by Matthew Doane, Esq.Staff Attorney, Heartbeat International
One of my favorite bible verses on children and parenting comes from Psalm 127:3-5, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” While thoughts of quivers full of arrows and enemies at the gate pull at my J.R.R. Tolkien-reading heart, verse 3 begins with a declaration that children are a reward from God, a heritage from Him.
While the word heritage can have many meanings, in this context “heritage” can be translated to the Hebrew word of “nachala,” which can mean “assigned by God.” Thus, not only are children gifts from above, but God has specifically assigned us, of all the men in the world, to be our child’s father. What an awesome, yet humbling realization.
As the sole person in the entire world that God has ordained to father and raise our particular children, how do we fulfill this awesome and daunting responsibility? Who better to look to as an example than Joseph, the husband of Mary and the person God selected to serve as Jesus’ stepfather during His time on Earth? While Joseph is never quoted in the bible and appears only briefly in the Gospel narrative, there are lessons to be learned from this important person in Jesus’ life during His time on Earth:
Joseph is described as a “just” man in Matthew 1:19 who is unwilling to put Mary to shame when he learns that she is with child. We are told throughout scripture that justness, or righteousness, is one of the chief attributes of God. As men and fathers, we should imitate Joseph, who imitates God, and do our best to live a righteous life.
As Joseph is considering divorcing Mary quietly, an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream and instructs him to not be afraid in taking Mary as his wife and that Jesus would “save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, “he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” Joseph followed the Lord’s instruction and was faithful to his God throughout the few instances he is mentioned in the bible. While we may not have an angel of the Lord appear to us, as fathers we too should follow the Lord’s instructions left in scripture on how to be Godly fathers to our children and “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4b.
One of our principal duties as fathers is to protect our children. After the wise men departed from their visit to the child Jesus, another angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned him that Herod was out to destroy Jesus. The angel instructed Joseph to flee with Jesus and Mary to Egypt for their safety. When he awoke, Joseph immediately took Jesus and Mary to Egypt under the cover of night. Since Jesus, the Son of God, was also truly human during His time on Earth, He needed the parental care and protection of His adopted earthly father. We too must provide for and protect our children.
The Gospels refer to Jesus as a carpenter, a trade he likely learned from Joseph. The King of all Kings, the Lord of Lords, was entrusted to a carpenter. We don’t have to be powerful, wealthy kings to be good, godly fathers to our children (which is good, right?). God has assigned them to us for His reasons, and our job is to be an earthly reflection of His fatherly love to them.
Fathers, we are blessed because our quivers are full! Let us celebrate this and God’s assignment of His children to us this Father’s Day.
We share many stories of women who have been served by pregnancy help organizations. The lesser-known stories are of the men, the fathers, whose lives are transformed as well by the work of pregnancy help.
Oftentimes, the new fathers are just as scared as the new mothers when faced with an unexpected pregnancy. Pregnancy help organizations frequently provide fatherhood and parenting classes, an invaluable service that seeks to foster families and lives in all situations.
Such is the case of Cole.
When Cole found out his girlfriend Zayda was pregnant, he really didn't know what to think. Zayda was 14, at the time, Cole was 15.
Petrified as to how they could support a baby at a young age, Cole introduced the idea of abortion because he thought it was their only choice. Zayda suggested they first visit a pregnancy center.
Here, for the first time, Cole felt that he could be a dad.
When they offered a free ultrasound, everything changed. Seeing the ultrasound image of baby Delia Jo was the moment he fully grasped the reality of life for his unborn daughter.
Zayda was 10 weeks along, and the baby’s arms, legs, and heartbeat were evident. The fear and apprehension of being parents faded the moment Cole saw the ultrasound image and heard the flutter of his daughter’s beating heart.
“I realized that I created a human then, you know?” Cole said, “And I felt like keeping her.”
After hearing their baby’s heartbeat, both Cole and Zayda knew they were going to have a baby.
He was at the hospital when his daughter Delia Jo was born and continued to tap into the parenting and fatherhood courses offered at the pregnancy center. Cole and Zayda are committed to co-parenting.
“My parents were not together when I was a kid,” he said, “and I want her to have that (both parents).”
Cole has come a long way from thinking abortion was the only answer, that raising a child at their age could not be done, and from the denial early in Zayda’s pregnancy that Delia Jo was not who she was. Thanks, in part to the encouragement and support they received at a local pregnancy center.
We are so appreciative for the work you do to ensure that men like Cole become good fathers. We know that strong families help encourage positive relationships for years to come. Through your efforts, your mentorship, your ongoing support, you are impacting families for generations!
by Joe Malone, PhD, CPT, LWMC, CFE
Father’s Day brings pleasant thoughts to some young men especially about time spent with their loving fathers, and unpleasant thoughts to others, whose fathers didn’t do as good of a job raising them. In some cases, this was due to the fathers, who as younger men, were finding themselves attracted to women who were not their wives. In some cases, they acted on that attraction, which led to the breakup of their marriage and the end of their precious family unit. This is such a tragedy to everyone involved when it happens, and it can be avoided if young men can gain knowledge about how their minds and bodies work differently from young women’s in young adulthood.
Biology, psychology, and sociology all influence young men’s sexual behavior. It is especially influenced by brain anatomy and biochemistry. It is so beneficial for males to understand the forces that are at work in their brains and bodies that have both biochemical and societal origins. The circumstances these forces help create can truly fashion a “Testosterone Trap” in which our young men find themselves ensnared. This is to their detriment as well as those with whom they have interacted and particularly the women in their lives.
Males need to learn that they hit their peak testosterone levels at age 17 and overall levels only begin to decline by 1% a year after age 30. The average man has 7 to 8 times as much testosterone as the average woman and some high-testosterone men have up to 183 times as much as low-testosterone women. The male brain has 2 ½ times more space than the female brain devoted to sex drive which is activated by testosterone, and also has a larger brain center for action and aggression. This means that sexual thoughts run through a man’s mind far more frequently that they do a woman’s. A man’s brain chemistry can create a craving for new sexual experiences the same way an addict’s brain craves cocaine or heroin. Its main ingredient, dopamine, plays a major role in motivation and reward, surging before and during pleasurable activities like sex. Dopamine in a man can especially be boosted by novel partners. All of this is only a possibility, though, not a foregone conclusion. Humans are a species that, because of our unique, proportionally large brains and their executive decision-making cerebral cortex, can override our basic instincts.
When males bond with a female and create an ongoing trust relationship their testosterone levels begin to drop and their bonding chemical, vasopressin, begins to rise. When they marry this woman, the love of their life, testosterone levels drop even more as vasopressin rises higher. When this couple has children, the young father’s testosterone levels fall even more, and their vasopressin bond grows even stronger. This leads to many health benefits for both the wife and the husband but by far, it benefits the husband the most. For example, married men have better immune systems, they report lower levels of depression and stress, and they are less likely to commit suicide or murder. Finally, married men are 250% less likely to die prematurely than divorced men from any cause. It seems that God has designed marriage and fatherhood as a strong pathway for men’s well-being.
Socrates’ famous philosophical statement is “know thyself.” When I was a young man, I often wondered what he meant. I believe as I have lived life, I have come to understand his meaning. By learning to know themselves and especially their chemistry young men may be able to better self-manage and forge a more positive future for themselves and our greater society. They are sure to become wiser and better men in the process. And they are sure to become better fathers and raise happier children who will have many joyous and memorable Father’s Day’s with the man they want to grow up and be just like. We all have an opportunity to be that man. Let us take it!
Dr. Joe Malone taught for many years at Middle Tennessee State University and has guest lectured at Vanderbilt, Princeton, Catholic University of America as well as other major universities. He holds a Ph.D. in Health and Human Performance with a minor in neuropsychology and a specialization in women’s health and sexual wellness. He is the former Chair of the Nashville Community Health and Wellness Team and the current Topic Network Chair for Health Promotion for the Study of Emerging Adulthood. Dr. Malone draws from his life experiences as a former model, Division I college football player and coach, celebrity trainer, elected official, and husband and father in his teaching. He has been happily married to his wife Jody for over 40 years. He is coauthor of Battles of the Sexes and founder of Sex IQ.
by Jor-El Godsey, PresidentHeartbeat International
“Two are better than one…” says the preacher in Ecclesiastes. Because, well, the word “Ecclesiastes” actually means “preacher.”
Of course, this can be both a controversial statement on parenting structure and a statistical parenting reality in success metrics for children.
It is, after all, that we find in Ecclesiastes - the encouragement for connection revealing that “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor; for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion…”
Enter the dad.
Whether biological, adopted, or spiritual, a dad fits into God’s design that “two are better than one.”
God, Himself, declared this of Adam even while still in the perfection that is the Garden (Genesis 2).
A dad brings many things to the family.
Okay, more than “Dad Jokes” and the globally recognized meaning of “Pull my finger.”
With our eyesight, it is best to have two eyes in order to have the best sense of depth perspective.
With our hearing, two ears can better sense distance and motion from the sounds we hear.
With parenting, a dad adds a dimension of perspective to the lives of children.
When our kids were small, my wife, Karen, was more quickly inclined to say “be careful” at the playground, while I was often quick to say, “How high can you go?” At the pool our directives were similarly disparate.
Our perspective on exploring our world was somewhat different.
Dads often see the world in terms of the challenge.
I’m guessing most kid trips to the Emergency Room started with the phrase, “Watch what I can do, Dad!”
That’s why two are better than one. We need both perspectives – be careful and push farther.
Let's be sure to celebrate the fathers in our movement and the future fathers who walk into our organizations in a particular way this Father's Day.
by Joe Pellegrino, Legacy Minded Men
If you ask most folks in the states when Mother’s Day falls on the calendar, they can tell you, the second Sunday of May. But when you ask them the same question about Father’s Day most will have no idea and some might even say “is there still a Father’s Day???”
Dads have a bit of a perception problem these days. Maybe it's time that we start a paradigm shift. Why not offer a blessing to fathers this Father’s Day?
It’s not complex. It’s straightforward. It’s a word of approval or a word of support. It’s a word that bestows confidence, hope, and a sense of well-being. And brings affirmation. It’s a word that allows a young child, a woman or a man to move forward boldly, humbly, but with courage and confidence into the future. It’s a word that says, “You are a masterpiece that has been created for a unique purpose in this life.” It’s a word that helps our children, our family, our friends, and those we work with know they are valuable and fashioned for something special in this life. Finally, it’s a word that ADDS VALUE to another! As a father myself, I can say while some of us have received a blessing, many of us have not. Several years ago at one of our men’s conferences, we gave a call for men to come forward who felt they had never experienced a blessing from their parents, family, or anyone, but particularly from their dads. To our amazement the majority of those present came forward - men from their teens to their 70’s. When we see people who are excelling in life, regardless of their family’s financial or economic status, we often will find folks who come from a loving, supportive, encouraging family background that continually imparted words of blessing into their lives. They were told they could do anything in life they set their heart and mind to.
Studies have shown that many super successful people who even came from very difficult and distressed families and backgrounds made it in life because of the words of blessing spoken to them.
The men that walk in your doors with your clients may never have had such affirming words spoken to them. In fact, they may have heard nothing but discouraging, demeaning, and angry abusive words. Whatever the case may be, when you take the chance to offer them a blessing, they can learn to bless others as well.
Perhaps this is the way to help shift from Father’s Day to "Fathers Say."
Men are being pulled in so many ways today that distract them from their primary roles as husbands and fathers. As a result, all too often, our children suffer. Now, more than ever, we need to understand the true role dads play in their children’s lives as our kids face a world we could never have imagined. What fathers SAY can determine their child's WAY. Let's turn everyday into "Fathers Say" by continually blessing and mentoring our children or a child in need.
Offering a blessing to a father can create a ripple effect that gives them the inspiration to do the same for their children and families. This is what "Fathers Say" is all about – fathers stepping up to offer blessings to people in their lives. This is the power of an encouraging word! Who knows, it may even result in a re-launch of Father’s Day!
"Fathers Say" is a concept and book available from Legacy Minded Men. For more information, click here to find out how you can engage, equip, and encourage men to be the fathers and husbands they were made to be.
by Mary Peterson, Housing Specialist
Somewhere along the line several years ago, moms started using the title “Baby Daddy” to refer to the man they had been involved with when they became pregnant.
“The ‘baby daddy’ went with me to doctor today.”
“Him? Nah, we’re not dating—he’s the ‘baby daddy.’”
When it was still a new term, I remember hearing it a few times. Soon after, I saw it used in a pop magazine and realized that the term wasn’t just a passing phase. A sign of our times, the phrase “baby daddy” has come to be commonly understood as referring to a specific situation and calling to mind attributes of a specific kind of man.
It is this man who is often connected to the women of our homes.
More and more, I hear pregnancy help organizations reflect on how to better engage men. For maternity homes, this question is framed as, “How do we help ‘baby daddies’ grow into fathers?”
In the maternity home setting, this can raise the question, “If they are choosing to parent, how do we help single mothers—fatherless families—to invite the right type of men into their lives and raise children in the context of authentic masculinity?”
It’s a difficult tension—wanting to honor the role a man plays as a father and simultaneously, wishing a new mom would finally sever a destructive attachment to a man who is just using her, abusive, manipulative, or in and out of jail.
Hope Mansion in Cedar Hill, Texas, led by Angie Hammond, has developed an interesting program to address this tension.
The program, still under development, uses communication with the women as the leverage point. In order to be able to spend time with the mother residing in the maternity home, the man must walk through a variety of steps in a process they refer to as a “Treasure Hunt.”
One of the first steps is to require a formal letter from the “Baby Daddy,” in which he must explain his intentions regarding the resident in the Home and the baby. Once the Home receives the letter, he is provided with the workbook, “The Me I See,” from Loving and Caring. Next, he makes a request to meet with the House Dad, giving the opportunity to engage in a deliberate conversation.
Calling upon his masculine drive to take action, the intent is for the man to realize the mother of his child truly is a treasure—a woman worthy of his sacrifice. If he fails to take the simple steps required, then he is not allowed contact, and the house parents encourage the woman to think deeply about what it means that he was unwilling to make such small gestures in order to stay in her life.
“We are pleased by the level of conversation that has opened up,” Angie says. “The Treasure Hunt puts the initiative and the consequence into the hands of the man. And thus, provides an opportunity for real growth.”
Has your home, like Hope Mansion, discovered effective strategies for engaging men and teaching fatherhood? We would love to hear (and share!) more.
For more information on Hope Mansion, visit: https://www.hopemansion.com.
Have you received your “Thank you” card yet? Mother’s Day just passed and Father’s Day is just around the corner. The greeting card companies, flower folks, tie makers, chandlers, and other vendors who profit from the sale of popular gifts for Mother’s and Father’s Day owe you at least a “Thank you!”
As a dad, I rarely shop alone with my elementary-age daughter and son. But a few days before Mother’s Day, we were on our annual hunt for those precious tokens of our genuine appreciation for their mom and my wife. The marketing signs were direct, “Show Your Mom You Love Her on May 9th.” My 9-year-old son was quick to scoff at such crass commercialism saying, “You should show your mom you love her all year long!” Right you are, son, because moms certainly are worthy. And so are dads. . .
How many other nine-year olds look for just the right card or the perfect gift for their mom and dad (within their budgets)? That special smile of love, a homemade card, the warm embrace of their infants -- how many moms and dads are filled with these joys because they found a pregnancy help center?
Since the earliest pregnancy resource centers appeared more than 40 years ago, a million or more moms and dads have enjoyed their Day because of the help of a pregnancy center. These are special celebrations because they were at risk of never happening. The newborn we celebrate in our ministry is not just a life, but also a lifetime! For the majority of babies we see born, there will be dozens of Mother’s and Father’s Day cards, gifts, and phone calls.
Okay, so I don’t really expect a “Thank you!” in my mailbox from the phone company or Hallmark or the florist. But the reality of the Great Work we are involved in -- the breadth and depth of our efforts to affirm the Gift of Life and the Giver of Life -- constantly amazes me. The picture of the positive outcomes we all share in is a “Thank you!” in a class by itself.
Life is truly precious, so take heart! And thank you!
From Take Heart | Vol. 2, Issue 5
We can compare our Dad to many superheroes, but he is in a category all his own! We think his job gives him the chance to impact many lives for God’s Kingdom, even some he will never meet here on earth. His job also gives us an opportunity to share about life when others ask us what our Dad does.
We love you, Dad!
By Kara and Joel Godsey, children of Jor-El Godsey, Vice President of Heartbeat International. Note: This article was submitted and published as a Father’s Day gift to Jor-El, without his prior knowledge.
by Rick Johnson
In Better Dads, Stronger Sons: How Fathers Can Guide Boys to Become Men of Character, author Rick Johnson offers men straight-forward advice on how to be better dads.
Detailing his own struggle with fatherhood before his conversion to Christ, Johnson sympathizes with the overwhelming feelings of inadequacy that can accompany the parenting journey while reassuring fathers that God has chosen them for this special role in the family. Throughout the book, Johnson offers practical advice on key topics including male bonding, spiritual leadership, and self-discipline that can benefit dads with newborns and dads with twenty-somethings alike.
What I loved most about Better Dads, Stronger Sons was not only the encouragement it offers men as they strive to be the dads God designed them to be, but also that it approaches fatherhood with a generational perspective, reminding fathers that not only are they raising men, but they are creating a generational inheritance of fatherhood as they raise future dads.
As the first Father’s Day for my husband, Johnson’s book was truly a special gift offering the encouragement to truly pause and ask “What type of Father would I like to be?” while offering practical advice to help carry the answer out.
Book review by Dawn Lunsford, Heartbeat International eLearning Specialist.
By Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International President
While walking through the parking lot after visiting a superstore, my wife and I were joking about the labels CEO and CFO and who, in our household, they applied to. Since she has a degree in accounting, you can guess what I was lobbying for.
My then five-year-old son was in between us walking hand-in-hand, taking this all in. He stopped suddenly and looked up at me with a glint in his eye and said, “You’re the D-A-D.”
As I reflect on that moment, I understand that the reality of “D-A-D” is one that unfolds over a parent’s lifetime. Though motherhood might be more obvious, fatherhood also experiences transitions. Even before a man knows he’s a father, he has already begun the process of becoming one in more than just physical ways. How he responds to that will determine what type of “D-A-D” he can or will be.
In the pregnancy help world, we see too many examples of those who’ve rejected the role of father. Often we might find reasons to agree why a certain young man is not ready to serve in a fathering role to his own child. When our earthly wisdom leads us this way we might be tempted to champion single-parenting or feel more compelled to promote adoption. While there are certainly reasons to do both, we must be careful not to slight the call to fatherhood upon each man.
We must always remember that our Father God is actively working to reproduce Himself in each of us. He has inscribed on the heart of every man the source of good fathering. While earthly examples fail – sometimes miserably so – the Ancient of Days continues to sow seeds into the hearts of each generation. As believers and missionaries in this unique mission field we’ve been called to, we must be careful not to discard this reality.
The God of the Universe has divinely inspired both fatherhood and motherhood. He has established the most basic social unit – the family. Though our wayward culture and secularized media rails against every aspect of family, it remains His idea and His glory in its fulfillment.
As the focus is on Fathers this month, remember part of what we do is sow the godly seeds of family – motherhood, and fatherhood. The harvest of our seed should include more than babies born, but also marriages and families. Just as we seek to inspire the mothering instinct in the women we serve, we should always be mindful of the opportunities we have to inspire fathering. We can take heart that the Lord, in His wisdom, has also placed a complimentary calling upon fathers.
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