My wife and I have never met our first child. We lost the baby during the pregnancy, in the early stages before we even knew for sure if it was a girl. But we both knew she was a girl. We named her Hannah Grace, and yesterday would have been her 16th birthday. Years ago I wrote about Hannah for an Irish magazine called 4you. I posted that article on the blog in 2018, and I’m reposting it today in honour of the daughter we look forward to meeting for the first time in Heaven.
It’s taking too long. That’s how I know my world is crumbling. The midwife can’t find what she’s looking for. She keeps trying, but every new effort is the ringing of steeple bells tolling a funeral. Not a formal, prepared, eulogised, dressed-in-black funeral. No, this is an impromptu affair, with no time to think, and no black shoes to look at as I stare at the floor. But I can’t just stare at the floor, people are talking to me. I have to concentrate to keep looking at them. I have to focus. It’s not their fault. They’re trying to help. I need to be polite and listen. What about my wife? She must be feeling the same as me. No, she must be feeling worse. After all, Hannah is still inside her. Hannah who we weren’t even sure was a girl (but we knew). Hannah who was a world of new life and dreams. Hannah who we have the little dress waiting for at home in a room right across the hall so we can hear her if she cries…
Continue reading Hannah’s Funeral
I’ve always enjoyed the book of Proverbs in the Bible. The short, memorable sayings hit hard, like espresso shots of truth. You might say that the book is a bit like Twitter, but without the hot-takes, the cut-downs, and the crazy weird stuff and arguments… so not like Twitter at all, actually.
The whole point of the book of Proverbs is to gather wisdom and knowledge about life and living, and to pass it on to the next generation. Which got me thinking: if Solomon can write proverbs to pass on what he learned about life to help his children, why can’t I? I have lived for a little while now, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Why shouldn’t I try to capture some of those things in proverbs—short, memorable sayings that might help my children, or someone else?
Continue reading Writing Proverbs
One of the most stunning realities in the Bible is that the God of the whole universe calls his people his children. Though we have all turned against him in sin, he not only stoops down to bring salvation (at great cost to himself), he goes much further—lifting those he saves to the heights of honour and privilege as the adopted members of his own family. He simply asks us to stop running away and come, like children running back into the arms of a loving father. As Paul says in Galatians 4:6, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father.’” When Charles Spurgeon preached on this verse, he took time to focus on one word in particular: “crying”—a word that shows the intimacy and security of how the children of God relate to their Father. This is what he said:
Continue reading The Cry Of A Child
Last week our family attended the first birthday party of a little girl whose parents waited and longed and prayed for six long years, wondering if they would ever be able to have a child of their own. To say it was a joyful occasion is an understatement.
Also last week the Supreme Court of the United States reversed a decision from almost 50 years ago, finding that there is not actually a right to abortion in the US constitution, so individual states are free to legislate as they please on the issue. Some states have kept abortion legal, others have not. Some people rejoiced, others mourned. Some said the judgment was a gain for life, others that it was a loss for personal autonomy.
Continue reading Life Is Precious
I remember meeting my firstborn child for the first time. Of course I do. How could I forget? I remember when I spoke to him the first time, and he turned and looked at me, and this tiny fresh human who had never seen the outside world before recognised my voice, and stopped crying. That was the moment I realised with incredible force that my world could never be the same because part of my heart was now inside the body of a child I didn’t even know yet.
Continue reading What I Learned About Love When I Met My Son
At our house, I’ve always been the bad guy. To be more precise, I’ve been a lot of bad guys. Sometimes it is just part of me, like when my hands became the Flying Tickle Spiders. Other times I’ve needed extra props, like the brown blanket for the times when the Muddy Hole Troll tried to trap my children in his muddy pit in a terrible plot to keep them filthy. In lightsaber fights, Sith Seth has always been the one threatening destruction and calling good little Jedis to join the dark side. Then there have been attacks from the electric Volt-ure who zapped children (disclaimer: no real electricity was involved) and the Alien Chef who has tried to make them into sandwiches between the beanbags. Our house has been a dangerous place.
The thing is, all my terrible plots have ended in failure. I guess I’m not really that great at being an evil mastermind. Somehow, the children have always found a way to defeat me. Which is fine. Actually, I’m happy. I want the bad guys to lose, too. Yes, our house can be a dangerous place, but it is only silly danger, and my children can fight my evil plots with complete confidence of eventual victory. We just have fun together, and I hope they remember that. But I hope they remember more—I hope they hold on to that feeling of confidence, of knowing they will win eventually. They are growing up now, growing beyond the games and closer to the reality of the world, and here’s the thing: the world is a dangerous place.
Continue reading Being The Bad Guy
When “The Greatest Showman” came out in 2017, our daughter was five years old and especially impressed by a song that was sung with perfectly choreographed aerial acrobatics. When that same song came on during the credits after the film, her hands shot up, ready to dance, so there was no choice, really. I picked her up high, spun her around, and realised suddenly that the two of us had just twirled our way into a moment that would haunt me with happiness forever after.
Continue reading A Real Acrobat
From the sandy beach in Youghal, Ireland, you can see Capel Island just off the coast, with half a lighthouse. The unfinished tower now serves as a shelter for wild goats, who are the island’s only inhabitants, aside from the birds. But there’s more mystery in the history of Capel Island than abandoned construction projects and goats—legend has it that an infamous pirate buried treasure there in the 1620’s. We know the pirate was real, and we know his name: Nutt. We also know that he was betrayed and nearly hanged in England, but managed to avoid the noose thanks to his friendship with the Secretary of State.
After our family heard about Nutt, the infamous Captain began making appearances on family camping trips, telling tall tales of his fantastic adventures. In every story he nearly died, yet somehow managed to escape at the last minute. I wrote down some of these tales, intending to give them to my children as a Christmas gift (that was nearly three years ago… better late than never, right?). Now, in order to give them a physical copy that looks and feels like the real thing, I’ve self-published the book through Amazon. I’ve got their copies ordered, but in light of the current situation I thought I’d share the stories with you as well, in case you or your children would also like to hear the tall tales of the Captain willing to travel beyond the Edges of Doom in his hunt for the legendary Dessert Island, where the lollipoppies grow behind brown sugar beaches.
I want this to be my gift to you, so I’ve made the Kindle version free until Friday, the 1st of May (as long as Amazon will let me):
Continue reading The Notorious Adventures Of Nutt The Nefarious
Put a kiss in my hand,
And while you’re away I can hold it
Up to my cheek
And be happy
Knowing that you really love me”
Here’s a kiss in your hand,
And while you’re away you can hold it
Up to your cheek
And I’ll give you
My love from a long way away”
My daughter is seven, but her love is much bigger than her size would suggest. She said this (ok, I’ve paraphrased) before I left home for a week, and here I am sitting on the other side of an ocean with my hand on my face and no one knows why.
My son was just a few years old, and he’d probably seen more rainy days than sunny ones in his short life. That’s what happens when you grow up in Ireland. I found him looking at his wet toys through the glass doors:
“Daddy, can you turn off the rain?”
It wasn’t a question, as much as a request. He wasn’t asking about whether I was capable of such a thing. He fully believed that I was. He just wanted to know if I would.
Continue reading “Daddy, Can You Turn Off The Rain?”