In the Disappearance of Today.

hope Hope.

I often wonder of tomorrow, when I am older and time runs beyond me, when my bone and muscle move much slower than my heart leads, when I have more space in each day for thoughts to circle.  Thoughts of how life will be for them and what life’s pressures feel like then.

I remind myself: they were created for that day ahead.

And it waits for them.

“Dad, do you think I can be . . .”  You fill in the blank because my little girls ask about them all.  My strong reply always echoes the same.  “Yes, you sure can.”

They will meander close behind me and stray in the distance as my daughters grow, get  older and begin to stand surer in life.  There will be many instances where I have little control.  I feel their strings pull a bit more as their day gets closer.  The truth is I have very little control over their course in life.  God has allowed my opportunity to reflect His glory and nature into their lives, but it is He alone who owns the days ahead.



DEEPER FAMILY :: the peculiarity of gratitude.

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

Peculiar words, I’d say.


What of days prickly and unending, too sharp to stand without bleeding and too long to see end?  No break or respite.  Only the breaking of will, the loss of hope and ability to be okay.  Those days, rejoice?

Yes, in days cursed, in moments heavy, in the breaking of security and even in the violation of things most beautiful and sacred in life ...rejoice, friends!

When life pulls and tears, rejoice.  In the thick and thin, rejoice.  In danger and disturbance, in expected and unexpected, in the collapse of life and the ruin of happy, rejoice.  Find full reason, drive your stakes deep into the soil and hold on with a tenacious desperation ...and rejoice.

Continuing reading at Deeper Family


parent as prophet.

The architect must be a prophet... a prophet in the true sense of the term... if he can't see at least ten years ahead don't call him an architect.Frank Lloyd Wright

The same must be true in parenting also.  Architect, one who shapes and builds.  Prophet, one who sees the form before the build.

With the complexities of culture changing and evolving, media shaping perspectives and acceptabilities and a world moving much too fast, it is more than easy to get lost in parenting techniques.  It seems as though many strategies given to assist and guide good parenting are geared more to contain the child in good behavior rather than preparing to unleash them into the life waiting for them.

And more so everyday, I am convinced that it is the latter parental ambition that should be reached for.

An architect must have a plan to raise a structure from a brick to a building.  It is no more luck than it is chance.

Buildings are not just built.  They are constructed by design and with intentional, planned effort.  Careful attention is given to measurements and incremental values that may seem insignificant to those simply observing the structure being built, but the architect marries himself to the details for he knows that the future, the success and the strength of what he is building lies in the attentive detail to the parts forming the whole to be.  It is not so much the exterior that the architect is concerned with.  He is painstakingly obsessed with the structure from the inside out.  Even when the eventual outside will boast of innovative design and personal genius, the inside must be correct, inch by inch and detail by detail.

Much like parenting in techniques, I’m sure it is quite easy for an architect to reduce his genius to a builder of buildings rather than one who sees the form before the build and raises a structure to life.

The architect must be a prophet who sees not only a finished product but a form finding purpose and significance now while belonging still to the future ahead.

Is this not parenting also?

The parent must be a prophet... who builds now based on what he has glimpsed ahead, carefully building, constructing and reinforcing, the child for the life ahead of them.

...a prophet in the truest sense of the term ...if he can’t see at least ten years ahead don’t call him a parent.

For me, and I assume the same for you as a parent, if I am merely conditioning my daughters to react to ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and right and wrong - giving attention to formless details rooted in immediate response and good behavior - what confident hope do I have that my daughters will one day become all that they can be?

I am trying to rid myself of attitudes aiming at quick, get in line, kind of behavior and reaching to be the parent unleashing them, exposing them and preparing them for the life ahead.  I want them to live with a deep, intrinsic sense of purpose in life, hearts burning with passion and form strong enough to stand.

I don’t have the answers.  

I’m often more confounded by the trivial than confident as a parent, often more lost stumbling insecurely than always strongly leading them, 
often saying things I don’t necessarily mean in emotion and anger than speaking love and truth often worried that it all won’t be enough than faithfully putting seeds in the soil of their heart often ill concerned with the exterior, what others might think, than diligently tightening bolts within their loose little hearts

...so I pray for prophet eyes to see ahead, the possibility of all they can become, and I glimpse the form of God’s hand lifting dust into life.

It is there that I try to parent from the most.  I speak to them as if they have an already accepted day ahead that they belong to, not in terms of a career choice for them, but in a life where they live now leading them to the who, what, when, where, why and how of it all.  As a parent with prophet eyes, I share with them the significant glimpse and together we spy God together and the reason holding within them reveals clearly.

The vision holding in my heart for each of my girls is a day when I will let them go from my hand into another day.

We will look into each others eyes, they will not wilt, as she says goodbye to only my daughter and embraces the woman she has been becoming.

That day will be familiar as I will have visited it often by then, crossing the line of present to future, creating and shaping them from there.

*an innovative design of Frank Lloyd Wright calling from years ahead of its build

A Deeper Family :: tipping the scale.

The day never holds enough minutes and moments. It never seems enough; the effort given, the time split, the little sacrifices made here and there, the want for more quality time, all feel like sand slipping through fingers.


It always moves faster than we think in the moment.  One day we are holding a tiny newborn nearly too nervous to even move with them in arm.  The next we find ourselves chasing them as they pedal their bike down the sidewalk and reviewing rules when readying them for sleepovers at friends’ houses.  And before we have time to be fully ready, they will be driving themselves around, shaving their faces or their legs, or both and be talking of college, career, dreams or even marriage.

Time doesn’t wait, not for you to learn how to get parenting and family right nor for you to grow unselfish enough to see or catch up to opportunities fleeting.  Like sand sliding through the skinny of an hour glass, time is constantly going.  And so are the days with it.

I had this terrible thought recently.  I only have about 8 years until my oldest daughter moves into the world off to college or work, chasing dreams and meeting love.

Continue reading my new post at A Deeper Family...

how cooking saved us.

“I love you, Daddy.” Those four words uttered unprompted and purely spoken from the heart, not simply the mouth, sets my world on ablaze.  Everything is alright then.

No argument is too thick to separate, no struggle too tangling, no misunderstanding too alienating, no hurt too deep; in the hearing and in the give and take of those words, all is set aright, and I’m reminded that we are okay again.

Parenting requires full effort. I should be clear.  Effective parenting demands full effort.

And, of course, prayer ...lots of prayer.


When I became a single parent, I no longer had a choice in how much effort I’d give.  The girls looked to me for everything.

“Dad, what should I wear?” “What should I get my friend for her birthday?” “Can you do my hair?” “Can we go and get a manicure?” “Can you meet my friend’s mom so she can sleep over?” ...the friend, not the mom:) “Dad, I think I need a bra?” “Dad, what is sex?”

The first few months as a single dad felt like an absolute whirlwind.  I was widowed and they were half orphaned.  Emotions ran deep and erupted frantically at times.  Many of those early days were spent just getting through the day to find any space to feel comfortable in our own family.  An obvious void rested heavy, them motherless and grieving with an inexperienced single father.  Granted, I had the enormous support from my mother who has been nothing short of amazing, but at the end of the day and in the settling dust, I am my daughters’ only parent.  It is both my privilege and responsibility to show them the way, teach them how and lead them into tomorrow.

I say to them often, especially in tougher times when they are hurting or frustrated, “God gave you me and me you.  And he didn’t make a mistake.”

Honestly, I was as lost in parenting as I was in grief.

So I went for a walk and under a starlit sky, glowing alive, I lost that part of me dying and came back a different man.

I wasn’t a dad, and I wasn’t single.  I was, and would be from then forward, a parent, open-hearted to life with my three beautiful daughters through the pain, the hurting, the confusion and the lonely.

The stars just made perfect sense in a whole new way that night.  The way they hung perfectly, positioned precisely and shined brightly millions of miles away, as if broadcasting a message of hope in the endless panoramic expanse of the night sky, whispering order and security and future, raptured me from living as a victim in a day I felt I didn’t belong to.  Instead, I felt closer to God that night standing under the stars, his stars, and asked simply of him to just help me build the family that we, my wife and I, once started together.

Slowly over the next few weeks, we began to grow again.  I wasn’t as concerned with how to necessarily raise three little girls however little girls should be.  I would raise them in the exact context we newly lived in.

I introduced them to adventure to keep their hearts curious and growing.  We attacked our weaknesses together.  I learned how to do a pony tail, and they learned how to fish.  They taught me how to paint nails, and I showed them how to scout a hiking trail.  Our life together will always be my most beautiful treasure.  I absolutely adore it.

Tonight, as on most Wednesday evenings, we continued on with one of my favorite new family traditions: family cook night.  It’s quite simple of a tradition.  We cook, together.

For us, the kitchen is definitely an adventure.  Our measurements are generous, and each of us thinks we really know what we’re doing.  Emily’s a pro at cutting anything; Elizabeth expertly dabbles in everything; and Chloe can stir like a boss.  Honestly, it’s crazy stressful watching it all happen, but the payoff is magic.  Our hearts are open, conversation flows freely, music typically plays in the background and we just go at it celebrating our togetherness in a new family way.

When the kitchen lights are turned off and the sink is full, half of dirty dishes and half clean, those four words find me, and again, I’m reminded that we are all okay.


Not many parenting techniques will pay off quite like the simplicity of simply being together fully in the moment.  Everything thick and troubling is cut right through.

As parents, time is a commodity that we sometimes don’t have much of, but the more you generously give of the time you have, fully invested into the lives of your children, the greater and more fruitful of a payoff you’ll share in the years ahead.  Together.

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they won't go looking.

“Oh, wow...  You have three daughters?!!  Dad, you better get your shotgun ready!”

Lots of vulnerabilities exist in my effort to father my three little girls as a single parent.  Little things may fall through the cracks here and there like hair and nails and most fashion related decisions, but one thing I am invariably good at is trust. I feel as though I’m a pro when it comes to adventure in their lives.  But then again, I’ve always had an uncanny ability to swoop in, sweep them off their little steadying feet and launch them into motion.  They love it.  Them momentarily suspended in air just above the ground or flying through the air and room onto the couch.  As they soar and float, even descending, a look lingers on their face.  It’s a look that affirms me.  Trust.

Without reason not to, they trust me completely.  Up until this point, I’ve given them more reason to trust than not.

It’s quite simple.  I’ve done what I said, I’d do.  And when I mess up and don’t follow through, I apologize.  I like to think of apologizing to my kids as emotional adventure taking them deeper into trust’s woods or higher and closer to trust’s summit.

Establishing and nurturing trust in a child’s heart is absolutely essential to healthy maturation.  Without trust, a child grows sideways, roots shallow, leaving them emotionally malnourished.

Think of it plainly in this way::

absence of trust + unquenchable lack, never enough = they go looking

As a parent, you never have to be a pro or know all of the answers.  In fact, the feeling of inadequacy can be an invaluable commodity.  Not having all of the answers and making mistakes earns trust quicker than parenting from a pedestal.

Your primary objective in parenting should not be friendship at any cost.  It should be friendship at great cost.

It will cost great effort in values of forgiveness and love on both ends.  Placing high value and seriousness on friendship and relationship not only strengthens trust but also portrays healthy relationships in the giving and receiving.

Just as sweet as the trusting look lighting up their faces when I send them sailing through the air, the look they give sitting on the edge of their bed watching my eyes well up, holding wordless apologies before anything is spoken - that similar look that I see on their forgiving little face finds me.

Trust’s roots thrust deeper into the soil of their hearts and our relationship.

So I don’t anticipate needing to threaten some boy who has yet to earn their trust with the presence of a shotgun someday.  I will have staked claim in my daughters’ hearts long before that kid steps foot on my scene.  And I imagine (and hope), I’ll be quite fond of him because in some distinct way, he’ll resemble me.

That day, vulnerabilities won’t exist in my heart.  If they do and I’m leaning on a shotgun to establish my place, I will have missed the mark.

My father effort is full here in establishing trust so that we find all that they need together and they won’t go looking somewhere else for what they think they need.


photograph by Jim Richardson

a parenting must.

Once again, deeper there on the trail crowded by overgrowth and choked by dust, I felt the responsibility in each of their little vulnerable steps.

“Dad, I can’t.” “Trust me, you can.  Just put your foot right where you feel my hand.”

A few minutes earlier, we came to a small clearing right off the trail that gave glimpse to a waterfall.  The sound of water rushing.  The cool of mist hanging in air.  They had to see it.  The beauty of nature demanded attention.  Between us and the sight to behold, a small rock face and a ledge to balance on.  With little thought of anything going wrong, I started down the rock face determining our path.  The descent, not much more than 20 feet, a bit precarious for their little legs and tense hearts, but necessary to see the waterfall completely.  And in my mind, they absolutely had to see it.

I am father to three amazing little daughters.  They have no other parent now.  Just me.

I have little idea of how to raise daughters on my own.  All the shifting intricacies and suddenly swelling emotions.  I second guess myself and hesitate at least a handful of times most days.  They cry huge girl tears which fall unexpectedly and unpredictably.  I worry.  What’s wrong?  Before I can catch up and figure out what’s going on, they’re done.  The moment behind them.  Tears get lost in laughter.  And they talk way too much by my account.  Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing them talk about the day, their experiences and how they are seeing the world, but sometimes our conversational thresholds are very, very different.

Being dad rests as a huge responsibility in each day and decision.  So much more than ever before or imagined.

Together, we crash landed onto the shores of life now and new.  The wreckage of the life we knew still ablaze and in sudden disarray.

“DAD, you’re here!!!” they yelled with excitement.

Leaping hugs ensued as they engulfed me with energy building during the week we were apart.  For a moment, I was raptured back to the world I knew when they would run to greet me as I returned from work.  That world and the loving memories of it vanished with the words that followed.  “Where’s mommy?” asked Elizabeth, our oldest daughter.  “When is mommy coming home from the hospital?” asked Chloe, our youngest with anxious excitement.  I could not even swallow to say something.  This was so much more terrible than I could have ever imagined.  Emily, our middle daughter, was quiet.  I could tell she knew something was wrong, very wrong, as she backed into the shadows of her heart trying to not be part of what was happening.  My heart crumbled and quaked inside of my chest.  They had no idea yet exactly how dark the day was and how different their lives had become.  As their daddy, the one person walking this Earth set to protect them, their words were like someone violating the sacredness of our family, our togetherness.  It felt as though someone stabbed me in the heart with the dullest knife, maybe a spoon.  And I swear I could see life dim a little in their eyes as they saw the loneliness present in  mine.

“Let’s go outside.  I need to talk to you, girls.”

That is how this together started; me and the three of them.  A conversation about death and tragedy, what’s no more and unknown ahead.  Together, in the middle of two very different days, all sinking and me trying to keep our heads above water rising.

Before their mother’s death, we were five together.  Life was tamed by love and dreams to chase after.  In so many countless little ways, life laid out far less complex and with comforting ease.  Life made sense.  God existed always measurably good.

I never imagined living life as a single parent.  So much responsibility.  Most of the time, details slip past me and dates fall through the cracks.

Here’s the thing: parenting is much more privilege and much less about responsibility.

It has to be.  Otherwise, you’ll raise robots, rebels or aging dependents.  It is not your responsibility to make your kids succeed in life.  It is your privilege to lead them along treacherous paths and be a part of revealing the panoramic ahead.

Responsibility is a to do list, a weighted must; a burden lacking discovery, heroism, courage and love.  Your kids will always remember moments you lifted them, times you saved them and whispers of greatness planted in the soil of their little looking hearts.  The scariest thing I’ve ever had to do as their dad was let go.  Responsibility hangs heavy in weighty apprehension.  Do this.  Say that.  Allow this.  Never that.  Responsibility will keep you running to little fires with an always leaking bucket of maybes and overreactions and weak second guesses.

I can no more save them than I can myself.  I had to let go of responsibility as priority in parental definition.  It is a parenting must.

More than father to my three little beautiful daughters, I am a son made to belong where I shouldn’t by a forever loving Father who just does not quit.  Loosening my grip on responsibility as king didn’t make me less responsible, but more responsive to their growing needs.  The privilege of being dad to Elizabeth Marie, Emily Anne and Chloe Grace opens me to lead them wherever life turns and towards the women they will soon one day be.

We inched down the rock face, my hands and words guiding each step.  Together we took in the view and felt the mist lightly spraying about us.  We shared a small victory, their little hearts grew stronger and I learned more about parenting in that moment than most others before.

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