Archive for category Family


My hero as I was growing up was Al Kaline, the Hall of Fame right-fielder for the Detroit Tigers. He passed away yesterday at 85. I want to present a tribute to him today.

I stood in line for one hour at a baseball card show in Arlington, Texas around thirty years ago to get Al Kaline’s autograph on the picture I have here. The autograph is somewhat faded now but you can see a bit of it. While I was in the long line waiting to get my turn, I was mulling over what to say to my boyhood hero. When I got up there and handed him my picture to sign, I said, “I don’t care what they say about Mickey Mantle; from 1955 to 1966 you were the best!” He seemed surprised. Then Kaline said, “Oh no. Mickey was pretty good.” Kaline was known for his humility and he demonstrated it in that moment quite naturally.

From the time I was around 6 months old until around 3 or so, I lived in Detroit. I was born in 1953, the year that Kaline came up to play for the Tigers as an 18-year old. My Dad adopted Kaline as his favorite player and passed him on down to his two boys.

We grew up in Alabama. My twin brother Jimmy and I may have been the only two boys in the state listening to WJR Detroit at night in the summer time. We were trying to get the Tigers’ game on the radio. On a cloudy day, it would come in fairly strong. One night as I was dozing off to sleep, my brother Jimmy (we shared a bedroom) was listening to the game on a transistor radio with an earpiece. He suddenly got excited and blurted out to me: “Kaline just hit a two-run homerun to win the game!” We would always run out to get the local newspaper when it came in the afternoon so we could see the boxscore so we knew how Kaline did the day or night before (we didn’t have round the clock news like we do now).

One of the highlights of my teenage years was when our family drove to Detroit in the summer of 1970 for Al Kaline Day at Tiger Stadium. It was a Sunday game but we also went to the Saturday night game as well. Late in the game, Kaline hit a homerun into the upper deck in left field to tie the game against the Minnesota Twins. Even my Dad got up out of his seat! It was a special moment for a teenage boy’s soul.

My twin brother and I always shared our love for Kaline. At Al Kaline Day they had someone sing a song: “Thanks for the Memories.” Today I say to his family, my prayers are with you. And I say “Thanks for the Memories.” Al Kaline will be missed.

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Remembering the Summer of 1974

As summer was beginning in 1974, my twin brother Jimmy and I at the age of 20 began a quest, a search to find God. We had listened for many years to Billy Graham on television and were attracted to the message but did not fully understand it. We began to visit different kinds of churches in 1974. I remember one church where the people were nice but the invitation was not like Billy Graham’s invitations to receive Christ. They asked everyone in the church to go forward and put your hand on the back of the person in front of you and then they had a prayer. Nothing was clear. I remember asking God if this was enough. Had I done enough? I found out that was the wrong question. It is not what I have done. It is what Christ has done that counts. We simply receive what he has done by faith.

Jimmy and I quickly started to attend the West Huntsville Baptist Church where there was great music and good biblical preaching. On the way home we had many interesting talks. Often we would discuss what faith was all about. What did it mean to have faith? What did it mean to believe? Our understanding was growing. But we were beginning to understand that belief was not just intellectually understanding or accepting that God existed or that Jesus was a real historical person who lived in Israel in the first century. We were beginning to see that faith was trusting in God, trusting in Christ and what He has done to take away our sin. The final light dawned on August 18, 1974 when together we trusted Christ in this way to be our Savior. As a result, our lives have counted in a major way since then because of God’s ongoing work in us.

It is two years ago today that we lost Jimmy to cancer. Jimmy’s life and message continue and his impact is still great. I will always treasure those talks we had about eternal things, faith, and salvation. i will treasure even more the memory of coming to Christ together as twins in the Lord.

Sixth-Grade Football and Jimmy

Image may contain: shoesTomorrow will be the first physical birthday I have had when I can’t call my twin brother Jimmy. Today in heaven he is far better off than I am on earth. Bittersweet. Memories hit me strangely sometimes coming out of nowhere. This week it was a sixth grade memory. During recess the guys were playing touch football. Jimmy and I were smaller than the other guys and we were the “good students” so they did not give us much credence as athletes. But we played with them. For some strange reason they decided to let Jimmy be the quarterback of one team for awhile. I went out as a receiver. We were fast although the other guys didn’t know it. We had the ball around the 20-yard line. When the ball was hiked, I took off as fast as I could. Jimmy at QB launched it as far as he could. It was a perfect pass right to me. A young lad named Larry Brown, who would later play running back at our high school, caught me from behind just before I crossed the goal line. I think Jimmy and I changed some thoughts about us on that one play — the greatest passing play of all time, if you don’t mind me saying so!

Glory to God in the Highest

Here is a picture taken at my home a couple of days after Christmas.  My son David and his family (wife Brielle and daughter Ella) came up on Dec 27 to spend some time with my wife Cindy and I and others who had gathered.  Here I am reading the Christmas story from Luke 2 for my extended family.  Sitting next to me helping me hold the Bible is my two-year old granddaughter Ella.  Such moments are beyond special.  Ella is about the age that the oldest of the little boys in Bethlehem were when Herod’s evil henchmen came to destroy their lives.  But Jesus escaped, having gone down to Egypt.  Later he escaped the hold of death in the grave on Resurrection Day.  He came into the world as a babe, left as a glorified and resurrected Savior, and is returning as a Warrior Lamb to make all things right.  It is such truth that makes moments with my granddaughter as I read the Bible really special.  Glory to God in the Highest.

A Special Christmas Gift

Just a few days before Christmas Day, my nephew Stephen Stallard and his wife Sonya had their first child.  They named her Malia.  This makes me a Great Uncle for the first time!  What a special Christmas gift!!!  Thank you Stephen and Sonya!  Of course, chief thanksgiving goes to the Lord, the giver of life.  I had a chance to hold her in the hospital.  I have provided a picture of her which I believe my niece Rebekah took.  Nothing as precious as a little one.  May God guide her every step.  Our family has already begun to pray for her, not just her health as she begins life, but her spiritual development as well.  May she come to know the Lord at an early age.


Eufaula, Alabama and School Memories: An Ode to a Third Grade Teacher

I have often mentioned in my blog entries my home state of Alabama and my affection for the Crimson Tide football team.  However, my memories of my home state are far deeper than sports and more than merely a distant memory.  I have lived in Pennsylvania now for 18 years, before that in Texas for 13 years, and before that in Virginia for 4 years.  I left what I consider to be my hometown of Huntsville, Alabama in 1977.  I remember the day well — it was the day that Elvis Presley died!   However, my first exposure to the state of Alabama was not in Huntsville, a city nestled on the Tennessee River in the north part of the state.  For a couple of years my Virginian parents moved the family to Eufaula, Alabama where my Dad worked at a military radar site.  Eufaula is a city in the southern and eastern part of the state.  It is a beautiful small Southern town located on the Chattahoochee river that separates Alabama from Georgia at that point.  In fact, my twin brother and I finished out the first grade in a Georgetown, Georgia public school just across the river.

There are many memories of those days.  I went bowling for the first time and fell in love with it.  I began guitar lessons as a little boy with, of all people, my barber!  I recall going to a parade, standing I think not far from the fountain shown in the picture of Eufaula above.  As a young kid these were all new experiences for me that left deep and lasting impressions.  I remember our little house on Sunset Drive and the playing of wiffle ball.  One of the strongest recollections I have is Dad taking me to see my first high school football game to watch the Eufaula Tigers play and win 7-0.  However, it is topped by the time my brother and I participated in some program put on by the elementary school.  For our part, we played our guitars and sang the song “A Little Bitty Tear” (recorded by Burl Ives in 1961) to a large crowd in the high school gym.  My parents were quite proud.  All of these experiences combined to make our stay in Eufaula for those couple of years a happy one.  However, there is one memory of note that is near the top and should not be left out — which is the main reason for my blog entry today.

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The Exceptional Beauty and Innocence of a Young Child

Last Saturday I spent a good part of the day with my son David, his beautiful wife Brielle, and the extraordinary young lady who is my 19 month-old granddaughter Ella (note the picture).  There is something of exceptional beauty and innocence in all young children.  When I watch her play, try to talk, and intereact with her surroundings, there is an almost surreal quality to the moment.  I had not seen this up close like this (where I would notice) since my three children were born (over 20 years ago now).  Such innnocence actually reminds me of what I wish human beings were normally like (at least the innocent part).  However, even young children of Ellas’s age show signs of temper, rage, and rebellion.  I don’t think my son David trained Ella to have those undesired traits.  Sin is not merely environmental.  Children don’t just learn to sin from parents and others in their lives.  No, there is something more serious going on.  Men and women are born with sin natures — that is, a propensity to go contrary to God’s design for them (Eph. 2:1-3 among other passages).   The absolute quandry we were in required the Cross of Christ as the only possible solution to render both the justice and the grace of God (Rom. 3:21-26) in our behalf–applied to us by faith and faith alone in Christ’s finished Cross-work.  I am thankful for Christ’s work for me in this way.  As a result I have hope that my innocence will return — in fact, I’ll have more than I have ever had, complete freedom from the presence of sin.  When Jesus returns he will begin to make all things right.  I long for that day.  Until then, I have a glimpse of things to come in the exceptional beauty and innnocence of a young child.

Homegoing of Jan Coudriet

Last week, Jan Coudriet, my son David’s father-in-law passed away.  He was the Director of Camp Sankanac, a BCM ministry located near Pottstown, Pennsylvania.  I heard someone say that 500 people were at his funeral Sunday night.  I know that the visitation with the family was scheduled from 4 to 6 pm Sunday and it had to be extended to 6:30 because there were so many people.  I believe they had to cut the line off to begin the funeral service.

The service was truly a celebration of a life well-lived for Christ.  There are several good things to say about Jan Coudriet.  I will mention a couple of them here.  First, Mr. “C” (as my son calls him) had been the camp director for 29 years.  This shows he loved kids and desperately wanted them to hear the gospel and turn to Christ.  No one stays that long in a ministry without being committed.  He was involved in helping ministries in China and India.  His whole life was tirelessly spent connecting youngsters (and others when opportunity arose) to faith in Jesus Christ.  Second, when my son married Jan and Beth’s daughter Brielle bringing our two families together, we entered into a wonderful relationship with a new extended family.  They welcomed us.  We never had any cross words.  Jan was the epitome of godliness and deferring to others. 

The picture I have attached is a picture of Jan with Ella Stallard, the granddaughter that we share.  I say that in the present tense.  Jan is still alive.  To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  One day Jan’s body will be raised from the dead at the rapture of the Church and reunited with his spirit.  I will hug his neck again.  I am reminded of the words once given by D. L. Moody in anticipation of his own death:

“Some day you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody is dead…Don’t you believe a word of it!  At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now…That which is born of the flesh may die.  That which is born of the Spirit will live forever.”  (The Life of D. L. Moody, 554-55)

One of my personal memories of Jan was when I was doing a prophecy conference at the church he attended.  He took me to Dunkin’ Donuts on a Saturday morning before driving me to the sessions that morning.  I blame him for helping me become addicted to the Turkey Bacon Flatbread sandwich!

As I was looking through the pictures of Jan over the weekend, there was one that strongly captured my attention for some reason.  It was a picture of him when he was in China on one of his missions trips.  He was standing in front of a picture of Mao, the famous, former Communist leader of Red China.  Mao killed millions of people in the name of what he believed.  In terms of how history was changed by Mao some say that he was a great man.  But as I look at the life of Jan Coudriet, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jan Coudriet was a far greater man.

We will miss the big guy but we sorrow not as those who have no hope.

My first grandchild

On Saturday morning November 13 at 6:37 am my first grandchild, Ella Marie Stallard, was born at Paoli Hospital in Paoli, PA.  I was already a grandfather from the day she was conceived.  I just had not seen her yet.  Naturally, I have included a picture.  Now I know from experience what I knew only intellectually — “children’s children are the crown of old men” (Proverbs 17:6)!  A flood of prayers has already gushed from my heart for Ella and her parents (my son David and his wife Brielle).  I hope the world she will live in (if the Lord tarries His coming) will be better than the way it appears to be headed.

Life & Weddings

I have been silent for awhile on my blog.  I had good reason.  I was on the road quite a bit and much of it for good family reasons.  The highlight of it all was my son Phil’s wedding to Leah.  It is such a blessing when your son chooses well.  His mother and I are proud of him.  Hopefully now as we approach the Fall semester I will be back in the swing of things for blogging.