The Father Factor


Certa blog - the father factor

It’s one thing to browse online, order an interesting book, and begin to read. It’s quite another to get a peek into the author’s heart and inspiration for writing. That’s just what we have here. Author Joan Crombie reveals how her own passion for helping others became the motivation behind her new release Keeping Kyla

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are.

I John 3:1a NIV

God isn’t like a father. He is a father. What an amazing privilege God gives to all those who receive him by faith—the right to become children of God (Jn 1:12)! His actual children!

God’s plan for earthly fathers (and mothers too, of course) was for them to be a conduit of who he is to their children. Fathers were meant to be that flesh-and-blood person through whom a child could experience the love, care, nurture, protection, and authority of God. Even in our sin-corrupted world today, it is still God’s design for fathers to not only instruct their children about God, but show them what God is like, and lead them to know him.

Yet fathers fall short—even the very best ones! Because our experience with our earthly father is a common lens through which we view God, all of us have some kind of skewed or tainted image of who God is and what he’s like. These perceptions are really lies, and coupled with unmet emotional needs, they can make our hearts sick. This faulty thinking can develop roadblocks that prevent us from moving forward spiritually, as well as produce behaviors in us that are self-sabotaging.

As a pastor, my heart goes out to wounded people stuck in unhealthy patterns. At our church we periodically hold a discipleship retreat which addresses key soul issues. Although the pathway to freedom may seem straightforward to those of us leading the retreat, each individual participant has to invite Jesus into their areas of hurt in order to have their own breakthrough. Some wounded believers have a difficult time spiritually going there—or can’t even get themselves to attend a retreat. Some people get there but can barely even open to God. Many times I’ve found myself wishing I could show some of these people how to press through doing the hard work of forgiving their father for ways they’ve been hurt. If they could only see it in action! It was from this frame of reference that I wrote my novel Keeping Kyla—to provide that picture!
Keeping Kyla is the story of Kyla DeKane, a college graduate dealing with the unexpected appearance of her birth father after a seventeen year absence. Kyla takes a temporary job as a nanny for the two young children of a college professor at his secluded mansion on the Mississippi River and unwittingly walks into a mystery there. As the summer unfolds, she learns to navigate some relational tensions in the household, but things escalate when one of her young charges makes a startling discovery—one that leaves her wondering whom she can trust

As a result, Kyla begins to face some of the lies that she has believed about God and turns to him for help. Keeping Kyla is a mystery and a love story. But most of all, it’s a powerful story of healing and reconciliation.

Early in the writing process I had a few friends read Keeping Kyla in its raw, unedited form. When one of them returned the story in its three-ring binder to me, she told me, “I bawled my eyes out when Kyla took the big step to forgive her father. I read that section about five times because I could see that God was calling me to forgive my own father!” Her words were music to my ears! 

Yes, healing of the heart is possible through Jesus! My dream is that God would use my fiction to help women and men “go there” with God in their place of pain and discover that he has been for them all along. He so desires for us to truly know him as our father. It’s one of the most wonderful revelations we can have!


The daughter of a cattle rancher, Joan Crombie grew up in a small town on the prairies of South Dakota. In 1985 she graduated from St. Olaf College with a B.A. in English Education. She and her husband Steven Crombie have been married for thirty-five adventurous years and have raised five children—one daughter and four sons. Currently, they reside in beautiful southern Minnesota where they pastor a church.




Keeping Kyla is a powerful story of reconciliation and healing! Purchase a copy for yourself and a few to give to those in your life struggling with father issues.

504 pages  |  $16.99

Buy it now


Guest Post: “Crossing Pain Lines” by Bruce Lengeman


Pain lines: the lines between the comfortable and the uncomfortable and safe and not safe. Pain lines divide those who want God’s best, from those content to live within the scope of the mediocre. It’s the difference between the high road and the comfy road.

Most people avoid pain lines by attempting to skirt around them—much like a halfback in football tries to skirt around a linebacker. Yet, growth and maturity in a relationship are often on the other side of a pain line. We live in a culture that socializes us, from birth to death, to seek comfort and avoid pain—at all cost! Pain and struggle are often viewed as the enemy, while peace and ease is seen as a friend.

But the truth is that pain is not always the enemy and peace is not always the friend.

The truth about pain lines can be applied to many areas of life, but I’m going to address the issue of crossing pain lines as it relates to marriage here.

What Are Pain Lines?

I’m not sure pain lines is the best name, but that’s what Ruthie and I call them. You may have a more suitable name for them depending on your relationship. Pain lines are the lines between what is comfortable and uncomfortable, routine and change, merely surviving and flourishing, good and God.

Pain lines divide those who are content to live within the comfortable parameter, or mediocre, from those whose pilgrimage strives for better and best. The latter realize that each step of improvement may involve, and often does, a rendezvous with discomfort.

Why I Talk About Pain Lines – Reason 1

There are two important reasons why I encourage people to cross pain lines: First, we see many, many couples who are not experiencing the full blessing of marriage, simply because they have not chosen to address issues in their relationship. These issues have prevented them from experiencing growth in relational intimacy, their mutual walk with God, their effectiveness as parents, and their fruit-bearing in God’s Kingdom.

Hand Grenade Love

The reason why many couples do not address these issues on the restricted side of pain lines is because they know that addressing them would be the same as pulling the pin on a hand grenade and watching to see what happens.

For example, one side of the couple may desire to confront the other side with a suggestion for improvement in the relationship, but unfortunately, this partner knows that the other will take any suggestion as a put-down, attack, or opportunity to level the playing field by counter-attacking.

The circumstances in crossing pain lines may vary—perhaps the one initiating the crossing— crosses with anger, a holier-than-thou attitude, or at an insensitive moment. On the other hand, the one addressing the issue may approach the situation with wisdom at an appropriate time, only to find that their spouse still takes offense or doesn’t desire to hear their entreaty. Many variations and scenarios exist, but the issue is that, whatever the variation, certain do-not-enter zones are established in marriages that keep them in ruts, prevent them from growing spiritually, and deter them from enjoying the fullness of the blessing of oneness and romance in marriage. 

One wife says, “We can work through anything—as long as I always take the blame. I do, just to keep the peace.”

Another says, “Whenever I make a suggestion to help improve our relationship, he says I need to learn to submit.”

A husband says, “I see some areas that I could help my wife with some of the problems she is having, but I’m afraid of hurting her feelings.”

One couple confessed, “For years we swept all uncomfortable issues under the rug. We learned to stuff our feelings, adjust our behavior and fake our love. Now, there is no more room to stuff them anymore, and the problems are manifesting. If we don’t work through these issues our marriage is done.

Why I Teach About Pain Lines – Reason 2

The second reason I teach on crossing pain lines is that crossing them, throughout the years, has helped Ruthie and me to experience steady growth in our marriage and family—growth we never would have experienced had we not tip-toed over the line into the uncomfortable. We have found that the pain of addressing and overcoming delicate issues is far less painful than living day-in-day-out with the pain endured from NOT addressing those issues.

My Marriage and Pain Lines

Our marriage has flourished largely because Ruthie and I have, time and again, been willing to cross pain lines. Simply put, a mediocre marriage was not what we made our covenant for. We embraced the simple facts about true love as defined in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7.

“Love suffers long…bears all things…endures all things” the suffering of love ceases to be a negative issue. When we embrace the view that certain pain and suffering is a healthy part of life, it often diminishes much of the effect of the pain, simply by removing the fear of the pain.

Crossing pain lines is somewhat like my morning runs—I torture myself, pushing my body beyond comfort, in order to strengthen and maintain my body and my health. When I cool down, I often want to do it again because of the nourishment it gives me. I go to bed anticipating the grueling event the following morning.

Coming to Grips with That Word

That word that sends lightning bolts of fear through many is confrontation. Some people erroneously believe this word to be a synonym of conflictConfrontation may involve conflict, but it may also be a wonderful dynamic to help avoid pending conflict.

Take aways

  • Some issues are for the future
  • Some issues are nit-picky
  • Some issues will never change
  • Some issues are bound by an unreceptive heart

First: Make a commitment together to be the best you can be.
Second: As you’re working together to be the best you can, accept your partner’s and your own shortcomings. Remember, love hides a multitude of sins.

Pain lines will always be, well, painful! Getting to the root of problems is not always pleasant, but the joy experienced from dissolving the problems at the root will be worth the effort!

What you need to ask yourself is this, “Am I experiencing God’s best in my marriage or am I merely content with mediocrity? If you want to see your marriage flourish, crossing pain lines will be a necessary part of your journey. The beauty is, you are not alone in this, the Lord will guide you each step of the way. And on the other side of the pain, awaits a stronger, healthier, and thriving marriage.

Originally published on Bruce’s blog

BruceL_AUTHOR.gifBruce Lengeman is a pastor, counselor, business motivation speaker, & the author of several works, including To Kill a Lion. He has a passion for seeing people set free & living to the fullness God has for them. He has worked in ministry for over 30 years & has had the privilege of seeing countless lives changed by the Lord. Visit