Category Archives: fathering

A Tribute to Father-Love

I haven’t known many good fathers. It’s a difficult position to fill. It may be partly due to the way we’ve raised boys for the last 50 years–mothers tend to do too much for them and be too soft on one hand, or be disengaged on the other. Fathers tend to be either disengaged or harsh and controlling–not having good fathering themselves, they don’t have a healthy blueprint.

I’ve said before parenting is hard! You may have a picture of who you want to be, but being it feels so foreign. We have to concentrate and be purposeful if we want to change much from how we were parented. However, it is important and worth the effort. There is nothing more important than raising emotionally and spiritually healthy children. They grow into adults who can care and serve, improve the lives of others and society, be strong enough to make change for good.

I love it when I see people putting in the effort and time to be present with their children–being intentional, engaging them in conversation, holding boundaries, having clear and stated expectations, and showing affection. Such parents are my daughter and her husband. Yes, the one I called out here. I also said he was a good man. He treated me well when I met him, he included me in their plans, and opened up and shared his heart. God knew I would need that information for the potholes on the road ahead.

He seems to be always thinking about how he can grow his four sons into good men. He models service and takes them with him to keep the lawns and flowerbeds around their church looking good. He engages their help on projects so they can learn how to handle tools and themselves. And he usually takes them one at a time either to help him or run errands. They love being with him. And that speaks of his respect for them.

I remember before they got married asking the two oldest if they wanted them to get married. (It was pretty obvious–they had been praying for him to come over for six months before he did, but I wanted to hear what they would say.)

They both said a feeling yes, so I said, “You like the way he treats your mother?”

And the younger said, “We like the way he treats us!” I was so impressed to hear a 7 year old say that!

Their step-dad sold his beloved motorcycle because “it wasn’t the time of life” for one. He got a motorhome so they can all go camping. He’s a busy man but he has gotten an old truck so he and the oldest can fix it up together for when he is ready to drive–about two years from now. He is capable like my daughter’s father, and can do most anything. He will be a great teacher for her boys. But the best part is that he wants to be. And even better than that, I know he prays for help and direction daily.

There isn’t a more influential position, no more powerful job than parenting. And fathering is so important that Jesus was purposely planned to be born in a stable, most likely a cave, so he could be birth-bonded to Joseph, his stepfather. The father-love of God would be his favorite topic, and he needed to have a good earthly experience of that from birth. Joseph obviously died before Jesus was 30, but by that time, Jesus had formed such a powerful, real connection with God, his biological father, that he transitioned that loss well.

He modeled for us the relationship we can have with God as our own father. So don’t despair if your father was less than good. Satan has worked very hard with his forces to distract fathers and discourage them from filling their roles well, because he knows how important it is to our maturity.

Consequently, many of us didn’t have great fathers. But we do have one in God. And He is just as available to us as He was to Jesus while he grew up here as a human man. Abba pursues you more ardently than any human father would or could. You can talk to Him at any time, in any place no matter what. All you have to do is want to. No, you don’t even have to want to. You can choose to even without the feeling. He honors any tiny step toward him no matter how feeble, any tiny choice for Him no matter how flimsy, and takes a huge compensating step toward you.

He will give you what you need, what you want in a father, the approval and structure you crave, even to a sense of his personal presence holding you. You never have to feel rejected or alone again because He loves you as if you are His only and His own. Make a special time to be with Him and He will be there for you; you will feel His smile.

In the words of Kristine D’Marco’s song, “He is my father; I never wonder if His plans for me are good, if He’ll come through as He should; for He is provision, and enough wisdom, to usher in my brightest days, to turn my mourning into praise. I am who He says I am. He is who he says He is. I’m defined by all His promises, shaped by every word He says. I am no victim. I’m not a poor man. With the King I have a home, the kingdom’s now become my own. He is my father. He is provision.”

If you want to get a good look at the father-love of God read episode one of Love’s Playbook! 

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Filed under fathering, Fathers' Day, Love ed, Loved, Parenting, parenting and divorce, Uncategorized, What is God like?

Only a Big Man can Admit He’s Been Wrong

I have to give kudos to my new son-in-law. I am so proud of him for being open to Spirit and being teachable. He has been drinking green juice that I would have a hard time drinking and I’ve been at this health thing almost 40 years. A few months ago all he liked was meat, white pasta and white breads, and that’s pretty much all he ate, besides desserts. But his pastor went on a Daniel Fast (Daniel 1 and 9) and he was impressed to do the same.

My daughter was astonished–what would he eat? But he was resolute. She is amazing with food–like a magician almost; and she was so grateful that she decided to make it as easy on him as she could. He ate things he had no idea he was eating. They did it for 60 days, and she said he began to look different after even one week.

We visited not long after their fast was over, and I asked him if he had felt a difference?

“Oh yeah!” was his immediate response.

I resisted any desire to comment further. That was enough. 🙂 I was so proud of him for even that. Because he had always given me such a hard time about being vegan. He had called me “the veggie prophet,” which I assumed meant I was calling for eating vegetables? (I had never asked for explanation.)

But I was thrilled that three little boys heard it–we were all sitting at the dinner table, and they don’t miss a thing–especially when he speaks. They had heard the teasing, so I was glad they could hear the admission.

It takes a big man to admit he’s been wrong. He is a big man, but he just grew in my eyes, and I think in the eyes of three little men.

This morning Richard and I read Psalm 23-25, and in  25:9 was, “The meek (teachable) will He guide in judgment (discernment), and the meek will He teach His way.” God’s ways make us happy (and healthy). And He is happy to teach us because when you feel better, life looks better, it improves your perspective by 100%. Verse 12 is a companion saying, “What man fears (reverences) the Lord? him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose.” The way of God’s choosing or ours? It is also translated “He shall teach him in the way he should choose.” (guidance) The NIV says, “…in the way chosen for him.”

I couldn’t find a translation to support this but I think it is true, that even in the way of our own choosing God will teach us if we reverence Him and realize that He knows better than we do–and really that is what being teachable is. Who doesn’t believe that the Creator of a universe 15 billion light years across might know more than me? That isn’t really the issue, is it? It’s whether I believe God created me, loves me personally, has my best interests at heart. Does He care? Can I know Him? Can I trust Him?

This makes a dilemma for Memorial Day. It’s a day to be grateful for so many men who died and underwent horrible trauma for our freedom.

I hate war.  I have seven grandsons. Need I say more? But we live with it, and it scares me to think what they might have to go through. So I ask God to make them strong men who always have a relationship with Him and a heart to listen to Him. Men who can admit when they are wrong, men who will ask for guidance, men He can teach His ways.

Have to add this–the message in church was from Leviticus 25–God’s ways bring rest and space and trust and plenty into our lives. We need that rest–Shabbat rest–even the land rested. You can rest because you trust. You can trust because you know Him.

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Filed under A God perspective, Becoming real, fathering, Health, Living well, Love ed, Mental Health, Parenting, Uncategorized, What is God like?

Cosby-Disappointment or Normal?

I raised my kids on Cosby. And since they’re in their 30s, there must be a lot of people who remember and love that show like we did. It and Seventh Heaven were the healthiest family modeling there was. We all wanted to be like them. And now both “dads” are accused of sex crimes. It’s heart-breaking.

In the beginning, I think we were all hoping it was just a personality-disordered gold-digger or two going after Cosby’s money. But now it appears that the icon we all love had a checkered past–was a very troubled man.

It’s so sad. We feel betrayed. This person we wanted our fathers and husbands to emulate turns out to have been a sex maniac.

I’ve been wondering, is he a sex addict? What he is accused of doesn’t sound sexual only; it sounds violent. Violent sex is about anger and hate, not really even sexual. Sex addiction is one step above that–the male brain so easily gets hooked on sex as a way to fix or escape whatever is wrong.

I’ve had a small therapy practice for 25 years, and I’ve always had someone dealing with sex addiction. It’s that common. I’ve had more than one client tell me how quickly it enslaved them–one “hit” of pornography was all it took. And now that it is so accessible, it’s really tough for men. But does that make it the norm?

NO! Maybe in numbers of guys struggling with it, but not in normal healthy behavior. Normal mostly isn’t healthy anyway.

What am I basing that on? The way a man’s brain is wired. Emotions are scary to men in this society. And since they can shut feelings down fairly easily, because of scarring to the corpus colosum in gestation, they tend to replace them with sex. I think men are emotionally starving here.

Indulgent mothers and absent or distant fathers, who have themselves forgotten what “manly” is, have made men uncomfortable in their own skin. There aren’t quests to prove manhood anymore. Fighting and sex is about as close as they get.

A man has fine, deep emotions, and his first sexual experience is powerfully bonding, especially if he’s “in love.” If the relationship doesn’t make it, and he doesn’t do some serious grieving, he’ll replace her, but never love or bond quite like that again.

He will want to grieve, but everyone, especially his buddies will tell him to go get laid and forget her–get involved with someone else. Of course, the exact wrong advice.

So his bonding ability is seared and feelings are buried. But buried feelings ferment and get nasty and come out other places–aberrant sexual behavior. And if its anger that’s being buried, look out! (African-American people, especially African-American men, have reason for anger.) Violence carries its own addiction. Sex and violence together are a bad combination.

Is there hope? There is always hope for every addiction, and the best of it comes from God the one who can redeem anything, and who made your feelings and your brain circuitry in the first-place. But you have to ask.

Therapy is a great help, but you’ll have to find a therapist who doesn’t think sex addiction is normal. Good luck!

And the love of a good, secure woman, if valued, is a great help also.

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Filed under a perspective on evil, Becoming real, Bullying, fathering, Grief, Living well, Love ed, Mental Health, sex addiction

Love can Alter Perspective

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This picture brought to mind the old saying, “If you want to understand someone, walk a mile in his shoes.

But what if you can’t? What if they are just too heavy to walk a mile? Or across the living room! You might have to rest.

He was trying to walk his stepdad’s boots to his room for Mommy, but they are so heavy he had to rest half way.

Some of us try to walk in the shoes of Our Father and find them just too heavy–way too heavy–to make it to our destination, and instead of resting we give up.

Interesting. Jesus said being connected with Him makes life light. So why does it sometimes feel so heavy?

Last week I had so many commitments, it could have felt way too heavy, especially since I was fighting off some virus, but my weakness made me focus on Him and relax, until the last day. He told me to rest, but I had so much to get done, that I got all tense and tired and irritable! But at least I learned from it–the next day was a great day because of “resting” in His love instead of trying harder and getting tense.

Maybe we don’t rest enough. Maybe we are too conscious of us, and not conscious enough of Him.

I’m sure my grandson had no thought of quitting. He might have been surprised how heavy those boots were, or how hard it was to walk in them; but he just needed to rest a bit–no big deal. In fact he felt honor, I’m sure.

There’s three of them adjusting to a new life, new home, new Dad; but he loves them, and that takes most of the pain of their new life away. When they focus on him, and how he feels about them, how he treats them, it’s worth it. He’s worth it. They feel his love. They rest til they can see their dad again.

Just like their new Dad, your Father-God is worth it. Focussing on His love, His respect, even His discipline, makes you feel secure and safe. He’s worth it. Let yourself rest and feel His love. He will reveal more and more love.

Research says the younger ones (<4) are typically most impacted by life upsets like divorce, but I’ve noticed where there is love on both ends, the little ones do much better than predicted. Sometimes even better than the older ones.

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Filed under divorce, fathering, Fathers' Day, Grief, Love ed, Loved, Mental Health, Parenting, parenting and divorce, Separation, suffering, Uncategorized