What Every Son Needs to Hear

He stands eyeball to eyeball with me now, growing so fast, his pants hem and this momma can’t keep up. He flexes muscles and is quick-witted, he is smart and wants to know more about this thing called the Stock Market. Last week he lost his last baby tooth and I lost another piece of my baby.

When the ultrasound wand confirmed we were having a boy, I cried and whispered to my husband, “a son.” Because we all know about the dad and son relationship. But I didn’t know about the mother-son one and how this boy with his long dark lashes and tender heart would undo me.

Nearly every day for the past 11 years, he has touched my soul in some way. He is the first to ask “How was your day ?” and “Did you you sleep good?” or say “Momma, you look so pretty today.” He can also burp my name. So, there’s that.

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My son turns 11 tomorrow and there are 11 things I need to say to him:

You don’t have to fit in. The world expects you to act a certain way. Culture demands it. But it’s okay to be a square peg in a round hole, to look different, be yourself. It’s alright to chart your course to God’s plan, even when others might not understand it. Yes, you might feel odd or weird chasing it, but that’s okay, most world changers do.

You don’t have to give in. You already know about the pressure–to talk or dress a certain way, to disrespect adults or girls, to be like those that do. But you possess the strength and character to walk away, the Christ living in you will help you stand. You don’t have to give in.  But if you do…

You get second chances and third and fourth… You can start again. Every sunrise is a second chance to get it right, to say no, to say I’m sorry, to ask forgiveness, to make a new start. I want you to know that this is what God is about. He wants to give you as many chances as it takes, just don’t every stop taking them.

You don’t have to be tough (all the time). Boys are supposed to be rough and tough. Maybe you’ve heard that “real men don’t cry” and always wear a stiff upper lip. But I want you to know real men are tender, they care about others, and root for the underdog. They rush to open the door for elderly women and use their manners. They cry over poverty and when they grow up, they tuck their babies into bed.

You don’t need a girl (yet). Girls. They are everywhere and their influence can be intoxicating, you’ll discover that soon enough. I can’t wait to see the girl God brings into your life and I already pray for her. Become friends with Godly girls, but don’t be in a hurry to make them a girlfriend. That time will come, enjoy today.

You make me proud. If you didn’t do another thing, win another award, get another A, or an E in conduct, I want you to know I’m proud of the young man you’ve become. I love the way you love your sisters (most days). I love the way you are a good friend and listener to others. I love the way you give generously. I am proud of you, son.

You are a success if you love God and others. I don’t know what you will be when you grow up. I think an engineer or a millionaire, possibly a missionary pilot or an artist. The sky is your limit and it’s your choice. But no matter what you accomplish or don’t, in my eyes, you’re successful if you love God first and others second. Always remember this is true success.

You have great men in your life. God has given you amazing men to shadow. It doesn’t get better than your father and grandfathers. They love God and their families more than themselves and if you aren’t sure where to step next, look for their footprints.

You can always come home. No matter what happens in this life, what you do or don’t do, you always have a place with us. We might make you want to leave with our rules or ask you to because of your actions, but we won’t stop you from coming home. (must read for prodigal children)

You are loved. No matter how long those legs grow or how high I have to look up to you, you will always be mine. I can still wipe your tears and listen to your heart. I can still ground you and make you say your sorry (hopefully). No matter what you do or what happens in this life, you are mine and nothing can change that. If you never hear another word I say or choose not to listen, you must believe that you are loved deeply by your parents. But even more than we love you, you are loved by a God who sent His son for you. Don’t ever doubt it. Believe it. This life might bring great joy or sorrow, great wealth or loss, but you can make it because you have love. Make sure you give it away. It’s the best way to receive it.

And most of all, we say a lot by not saying anything at all. We can accomplish a lot by praying these words from Psalm 63:8, “Lord, please instill in my child a soul with a craving for You, a heart that clings passionately to You.”

Happy birthday, son.

WFMW: Easy Homemade Salsa

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We are big salsa people. We dump it on eggs, burgers, chips, chicken and tortillas. And other food.

I’ve tried dozens of store bought brands and have finally concluded, mine is the best!

Here’s how I make my Southern Salsa:

Ingredients (I don’t measure, so these are approximate):

  • 1 can of Rotel tomatoes (we usually use mild)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic
  • 1 chopped (seeded) jalapeno (I also used canned ones if I don’t have fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon of cilantro and then I keep adding (love this stuff) -fresh is best
  • 1/4 cup onion

Throw it in a blender or food processor. Add salt to taste. It makes enough for leftovers, unless there are chips involved.

Serve with everything.

Homemade salsa works for me!


A Compelling {Giveaway}

UPDATED WITH WINNERS:

Congrats to random commenters #287 Kimberly, you won the $25 certificate and  #66 Krista, you won the fundraising giveaway! 

Last September I attended Together for Adoption on behalf of Mercy House. I set up a booth with the help of a couple of friends and we told the story over and over again.

One of the best things that came from the trip was meeting Rebekah from Compelled Designs. The minute I saw her gorgeous pottery jewelry, I knew she was a gifted artisan.

Not only are she and her husband talented, they have a huge heart for adoption, missions and the world.

You might remember this gorgeous cross she created and we sold to help pay for Violet’s surgery in November 2012? Rebekah made it.

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She also created the Mother’s Day jewelry we had a hard time keeping in stock.

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Her company is called Compelled Designs. Not only are her designs compelling, she and her family are compelled to help others raise money. Check out her beautiful jewelry here.

I was amazed at the conference watching her talk to adoptive families. Adoption is expensive and many families do fundraisers to help bring their child home. Compelled Designs helps families do that by offering assorted bags of pottery jewelry at a discounted rate to be resold. It’s a creative and successful idea!

Today, Compelled Designs is giving away a $25 gift certificate to a random commenter.

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She is also giving away 10 assorted necklaces to an adoptive family to resale ($240 value)! Awesome, huh?

I absolutely love how we can all use our skills to bless others. It creates something beautiful when we do!

To be entered to win the $25 gift certificate, please leave a comment with your favorite piece. To be entered to win the necklace fundraiser set, please leave a comment with where you’re adopting from. This giveaway ends Friday.

The Best Thing

Recently, I took my daughters on a girl’s weekend with my mom, sister and nieces.

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It’s been years since we’ve done anything like this and it was so much fun! We laughed and ate too much. My oldest niece is about to leave for college and she is a wonderful example and friend to my 13 year old. (They were in charge of the luggage rack:)

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My 6 year old’s best friend happens to be her cousin, so the little girls had a blast being together. I love the memories we created!

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While we were away, my husband took our son on a Passport2Purity Weekend. I cannot recommend this resource enough! I took my daughter on a weekend getaway when she was 11 and it was life changing.

*Passport2Purity is a parent-driven time away together that focuses on talking to your kids about sex and purity. All the hard work is done for you. There are CDs to listen to, a journal to write in and object lessons in the kit. All you need to bring to the table is bravery. *Amazon affiliate link.

“This time together helps build heart-to-heart communication between you and your pre-teen while laying a foundation of purity that will prepare them for the turbulent years ahead.” The latest version has been updated to include teaching that is appropriate for kids being raised in our world of technology.” -Family Life.

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Without a doubt, our generation of children deal with incredible sexual exposure, pressure and availability. We cannot simply ignore it and hope our children weather the storm alone. At the end of the weekend (filled with fun and learning), my son signed a purity commitment with his dad and my husband gave him a cool ring to wear to signify the covenant.

When I returned home, my son looked 2 years older.

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So did my husband.

It’s not easy for parents to talk about sex, pornography, purity, lust, sexting, aggressive boys and girls, the list goes on, with our kids.

As a matter of fact, it’s one of the hardest things we’ve ever done.

But if we don’t talk to our children and keep the line of communication open, someone else will. We choose to explain God’s standard concerning sex as a preteen so everything they hear later on can be compared to it.

I asked my son what the best part of his weekend was, fully expecting him to say paintball.

He looked at me with wise eyes and said, “The best part of the weekend was discovering how much Dad loves me.”

I can’t think of a better answer.

Why Mothers Cannot Give Up

My 13 year old has a thing for shoes.

She loves funky and sleek. Modern and cool. Athletic and colorful. She got shoes in her Easter basket, under the Christmas tree, for her birthday and at the start of school. And boots during the rodeo this year. She saves her babysitting money for shoes and if you ask her what she wants or needs at any particular time, she might just say shoes.

Too bad she only has two feet. And they are still growing.

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She wanted a pair of sandals for summer since she’d outgrown the last pair and so I brought home cute ones from Target. She liked them and I sighed in relief (because y’all know that’s a big point for mama).

The next week, her brother, who owns a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of cowboy boots (period), needed a new pair of shoes to replace his one battered pair. And that’s like pulling teeth, taking a nearly 11 year old boy shopping, but that’s another story.

We went tennis shoe shopping and without getting into all the details that are nobody’s beeswax, I ended up having an ugly argument with my daughter about shoes.

I huffed and puffed. She lamented and apologized. I realize it was just regular mom/daughter stuff but I felt very defeated about the whole thing that night.

A few days later, I tucked my kids into bed the night before my trip to Kenya. I didn’t cry when I covered up my 6 year old and ran my hands thru her hair. My lip didn’t quiver as I prayed with my son and answered his “what if” questions. By the time I made it to my teenager’s room, I was proud of my stiff upper lip, knowing her age would make her the easiest one to say goodbye to.

She put her book down and scooted over so I could sit on the edge of her bed. That’s when I noticed the bright orange and green posters tacked to her bulletin board. I stood up so I could get a closer look and when I read the titles “Prayer Requests” and “50 Blessings” my resolve broke.

Her lists were precious. I mean absolutely humbling and one of the most beautiful things I have ever read.

How can you not cry when your daughter puts bobby pins, sweet tea and your name on her blessings list?

But it was # 2 on her “Prayer Requests” list that made me do the ugly cry.

We are amateurs in this teen mother-daugther world, she and I. We are learning how to dance through hormonal highs and lows, clothing battles, friendship heartaches and messy rooms. It’s not easy. There have been big fights and bigger apologies. We have cried and prayed and loved each other to understanding.

We both have regrets and pledges to do better and love more.

But we are making progress in the journey and learning a lot about each other in the process. We love each other deeply and are finding new ways to let each other know every day.

When I read #2, “Help me be thankful for my sandals” I knew all the hard work and teaching and crying and praying, all the pouring into, the mistakes and challenges of motherhood were finding their mark.

We cannot give up on our kids because they don’t give up on us. No matter how hard the day or long the road, our consistent love will pay off.

I felt like I met God in my daughter’s room that day and instead of filling her up, He used her bright orange list to encourage me.

#21 on that “50 Blessings” list: sandals.

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I think we have some shoe shopping to do.

 

Happy Mother’s Day, Moms! Don’t give up!

p.s. I always get approval from my kids when I write about them and I might have cried reading it to my daughter.