Fathers…

I’ve often said my first real understanding of all my Dad has done for me really didn’t start until the day my son, Marshall, was born.  In that one instant I immediately had a different perspective on the relationship between a father and a son, a son and a father, a grandson and a grandfather and so on.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always had a strong relationship with both my parents.  But it’s easy to take the importance of that for granted until one day you are a father yourself.

My grandfather, Ralph, our grandaddy as we all called him, was a pillar of immense strength to each of his 3 sons and their families.  Similarly, my Dad has been the same for Mary Beth and me, and our families.  In a world where too many children don’t have that strong male presence in their home, we’ve been so fortunate to have not just one, but two generations of strong fathers, and great role models, who have made us all better sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters and yes – a loving adviser and mentor as we’ve both experienced the blessings of being parents ourselves.

To some extent the only thing certain in life is death.  But for the lucky, a great father, provides a measure of certainty each and every day that provides encouragement, confidence and security.  I’m lucky to have had that and will continue to cherish that for whatever weeks and days we have left together.  As my journey with my own children continues, I can only hope in some measure that I have passed and will continue to pass forward a fraction of that same certainty to Marshall and Jordan.

The pictures below are 2 of my all-time favorites.  The one on the right was taken when Marshall was about 5 months old in 1998.  Pictured are me, my niece Jenny, nephew Matt, Dad, Grandaddy, Mary Beth, and of course Marshall.  On the left was this past Christmas with Marshall (now 21), Dad and me.

Dad is still hanging in there.  Basically stable, but episodes of extreme shortness of breath when he exerts himself are more common.  Phone calls and visits are still welcomed and continue to lift his spirits.  We continue to grateful for your prayers and ongoing support.  It means so much to all of us!

 

Happy New Year!

It’s hard to believe it’s 2019.  Like many of you, over the holidays we enjoyed time with our family.  While we’ve done this nearly every year of my life, this year felt just a little bit different.  Over the years we’ve grown in numbers and other ways.  But, the best traditions always have family at the center.   Wherever the road leads us, where there is family, there is home.

Thank you for your continued prayers, cards and visits.  Dad remains stable – with his Doctors remarking recently how tough he is.  He does tire quickly with physical exertion, but his spirits and independence remain high.

We wish for you a happy and safe 2019!

 

 

 

 

No load too heavy…

If you spend a few minutes watching the photo stream of Tom’s family, you may come across a photo or two of his grandchildren and one of his great grandchildren riding on his back, while he is on all fours.  As children grow, their interest in these childhood games fades, but a parent never grows too old to carry his family on his back, literally and figuratively.  Seemingly, no load is too heavy.  As a family, we’ve been fortunate to have a Dad (and Mom) who’ve embodied this thru 3 generations, as parents, grandparents, and great grandparents.

Whether physically or emotionally, the unconditional love of a parent may be God’s most misunderstood and underappreciated gift to humankind.  Ironically, it is also probably the second greatest gift He has given us and one that comes continuously.  Even when their physical presence is gone, I know it is a gift that will continue in our hearts, through our memories, our children’s memories and so on.

9 days from now will be Christmas Day and we will be with family celebrating God’s greatest gift to us.  But personally, I will also be celebrating the presence of His second greatest gift – the love of my Mom and Dad!

Dad continues to be stable.  Physical activity tires him quickly, but he’s in great spirits and continues to enjoy all of the visits, notes and phone calls.  We truly appreciate all of the prayers and support!  From our family to yours – Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving…

In some way for as long as I can remember, we’ve had a family gathering for Thanksgiving.  When I was a small child, at the risk of sound corny, we always had the classic “over the hills and through the woods” sort of Thanksgiving.  Literally ending up at Grandmother’s house, just via car, not the horse drawn sleigh from the song.  On some occasions, Thanksgiving was at our family home at Lake Junaluska.  As adults, for many years now, we’ve rotated Christmas and Thanksgiving between Elizabeth’s and my home, and wherever Mom & Dad lived.  For the last few years, we’ve hosted both.

Regardless of where the gathering was, it was home.  If I’ve learned one thing in my life, home is where family is.  Today, we were blessed to have the family gathered again and as is our tradition, Dad blessed the meal.  While we cherish each gathering, its easy to take them for granted.  We think they will be there and that all present will be there next year.  But we just don’t know.  We really don’t and its with God’s grace that we are granted each day together and for that I am thankful.

As Dad said today, his Doctors tell him he is stable.  For that we are all thankful.  Each day that we have with him is cherished and special in its on way.  From our family to yours, we hope you’ve had a Happy Thanksgiving!  We also thank you for your continued prayers and support.

The way we feel is relative…

If you think about the times you’ve been sick, the way you feel is relative.  You have good days and bad days, times during the day you feel great and times where you feel miserable.  It’s all relative.  Dad’s condition remains stable and for the most part, he feels pretty good.  But it’s relative.

Most days he spends a lot of his time in his favorite chair.  But he’s still able to get out to lunch or dinner every day and often drives himself to his doctor appointments.  As good as that sounds, it’s relative.  He’s dependent on oxygen almost continuously and easily tires or becomes short of breath.  I know that is frustrating for him.  But he remains in great spirits.  Your visits, notes and phone calls mean so much to all of us, especially him.

As we enter the holiday season, we are looking forward to time together with family and friends.  Enjoy every moment with those you love!  As always, thank you for your continued prayers and support.

Birthdays…

Today is Mom’s birthday.  She and Dad are a little over 6 months apart in age.  His birthday in April, hers in October.  But they share much more than 1939 as a birth year.  Every ministry takes a partnership – and standing with every good minister is a great partner.  Through the years, wherever Dad served, I would always here people talk about Mom’s involvement, as well as our entire family’s involvement.  Mary Beth and I were never pressured on that front, we just knew what was expected and I like to think we are better for it.  As a team, Mom & Dad role modeled marriage and parenting in so many ways.  They still do.  They will tell you it was not always easy, and at times, it still isn’t.  But all that they’ve modeled, thru good times and bad, stands at the forefront of their combined ministry to others.

Dad’s condition remains stable and he continues to enjoy your phone calls and visits.  We thank you for your continued prayers and support!

Upswings…

If you’ve ever dealt with any major medical issues, your own or those of a loved one, you know there are upswings and downswings. The last week for Dad has been mostly up. His Doctor started him on a prednisone regimen, which has helped his appetite and energy levels, and he’s even gained a few pounds. We also see his energy lifted repeatedly from your visits and phone calls.

We know there will be plenty of downswings as we move forward, which make the upswings all the more cherished. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.