Saturday, December 21, 2013

Missing Your Christmas

Hey Dads,
I am sorry it's been so long since I've posted here. So much has been going on. I promise that after the Holidays I will resume my focus on this blog. We need each other, that is obvious by the number of hits this blog gets, especially this time of year.
I am leaving tomorrow to drive home to the Philadelphia area. I am so excited I might not sleep tonight. It's been a year since I've been home, so it's a long overdue trip.
My daughter is coming with me, and I am so happy about that. Morgan gets to go home with me pretty much every year. Her mom doesn't keep Christmas that much. Not like I do. And so Morgan prefers to come with me and stay with her mom at Thanksgiving.
I am a big Christmas guy, and not having her there on the few Christmases where she stayed with her mom was interminable.
I know most of you won't have that same blessing. I know that most of you will awaken Christmas morning to nothing but a longing in your heart and an ache for what is supposed to be. I understand. many of you will see your children on Christmas Eve or Christmas day but not both. Some of you will have neither. Some of you have bought just the right presents, and wrapped them carefully. They sit under your tree waiting for your kids. Your heart sees those kids rushing into the room happily, eagerly awaiting their chance to open those gifts and enjoy family life. Your daddy's heart screams to make this vision a reality. But most of you will have a modified version of this. Some of you haven't seen your kids in a long time.
I wish I had a magic elixir to take away the hurt you all feel, but I don't. I will tell you that the one and only hope is in Jesus Christ. He understands your pain. He has the grace it takes to get through these next few days and weeks. He loves you.
These five years of homelessness and loss have taught me this: That God has a plan. That no matter that may happen, He has not abandoned you. It hurts, it grinds you to your core, it brings you to your knees. But God will use even this if you will bring it to Him.
I will be praying for you. A few of you I have come to know by name, because you've emailed or commented here. But I will pray for all of you who read this blog and come here looking for some sliver of comfort in this back breaking pain we carry this time of year.
Every good dad misses his kids. 263 of you have landed here because of using that word in your search box since Dec. 1 alone. But this time of year, we miss them so much more.
They miss you too, dads. Never, ever forget that.
I love you guys. I am praying for you.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Just a smile...

I've been so worried about my daughter lately. I've chronicled it here. Her home life with her mom and the man her mom is married to is deteriorating and she wants to come and live with me. There is a possibility of a career move on the horizon and so this is looking like a probability now. This past weekend, Morgan was with me. I have never been more worried about her than I was on Saturday and Sunday. She was sad in a way I have never seen her be. I was afraid I was losing my daughter. 
Part of her misery -besides her home life- is her desire to leave the school she now attends. So yesterday, in an effort to maybe give her some hope, I picked her up early and took her to the high school here in my neighborhood where she will be attending. School was out already when we got there, but the staff was still there and they let us walk through the building. As God would have it, the art teachers were still in their classrooms. Morgan is a supremely gifted artist as well as a singer. We walked into the art room and she lit up. She met the teachers and they were genuinely excited at the idea of a gifted student like Morgan coming to their school soon. We walked to the music rooms and the theater. I watcher her as we walked through the beautiful building and I got tears in my eyes. My daughter was smiling.
I haven't seen her smile this way since Christmas, and our trip home. She seemed to stand a little taller and her pace was a step quicker. She had hope.
I love my daughter...more than anything. I haven't been able to give her much lately but yesterday she got a shot of hope and it made her smile. Seeing her smile -just a smile- gave me hope as a dad. 
It didn't cost me a dime. It came from knowing my daughter...really knowing her. Knowing what would give her hope and then doing that thing. That's how you love someone. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Daddy's Regret

It's Sunday morning...
I'm sitting at my laptop while my daughter sleeps downstairs. We're staying at a friend's house overnight. Actually I've been staying here for a couple of weeks while I do some work on their bathroom.
Yesterday, Morgan called me asking me to come get her from her mom's house because...for the ______nth time (I stopped counting long ago) the situation is explosive and neither one of them wants to be with the other one.
I don't fault her mom completely. Teenagers are...teenagers. And her mom has stresses on her that are quite a lot to deal with. My situation hasn't helped. I have not had a place to live for four of the past five years. There's no need to repeat my story here...I've told that tale.
(I have recently gotten hired for a decent position and at very least will be able to get a place of my own in about six weeks)
But her mom doesn't really understand how to resolve this problem...and to be honest, she doesn't really know our daughter.
Morgan was as sad and overwhelmed as I have ever seen her yesterday. I've never been truly worried for her like I am right now. I worry about her as any good dad does...but I am worried for her right now.
My daughter is at-risk. And the majority of it is because her mom and I are divorced.
I feared this would happen. I watched for the signs. The year her mom left, I read a book by Judith Wallerstein called "The unexpected legacy of Divorce...a 25 year study"  The book explodes many of the myths of divorce. It was the first study ever to follow a kid from as young as 18 months, until long into adulthood. (Prior studies had selected cases at each developmental level but had never interconnected them)
Perhaps the biggest myth it explodes is that kids "get over" divorce and they are "resilient".  They are not and they do not. In fact the study revealed that the effects of divorce are cumulative. They build up over time. A child processes divorce at 4 years old and then again at 12 and 15 and so on. With each season of life, another layer gets peeled and the divorce rears it's hideous head in another way.
My daughter is facing a whole new set of layers right now.
She is a beautiful, beautiful girl who doesn't need beauty to feel good about herself. I'm thankful for that but it can create awkwardness. She is a strong personality and her mom interprets that as "rebellion". She is anything but a rebel. I am a strong personality as well, but confident enough to let my daughter have her own personality too. And when we disagree we discuss it like adults. I don't back down...but she understands why I take whatever stand I do and that removes the friction. Her mom doesn't have that sort of makeup.
Morgan needs to be with me now and that is going to take a little time. But I don't know that I have that kind of time. I'm worried. I'm scared, to be honest. And I have regrets.
I regret that her mom chose divorce. I never wanted it and fought it as much as humanly possible. But you can't stop a freight train. We live in a no-fault society and a divorce is simply a matter of course now.
Her mom remarried and has another child. I remained single. But I am starting to regret that. Because maybe Morgan needed to see a healthy family modeled for her. Her mom ummm..."chose poorly" in this area. (I shall refrain from speaking my mind here) There isn't much health there. Morgan sees only bad. She was only 18 months when her mom divorced me so she barely remembers us together at all.  Maybe if I had remarried someone who truly loved Morgan and who truly loved me and Morgan saw this...maybe she would be happy today instead of so brokenhearted.
I lived in dread -from the day we walked out of the courtroom- that Morgan would become a statistic. A girl who distrusts love so much that she'll never let herself fall. And I fear it might be happening.
I ask myself  "Where is God in all this?" and to be very honest...I am out of answers for that. I just don't know. I don't care if He comes to my rescue...but come to my daughters!
I know I get a lot of readers on this blog. A LOT. I don't know how many of you men who read this are in the process of divorce and have the option of stopping it and making a go of the marriage. But I beg you...I never had that option, but if I did I would have endured hell for my daughter's sake. If you can...DO IT!
Your personal "happiness" is secondary to the happiness and health of your child. Because you're the dad.
And if you have already divorced or if you can't stop your wife from divorcing...let yourself love again someday. Don't rush into something...that would be an even bigger error. But work on your healing, get your heart well...and let love find you. Make sure it's someone whose heart is big enough for your children. Show them that love can be bent and misshapen but it never breaks. I wish I had. I regret that I haven't

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Hey gang...I have a new site up and running.
It's  There you can find out more about my writing and speaking. Eventually There'll be more than just the blogs available and you'll enjoy the way the site feels. Thanks!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

My BEST Father's Day ever... best Father's Day ever is a tie between the very first one in June 1998 when I took Morgan to church that Sunday at Oak Hill Assembly. It felt really cool to be one of the guys standing when Pastor Steve Allen recognized the dads. But the Father's Day that told me I was doing it right was actually the Friday before Father's Day in 2001. Morgan was 3. The daycare she went to did a "Donut with Dad" on the Friday before Father's Day each year. This would be my first one because the previous two years she wasn't in daycare. They gave us a coffee mug and a picture and the one gift I treasured and still have to this's a laminated survey sheet. They asked the kids some questions and the teachers would write down the matter how silly, or unusual: Here is Morgan's Q and A for Father's day 2001:

My dad is ______ year old. Her answer…7.

(This is old when you are four!)

My dad is _______ feet tall. Her answer…10

My dad weighs about _________ pounds. 446

My dad likes to watch____. Race cars and News

I like it when my dad________. Chops food

(I am a gourmet cook and Morgan has always

been fascinated to watch me working in the


My daddy always tells me_____ He loves me.

It was this last question that made me cry right there in the daycare. Of all the things that popped into her little mind when asked what she most often hears me say, she answered "He Loves Me" I've tried to never go a day without telling her that and I think I've done a pretty good job keeping up with that goal. I've never heard those words from my dad. Not ever. I know it would have made a huge difference. More than money, more than applause or recognition for achievement. These last five years have been a grind I cannot fully explain. But never once did Morgan doubt my love for her. I think her life shows it. There is something about your dad telling you he loves you. Even if it's only once or twice.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

All I Ever Wanted Was to be Your Dad...Filling the Hole in my Heart

You were so tiny when you were born. Not even 7 pounds. I'm a big man and that made you seem even tinier in my arms. We wrapped you in your Winnie the Pooh receiving blanket and it was like a little cocoon. When the time came to take you home, the car seat was even too big. We had to buy an optional neck roll for you to help keep your head held up.
I'd never felt anything like what I felt being your dad. I've never loved anyone in my whole life like I did that day...and every day since. Every mundane chore was a treat. Your mom never had to ask me to change your diaper or burp you. When you woke up at night, hungry, I would take you from your mom as soon as she finished nursing and hold you until you burped, and for longer than that even. You fell to sleep in my arms and I was hesitant to put you in your crib...I relished each quiet moment.
Just looking at you as you slept, feeling you near my heart, kissing your tiny forehead a million times in a night. Every kiss...every gentle touch of your tiny hands. Telling you "I Love You" a thousand times an hour. All of those were moments of tenderness I had never known with my own dad and they were serving to heal the hole it left in my heart.
We had to wait about six weeks before taking you out to meet the world. The day came on a Sunday. I took you to church while your mom rested at home. You were dressed like a princess making her debut before society. You never made a sound during the entire service. Pastor Allen came over and held you and his wife Vada did as well. Terry and Mary took their turn. It seems like only yesterday.
I was never more proud than I was that day...except for the next day. And the day after that.
Showing the world what a wonderful, precious, beautiful daughter God had blessed me with, made me feel ten feet tall. I was made for this. This is the role I treasure more than anything.
Because All I Ever Wanted Was To Be Your Dad.

Monday, May 27, 2013


The free download offer is finished for now, but you can still get your copy for the unbelievably reasonable price of $4.99  Even if you don't have a Kindle reader. Amazon offers free downloadable apps to read it on your iPhone, iPad, Android or Laptop. Here is the link: "Sometimes Daddies Cry: What a Dad Really Feels About Divorce"
If you like this blog, you'll LOVE the book!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

All I ever Wanted was to be your Dad...Anticipation

I found out I was going to be a dad on my 33rd birthday. I suppose that's ironic. Or cathartic. It was frightening...I know that much. You spend your adult life thinking about the day you become a dad, and you are convinced you will do a great job. But when you find out it's actually going to happen you aren't so sure. Suddenly it became more important than ever that I make enough money, that we have a nice place to live, that we drive a safe car.
I knew instantly that I was going to do it differently than the examples I had growing up. My daughter would never fear me. Never. She would never feel dread when I pulled into the driveway at night. She'd never be afraid to speak her mind around me or to tell me what she was thinking or feeling. She was going to be totally free to be herself...because it was God who determined who she is and who she was going to be...not me. And my daughter was never going to chase me like a phantom. She would never beg to know me. I would not be a mystery and I would not reject her.
I had set to work years before -before even meeting her mom- working on my own fatherhood so I'd be ready. I read books, listened to seminars and worked on becoming a great dad. Because I knew that if I didn't create the habit of great fatherhood, I would simply revert to the model I had growing up. That would become my default. I couldn't do that to my daughter.
Every day, as that tiny little form grew bigger and the bump in her mom's belly became more pronounced, I was preparing my heart. I was imagining holding her in my arms. Singing to her. Telling her about God, about her mom, about her daddy and how much he loves her. There was a moment when Holly was about 7 months pregnant that I will never forget. Each night, I had been in the habit of placing a paper-towel tube against Holly's belly and talking to Morgan. I always said the same thing: "Hi Morgan, it's your daddy. I love you and I can't wait to see you!". One night, around that seven months mark, we were lying in bed and I did this again with the tube and as soon as I said "Hi Morgan it's your daddy..." She kicked...very pronounced. Holly and I both laughed and cried. Our daughter was not even here yet but she knew her daddies voice and she knew what it sounded like when he told her he loved her. Something neither of us had heard ourselves.
Morgan entered this world wanted and expected. We anticipated her arrival. She was a blessing to us.
My own arrival was scandalous and shameful for my mother and father. It demanded his abandoning his plans and spending 30 months in the hell of Vietnam, when he really wanted to finish his college degree. For my mother, it was humiliating and embarrassing and it didn't end at all the way she'd hoped. I was born to a couple of Twenty-year olds who didn't want kids yet. Each had plans. Both had to rethink them.
My daughter was my plan. She is my dream. She makes me who I am and who I was always supposed to be.
Many times during those long 9 months waiting for her arrival I would imagine the conversations we would one day have. each would begin and end with "I love you". because that is the only foundation a child really desires.
          "Dear Morgan,
                The day is getting closer. I can close my eyes and feel you here with your mom and me. I can picture what you'll look like. I can't wait! I am so excited I just want to jump out of my skin! You are everything I have been waiting for since I was a young man. I've worked hard to become a dad...long before I found out I would be one. I don't know how well I'll do the job, but I promise I'll do my very best. While God is knitting you together in your momma's womb, I am praying He makes me the best dad I can be...the dad He wants for you. I love you already. All I ever wanted was to be your dad"

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New blog series..."All I Ever Wanted Was To Be Your Dad"

Good morning dads.
I'm beginning a new series this morning and I have the feeling that this will become a new book somewhere down the road.
I don't know how long I'll be writing this...each idea seems to yield a dozen more. But I'll write this until I feel like I'm done writing it. I don;t know where it's going...but I can tell you where it began.
My daughter turned 15 two weeks ago. 15 years have come and gone in the blink of an eye. That's true of all parenthood I suppose, but more so when you are divorced and your time is segmented and reduced by the order of a court and the inequity of visitation laws. Once a week and every other weekend is not equitable. You can't turn off your fatherhood on the days you don't have your kids. So you hold your breath on the days in between, listening to the time as it escapes your grasp and noticing how much they grow from week to week instead of the day-to-day that intact families experience.
My daughter's life is the greatest thing I have ever been a part of. She is the finest young woman I have ever known and there has been no point along this 15 year journey that she has not been the apple of my eye and the joy of my every day.
All I ever really wanted was to be a dad. From as early as I can remember, I knew that somehow being a dad would make up for not really having one myself. There was a man in my house. The man my mother married. But we wasn't my dad.  He merely married my mom and there wasn't a connection. There wasn't a bond. There wasn't love. My father is yet another story. I've spoken to him twice in my life and that's the way he wants it. I have cut him slack for 23 years while his stories changed and he avoided me, I'm all done excusing his shameful behavior. That's not how a man behaves. Period. I have accepted the fact that a man can be someone's father and not be their dad. That's my father. I won't mention either man again in this series. I am not writing this to explore my childhood, but my fatherhood. But in order to set up the background to my fatherhood, this stuff needed to be understood. When I became a dad I stood at a crossroads where I had to choose whether I would continue the pattern of fatherhood that was modeled in front of me as a child, or whether I would do the job the right way.
I chose to be a dad. I started learning how, years before my daughter was born and years before I even met her mom. I read books, watched seminars, read magazine articles. I also made mental notes about the great dads I had come to know. The fathers of friends of mine and men in my church. Sports coaches. I wanted to be a great dad when the time came.
     I was married for 7 months when my wife discovered we were pregnant. We were going out to dinner with some friends, celebrating my 34th birthday. Holly had been feeling "odd". The woman who was going to dinner with us described some of the things she felt when she was pregnant and Holly said "That sounds like me" I pulled into the nearest Walgreens and bought a pregnancy test kit. We continued on to the restaurant and Holly went to the ladies room and took all three test strips with her. All thing came back positive.
We tried to be cool and calm but we were scared. We had only been married for 7 months and had been practicing birth control like religion. We definitely wanted kids...just not right then.
By the next morning, we had accepted it and we were excited. I was calling all my friends and getting ready to start being a dad.
In hindsight, I became a dad that very soon as I found out I was going to be one. From that day forward, everything I did and planned and hoped and dreamed was for this future child and the world I would give her. Had I known right away that I was having a girl, and had she been able to hear me and understand me, I think I would have told her...
     Dear Morgan,
          "Tonight your mom and I found out you were coming and we were going to be a mom and dad. I can't even begin to tell you how I feel tonight. How excited I am. How I already have begun dreaming dreams and planning plans. I am already praying for you and for that I will be the best daddy a little girl could have. I am scared. being a dad is a huge thing and if I do it wrong, you will pay a higher price than I will. But if I do it right, your life will be exactly what God has in mind for it to be. I promise I will try. I will pray for you every day. I will never leave you alone. I will do everything I can to see your dreams come true...even if I have to surrender my own dreams along the way. I can;t wait to see you, to hold you in my arms, change your diaper, rock you to sleep, watch you while you dream and pray for you on my knees next to your bed. I wonder if you'll have blonde hair like your mom, or dark hair like me. I bet you'll be tall and beautiful like her. I know this much...your mom and dad love you already.
I love you so much and we just found out about you. I can't imagine how a lifetime will feel.
I know this much...God made me with a heart that loves children and desires fatherhood. God chose you for us. Nobody else on earth could have come together and made someone exactly like you and who you'll become. I can't wait to see you. I'm already happier knowing you'll be here soon. Because all I ever wanted was to be your dad."

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sometimes you just don't know what to do...

I have no idea where this article will go. I just know I need to write.
I'm struggling. Like so many of you out there who read this blog and email me privately or comment publicly. I feel lost. I feel like I am spinning wildly through my life. I feel like the fixed end of my compass has come loose and I can't find True North anymore.
My daughter turned 15 last week. You want to know how long a blink is? It's 15 years. Five years ago I became a homeless dad. I lived like that for almost 4 years. I found a place I could afford and I stayed there for a year from January 2012 until February 2013. Then the work I was doing ground to a halt at the same time my landlord decided to sell the condo I was staying in and since February 3 I have been homeless again.
I am embarrassed, humiliated, losing hope, and feeling my dreams and my life slipping right through my hands. I can't stop's like sand.  There are no jobs here for an almost-50 year old man who has been "out of the work force" for 5 years. I have been working. But they don't count self employment. You work a hundred times as hard when self-employed, but try convincing them that.
Meanwhile my daughter is growing up and I am missing important time with her and my heart is tearing open because of it. What am I supposed to do? I have always...all my life...been a hopeful, optimistic guy. My glass was always half-full and ready to overflow.
Now I fear the future. I wonder if this is never going to change. What is the impetus? There is nothing to look to and build on. And I live in a town where almost everyone could care less. There are a few exceptions, and I love and appreciate them, but for the most part, this town is full of arrogant people who see themselves as better than anyone else who isn't wealthy, famous, beautiful and connected. Even the church is like this.
The folks who have shown me kindness and encouraged me have been wonderful. But the cutting, hurtful words of the others have broken what little remains of this once successful man. The only thing worse than the vicious, arrogant, prideful remarks of the Dave Ramsey-followers around here, has been the deafening silence of the rest of the bunch. Especially the church folk. The "gawd-fearin' Chrus-chunz" who are quite certain that their life is as good as it is because God loves them and loves their life and therefore He must not love you if you aren't successful. Pastors who suck-up to rich, famous people because it makes them feel better about themselves and it's some sort of declaration of God's satisfaction with their ministry. That and they love to name-drop and they get a real rush having famous names in their speed-dial. It's almost impossible finding a church not in this mold.
Meanwhile me and my daughter almost never spend any time together and she misses me and I miss her and my heart is breaking and none of these people give a crap.
I just don't know what to do anymore. Where to go to find a job. How to plan for Morgan's college in a few years...or even how I am ever going to sleep indoors again.
Sometimes you just don't know what to do...
I've always been a resourceful guy who found work, found a way to make a paycheck and made a way. Now I can't apparently.
Guys reading this blog understand...they get it. A good man grinds himself to the bone to protect his family and provide for them. When you have days like the ones I've been having, and when they stretch into months and then into years, you keep going because your family is there when you get home at night, looking to you for hope and they give you hope in return.
But when you are divorced and those faces are somewhere else and you can't come home to them...your reason to press on is lacking. It's broken. And sometimes you just don't know what to do to find it and fix it and get it back.
I love my daughter. More than any words could ever say. I don't know how I am ever going to be able to take care of her again. That's where I am tonight. Most times I can figure things out and I have the answers.
But sometimes you just don't know what to do...

Sunday, March 31, 2013

As a Dad...

As a notice other kids your kids age, and you observe how this world is effecting them.
As a dad, you learn to spot hurting kids...especially the same age as your child. As a dad, you see headlines that tell of a world just waiting to devour our kids and you worry, you pray, you plan, you lose sleep, and you pray some more.
As a dad, you hurt for the hurting kids you come across. You hurt for the friends your child has who are in pain. You constantly reevaluate the job you are doing as a dad. You raise the bar daily...sometimes by the hour. As a dad, your every effort is for your kids, for their dreams..and in this day in which we live...for their safety and survival. As a dad, you cry, As a dad you worry. As a dad you learn, you educate yourself, you try to think three or four steps ahead of where they are now and what might be coming next. As a dad you worry if you're doing the job right. You pray that you are and you worry that you aren't.
As a dad, you feel the time racing past you like the wind. Slipping through your hands like sand. As a dad, you fault yourself for your failures and take precious little comfort in your successes.
My daughter will be 15 in little more than a month.
I remember the day she was born.  I can still smell the baby powder and how she felt asleep in my arms. I can still hear her singing in her car seat in the back of my car as we drove home for vacation. I can still hear her simple, poignant bedtime prayers.
As a dad, I grieve the time that flies by without regard for my futile grasp. As a dad I face each day desperately hoping to improve my lot for her sake.
As a dad I hurt when I see another dad on TV, broken-hearted over a tragedy that has wounded his child. As a dad I have no tolerance for dads who don't appreciate their children, don't take the time to be a dad, don't empty their souls into their kids each day, knowing that whatever they can pour into them will get them through, more than money or material ever can.
As a dad I am saddened by parents who see parenthood as anything but the greatest gift God gave anyone. Who set their clocks on "when these kids will be gone". As a dad I am brokenhearted over dads who never know their kids...never know their dreams...never work to see them come true.
Everything I do is measured by what I a dad.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Great article from another fatherhood blog

I follow several dad sites on the net. I like to post good material when I see it. This came in my email this morning. Good practical advice.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Have I done Everything?

Remember the movie "Rudy"? Sure you do. Remember the scene where Rudy has endured three semesters of Junior College, overcome a learning disability, slept in a store room, and worked three jobs just to stay there, and he still has been turned down for Notre Dame? He sits in the church sanctuary waiting for Father Cavanaugh. When the Father comes walking up the aisle with some other priests, he sees a despondent Rudy and stops to talk to him. After a few moments of conversation, Rudy asks Father Cavanaugh "Have I prayed enough?" To which Father Cavanaugh smilingly replies "I'm sure that's not the problem." Then Rudy desperately asks him "Have I done everything I could do?".  Father Cavanaugh's response, as I recall, was "I think that's a question only you can answer."
As a post-divorce dad I ask myself the same things constantly. "Have I prayed enough for my daughter? Have I poured out my heart to God on her behalf with the frequency, earnestness, sincerity, and desperation of a loving daddy who can't always be there to protect, defend, encourage, train, and love?" I know the answer is yes but I still struggle. I still wrestle in the days between visits and between interactions. I rely on the phone and the email and text to fill in the blank spots in my heart. It's seldom enough.
Almost daily I am introspective and ask myself  "Is there anything else I can do?" I suppose if Father Cavanaugh were here, his response would be the same..."Only you can answer that question."
I know there is little I can do beyond what I have done. But that is the problem.  I'm a dad. All the time. I shouldn't have to meter out my fatherhood in bits and pieces and moments. There is no natural ebb and flow to my time with my daughter. It is staccato, like a machine gun. Big bursts, followed by long silence. This is unnatural and painful. I am a "Full-Time Daddy in a Part-time world" and it hurts.
But I have done all I can and then some. So I rely on the One who loves my daughter even more than I do. When I miss her, long for her company, worry about her, or spend a little longer thinking about how it once was...I take comfort in prayer. I package up my hurts and the emptiness that I feel in between days with her and I drop them at the feet of the only One who loves her more.
After 13 years I have learned that He is always on the job and He truly wants what is best for her.
Dad's...ask yourself those two urgent questions; "Have I prayed enough?" and "Have I done everything I can do?" Answer them honestly, fix what needs fixing, and then trust that God will honor your heart and watch over your kids.
Your friend,

Sunday, March 3, 2013

One of those moments...

For a long time now, I have questioned the validity and value of my own fatherhood. I have been so immersed in battling simply to survive, and I've lost so much, and that loss occurred during a critical time in my daughter's life. Now she is a teenager and I'm not nearly as cool as I used to be. I was homeless during the last of the days when she would have preferred to be with me.
This morning, I had picked her up from her friend's house and was taking her back to her mom's. We had the chance to talk about "stuff". The topic originated with the mom of a friend of hers who had passed away last year and who had been into some frightening occult practices. Ouija boards, crystals, etc. She was a self-described Wiccan. But at one point in her life, she had accepted Jesus as Savior and the change was tangible apparently. Morgan and I discussed whether she was in Heaven. (I believe in eternal security so I felt she was) The conversation moved to doctrine. Real doctrinal Theology stuff and I was amazed...blown the level of understanding my 14 year old daughter possesses. We talked about the two Judgment Thrones in Revelation and about the definition of Hell. Whether the imagery was symbolism or literal. We arrived at the conclusion that it is some of both.
We talked for a while about the horror of hell and how this horror ought to have the resulting effect of making us desperately want to share our faith with others. Then she asked me a question that gave me hope. Hope that, despite the time we've missed together physically because of my situation, the time we were spending was effective. She said "Would it a sin if I were a preacher?" I smiled and said "No way!" "The only restriction in the Bible is being a pastor. Paul is very clear about pastors and elders (deacons) but most other teaching options are open to women." The discussion ranged from whether Paul was misogynistic, to what it meant to "submit" to a husband. What the husband was supposed to act like in a submitted relationship, etc. Then she said..."You know that's why I want to be a missionary. I want to preach the Gospel to people. And I'd like to see foreign lands."
I was smiling of course. But I had to hide my tears too. For months...years even...I have been consumed with worry that my influence has not been substantial enough and I haven't had the spiritual effect on her I'd hoped. I haven't been able to take her to church like I used to. I haven't had nightly prayer times and Bible study with her like before. It's been so hard.
But I will tell you honestly...and at the risk of sounding self-aggrandizing...I have made up for the lack of influence, with my prayers for her. I have done battle for my daughter. I have stood my ground. I have covered her, by faith, in the blood of Jesus and asked that God's fiercest warrior angels be commissioned to her side for protection. I have asked God to do for her what my daddy's heart wants to do but can't. I have asked Him to keep her tender towards His promptings, to keep His voice clear in her ears and to guard her heart and let it be pure, and holy, and usable for His kingdom. I have asked this every single day, regardless of my situation. I asked Him to watch out for her. And He has.
My daughter has remained in love with Jesus. Beyond that, she has a working knowledge of the Word, and an understanding of the essentials of this Faith of ours.
God has granted my requests...thus far at least. I can't let up or relax, because the enemy of our souls will pounce. It brings me comfort to know God loves my daughter even more than I do.
Dads...the road is long for us. There are so many hours when we wrestle in the dark with foes our children don't even realize are waging war against them. The days seem endless between visits and we wonder if being there and being involved and remaining true was worth it. But remain vigilant. Stay strong. Do the work of a dad, on your knees, and in the loving words you speak into their hearts. Because you might be raising a missionary with a tremendous grasp of The Faith and you might not even realize it.
Phil 1:6 tells us- "Being confident of this...that He who began a good work in you will keep doing that work until the return of Jesus." (My paraphrase). That promise is for you and for your children and for your fatherhood. Keep doing the work. God will keep His end of the bargain.
Have a great week, dads.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Song That Started It All...

9 years ago I wrote a song for my daughter. She was in first grade and I was picking her up after school for our Tuesday afternoon visit. I had no idea when I wrote this, that God was beginning a work in my heart that would become a book, a radio show, this blog, and a life coaching service and a full-fledged ministry to divorced dads. But 9 years later all that has come about.
All I knew back then was it was Tuesday afternoon at 3PM and for the next 5 hours I would feel alive. This song captures what a divorced dad experiences every single day of his life. Look past the singing and listen to the song.
This is the heart that produced this blog. And the book.

Sometimes Daddies Cry...the song

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sometimes Daddies Cry...The BOOK!

Hey guys...FINALLY the book is finished! Completely revised and re-edited and updated to include the last 5 years since I wrote the original. If you enjoy reading the blog, you will find hope and help in the BOOK!
The link is just to your right on the page.
This book has been influential in helping thousands of dads adapt, adjust and eventually overcome the pain of divorce.
Please help spread the word!


Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Truth About Divorce...part 1,000,347

     About an hour ago I got hit with a full-on blast of sadness.
I don't know why. I don't know what brought this on, except that it has been 13 years since my divorce and I am going to be 50 this fall and, while that got here very quickly and it doesn't feel any different than 35 or 40, it still is a milestone. It's a milestone that I never...not in a million years...thought I'd reach alone.
     13 years ago, my three-year marriage ended. I had an 18 month old daughter and a struggling career in the mortgage industry. In the 13 years since that dreadful day, I achieved success, owned two homes, made a nice amount of money, lost it all when the industry collapsed, fought through four years of homelessness, graduated from college while still homeless, wrote four books, started a small carpentry business, recently started my fifth book, began a Divorced Dad's life coaching service, and more than anything...refused to leave Nashville to rebuild somewhere else so I could stay in my daughter's life. I managed to be a great dad in the teeth of the worst period of my life.
     But tonight it really hurt me that I have gone through so very very much...without anyone else to share the good times and the bad. I met my father for the first and only time 6 years ago, and I would have loved to have had someone to talk my way through that with. Maybe I would have survived the mortgage turbulence if I had remarried. Maybe I would have had more children. Maybe I would not be so afraid now.
     What am I afraid of? Failure mostly. I am dreadfully afraid of ever going through the horrible pain of divorce ever again. I am afraid that there really is no unconditional love in this world outside of that which our children give us and God gives us, and if I have to perform for even one more person to love me I am going to be sick. Parents, spouses, churches...people never love us just because we are lovable. Almost never anyway. There is always an end game, always an agenda. If you can't benefit them somehow they don't want to love you. Not really love you the way we all need and desire.
     Now I've been blessed by some folks back home...folks who aren't even my family by birth but who became my family...who love me unconditionally. But they are 850 miles away and it's hard to remain in touch. I needed that here. I thought I had it when I got married but as it turns out...I did not. To know in your heart that your spouse's love for you is directly proportionate to what you are capable of providing and what kind of lifestyle you can offer is heartbreaking.
     It cuts deeply and once you get over the pain it causes, you never want to go back to that sort of relationship again. Not ever. The problem is somehow not becoming cynical and somehow believing that there is someone out there...anyone out there...who would ever just love you because you ought to be loved. Someone who recognizes a good man and who wants a good man simply because he is good. Love is hard enough the first time around...when you are older, and wounded, and cynical, and doubt that an honest and true heart exists in the world...good luck finding real, deep, true love again.
     The other thing is...I was always a romantic. I only ever asked one person to marry me and I was very much in love back then and it felt like it was supposed to. Giddy, reckless, innocent. Can that ever be recaptured? Can you fall madly and passionately and recklessly in love a second time with someone different? Can you ever be a hopeless romantic more than once in your life? Can innocence and wonder ever come twice in a lifetime?  As I've wondered about that, and thought about my once-romantic-now-cynical heart...I've had my doubts. And then that made me hurt even more. Because I want to love again but I want to be in love again. I want to be crazy about someone and find myself daydreaming about them and carving their name and mine in a heart on a tree somewhere.
     If that can't be...what is the point? I don't want a merger, I want a marriage. After 13 years I don't know if it's coming. And I feel like maybe it's because I waited too long. I grieved first my wife, then my marriage. I still grieve my interrupted fatherhood and always will. Maybe all that time spent grieving was wasted and I should have found someone else. But the truth is one does not find finds us. And if our receptors are damaged, maybe we miss it as it flits by us like a feather on a breeze and we never know how close we were to it until we look back and see where it almost found us.
     I am afraid I will look back one day and see the last time I had a near-miss with love and realize it really was just that...the last time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Hey guys...
After a lot of prayer and thought I am excited to announce that this year I am expanding the ministry GREATLY!
Some of my goals include
Return of the daily podcast "Dad Stuff"
Expand the radio show to two evenings a week AND a daytime show so that our European friends (And there are many!) can have the opportunity to call in
Revise and re-release my book "Sometimes Daddies Cry"
Develop and offer "Total Dad" Life Coaching services for divorced / separated dads
Expand materials to include DVD teachings and print materials for study groups
Develop a nation-wide network of churches and mens groups who meet each week during the broadcast time for the show and become a live audience for the show.
More to follow!

Here's how you can help!
Click the link and find the Indigogo fundraiser site. Give if you can. Tell LOTS of others about the fundraiser!

Indigogo Fundraiser Please help support this ministry!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Way I Wish Things Could Be...

I am 49. This year I turn 50. When I was little, 50 was old. Now it seems like it’s barely the place to begin. I wish I wasn’t trying to make a new beginning at 50. Because it’s very hard. People don’t want to hire you because you are “too experienced” but the truth is that they know that at this age you won’t ever vest in any pension or 401K or stock plan so you are…in their eyes…a mercenary. You are working for a paycheck and as soon as something better comes along that pays more you will jump.
Actuarial tables tell employers that they make the most profits when they hire someone under 29. Most 401K plans take ten years to vest so you aren’t going to jump ship for that first ten years so it makes sense for them to invest in you and train you and move you up the ladder. The odds are that you’ll stay.
But not for guys my age. We aren’t vesting anywhere and they know it. I wish it wasn’t like that.
I wish my book had sold well this Christmas. I can honestly say that nobody who bought it was disappointed…in fact virtually everyone who read it was very deeply touched by it. But financially it was a bust. Another bust. I had hoped that my “Community of believers” here in town would have gotten behind it, but actually they never even heard about it. This baffles me. It shouldn’t I guess. I’m not famous, I don’t host a TV show and a radio show (well actually I do…sort of) and I didn’t write any of the Veggie-Tales. (Thankfully that has yet to be a part of my resume) so buying my book wouldn’t promote the general cause of the Faith, the way buying those guys books apparently did. But then again, neither of them will be sitting next to those folks in church ever again.  But it would have made a huge difference in my life personally and now I am picking up more pieces. Besides the practical aspects…they are sort of family to me. At least they are supposed to be. And a big show of support would have made me feel good about these last 4 years.
And I could really use to feel good about something.
Two weeks from today will mark 6 years since I lost my home. 6 Years since I packed up a moving truck and loaded the dogs and the cat and my belongings and said goodbye to only the second home I ever owned and the only one I truly loved owning. I have never stopped thinking about that house. And that yard and those 5 acres and that big vegetable garden. I never stopped thinking about the pony and the smell of hay in the morning. Or walking at night under the winter sky and seeing the Milky Way stretching out from me to Heaven’s door. I wish I still lived there.
I was in the park today, trying to get some fresh air into my lungs to fight this terrible flu and a couple came walking by with a beautiful black and white Springer Spaniel. It made me cry. I closed my eyes and for a moment I could feel our beloved Bonnie’s chin on my lap like she used to do. I miss our dogs and our cat. I wish I still had them. My daughter wishes we still had them too.
I wish my daughter was always with me. I say I miss her terribly because there just isn't any other way to say it. If there was another way to express how broken my heart is almost every single day without her I would. But I can’t think of any.
I wish I wasn’t divorced. I don’t wish I was still married to my ex wife. I just wish I was married. I wish I mattered deeply to someone and there was someone there to make it feel like I wasn’t facing every crisis alone. Someone who would walk with me through the dark days and never complain because they care. Not someone to tell me to “Trust God” “Pray About It” or “Keep your head up”.  People don’t have time for broken dreams anymore…or for broken dreamers. People…especially those who have been successful and who purposefully stay around only successful people have no tolerance for those who have fallen and failed.
I wish I could talk to my dad. I wish he'd seen my play hockey in college...or seen me graduate. I wish the losses would stop piling up. I feel like saying I wish I was home...but I don't know where that is anymore.
I wish I had a wife. A partner. Someone to bow my chest up and protect and to drop my guard around and cry. I never had that even when I was married. But I wish I had. If I had never been divorced, I would never have missed a day tucking in my daughter, or listening to her prayers, or helping her with homework. Instead I have missed big chunks of time with the most important person in the world to me. Time I can’t get back. But I wish I could. God how I wish I could.
I wish I was someone’s hero. I wish I was their hero because I was actually being heroic and not because I am their hero positionally.
I’m nobody’s hero. I’m 49, and another of my dreams has fizzled out and I’m too tired to dream again. I worked every job that came my way while I finished school and wrote that book. I installed a single window for $150, pressure washed a driveway for $200 and built a deck for $3500. If it paid I did it and in the end it hasn’t paid nearly enough. People are afraid to spend money right now and I am afraid to keep going in this job.
I wish I had an option. Right now I don’t.
I wish I was an adult in a different day and time. I wish it was the early 70’s…like when I was a boy. Or the early 80’s…like when I first went to college.

I wish my daughter could have grown up under Reagan and not…this.
I wish I had the strength to dream myself one more dream and get behind it. But I don’t think I do. I think that somehow this weekend…after assessing the dismal and disappointing failure of yet another dream that I had wanted desperately to succeed…I think I’m done hoping for greatness. I wish I could be great. But I think I’ll have to settle for survival. And I hate that. Because survival is what homeless people do.
And after all this time…after five years and all I’ve accomplished…nothing that I thought might happen has happened. And for the first time since I lost everything…I wish I hadn’t. I just wish I had it back. I wish my daughter was 9, and it was Sunday night in Thompson’s Station and I was tucking her in and taking her to school tomorrow and we were saying bedtime prayers and reading a book.
I can’t ever go back there again…
But I wish I could.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dad. Interupted

It’s January 10, 2013
Another long winter season is upon us. It’s that time of year when there is nothing really going on until Easter. A few scattered holidays for Presidents and leaders but nothing that lasts more than a day here and there. Something to break up the monotony of the bleak, grey winter outside and the bleak grey shroud in our hearts as we wait for the signs of Spring.
The Christmas Holiday is over and my daughter has returned to school. There is a normalcy to that for most people that divorced dads miss out on.
The Holidays get started in November, with the long Thanksgiving weekend. Then they race toward us and we have Christmas and New Years and then the kids go back to school and we resume the pace of the other 11 months of the year. There is a transition that starts to take place around mid-November. By Mid December, you are in full Christmas mode. Christmas is busy and overflowing with sights, sounds, smells, and family moments. Same with New Years. We visit family and friends and spend far more time together than usual. Then some time right after New Years day we feel ourselves sliding back into the routine of the rest of the year. It is a smooth transition and for intact families it is almost imperceptible.
However, for me, it’s staccato. It’s broken pieces linked together with cords of desperation and sadness. There is no smooth transition from School year to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Years and back to school year. There is no thought of “She’s back in school and I’ll see her tonight at dinner”. For me…and for millions of dads like me…this Holiday period was jagged and broken. Pick her up for a weekend to make cookies and do our Christmas traditions. Take her back to her moms. Pick her up to go home to Wilmington for Christmas. Spend a few days with family, and then take her back to her mom’s. Instead of a smooth ebb and flow, it’s broken and irregular. It’s like those old movies where someone was sending a Telegram and they would be dictating to the telegrapher and at the end of each sentence instead of saying “period” they said, “Stop”. I found out that the reason you did it that way is that telegrams used to be sent using Morse Code and it takes more characters to send a punctuation mark than it does to write the word “Stop”.
My fatherhood reads like an old telegram… “Pick up my daughter. Stop. Spend a weekend. Stop Take her home. Stop. Go home for Christmas. Stop. Take her back to her mom’s. Stop” The time apart is infinitely more painful because there is no transition. She is simply here one moment and gone the next and she’ll be back in a week. 
But my father’s heart isn’t built like that. I think of her every single moment of every single day. I can’t begin to explain how I miss her when she is not with me or how it hurts when I see her rocketing toward adulthood and I have missed so much time.
I never get a real rhythm going. I never get the easy transition. I am a dad who spends much more time missing my daughter than being with her.
I cannot explain how badly that feels.