Reaping What I Have Sown as a Single Dad

It’s pretty standard knowledge amongst Christians: sow into the deeds of the flesh and reap of the flesh; sow into the Spirit and reap the fruits of the Spirit. Unfortunately, the words if I had known then what I know now don’t help much once certain actions have come full circle. Such was the case of my journey into fatherhood. I was not a Christian when I met my daughter’s mom and through a relationship based strictly on the flesh, my daughter was born out of wedlock. Her mom and I never gained a stable relationship and things only grew worse between us as time went on.

Today I still live with some of the consequences from the decisions I made back then. Please don’t get me wrong: my daughter’s birth is one of the greatest moments of my life and she and I have a wonderful relationship–though I often have to endure some of the pain from not having her within the protection of marriage. This includes:

  • Not being able to see or call my daughter whenever I want
  • Difficulties because I am not able to co-parent effectively with her mom
  • All of the dynamics that come with my daughter having a stepfather
  • Trying to parent from a distance, often having to jump through hoops to stay involved with school and doctor’s appointments
  • Having to say goodbye to her after a concert or game as she goes one way with her mom and I go the other way

And so on…

 

However, I can also make a very strong case that things may not be what they are today if God had not walked me through these trials like He has. After giving my life to Christ when my daughter was very young, I now sow into His Kingdom instead of my own. A few of those fruits being reaped are:

  • Not taking my time with my daughter for granted
  • Learning to forgive myself
  • Blessing and praying for those who make life difficult at times–especially when I don’t want to or when I feel they don’t deserve it
  • Being more intentional about her schooling and interests
  • And most importantly: bringing her up in Christ. Generational curses have now become generational blessings. God has poured abundant grace over my family, as my daughter gave her life to Jesus a several years ago!

 

Yes, it still hurts sometimes to go through the things I do; but it also keeps me from becoming complacent in my walk and to continue to rely on God above everything else for the sake of my family.

 

Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance to kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD until He comes to rain righteousness on you. —Hosea 10:12 (NASB) 

 

Are you allowing past mistakes to dictate your family’s current path, or are you sowing new seeds of righteousness instead?

 

 

Written by Matt Haviland of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry. Originally published on October 28, 2015 at 1Corinthians 13 Parenting.

3 Questions a Dad Might Not Have the Courage to Ask His Daughter

Since the launch of the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, I’ve been using John Gray’s terminology to describe my awareness that I live on Venus and you, dad, live on Mars. Truth be told, I’ve been planet hopping these past eight years since the launch of The Abba Project.

The more traveling I do between our respective planets, the more I’ve sought to transport observations from life on your sphere back to mine, and vice versa.

One of the observations I’ve collected is something that I discovered about many men. Essentially, it’s that you are often motivated by crisis or need. Stated otherwise: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I think we’re all wired a bit that way, in all honesty.

Case in point. My mom is almost 80 years old and was still working as an RN at the VA (Veterans Affairs) just a year ago. A usually vibrant and active woman, she started noticing a slight shortness of breath a little over a year ago. This started the fastball rolling when my dad rushed her to the ER one night. Four days later she was in emergency open heart surgery.

Her surgeon said he’d performed 14,000 heart surgeries during his career and had never seen an aortic valve so calcified—86%. The question then became: How could my mom have been so active and in seemingly fine health with that much blockage to her heart?

Answer: Things had gradually been taking place in her body such that she had acclimated to the changes over time. Because there hadn’t been a crisis, there was no motivation to explore the apparent minor signs and symptoms.

Reality suddenly became clear when the crisis arose. It was the crisis that changed everything. It would have been so much better had she tuned into the warning signs before it got to the desperation-emergency-almost-lost-her point.

Dad, I share that story to highlight that sometimes it’s the same way with your daughter (and son). It may seem like things are fine-like there’s not a crisis or a need because she seems okay and hasn’t gotten into trouble or given you cause for concern. Or maybe she’s been a great kid who follows the rules, gets fantastic grades, and hasn’t rebelled. So, you assume she’s all good and that she’ll stay that way.

I want to suggest:

  • Being proactive rather than reactive.
  • Attending to her overall heart health now rather than waiting until there’s a crisis.
  • Getting close enough to hear her words and listen to what she’s really saying, to look in her eyes and see how she’s really doing.

Why not take the time now to tune in by taking steps to connect with her insides (a.k.a. her heart and her mind, thoughts, ideas, fears, doubts, wonderings, questions, opinions, needs, longings, feelings, dreams, etc.) rather than risking the potential of emergency treatment down the road? At that desperation point it’s ten times harder to get a handle on things.

I have three questions that you can ask your daughter which will allow her to weigh in on how you’re doing as her dad. This may be scary to ask but I challenge you to do it anyway.

Your daughter may or may not be honest with you, but you can still invite her to respond. She may not feel safe to answer if she fears your reaction. Promise her that you won’t blow up in anger or get defensive. Tell her that you truly want to hear her heart. If she doesn’t have the courage to tell you her thoughts face to face, suggest that she write her response or text it to you later.

The key is that you use her as a reference point for evaluation on how you’re doing as a dad. Let her be your guide since it’s her heart you’re wanting to connect with and it’s her heart you want to win.

I don’t know if you’ll have the courage to ask these questions. I say that not because I don’t think you can do it but because oftentimes it’s easy to avoid the things we don’t want to hear or know. You have no control over her answers, coupled with risking vulnerability to have an open-ended conversation like this with your daughter, I realize that it could easily be dismissed. Expect to have every reason in the book NOT to initiate this conversation.

Yet I guarantee that you will have a better, stronger, healthier, and more vibrant relationship with your daughter if you ask these three questions a minimum of once a year (option: meet every six months to re-evaluate).

Are you in? Here’s your script should you dare to accept this challenge!

Why not take your daughter on a date and ask:

  1. How am I doing as your dad? 

 

  1. On a 0 to 10 scale, what rating would you give me (with 10 being the best)?

 

  1. In your eyes, what could I work on to be a better dad to you?

 

I’d love to hear from you after you ask your daughter these questions. Write me at drmichellewatson@gmail.com

Was it as hard as you thought it would be?

Did she say what you thought she would say?

Did you learn anything about yourself after hearing what she told you?

Did she give you feedback that you can use to change course with her and better connect with her needs and heart space?

 

Dr. Michelle Watson is the founder of The Abba Project, a 9-month group forum that is designed to equip dads with daughters ages 13 to 30 to dial in with more intention and consistency, and the book, Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart. She invites you to visit www.drmichellewatson.com. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook at www.facebook.com/drmichellewatson and Twitter @mwatsonphd.

Does the Bible Say Anything About Climate Change?

 

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction. -Malachi 4:6

 

MY STORY

When I was 14 years old, I checked out of home. Although I had wonderful parents, I couldn’t figure out how to navigate my relationship with my father. I didn’t know how to deal with the fact that my father wasn’t everything I wanted and felt I needed.

I was able to cover over and hide my unresolved internal struggle with my dad for almost 30 years. Ironically, it all came to a head in a moment as I was confronted with the reality of the difference of how I WANTED to raise my 4 kids, and how I was ACTUALLY raising them. In some strange and indescribable way, it was almost like a part of me had stopped developing when I walked away from my father at age 14. I now realized how much growing up I was missing.
 


LEARNING HOW TO ADDRESS THE DISAPPOINTMENTS

Our research group has conducted several Father’s Day surveys, and collected responses from over 2,000 men and women from age 18 to 91. Among those who responded, most said Dad was good at providing these as they were growing up: protection, provision, and presiding (creating a leadership structure that was predictable). But 90% of these same adults said Dad missed in some way to provide them everything they wanted or needed. In many cases, Dad may have been physically present, but there was still an emotional barrier.

Our research has also turned about another finding: many fathers themselves feel disappointment over how they have treated their role as fathers. In my research, I have found there are 3 things that men need to address unresolved disappointment:

  1. Great Self-Care. This includes all that goes into taking care of myself so I can do the hard work of addressing unresolved emotions.

 

  1. A Network of Supportive Friends. We all do better when we are surrounded by encouragers who have our backs.

 

  1. Healthy Outlets to Get Beyond the Pain. Many of us routinely utilize the tools of Professional Counseling, Journaling, and Prayer, among others. In my case, I use all three!


THE SUPERNATURAL PART

Is all our great work enough? I mean, if we just TRY HARDER, will that create enough momentum to reach the results we are looking for? Looking back at that passage from Malachi, it’s striking that God compares the needed heart change to Elijah’s work. If you remember, Elijah was a great prophet of God’s people, who routinely demonstrated supernatural activity. He did things like call down fire from Heaven that literally consumed an animal sacrifice AND gallons of water.

Now clearly no amount of pure motive and perfect execution in the natural alone would be able to pull off the signs and wonders that Elijah saw.  Likewise, this heart change God describes does require our faithful obedience– but it requires more than that: this won’t happen without a supernatural touch from God.


PLENTY OF ROOM FOR SCIENTIFIC DEBATE

Climate Change is all over the news today. There are really 3 questions to answer with Climate Change:

  1. Is our world experiencing Climate Change?
  2. If yes, then how much is human activity impacting this change?
  3. What can we do as humans to protect the world from Climate Change?


WHAT ABOUT THE BIBLE?

As it turns out, the Bible has a LOT to say on the topic. For starters, let’s talk about Solomon. When he was dedicating the Temple in Jerusalem, God appeared to him and made it clear that He could shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among His people. And the antidote? Surprisingly, God prescribes a spiritual solution to this disaster:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. -2 Chronicles 7:14

 

ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE

Of all the people in the world, Christians should be most aware of the possibility of climate change. In fact, we don’t need to look to science to prove or disprove its existence as a natural phenomenon. The Bible presents a clear connection between man’s actions and environmental impacts.  As always, Bible believing Christians have the opportunity to line up news headlines with God’s Word.
God makes it clear that the spiritual state of His people’s hearts has a direct impact on the physical climate. It is not uncommon for Christians to publicly lament the breakdown of spiritual intensity on our nation. Unfortunately, we don’t always recognize this as an issue for believers to address, but instead attempt to peg this on the actions of unbelievers.

God’s people should be unsurprised to see climate change. Not only does the Bible identify its reality, it also speaks to the spiritual issues that drive us there. The Bible also speaks directly to its antidote: for us to enter into deep repentance in general, and to specifically seek the supernatural restoration of relationship between fathers and children.

 

Tim Truesdale

“Leadership begins at home.”

tim.truesdale@gmail.com

Living From a Father’s Blessing

Several years ago, I had the privilege to witness a powerful event: a blessing. A father, who had MS and was unable to stand, blessed his son and bride at their wedding. I was amazed and inspired to hear the scriptural truths pour forth from this elderly saint’s heart and mind as he blessed these two newlyweds. Without a script, that godly man spoke truth over, and into, the lives of this devoted young couple for at least five minutes.

I felt as if I was on holy ground as I witnessed this event that was videotaped fifteen years earlier. I also had trouble processing what I had just witnessed. The words and evident love and affection between father and son impacted me at a deep level. It has now been several weeks since I watched this sacred utterance, and I am still trying to assimilate what I observed.

A little background: This grainy family wedding video was being shown to a group of ministry leaders at a conference where we were seeking to find out ways that we could teach and encourage fathers. As one man succinctly stated, “All the current social ills of our society stem from fatherlessness.” Yet here we were, observing a sacred example of a godly father affirming and blessing his son and his new daughter-in-law.

The father, who was the vehicle for this heavenly benediction, had not been raised in a godly Christian home. He desperately wanted his children to have every spiritual advantage that he had not received. To that end, he read books on raising godly children including The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley.

When the video concluded, the son, who was the recipient of those inspired words, stood and addressed us with words of comfort and hope. Many of us were wishing we had received a similar blessing from our earthly father and he comforted us by pointing us to the word of God. In Ephesians 1:3 the Spirit informs us that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing. While we may not have received a blessing from our earthly dads, in Christ we have been given, every spiritual blessing.

Then this man, who I will identify later, imparted a vision and hope for the next generation, as he told us what it was like being the recipient of such an anointed blessing. He said that many children live FOR the blessing of their father, while he lives FROM the blessing of his father.

I think about what motivates me and other men. Many of my friends and I are looking for approval and acceptance from our dad. I could tell you many examples but one sticks out to me. I was watching the US Open on Father’s Day, with my brother and my dad. Ken Venturi, who had won major championships, bared his soul and told how he longed to have his father say, “Well done son”. For him, golf had been the vehicle to earn this praise. But regardless of how well he did, his father never affirmed him, until one day, when he despaired of life, his dad told him he “had always been number one in his book.” Those simple words changed his life.

I am one of many who would dearly love to have a written or verbal blessing from my earthly dad. He did the best he could, with the resources that he had, and I rise and honor his memory. Still, deep down I crave the affirmation that only a dad can bequeath. In the past few years, the Spirit of God has satisfied this longing by making me know in my heart that I am an adopted son of my heavenly Father.

Now that I am a father, it is my earnest hope and desire that my sons will experience life not looking FOR my blessing, but living FROM my blessing. For you and I are living in troubled times, but also wonderful times. For the Spirit of God is turning the hearts of fathers to their children, children’s hearts to their father, and all our hearts to our heavenly Dad.

Thankful for my earthly dad and eternally grateful for my heavenly Dad,

Steve

P.S.

The man who received the blessing was Stephen Kendrick. He related that his frail father had also pronounced similar blessings at his brother’s weddings. Part of the blessing was that his sons would be fruitful in reaching thousands with the gospel. If the name is not familiar, these Kendrick brothers have produced several inspiring movies pointing thousands of people to Christ, including Fireproof, Courageous, and War Room. 

 

Steve Demme is a husband and father. He is the founder of Building Faith Families.

http://www.buildingfaithfamilies.org