Friday, October 22, 2010

Raising Warriors

I hadn't planned to blog today. We host parenting class tonight and I have floors that need to be mopped and toilets that need to be cleaned, but I caught a scene in my front yard that inspired me and I won't get much done unless I take the time to journal it.

The job of training two future men has me often musing on the state of the world and how far we've come from the valour of George Washington to the likes of what we see everyday in the headlines. I ponder the fact that more and more young men are content with being "Kidadults". Living off of their parents, perpetually going to school, and taking pride in the reputation of being a "player". How is it that we got here? Heaven knows I don't claim to be a better parent then those who came before me, so how can I avoid the pitfalls of producing "men without chests"?

I don't claim to know much, but I do think there is something we've lost in our culture. Perhaps in our attempts to throw off stuffy traditions we've tossed the baby with the bath water. Perhaps no one has shown our young men the duty, honor, and joy of being a protector and provider. Sure most guys(notice I use guys and not men) wouldn't think of hitting a woman, and yet they don't even think twice when they play with her heart. I think most women would agree with me, that I'd rather take a blow to the face, than a blow to the heart. Even in the church we smile and say things like, "He's such a heart breaker". As if that is OK. Is it OK for a son of God to treat his sister in Christ like a toy to be used for his own ego gratification?

Now don't get me wrong, I think we ladies have played our parts in our own devaluation. How many times did I, as a young girl, derive a sense of worth from the meaningless flirtations of insincere young men? How often do girls(notice I use girls and not ladies)make themselves too available. Over and over I've seen girls allow guys to cross boundaries, that guys would never feel free to cross if they were dealing with a married woman. I think if more girls were ladies and demanded they be treated as such, guys just might rise to the occasion and behave like men.

It is my prayer that God will teach Matt and I how to bring up men, not boys. Men who understand that their God-given responsibility is to protect the weak, both physically and emotionally. To provide for their families, whether the job is "fun" or fulfills their emotional needs. To stand in the face of temptation, to trust in a God who offers more to this life then fleshly pleasure. It is also my prayer that some dear Daddies and Mommies are out there right now seeking God's wisdom to help them bring up young ladies.

If you have a moment today, please mention Matt and I to our Father. We realize that without His wisdom and His kindness we will fail. We need the true Warrior to teach us how to train Warriors for His kingdom.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Life Well Lived

Last week was a very full week. A week that has me thinking about the beauty of a life well lived. A week that has challenged me to live on purpose. To think about what kind of legacy I will leave for future generations.

Early in the week we took a field trip to a farm. One of my very dear friends is a bonafide farm girl. She was driving a tractor before I learned to ride a bike. Her parents still farm hundreds of acres and are currently harvesting soy beans. They graciously invited us to come learn about harvesting first hand. Unfortunately, it rained and we learned that you can't cut beans when they are wet. However, the boys had a great time driving, yes driving, the John Deere tractor around the acreage, sliding down the gravity flow wagon and playing hide and go seek in the barn with "Grandpa Blankenbecker". I learned a lot more than that. I stood in amazement at acres of land that this grandpa had cleared over the summer. Land that had once been wooded, the trees were cut, the stumps were pulled, the rough places smoothed, and the low places built up . This was his "side work". There were still fields to be planted(some more than once due to the weather) and the garden to be tended and fruit trees to be pruned and equipment to be maintained. The list could go on and on. His sweet wife works beside him tending their home and garden, growing more than they could ever use. These people are old enough to be my parents and the energy they exert on a daily basis is convicting to my 30-something sluggishness.

As I stood in the field that day the thought went through my head, "What keeps them going? What motivates them to get out of bed when their bodies are tired?" I'm sure their reasons are many. But as an outside observer 3 things were evident. 1. They work as unto the Lord. I don't think they give it a lot of thought. There is work to be done and they do it. As a workman that needeth not be ashamed. 2. They think beyond the present. Much of the work this grandfather does is for the future. From clearing land, to maintaining equipment, to running with endless energy after little boys. All of this effort is put forth to build for something that doesn't fade away when his flesh does. 3. Others. The garden and fruit trees that countless family, friends and neighbors have benefited from through the years were not planted, tended and harvested for themselves alone. There probably isn't much in their lives that is done for themselves alone. And so as we drove away that day with garden ripe tomatoes and sweet potatoes, with full tummies from a delicious meal, with exhausted smiling boys who thanked God that night for the Blankenbeckers, my heart was challenged by lives that had been and are still being lived well.

At the end of the week we attended the funeral of our dear sweet neighbor Ms. Lu. Our family is so blessed to have known Ms. Lu. Through the years we've watched that as her body grew frail, her spirit seemed to grow stronger. I had the privilege to "sit" with Ms. Lu quite a bit and from my pathetic attempts to make salad dressing the way she liked it, to giving her a bath she was always thankful. Full of joy and encouragement. Just a year ago she would sit in her chair and play catch with my boys(they used a sponge ball). I can still hear her laughter. When her heart got so bad that getting out of bed was even too much for her, she would call the boys in and ask how they were. She graciously let them read to her and encouraged them by telling them how much they were improving. It was not uncommon to see both boys sitting on the bed with her, all three of them watching Paula Deen cook and commenting on how good the food looked. Lu faced a lot of adversity in her life, and even at the end, confined to bed, she never gave way to bitterness. In the final days of Lu's life, before she slipped into a coma she smiled and looked up and said, "Oh, I know you Jesus, and you know me!" What a precious testimony to leave us.

I'm challenged by Lu's life. No matter what we face in this life, whether it be hardships, sickness, or joy at the end of it all, all that will matter is if He knows us, and we know Him. Her life was well lived and her passing was sweet.

And so, thanks to the lives I've observed, I face this new week challenged to work hard, to love deeply, to help others, to focus on my blessings and to seek to really know Him.