This is the third in a series of behind-the-scenes blog posts regarding the book, The Single Dad Detour.

Page 39 includes a story about the infamous unwanted grapefruit tree my first wife and I received as a gift. What you don’t know is that the tree was a Christmas gift from my in-laws.11

A nice enough gift if their motive had been right and if I was more mature. But we were both wrong. They gave us the tree merely thinking it would grow and they would get some fresh fruit in return.

In their defense, they were not thinking about the time and money it takes to grow good citrus in Florida. Fertilizer, pruning, and pest control (rats) were added chores that came with owning a fruit tree. At the time, I held an out-of-town job and commuted to work. I was away from home 12 hours each day. I rarely had time to do extra work.

Oh and let’s not overlook my identity to a yard. To me, the yard was a reflection of who I was—-much like house decor reflects the woman who lives there. I was particular (maybe too much) of what I put in my yard. I carefully considered the type of grass, each flower and tree, the kind of landscape bricks—-everything.

So when I saw the potted tree on Christmas morning, I was not sure how to respond. The look on my in-law’s faces clued me in to smile big and thank them. But as they dove into their expectations of reciprocated bags of fruit, my grin faded. I had visions of fat, fruit-fed rats taking over my yard and home, money spent of pruning tools and fertilizers, a heater to keep the tree from freezing during the winter months. Yes, central Florida often gets freezing temperatures that ruin entire citrus groves.333

I dutifully planted the tree and watered it. Then, under cover of night, so my neighbors couldn’t see me, I poured gasoline on the roots of that sweet little tree.

So good for the environment.

I never bothered to stop and ask God what I should do. Instead, as Frank Sinatra sang, “I did it my way.”

What a coward and a fool I was. I might have enjoyed years of fresh produce but I was too self-centered. I forfeited the joy of receiving a wonderful gift and the opportunity to provide sweet treats to my wife, kids, and in-laws.

22In this story shared in The Single Dad Detour I go on to explain how, if unchecked, our attitudes and actions lead us down roads we later regret. 

Being led by the Holy Spirit is key to surviving, whether it’s a Christmas gift you don’t want or a spouse that doesn’t want you. How often we take matters into our own hands.

When things don’t go as planned, pray. That’s the lesson here. Pray for wisdom, pray for humility, pray for maturity. The Lord is an ever-present help in time of need.

The rest of the story? Well, that poisoned tree lasted about 4-5 days and died. Then I pulled it out of the ground and tossed it in the trash can. I thought my problems were solved. In actuality, that dead tree represented a much bigger problem I was of yet unaware. 

The devil had poured poison on my family and I was about to discover my marriage was dead. But you’ll have to read the book if you want to know more about that.    

 

 

This is the second in a series of behind-the-scenes blog posts regarding the book, The Single Dad Detour.

At the start of Chapter 3, I mention a friend named “Rick.” A fake name for the book, but a real friend nonetheless. Rick and I were buddies from my days living in Polk County, FL. We went to church together and performed together in several drama productions at our church where I served as the Director of Theater Arts. 

On page 36, I mention how upset he was that the courts were expecting him to pay way more child support than he did before the divorce. I too, recall feeling victimized when I looked at the standard of living my kids had before the divorce and the much higher standard expected from me after the split. It was ludicrous.

But with Rick, who was now single again, it took him to some low places of depression and bad choices. In the book, I mention his descent into drinking and dropping out of community. He lost visitation rights with his daughter, then stopped his child support completely. But here’s the behind the scenes part or “the rest of the story” for Rick.

Rick and I slowly lost contact because we didn’t see eye-to-eye about things anymore. Eventually, I heard he started using drugs and had a run-in with local law enforcement. Then something awful happened. I never found out if the drugs were related to this but one day the news came that Rick had been killed in a car accident.

What a sad end to Rick’s life. His 13-year-old now had no dad and the only legacy he left behind was that of a dead-beat drug-addict. I loved Rick, even after he cut many of us out of his life.1111

Rick’s life stands as a warning to single dads. Don’t allow bitterness to have a foothold. Whether it’s toward your ex-spouse, the courts, or even a child who refuses to see you. Take the high road. Cling to Jesus and cast all your burdens upon the Lord.

He cares for you. He is your refuge–your strong tower.   

The Single Dad Detour: Directions for Fathering After Divorce released in February 2015 and became a work that is being utilized internationally to help dads all over the world. This humbles me and I’m so grateful for what God continues to do through the book. 

 

 

 

 

As promised, this is the first in a series of behind-the-scenes blog posts regarding the book, The Single Dad Detour. 

The Single Dad Detour started out as a fictional work. The title was Heart of Stone and it was the story of a single dad, a correctional officer who discovers a plot for his murder during an impending prison break. I planned to use the story in hopes that single dads who read it would learn how to survive parenting alone, all while being entertained.

Dumb idea.

11111My attempt at fiction was not so much out of creativity but fear. Fear that a self-help book would not fly unless I had a Ph.D. or other educational credentials.

Of course, the novel kept hitting a brick wall because my motive was wrong. Anytime you try to sneak a lesson into a piece of entertainment, it’s going to show up in blinding neon lights. Ugh! 

At the advice of my literary friends and professionals, I set aside my novel and dove into the first few chapters of what was then titled Help, I Think I’m Lost: How to Navigate Fatherhood After Divorce.

Once I decided to be authentic, I gained confidence as an expert in the field of family issues and the manuscript flowed out of me like magic.

As each chapter was completed, I’d take it to my critique group to have it polished. I am auto-didactic, so I listened and learned and read and grew as a writer. I interviewed single dads and other parents, researched the topic and added several interactive elements to the book.

Finally, almost 10 years after starting the novel, my non-fiction manuscript was organized enough to pitch to agents and publishing houses.

The rest is history. The Single Dad Detour: Directions for Fathering After Divorce released in February 2015 and became a work that is being utilized internationally to help dads all over the world. This humbles me and I’m so grateful for what God continues to do through the book. 

The lesson here is obvious. Move with confidence in the topic God has called you to write about. Don’t fear being accused as a fraud–you’re not! We shouldn’t hide behind one genre because we’re afraid of another. Step out and be authentic and watch God use you. 

I’m not saying I’ll never dive into writing a novel again one day. When it’s time, I’ll know. Until then, I look forward to what he might do with my upcoming project, PreLaunching: How to Prepare Your Teen for Adulting in Today’s World.  Only time will tell. 

How about you? How long did it take you to finish your first manuscript?