• ‘Are You Bein’ Gentle?’

    It came from somewhere in the yard — the wood pile, perhaps, or one of the two-by-fours still lurking after months of home improvement projects. At some point during the afternoon, Isaiah had become aware of a splinter lodged in the soft skin of his finger, and it was the headline of the day after that, the CNN ticker that scrolled across the family’s consciousness as often as he looked at his wounded little paw. Now he was sitting on the bathroom counter, my patient, my boy, hand raised between us for examination.

    I proceeded with tweezers, and he recoiled at the touch of cold metal. A kiss and a few reassuring words later, I had the tweezers in position to extract a minuscule shaving of wood. That’s when he spoke up, warm and sincere, already zipped into his pajamas for the night.

    Are you bein’ gentle with me?

    Read More

  • A Joy in Discovery


    My daughter had her first taste of ice cream on a cold, stormy November evening. That is to say, last night. It was her reward, in a sense, for surviving a year in this world — three hundred sixty-five days in our household and you get to taste that sweet homemade vanilla nectar. Mom’s rules.

    So there she was, tucked into her lime-green Bumbo chair, face glistening from the buttered bread she’d smeared on her cheeks for whatever reason, tasting ice cream for the first time.

    Her initial reaction was against the shock of cold. Her expressive face twisted up in discomfort, but only for a moment. Then her spoon was probing the bowl for more. By bedtime, she had experienced her first scoop of ice cream, and she was a fan.

    One of many reasons to go on having kids if you’re able and the wife is willing is that each one brings new insights, not to mention personality and color of their own. In my experience, the infancy of the firstborn is a whirlwind; you’re caught up in the simple fact of being a parent and you miss a lot. This becomes evident with Child Two, by whose turn the novelty of parenthood has given way to plain old fatigue, but also a comfort with your role that allows you to see what you missed the first time.

    Read More

  • Sin Is the Sickness

    I reached into the crib one recent afternoon and pulled out a sick baby. Not this, I thought. Anything but this.

    Not because of the extra work or the disrupted sleep or the cranky toddler who would spend the week fussing in circles around our ankles, but because nothing is worse than watching a child suffer.

    There was no doubting it, either: The shine was off her smile, drops pooled beneath her reddened eyes, and the usual mischief was pathetically dormant.

    My heartache at the sight of her runny nose was amplified by what a bright, soulful creature Amelia is at her best. Two weeks shy of her first birthday, she is the perfect size and shape of a baby — effortless to lift out of nap time, sublime to pull into a cuddle. I knew right away that she would spend the next few days coughing, and it hit me like it always does. Until she was well, I would not be well.

    When the baby is sick, nothing is right in my world.

    Read More

  • Shape of Endless Possibility

    A toddler asks, Where is God?

    The first time you asked
    Where is God?
    I had just shown you
    the moon again,
    how He made it to glow
    when the sun slumbers down
    a jagged horizon.

    You were fresh into this tired world,
    two years and a few days old.
    Your eyes roamed to the neighbor’s dark yard,
    to the rosebushes,
    back to the sky.

    Read More

  • God’s Love at Nap Time

    praise and love

    The afternoon had advanced well into nap time when I heard the unwelcome sound of feet pattering on the hard-wood floor. It was the second time in 10 minutes that Isaiah had ventured out of bed when he should have been sleeping. He doesn’t understand how I can be so keen to his shenanigans, but within a moment I was at the door, opposite where he had laid down in an attempted blockade.

    From the hall, I pushed gently and nudged his 28-pound body out of the way. Nap time infractions can be cause for discipline, but not today. He was not being disobedient so much as restless, so I scooped him up and sat in the rocking chair to relax his busy mind.

    In the ensuing minutes, I sang two hymns — “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art,” our current favorites, soft and low. He reclined in my arms and listened. He was still.

    After the last stanza, I asked him, “Do you like to sing?” He answered, little man that he is, Uh huh. I followed up: “Do you know why we sing?” His eyes found mine in the half-light of his curtained room and I told him, “Because God put the music in our hearts.”

    Read More