Category Archives: Parenting

Ten Ways to Fail As a Father

Happy Father’s Day!

There is a portrait of my family hanging in our living room with the following verse written below it.

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. – Joshua 24:15 KJV

There is a lot to be said about a father who will say such things. There’s a lot to be said about a father who won’t.

Tuff Stuff

I want to share with you a list I found in a sermon by a Wesleyan pastor, Bruce Howell. I don’t know if he came up with it or if he found it somewhere else. All I know is that it is convicting.

There will be a lot of people talking about how to be a better dad, but if you want to know how to fail, here are 10 sure-fire ways to screw up.

Ten Ways to Fail As a Father

1. Have fights in front of your children. Then when guests come, turn around and act affectionate toward one another.
2. Stifle your children’squestions by saying, “Don’t bother me now; I’m busy.”
3. Take no interest in your children’s friends. Let them run around with whomever they choose.
4. Never discipline your children; try to use psychology instead.
5. Nag them about their schoolwork; never compliment them on their achievements.
6. Demonstrate your love for them with material things. Give them everything their little hearts desire.
7. Never discuss the facts of life with them. Instead, let them learn about sex from their friends, public school, or pornographic literature.
8. Set a bad example so the children will not want to grow up to be like you.
9. Absolutely refuse to believe it if you are told that your children have done something wrong.
10. Let your children make their own choices in the matter of religion. Be careful not to influence them in any way.

Help us, Father God, to be more like you.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, Parenting, Relationships and Family

Introducing Emma

The “Mug” Post

I know that some of you may have short-term memory, but many of you may remember a post I published back in January entitled, “How Do You Pronounce This Word?

What was the word? Grandpa.

All I did was show a picture of a coffee mug, then promise that more details would follow.

Well, now is the time to share the details that I promised earlier.

But first…

Meet My Granddaughter!

Emma Louise Westbrook!

On Friday the 24th of this month (May), I officially became a grandpa – Emma’s adoption became final. The above picture was taken at the courthouse, and it’s obvious she’s intelligent enough to understand everything that was happening.

Who wouldn’t smile at the thought of being the granddaughter of a grandpa who can sing, draw, color, play with blocks, imitate Grover from Sesame Street, and generally be a kid at the drop of a hat?

Adoption Conversation

I have to admit, I look forward to the day, someday in the future, when the whole subject of adoption can lead to an “adoption conversation.”

There are five times in the Bible where “adoption” is mentioned. One of those times is in the well-known verse below:

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. – Romans 8:15

It will be great to one day have a conversation with her about salvation, and from an aspect that few of us understand as much as she will – because she’s that intelligent 🙂

We will talk about how that just like her mom and dad, her Father in heaven said, “I’ll do whatever it takes to make her mine.” And maybe – because she’s a smart one – she’ll enlighten me to some deeper aspects of a truth that applies equally to me.

I’m so happy that Josh and Alicia were able to have their dream come true to expand their family. We were already so proud of them, but now we are even more proud of how they are becoming the best parents they can be.

My prayer for them is that they also think of the “adoption conversation” and remember that they, more than anyone else in the world, will be able to mirror the love of the Father in their parenting. By their example they can lay the groundwork for a personal introduction to the One who wants to adopt us all into His Family.

Now that you know her, expect more in the future – I’m a grandpa, you know. 

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Filed under Family, Love of God, Parenting

The Mother’s Day Song (There’s None Better)

Learn It, Love It

Honestly, I’ve written some fairly decent songs over the years, but one of my favorites (at least in the month of May) is “The Mother’s Day Song.”

Therefore, I want you to listen to this song again.

Seriously. It’s a tradition.

Learn it, love it, and then share it with your own mother or mother-like substitute. You could, I suppose, sing it to yourself while imagining Carly Simon somewhere near saying, “I bet you think this song is about you.” And you wouldn’t be vain, either! You’re a mother! You deserve it!

(Note: If you did not catch the humor in the above Carly Simon reference, you’re probably too young to be a mother…or you didn’t click on the above link, duh!)

Read Them, Love Them

Now, it’s not because I’m being lazy, it just that some previous Mother’s Day posts were pretty good ones, so why try to top it this year? Below is a link to one.

(As a bonus, scroll through the comments and you’ll get to see me play and sing it live.)

“If I Were a Mother”

However, if you haven’t read what I wrote about my mother and grandmothers on ProverbialThought.com, check out this link.

“Honoring Mothers”

My mother is still with us, but my grandmother (Lorene Cagle, seen below on the right) passed away this year. She was the last of my grandparents.

So, appreciate your mother on Mother’s Day, everyone! Sing the song!

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Filed under music, Parenting, Relationships and Family

Our Condolences to the Held and Evans Families

Two of our three daughters attend/attended Bryan College in Dayton, TN. Katie is in her last semester finishing up her student teaching, while Haley took classes while doing dual enrollment during high school.

Both thought very highly of their conservative Bible professor, Dr Held.

On Saturday, Dr. Held’s daughter, a native of Dayton, TN, and a popular progressive Christian author and activist, died at the age of 37.

As a conservative Christian pastor and blogger, I maintained strong disagreements with Rachel Held Evans, and thought her opinions and doctrinal positions were often dangerous, if not heretical. However, she was always someone’s daughter, and I can understand that kind of love.

Therefore, on behalf of our daughters and myself, we would like to offer our sincerest, heartfelt condolences to the Held and Evens families. May the God of peace comfort you as you rest in the Hope of reunion.

In shared grief,

Rev. Anthony C. Baker

https://www.foxnews.com/us/rachel-held-evans-progressive-christian-author-dies-37

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Filed under Family, Life/Death, Parenting

“Pleeeease, Daddy!”

The following post was first published in March of 2015, but the truth is still totally relevant…please read…especially if you’re a father of little girls.


As I watched, my heart broke, my eyes flooded with tears, and I nearly had to leave the theater – that’s how I felt when I watched a particular scene in the movie Do You Believe?.

lacey Do You Belive Movie still

Credit: Still from “Do You Believe?” Movie

Alex PenaVega (of Spy Kids fame) played the role of a young woman named Lacey. Early in the movie she is shown sitting on a couch, on her cell phone, begging her father to either come to visit her, or let her spend some time with him (as I type this my eyes are beginning to water).

Totally desperate for his attention and affection, through barely contained sobbing, she cries out to her daddy, “pleeeease!

Now I’m crying. Seriously. Read on and you’ll understand why.

Not long ago, Katie (my middle daughter) called me up in the middle of the night…then called again…and again… She was at college and really, really ill.

Long story short, she wanted me to come get her…in the early hours of dark morning…before I had to get up and drive a school bus! It was an hour there, an hour back, not to mention loading her stuff, and I needed to be on a bus at 6:20 a.m.! But what was I supposed to do? She was my daughter, and through tears she asked, “Pleeease, daddy, I want to come home!”

I made record time to Bryan College.

Yesterday was a long day, from getting up early after going to bed late, to church last night. Then, at around 9:30 p.m. my little girl, Haley, asked, “Daddy, would you watch a movie with me?”

I looked down at my watch…my eyes were already heavy…I thought to myself, “It’s not going to be long before she’s grown and gone like the others.”…What’s another long day, right?

“Sure,” I replied. “What do you want to watch?”

The reason the scene in the movie got to me was that there are so many little girls out there…girls of all ages…each one willing to give anything for a little time with Daddy. And where are the dads? What is more important to them than a little girl on the other end of the line, soaking her cell phone with tears, crying “Pleeese, Daddy! Pleeeease!“?

More tears.

I like the way the New Living Translation renders Jesus’ words regarding fathers and their children…

You fathers–if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” – Luke 11:11-13

My heart broke as I watched Alex PenaVega’s character weep for her daddy. It broke because the scene she was acting out was all too real – there’s a lot of hurting people out there who may never find comfort in a father’s arms.

Oh, would to God that men would be men and be the heroes their little girls need! Heaven only knows how many precious lives would be spared abuse, broken marriages, and life-long addictions if only daddies would be daddies!

How wonderful it is to know that we as believers have a Father in heaven, our Abba Father, who loves us more than any earthly father ever could! But does that excuse us dads from being our little girls’ knights in shining armor? Absolutely not!

A daddy’s role is to strive to be like our heavenly Father: one who is compassionate; one who listens; one who is patient; one who is strong as an oak tree, uncompromising, yet still available for make-believe tea or midnight retrievals from the dormitory.

Men…dads…be there for your daughter; God’s collecting her tears.

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Filed under Movie review, Parenting, Relationships and Family

How Do You Pronounce This Word?

Grand

The word in question is a compound word. The first part of this compound word is a word that means big, large, awesome, piano, and showoff… I think.

Let me check….

Grand
    adjective

  1. a  :Having more importance than others
    b  :Having higher rank than others bearing the same general designation
  2. a  :Inclusive. Comprehensive
    b  :Definitive, Incontrovertible
  3. :Chief, Principle
  4. :Large and striking in size, scope, extent, or conception
  5. a  :Lavish, Sumptuous
    b  :Marked by a regal form and dignity
    c  :Fine or imposing in appearance or impression
    d  :Lofty, Sublime
  6. a  :Pretending to social superiority :supercilious
    b  :Intended to impress
  7.  :Very good :wonderful

Yep, pretty much what I thought.

Not An Animal Foot

Some people pronounce the second part of this compound word in the same way they would pronounce the foot of an animal with toes and claws. They would say it like “paw.” Therein lies the controversy.

The actual spelling of the word is pa, and it could be pronounced “pah,” like in pot, ‘possum, or “Pa! Half pint just punched Nelly in the face!”

Personally, probably because of the geographic area in which I was reared, I prefer the “paw” pronunciation, but not the spelling.

Compounded

When you put the two words together what you have is something that sounds like “the most important, impressive, wonderful animal foot,” but the way you should spell it is…

GRANDPA.

How would you pronounce it?

Details to follow. IF you’re interested, that is.

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Filed under Family, Parenting

Displaying Masculinity With Photos

Since it is a topic of hot debate these days, I figured I would keep the boat floating in the stream a little while longer and write a little more about the subject of masculinity.

Except today I’m going to do it from a laptop in the passenger seat behind my wife while she’s driving – it’s a long trip.

And I’m going to do with with pictures – like the one I just took of my computer before I typed this sentence 🙂

By the way, as of this moment, after nearly 10 years of blogging, I’m only at 49% of my memory limit with WordPress, so I’m not worried about the amount of photos in this post.

Anyway, I was thinking about masculinity and how it’s displayed, and that’s when I decided to search back through my phone’s photos. I thought it would be interesting to post some pictures from my life and share what I though was “masculine” or “manly” about them.

Some of these photos might fit a stereotype you don’t like. Some may make you scratch your head. But if I was to tell a young boy what it means to be a man, and if I could show him through some of my own pictures, this is what I would say.

And please understand, I’m not trying to make this all about me… I’m just making observations.

A real man is one who makes a commitment to one woman for life and remains faithful, treasures her, and makes her laugh.

Real men don’t shame their mothers; they make them proud. This is me with my mother and late grandmother who died last year. It’s called honor.

A real man is humble enough to wear a tie he doesn’t like because his wife and daughters do.

Fun. A real man has fun with his kids. He makes memories for their sake, not just his. This was during the last total solar eclipse. Awesome!

 

I love my girls. I’m proud of my girls. Both this picture and the next one are of me with my girls when I escorted them to a purity ball in Hopkinsville, KY. I know what some people think about promoting purity (abstinence), but I really don’t care – I’m a dad.

Masculine men let their daughters know they are loved, no matter what. Even if they disappoint me, I will still love them. But a real man – a masculine man – will be his daughters’ hero, protector, and defender of their honor. And no joke, their lives are more precious to me than any boy who’d hurt them. Be warned, guys – and that’s not hyperbole.

On the day that this picture was taken, we dropped Katie (the one on the right) off at college. When I got back home and walked by her empty bedroom, I cried like a baby for 30 minutes. Real men can cry when there’s a reason to cry, and that was one of them.

Nearly 6 years ago I finally earned my Master’s degree. This is my wife, all three daughters, me, and Mr. Monkey (he was an honorary graduate). I’ve still got a lot of room to improve, but a real man is one who finishes what he starts; he makes a commitment and follows through. I started college in 1986…I finally got my B.A. in 2011, my M.Min. in 2013. I’m still working on my D.Min., but I’ll get there.

This is a Ford flat head V-8. I think the essence of manhood is being able to work on something, to fix things. In my opinion, every man ought to rebuild an old engine at least one time in his life.

And speaking of working on cars, every man should teach his kids how to take care of things on their own. He should teach them how to be responsible and not always have to depend on others to fix their problems. Here I am teaching Haley how to change out a windshield wiper motor on her Acura.

You can be a real man and remain calm, cool, and collected when teaching your children how to drive. A masculine man doesn’t have to lose his cool.

There are cowards and criminals who use guns. But here in America, a masculine man isn’t afraid to teach his daughters how to shoot, even a Colt .357 Magnum revolver. My girls prefer a man who likes the smell of gunpowder and has wrists at least as strong as theirs 😉 2nd Amendment all the way in this house.

 

Real men, masculine men, admit their fears, but then they do what needs to be done – like getting on a roof to tar leaking shingles.

 

I think a good sign of masculinity is being able to handle big machinery. An added sign of masculinity is being able to teach others how to handle big machinery without getting killed or killing others. This is me at the bus garage one summer while training new drivers.

Not the best picture, but this is me in uniform as a chaplain for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. My definition of a real man, a real leader, a masculine man, includes being a servant. This is a voluntary role, but a needed one. Those who put their lives on the line for us need people to have their backs, too.

Masculinity is not devoid of humility and meekness. This was during a VBS when I agreed to let kids who won a contest treat me like an ice cream sundae. The cherry on the top was a literal cherry on the top.

Masculine men don’t avoid going to the doctor when they need to, but they don’t act like babies, either. Real men – masculine men – keep a “stiff upper lip” and do their best to keep others encouraged, even when they might be scared themselves.

This is me in Zimbabwe with Mr. Monkey. Real men, masculine men, aren’t too proud to get down in the dirt to put a smile on a child’s face.

Real men, masculine men, treat all of God’s creatures with respect and care. This is Nugget and me (Nugget went missing a couple of years ago and I still miss him). He always looked forward to going out on Saturdays for coffee and a treat from Hardee’s or McDonald’s.

Real men should at least try to grow a beard at least once. It’s a right that none should deny, even to non-Calvinists. But being masculine doesn’t mean you should let small woodland creatures take up residence on your face.

It takes a real man to get into a cold lake to baptize somebody. Of course, it takes a real man to be willing to be dunked in the cold water, too! But on a different note, in many places getting baptized in public can cost you everything. Therefore, this wasn’t as big a deal for me and this brother as it is for others. Good to keep things in perspective.

Katie and I recorded a video on Facebook Live. We played “Leaning On the Everlasting Arms.” I don’t know what’s exactly masculine or manly about this, but standing in a public park playing hymns takes nerve these days.

This was from Jan. 16 of this year…from when I took the stage with Katie for her final song of her senior recital. All I can say is that I must have done something right to have been asked by my daughter to step on stage during a formal recital at a university and play guitar for her. A real man doesn’t make his kids ashamed of him but earns their respect.

Masculinity demands that a man take charge and kill the bugs. The women folk shouldn’t have to. That includes carpenter bees trying to destroy the house. The face of a warrior.

Masculine men aren’t afraid to have friends, especially the kind who keep him accountable – iron sharpens iron. This is me with two of my blogger brothers, James Neff and Wally Fry. Real men. True friends.

Real masculinity will exhibit some form of competitiveness. It’s just in a man’s nature to be the warrior, the fighter, the competitor. We need fewer men who hand out participation trophies and more men who compete to win – or at least root for a team that wants to. Go Braves!

This is from when Building 429 stopped by a local Cracker Barrel and I legalistically misjudged them (I wrote a post about it). This is Katie posing with them after I admitted my sinful error and asked for their forgiveness. Real men, masculine men, aren’t afraid to admit when they’ve done wrong.

This photo was taken of me when I prayed on the steps of Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC, after the deadly shooting. Real men shouldn’t be afraid to pray in public, especially in places where reconciliation is desperately needed.

 

Lastly, here I am in front of the church where I am Pastor. Genuine masculinity demands that a man be bold, courageous, and unafraid to speak the truth, even when the truth is hard to hear. Jesus was our greatest example of manhood, but there was also Paul, John the Baptist, and a host of others. Their brand of masculinity is what I’m striving for.

I’m just glad I had a dad that taught me what it meant to be a man. He was a consistent, loving, meek, humble, trustworthy, honorable, hard-working, self-sacrificing, faithful husband and man of God.

That’s about all I’ve got to say. Hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures.

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