Sand in the Gears

Archive for the ‘Fatherhood’ Category

Easing the burden

Friday, March 14th, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 18 Comments »

"I'm sorry I shot you in the face with my Nerf gun. Do you forgive me?" My son knows he is supposed to ask for forgiveness, just as his brother knows that sooner or later he will be expected to say ...

The world we show them

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 Posted in Fatherhood | 13 Comments »

"Which world do you want to live in?" My oldest son, just days from his 14th birthday, glares back at me. Behind him in the car sit his brothers. Their hands are pressed to their faces. One of them is crying. Caleb begins ...

The ministering parent

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 16 Comments »

Do you ever look on your children, and wish they had better than you? Back when we were shopping my embarrassingly confessional first book, my agent at the time told me I needed a ministry to accompany it. She said this ...

The Cost of Calling

Thursday, December 26th, 2013 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 12 Comments »

Many parents carry within our hearts—sometimes in a cramped and even despairing corner—a vision of what we hope our children will become. This vision lives deeper than our wish that they be doctors or NFL quarterbacks, deeper even than our desire ...

Crafted

Monday, December 9th, 2013 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 49 Comments »

My mother died while I was at the beach and so while my children spent their days on the shore, I spoke by phone with the many professionals who position themselves between the living and the dead. My thirteen year-old wanted ...

Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 28th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 4 Comments »

We read somewhere that the Pilgrims survived on a few kernels of corn and were thankful, so we settled on an exquisite Thanksgiving torture wherein we set bowls of steaming, buttered, gravy-addled food in front of our children who have ...

Good guy or bad guy?

Friday, September 20th, 2013 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting, The Sermons | 15 Comments »

One of my sons asked about an historical figure, or maybe it was some living politician whom history will soon forget. My son wanted to know whether this man was a good guy, or a bad guy. This is our most ...

Sheep and wolves

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 10 Comments »

Because I am a father I think about the parents of that boy torn to pieces, of his sister whose leg was taken. I think about those parents in Newtown, whose biggest Christmas purchases were coffins for their sons and ...

Benediction from a bad man

Monday, April 1st, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 28 Comments »

I guess I stopped writing about personal things here because I didn't like the person I had become. I felt stupid, the faith and family writer who gets divorced. This was compounded by coming to DC and finding myself—though alongside ...

Hell and Christmas

Sunday, December 16th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 23 Comments »

There is nothing to be done but weep. Cry out for the children with bodies shattered, for the ones covered in blood not their own, for the ones who didn't die instantly. Cry out for those who fell protecting them. ...

On the imperative of baby swaddling

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 6 Comments »

Hey you, with the crying baby. I understand that this little person is, in deeply emotional, psychological, physiological, theological senses of the term, an extension of your person. Please recognize, however, that this is not literally the case. In other words, the ...

A pox on this house

Monday, August 20th, 2012 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 3 Comments »

The last fortnight was chicken pox time for the Woodlief boys. I have acquaintances who are apostles of all things scientific and modern, and who are therefore appalled that my boys never received the chicken pox vaccine. It seemed like ...

On the passing of Sheriff Andy

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012 Posted in Fatherhood, The Artful Life | 3 Comments »

My first miserable year in graduate school I got a used television and paid for cable so I could watch four episodes of The Andy Griffith Show a day. My apartment mate, a math whiz with perfect board scores from Harvard, ...

A boy grows

Sunday, February 12th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 5 Comments »

Yesterday was Stephen Caleb's birthday. He's twelve, and there are now only 364 days between him and the onset of teenagerism, which I associate -- at least among American kids -- with sloth and self-indulgence, ignorance and idiocy and all-around ...

More than bread

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | Comments Off on More than bread

When we don't think we can control some things we take charge of what we can. This is why the functionary fastidiously maintains a constant distance between his stapler and his tape dispenser, and why the abused child has a ...

Father’s Day

Sunday, June 19th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 1 Comment »

There's certainly no distinction to breeding, and so Father's Day must be intended to celebrate something other than one's ability to procreate. It began in tragedy, which is maybe the truth of too many things, the world's way of daring ...

One vowel can make a big difference

Saturday, June 4th, 2011 Posted in Fatherhood, Snapshots of Life | 10 Comments »

Yesterday it was just me and my three year-old, Isaiah John. We were cruising down the road in my truck, past bars and tattoo parlors. Yes, there are tattoo parlors in Wichita. The sun was out, the wind was blowing, and we ...

Heaven presses in

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 13 Comments »

I was asked to speak to some graduates last week, and so I spoke to them about finding their place in the world and about endurance in the face of suffering and about decisions that once we make them can ...

Good men

Friday, April 29th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 5 Comments »

Someone told me recently, "You're a good man, Tony." This made me think of a James Taylor concert I heard about once. In the hush between sets, someone in the audience shouted, "I love you, James!" Taylor stepped to the microphone and replied, ...

The good in them

Sunday, April 10th, 2011 Posted in Fatherhood, Snapshots of Life | 10 Comments »

I didn't mean to be gone this long; the hours piled up into days and then weeks, and once again I was a negligent blogger. Sometimes I think there should be a social services hotline for blogs, to have them ...

The girl who is gone

Monday, March 7th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 31 Comments »

I don't know the first thing about how to be a father to a fifteen year-old girl. Today is her birthday and if she had lived I would be puzzling this out, what I think about clothes and boys and ...

Sanctuary

Thursday, February 24th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 21 Comments »

Sometimes I am overwhelmed, as I stand with my sons in the cathedral, by the feeling of safety. It's not something I ever felt in church as a child. In those days I felt out of place. I thought I ...

Possibility

Friday, January 28th, 2011 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 7 Comments »

My work with non-profits over the years has given me the opportunity to sit down with a number of philanthropists. I'm just now flying home from visiting Tucson, Arizona, where I met with several people who have led very different ...

On Tiger Mamas, bad art, and the heart of a child

Monday, January 24th, 2011 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 13 Comments »

My first thought, upon hearing of Amy Chua's now famous (or infamous) essay about the superiority of Chinese mothers, is that it's irrelevant to me. The odds that I will go out and father a child with a Chinese woman are ...

Intentional heart

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 16 Comments »

I started a garden last summer. It went to weeds, and then the weeds grew parched under the relentless Kansas sun, and then they withered and died. I traveled more than I'd anticipated, and when I was home other things ...

Ritual and vision

Friday, January 14th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 5 Comments »

When I was a little boy, I was a pagan. Like our ancestors who had lost sight of God, yet saw visions of him in the luminescent peace of a harvest moon, or the spine-rattling fury of a thunderclap, I ...

The Loughner boy’s eyes

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 20 Comments »

When young men take up guns and set about killing to satisfy whatever dark insanity has possessed them, I think of my sons. I think about the world in which they walk, a world that is physically safer than most ...

On suffering

Monday, January 10th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 6 Comments »

If you believe God loves His children, and then you suffer something terrible and tragic, you have to face head-on the question: Is there God? Close on its heels comes the second query, just as hard: Why does He sit ...

We pray the anger melts

Friday, January 7th, 2011 Posted in Fatherhood | 12 Comments »

I've got all four boys to myself and I'm trying to plot a course halfway across America, a course that doesn't entail careening off an icy highway to our deaths. They are, meanwhile, chasing one another about upstairs, with occasional ...

On the giving of thanks, stomach viruses, and giant Christmas ornaments

Friday, November 26th, 2010 Posted in Fatherhood, Snapshots of Life | 3 Comments »

Yesterday we cooked and cooked and cooked, and ate and ate and ate, and it was delightful, even the cheesy squash casserole that makes my children instinctively gag just from looking at it. Especially the squash casserole, you little ingrates. My friend ...