4 Ways to Make Your Next Camping Trip a Success

Camping is the best way to get back to nature, and it is one of the best ways for children to get a good grasp on how the environment affects us, and how we harm the environment. Although it would be nice to head off into the middle of the wilderness, it’s unfortunate that most kids don’t see it this way.

 

Campsite Choice

These come hand in hand and can make or break a family camping experience. The campsite that you choose has to be based on your abilities and also take into account the interests of your family. If you and your family are novices to the whole camping ideal, choosing a site that is in an established campground or a national park would be a good idea to start.

If you are a family who likes to explore the local towns or hike/cycle during the day, it is advisable to choose a site that is close to your activity destinations. As a final word, if your family is not too keen on roughing it 100%, select a site that has toilets and running water.

 

Which Tent?

As for your tent, it may be suitable to have one that fits two adults, yet when a family is concerned, you will need a little more space. Families are advised to choose one that can easily cater for double the size of your family. This gives your kids plenty of room to move around.

Child-friendly sleeping arrangements are a necessity. They will be the first ones who complain. If you have more than one child and you want to make them as comfortable as possible and save floor space. You can opt for a double camping cot which kids will enjoy.

One of the best and simplest camping hacks you can find is your pillows. Rather than lugging pillows around with you, just take pillow cases and stuff them with your jackets while sleeping.

 

Entertainment

Camping is getting away from it all, and leaving everything behind. Children will at some point want a little extra to play with, especially if the weather is not the best. You can take along some toys and entertainment for them that will either make them more involved with nature or keep them quiet if the weather takes a turn for the worst.

Here are a few camping toys that will keep your kids happy:

  • Balls – Most ball sports can be played while camping as can a frisbee.
  • Magnifying Glasses – these can keep younger children occupied for ages, as can a pair of binoculars. They will love exploring what’s far away or what is right under their feet.
  • Squirt Guns – what better way to keep kids occupied in warm weather and if you are close to a water supply.
  • If the weather does take a turn for the worst or you need something to keep your children occupied on an evening, there are also a few options that can improve family bonding rather than rely on electrical gadgets:
  • Coloring books – these can keep your children occupied for a couple of hours, and they don’t take up much space in your camping gear.
  • Playing cards – there is nothing better than a game of cards between the family. Just make sure the game is not too complicated for your children.

If your children need a little more space to play and do their own thing, you can take a smaller tent for this purpose. You will know where they are and you don’t have to worry about standing on any of the toys or games you have taken along.

 

Meal Times

Children can be the hungriest and fussiest eaters on the planet, so stocking up on what will keep them satisfied is essential. Snack times will be the hardest as they will want something to satisfy their sweet tooth.

Packing dried fruits can give your children an energy boost while meeting their sugary needs without filling them full of man-made ingredients. Trail mix and health bars that are made from all-natural ingredients can do much the same thing. All you have to be wary of is if any of your children or family members have a nut allergy.

Fresh fruits can also be good to keep on hand; they are not only healthy and nutritious, but they also come in their own packaging so there will be no wrappers flying around the campsite.

One thing you do have to take, and this will please your kids and give them the idea how much fun sitting around a campfire can be. Bring on the S’Mores! This will satisfy not just any kid, but also the big kid in all of us. What childhood would be complete without memories of S’Mores around a fire?

 

Chris Cole is the head writer at naturesportcentral.com. He is passionate about the great outdoors and writing.

Bible Bullet: Tragedy in Texas

Recently, our nation has witnessed tragic, unjust and horrific events. The massacre in Las Vegas, the terror in New York, and the slaughter of the innocents in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Evil seems everywhere—flowing directly from the one who opposes God the most.

The Bible teaches in Genesis 3 that Satan led Adam and Eve into sin by deception. He questioned the goodness of God and undermined the authority of God’s word to Adam and Eve. When they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, our world drastically changed. Disbelief and disobedience led to a breech in their relationship with the Creator, their marriage experienced shame, and the creation around them was no longer harmonious. Their sons experienced conflict, and jealousy and envy led to the first murder (Genesis 4).

The violence that has occurred in Nevada, New York, and Texas reminds us that we live in a sinful, fallen world.  Unfortunately, the same evil experienced by the Christians at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs has plagued Christians for years around the world.

Is this evil a subtle power, a generic force, or some type of impersonal energy? Not according to the Bible. Both Jesus and Paul referred to Satan as an evil force (cf. Matthew 13:19, John 14:30, Ephesians 2:2, 2Corinthians 4:4); and Paul teaches that “creation was subjected to futility”, but the “creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21).

No one can give a simple answer to evil in this world.  If anyone had a reason to ask the question why? it was Job.  Having lost his children, his flocks and herds, material goods, and even his health, Job asked God the reason for his suffering. When God finally spoke out of the whirlwind, no answer was given to satisfy intellectual understanding. God’s word to Job was to worship in the midst of his suffering, and so Job did: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

We don’t need intellectual understanding—we need God. Rather than seeking an answer to the question why, we are to seek Him. His presence is our answer. Join me in praying for bereaved families—that they will experience His presence and the “the peace that passes human understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

I share these biblical truths to remind us of what we already know. Often comfort comes as we encourage ourselves in remembering who God is, what He has done, and His amazing creativity in bringing good from evil. Remember that Almighty God turned the worst event in human history—the murder of the sinless Son of God—to the greatest achievement in history: the provision for the forgiveness of sin, our justification before a Holy God, and the gift of abundant and eternal life in Christ. God always has the last word, and His last word at the cross was the resurrection.  Even so, He will have the last word in these tragic events.

There is much we don’t know, but through God’s word there is infinite knowledge of Him “who has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2Peter 1:3). Be encouraged as you ponder on these truths from the Bible:

 

  • Death for God’s people is not final (cf. Isaiah 25:9, Revelation 21:3-4).

 

  • Jesus has prepared a place in heaven for us (John 14:1-3).

 

  • Life in Christ is abundant (John 10:10).

 

  • Life in Christ is eternal (Matthew 28:20).

 

  • Jesus’ victory over death becomes ours (John 11:25-6).

 

  • The same power (the Holy Spirit) that resurrected Jesus resurrects us (Romans 8:11).

 

  • Just as Jesus suffered and was glorified, so those in Christ will be glorified (Romans 8:18).

 

  • Nothing—not even physical death, can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39).

 

  • Our relationship with Christ is sufficient for life and death (Romans 14:7-9).

 

  • Even physical death is used for God’s purpose (Romans 8:28).

 

A glimpse into glory: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them.  They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. —Revelation 21:1-4

 

–David Maddox  

 

Safety in the Arms of Our Father

Remember playing tag as a kid? Hours flew by as you ran for your life from someone who wanted to get you. The goal was survival. You darted around, barely dodging that outstretched arm. Out of breath and sweating profusely, you finally made it to a base.

The base area was set aside so you could temporarily take a break from the intensity of the game—you could calm down, strategize, and refuel for the challenges ahead.

The feeling of being on base is what should be experienced in a relationship with a father. In a dangerous world full of spiritual predators, a father must act as a safe haven. Having a caring father helps us become more aware of ourselves. When we feel threatened, we withdraw and become blind to what is happening both within and outside of ourselves. Our view of life narrows, causing us to overlook our own gifts and skills. We suppress our need for external guidance and miss the meaning found in our relationships. However, when with our father, we can thrive.

Building a complex attachment with a good father creates a secure base we can launch from. When we feel safe, we experience our value, despite being aware of the imperfections that creep into every aspect of our lives. Knowing we are loved through our failures acts as a powerful healing force. Bouncing back and starting again seems less daunting. A father provides us with a resource for feedback that confronts our inadequacies. He gives us an example of resisting passivity and actively stepping toward our self-development and need to contribute to the world.

Fathers show us how to self-initiate by pursuing a relationship with us individually—while also making life better for the family as a whole. In the security of their presence, they teach us to set goals, understand our existence, pay attention to details, make difficult choices, establish our values, consider our priorities, express our thoughts and feelings, and strengthen our faith. A father is an essential influence.

In a world that often makes us feel lonely and disconnected, we hear a father’s voice saying, “You are not alone. I want to get to know you and help you to know yourself better. Your thoughts, feelings and dreams are all important to me. You matter despite what the world says. I’m here for you, and my presence empowers you to exceed your expectations. To be with me is to discover the greatest parts of yourself. My eyes reflect the value of who you are. You can always rely on me to give you the best of who I am.”

As a base, a father is always accessible relationally. Our behaviors, choices and lifestyle, no matter how negative, cannot destroy the bond between us and our father.

A father is also responsive. He listens to others and communicates his own perspective in order to strengthen his relationships. He tunes in to what others are trying to say and perceives verbal and non-verbal messages accurately.

Lastly, a father is engaged. He deliberately attempts to understand and respect the perspectives of other people. He willingly sacrifices himself in order to help others succeed.

A father meets us where we are at. A secure relationship with an accessible, responsive and engaged father is a miraculous advantage in having a fulfilling and meaningful life. “A.R.E. you there for me?” we ask. He loudly replies, “You bet I am!” May we be that base that our children can rely on. Thank you, God, for being our ultimate Father. It is because of your presence and love that fatherhood can be positively expressed among us (1 John 4:19).

 

Dr. Roy Smith has worked for over 35 years as a psychologist/counselor to men and their families. He is an ordained minister, founder of Pennsylvania Counseling Services (www.pacounseling.com) and author of Knights of the 21st Century (www.K21.men), a men’s ministry. Through K21, Roy has written several books and DVD programs in the area of men’s issues and has consulted on two women’s curriculum series (www.realwomen21.com). He also founded Servant’s Oasis, a non-profit that provides books and DVD resources to men and women in prisons (www.servantsoasis.org). Roy has a M.Div. and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. He is married to Jan, also a psychologist, who has been supportive though the process of creating K21. They have two children and one grandson.

My Stuff Stays Here! When to Let Your Child Bring Possessions to the Other Home

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. —Colossians 3:21

It can be frustrating as a single parent to use your limited resources to provide for your child’s needs—only to have certain items go over to the other parent’s house and possibly not be returned. Where do you draw the line without causing your child to feel the pressures of living in two homes? How do you guard their heart and establish boundaries in protecting what you buy them? Let’s take a little deeper look together.

What the child sees

Don’t forget—I have a divided heart now. I live between two completely different houses, rules, traditions and attitudes. Be patient with me when I forget things or need some time to adjust from house to house. Please buy me enough stuff that I don’t have to live out of a suitcase my whole life. If you want me to feel “at home” in both places, please set up a full home for me, even if I am only there a few days a month. Things like tooth brushes, shoes, clothes, my favorite cereal, and having cool décor in my room—these all help me feel welcomed and at home in both homes. Don’t compete or argue about these things, just help me not have to feel like a visitor when I am with either parent. Make it as easy on ME as possible! –Top 10 Things Kids Wished They Could Say to Their Divorced Parents, Tammy Daughtry, Co-Parenting International

I think the above paragraph sums it up quite well. Unfortunately, our children do feel torn at times—a one-home lifestyle isn’t their norm any more. With all the division already, is it fair for us to restrict anything that may make them feel a bit more stable? Maybe that stuffed animal or favorite shirt is one thing that helps keep their emotions in check—offering a bit of normalcy in their life. Let’s be sure to keep this in mind before the next time they ask to take something to the other home and before we say no.

What we see

Jesus tells a parable in Luke 18:10-14 about a Pharisee and tax collector. He describes the tax collector’s repentant heart and the Pharisee’s self-centeredness…the Pharisee using the word “I” 5 times! If we are not careful, we can fall into the same trap—putting all the focus on our own needs rather than our children’s.

Bitterness can cause blindness—at least it did for me. I was always caught up with what my daughter already had at her mother’s house, why did she need to take my stuff over there too? I mean, I was using my limited funds to buy stuff that I wanted to keep at my house and I wasn’t happy that my daughter wanted to take what I bought her out of the home that I pay for… (Get it?).

To be honest, I was worried about not having enough nice clothes or decent toys/activities at my home—which is a legitimate concern, but also needs to be handled delicately. One wrong word or action from a parent can really sink a child’s spirit for many years to come.

What you can do

Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, here are a few quick suggestions to help avoid conflict and keep your child’s heart guarded:

1. Ask the other parent to provide clothes for your child to go home in. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something that already belongs in the other home that your son or daughter can wear back, thus keeping your clothes at your house.

2. Give the other parent the benefit of the doubt. If something of yours goes home with your child, simply ask for it to be returned next time around. Use language such as, “I’m letting ____________ bring her pillow over, she wanted to hold on to it this week. Can you please ask her to bring it back next time I see her?” The point is to use wording that emphasizes it is for the child’s sake, not yours.

3. Set boundaries in your home and use age-appropriate language. In love, explain to your child that certain items need to stay at your home and tell them why. Take ownership of the situation and reassure them that though they live in two homes, they are equally loved.

4. Be prepared to lose a few things. It happens and it’s not the end of the world. We all lose possessions at times. Though it stinks when this happens, just remember: the most important things in life aren’t things. A parent’s top priority is investing in their child’s heart. Choose how you will react ahead of time if something does get lost and will you be more concerned about a lost item—or your child’s well-being?

5. Trust God will provide. The Bible says that the sun shines and the rain falls on both the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). Even if you try to do what is right and end up getting burnt in doing so, have faith that God sees your heart and obedience and that He will sustain all you need to be the best parent you can be.

 

As my friend Tammy Daughtry also says, “Think T.E.A.M.M.: The End Adult Matters Most!” In other words, our actions and words today will shape our children for tomorrow. What sort of adult do you want to influence your son or daughter to be? Twenty years from now, will they remember constant bickering over petty things—or a loving home where selfishness was replaced by selflessness, and they are that much better off because of it?

 

Matt Haviland is the founder and director of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry. For more information on starting a single dad group in your area, please visit www.afatherswalk.org

Standing in the Gap: The Value of Mentoring

 

In his book Good to Great in God’s Eyes, author and pastor Chip Ingram states, “A master’s ceiling can become his disciple’s floor if the disciple knows how to absorb the lessons of the master’s life.” In my own experience, I have witnessed countless times the significance and eternal impact that mentoring creates. There are literally MILLIONS of children (many right in our own neighborhoods) who do not receive any of the parental affirmation and protection they so desperately need to make it in today’s world.

As Christian parents, I believe it is our responsibility to seek out and build up today’s youth who may not have strong parental figures of their own (men mentoring boys, women with girls). Obviously mentoring begins at home with our own kids, but there is probably a child in need of a little (or a lot!) of guidance within your sphere of influence too. Please understand I am not challenging everyone reading this to jump into a full-time mentoring role, but even small amounts of encouragement and generosity can go a long way in a child’s life. If in fact you do find yourself being led to mentor a youth, here are a few quick points to help get you going:

Be Consistent

Almost without a doubt, a troubled youth has had more than one parent, family member, or friend bail on them in life. If you do decide to become a mentor, establishing a set day, time, and duration will bring a welcome change of consistency into his or her life.

Be Authentic

Don’t judge based on what their outside life may look like to us. There probably are many underlying issues such as being lied to, abused (in any form), or manipulated. We are all damaged individuals—the difference being as Christian adults we are now capable of trusting and turning it over to Christ. This may or may not be an option for your mentee, so keep that in mind.

Be Faithful

There is so much to be said for Christians who live their faith out on a daily basis. Stay true to that while mentoring too. Show the love of Jesus through your words and actions, and allow the Holy Spirit to direct the relationship. When we do, lives are impacted and generations are changed for God’s glory.

 

Moms and dads, who is the Lord leading you today to begin investing in as a mentor?

 

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’. –Matthew 25:40 (NKJV)

 

Matt Haviland is the founder and director of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry. More information at www.afatherswalk.org.

Facing the Blitz: Pass on a Blessing

Pass on a Blessing

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me.” –Jim Valvano

Game Plan: 

“To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God…as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline…He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus …our Savior…” –2 Tim 1:2-9 NIV

Time Out:

Think about the blessing you wished you’d gotten from your father or mother. Remember how God the Father said of Jesus, “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Who is God asking you to bless? A child or grandchild? Spouse? Someone without a parent in his or her life?

Pray about the persons you want to affirm and bless by asking for God’s very best in their heart and life.

“Think about the blessing you wished you’d gotten from your father or mother. Pray about a person you want to affirm and bless by asking for God’s very best in their heart and life.” –Jeff Kemp

Go Deep:

Talk to God about this. Do the following for the person you want to bless:

  • Write down one sentence about how you love and are pleased with him or her.
  • One sentence about their identity.
  • One sentence about their mission.
  • One sentence about God’s control and benevolence in their life.
  • Pray that blessing for them privately for a period.

Let God tell you when you should create a special time to bless them by putting your hand on them and praying the blessing out loud. Or, write it in a letter and send it to them.

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Dreaming Together: How to Develop Joint Marital Dreams

Before we can intelligently talk about developing joint marital dreams, we must first understand what we’re talking about. We all have dreams about matters important to us – our lives, our jobs, our accomplishments, our dream vacation spots, and of course, our marriages.

The fascinating part of this concept is that few of us ever vocalize most of our specific dreams. In fact, many of us have never consciously determined what many of these dreams are beyond a vague idea of success, competence, fame, fortune, happiness, fulfillment, and/or influence. Just because we haven’t consciously determined what most of these dreams look like, however, doesn’t mean that we don’t exert considerable influence on our mates to reach the ultimate achievement of our dreams.

For example, suppose a man’s fondest boyhood memories of time spent with his father involved time bonding together while working on and riding his dad’s motorcycle. As a result, one of his unspoken and unfocused dreams for his marriage might be to take biking trips with his wife across several states, camping out on the way, just enjoying nature and the love of his life. The woman he fell in love with and married thinks “roughing it” involves a week’s stay in a 5-star hotel in the Caribbean, and never on a motorcycle. On a level he may not even be aware of, he views his marriage as a disappointment and failure because they can never bond in a way that speaks volumes to him of happiness, intimacy, and mutual interest.

Because our marital dreams color our view of happiness and success – at least, in marriage – understanding what our marital dreams are and what they mean to us is essential to our feelings of a successful and fulfilling marriage. Understanding our own dreams for our marriages, however, is only the first of three vital steps.

The second step is to understand what the spouse’s dreams for the marriage are, and what those dreams mean to him or her. Finally, once you both understand each other’s dreams and the significance behind each one, each spouse must find a way to fulfill as many of the other’s marital dreams as possible. Obviously, the likelihood of some dreams being mutually exclusive with some dreams of the other is a real possibility. Consequently, not all dreams can be fulfilled.

When both spouses allow a give-and-take attitude to prevail so that some of both mate’s marital dreams are fulfilled, and what is not achievable stems from fulfilling an opposing marital dream of the other or some other reasonable factor (like insufficient time or resources), love, respect, and appreciation permeate a marriage.

When two mature people who love one another deeply follow this plan, they see many marital dreams for both fulfilled. Isn’t this what every married couple dreams of achieving?

– Family Dynamics Institute

 

Family Dynamics Institute collaborates with Churches, Companies, and Community Organizations to help them provide a Comprehensive Marriage Ministry to help married and engaged couples grow stronger at all ages and stages of marriage.

To Learn More, Contact Us At:

800-650-9995

Email Us:    info@FamilyDynamics.net

Websites:     www.FamilyDynamics.net

www.SaveMyMarriage.com

What Kids Learn From Their Dad

How well are you representing your heavenly Father? To your son? To your daughter? That is your priceless purpose.

Both the Scriptures and statistics clearly communicate that there is no more influential person in the life of a child than his or her father. Whereas moms are priceless, irreplaceable, and needed beyond measure, they were never designed to be men or to fill the role of a dad. When the Bible states that “the glory of children is their father” (Proverbs 17:6 NKJV), it is revealing an important dynamic of how God has wired the hearts and minds of children.

They learn their identity from you. When your kids are young, they don’t know who they are, what is right or wrong, or who God is. They don’t know how to live life. But kids naturally go to their dads for answers to their biggest questions: Who is God? Who am I? Am I loved? Am I a success? Do I have what it takes? What is my purpose in life? And if dads don’t teach their kids the truth about these things, then the world will teach them lies.

They learn their values from you. Kids watch their dads to find what’s important. It’s a dad’s job to keep his children from having to learn the lessons of life the hard way. A father’s wise words and actions constantly reinforce the higher priorities and deeper truths of life. So if he is not there–or if he’s there but not intentional in his training and leadership–his kids will be walking through their most important decisions without the one person who should be loving and leading them the most.

They learn their worth from you. When a child has a dad who says, “I love you, I’m proud of you, and I’m going to stand with you and always be there for you,” it changes the life of that child forever. Sons who have their dads in their lives do significantly better in school, have better social skills and self-esteem, and are more likely to say no to criminal behavior. Similarly, when a daughter looks into the mirror, she needs to hear her father’s voice in her heart reminding her that she is beautiful and loved. As a result, girls with strong dads are much more likely to feel secure–and are much less likely to have eating disorders and identity issues or to become sexually active in their teen years. But in too many families, this is not what’s happening.

We need to rediscover God’s original intention of what our homes are supposed to be like. Families should be havens of love and enjoyment. Homes should be places of peace and purpose. But great homes don’t just happen. They are gardens that need to be intentionally cultivated and guarded. A man must let truth, love, and wise discipline become constant ingredients to his fathering. He should carefully nurture his wife, his children, and his own attitude so that his home is a place where his marriage and the next generation can grow and thrive.

That’s why we need a game-changing Resolution.

 

Excerpt from The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick

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