Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"Where's My dad?!"

This morning I was reading in Psalm 31 and came across this little line in verse 22:
"In my alarm I said, "I am cut off from your sight!" I really was touched by David's plea in these words. David cries out almost in surprise, "Where is my dad?!"
Have you ever walked through a store with your child and they let go of your hand and it took a second or two before you realized it? It's not hard! Their little hands are so tiny and their grip is so soft that if you get distracted you can easily lose grip and not realize it. Once when I was maybe 4 years old, I was walking with my mother in the old Almart store back home and without even knowing it I had let go of her hand somehow and by the time I snapped out of my little 4 year old fog and realized what had happened, I was walking hand in hand with an older man. I have no idea who he was or why he didn't say anything. He didn't try to lead me anywhere and he didn't say a word when I let go of his hand and went in search of my mother. Maybe he was an angel sent there to protect me, I don't know. But I was panicked for a minute or two until I found my mother a few aisles away. She was unaware I had even been lost, not because she didn't care but because in those days it wasn't a big deal. I never felt afraid for my welfare, just afraid I had lost my mother.
Sometimes we feel that way in our lives as adults. We don't realize that we've strayed away from our Father. Maybe by skipping time with Him on a daily basis. Maybe by letting the cares and concerns of the world intrude on our prayer times. Whatever it is, we suddenly find ourselves without a hand to hold and thinking our father has lost sight of us. The good news is He knows right where we are and with a simple nudge, guides us back to His presence.
As dads...particularly as divorced dads...we can feel like our Father has lost sight of us as well. We feel like we failed our church, our families, our friends and our God. We feel like we have lost the hand of our children and thereby lost the hand of God. But He has never moved and if you are listening, he is calling you back to His side, into His sight and holding out His hand for you to grip. He never stopped loving you, regardless of the circumstance. he knows you feel lost and need His hand to hold. David realized this in the second half of the verse: "yet you heard my plea for mercy when I cried to you for help"
David got it's up to us. Hold out your hand...your Dad is right here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Part You Never Get Used To

I am taking my daughter home to her mom's this morning. I don't have her for Christmas this year because we alternate. So I will take her to her moms and then I am heading home to the Philadelphia burbs to be with family.
It's been nine years like this now and I never get used to it. A hole starts growing inside me around the 20th of December on the years I don't have her. It will seem a little less like Christmas this year. Actually a lot less. It always does.
Because of my Christian faith, I know the intrinsic, true nature of the holiday and that part never loses it's luster for either of us. But the sense of family and wholeness that accompanies this holiday is missing to a large degree on the odd years I don't have Morgan. There is an emptiness. This wound will never heal fully no matter how many years go by. When Morgan is an adult and marries and becomes a mom, there will be the forced choices about who to spend the holiday with. She will see us both, I am sure, but not spend the entire day with either. That is sad. Sad for me and very sad for her one day. It's part of the price that is paid when couples divorce.
I am thankful for my daughter and we will celebrate Christmas next week when she comes over for New Years. But Wednesday evening when I am with my family celebrating the "seven fishes", and then with her cousins on Christmas morning and Bob and Cathy's Christmas night, she will be noticeably absent, and my heart will be a little empty. I never get used to that feeling, and never will.
But I am thankful I have her and I see her regularly. To all you dads with similar arrangements...Merry Christmas. Remember the one Child we never are without on Christmas, and let His peace and tenderness comfort you while you miss your children here on earth. Rest in the Peace of Jesus, my friends.

God Bless you all at Christmas,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Stick it out!

Hi dads...
Merry Christmas to you all. I hope this season brings you joy and peace and you take the time to create wonderful Christmas memories with your children. Remember...they don't see you as a divorced dad...just their dad. Their love never changes.
I am writing an encouragement to those guys amongst us who are, or have been, or will be tempted to just "chuck it" and walk away. I know the way things can gang up on us and make abandonment seem like a viable option. The court system can do it. If our children's mom is bent on eliminating us from the lives of our kids it can happen. Job loss, career devastation...a thousand things can happen in our lives that make it seem like leaving and starting over someplace else is the only way we'd live. I know because I have been there...quite recently in fact. If you are a regular reader of my blogs you know that I endured a job loss, subsequent period of unemployment, homelessness, (I was actually sleeping in my car for 3 months) weekends in jail because my ex-wife petitioned the courts to do so because I had lost my income and then my ability to pay support. You name it I was there. I was broken and beaten and I seriously considered leaving Tennessee. But I knew my daughter needed me and would continue to need me. So I stayed. I stuck it out.
I knew the moment would come when it would matter and it came sooner than I thought. Yesterday I got a disturbing phone call from my daughter. She is almost 11 and at a stage where her mom and her are butting heads now and then. Now personally, I see it as her mom's fault. Her mom is 37...Morgan is 10. The adult needs to step up and grow up and not demand the child do the growing. Adulthood will come soon enough. Anyway my daughter called near tears and asked me how long she would be staying with me this weekend. She then asked if she could go home to Delaware with me. (It is her mothers year to have her for Christmas...we alternate) I knew then that something was wrong. I won't go into details but it looks like we are going to modify custody and she will live with me half the time and not once a week and every other weekend like we had been doing. When I hung up I was relieved. I was glad I stuck it out and stayed here...even though I would rather go home. She needed me and she needed to know I was only a phone call away and I could be there in her time of need in minutes and not days or weeks. Sticking it out was the right thing to do and I'm glad I did.
Dads...if you are being tempted to make this painful decision...wait. Pray. Find another solution. Your career isn't as important as your child. Your personal life and growth can be resumed when they reach adulthood. Your child needs you to be there. They need to know that daddy is only a few minutes away. Stick it out men. You never know when that phone call might come and your child will need you right NOW!
That's another way the bow is bent, guys. That's POWER. that's manhood. That's being a real dad.

May the peace of Jesus bless you and strengthen you all during this wonderful season...and forever.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pride and Joy

"My daughter is my pride and joy!" How many times have you heard that phrase about someones child, be it daughter or son? We throw it around like confetti at a parade; it's nice, but we long-ago stopped paying attention to what it is we were really saying. Think about it for a second...Pride and Joy.
Last night Morgan had a strings recital at her school. She started playing violin this year. Now from the outside, it probably looked like 30 fifth graders drawing bows roughly across a variety of stringed instruments and producing a sound that vaguely resembles music. To a dad it was the London Philharmonic playing Handel's Messiah. This was their second recital for the school year and the difference was already quite remarkable. They played some basic tunes and then the band director turned to the audience and announced it was time for some solos. He announced the children one at a time and upon hearing their name, each child stood and played a brief tune. I almost jumped from my seat when he announced, about halfway through the solos, "Morgan Daliessio!" Morgan was unruffled, (we found out afterward that the instructor told no one in advance they were soloing) stood poised and played a near perfect "Jingle Bells". I was elated and let out a whoop after snapping pictures of her masterpiece from every possible angle. Alison Krauss couldn't have done any fact maybe I'll ask her in church this Sunday. (Just kidding Alison, your crown is intact for another year or so!)
I was so proud. Probably annoyingly so to the other moms and dads, but I am usually the biggest in the room so it's not a problem. I was also very very happy. Pride and Joy That's what our kids do for us. In that instant I had an epiphany of what the Psalmist meant when he spoke of a man having a "full quiver" of children as being happy. I can't imagine how happy I'd be to have more than one child gracing this world with beauty and musical ability. I'd likely burst.
I am so proud of my daughter. She is like her own sun in a little galaxy. Always smiling, always funny, always inquisitive and always leaving me scratching my head at all that she comprehends and ponders in that 10 year old mind. Her love for God is infectious. Her sense of humor is raucous and contagious. Her compassion is mature beyond her years and her basic goodness of heart leaves me amazed. She fills my soul with wonder. She makes me proud and brings me joy. I think this must have been how God felt, (to an infinitely greater degree of course) when He opened heaven after Jesus came up out of the water upon being baptized by John, and said "This is my beloved son, I am very pleased with him".
Even God found pride and joy in His son.
These holidays are tough for divorced dads, particularly if, like me you have an arrangement that doesn't give you shared time every Christmas. We alternate Christmases because of our families being distant, so this year I won't have my daughter at all on Christmas. When you get lonely and miss your kids, remember the pride and joy they bring. Remember also dads, you are directly responsible for who and what they are, and the kind of pride and joy they are bringing. Enjoy the great memories and laugh to yourself all over again at the wonderful things they have done through the years. And plan some more. They are our pride and joy, those children of ours. Regardless of whatever failings got us to single fatherhood, we are still daddy, and they still make us smile, and make our chest swell just a bit.
Merry Christmas

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Here! It's Here!!!

Hey's the big news of the day.
My first book, "Sometimes Daddies Cry" is available NOW through LuLu Publishing. If you're a fan of this site, a divorced dad, or you know one, this is for you. It's a very personal, very moving story of my own journey from the devastation of divorce and the effects that has on my fatherhood, to the healing I've found on my way. It was a long, arduous road and it was a painful path...but the end result was a vision for other guys like me. There is hope.
I found it, and share the source within the pages of
"Sometimes Daddies Cry"

Here is the link:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Power of a Bent Bow

Hey dads.
resuming this blog here. It's been hectic around here lately, starting a new job, finishing the Divorce book and starting a new book on my recent time living homeless.
I had a tremendous response to my advance copies and I am almost ready to launch the divorce book.
The title is, of course, "Sometimes Daddies Cry" and it is already effecting guys who have read it. The release should be sometime in January, which would allow me time to release the homeless book and do some press promo for it. Then I can focus on getting the word out about the divorce book. In the interim, I may sell it online. I'll let everyone know.
I was thinking this morning as I was walking. Thinking about a blog topic I wrote about several months ago called "Broken Arrows and Missed Targets". It's on my other blog (shinnyandshavings.blogspot). The essence is how dads are the bow that launches their arrows into the flight that will take them down their appointed path in life. David refers to children as arrows in a quiver. That makes me an archer. right? It also makes me the bow. I am here to know my little arrow as well as I possibly can, and when the time comes, launch her toward the exact target God has in mind for her...the target she was intended for before the world began.
It got me thinking about bows, and being a bow. Not a compound bow...which I shoot. But a straight bow like David would have shot, and like he had in mind when he wrote the verses describing children as arrows and by implication, dads as bows.
A straight bow is actually powerless when it is straight. It has potential energy when it is straight but it only gets it's real kinetic energy when you bend it, and connect one end with the other via the bowstring. Once the bow is bent, it has tremendous power to be drawn back and send an arrow on its' flight.
Bending is so essential for dads. We must bend in prayer for our little arrows all the time. We must bend in prayer when they see us and when we are alone with God. Only when we allow God to bend us and harness our power can we be ready to launch our arrows. That brings up point number a bow, we attain our maximum power only when we let God bend us and harness that power. A bow with no string is a stick...nothing more. The string restrains the ends and forces the straight bow into it's gentle arc where the power is. Surrendering to the bending and restraining our power with wisdom and the power of the Holy Spirit is how we become powerful bows...and powerful dads. Children respect how powerful we are even more when they see that power submitted to God and shaped by bending to His influence and His will. It took me a long long time to learn that.
Divorced dads are no different. we are still dads. In fact it is a little tougher for us sometimes because, not seeing our children each day, we can sometimes slip into the habit of letting loose the string and straightening up instead of remaining bent before God. Bending in humility, bending in worship, bending in prayer for our little arrows. All are necessary and all need to be done daily...constantly. They are only in our quiver a short time and then that moment comes when God whispers in our ear..."there's the target...let her fly!
Bend a little more dads. That's where our real power is.