He stretched and pulled all eight years of his body up into a full seated stance, then leaned his little person out the window as we drove up into the mountains. The brisk morning air stung his nostrils and made his eyes run. Reaching his hand out the window, he fought the wind and won with a laugh. The creek that ran down the mountain beside the road testified to warm spring days and melting snow, and I couldn't wait to introduce my boys to the same creek bed where I had played as a child, "plopping stones." After a while he settled back into his seat, hair sticking up because the wind and run her fingers through his dirty blond locks. Breathless and with a slight lisp, my youngest child asked, "Mom, are our tires touching the same exact places your tires had touched as a kid?" It was my turn to cry, and my nostrils stung, and the tears ran like a river down the hillside of my face, landing in a sweet "plop" on my shirt.
"Yes, I do. I think that our tires are touching the exact same dirt that my dad's tires had touched, and my church bus' tires had rolled over when I was a kid. Absolutely." And his jaw dropped and his eyes shone, and he laughed again like a miracle. And it was.
The older two, seated in the back of our SUV, put down their devices to take in the splendor of my childhood memories as we drove up and into the San Bernardino Mountains.
Last week I took my boys to Forest Home Christian Conference Center for a Mother/Son Retreat, and passed the torch of finding God in Blinko Lodge and Hormel Hall, in small groups and family devotionals, and in that old creek bed and on the ziplane, and with the help of the most amazing staff! Yes, their spiritual tires rolled right over where my own had been years ago.
Oh dear friends, perhaps you don't have anything like this that you grew up with. Perhaps your eyes are stinging even now at the thought of breathing mountain air and singing, "How Great is our God" with your little people. Let me encourage you to start a brand new legacy today. Find ways to build faith - that can be passed down for generations to come.
I have two favorite memories from our time at Forest Home, here in Southern California. They came in quick succession. First, on Friday night during our opening session, the host of the retreat called three boys and their moms on stage and played a game. The mothers left the room and the boys had to answer a handful of questions about their mom. Then the moms came back and had to guess what their sons had said. One of the questions was, "What's your mom's favorite word?"
One boy said, "No." Another said, "Don't." And the third was a silly little tiger who just laughed his head off and eventually said, "MONEY!" I looked at my oldest, seated a few butts down the row and mouthed the words, "What's MY favorite word?" He smiled tenderly, then said, "Yes."
Those who follow me here on this little blog, know that that's my goal. To find ways in our days to say yes to my children. But it's hard. It takes muscular work to turn a no into a yes. And I thought immediately about saying YES to this particular adventure, and every adventure that builds faith in my sons' lives.
The second highlight of our trip came just moments after the first, when the youngest boys were all excused with their counselors for a time of worship together. However, the 12-18 year olds stayed behind with us. My big kid was still seated down the row, not close enough for me to throw my arm around when we all stood to sing. But as the music started, I glanced sideways at him and found him under the arm of a young man. My boy hadn't even been formally introduced yet to the guy that would be his camp counselor, and all ready he was literally embraced by him as they worshiped together. Again, the tears.
While I love being the one to lead my sons to know and worship God, there is something equally as thrilling as letting them go off and be discipled by solid, masculine, Christian men! And as the song played I sang my heart out, turning every lyric into prayer. "Lord, when Caleb's strength is failing. When the end draws near and his time is done. May his soul sing your praise unending. 10,000 years and then forever more! Bless the Lord, Oh my soul!"
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 1:4)
One of the great ways our children learn to walk and to worship, is under the wing of camp counselors. If you live in the Southern California area, check our Forest Home. They have so many camps for kids to visit on their own, with their dad or mom, or as a family. And if you're not local, I know that there are camps nearby! Find one! Invest the time and energy and resources to build a spiritual legacy that lasts... 10,000 years and then forever more!
A special shout out to my dear friend and writing partner, Amber Lia who joined me for this dynamite adventure. Our book Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses released in February. This was our first time together since our launch day! How special to hug her neck as our boys all played together.
Consider joining us next year with your crew!