Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

A High School Graduation Letter to Our Daughter

img_0018One of the purposes of this blog is to preserve a little family history. This letter to our daughter upon her graduation last year is a piece of our history. I’m not sure why I am just now getting around to posting it. Lydia will soon be leaving home for her sophomore year of college. I guess late is better than never.



Forever etched in my memory is that wide-eyed little redhead newborn staring off into the new world as you were swaddled against mom on that glorious summer day in Johnson City, TN. You exploded into this world with personality and have never looked back. Our family has been blessed with you.

Now, high school graduation! Our memory bank is full of specials moments like the numerous times we heard, “Oh, she looks like Little Orphan Annie.” The little girl who has spent hours and days casting fishing lines with me on the piers of Weiss Lake is now in line to receive a diploma from Brookwood High School. My Lilly, my Braves buddy, who could amaze me with stats about every player and bemoan the decision of Bobby Cox to send in Dan Kolb to pitch, is now getting ready to learn how to pitch education, marketing or some other marketable skill. The two-year old who once backed a car between two trees, through a fence and into the side of a neighbor’s garage is now preparing to drive off to Georgia College and State University.  I’m going to miss you.
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My Teacher Changed My “C” to an “A”

I can’t remember if it was an English or Literature class. Regardless, the assignment was to write a short story. As with several assignments, I chose to write along the lines of one of my favorite subjects—fishing. I wrote the story in the first-person, from the standpoint of a bass being hooked by an old fisherman. I let my creative juices work and then turned in my paper by the deadline.  My creative story was titled “HOW I ESCAPED THE OLD FISHERMAN,” (Yes, I used all caps). Typical for my school work, when the short story was returned there was a red “C” next to my name.

Mrs. Freeman was one of my favorite teachers, though I drove her nuts. She knew my pattern of study and fully expected anything I did to be of “C” quality. Fully convinced that English, History and Algebra would not be needed later in life, I found no reason to fully engage with my studies. I did just enough to get by and, regretfully, did not focus on learning.

I won’t forget the day, however, when Mrs. Freeman came into our classroom beaming. One of the reasons why our senior class was given the creative short-story assignment was because all of our stories would be entered in the Young Writer’s Contest sponsored by the Shades Mountain (Birmingham, Alabama), Junior Women’s Club.  On this day, Mrs. Freeman was ecstatic because Continue reading

Why I Have a New Smile with My Coke

There are a lot reasons why I am a fan of Coca-Cola. However, I have one more reason today and it trumps all the others.

I can’t remember ever not loving a Coke. Some of my fondest childhood memories included a Coca-Cola, as it is formally known. Perhaps the greatest of these was sitting on the front porch of the little white house belonging to my grandmother; we called her Mother Bruce. She would walk out the front door holding a couple of cold Cokes. There was absolutely nothing better than swinging on that green porch swing with her, both of us drinking a Coke.

Coke was highly esteemed where I grew up. We all wanted a Coke because that is what Bear Bryant drank while munching on Golden Flake Potato chips during his day-after-the-game T.V. recaps. To this day, I crave a Coke and Golden Flake every time I watch the Crimson Tide of Alabama take the field. Coke was the drink for me.

Not all memories of Coke are happy. Two sad events marked 1985. Mother Bruce passed away and, fittingly, Coca-Cola made one of the biggest marketing errors in history when they Continue reading

Facing the Giant Christian Myths

“Dad you will really like this movie.” Like many families, we sometimes have battles regarding which movies are permissible and which ones are not. Our youngest daughter was confident I would like this movie. So I asked her, “Why do you think I will like this one?” “It’s about football and Christians.” She had already seen the movie and in her mind there could not be any better movie for me—a Christian movie about football! She knows me pretty well.

I had heard positive reports on Facing the Giants. Therefore, when I saw it for just $5 at our local Kroger on Black Friday I picked it up. One evening that weekend my daughters and I sat down with our popcorn to watch the movie. It held our attention, but my response was not what my daughters expected. Continue reading


I thought I was simply making small talk. I had no idea what would transpire as we made our way through the hallways.

My wife and I were at Children’s Hospital of Atlanta as my daughter recovered from major back surgery the previous day. Here, our eyes had been opened to a new level of paradoxical discoveries of both parental pain and hope. The children we saw in the hallways, courtyard and in the cafeteria looked just like the children we see on the TV news shows or online clips raising money for treatment of childhood diseases. We saw cancer patients. We walked along kids adjusting to life with physical limitations. We observed children in various stages of recovery from accidents and heart surgery. We couldn’t help but feel abundantly blessed by our family’s health.

I made a quick trip that Friday night to the parking garage to retrieve a bottle of water from my car. Standing at the elevator that would return me to the hospital was a man about a decade younger than me. In one hand he carried a large unopened box of Pampers. In the other, bags of diapers already dispensed from the box from which they had once been packed. “Boy or girl?” I asked in an attempt to be neighborly. In a hospital where we as parents are concerned about our children there is a sense of camaraderie—we are in this together. The ailments of our children may differ, but we are there for our kids.

I anticipated his response to be something such as “A boy, he had heart surgery yesterday.” Or, “Our daughter, she’s been here for 2 weeks and we are hoping she is coming home by the end of the month.”

Instead, his response left me speechless. Continue reading

A College Graduation Letter

This is an edited version of the letter I gave my daughter for her college graduation one year ago. – Jack


You are one of the true joys of my life. You have grown from a young girl to a young adult with whom I enjoy conversing. I am extremely proud of you in so many ways. Though ashamed I could not pay your way through college and you are saddled with debt, that shame is overshadowed by how proud I am of how you have worked your way through school and proven to be a responsible student and employee. As you graduate and finish Georgia State University I am swollen with pride.

A gift for Amber just after I read this letter to her.

It hasn’t been an easy road for you. While others had their way paid by family, grants or scholarships, you walked a tougher road by working your way through school. When others were playing and hanging out with friends, you were heading off to work. You lacked sleep. You had fewer hours to study and prepare for class than many of your friends. Because of your work schedule, you walked lonely paths through Centennial Park and the streets of Atlanta to your dorm many nights ….and wandered through deserted parking decks Continue reading

Middle School Graduation Letter

May 4, 2011

Anna Banana,

As you conclude Middle School and prepare for High School, we are very proud of you. Not because of your athletic ability in soccer and basketball. Not because of your good grades or thriftiness. Not because of your unique, colorful, and neat style of dress. Nor is it because of your leadership on the soccer field or at Campus Life. Though you can quickly mow the lawn, that is not the reason either. All of this brings us delight, but our pride in our Anna Joy springs forth from something deeper.

We are very proud of you because of who you are on the inside. You have a compassionate spirit for others, especially

This photo was taken the night my wife and I read this letter to Anna.

those who are friendless and lonely. You have a good sense of justice—desiring fairness for all. You are a true friend to many people.

We like the way you think and question. You ask good questions that show you desire to know the truth and do what is right. You are not afraid to question Continue reading