Fatherless

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By Jonathan D. Grow 

As I have grown up year after year, I realize how not having a dad or functional family has really put me at a disadvantage. If I had been taught how to do things I would be in a different place with my relationships, emotionally and in life. There are so many essential things a Dad teaches a son. If a Dad isn’t present he can’t show his son how to be a man.

Why is a Dad being present so important?

Only a man can show a boy how to be a man. I know there are a lot of single mothers out there raising sons.  I’m not saying they are a doing a bad job, but for a son to be a fully realized man in society, he needs another man in his life to show him things.  I was at restaurant one day and this little boy was only with his mom.  He looked at me intently then looked at another table full of guys.  No, I can’t assume he’s completely fatherless, but something inside of me made me feel as if he was yearning to be with us guys.  I realized at that moment that whenever a young boy sees a man, there’s a desire to connect if he doesn’t have a dad at home.

Dads have abandoned their posts as leaders of the household. The ones who suffered first were the moms and then the sons. The really crazy part about this is the high probability that the son will follow in his father’s footsteps even though he promised himself he wouldn’t be like him.

How does a Dad help with relationships?

A dad is the first person that a baby will make a relationship with outside the womb. If he isn’t there to establish that relationship with the baby, there’s a huge possibility that the baby’s future relationships will most likely fail. The question I ask myself is would I have played all those girls if my dad was in my life. Would he have taught me how to be about one girl at a time? Maybe how to love them and care for them.  I probably could have been a better man if he was around.

Could he have helped me emotionally?

Would I be able to express myself in a healthier way?  Would my anger have gotten the best me of all the time? Maybe I could have understood it was okay to cry. That trusting others and loving them is okay. That understanding my emotions were still manly and part of being a human being. Maybe if I knew those things, I wouldn’t have repressed all my emotions all the time.

How could my dad have helped me establish myself?

For starters my dad would have validated me.  A son needs his dad’s validation or they seek this validation in uncommon ways because we don’t even know we are looking for validation. He could have taught me the things his dad taught him: like saving money for yourself.  He could have supported me in achieving my dreams, shown me how to follow them and not let them go. How to stand up for them even though I would be the only one.  How to make me wise in taking care of my name in this world because it’s important and represents who I am.

There’s so much more a dad is to his son.  He is his teacher, hero, supporter, critique, friend and also his dad.  Not being there causes young boys to look for men who can be that in their lives and eventually can look like outbursts in different ways.  This can also hurt your son.  So to all the men who are fathers, but absent:  be a different man and don’t abandon your son because chances are he is still looking for you in different ways.

I have my battle with growing up without a dad, but today I know I’m searching to be my own man.  However, I’m not going to lie, it put me at a disadvantage.  But now I’m bouncing back to realize that I can still change.  I’m not being the same man as my dad but a different one.  I have God guiding me.

To all the guys who grew up like I did or are growing up that way, you can also be different.  Just don’t forget what it feels like to not have had a dad and think would you want your son to feel the same way.  I know I wouldn’t.  So let’s be different and create a new legacy.  With God it’s possible.

To read more blogs from Jonathan, visit www.jonathandgrow.com

Unified Community

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By Allie T. Robison

    The Merriam-Webster definition of community is “a unified body of individuals.” The dictionary goes on to explain various examples of community, most of these examples involving location. Some of the great examples of community today revolve around things like a school, a sports team, a city, a culture, etc. Every community that we categorize as a functioning community has something in common: they all have something in common! Every member of a neighborhood community has location in common. Every member of a church has their faith in common. Every member of a scuba club has a love for a recreational activity in common. This is what makes said body “unified.”

     I think that Jesus calls us to be in a community that is more than that. First of all, we were created to be with people. We actually would die without social interaction. I’m not joking: science tells us that loneliness is becoming a bigger epidemic than obesity. But it’s even evident in the Bible. Characters featured in Biblical stories are surrounded by people all the time. Jesus formed meaningful relationships during his time on earth.  The first man ever created was given a woman because “it was not good for man to be alone.” (God said that!)

     Okay, so community is there so that people aren’t alone. Awesome. But, I have had many experiences of being a part of a community, but still feeling alone. I might not be the only one who thinks this. That’s why I think that a fully functional community is one that makes sure that no one is alone. How does this happen? Let’s look at the Bible.  

Hebrews 10:24-15: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Acts 4:32: All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”

1 Corinthians 1:10: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

Romans 12:16: “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

      These passages seem to suggest the types of relationships that I am not used to making. I like to have friends to go drink coffee with or walk around a city with and take pretty pictures. I like to be able to share my problems and listen to theirs, and we share laughs. I think there is nothing wrong with that, but I think Jesus calls us to more. Words like spur one another on, encouraging one another, shared everything they had, agree with one another, no division among you, live in harmony, do not be proud…

     These words suggest a deeper type of relationship with people. Instead of coffee and catching up on the material things happening in your life, maybe what Jesus would have done is show up to my door at 11pm, when I’m in my pajamas and winding down, and ask me what the hardest thing in my life is. I’m not suggesting you show up at your friend’s door after dark and ask them about their deepest secrets, but I am suggesting that you don’t be afraid to. And the next time you hear a knock on your door right before you crawl in bed, praise God for great friends, and strive to be that friend for them, too. Spurring them on, encouraging, sharing, agreeing, no division, harmonious, and not proud. (PS. I included four verses. There are more than twenty thousand verses in the Bible. Go find them!) This is hard to do, but Jesus is calling us, and we better go!

     If you want proof that loneliness is actually a terrible epidemic and you should get yourself some soul sisters/bros for life: https://www.sciencealert.com/widespread-loneliness-is-killing-people-and-we-need-to-start-taking-this-seriously

If you want to learn more about what Jesus calls us to: The Bible.

Purpose Lost: Nikolas Cruz, Shooter at Douglas High

(We decided to give you two in one day.  As stated in previous post, there are so many challenging things happening in society.  We can choose to either take these moments to learn from them and do better, or do nothing and let things get worse.  In this blog, we touch on a tragic shooting that happened at a high school.  What great purpose can come from this?  We have yet to see.  What we do know is that many lives were lost.  And even though many may hate the shooter who did this, he's a broken young man who's purpose got lost.)

"To longtime friend, school shooter Nikolas Cruz was lonely, volatile, ostracized"

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By Julie K. Brown *article partially reposted from The Miami Herald

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is the jewel of Parkland, graduating top-notch students and athletes who grow up in a dignified affluence far removed from the gritty urban sprawl of Miami.

Many live in vast gated communities enveloped by horse pastures and pristine nature trails. Rated among the best high schools in Florida, Stoneman Douglas has won five national math championships, has the state’s top marching band and boasts science and engineering programs where students fly weather balloons and drones.

But Nikolas Cruz never felt a part of this warm nest of promise and achievement. The warning signs of a simmering danger brought on by his mental illness were documented by his school, his fellow students, his family, the police, child welfare agencies, the FBI and even by his own hand, on social media.

Cruz’s Valentine’s Day rampage at Stoneman Douglas that ended 17 lives came after months and years of violent, erratic outbursts that often frightened fellow students and others who came in contact with him, records show.

To Cruz, the campus’ sun-splashed courtyards were a dark place where he was mocked and ridiculed for his odd behavior, according to interviews with close family friends, students and recently released police and mental health reports.

“Someone could have approached a faculty member, a guidance counselor, a teacher and said, ‘This kid gets bullied a lot, someone should do something,’ ” said student Manolo Alvarez, 17, who had history class with Cruz. “I regret definitely not saying anything.”

Cruz, 19, is charged with entering the school near dismissal time, armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. He then strolled through the halls, firing into classrooms. Fourteen students and three staffers were killed, and more than a dozen others were injured.

On Saturday, Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz described the crime as “the type of case the death penalty was designed for.”

Yet there have been reams of reports, replete with one red flag after another, detailing Cruz’s violent descent, events that were mostly dismissed, downplayed or filed away by many of those in society entrusted with recognizing the potential danger that he posed to his family and to his community.

Cruz — at 5-foot-7 and 120 pounds — was scrawny, and rarely, if ever, felt comfortable with other kids, either in his Parkland neighborhood or at Stoneman Douglas, according to Paul Gold, who lived next door to the Cruz family and remained in touch with Nikolas up until his mother’s funeral in November.

Cruz had been diagnosed with the neurological disorder autism. Michael Alessandri, a clinical professor of psychology at the University of Miami, cautioned that Cruz’s diagnosis of autism should not be viewed as a cause of his attack at Stoneman Douglas High.

“It is a social communication disorder, not a violent disorder,” Alessandri said.

“He was ostracized his whole life,” said Gold, who said he was one of only four people, including Nikolas, and his younger brother, Zachary, who attended the funeral of his mother, Lynda Cruz, in November.

Cruz was treated for depression and attention deficit disorder, and his mother found it increasingly difficult to control his behavior from the time he was an adolescent, despite periodic interventions by mental health counselors and law enforcement authorities, records show.

“His mother made a major push to have him lead a normal life,” Gold said. “But toward the end of her life, she really had given up.’’

BSO deputies were summoned to their Parkland home more than 30 times in the past seven years, records show. The complaints ranged from petty domestic disputes to a time Cruz threw a vacuum cleaner at his mom.

Gold said Lynda Cruz was strict with her sons, and was not averse to striking them when they misbehaved. At least one time, DCF investigated her for possibly abusing the boys and inadequately supervising them. The case was closed. Nikolas Cruz was getting treatment at Henderson Mental Health, the DCF report said. Still, they concluded he was not enough of a threat to be hospitalized or committed to a facility.

To read the rest of the article, visit: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/broward/article200754714.html

Purpose Found: Golden Conversation

(There are a lot of bad things going on right now in society.  We can either take these moments to learn from them and do better, or do nothing and let things get worse.  This blog is a first posting about something happening on a large scale, but a greater purpose found in the world of Hollywood and sexual abuse.)

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By Allie T. Robison

   A recent conversation with my mom allowed for some reflection. Often times, I wish I had more of a platform to speak out about the things I am passionate about and believe that people would actually hear me. As I expressed to her my concerns about this, she brought up a few examples of when people with a platform spoke out about something, and it did not go over well. I answered her by praising the fact that they were using their platforms for something in the first place!

    I would like to think that if I ever made it “big,” that I would use my name for good. I could not guarantee it, though. It happens far too often that someone with immense talent “makes it” and becomes exceedingly famous, and all that comes of it is fame and money. One of the strengths of the millennial generation is their tendency to speak out about important issues. Millennials who are “making it” to fame are beginning to speak about issues that have been in the shadows in the past. Now more than ever, folks are realizing that things do not have to be swept under the rug anymore, and uncomfortable topics are being brought out into the open.

   One of the most astounding results of this new “speak your mind” movement is the infiltration of strong opinions into the 2018 Golden Globes. The Golden Globes is star-studded awards show highlighting the talented actors and actresses of the year. This year, it had a different twist. All along the red carpet, famous women seen in cinema walked out onto the red carpet dressed in black. This is a prime moment for designers to show off their new clothing and for the celebrities to have their fashion moment. However, as more and more women stepped onto the red carpet to pose in front of the cameras, the media and audiences back home began to take note.

   Despite the spectrum of reactions, it cannot be denied that the Hollywood stars achieved the result they wanted: attention and conversation. Contrary to the usual tradition of soaking up the flashes alone, actresses came together and took many group pictures to symbolize their solidarity.

The women’s decision of dress was attributed to an anti-sexual harassment action plan which “includes a $14 million legal fund to help victims of sexual harassment nationwide, legislation to push companies that tolerate it, and a push for gender equality among executives at talent agencies and studios.” (Buckley, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/03/movies/times-up-golden-globes-red-carpet.html)

Reese Witherspoon describes the gesture as, “a statement that women are deeply unified.”

   Whether or not you agree with what these women did or how they chose to bring awareness to this cause, there is no denying that the women used their platform to bring awareness to something, especially on a night that is centered around themselves and their own accomplishments. It takes a lot to deflect the attention off of yourself, especially at an event that is made to celebrate those in your profession! It is almost like spending the day at a soup kitchen on your birthday… hey, not a bad idea! It is a change of mindset, but it makes an impact.

   These talented actresses came together to use their special night to create a national conversation about sexual assault. What change can you make in your everyday words, actions, thoughts, and behaviors to create a conversation? Think about it and #beaboutsomething.

 

Case Keenum's Right Priorities

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By Allie T. Robison

     During these past few weeks of both college and NFL football madness, there have been some standout moments where players refused to take their well-deserved glory and instead reflect it back on their Heavenly Father.  One of my favorite moments, though, was after a playoff game on Sunday, January 14th. The New Orleans Saints traveled to Minnesota to play the Vikings in their hometown. After a hard fought battle, the game went into overtime and both teams stepped up. The Vikings got the ball first, but went 3 and out giving the ball back to the Saints. The Saints drove down to kick a field goal and left less than a minute on the clock for the Viking's last chance at advancing in the playoffs. On the last snap of the game, Viking’s quarterback Case Keenum threw a perfect pass to his receiver near the sideline. The Saints’ defensive back missed the tackle to then make a bad read causing the Vikings’ receiver to go all the way. It was absolute chaos in Minneapolis, and the Vikings won.

     Case (@casekeenum7) rallied his team, rallied Vikings fans, and stepped up where it counted. When the interviewer approached Case after the game, he could have expected Case’s answers to sound like this: “This is the best day of my life. Man, I love football. I’ve been working so hard for so many years, and it’s finally paid off. I deserve this. I can’t wait to go further in the playoffs and then maybe to the Super Bowl! What a personal goal I will have accomplished!” He could have talked about himself the whole time because he did make a game-winning play and did an excellent job.  Instead he took the time to look at his life and compare this moment to a few others. This is what Case said:

“This is probably going to go down as the third best moment of my life behind giving my life to Jesus Christ and marrying my wife.”

     In the biggest moment of his football career, he made his priorities clear.  He let his entire audience of millions know straight up that his life does not revolve around football.

     See, this is the thing about walking with Jesus: the moment we give our lives to Him, our entire world changes its course and begins to orbit around Him. He is the Life-Giver, the Sustainer, the Father, and Sovereign God. Nothing else gives us what He does. In our “orbit” around our Creator, God calls us to accomplish things within the skill set and passions that He designed us with.

     God designed Case to glorify Him, to love his wife, and to play football. What Case told the media showed that he has realized the significance of each of those things in his life, and the order they take.

     What is your purpose? What fires you up? What is in your skill set that God specifically designed when creating you? If it’s using your musical talents to glorify God, your time on the basketball court or soccer field, or how speedy you are with figuring out those tough math problems, realize that what you are good at always comes second to how much your Heavenly Father loves you. Your purpose is found in Him first, but he loves you enough to encourage you to go for your goals and aim high.

     Case Keenum knows his purpose. He knows what he was put on this earth to do, is doing it, and is pumped about accomplishing a huge goal in his NFL career. There is nothing wrong with being overjoyed at the success God brings you, as long as you know that it is Him who is giving you the success, nd not your own efforts.  Find what you’re good at and find a way to glorify God with it. He takes such pleasure in watching you thrive!

Watch Case’s post-game interview here: https://www.foxsports.com/nfl/video/1137078851770