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Archive for the ‘Raising Sons’ Category

One of my sons came home from church awhile back talking about the anti-Christ and End-Time Signs.

I just asked, “Well, son, if you believe it, are you going with the first load(believers raptured) or coming along later (unbelievers remaining who suffer but are given the chance to believe)?”

It is not the end-time signs that are really important. Relationship with the Father is what is important.

“Yeah, I believe in God,” my son said.

And I thought, yes, even the devil believes.

“You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror” (James 2:19)

Does your belief order your actions? The words from your mouth? Are you cognizant of the contract of belief – a contract similar to a knight who has pledged his sword, his life, his loyalty, his riches to his Lord? Is it that kind of belief?

“I promise on my faith that I will in the future be faithful to the lord, never cause him harm and will observe my homage to him completely against all persons in good faith and without deceit.” (Medieval Life and Times Information)

A verbal oathe, was a contract between a vassal and his liege Lord. A binding contract that outlined specific duties between that vassal and his Lord.

“And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul, but that whoever would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman” (2 Chronicles 15: 12-13

This “Liege Fielty” is  “a promise of -absolute- service and obedience to the Crown of his Kingdom, or to an individual person. The Crown, or the individual person, in turn promises to defend that liegeman’s “rights and privleges,” and in general to be an honorable Lord to that vassal. One swears this kind of fealty -once.” (White Bard, The Feudal Contract)

Baptism is  our soul signature to that contract,  more than just confirming we believe. It is the validation of our contract, publicly speaking in a binding way, that we do not just believe that Jesus is the Son of God who rose from the dead on the 3rd day. We are acknowledging we chose to live our lives in service to our Lord.

Yet, to enter into the service of our Lord is to become an intimate part of the family, rich in inheritance. Becoming a vassal, yet a son or daughter of our Lord at the same time. The word marvel comes to mind when I try to grasp the generosity of our Lord.

“If someone claims, “I know him well!” but doesn’t keep his commandments, he’s obviously a liar. His life doesn’t match his words. But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived” (1 John 2:4-6)

All my sons believe that Jesus is the Son of God. So, too, does the devil. Belief alone does not make you a child of God. It is what you do with that belief. It can get you thrown out of Heaven or embraced in the Father’s arms as part of His family. I believe, the kind that saves,  is a knightly- kind-of-thing, requiring faithfulness, action and relationship. Do you have it?

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The first week of May always leaves me homesick for my growing-up home.
horse4cYou can take the girl out of Louisville but you cannot take Louisville at of the girl!. It is Derby week – and Derby Week has a double special place in my heart. Yeah – it is about balloon races, boat races, and, of course, horse races. But most important for me is a time of family.

You see, we always celebrated my grandfather’s birthday on Derby Day – which meant a house full of family, lots of laughter and people of all ages spilling out all the doors, from the front porch entrance to the backyard, blooming with grandfather’s white azaleas, white and pink dogwood trees, honeysuckle. He built a make-shift tree house for us in the Rain tree. In the very back of the yard were 3 pine trees he planted. The middle pine tree was my favorite hide-away – I could climb it and read – and no one would bother me.

Derby morning, our house was a hive of activity. I would be sent up the street to cut fresh mint from Aunt Joyce’s yard for the Mint Julips. There would be dips and chips – not something we had often in the routine of regular living. And, there would be a little bowl full of  newspaper cutting slips with the horses names. Put a dollar in and draw a horse name out – I was so excited the year my horse, Majestic Prince, won – and I so wanted to draw his name. It was a lucky day – yes, I will say, it was a lucky day lined with blessing!

When we got older and my grandfather passed away, it was less festive, but still celebrated. One special year, the summer I got married, before my junior year in college, my grandmother invited my friends for dinner after spending a day at the in-field at Churchill Downs. The day was beautiful, until the skies literally poured rain on us as we were leaving. But my grandmother – well, she was amazing. All bedraggled from the rain – about ten of us, were seated at her dining room table, on her needle-point-covered chairs, and served a meal fit for anyone on Million’s Row – Leg of Lamb with her homemade mint sauce and homemade chili sauce plus all the fixin’s. I don’t remember the dessert.  I know there was one – there was always a dessert, Caramel Cake or the Chocolate Celebration Cake, sometimes Charlotte Russe!

The laughter that night was memorable, especially over the lamb. One of my sweet friends loves animals and just couldn’t quite bring herself to take a bite of that used-to-be fluffy little lamb. She made a valiant effort, but every time she tried to take a bit, everyone “baa-ed.” She gracefully gave up.

My grandmother, who in high school wanted me to pick my friends from some other place – and we battled about that – leaned over and whispered, “You have such good friends.”

People come from around the world to watch the Kentucky Derby – and to them it’s just a race. When you have roots in the blue grass, though, the Kentucky Derby is so much more than the big hats, mint juleps and fast horses.

The Four Horses of Maturity

racetrack2cc
There is a race within each of my sons – I call it The Four Horses of Maturity participating in the Race of Life – more specifically, the most important race of an individual’s life. The Four Horses of Maturity are named Physical, Emotional, Intellectual and Spiritual.

When the gates open, Physical Maturity bolts, a thrilling surge for the lead, over-powering muscle, yet without caution, without strategy to pace, without limit recognition.

After an anxious route to the starting gate, Emotional Maturity gains, passing a spent Physical Maturity, nipping it on the flank as it moves to pass. Emotions raging, uncontrolled, Emotional Maturity behaves erratically. Emotional Maturity explodes forward without reason. Hard to handle, easily spooked, seemingly confused about being ahead, possibly thinking the race won, unsure of what to do. . . .

greyhorseUntil Intellectual Maturity edges up, having executed a fairly smooth trip to move into the lead. Reason reigns, using logic and reason to keep Emotional Maturity and Physical Maturity in check, not allowing them a chance to gain. Intellectual Maturity blocks the advancement of Spiritual Maturity.

Down the stretch they come, Emotional Maturity and Physical Maturity trying to regain, bumping Intellectual maturity in the turn. But Spiritual Maturity, after swerving out a bit toward the first turn, continues along the outside, rallies when sharply roused on the second turn to make a way between Physical and Emotional Maturity. Physical Maturity suddenly lost momentum.

Intellectual Maturity continues along the inside in a brilliant move to take over the lead on the stretch turn, rallies gamely and gives way grudgingly as Spiritual Maturity finds a way, pulling from within amazing feats to find an opening on the inside, slips past, making a stirring dash to the finish line, winning with confidence.

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A Seed Emerging Fragile (Click here)

I confess – I enjoy a front row seat to how these boys communicate to each other in this house of mine. Their tag-team humor, their eye-popping honesty to each other – sometimes it un-nerves me. Other times it humors me beyond measure. At times, I just want to pack up my chair and exit. Every now and then, it just wows me.

My soldier-son, he went to visit my people in Louisville. He admired the girls there. Thought he might find himself a Louisville girl.

“That’s what your dad did,” I quipped. He decided maybe he really shouldn’t find himself a Louisville girl. Those are the one-on-one, light-hearted conversations.

Then there’s the two on one talking. A brother talking about the challenges of working at a camp, a worker spitting on the floor he’s mopping, wondering if leadership realizes all the trees he’s cut down, the grounds he’s mowed and how this son is frustrated with hypocrisy but wanting to live faith.

Moments like those are sometimes the “wind-whipping- moments, when either because of our choices or others choices, we are “tromped, hoof pressed, storm weathered pressed leaf pressed, water pressed, gravity pressed,into soil blackness”

“Get used to it,” said the soldier son. “That’s life.” He paused and a few seconds later added, “Pray about it.”

We looked at him, not sure how serious he was taking this conversation. This son who rolled his eyes every time I said, “Pray about it.” This son who wasn’t sure how to handle the Prayer for a Solder son I sent him last September.

The conversation continued. In the midst of life’s challenges, living faith came in the form of a crying camper whose walking stick was broken by a bullying camper and how this joyful son struggling with challenges that threatened to distract him from what he considered his real mission – showing God’s love to these campers – searched for another stick from the stick pile, crafted it into something awesome and gifted it to the camper or how he carried a camper with a twisted ankle to the nurse and then carried him back to the cabin.

“They say they want to be like me,” he said about these campers.

That is where “the core of itself remembers light and flimsy roots push upward emerging fragile. . . reaching ever light upward.”

That’s life, I thought, the good fruit of life, that is. Where walking faith rises above the challenges like cranberries in the water in the harvest.

Soldier Son says from the kitchen, “Pray about it.”

And we both look at him, “Are you mocking us?”

And he repeats, “Pray about it. I’m serious.”

And I am just overwhelmed at both of them, these seeds emerging fragile, growing faith, using that faith, no matter how imperfectly, despite real or imagined challenges, to live hope in an imperfect world.

They both seemed so fragile to me this weekend, these young men 6 ft 3 and 6 ft 5. God was reminding me that no matter how fragile they seem in the challenges they face. No matter how they are just young men, seedlings and saplings on so many levels, God’s word, that faith seed within them, is more mighty, more strong, more than enough to grow them out of these fragile times until they are to the world what an oak tree is to an acorn –

because God is just that big, that powerful, that faithful to us.

 

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A prayer is a journey released.

I believe

That when you pray for other people, that prayer goes on a journey,

And like all journeys, come back home.

Prayer returned home.

Come back home in the manner it was released – with either faith, hope and love or faithless, hopeless and loveless.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:36)

I remember praying healing for someone who had experienced a life-threatening injury

And through the journey of the prayer

Over months and months

That healing prayer came back to heal us of secondary infertility.

“I exhort therefore, that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1).

 Over the last few months, our family has been praying

For Annie to return, to come home  (see this post) – praying with faith, hope and love.

While we prayed for Annie, we prayed for a son (see this post), prayed with faith, hope and love – For this son to sell out to Jesus.

This son who couldn’t wait to leave home, busted out of home when he graduated from high school last year, signed up for the reserves and has become a better man, Friday night, he said, “It’s come my time to find God and come home.” He didn’t just say it to me; he said it on Facebook, kind of like he needed to say it to the world.

Prayer sent out on a journey returned home.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 6: 30).

24 hours later, Annie came home, too. We were in our car, returning from a far-away wedding, celebrating a heart-friend’s daughter’s marriage, a marriage beginning God-centered, faith-centered – and I wanted to dance, to celebrate God’s amazing love, His never-give-up-ness with this answered prayer returned home from its journey.

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven”(Psalm 107:28-30).

 Praying is not a stagnant action. A prayer is a journey released, returning home returning home in the manner released. Unasked for. Unexpected.

480) The daily, familiar blessings, like the cardinals, mockingbirds, dove calls
481) Squirrels rummaging through the hay outside my work window
482) Strawberry, Watermelon and lemonade icy smoothy
483) “You have made me glad. I’ll say of the Lord you are my shield, my strength, my portion deliver, My shelter, Strong Tower, My very Present Help in time of need” (Made Me Glad, Hillsong) – a song in my heart whether at my work desk, in my car, my kitchen, or in a hammock under my tree – Releasing that song in my heart – no one else could hear it – but me and God!
484) Boys worn out from swimming, the evidence of sunshine on their cheeks.
485) A date day with my husband, with a heart-friend’s daughter’s wedding.
486) Lunch at the Cheesecake Factory – my favorite Club Sandwich and a cup of coffee.
487) Walking in a real mall, window shopping and some real shopping
488) My husband gifting me with Tocca’s Stella perfume which I have wanted since January.
489) Good haircuts on my boys – I don’t know why but a good haircut makes me feel like everything is on the right track.
490) My littlest guy coming up, wrapping me in a hug, “I love you, Mom.”
491) Laughing with my new senior son! He’s going to be a camp counselor-in-training. No flirting allowed. I tried coaching him to say, “I’m here to serve Jesus. Please respect my decision” when girls hit on him. Instead of repeating after me, he said, “Send me your number. I’ll call you when camp is over” – I couldn’t stop laughing because, while he has great lines, he’s not a smooth, shallow pick-up guy. He is so full of the Joy of the Lord.
492) Wheat fields, swaying in a cool 78 degree breeze
493) My camera through which I have learned to live more fully where I am – we arrived at the South Union Shaker Village wedding site early taking in detail in an intentional way, not a skimmed-over-way.
494) Hugs from dear friends not seen enough
495) new love consecrated in marriage, made one through the Holy Spirit – and the couple inviting God into their union knowingly, whole-heartedly, eyes wide open.
496) My sons jeep pulling into the driveway.
497) Brother’s smiling, not saying but actions speaking loudly, welcoming a brother home.
498) Showing my neighbor’s 4 year old how to draw cats on the sidewalk with the sidewalk chalk and little girls in polka dot dresses.
499) People caring enough to pray, to connect, to have relationship – people caring enough to send their prayers on a journey.
500) Nikki at Simply Striving who read “Bicycling with Ava” to her son and she telling me he asked to hear it again. I’m still smiling!
501) Annie coming home!
502) Understanding that the coming home is just the beginning of another journey.

The Bride Arrived in a Red Car

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The blessing of hands, holding brooms, hoes, planting, emptying bags of dirt, tying knots for a hammock under a tree, slicing lemons, brushing damp hair on a tired head.

“Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well” (Ecc. 11:6)

“I want to choose,” my littlest said. “I should be able to choose if I want to work.” He said this after being given the chore of washing his dad’s car. One brother was given the chore of cleaning the garage. A third helped with completing the raised garden – that one require much muscle.

The littlest guy, he was voluntarily helping me make desserts and lemonade, having finished washing the car. As he stood at the counter, his still-little-boy hands slicing lemons and oranges we talked of big and little things.

“It’s our job to teach you how to work. Right now you don’t always have choices because we have to prepare you to be fit for usefulness in your future job,” I explained, pulling from Webster’s 1828 definition of Education (1828 Noah Webster Dictionary)

“I think I should have a choice,” he said, pushed the topic cheekily. I sighed. This desire for independence bursts out early in these boys, this desire to be in charge of their destiny.

I mentioned Jonah – and what happened to him when he tried to avoid a job he didn’t like. Jonah didn’t want that job, but God wanted Jonah to do that job.

Somehow, my little lemon slicer grabbed the story line and took off. When I tried to join in, he said, “This is my story, mom.”

We worked together, while he told me about Jonah trying to sneak away from what God wanted him to do, getting thrown into the sea by his sea-faring peers, being swallowed and eventually, when he agreed to do the job God wanted him to do, being thrown up.

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones” (Luke 16:10) kept whispering its way through my mind – but how do you persuade a little boy that if he does his chores really well, he will be given bigger chores? When bigger and better do really equate in terms of job size? At least in an 11 year old’s world.

My hands stirring Swiss Chard, Feta Cheese, onions and garlic. My husband’s hands cutting out heart-shaped beignets(French donuts) to deep fry for family brunch.

My hands stirring blackberry sauce, shaping scones. His hands wiping up the kitchen with me – as we prepare for family gathering.

Our hands working together, praying together in the twilight where we stood under the Oak, hands held, praying for doors to open, for revelation, for guidance – we stood there believing for His plan.

“From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him” (Proverbs 12:14)

Hands playing with sweet grandbaby girl’s feet, – and came the story, with baby feet bicycling and my hands, a grandmother’s hands playing

“Let’s go on a bicycle trip, you and I
A bicycle trip down a country road,
. . . a story was born.
“And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10:16)

The blessing of the hands. Simple, everyday living, turning my hands to the work, to the living God has given me. Some days, my hands bless. Some days they fall short.

My hands, though, they don’t reach their potential.

Jesus laid hands on the leper
And he was cleansed (Matt 8:2-4)

Jesus laid hands on an infirm, bowed-over woman
And she was made straight (Luke 13:13)

Jesus laid hands on the blind man,
And the blind man saw (Mark 8:23)

“When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them” (Luke 4:40)
Oh, yes, the work of my hands fall short of what God enabled them to do. They can only do jobs the size of my faith. I pray that my faith grow, that God-in-Me work its way out through my hands to touch lives in the way God made me to touch lives. If he has called the heart of these hands to heal, to cleanse, to make straight, to open eyes for truth – all physically and spiritually, I pray that whatever binds them from being what He empowered them to do is loosened.

For now, the blessing of my hands comes from the cutting of the chard, the playing with baby feet, the tending of my garden, and the laying on of hands in a call to prayer.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,” (Ecc. 9:10)

455-465 blessings listed above
466) a 7 a.m. Saturday morning date to watch squirrels
467) orange carrots, fresh chard, tomatoes and delicious-smelling onions at the Farmer’s Market
468) in my hammock, looking up through the trees, looking at all the “Y”s – thanks to Jennifer at Getting Down with Jesus, I saw Yahweh everywhere! It makes sense that the trees praise Yahweh when every branch is laden with reminders of Yahweh!
469) spotting my teen in the hammock on a Holiday afternoon
470) The teen, swinging in the hammock now a senior
471) a pontoon ride, on a lake, reminding me, all that water, of the Holy Spirit
472) For sweet friends, breaking bread over lunch.
473) my oldest son, at the family gathering, loving my Swiss Chard dish
474) Empty plates once filled with scones, beignets, chard, asperagus with Hollandaise sauce
475) My raised garden bed, built by my husband filled with plants, seeds, hope and faith
476) babygirl falling asleep in the shawl I knit, that matched her outfit
477) this job that I go to from 8 to 4:30, some days from 6 or 7 a.m. to 4:30 to catch up, that has helped me use my time more richly
478) Hope in the sun creeping through my window sill every morning!
479) Green buddings on our transplanted hydrangea!

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“I’m almost holding my breath in anticipation, reminding myself that a journey is one step at a time”
~Blue Cotton Memory, Journal Notes before son’s military graduation.

As my son prepared for basic training graduation, I prepared my heart for meeting this young man, broken and rebuilt through military training.

How was I to greet this soldier, this young man, this son? How was the mother in me to respond? How did my role need to change? Was I to be released from the hard-core mothering?

As Manager of Small and Large Product Development of Blue Cotton Industries, I have had 5 product development-to-launch responsibilities. One product had already been successfully launched and, as a Blue Cotton insider, took over after-market responsibilities.

This second product had taken considerable team effort. Launch ability test results were about to be discovered – which would determine my future role.

The day-to-day responsibility-for-the-outcome  had included maintenance, operations, and support training, fulfillment of education services, and instructor activities, plus praying, encouraging and loving? Many of these responsibilities would be eliminated or phased out if product launch was successful.

If successful, I would no longer be responsible for collecting and analyzing job performance data against product release requirements. No more comparing individual knowledge and skills with job standards and arranging further training to meet launch requirements.

During this 10 week military training of this Blue Cotton Product, I had received one phone call  and 3 letters; letters with words like “changed man,” “facing my fears,” “going to church” were balm to my worn, cracked heart, worn through prayer, my inner voice murmuring Faith, Hope and Love some days until raw and hoarse. I wonder if my inside prayers ever sound worn and hoarse to God?

“Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on me, you would see the glory of God” (John 11:40)

“Are you here?” he texted from the meeting field from a friend’s phone because he didn’t have one.

“5 more minutes,” I texted back.

I prayed days and weeks before this meeting that God would prepare my heart, inoculate against unrealistic expectations, be the mother I needed to be for this meeting, this unveiling of the new man.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4: 11-13)/

In this reunion, the mother met her son, a man carrying the mantle of his own destiny, fully independent, contentment in his eyes, his soft manner of talking in the stories told of a self-control, a humbleness, a hope for his future. The rebellious boy had been broken down and rebuilt into a responsible man.

In this meeting were welcomed hugs. Photos with something previously rare and almost extinct,  a genuine, freely-given smile – a smile not filtered with ulterior motives. Just the smile of a man who has overcome to become someone he is proud to be.

We went to the PX, a small mall with a food court, where he bought his own work clothes, signed up for his own phone plan, and bought an iphone.

“Are you more confident?” I asked, knowing his achievements – earning a spot on a elite shooting squad, earning a sharpshooter badge, becoming a flag bearer because his Sgt. told his dad, “He’s the most squared soldier in the platoon.”

“Nahhh! Probably less,” he answered, no cocky bravado, no smartest-man-in-the-room attitude. The realization that you do not know it all is the beginning of wisdom.

“We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given us us” (Romans 5: 2b-5).

He wasn’t used to crowds. I guess 10 weeks of isolation does that to you, so we took along a fellow private who didn’t have family that day to pick up Subway and took it to a playground on base. The playground was quiet and allowed the younger brothers to work off energy while we talked.

His friend had become a citizen that day. This only child of a one-child-only Chinese policy wished he’d had siblings. I think he even wished it after spending the day with our crew.

“They called our barracks the Taj Mahal,” our son said. Taj Mahal because they were so clean, so opposite of his bathroom at home. Everybody used ours because they didn’t want to put a toe in his, but in his barracks, he mopped voluntarily to work off frustration – and other times he would mop because he was told to – at 1 a.m., 2 a.m. – even if wake-up call was at 3:30 a.m.

During the quiet talking, the stories of challenges faced – the gas chamber, life saving classes that teach you how to save a battle buddy’s life, 3 weeks of casualty-risk activities, I realized that this Blue Cotton Product, this son, had launched himself successfully. He was battle-ready to take on management of one of my 5 most precious products – himself.

In that moment, I released my son. He was ready. He had successfully taken over after-launch responsibilities.

God was right there beside me, in this letting go, knowing I loved my son so much that I wanted to let go just right.

This soldier-son handed his brother, the second youngest, the rule-monger with whom he’d butted heads for working hard, for his self-control – he pulled from his pocket prayer beads from church. “I thought you’d like these,” he said. I think a lot of the past was forgotten in that moment – a reaching out and receiving time.

Was he running home hard to God? The prodigal returning at a run, to fling his arms around the Father?

God whispered to my heart, “He’s coming. He’s turned. Coming to me is a journey – one-step-at-a-time. You wouldn’t expect a 7th grader to do doctoral-level work. There is saving in the journey – at the beginning and the end and in-between.”

I nodded – I’m still in the journey, one step at a time, I’m working my way there, too.

God meets both of us where we are in the journey – the PVT. Christian(figurative) is just as saved as those further in the journey – the  Sergeant, Colonel or General – all  just as important to God, just as loved, just pursued by God – as the newly enlisted, newly [re-]committed Christian.

“I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49: 15).

With God right beside me, rejoicing right with me, I was able “to find sweet contentment in those one steps at a time, to open-heartedly meet him where he is” (Blue Cotton Journal, before graduation).

Someone might say, “Well, he’s 19 – he was already in charge of his life; it didn’t matter if you released him or not.

I don’t think a mother feels her job is complete until her child grown is able to be self-sufficient, making good soul choices, hands solidly on the steering wheel of his future. The letting go of that developmental responsibility, whether it is a mother’s or not, is really what we mother for. There is peace in a job completed, amazing peace in the release – and rejoicing in their readiness.

The time had come to hand over the reigns of leadership and management of one of Blue Cotton’s God-Designed Products – to someone so ready to take the product to places I never could.

Thank you, Father, for being with both of us. Thank you, Father, that you are faithful to the promises you whispered in my heart, wrote in your Word. Thank you that you love my son more than I do.

Thanks to everyone who sent me scriptures that encouraged, blessed and sustained me in this journey! Scriptures used in this post are ones many of my friends in the blogahood sent to encourage me as I prayed and waited in this phase of the journey. They so blessed my heart . I created a scripture collage with them – and each time I turned on my computer (screen saver), opened my fridge – Scriptures of Hope and Faith helped me pray those promises of God. I also created a Prayer for My Soldier Son that I prayed over him. There are places I can no longer go – but my prayers can go anywhere.

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My son’s graduation from basic training left me feeling like a caterpillar in a cocoon, just soaking up the nutrients where I am, not quite ready to emerge from this cocoon that is my family.

The journey to this graduation moment, my son, marching squared, bearing the Bravo Company flag with a sharpshooter badge on his chest – the journey to get here often felt like the memory of crossing my great-grandmother’s swinging bridge.

The journey to this graduation moment reminded me of the time my 6 or 7 year old self  plucked up enough courage to cross  that bridge up high, a swinging bridge with loose rope railing, slated inconsistently.

I made it half-way before a teen cousin preying upon my fear hurtled across, his thumping feet causing that bridge to swing, to bounce raucously.

Crouched down in fear, paralyzed, I stared at the wide empty slots

where the missing slates should be,

not knowing how he would pass

without me falling off.

shaking fear, tears fell

I don’t remember how I made it to the other side, to safety.

All I know is that I didn’t turn back.

I didn’t give up.

Somehow, one-step at a time, I journeyed forward and reached safety, knee-wobbly relief, peace, contentment.

Like that little girl who reached the safety of solid ground ,

today, I can’t figure out if I feel like a caterpillar in a cocoon

or fragrant tea leaves steeping until just right

or an expectant mother nesting before birth

or a narcicuss paperwhite bulb waiting in the cool sun to bloom

or a question waiting for its answer

I just know that right now, I have pulled the blanket

of my family around myself

and burrowed, feet reaching to touch the toes of my children and husband

wanting the warm joy of my Lord to seep down into my soul

and raise up authentic laughter and smiles

that this faith journey, of seeing slates in empty slots,

has led to to the substance of things hoped for

walked out on a parade ground one cool November morning.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)

 

 

 

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I remember a long time ago, the neighborhood boys coming down to our house as the sun came up, carrying baseball bags. I’d have Cool-Aid ready and around lunch, I’d have some hotdogs grilling. One day, a couple of brothers brought their temper with them and started swinging at each other. I just stood there totally out of my element, “What do you do when brothers start fighting and punches start flying?”

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have called their mom – but this was my first foray into Brother fisticuffs. I told their mom, “If they do it again, I’ll turn the water hose on them.” I probably should have done that instead of call. But hindsight is 20/20 and the best responses are often after the fact, especially in areas with little to no experience. I think as punishment for calling that mom, God has made sure all my boys fights have all taken place away from that water hose.

This was my first son’s summer neighborhood group – his brothers were much too young for this yet. I remember thinking, “My boys will never do this.” I thought that a lot in my supercilious superiority. I have since been handily humbled.

Before church one day a few weeks ago, the teen said he wanted to hit his brother – and the minister walked by. The teen asked, “Don’t you think that Jesus fought with his brothers? Afterall, how could you have brothers and not fight?”

I said, “If Jesus was without sin, the perfect sacrifice, he couldn’t have brawled with his brothers.”

And the minister, the father of 3 sons, laughed and declined to answer.

Since only Jesus has been without sin, and, I assume, didn’t haul off and hit his brothers, the rest of the brotherly world and their mothers have to deal with fighting.

After reviewing my experience, I created 3 categories of Brotherly Fighting:

  1. Wrestling: My two littlest ones would wrestle in the Oval Office of the President – they wrestled everywhere – well, until they became tweens, they wrestled everywhere. Harmless, a bit embarrassing in some venues, but it was much like 2 puppies getting some well-needed exercise. I’m sure it was not an excuse to hug, but I’m sure my mom-heart held onto that thread of hope. Sometimes what started out as high-spirited wrestling escalated into something more serious because some boundary was crossed. Boyish exuberance best describes the typical wrestling category.
  2. Punching: This typically occurs between teens who are feeling playful but are wanting to inflict pain in an Alpha-Dog kind of way. It can occur in the car, in the kitchen, as they walk downstairs – and they love to mention punching each other in church probably just to see me blanche and how high my eyebrows can rise. It can either be the result of a silly Slug Bug car game – or betting on outcomes, or just plain, “Let’s punch each other in the arm and see who breaks first.” It is more aggressive than wrestling. Boundaries are more clearly defined but they taunt each other to cross them.
  3. The Big Fights: This usually occurs between the older “young adults” (teens, college age).  Though rare, when it happens it is full out, fists flying, wrestling to the ground, testosterone raging, emotion-filled physical aggression. Boundaries were crossed, and it is settling time. This is where you wish you had that water hose handy. Note: In 25 years of parenting, I have only witnessed 1 Big Fight (Maybe more small Big Fights).

The trigger to a any level of fighting is contingent on the length of each individual brother’s fuse, the level of self-control and the desire to exhibit that self-control.

In our house, it seems like most fighting levels occur when Dad isn’t there, which leaves me, the mom, standing there feeling quite e-mom-sculated – meaning mom’s authority in the passion of the BIG FIGHT can do nothing. It is like trying to stop a Tsunami. I just stand helpless wishing they’d take it outside to where the water hose is – then I could release some growing anxiety.

Mom’s are not designed to referee physical aggression. Mom’s are not designed to watch physical aggression. Our nurturing nature is in direct conflict with the male method of settling grievances. Note that this physical method of settling grievances occurs after words between the two parties have failed to produce the desired results: “Stop wearing my clothes” (yes, boys! Sigh!), to “Stop Making that Noise” to whatever is simmering, ready to boil over at the slightest provocation.

Helplessness makes me feel even worse: helpless, impotent, powerless – like a queen who is just a figurehead, wielding no true authority.

The younger tweens have been feeling bullish lately, a lot of pushing and tugging, fingers itching for a swing to get someone out of their space. They came to me, “He hit me,” one said.

“Well, he deserved it,” the other argued.

And they stood in their stance, waiting for me to be the great lady Justice.

“If you’re going to fight, don’t bring it to me. Don’t do it around me. Don’t let me know about it,” I told them. I can’t quite figure if I am wiser or just worn down.  “Learn how to settle your differences because you cannot rely on a 3rd party to bring you true justice. . . . Now, give me 50 squats a piece.” (Click here for “The Discipline of Squats)

Their jaws dropped at the injustice of the punishment.

“A mom never wants her sons to fight and if they bring that fight to her, it’s not going to end to your satisfaction,” I said.

Yes, I am at that point. Sure – go ahead and fight but don’t do it around me – and don’t bring it to me to settle. You need to settle it among yourselves.

But I can teach them about the time to fight.

Like when someone messes with your brother.

As they’ve grown, I’ve said, “Even if your brother deserves to be beat up, you don’t let anybody touch him. You can come home and beat him up for it, but don’t let anybody else.”

Blue Cotton Dad – he thinks it’s important that they learn how and when to fight. Maybe that is the benefit of a lot of brothers – you do learn how to defend yourself. The protector is an innate part of being a man – knowing how to wield that inborn trait God instilled is the responsiblity of the parent to teach.

Not all traits are wielded with skill in the beginning – training is required in the hows and whens. Brotherly brawling is the training ground for the noble protector – benefits that grow from the ability to protect yourself  and others on the playground, in the classroom, from the bully in the bathroom. The ability to defend yourself often diffuses a bully who wants to assert himself and infringe on the freedoms of those around him.

If guided, nurtured and accompanied by wisdom, these brotherly brawlers grow up to protect the less fortunate and, maybe, protect our Freedom and families.

When brother’s fight, what’s a mom to do? Hope for a handy water hose and continue the effort to instill nobleness of thought and action. Nobody ever said motherhood was an easy gig.

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There are times I want to be a fly on the wall in my kids’ lives. There used to be a time I wanted them to tell me everything.

School/work, friends, lunch, dreams, fears, beliefs, challenges, over-coming moments.

Encouraging dinner-table discussions, car-ride rhetoric of whys and hows – teaching my children as we come, go, sit and stand.

The communication-door-is-always-open approach.

My definition of everything has expanded. With that expansion has come the realization that I don’t want to know everything. My expectations of everything apparently have limitations.

There are some things a mom does not need to know. I never thought I would say that.

Until my son came home with a plate of scones one day – and declared them. . . . better than mine.

The grasshopper(yes, the grasshopper again) telling the teacher “I have out-done you.”

I stood there, on the other side of the counter, watching my son come in, from the outside coming in, with a plate of berry-something scones that he had baked with his then lovely-fiance-now-wife.

Maybe I need to establish our baking history. In 3rd grade, my boys learn to make box brownies. In 5th grade, my boys learn to make cakes from scratch. In 6th grade, this son made a better homemade lemon meringue pie than I could. I told him so. No ego problems there. Just a lot of mama pride.

This was different, though. Healthy communication boundaries respects, waits to be told by the teacher, “You have outdone the master (chef, teacher, do-er of laundry, healer of boo-boos, bed-time storyteller extrodinaire, stealth prayer-mama).

But grasshoppers  are jumpy things, catapuling – which is why they tend to get run over in roadways. A grasshopper can jump 10x its length – so it can really get ahead of itself.

According to the article “The Grasshopper’s Hop, “the grasshopper’s jumping muscles may lead to an effective insecticide.”

That day, standing on the other side of the counter, as he presented me with a plate of scones, I realized that if I had not unconditional love in my heart, that this young grasshopper might have jumped into a life-threatening situation.

Some days I wished we’d taught, “Children should be seen and not heard” but that was not our parenting-heart.
 
Our heart was to teach them independence, reasons for their beliefs, thinkology, how to seek God so they could seek Him on their own, how to pass down our traditions and make new ones, how to communicate fluently, to grab thoughts from the recesses of their minds, study them and express them.
 
My  heart still says, “Come on in, son, pull up a stool and tell me about your life.”
 
But as they get older, some things are better left between them and God. Some things are better left unsaid, like “My scones are better than yours.”
 
“I love you,” though, is always healthy boundary communication. “I love you,” is a Hail Mary Pass in a communication challenge. 
 
Because I love my sons, they can say things they shouldn’t.  Even saying their scones are better than mine. It’s just hard to swallow sometimes. 
 
Note to those whose children are not teens yet: You might not be ready for this message. You might not be able to fathom ever having even a whiff of the thought to not want to hear “everything:” You might even be birthing the thought,“I’ll never think like that.” All I can say is“I was once there, too – before I had older teens to college student children.” Everything changes as they grapple with growing into adulthood, especially communication boundaries. 
  •  Blue Cotton Mom’s Scrumptious Scones Recipe: Click Here 

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In that blueberry path, on a hot July day, I thought how faith grows when one realizes the possibility that we do not know it all, when we concede there might be more to God than we know – and we are willing to step into those paths that speak of a closer relationship with God – believing what Faith said about God, causing Hope to leap in expectation, focusing on the goodness of God, trusting, having confidence that there is more to God, though we may not know what that more truly is.

“Living in Him” reminds me of when I so loved my husband that we married and we moved in together – and when I don’t see him, eat with him, walk with him, talk with him multiple times daily, I miss him, get a little wigged out because that kind of commitment is the grafting together of two people into one, changing who they were before.

Yet, though my husband completes me, it is not as powerful a grafting, as being grafted into our Lord and living in Him.

According  Leonard Hertz in his article, Grafting and Budding Fruit Trees,  “Fruit trees cannot be reproduced “true” to the original cultivar from seed. They can only be reproduced by grafting.”

There is a difference in the fruit we produce when grafted into a relationship with the Father. We can only bear the true fruit from the Father by being grafted into Him. Being good alone, then, just won’t work. The fruit is not quite the same. Only when we are grafted in to that intimate relationship can we truly bear the fruit of God.

Hertz also said, “Grafting is useful, however, for more than reproduction of an original cultivar. It is also used to repair injured fruit trees or for top-working an established tree to one or more different cultivars.” Through this grafting “in Him” a spirit crippled and abused can be repaired, healed, made whole.

God wants me to have that kind of “Living-in-Him” type of relationship, to be grafted into Him – and that is the only way to produce God’s true cultivar, fruit selected for desirable characteristics that can be maintained by being grafted into Him:  love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

What is love without God? What is joy without God? What is peace, forebearance, kindness, without God? Goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – without God?

They are different fruit cultivar without God.

Maybe, if I can find that kind of message in a blueberry patch, just maybe, I can introduce that kind of relationship to my sons, and just maybe one day, maybe they will have a blueberry patch moment, other than a whining, complaining, are-we-done-yet moment. Just like the tree-farmer passes to his child the craft of grafting, fruit trees and harvesting, so, too, do I want to pass to my sons the knowledge of being grafted into an awesome God.

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When my boys come to me for  boo-boo prayers, migraine prayers, and over-coming fear prayers, I know we are going in the right direction.

When my oldest son called from the Christian camp he worked at asking me to call the sweet, older ladies at church who are such prayer warriors to pray for a camper’s mom battling cancer, I knew we going in the right direction.

When my rebellious son allowed me to lay hands on him and pray before he went to basic training . . . . and he cried – I knew  we were going in the right direction.

When they come home
and tell me they have prayed for someone else,
I know I took them
where they needed to go.

All the challenging in-between moments that wear me down are just trip-wires in the path, designed to bring down my mission.

“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy” (Psalm 156:5).

I might lose my balance, trip, even fall – but I pull myself up. Graceless, awkward, wobbly, but I keep on going.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

I will not give up. . . on my children. . .

be strong and do not give up” (2 Chronicles: 15:7).

. . . or on myself.

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A few weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, my son left for Army Reserves Basic Training. He will be gone 25 weeks, for both basics and additional training.

My aunt said I was going to cry when I dropped him off.

I didn’t.

I felt like I’d been driving with a caged, ornery grizzly bear. When he climbed out of my car, he walked to his sergeant’s car who was driving him a half a state away where he would catch a plane to take him to another state. Another officer called out, “You can still change your mind. If you don’t you’ll end up like me. . . You haven’t taken the last oath yet.”

He was in the officer’s car without a backward glance and gone. I felt empty.

Some ask, “Aren’t you scared?”

My response, “If this is the road my son is supposed to travel, I would be more concerned if he didn’t.”

After all, Jonah tried to run away from God’s plans ending up camping out in the belly of a whale. Running away from where you are called to go just creates discomfort physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Moms of soldiers don’t ask questions. The first thing they say, with conviction, “They are going to break him down. Then they’re going to re-build him up.”

At first, I think of my blue bicycle with its big, white basket that I had when I was a little girl. I rode it everywhere, to my aunt’s house up the street, to the pool – and then when I was older, to all my jobs.

My brother, 2 years older, took it into his head he wanted to be an engineer. To commemorate this recognition, he wanted to take my bicycle a part and put it back together. I was 10 at the time. I had total confidence in him.

My confidence cost me $14 of my own money to have someone else fix my bicycle. $14 in 1972 was big money. My brother grew up to be an engineer. He has more success with X-Ray machines than he does blue bicycles with big white baskets.

I trust that the military is better at this taking apart and putting back together than 12-year-old boys. I am confident they know all about breaking and re-building tanks, buildings . . . and men. Unlike my 12-year-old brother, they are experts at this.

For weeks, I have turned over this idea of my son being broken and rebuilt, studied it from all angles, breaking down and building up of my son, of this soldier-in-training.

“He will come home a different person, a better person,” my friend with a military son said.

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make” (Jeremiah 18:4)

God loves these rebellious sons. He pursues them. Often, he favors them – Like Jacob, Samson, David and Saul.

Like Jacob, my son has been raised to know God, and like Jacob, he has wrestled against the nobleness of God.God found Jacob in the desert. He broke him – and then rebuilt him over the next 20 years. Jacob returned home, repented behaving ignobly to Esau and lived a contented life.

Like Samson, my son has been raised to seek God’s plan, to honor his parents. Though, the word says that God needed Samson to rebel for His plan to work, he turned away from his parents’ wise advice and trusted foolishly. Ultimately, Samson was broken and God rebuilt him into the hero and martyr he created him to be.

And Saul. . .  Saul who persecuted the followers of Christ. Saul who did not want to believe in Jesus Christ. God broke him and rebuilt him into Paul who told the gentiles, “You are God’s children, too.”

Even David was broken through the loss of a child, to be rebuilt, redeemed by God.

“I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice” (Psalm 51: 17) The Message

Nobody ever wants their children broken. Nobody ever wants to be broken. Yet, if in the breaking, wholeness is built – then by all means break and rebuild, break and rebuild me, too.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10)

Sometimes, we become like the marred clay, marred by choices we made – marred by choices others made. Because of that, we need to be broken down and rebuilt.

As the Army breaks down my son, I pray that God is in the rebuilding.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1)

Everyday for almost 3 weeks, I listen for the mail truck – and when I hear it, I walk out to collect the mail. The last time I was so eager for mail was about 29 years ago when I was dating my husband, separated by a summer and different towns.

The mail man would tease me about the letters I received. I miss mail men like that.

Today I pulled 2 letters from the mail box.

I read them, and I cried – all the way through each one. He used words like learning to be a leader, making it through the gas chamber, 2 minute showers, putting fear in the back of your mind, studying to save lives.

He said he loves this path. We’ve both put that fear away.

I have been praying this soldier’s prayer I adapted from Luke 7:1-10. It put into words what my heart couldn’t as I studied this breaking and rebuilding.

Prayer for My Soldier Son

I pray my son will become like the centurion who had such great faith in Jesus that Jesus marveled.

I want him to understand authority like the soldier, whose understanding enabled him to grasp the mighty power and authority of Jesus.

I want him to be humble like the soldier who said that he was not worthy of Jesus coming to his house – though Jesus was coming, thought him worthy of coming – this soldier who probably recognized the sin within him – it didn’t stop him from reaching out to God – I want my son to be like that soldier.

I want him to be a soldier, like this soldier, who loved the Jewish Nation, who helped build churches – because then my son will love both our country and Israel – and he will seek to build good things.

This son who I have called “Faithful” since he was littler than five, I want it said, “When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” ~ Adapted from Luke 7: 1-10

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My kitchen stools were finally pulled out of storage. The house we rented the last two years had a very stool-unfriendly island in a frustratingly family-unfriendly kitchen. A refrigerator opened was the equivalent of Gandalf commanding, “You Shall NOT Pass.” If the dishwasher was open on the opposite, well, that was just me glaring the same thought.

I missed my boys sliding onto a stool to snack, do homework, sometimes eat dinner, cook s’mores  or whatever yummy was coming out of the oven. I missed kitchen living. If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then my stools were the arteries that gave that heart life.

We are back in the state where we had lived for 19 years in the house which did not sell (thank you, God) – and in my kitchen with the family friendly island.

Back to the place I most often met one of the older boy’s current girlfriend, or where their friends would eat before a soccer or football game.

Where life was recounted. Just across the counter, I pulled from the oven the “You’re a Cake” lecture. The “Are You Man Enough” moment happened there.

It is a place covered with friend’s dishes and mine, too, when they come for dinner – and where everyone refills their plates for second helpings.

It is where life gathers, in stacks and piles, in paper and little boy what-knots.

It is a place I meet my weaknesses, like kitchen organization and boys running for solutions to brotherhood battles for Solomon-type judgements.

It is where my mom painted my stools with Tole-style designs, 3 with my style preference, 2 with hers.

5 Stools where differences learn to sit together both literally and figuratively, loving and valuing those differences.

Life spills out over that counter, a divide of giving and taking.

Words pass from both sides, like dishes, spicy or muted, nutritional or comfort, hit or miss words, laughing words, lashing words, loving words.

Yes, my stools are back. I am home.

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“Mom! You’ve told that story a hundred times,” the oldest son will tell me, exasperated. He isn’t a parent yet – not until New Years Eve – so he doesn’t really understand what your children do to  you.

“Well, it’s just that good,” I toss back at him, finishing my story. I feel that way about my Relationship Trilogy for Teens (7th, 8th and 9th grade relationship “lectures”).  While I move today and unpack, maybe you would enjoy hearing these stories again – and if you have not read them yet – well, I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy telling them! Sit down, grab a Pain au Chocolate and cup of coffee – and let this mama tell her stories!

Hubba Bubba

One of my sons didn’t have a girl friend until he was 17.  However, a little girl did ask him to be her special friend the first few weeks of first grade.   He told me that right when he got in the car.  I replied, “Oh, how sweet – that someone wants to be your friend.”  I knew life had definitely changed when he said, “She didn’t mean it that way, Mom.”  [Read Full Post]

You’re a Cake; She’s a Cake

Seventh and eighth grade are rife with drama.  Young boys and girls budding into young men and women – wanting to be all grown up.  Gymboree is all packed away – no more Baby Gap.  Disney is passé and, suddenly, you realize most movies aren’t what they used to be.  However, it’s the relationships that rule the day – and the emotions. [Read Full Post]

Are You Man Enough

My second son came in the kitchen late one winter afternoon. He was a freshman in high school. He pulled up a stool at the counter. I was doing dishes and cooking. He was dazzled again, by the sweet girl who had dazzled him in the 8th grade, the lovely girl who prompted the “You’re a Cake” lecture. They had “broken” up way back in the old days of the 8th grade. To be honest, even though they had broke up, they still admired each other” [Read Full Post]

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It is a noble thing, a boy growing into a man.

Boys are protectors, designed to grow backbones of steel – and shoulders to carry massive weight of responsibility. A boy’s love of dirt and mud is creator-designed, foreshadowing the hard jobs, the dirty jobs, sometimes fox-hole-kind-of-jobs of the man they will become.

Negotiating playground differences without interference is conflict training for more grown-up matters, like business and freedom. Learning how to defend against people who chose not to go by the rules teaches that sometimes you have to use physical aggression to stop bullying – on the playground and later in the world.

A boy not taught concepts of nobleness risks becoming a mercenary man. A boy taught loyalty, faithfulness, and fairness will honor and protect  the weak without thought to material gain or fame. A boy taught this will sacrifice his comfort, his lunch money, his play time to help. The man taught this will sacrifice his golf date, sacrifice his pride to ridicule for standing up for what he believes, even sacrifice his life: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13.

A boy needs a knightly example to follow, preferably someone who champions for good against evil. Someone who loves his neighbor as himself. Someone who can introduce him to Jesus and His Father. Someone who shows a boy how a man loves God. A boy finding a noble hero finds a mighty mentor.

A boy with a knightly purpose carries himself differently, speaks differently, handles responsibility differently.

If only our culture saw a boy as knightly as they see a girl a princess – imagine how our young men would lead today.

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Pocket and Bowie Knives

I remember the birthday my first son got his first toy cowboy holster and gun set. I was appalled. Weaponry, on the surface, is in direct conflict with a mother’s nurturing nature. However, it is also a mother’s job to nurture a son’s protector nature – and allow help him learn to be a hero, to fight for right and how to use the tools for that fight.

A bloggy friend asked me what age I thought was appropriate for a child to have his first pocket knife. I asked Blue Cotton Dad – I gladly hand over to him all manly mentoring areas. It is his area of expertise as cooking is mine.

Blue Cotton Day said it depends on the following factors:

  • It depends on the child. Each child’s development is individual and should be taken into consideration.
  • The level of responsibility is important. Are they responsible enough to follow the rules? To use it as a weapon and not a toy?
  • Experience handling a knife is important, too. Ensure they are taught how to handle a knife responsibly.

Saying all that, my guy recommended 8 as the earliest age.

BCMbravecowboyPocket knives or even Bowie knives have tremendous significance. It is a pre-step to an age of accountability. Pocket knives symbolize that step towards adulthood. By giving them little things of significance to practice that responsibility helps prepare them for the day when independence is freed from those training wheels.

Sentimental value is also a big part of knife ownership.  My FIL, before he died, gave my youngest (then 9) his first knife. I think he gave each of the boys a knife at some point and those knives worked their way into their box of their very important items. It provides a man-to-man connection, even if you man is just 8 or 9 or 14.

Raising boys is perilous business. It takes a courageous mom to train her son to be a real man, which includes training how to use a pocket knife. Keep in mind that a courageous mom can still shake inside, cross her eyes, count to ten and pray.

If you are curious about your state laws concerning knife possession, please check out the following site: http://www.donath.org/Rants/StateKnifeLaws/ or http://pweb.netcom.com/~brlevine/sta-law.htm.

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Unconditional Love drags unwilling feet to all sorts of places that build up the mind, body and soul. Unconditional Love sometimes has to put up with some whine, deal with a bit of balking, kind of like making a child eat their peas or green beens. They might pull a 5 sensory boycott:  Don’t like the taste, Don’t see the need, Don’t feel the positive effects, Don’t hear the message, Can smell a learning moment a mile away.  But it is good for them, regardless. It stretches them beyond what they are.

While visiting The Great Smokey Mountains, we toured Cades Cove – the day after a torrential storm. My joyful son commented, “Sure it was fun. . . for the first 30 minutes.”  Yes, they moaned every time we stopped to learn a little history, discover a little beauty. Yes, they cheered when the camera batteries died.  At the very end, though (about 4 hours later), you should have seen them all trying to make that camera work – but to no avail. We have no proof we saw 2 brown bears!

It is the kind of day they will talk about how “Mom” forced them to be dragged through a great wilderness, stopped too often to capture something beautiful. They will sigh, roll their eyes and make the funny jokes boys make. Probably until one day when they start bragging about it to their kids. 

Unconditional Love is willing to get uncomfortable because we know things they don’t know, like the importance of stopping to take a moment to enjoy a beautiful sight, despite peer pressure to not. Or that by stopping to look at a grave site, you learn why those immunizations you have to take are pretty important. Or seeing with your own eyes that a family of 8 lived in 2 rooms without a bathroom, and maybe realizing how blessed they really are. Or seeing streams of water all frothy and rushing as a result of the previous days storm. That in order to make a moment outstanding, you have to seize that moment instead of letting it pass by outside your window.

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I woke up this morning to discover that Republican Representatives buckled, agreeing to a budget less robust than promised. I am disappointed, dis-heartened. Weakness shows itself in decisions made in the mid-night hour. I am weary of conservative representatives backing down. As a parent, there are times I cannot back down, or all is lost. Compromising values means eventually there are no values left with which to compromise because they have all been relinquished.

I am left with the questions: Is there a Conservative man in Washington Strong enough in his Convictions to NOT cave?

I thought I would share my letter with you. I realize some will disagree, but ask that if you do so and choose to comment, please be respectful of my rights to free speech. Please try not to diminish my thinking ability in your comments, either. In the south, we just call behavior like that bad-manners. Civil disagreements, of course, welcome . . . if dressed in your best civility.

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Once upon a time, my boys were little enough to fit beneath the microscope of my attention. I could identify the entry point of every new word in their increasing vocabulary. I knew every friend, every friend’s mom and the nature of those friendships.  I could match every sock, find every shirt and dress them neatly for church without much of a howl.

Beneath the microscope, they learned the following kinds of things:

How to Pray
Handle nightmares
Discern Friendship
How to Read
How to Swim
Handle Frustration
See Animals in the Clouds
Appropriate ways to Say No
Not to Talk to Strangers
How to Really Blow your Nose
How to properly shove off with your upper arm in soccer so you don’t foul with your elbow
How to make boxed brownies in the 3rd grade and homemade cakes in the 5th grade
How to make your needs known if you are a need stuffer
Forgiveness
Unconditional Love

Beneath the microscope, how they ate, what they ate and when they ate – well, I pretty much knew where it came from – and, yes, where it went – and, hhhhmmm, probably even what it looked like for a long time at its exit.  I still miss orange noses from sweet potatoes and carrot baby foods. All beneath the microscope.              

All children should have parents who place them beneath the microscope – because this studying of their hearts, learning of their dreams, recognition of their gifts – better enables nuturing what God placed within them, better enables healthy healing of their hurts in addition to teaching them to heal their hurts, and train each how to handle their individual challenges. 

Pre-12 is just the training ground to prepare for ages 12 to 20. From 12 to 20, my behavior,  my message is meticulously examined by my boys.

Around age 12 – suddenly, everything starts changing, from knowing what goes on inside the classroom, to the nature of their friendships, to some things they know and when they knew it? “Where did that word come from?” leaves me guessing. Well, their desire for independence, even 12-year-old independence, has burgeoned so they literally pop themselves from beneath the microscope.

In their quest for independence, they have turned the tables, placing me beneath the microscope.  They have so diminished me in their hearts and minds that I fit there, at least in their estimation. I am not saying this is a bad thing. Maybe our children as they grow need to think of us as little before they realize really how wonderfully big we are inside.

It is not comfortable beneath the microscope. They record findings with which I disagree. Beneath the microscope, the parent is not nurtured.  It is a cold, critical place. They re-evaluate the slide notes I recorded of what I placed inside them (you know, all those messages, those values, insights, every good  intention instilled) and compare with their fresh notes of how they see my behavior beneath the microscope. Frustratingly, 12-to-20-year-old microscopic analytical skills are short-sighted. 

When the parent is placed beneath the microscope, it is not a nurturing act. It is a tearing apart and putting back together. They are studying themselves and studying us, seeing if everything we hold them accountable for is within us, too.

Nuance discernment is non-existent. Sharp focus comparing and contrasting message and action rules. Recognition of discrepancies in behavior and action is followed by a stiff call to verbal accountability – and they remember! I am judged by what I have instilled within them. Brutally so! The do not let me forget when I fail.

It can be a scorching place, beneath the microscope of my children.  Being the parent of a 12-to-20-year-old is vastly different from being a parent to a pre-12-year-old. It is an important time, an important training, this testing of that which we placed within them.

No more pre-nap failings, missing it, only to put them down for a nap and the moment is forgotten. No! When the saying “the memory of an elephant” came into the language, they must have been talking about this particular age group.

Starting at age 12, out from under the microscope, they make decisions (12-year-old decisions) on friendship, vocabulary choices, how to communicate with the parents, struggling for more independence – readying for the great pull-away at 14/15.  Out from under the microscope, they test those ideals, those values, throw some away, hold some close, and retrieve some they thought useless. It is a tough time for them, just as it is a tough time being a mom.

It is a time I risk being mis-labeled, suffering a level of censoring, my failings enlarged beneath this microscope. I desperately hold on to the promises of my Father, my faith that they will return, re-analyze with fresh eyes and fresh wisdom, and recognize the valuable specimen they had all along.



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Unconditional Love = Teaching your boys to protect themselves even if you abhor the aggressive use of force. In life there are two forces that fight – offensive forces or defensive forces. People who fight defensively stop violence, stop the bullies, stop abuse not just for themselves but others – they grow up to be heroes, men of courage.

Teaching them adds a tool to the tool box of their talents. That tool box could include a violin, logical quickness for debate, Goop to clean the oil and grease from auto maintenance, mathematical ability, words for prayer, strong hands for jobs that require strength, problem-solving skills, leadership, vision, knowledge of God’s ways to help guide them on when and how to use these tools.

Unconditional Love allows your sons to be men – and sometimes that means knowing when to walk away – and knowing when to fight – and how to do both.

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Tag-Team Chaos Results = 100 squats for every participant

You know about tag-team chaos, don’t you? First one provokes another who provokes another. Nobody stands down when the referee (me) orders the participants to stop or take it down a notch. The result? No red card! No fouls! No being thrown out of the house or car (LOL) – just squats! Beautiful form, this discipline. And I don’t have to raise a hand!

The oldest one walked away saying, “I did mine.”

One of his brothers said, “No! He didn’t do 100.”

I just looked at him and said, “Well, I don’t know. But God knows exactly how many you did. Can you live knowing God knows you lied?”

He smiled at me – yes, the teen smiled at me. And he finished his squats.

Sometimes being a mom has its. . . ahem. . . oddly sweet moments – even in tag-team chaos.

For more on squats, please visit my post, “The Discipline of Squats.”

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Christmas Morning God opened a door. This open door was an opportunity to do something I have been wanting to do for quite a while.

It Snowed. I knew the little lane in the picture above would look exactly as it did. All my boys were home for Christmas. My married son and his wife spent the Christmas Holiday with us. What a tremendous gift to my heart – seeing them all together, all the pieces of the family puzzle fitting together just right.

God says, “No man can shut it” this door He opened. Yes, no man can shut away the opportunities God provides – no man, only ourselves. Christmas morning, I knew I wanted a family picture in the snow, knew it had been my hearts desire to a) have a family picture and a picture of the boys on this little road, and b)would I be dreaming, hoping too much to have it in the snow?

And the opportunity literally fell into my life! Like snow!

Christmas morning, facing 5 boys who now eschew cameras, well, it was a little daunting to have 5 boys-to-men stare at you, balking mulishly. Yes, I could have walked away from the opportunity, shut the door. Who wants their children fussing? On Christmas morning? Also, with 5 against you, well. . . you begin to doubt yourself, doubt the brilliance of your idea, the worthiness of your dream.

How many times have you walked way, only to regret it later? Maybe that is one of the benefits of getting older. Regret is a bitter herb that grows more pungent with time.

My wonderful husband encouraged – and I forged ahead, ignoring the diatribe that only boys can provide – because I knew tromping through the snow on Christmas Day down a picture-perfect lane was a journey worth it in itself, something they will always remember. A Christmas Adventure. A Mom-Dream come true. A gift today for me from God.

God supplied the open door opportunity and the just-enough strength within me – and I did it!

Thank you God for knowing my heart. You bless me with open doors and opportunities. You put the strength within me to walk through these doors and act upon these opportunities – to looking beyond the daunting challenges that stand between me and those opportunities. You give me courage to live with blessings and not regret. Faith leads to hope which leads to peace and joy! Thank you for being a God of Faith, Hope and Joy! Thank you for my Christmas picture!

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Unconditional Love  = Standing nose-to-nose with these boys-to-men and not letting them see you sweat. No matter how much taller, littler, stinkier, or cuddlier. No matter how hard it is to toe the hard-line. No matter how much you want to cave. Unconditional Love is willing to feel wrath from your child buffetting your heart like an 80 MPH windstorm, blowing sand in your eyes (or were those tears), spitting icy pellets at your heart (harsh words that cause your heart to gasp), and knocking you off-balance (teens do not play by the same rules of engagement that we do).

Yes – sometimes nose-to-nose with someone of equal or greater body mass can be uncomfortably daunting. Of course, when you do that, you seriously hope they’ve brushed their teeth!

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Unconditional Love = knowing how I love is not determined by success or failure
Recognizing that sometimes failure is the biggest step to success,
resulting in my needing to step back,
take my hands-off
hold the tears inside
staunch the fear that tries to rush out with a mental and emotional tourniquet
choke off words that do not need or are not ready to be said
believing that failure is sometimes the gas to the engine of success

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Around the Blogahood, neighbors are posting, well, favorite old posts – and, really, I just couldn’t resist – kind of like the favorite old stories you like to tell over and over again.  Or that often repeated joke that still makes you laugh? This post is an example of an idea rummaging around in my head for over 14 years – and blogging gave me the chance to pull it out and give it life. That is one of the beautiful things about the blogahood!

pipesmoking ladyWhen I am old, I will smoke a pipe with vanilla tobacco. By the time I am 85 years old, smoking a pipe of vanilla tobacco will not negatively affect my health. I will be too old to negatively influence my children, and my great grand children will remember me. There will be, I am sure, many things I will not want to do, but I think the hardest thing will be to resist the urge to speak to my children, my grandchildren, and my great grand children in Disney Language (Disneyese).

So that when my son says, “Mom, I was thinking . . . .”

I will not answer, “A dangerous past time, I’m sure”(Beauty and the Beast).

Nor will I respond to misplaced temper with, “…and most of all…Control your temper”(Beauty andthe Beast)

When somone askes me who the older gentleman is with my 10th grandson’s wife, I will not say, “The crazy old coot is belle’s father” (Beauty and the Beast).

No matter how temping, when my great grand-sons are whining about pulling some weeds, I will not say, like Grumpy from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, “A fine bunch of water lilies you turned out to be.”

Nor will I on any occasion sing to my sons, my grandsons, and my great grandsons about what kind of man they need to be:

“[men] BE A MAN
We must be swift as a coursing river
[men] BE A MAN
With all the force of a great typhoon
[men] BE A MAN
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon”(Mulan) -This one is going to be a hard one to resist!

Neither will I encourage the eating of lettuces: romaines, butterheads, radicchio, arugula or endive by saying, “Eating greens is a special treat, It makes long ears and great big feet. But it sure is awful stuff to eat”(Bambi).

And when my 2 year old great grand-daughter jabbers to me, in a language I cannot understand, I will not say, “Look, you’re really cute, but I can’t understand what you’re saying” (Finding Nemo).

Despite their good intentions, when my children try to wake me up at 5 a.m. to take me to the beach with them, I will not sound like Madam Mim, “I hate sunshine! I hate horrible, wholesome sunshine! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it, hate it, hate it!” and pull the covers back over my head (The Sword and the Stone).

Nor will I ask the tiny child rummaging through my candy box, “Who are You?” Catepillar from Alice in Wonderland (because I will know all their names).

And when that tiny child eats my last favorite piece of candy, I will not shout or even whisper, “Off with their heads,”(Alice in Wonderland).

When I ask my 4 year old great grandaughter what her name is because I am so old and have so many new names to remember, when she just stares mutely, terrified of the little old lady smoking a pipe with vanilla tobacco, I will not impertintly answer,”At least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then” (Alice in Wonderland).

I will not wish strangers, “A Very Happy Unbirthday”(Alice in Wonderland), and when my son tells me the doctor has ordered me to never eat ice cream again, I will not answer, “Never say Never whatever you do”(An American Tail).

When they asked, “What’s for dinner Great Grannydoodle?” I will not answser, “Kidney of a horse, liver of a cat, filling up the sausages with this and that” (00ps–Les Miserable, but it is one of my most favorite lines).

If my sons dared to ask, just because they are in their 50s and think they are old enough, “Why did you do it, Mom” when I visit and eat all their ice cream at 2 a.m. I will not say, “I’d like to make one thing quite clear: I never explain anything”(Mary Poppins).

When they fuss at me for having too much fun wrestling and pinning down the grandchildren and great grandchildren or jumping on the trampoline, I will not say, “Why do you have to spoil it? We have fun! I taught you to fly and to fight”(Peter Pan).
And when one of the little ones comes in, fussing that someone is not sharing, no matter how tempting, I will not say, “All you need is trust and a little bit of pixie dust” and then sprinkle glitter or baby powder on her hair. No, I will not do that.
Nor will I call all these children, big and small “Bilge Rats” for beating me at chess and checkers(Peter Pan).
No, I think when I am Old and Smoke a Pipe with Vanilla Tobacco, I will want to hold their tiny hands, or hug them close if they will let me (you know how children are), and I will say, “Let me pray a blessing prayer with you.” Or maybe I will tell them stories about how Jesus loved their parents, and grandparents, cousins – and how God answered prayers and loved unconditionally, faithfully. And, maybe, I will explain about being a son or daughter of the King – and what that means in His Kingdom!
Yes, I think that is what I will do!
 

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 In a house full of boys to men, my shoes are a sweet reminder

of the girl that lives here, too!

No Words!

Simply Shoes!

 Silently Saying It All!

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“The childhood shows the man as morning shows the day” (Milton)

 It is often the character a mother discerns watching her children
play, solve problems, and pray
that sustains during the great pulling away to independence.

We all  have a little bit of Mary within us who
“kept all these things. A mother forgets none of those things which occur respecting her children”
(Luke 2:19; The People’s New Testament)

Not forgetting the good things
grows hope
until the mantle of independence is no longer about the right to make cigarrette and beer decisions
but real-man decisions
Godly- man decisions
that glimmered
in the morning of their life.

A discerning mother looks into her children’s heart
willing herself to see
not what she
feels
or
wants to see
but
what
God put there.

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The Mommyologist and Life without Pink are hosting a “Not Mom of the Year Award” contest – and, well, I just could not resist! I love competition – beating my sons in checkers, chess or just thumb-wars is a high-light of my life! I just had to pick up their gauntlet!

 (Now, let me qualify, if you’ve either given your child a kidney, nurtured them through life-threatening illnesses, or had a child grow up to serve their country putting their life at risk – now that qualifies for being a Mom of the Year.)

I miss those days when my little guys thought I was award worthy. If life got bumpy, nap-time came, resetting their heart, mind and memory. Mom of the Year Award – well, my boys just would not have thought of it. To my little guys, I was their mom of the year every day (the greatness about the little years – they see you an perfect, awesome and greater than any Star Wars force) – until the tweens hit  – a speed-bump for the rocky ride ahead.

I rather like this inverted idea of Not Mom of the Year Award – all about the down and dirty, real life adventure of being a mommy – and like any good adventure – the journey is not always pretty.

All 5 of my boys would agree that I epitomize the Not Mom of the Year Award – from the oldest married son down to the saucy little 4th grader who would just agree moms are created to tease, drive and cook dinner.

The oldest asserts I participated in unequal distribution of toughness. Well, he is right. I had inappropriate expectations of what a first born can do. Yeah, they cannot make their own beds. So we re-adjusted those expectations when the others came along.

The second one says he doesn’t love Jesus or his mama right now – so No Mom of the Year Award there. No job? No gas money. Not getting the grades? No car. Not being respectful? No home. Tough love does not win awards.

The third one? No Mom of the Year Awards for cooking here. “Can Nanny come over and just take it out of the oven – it will just taste that much better if she does?” If he could actually make himself turn green when he sat down to the dinner table, he would. He excels at Mommy Ego Shattering 101!

The fourth one? Well, he really adores me (thank you, God), but he has finally realized that I am fallible – no perfect mommy for him. I do not have the capacity to keep up with his gazillion questions, his thirst for knowledge and wisdom. He sees me fuss at the “crazy school drivers,” “crazy church drivers,” “crazy grocery store drivers,” “crazy soccer drivers” and the “crazy tractor driver” on the road between 7:30 and 8 a.m. on a school morning.” He goes from moments of great love to great frustration with me. I guess it is hard to watch your mom fall off the pedestal.

The fifth one? This year he stepped firmly out of the “I-love-my-mommy” camp into the “I’m-a-daddy’s-boy” camp.  They all eventually do. He was the last, the, sniff, baby. Teasing me is his greatest joy in life. But he would not vote for me either. He, along with his brother, has to read for an hour daily over the summer. Yes, no vote there.

The cats out of the bag – I am Not Mom of The Year Award material.

 All those naps they were forced to take were because mom needed one – and still does.

All those school essays that have big points? I don’t write them for the boys. I use track changes, noting, “More detail. Add a story. Give a definition. You need a topic statement for this paragraph. You need a conclusion to this paragraph.” Followed by, “See my Harbrace, page X for citation. This is how you quote (example provided please mimic) followed by a coming-away comment.” The contempt on each son’s face who has experienced a research paper could chill your heart (I spent all one Mother’s Day cracking the writing whip). However, that motto – “Never let them see you sweat” – well, they don’t. Standing firm in the face of anger, dislike, frustration and total rebellion sometimes requires just standing. No great ideas. No making nice. No trying to win an award.  Just standing. Standing firm does not win awards.

Unlimitless patience? It doesn’t exist. After watching my two oldest walk through my kitchen either naked or in their boxers, despite repeated requests to stop, prompted me to start unbuttoning my pants, saying, “Well, if you can do it, I can, too.” They scattered. No naked or almost-naked boys for at least 3 months.  An award-worthy mom would have handled the situation with more dignity (note – all I had to do was start un-buttoning) – but, I have found at times that dignified responses fall on deaf ears.

They do not want to learn to drive with me in the car. Imagine Garfield claws stuck to the roof of the van – and, well, that’s me. However, I climb in that passenger seat, grip whatever I can find to hold on to and pray, “Greater is He that’s in me than He that’s in the world.” And they drive every morning to school, on the way home and everywhere else, leaving me shaken, needing years of therapy. Brave, courageous mom? Please look elsewhere.  There is nothing brave about me.  I am just a mom trying not to let them see me shaking in my sandals! I could say that it is moments like this that nobly let them see the beauty of leaving the nest – at the right time, of course. Sadly, there is nothing noble about these moments. Not scary mommy – but scardy-mommy.

 Yeah, I have the un-ending supply of laundry, dirty dishes in the sink and toilets that need cleaning (imagine toilets with 5 boys). And, yes, I will take down anyone who tries to snarf my Marble Slab Deep Dark Chocolate with Key Lime ice cream quart (I could say this is setting healthy boundaries, but I would be lying).

Tired of hearing, “There is nothing to do. Can we go to Wal-Mart or a movie?” I am. So, I told them it was important to learn how to fill those “nothing-to-do times.” Appalled! Aghast! No activity planning? No play dates? Well, no, not every day! Definitely No Mom of the Year Award there.

Rock Star Mom has morphed into Not Mom of the Year Award material. That day when you no longer control every bite that goes into their mouth, identify the point of origination for every word that enters their vocabulary, have every friend’s mama on your cell phone, lead those bed-time prayers – that day when you give them independence with training wheels – well, that is when two wills often collide. Those are the years no awards are given. Those are walk-of-faith years, knee-dropping years of prayer, hoping moments, unconditional love moments, moments where imperfection on both sides is the name of the game. Definitely Not Mom of the Year times.

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George Washington

One of the greatest challenges as a mom of sons was changing my thinking away from pink, lavender and all things girl to how to decorate boy-style and not lose the excitement.  At first glance, decorating for boys is very one-dimensional.  However, after 24 years of decorating boys’ rooms, I have discovered the handsome quality of layering.  Colors are important – and so are themes, but let us move beyond over-used themes.  One theme when get the boys’ bedrooms ready in the next house, is centering their room around their names spelled in ship flag symbols. Bedrooms definitely become fun decorating havens – when layered with meaning.  But the Bathroom?

How do you decorate a boys-to-man bathroom? For me, it started by accident about 8 years ago – with one picture. that had hung in my grandmother’s family since before I became a part of the family – a picture of – George Washington. Grandmother had a picture of Ike (President Dwight D. Eisenhower), too – but it is probably in another grandchild’s house.  Probably not in the bathroom, though. My oldest son’s bathroom had red and white tiled floors, with flag red walls – and Americanized accessories. It seemed natural that George would go there. And I added, one president at a time: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, always keeping an eye out for an Eisenhower picture, though.

Why the bathroom? Well, it is one place boys sit still. They cannot watch t.v. there or play a video game.  It is a quiet place, hopefully a very private place – and, just maybe, seeing a noble patriot who embraced America’s greatness, striving to preserve that greatness for generations to come, well, maybe something of that just might settle within them.

Below are some quotes from these presidents that you might be interested in:

President George Washington:

  • “Do not let any one claim to be a true American if they ever attempt to remove religion from politics.”  
  • “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
  • “Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company. “
  • “Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’ liberty’s teeth. ”
    If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War. “

President Reagan:

♦” It is not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work — work with us, not over us; stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.”

    ♦”We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefitting from their success — only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free. Trust the people. This is the one irrefutable lesson of the entire postwar period contradicting the notion that rigid government controls are essential to economic development.”

  • “We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.”
  • “The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest” (Normandy, France, June 6, 1984).
  • “How do you tell a Communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin” (Remarks in Arlington, Virginia, September 25, 1987).
  • It’s time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, “We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.” This idea that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power, is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves” (Address to the nation, October 27, 1964).

George W. Bush

  •  ♦”I believe that God has planted in every heart the desire to live in freedom.”
  • ♦”I believe the most solemn duty of the American president is to protect the American people. If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my watch.”
  • ♦”I think you can judge from somebody’s actions a kind of a stability and sense of purpose perhaps created by strong religious roots. I mean, there’s a certain patience, a certain discipline, I think, that religion helps you achieve.”
  • ♦”To those of you who received honours, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say you, too, can be president of the United States.”
  • ♦”We will stand up for our friends in the world. And one of the most important friends is the State of Israel. My administration will be steadfast in support Israel against terrorism and violence, and in seeking the peace for which all Israelis pray. “

And, though I do not yet having Dwight D. Eisenhower, it just does not seem complete.  When you grow up seeing George and Dwight together, something is just missing when they are not.

Dwight D. Eisenhower:

  • ♦”A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both. “
  • ♦”Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels – men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. “
  • ♦”History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. “
  • ♦”I have found out in later years that we were very poor, but the glory of America is that we didn’t know it then.”
  • ♦”If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking… is freedom.”

Decorating in layers – masculine themes, real leaders of men, and, men who served in various capacities, from the World War II general to Hollywood leading man to the son of a president – surely the pictures of these men will provoke noble thoughts. Also, I cannot really lecture while the boys are in the bathroom.  That is crossing a boundary – bad mom behavior and all that.  However, I will just let these great presidents stare them down when I cannot. A True men’s Room for boys who need to grow up to be true men!

(Also, on my presidential wish list are Thomas Jefferson and James Madison – now that would indeed be make an Awesome Boys to Man Bathroom! )

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