My Boys - they're not so little anymore

My boys are growing up, and always want to be on the move now, so I filled our summer schedule to the brim. The teenager is especially fond of chasing fun. Slow days at home grow tiresome for him. But in the midst of all the going, I'm holding tight to the not so distant past, and all the memories of slow afternoons doing crafts and playing dress-up and eating popsicles when they were small. Tonight I came across a sweet little journal entry from four years ago, and it made me all weepy. I just had to share it here, for those of you still knee deep in park dates and naptimes.

 

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(March 2014) The other night I peeked in on my middle-est, long after he was supposed to be asleep. Instead of sleeping he was playing, propped up on his elbow, adjusting the 30-some mini-figures on his nightstand. As he worked he sang quietly to himself, "I won't grow up... I don't want to go to school... just to learn to be a parrot... and recite a silly rule..."

I've been thinking of the story of Peter Pan lately myself. My name is Wendy. And the name Wendy was first imagined, penned and introduced to the world by Scottish novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie. Audiences in England and America alike fell in love with Peter, the boy who never grew up, and Wendy, the lost boys' play mother.

Standing on the cusp of a new season, I've been thinking of Wendy Darling and her lost boys. How dear she was to them, to darn their socks, tell them stories and put them to bed at the end of their adventurous days. While I don't darn my boys' socks, (I buy new ones at Target), I know the sweetness of story books and bedtime kisses on soft faces.

In the end, Wendy Darling returned home to England at the end of her adventure in Neverland, she didn't stay a little mother for ever. And my season with littles is coming to an end as well.

 

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A few weeks ago my littlest guy, in his last days of five, went to his friend Rosie's birthday party. He found her a pretty necklace with her initial spelled out in rhinestones, and wrapped it in white paper that he then painted with pink and purple hearts. The day before the party Rosie told Asher that she'd be wearing a princess dress to her party, so Asher came home and immediately went digging through his dress up bin.

I watched at the party as the two of them played with other children; chasing balls, blowing bubbles, and spinning hoola-hoops around their tiny middles. And the thought occurred to me, this may be the last time he asks to have a lightening bolt painted on his face! This may be the last time ANY child of mine plays, unashamed, in a knight costume in front of strangers.

Gulp.

This imaginative, smiling, cookie eating, sippy cup toting season is indeed coming to an end. And my heart feels the pang.

 

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Sweet Potato Pie is right!

Perfection.

And yet it's all close enough to remember the scratchy constant noise of that annoying toy, and my concern over feet on the kitchen table. Oh to go back and smell his sweet cheerio scented neck and hold his miniature pants, and here the scratchily-scratch of that obnoxious battery-operated toy.

Slow down, Mamas. Slow it down.

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Say Yes

Say yes to markers and crayons and water colors and sticker books and PJ's until noon. Keep a tub of cookie dough in the fridge and say YES as often as you can. Tickle backs at bedtime, even when you're eager for your own back to rest. And take plenty of pictures. Take pictures, but not at the expense of making memories. Make memories and make popsicles and make memories of those popsicles melting down arms and dripping off elbows on hot summer days. And say yes to the sprinklers, though you already did today. Say yes again. Push them high on swings and say yes to caterpillars and frogs. And let them wear their Yoda years everywhere they go for two years straight, because one day they won't fit and you'll be washing them and folding them up and putting them away into a bin of memories.

 

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Wendy Darling knows the fine art of raising boys, but also when the end of a season bids her farewell. I'm standing there today. So say yes in my honor today, when your child asks you to get down on the floor and play legos. Say Yes.

Forest Home: Mother / Son Retreat

When I was a child my dad would take my brother and me up into the local mountains for a day or a weekend or a week at a time. He taught us to shoot a bow from an arrow, to maneuver our sleds down snowy slopes, and skip stones across icy streams. Grandma and Grandpa had a cabin up in those hills above Los Angeles, and the shag carpet smelled musty and safe beside the fireplace. Needless to say, that campground is near and dear to my heart. Forest Home. 

Our church group also brought us up the same mountain pass for youth camp two times a year. I gave my life to Christ at a campfire in fourth grade. My best friend, Matt Morgan and I walked back to main camp that night, laughing and throwing snowballs into the branches, heavy laden with snow. We drank our fill of hot cocoa in the winter and milkshakes in the summer, and played more card games in Blinko Lodge than I can count.

Forest Home. 

Faith becomes a child's own at camp in the mountains. I believe that with all my guts. The majesty and the splendor assailing young senses, followed by the truth of God's Word and campfire worship. In sixth grade I was sitting between Heather Coombs and Brooke Donald in Hormel Hall, and we were singing "Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me." And I felt His Spirit upon my shoulders so tangibly... I believed with every fiber of my being.

Forest Home.

I went away to college and my Grandpa passed our cabin to the camp, and time passed. Before I knew it I was a grown woman raising children of my own, not far from my old stomping grounds. Since our family cabin is gone, I haven't been back in many years. But that's about to change. In a week and a half, on April  1-3, I'm taking my boys up for Forest Home's annual Mother / Son Retreat. And I am over the moon excited!

 

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An entire weekend to invest in memory making and faith building and worship singing experiences with my three sons! One day they'll have recollections of their own, of stone skipping and the sense of a very real and near God who loves them. And I'll be in those memories too.

FYI: a few things have changed since I was a child at Forest Home! They now have a ZIP LINE! Which I am totally doing!

If you are a BOYMOM in the Southern California vicinity, would you consider joining us? I know that I have quite a few Mothers of Boys who read this blog, and I'd would love to get to know you [IRL]! Forest Home is less than a two-hour trek from Los Angeles in the San Bernardino Mountains!

Forest Home is a magical place, and the Holy Spirit is present. But truly, the simplest reason of all to go is because it feels so good to say yes to our boys... Yes, I want to be with you. Yes, let's hike. Yes, let's grab a milk shake. Yes... God is crazy about you and so am I. Yes!

Join us?

For more information about Forest Home's Annual Mother / Son Retreat, April 1-3, go here.

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 Then Go Here 

 

 

disciple before you discipline

1896938_750244294987221_486834223_nWhen my first-born was a toddler, and his baby brother napped in a bassinet nearby, we would draw together, talk together, read together, be together. We memorized Scripture songs and prayed for our loved ones, filled sticker books, laid out the tracks for Thomas the Tank Engine, made cookies for neighbors, and often walked the mile to our local church. And everywhere we went, every time we sat down, each nap-time as we laid down and rose up again, I discipled my child.  

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“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

 

There’s a holy order to growing up in Christ, and there’s an order to our children growing up, too. It’s not as elusive as it seems on most long parenting days. It’s actually quite simple.

First we disciple them, then we layer in discipline, and finally we pull back our need to discipline as they grow in self-discipline.

DISCIPLE

DISCIPLINE

SELF-DISCIPLINE

Read more about each important step today at The MOB Society.

 

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Because we all end up bowed down, low to the ground, eventually

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My posture these days is running, standing, and going. My posture is muscular and active -  throwing people and priorities out of the way and out of my day because the school bell is set to ring. There's very little slowing down and kneeling down and falling down prostrate on the floor in quiet surrender because... well... Life.  

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There is no time to fill up our souls with God's beauty before the sun rises - before my sons rise - and so we rush into life lacking beauty. Beauty within and beauty flowing out into the lives of our little people. We throw make-up on our faces at stoplights, but we can't cake it on thick enough that it eeks it's way down through our pores and into our souls. True beauty doesn't work that way. It's got to start deep within, and work it's way up and out. But we're living lives that are much too busy for such things.

Hurried, harried, and horrible: they go together. But hurried and holy rarely co-exist.

Holy and hallowed and hushed, now those are true companions.

They meet together in the morning hours before the sun steals past the beauty of dawn. We need to join them there.

We need to fellowship with the Holy One - slowing down, sitting down, and coming down off our cram-packed agendas to seek Him on the floor.

On the floor.

Because that's where every person is going to end up, eventually. Either on purpose, prostrating oneself in worship, intentionally in the morning hours; or at night in a tearful puddle; or, and this is a frightening thought, they're going to find themselves on the ground like the discarded branch that's not bearing fruit - cut off and cast down.

 

Live in me, and I will live in you. A branch cannot produce any fruit by itself. It has to stay attached to the vine. In the same way, you cannot produce fruit unless you live in me. "I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can't produce anything without me. Whoever doesn't live in me is thrown away like a branch and dries up. Branches like this are gathered, thrown into a fire, and burned. (John 15:4-6)

 

Thrown away, cast aside, thrown down...

We're going to end up on the ground, on our knees, on our bellies, forehead indented by dusty carpet strands or pressed against cool linoleum floors. Prostrate.

Eventually.

And the choice of how we get there is what we call freewill.

Starting with Him each day, it's what we want. Seems to me it ought to be easier, but... life.

Life.

Somehow that word is always our excuse.

But a beautiful faith-filled, honey-dripping life is what we're after, and it is found at dawn.

When we rush past the quiet morning moments and into demanding days, we are not the only ones to suffer.

The precious people in our lives bear the stretch marks of our stretched out hectic days. Hollering isn't Holy. But what else can we expect if we're not abiding, remaining, living in Him? We throw retroactive prayers up after unholy mornings that whirl past us in a haze. "Lord, forgive me. Lord, don't let me screw this family up. Lord, transform me!

But we forget that transformation isn't a retroactive wave of a magic wand - transformation takes place preemptively and prostrate. First place and foremost. Transformation into a thing of beauty starts with this sort of proactive surrender. It takes humility, on our knees and on the floor and on the offense... daily before dawn.

Because life... life is full of fragile beauty, cased in the soft skin of relationships. Our love relationship with the vine, and our love relationship with our people. We need to prostrate ourselves in the hushed and hallowed hallways of our predawn homes, or we will end up flat on the floor in tearful confession for lacking beauty come nighttime.

[Tweet "We need to prostrate ourselves in the hushed and hallowed hallways of our predawn homes, or we will end up flat on the floor in tearful confession for lacking beauty come nighttime."]

 

We try everything else first, don't we? Staying calm in our own strength. Arm-wrestling our way to patience and self-control. We are well-intentioned Christian Women. But the truth is simply this: Good intentions won't do a thing without Holy Spirit power backing them up. We can't push ourselves through to transformation unless we hit the floor and hit our knees first thing everyday.

Because we're going to end up there, don't you know it? On the floor. One way or another.

Don't you get tired of turning to God retroactively?

I don't want to confess my sins at the end of another long and losing mothering day. Not anymore! I'm tired of the sameness of defeat.

Shouldn't we rather start with Him? Confessing our need from the beginning, rather than ending with tear stained confessions?

You see how that works? Because either way we are going to confess Him! Either way we're Hitting the floor and either way we're confessing our need for Him. So which will it be? Proactively? Or retroactively, at the end of another defeated day?

Let's confess our need for His strength upfront, as to avoid confessing our need for forgiveness on the backside of each hard day.

I want to learn to worship God on the floor before the sunrise, before my sons rise. Because I'm going to hit the hardwood at some point today.

 

"...at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)

Bowed down, good and low, before the glory of God the Father.

He gently leads us

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Today is my husband's 40th birthday! Yesterday was also HUGE because I sent a complete book manuscript into my publisher. And tomorrow is already hanging heavy over my head because I'm scheduled to speak at a local MOPS group.

Needless to say, I have a few things on my mind that aren't about mothering my little crew.

I have thoughts and commitments beyond being a fully engaged Face-to-Face interacting, faith building, dinner making, mess cleaning, boo-boo kissing mom! And it's all good! Truly. God doesn't just call us to one role at a time - especially moms! We wear a million different hats every long mothering day. Taxi driver, teacher, bible study leader, accountant, lover, disciplinarian, cook, maid, manager, special event coordinator... Even if you're a stay-at-home mom, you're home with lots of things going on within your family and within your own multi-faceted life.

And I commend you for trying to make it all work, all the while attempting to stay present and patient toward your people. This season of life takes a whole lot of muscle - as we try to do it all! But it also requires a whole lot of surrender! In the busyness of everything I have going on this week I am meditating and believing this beautiful picture of motherhood given to us in scripture:

 

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There are days that I feel completely overwhelmed (those are usually the days I snap - when the children's childish ways are simply too much for me to handle.) There are the days I slow down to seek the Lord. I ask Him if I'm doing too much, said yes to too many things, put on too many hats. And sometimes the answer is "YES - Yes, you have." But other times His answer comes slowly but clearly, "No, I've just called you to hard things. But I will lead you... I gently lead those that have young."

  Sweet Mom friends, I want to encourage you to ask this same question of the Lord. "Have I said yes to too many things? Is the load I'm carrying too heavy because I've taken on too much?" The answer may be "YES - Yes, you have." Or possibly, in His tender way, God may remind you, "No, I've just called you to do hard things. But I will lead you... I gently lead those that have young."

  I am not your Holy Spirit. I do not know if you've taken on too much. However, I know that when we are stressed, overwhelmed by it all, we tend be less gentle - and don't we want to be like our shepherd? So, let's seek Him today. Ask Him if our tendencies to explode have anything to do with the load we are carrying. Ask Him what might come off of your backs - for we were not created beasts of burden. And if there is nothing you can remove today, then surrender to His promise to take your heavy load and exchange it for His light and momentary burdens. For He longs to gently lead those of us with young.

 

[Tweet ""He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40:11)"]