Archive for the ‘Sons’ Category

God loves us in all our messiness – and in the messiness of our children – regardless of size, state of heart and quality of choices. Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means,’I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9: 13). Mothering is sometimes mercy’s school, is it not? Breaking our hearts, lancing out the poison of judgementalism – and refilling it with love, hope and faith for not just the easy to love, but the hard to love, readying our hands to reach out and greet in friendship those we beforehand would have been content to keep on the outside of our faith walk.

In saying all that, I thought that maybe someone needs this story today, just like I needed it in 2009.

The Mother of the Prodigal

Masks are for hiding, deceiving, concealing, and protecting. They hide shame, hurt and wrongs – the wrongs we have done and the wrongs done to us.

We never hear her voice or her story; but if we could, I bet the mother in the story of the prodigal son could tell us a lot about masks – and about throwing them down (Luke 15:11-32).

Married to a man, a Godly man, a respected man, a man who provided abundantly, there was no need for a mask. Imagine the marriage blessings.  A man searching to be close to God found himself a wife desiring to please the Father.  Then God blessed them with their first child – a son.  Such blessing!

The ability to bear sons established her position in the community. She was then blessed with a second son – double the blessing – double the rejoicing.  Her confidence grew. She stood firmly on the promises of God that were sung before her sons were born. Each son was designed for heaven, equipped for the challenges they each would face (Psalm 139:13-16).

I bet she cried when the second son was born – cried tears of joy.  Her first son, always pleasing the father, a parenting-made-easy child, was probably very practical, lacking compassion maybe, but so easy to shepherd into manhood. He probably always won at Alquerque or Chatrang (checkers or chess) because he understood cause and effect.

Within her women’s prayer group, the mother was respected for raising such a noble son.  He probably brought great joy to her heart – and laughter unfettered by frustration. Maybe sometimes she judged other mother’s whose sons were not so obedient, who did not always do their father’s bidding or speak respectfully to their mothers. Maybe they were lax.

Fearless defined the second son. He was poor competition at Alquerque or Chatrang because he was not programmed for cause and effect methodology – he thought in the “Now.”  Passionate about his pursuits and compassionate towards others, he probably shared his allowance with his peers who “needed” or the blind man sitting at the well.  He was filled with talent – a risk-taker.  However, his passion lacked cause and effect self-control. His mother started feeling uncomfortable.

His father encouraged him to save his money, but he just felt criticized, beaten down.  His happy-go-lucky face turned sullen. He sassed his mother. She picked up the mask, uncomfortable with it, but peer fear of judgment was even more uncomfortable.

The first born, working hard to make the right choices, resented his brother’s behavior, and that resentment turned to anger.  The joy within the household that thrived just a few short years earlier evaporated.  Tension hung like high humidity.

Rules were not for this second son, or so he thought. Studying was a waste of time. Seeking God – yeah, sure he believed, but he treated God like he treated his father and mother. The older he got, sullenness grew into contempt – he felt restricted and confined. He was blinded to blessings, to love, to wisdom.

Do not blame his parents, citing carelessness or lack of discipline. His father punished him all sorts of ways to get through to him.  He talked to him gently, calmly, reasoning with him about the choices available to him.  Sometimes it is hard to make the smartest “man” in the room admit someone else knows better.

Long ago, his mother dropped to her knees, praying and seeking God’s guidance and God’s mercy. She longed for laborers to be sent across her son’s path to draw him back – to restore the blessing in her son’s life and in his actions. Sometimes she prayed to God, begging Him to show her how to love her second born. God would warm her heart, restore her strength, and give her hope.

These struggles were kept behind the family doors, until one day it spilled outside those doors – cracking the façade – the mask behind which hope struggled.

The women’s prayer group heard him back-talk his mother one day in that sullen tone.  She pasted a smile on her face, turning back to the group of women. The mask cracked.  How would these women react if they knew her struggles, her perceived failures?  A mother’s motto is always, “I can fix it.” However, she was realizing that she could not fix it – only God could fix it.

It was lonely behind that mask. Self-judgment and fear were her constant companions. She feared that if the mask crumbled even the modicum of community support with the women might fall away too. How she needed the support of women and mothers to lift her up when she fell down. But they did not know she was falling down, that she needed help.  The mask blinds the community and the individual.

Then one day, still a teenager, her son boldly told his father he wanted to leave: “Give me my inheritance.”  He was tired of the rules, tired of the expectations his family put on him, tired of controlling himself. He was a man after all – according to Jewish tradition. He was responsible for his soul; and if he was responsible for his soul, then surely he could be responsible for his inheritance. But he was neglecting his soul.

His father gave it to him, and the world welcomed him. His laughter had once brought such joy and his passion for life had brought such amazement to his family. But later everything turned into concern, and he left.  “I’m never coming back,” he said. “I don’t care what you say.”

Broken-hearted, his parents watched him leave.  The entire town knew about it.  The mask crumbled.

If you were part of this mother’s community, what would you have done?  What did she need? Throughout all the years she struggled, she needed women who would lift her up in prayer. How would you have responded?  Do you wear a mask because you fear judgment from other mothers, other peers, other family members?

Dysfunction is so prevalent within the Bible that you must conclude that God does not expect every family to be without challenges. However, challenges can provoke masks and isolation from true help and true mercy.  You cannot recognize the women God has placed in your path to help you unless you remove the mask.

Removing the mask, surprisingly, makes it easier to love, easier to face the challenges, and easier to rejoice when that prodigal turns his life around. Remove the mask and trust that God will surround you with other women who will speak hope, faith, encouragement not only in you but the in the son gone astray.

No mother wants to hear her son condemned by her peers. She wants to hear him lifted up in the hope of prayer. Are you willing to not only take off the mask, but to lift other struggling mothers up? Encourage mothers whose children might have to learn cause and effect the hard way – pray until her son returns home, willing to be the man God created him to be.

After all, Jesus knew the story of the prodigal son. He knew his struggles, his challenges, his failures – and He knew that the path home was paved with faith.

If you have faith that God will take care of your children, have faith enough to take off the mask. Taking off the mask is a step of faith.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” – (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV)

A Mother and her Masks: the Story of the Mother of the Prodigal was first published in 2010 Sanctified Together, a monthly e-magazine for women.


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One upon a time, long ago, where blue grass grew in Main Street America, and front porch swings were a safe place to watch life go by, I packed my bags, folded up my new cobalt blue comforter with Dogwood Rose colored flowers to go out in the world and, if not meet my destiny, then hunt it down like a terrior unleashed who finds the world so big that sometimes it is hard to figure which way to go.

My comforter was there through my college career, wrapped around me as I studied, worked on projects, or just needed a comfort moment.  In a college dorm room, bedding is the primary décor statement (wall décor second).  My Cobalt blue comforter with its Dogwood Rose colored flowers symbolized my boldness – no weak, thinned out blue pastel or wall flower pink – no – I was going to shape my future to my dreams – Cobalt blue spoke strength, determination, adventure.

Three years later, I stepped further into my future.  My spirit gentled.  My new comforter was Shabby Chic White with faint slashes of tea green and misty rose.  My fading Cobalt Blue comforter, now Carolina Blue found itself folded over a chair for cuddling on the couch or naps.

Until my son was born. The blue seemed to brighten with a renewed vitality. Thrown on the floor, it provided a soft place to fall. As morning wore on, sleepiness pulling both of us, we’d wrap the blue around and fall into the snuggly Kingdom of Nap.

When he turned 2, I decorated his Big Boy Room.  He picked out a Snoopy Quilt with a blue background for his Big Boy Bed.  During nap time one afternoon, when he was just 3, he dragged his blanket into my room, setting it on my bed.  “I think you should have this blanket, Mom.  It’s so much nicer.  I’ll let you have it,” he said as he slowly inched my fading into stone washed Corn Silk blue blanket over his shoulders and backed out of the room. “I’ll just take this one since you won’t be needing it now that you have my nice Snoopy blanket.”

And there began a back and forth, a sneak and take for a few years until it just stayed in his room, wrapped around him during sleep, snuggly time, movie time, and, yes, even spend the night time.  Time faded the blanket to periwinkle.  Not all the seams were there. That blanket went with him to college, all faded and full of memories. The pink had washed to a leached out white.

One day, he brought The Girl home, the girl who would be his wife.  They set a date.  Then, one Christmas, six months before the wedding, he came home with his blanket and left it behind. The faded blue blanket just lay there. . . . .

 Until one day, my 3rd son picked it up, wrapped it around himself, and wandered off with it to snuggle into sleep, watch a movie, or read, even on overnight sleepovers – terribly faded, terribly worn, terribly loved –

(I had to wrestle it away to take a picture).

More on the journey of the blue cotton blanket: Change Comes Quietly

and The Blanket Thief Strikes Again

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Wife of my son, daughter of our family,

Today you become officially the #1 woman in in my son’s  life.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Just as your father gives you to my son today, so I give my son to you, with a glad heart and much love.

For years, I prayed that God would protect and bless the girls my boys would marry.  I prayed in faith that God would bring daughter-in-laws who had a heart for our family, our strengths and weaknesses included.

When God blesses, He blesses abundantly.  I prayed for children.  He gave me 5 sons.  I prayed for a good husband.  He sent me the best.  I prayed for my sons to be healed at various times.  They are healthy and whole.  God is faithful to His promises. He brought you, the abundant answer to prayer.

Samuel’s father, Elkanah, provides the prototype for what I consider a most wonderful husband!  It is from his relationship with Hannah that I pray my hope and faith for your marriage.

In the mighty name of Jesus I pray that my son will be the Elkanah to your Hannah.

I pray that my son favors you above all others, giving you double portions, seeking out why you cry, why you will not eat, why you are down-hearted—that he sees your genuine heart, kindness, and heart’s desires—through the hills and valleys of your life.

I pray that you value each other as Elkanah valued Hannah.  He wanted to mean more to her than 10 sons.  Sons defined the value of a woman during that time.  If she couldn’t produce sons, she had no value, no esteem in the community.  What the world says is valuable is not what is important.  Elkanah values her heart, her companionship, who she is—not her position in the community, her job, or where she comes from.  He values what’s on the inside.

I pray that each of you pour your soul out to the Lord, praying and sharing God’s word in your life with each other, that your house be full of children who bring you much joy, that your children return there to find comfort, rest and spiritual refreshment.

I pray that you put God above all the desires of your heart because then you will be blessed beyond measure.

We are so glad you’ve come!

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It’s just not Halloween without this post!
oldwomaninshoeI used to think moms with just sons were pretty scary, until I became one of those moms.
When you’re a mom with 5 sons, no matter how big, those boys gotta think you can still take them down-no matter who’s around.

You gotta be able to call their bluff.

One day, one of my sons walked through the kitchen on his way to his room buck naked after showering in my shower.  At the same time, the oldest one strolled into the kitchen in his boxers.  I’d had it. I was tired of all this male non-challent nakedness. There was a girl in the house after-all, even if she was just “Mom.”

I started un-buttoning my pants.  I said, “Well, if you can do it, I can, too.”  They high-tailed it out of the kitchen. I didn’t see a naked butt for about 6 months. I must have been pretty Scary-Mommy! (BTW, I only started unbuttoning my pants.  That’s all it took)

It gets pretty scary in the house when I do my “Mad Mad Madam Mim” immitation from The Sword and The Stone or the Lady in the Portrait from Harry Potter when she can just break a glass “Just with My Voice.” The threat to do those immitations in front of their friends pretty much makes them toe the line.

Then, I get pretty SCARY MOMMY when I create visual lectures on relationships and stuff, like “You’re a Cake” and “Hubba Bubba” and “Are you Man Enough?”  And then I share them over S’Mores and Pizza when they bring  BFFS over or I get a chance to hang around their “girl” friends at soccer games or church. It’s so scary, they almost like it.

witchcatA truly SCARY MOMMY makes sure Santa stuffs stockings for the older sons with things like Payne’s Common Sense, Tocqueville’s Democracy in America or C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. However, for every Scary Mommy high moment, there is an equal Scary Mommy low moment, like when I reviewed every Def Leppard song with my son who disagreed that every Def Leppard song is about sex.  We were trying to eliminate the sin-with-a-good-beat music choices.  All Scary Mommy had to do was raise an eyebrow.  My son conceded victory, but Scary Mommy was rather red-faced. Def Leppart no longer blared at the house.

I am probably SCARY MOMMY when I lose my temper, my keys, and when I drive (not quite all at the same time).

SCARY MOMMY loves enough to risk pride, respect, and affection in order to be the mom my son’s need me to be. SCARY MOMMY can be meaner, but SCARY MOMMY gives Volcano kisses that slobber all over their cheeks, bear hugs that can lift the biggest one of them all off the ground, and say, “I’m sorry. I really missed it” when I handle mommy-ness wrong.

SCARY MOMMY has a pretty scary sense of humor.  When one son, whom we call “Bear” got in the car after soccer practice all cold and shivering, I asked him,” What’s the saddest sight in the whole wide world?”

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

“A hairless bear shivering with cold,” I answered.  Now readers, you need to visualize that before you can truly appreciate the SCARY MOMMY humor.

momboysbarn.jpgThe boys would really think I was SCARY MOMMY if they knew what I was like without God in my life giving me the strength, the courage, the inspiration, the never-give-up-ness to believe in their innate goodness when it’s on sabitacal, to believe they are walking in God’s plan for their lives when it seems like every plan has been thrown away, to believe they have generous hearts when they are tight-fisted with their brothers, and to love passionately and unconditionally even when they don’t want to love me back.  SCARY MOMMY drops to her knees in prayer when life is scarier than she is!

SCARY MOMMY? Bring it on! Sometimes I just plain scare myself!

See also Socialism or Capitalism: Trick or Treat or Halloween is. . .

Wishing you a day of celebrating family!

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03-08-2009 04;28;20PMMy grandmother, Mary Edna, taught me  about strength. One bright sunny morning, she moved from grandmother to something closer and more powerful.

The sun was pouring through the big upstairs windows at her house. Spending the night at grandmother and grandfather’s house, drinking hot chocolate for breakfast-that was the life-except that morning, grandmother accidently put coffee in my milk instead of cocoa.

“Can I live here forever?” I asked. I asked it every time. We were upstairs straightening the beds when the phone rang, you know the 1968 phone ring. Grandmother answered, handing me the phone to talk to my mom.

“Can I live here forever?” I remember asking into the phone.

My mother said, “Yes.”

Wow! Talk about getting what you wish for! It left me speechless. I remember wandering downstairs, onto the front porch, swinging. The milkman came, leaving two bottles of milk in the milk box.

Mom, my brother, and I moved in a few weeks later. Morning hot chocolates stopped. We weren’t just grandchildren anymore. We were something. . . more.

There were times when I wondered how my grandfather could love such a woman. The older I got, the more I understood. You need strength to push through tough times. You need strength to make meager times rich. You need strength to have hope.

She could be sharp, judgmental, and an adherent to Amy Vanderbilt’s Book of Etiquette. Despite that, she made me feel beautiful on the inside. That’s what mattered most to me—that’s where I wanted to be beautiful.

I learned as I grew into a young woman the need to stand up for what I believed. If I didn’t, she could just roll right over me.

It terrified me to stand up to her. She could wield the look. Most people would just give up if she gave you the look. Deep inside, I knew I couldn’t give up. If I did, I would lose . . . .me. So I would stand up to her. . . and when there was nothing left to do, then I would just stand.

She respected that.

I learned that if I could stand up to her, I could stand up to anybody or for anything. A lot of shoe quaking is involved in the standing up to a seemingly greater than oneself. Sweaty palms, too, often followed sometimes by light-headed-ness, probably due to a lack of oxygen. Sometimes life requires moments like this, the standing-up-for-something-inside-of-ourselves moments. Moments where you can’t afford to stand down.

One day after my first son was born, we gathered in the family room, my grandmother, aunt, mom, and I. Everyone was enjoying the baby. I got up and turned the corner to the kitchen when I hit on a chair my very sensitive part of the shin, that funnybone part that when knocked just the right when in the moment of busyness has nothing funny about it, just exquisite pain.

I cursed. Then I inwardly cursed again when the family room went stone quiet. I never cursed. At least, not until I started driving, and then only when I was driving. Then I got married, and the battle increased. Then I had a baby. However, these women in my family respected how I struggled never to curse.

I had a reputation that with the split-second shin hit was about to be torn to shreds. The silence screamed condemnation. I took a deep breath, and stuck my head around the corner, ready to take the lashing. There are times where it only takes one incident to destroy one’s reputation.

Scan6_2_0039_039Everyone was looking at grandmother, the great matriarch, waiting for the verdict, the censure. My character failure would be recalled again and again. Just like the one time I opened a Christmas present early and rewrapped it. A criminal just can’t keep a secret; they have to brag. Stupid me! You’d think I had done it every Christmas.

My grandmother looked them square in the eye, and said, “My mother always said there was a time and place to curse. I believe you just found it.”

The conversation turned. Not a word was ever said about the incident again. She had secured my dignity.

I miss her every day! I used the strength she instilled in me every day. With a house full of sons to raise, they can’t ever see you sweat! Toppling into a weepy puddle is just not an option—at least not in front of them.

It is hard balancing the two, a stick that won’t be broken and a gentle hand filled with compassion. I fail often; however, I cannot afford to give up. That dog-gone strength I built from standing up to her just won’t let me.

God replaced the loss of a father with a great gift—my grandmother who taught me to be strong.

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Thanksgiving – so much more than a turkey!

There is so much more to Thanksgiving than the turkey, the football – even the family gathered around the table. Thanksgiving is about recognizing the roots from which America grew. Not just the patriotic, freedom-fighting roots – though they are as inherently necessary to recognize. It is the faith seed carried over the ocean in uncomfortable, danger-laden ships, planted in soil with hungry cold hands because of a vision of living God faith uninhibited by political agenda.

“The Lord is the Help of My Life”  – William Bradford

The first Pilgrims came to American so they could worship The God of Abraham, read The Gospel of Love and  experience the second Baptism without being drowned in a wine barrel, be burned alive boarded up in your own home, or have your entrails slowly pulled out of you in the town square as government officials attempted to turn you away from practicing your faith in the way you chose. At that time, the government determined how you practiced your faith – and if you disagreed, well, the government became disagreeable.

They came to America to be able to speak God’s name in the town square in the court house, on the public streets, in the school houses – to live and voice their belief without fear of persecution.

That faith seed would grow roots that would reach into our constitution: Article 1:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

(As a matter of fact, public schools were created to teach children to read so they could read the bible)

In America, these early Plymouth settlers discovered the rationing of socialism and the plenty of capitalism through the work of their own hands – not their neighbors. They broke the glass ceiling of class restriction – like the cranberries we eat on Thanksgiving that float to the top in the harvest when water rushes through the cranberry fields, so does hard work, effort, talent – all based on individual gumption – not religion, not class, not government.

“He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream”

Today, the Thanksgiving Holiday is full of irony – a House and Senate have left Washington D.C. to celebrate a holiday founded on the success of Capitalism and faith in God, yet daily they work to strip God out of the very places Pilgrims sought to freely worship their God – the city streets, the court houses, the schools – they wanted God in every part of their lives, their community, and their government.

Some leadership have gone so far today as to remove a cross from outside a base chapel in Afghanistan .  This symbol of faith and hope sustains many of our military soldiers protecting not only us but these leaders.

Just like the flag bearers of old gave the hope, the courage to fight on in difficult situations to their the military men it represented, so too does the symbol of our faith. When these flag bearers fell, so too did the fighting soldiers’ morale, hope and survival statistics. These soldiers live in casualty-real situations, putting their life on the life for an America created and built with hands seeking God.

Yet daily, these government officials attempt to strip the foundations of Capitalism and reduce Americans to the once starving, frustrated, dying, struggling Pilgrims who started out in socialism – who died in socialism – hungry and frustrated.  Until the American Spirit at Plymouth through a capitalist contract  replaced the socialist creed to break the bonds of servitude unleashing individual potential resulting in the American Dream.

While Socialism binds the hands of flourishing enterprise, smothers the seeds of creativity from which inventions spring, and suffocates the very breath of freedom, Capitalism frees the hands of enterprise, allows individual creativity the independence to invent, and  gives freedom breath to speak without recourse.

How ironic that today our government officials celebrate an event so diametrically opposed to their actions. How ironic is it that protestors are calling for a return to the socialism that brought Plymouth settler’s to their knees.

How sad that they celebrate Thanksgiving while chopping at the root of its very creation.

These people calling themselves the 99% are missing a very important factor. A missionary man preached at our church a few weeks ago. He asked, “Do you have an in-door toilet? Do you have running water? Do you have electricity?. . . .If you do, you are in the top 10% of the world.”

Yes, the 99% are in the top 10% of the world.

The top 10% because of faith in God and capitalism.

William Bradford’s biography is sitting on my desk right now.  My sons know the history of our country, but not through classroom textbooks because the full, real history of the birth of our country not taught. Because God is not allowed in the story telling in today’s public school classroom.

Today as you thank God for His blessings, as you pull your family close, spend additional time discussing the start of our country, how we became that top 10%, what enabled us to achieve clean water, medicines that heal and prevent, homes with so much comfort, electricity and internet, a washer and dryer, an abundance of food to keep and share.

And pray for those soldiers whose crosses are being pulled down, who are fighting to keep America safe, to keep America free, to keep God in America.

Graft you, your family to the deep root of faith from which America grew.

~ Written, Thanksgiving 2010
~Revised, Thanksgiving 2011
~Revised again, Thanksgiving 2012

Other related posts:

Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting Tebowing and other such Religious Behavior

Words Make a Difference

The 10 Cannots of Freedom

To Save a City

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Halloween is digging down into the costume chest and pulling out something to dress up your imagination. It is a breast plate, shield and cape, with a worn grey sword that wilts more than jabs.  It is a cowboy vest, sherriff’s badge, and a frayed cowboy hat that has seen more than its fair share of fights.  It is a bumble bee, leopard or Peter Pan.  It is a dressed up witches hat or black cat ears, black smudged nose, and painted whiskers.

It is hot chili on a frosty night, sprinkled cheese, and grilled dogs.  Worms in the pumkin patch cupcakes sloshed down with hot apple cider or hot chocolate. It is fun games that make laughter, goose bumps, and adventure.

pumpkintableIt is knocking on neighbor’s doors who brought your mama “Welcome to the neighborhod” cookies or the little red-headed girls house who has a crush on your brother.  It’s a door opening and friends spilling out of the dark dank, dreay night into the golden warmth of the Pumpkin House(which is what I called our old house because it was orange brick with black shutters). It is filling jack-o-lantern buckets with candy for your neighbor’s children who share school rooms, teachers with your children, who stop by for hot chocolate on fall afternoons.

It is laughing, teasing, savoring childhood – no presents, no pressure, no soporific lethargy. It is  fellowship, loving thy neighbor and generosity to strangers. Big and little pumpkins, Little and big. Halloween is a holiday from a too busy schedule, a moment to live joyously.

Then, after the pumpkin lights are blown out, the costumes tucked away, the candy stored out of reach, then it is time to thank God for the blessings of children, family, and fellowship, the joy of giving, laughter, and imagination, for a moment where the daily struggles dissipate in the steam of good food, respite from the world that figuratively buffetts each day.  Thank you for a moment to enjoy, refreshing myself in the gifts you have given me and the gifts given out.

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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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Do you not stop and freeze  when a squirrel appears on your porch or a branch close by, or just ahead on your walking path – and watch, always wishing it would come closer? All the world seems to stop while you hold your breath, keeping still, waiting. . . wondering if you just went a little closer, would the squirrel attack or maybe take an acorn from your hand – sensing you meant nothing but good . . . . amazing how nature mimicks motherhood.

 The Meeting

might happen when they roll out of bed in the morning, or after school, before dinner, after a soccer game

maybe bumping into each other in the laundry room

a surprise meeting

And your heart jumps – no matter how much they grow away from being the baby –

Excitement, hope, mommy-love just perks up, prodded sometimes by hope

because after The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and your Husband

You love your child

But you react with caution, just like you would with an untamed squirrel,

judging the situation, the emotions, the attitude, the eye-contact, the set of the mouth

and, sometimes, you find a smile, a warm word, a brief peace meeting

and sometimes, all you get is this!

But, like with squirrel meetings,

you are awed

the creature




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“Don’t get in my bubble,” they say to each other – and to me sometimes. And the way they say it, playful yet serious, is one of my very favorite things. The way boys banter and set boundaries through humor is one of the true delights of being a mom of sons.

“I’m not tellin’ that,” when I try to ferret out information about what’s going on with the people they hang out with – “That would be gossiping,” they say. Respecting healthy boundaries can be a mine field of relationship-risk because sometimes boundaries create conflict on both sides.

Then there is the, “Mom, I’m not dressed” when I try walking into my bathroom where they are showering, and, apparently, over-night my little boy felt he had become a man who needed his privacy. Ah, where the chasm between mom and son widens, not like the ocean yet, but like a river, where you are on one bank and he on the other. Sigh!

Developing boundaries. Discernment.  My sons grow and develop boundaries that keep me out. Yes, healthy. Yes, to a point necessary. However, boundaries go both ways. If you have ever played croquet, then you understand that boundaries are indeed a sticky wicket we all have to deal with.

For example, when my son proudly brought me a plate of scones, saying, that plate of scones, made with a different recipe than the one I used for well over a decade – was better than mine? The recipe your friends wanted me to give to their moms? The scones that shouted, “I love you?” Because, well, boys just do not always want to hear those words (establishing boundaries and all) – and food is a multi-lingual love language.  Well, gee, inside I am saying, “You popped my bubble. You’re running over my boundaries.” My sons might want to criticize my parenting now that you’re all grown up, but they should never, NEVER diss my scones.”

And, just in case you do not want to make scones because. . . well, they sound so scone-ish – then call them sweet biscuits. Who would not want a sweet biscuit! Call them what you want – but, if you my son, never, ever tell me your scone recipe is better than mine. Sniff!  He popped my bubble!

Yes, I realize it was a tribute, in a way, bringing that plate. Yes, he is an excellent cook – Emeril watch out! Yes, it was a moment of shining independence.  But it was like the time my cat, thinking she was all grown up, wanted to give me a “hug” in her catty way and left a bunch of . . . .ahem . . . bunnies on my back steps – ’cause that’s what cats do to say, “Gee, see how much I think you’re great!”

. . . . Have I lost you here? . . . .Please come back.  We’re here to talk about scones and boundaries – not really the bunnies.  But, well, bunnies are just everywhere if you really look around (For comic relief, see Spike Jones, Do Ya Wanna Buy a Bunny” – Click Here)

. . . .I recognized the love offering, but was somewhat dismayed – how do you handle that situation?

Wanting to be proud – because it was pure sweetness out of both that prompted the gift offerings. Yet, disagreeing with the results! Granted, his scones were nicely done. Were they better? I was so busy trying to re-bubble my bubble, I could not honestly say.

So, while you chew over that boundary issue, listen to a little Spike Jones, you just might like to try my scones! If you have a better recipe, please share – it won’t pop my boundary bubble – unless you’re my son! Sigh! There is always a story behind the recipe at our house! Ya’ll come back now, Y’hear!

Mom’s Scrumptious Scones

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup butter, cut up (5.3 tablespoons)
1 Cup whipping cream

  • Combine first 4 ingredients; cut in butter with a pastry blender until crumbly.  Add whipping cream, stirring until moistened.
  • Turn onto lightly floured surface; knead 5 or 6 times.  Roll to 1/2 inch thickness. Pat into an 8 to 9-inch circular greased cake pan.  Score into triangular pieces before cooking.  Or, use a melon-ball sized-scoop, and place on a greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with Blueberry Sauce and whipped cream. I like to use fresh un-cooked blueberries or strawberries sprinkled liberally over the sauce.
  • Also tastes great in a bowl with 1/4 cup milk, sweetened strawberries that have been sliced and sugared.
  • Add 1/2 bag of chocolate chips for scone balls or cookies.

BlueBerry Sauce from Cinnamon and Spice and Everything Nice (Click Here). (By the way, Reeni’s blueberry crepes are decadently delicious!)

Blueberry Sauce

1 pint blueberries
1/3 cup maple syrup(grade B) or honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons boiling water

Add everything to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the blueberries pop. Whisk the boiling water and cornstarch together to make a slurry. Stir the slurry into the blueberry sauce and continue simmering for 2-3 minutes to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.

Whipping Cream

2 Cups Whipping Cream
1/2 Cup Sugar

Place beaters in the freezer while the Heavy Whipping Cream chills (about 15 minutes).  Beat until stiff peaks form. Be careful or you’ll end up with butter. When done, dollop a generous amount over your fruit sauce.

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Imagine, Dream, Grow, Create and Become

By my fourth son

Imagine Scoring the winning goal of the Championship and I thought I couldn’t do it because all the energy was out of me.

Dream of becoming the greatest keeper that stopped every shot that was shot at him and even though I was tired I still kept going.

Growing into the greatest player that shot the best bicycle kick that took him forever to learn.

Create the best juggling trick in the history of the world with your feet that took years of practice to create.

Become the greatest professional soccer play that never gives up when the team he’s playing on is losing the game.


My son has a birthday coming up. He brought this poem home last week.  It was in a book of  poems by his class, hardbound – the whole nine yards. When I first saw a poem on soccer, I kind of sighed.  All my boys love soccer.  All have wanted to be great soccer players.  World Cup? Guess what we will be watching for the next forever?  World Cup Soccer!

And, then I read his poem. And what I saw pleased my heart.  All children want to be great – at something, some dream they have within them. Some realize earlier, some later about the kind of work and determination needed to make dreams come true. Mine are like that – realization blooming in different seasons.

Some people believe sports are a waste of time. I am not one of those parents. I have found it to be an additional classroom teaching things like negotiating differences, dealing with people who annoy you but understanding the need to develop a successful working relationship, learning from great failures to create great successes, respecting authority that decides where you play and when you play, learning to achieve the top-notch position by working your way up from the bench. 

My son gave me a tremendous pre-birthday gift just by showing me what he understands about dreaming, being on a team and hard work:

  • Never giving up on team-mates or team when losing
  • Willing to practice at something for years before experiencing the results and achievement
  • Recognizing that greatness is something you grow in to and requires learning
  • Recognizing that just because you are tired does not mean you give up or try less harder
  • Setting the bar high!

As a mom, I try so hard to stuff wisdom into my sons.  Stuffing it in is sooooo hard and complicated.  However, seeing wisdom come out, un-prompted by me (yes, his teacher did provide the prompt), is like seeing a cardinal take flight from its nest – absolutely breath-taking. I am so blessed!

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For 3 years, we prayed for another child. And then you came – God’s answer to our prayer.


“Who Me?”  you probably ask when we tell you that.

“I don’t know if I want to be an answer to anybody’s prayer,” you probably think.

But God Elohim, mighty and strong, created and preserves you

Almighty God El Shaddai is all-sufficient to ALL your needs

He is Adonai, master over your destiny

who as Jehovah-Jireh foresees every challenge you will face, every choice, whether good or bad, and provides a way back home

where as Jehovah-Rophe He will welcome you, wrap  you in both his arms and heal your wounds, both self-inflicted and inflicted by others

and as you heal in the shadow of His presence

Jehovah-M’Kaddesh will sanctify you, make you pure and whole in His sight

until, finally, you find peace in the presence of Jehovah-Shalom

the answer to a prayer fulfilled, made whole, perfected

you with the mighty strength He put within you

  with agile swiftness

A heart for the hurting or downtrodden


and all else he put within you

loyalty, faithfulness, nobleness

 will be used by God to answer many prayers

  We will just know that God used you to answer our prayer first

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When I was little, I knew that I could grow up and BE anything.  My husband wanted to become an engineer and work for IBM. My friends wanted to be nurses or teachers.

My sons also have dreams.  They all want to be professional soccer players, but their back-up dream job would be an entrepeneur, a marine, an artist, a West Point graduate, a mechanical engineer, or a radio station producer. 

Some of my students wanted to be nurses at particular hospitals because of how the nursing staff treated their loved ones during health challenges.  Some wanted to be bankers because they loved the financial process.  Many engineers wanted to be what Lee Iacocca was to Ford when he created the Mustang.

Nobody ever said, ‘I want to grow up and work for a government owned business.”

They wanted to work for “Made in the U.S.A.” cutting-edge companies that were innovative, exciting and pioneering better products for a better tomorrow.

Made in the United States of America means something more than a product made within our borders under USA jurisdiction. Made in the U.S.A stands for the American Dream, a Freedom Dream.

Men and women traveled to American from other countries because of individual opportunities to control their destiny through hard work, choice ownership, and opportunity.

Last week, Made in the U.S.A. took a giant step closer to meaning government-owned, government regulated, government property. My sons will suffer because of Congressional decisions signed into law by President Obama, in both opportunity and hirability. 

Sadly, conservative, small-government people will not be hired. Political discourse will be stifled.  How many people will re-register to “democrat” to avoid joblessness?  If you do not follow the government line, then you will not have a job.

Besides hirability being an issue, job opportunity will be reduced. Too many dreams are becoming government-owned dreams. Solid jobs for solid futures where my sons can provide for their families, their health and their retirement have been grabbed by the government officials, many of whom have never run a business in their lives.

  • The Engineer, who has been the bread and butter of middle class life (government-owned GM and Chrysler) – think of all the companies affected that hire engineers: tires, breaks, steering wheels, visors, panels, lighting, engine development, paint, et al. I  have driven a Chrysler for 25 years.  I will never buy another.  I want to invest in products that boast of that Made-In-The-USA, Capitalistic, entrepreneurial Spirit. If you notice, all those planes and jeeps in WWII were made by privately owned companies, not government-owned companies.
  • Bankers, another bread and butter of middle class life (weekly government takeovers of banks, strong-arming banks to take bail-out money, and strong-arming banks to give loans to customers who cannot afford them(Freddie Mac and Fannie May).  How would you like your new boss, the president he is the only thing standing between you (the banker) and the pitchforks, when it was the government that created the problem?
  • Insurance Companies – consider how many families in your community own insurance companies that hire other people with families for work.  Where will they be in 10 years, since the Obama administration’s stated goal is to put them out of business?
  • Health Care Industry – I realize that some of my readers disagree, but when the Prime Minister of Canada chooses American Health Care over socialized Canada Health care, that should tell you something.  What will happen to private hospitals who refuse to give abortions (now government paid by EVERYBODY whether you want your money to support abortion or not)?  How many nurses and doctors will leave the health care industry because of decisions deemed “unethical” before last week? Think of the opportunities government health care will provide for your children when their babies are born and need state-of-the-art health care? A few months ago, news channels showed socialized health care in Europe where small children who needed care were denied that care.  Fighting chances were denied.  The parents left with blank expressions. A week ago, every American child had a Fighting Chance. Where are Americans going to go when the health care they need is denied them?
  • Education – Government run education rewriting American history, ignoring our forefathers, teaching to tests instead of just teaching. Did you realize that if you had a doctorate in Chemistry, you would not be considered qualified to teach chemistry in the public school system? Debate is stifled. No “discussion” of evolution versus creationism.  No discussion of the separation of church and state. One of my son’s friends was called on the carpet of his principal’s office and told, “You were not hired to educate.  You were hired to teach to the test.” So no more essay questions.  No more class discussions.  No more firing up the students with that desire to learn.  My children got to hear a county-wide broadcast about how American students were farther behind than students around the world. Wow!  What a wonderful thing to tell students – you are the dumbest bunch of kids in the world. How does that inspire?  Maybe they need to stop teaching to the tests and start teaching!  Give teachers the freedom to teach.
  • College Football – yes, even college football is being targeted by the Obama Administration for reform. The government involved in football? Soon, Obama will be regulating my mother’s bridge group.

Made in the U.S.A. does not mean government-owned!  It means private sector owned.  It means power and opportunity to the individual.  Made-in-the-USA government works for the people. Imported socialism is where the people work for the government.

Sons of Liberty

I think our forefathers’ would be appalled if they knew our sons and daughters worked for government-owned industry.  I think our World War I and II veterans would feel betrayed that all they fought against was signed into law by our very own Congress and president. I feel betrayed, as if a group of thieves had stolen my children’s American Dream! That made-in-the USA ObamaCare Health Bill might have been made in the USA, but it was made with foreign parts and ideology. 

Do we really want government officials deciding what kind of cars to make, what kind of pharmaceuticals to invest in, what type of insurance you get, what kind of football you watch?  They’ve already messed with my McDonald’s French Fries.  Just imagine what they would do with a car! Brain Surgery! Banking Account Value! And fighting chances!

I say, Repeal the Bill and replace it with true American Made-in-the-USA Bill with American made parts that promote capitalism which allows the people to choose to take care of those in need. Let us to continue to “Secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”(Preamble to the Constitution).

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There is nothing like girls to show a mom of sons the incredible differences in each boy. One son probably went out with a girl while he was in the hospital nursery. One did not date until the end of high school. It is all about those internal soul differences. One thinks girls are like “Candy Bars” and just cannot pick his favorite. Another goes the friendship route. One married his best friend.

You can imagine our amusement when our 3rd grader went to the “Candy Bar” brother for girl advice. A 4th grade girl told my son she liked him.

“Go up, stick out your hand and introduce yourself, say, ‘Hi I”m _____ ______,” he advised, telling him to be sure to include his last name.

If I could raise my eyebrow like my 3rd son, it would have arched beautifully. “You gave such good (thinking tame) advice?” I asked amazed. I hazard to think what I would have guessed.

“I’m great at giving advice, Mom. I’m just not as good at living it,” he conceded.

Then, the Joyful one entered into the conversation – the one who is friendship-oriented but comes up with the greatest lines,” No! No! No! You should have come to me. That’s terrible advice.”

Then he commenced to throw out a few lines he likes:

“If you had a pet parrot,” he asked, “Would you want it on this should (pointing to the closer shoulder) or this shoulder (reaching around to touch the farthest shoulder, his arm ending up around her)?”

“No! No! No PDA (Public Display of Affection),” I countered, the mom who never heard about PDA until the second son. Just what I need – my 3rd grader being sent to the office for PDA infraction and it placed on his, gasp, Permanent Record (which my older sons’ lived in fear of for years – like it would follow you to the Pearly Gates for Judgement Day)

“Are you from Tennessee because you’re the only 10 I see,” was another one he so generously provided.

The boys finally settled on, “Do you have a band-aid?  ‘Cause I just scraped my knee falling for you.”

After practicing with him for a while, they abandoned the smooth pick-up lines and encouraged winking.

“Wink,” they ordered.

His eye-lids fluttered – like a gnat had flown into it, his mouth twitching, his nose scrunching.

“No! No! No! – Only close one eye,” his brothers coached.

Bless his pea-picking heart, but if he had to produce a fetching wink to survive an on-slaught of rabid beavers, he’d be heaven-bound right now!  I’ve never seen anything like it in my life

His brothers coached, trying different techniques – mixed in with lots of good-natured laughter all around.

Finally, the joyful one, the one with the nice lines said, “Not everybody can whistle; Not everybody can wink.”

And it was o.k. not being able to wink. Because not everybody has to be able to do everything. Everybody’s gifts are different – not everybody is created equal. And somehow in all that coaching, conversation, and cajolery, everybody valued each brother’s differences and had a great time with those differences.

Update:  The little 4th grade girl gave my sons a gift: a ruler.  “It freaked me out, mom,” he told me.  “So I gave it to my friend.”

“Not everybody can whistle; not everybody can wink;” not every moment is so perfect in the brotherhood.

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We were driving in the car, my joyful-spirited son who was not so joyful.  Change can be hard.  Being a teenager can be hard.  Having younger brothers can be hard.  Being a younger brother, too!

“Have you taken it to God?” I asked, about a struggle he was having, particularly with our move.

“Why?  God knows how I feel,” he answered simply and simply frustrated that his mother was talking to him.

  • The Answer I gave:”Because God does not just shove His way in to your life.  He waits until you ask him.”
  • The Better Answer: “Because God is not like your mother who just barges in and tries to help.  God waits for permission.  Then Helps. Perfectly.  God is not like your mama.”

Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’

 “Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness[e] he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:5-13).

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I think some of the greatest mom-son moments occur in the car – the front seat of the car.  When the government implemented laws that prevented my little guys from their turn in the front seat, I felt that family relationships declined. However, the other night my son and I had one of those moments – a moment where something just hung by a thread.

This particular son, the answer to a prayer, has been wrestling with God – or rather trying not to wrestle by pretending He wasn’t there. Faith can be shaken in two ways – by challenges that tear at the roots of our faith and by outside influences that try to talk you out of that faith.  For a teenager, that can be an shattering combination.  Then, just add rebellion to authority and like buttermilk and soda combined, you’ve got a mess on your hands.

‘I’m starting to believe again,” he said. “However, you guys just go overboard on this stuff.”

“Overboard?” I questioned. I said inside my head  Keep your mouth shut. Keep your mouth shut.  Emotions be gone! Just let him talk.  At least he’s talking.

“Yeah,” he said.  “You’ve got real life and you’ve got the Bible.  Not everything in the Bible applies to real life. You just can’t keep beating people over the head with the Bible and saying all your solutions are in the Bible.”

“But you can apply God’s Word to Everything,” I countered.  Calmly, trying to maneuver, say the right thing to someone I love so much – the thread could break so easily.

Man, oh man.  He’d been trying to persuade me a few weeks ago that I lived in a Polyanna world.  Bad things happened.  I didn’t have a clue about real life. He needed to tell my dad who walked out on us that one.

Raising children sometimes feels like a recipe mal-function – you set out to make a milk and ice cream shake and end up with a bottle of bourbon.  Where the bourbon came from, you don’t know – however, you know you invested in the milk and ice cream – Marble Slab ice cream, too- only the best.  How can it be possible to invest the best of your values into someone and have them regurgitate “oppposite day” values?

Maybe it’s like growing Zinnia’s.  It gets a little ugly before it gets pretty.

We were crusing down life’s highway. He kept talking, trying to persuade me.  Our exit came and I was pulling off when he said, “The Bible can’t be applied to everything in the world.  Like that sign there.”

The thread strengthened. You know, sometimes God is so good – it makes you laugh. I looked at him, laughing and said, “Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and Give to God what is God’s.”

And my son who rarely smiles, broke into a smile.

Score one for Mom and the round to God!

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by blue cotton memory

Once upon a time, I had a day to myself.  It was a lovely day.  The sun was shining and the sky was blue. My thoughts ran freely through my brain – and, oh, what wonderful thoughts they were.  Then my heart swelled with love.  Thoughts of one brother biting the other faded into the background and all I saw was goodness.  Smiles.  Laughter.  Happiness. Like blue skies on a sunny day.

I stepped into a Fresh Market.  I love strolling through the Fresh Market with its baskets, flowers, cheeses, ready-made delightful dishes and assortment of candy.  They always have vintage holiday candy: Easter, Christmas, Valentines.  They had adorable dark chocolate, white chocolate and pink chocolate flower lollipops.  Flowers for my boys?  Not a chance.  Then I saw the JellyBelly Jelly Beans. What a wonderful Friday after-school snack that says, “I love you.  I was thinking of you today!”  So I bought 4 packages. 

There is something wonderful about owning your own little bag and not having to share with your brothers. I bought 3 packages of Sour Jelly Belly Jelly Beans and one Cold Stone Ice Cream Parlor Mix.  One of them turned up their nose at the Sours last time, so I sought to head off conflict.

Have you ever done that?  Sought to eliminanate potential conflict – kind of like taking allergy meds so you don’t get a sinus infection and feel miserable?

The first son in the car was given a choice: Sour or Cold Stone Ice Cream Parlor Mix.  He chose the latter.  Excitement oozed out his fingertips as he tore into the bag, snagged one and popped it in his mouth. The smile!  The sparkle!

So short-lived.

The Flavors of Choice

“EEEoooowwww.  I don’t like these.  Can I change?”

I only had 4 bags.  I had 4 sons (the 5th got married, graduated from college and got a job – he wasn’t in the school pick up rotation).

“You made a choice.  You have to live with it.”

“But I don’t like it.”

“Well, I’m sorry you don’t like it, but you are stuck with it.  That’s the way it is with choices. Once you commit yourself, there’s no turning back.”

“What about the other bags?”

“They belong to your brothers.  You had first choice.”

And so he sulked, just like Lola in Carl Norac’s book “I love You So Much.”  The illustrations of Lola sulking are so adorable that you just want to hug her furry little cheeks! My little guy sulked, but he just didn’t seem as cuddly and huggable as Nola.  However, his eyes – well, let’s just say that Claude Dubois must have been watching my son when he drew Nola in her sulks. 

Heading off conflict is not always successful. Sometimes I think it only creates greater frustration – after all the effort I put into conflict prevention, all I did was experience time waste and failure.

Dinner never appeals to all 5 boys. All 5 boys never want to go to the same restaurant.  All 5 boys’ joyous moments never coincide.

However, the life lesson coincided – a choice was made: a purchase choice by me(should have bought all Sours) and and a selection choice by my son.  The choices disappointed both of us.  You cannot take it back if you have already worn it, eaten it or read it. Next time, more care will be taken with these Jelly Belly Choices of life.

Who’d a thought a Jelly Belly had more substance than a carb? Or could create such chaos!

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Have you ever said, “I sure love you,” to your teenager only to be left verbally sliced and diced due to some hormonal language translation misconnection that screamed in glaring neon pulsating lights, “Insult. . . Insult. . . Insult. . . How dare you talk to me like that,” or a telepathic, silent, “Sure, whatever.”

Well, if their love language at the moment is not words, or an I-love-you-bag” of Sour Jelly Bellys, or a freshly laundered stacked pile of laundry peeking prettily out of their drawers, or a quality time moment sitting on the sidelines of a game shouting, “Shake it and Bake it, Baby” when they score or maybe just someone who spends all their time chauffeuring them to their dreams, or a nice arm pat that releases happy phenomes (I read that in an article years ago) or a sneak-up-on-you hug because that is the only way to get one in,

Then just maybe you need my secret recipe that will bring a sparkle to those teenage eyes, a flash of that smile that makes the sun shine in that mom-corner of your world.  

Some people search for the Fountain of Youth. Not me! I just search for any way to break into my sons’ hearts. This recipe is the Nuclear Weapon for teenage heart break-through : Cajun Shrimp and Rice



    • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, divided, at room temperature
    • 2 cups parboiled long-grain rice such as Uncle Ben’s
    • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 2 pounds large, uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
    • 1/4 tablespoon hot sauce
    • 2 cup whipping cream
    • Freshly ground black pepper


In a medium nonstick saucepan, heat 1/2 of the butter over medium-low heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 20 to 25 minutes until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and rest covered for 5 minutes.

In a large skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes until aromatic. Add the shrimp, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. Stir in the cream and heat through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Using a fork, fluff the rice and arrange on a platter. Spoon the shrimp cream sauce over the rice and serve.”

A scraped clean plate and a, “May I have some more, please,” all scream, “I love you, Mom.” Sigh!  All moms need their secret weapons.

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“There is a time to be born”(Ecc. 3:2)

“These kids are confronted with everything today.  Not like when we were their age”  – I hear that all the time. Maybe it is true, but think about the terror during the French Revolution, the burning of Rome, being  Jewish during Jesus’ time, or being Jewish during World War II, or having Attila the Hun attack your village.

“There is a time to be born”

If Psalm 139 is true and God put everything in us, ordered our days and knows each of our thoughts, don’t you think He knows the temptations our children would face?  The challenges they would have to over come or allow God to carry them over?

“You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. . .  16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”(2 Tim 3:11-17)

Do not doubt for a moment that God equipped each one of our sons and daughters for this time in which they were born.  Do not doubt for a moment that you were equipped to shepherd your sons and daughters through this time.  God equipped us for this time before we were even born.

 Hannah, along with her New Testament counterpart, Elizabeth, lived in a time when a woman’s value and even her righteousness could be judged by her childbearing ability.  Imagine how people talked, probably even openly that Hannah and Elizabeth must be hiding some sin.  What were they doing? What great sin?

These two women must have felt at a loss at times, wondering what they had done to so offended the Lord.  Yet, they did not offend the Lord.  As we know, Elizabeth’s infertility was part of God’s plan, and His plan was John the Baptist.  John could not be born when Elizabeth first had a desire for a child or he would have been too early for God’s plan.  So, too, was Hannah’s infertility a part of God’s plan.  Samuel also needed to be born for a specific time and season (Ecc. 3:2).

I have often thought how blessed my children are to be born in the United States. To have full tummies, warm houses, running water free from disease, physicians to heal us, educational opportunities, freedom of religion.  Then I think of those children that are not so fortunate, like the children in earthquake-devastated Haiti or war-torn Uganda.

Our children, teenagers (who are truly young men and women) are confronted with ungodliness inside and outside the schools via doctrine running against our beliefs, language choices, drugs, alcohol, irresponsibility. Biblically, though, when you really look at the stories, the heroes and heroines of the Bible confronted temptation and often failed.  But our God is a God of second chances.  And our God equipped them for those challenges and temptations before they were born.

Thank You God

for equipping me

for the time in which I was born

Thank you for equipping my children during this time

 for the calling in their lives that was there

before their toes first wiggled

This specific ministry

whether it be as a nurse in the hospital,

a teacher in the classroom

 a police officer keeping the peace,

a soldier bringing freedom so democracy can exist and the Word of God can be planted

or to be a mom

You planted it within them like a seed in the Autumn

You knew the temptations, the snares to trip them, the challenges

You equipped each child, each mom, each dad, each teen

 for good works

 These times were not unexpected to you

And so you planned

for everything

Including Second Chances

Thank you God

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This is my Valentine’s Post after the fact – because, well, love is all year long – and that is when it means the most. So, what kind of man do you love?  What kind of man did you decide to spend the rest of your life with, 365 days of the year 24/7 for 75+ years? Is your man a gift from God or did you set out on a quest from Barbie Doll days to find the biggest, ummmm,  dumb a** in the world?

As a mother of 5 sons, I try daily to raise Godly men who will be an Elkannah-type husband to a Hannah-type wife. It is tough when society, egged on by a media separated from the cultural roots, provides layers and layers of video and audio that redefine the character of men and even women. Society has created a culture buffett of husband molds for boys and men that create inappropriate expectations like the hero-role  or, sadly, the blockhead roll .

Of course, we do not see much of the Hero Role lately.  However, the hero-role says the husband will fix everything from your history of dysfunction to the harvest of bad choices to even saving you from yourself.  Unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment. No man could ever fulfill the hero-roll.  Only God can do that.

The second role gained momentum in Everybody Loves Raymond to radio DJ girl-guy pairings.  I stopped listening to a Christian radio channel every morning on the way to school because I grew tired and frustrated hearing demeaning comments about men and their abilities and thinkology to the male DJ.  We recently moved and the music channel we listened to had the same type of pairing with the same disparaging comments about men.  Just last week, they changed to a two-male DJ format – and I love it – no more man-bashing and treating the man as if he would a Neanderthal. Why would I want my boys to listen to that?

What woman wakes up every morning saying, “I am so excited.  I am marrying the dumbest guy on the face of the earth.  I cannot wait to spend my life with an idiot.” Did you every say, “I’m in love.  He’s such a nitwit!  You are going to love him, too.”

This attitude has permeated our culture so insidiously that even a  comment made by Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor was debated during her nominee hearings: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Men are so pathetic that they have no richness of life? No qualifying experiences to denote wisdom? Intelligence?

Would moms of daughters like it if moms of sons raised them to not only view women as subservient, intellectually inferior and Pavlovian in nature – just pat them on the head like a favorite dog and they’ll come to heel nicely? I think not.

People always live up to standards and expectations set in a classroom, in a youth room, in the family room. Expectations need to be set high for these boys to men, not set to the lowest common denominator equivalent to a trained chimpanzee.

Valentines Day, a day where the love between a man and a woman is celebrated!  How beautiful, sigh. . .

What kind of man do you want for your daughter? What kind of husband do you pray for your daughter to marry? What kind of boy does she want to “go” together with in the 5th grade when she is not supposed to be going with anybody?  What kind of young man in high school do you want her to date?  What kind of man do you want her to walk down the aisle with? What kind of man do you want to raise your grandchildren?

Discard the media-driven faux-culturally created man.  Talk respect.  Talk nobleness. Talk about the amazing qualities of men. Yes, women have these same qualities, too, but girls lives these traits differently. I love being married to a man with the manly qualities of these traits. 

Strength: Face it ladies, men are stronger than women.  Wait until your 13 year old can lift the edge of a couch easiser than you can.  Men can slam the ball harder in a tennis game. Yes, they can even win every arm wrestling match. And then, there’s that inner strength, too.

Courage: Who gets up to check on the scary sounds in the middle of the night?  Who do you call when there is a snake or mouse in the house? Who would stand in front of you to protect you from danger? 

Nobleness: I think this must be one of the most romantic words in the language. Nobleness is knightly. Nobleness opens doors when your hands are full or not. Nobleness self-sacrifices.  Nobleness meets your family and loves you and them anyway.  Nobleness sees the best in people. Nobleness wraps its arms around you when you’ve behaved badly and helps you forgive yourself without making you feel like a stink bug.

Confidence:  A confident man does not say, “I think I love you. . . I think we can make it. . . Sure, I guess I want to spend eternity with you.” A confident man says, “I know I love you. I know we can make it. Enternity would be empty without you.” A confident man may not know all the answers, but walks in faith.

Leadership: Leadership takes responsiblity for the vision and success or failure of that vision. True leadership allows the support team to soar as high as it possibly can.

Protector: A true protector allows you to fight your battles, but when you are unable to fight or the fight has gone out stands guard, providing the opportunity for emotional, spiritual and physical recovery. Of course, they do it much differently than women but that makes it so much more wonderful.

Steadfast: Always Faithful! Never gives up or lets me give up. Steadfast is never a duty. Steadfast is driven by conviction and belief to the core of the heart.

What are the favorite qualities of your husbands?  What are must-have qualities you want from your daughter’s future husbaands? You can find out about mine in the following: Prayer for My Sons Wife  and Mr Right.

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one step







only one step










 18″Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[a] 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification”(Romans 4:18-25)

Just as God had plans for Abraham’s life, so too does He have plans for our life. God reveals them to us, maybe not with face to face visitation, but reveals them just as surely.

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

We might not see the evidence of those plans, promises and hopes

but we walk them none-the less

In the mornings lately, when I get out of bed, I hobble a plantar-fasciitis walk,

which my sister-in-law calls The Chicken Walk

Painful, uncomfortable, but I keep walking – holding on to bedposts, bathroom counters

until I walk through it

just like the challenges we face

with parenting, marriage, jobs, relationships

just everyday living

Sometimes faith walks are uncomfortable, painful

That is why






*Just a note for those concerned, yes I am seeking treatment to get rid of the plantar fasciitis and this post is not about plantar fasciitis

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My Christmas Tree morphed into a Snow Tree (Only snow ornaments and sparkly lights).  My SnowMan Wreath Twinkles on SnowDays. I LOVE SNOW!

My nose twitches to smell that metallic winter smell that precedes snowfall.  The boys’ eyes brighten with anticipation:  Holiday – No School.  Winter Snow Holidays evoke totally different feelings, behavior and hunger than the Summer Sun Holidays.

Back in Paradise where we lived last winter, the boys would come home from school with the principal’s assignment on their minds: Flushing ice cubes down the toilet so it would snow, cancelling school.

A few weeks ago, the boys were eager for a BIG SNOW, so they gathered some ice cubes:


And flushed them down the toilet

They set off to bed, excitedly waiting for the BIG SNOW!

And the BIG SNOW showed up

in Paradise

leaving two very disgruntled boys

Snowless in Kentucky

Moral to the Story:  If you want it to snow in Paradise, flush ice cubes.  Ice Cube Flushing does not work in Kentucky.

The Snow Came


And they frolicked – like only little guys can do

They started out traditional 

Totally Traditional

Traditional slid to Daring, on the Edge

And little boy hearts swelled with the SnowMent

 One SnowBoy made a SnowPrise for me!

I love my SnowBoys

And my heart warmed so much snowmelt almost occurred!

Can you hear me singing,” Let it Snow. Let it Snow.  Let it Snow.”


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The media snarkiness irritates me, especially when it is condescending snarkiness is about something I just might do.  Like actually believe the Bible to be true, pray for answers, or. . . write notes on the palm of my hand.

When Sarah Palin wrote her talking points on her palm, and the media snarked her, well, they snarked me, too.

My talking points for a college class ended up on my palm one time.  I had forgotten my notes.  No paper left me with one choice – my palm – the solution to my dilemma.

Who would you rather have leading the country? A quick-thinking, can-do person who has the confidence to go out in front of a group of people and talk with knowledge and passion with a few organizational prompts on their palm or someone who reads what they  have to say from a teleprompter?

I spent years teaching college composition with an oral presentation requirement. Reading a speech earned a significantly lower grade. We talked about poor speech habits, like “Uuuuhhhh” – and discussed the need to eliminate them, though it did not lower the grade.  It was a freshman class after all.

However, on the national stage, we have a president who reads a speech written by other people from a teleprompter and former governor who motivates groups across America utilizing only 4 to 5 organizational keywords on her palm. And the media disses the governor?

The 21st century media is no Thomas Payne.  The President is no George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. And I am intrigued that a woman is the only one man enough to go out and speak to the American people without a computer telling her what to say.

This political season has provided wonderful opportunities for teaching my sons about the United States government- capitalism versus socialism, the pitfalls of compromise, the 3 branches of government, the constitutionally defined role of the president, the importance of reading contracts that bear financial responsibility, small government versus big government, the rules apply to us so pay your taxes, and no not all government officials have affairs.

Yet, recently, we’ve been left to explain why a president needs a teleprompter to talk to people in an elementary school, why it is not o.k. to say, “uuhhhh” repetitively when you’re talking to people (because your oral presentation teacher will dock your grade), and the importance of being respected in your career field of choice through expertise, dexterity, knowledge of that field’s subject matter.

Sadly, the president is not helping. “Gee, mom, I don’t have to do that stuff. I’ll just be president,” is something I live in fear of hearing on a daily basis.

However, I love it that there is someone out there who is faithful to their husband, chooses life, has common sense answers (at least common sense in my little ol’ corner of the world), and only needs keywords to talk for a long period of time over what she believes in. It sounds like she can talk the talk because she is walking it, too.

My boys?  They better grow up able to talk the walk.  Talking the teleprompter won’t get them anywhere down here in real America.

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I taught college composition for quite a few years.  Content develop is the key to success. When developing an argument, I would tell students, “You need three reasons for why you believe anything.  One does not show a pattern. Neither does two.  However, three shows you’ve given the matter sincere consideration.”

A few weeks later, a non-traditional student came in boasting, “I used your “3-reasons” for belief argument and stopped some of my friends from going to church.”

What have I unleashed, I asked myself.  Then I thought, “Oh! No!  What if he asks me?”

So I started to think of three reasons.  I fell into a trap on my first go-round, trying to be theological.  persuading someone to believe through Scripture alone does not work – especially with people who do not know God – and when I say know I mean someone who reads His words and seeks Him out in a “As-the-deer-panteth-for-water-so-my-heart-panteth-for You” kind of seek. 

It took me a week.  After all, I was a college instructor – I needed to sound wise. Then the truth just smacked me in the face. It was so simple.  The Three Reasons I believe? He held my son in the palm of His hand on the day he was born, protecting him for 16 minutes until he was born healthy and whole.  Another son couldn’t hear in one ear and He opened his ears.  Another son had stomach pain for 6 years.  Specialists and doctors kept blowing us off.  One day, I hit the floor and cried out to God.  Two days later, another mom gave me the name of a doctor who decided to scope him, found the problem, and prescribed the solution. Big miracles and little miracles – that’s why I believe. Everytime I’ve cried out, God has answered.  Maybe not in the way I thought, but He answered.

Before Christmas, we all started praying for a miracle – “an extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers; such an effect or event manifesting or considered a work of God.”

You can imagine the struggle in our household now.  The little guys – they believe in miracles, but somehow because a miracle didn’t happen last week did not shake their belief.  They are comforted that their Papaw is in heaven.

My great-niece said it all at the visitation, “Mama – you said Papaw’s in heaven.  He can’t be in heaven.  He’s right there.”

However, there’s struggling going on – probably not just with my older guys – but there’s struggling going on. 

One of my sons said today, “The minister stood there and said, ‘A miracle’s going to happen.’ Well, it didn’t. Papaw died.  I don’t know if I believe in miracles.  I prayed, but nothing happened.” His heart is broken and his faith is shaken.

Do you ever have thoughts that swirl around your mind? They swirl but do not really have a place to settle?  And you wonder if those thoughts should ever see the light of day?

And a moment comes where that thought that had been swirling, formed clearly and landed in your heart instead of your mouth?

That’s what happened when my son finished talking and said he was going to take a long bath.

I grabbed one of my thank you cards, wrote the following note, and slid it under the bathroom door. And I believe it with all my heart:

“Did you ever think that the true miracle is the lives changed through Papaw’s death.

Nobody wanted Jesus to die, but how His death changed lives!

If we consider what Papaw was to this family, I can only think that people are looking at themselves and asking, ‘Am I living how Papaw wanted.’

Why now?  Not in 10 years?  Maybe because someone needed that change now – and Papaw is the kind of man who would do that for those he loves.”

Maybe God whispered that to Papaw! I believe when the minister prayed for a miracle, God heard him.  It just wasn’t the miracle we were looking for. However, I believe it was the miracle Papaw would have wanted – after all, he was always a man who did for others first.

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About 11 years ago, my son, the Fire and the Power of the Holy Spirit, survived a cord-prolapse, crash c-section.  The last thing I heard before they knocked me out was, “I don’t have a heart beat.” Coming to, I was terrified – would my son be dead or alive.  Laying on my side in intense pain, with my eyes closed, I heard my father in law talking to someone, teasing about my snoring.  Then I heard those precious sounds only a newborn makes.  I knew everything was o.k.

Today, my father in law is in a hospice facility.  He’s snoring a lot. I wish I could say something to make everything o.k. However, that’s his gift, not mine.

My sons are part of an amazing group of young men: 12 grandsons who adore their papaw. Coming up behind them is a group of great-grandchildren who are in the Candy-and-Coke Store Fan Club group.  It’s a pretty special, select group. The benefits?  Unconditional love, hugs, trips to the Candy and Coke Store, front-row fans at any activity, a front door always open, a sit-down-let’s talk about life attitude, and tremendous generosity of spirit – like a vacation a few years ago when my husband and I -very out of shape tried to play tennis with him.  Three days of grueling play left us hobbling.  We were so grateful when he cried off due to a sore muscle, but I bet he just knew we couldn’t take it any more.

The birth of my second son found papaw hand-cuffed to anything, oh, about the level of couch legs, bench legs, table legs.  After about 48 hours, he probably wished he’d never bought those hand-cuffs for the new big brother.  However, he just loved making those boys smile.

I remember one of my nephews crying when he was about 4 years old.  He’d spent the weekend at Nanny and Papaws.  He hugged so tight to Papaw when  it was time to leave, sobbing into his shoulder. He’s feeling the same way today, and he’s all grown up.

We’ve prayed for healing. Daily. My boys have seen each other healed through prayer, so they faithfully joined in. 

The other day, the littlest one asked what was wrong with Papaw.  I guess he realized this wasn’t your typical, run-of-the-mill cold or flu.  I explained cancer: “You know when you watch Star Wars and the bad guys send drones into the land they want to take over?  Well, the bad guy is cancer, and they go into parts of the body, kind of like a planet in the universe.  When they take that over, they go to other parts of the body – like other planets.”

Being the Star Wars fan, he understood.

Last week, though, I had to move into phase two.  Phase 1 – you pray for healing.  Phase 2 – when you realize God has other plans – going-home plans. Then, it’s time to help that person go to the other side – cross over into heaven.

Peter Marshall, the famous United States chaplain, made even more famous in the movie, “A Man Named Peter,” describes dying the following way: “It’s like going to sleep in your mother’s bed and waking up the next morning only to find yourself in your own bed.”

Every person who lives for Jesus spends their entire life traveling to the gates of heaven.  Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton explain it perfectly, “When I get where I’m going, there’ll be only happy tears.”

Of course, the getting there can be kind of tough. . . on everybody.  We all want one more hug, one more joke, one more political debate, one more chance to say how much he meant to us.  But then, he always knew we loved him.  Telling him would just embarrass him.  He always said, “Words mean NOTHIN’.  Your actions are shouting so loud I can’t hear your words.” I guess he and Obama could have had a debate on “Words… just Words.”

The little guys and I were talking about what Papaw’d do in heaven.  Yep, play tennis. Yep, hug those babies he didn’t get to hug down here. He’ll walk with that Papaw-spring in his step. He won’t debate politics, though. We decided that there wouldn’t be political debate in heaven. But I can see him grabbing an orange or an apple and peeling, just like I’ve seen him do a thousand times.

I remember my oldest son’s middle school basketball coach was arrested for smoking marijuana on some backwoods backroad.  He really like this coach and tried to give him an ethics break, “His mom died.  He was just coping with his grief.”

I just looked him straight in the eye and said, “I hope that when it’s my time to go to heaven, that you will celebrate my life instead of going to some backwoods backroad and drowning your sorrows in drugs.”

Crossing over is an odd time – it’s kind of like blue cheese and honey. The sweet and the pungent – but when mixed together, it’s just right.  Now is the time of great loss, but also the celebration of a life well lived and well-loved. The sweet and the pungent!

Some dear friends from when we lived here before bought the Candy and Coke Store a few years back.  They called Nanny the other day and told her, “If Papaw can’t come to the Candy and Coke Store, the Candy and Coke store will come to him.”

I bet Heaven feels like Papaw taking you to the Candy and Coke Store.

Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton did an excellent job singing about what it’s like when we get where we’re going.  It’s great to sing about our own little selves going. It’s just tough when the life of the party, the heart of the family, the world’s greatest father in law, dad, husband and Papaw head there before we get to.

I wish he wasn’t leaving the party so early!

When I Get Where I’m Going

by Melvern Rutherford Ii, George G. Iii Teren


When I get where I’m going
on the far side of the sky.
The first thing that I’m gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly.

I’m gonna land beside a lion,
and run my fingers through his mane.
Or I might find out what it’s like
To ride a drop of rain

Yeah when I get where I’m going,
there’ll be only happy tears.
I will shed the sins and struggles,
I have carried all these years.
And I’ll leave my heart wide open,
I will love and have no fear.
Yeah when I get where I’m going,
Don’t cry for me down here.

I’m gonna walk with my grandaddy,
and he’ll match me step for step,
and I’ll tell him how I missed him,
every minute since he left.
Then I’ll hug his neck.


So much pain and so much darkness,
in this world we stumble through.
All these questions, I can’t answer,
so much work to do.

But when I get where I’m going,
and I see my Maker’s face.
I’ll stand forever in the light,
of His amazing grace.
Yeah when I get where I’m going,
Yeah when I get where I’m going,
there’ll be only happy tears.
I will love and have no fear.
When I get where I’m going.
Yeah when I get where I’m going.

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loaded potatoe soupcc

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – right?  So what did I learn to do when I, um, married a man and had a bunch of sons – learned how to cook some mighty fine fixin’s, that’s what!  Let me tell you, it has not been a cake walk!

My husband could care less about food – and he married the woman who believes to the tips of her toes that all moments are not complete without a food moment!

My oldest son grew into a health-conscious individual whose high nutritional ethical standards could not be tempted with his mama’s cooking (well, the oysters work their magic – and a pint of Marble Slab ice cream). He turned his nose up at the birthday cake I made him a few years ago. Sigh!  He was on a sugar diet.  The next day, I found him devouring my Marble Slab Deep Dark Chocolate with Key lime.  He’d finished his sugar diet.

You have to hide food from the second one.  Mid-night snack?  That’s him.  Left-overs?  Gone before the clock strikes mid-night. He loves it when I cook my yum (or rather Southern Living’s yum) shrimp and pasta or Giada’s grandmother’s spicy shrimp and rice.  Savor?  I don’t really think he knows what anything tastes like.  He inhales his food.  However, he avoids vegetables like a good Charles Dickens novel.

The Joyful one – he just smiles, looks in the oven and asks, “Can Nanny come over and take it out.  It’ll taste so much better if she’ll do that.” I just stand there blinking.  He left me speechless when he asked if I could take Wal-Mart’s frozen lasagna over for Nanny to cook because it would just taste that much better. And then he smiled that great big joyful smile.  No matter what your opinion is, you cannot say that your cooking is better than your MIL.  The stinker had me in check-mate-kitchen style!

The youngest one just wants white sauce (Alfredo)  on everything.  And dipping sauce for his vegetables.  He misses the food from his “old” school.  He cannot stand the new school’s food.  This is the boy who cried when he got in the van after I made him take his lunch on spaghetti day. He loves cereal, pancakes, broccoli and carrots. If I’ve got the sauce – I’m the kitchen queen.  Oh, he adores my mashed potatoes.  I had to give Nanny the recipe so he would eat hers! LOL

 The way to one son’s heart is through a bowl of Loaded Potato Soup – O’Charley Style.  However, since we cannot go to O’Charley’s all the time, I searched for a recipe that would soothe the soup beast within.  About nine  years ago, a lady at church gave me the following recipe.

2 packages Pioneer Brand Country Gravy Mix (instead of 1 cup of water use 1 cup chicken broth)

1 lb. Velveeta cheese

One handful of shredded cheddar cheese

8 to 10 Potatoes, cut in small cubes, simmered until soft

2 cups milk


Prepare gravy mix according to directions.  Add 1 lb. velveeta cheese cut up to help melt.  Stir until melted in mixture.  Add 2 cups milk.  Then add the cooked potatoespotatoes. Simmer until warm.  Serve with 1/2 tsp. Bacos sprinkled in the middle.

Whip up a little Loaded Potato Soup and watch those hugs come in! What could be more beautiful, more Simply Saturday!




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momboysbarnRaising Boys to Men has moments of glory and moments of unabashed obscurity.

For some reason, God put the mama (and Dad) in charge of filling these boys with humbleness, loyalty, honesty, courage, a hard-work ethic,  resourcefulness and caring-ness – and independence without sassing, breaking the rules, or not telling us where they are going. Like any big job, there are stages – and as a mom, each of these stages has particular job requirements, benefits, and challenges.

The newest stages to each of us individually usually require an adjustment period.  It has been the same with the last stage with my oldest son who recently married. However, an insightful post from the blogahood has helped me with that adjustment. Let me start from the beginning, so you can get a feel for the last great challenge in the relationships with our sons. As Mamas of these boys to men, our relationships go through various stages, but one things stays the same – prayer.

Survival Mom – Face it, for the first 3.5 years of their life, our sons cannot survive without us.  We feed them, change them, potty train, teach them how to walk, to talk – all the basic fundamentals.  Our reward?  Great big slurpy kisses, hugs, and unconditional adoration.  Survival mommy rules the world and prays that God show her how to rule his little world.  Prayers for healing, strength, insight, patience, solutions, and, oh, that God places a hedge of protection around his future and that this future wife have a heart for us – all while our future DILs are still in diapers!

Rock Star Mom – ages 3.5 to 7 – They love us, adore us, and want to marry us. Life without mom? Unimaginable. We create art projects, find books to inspire, set play dates to develop friendships, and teach them to swim, swing a bat, throw a football, play an instrument, sing songs, and to love Jesus. Full-time,  instructor-mommies training our little guys for the next step of independence though they so desperately do not want to leave us. Separated from mom? Appalling!  Huge Tears! Wailing! They want their mama! And their mama prays for guidance, for their life, for their struggles, for healing, for solutions, that they succeed in school, make good friends, embrace honesty,  for good character (in each of us), and, yep, for their future wife.

Fading Star Mom – 7 to 12 – That mom-son love is still there, but it comes and goes, like watching a star on cloudy night.  The pull to independence starts, realization that mom is not perfect – and maybe a little uncool – leads to testing, questioning, and developing their own tastes, likes, and dislikes.  They go into school without looking back, or trying not to look back.  However, they still love mom-son time.  They love it when you make hot chocolate on a snowy sledding day!  They’ll still snuggle, cuddle up while you read a roaring good book, and tell you absolutely everything that happened at school.  However, they really love hanging out with Dad now. It’s an equal-love world developing in the house. They want to pick their own books to read, which movies to see, and don’t wake you up in the middle of the night to climb in bed with you. And we pray – for Godly friends who help lift them up when they fall down, for wisedom, discernment in how to handle the bully in the bathroom, honest, self-discipline for spelling words,  insight, favor with God, solutions for challenges, and, yes, for their wife.

Underground Foundation  Mom – 13 to 19 – Stealth support – that is how I define it. The quest for independence steps up, but tricycle-style independence becomes the mainstay. We finance it, we attend it, we transport it, support it – Sports, music, extra-curricular activities – here they come. My husband and I have sold pork butts, stood with athletic teams outside Wal-Mart to raise money for the entire team, pancake breakfasts, sat through music practices, lessons, and recitals.  We let them drive our cars (I need therapy after this), learn how to cook, choose friends, develop a social calendar, when and how to say, “NO,” all the while reminding them to find God throughout the day.

We drove them home from soccer games where they seethed anger at their performance (whether they won or lost). We helped them pick their tux out for prom. We helped cook beautiful dinners for two proms where we along with other parents served  the attendees and then sat down to eat after they left. I stayed up all night on Project Graduation working so my son had a great night, a safe night. We reigned in poor choices, encouraged good choices – and prayed – for safety, wisdom, laborers to come across their paths to bring them closer to God, insight into God’s calling on their lives – and for their future wives.

Occasional Mom – 19 to 22 –  At least, that is how it seems on the outside with the  Independence-with-Training wheels stage.  Off to college, off to find their future and take it. Success or failure, it is all up to them, but at least they have a soft place to fall – home – and a mom and dad who are there to lift up, encourage, and pray – for good choices, insight into their future, a good work ethic, Godly friends who help lift them up when they fall – and, yes, their future wives.

Confused Mom – Post-College – All independent, out in the world (but hopefully not of the world), seeking and finding their wife, building a life of their own, as it should be.  The book, I’ll love you forever, “I’ll love you for always, as long as I’m living, you’re mommy I’ll be” – is so true – however, I do not think my daughter-in-law would appreciate me climbing in through her window every night, rocking my son,and singing that line to him.  I think it would freak her out.  It is a book that has so much potential, but really misses it there in an “Everybody-Loves-Raymond-kind-of-way.” There’s more to this mothering-job than climbing in his window at night when your son is all grown up.

There are times I felt like Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings when she says, “I have passed the test. I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.”

So what was my Role? What was my mommy-job in this phase?  Mommy-ness doesn’t just stop because  they get married.

Then, last week, I read Lidj’s post “Alabaster Jar,”  from Crown of Glory where she wrote:

  “As a mother, I am called to be the “family remembrancer,”

the one who remembers,

the one who points out the signposts.

I am also the gatekeeper,

 the watchman who stands guard,

 the priest who intercedes,

and who holds the cup of God’s healing oil.

May I be found faithful”(Crown of Beauty, 35-37))

I am no longer Confused Mom. My role is two-fold.  Foremost, it is about prayer.  It was all along – Intercessory prayer, vigilant prayer, healing prayer. Secondly, my role is to witness – to remember, to tell the stories of how God moved in our family, protected us, healed us, gave us life, sustenance,  of God’s faithfulness to His promises – and still does! As Lidj prayed, “May I be found faithful.” My role for the son who has grown up and moved out?  Prayer Mom who tells stories – I can do that! I will so have this stage down by the time by youngest one gets married!  Thanks Lidj!

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Simply Saturday

There is something oddly baffling when the advice you give your children ends up on your situation doorstep.  I found myself, giving myself this bread-and-butter life-philosophy staple this week.  And just like my kids, I did not like being on the receiving end of one of my lectures, even though I needed it:

You might not be the smartest

or have the best skill set

but you never give up

the journey

the quest

the heart’s desire

the dream

because sometimes the smartest or those with the most talent

do not have the gumption,

the determination

the stick-to-it-ive-ness

innate hope

to never give up

to develop those skill sets

to learn the knowledge needed for the dream

and those are the ones,

the ones who never give up

who achieve

their heart’s desires



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“We’ve got to pass health care now.  People are dying right now,” is what I heard Senator Harry Reid say before Christmas last week. Reid’s comment was not quite forthright. This bill will not help people “dying right now” – It does not take effect for a few years. Hence, the urgency was subterfuge – an artifice or expedient used to evade a rule, escape consequences, hide something.

For the last month, Congress has met under the cover of darkness, voting in the early a.m. hours deep in the weekends to push this reform forward.  On weekends, apparently, you do not have to answer your phones, so phone calls went unanswered from the people they represent. They shut the people’s voices down in this stealth attack.

These not-so- illustrious representatives have broken rules to stop the reading of the bill, shorten debate and keep the bill behind closed doors.  It boggles my mind that these “representatives” do not read the bills – they boast about not reading the bills.  If I did not read the essays I used to grade, I would be fired.  What kind of people are they to not read a bill that will change my life expectancy and take money out of my pocket? Capricious! Reckless! Unthinkable in real world business.  Maybe I would not read the small print in contracts either if I were irresponsible and somebody else was paying the bill – but then I would be foolish, inconsiderate, and immoral to act on wrong principles instead of right.

While the D.C. Federal government closed on a Monday morning due to harsh winter conditions, the Senate managed get to the Capitol, open it, and vote.  You know something is fishy when someone decides to work on a snow day! I could see this determination if we were in war, but we are not-or at least that is what our president says.  Why our president was not even notified of a foiled terrorist attack on one of our planes for three hours – is health care more important than our national security?  Is not that the only job specifically define for our representatives in the Constitution?

These representatives gave the little people an additional back-handed slap by voting on Weekends.  Do you realize that when they were meeting and voting on Saturdays, they did not have to answer their phones – because it was a weekend?

Deals in the dark smell – liars, cheats, thieves, and sell-outs deal in the dark – that is the modus operandi people use to shield you from seeing the truth. Jesus was betrayed and arrested under the cover of darkness – sold out by one within the inner circle – sold out for gold coins.

Which is what our Congress has done to us.  Just as surely as Judas betrayed Jesus, so did our Congressmen betray the people of this country. I would think buying votes was illegal – but vote-buying is splashed all over the front of the newspapers.  I guess Congress thinks the laws are only for people like me – like this insurance deal will be for people like me, while they get premium-Congress only policies.

Even more insidious than cutting deals in the dark of night behind closed doors is that the money my family earns, tithes from, thanks God for will be used to fund abortions – it will be required that each person contribute to abortion coverage in this new insurance deal they are cutting in these back rooms under the cover of darkness..  Lila Terhune in her book, Cross Pollination points out that every great move of God is preceded by the killing of children.  Granted, I want God to move, but I do not want the blood of unborn children on my hands from money taken out of my pocket and handed to my government.  Do you realize that most abortions are of the first born child? And my government wants me to pay for that?  I do not think so! Can I be a conscientious objector?

This is not a political blog – it is a blog about a simple mom raising American sons to be Godly young men worthy of the sacrifice that our ancestors and your ancestors made to live in this country – and as such, this discussion is about them. I want my sons raised in the free American where I was raised where through sheer work ethic and determination you can make a life better for your self, where you have the best medical care available in the world, and where you have the choice to lift up your fellow man-not a government-mandated choice, but a personal choice.

Last week, I watched the Jimmy Stuart movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  I recommend watching it.  It’s a lesson of our government at a time where when our representatives were held accountable for noble and ignoble actions.

Last week, Congress played foully with the American people while their attention was turned to their families, their faith, and the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Maybe there is a war going on and that is why they worked on Christmas Eve – Sadly, this war is against their own people.

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For You, Little Child

You who find happiness in a teddybear,

You with your innocent and curious stare.

For you. . . .

Well, that’s how my oldest son’s first Christmas poem I wrote started 23 years ago. The Thomas the Train has been packed away, along with the Knights jousting on horses with its castle walls. GI Joe’s have faded into I-don’t-know-where land while the 2nd and 3rd sons talk of joining the military. My 9 year old is in a gift-tween stage – Santa’s scratching his head over him. The junior is a gift-tween, too. I’m scratching my head, too!

However, Let me share what Santa’s bringing Joyful – I’m so excited. We saw the movie last year, “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” a 1941 movie about a farmer who sells his soul to the devil and Daniel Webster, a leading American Statesman in the early 1800s defends him to save his soul. Webster agrees to an “American judge and and American jury” but crafty Mr. Scratch calls forth a jury of the damned – historically fascinating. A great story about selling out noble ideals out of greed and fear and redemption. He has been asking me since then for the book. Well, Santa is bringing the play(never been a book or short story) and the movie.

Can a 14 year old still believe in Santa? He questioned it last year – yes, just last year. I just gave him the stare and said evenly, “As long as you believe in Santa, Santa brings you gifts.” Sadly, 13-year-olds are a bit obtuse, and I had to repeat it a few times, focusing the stare more intensely each time. I told him that if he look it up in my grandmother’s dictionary, he would find Santa, “A person who gives.” Then I repeated the code: “As long as you believe in Santa, Santa brings you gifts.” I still get gifts from Santa – my mom delivers them every year! Apparently, Santa has not learned of my change of address yet!

Santa also told me that Joyful should get a book of Daniel Webster’s speeches – HHhhhhmmmmm – more fun and more fun!

The Fire and Power of the H.S. (Holy Spirit) pointed out earlier this year in a discussion of Christmas Wish Lists: “If you just ask for 2 things you really want, then you get everything you ask for.” 

This will be my first Christmas without my firstborn, Perceiver of Truth. Something Christmasy is missing. He has written the letters to Santa for years, calling all the boys together to record their wishes, thanking for last year’s gifts.  Faithful just doesn’t have the same touch – imagine Scrooge before “the change.” Appalled sighs waft through the van when Christmas music comes on. I keep trying to shake off the “Bah Humbug’s” – but I have not given up. Perceiver of Truth is really going to miss the annual Christmas Nerf Gun Family Battle.  Santa always stuffs stockings with Nerf Guns and ammo.  You gotta be here to collect that one!

My mantle is decorated. “The Man who Came to Dinner,” “The Bishop’s Wife,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Charlie Brown Christmas,” “White Christmas,” “The Polar Express,” “A Christmas Carol” and “The Nativity” are lined up for a snuggle night of Hot Chocolate.

Maybe I need to whip up some of my Uncle Luther’s homemade eggnog – that should kick some spirit into me!

Tonight the little guys and I pulled out “The Jesse Tree Devotional” – an advent book another website recommended – if it was you, please leave a note and I’ll link to your site – thanks so much. We sat down, and they loved it. One read the bible passage and the other the devotional in the book.  And the questions they asked, “Did God have a mom?” or “If everyone was killed in the flood, does that mean we’re all related?”

HHHHmmmm Christ = Christmas Spirit!   Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee – Christ in Christmas makes Christmas meaningful.  Each Christmas brings change – the sound of the Christmas Bells on my Grandmother’s door, the faces of my children on Christmas morning, the types of gifts, the people around the table, and the decorations – all that changes.  Christ in Christmas does not change. That’s where Joy to the World,

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”

(traditional English Carol, pre 1823)

“God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray;
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.
From God our heavenly Father
A blessed angel came.
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same,
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name:
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.
The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding,
In tempest, storm, and wind,
And went to Bethlehem straightway
This blessed babe to find:
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.
But when to Bethlehem they came,
Whereat this infant lay
They found him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His mother Mary kneeling,
Unto the Lord did pray:
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.
Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All others doth deface:
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy. “

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