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Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

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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Sometimes, you need to live a quote – and by living the quote, you can smell the basil, the rosemary, lavender and thyme from the garden on your fingertips

and you can savor a half-dozen pairs of hands reaching for out-of-the-oven warm chocolate-chip muffins

or a smile thrown my way by one of my growing-up boys

or sitting, just sitting, with my aunt on a rainy day

or an early morning call with my mom

or brown smudge on my retriever’s nose from digging mole holes

or an encouraging note from a friend

and feeling the love from those God gave you – over a bowl of curry chicken, or a cup of honey-infused lemon sorbetti tea

the first-person story of a son pushing himself over a challenge to be who he thought he was

a to-do-nothing time with my husband – no outside challenges invited or allowed to crash in

and the first, second and third person story of my boys helping my husband build a dream

Yes, sometimes, you have to live a quote, in order to see yourself as God sees you, to be who God designed you to be – and know it. Sometimes you have to live a quote to let go of things we were not designed to carry.

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered,
forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives,
be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies,
succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you,
be honest and frank anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous,
be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow,
do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough,
give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God,
It was never between you and them anyway” (Mother Teresa)

Sometimes you have to teach yourself to recognize that what you do, how you live, the decisions you make, what’s really in your heart – how your children, your parents, your neighbors and everyone you walk by in the daily – their interpretation doesn’t matter a hill of beans – it’s only what’s between you and God in the living of it that matters.

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cosmoI stood watering my garden under the stars, in the dark. I’m a literalist. It took me awhile to understand that when the Foxfire books suggested to plant under a full moon – it didn’t mean at night under a full moon.

I stood, thinking, squinting to see my flowers in the dark, after my son’s soccer camp. My zinnias looked more organized, more in a row in the dark. It must be the dark – because I’d poured the seeds of them in my hands and released them to flutter and fall into the back of my flower bed – behind the lavender, the day lilies, purple spikes and evening primroses.

I moved next to water the cosmos behind the irises. Squinting harder, watching the water fall where I knew they were – because, like the zinnias, I’d released them. Like the zinnias, when they’d grown a bit, I’d separated them. I couldn’t see them in the dark – even the big cosmos that should have been right there.

I’d guessed it was just too dark to see when my husband wandered through the yard to where I was standing. Plant, flower and vegetable watering time seem to be our time, a walk-in-the-garden kind of time.

“Caleb weeded your garden today,” he said, laughing in his easy going way. He went on to tell me how when he’d come out to check on Caleb’s progress, the garden was emptied of all my zinnias. Nobody had even realized the cosmos was in the weed – or that there’d been cosmos in the garden.

Kindness pulled the weeds – or maybe a touch of kindness with a touch of dad-said-I-have-too – but love had planted the zinnias right back.

zinnia2The even rows under the star-light – and the patch of black empty of growing cosmos – it all became clear. I could have grabbed hold of anger and frustration – because zinnias in tiny cups, flower bowls and mason jars all over the house are one of my dearest summer-time joys. It’s hard when the work of my hands comes to nothing.

I’d learned long ago, when my first born had broken a old china tea-cup my grandmother had given me one Christmas morning, wrapped at the foot of my bed – I learned to let go of the replaceable and grab hold of the irreplaceable.

It’s a choice what we keep and what we let go. Under the stars, I chose to grab hold of an intangible gift – just the kind of moment I needed – seeds planted, roots grown and little sprigs pulled out – only to be re-planted because they knew how much I enjoyed my zinnias – all wrapped up one of those stories I’ll love telling when I’m 90.

Stop (5 minutes)

It’s a blackberry-sweet tea kind of week. Won’t you pull up a chair, pour yourself a tall glass – and join me with Lisa-Jo at her place to write about. . . release? It just takes 5 minutes.

 

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Knight in Shining Armor kind of brave – it’s a God kind of brave – a willingness to sacrifice all – life, pride, reputation, arms and legs, dreams, financial possibilities, comfort, popularity – in order to save someone else.

A God-kind of brave – that we read about from the book of Martyrs – a record of bravery of men, women and children risking all for the second Baptism – for having a copy of the Gospel of Love.

A God-kind of brave that comes to another country to pursue religious liberty – a Jesus-kind-of religion that doesn’t oppress or limit – but frees from bondage, heals wounds and finds joy.

A young boy following his passion for a sport – who shares the Gospel of Love in black grease paint oncheekbones, who risks popularity, riches, a dream job – in order to share the Gospel of Love, a knight-in-shining armor kind of brave – a Tim Tebow kind of brave.

I want my boys who juggle the soccer ball on toes passionate for a game to be passionate for their Savior, to be passionate for a neighbor they don’t know – willing to risk all – so others can know the bottomless, unquenchable love of a mighty God.

That kind of brave.

“Sometimes you’re too poor to have ethics,” the university commencement speaker said – a person of high-rank in the Tennessee primary and secondary education system.

Yet – isn’t that when it counts – when what’s really inside matters? When life isn’t easy – that’s what you see what a man is made of.

This mother’s heart wants to raise these 5 sons from brave boys into brave men:

“Prove yourself brave, truthful, and unselfish, and someday, you will be a real boy” (Pinocchio)

A real boy, a real man where things like ethics, morality, bravery and courage, unconditional love are like invisible ink –

Unconditional Love [bravery, morality, ethics) is like invisible ink. While the invisible ink is made visible by heat, another chemical or ultraviolet light, unconditional love {bravery, morality, ethics}is made visible by uncomfortable situations resulting in pain, disappointment, anger from another’s behavior. So how do you know when you love unconditionally{are ethical, brave, moral}? When you are uncomfortable, don’t really want to, aren’t feeling it, but choose to love {be brave, ethical, adhere to moral principles} anyway – then you are loving unconditionally {brave, ethical, morally upstanding}. ~ Blue Cotton Memory, Unconditional Love Rule 2

If you’ve been around my blog for a long time, you’ve probably heard me quote St. Augustine from City of God who said that the only difference between a pagan and a Christian – is not the things they face because they both face the same challenges – but how they face those challenges.

Seeing Tim Tebow walk out his faith in the midst of cultural challenges that seek strip him of his dream, his job, his cultural standing, even that faith itself – is a testimony of that faith. His ethics count now more than ever. His faith in the midst of adversity is a testimony to that faith – and it takes a brave man, a courageous man, a Daniel-in-the-Lion’s-Den kind of man.

The soldiers who are being discouraged from mentioning their faith in our military are those kind of men – men who would risk a court martial to pray over a wounded soldier or share the knowledge of a God who loves, who saves, who promises eternal life with that loving  – that is noble bravery at its best.

Our faith is being challenged – and we need brave men and women who will stand in the fiery furnace of cultural condemnation – and be a beacon for our boys and girls, our men and women.

A Tim-Tebow-kind-of Brave

~ Congress Shall Make No Law Concerning Tebowing and Other Religious Behavior

~Words Make a Difference

~A Horrifying, Mortifying Commencement Speech

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My two-year-old granddaughter walked across the yard beside me with a plate of strawberries. Maneuvering over Sadie, our golden retriever’s inconvenient mole-holes and balancing a plate of rolling strawberries, Ava was in danger of either losing her dignity or her strawberries.

“Can I carry them?” I asked, being careful of her heart and her confidence.

Concentrating on her journey, she confidently answered, “No.”

A few more steps later, she let me carry the plate of strawberries. Carefree, unburdened, she made it across the yard without falling into evidence of Sadie’s favorite pass-time – digging a few inches into the ground, stuffing her nose into the dirt, huffing air out of her nose hoping for evidence of a bona-fide mole.

Ava, like me, wants to do it herself.

Words like “Let it go,”
“Get over it,”
“You might as well forget about it”

Those are hard words to wrap my mind around. I’m not talking about forgiveness. I’m talking about giving-up something important, something heart important, something not quite tangible.

How do you let it go, get over it, forget when you live in hope, like the journey of a prayer sent out?

How do you live in the middle of that prayer-journey-in-the-wait – because in the wait – hurt still happens, the challenge still exists.

I’m an obsessive thinker. That doesn’t mean I think well, just obsessively.

Obsessive thinking works well for my writing. It works well for problem-solving, too – for things like math, reading, finding the perfect white cake recipe, how to teach our golden-retriever Sadie to stay, stomach pain for a son that took 5 years to get a correct diagnosis(severe esophagitus), another son who kept getting directions wrong because he heard 2 out of 3 words correctly (Central Auditory Processing Disorder), how to draw Benjamin Bunny on a chalk board.

I am a problem-solver, a solution-seeker, an information gatherer.

Obsessive thinking doesn’t work well for heart-challenges that I don’t have the ability to change. For example, I cannot persuade someone who doesn’t like me, who has their heart set on not liking me – to change their mind.

Sometimes I cannot change a parent, child or friend’s decision, even though I know that decision may hurt them in the long run.

I cannot make someone believe God is real, though I can tell them what He means to me.

“Give it to God,” – I hear it over and over again – in sermons, in posts, in encouragement, in grocery aisles.

Like Ava, God is walking beside me. “Give it to me,” He says, as I maneuver through the figurative mole-holes life brings.

It’s hard for an obsessive thinker to give thoughts over to God. It’s hard for the problem-solver, the solution-seeker in me to “give up.”

God’s been personally training me this Spring – on giving my challenges to Him.

When thoughts start creeping in for heart-hurts I cannot change, I look at the 2 scriptures on my desk:

“You’re my servant, serving on my side.

  1.     I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.
    Don’t panic. I’m with you.
        There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
    I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
        I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you”(Isaiah: 41: 9b-10).
  2. “Be Still and Know I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

I take a deep breath, trusting the prayer and visualizing the challenge as a boxed gift, wrapped with a beautiful bow. I take a deep breath and picture myself handing that gift-wrapped box to Him.

Through the rest of the day, I repeatedly grab it back, only to return it to Him – and this goes on and on – shoving it in His hands, snatching it back.

Except each day, I let Him keep it longer. It gets easier to let Him keep it. Just last week, I grabbed it back, ruefully smiled at Him – and before it had totally left His hands, took my hands off. He didn’t “tsk tsk” me, didn’t taunt me with “No Takesy Backsie’s” –  My soul felt like He smiled encouragement.

Giving it to Him doesn’t mean I’ve given up. It doesn’t mean hope has died. It just means He’s walking beside me taking care of it better than I can.  Like Ava – it’s much easier to get across the yard with sturdier hands carrying the important stuff.

He doesn’t tell me I need to be stronger, better, smarter, more lovable, find the solution myself. He just asks me to trust Him.

“Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—
    he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.
He’ll never let good people
    topple into ruin” (Psalm 55:22).

I’ve learned in the past 5 years that hope and faith are the wings of prayer – and love is the heart-beat of that prayer. The answer to that prayer might not be what I was expecting – it might not even be answered in my lifetime – but it will be the perfect answer.

I’ve learned that the real living that refines us into who God designed us to be is in the daily living of the wait of a prayer sent out – and the daily living should be in the assurance of a prayer answered – in God’s time.

If I am assured, I need to live joy-catching all the other things going on in the daily that He gives me – like the smile of a 16 year old surprised 3 weeks before his birthday, in the yellow of an evening primrose replanted from my aunt’s garden, in the good-morning phone call to my mother, in the happy snort of Sadie’s nose underground, in a little girl walking beside me with a plate full of strawberries.

God is teaching me this dance, this living carefree before Him – He is most careful with me (1 Peter 5:7b) – in this giving to Him and taking back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Four Horses of Maturity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“It behooveth him to wax, but me to be made less” (John 3:30, Wycliffe Translation)

A storm brewed one summer night, tearing at the trees, pink flower petals – and the weaver web. All the parts – all six hands and feet of  that tiny spider were intent on making the silk thread stick  – stick to  brick pillars and porch eaves dripping water  – arms and legs weaving and darning simultaneously.

Just like this mother in me – with these boys – stocking shelves and hearts with nobleness books on heroes, freedom and faith, loving forever to God’s beard and back to plate-fulls of carrots and broccoli with dipping sauce to make it go down – to bed-time chronicles, God stories and prayers tucked in and lectured out on how to live this faith thing that is the most important part of the spinning and weaving and releasing of ourselves into our children.

Hands-on shoe-tying and shirt buttoning instructing,  math problem and oil level checks, to  true friendship discernment and loving hearts that need saving, challenge confrontation and over-coming training – and learning not to give up o confront challenges to overcome – sometimes 2 arms, 2 legs and one heart work as determinedly as the spider with the web – though maybe not as gracefully, as fluidly

like a spider mending and weaving on a stormy evening.

like a mother and a father giving out all that is within us until one day they stand tall above us, tall enough inside and out to leave . . .

to search out their own eaves and pillars on which to stick their faith and life mission where they become small and He becomes bigger – and the work of their life reflects His glory.

I don’t know if I explained that well – how our life’s work, that He designed us for – , that’s the story they will read, the song they will hear, the web a canvas to the artist. It is our family, that web – and the work and faith of our hands and hearts, what we put into the raising of them – that will say the most about us – and suddenly it is so much bigger than just me – these children and grandchildren – and in the weaving, the mending, the praying and faith of it are what people see, not me but the results of the life I lived, of the faith and love I lived.

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