Posts Tagged ‘Raising Boys’

grandmamosesMy fourth son, he turned 15 – so I gave him the card –

The Grandma Moses card – the one with the vintage automobile on the front

there’s one for each of the brothers – each of my boys -and I give it to them when they turn 15.

Grandma Moses tells them,

“Life is what you make it,

always has been,

always will be”

I wrote to my son,

Not everyone starts out their first day held in the hands of a loving God like you did – and in that holding he gave you an extra measure of something wonder – a boldness for things of God.

As you know by now, there are moments of blessing, moments of challenge and those in-between moments where a lot of living happens – sometimes moments you call “boring” – but in all those moments you have a choice

a choice to love

a choice to find goodness

a choice to be kind

a choice to forgive

a choice to walk out your faith and hope in God when you might not see evidence of his favor.

Life is not about the challenge; it is about the choice

and the choices are what defines your life

Grandma Moses gave us some good advice. Live it well,

Happy 15th birthday!



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books4cIn the evenings, we met, each boy and I
before they outgrew bed-time chronicles
stories, songs and tandem prayers
two soul stories in dust jackets
sitting side-by-side
for bed-time wind-downs
young stories barely smudged
the other frayed about the edges,
faded and life worn

the littlest, they recently outgrew
sleepy time under the moon
and it was a slow journey there –
a 26-year 5-boy slow, sweet journey
until nearing the end
the journey travels at light speed
to the last bedtime chronicle

The pages of my soul story remember
how we met 365 moon-downs for 10 years each
recorded in the soul stories of 6 dust jackets
met in in the quilts and pillows
book-stacks and beanie puppies
entering Margaret Wise Brown’s green room
with its red balloons and a cow jumping over the moon,
looking outside bedtime windows
to see if moon-shapes resemble
raccoon whiskers and ears
A mother following a run-away bunny
A bunny running away from mother love
Who like the tortoise to the hare
kept loving in unconditional pace
in all kinds of places
high and low places
Not giving up

The pages of my soul story remember
how we loved to the tips of our ears
past tree tops and cirrus clouds
reaching skyward to star sparkles and moon beams
And when our fingers couldn’t reach high enough
We’d stand on our heads, feet against the walls
Toes stretched out
To see who could love the fartherest
“I love you to the moon and back,” I read
And each little guy’s face would split into a grin
“I love you to God’s beard”
And I would love them to God’s beard and back

They don’t quite understand how far
A mother’s love spans
from sunrise to moondown
these dust jackets that close to sleepy sings
of Simply Gifts
Be near me Lord Jesus
Stay by my cradle till morning is near
And drowsy eyes would close
twitchy fingers that just didn’t want to pry
its tenacious grip off the day
Would still
as moon stories and moon songs
trailed off to hushed lullaby lines
I see the moon and the moon sees me
God sees the moon and God sees me
God bless the moon and God bless me
God bless somebody I don’t see
and little boys sleep quiet
watched by a Father God
who made him the moon and the stars
who reaches down
to bring him back
from the high and low places
of sunrise to moondown

Good night red balloon and bunny runs
Good night simple gifts and God-sees sings
I will remember for they are written
into my soul story,
bound in my dust jacket
the soul stories of always loving
you to-God’s Beard and Back
always loving
unconditionally as you run down your path
of your God-created story
walking out your soul story
in your dust jacket

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School starts today – a senior, 8th grader and 6th grader – 3 still in the nest, 2 out – a snug balance that will change come next May.

I’m not quite ready for this school year, but I am being swept into it regardless of whether I am ready or not. Maybe next week I will be ready. Besides, who says I have to be ready at the beginning of everything?

At least the boys to men will go to school with haircuts – starting out neat and trim. Nice haircuts that seem to say, “I’m ready,” whether you really are or not.

But we’re really not.
And that’s o.k.

I’m making white cupcakes from scratch, filled with strawberry jam, topped with a chocolate ganache and pink, yellow and lavender fondant daisies for a wedding shower for my nephew and his sweet fiance this weekend. Even in that, I’m not quite ready.

And that’s o.k..

There are lots of changes, good changes, answered prayer changes – feeling like it’s a blizzard of answered prayer – and I can’t see ahead of it. I can only see as far as the tips of my toes, which really means, where I am right now.

This girl, here, the one typing – I’m used to seeing ahead of everything, even if I really can’t see: planning contingencies, even planning back-up alternatives for the contingencies – but God wants me to stand in the midst of this blizzard of answered prayer and just soak, not so much say right now.

One never quite knows where an answered prayer will take one – except that it will be ultimately lead its way into something good, something refreshing.

I’m not ready because I cannot see everything out in front of me

but I’m on the journey, even if it means I can’t see what’s beyond right now except the prayers answered – not the cause/effect, just the blessing of those answers

I am trusting Him, that these answered prayers will translate themselves to me eventually, that readiness will unfold itself.

“This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,

Thank you Father for making a safe, solid path through the challenges, through the unknown, even through answered prayers that lead to places unanticipated.

The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
they lie down and then can’t get up;
they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.

Thank you for taking us forward, every closer to you. Thank you for leading us through the mine-field of challenges that reveal our measure of grace only to provide the opportunity to grow that measure of grace into something more. My history, the family history – it has already happened. I need to let go to let us grow into what He has planned. Event though much history is good, answered prayers start new chapters, leaving the old chapters behind.

“Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.

I’m not ready of myself, Father – but if you are designing the plan, the schedule, the itinerary, if you are building the road, no matter where you building the road, I want to be there with you, to watch your plan explode! Not just watch, but to work with you! Oh, yes, to work with you, even though you don’t need my help! I just have to be willing, game, alert, present.

Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
—the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
the people I made especially for myself,
a people custom-made to praise me” (Isaiah 43:16-21)

Thank you, Father, for this blizzard of answered prayer. Thank you for always being faithful to your promises. Thank you for pursuing each of my sons, each member of my family with more love and determination than I can fathom. Thank you for opening doors that lead to other doors that lead us to where you want us to be. Thank you for sending me a husband who leads our family with unconditional love, wisdom founded in you, and a hopeful, joyful, never-give-up heart. Thank you for a support system that knows my heart, loves me where I am and cheers me on for where you take me. Thank you for giving me peace, to let me know that not everything has to be done perfectly on-the-world’s schedule – or even a school year schedule – and that it is o.k. sometimes to not be ready for things like school.

No, I’m not ready for school today, or for the shower Saturday, or soccer practice 3 days a weeks, dinner tomorrow night or tomorrow’s 6:25 wake up call for boys.

He just wants me to be ready to praise Him, to love Him, to just simply follow Him one minute, one hour, one day, one event at a time.

In the following, I will find myself ready at the right time, know how it all unfolds because He created the plans – and each contingency of each contingency.

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A Seed Emerging Fragile (Click here)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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A few Marches ago, we planted Hollies, Crepe Myrtles – and long-awaited Leland Cyprus trees. My teen sons helped us move these huge trees with huge rootballs, bemoaning the whims of moms but kind of proud of their strength.

I’m sure they loved being physically stronger than mom. It made them walk a bit taller.

My husband, well, he didn’t really want the trees, but he helped me plant my dream.

I spent days basking in their beauty, anticipating their towering growth. Kind of like raising sons – you know their potential. It is just a matter of helping them grow there.

[Growing in grace]they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap (of spiritual vitality) and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment] (Psalm 92:14)

It wasn’t 2 weeks later when the edge of spring revealed it’s two-faced nature – and brought a snow storm, filled with some ice – and ravaged the work of my dreams.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7)

We lost one Japanese Maple. The other, I wouldn’t let my husband tear out – we cut it back to the root and hoped.

My Leland Cyprus’s, so new to their new home, roots not quite deep enough or burrowed in enough were bruised with the onslaught. They really weren’t prepared for the unexpected.

As Spring slunk out of town like a seedy criminal, taking advantage of townsfolk shock– Famine and Drought rode into town.

The Japanese Maple with the deep roots and recently cut-back limbs – it flourished in these hard times.

One Leland Cyprus, though, it suffered, while it’s sister Cyprus flourished. Half it’s branches turned brown.

Twice daily, I pulled out my hose and left it to water for 30 minutes, pulling off the dead leaves, whispering encouragement, whispering hope.

“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains”(James 5:7)

Our Tree this WinterToday that Cyprus, a bit smaller than it’s sibling tree, sways with abandon in the blustery Winds of Spring time, standing confident in the two-faced nature of Spring time. . . because its root system is deep.

It no longer needs me.

“Behold, [I will liken you] to Assyria, a cedar in Lebanon, with fair branches and with forestlike shade and of high stature, with its top among the thick boughs (even among the clouds]. The waters nourished it; the deep made it grow tall; its rivers ran round about its planting, sending out its streams to all the trees of the forest [the other nations]” (Ezekiel 31: 3-4)

Last night, my littlest guy, he climbed the larger tree, upward, laid in its boughs and hollered to us, as we planted 15 burning bush and 3 forsythia rootballs.

With laughing eyes, we both looked at our son, finding joy in what we planted, nurtured and sustained in hope and faith. Raising boys and trees – similar journey’s, both facing challenges – both showing the redeeming love of a mighty, compassionate, healing God.

This week needed a moment just like that! Thank you Father!

“For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations” (Isaiah 61:11)

BTW – if it snows in the next 10 days, can I start predicting snow by my tree planting? I’m thinking so!

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“I’m gonna punch you,” the teen tells his younger brothers – whether it is their silly songs, their loud talking, or actions designed to provoke. I’m not really worried about the “I’m-gonna-punch-you” threat.

That’s brothers building boundaries, uncomfortably building boundaries (for post on Types of Brotherly Physical Contact, click here) – and, often, code for “I need quiet time”  – brothers communicate holisticly with an arsenal of choices: humor, story telling, warnings, helping, encouraging, praying, directions, messages, and back-off words.

In school, though – in school it’s different.

“I was thisclose to punching someone today,” I’ve heard all of my boys say. The provacation is usually someone disrupting class, someone bullying another classmate, possibly bullying them. The girl in me, that God put there to nurture, to comfort, to hug – it rebels against those words, those actions.

Don’t get me wrong – if someone ever punch my son, I’d want them to defend themselves. Sometimes I think that if the good-guys could defend, there’d be fewer discipline problems in school – but, the good-guys get suspended for defending themselves these days.

When my sons say, “I was thisclose to punching someone,” I realize they have reached the end of their rope, their buttons are being pushed, their boundaries overrun – or, maybe, someone sitting behind them tapped a pencil to a staccato beat during an entire class.

Frustration, though, is really no reason for punching.

We drove, this teen and I, to pick up his brothers. “I was thisclose to punching someone” – and I remembered a youth who wanted to hurt another son ( click here to read: Unoffical Day of Prayer to Stop School Violence), threatened to stab him in the back and kill him. At first, I wanted law-and-order justice – until God whispered what he really needed: someone praying for him.

Looking at the road in front of us, I told this son what I thought was really going on:

“The urge to punch someone is really a call from God to pray the person you want to punch – except that call has been hijacked by the devil.”

He wasn’t buying it . . . but I was.

But if I say it over and over again, he might one day live it and believe it.

56) pinking rotary cutters

57) a mother-in-law who has open-heartedly and with grace helped me cut out the pieces for my very first quilt – helped and taught, handling with dexterity and acceptance the way I learn new things.
58) blue polka dots on white cotton material
59) material with a vintage feel, prints mixing yellow, pinks, and blues
60) courage that pushed me from the safety of ignorance into the midst of a color challenge to finally make my blue cotton quilt

61) I’ve read all the Jane Austen Books, the Bronte sisters books, seen all the I Love Lucy’s – but the realization I haven’t read, seen or done all – starting my quilt showed me that – and seeing the movie the movie “Love Letters” with Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotton, and holding grandbaby girl.
62) Walking up 3 concrete steps, walking toward restoration, choosing to leave behind a broken moment, refusing to let that brokenness break anything more than a moment.
63) the dinner blessing that included, “and bless the hands that prepared our dinner.”
64) My oldest son giving father words to his new daughter, kissing her before handing her over to his wife.
65) A little crease in baby girl’s cheek, between her nose and mouth
66) My husband, holding baby girl for the first time,
67) telling his son a story filled with laughter – baby girl furrowing her brow at the new sound before falling asleep in this new Papaw’s arms, her Papaw.

68) a grocery store green pepper and summertime canned tomatoes in soup.
69) a blue ottoman beside a son’s bed that allows me to lean comfortably and listen during bedtime conversation.
70) “Did you count your freckles today? Did you come home with 10 toes? What’s it like without the bully in the bathroom” –serious and silly questions to fill my question-quota my son demands at bedtime.
71) not having the boys rack up squats on the way to church on Sunday
72) a phone call about a job interview on Friday- Yeah!
73) my soldier son calling me in mistake: “Sorry, mom – I didn’t mean to call” he said. “Never tell your mom you didn’t mean to call – just say, “Love you , Mom,” I laughed. “Love you, mom,” he said.
74) sitting, knitting with a group of women at Sweet Sallie’s Bakery and coffee shop, with a sugar-free caramel macchioato, sharing a morning, knitting words and making friends.
75) going places, like the World Foods shop, ordering 2 Rueben sandwiches and a lb of pancetta, the owner, friends with my DIL’s family, asking about sweet baby girl and  saying nice words about my son who had come in earlier to pick up lunch for he and his sweet wife. Community roots digging deep – relationships grow from knowing, knowing, and knowing, loving like the Father loves.
76) the wind, though it tormented me tonight, wouldn’t let me cook my steaks on the grill, rib-eye steaks that I’d been saving for a celebration moment, when life’s ordinary sweetness was the celebration – and I turned to the wind and said, “God, can you turn it off for 5 minutes. It’s blowing out my grill.” In retrospect,  I sounded like one of my sons tattling on another son. The wind, it kept blowing – and the steaks, they kept not cooking. Stove-top steaks don’t do rib-eye steaks justice – but God has been wanting me to learn to jump tracks lately, to soften for His changes without breaking – and the wind, well, it tossled my hair, blew out the burners like a Crosby and Hope absurd scene, and I chose joy instead of pouting because I did not get my way. Plans blown amuck is how it could have ended. My plans were for blessing – so I focused on blessing instead of grilled steaks.
77) clouds that fall from the sky, cocooning my home – and me. Driving home from school, up the hill into the mists,  like the world is left behind and it is just us, a cottage in the clouds.
78) My little guy helping me carry the tall Kitchen Christmas Tree to the basement where we discovered it fit perfectly between the rafters so we wouldn’t have to hang it horizontally from the ceiling.
79) My little guy coming up behind me, as I’m typing this, sitting on the couch. He wraps his arms around my neck, saying, “Hug” – and I stop and savor!

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A few days later, life going on with an additional heart-beat to our family, I stand behind my kitchen counter, reaching to this amazing heavenly Father again. Challenges don’t stop rolling just because a prayer was answered, especially with a house full of boys to men growing into independence.

I see the challenge, like a barreling stone, bigger than me. I don’t chastise myself that I didn’t see it sooner, or solve the rolling of it sooner. It is what it is. Don’t think I’m flippant or irresponsible. I used to beat myself up for not knowing things before I knew them – until God took the baseball bat I was beating myself up with out of my figurative hands.

Life just burps up challenges from likely and unlikely places.

But God isn’t just interested in turning baby girl for a safe delivery (see previous post) – He’s interested in a teen boy struggling to find his place in a new school, though we had only moved away 2 years before returning.

God is not surprised by any of these challenges. He’s just waiting for us to turn these challenges over to him.

This teen son with an innate joyful spirit is not feeling joyful lately. Once I asked, “Have you prayed about it?”

He responded, “God knows what I need.”

“But God’s not like your mama who bursts into your problems unasked. God’s not like that. He waits for your invitation,” I answered.

“Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.
O Lord, save the king!
May he answer us when we call” (Psalm 20: 6-9).

And so I ask and I pray, interceding through prayer, asking our Father, once again, trusting in His name, that He knows what is needed in this challenge and has already set the answer rolling from His throne, the saving might of His right hand moving to protect one of His beloved children, whether it is turning a head, pointing to an opportunity, turning an attitude, or holding us to stand. It only waits for the asking.

I am awed that He, God, the King, Emmanuel, Jehovah, I am – wants me to ask

Father, I didn’t have a parent who knew how to intercede, that they could come to you in prayer for their children in their growing-up struggles. I found you at 7, held on tight and didn’t let go. But even I didn’t know I could come to you for help, that you were there to pick me up, comfort me  – for the big and Little things, little and Big- though I reached out for you I didn’t realize I was the King’s daughter because of Jesus.

But I know now, Father, – who I am to you and who my son is to you. I know that you want me to come to you – to intercede for this son who is struggling, who feels isolated, no connections, no place here – no real home – and I intercede, stand in the gap for him, beseech you to bring him friendships that will lift him up when he is down – and open his eyes to see that friendship, that in this next 1.5 years until he graduates – that home is restored in his heart, that he recognize comfort, belonging and warmth here.

You know what he needs, Lord. You know what is really going on in his heart – and, as the daughter of the King, your daughter – not the fatherless orphan I was growing up – I ask you to work in my son’s life, restoring that which was lost.

The challenges – do they ever really stop? Have they ever really stopped – big and Little, little and Big? If you chronicled all those challenges from today backwards – what would you find?

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (Corinthians 3:18).

Maybe we are transformed from glory to glory challenge by challenge.

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