Saturday, November 24, 2012

How "A Ragamuffin Christmas Came To Be..."

I moved to Nashville, Tennessee in November 1997.
I'm a native of Philadelphia and grew up in the Philadelphia area. I had never considered living anywhere else, except one brief notion about moving to California because I had been there for 10 days when my best friend got married and I was in his wedding. Who wouldn't fall in love with a place that was 35 degrees warmer when you got off the plane than it was when you go on board? (Greg had gotten married in January and it was 35 degrees in Philly the morning I flew to L.A.)
But I love my hometown so very very much and I never thought I'd ever live anywhere else.
Then I got married.
My now-ex-wife is from Utah. (It's an interesting story how we met but one I won't tell here) She hated the Philadelphia area from day one. So we moved to Nashville where I soon realized she merely hated me.
We were married in February 1997, she got pregnant in August, we moved to Nashville in November and in May 1998 my daughter was born.
My daughter is everything. She is the one thing I live this life for (other than God of course). She is all the hopes and dreams I have for every day I shall walk this earth. I loved her from the moment I found out I was going to be a dad. I fell even more in love with her when we had that first grainy sonogram done and I could see the outline of a real-life child in there. I loved her every day during Holly's pregnancy and I told her so each night, when I would hold a cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels against her mother's belly and tell her "Hi's your daddy. I love you and I can't wait to see you!" One night around the 7-8 month mark, I did this as I always did, and before I got to "I love you and I can't wait to see you"...she kicked. Really kicked. It's a story I've related before so I won't retell it further.
Morgan has been the driving force in my life for every day of the 14 plus years she has been on this earth...and the 38 weeks before. (She was induced 2 weeks early because it was a difficult pregnancy).
I started out down here doing carpentry but that wasn't paying nearly enough. So, on the advice of another of my dearest friends, in September 1998 I got into the mortgage industry. I struggled terribly that first year. I stayed up late memorizing lender matrices so I could know which programs to put my customers in off the top of my head. I studied rate sheets and called on realtors. I held first-time home-buyer seminars. I called "For sale by Owner" ads and asked them to send me leads from people inquiring to buy their houses. I busted my butt to make something of myself for my family.
On December 1, 1999 at 2PM, I walked out of Davidson County Fourth Circuit Court a divorced dad.
My ex had really never been happy and my struggling to have success in a business I was brand-new to was all the impetus she needed to end our marriage. It crushed me. I had dreamed dreams and made plans and set goals for this little family of mine...really all the family I've ever had...and suddenly the person I dreamed all those dreams for decided she was going to find someone else to make them come true with. And my little princess, my daughter-who was the driving force that kept me going when I worked for that first crappy mortgage company where I learned to excel but was rewarded with my pocket getting picked in a thousand ways- was now a visitor in my home once a week and every other weekend and two months in the summer.
I don't know if you've ever known a broken-hearted divorced dad but let mt tell you...if you are a real dad, you don't have an off switch to make your love for your kids subside on the days they aren't there. I was a zombie for years after my divorce. Morgan was my one source of life and energy and the one person in all my life who had not changed her mind about loving me and who I could love safely. I would spend myself willingly for her happiness and I did.
A year after my divorce I really turned the corner in the mortgage business. I was really really good at my job. I had become a branch manager of a net-branch company and had my own office and was starting to see some real, measurable income. By 2005 I was a branch operator with the largest privately funded mortgage company in the U.S. I was successful, I was making more money each successive year. I was nationally recognized by my bosses for running a good branch and for being active in the community and for developing a really great marketing campaign for a FSBO product we had. I was doing okay.
There was still a massive hole in my heart, but I comforted myself with being a great dad and with the house I had purchased in 2004. Nothing special, 2500 square feet on five acres in the country. It was really the five acres that I loved. I had a wonderful vegetable garden that was ten times bigger than I could ever consume myself. But like my uncle Franny, I love making things grow. I once planted Cheerio's to see if I could grow donuts. (Not really...)
By 2006 the industry was really starting to feel the rumblings of what was ahead. I made very little money in 2006 and by January of 2007 I lost my home. 2007 rebounded for me in my market and I made enough money that I rented for a year and Morgan and I lived a nice little life in a neighborhood in Franklin. But my heart was sinking and the business was drying up. I had my best year ever in 2007...and I didn't close one loan after August 1st of that year. I closed two loans in February 2008. They closed my office in March, along with all but two other offices in the state. I was officially a loan officer for another branch but I had no more business. In May my lease expired and I was homeless. Morgan and I stayed in a friends loft apartment for the summer, travelling back and forth to Delaware so we'd have something of a time together. In August she went back to live with her mom, and my friends needed the apartment for a previous commitment  And so from August 2008 until January 2012 I was homeless. I slept in my car and showered at the local rec center.
Christmas 2008 was hard, but not the hardest. 2009 was terrible. Morgan had informed me that year that she no longer believed in Santa. Okay...I knew this was coming. But along with losing my home, my workshop and garden that were my refuge, and the two dogs the cat and the Welsh Pony that were also part of my I could no longer climb up on the roof on Christmas Eve, as Morgan was just drifting off to sleep, and stomp around and shake the sleigh bells I had made and bellow my "Ho Ho Ho" and be Santa. I would have liked one more chance to do that...on my own roof while my daughter slept in her own bed.
Morgan and I had always had the Advent calenders. I would buy two identical calenders and she would take one to her mom's and leave one at my house. And so together, whether in person or on the phone, we would open a door each day and get even more excited about the approaching holiday.
2009 she told me she didn't really want to do that either. I think it was her defense mechanism. I think that because I was living in my car, and had no kitchen counter to put it on, she just didn't feel like it would be the same. I have wondered if her not wanting to do the Advent calender that year was her way of dealing with the hurt and disappointment of what had befallen her daddy...and subsequently her as well.
I was devastated. I was worried that my daughter would lose faith in me and in God. All I had at the time were my words. And so I began writing a series of stories for the Advent...only they were very grown-up stories about broken Morgan's daddy...who found their way back to the manger and to the baby Jesus. They found their way back to Christmas itself somehow. They were broken, limping, hardened, and desperate. Their faith was dimmed by the beatings the world had inflicted. Their hearts were calloused from the blows of life. But somehow they all knew they needed to be the cave where Jesus was born. They needed to hold this baby and let babies do what babies do. Each day became a journey for me. Each story was inspired as I walked five miles each morning before going inside the rec center to shower and then go off to try to find a job. Each story became very real to me-in the way characters become real to writers- and I was amazed sometimes at how the stories twisted and turned and finally found themselves in front of the most precious Gift ever given.
These stories...and this book...were born from the heart of a very very broken daddy who had seen his whole life vaporize and who wondered if it was ever going to be the same again. Sometimes I still wonder that. I am still such a long long way from anything resembling the normalcy we once knew.
I wrote these stories during the worst Christmas Season my daughter and I ever knew. I had no money for a gift. If my friend Chris hadn't generously given me a rebuilt laptop he had worked on at his shop and was willing to let me pay him for it over time, I would have had nothing whatsoever to give my daughter.
I was crushed. I was nearly lifeless. I had nothing but these stories that seemed to pour out of me from a place that held so much pain of my own and so much embarrassment and humiliation over what my daughter was having to endure, not being able to stay with me on our weekends and knowing her daddy was living in his car. I could have left. I could have wandered into another state and found work and suddenly 5 years would go by and I would be too involved with that life to return to my first life. It happens all the time.
All I had that year were these stories and the love for my daughter that drove me to write them and polish them over the next 3 years until they became what you see now in final form.
These stories were my gift to her...from the deepest pain I've ever felt they brought me hope. Hope that one day we would look back on this difficult time we lived in and found something to share for generations.
It's the hope I have for everyone who reads it now.
Merry Christmas, Ragamuffins...

Friday, November 23, 2012

A word about my Christmas book "A Ragamuffin Christmas"

There is a certain "mystical" quality to this book. There has been since I first started writing it as a blog series in 2009. Most of the stories took me less than 10 minutes to write. They would come so fast that it sometimes felt like taking dictation more than it did composing a story.
The entire project was inspired...and I say that as solemnly and respectfully as I can. There are some amazing "stories behind the stories" on the pages.
Two Christmases ago, when I had self published the book and released it on a limited basis, someone told me it had a similar effect on him as when he read "The Shack".  Now, I have serious issues with the Theology of "The Shack" most folks do who have even a modicum of training in the Bible. But I understood what the guy meant.  As long as you read "The Shack" for what it was, it was a great book. It was special in a way that made you stop and realize that it was a once in a lifetime literary event. It's the folks who tried to develop a theology around the book that ran it off the rails. The underlying thing about "The Shack" was that, while you knew the events in the book could never couldn't help but wish they would.  Everyone who read the book wished, somewhere deep in their heart, that there was really a shack somewhere in some woods near their home. We all secretly wished we could escape for a mystical weekend with God in a nice little mountain cabin and hang out, and eat delicious food and get to know Him as we all deeply desire. We all wished it could just be us for a few days...just Him, and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and me, and we could walk along the lake and hike the mountains and open up our souls and ask the burning questions that we all have inside of us. Questions that you can only ask when you are really comfortable with the person you are asking.
That was the magic of The Shack. It was horrifying what the main character endured to make the shack necessary. But the way God entered his life and brought healing...that was the real medicine the book offered. The author crossed the line quite a few times in the process but as I said before, if you were grounded, you could take the good and overlook the bad and be better for it.
The guy who told me that "A Ragamuffin Christmas" had the same feel, explained to me that it was this mystical feel that he compared to "The Shack".  Only my book is infinitely more Theologically sound. There aren't any doctrinal ideas that will make anyone cringe. No views of God that will cause you to run for your Bible and start emailing me scriptures to correct my post-Christian philosophy.
I make the case for salvation as clear as a bell by the end of the book.
But there is a quality to the book that is similar to "The Shack". The other day in discussing the book with a friend, it dawned on me what it is. Just like "The Shack", this book creates an event that you know immediately could never take place...but you wish with every page that it could.
It's obviously physically impossible for any of us to somehow become transcendent and return to that Holy night and see Jesus actually enter this world. To interact with Mary and Joseph and watch a parade of Ragamuffins as they come to meet the infant King of Kings. To hold Him ourselves and gaze in wonder at the very face of a form that makes us love Him more deeply. To smell the "baby-powder smell" of his skin, and to have our hearts implode as his tiny hand curls around our finger while he sleeps. ...and to understand the entire time..."This is God...and He has chosen to do this for come here like this, in this form and let me draw this close to Him."
That is the thing that every reader seems to take from "A Ragamuffin Christmas". That deep longing that this could really happen. That we could somehow really have this moment too. Sacred, silent, amazing. I don't present God in any form other than the forms he presents Himself in the Bible. Nothing in this book will make you scratch your head and wonder if you should be offended.
Instead, I think the book bridges the gap between who Jesus really is and what we have tried to make Him. Somehow we created a dichotomous Savior. Somehow in our lives, we developed a disconnect between the infant Savior of Bethlehem -sweet and peaceful and beautiful and approachable- and the Savior of Calvary, writhing in pain, abandoned by his Father, dying alone on the garbage pile of Jerusalem, with spit running down His face.
I think one of the great things the book does is reconnects those two. We are reminded throughout the book, in various scenes, that this beautiful baby is destined for a final showdown with death. And the realization makes both portrayals of Jesus more wondrous, more special, and more painful for those who love Him.
I think we all wish we could hold the baby. I think we all wish we could go back to the very opening scene in the Great Plan of Redemption, and experience the beginning, now that we've been touched by the end. Those of us who have made the journey up Calvary's hill, would have a very special view of Bethlehem's manger.
...if only we could really go there.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Christmas Book is Available NOW!

Hey dad's...
Here is the book I wrote for my daughter while I was enduring homelessness a few years ago.
It's a great story and one I recommend sharing with your family.

A Ragamuffin Advent Journey

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Christmas Season is Upon Us...

Hello Dads...
It's very early in the morning here in Nashville as I write this.
I have been praying for you guys...the ones I know by name and the ones I do not. We are coming upon probably the hardest time for divorced dads (and for moms) of the whole year. The Holidays are tough, because even if we have a great relationship with our ex and even if we see our kids a good portion of the's not the Holiday we always pictured it being. I understand this all too well. I will only tell you that we all need to remember to keep the Holidays about what they are about...our children and the One Child around whom history revolves. Jesus
Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year and as that is the weekly air date for my radio show "Sometimes Daddies Cry" I am seriously considering going ahead with the show. I will be home in Philadelphia for Christmas, as I always am, I will have my daughter with me, and I certainly can find an hour that evening to go on the air. I was thinking of this yesterday and thought that maybe it would be a comforting voice on a tough night for someone. So as of right now it's still undecided but I am leaning that way.
I also want to let you know about my new book; "A Ragamuffin Christmas" which will be released this coming week by Liberty University Press. It is a fictional account of visitors to the Nativity on the night Jesus was born, and how they interact to the baby. It's my first fiction and a book I am very proud of. I will post the Amazon / Barnes and Noble links as soon as they are active. You can also purchase a signed copy directly from me. There will be a link for that as well in a few days.
I am seeking ways to make time to write here more often. I know many of you can't set aside an hour to listen to the show and this is an easier format as far as flexibility goes. I am really wanting to get to a point where I can afford the time to write at least 3-4 entries a week here. I am also revising the original book "Sometimes Daddies Cry...what a dad really feels about divorce." Hopefully for a Spring release.
I want to remind you guys that you have a special place in my heart. I really believe God brought me through my divorce and allowed that pain so that I could become a voice for men like me. I am not saying...nor would I ever say...that God caused my divorce. But God knew it was going to happen and He permitted it so that he could reshape me into a minister of His grace to dads like us. I hope He is pleased with the results thus far.
Be strong, dads...never give up on your precious children. When I was homeless, living in a car and broken and battered, my daughter took great comfort in knowing that I never gave up and just skulked out of town. I endured the shame and embarrassment and crushing humiliation of homelessness and the growing worry of not finding work and I stayed in her life as best I could. It brought her a little bit of comfort and security knowing that her daddy was still in the area. I know this life of ours is heartbreaking and friendless. But your kids see the effort you are putting out...or not putting out. And they will remember it and love you for it.
Remember the real reason we celebrate the upcoming season. Because God became a dad like us, with a child like ours, from whom He was separated...much like we are. While Jesus was here on earth, He was not in his rightful place in Heaven and I have wondered if His Father missed his presence. we do.
Remember that God endured this loneliness for you. Because of His love for you. Do not forget that in the midst of crushing pain there is healing hope.
Let's go into the Season of Advent and Christmas with expectation  hoping for a mystical moment when God shows Himself to us in a special and personal way.
And let's make a memorable and wonderful Christmas season for our kids.
Your Brother,

Monday, October 29, 2012

Standing your ground...doing your job

Yesterday, my daughter and I spent the afternoon together and she told me that she was in the middle of her first-ever broken heart. She had a crush on a young man in her class and they went on a date a while back. (Her first date ever)
My daughter is an introspective, thoughtful young woman. She wasn't in a hurry to get in a relationship, and at 14 I am thankful. She isn't needy like so many girls her age are. She isn't needy because from the day she entered this world, I have told her she was beautiful, she was smart, and that she was deeply loved. She has never had to look beyond her daddy to see her worth and to find a loving heart and so she has never had the hole in her that other girls have. She didn't rush into anything, and because of this, the boy sort of lost interest. Now he seems like a good kid so I don't think it was a case of her not being willing to do anything untoward, it was more a situation where I think he thought she just didn't dig him.
So apparently he moved on and found someone else. She found out this weekend that he has a girlfriend and it hurt her. So I did what a dad should do and I went into my Paul Dooley-in-"16 Candles"-mode (he played Molly Ringwald's dad and had the great conversation about "Oily Bohunks and why they call them crushes") and tried to comfort her. I gave her a big hug and it was the first time in a long time she hugged me back...for a long while. She needed her dad. Her mom can be her confidant in a situation like this but it's the hug of her dad that makes it better. A little girl learns her inner value from her father, and dads...that can't happen if you aren't there.
She was 18 months old when her mom and I divorced. There was more than one time when I thought about leaving and becoming a long distance dad. But my heart wouldn't permit it. I am glad I stayed. My daughter needed a bear hug from the first man who ever loved her and the only one who will love her all her life. She didn't need a phone call or a Skype visit. She needed ME...right THEN.
Men...your dreams and goals were shuffled into second place the moment you became a father. All our lives they will fight to regain primacy. Don't let that happen. Stay where you belong no matter how hard it is. Because in the end, your sons need to see manhood modeled by the first man they ever knew. And your daughters need their dad to hug them, and to remind them how beautiful they always have been and to make everything better.
Stand your ground.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Broken Fatherhood...

Funny title. I thought of it yesterday. I might even change the radio show to this.
This is how it feels though. Like my fatherhood is broken.
I went for a long walk tonight. I like walking when I want to think and contemplate. Tonight was nice and cool and I had the park to myself. I was thinking about my Christmas book and trying to mull over a sermon I am putting together built around the book.
So I was thinking about the Christmas book...which in turn led me to think about Christmas...which in turn started me thinking about how not much about my life is as I'd hoped and dreamed it would be at 49...which finished with me thinking about "My Broken Fatherhood".
I'm 49. I always thought that by this time I'd have been married about 25 years and had 3 kids and they'd be off in college now and the love of my life and I would be successful and maybe taking nice trips and dreaming about the next phase of our lives.
Instead I find that after 13 years of being divorced, I am becoming more reclusive and more detached from the dating life.
Part of it...most of that it feels almost wrong of me to find happiness. I know it would require me to share my heart with someone else and there is precious little room in there for anyone besides my daughter.
I also know that it is likely that I would marry someone with a child or children and that seems wrong...because I'd end up spending more time with someone elses kids than I do with my own daughter.
And maybe it feels wrong because I don't want to allow myself to feel happiness. I don't understand that part.
I didn't initiate my divorce and I didn't deserve it. I made plans and dreamed dreams and the person I dreamed them with decided to make them come true with someone else. I was left holding the bag and paying the price. I doubt my ex ever spent one sleepless night over our divorce but I have had many.
The wolf hour came early and often for about 8 years after we split.
Maybe it's that it took so long and maybe it's that I don't want to expose my heart to hurt again and maybe it's the reasons about my daughter. But I just don't feel like bothering to try again. I feel like I'm becoming a curmudgeonly old man who loves his solitude and will one day be sitting on my porch for hours yelling at the neighbors kids to stay off my lawn. Like maybe I'm going to turn into Clint Eastwoods Walter Kowalski...gruff and tired and desiring isolation.
Divorce is like someone taking your favorite picture and erasing all the color. It's just a black and white's not a portrait.
My heart is toughened now and maybe that's for the best. But I fear that one day I'll wake up and be 68 years old and wish I had remarried. That will be too bad.
God hates divorce, the Bible tells us. But He doesn't hate divorcees. He just hates the emotional landmines it leaves us walking through.
Being married and being a father were all I ever wanted in life. At 49 I find myself divorced, fearing relationships almost entirely...and because of all this it feels like even my fatherhood is broken.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wholly Holy

Peter admonishes us in 1 Peter 1:15, "But in the way that He who has called you is holy, so you should be holy in every aspect of your life. Because it is written, "You be holy because I am holy".

Dad's...I wrestled with this verse for so many years. I thought it was a very legalistic command to live a pious, perfect life, free of even the remotest form of humanity, much less sin.
But I was reading my way through A.W. Tozer's wonderful little book, "The Knowledge of the Holy" which is a study on the attributes of God, and I finally--after many years--grasped what Peter was saying.
Tozer makes the case...appropriately so...that God is all of His attributes fully, and all at once. In other words He is not Holy sometimes and Omniscient others. Or Just sometimes but Sovereign others. He is all of the things He is and He is all of them all at once. He chooses to show us one attribute over another sometimes but those attributes are still totally at work all at once.
It took a while but I finally understood what Peter was saying when he said; "But in the same way He who called you is Holy, you be Holy..."  God is Holy all at once and His Holiness winds it's way through every other attribute and aspect of His being.
And so the charge from Peter. We should be holy. Holy in everything we do. There shouldn't be any areas where we aren't seeking to exude the Holy imprint of God in our lives. It's difficult to imagine how we can really be Holy. But remember...Holiness is not something we possess. It comes from God and it renders us Holy by contact. Remember when Moses first met God, in the form of the burning bush? God told him to take off his shoes because the very dirt he was walking on was Holy. How was that true? Was it special dirt? No. It was dirt just like the rest of the mountain was...until God showed up. When the presence of God descended on the mountain and lit upon the bush, His holiness became the holiness of the entire mountain. That is how it happens with us.
As dad's, sometimes we can close off areas of our lives and only open them when our children are around us. We aren't trying to be deceitful or duplicitous, we just compartmentalize. But we can't do this. We need Holiness in every aspect of our lives, from our fatherhood, to our jobs, to our citizenship in our country, to our activity in our churches to our workplace and on and on. Holiness doesn't mean rigid simply means a purity that comes from God Himself. The fragrance of our faith in Christ should permeate every single aspect of our lives...even the things we barely pay attention to. Things like our attitude in traffic (a trouble spot for me) to our smile and gentleness in the check out line in the grocery store, to the way we handle our finances and our assets, to the respect we show our children's mom and on and on.
Holy living doesn't mean being perfect. It doesn't even mean trying to be perfect. It means living out of a center of focus on Jesus Christ and His person and the Holiness of His Father God, through the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit.
That last phrase is really a key. Think of the third person of the Trinity...say that name thoughtfully. "The Holy Spirit". Literally it is "The Spirit (or power, or attitude) of God's Holiness" If I am filled up inside with the very attitude of Holiness of God Himself, then it simply must permeate my whole life.
Dad's...and all believers...are you Holy in all areas of living. Do we do everything we do in a way that points to Jesus Christ? It's hard. But I am trying.
Dad's, make a short list of a few area's where you could really use to surrender your way of living to more Holiness.
Here are mine:
     *Prayer life. I know prayer is vital and I pray each morning and evening but I could use more time and effort here. More serious pursuit of God in prayer...especially more sitting quietly and listening for His voice. This is an integral part of prayer as much as asking for things is. I need to model this in front of my daughter so it's a habit she develops too.
     *Kindness. I am stressed so often and it makes my fuse quite short. A life infused with the Holy Spirit will show more kindness and patience. I need to work on this more and let my daughter see her dad as a kind, and Christ-like man.
     *Faith. I need the Holiness of God to be the core of a large life of faith. I want my daughter to see a dad who believes big, asks big and trusts a big God for big answers.

Let's be determined to be holy, men. Let's let the Holy Spirit enter into every area of our hearts...even the loneliness, pain, and emptiness of post-divorced life. Because that is how He will make something wonderful come from it all.

Let's be wholly Holy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Hourglass

Remember that scene in "The Wizard of Oz" where the Witch has had enough of Dorothy escaping her schemes and she turns over a giant hourglass and tells Dorothy she has until the sands run out to give her the ruby slippers or she'll kill her family?
Remember how Dorothy tries to turn over the hourglass but no matter which way it's pointing, the sands keep running out?
That's life for a divorced dad.
I just got back from the grocery store and while I was there I saw a dad come in with his little daughter in tow. She looked to be no more than three and had beautiful curly blond hair. She was walking along three steps to his one and smiling broadly. Morgan used to do that.
Now she comes up to my shoulder and often prefers to be with her friends than with her dad.
That's how it goes I moves forward but when your time is so limited anyway, it feels like everything moves at double speed.
No matter how I turn the hourglass I can't stop the sands of time from escaping.
I'm a big, strong man...but I'm not that strong.
Today I watched this little girl having a blast just being with her dad and it made me literally swim in memories of when that picture was my own life. I had to duck down an empty aisle and hide my eyes because the waterworks were very close. Most times I can hide the emotions that rise up when I think about the years racing by and my daughter growing up, but sometimes I can't.
I'm a big, strong man...but not that strong.
Treasure every second, Dads. Make memories because you aren't just making them for your're making them for you, for those lonely days and nights when your kids are older and being with dad isn't as cool as it once was. Remembering is a good way of reminding yourself that you did the job well.

Be a Ten Talent dad

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Becoming a Ten-Talent Dad...

Blaise Pascal wrote once about how we all were made in the image of God, and that being true, since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, God's absence in our soul has left a longing and yearning that we try to fill all our lives. We might try drugs or alcohol or power or money or sex or fame or even isolation. But we try something...often many fill what can never be filled outside of a right relationship with Him.
Our lives with our children are very much the same. If you are a divorced dad you understand what I am saying.
I miss my daughter more than words can ever say. I think about her each moment. I make every decision based on how it will effect her life. I remained in Nashville because I refused to have her grow up without a dad the way I did. There is a child-shaped hole in the hearts of a divorced dad and it can never be filled by things, or power, or money or anything else. Most men succumb to it and carry around a painful vortex inside, into which a lot of happiness and hope gets pulled.
Last week on DadMatters we came up with a great descriptive for dads and it's something I am going to develop in the future. The term is "Ten-Talents Dads". It's a reference to the parable Jesus taught about the ten talents. It's the story of a businessman giving some money (talents...a unit of currency in Bible days) to three different servants and going on a trip. When he gets back, he discovers that the one he gave five talents to invested it and doubled his money and he got back ten talents. The one he gave two talents to invested it and doubled his money and the master got back four. The servant he gave one talent to buried his talent in the backyard because he was afraid that if he got daring with it and lost it, the master would punish him. He got only the original talent back from this man and he punished him severely.
Jesus concluded the parable by saying "If you are faithful in little things I will make you faithful in big things." 
Ten-Talents Dads is going to be a program whereby we develop what we do have with our kids, and make best use of the time apart from them. In this way we are constantly working on our fatherhood skills whether our kids are with us or not. In doing this, I believe God is going to bless us with bigger and broader influence and impact in our childrens lives.
It's time to take control of what we can do and what we can become, men. Let's be Ten-Talents Dads!
Please check back...this is going to get good!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Passing of Time...

Saturday morning. Good morning dads. Hope this weekend is a great one for you and your kids. I'm not going to be seeing my daughter this weekend. Next weekend we will leave for vacation. It's the first time in 5 years I've been able to take her on vacation. With all that happened over the last 4 years it wasn't a luxury we could afford.
This morning I was thinking about the passage of time. My daughter is 14 now. She starts high school in 3 weeks.
High school.
I can still smell the baby powder in her receiving blanket and she's heading to high school. Time passes so quickly when you have children. I guess that's not universally true. I suppose for those parents who view parenthood as a giant drain on their personal space and who see every minute spent as an infringement on their time, the time doesn't go by fast enough. There are parents like that out there, trust me. There are dads like that out there. Those are the men upon whom the stereotype is based. They spend 30 minutes with their kids every week, have them over to their house every other weekend but don't really spend time with them, and are more concerned about their golf game or scoring some 20-something at a beach bar. Those aren't dads.
Time races past us at light speed when we love our children. Somehow, divorce is a time accelerator. Being divorced seems to speed up the time as it passes. I have watched my daughter grow up in weekly and monthly visits instead of nightly bedtime prayers. I have helped her with homework 1/5th of the time I should have. I spend far more nights each month wondering what she is doing than knowing what she is doing. It's not that I'm worried...she is a good, godly young woman and I don't worry about her being in trouble. I just wonder what she is doing sometimes. My daughter has an amazing singing voice. I don't say that strictly because she is my daughter and I am biased, I say it because it is true. She was accepted into a performing arts High School this year because of that talent. When she is with me, she will frequently go into her room and sing for hours. She sings her favorite songs and the sound pours out from behind her door like a bird. I should be hearing that sound every day, but instead I don't. It's once a week and every other weekend and 2 months in the summer.
If you think 14 years passes in a blink when you have your kids every day...try having them on that schedule. The years don't just pass...they escape you. You grip them tightly enough to choke every second from them but still they slip through. Their escape leaves scars in your hands and in your soul like a rope-burn. You can almost see the minutes flying past and you know they aren't coming back and you know that instead of being able to comfort yourself with "It's okay if she goes to the mall with her friends tonight, we can spend tomorrow night together..." you know that there won't be a tomorrow night for another week or more. And the blackness of the oncoming fortnight without her begins it's evil laugh and it's vacuum pulls away another little piece of your fatherhood...and your heart.
That's how it feels. I "take her back" far more than I "take her home".
I spent almost 4 years being homeless...but in many ways I was homeless before I lost my house and I'm still homeless. It's only home when she is here because that's how it was supposed to be.
I find it hard to remain positive and hopeful when she is not around. I was meant to be a dad. It's in my DNA. Time is screaming past me now and it's painful to see that day is now beginning to appear  on the horizon...when she graduates high school and heads off to college and the pursuit of her dreams.  That scene is hard enough for any caring father, but when your entire parenthood was dissected into weekly and monthly segments connected by much larger periods of emptiness...that scene is unbearable.  If I could remove all the time spent away from her and add up only the time she was with me I would come up with less than 3 years. 36 months of my daughters life and she is 14. That's what I got from the court. And my visitation was considered liberal. My heart might never heal totally from this wound. I am over being divorced. I no longer miss my ex wife or grieve over her, in fact we get along quite well now. I have forgiven myself and accepted that God holds no grudge for me not being able to convince her to stay. Some decisions that effect us aren't about us. I understand that.
But the gaping wound where my fatherhood should be is going to remain just that...probably for the rest of my days. I take comfort in knowing that my daughter knows...she knows, without a doubt...that her daddy loves her. And that the times apart physically are no indicator of a distance emotionally. She will never leave my heart.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

DadMatters is BACK!

Hey dads! We resumed the weekly talk show last night. DadMatters at blog talk radio is back on the air. Tuesday evenings from 7-8PM cst we talk LIVE to dads like YOU! Hope, encouragement, help, friendship and advice. Join us! search for "dadmatters" or look at the link on the right side of this page

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Podcasts begin...Now!

Hey I started a new daily feature to this blog...a daily podcast. It's a little more personal and transportable. You can grab it off the player and download it to your phone or mp3 player. The podcasts will be brief...5-8 minutes with tidbits of hope, encouragement, wisdom and prayer. If you don't have time to read the blog each day, you can download the podcast and listen when you have a few minutes to spare. I'm excited to giving a little more personal help and hope to you guys each day. Today's (July 4th) episode is already up...enjoy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Need your help....

 Hey everyone...please click the link and consider the cause.

Kickstarter link for Ragamuffin Christmas

A poem for my daughter...

For Morgan...

What could I give you, to show that I care?
To open my heart and show what's in there.
How can I tell you with more than mere words
How I'm wrapped 'round your finger with invisible chords
And what can I show you that you haven't seen
That displays how I love you and all that you mean

If you run to the desert I would follow you there
Or climb the tall mountains to breathe the clear air
If you sailed cross the oceans to far away lands
To find worlds that you'll conquer
With your own two hands

Dream your best dreams, don't leave anything out
For your hopes and your dreams are what I am about
Look to the future to see where you will go
If you stand on my shoulders, you will get there...I know
If the road is dark, I'll set it alight
And I'll always keep watch for you all through the night

What would I tell you that would help you along
I'd tell you your gift is your heart and your song
I'd tell you again what I've told you before
As much as I've loved you there is One who loves you more
I would tell you to walk with His love as your guide
And trust in His voice as it echoes inside
What message I'd leave you, what lesson instill
It would be that I love you
And I always will

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Dad-Shaped Vacuum continued

I hope the readers have done their "homework" It's important. Here's where we get to the heart of this topic.
Compare the word pictures of your earthly Father to the word pictures of God. This entire exercise depends on your being honest about your view of God. How did it compare?
If you used words for your father like "Loving" "Kind" "interested in me" you probably used similar words for God. If you used words like "Distant" "harsh" "selfish" or "mean"...sadly you probably used them with God as well.
What is more difficult is that we filter our relationship with Him through those descriptives we use. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we project those words that describe our fathers on earth right onto our Heavenly Father. If our dad was kind and loving we see God that way and we respond to Him that way. If we saw our dad as interested in our lives, cherishing the chance to be our father...we can easily understand a God who "comes that they might have full, abundant life" John 10:10. But if our father was distant, unconcerned with our lives, if he ignored us or pushed us away...we see God the same way and it effects us negatively.
My own situation has yielded this same same fruit. Between a father I never even knew existed until I was 21, and my mothers husband who was as distant and removed from anything resembling a relationship as he could be, my view of God was and has been distorted. Try as I do, I still see Him through the eyes of a child who longed deeply for a father-son relationship but who never received it. I see God as cold, hard, distant, very annoyed with any request I might have...even requests to just "hang out".  I could approach Him for someone else without hesitation...but for my own needs I cannot. With my stepfather there was always a bargain involved. Any favor, any request had to be handled on the barter system. "If you'll do this with me, this thing that you want will happen".  I got used to just not asking for anything at all. On the one hand it made me independent at a young age but on the other set up a pattern of never coming to God for my needs and for a fatherly blessing. It's a pattern that continues to this day. I struggle with praying for myself. I struggle with seeing myself as a beloved son whom a father can't wait to hang around with.
Couple this with the tremendously turbulent revelation at age 21 that my father was actually someone else whom I had never met, and whose name had never even been uttered in my presence since I was maybe 3 years have a recipe for disaster.
Since the age of 27, when I first reached out to him hoping for a relationship, my father has remained staunch in his refusal. I have spoken to him face to face twice in my life. I have seen the color of his eyes and felt his handshake just those two times. He wants no relationship whatsoever. None. He returns no phone calls and broaches no discussion of a meeting. If there were a way to go back in time and undo me as a human...he would likely pursue the option. It's as complete and total a rejection as exists. I have moved from shock, to fear, to longing, to anger and resolution. This isn't going to happen. He isn't going to care, to consider me his flesh and blood, to ever take a step in my direction and begin a relationship of any sort. I have no choice but to accept this because to wrestle it further would cause even further damage and I have little left in my soul that isn't already wounded by this truth.
This is pretty revealing stuff and some may become uncomfortable with my brutal honesty. I will not name either man in this blog, and honestly I have no further ill will. To be frank I have simply become ambivalent about them both. To me, one man abandoned his son for reasons he has yet to reveal (after this much time I am inclined to believe the reasons aren't very good...otherwise they'd be offered) and continues this abandonment today. The other saw a little boy as a throw-in to what he really wanted and behaved as such. While insisting that the father was removed from any contact, he never actually stepped in and became a dad. He created a vacuum and never tried to fill it.
What resulted was an orphan. While growing up with a man in the house...there was not a dad in the house. There is a difference.
This past weekend I was reflecting on this quite a bit. It was turbulent and painful and it was tiring. I came to some conclusions and some of them weren't very pretty. Some were very sad.
I realized that two things happen when you have a Dad-shaped vacuum.
One: You don't know what it's like to have a real "Dad".  Not a biological father, but a daddy. A Poppa. You don't know what it feels like or looks like and you can't relate to any father figure properly because you don't recognize the paradigm.
Two: (and this is perhaps the saddest by-product) You don't know how to be a son or a daughter. Not really. A son with a great dad knows what he has and he knows who he is. He is confident in his dad's love and care and he dares to dream big dreams because his dad reminds him early on that he will do everything he can to make those dreams come true. He raises his son or daughter a gardener. He doesn't raise children...he grows adults. He is invested in them and his greatest single joy is their becoming who and what they were meant to become.
I realized this weekend that I have no idea what it means to be a son. Not really.
I need to learn this. That's why I am writing this series.

See you tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Dad Shaped Vacuum...

Yesterday I quoted Blaise Pascal's famous statement about the imprint of God in humanity and how we search for it's replacement for all our days. Pascal was making the point that, since we are created in the image of God, and created for a deep relationship with him, we will never find real peace until we have the relationship He desired and intended.
This statement of Pascal is most often referred to as "The God-Shaped Vacuum".  (A term not found in Pascal's quote)
The principle is that we were created by God's personal touch. We have body, soul and spirit...just like He does. In this way we differ from all of Creation. In the Garden, before the fall, we had a perfect relationship with Him. He went for walks with Adam in the cool of the evening. When Adam and Eve fell, this relationship was severed. Every subsequent generation since Adam and Eve--though still created by God's Hand (Psalm 139)--has missed this intimacy. The problem is that while are all still made in His image, as they were. So we have yet to experience the relationship we were built for. None of us have ever walked with God physically. We have experienced Him...through nature, art, the smile of a baby...but we have never actually had a physical, face to face, relationship with Him. (I am assuming here that those reading my blog know of my faith and know I am presuming the readers acceptance of Christianity and it's spiritual relationship with God through faith in Christ...either by experience or at least second hand knowledge).
Adam and God sat down and chatted. They took meandering walks together through the garden. They were friends.
God had this desire for us all until Adam and Eve derailed this plan (Or actually started the whole plan of Redemption by their fall...depending on your view of Dispensationalism). What God had with them was what He desires with us all...right now. The problem is that we filter everything we believe. Everything.
We filter through the teaching of the Bible, and our parents. We filter through our education, and our desires. We filter through our loves, and our weaknesses, and our vices and our strengths. And because we have never actually seen God...we filter Him through what we can see and what we do know.
God most frequently refers to Himself as "Our Father". Often it's "Our Heavenly Father" occasionally it's "Abba" which is the Hebrew / Greek for "Poppa" or Daddy. He is "The Father of Lights" and the "Father of us all". But ultimately He sees Himself as, longs to be known as, and desires to be our Father.
The problem is two-fold. One: What does it look like for God to be our Father? How do we relate to an unseen being, as we would relate to someone who is supposed to be so beloved as a father? What's the model? Where is the archetype?
That sets up problem number Two: The closest model to God the Father we have on earth is our own earthly father. We relate to God directly the way we relate to our earthly father.
I made this statement yesterday and I know it stirred much thought.
I will conclude here for the day. But I want to leave you with two exercises. Two little "Homework assignments" if you will.
The first is an exercise my own daughter did in pre-school for Fathers Day. The second is an exercise I did in counseling many years ago.
The first is a short questionnaire. It was funny when my then-four year old filled in the blanks. But I think it is telling for us now. The questionnaire goes like this:

My dad is ________ years old
My Dad is ________ feet tall
My Dad weighs__________
My dad's favorite TV shows are_________
My favorite place my dad takes me is_________
When we go there we always get___________
I like to watch my dad___________
My dad always tells me____________

Your assignment is to fill this out twice. Once as best you can with your own dad as the Subject. And once...with as many questions as will apply (use your imagination on some of them) with God the Father as the Subject.

Your second assignment is this. Take a sheet of paper and list out all the descriptives you can think of about your dad. Good, bad, indifferent. Words like "Kind" "Tough" "distant" "smart" get the picture. Paint a word-picture of your father.

Tomorrow we apply it...

*A note going forward. I would ask my evangelical friends to please be patient. Don't presume that if I seem to be leaving out some issues of the healing God offers in this issue, I am ignoring it altogether. You have to spot the problem to fix the problem.

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Healing the dad-shaped Vacuum" New Series starts tomorrow...

Hey gang...
It's been a difficult two weeks, for reasons I won't bother going into here. But it has been fruitful as far as introspection and inspiration are concerned.
Tomorrow I am beginning a new blog series called "The Dad-shaped Vacuum". It will run concurrently on my fatherhood blog ( as well.
I took the title from one of my favorite quotes by an early church father, Blaise Pascal. Although not a first-century leader of the faith, he was a great thinker and philosopher whose emotional cries of yearning for God have always captivated me. He is known for his famous "Night of Fire" writings, penned during a long, sleepless night of prayer and searching for God. He is best-known for the following quote, which has been wrongly attributed to everyone from Augustine to Tozer:

"What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself."    [Pascal, Pensees #425]

The new series is going to be sometimes autobiographical, sometimes observant from the lives and experiences of others, and sometimes pure research-driven. It is intructional, and confessional all at the same time.
The main theme running through this series will be this..."We relate to God our father as we related to our earthly Father". This can be a blessing or a curse. The good news is that if this statement didn't bring a smile to your face, there is a solution.
I'm excited and fearful of this series all at the same time. It is part of my widening ministry amongst dads, particularly divorced / single dads. Please read and re-read the quote above and give it some serious contemplation.
Until Tomorrow...

Friday, April 27, 2012

The prayers of a full-time dad

Good morning dads,
It's 4 AM here in Nashville. Usually I'm up at 4:30, but last night I was so exhausted that I collapsed into bed at 9:45. I typically stay up until midnight studying for school. But I was so worn out last night that I just couldn't do it. So this morning I was up at 3:30 and I thought I'd make use of the time by getting in a brief post. I know guys appreciate this blog a lot. I can tell by the traffic count. I want you to know that even though I haven't been active here, I've been praying for everyone who comes to this sight and for anyone who will in the future. You aren't as alone as it feels.
I just want to pass along this one thought. I know the frustration of not being with your kids all the time. Especially as they grow into teen years or when there is potential danger and you can't be there to do you "dad thing". 
Nashville sits in the edge of Tornado Alley. Last night we had a small tornado come within 1/2 mile of my house. Now, my daughter lives about 25 miles from here so she was never in danger, but there have been so many times when warnings were being flashed across the screen on TV and storms were bearing down on her home and I would worry myself sick until I heard from her that she was okay. It's hard to be a divorced dad because your protective nature never takes time off between visitation. You always feel the drive to protect your family.
This morning I thought I'd share with you a prayer I pray over my daughter every day.
Revelation 12:11 says; "And they overcame the evil one by the power of the Blood and the word of their testimony."  "They" here were the Saints of the church. The evil one, of course, is Satan. The Blood was capitalized in the text because it wasn't just any random blood. It was the blood of Jesus and it has power. His blood being shed on the cross broke the power of Satan and became a dividing line that Satan could not cross. Dad's, each day I pray something like this for my daughter...
"Father God, in faith I apply the blood of Jesus around my daughter. Your word tells us the devil was overcome by the power of the blood and the word of our testimony and I know your Word is true. You never lie. Let the blood of Jesus stand as a boundary that Satan cannot cross. Keep him from Morgan by the power of the blood and the words of her testimony. Lord as her daddy I can say with pride and thankfulness that she knows Jesus as her Savior, she loves Jesus as her Lord, and I can pronounce her a godly woman based on those assessments. Her testimony is strong. Father I can't be there all the time to do battle for her and protect her but YOU can! Send your strongest, fiercest warrior angels to surround my little girl. Let them go in front of her, behind her, besides her and let them  hover over her. Do for me what I can't do. Thank you for the privilege of being her dad. Amen"
Guys I can't tell you how much better I feel when I pray that. How much peace I get knowing that God loves her more than I do and He will keep His promises. men of God!  Get to know your Heavenly Father so you can be a tremendous earthly father.
We'll be back here soon. I graduate May 12th and we'll resume blogging and the radio show not long after that. Be great dads. You have a friend...


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hey dads...
I am crushed with the workload for my final month before graduation. I apologize for the long gaps without any entries. I am praying for you men and I hope you'll take the time to scan back through previous posts or listen to podcasts of the radio show until I am back here again regularly. In the meantime, please check out my chronicle of the final month of my journey toward my long overdue Bachelors of Religion from Liberty University. I'm writing it daily on my other blog Check it out and be inspired.
Thanks dads...we'll be back soon

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In the blink of an eye...

"In the Blink of an Eye it all changes...
With a kiss and a sigh love whispers your name.
It's here and gone...and life goes on...
Passin' like a ghost on the water"

My friend Rick Elias penned those words about 15 years ago or so. It's from a song called "Blink" on his album of the same name. Rick is nothing if not a prescient lyricist who seems to know what I have tried to say for most of my life. "Blink" is no exception.
I have been pondering my daughter and her life thus far. I have been preparing the Bible Study on godly womanhood as we've moved closer to her 14th birthday. We will celebrate her birthday in a special and emotional way this year. Often I've recommended Ed Tandy McGlasson's wonderful ministry here and on my radio show. Ed teaches about his method of pronouncing blessing and adulthood on all of his children as they reached a certain age. I am doing that with Morgan this year and leading into that is this study on the basic guidelines and definitions of godliness, particularly as it pertains to a young woman.
I am proud of my daughter more than even a verbose and wordy guy like me can express.
 God, knowing I would only have one child because of my divorce, sure gave me a special child to raise. I could not have designed her myself and done better. She is bright, funny, extremely caring, smarter than anyone I know, beautiful, gifted as an artist and possessing an amazing...amazing...singing voice. It has been such a pleasure being her daddy.
And yet it has come and gone so quickly.
It seems like she just got here. She was a tiny little thing, and I am a big man. I engulfed her the night she was born and she returned the favor in my heart. My daughter has been the fuel that restarted the fires that died in my soul when my world collapsed 5 years ago and she was the beacon I followed through 3 1/2 years of homelessness and doubt and shame and fear. I didn't know how things were going to get better but I knew they must because I had her. And because they God they would
She has become an inquisitive, compassionate, God-loving young woman with a heart as big as the sky and a burning desire to honor Him with her life and her talents. In May she turns fourteen and I will pronounce my fatherly blessing on her and she'll begin her next phase as a young adult.
The years have flown by. Especially being divorced and not being there every night for every bedtime prayer or helping with every page of homework. I have three legal sized manila folders stuffed full of her drawings from the earliest days when she was scribbling on copy paper in my office, through the handmade Fathers Day cards and the pictures of our family...Me, Her, our two dogs and our cat...right up to the incredible current work that, along with her vocal abilities, got her into Nashville School of Arts.
It has come and gone...passing like a ghost on the water.
In four years she'll be approaching her 18th birthday and that fall she'll be leaving for Virginia and college at my Alma mater, Liberty University. Four more years of weekends and summers and sneaking to her school for lunch once in a while. It has been such a privilege and such a blessing and I am so much better a man for having been her dad.
And it has flown by so darned fast...
Dads...especially you divorced dads...make the most of this time. Stuff each day with a week. Make your kids collapse into bed at night so full of memories and happiness and so marked by your touch, that they smile when their head hits the pillow. Talk to them more than you talk to your buddies. Listen to their dreams and help them visualize them, and make the promise that you will do whatever you have to do to see those dreams come true. More than anything...tell them you love them. Tell them so much that they know when it's coming and they start to smile before the words leave your lips. My daughter tells me all the time that the one thing I've done that mattered most was consistently tell her I loved her. Having never heard those words even once from my father, I can assure you they mean everything to a kid.
Treasure every day and live each moment with them as if the only people on earth were your children. Because soon enough they'll be on their way...set in flight by their archer-dad who sees the target God intended them for and has been readying his arrows since the day they were born. The arrows bear the mark of the a fine arrow and leave a good mark, dads. matter what, you are their daddy. Divorce does not change that.

I am praying for you,

PS The show "DadMatters" will resume in two weeks with some changes and big announcements so stay tuned!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Being a Hero...

In my lifetime I've had a wide-ranging set of heroes. Musician's, athletes, doctors, Presidents, astronauts, soldiers. Heroes come and go, I suppose, dependent on where you are at the moment.
My daughter has had hers as well. Singers she admired, authors and artists, for a while she was on a kick where she was enamored with classical composers of all sorts.
But the one hero she has had that has been constant has
It's not that I'm a larger-than-life figure or anyone over-the-top special.It's just that I remained. I've stayed in her life through a terrible post-divorce life marked by a career loss, homelessness, humiliating defeats and disappointments and broken dreams. There were a lot of promises that wound up on hold because of the losses we encountered these past five years. A lot. But I remained in her life because that's what Daddies do. They keep their word. They stay, when the whole world leaves. They are there at every recital and play and art show. They don't miss a weekend visitation or a nightly phone call. They take a day every week or so and stop by to have lunch at school because, even if she's more adult than little girl now, and even if she acts a bit like she doesn't like you being there...she likes it when your there. The same for your sons. They get older and you think they are "too cool" for hugging but that's when you should hug them more because they still need to feel your embrace. Especially us divorced dads. Men, don't ever let your children begin to process the time apart as distance apart. Time is one thing but distance is quite another. Let them know that they are always...always in your heart. You are constantly thinking of them. You love them more than ever. Be a man of prayer and tell them you are praying for them. Pray with them every chance you get. Learn what is really on their hearts and let them hear you praying about that.
You are never not the dad!
If you do the job the way you should do the job, you'll be their one remaining and enduring hero.

Strengthening What Remains,

Monday, March 12, 2012

Show ideas

Hey dads...last nights show was GREAT! If you have suggestions for guests or topics PLEASE email me at I have some great guests coming up in the future! I need YOU! Call in and let's talk and encourage other dads. Tell me who you'd like to hear from!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Big show this week!

Are you a dad who depends on Social Media like Facebook, Twitter or Skype to connect with your kids? If so this show is especially for YOU! This week I welcome Curt Livesay who is in the final stages of research for a Doctoral thesis on this exact subject. Is social media a valuable tool or a cheap substitute for real connection? Is there a danger that judges will see social media parenting as an acceptable means of parenting from a distance and begin permitting custodial spouses to move to distant towns? Is social media parenting a trend and a threat? If you are a dad who uses this medium, please dont miss this episode. We want to talk to YOU! Call us Sunday night at 9PM DadMatters!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

Missing your kids...

I am going to spill a little secret about this blog. I have a webtracker installed on it that helps me track the number of visitors each day. It's useful for things like click-ad marketing and click-through counts. But for me, the most telling bit of information it provides is the search words each visitor uses when he or she finds this blog. Hands down, the number one phrase used in searches that land visitors here is some variant of "Divorced dad, misses my kids". There is no hurt on this earth like the broken heart of a dad who is feeling his fatherhood being sucked from his soul by the slow grind of visitation. Even the word is an affront. "Visitation" That's the term they use for the exact hours you may see a dead person in a coffin at a funeral home and pay your respects to the family. More appropriately, that's the term they use when you go see a prisoner...visitation. You get "X" number of minutes on "X" days each week. That's when you're see your children. There is nothing on this earth that drains the very soul from a father like visitation.
Now about that webtracker...
First of all, guys relax...I can't see who you are. I don't know your name and in many cases I can't even tell what town you are in. I simply know you as an IP address. But I see the pain in your heart.
You want to know how bad it hurts to miss your children when you are a divorced dad? Here is an idea...most of these searches occur in the wee hours. Between 10pm and 4AM. You want to know how bad a dad can hurt...imagine being sleepless and so desperate for some sort of comfort that you type "I'm a divorced dad and I miss my children" in the search bar on Google just to see if anyone is out there who can help you.
That is pain.
Those of you who don't know first-hand what a divorce does to the heart of a should read some of these search phrases sometime.
Please pray for this blog as I aim it in a slightly new direction and as I become more active with it. It's needed and there are desperate, broken hearts out there who need what this blog brings them. Please pray for me to have wisdom, to hear clearly from God so that I can bring the comfort of His word to these guys. please pray for the new venture "DadMatters" that starts this Sunday night on Blogtalk radio. Maybe we can begin seeing a few dads healed and that will enable them to become even better dads and whole men again. Maybe if we accomplish that, we can break the chain of divorce in their families forever.
To the searchers who find this site from the depths of a broken heart...
I know...I've been there. I've cried those tears in the wolf hour when you wished for peace but only found turmoil. I've seen myself in the mirror and only saw a broken heart looking back. There is hope. Just up ahead, another weary traveler in this dark valley dug you a well as he journeyed through. You need to stop and take a long cool drink. You're going to make it.

** Urgent MESSAGE:
I have decided to resume broadcast of the Divorced Dad's Radio show. I did this for two years and stopped a while ago. But I can see the necessity of resuming this and giving dads an outlet for this pain we all feel. I will post details soon. PLEASE leave me a comment in the comment box if you are interested in this show.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Emotions of Divorce...Zombies and war wounds

I've heard it said a thousand times that divorce is like death. I agree. I've lost a few people in my lifetime whom I loved and whom I've grieved. The emotions you feel, the five stages...all that is exactly the same in a divorce.
With one painful exception...
In a divorce, the person you lost and are grieving keeps rising from the dead every time you see her when you pick up your children or drop them off. Or when you see her at your child's violin recital or Little League game. Or when you call her to discuss a school issue.
They rise from the grave of memory to haunt your heart again. It's not that you want them's the life they took when they left. It's not the nights you have your kids that make your heart's the nights you don't. It's the times you didn't tuck your daughter in and hear her prayers. It's the new man who took her training wheels off because she didn't happen to learn to balance on a two-wheeler on "your weekend".
Every time those things happen it rips the scab off the barely-healing gash in your heart and makes you bleed all over again.
I know...I get it. I've been there.
You don't so much grieve your ex-wife as you do being an ex-husband. More men than people realize, are defined by husbandship and fatherhood. gets better. You will one day begin to separate the grief into it's rightful compartments. You will wake up one day and it won't hurt anymore when you see your ex-wife or hear her voice. It's bittersweet of course.
This blog, my book, and the new radio show are designed to talk about exactly these things. Because nobody is saying them out here in this wasteland. And we dads are tired of being haunted by ghosts that just won't die.

Please spread the word about this blog, and PLEASE join us 2/5/2012 at 9PM central (Yes I know it's Superbowl Sunday but the game should be over by then) for "DadMatter" on BlogTalk radio, the link is to the right...

Monday, January 16, 2012

You are not Alone...

The hit counter on this blog has been steadily growing. More and more dads are looking for someone...for lean on and help them get through this awful and lonely process. I read the search words that some of you guys are using when you come across this blog and it breaks my heart. Phrases like "Dad misses his kids" "Daughters cries about my divorce" "Dad crying because he misses his kids". Not all of us ran off with our secretary and left our children behind. Thats just a stereotype from a long forgotten age.
I want you to know you aren't alone. I hear you. I can almost hear your voices and see your tears in the darkest nights when you miss your kids...when the house seems enormous and empty...when there seems like no reason to even go home after work because the people you love aren't there. I endured that for years. There is hope are not alone!
This afternoon I began discussions with one of several outlets where this ministry will be able to be put to work amongst groups of men who desperately need each other.
Nobody told us how this was going to hurt. We weren't prepared for this. That is why I write this blog and that is what the radio show will be about.
You Dads who have come across this blog because your heart is broken and you were needing a comforting voice in the wolf have found a home here. Jesus said "I will never leave you nor will I abandon you" He meant it.
As best I can...I will do the same for you all. Please...leave a comment. Open your hearts. Go back and read the archives. Great comfort and joy is still possible. The best is still are not alone!
Please help spread the word. Share this blog on Twitter and FB. Tell some friends. tell your minister and ask him to consider starting a support group for dads like you. Stay tuned...more info about the radio show is coming very soon.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Hey fellas...
I wrote this almost three years ago. I stumbled upon it today on one of my other blogs. It's something that never goes out of season. There is a dual lesson here for us. Our fatherhood is...or should be...a model of the loving Fatherhood of God in our lives. Let's try to aim for that...regardless of the situation our divorce left us in.

Walking this morning in the mid 20's chill and thinking as I always do.
I have a lot on my mind these days. I don't know of anyone at all who isn't effected by this economy and I am no different.
I have a lot of things weighing on me and I have a terrible problem of not going to God with them. I hold them inside and worry myself into an ulcer...or at least serious reflux.
Why do I still hold God at arm's length when I could so easily open my heart to Him and "Cast my cares and anxieties on Him because He cares for me"? (1 Peter 5:7) Listen to the LITV (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible) "casting all your anxiety onto Him, because it matters to Him concerning you" It matters to Him concerning you. If I could only grasp the depth of that! The things that make me anxious or concerned matter to Him...because they matter to me! That is how a daddy loves! My daughter has about a million irons in her fires and is going in about a million directions at once. The blessing of a very intelligent mind and a vivid imagination and a huge dose of artistic creativity has rendered a child who sees everything around her as a story to write, a song to sing, a picture to draw and something to ponder deeply. As a dad, there is nothing in her world that is so small or seemingly unimportant that I don't want to know about and involve myself in if she needs me to. In fact, if she ever feels like there is a problem too small or bothersome to bring to me...I will feel like a failure as a dad. I want to be the first one she thinks of when she has something on her mind and needs to sort it out.
This morning God showed me that He is no different. Peter tells us to cast all our cares on Him...not just the big ones, or the ones left over after we figure out our own way. God is hurt when we don't come to Him with our hopes and dreams and wishes and troubles. That's what dad's do! The Father heart is a deep ocean. It's a gifting that not everyone has, but rest assured...your Heavenly Father has it. In fact it originated with Him.
I have determined to go to Him first with everything, instead of last...with what's left. It makes Him happy to come to my aid and listen to the cares of my heart and give Him the chance to show His "daddy-ness"
These are trying times...your Father has the answers...the hard part is asking, but only because we make it hard.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Walking to adulthood...

A Father Daughter journey to adulthood

Last night began a journey for my daughter and me. I’m going to keep a journal of sorts here on this blog, so you guys can glean what wisdom you can, and maybe duplicate it in your own children.
You’ll need a little background…
In September of 2007, my church had a wonderful guest speaker named Ed Tandy McGlasson. “Big Ed” was a pro football player who now pastors a church in California and who has a very needed and blessed ministry teaching dads how to do the job better.
He teaches about our images of God as our Daddy and how that translates itself into our own parenting skills and into our relationship with God.
One of the keystones to Ed’s teaching is the pronouncement of adulthood and blessing on our kids as they reach the threshold. Sort of a “Christian Bar Mitzvah” of sorts.
So last night, Morgan and I began our journey together. In May she turns 14 and while she is very grown-up already, I wanted to wait until then to do this because I had a slightly different model in mind.
For the next five months—until her birthday—Morgan and I are doing a weekly bible study on the topics that face a young girl as she becomes a young woman. What does the Bible say a godly woman looks like? How does she resist the worlds urging to become a woman as they define it, and stay on course to be the woman God describes?  What is godliness really? What does adulthood really look like and how do I know I’ve gotten there? What is real purity? Who am I in God’s plan and how do I become that person?
These are the questions (among many others) that face a kid at this age. I know I faced them and nobody walked me through to the answers. Nobody taught me how to really study the Bible so I’d be equipped to find my own answers instead of forever being dependent on the answers of others so I am teaching her Inductive Bible study techniques.
The Bible tells us that children are like arrows. Dads…That makes us archers. In biblical days the archer made his own arrows. He found the shaft, worked it until it was straight and true, honed a point and installed it on the shaft, found just the right fletching so it would fly straight, and when he was finished building it, he marked it as his own, so anyone finding it would know who had set it to flight.
Then he found its target and sent it on its way…
That will be the hard part. Part of this five month study will be finding Morgan’s target and then beginning that final countdown to the day when God whispers in my ear “That’s her mark…let her fly” . It will be hard and bittersweet and I want her to be ready.
This journey is the first big step toward that day. I invite all you dad’s…divorced or not…to come with us as I chronicle it here. I hope you’ll give lots of input as well…I can use the wisdom.
Day one was last night with a study of Proverbs 31—the description of a godly woman.
Day two dawns to find a dad with a huge challenge ahead…and a daughter worth the work it will take.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Call to Arms...

Hey men...
I've checked into pricing for an internet radio show and it's not bad. However, it's more than I can do alone. The basic package, which gives me two hours per day and up to 50 callers is $39 per month or $399 for a one year commitment. I'm looking for show sponsors. We can to advertisements if it fits with someones business. Trying to think of how that would work, what kind of businesses would benefit from a call-in show. maybe a family law practice or a counselor who specializes in helping divorced men.
Let me know if you have any ideas or possible sponsors. Thanks everyone!
REALLY looking forward to getting started!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year, Dads

Hey guys...
I'm sorry I've been so slacking on this blog. I've been so busy with work and school and trying to put my life back together that I really let this blog...and this ministry...slip.
That changes today.
I have a few announcements to share here about the future of SDC and this blog and the book. So without further ado...
As you may or may not know, I am completing my Bachelors degree via Liberty University Online. I will graduate in May, a mere 28 years after first arriving on campus in Lynchburg Virgina. (I attended L.U. for two years and played men's hockey there.)
My major has changed from Pre-Med to Religion, with an emphasis on ministry. I have also taken extra classes in Life Coaching and I am certified in that field and looking forward to beginning that career immediately.
As part of a Church Ministries class last semester, I had to take an online ministry gifts evaluation. My strengths were--in order-- Pastor / Shepherd, Teacher, Administrator. Now I have NO desire to pastor a church. But I have begun to see this blog and this area of need as a chance to function as a pastor of sorts, to men going through divorce and life after. We are frequently overlooked and I think it's a perfect fit.
So to facilitate this new and exciting's what lies ahead;
*Live call-in talk show
I am setting up the machinery for hosting an Internet talk show for divorced dads and anyone who knows and loves them. I have a host of good topics already spinning in my head and the show will be VERY listener driven. I am lining up guests and topics and doing research for this project and hope to kick us off next month. As I get closer to a launch date, I hope you guys will help spread the word.
* Pod casts
I am beginning to catalog my writings and journals into something I can record for uploading via MP3 players of computer listening. The spoken word sometimes lends extra emotion and I'd love to begin offering these lessons and teachings free for you dads to have at your disposal for encouragement, uplifting, wisdom, maybe a laugh or two when you need one, and ideas on not just surviving this wreckage of divorce...but finding life and light and happiness once again.
* Speaking
I LOVE public speaking! I's madness. I suppose I'll have to find something else to be sorely afraid of since most people fear speaking only slightly less than death by drowning or fire. But I am looking for speaking opportunities on the topics we dads face. I'd love to see some of you guys in the crowd as these opportunities open up
* Revise / re-release of my book
"Sometimes Daddies Cry" is now four years old. It's hard to believe I wrote that book in the winter of 2007 but it's true. I was such a raw an unproven writer back then. I have decided that sometime this year I need to re-write the book to update both where I am in my own journey and what new lessons I've learned and also because I think I'm much better at my craft than I was when I wrote the original.
I am going to try to get this done by summer but with my schedule it's hard to say.
* Interaction on this blog
I am actually trying to set up a website for myself where I can condense all my books and blog-links and information onto one page. I have NO working knowledge of site building and can't afford a pro. So bear with me. But one thing I'd like is more interaction with you guys. IN the form of live chat or message boards or whatever.
* Ministry
The word probably sounds really religious. For that I apologize. But I have to tell you...I have a web tracker on this blog. I use it to track trends and usage. One of the functions is that I can see what search words and phrases were used by folks who find this page. I have to say it's heart breaking. Dads...listen...I know you're hurting. I was and still am many times. This pain is unlike anything we were told about and we weren't ready for it. Holidays, birthdays, weekends...just coming home from work on any given night to a house with no children can be soul-killing.
This page is for you guys! I have shed the most anguished tears and screamed the most vile obscenities as God from the depths of the pain I was in. I am often still in that pain at various times. I will only tell you there is hope.
This blog...and my future endeavors...are aimed at helping you (and me) not just "get through it", but overcome, thrive, and show the world we are world class fathers despite our marital status.
You are NOT ALONE!
I love you guys...there is hope.