[fatherless generation] chapter 9: father to the fatherless

Written by Julia Swodeck

Blogger at Tither of Innovation, on Twitter at @juliakate.

April 8, 2011


a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families…

Psalm 68:5-6

In my teenage years I had many “adopted” sisters. Most of them were around my age and all of them were going through the same struggle – they were unmarried and pregnant. Within the church, my dad was the dad that they would come to for help. He would get them any assistance they needed and bring them into our family. Their fathers, if present, had rejected them. Their mothers were appreciative of our family, but silent in the situation.

A mentor’s presence in the life of a young person declares to him or her, “You are not rejected. You are important and valuable – you matter.”

I remember struggling with the fact that I had to share my dad and that sometimes their crisis would overshadow my “normal” existence. He provided so generously for them in their need. Meanwhile, I got a job and took on many of my needs by myself. Resentment began to sneak in and I decided that instead of feeling this hurt, I’d just make it a point to live independently. “I, julia, will be the type of female that takes care of herself. I will never find myself in crisis and be forced to depend on strangers. I will never drain the resources of others because of my choices. I will never expect anything from anybody and if I have need of anything, I’ll just get it myself…”


Mentoring is about answering God’s call, joining with him as he rewrites the broken story of a generation. Mentoring mirrors God’s pursuing heart.

My dad was doing the right thing. With compassion, he answered God’s call to step up to the plate and be a portion of what those girls were so deeply in need of. Their fathers had deserted them and he opened his heart and the warmth of our family to them. Through the years, God began to break my pride and show me that sharing my father may have been painful, but it set me up to understand His love in a very important way. I am the prodigal son’s brother. I didn’t live a wild life and bring shame and disappointment on my Father’s name. But being unwilling to share the Father’s love is a gross misunderstanding of its depth. In this, I had failed Him. In this, I had missed the mark.

And my father said, ‘Daughter, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours – but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This sister of yours was dead, and she’s alive! She was lost, and she’s found!’ [Luke 15:31-32 adapted from Msg]

I now find myself partaking in the task of sharing the Father’s love. I have found that there is more than enough to give away freely and more than enough to sustain the work He has called us to.  I also find myself receiving His love from many, though I had set my mind not to. Through the years, mentors have come along to speak wisdom and listen intently as I continue my journey. I can never be a father, but I have two fathers. One on this earth and One who designed this earth. It is not only my responsibility to defend the cause of the fatherless, but also to share with them my fathers and the love they have given so extravagantly.



  1. Anonymous

    This is beautiful. 🙂

    • Juliakate

      thank you 🙂

  2. rtucker

    Thanks for posting. Beautiful ideas.

    • Juliakate

      thanks for reading!

  3. Amanda

    Agreed, this is beautiful. “A mentor’s presence in the life of a young person declares to him or her, “You are not rejected. You are important and valuable – you matter.”–I love that…and of course it made me “tear up” because I’m seeing the fruits of my efforts to show the teen how important she is and that her life and her feelings matter. She DOES believe. Maybe not as much as she should, but way more than she used to. Also, “if nothing else” (and I know there is WAY more!), than these 10 months she and her sister have lived with me have shown them how fathers ought to be/can be (both in my own father and in my sister’s husband).

    Thanks for this.

    • Juliakate

      you continue to inspire me Amanda. thank you for stopping by and sharing even just a portion of the amazing story you are living out.

      • Amanda

        Aww, you made me cry. It is amazing to be living this story. You have an inspiring story too (although I will admit to wanting to spend more time reading about it 🙂 ) Of course, this story may end up being incredibly sad for a while, but I am glad I have documented THESE days, so I will remember them (and know you will help me remember them when I am struggling 🙂 )
        Thanks, friend.

  4. Beckykenealy

    this really is beautiful. i hope via Sarah’s FB prompt many people find their way to these words….really good stuff. THANKS

  5. Lucy2297

    whew………Miss Julia Kate! thank you for your vulnerablilty! so many people can learn from you because you allow yourself to be transparent when it is necessary. thank you my friend for your heart and your willingness to always share it with such honesty. i love you girl

  6. erna

    Beautiful as always!

  7. Elizabeth Gutierrez

    Julia- I too am feeling the calling as your father did, to share, to give back, to mentor, to fullfill my purpose on this earth.
    James 2:14-17NIV reads : “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

    Time & time again in the scripture, there is a calling to help others, love one another, offer hospitality, encourage. How can we not answer to this calling when there is such need in this world. I am in deep prayer for the lord to blindfold me and guide me to do his work-

    Thank you for your words of inspiration & for sharing…

    Elzabeth Gutierrez –


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[fatherless generation] chapter 9: father to the fatherless

by Julia Swodeck time to read: 3 min