It was my first Valentine's Day without the love of my life since I was 18.

I found the Valentine card I sent to her two years ago. In it, I wrote: "I have never loved you more. You never cease to amaze me, amuse me, and captivate me."

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    Full disclosure here. I'm not the guy you want to call when you need a guy to do a job with a hammer.

    But I do know the fundamentals. A hammer can be used to build something - or to tear it down. Either way, what a hammer hits can't possibly stay the same.

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      Ten more minutes and my wife would have never been born. The story that changed everything is hope for any of us who love someone who's making some very bad choices.

      My wife's grandfather, Bill Hadley, had given up on life. Trashing a profitable career for the alcohol and cocaine he couldn't resist...labeled with a prison record and penniless - he was hopeless and suicidal.

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        Zero visibility. And I was driving in it.

        All I could think of was those disturbing images of 50 vehicles smooshed in some fog-caused pileup. Thankfully, I made it. But it is scary driving when you have no idea what's ahead.

        Which pretty much describes how a lot of folks feel about the times we're living in right now. As Bob Dylan said - "the times, they are a changing." We're just not sure where the road's going.

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          Jim cracked me up with the story he told in his recent family newsletter.

          He and his honey were enjoying some personal time at the Atlantic Ocean. Which is really big. Jim decided to take a picture of himself and the ocean. Which is really big.

          Later, he made a disturbing discovery - which he reported this way. "I think I missed the ocean!"

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            Christmas Eve at our house is anything but a "Silent Night." How about "Family Circus"?

            Each year brings a lot of high-energy, high-decibel giving and opening of gifts. One year, somewhere in the flying wrapping paper, was one overwhelmed two-year-old. Quietly dazed amid the happy din.

            There was one person who noticed. Grandma. Of course.

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              It was just days before Christmas. A drunk driver suddenly veered into our lane and totaled our car - with our whole family inside. Thank God, we were all okay. Our car? Junkyard.

              Then there was the Christmas my sons and I decided to try out the NFL football one had just gotten as a gift. Great fun - until Mr. Klutz here caught one on the end of his finger. My finger? Broken. The emergency room folks gave me a Christmas gift. A splint.

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                Tough news at the beginning of the Christmas season. The "lovely lady" mom of the Brady Bunch died on Thanksgiving.

                Florence Henderson played lots of roles on Broadway and TV. But she'll always be remembered as Carol Brady - mother to the six kids of that iconic sitcom family, the Brady Bunch.

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                  They're in all the paintings of the First Thanksgiving. And all the season's grade school plays.

                  Native Americans. The First Americans.

                  We invited them to dinner that historic day.

                  Then we forgot them.

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                    I think my pastor spoke for millions of Americans on this first Sunday after Election Day. He simply said, "I'm exhausted." Beyond the battle fatigue, there's a wide - and passionate - range of emotions. From celebrating to grieving, from anticipation to anger, from relief to fear, from hope to hurt. With the political battlefield strewn with damaged relationships, raw emotions, finger-pointing, conflicting passions - and lots of uncertainty.

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