I had a email exchange with Mrs. Ezzo a while back regarding a blog post idea for this site. I mentioned that I was considering a blog series on my implementation of The Father’s Mandate from chapter four of Growing Kids God’s Way. Here’s what I said in my email to Mrs. Ezzo:

“I am thinking of starting a series of posts on the Father’s Mandate.  This would serve as a good refresher for me and provide other dads with some encouragement to keep focus on these priceless duties as a father during stressful times.”

Mrs. Ezzo was very encouraging in her response to this idea. This email exchange took place over two years ago, one thing led to another, life happened, and I did not post the blog series here on as planned. In 2011 I launched the web site with a podcast and blog. The site is intended to educate parents on technology safety in addition to encouraging, equipping, and challenging men to rise above mediocrity in their marriage and parenting. Rising Above Mediocrity is one of my favorite titles from Mom’s Notes by our good friends and mentors Joey and Carla Link. The title to that particular teaching expresses the result that I hope and pray for as I continue to share with parents through the blog and podcast.

I did eventually follow through with my idea to complete a series on The Father’s Mandate. I even stepped it up a notch. In addition to creating blog notes, I also shared my implementation of the Father’s Mandate in an eight part audio podcast series. These eight episodes are available for download for free directly from or you can subscribe to the free podcast via iTunes.  Episodes 12-19 include the Father’s Mandate series. Episode 20 of the Podcast provides a followup to The Father’s Mandate series. That episode also includes direct links to each of the eight parts from the series as well as a cute interview with my nine year-old son Riley as he shares his favorite holiday traditions.

I would love to hear your feedback about The Father’s Mandate series or the web site in general. You can say hello in the comments section of the blog.

Years ago, we lived under the delusion that, as we grew older, life and ministry would eventually slow down for us. Yet, that has not been the case so far! Driven by a sense of urgency, we find ourselves fully absorbed and engaged in ministry activities that are becoming increasingly complex and multifaceted. Here is what has happened in the recent past and will be unfolding in 2012.

Over the last 18 months, we fully revised and updated the Preparation for Parenting series, with its emphasis on birth to six months; created a new, four-part Babyhood Transitions series—Parenting Your 5 to 12 Month Old; and updated the Preparation for the Toddler Years series, Parenting Your 12 to 18 Month Old. We also edited and published two GFI parenting classics, Creative Family Times, by the Hadidians and Wilsons, and What Every Child Should Know along the Way, by Gail Martin.

Another major undertaking was the rewriting and expanded On Becoming Babywise and Babywise II. Those new editions just arrived at the GFI warehouse. Along with the updated Babywise comes a new frontier for us—a Babywise Nap App.

The new Nap App will work as an analysis tool that can help parents isolate the underlying causes of nap disruptions and sleep disturbances for infants between 2 and 12 months of age. When the user responds to four basic questions, the App reduces the hundreds of nap-disturbance variables down to the most likely sources. It then generates a short list of the most likely reasons, explains each specific challenge, and offers recommendations to solve the challenge. The Babywise Nap App will be available in March of 2012.

In March of 2012, we will be releasing the new Blending by the Book, by Lance and Susan St. Clair, a supplemental workbook for blended-family households taking Growing Kids God’s Way. Each chapter of the book parallels the lessons from the Growing Kids series, bringing special application to the often-complex relationships found in blended-family homes.

We also invested a significant amount of attention to the development of our new GFI website. This site should be up and running in April 2012, along with a new Video Website, which will host a library of parenting topics presented in two-five minute video segments. We are currently in the final phase of both websites.

Behind the scenes, however, our major focus continues to be the development and production of the long-awaited Gift series. This project, which includes hundreds of adults and children in a variety of settings, special effects and weather-dependent scenes, is designed to take parent education to a whole new level. The Gift series meets the unique needs of the millennial generation. Regarding a release date for this project, the only thing we can say to the “faithful” is that “we’re working on it diligently”! We know it will be released in 2012, but since we cannot control all the filming variables, we cannot promise a date yet. Please keep us in your prayers.

Finally, our shared ministry to families has always been thrilling, inspiring and, yes, challenging. At the same time, we recognize how privileged and blessed we are to be part of this great, unfolding, heavenly drama and to be participating in it with so many couples whom we are honored to call friends.

Tis’ the season of reflection, celebration and yes, the GFI annual 2011 Christmas Sale. It is on right now!

A quick click above on thGFI Store tab, will bring you to practical gift ideas for everyone on your list—all wrapped in BIG savings.

We pray a joyous Christmas and New Year’s blessing for all within the GFI community of family and friends for whom we are truly thankful. Enjoy this season of celebration.
Gary & Anne Marie

With the GFI National Conference behind us, we are now turning our attention to a couple of other important projects impacting the GFI community and this website.

Behind the scenes, our major focus continues to be the development and production of the long  waited Gift series. The scope of this project – which includes hundreds of adults and children in a variety of settings, special effects and weather dependent scenes – is designed to take parent education to a whole new level. While the focus of the  teaching content parallels the Growing Kids God’s Way, by no means will it replace the GKGW series. The Gift series offers a contemporary alternative that meets the unique needs of the ‘digital’ generation. Regarding a release date for this project, the only thing we can tell you at this point, is that “we’re working on it -diligently! Keep us in your prayers.

More pertinent to this website is the effort being made, by the GFI team to upgrade all our websites.  The plan is to expand our multimedia influence while consolidating  our written  resources. We are not sure when the new website(s) will officially be ‘on line’ but we wanted to alert our readership that we are actively working toward the new look and content changes.

It is precisely because we are redirecting so much time and resources to these upgrades, that we made the decision to ‘freeze frame’ this website until we migrate all the information into the new formats. For now, will continue remain active and be a handy resource and library. However, we will not be adding any new blogs or content data to this site. The next article posted will be to announce the activation of the various updated GFI websites.

Thank you for your understanding and patience with the process.

Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo

The following post is a bit out of the ordinary from some of our regular genre. First of all, it is written by one of our ‘children’, Callie M. We met Callie, when she was just a baby, her parents took Prep for Parenting, well it had to have been the late 80’s as Callie will soon be a college graduated. You can read more about Callie and her family on her blog site Callie’s Perspective. My purpose in sharing Callie’s Perspective and Reflection on College is in part for those of you just beginning your parenting journey and other’s further down the road with college years rapidly approaching; to be encouraged knowing the foundation you are laying now in the life of each child will carry him or her well into the future. A future that as parents, you can only prepare and equip your child for but a future you cannot control. Life is a journey for each one of us and God has lessons for us to learn along the way … Callie shares some of her life lessons with us, hope you enjoy it.

Blessings on your journey in parenting and life,

Anne Marie

I’ve been studying Flannery O’Connor quite a lot lately for school. I taught a class on four of her short stories this last Monday. I chose her as the author for my teaching day because the first time I read her, I didn’t know what to do with her. Her stories are all stunningly beautiful and interesting and –– as any writer knows –– brilliant. But they are sad and violent and strange. They made me think.

Maybe what makes them so good is that they’re so . . . real. Christians often don’t like to look at the ugliness of the world. We don’t like to see the sin and pain or anything too jarring.

I’ve been like that most of my life. I would toss away any story with a slightly unhappy ending, completely frustrated by it. I would fall apart at the first sign of struggle, tension or heartbreak in my life. I was that girl that believed in prince charming and sunny days and a life that was like a movie –– a happy one with good music, of course.

But then, I got a little bit older. There were fights. There was bad heartbreak. There was rejection. There was failure. There was disappointment. There was stress and money problems. I don’t exactly think I’d been stupid before –– I just hadn’t come up against this all at once before. I couldn’t understand why my optimistic, romantic view of life wasn’t panning out. What if I let people down? What if I fail at this job? Why doesn’t he love me back? What happens if I can’t make my rent payment? How do I deal with missing my sisters so much that I ache? I didn’t like it.

Not that my life was ever bad –– no, on the contrary it’s been extraordinarily blessed. But I think I just came into a fuller realization of the pain in the world. Not just mine, but everyone’s. And my little heart was heavy. I wondered if I was just getting wiser, or was I losing my optimism?

Yes, I was a die-hard romantic, but over these last few years, I found myself asking: Is it bad if I’m not anymore?

I think Flannery answered that question for me. She brought together a lot of the truths I’ve been learning over these years of college. Torrey’s mantra is that we want to pursue the good, the true and the beautiful. And it’s been hard work. These last four years haven’t been a walk in the park . . . yet, in some ways they have. What I mean is: I didn’t always find the good, the true or the beautiful, but the route was scenic. Maybe just the act of looking for them is optimistic — because that means you believe the good is out there. God is out there.

As Flannery’s stories showed me so poignantly, the good and beautiful in life are sometimes still painful. And the pain isn’t something to shun. One of my favorite Flannery quotes is “Grace is change, and change is painful.” That’s hopeful, isn’t it? Hard, but hopeful. Maybe the definition of optimism is seeing that pain is grace. It too can be beautiful.

I thought maybe I lost my optimism in a slew of real life — work, tuition checks, conflict and boy drama. But then, I think of sitting in the sun on my deck, eating Panda Express with Lizzie, re-reading “Blue Castle,” laughing at the antics of my two-year-olds in my Sunday School class, cooking, sleeping, chatting, giggling…

These are both part of reality and I can’t ignore the good that comes along with pain. And I can see the good in the pain that comes from pursuing the good, the true, and the beautiful –– God. He’s hard to find here on earth sometimes. Yet, He’s magnificently everywhere.

“Grace is change, and change is pain.”

Maybe I’m more of a realist now. Maybe like Flannery, I can see the jarring and the ugly in life, and I hope I won’t run the other way. Knowing that grace and beauty are at the end –– and in between times too –– I think that makes me an optimist.

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