It’s strawberry season here in Maryland, and the other day I went with some friends and took my sons strawberry picking at a local farm. Besides my boys stepping on a couple strawberry bushes (thankfully we weren’t sent home by the farm attendants!) and picking a few over-ripe berries, we actually had a peaceful time. I was too tired to go to the store on the way home, but if I’d had the energy, I would have stopped off and purchased ingredients for an annual family favorite: marshmallow cream. You simply mix ½ jar of marshmallow fluff with one eight-ounce tub of softened cream cheese and you’ve got a very tasty dip for strawberries. If you’re not too tired to stop by the store, you’ve got to try it!
Obviously we’re not requiring Chad to literally go out and kill a bear or a lion. Although, one of our readers, who is a Firearm Education and Hunter Safety Instructor for the state of MD, did email us in jest last week to invite CJ and Chad to be in her next class. She said then they could enter the lottery for a bear permit this fall.
Now, that’s a scary thought! Thankfully, the plan for any father-son hunting expeditions in our family is to stick with squirrel as the game of choice.
So, what bears or lions are we encouraging Chad to kill? In his article, “Show Yourself a Man,” Randy Stinson explains this phrase to mean: “Do something that is a challenge.” What a useful mandate for helping teenage sons cultivate masculinity! CJ and I have begun to use it with Chad. When we discern there is an obstacle Chad wants to dodge, but should tackle, we encourage him: “Son, it’s a bear you need to kill!” This “bear” or “lion” could be an area where he is not gifted or his personality is not inclined, and because of selfishness, fear, or pride, he prefers to avoid. We want to show Chad the underlying sin that hinders him, and then challenge him to attack it. See, we not only desire to help Chad grow stronger where he is already strong, but to also grow strong where he is weak.
And though there will never be any actual bear heads or lion skins mounted on the walls of our home, it is our prayer that the showcase of Chad’s teenage years will display many challenges that he conquered to the glory of God.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Last Friday many of my friends boarded buses and planes headed for Louisville, Kentucky to attend the New Attitude Conference. I have to confess to feeling a little bit sad as this was the first New Attitude that I have missed. But thanks to the blog world I have been able to get a small taste of the conference right here in my living room. Check out both Carolyn McCulley’s blog and the New Attitude blog to get the low down on the messages and events which made up this conference.
I enjoy cleaning and putting things in order. (I know, there’s something wrong with me!) Chad, on the other hand, strongly dislikes these tasks. (Did I mention that my son is 13?) Now given our differing preferences, I would much rather be the one to clean up after Chad and maintain the order of his bedroom and bathroom. Chad would prefer that too. But all I have to do is think about Chad’s future wife and future employers—what his messy habits would mean for them (and what they would think of me!)—and I make him clean his room.
Actually, it’s not only Chad’s future relationships that motivate me to insist that Chad “keep his domain in order.” As Randy Stinson put it in his “Show Yourself a Man” article, “a life that is characterized by disorder is evidence of passivity.” Chad’s domain “should bear the mark of [his] masculinity as [he] subdues it and keeps it in order.”
Because I want Chad to honor his future wife and serve his future employers; because I want Chad to resist passivity and cultivate masculinity:
- I have Chad clean his room and bathroom at the start of each day.
- I make Chad hang up his towel on the rack, return clean clothing back to drawers or hangers and put dirty clothing into the hamper. (I recently discovered that everything—dirty and clean—was being put into the hamper, thus the need for specificity.)
- I require Chad to stop whatever he is doing to put something back in its proper place, if he got it out, but neglected to put it back.
- I enforce the “no trash rule”—if something is consumed out of a disposable wrapper or container, the wrapper or container must be put into the trashcan!
Lest my rules seem petty to a certain young man, I Corinthians 14:33 backs me up: For God is not a God of disorder. (NIV) Above all, I want Chad to honor God by reflecting His character. Thus, I will persevere in challenging my son to keep his domain in order.
This American holiday was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Since then, it’s become more about afternoon barbecues, hardware store sales, and weekends at the beach than remembering those who have died in the defense of our country. To my own shame, I’ve given more thought to weeding my yard today than the sacrifices of so many. They laid down their lives to ensure that I have a yard where my little son can run and play without fear of harm.
My father-in-law recently returned from a business trip to France. Last night at dinner he related the details of an afternoon visit to Normandy. There, on that strip of American-owned land in France, are buried ten thousand soldiers who died in the Allied invasion. Many graves, he said, were simply marked “Remains Unknown.”
“Think of all the mothers,” my mother-in-law mused.
Think. Think of all the mothers. And fathers. And brothers and sisters. And spouses. And children.
Let us think. And let us thank.
To all of you who have lost a loved one who died protecting peace for us all, we want you to know that we are thinking of you today. And, although it is woefully inadequate for your loss, we want to say—
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Thanks to Zoanna in Abingdon, MD for this Friday laugh.
Have a delightful weekend everyone!
for Carolyn, Kristin, and Janelle
“Scale or Scoreboard”
Yesterday my husband put a new battery into our digital bathroom scale. At bedtime, our four-year-old son, Joel, stepped on it, and with excitement announced, “It says, ‘free nine’.”
“Thirty-nine? Wow!” I said, putting toothpaste on his toothbrush.
He then looked eagerly at me. Not yet being able to prounce his “st” blend, it comes out “‘t.”
“You ‘tep on it Mommy. See how many points you get!”
I have two names. Most people know me as “Janelle,” but to a very special group of people I am “Mrs. B.” You see, my husband is the Children’s Ministry pastor at our church and somewhere along the way he became affectionately known to all the kiddos as “Mr. B.” It naturally followed suit that I be dubbed “Mrs. B.” I have to say that this name took some getting used to. For a girl who would like to think of herself as still somewhere around the age of 17, the title “Mrs. B” was a bit of a wake up call. But this name is totally worth the front row seat I get into the world of Children’s Ministry. There are many lessons to be learned there. One recent lesson stands out.
On the first Sunday of every month, Mike teaches the 2nd through 5th grade class, and I usually slip in and watch. One of my favorite parts of the morning is listening to the children pray. Have you ever heard a child pray? They pray with faith. There is no doubt in their little minds that the Lord hears and He will answer. Our church has recently been raising money for a new playground and the kids have been praying about this. Their prayers are simple and sincere, “Lord, please give us the money for the playground so that we can play on it after school tomorrow.” They aren’t contemplating all of the potential obstacles. They simply ask Jesus to meet their present need and expect Him to answer.
I want to pray like this. Recently, I found myself approaching the throne of grace with a heart full of unbelief. I was struggling to believe that the Lord was working in the midst of a difficult situation facing me. Does He really hear me? Will things ever change? I wasn’t voicing these questions, but my heart betrayed me. I could not hide the pride that was—and still is—present in my heart.
Mrs. B needs to spend a lot more time in children’s ministry. I want to learn, just like the kids, to approach God fully expecting Him to provide for my every need.
Chad is starting to figure out what his married sisters learned a long time ago about their parents and finances: Dad is generous and Mom is____________.
I asked my 3 daughters to complete that phrase and their answers were: strategic, economical and responsible. Phew! At least it wasn’t stingy, miserly and tightfisted.
Point being, my husband and I approach finances very differently. Our children know it, and even work it to their advantage at times. My girls tell me now that whenever they wanted to borrow money growing up they would always go ask their father. That’s because, when they would go to pay it back, their dad would always say: “No need to pay it back, my love. I only wish I could have given you more.” I on the other hand, would not only keep track of what they owed, I would issue reminders of when it needed to be paid back. I was attempting to teach them to be responsible with their finances.
Though we laugh about the discrepancy between our approach to finances, we hope it will actually benefit our children. (Thankfully, our girls tell us it has!). For we want our children to learn to be both responsible and generous with their finances, since that is the standard Scripture seems to put forth as God-honoring.
So that’s why, today, when I give Chad his weekly allowance, I will remind him that 10% is for tithe, 10% is for special giving, 50% is for savings, and the remaining 30% can be spent with our oversight. And that’s why I have no doubt that if Chad wants to borrow money anytime soon, he will be asking his dad.
The righteous is generous and gives. Ps. 37:21
Whoever gathers [wealth] little by little will increase it. Pr. 13:11b
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. Pr. 3:9-10
When I remind my son that he is thirteen now and that part and parcel with growing into manhood means more work and less play, he doesn’t jump for joy. So before I presented Chad with a plan to increase his workload, I had him reread the letter he received from Joshua Harris for his thirteenth birthday. Here’s an excerpt that Josh kindly gave me permission to post:
My encouragement to you on this important birthday is to work hard. That doesn’t sound very inspiring does it? But I mean it. The teenage years are years packed with potential—potential to grow in wisdom, to develop practical skills and abilities, to deepen your relationship with God, to study and learn. These years are the launching pad of your life. And they’re also the years that are most easily wasted. The world will tell you that these are the years to coast, to have a good time, to take it easy, to live off the faith of your parents. Don’t buy that lie. Press ahead. Push yourself. Train yourself for godliness. Even now prepare yourself to be a godly man, a godly husband and godly father. As my younger brothers, Alex and Brett like to say, use these years to “Do Hard Things.”
Now what teenage boy wouldn’t be inspired after reading that?! Well, Chad still wasn’t ecstatic about his growing responsibilities, however he was a lot more motivated than before.
So for all you moms out there who need to inform your son (or daughter) about extra chores, let Joshua Harris help you out!
Recently, I had a conversation with a woman whose mother-in-law is suffering from Alzheimer’s. As the disease attacks her mind, the cumulative knowledge and memories of a lifetime are gradually being erased. I can’t even begin to fathom the hardship this must be—both for the individual afflicted with Alzheimer’s and her family and friends. Although, I am sure there are many of you reading this post who are intimately acquainted with its severe consequences.
This woman told me how her mother-in-law, a wonderful Christian woman, was struggling because she was having a difficult time remembering God. “She feels like she’s lost the Lord and can’t remember how to find Him.,” my friend explained. But, she went on: “We remind her that even though she can’t remember the Lord, He doesn’t forget her. He’ll never leave her.”
He will never leave. He will never forget.
What unspeakable comfort for this woman suffering from Alzheimer’s. What comfort for us today!
My salvation is not dependent upon the strength of my feeble, sin-infected, and disease-vulnerable mind. My perseverance to the end isn’t contingent upon my ability or my faithfulness to remember God. It rests entirely secure in the unfailing memory of my Heavenly Father. If I have been bought with the blood of Christ, then I can rest in the knowledge that God would no sooner forget me, than forget His own Son.
I don’t know what my future holds. My mind might give way before my body. But I know that He will never leave. He will never forget.
“Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” Isaiah 46:4
“I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15