This Thanksgiving …

My sweet precious Sheryl posted her thoughts about this Thanksgiving on her social media page today.  I will let her words inspire you today …


“Holidays always bring mixed emotions for me. For anyone that has spent 5 minutes with me, knows that I love Christmas, and I’m pretty sure it’s because of my momma, but it also brings a bit of sadness.

This was Thanksgiving 2011. The last one that we would celebrate together on this side of heaven. The picture has changed drastically. We’ve added new faces, we’ve gotten older, the little ones in front are no longer little, and the 3 chairs are empty now.

Some of you are facing your holiday season with an empty chair for the first time, and I understand how difficult that can be. This is not my first Thanksgiving without them, but the feelings are there. You cannot avoid the missing part.


So I challenge all of us that have a missing piece of our heart, to celebrate the time that we did have, the memories that were made and talk about our loved ones. Laugh, cry, unplug and make intentional memories with your family. Time is a gift. Make it count.

On Thanksgiving Day, take lots of pictures, look people in the eyes and savor every second.”

College at 55 … and 1/2

Six months ago, I blogged that I was venturing [back] into the journey of college — at age 55. Here’s what’s up today.

So, college is a privilege to begin with. Not everyone who wishes to attend college or university is afforded that luxury. Even, in America. With that said, I am extremely grateful that I am even afforded the option of returning to college having given it my ‘shot’ at 18 years of age the first go ’round.

My friend Luke Gambill, as I have mentioned before, is an extremely talented and gifted musician. Much smarter than me. And, an excellent educator. We reconnected a few years back and began keeping up with one another’s careers and ministries. Long story short — Luke compelled me to consider completing my college education as he was transitioning towards completion of his doctoral studies. I took him up on the offer.

Dr. Wes Dykes began to guide me towards admissions and the rigors of course selections, I got started, and … six months later … I have completed two trimesters of study as a #CareyMusic student in the Winters School of Music and Ministry Studies.

I really did not think I could pull this off. I’ve enjoyed the journey, but it’s been a challenge. It’s thrilling, no doubt! But, a challenge.

My sweet wife Sheryl has become my greatest cheerleader, all over again. She has always stood by me, through the horrors of our darkest days of pain and loss, through the craziness of raising three amazing kids [now adults], and through the joys of mountaintops and accomplishments in life and ministry together. But — this is a new adventure, for the both of us. We literally feel like teenagers again!

So, I dive in to my next trimester at #Carey next week.

As I observe these ‘kids’ around me at #Carey who are fast becoming the Worship Leaders and Worship Pastors of today’s church — I must tell you — I am amazed! These kids “get” it.

They are wise beyond their years. They are consumed with Jesus. They love pleasing the audience of One. They love the local church. They love tradition. They love creativity. They love excellence. They love diversity. They love others. They love themselves. They work hard. They produce amazing results.

I highly recommend you follow our websites and social media sites as the music departments and ministries at #Carey are growing and developing. I am honored to be part of this movement of Music Education, Worship, and Church Growth in south Mississippi!

Hang on … the best is yet to come! #OneGoalOnePassion #CareyMusic


So — we have been Netflix binging this summer.  Sheryl and I found several movies we loved from 10-20 years ago, and several unknown titles as well.  Our newfound binge favorite, by far, is Ron Howard’s incredible series Parenthood, themed around a Berkley, California based family who deal with a range of real life issues.

Max Burkholder is the child actor who portrays Max Braverman in the critically acclaimed NBC series which ran from 2010-2015. His parents, Adam and Kristina Braverman, discover that Max suffers from Asberger’s Syndrome, which has been called a “high functioning” form of an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

My sweet wife Sheryl has taught children in our local school district who suffer from various forms of Autism disorders. I have experienced mentoring a few autistic children in my bus driving and volunteer work with school band and choir programs, as well as church ministry work.

The summer binge watching of Parenthood has sparked a place in my heart that, if I am honest, was a bit of an after thought when dealing with autistic children. As we have viewed the real life scenarios that occur in the TV series, and consider how those episodes have likely played out in the lives of children we actually know and have connection with … our TV affection for Max Braverman and his parents has now turned to an even deeper love and admiration for the real life people here in our hometown.

Max Braverman and his TV family endure daily struggles, which become weekly random episodes of meltdowns, accidents, misunderstandings, and outright angry moments, due to the effects of Asberger’s.  Sheryl and I routinely discuss the scenarios that our friends with autistic children must surely cope with, and we have become more deeply moved with a desire to pray for these precious friends.  So, we pray.  And, we pay more attention. And, we hug our children a bit tighter.

We recently attended a coastwide rally for Autism Awareness in Biloxi, Mississippi.  The Mississippi Centers For Autism and Related Developmental Disabilities was the benefactor of a series of fundraisers.  As we listened to the speeches of the Founders, Directors, and recipients of the care offered by this incredible organization, our hearts were moved with great compassion.  But, more important, our spirits were lifted just to know that a facility and staff of this magnitude are located right here in our coastal neighborhood.  What a joy to realize that, together with others who share great concern for those suffering — we are making a difference.

Max Braverman (via actor Max Burkholder) has touched a place in my heart.  I have fallen in love with Max.  I am falling more in love with the children like Max who live in my neighborhood and in my hometown.  I am asking God to help me be more aware of children and adults like Max.  They are much more intelligent and aware and loving than we might realize. Their ‘disorder’ might actually be a blessing in disguise, as difficult as the daily challenges seem for everyone involved.  And that … is beautiful and amazing to me.


Jana Maples Myrick Aust went Home … to Jesus, her Mama, and other loved ones in Heaven … early Tuesday morning.  She was one of the most beautiful people in this world.  And she shone brightly throughout her incredible lifetime here which ended way too soon.  Much before any of us would have expected.

Let me say at this point in the story … CANCER SUCKS!  It is a monster. It is evil. It is wicked. And, it is no match for the Savior. Jesus died on a cruel cross, was buried, then resurrected as KING … over cancer. HE wins. Therefore, WE win.  Hallelujah!  O praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!!

My beautiful Sheryl and Jana were childhood friends who grew up to fall in love with two brothers from this sleepy little town of Pascagoula.  Danny and I dated Jana and Sheryl through high school and college years, and then married our sweethearts, to then venture into our own respective journeys and careers.

Danny and Jana loved and lived big. They brought two incredibly talented and handsome boys into this earth who are their greatest pride and joy.

As life does, it threw a few curve balls at Danny and Jana. They divorced a few years ago; and eventually remarried loving new spouses who have brought even more joy, laughter, love, and beauty to our extended and blended family.

Jana touched thousands of people in her lifetime here. Her effervescent smile, radiant personality, and spitfire energy lit up any room she entered. Her children adored her and carry her spunky spirit in them.

In the blur of just 24-hours since her transition to Heaven, the expressions of love, sympathy, condolences and memories have flooded her social media page. It is obvious to all that Jana made her indelible mark on many. She lived fully. She loved as unconditionally as humanly possible. And she will never be forgotten.

We love you Jana. We miss you terribly.  Yet, we rejoice that you are Home, Healed, and more fully Alive than we can imagine.  We will cry many tears as we remember life with you, and now without you.  We will laugh at the charming memories you created for us all. We will deeply love one another more carefully because of the intense love you showed us all.

Jana, you were more like Jesus to us than you may have realized. You always showed kindness and generosity to others.  You took the mess that life sometimes creates, and recreated new life and new love from the mess.  You chose to overcome darkness with light.  You demonstrated heroic faith and courage in the face of the monster disease that we all have come to utterly detest.  You beat the monster. You are the champion.

We celebrate you, Jana.  And, we will see you again dear sister.

Thank you Jesus, for our beautiful sweet Jana.  We celebrate her and now entrust her to Your sovereign care … until we meet again at that Glad Reunion Day.