Thursday, September 21, 2017

I'm Sick of Not Getting What I Want

"That's not a grateful heart," I chastised my pre-teen daughter.

We had been on the road for 4 days (we moved this week from Florida to Colorado). She was complaining about a meal we ordered at a restaurant. But as the words left my mouth, I knew I was a hypocrite.

I ate crow and apologized, admitting I was the one who taught her this habit of complaining.

I'm not sure what my deal is lately, but I'm a jerk, and it's spreading to others. How often my mouth flies open, grumbling about poor customer service, someone's driving ability or how impolite someone was. It's become an awful habit that not only reveals how ungrateful I am but brings to light the deeper issue--pride. 

Do I think I'm better than the person or company I'm complaining about? Is it considered entitlement if I'm a paying customer and just want to get my money's worth? I'm sick of not getting what I want. I deserve to get what I want if I paid for it, right? 

But as I said earlier, that's not the issue here. The issue is sin in my heart.

Whether my complaint is valid or not, I'm teaching my kids to expect perfection from others and to grumble when things don't go their way.  

In the Bible, Paul tells us "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. " Philippians 2:14-16

These last few days I've been keenly aware of how grossly unthankful I am. I've been blaming it on the stress of a hurricane, selling a house and traveling across the country crammed into a minivan. Truth is, if my heart was right, my attitude and my tongue would show it.

When we are under pressure, whatever is in our heart comes out. Gratefulness or grumbling.
And apparently, it's catchy. 

As a parent, being a good example for our kids is hard, especially when I'm not letting the Holy Spirit lead me. 

How about you? Which of your shortcomings have you seen mirrored in your kids? What advice do you have for us guys?


Friday, September 1, 2017

Are You Terrified Over What's Happened Recently?

Men, if you find you are terrified of all the changes going on in your life, you may want to read this short Upper Room devotional by Tez, "Look for the Platypus."

Please click on the "Follow" button to the right before you leave. Thanks.

http://devotional.upperroom.org/devotionals/2017-09-01

Monday, August 21, 2017

Call for Guest Blogs: Adoption Stories

Do you have a story about adoption from a dad's perspective?

Did you adopt a child then later found yourself single?

Are you a single parent going through an adoption?

Did you adopt your spouse's child?

We want to post your unique story on EverySingleDad.com

Contact me today at tezwrites@gmail.com

Friday, August 18, 2017

How Am I Supposed to Reach the Mountain Top From Here?

Colorado is amazing!

Each time I visit, I can't seem to stop staring at the mountains. They really are majestic.

I'm especially impressed with the height of the Rockies. I'm sorry but the Appalachians can't hold a candle to these monster monoliths.

What was interesting however was how incredibly low I felt when looking up to the top of these masterpieces. The taller the mountain, the deeper the valley seemed.

I couldn't help but notice the parallel with our spiritual journey.

The taller and more impossibly out-of-reach the mountain top was, the deeper the valley seemed.

I've often faced a great blessing from God. Many times he's brought me to the foot of some incredible breakthrough. I look up and see what he's prepared for me and my heart leaps.

Then I look where I'm standing. In the valley. And the realization of the journey discourages me.

A little voice says "It's too far...too hard...why bother?"

But it's those sweat-producing, upward hikes that develop my character--my fortitude. Scripture encourages me to look up toward the sky and see what blessings I have waiting.

Actor, Will Smith says God's greatest blessings are on the other side of the things that scare us most.

In addition to my spiritual growth, the Rocky Mountains also remind me of parenting. I see what God has promised for my family if I lead them like I should.

But then I look around at my circumstances. I see things like my inabilities and short-comings as a dad. I see things like my kid's rebellious attitude or disobedience...or my own for that matter. Things like my lack of money to fund their school hobbies, their college, their wedding.

I start believing there is no way I'm going to be able to experience that mountain top blessing--not here. Not like this. It's too far away. It's unreachable.

I forget who gave me that mountain top to begin with. God placed it there as a promise. To give me vision, motivation, and the "stick-to-it-iveness" to keep climbing,

reaching,

believing.

Yes, we have valleys. Those make us strong. Without them, we would never build the muscle and stamina to experience a mountain top.

I just need to persevere.

We will experience that blessing God's promised, that vision, that dream he's given us. We gotta slip on those boots and grab that hiking stick and keep climbing.

When we get there--once we're on top of the world, I must remember the valleys and make an altar of remembrance there for all he's done for me.  How about you? When is it hardest to see the top of your mountain?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

We're Moving

You may or may not have heard I am moving to Colorado Springs with my family.

The Lord has opened doors for us to leave Florida and so we are looking for a place to live out west.

I'm very excited about finding new writer friends who love Jesus but we are sad to say goodbye to many friends and some family in FL.

I'm confident God is up to something in regards to my writing career but I have no idea what that looks like now. It's an adventure of discovery.

We plan to be moved by September if all goes well. More info later.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Independent Dependant


Today we celebrate Independence Day. Our freedom from England.

Last week I helped my 13-year old celebrate freedom by allowing her to walk home half a mile from the grocery store alone...for the first time.

Am I a little behind with that? Is 13 years old too long to be just now be allowing her to walk around alone in a city that has a high crime rate?

I actually walked with her the first time. I showed her all the places she should run along the path, to escape a kidnapper. I showed her which houses might be the safest just by looking at the outside of the home. (I know, you can't judge a book by it's cover, but you can tell a lot about someone by the outside of their house).

I advised her how to defend herself. And not to stick around long enough to use a defense because the best thing is to run away before an attacker can get close.

Then I let her walk home alone, without me. With her phone. She did fine. No one drugged her up and smuggled her to Cambodia to be a sex slave. At least not this week.

So what do you think? Am I too protective? Should I be more of a free-range parent? Am I making her paranoid? Will she go off to college not knowing how to handle her new-found freedom? My niece believes in having free-range kids and her kids are fine. Maybe I can learn something from her.

But I was a free range kid too...but it didn't go too well for me. Maybe that's why I'm unnecessarily cautious.

I have 4 kids....not one of them came with a manual. Does anyone have an extra manual they can send me?

Happy Fourth of July! Now I gotta go check on the kids.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How To Eliminate the Stress of Traveling Alone

Today we hear from guest writer Julie Morris as she shares how

single parents can make the most of traveling alone....

Photo via Pixabay by JanBaby

Taking a trip without the kids can be a great way to relax and have fun, but it can also be a stressful undertaking, especially if you already suffer from anxiety. The process of packing and traveling isn’t easy, long hours in the car can take a toll on your mood, and the thought of leaving your kids for any period of time could leave you feeling a little wary. However, there are some simple ways to make your next solo trip a little more stress-free while keeping it memorable; here are some of the best.

Manage your expectations
Try not to put so much pressure on this vacation. As understandable as it is to want a perfect trip, keep in mind it’s nearly impossible to capture perfection, especially when you’re in a foreign environment with lots of factors that are out of your control. Try to relax and enjoy all the small moments that make a trip good, like being able to have a quiet meal, escape the noise with a good book, or hearing the waves crash on the beach.

Pack smart
Although the kids aren’t joining you on the trip this time, don’t use it as an excuse to overpack. Keep a checklist of everything you pack so you can ensure it makes it to your destination and comes back home with you too. Keep an essentials bag within reach with items such as cell phone, money, snacks, travel documents, and any necessary medication. Since you are traveling alone, bring something to help you stay awake on the trip, like coffee or your favorite playlist, and don’t forget a car charger. Designate someone back home to check in with as you progress on your trip. Ask them to call you if they haven’t heard from you within a certain period of time.

Be flexible
It’s important to plan a little, but not so much that you can't breathe. Things rarely go as planned, so having a flexible schedule is key. Rather than trying to do as much as possible each day, come up with a list of things you would like to do and prioritize them. If you remember the goal is to relax and have fun while the kids are safe at home, you will be much happier.

You're traveling by yourself so you can decide what you want to do and when to do it. You can change your plans. You might not have a plan at all and that’s perfectly okay. A flexible mindset is key to thoroughly enjoying your trip.

Do some research

Before your trip, do some research on where you’re planning to go, to make sure you won’t run into any surprises once you get there. For instance, some museums and other public areas are only open certain days of the week, while some offer discounts if you visit during a particular time of day. Knowing ahead of time what spots to avoid and when to plan a visit will help keep stress levels down so you can enjoy yourself and visit the locations on your must-see list.

While you are doing your research, write down the telephone number and address for the hotel or room where you can be reached in case of an emergency. Solo travel requires extra safety precautions, so make sure you stay connected with a trusted family member or friend and check in often. Speaking of telephones, while this is a kid-free trip, it’s likely that you’ll want to check in at least once. However, if you will be traveling internationally, you could wind up with a hefty cell phone bill if you aren’t careful. Have the person your child will be staying with sign up for a free Skype account and set a time each day to call in using your hotel room’s WiFi. If you’d prefer to use your phone, consider purchasing an international calling plan from your carrier.

Leave home worry-free

You can’t have fun if you’re worried about what you’re leaving behind, so plan for your home while you’re planning for the trip. If you don’t have a security system, let your neighbors know you’ll be going out of town so they can be on the lookout for anything suspicious. If you have a pet, you’ll want to make sure they’re well taken care of, so consider a pet sitter. This way, you’ll have peace of mind while you’re away.

Just remember, your trip is supposed to be enjoyable. Don’t let unneeded stress ruin it for you. Use this time away to rest and recharge so you can return home ready to conquer the world as a single parent once more.


Julie Morris is a life and career coach who strives to help others live the best lives that they can. She believes she can relate to clients who feel run over by life because of her own experiences. She spent years in an unfulfilling career in finance before deciding to help people in other ways. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Should Christian Singles Shack Up?

So, you're a single Christian man and you've found a wonderful woman you want to be with every day. 

For the religiously devout, the answer to the question of whether to engage in premarital cohabitation is a simple “no.”

Anyone who knows their Bible, understands what scripture says about avoiding temptation. It's out of the question.

Perhaps you're thinking, "But it seems crazy that we're spending so much money on two separate places when we could cut our expenses in half by being roommates. What's the harm? We're just trying to save money--it's not like we're sleeping together...er...much."

Living together prior to marriage has increased 30% in just the last decade. That's no surprise to any of us, unless we've been living in an underground bunker. 

I'm increasingly troubled, not by the fact that non-believers are living together. That's to be expected. It's the Christian singles I hear about openly sharing apartments and sleeping together before holy matrimony. 

Of course, whether you want to admit it or not, living together before marriage naturally assumes that a couple is sleeping together and having sex before marriage — which is sin, according to God's word.

You might start out thinking it won't turn sexual. After all, you have two different bedrooms. And maybe you're strong and can keep yourself from falling into sin. But you're still "playing house" experiencing non-sexual intimacy by living side-by-side, cooking and eating together, cuddling up together in your PJs to watch television, discovering what gives each other gas and all your other bathroom habits. You're living like a married couple (with or without the benefits).

But I don't even want to get into the issue of how foolish it is for Christian singles of the opposite sex to share living spaces. I'll tackle that another time.

The point I want to make today is how damaging it is to shack up before marriage, regardless of whether or not you're sleeping together and regardless of whether you're a Christian or not. Let's take those equations out of it and see how it's still a foolish idea.

The following findings reveal how living together before marriage negatively affects the relationship of anyone who tries it, abstinent or otherwise.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF LIVING TOGETHER PRIOR TO MARRIAGE
Studies show that cohabitation prior to marriage is linked to lower marital happiness, stability and a 33% higher chance of divorce. If you're one of the many divorced fathers who visit this site, that means the chance of your next marriage ending in divorce is already pretty high, even if you commit to living apart before marriage and staying abstinent.

Furthermore, couples who have lived together before getting married have more fights, lower commitment, lower relationship quality, and are twice as likely to suggest divorce.

An even more significant factor is that they may have “settled” for each other — having slid into marriage rather than making a more deliberate decision to get hitched.

What does that mean?

Moving from dating to sleeping over, and from sleeping over to living together can be a gradual slope--one not marked by rings, ceremonies or even a meaningful discussion about it. It just kind of happens.

This lack of weighing pros and cons comes from viewing living together as a fairly low-risk proposition. "If things don’t work out, we’ll just break up and move out."

Easy enough. Sadly without the commitment and investment in a ring, a marriage license, and a ceremony, it's pretty easy to slide out of that relationship.

Those intentional decisions serve as a way to lock you in, therefore decreasing the likelihood to search for other options. Just like a down payment on a car, the greater the setup costs, the less likely we are to move to another situation when needed.

While moving in together might seem fun and economical, there are still investments. The setup costs are subtly woven in and often not easily recognized. You happily split the rent on a nice apartment, share the cable bill, pets and enjoy shopping for furniture together. All of these have an effect on how likely we are to leave.

Inertia sets in.

The result of prematurely “locking in” causes people to miss out on opportunities to date those with whom they might be a better fit. You could end up saying "I spent years living with an idiot who I wouldn’t have dated very long if we hadn't been living together."

Worse yet, couples who otherwise would not have tied the knot, end up married because of the inertia of cohabitation.

Whether a man and his lady friend are devout Christians saving themselves for marriage...or they couldn't care less about abstinence; founding a relationship on convenience and ambiguity can interfere with the process of finding the person God really wants them to have.

When men already have a woman cooking for them or fulfilling other emotional (if not physical) needs, why would they consider someone else?

The drive to look elsewhere is diminished. "I guess I'll marry this one, we're already sharing everything else, might as well make it official."

That's a real romantic motive. I'll bet she'll run to the altar when she hears that.

BOTTOM LINE: May we be men of integrity and honor. Not only abstaining from sex until marriage, but also refusing to compromise our testimony and reputation. Refuse to move in with anyone from the opposite sex until you can do so with your wife.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What scriptures come to mind that support your answer?

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Terrified I Might Be Throwing my Daughters to the Wolves

I just have to put this out there rather than carrying this burden in my head.

I'm afraid to put my girls in public school. 

Each year my wife and I (yes I'm happily remarried...15 years ago...catch up!) Anyway, my wife and I pray and see if God is giving us the grace to homeschool one more year.

It's never been a lifetime commitment. We decided before we ever started this journey that we'd take a year at a time. We didn't want to become legalistic about it. Some parents act like it's a biblical mandate that demands a conviction.

But enough about them. The deal is, my wife has reached her limit and needs a break. After all, it's mostly on her to school them since I'm at work all day. I only contribute with 1-2 subjects. Christine does most of the work and it's time for a change. We saw it coming.

Here's the hard part, if we do it now our daughters would both be going into public Middle School. Yikes...worst time to have them experience the world without us for 6 or more hours per day.

I've never been crazy about having some strangers (who may or may not have a Christian worldview) influence my children all day. I used to say it was ludicrous for parents to just follow society and enroll them....I think I actually used the word "stupid" at one point.

I know, forgive me. I can be so self-righteous sometimes.

Now I'm eating crow and I'm scared. What if they get sucked up into the wrong crowd? What if this messes up my sweet girls and they decide Christ isn't who they want to follow after all?

We have no guarantee our kids won't walk away from the Lord. 

After all, my two grown children from my previous marriage left the faith. They too, were dedicated as infants, received Christ later and were baptized.

For now, we're proceeding with caution--knowing our two youngest might experience bullies, hear profanity, see immodest clothing as a normal style, be confronted with gender fluidity, feel the yuck of sexualized comments by adolescent boys or even see drugs and violence.

Still, our plan this fall, is to enroll them into public school and allow them to experience the realities of this world...some of which can be good for them. Things like exposure to teachers who won't be so soft on them when they whine about homework. Or positive peer pressure to do some things that somehow, other kids can convince them to do but we parents can't.

That's a whole other blog post thank you very much.

On the bright side, we do live in a part of town where a lot of Christians tend to reside. My city is home to many Christian organizations. So a lot of staff live here with their families.

I'm trying to comfort myself hoping there are lots of good kids enrolled who love God and have become an influence to other students. Maybe this helps defer any persecution of conservative students.

If things go south, I can at least remember it's not a decision set in stone. We can pull them out and home school again.

I'm really gonna need the Holy Spirit's comfort for this one. I love my girls.
I just need to trust God with this. 

How about you? Have you ever gone through this? What was your experience?





Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Surviving Father's Day Dread




Gentlemen, let's talk about the elephant in the room...

Last Sunday was Mother's Day and although it's a holiday that celebrates the wonder and beauty of mothers, you can't help but envy the honor and attention they get, knowing in about 30 days you're probably going to experience something quite different.

Father's Day is fast approaching and for many single dads it's not going to be fun.

Of course not every dad get's neglected or overlooked. For many fathers its gonna be a grand day. For me it will be a mix of being honored and loved by my two youngest kids, mixed with wondering if this year my older kids from my previous marriage will remember to call or send a card.

NON-CUSTODIAL DADS
A lot of times we don't realize it but some of the issues that lead to a bummer of a holiday for non-custodial dads are:

  • The children live out of state.
  • The kids are very young and the ex forgets or refuses to remind them to call dad.
  • The ex wont pick up the phone to allow dad to converse with the kids.
  • The kids are old enough to remember to call or send a card but they are just self-absorbed (forget).
  • The relationship has been damaged (whether by dad's mistakes or the ex-spouse poisoning their minds against him).

Rather than lighting a candle and staring out the window in despair (which isn't above me by the way), try making the most of this day that is all about you, regardless of who celebrates with you. It's okay to do something for yourself and even by yourself.

CUSTODIAL DADS
For those men who are raising their kids alone, I've been there too. Father's Day isn't automatically awesome just because your kids live with you. In fact, sometimes because they are with you full-time, it can be easy for them to take you for granted.

Maybe the best Father's Day gift you can think of is getting a break from them. Time alone.

When my kids were too little to make a card or homemade gift, I didn't have the privilege of having a wife who could fill in for them by giving me a card or cooking a streak dinner. It was up to me to celebrate myself. I'll admit it's not as fun as when someone else is celebrating you. It loses it's purpose...but I did it anyway, because the other option was to light that candle and stare out the window again.

When my kids were old enough to get an allowance I just got honest with them. A few weeks before Father's Day I would just ask, "What are you planning for Father's Day?" or I'd say "Hey kids I'm not sure what you are wanting to do for me on Father's Day but I'd sure love to have some weeds pulled or breakfast in bed."

WIDOWERS
Those who have lost their wives to death face unusual challenges. Mother's Day can be so exhausting emotionally that by the time Father's Day rolls around you could feel unworthy to be celebrated. You're kids may go out of their way to honor you. But you may feel like down-playing this special day. Try not to cheat your kids out of showing you some love. The road you're on is hard and lonely and you deserve the attention.

Whatever your lot in life, Father's Day is what you make it, not what others make of it for you. If you are depending on others to make your day perfect, it's probably not going to happen and you've got a bigger problem of entitlement that needs to be addressed.

Remember, your real worth doesn't come from how well you're honored, but from what Christ did for you on the cross. That's your true identity as a child of God and ultimately, He is the Father we all need to honor on that special day in June.

Tell us, what is your favorite thing to do on Father's Day?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Disney Circle

Dads, I just bought Disney Circle for our home and I love it. If you want an easy way to use your phone as a "mission control" for your kid's devices, you'll want to check this out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95TBbnrIuyM

(I received no compensation or incentive for this endorsement....it was all my idea).

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Stone Altars

In 2011, our family moved back from living overseas. Although we were thankful to be back home, we quickly missed our friends in Australia. Except for the disappearing Aussie accents our little girls had, there was little here to remind us of our adventure. A few souvenirs and some photos.
It's been 6 years since we've returned and I wish we had built an altar to the Lord to prompt us to share the story of God's goodness as we ministered to the Australians.
I have a desire to preserve and commemorate moments from that part of our history. Our children were young enough to forget most of what they were experiencing but the ground under our feet has been rich in growth and perspective. I want to be intentional about memorializing significant events.
One of the best examples of this intentionality is from ancient times when people built stone piles or "cairns" (interesting; this is also the name of one of the last towns we visited before leaving Australia).
Perhaps the most well-known stone pile was erected after the Israelites crossed the Jordan River. After forty years of wandering in the desert, the Israelites were finally prepared to enter the Promised Land.
While they were crossing, Joshua told the Israelites to pick up a stone from the riverbed. He then instructed them to place the stones in a pile on the bank of the river as an altar to our Lord to serve as a remembrance to future generations of God’s magnificent power and His sovereignty. In Joshua 4:6-7, Joshua says, “Someday, when your children ask you about these stones saying “What do these stones mean?” tell them, “This is where we crossed the Jordan on dry ground.”
For us, it was not realistic to think that we could leave stone piles throughout Australia and expect they'd still be there. Even if they did, would we ever go back? I thought about doing it in our backyard here in Orlando but wait...we don't have any rocks in Florida.
Instead, along with stories, we have printed every single photo (hundreds) from our life in Australia. It serves the same purpose, (maybe more so) of memorializing God's provision, miracles and goodness. We love going through a handful at a time and sharing the memories. This would never happen by keeping them all on the computer and with so many images, it's way too expensive to create a book on-line. So we just do it the old fashioned way with a box of loose photos.
As you reflect on your walk with the Lord, are there “stone piles” that you would like to set up to remind yourself, your children and your grandchildren of God’s presence and the significant events that have taken place in your life? If not, then what will you use to remind yourself? Share with us your ideas.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Moving Guide for Single Parents

Moving is often a complicated process for anyone, but when you’re raising children on your own, it can really get tough. Tez adds some expert advice for this article by Goodcall. 


Moving Guide for Single Parents

Introduction

Moving is often a complicated process for anyone, but when you’re raising children on your own, it can really get tough.

You’ll have one less set of hands for packing and lifting, and also be stuck making decisions on your own – like whether to hire movers or just rent a truck yourself. This guide can help make some of those decisions easier and help you tackle some of the unique issues that arise when moving with children.
You will also find printable checklists to keep you organized along the way. Use one or all of them to aid in planning, packing, picking a mover, loading the truck, and covering all your bases after the move. And check out the money-saving tips section for ways to make your move in a single-income household.
Some popular parenting bloggers have also joined us to provide some tips to make your life just a little easier during this hectic time. 

Planning Your Move

From sorting your belongings and selling what you no longer need to turning off the phone and internet before you leave, there’s a long list of things you’ll need to take care of.Once you know you’re definitely moving, it’s time to get organized. Moving preparation starts long before you start packing boxes.
Sometimes a new job can demand a quick turnaround, ideally you want a couple of months to plan (Read more)

GoodCall® created  checklists that should help you get your move in order. 
You can learn more about surviving as a single father in Tez's book the Single Dad Detour