After years of being married…raising children and watching grandchildren grow…the husband looked over at his wife and said, “There’s something I’d like to know.”


“Have you been happy all our years together?” He asked.

A smile lit up her face.

“Yes!” She happily conceded…for everything we’ve ever had is everything I’ve ever needed.”


“The joy of our love has given me the strength to face any sorrow or sadness in life undaunted…knowing everything we’ve ever had is everything I’ve ever wanted.”


“Well, old man I hope you’re happy with the answer I’ve given you…but now it’s my turn to ask: Have you been happy too?”


He walked over and took her in his arms saying, “Years ago I had the good fortune to marry by best friend…and I remember thinking if I only have one dance with you I wish for a song that never ends.”


“And after all our years with me living…loving…and dancing next to you…how can I not be happy…for you see…my wish came true.”


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This is a story about an uncle…and two things that make him great.

The first would be his patience…his ability to wait.


The second: his sister’s daughter just had a baby girl…

meaning the members of his family have increased…

meaning now he is a great uncle and her baby…his great niece.


But with so many family members rushing in to feast their eyes and to behold her…This great uncle got to see her…but he never got to hold her.


So many times he wanted to…so many times he’d yearn…

but he would always acquiesce and give someone else his turn.


Until the day he got to feel his great niece and all her charms…

when it was finally his turn to hold her in his arms.


He held her for a long time and as his arms grew numb…

all the time he smiled…and all the time she sucked her thumb.


He’s not sure how it happened but once into his arms his great niece climbed…His world shrunk down to just the two of them and he lost all track of time


And even though this great uncle didn’t get to hold his great niece right away…that was not to be their fate…

One look at the two of them together and you knew…it was worth the wait.


Worth the wait for the great niece to feel the comfort and safety of her great uncle’s arms…and to know that he will be there to keep her safe from harm.


And worth the wait for the great uncle who got to feel what all of us who’ve ever held a baby already know…

Once you hold a baby in your arms…you never want to let them go.


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We sat in the stands at a high school soccer match…just the other day…to watch a friend of our granddaughter (who we’ve also watch grow up) out on the field of play.


When the action slowed down a little out there on the lawn…the conversation in the stands turned to projects everyone was working on.


From Habitat For Humanity to a bathroom our daughter installed…and again I wondered…when it comes to projects around the house…why I’m never called.


Oh Yea! It has to do with a few mistakes I’ve made that in our family have become notoriously renowned…A couple of electrical fires and among other things…a door hung upside down.


After we all had a good laugh at the thought of my upside down door and a couple of electrical flames…our attention turned to the field…we settled in to watch the game.


And I realized life is a lot like a soccer match…as that day blended into night…you make a lot of mistakes but, every now and then, you get it right.


You run along doing your best…realizing you’re not always in control…sometimes you miss…sometimes you fall…but sometimes…you score a goal.


And when you score…you tend to forget those mistakes you’ve made along the way…you feel great for but only for a moment…as the game continues to play.


And so you continue too…giving it your all…doing whatever it takes…realizing life is but a balance between the goals you score…and your mistakes.


And for me I had to smile amid my family and friends that night…

It’s true I don’t know how to hang a door…

but I did get something right.





Sitting around a campfire recently I quickly became attuned…to the beauty of the nature surrounding me…to the trees…the stars…the moon.


The fire was truly fascinating…as I felt its warmth and watched its flames I realized with every one I’ve ever sat beside how no two fires are the same.


As I watched the flames of this fire grow higher, reaching to the sky…every now and then a flame would break away and, on its own, would fly…


I’d watch it slowly float up…up…up into the night…until it flew so high it faded from my sight.


And, as my eyes turned upward, my attention was quickly seized by the moon as she floated in the sky…smiling through the trees.


It was one of those moment is life…watching the fire…listening to the voices of family and friends…that I wished would last forever…

that I hoped would never end.


And when the flames had breathed their last…I smiled hoping the next campfire would come soon…giving me another chance to sit with family and friends…where the fire meets the moon.


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He never felt that close to his parents…never thought of their relationship as perfection…he knew his parents loved him…but they were stingy with their affection.


That was who they were…he never thought of it as right or wrong…he imagines, now, they thought it was the best way to raise their child to be strong.


He remembers his mom being drawn to the Native American way of life…how they live and pray and think…he remembers how his dad loved to read…and draw pictures in pen and ink. 


He remembers a distance between them…though there was love within his heart …because of the way they raised him…as he grew up…they grew apart.


Occasionally he’d call them…saying how they need to get together…hanging up knowing he had lied….it was a conversation he repeated often…until the day his parents died.


In the many years since they passed…he didn’t think about them often…but slowly…imperceptibly…his hard feelings began to soften.


He reads quite a bit, himself, now…he finds books about Native Americans beguiling…and he feels, as he turns the pages, somewhere…his mom is smiling.


And he imagines Sigmund Freud would have a theory that would delight, enchant…enthrall…if he saw his dad’s old pen and ink drawing…now hanging on his wall.


Yes, he never though he was that close to his parents but…

when he reads about Native Americans 

or passes that old portrait in pen and ink…

He wonders…after all these years…

if they weren’t a little closer than he thinks.

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The daughter suspected there was something wrong…she found it most upsetting…when she began to notice all the little things her mother was forgetting.


And the more she saw her mother falter…her misplaced keys…her lost glasses…her forgotten shoes…The more confusion she saw on her mother’s  face…the more and more she knew…


It made her want to throw something…to stomp her feet…to shout…

It was as if a hole had opened in her mother’s mind…and her memories were leaking out.


As she witnessed her mother’s increasing puzzlement…saw more memories fade into a blur…she secretly hoped her mom would never realize exactly what was happening to her.


Until the day she found her mother surrounded by old photos…old family albums too…the day she saw tears streaming down her mothers face…is they day she knew…she knew.


It took a moment for her mom to recognize her…both faces showing their strain…for how does a face reveal its love while trying to conceal its pain?


“So, Momma. What are you doing?” She asked…her worst fears playing out…Surrounded by all these albums…with these old photos strewn about?”


“I don’t quite understand.” Her mom cried. “It’s all just so bizarre…but when I look at some of the people in these photos…I can’t remember who they are.”


And so the daughter sat down with her mother…hoping for one more moment the inevitable to defer…and as they picked up and held each picture…she helped her remember who they were.


Despite doing everything in her power, however, everything she could think to do…the hole in her mother’s mind grew larger…and eventually…all of her memories fell through.


“Do you think Nana knew how much we loved her?” Her own daughter asked the day of her funeral…tears falling from her eyes of blue.

“Love is a feeling…not a memory.” She said hugging her daughter close…

And although Nana might not have shown it…

“She knew…

I’m sure she knew.”

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I imagine when you first see it…all you see an old cast-iron pan…you don’t see where it’s been…you only notice the outside…not the history within.


But every time we use it…we handle it affectionately…because when we pick up this old cast-iron pan…that…is exactly what we see.


Some of this pan’s history we know…the rest we must infer…it was Debrah’s grandmother’s…passed down to her mother…then passed on down to her.


Now take another look at it…imagine, if you can, three generations of meals…cooked inside this pan.


Think of all the breakfasts, lunches and dinners served up lovingly…think of what this old cast-iron pan has meant to our family.


I wonder if that’s what makes anything cooked in this pan taste so good…as we think about how long ago it was cast…as the flavors we are tasting today blend with all those flavors from the past.


I suppose that’s why we get a little sentimental…why we use this pan so reverentially…knowing its age and history is what makes it special…knowing it’s a lot like Deborah and me.


And hoping how the three of us…Deborah, me and this old cast-iron pan…with a little bit of care and a lot of love…will keep cooking as long as we can.


We only hope there is at least one item in your house filled with memories…filled with its own history…an item like our old cast-iron pan…that’s part of your family.

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Some people think of family as an endless book where each day they engage in completing another chapter…in writing another page


Some people think of family as an endless song with notes varied and diverse…where each day they add another tune…another melody another verse.


Though both of these are appealing I find, for me, it is much better…when I think of my family..to think in terms of a lifelong love letter.


A letter started long ago…I know not when or where…written through the centuries with thoughtfulness and care.


A letter written by a million hands…young and old and new…a letter any family member can add their thoughts and feelings to.


This love letter is special to my family…we are the ones who see…within this letter…the constant rebuilding and rearranging of our family.


But here is where it gets interesting…mysterious even madcap…in the way so many of all our family love letters blend together…overlap.


For as we write a little every day how often do we find…I end up in your love letter…and you end up in mine.


For in this letter not only members born into my family will you see…but friends I’ve met along the way…who have become my family. 


If you’re looking for its beauty and its power once the seeds of love are sown…the proof is in our love letters…and how large our families have grown.


And if we’re lucky…

when our writing days are done…

another family member will pick up the pen…thus extending…

this love letter….started long ago…

that, hopefully…will never have an ending..


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They noticed from the time when they were young…from before they all could speak…their father’s way of looking at the world was different…some would say…unique.


Every morning he’d open the front door…look out over the land and to the sky above…then he’d turn around and say… “Today…children…it looks a lot like love.”


Rain and shine, good and bad he believed this is the world as God designed it…

"But she also filled it up with love." He’d say, "And it’s up to us to find it!”


Which is why every day he was on the lookout for the love he constantly spoke of…

and every day, wherever he went, he would call attention to that love.


He’d point out a smile exchanged by strangers…watching anybody share…his children were amazed…how he’d find love anywhere.


He’d show them a mother comforting a crying baby…a family holding hands…and slowly the more love that he’d show them…they more they came to understand.


Once they learned this lesson…once they knew what they were looking for…they began to find love in places where they hadn’t noticed it before.


It showed up at family dinners, good night kisses in their rooms…it showed up in the rain that helped the flowers bloom.


It showed up in people helping other people…in a wave to someone they didn't know.

It showed up anywhere they happened to be…and anywhere they’d go


The more they began to see love in their life and in the world around them

the more they began to understand how love envelopes and surrounds them.


Thanks to their father’s teachings…and those seeds of love he’d sown..

they learned how love makes every little thing in life…glow…with a beauty all its own


Which is why their own children…from before they all could speak…

saw their parent’s way of looking at the world as different…some would say…unique. 


When every morning they open their front door…

look out over the land and to the sky above…

then then turn around and say… 

“Today…children…it looks a lot like love.”


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