In Atlanta, it’s really easy to shield yourself and your children from poverty. Everything we need is often within a few blocks of our lovely, manicured middle class (and up) neighborhoods. Our churches are filled with people who may have terrible trauma in their pasts and current problems that would make us weep, but they usually put on a smile and tell everyone they are fine. We may participate in short term mission projects and trips, but they usually involve swooping into an area to help and then swooping out without really getting to know the people and what their lives are normally like.
When we insulate ourselves and our children from the realities of a broken world, we miss out on the ability to fully love and serve those around us. It becomes easy to make assumptions about what people “should do” or “know how” to do. We may even refuse to serve entire groups of people because they “deserved” what happened to them.
Being a mother is one of the most wonderful blessings God can give. The joy, love and fulfillment it provides us is so special, we can’t really express it adequately. Yet motherhood can also be demanding, frustrating, confusing, exhausting and even heart-breaking.
God has called us to parent our children proactively towards Him. We are to spend our days training our children and teaching them God’s commands, principles and ways. Yet, there are days when we don’t have the energy to pray ourselves. There are days when our personal faith feels shaky. Even if your faith is strong, you may question God’s plans for you or if He even has any.
The times when we are faced with the deaths of close loved ones, illnesses of ourselves or our families, loss of income or other unwanted circumstances can make our questions even more urgent. As a mom about to have an empty nest in a few months, I also understand those feelings I had as my kindergartener went to class the first day will be intensified greatly when she moves across the country to attend college. You may even be experiencing the pain of having a child who is struggling through dangerous waters, where you feel you have no way to help him.
Recently, I was privileged to hear Malcolm Gladwell speak about his new book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. (I admit, everyone in the audience got a free copy of the book after his speech, but it doesn’t change my opinion of the book!) Now, I have heard the story of David and Goliath so many times, I feel like I may know them personally. Mr. Gladwell shared some insight into the story though, I had never heard before.
After doing some extensive research into battle tactics and weaponry of the time and the potential health issues of Goliath, Mr. Gladwell came to an interesting conclusion. David wasn’t as much of an underdog as we portray him, but that does not lessen God’s role in the story or our dependence on God. Rather it demonstrates how God can equip us to slay our “giants” by giving us talents and opportunities that make these supposed giants not so giant after all.
Do you remember dating your spouse? If you were like us, there was some attempt to be creative and interesting on dates. After all, we were trying to impress each other. Fast forward a few years and with children, you are lucky if you even have a date night. When you do, who has the energy to be creative? So, most of us end up eating out and talking about the kids and what needs to be repaired or falling asleep in a movie theater.
The set-up is a little unique compared to similar books. Each date has a theme, but most include several suggestions for where to have the date. My favorites were the ones that encouraged the couple to step out of their comfort zones during their time together. They even suggested some specific activities and one-time classes if you have trouble thinking of ideas within a category. (They even have ideas for “at home – no money” dates).
When my daughter was younger, my husband took her to lunch at the revolving restaurant in our city. I will never forget how animated she was on their return, describing to me the pros and cons of eating while the restaurant moves in circles. I loved the years when the local Girl Scout Council threw a 1950’s daddy/daughter event. The pictures of them dressed in their ’50’s finery are some of my favorite ones of them together.
There is nothing more special than the bond between a father and daughter. That relationship can change everything from how your daughter views her body to the husband she chooses to how she sees God. Yet, many fathers have only a passing relationship with their daughters. They know nothing about the young woman their daughter has become and as a result have much less influence in her life than is best for her (or her father).
Years ago, someone started the idea of dads taking their daughters on “dates” – doing something special together. A special time when fathers can really get to know and bond with their daughters while creating lasting memories.