Category Archives: Family

Calling Home

Have you ever sat down with someone and talked more with them in that one moment than you ever have in your entire life? Maybe the actual length of time wasn’t longer, but you covered more important issues and got to the heart of the matter. You were actually able to brush aside the day to day of life and talk about real life. Try it sometime. You might feel like you’re stepping off a cliff into no man’s land. You wonder how they’ll respond, and you won’t believe you just told them that. Ask your friend why she loves children so much and wants to spend her life teaching them. Ask your roommate what he wants to do with his life. Ask your parents why they love each other. You might have to suck it up, and it won’t sound like your voice when the words come out, but you’ll be amazed.

“Thanks Dad,” I said just before I hung up the phone. And I truly meant it.

Celebrating My Grandparents’ 50th Anniversary

Another day, another side of the family, and the contrasts of life. Today we celebrated my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Through it all they’ve been together–three kids, seven grand kids, and fifty years of ploughing fields and fixing suppers. Grandpa’s hand was shaking Sunday morning as they were called to the front of the church for a special presentation.

My Grandma & Grandpa–the most typical grandparents you can imagine. Grandpa always with his white straw hat, driving his pickup truck down to the river or into the watermelon patch. Grandma always selfless, dishing up a bowl of ice cream at night or offering bacon and eggs for breakfast, but always concerned with so much more. The two are so loving and caring of everyone. Even though I’m 700 miles away they keep up with the events of my life, always remembering me in their prayers.

Fifty years. That’s a long time. Partnership. Cooperation. God. These are the things they mentioned when asked how they did it. And before leaving the front of the church Sunday morning, Grandpa reached for the microphone, saying he had something to say to all the young people, “Being married for fifty years is really cool!”

My Grandpa’s Final Years

Stepping out of the car, we slowly filed in. I’ve never walked so slowly in my life. I didn’t know what to expect, but dread filled the air. This wasn’t going to be fun. Grandpa hasn’t been doing so well. We were visiting him at the rest home–he’s only been there for a month or so. A car accident last year told us thing were getting worse. Finally it got to the point where he couldn’t stay at home anymore.

I hadn’t seen him in six years. The last time I’d seen him, he was himself, sitting in a lawn chair in front of the house, smoking a Marlboro. Now the house is quiet, the lawn chair is empty, and the weeds are growing up around the porch and in the gravel driveway.

But a lot can change in six years. The man lying half asleep on that rest home bed was hardly my Grandpa. He was more like a tiny child. He never woke up enough to actually talk to us, and he barely even recognized us. I was dreading having to talk really loud and repeat everything I said five times–I’m a notorious mumbler. Phone conversations the past few years have never been fun.

But I would have loved to shout and speak slowly and clearly–anything would have been better than this. The man who once held me in his arms, the man who first let me drive a car–even if it was only on the country roads of Kansas. A weary old man as long as I’ve known him, with rough, work-worn skin and an old wrinkled face–like it had been stretched out over the years. The man who always told me my interest in writing came from my great-great uncle who was an author. The man who would have poked fun at the goatee I grew at college and hassled me about the girlfriend I brought back with me to Kansas.

Here that man was, barely able to keep his eyes open. He wasn’t eating well and was continually falling. He had lost the will to live. The tears welled up in my eyes, and all I could do was squeeze my girlfriend’s hand.


Gravity’s pulling me, but Heaven is calling me and
My head’s spinning, the world’s twisted
My head’s twisted, the world’s spinning
Around, around (“Gravity” by Delirious?)

Your breath stops short and the panic sets in. You grasp for air but it just isn’t there. Pawing for words, and finding silence. Is this a dream? Somebody wake me up. When did my reality slip from that fairy tale dream to this twisted nightmare? Your world is shattered, your bubble pops, and you’re left with nothing between you and the ground, floating in this isolated, infiltrated, coagulated nothing. Appearances are deceiving–well you had me fooled. The questions spin around and around and the void of answers creates a hollow ringing in my head as I sit back with my jaw dropped to the floor and try and figure out what just happened. Are you ready for this? You can never be ready for this. What? That’s what I said. I know the situation wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t everyone’s paradise. I know it’s for the best, happiness for you and me. I know you’re trying to escape your misery, hoping for a fresh start and a new life. I know it’s probably been too long. I know it’s friendly and it could be worse–but it could always be worse. The lightest corner of a dark room is still dark. I know all the happy reasons and feel better solutions that are some how supposed to make me swallow this, but I don’t want your placebo. What happens will happen and I still have to get up and go to work tomorrow. I still have to find a place called home. The tears will come and the questions will build, and life will run on. There’s no easy way to do this, and I know my blind fumbling doesn’t make it any smoother. I know my dreaded silence didn’t make the call any easier. I know my lost look and hushed voice don’t give you any comfort. But I won’t hide from it. I won’t mask this pain in a hollow shell that leaves me empty inside. Are you okay? What do you think? How am I supposed to answer that? I’m just fine. Like hell I am. And so I write and I write and I write and I write and just maybe the cloudiness will disappear and I’ll be able to sleep tonight. Others will scratch their heads and wonder what flaming hallucinogen triggered this tirade, but I really don’t care. Others will angrily wish I kept it inside, but I can’t do that. I step outside asking the night air why, and I hear the silent reply, nodding my head in acknowledgment that the answers never come that easily. Yet somehow the warm night air and gentle breeze provides the comfort that the four man made walls and stifling air conditioned air just can’t deliver. You’ve dropped a package at my door, and I noticed the hint of apprehension in the messenger’s voice. But I didn’t expect this. You never expect this. Will anything ever be the same again? There go a million memories shattered and tossed to the wind. But you can’t ever go back again. You know that. That’s the way it’s always been. Nothing lasts forever, and there is hope in all things. But that’s a little hard to swallow right now. Just wrap your arms around me and tell me that you love me. Your gentle voice sustains me, and it’s the one thing I need most right now. You don’t have any answers, and I don’t want any answers anyway. I just need to know that your shoulder is there. This place called home so many miles away, suddenly uprooted and tossed so many more away. It brings a whole new meaning to the word and reminds me once again that I am a world traveler, and this world is not my home. So many questions echo in my head like a broken record and a whiny child. How long has this been brewing and stewing? Why did the pot boil over now? When the scalding water spills somebody’s gonna get burned. So many other unanswered questions from days of old come rushing back, yearning to be answered, and now possibly answered in their utter nonexistence. What could I have done? Nothing, I know, but you can’t help but wonder. Wonder at the thunder that echoes across my soul. A million questions and a million empty answers. A million would’ve’s and could’ve’s and should’ve’s echo back, and I still can’t help but ask some more. What do you see in this life, and why did it get you to where you are? It hurts to toss the scalding water back in your face, but when you pour it over me like a cleansing, burning baptism I feel no remorse. I can question all I want and you have your answers. Who am I to judge? You chose your road and ran the best you could–gimp leg and all. Now the same empty promises circle back in my head, left unsaid, but there haunting me till I am wed and dead and perhaps a little light is shed. I guess I am no different than all the rest, now I can truly be called an American. Bitter cynicism, I know, but what do you want at ground zero? The echoes, the questions, the dim lit ideals, it all circles around, it all flies through the air. The mirror is cracked, perhaps not totally broken, perhaps it can one day be mended, but the scars will always show. You can sew up this cut, you can patch up this wound, but no matter what the mysteries of science unfold, they can never hide the damage that’s been done. I can ask and ask and ask and question until the sun comes up again. Perhaps someday the sun will shine again. Old wounds will be healed and washed in cleansing water and that tenderness that brought life into the world will someday return. But how can I ask, how can I know? That was your life. This is your life. You have your own set of unknown pain and mystery, but as you can tell it’s hardly water under the bridge. I bite my tongue and wonder just what I can say and what you will think. But it’s too late for that, I’m sure dreaded curiosity brought you to these words of mine, wondering just what state of mind, you’d find me in, what spirit would occupy this heart of mine. But somehow the broken winged dove will fly again. I know as the cosmos tilt out of control that there is a hand behind this chaos of my soul. I know there is a hope, buried deep beneath my doubt. And I know there is grace, and a new life for you. And I know in all things, this too shall pass.

This is the passage I was reading when you tried to call the first time:

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:10-13 NIV)

I have found comfort in those words before, and now they come to me even before I need them so very much.

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19 NIV)

And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:9b NIV)

Wake up Fathers, Stop Snoozing Mothers

Daddy don’t you know that your daughter needs you? Mommy don’t you hear her crying in the night? She wants to be loved. She longs to hear your voice, nothing more than a simple hello. Yet you ignore her, turning your head as if she wasn’t yours. As if you never once held her tender little shape in your arms. As if you never loved her. Why have you grown so callous and cold? When did you shut your eyes and retreat into the night? Where have you gone that you left your daughter so alone? How can you–how dare you treat such a precious gift, such a priceless treasure with such apathy? Some day you will weep when you realize what you have done. Your cheeks will streak with tears and no one will be there to wipe the pain away. You have started this pattern of neglect and someday it will return to haunt you when you realize the daughter you thought you loved is gone. And by then it will be too late. Wake up you fathers, stop your snoozing mothers and know the mess you have made. There may still be time.

The Responsibility of Parenting

A girl cries on the phone, her father yelling in the background, and an ambulance echoes past outside. The tears drip to the floor, and she has to go. Choking back the sobs, she hopes to escape to her pillow, dreading another run in with the rampaging parent.

Parenting is one of my biggest fears. Who am I to bring a child into this world? I hardly have anything figured out myself, and I’m supposed to be ‘Daddy Knows Best?’ Quite frankly, I think few daddies know best nowadays. Am I the only one who seriously thinks about parenting? It’s not like it’s something that will happen soon, but it is probably down the road eventually.

It seems like every one else in the world just has children. No one stops to think about what they’re doing. It seems like it’s been that way since time began. When people are having sex they don’t stop to think that they could be bringing a child into the world. Not that I have any experience, but I think that’s what makes sex so holy. At least ideally. Most people today toss it around like a dirty rag, and the result is bad parents, forgotten children, broken marriages, and the current scandal in Washington. Not only is sex a physical symbol of the union between two people, but it’s the beginning of life. Everybody else on the planet seems to miss that fact and the result is people bringing children into the world without thinking about it. Do I know anything about raising a kid? No, but who cares, I’ll have three.

I think being a parent is one of the most underrated responsibilities in the world. Being a husband or wife is probably a close second. When you become a parent, you and your spouse (it does take two) are bringing a life into the world. A life that you are responsible for. A life that relies on you. Not only until it learns how to walk and talk, but it will rely on you until the day you die. Does anyone else realize the magnitude of that? That child is your creation. Your act of love. How can you just flippantly have a child and not realize the responsibility involved? Sure, society tells us our role is to get a job, get married, and have kids. But the responsibility still exists. Sadly, few pay attention to that responsibility, and the result is devastating our society.

Coming up on Christmas, it amazes me to think that God is also a Dad. He’s not just the Father of the Christ Child, He is our Father. For all the parents who ignore their duty, there is One who fulfills it. For every lonely, deserted, teary-eyed child out there–there is a Daddy who loves them.

“I didn’t even know who God was, until He told me He’s my Dad/ And it’s just because He loved me/ And He’d rather die than live without me/ He loved me and He’d rather go through hell/ than go to heaven without me/ And I love Him and I’ll stay with Him until the end of time/ One thing I know God gave His life for mine/ He will always be, will always be/ He will always be there” -The Supertones, “He Will Always Be There”