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The Gift of Toothpaste Stains

1 Mar

We had just stepped into church a couple weeks ago when an usher approached and asked a question I’m never eager to hear: Would our family like to present the gifts at the altar halfway through Mass? At our church, this means slowly parading from the back of the church to the front under the […]


The Schnauzer Won’t Let Me Sleep In. But It’s Ok.

13 Feb

My wife and I are approaching our 13th wedding anniversary this spring, and thus far we’ve avoided succumbing to that traditional wrecker of marriages – the thermostat. I like a cooler house. She likes a warmer one. Like Congress, it’s unlikely we’ll ever reach a compromise. So we remain content to sneak around the house […]


Wisdom Lives in the Messy Middle

5 Feb

A couple days ago I went back to my alma mater, Duke University, to guest teach a journalism class. I’ve done this a few times before and always want to say the same thing to my late teen/early 20s self as I stand before these bright, confident and, most of all, shockingly young faces: “I graduated from […]


Prayer Advice That Doesn’t Work For Parents

29 Jan

Back in high school, I was debating whether I should take calculus during my senior year. I hated math, but loved my grade point average – and high-level math courses offered a good way, in theory at least, to keep it up. “What do you think?” I asked a teacher who had watched me struggle […]


He’s the Vine. We’re the Tomatoes.

22 Jan

Weekday mornings are rarely pretty in the Martin household. From the moment the kids stagger into the kitchen 15 minutes behind schedule already, we careen toward our 7:30 departure like a puppy skidding on hardwood floors. There’s the constant prodding for the kids to fix their own breakfasts, the sudden discovery of homework assignments left […]


A Messy Quest Post You’ve Missed!

15 Apr

Over the past month, I’ve written a couple new posts but it turns out you haven’t received them because of a technical glitch with my blog. That problem is fixed now, and I’m working on some new posts. In the meantime, here’s a chance to catch up on one of the pieces you missed: When Poop Falls […]


When Poop Falls From the Sky

10 Apr

I needed an idea for my next blog post, and then it hit me. Twice in one day. I should have seen it coming, too, ever since my ego started getting a little oversized last week. It all began with the first U.S. Tennis Association singles match of my life. Granted, I’m playing in a league […]


The Spiritual Rewards of Stomach Flu

19 Mar

Almost every year during Lent I attempt to read T.S. Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday,” his beautiful, complicated poem about spiritual conversion. It’s the kind of highly allusive work that English majors feel they should understand and perhaps even quote on special occasions to prove their degree wasn’t totally useless. After many years of trying to grasp it, […]


My Sorry History of Lenten Resolutions

3 Mar

The only consistent thing about my Lenten resolutions is that I’ve been breaking them since Jimmy Carter was president, at least during those years in which I bothered to make one at all. Back in the spring of 1980, determined to win spiritual glory at age 7, I boldly proclaimed my intention to go 40 […]


My Driveway Adventures: 2014 Edition

20 Feb

About a year ago, I wrote a post here about my extreme difficulties backing down the long driveway of our new house – and the subsequent muddy tire tracks that crisscrossed our yard, driveway and street like a bad Jackson Pollack painting. Giving up wasn’t an option, unless I wanted to become a recluse, so I […]