raising a gentleman

Can I start with a disclaimer?  Frank and I haven't finished raising our only boy, so there is no guarantee of parenting success or failure.  Although I have lived long enough to realize that quality parenting doesn't always yield the intended outcome.

With that said our goal is to raise a gentleman.  When Clay was a young child, we read many books and sought counsel from those who had gone before us in parenting boys.  We had three daughters, so this was new territory for us.  I certainly don't mean or plan to sterotype, but in our home, with three reasonably energetic females, we set our expectation way too low for this fine young man.  He was full of life and brought along a "fast speed" that we had only seen in movies... or maybe in the grocery store as we would watch a mother of a young boy chase him down one aisle after the other.

My biggest fear when Clay was a young child involved any parking lot.  Clay knew no obstacles... there was only a straight line, and the only speed he knew was wide open... the proverbial "bull in a China Shop".  I reminded him to stay with me; I reminded him to hold my hand; I threatened to punish him for running ahead; I did punish him for runnng ahead; Frank talked to him, threatened him and punished him.  We simply had to come up with a solution.  Sometimes an idea just wells up inside, and you just know you didn't think of it on your own...

We were in a parking lot getting ready to get out of the car.  I turned toward Clay and my words were something like this:

" I really need your help.  I am afraid when we walk in parking lots.  There are so many cars and so many people and so many things to look out for.  Could you please find a way to make me feel safe?"
His answer was simple:
"Mommy, what if I hold your hand real tight?!"
From that day on, every time we started out from the car or out of a store, he held my hand.  Let me be clear, there were many reminders... "Hey, Clay, remember, I need you to keep me safe."  But even the reminders were most often met with a, "oh, yeah, sorry Mom!"   He had a responsibility.  He still feels that responsibility now for me and others.  I just recently saw an article listing 21 "Lost Gentlemen Traditions that still apply today."  click to see the article  As I read each of the 21, I was so pleased to check off many of them that Clay does right now.

Teaching fourth grade, I often have the opportunity to talk with young men about character and what that means - they listen intently when I remind them about honesty, about thoughtfulness, about being protective of others, and about being leaders worthy of a following.

That day in the parking lot we really began our intentional parenting to raise a Godly young man.  Our encouragement to him has always to protect others, to put others first, and to look for opportunities to encourage others.  We have tried to relate these ideas to Biblical principles. As a young man, we have also reminded him that the world doesn't agree with many of these principles... technology available to anyone doesn't agree with these principles.

The verse that we have quoted over and over and asked that he memorize is 2 Corinthians 10:5

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

As I just reread that verse, my reminder was clear... Daughter of mine, are you taking captive every thought that you think to be sure it is obedient to Christ?  Our goal is to raise a gentleman... a Godly young man, and yes, there are some wonderful books and helpful materials out there, but the most effective tool available is how we, as parents, model this true measure of our belief and and faith.

Father, thank you that YOU reach out and hold my hand to keep me safe in this parking lot called life. Amen

A year ago today...

Do you ever play that game?  Where I was... what I expected that day, or the next?  On this day, March 22, 2014, I was looking forward to Kellie's coming beach wedding on April 5th.  It was a Saturday, so I remember spending much of the day gathering things that we would be taking with us for the wedding and reception.  I headed to church like a normal Saturday to be sure the rooms were ready and the volunteers were all in place for the two services that evening.  We checked the schedule for the next day to check the needed supplies and volunteers.

There was so much to do!  My list was a mile long as we would be leaving the following Friday for our week's preparation for the wedding in Florida.  I actually had a plan for each of the following five days and what would need to be accomplished before our departure.  It seemed overwhelming, but I knew as long as we stuck to the schedule, all could be achieved.

What I didn't know on that Saturday was the unexpected event would come on Tuesday  literally stopping me in my tracks.... that my tracks would be altered to include a boot on my right broken foot, a scooter to try and allow me some level of movement, and the inability to drive to complete each of the five days' necessary errands.

I wish there was some glamorous story to tell.... like I ran into a burning building to single-handedly save a young child and a puppy... nothing so heroic.  Really, I was sitting at my desk and realized I needed to check on the tables for the event we were hosting that evening... my foot was asleep.... I should have waited... I was in a hurry... it would wake up... I should just step carefully... On the third quick step, I did hear the snap, and then I was on the floor...
After a trip to the ER, I wasn't sure who I dreaded telling more... Frank or Kellie?  I felt so very stupid... even now, as I typed this... I still feel stupid... really, who does stuff like that??  I know, several of you are shaking your heads in agreement right now.. "I do, Susan, I know just how you feel!"
My next five days changed dramatically.  Without hesitation, our family and friends jumped in with both feet!!  The packing was accomplished, everything we needed somehow magically appeared just where it needed to be.  I had hoped to lose just a couple of last minute pounds... my dress still fit.  One friend who was "going along for the ride" went from planning to be my right hand to taking on my hands and my feet, and honestly even my brain... thinking for me :).
Today is Sunday, March 22, 2015 - I don't know what tomorrow will bring... or Tuesday, or next weekend.  As I think back to this time last year, on this very day, I would have told you how many errands there were to run, how many things to pack, how many items still to make decisions about, how "I" had so much to do.
There is a verse in Proverbs that I have heard quoted... Man plans... God chuckles.  That isn't really the advice given.  Proverbs 16:9 says,
"The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."

I did have many plans... needed plans, and no, I don't believe the Lord caused my fall on that Tuesday afternoon.  I do know HE knew it would happen... hey, HE knows the numbers of hairs on my head, HE knitted me together before I was born, HE knows my thoughts... and HE knows what is coming this Tuesday.  I'm so thankful HE does... so I don't have to!  Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Check on my white garbage bagged boot hiding behind Kellie!  It really does 'almost' blend in with the sand!


Boys and Basketball

It is March, after all!  And what a March it is for these three... and their mom... and their dad... and their favorite team.

They love basketball; they love the gym; they love tip off; they love the bus; they love the players, but more than any of that, they love their dad.  And their dad is a high school basketball coach whose team just won the 8th Regional tournament and will be headed this week to the University of Kentucky's Rupp Arena to play in the high school state tournament - the sweet 16!  You cannot live in the state of Kentucky and not, at the very least, realize the significance of the game of basketball.

Why do these precious grandboys of ours so love the game?  They are six, almost five and almost three years old - what is the big draw??  Now as I said, rarely will you find even a young child who lives in Kentucky who doesn't cheer for a team - based on parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors... someone has indoctrinated them in the following of one team or the other.  These boys are no exception - their parents, their great grandparents, their aunt and uncle... and many more are fans of the University of Kentucky Wildcats, and so are they.

Their love for this high school team is much different, and I so absolutely know the WHY - they love their dad - the coach.  He loves the game, he loves the gym, he loves tip off, he loves the bus (well, its okay!), and he loves the players!  Chris has included the boys in his love in every possible way.  He talks with them about plays; he watches film of other teams with them; he reads about basketball players and teams with them; he allows them to actually be in the gym, in practices, and often even on the bench with the team.  Bottom line: These boysmwant to be with him, and they want to be like him!

Occasionally on a game night, one or two of the boys will be especially tired, so the offer to come and stay with Pop Pop and Mimi will come.  The answer is always the same: no I need to be at the game - to see my dad!

Out of the mouths of babes, they say.  Taking cue from these "gym rats", I realize my Father - my Heavenly Father, has the same desires for me.  He loves me; He loves his creation of this world, He loves the details of my life... and yours.  My hope is that my desire is just that: to be with Him and to be like Him - more and more!

One of my favorite verses is from Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord your God is with you,
  He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Chris does take delight in his boys... I have heard him sing... and I'm not sure it would be categorized as rejoicing!   What I know Chris does intentionally is realize that his delight is in the Lord.  More than teaching his own boys and those that he coaches in practice and on the court about basketball, he teaches them the love of Jesus.  His greatest desire is that anyone he comes in contact with knows of his love for the Lord. 

So... the Lord is taking great delight in you... this moment, this day, in this season of life...  He is with you, and HE is rejoicing over you!  Now that's worth cheering about!

Snow baby... no really, I mean a snow baby!

Recently we have been clearly reminded of the beauty of snow - not to mention the beauty, for those of us in the education world, of a SNOW DAY!  I remember my sisters and I gathering around the TV impatiently waiting as they filed through the counties that were to close that day.  We lived in Putnam County so we had to wait through half the alphabet - it always seemed like the first half of the alphabet had more counties than the second half!

With his permission, I share an amazing story with you!  During the February snow storm our friend, Mike, was out doing everything he could to help anyone who needed it.  You see, he has what everyone needs during 10+ inches of snow - a powerful truck with a snow plow attached and a willingness to "go above and beyond the call of duty".  It was 2:30 a.m., and Mike had been out for hours, hoping to head home.  Traveling back across a county road, he noticed a car that looked to be stuck at the bottom of a driveway... not unusual for cars to be stuck at the bottom of a driveway, but he noticed there was someone sitting in the car.  He pulled up, got out of his truck and gently knocked on the driver's window.

 She was startled at first, but he assured her that he was there to help.  Sharing of her dilemma, stuck and unable to get up the driveway, she wasn't panicked but thankful for the offer of help.  Her husband was at work, so with his help on a cell phone giving direction to "find" the driveway, Mike was prepared to push her car up to the house.  As he started to walk away from the car, he heard her scream.  From his vantage point outside the car, he hadn't even noticed; but as she turned in her seat, it was clear - she was most definitely pregnant.  And in her words, "oh my goodness, this baby is coming now!"  

Thankfully Mike raises cattle and had delivered many calves; he was as prepared as he could be.  They were able to call 911, but there was no waiting.  Mike delivered a healthy baby boy - a snow baby!  He later received a call that the couple was naming their son... Michael!

He could have passed right on by without as much as a thought for a stranded motorist... the car was in the driveway after all!  I'm not much on fate...  I am a firm believer in God's define plan of placing just the right person at just the right place for His perfect purpose, and I believe that is what He did with Mike on that snowy evening.

 I've been participating in a Bible study from the book of Judges about the story of Gideon.  You know Gideon was just a normal guy, not terribly confident in himself or even in God.  His family had actually began worshiping Baal, but an angel of Lord met Gideon on the threshing floor where he was simply working to provide food for his family.  God had a specific plan for Gideon to save the Israelites from the huge Midianite army - the army that the Bible says was "thick as locusts".  Gideon was hesitant to put it mildly - he asked the Lord numerous times for specific signs to prove that it really was God speaking to him.  His time to lead had come! Gideon wasn't a qualified military leader nor was that his desire or goal, but God chose him for this very time for this very task.  Mike surely would never have defined himself as a snow baby deliver, but there he was.

What about you?  Is God directing you to a specific task right now?  Without God's help and guidance, Gideon could never have defeated the Midianites.  Without God's help I don't believe Mike would have been at that very place and been 'qualified' or maybe even confident enough to handle that special deliver.  I have found that sometimes God gives us time to think through a decision, to weigh the pros and cons, to explore all the possible options of a situation, but then are those times when HE places us there for this very time.   Even today, be keenly aware of God's presence and direction in your life.  I'm praying for you right now.
When Gideon was convinced, he clearly followed.  Don't you agree that even being convinced that God was with him, it still didn't make much sense to head down with 300 to attempt to defeat the vast Midianite army. Gideon modeled for us:

When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped.  He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, 'Get up!  The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands!
Judges 7:15-16

Let's go, friends!!

Passion and perseverance

Recently Clay's assignment was to create an impromptu speech surrounding a "How To" topic.  He chose how to run a small business.  Clay is well into his 18th year of life, so his entrepreneurial experience is just a bit limited.  Creating and maintaining his lawn care business for two summers did serve as evidence for a "how to" business experience, but he realized that additional sources could boost his data considerably!

So he began asking Frank questions... not about his own experience, instead questions about Frank, Sr., Clay's grandfather.  My father-in-law was keenly interested in radio as a young child mainly because, as he remembers it, the radio was the main source of family entertainment.  His curiosity led to his determination to figure out how that radio worked - his earliest memory of taking apart a radio was at eight years old.  By his 12th birthday he had taught himself not only how to take one apart, but also to build one from scratch.  Television was just entering the consumer market, and he was now a passionate electronics entrepreneur.  At 16 he was repairing neighbor's televisions and radios in his father's basement.  He knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life!  Like most, college seemed the logical decision, but after three years at the University of Kentucky, he determined his dream was not being realized quickly enough.  He entered the Army where he met Joyce (who we know as Grandma).  They married, and he whisked her away from Arkansas where he had been stationed to Louisville to open his first Electronics store.  Wilder Electronics officially opened on October 25, 1960 - they lived on the second floor of that first store in a small apartment.

He built his business on customer service, hard work, honesty and integrity.  He never waned from his passion and purpose to bring quality electronics to the consumer.  They moved the business to a second location,then a third, and  then landed in a building in St. Matthews, Kentucky.  The business thrived and added employees including both his sons.
 Mr. Wilder was certain from age 12 of his plan and never allowed anything to change or deter that thinking.  Many days were long, and many customers were impatient, but with passionate determination, he persevered through the days by calming the frustrated consumer, by listening well and hearing clearly.  He retired "officially" in 2000 handing the keys to the building with great confidence to his sons.

To this day, my father-in-law can give you a year by year monologue including which model television made its debut each year and what the new and improved features of the new model included.  We could literally fill a museum with his collection of his radios and televisions.  He LOVES them all.

Is that kind of passion lost on the following generations?  What causes that kind of drive?  What causes you to be passionate... a person, an idea, a plan, a conviction?
Our Sunday school class has been studying the book of Acts, and each week, I am again amazed at the boldness, the passion, the drive of the disciples and the new believers.  They had lived through Pentecost - literally seeing/experiencing the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Oh friends, my prayer for all of us is that we can catch a glimpse of that strength that is available to us through Jesus, and that we will be overwhelmed with desire to so closely follow HIS lead.

Just after the apostles had been flogged and ordered NOT to speak in the name of Jesus...

"The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the NAME [of Jesus].  Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah." Acts 5:41-42