When You Need to Be Carried

I fumbled my way through making dinner and pushed down the emotion I had felt rising to the surface all day long. It had been a normal Tuesday like most others–filled with car line drop offs and conference calls, writing, a load of laundry, organizing Mercy House volunteers. I squeezed in a quick visit to my mom who was recovering from knee replacement surgery and hurried home to get an update from Maureen on Skype about her recent trip to visit each of our girl’s families before I started car line pick ups.

Deep breath.

She told me of one our girl’s family who was being severely abused when she arrived for the home visit last week. The situation was so violent and potentially life-threatening, she put herself in harm’s way to offer immediate assistance to this family.

Deep breath.

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And there were another half dozen equally disturbing and overwhelming updates like the first two. Hungry siblings, broken parents, and heartache. We ended our time talking about the real estate situation in Kenya and the big miracle we needed.

I didn’t have time to process it all before I changed hats and sat with my family around the table. Suddenly, the weight of the day and really, the heaviness that has become my normal felt like a stone in the pit of my stomach. I asked my kids to clean up the table and dishes and I told my husband I needed a minute.

Deep breaths weren’t working. I couldn’t breathe.

I stumbled to the bathroom and closed the door. I turned on the bathtub so the roar of the water would block out my sobs. I fell down on my knees and I cried like a baby.

“I can’t do this, God, I don’t know how to do this. The burden is too heavy. The more we help, the more help is needed. You’ve provided so much, but we need more. I’ve run out of faith,” Sobs racked my body as the hot water washed away my tears.

I told God I didn’t know it would be this hard.

I told God I couldn’t take another breath or one more step.

I closed my eyes and I waited and in the depths of my inadequacy and feeling overwhelmed, I experienced this:

“Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days-when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pain is great – and you turn to God alone.” Rick Warren

I didn’t see writing on the wall. I saw footprints, like the ones in the sand from the infamous poem seen on countless plaques.

I will carry you.

I still don’t have the answers. I’m still waiting for direction and seeking wisdom. But I can breath again: I’m inhaling grace and breathing out praise.

When I handed that heavy burden over to God, He reminded me this battlefield isn’t just filled with struggles and scars, it’s filled with victories only He could win.

I am not alone, I’m being carried.

You are, too.

Introducing Colton Dixon {Giveaway}

Updated with random winner, comment #185 Ann McCarville

You might remember him from American Idol?

Colton Dixon is a new artist with an old message. He could have probably had any number of record deals, but he’s following his passion and his heart by singing the good news of Jesus. His debut album The Messenger is just that: a message.

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And I don’t know about you, but I like these kind of young leaders for my son to look up to.

Colton Dixon is 21 years old, has a stunning voice and some wild hair.

I love this. Powerful.

Today, I’m giving away Colton’s new album, The Messenger, a cool messenger bag, journal and a $25 iTunes gift card to winner.

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Listen.

Leave a comment to win!

WFMW: My Daily Happy

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Who knew such a simple touch could make me smile every time I entered my kitchen?

When I discovered fun porcelain knobs at Hobby Lobby for 50-80% off, I knew exactly where I’d put them.

And by I, I mean my husband. He’s nice like that.

A bright kitchen makes me smile.

And works for me!


Tween to Teen Boys: Books for You and Them

It’s so good to know we aren’t alone. As mothers, we are not powerless in this battle for our son’s purity. First, we can acknowledge there is an enemy. Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending like lust, pornography, aggressive girls or premarital sex will never touch our good boys, is just plain ignorance. Second, we can pray and engage and we can also arm ourselves with resources.

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In Your Boy: Raising a Godly Son in an Ungodly World, I was so encouraged by this fact: 88 percent of teens said it would be easier to postpone premarital sex activity and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open and honest conversations about the topic of sex with their parents. Amazing, huh? The problem is the same study showed that only 32 percent of adults believe parents have influence over kids regarding sex.

So, basically, kids want to talk to their parents but many adults are giving their influence to someone else. I want to do better than this.

I’m always hesitant and prayerful to offer parenting advice, since I’m in the trenches right along with you. But I’m not shy about reading really great books and recommending them. These 19 books (Amazon affiliate links) are a part of our parenting/kid library as we raise our son:

Besides the onslaught of inappropriate visual content hurled at our boys, there’s also a strong tendency in our culture to emasculate males. We laugh at bumbling fathers and feminine guys. But God created our sons to become men. Boys and men love adventure, they love to be the hero, a warrior. They have an innate sense to take risks. Insert over protective mom here. [If you watch any given home video from my kid’s early years, I say in a whiny voice about 1000 times “be careful.”] But this is who they are.

“Our boys need a little bit of physical adventure to discover their purpose and to have an outlet for the desire to take risks and be aggressive.” Dannah Gresh.  And so, we need to let them be physical. Wrestle, play sports, get muddy. They can also find this sense of adventure thru books. It’s hard to find clean, appropriate reading for boys, but when you do, turn off the screens and encourage them to escape to a whole new world. My list might not look like yours (I tend to let my kids read older fiction because they love reading. It also opens up great conversations with your kids).

Most of all, I recommend the Bible. It might sound trite, but it’s the most adventurous book of all–from lust and lying to heads rolling and seas-splitting -it’s the greatest life-changing story ever told.

*Please add your book suggestions in the comments

Raising a Pure Son In a Sex-Crazed World

I knock on his door and find him at his desk folding paper. He’s an origami master, turning a square piece of yellow paper into a swan who dips her neck at his will. His desk resembles a paper zoo.

I crawl up on his platform bed and get comfortable.

“Mom, you’re not going to try and get me to talk about my feelings are you?” He knows me well.

I swallow a smile and a bit of mom guilt and I tell him I worry.

He gives me a sheepish grin because he is his mother’s son.

“I know,” he says.

We talk about our fears, taking turns. After awhile, I know he’s glad I’m curled on his bed.

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I watch this nearly 11 year old boy who is changing before my eyes. We skipped Super Bowl commercials because he has started to notice things now. We limit video games, we filter computer time, we try to monitor every image he puts in his mind.

We hold at bay the very world that seeks to sling mud on that white canvas. From magazine covers at the grocery store to too short skirts at church, it’s a minefield for a young mind in our highly sexualized culture.

Thankfully, he’s mostly unaware of what lurks behind a click or cover, but I wonder how long we can protect him from this raging enemy. Pornography used to be a taboo word, but it’s snuck its way into mainstream living and not only do countless people struggle with its entrapment, many people in our culture consider it a normal, experimental right of passage or something used to rev up a marriage.

My son has a Daddy who struggled in this area as a teen and later as a man, and I’m thankful he’s vigilent and not afraid to talk about hard things with his boy. Last week, my husband dug out Passport2Purity and I saw the book tucked under his arm on his way out the door. I see a weekend campout in their future.

But what’s a boy mom to do?

I know how to talk to my daughters about purity and their hunger for screen time (TV, computers, video games) is mild. In the last few years, I’ve educated myself on how men think, but getting into my little boy’s mind is a lot harder. I asked a friend of mine with four boys what she did about all this: “I make sure they take quick showers.” That’s not enough for me.

Here are 10 things I’m doing as a mother to a boy to fight against the triple threat of porn, aggressive girls, and ultimately premarital sex:

  1. I’m reading. A lot. Currently open next to my bed: Six Ways to Keep the “Good” in Your Boy: Guiding Your Son from His Tweens to His TeensI’ll share more books on my shelf this week.

  2. I’m trying to connect with him. I want to know his friends, his concerns, his dreams, his first crush (gross, mom). And I’m learning that it’s not all in the asking. It’s mostly in the listening.

  3. I’m turning off the screens and pushing books. Did you know that today on average, boys spend 35 hours a week in front of a screen?  We have always limited screen time, but I’m militant about monitoring this part of our lives. And before he turns on a screen, he knows I’m going to ask what he’s read for the day. He just finished The Hobbit!

  4. I’m sending him outside to play during idle time. Boys need this! Lately, we’ve told him he can earn screen time after he’s been outside for awhile–playing basketball, jumping on the trampoline, shooting his bow.

  5. I’m building his confidence through physical activity. My son loves sports but doesn’t feel good at anything. Sports are competitive and often leave our boys feeling discouraged instead of built up. We are helping him pursue individual sports activities that build confidence (example: golf, swimming, archery)

  6. I’m educating him. I used to try and keep all the “bad stuff” away. When he asks why he can’t see a certain movie or play a violent game, I tell him. I’d rather be the one to explain our why’s then let him guess.

  7. I’m not pushing the girl thing. It’s not cute or funny for a young boy to be encouraged to have a girlfriend. I want my son to know we live in a cultural with aggressive girls who will make it challenging to be pure and we want him to resist this pressure until he’s older.

  8. I am pushing guy friends, especially from church. I love that my church has a tween “youth group.” They meet weekly for Bible study and have monthly hangouts. This has really been a huge help for my son to connect with other boys like him.

  9. I’m not giving him his own phone and when I do, it will be heavily monitored.  I am also not going to put a TV or gaming system in his bedroom. (Even though 2/3 of kids do!) Did you know 39% of all teens have engaged in sexting (either sending a nude/partially nude photo of themselves or a sexually suggestive text)?

  10. I’m being realistic. He’s a boy. He will be tempted. He will fail in one or more of these areas. We are learning together. We are also on the same side, fighting an enemy, together. I want my home to be full of grace and I when he messes up, I want to be there. “

Life is about learning and we will make mistakes as we mother our sons. I love what Vicki Courtney says in her book, Your Boy: Raising a Godly Son in an Ungodly World and this is my goal:

“The key is to be engaged in our sons’ lives, stay in constant communication with God, who knows them best; establish appropriate boundaries; and pray a hedge of protection around their hearts.”

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.