next generation is me. I know I’m a father, and I think I’m a dad, but truthfully you’ll have to ask my two daughters that question. Nothing makes me prouder or happier than seeing my two baby girls as adults with their own families. When I think back on all the struggles we’ve had over the years and see them now, it was worth it. It was worth every sleepless night when they were babies and the sleepless nights as they emerged into adulthood as well as the sleepless nights when they struggle with life’s problems and crises like we’ve just experienced. My heart breaks when theirs does and celebrates when theirs does. George Strait’s song captured it best: “Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love…. it’s a love without end, amen.”

Now, I get to observe my two sons-in-law as they are dads. It’s a different role for me; a role of observation more than participation. I’m always here for them and happy to discuss anything with them, but I try to keep my mouth shut unless I’m asked. These two fine men are on point now with their “daddyhood” responsibilities and appear to be doing an excellent job. I love these two men and am enjoying watching them as they “daddy” their children.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my heritage. I have very fond memories of my grandfathers- two of the finest men you would ever meet. And they laid the foundation for my Mama and Daddy. I even have faint memories of three of my four great-grandfathers and I can say the same about them. How blessed I am to look backwards to see such outstanding dads in my family while looking ahead to see two more coming through the good times and bad times of being a dad.

Happy Fathers’ Day, Daddy. And happy Fathers’ Day to my sons-in-law. I love you men very much!


Forty five years ago Robin had just graduated from high school and I had just completed a spring term at Auburn. It was a Saturday, but not just any Saturday. I washed and cleaned up Daddy’s 1969 Pontiac that morning and went to get a haircut early in the afternoon. The photographer was expected to be at Mama and Daddy’s house at 4:00 or 4:30; so I had to be dressed and ready by that time. I didn’t have much to do between getting a haircut and waiting for the photographer to arrive.

Robin, on the other hand, had an extremely busy day. Our florist had booked another wedding the same day as ours so Robin actually had to make flower arrangements and boutonnieres during the day and be dressed and ready for the photographer after he finished at our house. I had nothing to do but think about the wedding; Robin didn’t have time to think about it at all. I think we were both wrecks by the 6:30 start time.

But the wedding was great; nobody passed out, there were no unusual events. Just two kids exchanging vows and planning to live happily ever after. And we have; well, not everything has been happiness. We’ve had our share of hard times; a couple of times that I wondered if we would make it through and still be husband and wife. The odds were not in our favor because of our age (20 and 18) and inexperience. I had not learned how to communicate well (I’m still learning) and we brought some baggage into our relationship as everyone does.

About 10 years ago I had a Christmas present video made for Robin with a dozen or so of our favorite songs and pictures and videos that looked back over our time together. It gave me a great opportunity to look through old photos and videos and reflect on our years together. In the video I recorded a message to her wishing her a Merry Christmas and I told her that my intent was to review our life together and capture the good times and the “not so good times”. But what I discovered along the way was there just weren’t that many “not so good times” and even when there were we had always found a way to work through the difficulties; and that having survived those times had made us even stronger and closer.

wedding day



Steve's iPhone SE 134



Robin, when we were first learning to express our love for each other I told you with a song that “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”; it was true then and just as true today. I told you forty five years ago that I want to spend the rest of my life with you by my side and that is still true today also. Thank you for forty-five indescribable years and for the ones still ahead. As long as you are with me I know the future years will be even better than the past. I love you; HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!


In 1979 Pink Floyd released a song called “Another Brick in the Wall” and it actually hit number one on the charts. I always thought the song was a little strange and made no sense. I went for a bike ride yesterday, set my iPod on shuffle and wouldn’t you know it, the song came up on the playlist. Still curious about the song’s meaning I looked it up this morning and here’s the answer (I don’t really have a source to give; I just googled “the meaning of..”)

“The wall refers to the emotional barrier Waters built around himself because he wasn’t in touch with reality. The bricks in the wall were the events in his life which propelled him to build this proverbial wall around him, and his school teacher was another brick in the wall.”

That helps explain the song, but it isn’t exactly what I thought about when I heard it. I actually thought it is an analogy of our lives. If we compare our life’s purpose to building a brick wall then we add another brick to the wall each day; or if we consider events in our lives to be bricks, we could add several bricks in a day. And the wall is what we produce or leave behind after our lifetime of laying bricks.

We are each building a wall unique to us; we have been given a plan for the wall and we may have served an apprenticeship of sorts if we have had great mentors. I’ve had several superb mentors but my wall is riddled with mistakes and events that have resulted in major flaws. We have a finite time period to complete our wall, we just don’t know how long that is. That point was driven into my thoughts this weekend as we hit the two year mark of Carter’s death, and the tragic automobile accident that claimed the lives of Rod Bramblett and his wife. Rod was the radio voice of the Auburn Tigers athletic events for many years and was only 53; his wife Paula was 52. And of course Carter was a little over three months.

Laying bricks is hard work and requires training and skill. One doesn’t just decide he wants to be a brick mason and goes to work the next day laying bricks. Building a worthwhile wall with our lives is hard work as well and we must train continuously to improve our skills.

Best wishes to you today as you continue to build your wall.


“Life’s too short to wake up with regrets.  So love the people who treat you right, forgive the ones who don’t and believe that everything happens for a reason.  If you get a chance, take it.  If it changes your life, let it.  Nobody said it’d be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”   Dr. Seuss

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”   President Franklin Roosevelt

“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.”  Dr. Seuss

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

“There are two great days in a person’s life; the day we are born and the day we discover why.”  William Barclay

“Every day is a gift.  Receive it with eagerness.  Share it with joy.”  Unknown

“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.”  Mary Tyler Moore

Two years ago today, we said good-bye to the Little Man we had just begun to know and love.  In many respects, it is a day “which will live in infamy” in our family’s life.  And we’ve discovered since with each “new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”  We have also realized that day two years ago changed our lives; that it has not been easy but it has brought many valuable lessons that have improved our lives.   Today, I refuse to “wallow in the mire” (The Doors, “Light my Fire”), but I will pause, reflect, honor and pay tribute to Carter and be grateful for his impact on my life.  I will celebrate his life, though far too short and I will be thankful for the opportunity to have known and loved him, to have held him and kissed his chubby cheeks.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psalm 118:24




It’s true that Carter has been gone for two years (May 25), but his influence and impact are still at work (in my life anyway). I’m sure this is true for others in our family but I can only speak for me. Here are some ways Carter is still at work in my life:
1.   I focus more on gratitude. I try to be thankful for every day that I’m given because tomorrow may never come. I’m also thankful for my family and I try to let them know that more often than I did prior to Carter’s death.
2.  I attempt to avoid procrastination. Some may disagree with this, but I try to avoid procrastination for things that I deem important. Things that others may think are important, are not necessarily so for me, and I do tend to still procrastinate doing anything about those types of issues. For instance, writing is important to me; I may have nothing to say that is important to anyone else but it is still a high priority for me and I try to write something routinely without skipping many days.
3.   I worry and fret less. I’m learning to accept the fact that there are many things in my life that are beyond my control. I have no influence on most of what happens in my life, and if I can’t control or influence those things I’m learning to accept that and live with it. I may not like it and I may gripe about it, but I am trying to eliminate those behaviors from my life. I’ve asserted that “life is too short to drink bad coffee”; but really life is too short to spend time worrying and fretting over anything.
4.   I’m trying to spend more time learning and understanding how God wants me to live and what He wants me to accomplish with my life. This is an ongoing process and won’t be finished until I die. There are still far too many times that I try to force my opinion and execute my plan; but I’m working on it.

I am so thankful for the Little Man who helped open my eyes in the short time he was with us.





For most of my life I’ve heard the phrase “time heals a broken heart.” I’m not sure how I feel about that statement now. I do see how one can make the assertion; I think I’m better prepared to face the second anniversary of Carter’s death than the first, and truthfully, I think I will be able to cope with the day’s stresses better than a year ago.

Equally true, my heart is still broken; it is far from being “healed” and I really don’t think it will ever be healed. We must decide how to define “healed”. The dictionary definition is the past-tense of heal which is “to become sound or healthy again.” Some synonyms are cure, restore to health. Another definition is “to alleviate a person’s distress or anguish (‘time can heal the pain of grief’).”
When we lost Carter the pain was so intense and consuming. Our bodies and our minds could not tolerate that kind of stress forever (it would be a pretty short forever if we tried). So we instinctively began the process of coping and adjusting to a new normal. That does take time and maybe that’s the message the old saying was trying to convey.

But that isn’t healed. My heart is still broken; I expect it will always be broken but I am coping better after two years than after one year. This statement should not imply that everything is fine. I’ve been on an almost uncontrollable eating frenzy (my reaction to stress); not exactly what a diabetic needs to do. Combine that with the absence of a consistent exercise routine and the result is definitely not the direction one would desire to go. Looming ahead in early June is my next blood test and doctor visit; not enough time to reverse what I’ve been doing to improve results.

If the first two years are an indication we will relive “hell week” in our minds several times with frayed emotions. We’ll grieve for Carter, his mom and dad and we’ll think about what he would be like now. We will also drop some flowers into the water somewhere at 3:08 ET, the time Carter was pronounced dead. We’ll celebrate his short life, weep and grieve for his absence, and then we’ll try to put the pieces of our lives back together and move forward.