Thankful For Our Nov. 2023 Myrtle Beach Visit

The Resers are back on the west coast after nine days in Myrtle Beach. It was such a blessing to return to South Carolina to visit Sidney’s family. Even though we are still fresh from the sadness of leaving family and have just started the battle of adjusting back to pacific time (and from rainy/cloudy days to crisp/cool days), I feel like I can still write about the many happy moments from our trip. So, in no particular order, here are ten themes from our Thanksgiving visit to Myrtle Beach.

Cousin Time – For the first time in two years, the six cousins derived from the Mathis family were together again. Russell, Harrison, Henry, and Jack were waiting for Sloan and Beau at the airport when we landed and the gang hung out with each other for the duration of our time on South Carolina soil. When you are dealing with kids and nearly 24 months pass, it is crazy how big everyone gets. But no matter how much you grow physically, you never “grow out” of family.

The six cousins started their time together from the get-go at the Myrtle Beach Airport.

Thanksgiving – I devoted a whole blog post to Thanksgiving 2023, but just to recap: We drove to Conway, South Carolina, to attend the Thanksgiving gathering of the Henry family. Our connection was my brother-and-law and husband to Sid’s sister, John Henry. Everyone welcomed us with supreme Southern hospitality as we ate fried turkey, chicken bog, mac and cheese, and barbecue pig. After cruising on tractors and ATVs through the family’s wooded property, we returned to Sid’s parents for an afternoon of football, books, and relaxation. It was awesome.

The four of us, Sidney’s sister, her husband, their son, and my in-laws pose for a photo outside the barn on Thanksgiving Day.

Feliz Navidad – After Thanksgiving was adequately celebrated, we had Christmas in November. On Black Friday, the cousins slipped on their new Christmas pajamas and were treated to a gift exchange. The following day we took them to the Christmas tree farm where they had their picture taken with Santa. After not doing any Christmas activities together last year, it was nice for them to have these moments this year.

The cousins had their picture taken with Santa.

Games – Creativity, humor, and brain power were all used at different times depending on the game we happened to be playing. Selections such as Stir the Pot, Chameleon, Banana, and Rummikub were all played during the days and nights we were in Myrtle Beach. But the undisputed favorite? That would be the kids’ version of Charades that the cousins loved to play! There is no doubt that we will have to get Beau his own Charades game when we make it back to Spokane because he loved it so much.

We played games such as Stir the Pot, Chameleon, Banana, and Charades.

Re-Connecting With Co-Workers – It was work that originally brought me to Myrtle Beach and paved the way for me meeting Sidney and the many blessings that followed. Because of this, Coastal Carolina University will always have a special place in my heart and I will always hold the people dear. During this recent trip, I had the pleasure of hanging out with a few of my “work besties.” On Thanksgiving Eve I sat down with Kim Harper and Martha Hunn for a long overdue catch-up session. Then, a couple days later, I shot the breeze with Geoff Insch. It was awesome to see these outstanding individuals again.

Thanks to Kim Harper (left) and Martha Hunn (right) for taking the time to hang with me on Thanksgiving Eve at Tavern in the Forest in Myrtle Beach.

Murder Mystery – On the Saturday evening of our trip, the opportunity arose for Sidney and me to take our eldest niece and eldest nephew on a night out. Russell, Harrison, Sid, and I went to the Christmas edition of the Riga Tony Murder Mystery Dinner Show. The venue was beautifully decorated and the acting top notch as we watched an entertaining mystery unfold before our eyes. We truly brought our detective hats with us as Sidney cracked the case and was declared the overall winner of the evening!

We had such a fun time with Russell and Harrison at the Riga Tony Murder Mystery Dinner Show.

Mass At St. Andrew – What a special Sunday morning it was when we attended mass at St. Andrew Catholic Church. It happened to be the very last mass in the parish gym before the congregation moves back into the newly renovated church this upcoming weekend but we weren’t disappointed. You see, gym or not, it was still the same beautiful and reverent form of worship that we grew accustomed to when we were parishioners there. After mass we had the blessing of chatting with Fr. Morgan, the priest who baptized Beau and welcomed Sid into the Catholic Church.

What a blessing it was to attend mass at St. Andrew Catholic Church with Fr. Roger Morgan presiding. We took advantage of the opportunity to chat with him afterwards.

Afternoon With the McCormicks – After mass on that Sunday, we went over to the home of Tim and Kathy McCormick. I have mentioned them many times throughout Don’t Blink but just as a refresher they were our marriage mentor couple, they babysat Sloan when Sid went through RCIA, and they are Beau’s godparents. Aside from Sid’s family, when we come to Myrtle Beach they are the two people we desperately want to see. Kathy made a delightful lunch and we had so much fun catching up and swapping stories about our involvement in our respective parishes.

Beau and Sloan sit with Kathy and Tim McCormick during our most recent visit to Myrtle Beach. Kathy and Tim mean so much to our family.

Time At The Gym – While in Myrtle Beach I tried to slightly balance all the wonderful food I was eating with a little bit of exercise. I was able to return to Iron Legacy Gym, the place where I trained for 3-4 years before moving to Washington. When it comes to Iron Legacy, all I can say is this: If you know, you know. It truly is a one-of-a-kind old school spot with fabulous owners. It was pretty sweet to get in a sweat just like the old times and see some great people.

I got six workout in at Iron Legacy Gym during our visit to Myrtle Beach.

Cherry On Top – The last night of a family visit is always tough as the reality of departure starts to set in. On this particular trip, we tried to make the “eve of return” a little sweeter than what it usually is. The four of us and most of Sid’s family went to the Crazy Mason, one of those fancy milkshake bars. Sid and I shared the “Dashing Through the Dough” shake and the kids shared a “Crazy Pop of Color” shake. The treats were delicious and it was really nice to do one final thing with the Mathis family.

It was a real treat to drink milkshakes at the Crazy Mason.


Our family returned to Spokane filled with joy after having such a special time in Myrtle Beach. We are already missing Sid’s family but so thankful for the memories made. Don’t Blink.

Nitro Thursday Rundown

I love March. Longer days, warmer weather, build-up to Easter, exciting basketball, and a certain little girl’s birthday. I also hear that my Thursday Rundowns are a little better this month too. Speaking of that, let’s get to tonight’s five topics…

Snow Dump – February couldn’t exit quietly. On the last day of the month, it snowed half a foot. I woke up on Tuesday to about three inches. By the time I left the gym a couple hours later, an additional three inches fell. Sidney and I teamed up to shovel our driveway. Although Beau’s daycare operated on normal hours, the greater than expected accumulation of snow caused a two-hour delay for Sloan’s school.

The snow was coming down at a rapid rate on Tuesday morning as Sid and I shoveled the driveway.

Holiest of Anniversaries – Earlier this week, on Feb. 27, we marked the third anniversary of when Sidney was welcomed into the Catholic Church and Beau was baptized. What a holy experience for two life-changing events to take place together in a single morning! As the sacraments were bestowed in the side chapel at St. Andrew Parish in Myrtle Beach, we had a lot of support in the pews. Sidney’s family and my mom and sister were there including many of my Knights of Columbus brothers and other people from the parish. What happened that day transformed our family for the better and continues to bear fruit every single day.

Thanks be to God for Feb. 27, 2020. This is our family at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Myrtle Beach on the day Sidney was welcomed into the Church and Beau was baptized.

Dishwasher Diagram – I do a fair amount of dishes in our household, but I don’t always load them exactly as Sid would. I take more of a casual, cram-it-all-in approach. The other day, my wife sent me the below diagram for loading inspiration. This is the second major dishwasher intervention in our marriage. The first was just being able to communicate whether the dishwasher was clean or dirty (thank goodness for the clean/dirty magnet we bought). Do you and your spouse have the same dishwasher loading philosophy?

Sidney sent me this diagram of how she prefers the dishwasher to be loaded.

Pepsi Nitros – I saw these Pepsi beverages on the shelf the other day. Marketed as a “draft cola” I thought the shtick was that the drink was supposed to taste like it came from a tap. That was a major “pass” for me as the only time I would prefer a tap soda over a true canned soda is when it is a Coca-Cola from McDonald’s. But apparently the difference in Nitro Pepsi is more bougie. It is literally nitrogen-infused cola giving it a “softer” taste with smaller bubbles and a creamy taste. Not really my thing.

I ran into this grocery store shelf with Pepsi Nitros this past weekend.

Kai – At the suggestion of my brother, this week we watched “The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker.” The Netflix documentary tells the story of a young hitchhiker named Kai. This dude saved a woman from a physical assault and was featured for his heroism on the local news. During that interview his charisma was evident and he said a certain phrase that made him go viral. The media built up what seemed like a lovable and courageous guy. However, Kai wasn’t who he was portrayed to be. The documentary chronicles his rise and fall along with high levels of ridiculousness mixed in. I recommend.

“The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker” is a pretty wild ride.


Make this month spectacular, friends! Thank you for reading my blog and I look forward to connecting again next week. Don’t Blink.

Our Sixth Wedding Anniversary

My mom is really good at remembering anniversary dates. The number of years the anniversary is commemorating? Perhaps not so much.

A couple weeks ago, she was chatting with me about Sidney’s and my upcoming wedding anniversary.

“How many years will it be?” she asked.
“Six years, mom,” I answered.
“Wow! Already?” she replied.

To use the cliché, time flies when you are having fun and I think that definitely applies to Sidney and I. On June 11, 2016, we tied the knot at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and since that moment it has been an exhilarating road paved with the joy of children, the adventure of a cross country move, and the countless blessings from God.

It was a beautiful feeling walking back up the aisle with Sidney after we were married.

As I personally look back on the past six years, what jumps out to me is progress. As the days turn to weeks, the weeks turn to months, and the months turn to years, the foundation of our marriage continues to grow stronger. To reference an analogy I used in our fourth anniversary reflection (and a Maren Morris song), we have good bones.

The reason for our strengthening bond and healthy bones is pretty simple: God. When we stood at the altar and received the sacrament of holy matrimony, we were blessed with God’s grace. That grace has been with us from Day #1 through Day #2,190—the only difference is that as time goes on we have become better at embracing humility and tapping into it.

Thanks Be To God, it has been a fruitful year of marriage (photo courtesy of Nicole Lynn Photography)

I will remember this past year of marriage for several reasons but for the sake of brevity I will offer just three: Sid and I took our first real vacation together since our honeymoon. We dealt with the loss of a loved one for the first time since saying “I do.” We had the incredible blessing of preparing another couple for holy matrimony.

As we journeyed through the above experiences—one really fun, one sad, one beautiful—we did it against a backdrop of inspiration. Sidney and I have no shortage of successful marriages to glean from, such as the rock solid 40+ year marriages of our parents. But we also admire the marriages of some of our closest peers, namely those couples who are part of our Young Adult Catholic Group. To walk with like-minded husbands and wives, who are also parents, is such a big advantage when it comes to cultivating a marriage that is fruitful.

Sidney and I at our first dinner while on vacation.

Although a faith-based marriage that centers on grace and draws from the experiences of others is bound to be successful, there is one other reason for our past six years of happiness: I have the best wife ever. Seriously. Sidney, thanks for all you do! I love you and feel so blessed to be your best friend. As you would say today, six years down, forever to go. Don’t Blink.

Our Christmas 2021 Trip to Myrtle Beach

Sidney, Sloan, Beau, and I were blessed to visit my wife’s family (and our old home) this past month. Myrtle Beach treated us well as we celebrated the holidays and spent time with loved ones who hold special spots in our hearts. To summarize our trip, I thought it would be wise to briefly describe 10 happenings/themes from our time in South Carolina.

Staycation – Sid’s parents rented a condo right on the beach for our family and the families of Sid’s two sisters. We spent several days playing at the resort’s water park, creating Christmas crafts, eating family dinners, and enjoying the beautiful ocean scenery. It was a great opportunity to for everyone to come together, catch up, and get into the Christmas spirit.

Beau and Sloan look out at the ocean from one of our condo windows.

Christmas Eve/Christmas Day – Ah yes, the reason for the season! We attended the 4 p.m. Christmas Eve mass at St. Andrew. After that we went over to my sister-in-law’s house to hang out and eat baked ziti. We came back to my mother-in-law’s house and I stayed up until midnight until it was officially Christmas. On Christmas morning we all gathered to open gifts and later that day we went back over to my sister-in-law’s house for a prime rib Christmas dinner.

Sloan and I after Christmas Eve mass.

Gorgeous Weather – The previous two times we traveled back to Myrtle Beach we had no shortage of rain and cold. Not this time. We basked in numerous 75 degree and sunny days over the course of the two weeks we were there. The conditions allowed me to take Sloan to the park, play basketball outside with my nephew, and go for a run through my in-laws’ neighborhood. While Spokane was being pounded with snow, I made sure the savor the sunshine and warm temperatures.

The weather was beautiful and plenty of Otter Pops were consumed.

Old Friends – In addition to spending time with Sid’s family, we also got to re-connect with some of our dearest Myrtle Beach friends. One particular day Sloan got to visit the trampoline park and go out to lunch with Jacqueline, the BFF she was inseparable with when we lived in South Carolina. The day before we traveled back home, we went over to the home of our spiritual mentors, Tim and Kathy McCormick, for breakfast. I even got to see my former Knights of Columbus brothers when they invited me to drop by before one of their meetings.

Jacqueline and Sloan were re-united again and did lunch together.

Old Places – Over the course of our trip I worked out at the gym I used to exercise at on a daily basis, Iron Legacy. It is still old school and it still has the nicest owners. Best of all, we returned to St. Andrew a few different times for mass. So many good things happened to our family within those walls and it is always special to return to worship God.

A photo I took of Iron Legacy in Dec. 2021. This was taken from inside the class studio and it spans the main workout floor.

Baby Jack – We had plenty of time to see the newest addition to the Mathis family, Jack. When we visited Myrtle in June, he was only a couple weeks old. Now past the 7-month mark, he had grown considerably but was still as sweet as could be. It was fun and hilarious to watch Beau interact with his new cousin. Sid and I each made sure to get our snuggles with our handsome nephew over the time we were there.

Sidney holding Jack and Beau.

Sing 2 – The second week we were there a group of us went to see “Sing 2.” It was a super cute film that had us singing and dancing in our seats the whole time. Just having the opportunity to watch a movie in a theater was a special experience by itself.

Sloan and her cousins at the movie theater to watch “Sing 2.”

On the Small Screen – Going to the theater was really nice but watching programming on television wasn’t bad either. I had the pleasure of watching numerous college football games. Laying in bed at night, Sid and I would watch “Fear Factor” re-runs and after she fell asleep I watched poker. Probably best of all was watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve. Believe it or not, I had never watched the movie until that point. I truly was missing out!

I watched “It’s A Wonderful Life” for the first time this Christmas season.

Good Food – We ate and we ate and we ate. The best part? It was all delicious. From the prime rib Christmas dinner to our takeout favorites to the baked ziti we didn’t obsess over calorie counting. All the baked goods available kept us munching the whole trip.

We baked Red Lobster cheddar biscuits to go with our baked ziti on Christmas Eve,

Bananagram – A game we played both at the condo and at Sud’s parents’ house was Bananagram. It is kind of like a more individualistic, faster-paced Scrabble. It was the perfect game to relax and enjoy a snack with. I had a nice time playing it and even won a few rounds.

What one of my rounds of Bananagram looked like.


What a blessing it was to spend some solid time with Sid’s family. We were sad to leave everyone in South Carolina but thankful for the memories we were able to bring back. We can’t wait for our next visit. Don’t Blink.

Our Summer Vacation to Myrtle Beach

Yesterday I returned from a nice trip to Myrtle Beach. In our second trip back after our move out west, our schedule wasn’t as packed as our holiday visit last December. This allowed us to both enjoy some more downtime while also connecting with people we had not seen in a year and a half. As I typically do with vacation recaps, I thought it would be best to identify five themes from my* June trip to Myrtle Beach.

We were all smiles as we flew to Myrtle Beach.

Meet the Newest Member of the Family – We were most excited to meet our new nephew/cousin. Sidney’s sister, Court, and her husband welcomed their first child into the world on May 17. FaceTime can only fill the geographic void to a certain extent and we couldn’t wait to hold Jack for the first time. He surely didn’t disappoint! I know Sidney fell in love with Jack the moment she laid her eyes on him and it was a pleasant reminder to me about how little newborns truly are (crazy how you forget so quickly). What joy it brought us to meet Jack!

Meet Baby Jack!

Family – Yes, we were ecstatic to see the newest member of the family but we couldn’t wait to see the non-newborn members as well! The four of us spent majority of our time visiting with Sid’s parents, sisters, brothers-in-law, nephews, and niece. We ate meals, played volleyball, watched baseball, and spent precious time visiting. A couple of my personal highlights included Sidney and I having a sleepover with our niece (Russell, 12) and nephew (Harrison, 8) and also enjoying a birthday celebration for Russell and her youngest brother, Henry (4). I am so blessed to be part of Sid’s family!

Being with Sidney’s family was the reason for the vacation.

Summer Activities – Although we didn’t receive summer-like weather while we were in Myrtle Beach, it didn’t stop us from engaging in summer fun. It may have rained more days than not, but I still wanted Sloan to do things while on vacation. We hit up a Myrtle Beach Pelicans game and despite only getting to see a few innings due to rain, we still ate plenty of ballpark food and were treated to a fireworks show. One day I took Sloan to Myrtle Waves, a huge water park in Myrtle Beach. While it drizzled most of the time we were there and I secretly hoped that the sun would come out, Sloan didn’t know the difference. She loved the lazy river and the kiddie slides. My last full day we were there we headed to the beach. It was Beau’s first time seeing the ocean and Sloan spent the time with her cousin building sandcastles and collecting seashells. Throughout the trip we didn’t let a little rain dampen our fun!

Yes, it rained. However, it couldn’t keep us away from the beach, water park, and ball game.

Nice to See You Again – In addition to spending lots of time with Sid’s family, we also saw some of our closest friends. Sloan played multiple times with her Myrtle best friend, Jacqueline, and I got to visit with her mom, Susannah. We went over to the home of our spiritual mentors, the McCormicks, for pizza and conversation. I also stepped foot on the Coastal Carolina University campus for the first time since February 2020 and had a reunion with my University Marketing and Communication team. It was so nice to catch up with everyone and see how they successfully managed through the pandemic. After I left the offices I went across the street with my CCU bestie, Geoff, to our favorite burrito joint for lunch (Welcome to Moe’s!).

We joined the McCormicks for an evening (top photo), I got to have lunch with Geoff (bottom left), and Sloan and Jacqueline got to see each other a few times and I got to catch up with Susannah (bottom right photo).

Enjoying Our Favorites – Sid and I managed to do some of our favorite Myrtle Beach things. We attended mass at St. Andrew, got dessert at our favorite ice cream spot (Bruster’s), went through the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru countless times, and managed to find Mr. Softee. I also got in several workouts at Iron Legacy, the gym that holds a dedicated spot in my heart. We didn’t take for granted the opportunity to visit and enjoy these places that are so special to us.

From church to ice cream to the gym, we got to enjoy some of our favorite Myrtle Beach things/places.


Myrtle Beach will always be part of who I am. I met my wife, had two kids, and spent some of the best years of my life there. To have the opportunity to go back and visit is something I am incredibly thankful for. I am happy that Sid, Sloan, and Beau still have several days left to enjoy. Don’t Blink.

* – I say “my” because Sid, Sloan, and Beau are still making memories in Myrtle Beach. They will be returning next Tuesday.

Sloan’s Baptism

Exactly one week ago, Sloan was baptized. If you read my blog preceding last Sunday, you knew I was greatly anticipating this big day in Sloan’s life. I promised I would shed some light on this happy and holy occasion so today I will say a few words about the baptism.

One week ago today, Sloan was baptized at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Myrtle Beach.

About a month and a half before Sloan was baptized, I went into the parish office of St. Andrew Catholic Church and met with the pastoral associate. He went over the meaning, significance, and logistics of baptism with me. I filled out some paperwork and we set a tentative date for Sloan to be baptized. That date, June 25, 2017, would be finalized once I had Sloan’s Godparents fill out some paperwork as well. The Godmother, Stephanie (Sidney’s sister), and the Godfather, Glen (my brother), wasted no time getting it done. Sidney brought the documents back to the parish office and the date was set!

This is the outside of St. Andrew Church in Myrtle Beach, the place where Sloan was baptized.

Two days before June 25, we went gown shopping. My mom, Sidney, Glen, Sloan, and myself went to a children’s store in Myrtle Beach and picked out a beautiful gown for our daughter to wear. Obviously I don’t get that excited going out to look at clothes but this was kind of fun.

My mom and Sidney looking at baptism gowns.

On the day of her baptism, Sloan’s ceremony took place at 1 p.m. The same crew that went dress shopping showed up at the church at 12:40 p.m. The celebrant, Deacon Robert Jones, was waiting for us when we walked through the doors. It was this man who would give Sloan the sacrament of baptism. Although I had listened to Deacon Jones at mass numerous times, I had never personally met him. We chatted and then he went to put on his vestment.

Deacon Robert Jones was the man who baptized Sloan.

Shortly thereafter, Steph and her family showed up. They were followed by Sid’s parents. Also attending the ceremony was Sidney’s teaching partner, Melissa, and our friends, Kathy and Tim McCormick. With 1 p.m. approaching, we had a nice little group ready to take part in the holy sacrament.

Deacon Jones took charge. With Sidney, Sloan, and I right next to him at the baptismal font, he spoke to the people gathered in a sort of semi-circle fashion. He welcomed everyone and went over what was about to take place. He used the expertise of our niece and nephew, Russell and Harrison, to explain the healing power of water. He described why it was important for Sloan to be baptized and then made it a point to let all gathered know that everyone was welcome to take photos. He then invited Steph and Glen to join us up front.*

Russell and Harrison attended the baptism and helped answer questions asked by Deacon Jones.

The ceremony then started. Deacon Jones asked Sidney and I the name of our child followed by what we were asking for her. He then asked Steph and Glen if they would be willing to help Sid and I with our duty as Christian parents. The deacon then welcomed Sloan into the church. Then, in a moving display, Deacon Jones welcomed everyone gathered to come up and trace the sign of the cross on Sloan’s forehead. As I held her in my arms, our family and friends came up and blessed Sloan.

Everyone was invited to come up to the baptismal font and trace the Sign of the Cross on Sloan’s forehead.

Deacon Jones then anointed Sloan with the Holy Oil of Catechumens. This is a good time to point out that Sloan, looking as beautiful as an angel, was peaceful the entire ceremony. She was half awake for the duration of it and was nothing but sweet from the start to the finish. I say this because the oil was the first time Sloan could have “objected.” You see, the oil was placed on her breast so Sidney had to pull up her long gown (I was holding Sloan in my arms) so Deacon Jones could apply it. She didn’t make a peep.

Deacon Jones blessing Sloan with the oil.

It was now time for the main event. Deacon Jones asked all of us gathered some basic tenets of the faith. After we accepted, he specifically asked the parents and godparents whether it was our will that Sloan be baptized in the faith of the church. Once we all answered to the affirmative, the water flowed.

The parents and Godparents played a big part in Sloan’s baptism.

“I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” Deacon Jones proclaimed as he poured holy water on Sloan’s precious head three different times.

Deacon Robert Jones baptizing Sloan. After an initial wave of shock, Sloan calmed right down.

The first time the water touched Sloan’s head she tensed up right away and let out a little noise. However, right after the initial shock wore off, she was right back to being a peaceful little girl.

Her baptismal candle was lit and a blessing was said. Our small group started to clap and a couple of tears streamed down the cheek of Sloan’s proud daddy. Cleansed from original sin and baptized just the way Jesus commanded, it was a very joyful moment.

Deacon Jones lighting the baptism candle.

With the ceremony concluded, we all took photos. We thanked Deacon Jones for not just doing a good job with the structure of the ceremony itself but for more importantly administering the holy sacrament to Sloan. When the last photo was taken, we exited the church absolutely elated. Our girl is now baptized and salvation has been given to her. Alleluia, Alleluia. Don’t Blink.

* If you are Catholic, you have probably witnessed numerous baptisms during the course of an actual mass. I attended one parish where it seemed like there was a baptism at mass every week! Although this is the preferred method for many of the faith, I had always wanted a more intimate and personal ceremony away from the stresses and unpredictability of a regular service in front of the congregation. As a parishioner of St. Andrew, I never needed to worry about this because it is parish policy that all baptisms occur outside of mass.

My Proud Daddy Moment

Since becoming a dad, I have not had a single instance where I wasn’t proud of Sloan. However, this past weekend I had a defining “Proud Father” moment.

Before I became a dad, I would probably respond to that opening paragraph with something along the lines of “How can you be genuinely proud of a 9-week-old?” I mean it is not like Sloan’s brain is developed enough to ace a test. She can’t even crawl at this point so she can’t accomplish an athletic feat. She isn’t talking yet so she surely can’t blow us away with her singing voice.

But when you become a parent of a newborn, you immediately realize what being proud means. It isn’t about achieving something that society deems as an accomplishment. Just the fact that your baby happened to start as a speck in the womb, grow into an actual infant, and then enter the world is reason enough to be full of pride. However, like I said, Sloan recently provided me with a specific prideful moment that I will always remember.

On Sunday, I took Sloan to church by myself. It was my first real time taking Sloan somewhere without anyone else. I walked into St. Andrew carrying a car seat with a big diaper bag draped over my shoulder. I navigated the crowds and found a seat at the end of a pew. I then crossed my fingers that my daughter would make it through the mass.

This was Sloan and I after mass this past Sunday.

I kept Sloan in her car seat for most of the service. Because she was semi-covered and because she was a perfect angel, fellow parishioners who were fixated in prayer didn’t really notice the baby at the end of the row.

After we recited the Lord’s Prayer and offered the sign of peace, I knew it would be just a couple minutes until I would remove Sloan from her car seat and take her up to the altar with me for Holy Eucharist. I knelt down with the congregation as we recited the important words of Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. At that moment, as the eucharistic ministers approached the altar, I sat back up in my pew. I then slowly and gently took Sloan out of her seat and cradled her in my arms.

The couple behind me immediately cooed and asked her name and age. I answered their questions and they remarked on what a beautiful baby she was. Little did I know that this would be just the tip of the iceberg.

By that time, the communion line had started. Sloan and I were seated in the front half of the church but we were in one of the back rows of the particular section. Not only that, but because of our location, we (well, I) would be receiving the holy sacrament from the priest himself right at the front of the church. Thus, we would be walking past a lot of rows and a bunch of people to get to Father Jose.

I had the pleasure of taking Sloan right down the aisle of St. Andrew Catholic Church and straight up to the front of the altar.

The usher gave our row the signal to ease into line. Sloan and I moved from one end of the row to the other and then took a right to head toward the altar.

At that moment, I swear I knew what Sidney felt like the day she walked down the aisle at our wedding. I kept my eyes either directly on Sloan or straight ahead but I could feel eyeballs looking right at me. Well, let’s be honest, I could feel the eyeballs looking at Sloan. It was such a beautiful feeling, one I couldn’t really even find the words to describe to Sidney when we got home. The whole way down I could sense the gazes and hear the ever so light gasps of the people celebrating mass that day. When I finally reached Father Jose he had his wide grin once again. He gave me my host and then gave Sloan her blessing.

On the way back to our seats I could again feel everyone looking at Sloan. Although I still looked mostly straight ahead, I did shift my eyes back and forth as we walked back. I could see smiles.

Upon returning to my pew I was hit with emotion from not just receiving Jesus’ body but also from the reception that Sloan got. Even though I had absolutely no scientific evidence that people actually were indeed touched by Sloan, the feeling I had in my heart was proof enough. I was one proud daddy.


With Sloan’s presence now out of the bag (ummm…I mean out of the car seat), parishioner after parishioner came up to me at the end of the mass to say what a precious little girl I had. Although the compliments were so sweet and nice, it still didn’t beat the feeling I had walking down the aisle with her.

When Sidney and I talked when I arrived home, she told me that there is just a sweet spot that people have for a daddy by himself with a little baby. I would say her assessment is right. I know I spent most of this post bragging but it was a moment I will remember for the rest of my life. Thank you God for blessing Sloan with her mama’s looks. Don’t Blink.

A Man of Faith: Monsignor James LeBlanc

Last weekend, St. Andrew Catholic Church was packed. As is usual for the 4:30 p.m. Saturday vigil this time of year, a standing room only crowd had gathered. A few minutes before mass started, Monsignor James LeBlanc left his spot in the entrance procession. Walking away from the staging area near the vestibule, he started strolling past the rows. Giving the hardworking ushers a big hand, he used his lapel mic to point out to the folks standing against the walls of possible seats within the pews.

“We got some room here.”
“Looks like we got a spot right there.”
“Brothers and sisters, please make sure to move to the center of the pews so others can sit down.”

St. Andrew is not a small church. Msg. LeBlanc had probably went 20 rows deep, almost reaching the altar itself, before turning back around and meeting his altar servers and deacon back at the vestibule. You don’t usually see a pastor of a large parish take on the role of usher but then again you also usually don’t get the opportunity to be in the presence of a special priest like Msgr. LeBlanc.

Msgr. James LeBlanc strolled past several rows of pews inside St. Andrew Catholic Church to try and find seats for the people standing. Try to picture this photo with an overflowing crowd.


A parish is not defined by its pastor. Rather, it thrives or declines based on the faith of its community. To make this point perfectly clear, the Catholic Church does not keep priests around at one church for too long. Dioceses hand out new assignments to priests on a regular basis, uprooting them from one parish home and transferring them to another.

It is by design that the names on a parish marquee won’t be there forever. However, it is still bittersweet when the priests move on.

Although I understand this thinking and although I have come to expect it after three decades of practicing the faith, it is still bittersweet to see a priest move on. However, when Msgr. LeBlanc announced he would be departing St. Andrew a few weeks ago, I felt more “bitter” than “sweet.”

When Msgr. James LeBlanc announced he was leaving St. Andrew, both Sidney and I couldn’t help but feel sad.

If you know Msgr. LeBlanc, the story about him navigating a crowded church to find seating for those on their feet wouldn’t surprise you. You see, the man just doesn’t fit the mold that some people might concoct of a Catholic priest. Msgr. LeBlanc made no qualms about challenging the congregation to sing louder or say a prayer with more conviction. He liberally exclaimed “AMEN” with the expectation that the congregation would respond with the same (they did). He opened up his homilies for discussion. He wasn’t always 100% politically correct.

But even though he effectively smashed stereotypes that some people might have about how Catholic priests should serve and/or act, make no mistake about it, he was always Catholic to the core. He ran smooth services, gave beautiful homilies, displayed absolute reverence for the Holy Eucharist, and was very knowledgeable about any question you might have about Catholic doctrine. He made me proud about my faith; he made me confident to introduce Sidney to it.

Sidney and Msgr. LeBlanc made quick friends. He helped make me comfortable to introduce Sid to the faith.

St. Andrew is a tough assignment. Serving as an administrator for a large parish is one thing, it requires management and diplomacy skills. But St. Andrew is more than a big community. On any given Sunday, the crowd for that mass could be comprised of 75% vacationers and/or snowbirds. The constant revolving door of new worshippers can throw a wrench into a pastor’s plan for cohesion. Traditions that priests want to instill with their parishes become harder when the population changes drastically week to week. However, Msgr. LeBlanc successfully implemented the type of mass he wanted to run. More importantly, he served as a strong and holy man of faith for the thousands of people who travel to the Myrtle Beach area on a yearly basis. By giving a great impression to our visitors, he not only represented the parish well but the entire Diocese of Charleston.

Sidney and I with Msgr. LeBlanc at his farewell party.

As you can see, Msgr. LeBlanc was an incredible pastor when it came to Sundays. He mastered the responsibilities that many outsiders and even people of the faith think priests solely concentrate on. But Msgr. LeBlanc’s mass presentation, preaching style, and rapport with the audience weren’t the only things that endeared himself to so many during his time at St. Andrew. Rather, it was what he did on the days when the church wasn’t overflowing with people that made him stand out.

Sidney and I had the pleasure of getting married by Msgr. LeBlanc. In addition to listening to a workshop he gave on marriage in the Catholic Church that was open to the parish community, he also privately counseled us. About 10 days before our big day, we met with Msgr. LeBlanc in the parish offices. He blew us away. We chatted for almost two hours, a truly inspiring conversation that touched both Sidney and I. As Sid and I talked later that night, we both expressed how thankful we were for that special time.

About 10 days before our wedding, we sat down with Msgr. LeBlanc for a very spiritual and memorable conversation.

The day of our wedding was incredible. He squashed nerves, provided a sense of calm to the ceremony, and made it special from the entrance procession to the signing of the marriage certificate. He preached about how it wasn’t him that was administering the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony but rather Sidney and myself. We will never forget him coaching Sidney’s 3-year-old nephew to give us the rings right before we said our vows.

The moment where Msgr. LeBlanc coached our nephew, Harrison, to help with the ring delivery. Under LeBlanc’s guidance, Harrison held out the rings so they could be sprinkled with holy water and then he brought them to us.

Whether it was listening to confessions, attending church functions, or pouring his heart into starting the area’s first Catholic high school, Msgr. LeBlanc gave 100%. He didn’t do it for recognition or praise, he just did it for God and the people of the parish. You see, they don’t come more humble than Msgr. LeBlanc. During the summer, a nice reception was held to honor his 20th anniversary to the priesthood. But the truth is that if parish officials had not learned about that milestone themselves at the last minute, Msgr. LeBlanc would have let it pass by without saying a word. He also said next to nothing (at least when I was around)  about his elevation to the rank of Monsignor, a major and holy achievement in the career of any priest. And, as I have been told, any gratuity he received for performing special ceremonies such as weddings went promptly into the collection basket at the next mass.

Msgr. LeBlanc speaking at the reception marking his 20th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.

Msgr. LeBlanc is off to the Columbia area to become pastor of two parishes, Transfiguration Church and St. Theresa Church. Undoubtedly he will touch countless more people. Both parishes are very lucky.

It goes without saying that the community of St. Andrew is so appreciative toward Msgr. LeBlanc. We are sad to see him go. On a personal level, I will really miss listening to him preach. I will miss the way he impacted Sidney, an influence that has helped her express to me that one day she wants to become Catholic. We will both miss him when it comes time for the baptism of our daughter. But more than anything else, we are just thankful. Msgr. LeBlanc touched and enriched our lives and we can’t express our gratitude toward God enough. Don’t Blink.