Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why I Don't Date...

Thanks to everyone who wrote me about part one of this little entry. I am glad so many folks used it as a way to help explain to their friends and family how this all feels.
Today I am going to finally get to that aforementioned question..."Why Don't You Date?"
Much of the reason is actually found in the previous entry.
When I met Holly, I was 32. I had never been married and had never even been close to it. I hadn't even dated anyone who I thought I'd ever ask to marry me.
So when love came knocking at my door...I was eager to answer.
Holly was, and is, a very special person. Far from perfect, as time would eventually reveal, but special. And she was beautiful and she took my breath away. I could make this the extended dance remix but in the interest of brevity I'll get to the point. I did it right, courted her and finally asked her to marry me. She said yes, we got married, 7 months later found out we were going to have a baby and moved to Nashville.
We had fights and bad days. We disappointed each other. It ended too soon and ended poorly. But I was in love with my wife, make no mistake. I dreamed dreams of doing heroic, romantic things to surprise her. I hoped to one day go back to her native Utah for a visit and have her friends pull me aside and tell me they were so glad she married me...that I'd been the guy they always thought she deserved. I lived to tuck my daughter in at night. I set goals of buying a home and building a life for them.
Only one person ever inspired me to that sort of endeavor, and so far, nobody else has ever come along who made me feel like breaking out that old suit of armor, bringing the white steed out of the barn and trying to be larger than life again.
I am sardonically cynical now, and maybe I will remain thus, I don't know.
I never stopped believing in marriage and love, and romance, even though my marriage failed and my romance wasn't enough to retain her love.
But I still think that's the way it ought to be and until it is again...what's the point of "dating"?
I am no longer in love with her, but until I meet that one person who will once again inspire me to goofiness in the name of love...I'll stay at home on Friday nights or go see my friend's band.
I'll never marry out of convenience or to merely stave off loneliness. That never ends well.
..."I'll be what I am...solitary man..."
This is the simple and abridged version...but it works for me right now.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Saturdays Post

Wow...I have gotten a LOT of email from people I don't even know who read this and are VERY happy I wrote it. So I am leaving it here for one more day and putting it on my other board as well. Feel free to copy it and share it with anyone you think might need it. To all of you who have emailed me with a thanks..thank you.
I'll post the second part later today.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why don't I date?

I get asked this a lot. It's been 9 years since I got divorced...or divorce was thrust upon me, however you choose to view it.
I get two statements thrown my way with some regularity. Well, one now, but I used to hear the other quite a bit. One is the title to this post..."Why don't you date?" Or it's variants..."Are you seeing anyone?" or "Have you dated since?".
The other statement I used to hear a lot was "It's been (fill in the blank, timeline) you need to get over it" That one always hacked me off so I thought I'd address that one first and then maybe address the other one here if there is room or tomorrow if this goes over the TV time limit. (nice old school pro wrestling reference)
Get over what...exactly?
Let's recap, shall we? I only ever loved one woman enough to ask her to marry me. We have a daughter together. I defined myself as a dad and as a husband. Now one is gone and the other is limited. I gave up every dream I had for her. I mean every dream. It was to make her happy that I gave up on the pursuit of pediatrics, and to make her happy that I formulated a "plan B", and to make her happy that I moved from my home to Nashville, (where I will never quite be at home). I chose-for a while-her over my family and friends, because she was at odds with them and I had to try my best to have a happy marriage. Now I just miss them more and still didn't manage to keep a happy wife.
I changed all of my goals and dreamed new dreams and they were all...every last one of them...about how to take care of the two people I loved most in this world. Now one is married to someone new and the other is only with me briefly each week and each alternating weekend.
The very people I lived for are gone or limited in their presence. I have to re-create myself...again. You are right...I should be over that already...in fact why did I ever grieve?
Consider this before you say these words to a divorced friend of yours. This wasn't like breaking up with your girlfriend in high school or getting laid off from your job.
You marry because you love someone. (Most do anyway) And you don't have an off switch for that. I married that specific person because that specific person was who I was searching for my whole life. Have you considered that? I defined myself by marriage and fatherhood...the two things you lose in a divorce. Have you considered that? I am alone at the times when I thought I'd be sharing wonderful memories with that same person. Have you considered that? I had a plan and I had dreams and the two faces I always saw when I dreamed those dreams are not here, or are here occasionally. Have you considered that? Should it really have been so easy to replace all that with a new face? You know where I am going with this. You divorced dads. (and divorced moms as well) are sitting by your computer monitors right now yelling "YEAH! tell 'EM Brother!" I've seen people be more compassionate to a friend who lost a pet!
Consider all of this when you think I should be "Over it".

(NOTE: From time to time I'll write on a topic that needs to be addressed, even if it is no longer a day to day issue with me. Such is the case here. I don't hear this quote much any more. I am over it for the most part, and most of my friends understand by now. But sometimes I feel the need to say things that need to be said for the benefit of others, this is such a case)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Psalm 101:8 Checklist for Dads...cont (Final installment)

Psalm 101:8
Every morning I will put to silence all the wicked in the land; I will cut off every evildoer from the city of the Lord.

What was David encouraging us to do? Why every morning?
David was the King of Israel. He had the habit of seeking God early in the morning. This prevents the bad news and sinful influences of the day from intruding into Davids mind and his soul.
He filled his mind with the presence of God first, and then the cacophony of the outside world was silenced. He didn't stop them from speaking; rather, he listened to the voice of God first, before his day began, and let that Voice shout down the noise of the sinful world. Then he could be about the business of running a kingdom. He was able to cut off every evildoer from the city of the Lord, because he was ready to spot them. In banks, tellers are trained to look for counterfeits not by handling counterfeits...but by handling the real deal. They know the fakes because they are so used to the real thing. Same with cutting off evil doers. David was not familiar with the tricks of the evil doers because he spent time around them. He was aware of the deeds of the evil because he started his day in the presence of Ultimate Goodness...God. He let God affect the changes he needed for the day and then he was ready to face the imposters.
I am very guilty of this one lately. I intend on spending time each morning with God and I manage to find more excuses than I do create opportunities. We need to fill our tanks before we face the day. If that means getting up earlier or not logging in to my website until I have spent time with God...so be it.
God's order for my household is that I get filled from Him, then my overflow fills my family. Out of the abundance of my heart, I can speak blessings to them...and I can silence the evil in the land.

Psalm 101:7 Checklist for dads...cont...

Psalm 101:7<
"No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence"

This Psalm is simple, yet full of insight. I can't let anyone who practices deceit dwell in my house. Maybe they'll only be a visitor until they show their true character. But once I realize they are practicing deceit, they have to go. This seems simple and obvious. But then I started thinking about it more. It's plain to see that no one would invite a deceitful person into their house to live, but do we invite deceitfulness into our home in a form we don't always recognize? How about the evening news, the radio, music we listen to or books we read or information we gather on the net. I started to realize how I can violate this important teaching of David's without having a flesh and blood person in my home. If I allow a world view that doesn't sync up with mine and more importantly with God's, live in my home, I am letting one who practices deceit dwell in my home. What about "one who speaks falsely" standing in my presence. Same thing...what of all those news shows that so badly skew the news to make one side look bad? What about the lies of the ungodly that I hear on the radio or read in the paper? Even closer to the heart...what about those "preachers" who preach a gospel that is a little less...a little more sprinkled with deceit. Not quite the real gospel. Have they set up a "dwelling" in my home?
I have to watch all four corners and every door. Being a dad and a man is work. I can't sit back and let life happen to me. I have to have my filter in place and make sure I am checking on who wants to move in a live here. Living there is not the same as stopping by for a visit. We can't sequester ourselves from the world. But who is taking up residence in our lives?
Help me be free from deceit and then help me remain free from deceitful people and deceitful influences. Help me be sensitive to my own ability to deceive myself, and sensitive to those things that are deceiving me that I might not realize. Help me be lovingly discerning in all things.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Psalm 101:7 Checklist for successful dads...cont...

Psalm 101:7 "My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; He whose walk is blameless shall minister to me"

Websters on "Minister": To look after the needs of others"

I need to be careful about who my heroes are. Even as an adult man and a dad, there are still people who influence me and who I consider heroic and influential. I need to watch who those people are. I need to filter my view of the actions of others through the absolute truth of the Bible.
A man is known by the company he keeps. Eventually, if you spend enough time with someone, they will rub off on you. When I was in college I had team mates on the hockey team who were Canadians. By the end of the season my Philadelphia accent had morphed into Bob and Doug MacKenzie. I was saying "eh" and "oot". That's a simple example but it shows how enough time in the presence of others can and will change us.
So I need to spend my time with Godly, faithful people. And I need to do it not just as a means of promoting my business interests or gaining favor in certain social circles. What I need to do is find faithful influences regardless of who they are in the worlds eyes.
David says "He whose walk is blameless shall minister to me". David was so wise. He knew that people who go the extra step of ministering to our needs have so much more influence than those who we only know casually. If two people show up at my door for a visit and one brings a covered dish, they have a special place in my heart. If someone wants to "bless me" with a financial or tangible gift...especially in a time of need...they have a place of influence. If only by obligation.
David knew this and he advised the readers to only let "the blameless" minister to him. If someone wanted to do kindnesses to David and his house, they were going to be people of good report an blameless lifestyle, because he knew the intrinsic place of influence these folks would have.
I have to do this in my own life, especially as a dad. Am I standing firm on what I believe? Do I show my daughter an example of being with people of questionable character just to advance my own agenda? Do I let people "bless" me who maybe have their own agenda at heart?
Surround me with men and women who have your mind. Encircle me with men whose walk is blameless and who are faithful. Men who set an example of staying true to You and Your word, even in hard times. Let my daughter see an example of integrity in the people I align myself with.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Psalm 101 Checklist for Dads...cont...

Psalm 101:5 "Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure."
This point on the checklist is a tough one because, at least for me, it hits too close to home. The first part of this verse is clearly speaking of gossip. Now forgive my perceived misogyny, but gossip amongst men is a world different from gossip amongst women. Women gossip about personal matters...weight, manners, how much money their husbands spend on them, how good or bad a cook they are etc. Men gossip to get ahead in life. Men gossip only when it will directly benefit them or their pursuits, otherwise we really don't care about anyone else. Two guys criticizing another guy in a bar...because they think he might end up with the prettiest women. Two guys gossiping about a ballplayer...they want him to fail so they can move up on the depth chart. Hear a guy gossiping at the office? He wants the other guys job. Gossip about the preacher...the preacher said something that pricked the attackers conscience. Women will gossip to gossip...men gossip to draw blood.
I cannot permit this kind of destructive talk in my home. Because it teaches my daughter that I will attack someone personally if they have what I want. It shows my petty jealousy and it shows that I have no respect for other human beings.
If I have an issue with a co worker I need to be a resolver of situations, not a gasoline pour-er. If I disagree with the pastor I need to talk to him and see if I really understood him or was I hearing what I wanted to hear? If I disagree with him...I need to leave, not destroy him and see what happens next. I was witness to this at the last church I belonged to back home. My beloved pastor Paul Walters was attacked in a very non Christlike fashion. People get tired of what they know and have, they shun the familiar every day. Pastor Walters served that body of believers for years and it cost him a lot personally. A split developed over something asinine..as most splits do...and he resigned. I was already in Nashville when this happened and it broke my heart that I wasn't there to stand in his defense. I have visited that church since, and it has changed for the worse.
People could have prayed, they could have talked in a non aggressive fashion, but instead they decided they knew better than God and they wound up with what they deserved. Half the members left for various churches and the other half stayed and lost something very special indeed.
I cannot let my daughter see that sort of behavior, for a litany of reasons. Mostly because I don't want to set the tone for what she may perceive is my general attitude towards those who don't live up to my standards. (as if they matter) Will she be the next to get a dose of the acid tongue if she let's me down somehow? (In some way that really doesn't matter)
Notice that the verse doesn't say not to have an opinion..it says not to talk about it in secret. Grounded, constructive criticism is just that...constructive. Whispered attacks are petty and harmful. A man of integrity doesn't skulk around talking badly about others behind their back. He is a lovingly confronting friend who truly wants that person to be their best...and he is willing to find out if his view was correct. Maybe there was something about the story he didn't grasp.
I will not abide arrogant or boastful people in my advisory council. I can't have them influence me because I can easily begin to buy into it and feed my own pride. If I am influenced by humble men, my own ample pride is sequestered and I will begin to walk in humility. The greatest men I've known were confidently humble...a delicate balance indeed, and one our kids could be well served to see.
"Father, set a watch before my lips. Watch over my heart and keep me from gossip and verbal aggression. Watch over my heart and keep me from pride. Like Paul...may my boast only be in you."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Checklist for Dads Psalm 101 cont...

Psalm 101:4(b) "Men of perverse heart shall be far from me. I will have nothing to do with evil"
"Directed away from what is right or good; perverted.
Obstinately persisting in an error or fault; wrongly self-willed or stubborn."

Men of perverse heart shall be far from me. I wrote many months ago about the use of the word perverse and especially the prefix "per". It connotes something that is very very much like the thing it imitates but not exactly like it.
Hydrogen Peroxide is almost identical to plain water, but the differences are potentially deadly. It looks and smells like water, it tastes almost the same. It's chemical formula is even deceptively similar. But ingesting it in any notable amount will kill you. The similarities make it dangerous.
It's the same here in Psalm 101. Men of perverse hearts aren't necessarily openly evil. They may "look Christian". They may say the right things, speaking fluent Christianese. They might even have the right bumper stickers on their cars, and hold positions on the church board. But they are not what they appear and they are, because of their outward similarity to true Christianity, even more dangerous.
Maybe they are men who try to act as much like the world as they can, and still maintain the facade of a faith walk. Maybe they bend the rules in business, or dismiss their responsibilities as a dad in order to possess "more". Maybe they talk one way around their Christian friends and another way around their non Christian friends. Maybe they hold to a perverse view of holiness. Those who allow the intended end to jutify the means. Those who cheat in business and tell themselves they will give more money in church. Those who use the Bible as a nice book of quotes and not the beacon of absolute truth that the Bible is. Those who look so much like someone I could emulate and admire, but on further examination they are living a lie and they know it. Nobody is perfect...I am not saying we need to eliminate all but the "perfect" among us. But there is a massive difference between someone who is trying to walk the walk and live the life, and someone who is trying to fool me into thinking they are walking the walk and living the life. The danger is when I let them convince me that I can "get away" with less of a sacrifice than my all.
David instinctively knew he wasn't going to be able to influence them to change. He knew it was far more likely that they would pull him down rather than him pulling them up. That's why he says these people will be "far from me" and he makes the bold statement "I will have nothing to do with evil". He wasn't talking about evil, the action, he was referring to evil intentioned people. David made his vow to keep this sort of influence as far away as possible.
I have to try to do the same. I need to fill my place of council and advice and wisdom with Godly men of integrity and faith. Men who live what they believe and who willingly watch their steps so that their life doesn't betray their faith.
Those men will be close to me.
Father God...Help me to take a stand against the deeds of the faithless. Help me not be a jerk about it, but be a real man of God. I don't want to drive those men away like a pompous jerk, but rather, I want to be so deeply in tune with You and with Your Spirit and Your will, that these men don't feel comfortable around me in their faithlessness. Let me distinguish myself as such a man of faith that their faithlessness leaves a noticeable void and they "want what I've got".
Most of all, help me spend so much time in your presence that I am an authentic, Godly man, and not a perversion of who you say I am.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Psalm 101 checklist for Dads cont...

Psalm 101:3(b)-4
" The deeds of faithless men I hate, they will not cling to me. Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil."
David's conclusion here is obvious. I cannot tolerate or make excuses for, faithless people. Not in a prudish or mean spirited way, but in my personal interactions that would influence me. I can't hold them in such regard that their deeds or attitudes would cling to me. I don't want Morgan to see an aspect of my life that has faithlessness clinging to it. I don't want her seeing me tolerating someone influencing my life in order to get ahead in the business world, or in social circles or in finances. What would this look like? What areas do I need faithfulness is?
-Finances: Because it honors God and sets a Godly example. This includes tithing without fail, generosity beyond the tithe, and not wasting money.
-What I watch on TV or listen to on radio. I need to be careful. I need to input more programs that build my faith. I need to "watch what I watch". Are they sneaking in little improprieties that I ignore because they are brief? Is there an agenda at work?
- I need to be faithful in integrity. Mark DeMoss was right. You have it or you don't. It's a decision, not a gene. Faithfulness to Jesus will yield integrity
Little things like your phone ringing and your wife asking "are you here?" before answering. Cheating on your taxes (unless appointed to a cabinet position in the Obama presidency) or not telling the cashier they miscalculated your bill and you owe them money. During a time when my ex wife and her husband were being particularly contrary towards me, I was saying bedtime prayers with Morgan and I prayed for them. Morgan stopped right there and said "You are praying for Mommy and Jeff?..They are being so mean to you". I told them that we always pray for people...even those who mistreat us. She was amazed and very impressed with her daddy. One of my major issues is how impatient I am behind the wheel. I detest bad, inattentive drivers. I can easily let it get out of hand. I don't get violent...it doesn't descend into road rage...but even what I mutter under my breath needs to be filtered. Is this the example of faith I want Morgan to see? This seems daunting but it's so necessary. I only get one chance to live my faith before her eyes. I only have a few short years to influence her for God and to instill integrity. I only get one chance to be a heroic, faithful, Godly man. Here is a very direct, abrupt, and possibly chilling way to put it, men...The man I am is very likely to be the man my sons will become, and the man my daughters will marry.
When you think about it in those terms it is easy to understand why it matters so much.
I don't know about you...but I have work to do!
Dear Father God...I need to be faithful in all my ways, but I am so unable to do that, when I try in my own strength. I need your help and your filling with your Spirit. Then I can be the man you have asked me...commanded me to be.
Help me yield to you and let your attitudes and integiry fill me. Help me be a man of God and a dad that makes a difference.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Psalm 101...checklist for dads

Psalm 101:3a
"I will set No vile thing before my eyes"

From Websters: "Vile"
Loathsome; disgusting: vile language.
Unpleasant or objectionable: vile weather.
Contemptibly low in worth or account; second-rate.
Of mean or low condition.
Miserably poor and degrading; wretched: a vile existence.
Morally depraved; ignoble or wicked: a vile conspiracy.

I barely need to explain anything here. We could all just read the verse, then the definition, and spend an hour in thought.
This verse goes along with Jesus teaching that "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks" What is abundant in my heart? Is it Jesus or something else? Righteousness or deceit? Do I set my sights on Unpleasant or objectionable things? Have I set my goals at contemptuously low levels, second rate, of mean or low condition? Have I convinced my children that they will only ever achieve such mean, second rate levels of success? Do I have a vision of my life or of my children's life that is poor and degrading?
Do I let things that are morally depraved, ignoble or wicked enter through my "eye gate"? It isn't easy to steer clear of these things. The intrusions are everywhere. The Internet, TV, radio, print media, music...discussions with friends?
Have those things shaped my walk and my life in front of my kids? Have I been asleep at the gate as things snuck in? Are my expectations for myself so minimal that I excuse questionable behavior? Do I lack the faith to set high, lofty goals for my daughter and do I lack the character to see to it that she gets to those goals regardless the cost?
Have I set a vile thing before my eyes?

Dear Father,
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your presence. Morgan is watching...the world is watching and needs me to be careful about this topic. Please make my spirit sensitive to what becomes input to my heart. Let the same mind be in me, that was also in Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Psalm 101...checklist for great dads

Psalm 101
The Checklist for Being a Great Dad

Two months ago, in our men’s meeting in December, my pastor gave us all a challenge.
He asked us to read through the 63 Psalms of David, one each day.
I have to admit that I didn’t keep up like I wanted to.
I did, however, read Psalm 101, and made it my meditational Psalm for the two weeks it took to work through the Psalm.
Here on my blogs I am going to post each daily meditation I wrote during that time.
I hope it blesses you and challenges all of us, especially you dads.

Psalm 101:1, 2 “I will sing of your love and justice. To you, oh Lord, I will sing praise”
2: “I will be careful to lead a blameless life—when will you come to me?” “I will walk in my house with a blameless heart”

David spoke of singing about God’s love and justice. How many times do I walk around, humming a tune or singing a song under my breath, almost subconsciously? Why? Because it’s in my heart. I’ve listened to it so many times that I have committed it to memory. I think that was David’s point. He had so immersed himself in God’s word that he could make up songs about it. It was buried in his subconscious. That came from tirelessly pursuing God’s presence…as the deer pants for water”
My first job as a dad is to be near God often and for prolonged periods. Jesus cannot influence me if I am a stranger to Him.
David speaks in vs. 2 about being “careful to lead a blameless life”
Did he mean perfect? No. But he meant shooting for perfection, that much is for certain. He said he was going to be “careful” to do this. That meant it was on purpose. He was making a plan to do this. He thought about it, he was conscious of it. Why?
Because of what he says in the second part…”I will walk in my house with a blameless heart”. David knew that the most important people in the world were watching. His God, His children…his family, and then his subjects.
People are watching us men. Little people. There is never a time when Morgan isn’t watching me. Never a time when I can drop my guard and be less than careful to lead a blameless life. Close doesn’t cut it. Mark DeMoss writes in his book, The Little Red Book of Wisdom that you don’t have a lot of integrity...you have it or you don’t. Period.
We need to be dads who pursue righteousness and godliness at all times in all situations. Men of character and integrity. Men who give it our best and keep giving it our best even when we fail...as we all will. Because our children are always watching.
Dear Father,
I need to be like you. I need Your character, Your nature, Your integrity. I need to follow Your example. My daughter is watching. My friends are watching. The world is watching. Please anoint me with the grace and power to be the man you need me to be, and they need me to be. Amen”

Friday, February 6, 2009

Hall Of Fame Dads...finale

Well if I wrote a new entry for every H.O.F. dad I knew I'd be writing for months. So I'm wrapping it up today. I'm going to list some great dads that I know that I would write about if I had time, and then write about one more dad to close this out.
Here is my short list of Hall of Fame dads I know,
Bob DuHadaway, Poppa John Iorizzo, Ken Winward, Art Wilson, Mel Henry, Keith Wilson, Brian, Bobby, and Guy, Jim Wilson, Charlie Jones, Ed McGlasson, Harold Alexander,DAVE (birthday boy) LEWIS, Terry Chapman
The list could go on. What makes a H.O.F. dad? That's another list that could be pretty long, but I'll give you my personal top ten as I observed them at work in the lives of the great dads I've seen.
1: A Great Dad KNOWS HIS KIDS! Really knows them.
2: A Great Dad loves his kids for who and what they are. (see above)
3: A Great Dad reaches into the heart of each of his children and finds that one thing they were put here to become and to do...and then he does his very best to make that thing a reality with them.
4: A Great Dad loves the differences between each of his children instead of playing favorites. This is especially important in large families.
5: A Great Dad is generous with his praise and his praise is sincere. (see #1)
6: A Great Dad is his kids' biggest fan and most ardent supporter. If your dad believes in you...ANYTHING is possible.
7: A Great Dad isn't perfect...and he admits this. Kids really don't want to "hate" their dads for 30 years over some mistake they made when they were kids. They just want Dad to say, "you know...I was wrong. I'm sorry" That's IT! Grudges carry on for 40 years because parents won't admit they screw up too. Kids don't want blood, they want validation.
8: A Great Dad is always there...regardless of your age you never stop needing your dad from time to time. When you are little it's to show you how to ride a bike, throw a curve ball, check under the bed for monsters, or tell you that you are really a princess. When you get older, he is there for you to call when you are thinking about buying your first house, having your first child...or going through a really rough time. When nobody else believes in you anymore, your dad can still convince you that you are still capable of greatness.
9: A Great Dad is a good example. He is virtuous and has integrity, he is the man we all either want to be when we grow up or hope we marry...depending on gender of course. He loves God and we know it, if not because of his words, certainly because of his actions. He loves our mom, he loves our brothers and sisters, he has enough love in him to love one...or maybe more...of our friends who don't have the kind of great dad we do. (Thanks Bob and Pop)He is fair and honorable. He is smart and wise but doesn't flaunt it. He is a hero.
10: A Great Dad is the first earthly example we have of God. It's a fact. What we think of our dads, we think of God. That's why it's so important. That's why we divorced dads have to be extra careful and work at it extra hard. If our dads are distant and cold, we think God is, and so we don't approach Him easily in prayer or worship. If our Dad is self absorbed we think God is not an intimate part of our lives but rather a Chess Player in the sky, amusing Himself with our daily struggles.
If our dad is accessible and open, loving and heroic, warm and inviting, wise and good...we know who and what God truly is.
This turned into more than I thought it would and it's actually been somewhat emotional for me to write. What kind of dad are you, men? Divorced or not...young children or grown adults. How many of these characteristics do we possess? I know I have many to work on here. It's harder when one is divorced because our time is so limited. But it's not impossible. I'd love to hear from you dads who regularly read this blog. What points did I miss? What can we do to become great, Hall Of Fame dads?
I'll get to my final nominee tomorrow.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

H.O.F. Dads...continued

Hey gang...it's been a few days. Busy weekend with Morgan here and the Superbowl and all that. I've not been so inspired anyway so I took a few days off. Nothing is worse than a poor effort. Better to let it rest for a bit.
Today's Hall of Fame Dad is my buddy John Willis.
John pastors a church in New Castle Delaware. That in itself is a difficult task because that region is so heavily Catholic and the Protestant base is usually already embedded in a church. So starting a church in that area is a daunting task. People in the North tend to be more cynical and more self educated than Southerners. That's not a slight to Southerners, but religion is the one area where Protestant Southerners question less because they have been raised in church. It's the same way Catholics in the North don't question Catholic liturgy. It is what it is and you do it because your daddy did it and his daddy before him. But a Protestant in the North was likely a converted Catholic and he probably got that way because he asked questions and read books...so that very nature makes him a well informed skeptic. That makes him a very tough bird to preach to.
John soldiers on, pastoring a church and working a full time job in the home remodelling industry and raising his two wonderful kids. His wife Kathy works as a nurse and spends a lot of her free time (oxymoron?...contradiction of terms?) researching the effects of food allergies on children. Her research has literally saved her kids.
John does his thing in the virtual anonymity of New Castle Delaware. He isn't pastor of a mega church although he has the giftings to do that. He barely takes a paycheck for his endeavors. But he serves because God told him to and he does it without sacrificing his children. If you talk to John, you have to squeeze hard to get him to say much about himself but if you've known him for long, as I have, it can be done. John loves his kids. He makes difficult decisions with them in mind. I have been privy to one or two decisions he made because of the potential effect it would have on his children. He and Kathy have sacrificed much to follow their calling, but their kids were never one of the sacrifices.
It is not easy being a pastor and it is difficult to raise children in that spotlight. To strike the balance between ministry and fatherhood is quite a feat, but John does it because his love for his children abides even in difficult times. Think about the things you do with your kids...things that are fun and enjoyable and nobody cares about them because you aren't in the "limelight" of ministry. Now imagine not being able to do something or go somewhere because of "how it might look" or worse...think of having 100 onlookers telling you how wrong you are in the way you raise your kids. Anyone want to sign up for that?
That sort of sacrifice is what every minister goes through...and it's what makes my friend John Willis a "Hall of Fame" dad.