A few short stories about fatherhood

Fatherhood – Remembered

I can remember going to visit my husband’s grandparents privately without the rest of the family a number of years ago. We only had two kids at the time. While the babies played on the floor we shared our hearts with them about our future and our dreams and our plans.

Hubby needed a safe place and a safe person. He had always found that in his grandfather.

In his age and wisdom Grandpa Bob offered words that Hubby needed to hear – had been aching to hear his whole life:

“You will do well – no matter what you do. It will be great.”

When his grandpa died a few years ago I remember standing by his casket thinking how much I would miss his smile. I had only been a part of Hubby’s life for a little more than a decade at that point, but his grandfather had touched my life as a man who was gentle and kind and wise.

I see a lot of him in my husband.

I am grateful for his affirming words to a young man who needed to hear exactly what was said – YOU CAN DO LIFE WELL. Whatever you do will be great.

He did not offer detailed plans of how it should go. He didn’t give him stories of examples of how he thought Hubby should live. He didn’t help him purchase a way forward.

He simply told him – you can do it, you have what it takes. The way you go and what you choose is good.

  • No judgments
  • No shame
  • No guilt trips
  • No fear-mongering
  • No blame
  • No super-spiritualizing

Just a deep mutual respect, affirmation, and love.

We all need a place where we can go knowing we are loved without conditions.


Johnny becomes a father

Fatherhood – Beginning

Last year I got to watch my brother become a father. That little bundle of wonderment known as my niece is a beautiful representation of the manner in which God hears us and meets us and breathes life into our broken places.

I often tease my brother in my best Big, Fat Greek Wedding impersonation, “We never thought this would happen for you. Never.”

Not because he was/is incapable of having a family, but because so many things flooded over his life for a very long time. The deep waters can be rough.

All of that is his story to tell – not mine.

What I will say is that I have always been proud of him (I am proud of you, Johnny!). It is not easy to walk through life when your physical body decides it does not want to cooperate. When the world spins so that you can not stand upright at least not for long. When the noises swirl and the panic rushes.

One minute you are playing an innocent game of hockey and the next you are unable to leave the house for months – years because the spinning and pounding never stops.

You can visit the best specialist in the country who tells you the tests are showing him what you are feeling, but he can not find a reason why. Even the best can’t fix this.

I don’t know how my brother did it, but I am so proud that he kept going.

I am so proud that he continued to turn his face to God.

I am so grateful that he continued to lean towards his family.

His life is proof that God bends an ear…

God turns to us in our sorrow and pain and He hears us as we cry out from the muddy pit.

He does not leave us where he finds us.

girls selfie

These three beautiful answers to prayer that God has given to my little brother are proof of God’s expansive love.

Fatherhood – Performing Miracles

My parents have almost lost both of their children – more than once.

When we were little and metal twisted together in a head-on collision on a dark, rainy night my brother’s seat belt came undone throwing him between the seats and almost definitely into the front dash – if not for my father’s hands.

By some sweet miracle Dad pushed him aside and saved him.

fatherhood resized

And my daddy’s been performing miracles ever since.

A few months after the accident I would awaken from a Grand Mal Seizure – laying across my father’s lap as he held me in his arms and called to me. My brain was finally showing the after effects of smacking the back of the front car seat. I would go on to healing and wholeness – beyond a life of unending tests and medication.

Those moments were terrifying and his presence calmed the flooding.

As grownups my brother and I have faced some dark places and my father would meet our brokenness with healing hands:

  • Taking weapons from fingertips.
  • Wiping tears.
  • Praying prayers.
  • Shedding tears.
  • Driving in the dark to find us.
  • Sitting on bar stools.
  • Embracing our spouses with an open, loving heart.
  • Taking our children gently into his arms with laughter and song and praise.
  • Finding us in hospital beds when our bodies have brought forth life, lost life, cursed life, or when I was gasping for air begging to stay.

He’s been present in ways we have taken for granted.

But he has never been unloved.

Love you, Dad!

Fatherhood – An Inheritance

Some of the earliest memories I have are of my grandfather’s shop. He owned and operated a automotive repair business for decades. I was driving down through the city this spring after another doctor’s appointment at that big hospital downtown when I drove passed an automotive place with the doors wide open.

I caught a hint of car repair shop smell and then the sound of an air gun.

It brought it all back.


My grandfather worked hard his whole life. I have never known a man to work and help and be physically present for others the way that he is.

If you need help – he can get the job done without drama or the need for applause.

Every time I would go into his shop he had his old KJV Bible resting open on the shop counter top.

He is a man who has feared God – with faithful service and prayers that do not cease.

He is not a perfect man, but he is a man who God hears.

A man who prayed to be able to see his children grown is now witnessing the birth of another generation of his children’s children’s children.

His people.

That is an abundantly blessed life. This is an inheritance given by God.

 rsz_daddy_and_blissFatherhood – Becoming

When we found out that we were expecting another baby girl our oldest daughter turned to Mr. Hubby and declared, “Well aren’t you lucky, dad? Another girl!” It is funny when your children begin to remind you of how blessed you are to have them (and she reminds us often).

I have never regretted building a life and making a family with this man.

  • I have regretted the places we have wandered.
  • I have regretted the voices we have allowed to have too much space and say for far too long in the heart spaces of our life together.

But I have never regretted choosing Matt.

I’ve heard fathers call their children by many words:

  • a concession given to their wives
  • a financial burden
  • a midlife crisis
  • a mistake, an accident, an oops – the condom broke

But I have never witnessed this form of cynicism and fear from my husband.

He has never made me feel like having children was my choice – or my mistake – or a concession that HE gave to me (yuck that makes me cringe).

He has met every pregnancy announcement with laughter and hope.

the best fathers joy jkmcguireWith every birth of every child he has been present with JOY (and sometimes trembling).

That is how I would describe the manner in which Mr. Hubby father’s our children – with JOY and trembling.

I am finishing up this part of the article today – Father’s Day morning. Because sometimes words are slow and finding pictures can take forever.

Every day this week I have asked him what he wanted for Father’s Day because he always tells me he needs and wants nothing.

As I pushed the issue this morning asking if he wanted to go out with us and get something he said, “I have everything I want. I would rather lay here on the floor with all my kids and watch cartoons.”

And that is how he fathers:

By being present even in the seemingly mundane things- with joy.


A lot of women look for a man who will be a success in business so that their financial future will be secure. Hubby’s success in work is secondary (not even on the radar) to his pursuit of success in fatherhood.

He does not have the ambitions or driving need that many men/women possess to have his name written across diplomas, certificates, checks, rewards, or the lips of wo[men].

His greatest accomplishments are found within the walls of our home – not hanging on them.

His steady presence. His calming words. His discipline with truth and hope.

How he approaches his family – with humility and grace and laughter and love – makes me strive to be a better mother and wife and person.

Those are the best people in life: the ones who know you and see you and understand you, and even then they still encourage you to be more of who you are. They never make you feel like you need to be less of who you are.

He brings that to all of us.

I love you Matt.

 mud hands watermarked jkmcguireFatherhood – Hurting

We can speak with beautiful words about our fathers, but I know that is not true for everyone. All I want to speak into that today is that I know. I may not know every single detail of where you have been burdened and bruised and hurt, but I do know what it looks like to NOT be OK with your dad.

I know what it feels like to have to turn away from cruel words and harmful hands and angry reactions.

I do know what it is like to press in and pray for a change that never comes.

I won’t give you some hyper religious words about God the Father’s love for you. And how that should replace all that has been done to you by your earthly father.

I won’t say any of that this Father’s Day.

What I will say is that – you are not alone. You do have a right to be treated with respect and love and goodness.

I’m sorry that your dad was incapable of meeting you like that – that was about him NOT you.

I am sorry if he is no longer here to love you or speak into your life healing, present words.

May we all find peace this Father’s Day – peace despite their silence, peace despite their anger, peace despite our loss, peace in the midst of fatherhood connected and fatherhood fractured.

If you have a dad you are crazy about – love them well this weekend.

Happy Father’s Day!


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