Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Raising Boys’

bluecottonboys_editedccUnconditional Love, True Love, lives in a real world, with real challenges and other real emotions. It is incredibly beautiful Unconditional Love. But it takes lots of strength, courage and faith. A little humbleness, too. A little taking the back seat sometimes and a lot of never giving up! Unconditional Love is all encompassing. It loves your husband, your children, your friends, God – even strangers. I would not want to live without it.

Even when someone does something expressly against your wishes, like dump the chicken noodle soup down the side of the sink without the garbage disposal, does not wear their seat belt when driving without you, or gets a tattoo, Unconditional Love loves.

Unconditional Love sees your child (whether little, teen or grown), spouse or parent through God’s Eyes.
If you cannot see it now – ask Him!
He will show you through His Eyes!
It is life changing . . .
Changing how you think,
the words you use,
the feeling in your heart,
the expressions on your face!
It is a liberating love.

Kind of like God handing me His glasses with Hope and Faith Lenses
letting me see
what God sees
and
it
changed
everything

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

How do you  know when you are loving unconditionally? Unconditional Love is like invisible ink. While the invisible ink is made visible by heat, another chemical or ultraviolet light, unconditional love is made visible by uncomfortable situations resulting in pain, disappointment, anger from another’s behavior. So how do you know when you love unconditionally? When you are uncomfortable, don’t really want to, aren’t feeling it, but choose to love anyway – then you are loving unconditionally.

PPPPSSSSsssssssttttt. . . . Unconditional Love – the God-kind of Unconditional Love is not reserved just for your very favorite people. It is a type of love that is like a Spring Rain, showering on everyone who comes into contact with you.

Unconditional Love is found in a Mary Poppins-Bag-kind-of-heart that is deep enough to fill with love for as many people, not as it can hold because the Mary Poppins bag is bottomless, but for as many people as you choose to love. It is priceless!

Unconditional Love grows, and groWS, and gROWS and GROWS
over days, with months, years
in sunshine and storms
if we let it
if we don’t hoard it
Then it grows, re-seeds, spreads like buttercups in a field
Unconditional Love is a choice.
Choose Unconditional Love

(Once upon a time, I wrote about 30-something unconditional love rules in the waiting of the journey of a prayer sent out. I finally took those 30 unconditional love rules, whittled them down to 10 – and created an introduction on the definition of Unconditional Love from the shavings of those 30 rules.  This post is that definition. I did this for my boys because I thought maybe one day they would value the message that sustained me during a challenging time. The guiding mission statement for Blue Cotton Memory is the faith, love and politics of raising boys to men. Very subtly it also includes another personal mission – to show my boys how to grow old loving the Lord. They aren’t interested in the heart thoughts of their mother right now – but, maybe, one day, they will be – and one copy of this, tucked on my bookshelf, will be pulled out to encourage in the waiting of a prayer sent out.)

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

gate131
I’m the gate. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved. He’ll come in and go out and find pasture ~ John 10:9

“Jump a Fence

Climb a Tree

Homespun, he is Free”

from Blackberry Roland, by Blue Cotton Memory

From little feet puddle jumping to  muscles and cleats sliding through mud and rain-soaked tackle, these boys of mine don’t always choose the neat, tidy paths and gateways.

God placed within their tiny hearts before they were born – a desire for freedom, a frontier-kind of spirit that would lead them out of bondage, through a parting sea – and into a new land, a land where the banner of Shaddai flies high for all to see, where children are taught with their first steps that Jehovah-Rohi shepherds them through the gate, hand-in-hand with the Savior.

Through the gate – it sounds so simple. Forging new paths, to discover new ideas – like Ford with automobiles or Charles Best who discovered insulin – or Neil Armstrong walking on the moon – fence jumping sure seems a quicker way to get there. Their toes almost itch to jump fences – from the time they learn to walk.

These boys to men seem designed to avoid gates.

I see it in their desire to debate – just for the sake of debate – chewing (sometimes it seems like gnawing) their logical teeth on challenging authority or the status quo.

How many times have I said, “Don’t outsmart your common sense.”

The oldest, he taught them all the longest word in the dictionary: Antidisestablishmentarianism – and, to him, it meant not taking establishment ideas at face value. At first glance, the gate looks like establishment ideas.

Some shun the gate because their parents walked through. The gate seems to have always been there. It seems so ordinary, so every day, so already done. These boys to men don’t just go through the gate because it’s there – it often seems like a life motto they’ve worn emblazoned inside.

gate134

“I am the Gate for the Sheep,” Jesus tells us (John 10:7)

These boys to men – they gotta have Him – there’s no other way – no other way to be delivered from all that life will throw at them – from the liars, cheats, and thieves who aim to steal more than their wallets, identity or cell phones.

The gate isn’t religion. It isn’t rules. It isn’t an activity list of things we do. The gate is relationship. Relationship releases the gate latch – relationship with the one who designed you, the one who died to save you.

Real relationship. You cannot get there by fence jumping (fulfilling the bucket-list of Christian-expected behavior but not relationship) – or digging under it.

I imagine that if you wanted to spend time with Him debating – I imagine He would welcome that as the beginning of relationship. You might not be through the gate – but at least you’re at the gate with Him.

gate136

A few years ago, I hosted a an unofficial small group with some parents of teens, friends of my sons still at home – and we read Sticky Faith together, trying to figure out how to get these boys to men who have walked through that gate when they were little – to continue living through the gate – in His pasture where they live “saved from sin, the dominion of it, the guilt and condemning power of it, and at last from the being of it; and from the law, its curse and condemnation, and from wrath to come, and from every evil, and every enemy”(Gill’s Exposition, Bible Hub).

gate137

Some were frontier parenting – this was their first foray into the teen years. Others, like us, had older children who entered through the gate or were fence jumpers or tried digging under it, trying any way to avoid the actual relationship required to go through the gate.  We needed fresh eyes to break battle-fatigue habits, to re-equip, re-adjust, re-train for the next 6 years.

Sitting across the table, breaking bread – (getting ready for them to start the teen book while we went over the parent’s book) – learning ways to intentionally open the clogged conversational arteries with our children, how our spiritual gifts communicate with each other (not part of the book, but part of what we are doing) – and how to encourage real relationship with the one who created them, who loves them – who died to save them.

One of the things I loved about this group is that it included some of their inner circle of friends. As one teen filled a bowl of soup, a parent asked,”Who influences you most now – your parents or your peers?”

We were not looking for a right answer – We were looking for his answer.

“My peers,” he answered. Another answered, “My parents.” Each gave valid reasons, truthful reasons.

Maybe by pulling them to the table, bowl by bowl – with friend’s parents who they tease includes their “favorite mom” – maybe, just maybe we can mentor faith that sticks: real, life relationship faith.

How can we as parents encourage relationship building of these sons with their Savior? Real relationship building – We asked our sons to define what it meant to be a Christian?

Sometimes there was a disconnect between the logos “right” answer and the rhema (the aliveness) of their answer in their every day. They knew the right answer but their actions weren’t always in tandem with the right answer. Both were still fusing together.

Over the bowls of soup, I also wanted to ask, “Who is influencing your gate relationship with Christ?”

“What does that gate relationship consist of?”

What does it mean to pass through the gate to the pasture?

Or are you just fence jumping?”

Today, about 2 years later, those mentoring relationships are making a positive difference. Other moms and dads interacting, having real conversation – not scared-to-intrude conversation have created peers who reflect that interaction into their peer relationships.

I’ve seen hard decisions made by these young men who prayed first and put self second.

I’ve seen young iron sharpening young iron because of real relationships with other moms and dads showed them how in breaking-bread, over-the-counter real conversation.

They’re pausing at the temptation to fence jump – and instead making the decision to hang out at the gate, take ownership of that relationship found there. In the ownership, they’re discovering it’s not an establishment relationship. It’s a real, personal, one-on-one relationship – a grafting together kind of relationship.

Going through the gate? Or fence jumping?

(updated, September 9, 2015)

gategarm

All gate photos except for last were taken at Colonial Williamsburg, Fall 2013

 

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

redtruckrightcc

First Gear

In his daddy’s red and white truck, this boy and I

studied earth science and college notes

Leaning against each other, my feet dangling out the window

In the Kentucky Sunshine.

Driving down small town roads

At a red stop light

He says, “I think I’m beginning to love you. What do you think?”

Looking straight ahead, down the 4 lane road, I answer,

“I wasn’t going to think about it until you said something.”

The red light changed yellow to green

and we moved on down the road

Shift, Second Gear

A few years later, our red-Ford truck climbs up

snow covered graveled driveway

Our little guy between us, enjoying

the adventure, no fear with

back wheels slipping and sliding

But he gets us home

A home tucked next to his grandfather’s farm

A red Ford truck soon to be traded in for a mini-van

big enough to hold a basketball team

worth of boys

trading outside stuff

For important inside stuff

Shift 3rd Gear

Our driveway moved

To another state, this boy-filled mini-van full

brown eyes, green eyes, hazel eyes all

Eager for nanny hugs and papaw rides

In the red and white truck for

Candy and Coke Store moments,

For farm rides through

Rutted tracks made by tractors and trucks

To the daffodil fields, grave stones

tobacco and hay fields, over creek beds

looking for tree nuts, walking sticks

or just sitting and waiting in Papaw’s

red and white truck

redtruckbar_edited-1Shift, Fourth Gear

Teen boy wants to drive

to make life his own and daddy buys

a $500 project where hands that held mine

remove emblems, chrome and trim

motor sanding, hand sanding

sand rust harsh then fine

bondo-fill gaps,

sand more, preparing for

Viper Red

new hands at spray-gun control

daddy’s voice coaching

encouraging

even results

and they dig deeper

beneath the exterior to the heart

inspecting hoses, belts transmissions and motors

bleeding lines, filling tanks

with just the right stuff

A Viper Red Project

“It will mean more to him this way”

says his daddy. “He’ll take better care”

Readying him for the long ride

down the road

Fourth Gear

Maybe one day our mini-van will empty out

each boy driving into life

with something that means more

and he’ll take better care

and while they shift their gears

from first, second to third

just maybe me and that boy

that took me out in his daddy’s red and white truck

will find time to go down a lonely dirt road

lean against each other with my toes out the window

no more studying, no more sanding

just knowing we love this long drive together

This son, with the truck project, when he was a Freshman, he and another boy riding with me in my mini-van talked trucks. The other boy talked about his powerful Chevy truck with detailed auto language. He snorted derisively on my son’s Ford, sitting the driveway, waiting to be sanded, waiting for Viper Red to give it new life. My son looked at him saying, “My Ford truck is so powerful, Zeus called to see if I could drive over and haul the sun few hundred miles north.” I just gotta love a boy that thinks like that!

truckinterior_edited-1

Read Full Post »

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Four Horses of Maturity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

buscard

The word laundry – just the word itself creates a fight-or-flight result. A sock of panic, a fold of overwhelming – and just lots of mis-matched feelings. The word laundry flashes subliminal socks, ankle, calf, leg socks. No toe socks, girly socks – just stinky, gotta where them in the yard, sweat-stained socks.

When I calm my pulse and my breathing returns to normal, the laundry story unfolds.

My grandmother tripped my grandfather on the way to a fire – that’s the romantic story of how Mary Edna and Theodore Carlin met. Country girl with a city heart followed him to the big city and grew a family. At one point, he was the proprietor of a dry cleaning. When I knew him, he was a newspaper man delivering newspapers throughout Louisville when the sun came up – to newspaper boys who took them house to house.

I remember grandmother sending laundry out – and tablecloths returning swathed in flimsy plastic, pressed perfectly, like a wedding dress from a hanger.

When we moved in with my grandmother, once a week we sent the laundry out. Mom worked. It was an old house – no room for a washer and dryer. My brother and I wore uniforms to school, so we didn’t rack up a bunch of clothes.

I didn’t learn how to do laundry until I went to college – and then I married. Now, I have more laundry than I know what to do with.

Laundry taught me about one son’s love language. A hard worker, every now and then he’d ask me to wash a shirt – one shirt for school the next day. I learned to stop making learning laundry a life lesson for these one-shirt requests. It was his way of asking for a love language hug – and I learned to hug him that way.

Another son climbed up on a stool to do laundry – He wasn’t big enough to reach without. A load or a shirt at a time, he wanted his clothes clean. He was a quality time love language – not an acts of service. He didn’t want or need laundry hugs from me.

Socks pop up all over the floor of my house, like mushrooms in a manure patch. The boys to men just drop them – everywhere.

When I married and had children – I didn’t think of sock challenges. I thought of noble things like reading classical books of adventure and Aesop’s fable, finger art, museums, faith, fighting for right.

Not socks, the seemingly impossible task of herding all these unorganized pieces of white into pairs – for 7 pairs of feet.

socks45I could try to pin the act of matching socks to things like a mother’s sacrifice, even holiness and grace – that in the daily with things like socks, shirts and the unmentionables. There’s no holiness or grace in the socks. Matching socks isn’t fun. Laundry isn’t fun.

I’ve become more sensitive to the word, “fun” – my youngest sons bemoaning, “It’s not fun.”

Fun – “FUN, n. Sport; vulgar merriment. A low word.(Sport: To divert; to make merry; Vulgar: Mean; rustic; rude; low; unrefined)

Fun has become the measure of life – or it often seems that way. Many words devolve – meaning become more negative – like the word cheap. It used to mean good quality at a low price. Now it means poor quality – whatever the price.

Fun, though, has become a desired commodity. Friday Fun, Bucket Lists of fun, vacation for fun – it seems the goal is to live for fun.

I don’t think anywhere in the bible is fun mentioned as the sole purpose for doing anything. Peace – yes. Contentment – yes. Doing our Best as a gift to God, even work – and much of made of joy.

“And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun” (Ecc 8:15)

The 1828 Noah Webster Dictionary defines joy:
“The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; that excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by success, good fortune,the gratification of desire or some good possessed, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exultation; exhilaration of spirits.

Joy is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good”(Webster)

Fun is all about what you are doing. Fun is conditional, though. It does not extend to everything you do.
Joy is the condition of the spirit. It is unconditional. It extends to everything you do – little and big –  big – like earning the first pay-check, saving a life, the birth of a child – or little like matching socks and folding laundry.

A few of my boys are grown up, taking care of business, realizing that finding joy in the daily, in the mundane like sock matching, grows something stronger inside than living for fun.

Living fun is like trying to catch fireflies in a field while living joy is like a steady fire that keeps you warm despite the cold and dark seasons.

No – there’s nothing holy about laundry and socks.
The holiness is what’s going on between us and God while we’re doing it.
“My soul shall be joyful in my God”(Is.61).

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »