Family Reunions and Church

12 09 2010

We had a great time at Karen’s family reunion today.  Karen comes from a beautiful family and well, it was one of the things I loved about her when I met her.  Her mom and dad have both passed and they left a great legacy.  Karen’s 2 brothers are wonderful.  Keith and his family made it but Ken, who has moved to Louisville, KY couldn’t make it.   I’m proud of Karen and her family and am so blessed that they have accepted me into the family.  Here is Karen and some of her cousins…

Aunt Peggy, Cindy, Linda, Leslie, KAREN and Rita

Every time we have these reunions, which are every year, it reminds me of my family and how blessed I am to have a great family as well.  My dad passed away in November of 2002 but my mother is still living (in VA) and she is a precious lady.  My sister lives in VA as well and my brother lives in Jacksonville, FL.  Here are a few takeaways from this years reunion…


1) They can be good (and fun)

2) Seems that children keep being born (there were 13 children there)

3) Love is/was in the air

4) Karen has some incredible aunts, uncles and cousins (and so do I)

5) Families are important to NOT forget about

6) Story telling is a lost art!

Oh yea, we did go to church prior to attending the reunion.  Church attendance is important.  Not for any other reason than the Bible instructs us to NOT neglect the assembling of ourselves together.  Our preacher (Perry Noble, preached on money today.  Money is the #1 thing that keeps us from having a full and vibrant relationship with Jesus.  So, if your money is more important to you than attending church or reading your Bible, you might want to do a heart check.  Love ya, mean it!



Shag Dancing and Baby Harper Shower….

22 08 2010

It has been a busy and FUN weekend!   Karen and I went to Charleston for the weekend and on Friday night, we went to JB Pivots where the Charleston Shag Club meets to dance.  We went and for the 1st hour, we (really just me) were intimidated by how well they all danced!  Finally a young couple (they were 76 and 74) came up and introduced themselves and said they could tell we were new to this but if I don’t get the heck (he didn’t say heck) out there, I’ll never get better.  Well for the next 2 hours, Karen and I danced the night away.  We had a blast.

Joe and Shirley - our new Shag Dancing Friends from Charleston!

Another person we met was a guy named Francis Lee.  Francis is 81 years old and he is actually in the Shag Dancing Hall of Fame.  Didn’t even know there was such a thing but it does exist.  He broke his hip last year and was still out there dancing Friday night.  He has a legendary step I guess they call the SLIDE!  It was awesome!

Karen with Francis Lee and his wife.

Needless to say, on Saturday night, we took all of our fellow school board friends to JB Pivots and danced after dinner and we had a blast!

We got home today from Charleston and went straight to our daughter-in-love’s baby shower.  Little Granddaughter Harper is going to be set by the time she arrives January 8, 2011.  We can’t wait!  Here are some pics from the shower!!

Karen and I with our INCREDIBLE Daughter-in-Love, Shannon!

Our Granddaughters new Jumper (with #10 on it)! Ha!

Karen and I walked the Market in Charleston and met these 2 ladies that did embroidery and they made this for us on Friday night and we picked it up on Saturday night.  Kind of neat to know my granddaughter will be wearing my number!  YES!!!

Ok, got some breaking news which I’ll post next week and it has to do with my place of employment.  Love my current job and the people I work with.  I’m so blessed, but…I’ll wait to post later in the week.

Keep CAUSING GOD JOY wherever you are!!

Have a Shay Day…and cry along with me…

7 07 2010

A friend of mine sent me this story and man, I just about broke down and cried.  OK, I DID CRY!  Knowing a number of families with special needs kids, this story really hit home.  It reveals our character and love for people.  How would you have responded?  I know how I would have wanted to if I was the pitcher…just like he did.  But would I have?  I sure hope so!  Enjoy…


At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

‘When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection.

Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do.

Where is the natural order of things in my son?’

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. ‘I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.’

Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, ‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’ I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, ‘We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.’

Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again.

Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the
plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.

The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay.

As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.

Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out of reach of all team mates.

Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, ‘Shay, run to first!

Run to first!’

Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base.

He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.
Everyone yelled, ‘Run to second, run to second!’

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball, the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.

He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher’s intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay’

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, ‘Run to third!

Shay, run to third!’

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, ‘Shay, run home! Run home!’

Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team

‘That day’, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, ‘the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world’.

Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

4th of July Celebration!

5 07 2010

I had a great 4th of July weekend…other than the fact that my girl was in Hawaii, I had the next best thing – my family.  My nephew lives in Aiken, SC where his wife is from and we all congregated there this weekend.  My mom, my sister, her 2 sons and their families.  It was a lot of fun.  We cooked a pig on coals on Friday and Friday night they picked it and chopped it and Saturday we ate it.

This was my first time ever doing this and it was incredible.  My nieces grandmother cooked up the basting (BBQ) that went on it during the cooking part and it was incredibly delicious.  We played corn hole and lasso golf and just hung around and ate and talked (though I did more listening than anything).  My mind was in Hawaii and Boston alot over the weekend.  It was my first time away from Karen and the kids on the 4th and well, yea, I missed them.

Just a portion of my family at lunch on July 4th

On Sunday I got to attend Millbrook Baptist Church in Aiken where one of my former USC teammates, Eddie Leopard is pastor.  The man can preach!  It was such a blessing to hear him preach and to see him and his precious wife Dawn.  They are a sweet couple and they have 4 beautiful kids that are growing up  For those of you that remember Eddie, he was our kicker (just a kicker as I tell him) but I still think he is one of the best USC ever had.

I’m missing Karen and Kara and Shane and Shannon and Daniel but Karen and Kara have been sending me pics…here’s some cool ones..

Kara with her Mynah bird at work

Karen arriving in Hawaii - Kara got her a Leah!

Kara snorkeling in Hawaii

Got home today and washed clothes, washed the cars and am just chilling on the front porch now.   Looking forward to a great week.  Please pray for me as I prepare to preach this Sunday at Lake Bowen Baptist Church.  Love these folks and am asking God to give me a strong word for them to encourage them to LIVE passionately for Jesus!

Have a great week CAUSING GOD JOY!!

Happy Fathers Day…

18 06 2010

To all dads….HAPPY FATHERS DAY WEEKEND!  I know how blessed I am to be a father.  Mine and Karen’s 3 children have been such a blessing to us.  It was fun raising them and now its fun being their friend.  To young dads out there, let me encourage you to stay encouraged, be strong, be faithful, finish strong!  Here are some facts that might encourage you…and some that might open your eyes….

Did you know there are 66,300,000 dads in the US?  (last census estimate).

Did you know that over 100,000 dads are stay at home dads?

Did you know that over 2,000,000 dads spend more time with their pre-schoolers than their mothers?

Did you know that 88% of kids under six with dads who are married praise their kids at least once a day?

Did you know that almost 2,000,000 dads are maintaining their own household?

Did you know that over 11,000,000 dads DON’T live with their children?

Did you know that all children, not just girls, benefit from having a positive relationship with their fathers?  It has been found that children whose fathers share meals with them, spend their leisure time with them, or help them with their homework do significantly better academically than children whose fathers do not.

As I’ve said many many times before, the greatest gift you as a dad can give to your children is to LOVE THEIR MOMMA with ALL you got!  So go love your bride, serve her with all your might and may God bless you this weekend!


Remembering Joe Cooper – Mentor and Friend…

15 06 2010

If it weren’t for Joe and Sarah Cooper, I would NOT have the family I have today or be the man that I am.  Now I’m not saying I’m much, but if it weren’t for Joe Cooper, there is no telling where I would be today…seriously.

The Byrnes High School football team for the past 12+ years has been built on these four(4) core values…three(3) of which are in the form of a question…

1) Do you love your teammates?

2) Can you be trusted?

3) Are you committed?

4) Pull the Rope!

Basically, are you a team player willing to serve others, can I trust you to play the entire game and give ALL you have to win and lastly, if your standing on a cliff where if you fell, you would certainly die, who would you want on the end of the rope to hold you…is it a teammate?  For them, would it be you?

I share that briefly because Joe Cooper taught me those core values as a young man just entering into marriage and starting a family.  I didn’t necessarily have a role model to follow as to how to be a man of God’s own heart.  I didn’t know what it meant to be a godly man or someone that could be trusted.  I didn’t know what it meant or what it looked like to love my wife as Christ loved the church.  I didn’t fully understand what it meant to be committed.  UNTIL JOE COOPER TAUGHT ME! He taught me through words and wisdom but mostly through observation.

Joe and Sarah were mine and Karen’s Sunday School teachers in a Newlywed Class 28 years ago.  They had “happenings” and “get togethers” all the time at their house or off some where and all of us would gather, eat, fellowship, listen and observe them.  I’m not sure if their intent was to be observed because frankly, they enjoyed being with all of us young couples.  But in the process, they INVESTED and they invested BIG TIME in each of us.

I remember taking it upon myself (its called accepting responsibility) to ask Joe to be my prayer partner.  We would meet early (real early for me) at his office there at Ashmore Brothers and spend time talking about being a husband, a father, a friend.  He would POUR into my life ideas, thoughts, recommendations and it was up to me to take it and apply it.  He was a sounding board for me when I was struggling with work, relationships and all sorts of family issues and questions.  The thing that stands out for me, HE WAS WILLING and MADE HIMSELF AVAILABLE. There aren’t many left out there like that but they are out there and you either need to go find him or be one!  There’s a challenge for you!

Sadly, some of the couples didn’t apply the knowledge Joe and Sarah provided and yes many of the couples have since divorced.  But I see the Farr’s, Barefoot”s, Cooper”s (Joe and Sarah’s sons), Slice’s, etc who are still married today and they have marriages much like Karen and I have today…thanks to Joe and Sarah!

Wisdom is the application of knowledge and Joe knew God’s plan and blueprint for a Christian marriage about as well as anybody.  I know he knew it because he lived it!  People over the years have made notice of how I dote over my wife, Karen.  Some have complimented me on it, some have criticized me over it.  That’s ok.  If anyone thinks I dote over my wife, they should have met Joe Cooper.  This man loves(d) his wife as much as any man could love his wife.  It was incredibly beautiful to watch.  She was (and I’m sure still is) the apple of his eye.  What made it so unique and beautiful was that you KNEW that he love Jesus first and foremost and then that love for Jesus IN HIM simply overflowed towards Sarah.  SHE KNEW SHE WAS LOVED.  That’s all I want for my wife, for her to know that I love Jesus and that I love her!

Let me say this and this is probably the most important thing I can say to a young man, especially a young father.  The best gift, the most important quality that you can give to  your children, is to LOVE and SERVE their mother with fervor and passion!  I see how Joe’s two sons, Alan and Bruce, love their mom and their wives and children now and I believe it is a direct reflection of what they saw their daddy practice.

My son, Shane, will be a daddy soon and that is my encouragement to him.  LOVE and SERVE Shannon with ALL YOU HAVE and watch God bless as only He can.

Thank you Joe Cooper!  And thank you Sarah, for investing in my wife, Karen as you have.  May God bless you and comfort you in the days ahead!  We love you!!

Garry and Karen


Are you ready for SUMMER?!

9 06 2010

I know I am!  Karen and I returned from the beach from a quick retreat and those 3 days spoiled us!  We’ve been in the middle of an incredible whirlwind of activity with Kara graduating from college, moving to Hawaii and starting her new job (and life) there.  Shane and Shannon informed us we’re going to be grandparents and they moved to Boston.  They both have jobs there now (Starbucks and Edible Arrangements) and are loving it!  They ride bikes with Daniel around Boston most days in their free time and they are really enjoying being back together after a long time of being apart.

Karen with Shane, Daniel and Kara on Mothers Day! (Shannon was in Louisville)

Yea, I’m read for summer!

Here’s what I see summer offers us…

1) Lots and lots of sunshine (preferably at the beach but sunshine anytime works)

The Beach!

2) A little slower pace (gives you time to reflect on your life and mission)

3) Possibilities (for vacation, recreation, meditation)

4) Family (just a visit or a weeks vacation, sounds like fun)

5) Travel (Hawaii or Boston are our options.  How ’bout you?)

6) Growth (time to read the Bible more than normal along with any good book)

Don’t let this summer go by you without taking time to grow closer to Jesus and closer to your family.  I know I need both of these things in my life NOW more than ever.  I get so busy with work and other activities that it is easy to forget the things that are MOST important.

Pray for me as I have a lot going on at work along with 5 weddings I’m doing (love doing these) between June 19th and December 4th.  Life is good – NOW, live it good by