Archive for June, 2009

Providence

Not too far from my home, here in the state of Georgia, is a beautiful canyon named Providence Canyon. The canyon is made up of several gorges that intersect, the deepest being about 150 feet. The canyon walls offer incredible views of soil layers colored in various reds, white, browns even black. The canyon is often called, by the locals, the Grand Canyon of Georgia.

DSC00389Having grown up in Arizona, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed when I first saw Providence Canyon because I expected something more vast. That being said, Providence Canyon offers a view that is hard to get in many parts of our great country.

What makes this such an awesome place is the history. Providence canyon is not the result of millions of years of erosion caused by a mighty river, it is not even the result of thousands of years of wind and rain erosion. Providence Canyon is just short of 200 years old.

Historical accounts indicate that the canyon began forming in the early 1800s as the result of poor soil-management practices. Most of the native forest had been cleared to allow for farming. Early-nineteenth-century farmers in this region took no measures to avoid soil erosion their attention being on farming the land. Small gullies formed and rapidly grew deeper by 1850 ditches three to five feet deep had been cut into the land, further concentrating runoff and increasing the rate of erosion. By the early 1900s, chasms had given way to gorges and homes and even the Providence Methodist church fell victim to the rampant erosion.DSC00390

By contrast, in 1947, Cason Jewell Callaway purchased a 13,000 acre cotton farm that had been farmed to the extent that it had been stripped of it’s nutrients. Through selective agriculture and environmental management practices the Callaway family turned what could have been an environmental disaster into one of the most beautiful places in the United States, Callaway Gardens.

The contrast of these two stories is interesting enough in itself. But as a father, they point to a lesson for all of us.

Every family, at some time, is subject to circumstances that leave us vacant and stripped of all apparent value. Our actions and those of others often begin to cause small rivulets in the fundamental fabric of what is our family. If left unchecked, these small rivulets become gauges that eventually become irrevocable gorges.

It is our responsibility as fathers to correct the damage caused by societal pressures and put down and feed the roots of strong family values. Teaching and modeling stong Christian ethics and honesty will nourish a healthy and growing family.

It is not providence when a child or a whole family fails. Providence is just the opposite. The American Heritage Dictionary defines providence as:

prov·i·dence (prv-dns, -dns) NOUN: 1. Care or preparation in advance; foresight. 2. Prudent management; economy. 3.The care, guardianship, and control exercised by a deity; divine direction: “Some sought the key to history in the working of divine providence” (William Ebenstein). 4. Providence God. (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.)

Like Cason Jewell Callaway, it is our providence to invest in what some would see as failure and turn it into something beautiful.

As fathers it is our calling, by a loving God, to use care, guardianship, and control to provide divine direction.

With His help we can not fail.

En Servicio Como Padre

Dave

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True Warriors Wear Pink

A few days ago, I happened to wear a very nice pink shirt to the office.  As I settled in to begin the day, a coworker walked past my office; “Good morning Dave” was his greeting, to which I gave an equally cheery retort.  “I takes a real man to wear pink”, were his next words.

 I’ve heard those words before, most often in jest, a kind of friendly banter between men that seems to happen any time more than one man is present in the same place.  This time, though, the words pricked something in me that caused me to ponder the concept as a father.

 It’s not one of those macho things.  I’ve long ago learned there is little in that mind set that really helps a father be what he is meant to be.  It caused me to ask myself; what sets you, as a father, apart from other men?

 It is often in man’s nature to be competitive.  Competition is valued in society today.  The more competitive you are the better the chance to be successful in business.  It is the mantra of the millennial man.  Competition often defines who the world thinks we are. 

 It can’t be all bad.  After all, it is that competitive spirit that helped early man feed and protect his family, but competition only takes a father so far.  At some point, the competition, if too strong, begins to tear away at the relationships with a father’s children and even with his spouse. 

 I have known several men in my years who could rightly be described as a giant.  These men were all over 6 feet 9 inches tall and were imposing in their very presence.  Some were fathers others were married, with no children, and all were noticed when the entered any room.  Today, I still have contact with a couple of them but it is not their sheer size that would cause me to set them apart as a father.  An equally large woman would likely be just as imposing but probably could not be described as a father.  I have known great fathers who were as short as these men were tall.

 My position in life has given me the opportunity to meet many men who have been very successful in their selected career field.  These men are entrusted with large sums of money or large segments of a company.  They have shown their ability to understand business and to encourage others to follow the mission they have conveyed.  They are eloquent in their speech and adept at getting their point across in a manner that is accepted by their most ardent opposition.  Some lead hundreds, others thousands as they guide their company along the road to success.  They are successful by almost any standard but that alone doesn’t set them apart as a father.

 Fatherhood is by all accounts a battle.  When their child is born, a father begins to fight against everything that would attempt to harm or negatively influence his child.  Sometimes the battles are perceived and some are misinterpreted but others are very real.

 The warrior father stands between every potential danger and at the same time guards the pathways to a child’s heart.  He alone holds a secret entrance that can only be unlocked by the keys of influence.  As a child watches their father the influence key unlocks understanding and a child grows in knowledge and stature.

 Clarence Budington Kelland, the American writer of the 20’s, most noted for his fiction and short stories published in magazines of the time, explained it best when he described his father with the following:

 “He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it”. Clarence Budington Kelland

 Proverbs 4:1-4 describes the power of influence the warrior father has with his child;

1.Listen, friends, to some fatherly advice; sit up and take notice so you’ll know how to live.2.I’m giving you good counsel; don’t let it go in one ear and out the other.3.When I was a boy at my father’s knee, the pride and joy of my mother,4.

He would sit me down and drill me: “Take this to heart. Do what I tell you – live!  (The message)

 The warrior father is differentiated by the tenacity by which he fights for what he loves and by the compassion which he metes upon his family.  The child of the warrior father learns by his example and in the long run recognizes that it really does take a real man to wear pink.

En servicio como padre

Dave

Honor your father

Ephesians 6:1-4

1 Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, 3 “so you will live well and have a long life.” 4 Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. (The Message)

As this Fathers Day approaches, I find myself reflecting on many things.  I think of my own father, how in many ways he was distant and a man of few words.  He was hard working and was skilled in so many areas I only wish, today, that I had spent more time with him learning from him.  He was not a perfect father, no, far from it.  He was quick to temper and often disciplined out of temper rather than strategic learning.  He was not formally educated and did not encourage me to excel in school.  He was not rich and was not a master of financial investment or budgetary restraint.

No, my father was not perfect, but he loved his children.  No matter how much discipline he meted out, or how much he would yell at us when we pushed his buttons, we all knew he loved us.

My most vivid memory of my father was on the day I was leaving to go into the military.  It was during the Vietnam War, and I left a perfectly good job to sign up for the military.  I was certain I would be drafted and would have little control over the branch of service I would enter, so I chose to get ahead of the game and enlist.  When I told my parents, they were livid.  They could not understand why I would enlist and not take my chances on the draft.  My mother was so mad she would not talk to me.  My father, trying to keep the peace in his own way, went to his work shed and made himself scarce.  I felt my whole family was against my decision.

Early the next morning I boarded a Greyhound bus headed for the big city of Phoenix Arizona where I would go through my final activities before heading off to basic training.  I said my goodbyes to my girlfriend the night before so I was by myself at 6:00 a.m. as I looked around the town of my birth for what could be the last time. 

From the bus window I scanned the small Arizona town until my eyes fell upon a man standing in the shadows.  It was my father.  I hurried off the bus like a salmon swimming up stream against the flow of others boarding the same bus.  As I walked up to my father, he extended a hand shake, his way of saying goodbye.  

He then reached in his pocket and pulled out a ten dollar bill.  It was all he ever carried.  To him it was his lifeline. He used that ten dollars to buy his tobacco and papers to roll his own cigarettes.  It was money he kept in case of an emergency.  With a family of eight kids and a janitors position, it was a lot of money to him.  With that he stuffed the bill in my pocked and said “thought you might need this”.

Those words though not eloquent or ground shaking in the least, were powerful to my soul.  My father took all he had and invested it in me, knowing I would not fail.  His few words were supportive in that he arose early and made his way to the bus stop in support of what I was doing.  In those few words he more than communicated his love to me.

I only saw my father a few times in the years that followed that night.  Life had taken me far from home and my visits were few and short.  One day as I arrived home from work my wife met me and said she just received a phone call that my father was gravely ill and the family was being called in to see him for the last time. 

I did not get home in time, my father died while I was in route, by train, to my home town.

Was my father a hero?  Was my father a master of fatherhood?  No, not in the eyes of any outsider who knew little of him.  But to me, and to my brothers and sisters, he was all of those things and more.  He was a man who sacrificed all to show his love.

En servicio como padre

Dave

Please take a moment to honor a father your have come to know as a hero.  Tell me and my readers about this father, in the comments below, and we will help you honor him this weekend in our prayers and thoughts.  Then email this link to others that they might also receive the promise of Ephesians 6:2.

https://dadtalk.wordpress.com

A Father’s Choice

Sometimes I wonder if I have made some really bad choices in my life.  I was raised to believe that we have to live the consequences of our choices, no matter if we were sorry for them or not.

Then I think about my own children.  If they make bad choices, I as a Father, want them to experience the weight of these choices only to the extent that they recognize their mistake and learn to avoid them in the future.  I could/would not stand aside and allow them to go under just to learn a lesson.  If I have the resources to help them out of their circumstance;  I will, and have had opportunity to, do so.

I don’t think I am better than God.  If I would use all my resources so would He.  His resources are limitless.  If God is for us, who can be against us?(Romans 8:31)

Our God will help us through anything we can face.  He will use all His resources and will restore all we have lost seven times over. (Proverbs 6:31) If only we will recognize the unique relationship He longs to have with us. Think of the relationship you strive to have with your children, why would He be any different in His desire for you?

Lord help us to know where to turn.  What is our next step?  Even when all doors seem to be closed, make it clear to us what we need to do or be looking for at this present time.  Amen

En Servicio Como Padre

Dave


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