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Archive for the ‘Christian Parenting’ Category

Edmund_blair_leighton_accoladeA soul that doesn’t recognize that a relationship with Yahweh is as important to his development as his physical DNA, cannot grow into the man they were designed to be.

Before God was stripped out of our schools, off library bookshelves, community meetings, commencement addresses, curriculum, or our government, school shootings, from Columbine to the UC- Santa Barbara killings weren’t a thread in the tapestry of our history.

Please join me over at The Mom Initiative today for the rest of my post, for why our boys need to know they are God-Designed.

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writingwindowStart

When I was young and read one Nancy Drew book a day, The Secret Garden made me believe something whole and beautiful can come from loss and brokenness, and a Candle in Her Room broke my heart: words and the world they created became close friends

 . . . . and so I write

When I was bursting independence, I wrote newspaper print on the how prenatal care reduced infant mortality from 25% to 2%, interviewed Mitch McConnell on his run for the Kentucky state senate, visited haunted houses and old men sitting on town square benches – I collected stories

 . . . .  And so I write

Living hours away from grandmother’s front porch swing, I wrote about little boys growing to someone I loved who only remembered the first son and the little boy with the great big frown. Dementia had stolen her stories, so I sent her mine because even 5 minute stories are worth 5 minutes of joy.

 . . . . and so I write

“Why are you shouting at me, Mom,” this fresh teen said as I came into the kitchen. I wiped the shout from my face, “I’m sorry. I wasn’t shouting. Was my face still shouting at your brother?” Communication is a large part body language and small part word choice and tone. My son couldn’t hear tone. We needed to learn more about body language and context. CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder) taught me much about communication – and how graceless with it I can be. Because body language isn’t there to detract from the message – and tone can be better controlled than in real-time, verbal communication, lectures started coming via letters.

 . . . . and so I write

27 years of living with these 5 boys to men, raising them in a world dominated by male communication: humor, frustrating, dreams, challenges, late night

Stop (I couldn’t stop there)

heart spills when everyone’s asleep and I’ve been up grading papers – coaching independence with training wheels  – and then they cross a threshold into the men’s club – and this woman’s history, the story-keeper of family faith, challenges overcome, and miracles has no one to pass it down to, a one-woman club because there’s no one to join.

“God created a “Pass it Down” mechanism within each of us, the need for our life, experience and learning to be given away. It is something as necessary to us as water is to life” ~ My Life is Not My Own

Here, at blue cotton memory is a mother’s inheritance for a daughter available for any daughter needing a mother’s inheritance.
 . . . . and so I write

I think God knew I would need a place to tell the stories of God in our family – his miracles, his comfort, his provision, his love, comfort and saving:

I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths,
Stories we heard from our fathers,
    counsel we learned at our mother’s knee.
We’re not keeping this to ourselves,
    we’re passing it along to the next generation—
God’s fame and fortune,
    the marvelous things he has done. ~ Psalm 78: 2-4

. . . . and so I write

I’ve been in a hot chocolate mood this week – with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. The boys call it Mama’s Special Hot Chocolate that I only make on snow days. Grab a cup, let it warm you as it goes down – and include 5 minutes of your heart  on the word. . . Write – and join Lisa-Jo’s gracious hospitality for Five-Minute Friday.

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He’d pulled a knife on my son, in the 7th grade hallway. Pulled it and said he was going to stab him in the back and kill him next week. This boy ran away shortly after that. He was a habitual runaway. He’d run. Come back. Start the threats over again. This cycle continued through the year. This boy was screaming for someone to take care of him, to make him go to school, to scoop his emotional self up and put him back together each day. Youth rail at boundaries – yet cry out for shepherding.

I prayed for this runaway who had threatened my son – prayed for him like I prayed for my son.

I never imagined, though, my children would consider running – ever. I thought love, healthy boundaries, discipline, encouragement, knowledge of a loving God – I thought that would immunize them to a run-away heart.

Please click over to Cause/Pub ‘s Couch Rebel Project for the rest of the story – this story of a silent epidemic in our communities and churches – just click here.

Thank you, Beck, Amy and Karin for all your encouragement to do this!

238-wideCausePub has teamed up with Blood:Water Mission to fund-raise to clean water in Africa.

For every book sold, Blood:Water Mission, will be able to provide three people with clean water for one year. Blood:Water Mission is a grassroots organization that empowers communities to work together against HIV/AIDS and the water crisis in Africa. Blod: Water Mission was founded in 2005 by the multi-platinum GRAMMY Award-winning band, Jars of Clay. Crowd Publishing for Impact is teaming with Blood: Water Mission to sell 15,000 copies of Couch Rebels . The sales from this publication will allowthem to impact 45,000 lives with clean water for a year.

What’s in the book Couch Rebels? That is to be determined now by you. They have asked for writers/bloggers to contribute about an experience that placed them outside their comfort zone. They review submissions to determine phase one of what articles/posts/stories go in the book. If your writer is accepted, you enter phase 2 where readers vote (not just click like but vote) to determine whether your article will be included in the published project.

There’s still a few more days for you to include yours – please do CausePub is accepting stories until 7/2.

Please – stop by and check mine out. Yes, I’m doing the happy dance that I made it past Phase one for 2 writing projects. If you are encouraged, please hit vote.

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treeseeds

New growth comes after the harsh, bitter winter –

with its biting frosts and stinging ice

New growth – without it, hope and faith are stunted

survival, potential threatened

New growth heralding strength, survival, life extending,

growing taller, reaching higher

New growth testifying vibrant health inside and out

becoming more

so much more

than the beginning every imagined

New growth worth living the winter

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17: 7-8)

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cbfall2011c2c

I wanted to write about cool pillows, blue cotton blankets, orange dulce tea and wrapped up in a good book. No stress. No gracelessness. Just rest. A Holiday-kind of rest where nothing from the outside nibbles away at the inside.

That kind of rest is not today. Not right now.

Somehow, when the children were littler – even if fevers spiked and cheeks flushed, if brothers squabbled and food spilled – I could usher in rest in afternoon naps or evening bedtimes – rest re-setting everyone’s hearts. I was graceful at that. Temper tantrums and Mid-night wakes? Graceful! Where little hearts unburdened themselves trusting I could help them sort it out – wanting me to help sort to rightness. Graceful!

The teen years – where sleeps don’t re-set hearts, where I cannot site the source for every word, every thought they bring home, where boys-to-men hearts don’t unburden themselves, hide themselves, where home is a cage – and they don’t want to be there, where maybe they don’t quite love themselves like we do – oh, I am graceless here. graceless in rejection. graceless watching my boy-to-man facing challenges God did not design him to face.

graceless
and all I have is faith

To rest my head against
The heart of a mighty father,
A mighty brother
A mighty bride groom

While challenges scratch
Not just at this heart
That loves
That prays
The breathes in
Jesus Christ
Breathes out
Have mercy
Challenges that scratch
This mother’s heart
And scratch
This mother’s child

To rest my head against
The heart of a mighty Father
A mighty brother
A mighty bride groom

It is there that my faith
My hope
My trust
I believe
That He meets
My child
To lead him out
Of the challenge
Into the light
Into His plan
Into Salvation
Into Redemption
And living water

To rest my head against
The heart of the great I Am
the holy shepherd
is to breath life
into this faith, this hope,
this unconditional love He taught me
how to love
how to trust Him
that this is the only way
to walk this mother’s walk

I am not a perfect mom. I am a mom not good enough. I don’t give up, though. I don’t stop trying. I don’t stop loving. I don’t stop believing in Him.

I am resting my head against Shaddai, against His promise that to me, to you, to each of my sons – that He will be like the shepherd who pursues, searches and FINDS the lost sheep – my lost sheep – your lost sheep:

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue” (Luke 15:4-7).

We all struggle. Each of our children face challenges. I’ve been here before. Prayers sent out a few years ago for one son returned this week, returned answered – only to brush up against prayers sent out for another son.

Bitter sweet. How can a heart rejoice and grieve at the same time? Yet, mine does.

I rest in the faith that the Holy Spirit will breathe a fire into the embers of faith planted deep, and that Holy Spirit fire will consume and burn away things not of the Father – revealing a life restored, the journey of a prayer answered returning home.


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updated February 24, 2013

lemonade
A few years ago, when one son, whom we call “Bear” got in the car after soccer practice all cold and shivering, I asked him,” What’s the saddest sight in the whole wide world?”

“I don’t know. Your cooking?” he answered. I almost forgot my joke.

“A hairless bear shivering with cold,” I answered.

Now readers,

stop a minute.

Visualize

A hairless bear shivering with cold

I was right!

There really is nothing sadder in the world

than a hairless bear

shivering with cold

if you group all the sadder-in-the-world things that are truly freaky, scary funny

but not truly sad

like

a newborn baby who needs its stomach, which is pushed up into its lung area, put back

or the loss of life, homes, andjobs in Manilla after tropical cyclones wreaked havoc,

or the loneliness and hopelessness without God

lemonsAfter I’d dropped the two youngest brothers off at school, this bear teen and I set off to the high school. He didn’t look happy – and I’d always said growing up his first name should have been Joyful. He wasn’t joyful now.

I dove into my unabashed Q&A – there is something to be said for being one eye more awake than your children in the morning. Yes, only one eye more awake and driving. My Qs resulted in As that bemoaned sitting through classes with students who really didn’t want to be there, who spent their class time just irritating other students or whining.

“Choose Joy,” I said.

“You just can’t make joy,” he answered, only one eye awake.

“Joy is a choice,” I persisted. “It’s like lemons. What do you do when life gives you lemons? Make Lemonade.”

“Bam!” I thought! Grand slam. I was wide awake then. Kind of proud of myself.

“I don’t like lemonade,” he said, sliding his eyes toward me, his lips quirking in a quiet gotcha-smile.

When he got out of the car, reached back in to pull out his backpack, I smiled, “Make some lemonade today!”

Because each of my sons needs to learn that contentment, happiness, joy – requires choice to find the good in hard situations, when life just plain stinks, when it feels prayers aren’t answered and friends aren’t true. Sometimes only through sheer determination, keen look-out – can we make joy where none really exists.

I cried out to God to show me – and I have found joy in a flock of crows, in squirrels nests, in a quirky smile trying to be held back, in 5 acorns on a path.

St. Augustine said that the only difference between the pagan and the Christian, who suffer the same challenges, the only difference is how they handle those challenges. Because we have a God who loves, He provides an opportunity to turn those lemons into lemonade joy.

Choose Joy.

Make Joy.

I texted this son later, “What’s the saddest sight in the world?”

“Your cooking,” he texted back.

 “The Joy of the Lord is our Strength” (Neh 8:10)

That joy and laughter strengthen!  God is so detail-oriented that He not only invented awe-inspiring joy, but tiny pockets of joy, release-valve joy, decreasing pressure and stress  – the invention of unusual places to find moments of laughter that cause joyfulness to bubble up inside, bubbling into a smile, a funny, joyful moment- an indecisive squirrel in the middle of the road, a headless turtle, or a collie carrying the neighbor’s Christmas wreathes – and – yes, even in a hairless bear shivering with cold.

“Life is what you make it; Always has been. Always will be” (Grandma Moses)

Make Lemonade out of Lemons!

Make Lemonade Joy!

I pray you find joy and laughter today, not just in the sentimental, but in the unexpected. I pray that you make lemonade joy out of lemons. What are some unusual places you have found a burst of laughter and a spot of joy? What’s your recipe for Lemonade Joy?

Since a post on Lemonade Joy would be incomplete without some real lemonade, I thought I’d include my recipe. It’s a recipe that tastes better when shared:

6 Lemons
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 Quart Water
Grenade
Crushed Ice
Lemon Slices and Blood Orange Slices

lemonade

 


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sunrisebIt would take an unsearching and illiterate  heart to not find and read the messages of God in the everyday of the mountains – from the hard cover front of sunrise to the hard cover back of  moon-down.

I would know. Until last year, I was unsearching and illiterate in finding and reading the love letters of Shaddai.  Then I took Ann Voskamp’s challenge at a Holy Experience to find and read the gifts – these love letters –  a big God gives a little me daily. Too many have I missed throughout the years – because I could not read what I did not know I had.  It changed my life – its attitude, its peace-factor. The content of the love letters in these gifts left me content.

We took off for the mountains this weekend – and I pulled my night-owl self up at 5:40 on a Spring Forward morning to watch the sun rise.

For a long time, I sat with my coffee – lost in the dark expanse. A hope and faith time. I have learned, though, that He meets me when I wait for Him.

Black darkness faded, slowly, so slowly revealing iron-clouds shielding unpolished silver.

sunrisebc

In the slate of sunrise, my hope faltered – “Is this all? No riotous color carnival?”

A cardinal chattered merrily, going about it’s morning business – and I waited, committed to greeting sun-rise – and finding blessing whatever the colors. Shaddai, like a good father brings his children gifts after being away – Shaddai brings gifts – always – a cardinal chattering, an empty water pump, squirrel nests – and they all contain letters, messages from Him to me.

Mountain top edges and a before unseen, unused one-lane road below me in the forests are exposed. I peer hard to make out the road. There is a letter from Him to me in that hitherto unseen road.

The slates of run-rise lightened, the rising light revealed a fierce man swimming in cloud currents, right arm raised to pull the next stroke, left arm pulled through the clouds, stretched to the thigh – swimming his race, from sun up to moon-down – face fierce in its determination – another letter from Him to me in those clouds.

Light pink suffused upward from the mountain tops then deepening to shades of blush and purples.

sunrisebcc

Pink mists rose like Hope and Faith to greet a loving Father

Mountain tops rejoicing in flaming silver and purples.

I met Him there, in the silent, color combustion of morning waking. I waited, despite wavering surety. I hoped despite what I didn’t see. Sometimes I have to wait to find.  This once illiterate heart found His gifts and read them.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” (Psalm 143:8)

After a year of counting the Father’s blessings, the love letters of encouragement He sends me, I think it’s time to teach these boys to men how to find and read the gifts, the blessings He sends us from sun-rise to moon-down.

It is attitude changing.

Relationship building between this God- Father and I. I see Him more everywhere, Him with me, me with Him.

These boys, they need that real relationship, that God-with-me/me-with-God relationship. Not just a morning-and-evening praying relationship – but one that sees Him everywhere all day long – sun rise and moon down long.

In the darkness of the challenges, those gifts, those blessings – contain messages of encouragement and revelation.

It may be one of the most important reading skills to develop.

Dear Father,

I pray that my sons’ hearts look for, find and read the messages in the gifts you have for them throughout the day. I pray their hearts grow in faith, love, trust and relationship with you – that not a gift from you is left un-found, a message unread – whether it is something as simple as a cardinal swooping ahead of them on a road, the smell of sweet grass on a soccer field, cirrus clouds in a robin’s egg blue sky or something more serious. I pray that you will open their hearts and their minds to become not only literate, not only fluent but voracious readers of your messages. I pray these messages change their attitudes to hope and faith attitudes, enabling them to find joy, contentment and peace in the midst of challenges – to give hope in seemingly hopeless situations. Waken them each morning, Father, waken them to listen like one being taught. Open their eyes and unstop their ears to the sound and sight of you. I pray they experience you walking beside them, boy-man to God, that they turn their head and smile broadly at what you two share together. Your word says, “All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children’s peace” (Isaiah 54:13) I believe that Father. I trust in that. I thank you that because Jesus died for my sins, I am your daughter and, as such, can petition you directly in regards to my sons. Because I am your daughter, you will teach my sons and great will be their peace.

(Gifts 985-990 listed in the post above)

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