Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Family Forte: Fertilizer and Stethoscopes

Fertilizer and Stethoscopes For Growing Love
by: Topher Wiles

     Life with four children and multiple volunteer committments can be a little hectic and tiring, but absolutely wonderful if we keep our focus.  This past Saturday leaped off the blocks with a blazing start.  The Warrior Senior Project 5k Run with Gabriel and Ethan became my first hurdle toward the main event for the day.  The rain let up just enough for me to exhaust my legs on White County hills in an effort to support our seniors and earn some new hardware to hang around my neck.  From there I dashed over to our church for Central’s children’s ministry event, Pancakes and Pajamas.  While I stuffed my belly with pancakes and filled my heart with children’s conversations, my legs were growing sore.  When the pancakes were gone, field maintenance and throwing batting practice with the Junior Varsity Warriors Baseball Team  left the rest of my body stiff and feeling done for the day.  However, I still had an errand run in Cookeville with Micah before the focal point of my day.  By the time I was getting dressed for the Daddy Daughter Dance with Clara hosted by the Sparta Rescue Squad, my legs were screaming at me and my throwing arm was protesting while tying a tie.  The rest of my body agreed, it would rather have gone to bed than to have this date.  
     Yet, this date with my daughter was worth it all as she melted my heart and we grew our love for each other.  How can you grow your love?  Here are two quick ideas that worked for this dead-tired dad. 

     1)  DISCARD DISTRACTIONS - Like herbicide sprayed on a prized petunia, distractions can kill the growth of love with your child.  The Daddy Daughter Dance began with a long line for photos and meal.  While waiting in line with Clara I took out the cell phone to snap a couple quick photos of us in our masquerade attire when she started spinning her dress to the music.  After a short video to show her mother, the cell phone went in the diaper bag slung over my shoulder.  After all, I was there to have a date with my daughter, not focus on social media.
Sadly, some of the dads in attendance didn’t get the memo.  I witnessed some fathers thumbing through social media while their daughters ate their meal in silence.  I saw dads gathering around the water cooler like break time at work while their dearests earnestly watched and waited at the table for their return.   I looked on as men moved through the motions of a date while their daughters dreamed of having their full attention.   
     I’m grateful to say that the majority of men in attendance were active participants in growing their love by putting away all distractions and focusing their conversation, attention, and efforts toward their darling daughters.  That daddy attention acted like fertilizer in the relationship.  Growing love toward your child involves putting away distractions that act like an killing spray to a blossoming flower.

     2)  LISTEN AND WATCH - Growing our love takes a focus on our listening skills.  As a doctor focuses his listening skills through a stethoscope, so we focus our attention on the desires of children’s hearts.  For tonight, my stethoscope was watching Clara’s eyes.  When her eyes darted toward cupcakes I let her know that it was ok for us to eat dessert first on our dinner plates.  When those beautiful blue eyes wandered to the dance floor, I knew it was time to be finished with food, and wander along with her.  After an hour of dancing (my legs were still screaming at me, my throwing arm still protesting), her gaze fell on the balloons being bounced around the floor by the other girls.  I knew it was then my time to play “bounce the balloon” with my giggling daughter.  When her weary eyes finally shifted toward the door, my listening stethoscope told me my two year old darling had enough energy for one night and was ready for winding it down at home.   Listening to her heart by watching her eyes helped grow our love as I was able to continually give her the attention and activities she desired. 

     THE RESULTS - I was blessed by discarding distractions and listening to her heart through a night filled with unforgettable smiles, sweet butterfly kisses on the cheek, and those special “I love you” words dropped in at the most opportune of times.  I vividly remember spinning Clara with her flaring dress around on the dance floor while her head was tilted back, eyes closed, and that beautiful smile beaming bright.  You might say, “She’s only two – she won’t remember the date later,” and you’re right: she won’t remember the specifics of our evening a few years from now.  But what she will know is that her daddy loves her and cherishes her and treats her with care and respect.  Winning her heart now lays a firm foundation for the sometimes shaky adolescent years.  Even when she faces changing hormones and sometimes-fickle peer groups, she will have the safe sturdiness of her father’s love to support her.
     Fathers, it isn’t always easy (especially in the midst of a full schedule and an aging body) to take the time now to show your children that they are important and loved, but you can still do it by discarding distractions and listening to their hearts.  Strive to let them know that your love is gentle and tender as well as dependable and strong.  You’re laying the groundwork now for a strong future for your children.

“And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.” – Malachi 4:6a

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at CentralChurch of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email,, or through our website,