a conversation with Dad


The following is the script for a dramatic monologue I performed at my church this morning. While I improvised portions of it during the performance, the content is basically the same.


Hi Dad. It’s been awhile. Beautiful day here at Willamette National. I’ve placed two flags, one for you and one for mom.

I miss you both so much.

I imagine you worshipping God in the courts of heaven. Joy on your faces. Strength in your legs. Power in your voices. I look forward to joining you in song one day. And someday I will.

But in the meantime I remember.

Do you remember that day when I first rode my bike on my own? I was just a little guy. But you were right there with me. You took the training wheels off my bike and encouraged me to hold on to the handle bars tightly and to place both feet on the pedals. I wobbled at first, but you kept your hands on me and the bike to keep me from falling. You ran beside me in full stride as I pedaled and gained confidence. Then I looked to my side and you were gone. Wow! Elation. I was riding my bike on my own. Because of you, Dad. I wonder: was it for you to let go?

And then by the time I was twelve years old, you had taught me everything I needed to know about fishing. Baiting the hook, casting the l line, setting the hook when the fish would bite, and reeling it in. One day I went on a fishing trip with a buddy of mine. It was that fishing hole just north of Newberg at the base of Parrot Mountain. we spent all day casting lines and telling stories. I came home that evening with a string of freshly caught fish from the local pond. Two bass and five blue gill. You were sitting on he lawn chair waiting for me. I don’t know who was more surprised: me or you. But there was also a measure of respect in your eyes. Do you realize how much your respect for me helped my fledgling 12 year old self-confidence?

Remember how I used to love throwing rocks? I was getting really good at it. Remember how I could hit a branch from 50 feet away? Or how I would throw one rock up and try to hit it with a second one, sometimes succeeding, but usually coming very close? I was pretty accurate. Most of the time. It’s your fault, you know. You’re the one who taught me how to skip rocks on the lake….

You warned me about throwing them in the driveway. Confident in my own ability I threw a big one anyway. Wow. Terrible throw. Horrible throw. Glancing blow off the truck’s windshield. Fear of God, Dad, and wondering if I had hope for any future as my hands held my head in horror.

Fortunately nothing was damaged, except for my ego. Yet, you chose not to yell at me. Instead, you put your arm around my shoulders and told me a story. You told me about the time you were my age and grandpa warned you not to bounce the basketball off the side of the house near the window. Like me, you did it anyway. The window broke. You ended up paying for it. Grandpa never yelled at you. But he did hold you responsible. Yes, I’ve taken that lesson to heart and I’m forever grateful for it.

So many memories; so many stories. I treasure all of them and I thank you. For being my dad and becoming my friend.

I miss you. Bye for now.

God, thank you that you are a Father to orphaned hearts.

remembering my Dad


I just found a photo of my Dad. It’s been a long while since I have seen it–since I have seen him. No special occasion prompts this post. Just my love for him and for my mom. I miss them both. I hear their voices in my memory, palpable and real as if they are really here. Mom always said, “Daddy is the talker and I am the walker.” She always called him Daddy, even when the four kids were grown up. And she was right, but I still remember both of their voices and the things they would say. The stories, the jokes, the acknowledgement that they were listening.

I’m left with all these memories, precious and potent. But I’m also left with a hope that I will one day see them again in that place Jesus said he would prepare for us. I don’t want a mansion by myself. The song “Mansion Over The Hilltop” always made me wonder if I would be alone in Heaven. I get enough alone time this side of heaven. No, I should like to reside in the midst of what God is doing with his sons and daughters, the co-heirs with Jesus. In the meantime I seek to be an obedient servant, crucifying the flesh and its sinful desires, dying to self, and pursuing Christ as he leads me into the margins where hope is bleak and the gospel has not yet penetrated the culture.

I know Dad and Mom were proud. Now I want to make The Lord God proud. I want to be faithful. Will you pray for me to that end? I also will pray for you.


As my siblings and I clean and sort my mother’s home, we are discovering gems long forgotten, and articles never-before-seen. A photograph. A year book. An artifact shedding light on memories from long ago. So many memories. Memories of a life lived through the Great Depression, World War II and the wars that followed, plus the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memories of our mom’s father who ran out on the family, and her mother who became very ill, dying at a young age, leaving her and her brother orphaned and in the care of their aunts.

But there are memories of joy, too. Marriage to the man of her dreams. Four children. Five grandchildren. An assortment of puppies, teddy bears, and music boxes. A profound love for Jesus Christ. A love for children.

These and so many other memories come flooding back as we work through the memorabilia, keepsakes, and stuff of a household long lived in. We began sorting Dad’s tools today. I remember using that old heavy mallet and the garden pick. We came across his fishing lures, many of which we recognized from years ago.

We not only are remembering our mother who died so recently, but we are remembering our father, due to our responsibility to sort through both of their possessions in greater detail. We remember, we smile, we mourn, and we give thanks for their legacy.

I will never forget

It is the conclusion to August 14. For most people it was a day to find water, go camping, or relax the best they can at home. For me, I had one thought in mind: to honor my father’s memory at his gravesite. Three years ago today he died, entering into the presence of our Lord. I smile to think of the wonderful adventures he must be having.

There were very few people at the national cemetary, the largest of its kind in Oregon. I drove to the section where he is buried, far back in the outermost region of the property. I no longer need a map, having memorized the route from my frequent visits. It was a hot day. Blue sky, a stiff wind, and green grass. The regalia from the Memorial Day celebration was all gone. Most of the plots were now simply indicated by their grave markers. But I was prepared. I placed a small American flag at the head of Dad’s grave marker.

I was determined to have this be the time I would keep my composure. But who was I kidding? It exploded into the wind, followed only by my tears. I thanked my Dad for all he did for our family. Working so hard. Providing for us. Protecting us. Loving us. Owning up to his responsibility as husband and father, and later, grandfather.

I love you, Dad. I will never forget.

a letter to my Dad

Photo by Glen Alan Woods
Hi Dad. It’s Memorial Day. Yesterday I visited your gravesite. The scene was beautiful. Thousands of American flags adorned the campus of Willamette National Cemetary. Each gravesite had at least one flag directly in front of it. I added two more to your site. I wanted to honor your service to our country. I especially wanted to honor you as my father. My dad.

I cried when I saw your marker. I always do when I am alone. I know you understand. Continue reading

honoring my Mom and Dad

Father’s day draws close. It is nearly two years (August 14) since my Dad’s passing. I miss him. Last Sunday, I showed my mom the dedication page in my dissertation. The citation honors both of them. It reads as follows:


In Memory of

Kenneth R. Woods

In your living you gave us your love. In your passing you gave us a legacy.

 In our reuniting there remains a celebration

of Christ, community, and family.


In Honor of

Lillian B. Woods

The children of Watts yelled, 

“The Bible lady is coming! The Bible lady is coming!”

Thank you for sparking in me a passion for the lost and for the little ones.

my father’s passing: one year later

One year ago today my father passed away. He died early in the morning on August 14, 2007. I received the news via phone at about 7 am. I am still numb. Is that wrong?

It isn’t that I don’t feel. I do. Sometimes harshly. Sometimes with such pain that I can barely breathe. Does that mean I have less faith than I should?

Everybody mourns in their own timing, their own way. In my case, I go off by myself. Maybe I don’t want to burden others with my pain. Maybe I just need to be alone for a season with my memories, both painful and joyous. Maybe I simply need to seek God.

This afternoon after work I will be going to his gravesite. I will be remembering. The faithfulness to my mom. The diligent work ethic. The expressions. The jokes. The stories, so many stories. The books, westerns mostly. Louis L’Amore was his preference, reading them over and over again. A body of literature read by a man whose life deserves a book of its own.

I will be going to a hillside decorated with the gravestones of military men and women and their spouses. A peaceful place set high on a hill with trees forming a backdrop for intermittent american flags and flower arragements. And I will remember. I will weep. And I won’t be ashamed. Yet I will also be thankful for a father who loved his family as he struggled all his life to provide for our needs. I will be thankful for a father who loved my mother, his wife, for 52 years of faithful marriage. As the summer heat visits that hillside and the clouds above form their expressions of creativity, I will pour out my heart to God once again, asking him to give me strength and wisdom to be the kind of man he made my father.

Maybe I am not so numb after all, now that the memories have arrived early. Maybe this struggle is forming in me a new maturity of faith which compels me to be utterly dependent on God in order to live a life of hope. For now, it is time to go and find out.