Before we were confined to our homes Robin and I had the great privilege of seeing the Gaither Vocal Band with a couple of our friends. It was a great concert and all of us enjoyed it very much. One of the songs they performed was their arrangement of the old hymn “The Love of God”. I had not thought about the song in a while and their arrangement really stayed on my mind for several weeks (it’s actually still there). I was telling Daddy about the song one day and he said you know where that song originated don’t you? I didn’t, so he showed me in a song book. There was a footnote below the song regarding the origin of the third verse; then I wanted to know more about the history of the song. So… from the website here is a condensed history of the song.

Frederick M. Lehman was a California businessman that lost everything through business reverses. He was forced to spend his working hours in manual labor, working in a Pasadena packing house packing oranges and lemons into wooden crates. Not an ideal environment for writing love songs, but this was the environment the Lord chose to use.
Mr. Lehman was a Christian who rejoiced in his salvation. He was so moved by a Sunday evening sermon on the love of God that he could hardly sleep. The next morning, the thrill of the previous evening had not left him. As he drove to the packing house, the makings of a song began to come together in his head, with God’s love as the theme.
The next day after work he hurried to his old upright piano and began arranging the words and composing a melody to fit them. He soon had finished two stanzas and the melody to go along with them, but now what was he to do? In those days, a song had to have at least three stanzas to be considered complete. He tried and tried to come up with a third stanza, but to no avail. The words just would not fall into place.
It was then that he remembered a poem someone had given him some time before. Hunting around, he found the poem printed on a card, which he had used as a bookmark. As Mr. Lehman read the words, his heart was thrilled by the adequate picture of God’s love they pictured. He then noticed this writing on the bottom of the card:

“These words were found written on a cell wall in a prison some 200 years ago. It is not known why the prisoner was incarcerated; neither is it known if the words were original or if he had heard them somewhere and had decided to put them in a place where he could be reminded of the greatness of God’s love – whatever the circumstances, he wrote them on the wall of his prison cell. In due time, he died and the men who had the job of repainting his cell were impressed by the words. Before their paint brushes had obliterated them, one of the men jotted them down and thus they were preserved.”

Lehman went to the piano and began to voice the words with the melody he had just written. They were a perfect fit. It was a miracle! The song was published – and remains today – with these words as the last stanza.

In later years, the origin of these words became known to Alfred B. Smith, which reveals an even greater miracle in the writing of this song. The original third stanza was written in Hebrew around the year 1000 by Meir Ben Issac Nehoria, a Jewish Rabbi. God, knowing that Lehman was going to write a song, also realized that Lehman would have trouble writing a third stanza and so He chose this Rabbi, who though not accepting Christ as the Messiah did possess the skills to graphically paint a picture of God’s love in words. He would preserve these words and then hundreds of years later He would have them translated by this prisoner into a language that did not as yet exist, namely English.

And to think, He did it in the exact meter to fit Lehman’s melody!


1 The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell.
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell.
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin.

Chorus O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

2 When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall;
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call;
God’s love, so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

3 Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Having just celebrated Easter, these words really do drive home the magnitude of God’s love for His creation and mankind.


Robin and I will soon celebrate 46 years of marriage; we believe we know each other very well and can often finish each other’s thoughts and sentences.  Today was a beautiful day here and we spent most of it outside working on outdoor projects because we expect rain again soon.  Robin came in a little sooner than I to rest.  When I hit the door I went straight to the laundry room peeling off sweaty clothes as I walked.  When I returned to the sun-room Robin was resting as shown in this photo


A shirt, jacket and heated blanket.  We have spent most if not all of our 46 years of marriage searching for the elusive middle-ground for our thermostat.  And I have finally concluded today, that there is no such thing.  After I showered, on my way back downstairs, I glanced at our thermostat- 75 degrees.  I’m not hot at this time, but my real comfort zone would be 68-70.  Please understand I am not berating my wife because she is cold-natured.  She doesn’t like it either.

It is just a trivial example of life in general.  There are some things that we just can’t find that “middle-ground”.  We can’t compromise far enough to meet the others’ opinion even though we may try.  Romans 12: 18 says “If it is possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  To accomplish this task, we must be willing to meet the other party in the middle, or even go beyond what we feel is the middle.  But we must never compromise on what we feel is true and just.

I hope we never compromise on what we celebrate at Easter.  We will definitely compromise on how we celebrate this Easter Sunday, but not on the reason for the celebration.  I hope you all stay safe and have a wonderful Easter celebration of some kind!


Since we knew we were coming to St. Pete Robin and I decided to wait until we got here to officially celebrate Carter’s birthday, even if it was a day late. So yesterday, 2-5-20, we went to Clam Bayou armed with three white roses for his third birthday. As we walked out the boardwalk to the water, we heard the familiar rustle of palm fronds in the breeze and observed the beautiful plants on either side of the boardwalk.

We even had a little friend jump on the boardwalk behind us as we walked by. We stood for several minutes staring at the murky water below reflecting on both Carter’s birthday, and the last time we had seen him at this very spot.

As I gazed out over the water, I noticed the same boat lying on its side; I know it has been there for the three years I’ve been visiting the Bayou, but it’s still there.


It was late in the afternoon and the sun was beginning to sink into the Tampa Bay waters.  I also noticed the cloud formations reflecting the evening sun rays.IMG_1547

After we had tossed our three white roses into the water, I wanted to see the view from the observation deck before we left; it was worth the brief walk up the ramps.


It was a beautiful evening, celebrating the beautiful life of a beautiful little boy.




Today, February 4, 2020, we celebrate the third birthday of Carter Joshua Reed, who left us much too soon. Our hearts were filled with joy when Carter made his entrance into the world beyond the womb, even though he spent his first three weeks in the NICU. He was, like all babies are, a special gift and blessing from God and we celebrate with grateful hearts the impact he has had on each of our lives. Our family continues to live with a hole in our hearts just the size and shape of Carter; we wonder what he would be like now at three, what he would be doing, and what it would be like to play in the floor with him. We still want to kiss his chubby cheeks, rub his head, read a book with him and sing songs with him.

The pain of losing him cannot negate the joy we had with him while he was here and so today, we celebrate. We’re thankful for the time we spent with him and the lessons we have learned (discussed many times in these blog posts and Katie’s blog Dear Carter).

And now, we anxiously await the arrival of a new baby girl in May and to say we’re excited would be quite an understatement. This precious girl will in no way “take the place” of Carter; we will always have a “Carter-hole” in our hearts. But I think she will bring a breath of fresh air into our family and for that, I am so thankful!

Happy birthday, Little Buddy! Your Papa loves you very much and misses you every day!




Many will recognize these words from the Toy Story character, Buzz Lightyear.  It was his slogan, his catch-phrase; and he used it in all of the Toy Story movies I’ve seen.  I guess I’m a little slow, but it finally hit me- how do you go beyond “infinity”?  Infinity represents something that is boundless or endless or something that is larger than any real or natural number.  It is a difficult concept for our limited minds to comprehend; how can the limited understand the limitless?

Long before Buzz became a character and popularized his phrase, I was introduced to the concept of infinity in math classes- specifically calculus classes at Auburn University.  It is used in differentiation and integration, dealing with a series of numbers from “1 to infinity” and usually denoted by the symbol ∞, called a lemniscate.  I’m certainly not going to attempt to explain the math associated with it, because in my education program I only failed one class, both in undergraduate and graduate school- calculus IV.

But the ancient Greek philosophers even discussed infinity not as a math concept, but as a philosophical one so we humans have been talking about it for quite a while.  While we, in our limited minds, ponder infinity, I think it is a concept which God understands completely.  In my mind, I figure “space, the new frontier” (for all the trekkies) is infinite.  How far would you have to travel to reach the end of space and how long would it take to arrive?  What would we find when we got there?  The distance traveled and time required are both numbers that are too big to define and therefore, infinite.

I also believe that God’s love for mankind is infinite and that His infinite love was expressed to us a couple of thousand years ago when His Son became one of the “limited” ones to reconcile mankind’s relationship with its Creator.  That “Limited One” “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) and we pause to celebrate His infinite love and sacrifice in our limited way during this season.  Thinking about it that way helps us get a feel for infinity even if we can’t comprehend it.  I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in 2020…  “To Infinity and Beyond!”


It’s early for me to be thinking about Christmas; I normally don’t start Christmas thinking at least until after Thanksgiving. But as you may know, Hallmark Channel has already started their Christmas movie marathon and I’ve been watching as many as I can. A few weeks ago, I saw an older movie, maybe from 2017, called “A Joyous Christmas” and I heard a beautiful Christmas song that I’d never heard before. The song was “Christmas Memories” and it has been on my mind so often since seeing the movie. I’ve watched the movie again since that first time. I was curious to know if the song might be available so I checked the iTunes store and couldn’t believe what I found. It was recorded on a Christmas album by country super group Alabama back in the 1980’s! I listened to Alabama A LOT, but I guess I had not heard their Christmas songs (other than Christmas in Dixie). I’m proud to say the song is now in my music library and I enjoy listening to it. Here’s a link to Alabama singing Christmas Memories if you would like to hear it:

But the song has stirred up a lot of “Christmas Memories” for me. I have memories from my childhood, from my children’s childhood, and now from grandchildren. But I also have fond memories of being an adult and having adult children. When Robin and I were first married all of my grandparents were living and one set of hers was still with us. So our Christmas celebration began on Christmas Eve at my paternal grandparents (Big Mama and Big Daddy). Christmas Day, we went to my maternal grandparents (Papa and Mama Jessie) and then to her maternal grandparents (Clarence and Flora). All three had huge meals and that was a lot of food to consume in a short time period. It was also a time when cousins would come home and we visited with family members that we didn’t get to see except around the holidays.

From my childhood I remember these big gatherings and an additional one at my great-grandmother’s house (Grandma Gilbreath) on Christmas Day. We had many cousins to play with at Grandma’s and one of our favorite activities was shooting firecrackers. There was a culvert in front of her house and we’d light firecrackers and throw them into the pipe to explode. The most vivid memory of that experience was the time when I didn’t get the firecracker in the pipe and it exploded just a few inches from my hand. It hurt! My hand was numb for a while, but then it was ok. Lesson learned: it is not smart to shoot fireworks in your hand.

I remember being so excited Christmas morning to see what presents Santa had left and I still remember some of them: my little red rocker, my camera, and a BB gun. The year we got the BB guns, my brother and I woke Mama and Daddy essentially in the middle of the night- 1:00 or 2:00 am. Then we were so excited we stayed up the rest of the night; poor Mama and Daddy went back to bed for a while.

When our children were young, Santa brought them a trampoline one Christmas. We had great difficulty getting them calmed down enough to go to bed so Santa could visit our house. It was freezing cold and dark in the back yard and Santa made a lot of noise trying to assemble the trampoline. Robin was quick to the rescue, however. She told the kids to get back in bed and she would go check out the noise. She also crafted a note from Santa saying he didn’t have time to get the trampoline assembled and to ask their dad to do it after Christmas was over. On a warmer day when there was plenty of light Dad got the trampoline ready for jumping.

So many of my memories are centered on traditions that we began when our girls were young, and many we still do today. Some examples:

We pick a night for our family to have dinner and open our presents for each other. One of the girls picked out the menu for our meal and we’ve now expanded that to our sons-in-law. Robin keeps the records for whose turn it is to select the Christmas menu and we’ve had breakfast for Christmas dinner, boiled shrimp, Mexican food… many non-traditional dinners. We all get in the kitchen and prepare the meal together in the afternoon. Before we open presents we read the Christmas story from Luke 2, always in the King James version of the Bible. When the girls were younger, we went to a tree farm and cut down a live tree, all of us decorated it together, and we all worked to put out our collection of Snow Village houses. We all went shopping for a new piece for the Snow Village each year.

When the girls were young, we slept by the Christmas tree one night and on Christmas Eve, they would drag cushions off the sofa and make a bed under the pool table; they would drape sheets or blankets on the sides to make a fort.

We save our change for two years and on the years that Katie and Joshua are home from St. Pete, everyone guesses how much is in the jar. We count it out and the closest guess gets the money.

Our traditions have evolved over the years; some are very different. For instance, our Snow Village collection is just four houses and some accessories now. We no longer cut a live tree and of course the kids aren’t here to help decorate. We have held firmly to some like reading the Christmas Story and having our family dinner.

But the important thing is we spend quality time together strengthening our family bond and we always remember why we are celebrating the day. That’s the tradition that I want most to continue in the years to come.


My brother, Daddy, Robin and I attended a gospel music “hymn sing” this past Monday. It was a wonderful couple of hours just singing old songs that I’ve not even thought about in a long time and the four of us really enjoyed the evening. ALL of the money collected through ticket sales and an offering was given to “Veranda Ministries”. The Southern Gospel groups that were there donated their time as well. Veranda’s mission, as stated on their web site, is

“The Veranda, a primary outreach of Veranda Ministries and a ministry supported by Impact Fellowship Church, provides a time of nurturing respite care to allow family caregivers much needed time for themselves. Services for family also include a monthly support group for caregivers and a semi-annual caregiver conference. The conference helps family members and other caregivers utilize biblical principles to cope with the physical and emotional toll of a stressful life situation. The number of clients in The Veranda’s respite program has doubled since its 2012 launch. A nominal fee is charged per day. If a client’s financial situation is of concern, a scholarship may be applied toward the cost of a client’s care, if eligible.”

Caregivers for dementia patients face so many obstacles, frustrations and disappointments of which many of us are unaware. Robin was the primary caregiver for her aunt who had dementia, her mother who had end stage renal failure, and her step-father who had some early-stage dementia. Her guide book during this time was titled “The Thirty-Six Hour Day” and many days that’s what it felt like.

During the hymn sing, the founder of Veranda spoke about their work and the impact they were seeing. She spoke of people who were in near-comatose conditions, didn’t recognize anyone, and were basically non-verbal. But she said when they played a DVD of one of the hymn-sings, many of those patients would perk up and start singing the old songs they had known for many years. I wish I had captured her exact words but she said something like

A messed-up tangled up mind cannot contain the heart and soul where God abides.

Even though our minds cannot process information to recognize even our own children, our heart and soul still sings praise to the God Who created the universe. A line from the praise song “Shout to the Lord” says “Let every breath, all that I am, never cease to worship You”; even when we don’t know in our own mind we are worshiping, our heart and soul takes over and we still worship.

Then I thought about the recovery community with whom I worship each week. We have “messed up, tangled up” minds mostly resulting from poor decisions we have made but we still worship; it is true, we are mentally aware of what we are doing but it begins in the heart and soul, “where God abides”.

“Shout to the Lord all the earth let us sing
Power and majesty praise to the King
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of Your Name.”


Around thirty years ago (WOW!) Stephen Covey released his bestseller book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” I still have it and use it as a reference book from time to time. Some concepts he discusses have stuck with me but if I need to see the details I have to pull out the book. One of the things I have recently pondered is our roles and responsibilities in life. Covey says on page 135:

“We each have a number of roles in our lives- different areas or capacities in which we have responsibility. I may, for example, have a role as an individual, a husband, a father, a teacher, a church member, and a businessman. And each of these roles is important.

One of the major problems that arises when people work to become more effective in life is that they don’t think broadly enough. They lose the sense of proportion, the balance, the natural ecology necessary to effective living. They may get consumed by work and neglect personal health. In the name of professional success, they may neglect the most precious relationships in their lives.”

After these paragraphs he encourages readers to develop an individual mission statement to aid in staying on track and keeping our lives balanced. If I looked at my own roles I would be

A follower of Christ (or attempt to do so anyway)
A husband
A son/brother
A father
A grandfather
An individual (pursuing self-interests)
A friend

Several factors can be considered within each category and it’s up to me to figure out the right mix of factors that would make me feel successful in that area. For example, as a husband, I believe I should, above all, love my wife, but also provide as best I can for her well-being, safety, comfort, and security. For me to feel successful, her needs and desires should be met before my own as an individual (further down the list above). I think each of us have this notion of role/responsibility in the back of our minds but we don’t spend enough time really thinking about it and prioritizing what things are most important. My list above is very different than it was a few years ago. All of those things would still be on the list, but I would have added Sunday School teacher, employee, supervisor, leader and mentor. And the more roles on our list, the harder it is to allocate the 24 hours we have each day to feel successful. (We really don’t have 24 hours considering a third of it is sleeping. But that counts toward meeting individual goals for health and rest).

As Covey says we lose our sense of proportion and balance. If we have not given this topic conscious thought and prioritized our roles and responsibilities we often find that we are just “winging it” and making decisions that are inconsistent with the way we want to live our life. There are surely things that we will have to leave out at times and we need to know we’re leaving out things that are less important.

I think having this prioritization in place helps us manage our time better. We know the areas of our lives that are most important to us and when a decision is to be made about activities we are better able to determine where we want to invest that time. Covey discusses time management as well and provides a “Time Management Matrix” (pages 151 -154). There is a lot of info online regarding Covey’s time management concepts; just google “Stephen Covey time management.)

I think the time investment to consciously consider and prioritize our roles and responsibilities is important and will provide many benefits to improve our decision-making and our lives in general.


While I was working toward an Industrial Engineering degree back in the mid-1070’s I had to take a class called Engineering Economy. It was a required class for the IE program and was taught in the IE department by a professor whose name escapes me; I think we called him Captain Zoomer (his last name did begin with a “Z”) because he had a reputation of “zooming” us on exams. I found the class to be interesting and useful and could easily see applications for the material down the road. So, what is it? Below is a condensed version of Wikipedia’s definition:

“Engineering economics, previously known as engineering economy, is a subset of economics concerned with the use and “…application of economic principles”[1] in the analysis of engineering decisions.[2] As a discipline, it is focused on the branch of economics known as microeconomics in that it studies the behavior of individuals and firms in making decisions regarding the allocation of limited resources. Thus, it focuses on the decision making process, its context and environment.[1] …As a discipline though, it is closely related to others such as statistics, mathematics and cost accounting.[1] It draws upon the logical framework of economics but adds to that the analytical power of mathematics and statistics.[1]

For each problem, there are usually many possible alternatives. One option that must be considered in each analysis, and is often the choice, is the do nothing alternative. The opportunity cost of making one choice over another must also be considered. There are also non-economic factors to be considered, like color, style, public image, etc.; such factors are termed attributes.[5]”

Some key concepts in this definition include: it is an aid in the decision-making process; it is within the logical framework of economics, but adds to it the power of statistical analysis and mathematics; it provides a comparison to different alternatives to solve a problem; it assists with the allocation of limited resources (I can easily relate to that!).
One of the concepts that I particularly want to explore is that of “opportunity cost.” Below is a definition of that:

“Opportunity costs represent the benefits an individual, investor or business misses out on when choosing one alternative over another. While financial reports do not show opportunity cost, business owners can use it to make educated decisions when they have multiple options before them. Bottlenecks are often a cause of opportunity costs.
Because by definition they are unseen, opportunity costs can be easily overlooked if one is not careful. Understanding the potential missed opportunities foregone by choosing one investment over another allows for better decision-making.
• Opportunity cost is the return of a foregone option less the return on your chosen option.
• Considering opportunity costs can guide you to more profitable decision-making.
• You must assess the relative risk of each option in addition to its potential returns.”
In other words, opportunity costs are the return you WOULD have received if you had chosen a different alternative minus the return you DID receive with the selected alternative.

 I apologize for all of that but it started me thinking about the “opportunity costs” we incur every day in the choices we make and the alternatives we select. We don’t measure these in dollars and cents, but they are there and I think are measured in terms of happiness, fulfillment, joy, and contentment. It is not unreasonable to think we all have opportunities presented to us every day; opportunities to help someone in need, to share encouragement with someone who is experiencing a difficult time, to be kind to someone who may not deserve it, or to just choose to be happy (people notice that because it seems to be rare in our society).

As in an economic analysis, the first alternative to evaluate is to do nothing. We always have that choice as well and in my experience it is the default selection. We seem to be programmed to take the “path of least resistance” and in most cases that is to do nothing. It is also the one which incurs the most opportunity cost because almost anything we could do in terms of kindness and helping someone out would be more beneficial than doing nothing.


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