A Prayer for Father’s Day

Father,

We come before You today humbled and in awe of Your grace and mercy. Lord we thank You for the way You have designed what a family is supposed to look like and the specific roles You have ordained to a mother and a father on how to lead their children. Yet Lord, through our sinful ways we have taken what You have made holy and created our own version of today’s families. Because of this our children are suffering. It is for the fathers, families, and children of our nation that we do pray today.

Lord, we pray specifically for fathers and fatherhood across our land. Your Word clearly instructs fathers to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. God, we thank You for the men who are leading according to Your statutes and the ones that are laying their lives down for Your purposes. We pray that You will continue to use these men to lead their families and others. We pray You will strengthen the fathers of our nation and that You will continue to empower churches, organizations, and individuals to invest in men and fatherhood across our land.   

God, we pray for single fathers, whether they are raising their children alone or in a co-parenting situation. We pray for strength, protection, wisdom, and discernment to help them through whatever trials they may be facing. Thank You Lord for these men and please guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, help meet all their needs, that they may experience Your peace that surpasses all comprehension.

Jesus, we pray for the dads out there who are being alienated from their children right now. We pray O Lord, that You would shield and shelter them from the pain and anger that may be rising in them; for You to strike down the barriers that are hindering these dads from seeing their children. God do not let this destroy them as men, fathers, or in their relationship with You. They need You in a mighty way and we pray You would show Yourself strong on their behalf and that You would reunite these families together.

Lord, we lift up the men right now that are not stepping up to the plate as fathers. We pray for these men to come to their knees and repent, turn from their wicked ways, seek You, and come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Father, we pray for their children and the moms who are parenting alone because of these men’s decisions. We pray You would step in as a father to the fatherless and a defender of widows in these situations, that their story would be another testimony that nothing is too hard for You.

Finally, Father we lift up the men and women that are on the front lines in the battle for fatherhood and the war against fatherlessness. God, You clearly put leaders in all positions of influence. We pray for everything from the right funding for the programs to continue to godly throughout. We pray for a revival of manhood and for fathers to lead their families by beginning each day on their knees. That You will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. As our Creator, Savior, and heavenly Father, we believe that this will bear eternal fruit—that generational curses will become generational blessings, restoring our families back to the way that You intended.

We come into agreement as we read and speak this prayer out loud that our world is desperate for earthly fathers to rise up to the challenge, that they need to follow You as their ultimate guide and example.

It is in the wonderful, precious, and matchless name of Jesus Christ that we pray, Amen. 

Faithful Fathering: Honor Your Father

The command is to: Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. – Exodus 20:12.

This is the commandment with a promise. It bridges the first commandments to the last; it bridges the spiritual relationship with God to the physical relationships with others; and it bridges faith from one generation to the next.

I encourage you to accept a 3-point challenge to Honor Your Father:

  • First, make time to meet with your dad. Do something he enjoys but make sure the time incorporates discussion around what life experiences shaped him as a father and the challenges he faced “being Dad” when you were a kid. (If your dad has passed or is not accessible, meet with another man in the church close to the age of your father or a younger dad that could be a son and have the same generational discussion.)

 

  • Secondly, write a letter of thanks to your dad citing a specific experience or two growing up. It can be as simple as a “Thanks for bringing me into this world” or as comprehensive as a tribute to your dad that acknowledges time committed through your childhood years and the support provided. If you are convicted of taking him for granted or of passing judgment on him due to perceived shortfalls acknowledge that, confess and ask for forgiveness. Keep the focus on honoring your father with full respect for the life journey that shaped his perspective on fathering. Present the letter to your dad and read it to him. (If your dad has passed or is not accessible, read the letter to your kids and include a story about your dad.)

 

  • Finally, commit to grow as a father – Seek out resources and training opportunities that will encourage & equip you as a father. One easy and accessible option is the Dads Becoming Heroes study that can be completed on your own or in a small group. This study can be downloaded as a .pdf file from http://www.faithfulfathering.org/educate.

 

Accept the challenge to Honor Your Father today and commit to becoming the father God calls you to be, the father the next generation needs.

A faithful father honors his father and his mother.

 

BHG, Rick Wertz

281.491.DADS(3237)

faithfulfathering.org

Prioritize physical presence

   Be engaged emotionally, and

      Lead spiritually by example.

Wash Their Feet

 

…He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciple’s feet… -John 13:5 (NKJV)

You’ve probably heard the statistic at some point that an alarmingly high number (80-90%) of children raised in a Christian home will leave the faith after graduation. Though there is a long and quite in-depth list of the many reasons why, the two that have always stuck out to me the most are: 1.) Children are never taught to own their faith; and 2.) they don’t see their parents living it out.

Men, this should be a huge concern to us! Without taking away from a mother’s irreplaceable role in a child’s upbringing, multiple studies have shown that a father is one of the primary influencers in his children’s faith. Going back to the two points listed above begs the question: Men, are you teaching your children to own their own faith—and are they seeing you genuinely living yours out?

 

And supper being ended…Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands…rose from supper, and laid aside His garments, took a towel, and girded Himself. -John 13:2-4

 

When we look at the full story of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet, what do you see and feel? Is this a favorite Bible story of yours, perhaps you have been the recipient of someone washing your feet at some time (or vice versa)? Or, do you see the agape love Christ is expressing to His friends, the fact He is giving us a new commandment (v 34), and setting an example for the way we should love others? Can you feel the love, intimacy, and devotion He is displaying? Perhaps not, even Peter didn’t pick up on it at the time either. Still, pursuing a relationship like this with Jesus should be a continual effort of ours.

 

Passing on the Heritage

I don’t read or watch the news any more, seriously. All I must do is flip on the TV or open my phone and even the highest of spirits can be dampened in an instant. Politics. Scandals. Murder. This doesn’t mean I am completely oblivious to the world, quite the opposite; but if the Church is going to stand as the primary response to the world’s chaos, we need to be equipped with solid and loving information. That is where our own personal quiet time, Bible study, and extra study on various topics comes in. Are you prepared to give your children a convincing answer on how science actually favors God’s existence rather than denies it? What about standing firm on the big issues such as abortion, marriage, and gun control? More so, how do you respond to teaching your children about other faiths and religions?

I’m not throwing all of this at you to convict you—but to alert you that these are some of the questions and reasons our sons and daughters are walking away from the faith. We need to be prepared to help them understand and answer what God has to say on these matters. Yes, we are all seemingly beyond busy, but this has to take precedence. And for the record, I am still a student in training here too. Carve time out to learn more and respond in love—but not at the expense of your precious time with your children. Beware of falling into legalism too.

 

Get on Your Knees

Literally and figuratively. Pray every day with and for your children. Pray for their mom, stepdad, teachers, and everyone else that has influence in their lives. Let your heart be shaped and molded by Christ’s love for you.

 

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” …So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” -John 13:7, 12-15

 

This week I had the amazing privilege of washing my wife’s and daughter’s feet after dinner. It was Maundy Thursday, and this is the passage I chose for our post-dinner reading. I have been made clean by the blood of Christ and this was my commitment to let these women whom I love with my whole heart know that I will continually be there to love, serve, and lay my life down for them. So dads, wash your children’s feet. In an age-appropriate way, explain to them the significance of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Pray for them as you wash their feet, let them feel your hands and hear your words. And, do all you can to continually live in this feet washing mode. Set the bar for them on what a follower of Christ looks like—give them that example they can follow for the rest of their lives.

 

Matt Haviland is the founder and director of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry. For more information, please visit www.afatherswalk.org.

 

Messages on Mirrors: Fathers to Daughters

I forget what age I was when I heard my first nursery rhyme, but there is one in particular that is burrowed deep into my memory bank like a steel nail into softened wood: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”

This quote, as you probably remember, comes from the fairy tale Snow White. Every day Snow White’s stepmother would ask the mirror this infamous question. And though at first glance it might seem like a benign inquiry, I believe it powerfully illustrates the way a woman often determines whether or not she feels beautiful or adequate. She tends toward asking this power-packed question of inanimate objects, as if they were the judge and jury, be it a mirror on the wall or the number on a scale or the size marked on the back of her jeans. No human interaction necessary.

Even more concerning is the way this story demonstrates how easily an influential woman (the queen) gives away her own opinion and succumbs to feedback from a mirror over that of herself or another human being with whom she has a positive connection. In modern terminology, this translates to a woman “listening” to the definitive messages from magazines, television, and movies (a.k.a. mainstream culture) as the ultimate determiner of beauty. Inanimate objects are at the helm once again, not so different from the fairy tale your daughter may have once heard as a little girl.

The truth is your daughter is asking the same question every single day of her life: Am I beautiful? She longs to be told she is beautiful, and she will keep asking and looking until someone tells her that she is.

She needs you, dad, to answer her question. If she doesn’t hear it from you, she will find another “mirror” on another wall who will tell her that she is beautiful. Sadly, some of those mirrors have a hidden agenda, and will express what she wants to hear in order to get or take something from her.

Include your observations about her outer and her inner beauty. Think of them as two sides of the same coin, adding value while serving as complimentary counterparts. She needs to hear you address the entirety of how you see her.

What about her eyes are breathtaking? What about the way she did her make-up today is pretty? What about the color she is wearing looks stunning on her? What about her personality is creatively being expressed in her outfit or activities today? What about her character was reflected by her positive response to meeting someone’s need?

 

Here’s your practical battle plan:

Write messages with erasable marker directly onto her mirrors (in her bathroom or bedroom, or on the rearview or overhead mirror in her car), or on sticky notes that you attach to any or all of her mirrors, with truth about her from your point of view.

And if using the word “beautiful” is new or uncomfortable for you, try writing it to her first until it becomes a part of your vocabulary.

Dad, stand up as a warrior and fight for your daughter. It’s brutal out there and she needs you to do battle for her so she can see and believe the positive truth about herself.

(You can watch a video of a couple dads who used Michelle’s wisdom and the effect it had on their children here.)

 

Dr. Michelle Watson has a clinical counseling practice in Portland, Oregon and has served in that role for the past 18 years. She is 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 has recently released her first book entitled, 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 for more information and to sign up for her weekly Dad-Daughter Friday blogs where she provides practical tools so that every dad in America can become the action hero they want to be and their daughters need them to be. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook at www.facebook.com/drmichellewatson and Twitter @mwatsonphd.

Keeping Up With The ________

Keeping up with the Jones’ – that common saying that basically means, comparing ourselves to some other family, group, person and trying to live up to what we believe they are, or have, that we do not…but wish we did.

There was a time when this would occur within the confines of our neighborhoods where the casual peek over the fence, or happenstance glance at the new car driving up the road. We’d see it or experience it on a small scale, perhaps with just a few people who were near to us.

Now, in this time, the Jones’ and the rest of the world are at our fingertips, sharing their lives, their high points, on every screen in front of us through social media.   And if we aren’t careful we can find ourselves perpetually wishing we have or are what someone else is sharing.

Let me be clear: I am not anti-social media, nor do I think that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are necessarily bad things. They are and can be amazing tools and resources that connect all of us in a better way reaching across, in a limitless way, the globe. Just like any good tool, it can also be used in the wrong way and cause damage.

The power and strength of connection and re-connection that these mediums provide is amazing and at times overwhelming. And we must remember that most people, most of the time, aren’t posting their worst moments …but usually only their best.

I often wonder when watching people view their social media pages on their phones what is going through their minds.  Is it simply the enjoyment of sharing moments with their friends and loved ones that they otherwise may not have been aware of? Or, are they experiencing feelings of jealousy and self-doubt that can come with comparing their circumstances with those they are viewing?

We all compare ourselves at some point or another to someone and gauge How am I doing? in comparison to someone or some standard we have set for ourselves.  This can be a healthy approach to keep up with how you may be progressing in a certain area of your life that you have chosen to work on improving.  However, the pitfall exists where you shift from providing yourself with a healthy mile stone or measuring stick to wishing your situation was like someone else’s.

When viewing social media, if you find yourself feeling jealous, envious, or even just wishing that was yours…stop, put it away, and take in what you do have and what you are blessed with.

Enjoy and celebrate with what others share—but don’t feel the need to keep up with the whoever’s or whatever’s.

Just keep up with yourself and the blessings you have.

 

–Wade Jackson

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.

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Sex and Spirituality

One of the reasons I was nervous on our first date (other than because my surfboard hit my date on her head, splitting it open with blood dripping in the ocean) is that I always believed that when two people with similar kingdom goals marry, great things can happen. Fast forward a year after the infamous smack on the head, and I knew there could be great adventures ahead of us. I was nervous because of the potential we had. I was nervous because I knew God’s plan for sexual faithfulness—but wasn’t sure I would be able to live it out, giving into my selfish desires.

What’s fascinating is God’s view of sex communicated to the Hebrews in the book of Genesis:

The Hebrew World

At creation God entrusted this newly created paradise to Adam saying, “Take care of it.” One of Adam’s first tasks was the naming of the animals, and he gave them names as he saw fit. Each had a mate. Each had someone—a companion. All seemed well, but there was a problem in paradise.

Adam was alone.

Even though he had God and all the animals, Adam wanted a partner—another like him. To relieve this loneliness, God created another like him—Eve. Now in this paradise, we have partners, Adam and Eve, who work together to tend to the land, care for the animals, and who enjoy one another in every way. They were able to look at one another in full vulnerability and not feel any insecurities or shame. It was God, Adam, and Eve living in the Garden of Eden—a picture of perfect harmony, perfect intimacy, and perfect unity.

Sadly, it would not last long. As the biblical account goes—Adam and Eve ate from the fruit of the tree and everything changed (Gen 3).

Adam and Eve no longer had the same intimate relationship. They felt shame, insecurities, and deceit. They realized they were naked and ran and covered themselves, hid from God, and blamed one another for what happened. Their intimate bond of unity, of oneness, had been shattered. Now their world became what God had never intended.

 

 This Really is our Story

The story of Adam and Eve is our story. It is the story of what we all yearn for: a deep, intimate, meaningful, trusting relationship with a partner—oneness. This is how God created us. This is his desire for us as well. The question is this, however: Is it possible for us to get back to that oneness?

In Genesis 2:24–25, the dynamics of marriage are introduced, noting that a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, that the two would become “one flesh.” The word, “one” is the Hebrew word echad. Echad carries the idea of one in the midst of unity. The Hebrew word for “flesh” is basar and it can mean “flesh” or “body.” When these two words are combined, it paints the picture of this couple being united at the deepest level, not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. Husband and wife, one made from the elements of dirt, the other taken from a rib, now enjoy God’s gift of sex—a physical unity that envisions the becoming of one flesh once again—emotionally and spiritually. As Adam and Eve came from one body so now they would, once again, become one.

During sex, two beings—two souls—are uniting, becoming one. There is an intimacy and deepness unlike any other act. It is interesting that the writer of Genesis 2 connects this sense of oneness—echad-ness—within the dynamics of marriage. It is as if to communicate that this bond is so powerful, so transcending, that marriage is the only force that can contain it.  Marriage was sacred.

 

It Makes Sense Why I Was Nervous

Fast forward from the first date to the wedding altar: I was nervous just like at the first date because of what was to come. We waited for sex and cutting the bracelet I had on my wrist for 15 years that communicated I waited for her. I was nervous because of the gift of echad basar. Consummating our marriage was not only a physical union—but an emotional and spiritual union as well. That’s powerful! That is something to be nervous about—but nervous in a good, exciting way.

I believe God wants us to live a fulfilled life—and that’s the natural by-product of when we are in his will.

This gift of sex is not a bad act—rather it is to be celebrated and praised. Sex becomes harmful when used outside of what God intended.

Reflecting on our first date and our wedding day and seeing the interconnectedness of creation, it makes more sense now as to why I was so nervous. God has created us to live and honor Him—and the one who could mess that up was me.

The beauty of God is that even if we go against what he designed—there is redemption. Just like God brings us eternal redemption through the cross—he offers us relational redemption. Our shortcomings are forgiven when we seek his forgiveness. We are loved and cherished, and he has a life of fulfillment set before us. Let’s choose the road less traveled, and not give into our selfish urges and see what God will do in and through us.

 

After thirteen years as a local pastor, Bryan A. Sands has served as the Director of Campus Ministries at Hope International University in Fullerton, CA since 2011. His book, Everyone Loves Sex: So Why Wait? (A Discussion in Sexual Faithfulness) released not only in the States but also in Australia. You can learn more about the book at EveryoneLovesSex.org. Bryan, his wife, Caz, and two daughters live in California.

Read and Lead

A Reminder from Joshua 1

Sometimes God must tell me something more than once. Does that ever happen to you? Sometimes it seems that ever devotion I read, every sermon I hear, and every Bible study I attend has the same words, telling me the same truth over and over, driving the message into my thick skull. God knows I learn through repetition, I guess!

Joshua must have been a bit hard-headed too. The Lord told him the same thing three times in nine verses! “Be strong and courageous” (vv. 6,9). “Be strong and very courageous” (v. 7). Joshua was about to assume the role as leader of the Israelites, a daunting task for sure. God assured Joshua of His presence, His power, and His protection. “I will never leave you,” He said in verse 5. And because of that promise, Joshua could go in confidence and boldness, because “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (v. 9).

In what areas of life do you need courage? What is God calling you to do in His name? Be bold. Be tenacious. Be resolute. God is with you.

 

Brenda Harris is the prayer coordinator for Kendrick Brothers Productions.

 

A Letter to the Dad Who Needs to Step Up

Hey Brother,

I know we don’t know each other, but I feel this had to be written. I also don’t know how you have come to read this—perhaps it was forwarded on to you or you stumbled upon it by accident. Either way, I think you should first know a few things about me:

I grew up in a single parent home and was not raised with a strong father figure, our relationship never went much past surface level and he was more of a playmate than a father.

I was a single father for over 9 years. I share custody of my daughter with her mother, to whom I was never married.

By the time my daughter was born, I had done about everything I could to screw up my life. I suffered for over ten years from drug and alcohol addiction—I wasn’t cut out to be a dad, not in the least.

I am a Christian. Before I lose you—read on! Once my daughter was born I knew something had to change. I wanted to be a great dad, better than what I had been raised with. I also knew that was not possible if I continued down the path I was on. I had been going to church on and off for about 6 years by this point; and when my daughter was about 8 months old, I surrendered my life to Jesus.

So why am I writing this to you? I now run a ministry for single fathers and I work with some amazing dads, many of whom are being shut out of their children’s lives or struggle to make ends meet. On the flip side, I talk with countless single moms who only wish their children’s dad would be a part of the kid’s lives—men who show no intention of doing so. And for that my heart breaks. I have been given a love for my daughter that I never knew existed before she was born. Almost twelve years later, her birth continues to be one of the most significant moments in my life and I cannot imagine my life without her. I simply cannot understand why any father would deny the same in his own life.

Dad, I realize I don’t know your situation, but I will tell you that if you are not stepping up to the plate (physically, financially, emotionally) as a father, you are missing out on more than you can ever know. The Bible tells us that children are a gift from the Lord. Maybe you didn’t have the best representation of a father in your life either, I get it. But that’s no reason to back down now! Yes, it may be painful along the way, but I will assure you the pros overwhelmingly outweigh the cons. All it takes is a simple love note from your little girl or a hug and a loving word from your son to melt even the most hardened of us men. If this is reaching you, even in the least, please allow me to share a few quick tips to help you along the way:

 

  1. Come clean

You may not be a Christian, and perhaps you aren’t sold on this whole religion thing, but I will assure you there is nothing in this world that can ever compare to God’s love and mercy. If he can do a 180 with someone like me, he can with anyone! First, we need to recognize that we are sinful individuals, ask for his forgiveness, and ask Jesus to be the Lord of our lives (see John 3:16 and Romans 10:9-10).

Next, we need to ask for forgiveness to those we have hurt, specifically our children’s mother and our kids themselves. This will probably be one of the biggest ego checks you will ever face, and may not be received well, but it needs to be done nonetheless. We simply cannot move forward until we wipe the slate clean.

 

  1. Lose the friends that are bringing you down

I know all the slang: “Bros before ****”, “I got 99 problems…”, “Homeys for life”, etc… And I completely understand the weight many of these friends carry in our lives. However, once we became a father, our children superseded all other friendships. When I began to walk away from the drug scene one of my good friends at the time said, “So what? We’re not friends anymore?” My response was, “You’ll always be my boy, but if you’re going to continue doing what you’re doing, I can’t be a part of it.” The first six months of my daughter’s life I slashed over 90% of my social circle. Yes, it was extremely difficult, but these were individuals who were dragging me down. In replacement, I sought out men who would build me up. Today, I am so blessed to have mentors, a best friend, and other people who challenge me to be the man I was created to be. Good or bad, as fathers we set the tone for our kids. What can you do today to be the leader they so desperately need?

 

  1. Just Do It

The longer we wait to do something the less likely we are to do it. I challenge you to begin to make the necessary moves to begin the healing process in you and your children’s relationship. Surround yourself with a strong and healthy support system—such as a church community and a mentor. Every moment you hesitate you lose irreplaceable and invaluable moments with your son or daughter—every day you invest in them you experience the unbelievable gift we have been so graciously blessed with: Fatherhood.

 

I’m pulling for you, Dad!

In Christ,

Matt

 

Matt Haviland is the founder and director of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry. He is an ordinary guy who chases an extraordinary God. For more information, please visit www.afatherswalk.org.

Christmas, Single Parents, and Immanuel

Christmas. Many of us think of it as a time of celebration of our Lord’s birth; a time of joy, creating and reliving childhood memories; music, family, food, and holiday cheer. This is the one season that seems almost magical- the most wonderful time of the year. For a single parent, however, this can also be one of the most difficult times to endure.

While everyone else is posting pictures on social media and sharing tales of their family gatherings, celebrating all their children’s funny antics and what their spouse did to surprise them with the perfect gift, single parents often must rejoice with those who rejoice, all while covering up the pain of loss and loneliness in their own lives. They can feel forgotten or disregarded. I’ve been there, and in many ways, I still hurt during the holidays too. But rather than taking on a spirit of defeat, let’s choose this year to celebrate Immanuel, God with us.

 

We can know Jesus is with us…

  • When there is an empty chair at the table because this is your first year as a single parent, He is God with us.
  • When we don’t have our children on Christmas Day because they are at the other parent’s house, He is God with us.
  • When everything seems to be caving in financially, and you can barely afford presents for your children, let alone anyone else, He is God with us.
  • When we are choking back the tears because the pain and shame seems too much to bear, He is God with us.
  • When we feel like everything around us is crumbling, including our faith, and no one even seems to notice, He is God with us.

 

The greatest gift of all…

Even if we relate to any of the examples above, we still have a GREATER reason to celebrate because of Jesus this year: He IS God with us! He is the perfect gift, buying us back into relationship with our heavenly Father. He fills the void no one else can, reminds us that we are on a continual journey with Him, and never leaves us, even when we wander. He fills in all our tangible needs, calms our hurts, and fills us with a peace this world will never provide. The reason Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, is because He created us, has been where we are, and has cleared the path for us to be assured that He is with us—always.

 

Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. –Luke 2:10-11 (NASB)

 

Single parents, will you celebrate the holidays with joy this year, knowing that in all circumstances God is with us?

 

Written by Matt Haviland of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry. For more information, please visit www.afatherswalk.org.