What Every Mother Wants to Find in Her Teenaged Son’s Pocket

The mornings are frosty now, and I’ve decided to do the dreaded change of seasonal clothes. Juggling household duties with working part-time (haha!) has prompted procrastination.

But the chill has run straight through marrow and I can not put it off any longer. In the midst of our coat drive at work, I marvel at my own family’s abundance. Each person has two coats, and I wonder how that even happened. Most were not purchased, and my mind plays a slide show of the faces who have passed them along to us, whispering a prayer of thanks for each contributor.

Usually, I empty pockets in spring when I pack these testimony lined coats away for the season, but I must have missed one. My son’s pockets are packed to the brim, a museum collection, a time capsule of sorts. First I pull out a pay stub from his full time position at the church where he uses his creativity and gifts for the glory of God. Suddenly I am overwhelmed knowing that so many young people are unemployed after college, and here he is, employed in his field, while still attending college. Then I pull out a pack of his favorite gum, hardened with age. I realize that my care for him in this way is on borrowed time, and someday it will be his responsibility, or the responsibility of a wife ready to be named later. I pause a moment to pray for her, whomever she is.

But then I find something that takes my breath away. My chest tightens and I feel the wind knocked out of me. For I have found something that every Christian mother wants to find in her teenaged son’s pocket. I know this because as the mother of three I have found other things in pockets. Things that left me breathless for different not-so-happy reasons. I fall to my knees in gratitude, for I have found a pocket full of Gospel tracks. This shy, quiet, behind-the-scenes young man pushes through himself in order to love God and others. His life teaches me so much. Some people are secretive about doing wrong…I continually find that he secretly does right. I never discover this from his own lips, always from the lips of others or in this case what he has left in his pockets. And it’s not about whether a tract is an effective tool for the lost, it’s about whether it’s an effective tool for this young man. A tool whereby he proves to himself and his world that he belongs to Him, and that this isn’t a game we are playing but it is in fact more real than what we call reality. In a world where we escape into the unreal lives of others and call it a “reality” tv show, my son, the one who loves to play video games for hours has remembered what is really real.

I cry out for mercy for this son, this God-child, that he would continue on this path, and never be distracted by the cares of this world, his peers, but would always hold his hunger for God-things at the core of his being. Because I’ve learned from my own life that even the ability to endure to the end is not my own, but is given by Him. Humbled I realize how busy with my own life I have become. I don’t pray for my children enough. I never could there’s so much to pray for! I get all busy and wrapped up with today, and if I do pray for them, I usually pray about what I’m worried about rather than what I am thankful for.

But this package stuffed in coat pocket has reminded me of all that I can be grateful for. Concrete basement floor has become holy ground, because I have built an altar of thanksgiving right where I am. I am resolved to pray not only for the prodigal, but also for the faithful, because I remember that Satan is just as hard after those trying to do the right thing as he is those who are doing their own thing. Maybe even more.

Hugging the coat the way I used to hold this man of God when he was little, I weep and give thanks.

Gradually Graduating

So…we’ve graduated…my daughter and I.  She has graduated from high school, and I have graduated from home schooling.  She is off to college, and I am off to writing conferences and to a wonderful adventure in my new job with Love, INC.  Never did I see this for my future.  I often thought I might go to school, perhaps tutor or sit around sipping tea in long gypsy skirts and writing poetry.  But God….He had other plans.

As a wife and mother our lives are laid on the altar every day, taking care of the needs of others before our own.  Our dreams and desires often take a back seat to those of our husband and children.  It makes me think of a scripture that I’ve often quoted around here,

John 12:24:  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

I kept reminding myself that I was producing fruit through my efforts in the lives of my children and multiplying and advancing the kingdom of God in possibly the greatest way possible: in making disciples.  There were days when I found myself dreaming about what I would do when I had more time in the future.  But there were also days when I lamented the end of an era.  I never, NEVER expected the plans God had for me.  Although, it shouldn’t have come as such a huge surprise, because now that hindsight is 20/20 I can see the proverbial handwriting on the wall.

Someone that I dearly love gave me a prophesy over thirteen years ago:

You are called to the ministry, You will be full-time in the ministry…I have prepared you for this since you were born. The Salvation Army was boot camp. The seed your parents sowed in you will not return void. Continue to prepare yourself so you re ready when I call.

 

I hid this in my heart for so many years…and now I know that I can have the confidence that I was prepared by His loving hands for such a time as this.  When I get butterflies in my tummy about the future, I can remember this prophecy as well as other pieces of evidence that even through trials and tribulations He was all the while tenderly grooming me for what I am about to embark on.  

The very things that I hated enduring most, are the very things that strengthened me for the tasks at hand.  John Bevere was speaking at our church last night, and he reminded us that many times hardships are part of our endurance training for the plans that God has for us.  If I were to start weight lifting, I certainly would not be able to lift 150 pounds the first time I tried.  It would seriously injure me.  The same is true in our lives.  We forget that the triasl of a broken refrigerator or a broken relationship are the very trials that we are to take joy in, because they produce endurance and endurance produces strength and health!

It is in the everyday trials that we are preparing for the extraordinary plans that He has for us.

When we learn to trust Him in these we learn to trust Him with greater things.    When we are faithful over the little things, He will make us faithful over much.

Giving thanks with Ann today:

 
#276 – Amazing grace wind chimes accompanied by birds.

#277 – Flowers everywhere


#278 – Dune grass Yankee Candle

#279 – Finally my lilac tree

#280 – 2 peony buds

#281 – An abundance of vehicles

#282 – Perfect weather

#283 – That my refrigerator waited to break until AFTER the graduation party!

#284 – The laughter of good kids outside my bedroom window at 1:30 a.m.


 

How To Avoid Becoming Mrs. Bennett

It’s true. I’ve allowed myself to become Mrs. Bennett. Recently, my daughter had the privilege of playing the most coveted female role ever, Elizabeth Bennett. As I sat there (bursting with pride, I might add) I found myself fascinated with Mrs. Bennett. She’s such a fun character to laugh at…that is, until you realize that you’ve become her!

The first characteristic I noticed in poor Mrs. Bennett is that her only ambition is to see her children married well. I must admit that as my children are approaching marriage age I have found myself often dreaming up imaginary romances for them. Unfortunately, I have directed their eyes to many an eligible batchelor/batchelorette rather than causing them to focus on God.  I have prayed for my children’s spouses, whomever they may be, and I don’t want to ruin any of the plans God has for them by distracting them from what they should be focusing on:  God’s desires for their life.

  • Work on your own romance, don’t imagine one for your children. I wonder how happy Mrs. Bennett could have made Mr. Bennett if she had redirected some of her energies spent on the romances of her girls to her own marriage.
  • Continue to place the hands of your children in the hand of God, not in the hand of a prospective suitor/suitee.

Next, I noticed that Mrs. Bennett’s nerves were always shot.  Whatever happened in the Bennett home, she was either in spasms of terror, the depths of despair, or squealing with delight.  Consequently, her husband and adult children and her entire neighborhood never took her very seriously.  Unfortunately, I feel it incumbent upon myself to inform you…that I have found myself highly emotional at times.  Proverbs 31 speaks of a woman who is clothed in dignity.  This woman is a very sensible woman, not moved by her own circumstances, but easily moved in compassion for the circumstances of others.

  • Clothe yourself in dignity.  You have no reason to be flighty and fretful if you are trusting God.
  • Be easily moved in compassion for others, while allowing Him to control your emotions for your own situations.

Mrs. Bennett is about as discreet as Howard Stern.  She doesn’t follow any protocol, and her outbursts of emotion are an embarrassment to her entire family.  She drinks too much, eats too much and talks too much.  The only thing she doesn’t do too often is think.  How often have I spoken before thought!  I am sure that I have brought embarrassment to my family and myself more times than I care to remember

discretion [dɪˈskrɛʃən]n

1. the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid social embarrassment or distress
“As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.” (Proverbs 11:22, NKJV)
  • Speak in such a manner as to bring honor to God and those around you.
  • Act as though you are preforming for an audience of One.
Lastly, I find Mrs. Bennett to be quite the worrier.  At one point she even imagines that Mr. Bennett will be killed in a dual and that she and the girls will be turned out of the house by Mr. Collins.  I have been ravaged by irrational fears from time to time, and never once has any of them come to pass.  Worry about the future brings discontent to the present.
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phil. 4:6
  • Luke 12:25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his  span of life?
  • 1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Though Mrs. Bennett is a rather likeable character, she is not to be admired or taken seriously; and certainly not to be imitated. She, in fact, is almost the direct opposite of the Proverbial woman.  God’s Word transforms and changes us, where we can not change ourselves.  Therefore I will endeavor to allow His Word to change me into His likeness….even when I’ve been looking a little like Mrs. Bennett.

You can also check out my daughter’s post on Why Every Woman Wants to be Elizabeth Bennett.

A Mother’s Day Visit

I’m visiting over at Stefanie Brown’s place, Uplifting Words, today. I am so honored to be part of a Mother’s Day double feature there!! I have found that each stage of motherhood is precious. Whether it’s staring at your precious package the day you’ve given birth, or shopping for college dorm rooms, every day has been an adventure. In celebration of the stages in life, and by Stefanie’s request, I wrote about what it’s like to be at this stage of motherhood…the almost empty-nester. I hope you’ll join me in reminiscing with The Seeds of Motherhood.

On In Around button

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

I Remember You Mama


You were a gypsy queen
who sat cross legged on golden oak floors
guitar on lap, singing about being His “Flower Child”.

You wore bell bottomed corduroys
and wire rimmed John Denver glasses
making even Chicago a “country road” to home.

Your hair was straight
and long and brown, no curly grey
to interrupt its beauty. And you were just that…a beauty.

You made bean soup and corn bread
a special event, ironed cloth napkins
and all with a side of fried okra.

You were crazy in love with Daddy
treating him like the great man
that He was because of the great woman you are.

You hid behind trees, until certain
that I could walk to school
alone. We laughed about it even then.

You exude femininity and womanhood
because you make everything you touch more beautiful.
The world is a much better place for having had you.

You walked out your grief
when you lost your man to the world beyond
with grace and beauty and dependence upon Him.

You hungered and thirsted for more of God,
making all the spectators in the stands
want to join in the race so they could drink and be satisfied.

Because this is who you were,
this is what you are:
treasured friend, confidant, and mentor to all who take time to watch in wonder.

And it has been you and your shadow all along
The two of us being stretched
like the image in a circus mirror.

Like a sundial, the shadow of who you were
encircles the reality of who you are,
because His light shines on you, and He is illuminated

to a lost and dying world
who watch us with eagle eyes.
They watch not for uncommon greatness, but for what you have in the every day:

Jesus made real.
And you do that so well.
We need you and your reality with Him. May I follow in your footsteps like Elisha with Elijah.

Double portion of Jesus
made real.
In private belonging to Him, to the world proving His existence.

Eulogy to the Death of A Role Part Deux

Almost a year ago, I wrote about the death of the role of mother. Of course I will always be a mother to my three children, but not in the same, every day, home school, stay-at-home mom way that I’ve been for the past nineteen years. You see, I’m enrolling my youngest into college…and in the flurry of excitement, visiting schools, filling out FASFA’s, scholarship applications and auditions, I hardly have time to feel anything…at least until the house is empty and all I can hear is the dog snoring and the refrigerator running. Because now, I am alone with my thoughts, much like the day I realized that I was the mother of an eighteen year old, I grieve. But this is far worse, all that there is left to who I was before motherhood and home schooling is a shadow.

I have heard mothers scoff at the place I find myself in. I have heard them criticize ladies before me who have wrestled with this identity crisis. They have whispered behind the back of this pained one, “That’s why I don’t believe in home education. If her focus was more on her husband, she wouldn’t be so lost right now. Home schooling is far too child centered, and not nearly enough helpmate centered.” I hope that our choice to educate our children and everything else that we have done was Christ centered and not people centered at all.

My husband recently lost his job; a job that he loved dearly. He anguished over it, and grieved over the fact that he was no longer associated with this company that he so loved and admired…and he only worked there for 2 years! I have been on this journey for almost ten times longer than he has, and yet no one blames him or thinks that he’s silly for feeling disappointed, and maybe even a little depressed. After much thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s normal to be saddened at the end of a journey. It’s kind of like the let down you feel when you come home from vacation, or after all of the Christmas presents have been opened; the “what now?” feeling.

I suddenly have all of this time on my hands, and I don’t want to fill it with just anything. I don’t want to give over my future to the first thing that comes along. So I guess in addition to grief, I feel a little anxiety, like a girl just out of high school who is deciding whether to get married or go to college. I mean this is the rest of my life, I must choose wisely! And though the feeling may be similar to the high schooler, I don’t have as much time to fix it if I make a mistake.

In the midst of all of this confusion, I do feel a glimmer of hope and excitement. I know that when I acknowledge Him…He will direct my paths. And His paths always drip with abundance. My prayer is that I don’t bend under the pressure of uncertainty, but rather that I bow humbly offering my life to His Majesty knowing that He has plans for me, and that they are good. So now I’ll encourage myself like David did. Stay still, and know that He is God. Don’t bend, but bow, these must be the words I choose to live by. For I am out of control, and let me tell you I’m not loving it. However, deep inside my heart I know that this is the only place to be; the place where his hand turns my heart like a compass to new lands and adventures planned out, just for me.

A Big Mistake – New Glarus Series – Saturday Morning Serial Linkup

If you need to catch up in the New Glarus Series click here.

firefly
Photo by Matt McGillivray

John and I arrived in Wisconsin on the unseasonably warm Friday evening before Memorial Day. My father was just finishing the mowing on the acre of property. Their home, being an “earth home” had the unusual feature of having grass on top, and the riding mower was grazing the roof at the time. Mama was outside finishing Wisconsin brats on the grill, and I pulled into the long black driveway, shaking away the remnants of memories from the accident. Sue was gone now. After almost a year, Steve had been interested in me, but I told him to go away, and now he was dating someone else. I was surprised at how much that stung. John was unbuckling his seat belt, climbing out of the car, and running toward Papa so that he could ride on the mower with him.

I sat in the car for a moment watching the light turn the trees into black shadows against the almost green sky. Mama’s face showed up in the window. It startled me.

“Are you gonna get out?” she said giggling.

Darkness deepened as the evening wore on, and Daddy, Mama, John and I went to the back of the yard to make a campfire to roast marshmallows and s’mores. It felt as though summer was official, with the first real cookout and campfire. The trees flickered orange and the flames warmed our front sides in the chilly late spring air…and I wondered. What would it be like coming up to Wisconsin, to New Glarus, or living life for that matter, with Steve and the kids? Would it have been so terrible?

Mama was running back from the garage with John. They were going to look for flashlights. Daddy leaned back on a log, “You seem awfully quiet this visit. Is everything okay?”

“I’m just glad to be here for a few days. It’s good to clear my mind,” I answered.

“Mommy! Grandma and I are going to go for a walk in the dark, do you want to come?”

“Okay,” glad to escape my father’s probing, I responded with fake enthusiasm. The first fireflies flickered in a circle around five-year-old John’s head, crowning him prince of the land, for that was what he was.

“Grandma! Lightening bugs! Can we get some jars and catch some?” Mama and John skipped back into the house to look for some mason jars to poke holes in, leaving me to amble across the nearly black lawn alone. Daddy was putting out the campfire, and my hands were sticky from marshmallows, so I decided to go in and wash them.

As I opened the connecting garage door, I heard this, “Spencer and Esther have never caught fireflies. They don’t have a mommy anymore.”

“Yes, honey, I know,” Mama responded.

“I think they might get a new mommy soon though. Spencer said that Kevin might be his brother soon.”

“Really? That would be so nice for all of them!”

“I wanted to be Spencer’s brother.”

The wind caught the door behind me slamming it shut.

I jumped as though I’d been caught with my hand in the cookie jar.

“Hello, you two!” I quickly recovered. “My hands are all sticky, but I’ll help you catch fireflies when I’m done washing them.”

My heart pounded as I went to the bathroom. I heard Mama and John chatting, and I looked in the mirror above the sink. Eyes rimmed pink, and face splotchy from tears, it was then that I realized, I had made a terrible mistake.

To continue on with this story click here.

 


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