Good people and good Friend have added to life experiences here

Published 11:33 pm Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Never say never.

With those words, I re-introduced myself to readers of The Tidewater News nearly two years ago. I explained in that original Still Waters column that I’d left the paper in 1998, never expecting to come back.

Life intervened, however, and I found myself here again, covering the same beat and getting reacquainted with many of the same folks I’d known back then.

Today, I’m leaving again, headed to the Suffolk News-Herald to become managing editor there. But this time, I won’t say anything about “never.” I’ve learned that lesson well.

Instead, let me just say how much I’ve been blessed that God opened the doors for this job, with these people, at this time.

I’m sure some people must have considered it a step or two backwards for me to return to the place where I started my newspaper career so many years ago. I, however, have come to see that there were lessons I missed learning when I was here the first time; my second stint at the TN has given me the opportunity to do so. In the midst of learning those lessons, I hope I’ve served the paper — and this community — well.

Last time I left The Tidewater News, I didn’t even look back. Today, I do so with the mixed emotions of someone whose career advancement depends in large part upon leaving behind dear friends. It’s the first day of college all over again.

As on that first day in Blacksburg, I wonder what new experiences are in store for me. I’m a bit overwhelmed by the knowledge of the hard work that lies ahead, and I’m more than a little worried about whether I’m prepared for what I’ll encounter.

Unlike that time in my life, however, I know that I have a Friend who will always be there for me. It’s a thought that brings me comfort that I ached for during my turbulent years at Virginia Tech.

The support of that Friend also has carried me during the ups and downs of my time back here in Franklin. Newspapering is a tough business — all the more so in an unsympathetic economy — and it is going through radical changes today that leave some of the toughest publishers quivering.

The Tidewater News hasn’t been immune to the pressures of this new publishing paradigm. The changes have claimed some good people — and they have resulted in some others being left behind. The paper has had to adapt, as has its staff. Even our readers have had to get used to the changes, even if those changes have resulted in a better newspaper.

Through it all, my Friend has propped me up. He has given me strength. He has given me hope. He has assured me that — even when things seem bleak — I have a future.

When I started this job, I found a passage from the Book of Proverbs taped to my computer monitor, and I refer to it nearly every day.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

My Friend has done just as He promised. He’ll do the same for you if you’ll let him.

To all my other good friends here in Franklin, Southampton and Isle of Wight County: Thank you for what you’ve added to my life during the past two years.

Goodbye, and God bless you.