Archive for March, 2007

The Words of a Father

I was thinking, If God came to me and said “you can go back to the beginning and change one thing you did as a Father”, what would it be?  As I pondered this thought, I became aware of the simple fact that I made so many mistakes it is embarrassing.  All the promises made but not fulfilled, all the financial decisions, all the school work mistakes, all the lack of support, what would I choose?

Words,….. the single most powerful thing in the world.  I would change my words.

Words are so powerful yet so illusory.  We throw them out with such wild abandon.  We aim them at whom we please and all too often we take no thought for their impact or the destruction left behind.

A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child.                

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882)

As Fathers we need to tame our tongues.  Are we not quick to criticize our children when they are not living up to our expectations?  Do we not brand them, with our tongues in our anger?  Do we not question their stature and verbally push them down to make us feel strong?

I know most Fathers don’t say things with purposeful intent.  It is as we have learned.  We must make a conscious effort to guard our words. Proverbs 21:23 says, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from trouble”.  The trouble doesn’t end with a Father.  It carries on as a generational curse from child to child, and insidious intruder in the lives of those who had nothing to do with the original encounter generations earlier.

Fathers, it is our responsibility to guard our tongues.  Once a word is out of your mouth, it can’t be taken back.  The damage is done and only the love of Christ can heal the scars it leaves behind.

Who among us could stand if our Heavenly Father spoke our own words back into our lives?  I fear it would be more than we could stand.  Are we not made in His image?  If we are, we need to use the same restraint we have come to expect from our own Father in Heaven.

En servicio como padre

Dave

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Breaking the Cycle of a Wounded Heart

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.  Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil.  For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.Psalm 37: 7-9 It seems the news lately has been covered with scenes of extreme anger.  It appears there has been an unprecedented increase in anger and perversion directed to the children in the last few years.  School shootings, child abuse, teacher sexual abuse of students, pedophiles, child abductions, child murders, and the list goes on and on. 

I watched in total disbelief as fathers attacked coaches and referees at a youth soccer game.  Then later watched as a father attacked a player from an opposing youth football team.  What were they thinking?  What could drive, otherwise sane, fathers to act so outrageous? As we look into most of these incidents there is an often unsaid but very real connection to fatherhood.  Many if not all were wounded by their fathers at a young age or were wounded by the fact they were missing a strong father image at home.  That “wounding” has a profound effect on our heart and everything we do.  John Eldridge, in his many books calls it a “Heart of Stone”.  As I review these many acts, I see the heart of stone and its extreme effects on our children.   

Fathers, if we have any hope of stemming the ever growing tide of angry actions, we must accept the grace of the Cross of Christ and do as the Psalmist says;  We must ‘Refrain from anger and turn from wrath”.  This takes a conscious effort on our part.  It is hard work.  It is not for the weak.  If you are not up to the challenge, please refrain from having children.  There is enough damage being done without adding further to the problem.  If you already have children, you have no choice, you are already on the journey and the future of your children depends on your courage. Eldridge, in his book Ransomed Heart, offers one part of the answer.  It assumes you have accepted the salvation of Christ, and as a saved father: 

“You’ve been far more than forgiven. God has removed your heart of stone. You’ve been delivered of what held you back from what you were meant to be. You’ve been rescued from the part of you that sabotages even your best intentions. Your heart has been circumcised to God. Your heart has been set free.”     Unfortunately, many of us just don’t fully understand what should be obvious.  We are still given to the voices of the past that tell us we are not worthy; we will never amount to anything, and many others. We need to accept God’s full forgiveness and extend the same to our children and to others in society.  We are an example to our children and the cycle can be broken.  It all begins with taking the Heart of Christ and extending it to others.

What a Short Time We Live

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love                                                                                                Ephesians 4:2 

What a short time we live on this earth.  Recently I was helping my oldest son (Dave, not a junior just a younger) power wash his home.  It seems like such a short time ago he was obsessed with the impulse sprinklers so prevalent in the area of
Southeast New Mexico, where we lived at the time.  We couldn’t drive down the road, take a walk in the neighborhood, or even pass one of the cemeteries in town that he would begin to squeal “Chit-Chit” (that is what he called impulse sprinklers due to their distinctive sound).  Often we would stop and watch as he studied them intently.

As a father, I would try to patiently stand and allow his interest to run its course and we could move on down the road.  He was a child with endless energy and a very short attention span.  Today he would be diagnosed as ADHD, back then they just said he was “ALL BOY”.  He was extremely adept at moving from one activity to another without even dropping a syllable of the seeming endless conversation.  So much so my father, Paul, once asked me where to turn him off.  To which I could only respond, “If I only knew… if I only knew”.  The rare exception, though, was the infamous Chit-Chit.  He could stand for hours perfectly still and not say a word mesmerized by the simplest of machines. 

Back then we spent hours watching the Chit-Chit, or playing like we were Chit-Chits on the living room floor, or setting up the Chit-Chit in our own yard.  As I look back now, how is it that life then, now seems so simple.  Today we both go our separate ways to work, we rush home and get into our own after work activities. 

We live about an hours drive from each other, and we see each other all too occasionally.  Some times we ask each other for help doing something we could easily do all by ourselves just so we make time to see each other.

Dave is a lot less hyper these days.  He doesn’t jump from one activity to another as adeptly, and he takes a breath from one conversation to another.  In fact, sometimes we don’t talk at all.  At those times we just contemplate the activity before us and listen to the faint sound in the back recesses of our memory.  The distinctive sound of the New Mexico Chit-Chit.

En servicio como padre

Dave

The Maiden Voyage

I want to welcome you to the maiden voyage of Dad Talk.  Having been a father for over 35 years, and counting, I have come to the conclusion that there is still much to be learned about being a father. 

My experience raising four children (two biological, and two adopted), interspersed with opening our home to some 32 foster children and now two grand children has earned my wife and me some interesting insights.  People have called me, saint, sinner, fool, idiot, crazy, among many other descriptors.  You can call me what you will, but you can not take away the times, both good and otherwise, my wife and I have had as parents over the past three and a half decades.

You will probably agree there are many ways a father can be described, some good and some bad.  I have, at times, been guilty of some really stupid actions, and have also stumbled upon some real gems of fatherhood, all of which were learning experiences.  All in all, I hope my journey through fatherhood will still find me on the positive side of the scorecard when my children are asked.  In the end, the legacy I leave behind will be judged by those closest to me and by the God that I serve.

I hope you can join me as often as possible.  I plan to share the experiences of my life as a father and as a son to a father.  Hopefully, my life lessons will help you avoid some of the pitfalls of fatherhood that are so painful to endure.  Maybe some of the funny or touching moments will bring you a smile when one is sorely needed to continue your voyage through fatherhood.

Remember you are not on this trip alone.  If nothing else, I am here.  I will be listening to those of you who are brave enough to share, and will be listening to the spirit within for those of you who for some reason will not choose to be heard.  In any case, I think we can all grow together for as long as this time endures.

I want to leave you with a definition of a Dad, I ran across in my readings.

What is a Dad?

A dad is a mender of toys, A leader of boys. He’s a changer of fuses, A healer of bruises He’s a mover of couches, A soother of ouches. He’s a pounder of nails, A teller of tales. He’s a dryer of dishes, A fulfiller of wishes.  Bless him, O Lord. – Jo Ann Heidbreder

If we can only be identified with some of these descriptors, we will be well on our way to building that legacy we all so desperately need to leave behind.

 

En servicio como padre

Dave


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