Monday, September 29, 2014

Parking Lot Discipleship

We were running a tad late for church Sunday morning...story of our lives.
Three little guys to feed and dress, keep clean, while haphazardly throwing ourselves into some sort of appropriate church attire, typically results in tardiness. 
But this Sunday wasn't too bad and we were in the parking lot with a few minutes to spare, hurrying handsome little guys through rows of parked cars.
 Then we faced a row of cars who all must have had a secret pact to park as close to the lines as possible creating odd and narrow passageways. So we changed up our hand holding and wove through single file.
 And then Harrison commented, "This is so narrow! Which way is the narrow way again? God's or Satan's?" And so right there in the church parking lot, a discipleship opportunity took root in a perfect visual aid.
 Matt showed the boys how it wasn't very easy to squeeze through the narrow cars without bumping into or tripping, etc. Then he took them through a wide open space without cars parked nearby. They quickly realized they could skip through the wide open space without any help or guidance.
 "Why is God's way harder?" Harrison asked. Matt explained the way to destruction is wide, it's easy to get on, and easy to stay on. God's way leads to eternal life and while the way is narrow, and sometimes hard, He gives us the strength we need to stay on it and grow in Him, gather others to walk with you, and help each other navigate through the narrow passages knowing life, not destruction, is ahead.
God grants rich opportunities to disciple our children everyday. Life sometimes gets busy with schedules, appointments, errands, and deadlines, and we fail to recognize the gifted moments to grow our children. It's worth it to be a little late sometimes, even to church, if a row of parked cars suddenly presents itself to invest in the soul of the gift God gave you to steward.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pirate Day

I'm not sure how it started; maybe a brain child from an over indulgent aunt or grandparent? :)
But our second annual Pirate Day is now a locked-in tradition for all kids in this family. Move over Santa Claus, a pirate has totally got you beat.
Last year the boys stumbled across a "hidden" map which they eagerly followed to dig up small boxes filled with "treasure" aka, candy, sugar, toys, more candy, left behind by "Captain P."
I can't remember our thought process, I think we thought it was a fun one-time thing last year, but we were so wrong.
For the whole past year, the boys have talked about about "Captain P" and the hope for his return at this year's beach trip.
They went as far as writing him messages and planning what to pack for the beach which would aid them in digging for buried treasure.
So aunts and grandparents took Pirate Day to a whole new level.
Eager little boys scanned the horizon every day straining to catch a glimpse of Captain P's ship.
One stormy morning, a far off sailboat fighting the wind gave just the right impression of a pirate ship headed away from shore.
The stage was set and the seed planted by creative aunts that surely that had been the one and only Captain P's ship.
Later that day that boys finally discovered the map left behind by the pirate which would lead them to a treasure he had buried just for them.
Giddy little boys studied the map and hiked off over dunes and sea grass in search for their highly anticipated treasure.
And Captain P did not disappoint. Being the kind pirate he is, he made sure there was three of everything, favorite colors and candies present, and all notable superheros accounted for deep within the chest.
Excited little guys heaved their loot back up to the beach house where the equivalent of Christmas morning took place on the front deck.
After eye patches, and spy glasses, fruit snacks, and glow-in-the-dark skull and cross bones t-shirts, we headed inside where Captain P had left behind a feast!
Peg legs (corndogs), sea shells, (mac 'n cheese made with shell pasta), jewels (red and green grapes), and seaweed (salad), were waiting for the treasure hunters.
Captain P is probably a lot like the idea of Santa, and in spite of the elaborate attempts to keep Captain P's identity and build excitement for awaiting his arrival each beach trip, I know it won't last forever.
But I'm hanging onto it while we can. While imagination and stories are ripe with innocence. While the ugly world with harsh reality is still far away, I hope these little guys will eagerly be scanning the horizon for their pirate for years to come.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

OBoyX2014

There's some things I just won't ever be able to do.
Thoracic surgery, walk on the moon, graduate level mathematics, thinly slice an onion, just to name a few.
But one of my worst skills lies in my inability to choose a few favorite pictures to post for a blog.
I've spent hours reliving our wonderful seven ocean-front days through sunny and glowing images and every time I whittle the pile down I realize I've only added 15 more to the end.
Even the blurry, out of focus, salt spray on my lens, sand in my eye pictures somehow capture everything that makes us so in love with being at the beach.
And so this post has probably a dozen pictures too many, but I gave fair warning.
Our oceanfront week started cloudy, gray, stormy, and cold. It made for perfect relaxing, walks on a wind blown beach, pictures of crashing white capped waves, and napping to the sound of water.
But in between rainstorms and thunderheads, the sun would appear and little boys would attack the beach and pool with fury.
I've come to the conclusion that the oceanfront really is one of my boys' natural habitats.
They slept outside when they needed to, ate outside and didn't mind the extra sand in between their fruit snacks, played long and hard and used up energy that would otherwise go towards sledding down our stairs.
This vacation week was full of milestones and emerging personalities for the boys.
Harrison learned to swim! The kid is a fish and I stood in awe as my big guy kicked off across the pool with no help, thrashing, or any resemblance to a drowning victim.
He was a legitimate swimmer and we were pretty proud. He also became an expert boogy-boarder, body surfer, and an army men beach war general.
Jefferson inched further into the surf this year conquering the panicked feeling of undertows and unidentified objects under ones feet.
He also took up boogy-boarding, army men sand battles, beach napping, and keeping the look-out for great white sharks.
Wilson, in true Wilson fashion, decided the ocean needed to be put in its place. He was out to tame the sea and establish who was boss.
It didn't matter how many times he was rolled over, pounded in the surf, salt water up his nose, or flipped head over heels, he came up laughing, sputtering, and turned to head back into the tide.
Which brings me back to my love for every single picture my camera captured.
To me, every single frame is a precious gift of time held in place of little boys who are growing fast.
The beach pictures each year are showing babies growing to boys, who are growing to men. 
And so that's why twenty-one pictures fill this post. And to show that I have a little self-control by not posting thirty. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Static Noise of Parenthood

"You blink, you'll miss it. They'll be grown and gone."
I probably hear it ten times a day from well meaning strangers. And every time I feel my heart squeeze in the thought of my boys heading into the world as men with facial hair, deep voices, and dreams to conquer and achieve.
The precious little time I actually have with these guys sometimes gets overlooked amidst the piles of dirty laundry, the broken dishes, and marker on the walls.
But then when I look at my oldest man and realize he's 5 going on 15, I panic. Am I teaching him everything I should?
Am I going to wake up to an adult and realize I totally overlooked something I wish I had done, taught, instructed, instilled?
Have I read enough parenting books, taken enough parenting Bible studies, talked to enough experienced parents?
 The answer? Probably too many. 
Articles and blogs say "teach to share...don't make them share too much...obey with a happy heart...don't make them obey without freedom to express their feelings...feed them non-gmo and organic...let them eat childhood classics..."
And all the resources, ideas, opinions, and studies are just noise. I'm not an expert. Only five years into this parenthood thing, I'm quite the novice; but I've learned this - glean what you may from all sources, but there's only one that calms this momma's heart, brings peace to the unknown, and finds no greater joy...
...To daily ask God for wisdom. He'll give it.
 One day I'm sure I'll look back and wish I had done something different, but I'll never regret the time I've spent praying, growing, and chasing after God alongside these little men. 
The time will fly, it already is. So thankful the Creator who knitted them in secret will freely give wisdom to guide them into manhood.