Monday, October 24, 2016

A Letter to a 13 Year Old Boy: Brighton’s Birthday Letter 2016

Dear Brighton,

When you were three— blonde hair flopping around your darling face with those bright eyes— it was hard to imagine you grown up.  The days of Thomas the Train and Matchbox cars seemed endless as does now your need for clean clothes and showers. Your long self fills your bottom bunk and somehow this fall, you have almost caught up to mine and Julia’s 5’7” frame.  I’m okay with that, but your sister won’t be.  I don’t think she’s noticed yet.

You are thirteen— a teenager.  I forgot to ask you if you were a “real teenager”.  When Julia turned thirteen 21 months ago, you were quick to tell her that 13 wasn’t really a teenager-- saying that the 13th year was just for pretending, but 14 would be the real deal.  We’ve barely had time to talk about your becoming a teenager—- and YOU are the kid that would really have something to say about such an event.  A couple of friends of ours came over the night before and gave you a “charge” so to speak.  I wanted to push my way in and hear all of it but I didn’t.  It was “men” time and you will just have to tell me about it.  I am grateful for kind and strong men in your life who love you and want to see the best of you in the years to come.

So what does a momma have to say to her, now, teenage boy?  I’ve been thinking about this for a while because I have read many amazing letters through the years.  But only I know you like I do and I want my words to come from that place— knowing you as a mother knows her son. Most of that will be just be between you and me.  I can’t let all my secrets out about you right now, can I?  Some of those things are for me to know and me only.
You needed a haircut and you were resistant to pictures for the very first time.  So.........I’ll try harder next year or make your daddy do it ; )
There are many things that can be said to a 13 year old boy— and I will probably say most of it at one point or another because I am like that— wanting to cover it all, trying not to miss anything important, using lots of words.  And I know how much you LOVE that.  However, only one thing is needed— a vibrant, growing relationship with Jesus, the One who loves you more than I do and the One who holds you in the palm of His hand, and the One who has plans and purposes for your life that I know nothing about,,,,,,,, yet.  This one things covers a multitude of conversations.  But to send you from our home, loving Jesus with whole hearted devotion, committing to following Him all of your days, serving Him with courage and integrity— what more could I ask for?  And if I care about anything else a whole, whole lot, I need to check my own heart.

You're spiritually minded.  It’s in your head.  I think a lot has descended into your heart but much is still in your head.  You think about God and, right now, you want to do the right thing. You are quick to admit wrong and quick to ask for forgiveness.  But like many of us, especially your momma, very slow to change.  You’re 13 so I know we still have much foolishness to wade through— spur of the moment bad decisions, words you’ll wish you’d never said, grades that won’t reflect your capabilities, girls who aren’t for you, actions you’ll wish you’d never put your hands and feet to— it’s all part of growing up.  All part of learning as you mature.  But of course my prayer is that those things will never satisfy, that they would come up empty and disappointing— and that the consequences would be an effective teacher to steer you back to wisdom and not have to follow you the rest of your days.

I hope you will find much satisfaction and FUN in days well chosen, days well lived— that seeing the difference is more obvious to you than when someone takes your Halloween candy.   ; )  Instead of feeling hemmed in or trapped, I pray you would feel the freedom you DO have and run free and clear in the space laid out for you— and that you would feel that the boundary lines have fallen for you in pleasant places.  And Brighton, this is where you’ll find blessing.  That word is real- “blessing”.  It is thrown around a lot, but when it comes to God and “blessing”, it’s a big deal.  With obedience comes blessing.  It may not be the blessings for which you are hoping, but over the long haul- living faithfully before the Lord and WITH Him, there is blessing-- like you will never know anywhere else.  And I am as sure of that as I am knowing where your Halloween candy is. ; )

So, that’s the page, darling, that anything else I could ever say is written ON.  Having that kind of relationship with the Lord—that’s the piece of paper I’d write any other advice on.  Without that relationship, nothing else will work or matter a hill of beans.

Even with the relationship intact, much temptation will come.  And remember, temptation is NOT sin.  Only your response to it has potential for sin.  This is where your strength has to kick in— those muscles of courage and bravery we’re trying to have you exercise because Brighton, there will be situations where YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE choosing to have courage and say, “no way”.   This may make you feel amazing but it might make you feel like a lame-o, stupid loser for a short period of time.  But remember, “I wish I had chosen to do the wrong thing”  SAID NO ONE EVER.  You will never regret a right decision, my son—one that is in line with the Truth.  It just won’t happen.

I wish I could take Proverbs 2, make a delicious pizza, hamburger or nachos out of it and make you chew it up and eat it — if that helped me get it INSIDE OF YOU.  Maybe an IV would be more effective?!  Take this to heart, sweet B.  These are words of life.

My son, if you accept my words
 and store up my commands within you,

turning your ear to wisdom
 and applying your heart to understanding—

indeed, if you call out for insight
 and cry aloud for understanding,

and if you look for it as for silver
 and search for it as for hidden treasure,

then you will understand the fear of the Lord
 and find the knowledge of God.

For the Lord gives wisdom;
 from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

He holds success in store for the upright,
 he is a SHIELD to those whose walk is blameless,

for he GUARDS the course of the just
 and PROTECTS the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will UNDERSTAND what is right and just
 and fair—every GOOD path.

For WISDOM will enter your HEART,
 and knowledge will be PLEASANT to your SOUL.

Discretion will PROTECT you,
 and understanding will GUARD you.

{CAPS mine-- all words that a momma loves.}

That Proverb goes on to talk about the “wayward woman with her seductive words” and how her path leads “down to death” and causes them to forfeit the “path of life”.  Don’t forfeit the “path of life”  by giving into your curiosity for a few moments of pleasure.  Death comes in many ways and you want every part of you to be ALIVE as you go out into this world to DO and BE all the God calls you to.  Guard yourself, B.  Be fierce about it. {You will hear this again— and again. And you will be okay with it because you love me.}

I see glimpses of the man God is making you to be, Brighton.  If I can wade through the dirty clothes, your papers everywhere and the things you just can’t seem to keep up with, I see a young man capable of leading, serving, loving, and making a significant difference in the world around him.

You have what it takes, B.

I am so very proud to be your mom.  

A picture of the 6th grade school picture 
Basketball was REALLY fun last year-- you guys won lots of games.

And came in SECOND! {Thus the TWO fingers}  You guys wore your MEDALS to school.  Yes. You. Did.

This might be the only night of the year that the two of you get along.... Christmas Eve

This is the first of many pictures that I want you to remember that YOU ARE LOVED by MANY.  You have a strong support of family AND friends around you who want the very best for you.

The Badlands-- NPT 2016
You are so proud of your cousin RJ and Hunter’s boyfriend, Jason.  Some of this is random but most of it’s theirs that you laid out.
Cousins.  You are the baby and you are loved.
This guy loves you too-- and he doesn’t HAVE to!  
Saturday morning AFTER the late night sleepover...  Good friends.

Young Life Camp-- Wyldlife-- 2016
This one HAS to love you but I think she would anyway. ; ) {Rough Riders!}

You’ve spent a lot of time checking your muscles this year.

Yes-- this means love.
New experience with Daddy
It’s “the smile” we get for pictures these days...

More love.

Teaching beach family -- You can’t see me!!!

Your first “Dallas Experience”-- girl drama and lots of hard work

Rough Rider game with friends
Fort Worth family-- known all your life

First football camp-- with Luke-- known him since babyhood too.
These moments make a momma happy.  She can’t help but yank out her camera.  No matter how she talks to you, B, she LOVES YOU.
You did a big new thing this year-- you started public school!!  And YOU LOVE IT!  And the coolest thing-- look who the first people you saw that first morning were-- life long friends.

More friends you’ve known all your life-- after school Costco run

It’s been a great year with lots of memories-- but I want you to remember these people.  It’s the relationships that will mean the most to you through the years.  Be grateful.

THIS  YEAR- 2016

Goodbye 12. Hello 13.

P.S.  Things to note:  shaving adventures, 6:30 am football practices, saluting after a deflected pass {no sir}, dabbing, lost baby belly, brand names {ugh}, loves cafeteria food, bow ties, your response after Julia left the house for homecoming with Nate's family {"Nothing like that has ever happened to me before.}, camp out DRAMA-- will add more as I think of them.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Time, Homecoming and Humble Pie

I’m faking fall by my fake fire this morning. The 95 that hit us yesterday was no joke for October.  Tomorrow looks promising but who really knows.  I’m ready to burn some real wood and wear something besides July clothing.  Who’s with me?

A songwriter I met several years ago used to have a tag on her webpage— “writing when I should be sleeping”— like that was a normal thing for her.  I will give up a few things, but sleep is not one of them.  So for me— I should be studying for my next time to teach but here I am writing because I want to and I really love to process things this way.

A couple of years ago my friend posted her 9th grade son’s homecoming pictures— a large group of girls and boys all dressed up and looking very “grown”.  I thought to myself, “No way will Julia be doing that in 9th grade.  It’s too soon.  How do we know this will turn out well?  Who are those kids anyway?”  Something like that but basically {in South Georgia talk}, “There ain't NO WAY she’s going to homecoming in 2 years.”

And there she is two years later at homecoming with a kid I had never heard of before Friday.  It’s a great story but one for a back post later for the family books— and not to embarrass either party.  It was a late ask —for good reason— no real fault by our new friend, Nathaniel.  All I know is that Friday morning I called and ordered a nosegay for Jeff to give to Julia because she had made homecoming plans with girlfriends and 2 hours later I was calling the florist to change it to a boutonniere.

So, the young man…. before all of you freak out that we let her go with a “stranger”….. THIS is what friends are for—times just like this when you REALLY want to say YES to your daughter but DO NOT have the critical information you need.  And if you don’t live here, Fort Worth is just a big small town.  All it took was a text or two and the kid had stellar reviews blowing up my phone.  {The funniest part of the texting is that BOTH MOMS I texted knew about the “ask” before I could inquire about the boy.  Their sons had already texted them to tell them Julia had been asked!}  Then, to hear my friends speak of his family— I knew Julia would be well taken care of — and the best part, she’d spend the evening with some of her closest friends.  It was all just super sweet.

We’ve known the Jordans for quite a while and mirrored school experiences.  Glad Julia got to make this transition with Audrey.

Hudson rode to Bossier City, LA in his infant carrier when Julia was born.  He was barely 3 months old.  
What happened during the two years of “ain’t going” and “going with a stranger”?!?  Two years.  That’s what happened.  I remember clearly the summer before 7th grade and how I felt I still had like a 10 year old in Julia and then thinking only 4-6 months later, “Whoa. Wait a minute.  You certainly aren’t 10 anymore.”  Lots happens when our kids sleep. I wrote a sappy post on that before.  It feels crazy when you “miss” it.  It really is like you turn around to answer their question and when you see their face, you stare and forget what the answer was.  All you can think is “WHO IS THAT? HOW?!  Just how?”  And not only the physical changes but emotional/mental as well.  They are capable of processing things that they weren’t able to just 6 months ago.  You get to a point where you are like, “Yes, it’s time to have that conversation. I hate for her to have this knowledge of something so horrific, but it’s time.”   A different level of exposure to worldly things is in order.  They ask more questions and we can answer them more fully.  The best part of all of it is, they can grow in their knowledge of the Lord, WHO HE IS and, hopefully, the value of walking with Him.  As we answer questions and help them process the things they are beginning to notice around them, we can go deeper into the things of God because now, they can understand it more fully.  Only they can choose whether or not to embrace Him and His ways.  Our job is just to keep putting Him out there— walk and talk Him out in front of them.  They get to choose.  

Just how I can’t stop this aging process happening ALL over my self, we can’t stop it with our kids and it’s not healthy to try.  As my kids have more freedom and get permission to do things that are completely out of my control and protection, I am figuring out that they probably know about 90% of what they need to know to make good decisions. We’ve already taught them this — since “littlehood”.  Right?  The context might change but not the principle.    

So you sweet young mommas that stop by here from time to time, you lay that foundation for your sweet littles because they grow and become bigs— bigs who need to be bolstered from underneath and held up by the Truth that won’t change, bigs who will be making decisions out from under your watchful eye.  We are raising our kids in years that things are changing so fast I don’t even try anymore.  They NEED the security of Someone who never changes and the Words He gave us that don’t change.  Our kids can be a voice of logic, reason and wisdom in a world of foolishness and spinning opinions but they need someone willing to put in the time to help lay this foundation beneath them.

And YOU, sweet momma, are just the one for the job.  

I’m at it with you— not there yet, but in the process with you.