Tag Archives: Family

I Love to Tell THE Story (w/Benny Berry)

It was 2012

Back in 2012, I was the pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Lookout Valley, TN. I was there from August of 2008 to October of 2016.

It was a mixed bag of good, bad, joyful, and tragic. During that year I was neck-deep in finishing my master’s degree, driving a school bus, preaching 3 different sermons a week, and dealing with a sick wife. What’s more, things were happening underneath the radar that would nearly destroy my family and cost my youngest daughter her life.

I don’t know why I am telling you this right now, because it has very little to do with what I wanted to do when I sat down. Actually, all I wanted to do was give a little context to a video I was going to link. However, it just seems like the words I’m typing are being guided. Maybe they’re just what’s on my heart and I need to get them off. I don’t know.

While I was pastor at Riverside, some very bad things happened (hopefully, one day, I’ll have the freedom to share more details). But one of the most painful aspects was finding out – at least being accused – that if I had not been spending so much time studying and working I might have been a better and more attentive father… The one making that accusation was evil and simply trying to make excuses for his own actions.

Yet, in some ways, it was true, which is what makes it painful. I was focused on trying to do things FOR the family and missed some critical times WITH the family. Since then, there has been forgiveness, but scars remain. Thankfully, I serve a God who can even work miracles with scars. He has some too, you know.

Like I said, I didn’t plan on writing this, but somebody evidently needs to read it. Your #1 ministry is your family, not your community, your job, or your church. There is no success in life, whether it be earning millions or having the largest congregation, that is worth losing your children to the enemy. Let me help you put things in order:

  1. God (your personal relationship with Jesus and your obedience to the will of God)
  2. Family
    1. Your spouse
    2. Your children
  3. Providing for your family (i.e., career, vocational ministry, etc.)

If you’ll look carefully, there’s a lot NOT on that list. What about hobbies? What about community service? What about politics? What about friends?

Oh, you can have those things, but if they break the above hierarchy of priorities, you’ll one day find yourself face-down in a pillow wet with regret.

But what if you’ve already made mistakes you can’t correct? Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

Delight thyself also in the LORD, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him, and he shall bring [it] to pass. – Psalm 37:4-5

Today is a new day and the first day of the rest of your life. The race is not over, so finish well.

His grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).

Here’s the video I was going to share. It’s still my theme.

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Filed under Family, Relationships and Family

Grandparenting Suggestions Needed

I know I’ve already uploaded a post this morning, and I hope you’ll check it out – it’s a quasi-political post with a spiritual ending. Awesome stuff!

But this morning I received via text several pictures and and some video from our daughter in Charleston. They are pictures of our granddaughter, Emma, in her new princess pavilion (or whatever you call it).

Here’s the honest-to-goodness question: How’s a grandparent supposed to spoil a grandchild when the parents do things like this?

The only think I can think of is letting her get away with stuff that she’s not allowed to do when at home, like eat spoonfuls of sugar, drink coffee, play with matches, listen to three hours straight of Rush Limbaugh, etc.

If you have any suggestions, I’m happy to consider them. Thanks 🙂

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Filed under Family, grandchildren, Parenting

A Daddy’s Prayer

Dear Lord,

She’s no longer the baby I could hold in my arms. If I hold her these days, it’s a quick hug, a slight embrace. Gone are the days when she would put her head on my chest and fall to sleep, completely trusting in me to protect and provide.

But now I pray she’d seek your embrace, your protection, provision, and peace in Your rest.

An evil lurks around each corner, in the valley where death hides in the shadows. No longer there, I can’t be her guide. If You are not her Shepherd, the shadows will prevail.

Watch over her as only You can do. Guide her, with pain, if necessary, to the prize at the end of her race. I’ll be in the stands cheering.

Amen

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Filed under Family, Parenting, Prayer

Emma’s Birthday (and a guest post from a daughter)

Hey, folks! Check it out!

Today is my granddaughter Emma’s first birthday! Yay Emma!

But what I wanted to do for you (and her) is share what our daughter Alicia wrote on her Facebook page. I believe you will be blessed (and she won’t mind).

But let me tell you what, her first birthday party was the event of the year in Charleston, SC! I shudder to think what her Sweet 16 will be like!

But again, I hope you’re blessed with Alicia’s story.


One year ago today a beautiful baby girl was born into this world. Due to her prematurity she would be rushed to the NICU where she was cared for by amazing nurses and doctors. There she thrived with the love and nurture of strangers for ten days until we were chosen to be her parents. On January 16th, 2019 we got a call that flipped our world upside down and the journey it set us on has been amazing. We had waited so long to adopt that I was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen for us. I never should have doubted God because he taught me a huge (and expensive) lesson on patience and trust.

The day we met her there was a very special nurse that watched us from afar as we cried and held our little girl for the first time. She later came to us and told us that she had been rocking her earlier that evening and praying over her. You see, she did not know at that time that her birth mother had chosen adoption for her. All she knew was the circumstances of her birth and that she had not had any visitors for ten days. She later told us that the very day we came to meet Emma was the day she had been rocking and praying over her. She prayed for God to do something special in her life and to watch over her. To bring her love and a good home. Little did she know that God would provide just that the very same day! Not only did we cry seeing her that night, but this angel of a nurse said she cried too watching from afar as we met our daughter for the first time. Whew! That still makes me all wet eyed!

For seven weeks we went back and forth to the hospital every day to see our sweet girl. We fed her, cuddled her, bathed her and cherished our quiet time bonding with her. We were ecstatic to take her home the day after Valentines Day. We were nervous, but embraced parenthood. It has been about ten months since we brought her home. Ten blissful months. Yes, there was fighting, crying and exhaustion. We had a hard time adjusting to the roles of a working mom and a stay at home dad busy with school, but we did it. Somehow together we got through it and we wouldn’t have done it any other way. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything in the world.. we finally have a baby girl!

She has grown to be so fun, loving and so very sweet. The way she gets excited when her daddy walks into the room warms my heart and the way she looks for me across the room when she is starting to get nervous makes me melt. This feeling must be motherhood and I love it! I thank God for choosing us to be her parents and for entrusting us with her life. Happy First Birthday sweet Emma Lou! We love you so very much and are so excited to share our life with you!!!

Image may contain: 3 people, including Alicia Westbrook, people smiling, people standing

Alicia, Emma, and Josh Westbrook. I’m proud of all three of them!

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Filed under Family, Guest Posts, Relationships and Family

Merry Christmas from Georgia

Merry Christmas from my family to yours, wherever you are in the world!

Included in this family photo taken in our living room in the parsonage of Bethlehem Baptist in Warthen, GA: Myself, Valerie (my wife of 25 years), Marie (my mother of 52 years), Haley, Emma (11-month-old granddaughter), Alicia and Josh (Westbrook), Katie and Gus (the fiancé Pearson).

Nothing like matching pajamas, right? Funny thing, though…it has been so warm yesterday and today that we had to turn on the air conditioning in December!

Happy birthday, Jesus!

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Filed under Christmas, Family

Stick Simplicity: A Lesson In Contentment

George

First off, George is my dog. George is the best dog in the world. Everybody loves George. These are the facts.

Secondly, George loves me more than anyone else, and that’s because we think alike in many ways – and because I play with him more.

George is a dog. He doesn’t have a job, any source of income, and no idea what it would even mean to go shopping. His only concept of “Black Friday” is when I turn out the lights and put him in his kennel earlier than he deems fair.

Simple Stick

But George is the kind of dog that likes simple things. He likes his fancy squeaky toys, but he is just as happy with an empty toilet paper roll, a dust mask he might have snatched, or a simple stick in the back yard.

Don’t you wish we could be that way? Don’t you wish that we could be satisfied with a simple little stick to play with? Why do we crave the extravagant things? Why do we need so many expensive and complicated things to make us smile?

That reminds me of a song by Sean Morey I heard on the radio years ago when I lived in Kentucky. It’s called “Dear Santa.” Here’s a video made by a fan.

Sure, there’s more to life than a stick. But just look at George’s face! Look at that smile of contentment! Wouldn’t you like to be that happy?

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. – 1Timothy 6:6-8

Why don’t we just try – I know, we try every year – to keep things simple? Just keep in mind this key truth: George is MOST happy when I play WITH him.

As long as we can find enjoyment in being with those we love, who needs more than a stick?

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Filed under Christmas, Culture Wars, Family, Life Lessons, Thanksgiving

Empty Nest Puppy Problem

My empty nest experience was a traumatic one, therefore we got a dog.

George is my puppy. He’s a chorkie.

George is not a yapper – he never barks at anything or anybody…

Unless, that is, they won’t play with him.

So, every night before we go to sleep, George is allowed in our bed for a little play time, the equivalent of a bedtime story, I suppose.

George has come to expect these bedtime play times, and when they get cut short, he AIN’T happy!

Have a great day!

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Filed under animals, Humor