Dear Hudson: Happy 6th Birthday

webmail.valleygroveDear Hudson,

I hardly know where to start. Six years ago, you changed my life! I became a POPPO on June 22, 2014 — which is also the day you were born. Since then, we’ve added 3 others to our little club, but you are the one who first called me POPPO.

I wish I had written down all the fun things we have done over the last six years. You are an expert in dinosaurs, snakes, monsters and Bakugans (For those of you reading this…Google it). I learn something new every time we get together. There is never a dull moment when you are around.

Something happened yesterday (6/21/20), however that reminded me that you are growing up. For 5 years, our Sunday afternoon routine has been to eat lunch with the family and then watch a few cartoons on TV and take a nap. You are the only one of the grandchildren who ever liked to take a nap with me. The other 3 don’t like naps AT ALL. About 6 months ago, you informed me that you were too old to be taking naps. In fact, you said, “Poppo, Vaughans don’t take naps. They PLAY!” I guess I knew that day would finally come, but it was just another reminder that you are getting older.

BUT…yesterday, after you played in the pool with Harper, Ellie and Benjamin…you said, “Poppo…you want to go lay down and rest a while? It will be like old times!” So, you made a pillow fort on my bed — we watched 30 minutes of cartoons and we took a little nap. You were right…it was just like “old times.”

My guess is these “old times” days are going to be fewer and farther between now that you are going into the first grade. You are making new friends and you are playing baseball and getting busier and busier. I just want you to know that I cherish these days.

On another note…as you grow older you are going to interact with more and more people. Some of them will look different than you, some will talk different than you, some will come from a different part of the world than you. I want you to remember this…ALL people — no matter who they are or what they sound like or look like are made in the image of God and they ALL deserve our respect.

In Matthew 7:12 Jesus said, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Scooter…we live in a world right now that doesn’t seem to remember this teaching. There is a great deal of selfishness in the world, but Jesus said that you and I need to be different from the people in the world. When we meet people, we are supposed to show them a love and respect that acknowledges the fact that we all bear the image of our Creator. If we can do that…perhaps we can change the attitudes of people in our little part of the world.

2020 has already been a doozy of a year and we are only half way through. I don’t know what the rest of the year will bring, but I do know this…

Nanna and I love  you very much and we always have and we always will. You won’t always make decisions that we agree with, but that will NEVER change the way we love you or your cousins. We LOVE being your grandparents.

And Scooter…whenever you feel like you want to have a day that reminds you of “old times,” I will always be ready. You can call me any time and I will always be there for you.

Happy 6th Birthday Hudson. I love you forever.




Dear Hudson…Thanks for Being My Very Best BUDDY

Happy birImage-1thday Scooter! Over the weekend (6/22/19), we all gathered and celebrated your 5th birthday. It hardly seems possible that you could be 5 years old…but you are and you’ve been preparing me for this day for at least 4 months. Measuring time is not a concept you have quite mastered just yet — don’t worry, I have trouble with it as well. It seems the older I get the faster time moves. I know that at 5, you see it from a very different perspective. Ever since Nanna celebrated her birthday in March, you’ve been reminding me that your birthday was next and that you would be 5.

Watching you over these 5 years has been one of the greatest joys of my life. You love life and you help me see the world in a much different way when I’m with you. That’s a good thing because the older I get, the more cynical I tend to be. So thanks for keeping the little boy alive in Poppo! I just know 5 is going to be a great year for you.

Each time I write one of these letters to the grandchildren, I try and think of some life lesson that I would like to pass on to you. Now that there are 4 of you guys — you, Harper, Ellie and Benjamin…I’m trying to share things with each of you that I hope will help you as you grow and mature. This year I want you to focus on FRIENDSHIP.

Early on in your life, you told me that I was your buddy! I just love that. We’ve been buddies now for 5 years.  I know we are buddies for life, but you have a major life event taking place this year that is going to change our relationship just a little. You are going to SCHOOL! You are already excited about that and excited about meeting new friends.

One of the things I have noticed about you is how well you get along with others. It seems regardless of how old or how young the people are — you have a way of including everyone. One of your favorite things is to go to Chick-fil-a and play on their playground. My favorite thing about Chick-fil-a is EATING! But you like to socialize. No matter who is in there, when you come out — you’ve made new friends. You don’t always know their names, but you tell me all about the fun you are having with “my friends.” That makes me happy. 

As you start to school, you are going to meet lots of new friends. You will enjoy spending time with them and playing games and just getting to know new people. That’s a special time. I just want you to remember one thing. Don’t forget to include those who might be a little shy or they might be a little different in some other way than you. Not everybody is as outgoing as you are so it will be important for you to always be aware of what’s going on around you and if you see someone by themselves — invite them to join your group. I know you are going to do that because I already see that in your personality.

I know it’s hard to imagine, but Poppo hasn’t always been the loud-mouth, outgoing person I am today. OK — I probably have always been loud-mouthed, but I remember being excluded a time or two when I was a little boy. It wasn’t fun for everybody to be involved in something fun and I was on the outside looking in. I’ve never forgotten what it felt like and I’ve tried to do my best to look for those folks who might need an extra measure of encouragement along the way. I hope you will do the same.

I don’t know what you are going to be when you grow up. Right now, you want to be a police officer who catches poachers who are trying to kill the dinosaurs. I’m not sure there will be much of a market for that as you get older, but you never know. I do know that you are one of the top negotiators I’ve ever met in my life. No matter what anybody suggests, you always have a “better idea.” And you usually win the argument — especially with Poppo. I pray we can harness that skill and use it for good. Who knows — you may one day write a book entitled “The NEW AND IMPROVEDArt of the Deal.”

I realize that as you grow older, you will have more and more friends in your life. That’s the way God intended. But never forget…you’ve got one buddy who will always love you and will always be in your corner…cheering you on to become exactly what God has planned for you.

I love you Scooter. Thanks for being my BUDDY!



Scooter…It’s All About FAMILY


Happy 4th birthday Scooter (June 22)! I found 5 of my favorite pictures of us for your letter this year. I’ll admit, my eyes sweated just a bit as I looked back to June 2014 and saw how you have grown over these 4 years. It seems like yesterday, Nanna and I…along with a room full of others were patiently waiting for you to get here.

This has been another eventful year in our lives. You are growing into a wonderful big brother to Harper. It makes me so happy to see you loving on her and trying to take care of her. Don’t get me wrong…you have your moments with her, but for the most part you are doing what a big brother is supposed to do. Just this morning, when you saw Harper, you said, “Hi Harper. You are soooo cute!” I just love that.

You also became a cousin this year. Aunt Deeves and Knuckle Nate had a baby this year. From the first time you met Ellie, you were smitten. You call her Baby Ellie. In fact, we all call her Baby Ellie now. My guess is you will probably still call her Baby Ellie when she is 18 years old! You really love Harper and Baby Ellie — that makes me happy.

Whenever you see Poppo and Nanna these days, you want to know if we are going to do something FUN. Usually, the conversation goes something like this…”Poppo, let’s do something FUN.” “Like what Scooter?” “Well, I have an idea. Let’s go to the aquarium and see the sharks…or let’s go to Dollywood…or let’s go get pizza and play dinosaur games.” You have a list of things you like to do and you are always ready with an idea!

That brings me to something I want to talk about with you today. It’s one of the most important words you will ever hear…FAMILY. You are blessed with a family who loves you very much. Between Nanna and Poppo, Nonnie and Poppy and all the rest…I hope you realize just how much you are loved.

Family is important. In the Bible times, family was the most important part of life. If you wanted to understand society, you talked about family relationships. The ancient Hebrews spent much time sharing stories about family. We have lost some of that importance in our world today, but YOUR FAMILY — Vaughans and Hills — still believe that the most important thing in life is FAMILY.

Many people in the world today find their identity in what they do in life or where they live. There is a popular TV show today called Jeopardy. When they introduce the contestants on that show, they usually introduce them by telling where they are from and what they do. For example, if Poppo was to go on Jeopardy, they might say, “A Baptist preacher from Seymour, Tennessee.” We seem to boil people down to those two things in our world and I think that’s sad.

I want you to know that you are not defined by where you live or what you do, but who you are. And you are part of a FAMILY. The Bible paints a picture that teaches us that we are part of a family TREE. Each individual is a branch on that tree. As different members of the tree pass away, we are left with the leaves and branches of others who carry on the family tradition and family name.

Your Popple (my daddy), always taught me that the most important thing in life was your name. It didn’t matter how much money you made or what kind of car you drove…what mattered is what people thought about when they heard your name. When people hear your name — Hudson Keith Vaughan, I want them to think good thoughts. I want them to think of a person who treats all people the way he would want to be treated. I want them to think of a person who shares the love of Jesus by the way he talks and by the way he lives his life.

You are getting old enough now to begin to understand just how important family truly is. When you were born, I told you that no matter what you did or where you went, we would always love you — unconditionally. Families don’t always agree on everything, but at the end of the day I have learned that when the world turns its back on me, the people who stick by me are FAMILY. Don’t ever forget that.

I’m looking forward to many more adventures this year. There are some people who think I put too much emphasis on Nanna, my children and my grandchildren. They think I post too many pictures of you, Harper and Ellie on social media. You know what? I don’t care what they think. I believe that my greatest accomplishment in this life is my family. When I’m gone, I don’t want people to talk about my preaching or how I was as a pastor. I want them to remember one thing…Keith Vaughan loved his FAMILY.

A man who Poppo admired a lot was Menachem Begin. He was the Prime Minister of Israel. Here is something he said and I truly believe it’s true.

“Peace is the beauty of life. It is sunshine. It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family. It is the advancement of man, the victory of a just cause, the triumph of truth.”

I love you Scooter and I am so thankful to God that He made you a part of MY FAMILY. Happy birthday.



Dear Hudson…A Letter from Poppo


Dear Hudson,

It hardly seems possible, but you and I now have a 2 year relationship going! You stole my heart on June 22, 2014 and I can’t imagine what life would be like without you there. I continue to be amazed at just how quickly time passes. I was looking at some pictures this morning of the day you were born and you were so little. We thought you were the most handsome boy ever born. Now look at you. You get handsomer and handsomer (I know that’s not really a word) every day — much like Poppo.

Speaking of Poppo — that’s what you call me now. At first I thought you would call me Poppa, but as we all have learned, you have a mind of your own and you decided that my name would be Poppo. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody else call their granddaddy by that name, so I really like it. And that is one of the advantages of being the first grandchild — you get to name your grandparents.

As with every year, our family had a milestone event during the last year. Aunt Danielle (you call her Deevs) got MARRIED! I know…how exciting is that? You were in the wedding and you stole the show. She married Nate (you call him Knuckle Nate). It was a beautiful wedding and our family was there to celebrate. Deevs and Knuckle Nate are teachers in North Carolina and you like to go and visit them with mommy and daddy. Teachers have VERY IMPORTANT jobs and Deevs and Knuckle Nate are very good at their job. Maybe you will grow up to be a teacher one day.

By the way…YOUR life is about to really change. For 2 years, you have been an only child. But as you know, you are going to be a big brother in just a few weeks. In September, we will get to meet Harper Lane. PREPARE YOURSELF NOW! I don’t know what it is about babies, but they create a lot of excitement and people are going to expect you to be a “big helper” for mommy and daddy. I’m sure you will do your very best. You already are very quick to let me know that you can do things all by yourself. But I’m telling you…this is going to be unlike anything you have ever experienced.

All the attention is going to be on Harper for a while. That’s ok. She’s your sister. When she first gets here, you might think everybody has forgotten about you. They haven’t. It’s just that very little babies require a lot more attention than big boys like you. You’ll be tempted to try and do things to get noticed…but let me tell you from personal experience…just lay low for a while. You might think the things you are doing are funny, but probably nobody else will. They will accuse you of “acting out” and “being jealous.” That’s why it’s best for you to just chill for a few months and let everybody get used to this new baby. Hang out with Poppo…I have a lot of experience flying under the radar. I’ll be there to help you out!

I have a sister. Her name is Brenda (you call her Aunt B). I was three years old when she was born. I love my sister very much…NOW. But at first, I thought she had come to take all the love my momma and daddy had away from me. I didn’t like that thought at all. I quickly learned that my momma and daddy (Granny and Popple) had so much love that they were able to love me AND Brenda. And I promise, your momma and daddy have that much love too. Help them take care of Harper and as she grows, you will be able to “show her the ropes” since you will have been around a lot longer. She will need a good friend she can always count on. That will be YOU. You and Harper will probably fuss and fight a little (that’s normal), but in the end, she will always know she can count on you whenever she needs you. That’s the way it is supposed to be with families.

Here’s a verse from the Bible I want you to remember. It’s Proverbs 20:11 and it says, “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.” As you grow, I will remind you of this verse pretty often. Your parents are doing their very best to teach you right from wrong so you will make good choices in your life. Your momma and daddy love you very much and they are doing a great job raising you. Pay attention to what they teach you. Popple used to say to me — “remember who your momma and daddy are.” That was good advice then and it is today as well.

Well that’s it for today. I love you so much. You have the gift of being able to make me smile no matter how I feel. Remember…no matter where you go or what you do, we will always love you.

I love you Scooter.