Friday, August 7, 2015

“Goodnight, You Old Bad Guy”

 
"Goodnight, you old bad guy."  Not only did I cringe when I heard it, I corrected him. “Goodnight, you old bad guy” is what my 4 year old son said to a good family friend of ours, Alex, a young man who frequently visits my parents home. Instantly I said, “Wesley, that is disrespectful language. You say, ‘goodnight Alex’.” I could see both a bit of embarrassment and confusion on his face and I remember thinking, “I feel like I just hurt his feelings.” I hate that feeling. I hate feeling as if I’ve hurt my child…I think all moms do. He looked over at me sort of puzzled as to why he was being corrected and I too felt a little awkward. I mean after all, he had just spent the last 15 minutes playing with Mr. Alex in a game of “Let’s capture him! Yes, let’s get the bad guys. You go over there and I’ll go over here. I’ll get you, bad guy!” He was simply saying goodnight to his pal who had been playing the “bad guy”. For Wes, “goodnight you old bad guy” was in no way an insult, but a serious term of endearment.

Most of us know now from research the importance of rough play for boys, but what about boy language? Play and language are very different forms of communication, but both are equally important!
Why did I feel the need to correct Wes's language? I had not corrected his play with Mr. Alex, so why the language? If the roles were reversed and I was raising a little girl and she has just finished playing princesses and tea parties with Alex’s wife Ashley, and then as she walked off to bed said, “Goodnight my beautiful princess” I would have said, “Oh honey, that is so sweet.” I would never have corrected that, but with a Wes, my testosterone filled, sword carrying, bad guy slaying kid, I immediately felt the need to discipline him. 


This same scenario can play out in other areas. When at Target, as we roll by others in the aisles he will say, “Hey look at my sword! It is so cool. It shoots out knock-out darts.” I feel this uneasiness as I look at the other person not knowing if they have boys or understand boys…I immediately feel uncomfortable and say, “Wesley, honey, just say hi.” Then I feel torn between wanting him to be able to share what he wants to share, but not wanting to scare the people off in Target with all of our weapon paraphernalia conversations. But then again, if it was a girl, and she had brought in her American girl doll and said, “Do you see my new doll? This is Kirsten. I love her and I take really good care of her!” I wouldn’t feel the need to correct her at all. I would simply smile and wait for the kind response from the other bystander.


There is a hard line to find between disrespectful language and simple boy language. I will always correct the times of disrespectful statements, but mainly I’ve decided that from this point forward, I will be changing a few of the things I discipline. 


I will encourage this fabulous manliness in him, for I want that verbal masculinity to thrive inside his boyhood. This is in his very design by his Creator. Some of the godliest men in scripture were the finest warriors and therefore used warrior speech: Joshua, David, Solomon, just to mention a few. God’s wiring for men is to bravely protect and to powerfully lead.  I will whole-heartedly support his desire to be strong, to conquer, to defend and to battle as a true soldier. It is in his very God-given nature to become these attributes and I will encourage his use of words that match that play. 


I will have conversations about bad guys and kings, top secret plans and rescue missions.  We will wrestle. We will fight with swords. We will play with sling shots, bows and arrows, and pretend knives. He will jump off things at the risk of getting hurt, get dirty in the mud and strut across the yard after saving a girl from a bad guy and I will allow all of our communication to depict that. 


I want him to be a hard working, respectful, socially adapted kid so that he grows into a hard working, respectful, socially adapted man.  And sometimes that means allowing him to say things like, “Good night you old bad guy” or stopping the random stranger at Target to say, “Do you want to see my sword? I get Darth Vader with this sword.” And just allowing the people to play back. If they’ve never had a boy and don’t know how to respond, then I will do my best to help them. I will enjoy every fun-loving boy comments we engage in together. 


And at the end of the day, this is exactly who I want him to become spiritually.  I want to raise a mighty, trust worthy, righteous protector. I want him to become a vigorous warrior for the Lord. I want to strengthen those attributes within my little man so that when he is older, he will know that those attributes specifically make him who he is: a loyal man who wears the armor of God every day.


Sweet Wesley, I was wrong to correct you for the way you said goodnight. So to you Alex, Wes and I both say, “Goodnight you old bad guy,” for that is his way of saying, “I had a great time Mr. Alex. Thanks for playing! Until next time…”


Friday, June 5, 2015

My Kid Will Never Know the Biblical Family Design


My child will never know the “normal” family. He will never grow up in God’s biblical family design.  As a single mom of a 3 year old, this is something that I have grieved over. I grew up with 2 godly parents who have been faithful to each other all of their lives.  They taught my brother and me about the Lord and the Word every day as we grew up. Even now, they continue to pour Truth into their 3 grandchildren, my son and his 2 cousins.



Growing up, I never thought to myself, “I really hope I have a baby out of wedlock so that my child will miss out on all that I had growing up.” Um, no, that's absurd. I didn’t fantasize much about having a family as a young girl, but in the back of my mind, I always just assumed that I would and it always looked similar to the way I had it. I mean, that is what my brother did. He married a godly woman, they faithfully prayed and had 2 beautiful kids. This was what my family did. This is how we were raised. This is who we were to be. I just assumed I would do the same thing.



Because of some poor choices I made around the age of 27, I became pregnant with a non-believer and now have a son named Wes. As I think about his future, I ache to think about him not experiencing all the joys of what I had – a godly marriage to look up to, an unbroken home to sleep in and two parents who were always on the same page spiritually. There are still times today that I mourn over that loss.



It seems that during my hardest moments, the enemy’s whisper comes calling into my ear. He tends to wait until my hardest days to come along and drive his lies in deepest. I already have hurts and anxieties over all that my son is missing because of my life’s choices, but then satan drives home those apprehensions even more. Some of the frequent utterings I hear are:



“Your son will never know God’s best design because of you.”

“Wes doesn’t have a godly dad because of you.”

“He’ll never grow up to be a godly man.”



God’s Word is the most influential article we have in our world today. It is mighty, authoritative, and true. As I think about my own fears and about these lies from the enemy, I battle them with one mighty truth from the book of Psalms.



Psalm 68:5 says, “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” As I meditate on this lovely verse, I like to think of what God might say in a letter to my 3 year old. It might go something like this…



My Strong Wes,

While you do not have an earthly, godly father, I give you My Word that I will personally step down from my home in the Heavenly realm, walk down from my holy habitation and step in to act as your Father. You don’t need an earthly, godly dad in order to become a righteous man. You have Me and I am enough.  

I’ve given you a mom that knows Me. I will protect her for she acknowledges My Name. I will strengthen her and help her. I have promised to give her wisdom in how to instruct you and train you. She is teaching you about Me. She is teaching you about the need for obedience, redemption and hope. She loves you, but not as much as I do.

I love you, Wes, unconditionally and without reservation. Nothing can take you away from my love. I created you and formed you Myself. I did not make any mistakes with you and I continue to mold your little life each and every day. I have plans for you, plans that may not look like you think, but My plans are perfect. Follow them. Follow Me.  

I have called you to be kind, compassionate, and loving. I have called you to be strong, brave, bold and valiant. I will personally teach you how to become these things, for I am the very essence of these attributes. I am for you, with you and behind you. I am the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I am holy, powerful, and majestic. I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. I will always show up.

Wes, My Word permanently overrides your circumstances and nothing, absolutely nothing, can change that. I will forever raise you as my son. 
Love, Your Heavenly Father



His Word never returns void. Hallelujah! 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

For the Kingdom Belongs to Such as These

 
The kingdom belongs to such as these. My kid is 3 ½ and he loves music. I mean, he really loves music. Right now, peeking into his playroom, he has 2 ukeleles, 1 acoustic guitar, 1 electric guitar, a piano, a keyboard, a drum set and a percussion set. You would think he would get tired of it, but nope…around our house the theme is consistently, “Keep Calm and Play Music”. That is what he does.


At Christmas 2 years ago, my sweet parents had driven 3 hours from their home to have Christmas up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with all of us. My brother, sister in law and I live near each other, so we had all gathered together at my brother’s house to celebrate Christmas. My parents, as generous as they are, had brought many different presents for Wes to open on Christmas Eve. Everyone had their presents lined up in front of them. As we began taking turns opening them one at a time, Wesley had his turn. He opened up his first present to find a large fire truck puzzle. He looked straight at me with a scowl on his face, (at 2 years old by the way) and said loudly and rudely, “Where’s my cello?” … Um, WHAT? “What are you talking about Wes? What cello? You’ve never mentioned a cello.” “Yes, mom I want a cello. Where is it?” I very quietly got down in his little selfish face and said, “Listen to me, there are no cellos in any of these presents. You will be kind and say ‘thank you’ for all of these gifts. Do you understand me?” “Yes mam.” Then he stood up and left Christmas. He didn’t even care to open any of the other presents. Since there was no cello, then there was no reason to stick around for the rest of his presents or Christmas in general.” THAT, my friends, is how you humiliate your mom on Christmas Eve. After some serious discipline, Wes came back and finished Christmas with the rest of us without a cello. The following Christmases have been a much better success. The kid loves music.



Since I know this about him, I want to do my best to steer that love towards Christian music. Music is powerful and can really change the emotional state or mood of a person. Knowing that my child is influenced by music, I want to do my very best to engage him in godly music. I feel like it might be paying off. About 4 months ago, we were listening to a song called, “You’re Beautiful” by Phil Wickham and Wes asked me to play it several times that day. We then would listen to it periodically in the car as we were driving and we would both sing it out loudly in the car together.



If you don’t know the lyrics to the song, here they are:

I see Your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say You're beautiful

I see Your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
It's all proclaiming who You are, You're beautiful
You're beautiful

I see You there hanging on a tree
You bled and then You died
And then You rose again for me
Now You are sitting on Your Heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home, You're beautiful
You're beautiful

We're singing loud

When we arrive at eternity's shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We'll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together
And we'll sing You're beautiful
You're beautiful

I see Your face, You're beautiful
You're beautiful, You're beautiful
I see Your face, You're beautiful
You're beautiful, You're beautiful

I see Your face, I see Your face
I see Your face, You're beautiful
You're beautiful, You're beautiful

Just recently, Wes and I were out on a bike ride and Wes was hooked behind me in the kid trailer. I had just pumped my way up a steep hill in my neighborhood and was barely breathing as I made the turn to come down the hill with him behind me. As I slowed down on my pedaling, the momentum picked up and we both began speeding down the hill together. I was silent and recouping as the wind was hitting me in the face and I was inhaling the fresh air as it whipped by me, then I heard it…it wasn’t soft and it wasn’t low, this giant 3 year old voice yelled out, “YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL GOD!” I gasped and turned around as best as I could…speechless… “What did you say Wes?” Then there it was again, loud and clear, “I told God, ‘YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL GOD’”.



I had no words. I rode the rest of the way, tears welling up in my eyes, thanking the Lord for the mouths of babes. The kingdom belongs to such as these. When is the last time I yelled out in my loudest voice while riding my bike, “YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL GOD!” What a mighty chant. What a beautiful picture, what a powerful phrase.


A God moment. 

For all of the moments, he has yelled out something like, “No, I don't want to do that,” or “Why do I have to do this? I don’t like it,” or had meltdowns screaming at Target or tantrums at the mall…somehow this one commanding phrase, “You’re beautiful God,” covers them all. These simple words from the mouth of a 3 year old outweigh the many other phrases he yells out that aren’t so godly.



God, you are indeed, beautiful and I thank you for speaking to my child and for speaking to me through him. Your creation is beautiful and your works are wonderful. I love you and I will shout out your beauty as often as I can. 



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

To Lady A, the mom who forgave my kid today.

To Lady A, the mom who forgave my kid today, a thank you doesn’t seem sufficient.

My kid has inherited his fiery temper from me.  I would love to pass the buck here and blame this fit throwing behavior on to his father, but in fact his dad is even, slow to anger and even when he’s angry, he doesn’t lose it, so I only have the mirror to look into to find where this outrageous behavior comes from.

Today you were CALM.
Our two sons were playing tug of war with a belt and eventually the fun ended and when my kid couldn’t get the belt back, he resorted to his sinful nature and hit your sweet son. I could see you in the corner of my eye and you stood there quiet and calm. I am well aware that inside every mama is a bear, so while I’m not sure what level your bear was at when this incident occurred, you set your claws aside and stayed calm. Thank you.

Today you were GRACIOUS.
I went over to get my adorable perpetrator and had him apologize to your little one immediately. I then brought him over to you also and had him apologize and as soon as he said, “Will you forgive me?” you immediately responded, “Of course I forgive you Buddy.” You could have chosen to speak out of hurt or anger (or clawing mama bear), but instead you chose to be gracious with your words. Thank you.

Today you were KIND.
 As we were leaving to go home, you grabbed me before getting into your car and hugged me to not only soothe me with your words, but to assure me with your touch that things were in fact, okay. You could have been rude or in a hurry to leave, but instead you chose kindness. Thank you.

Today you were THOUGHTFUL.
I felt sick for hours after leaving the park and it followed me into the evening. I love my kid with all my heart but I also hurt so badly when his sinful nature wounds another precious child. As I was sitting in my nauseated state, in came a random text from you that said, “So I’ll tell ya again not to give this afternoon a second thought…I’m proud to call ya a friend. Don’t let it get ya down.” You have 2 kids at home to take care of and a husband to support and yet, in the middle of your busy evening, you chose thoughtfulness over everything else in order to assure me one more time that things were alright. Thank you.

Today you were ENCOURAGING.
You continued to write in your text your honest thoughts/hardships about motherhood and how the Lord teaches us through it all. Sometimes I can feel like I am the only one who has a kid that messes up and while I do fully believe that your children are perfect (because they are), I certainly appreciate your disclaimer to me that, though the struggles may be different, at the end of the day all of our children struggle with something. You made me feel normal. You could have said a lot of things tonight, but you chose transparency and encouragement. Thank you. 

Today and ALWAYS, you were a really GOOD FRIEND
Lady A, thank you. Thank you for your calmness, graciousness, kindness, thoughtfulness and encouragement. I love you and I am grateful for you. I pray that the Lord continues to work on my heart, my child’s heart and I pray that the Lord blesses you and your family with His favor and His love.

Thank you for showing my child what forgiveness looks like today. You are an elegant woman, full of His spirit, a true Lady.   When you forgive my child, you are doing deep down goodness to my soul. From one mama to another, thank you from every piece of my heart.

With love,

Lauren 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

"God Moment" - "I Made You Breakfast"



I don’t think there is anything in the world more thrilling than seeing God. Though He might not make himself visible to the eye, He unquestionably shows His hand through circumstances. I have a friend whose name is Barbara. She is one of the neatest ladies I know, and when I think about the reason I love to be around her, one main thing comes to mind. She always has the greatest stories to tell about the Lord. I used to think, ‘Wow, God speaks to her a lot…I wish He spoke to me that way.’ Years later, as I was struggling in my day-to-day job, I was encouraged by a friend to always look for my “God Moment” of the day. That way, I wouldn’t focus on the mundane things at work, but I would look for something God was doing. As I began to deliberately look for my ‘God Moments’, miraculously I began to find them. I realized later that THIS was indeed what my friend Barbara has always done. God doesn’t speak to her more than the rest of us, she just chooses to look for Him in the every day things and consequently, she finds Him.

As a mom, it is easy to get worn out. Worn out with laundry, worn out with dishes, worn out with picking up the house just to watch it get messed up again and it is always very easy to get worn out disciplining your children. You wake up every day to repeat the same words you did the day before, “I told you yesterday not to touch that. Quit hitting your sister. Why can’t you just say, ‘Okay mom’ instead of complaining? Why do I have to say it 4 times before you actually do it? You need to obey me the first time I tell you.” Sometimes we don’t see any progress from the day before and then mothering can become a major let down. But recently, I decided to begin using my strategy of looking for “God Moments” at work…at HOME. I would try to find the “God Moments” with my child.

I had a “God Moment” today.

I am not one of those moms who wakes up before her kids to have breakfast, coffee and a quiet time. Nope. I’m a night owl. I do all of my Bible reading and recouping time at night after Wes goes to bed. Because of that, I sleep in with him too. He is my alarm clock. When he gets up, I get up. This morning, as usual, he walked into my room and patted me on the arm. Still half asleep, I rolled over to look at him and groggily said, “Good morning Buddy.” He said good morning back and he was off to play for a few minutes. I laid in bed for about 5 more minutes before dragging myself into the breakfast room to check on him and throw some cereal together for breakfast. As I was walking in from the hallway, I noticed that he had already gotten into the muffin bag and was sitting at the table eating his first of 2 muffins.  As I stepped closer to the table, I saw a 3rd muffin sitting in the place where I usually sit. “That’s odd,” I thought in my head. But then I wondered how it got there, so I asked Wes, “Did you put that muffin here at my place?” He just responded, “Yes” with no explanation. I looked at him again and said, “Well, is it for me?” Again, he said, “Yes” and then this time with a big grin he added 4 tiny little words, “I made you breakfast.” I proceeded to just stare at him, my face beaming. I kind of felt like my heart might burst. I was on a high, the way you feel when you’ve just run a marathon or completed some big cleaning project, except bigger.  All I could do was squeeze him, which is what I did for a bit. This was my God Moment.

Why would those 4 little words be a God Moment? ... because God gave me hope. Hope that I’m not failing as a mom, hope that I’m not ruining my kid, hope that at some point Wes is going to attain all of the training I am giving him. HOPE. Hope can take you a long ways as a mom. Hope can help you raise a young boy into a man, because that's really what we’re all doing. We aren’t just raising little kids every day, we are raising husbands and friends and fathers.

I pray that one day Wes’s 3 year old thoughtfulness of placing an extra muffin out for me turns into taking a meal to a friend who just lost a loved one or making breakfast for his wife on a Saturday morning, or making special birthday breakfasts for his kids just because he loves them. 

“I made you breakfast.” Thank you Lord for that sweet "God Moment". I am grateful. 


A BB Up the Nose

Me: Why is your finger so high up in your nose? Wes: I put a bb in there. Me: Wait. What? What do you mean ...