Boys Will Be Boys

Our society is really screwed up.  Now more than ever, you can look all around you and find men who don’t know what it means to really be a man.  The thing is, these men shouldn’t shoulder the entire blame for this because, at least to a degree, our society has made them that way.

“How’s that??”, you may ask.  In all honesty, some of the blame comes from women who insisted that they could do everything a man could do.  While that is mostly true (simply meaning that the strength equation plays an important factor here) and not much is said anymore about the feminist movement, the insisting of the feminist movement that men have held women back long enough and need to step aside and let women be all that they can be has resulted in many men feeling emasculated as they watch the role God created just for them–that of being a King, a Warrior, a Mentor and a Friend** to his wife, his kids and others–become something that is now considered to be taboo.  Now, I realize that for a long time women and their accepted role in society were pigeon-holed into that of being “Suzie Homemaker” and nothing else, which wasn’t right.   But the pendulum so drastically swung the other way that it caused a whole new set of problems that we are still facing today.

The other direction the blame should come from is that of fathers who abandoned their role and left sons to figure life out on their own (or learn it as best they can from their mothers).  With no real-life male role models to be with and aspire to, all those messed-up boys have grown up into messed-up men.  Strong words, but look around you.  The condition of our families in this nation proves how true this has become and how desperate we are to have men become the men God originally created them to be.

One thing is certain:  Deep down inside the heart of every man is the God-given need to be one.  “You can take the boy out of the fight, but you can’t take the fight out of the boy.”  Why do you think that Moms try to “raise their boy right” by refusing to buy him a toy gun (trying to keep the suggestion of violence at bay as much as possible), only to find that he insists on using a stick or his finger-and-thumb as a gun and has just as much fun?  In his mind, he’s just as much a hero saving  his world as he would be any other way with any other “weapon” in his hand.  It’s hard-wired into who we are as men:  A family to lead; a family to protect; a family to lead by example; and a family to be real and vulnerable with.

Food for thought.

 

**You can learn more about these four pillars of a man’s heart in Stu Weber’s book “Tender Warrior”.

Waiting On God To Move

Waiting.  And waiting some more.  We all hate that part of our lives, don’t we?  I have heard Joyce Meyer say that most of our lives are spent in that “waiting for something” phase and that it’s what we choose to do while we’re waiting that makes all the difference.  If you look at your own life, I imagine you can see that for yourself as well.  Most of our lives are indeed lived in that place of waiting.

But waiting for what?  Circumstances to change?  Something to be provided for you that you don’t have yet?  Examples could go on and on.  But there is certainly a question that we need to ask ourselves:  Is there something we are waiting on that we are actually supposed to do ourselves?  What if you’re waiting for something to change and all the while you actually have the ability to do something about it yourself–you’re just scared to?  Hard words, but what if your path to your Dream is right in front of you and it’s simply a matter of you putting some action to it?  Don’t put it off any longer!

But maybe you’re in a situation like I am, where you’ve done all you know to do to prepare for and attain your Dream, and now you’re playing the waiting game.  In a way, this is a much harder place to be than any other, because you’re now waiting for things that are completely out of your control.  Especially when you know that God has given you this Dream that you’re chomping at the bit to begin doing!

My friend, take courage.  And know that God is right there with you, walking your journey out together with you (or at least He wants to!).  His companionship itself is worth it all, but He has also given us all kinds of promises in His Word for us to lean on and use to get us through these times of waiting that we’re talking about.  Promises like this one from Habakkuk 2:3, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end; it will not deceive or disappoint.  Though it tarry, wait earnestly for it because it will surely come.  It will not be behindhand on its appointed day.”  One more for you:  Psalm 27:14, “Wait, hope for and expect the Lord.  Be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring.  Yes, wait for, hope for and expect the Lord.”

Directly from His heart to yours!

Be Your Own Teacher

We start homeschooling tomorrow.  We’ve been doing this for nigh unto four years now.  And overall, it’s been worth it.  I never thought that I would be teaching my own children anything related to school (of course, my wife didn’t either).  I enjoy teaching, like in a men’s class at the church, but school-related stuff to my own kids?  Never would have seen it happening.  It doesn’t take long, though, to see the benefits of having parent/teacher conferences.  Or when the teacher needs  to “discuss” something with the principle.  (You could even say that  this is the only possible way that the teacher and the principle are fooling around with each other and no one gets fired over it.)  There are times, however, that I wonder about this decision.  Usually that happens when I’ve let myself get frustrated about something related to teaching the kids and I take it out on our boys (aka “students”) and then feel horrible about it afterwards.

I hate that.

But I can also look back on the last three years of this process (now moving into our fourth) and see how I have changed and gotten better at reacting to things.  To a degree, though, I still find myself dreading the start of the school year because of knowing that I will need to directly face this part of me again.

All this to say that our boys have not been the only “students” in our classroom.  Their parents have been attending class and learning some things too.  And in many ways, what I’ve been learning about myself has been very difficult to face, let alone change.  Which means that my own “class material” has been more like college material than basic education material.  That should mean that I ought to get something significant for my efforts when this is all over, doesn’t it?  Really, I already have.  You see, my boys have seen their Dad struggle and grow and change over these last three years.  They’ve seen and experienced their Dad needing to ask them to forgive him for his behavior many times since we first started this homeschooling journey.  But each year the need for this has gotten less and less.  They have seen God doing His work in me, refining these qualities and chiseling away the things that need to be removed from my life and personality.

It’s not over yet.  But that’s ok!  It’s not supposed to be.  So we all keep at it, facing each new day for the adventure that it is, growing and changing and becoming what and who God has destined for us to be.  It’s preparation for an amazing life on this earth–and for things to come.

What similar experiences have you had?  I’d love to hear about them!

Of Bears And Other Stuff

We’re camping on this Labor Day weekend.  Which is what we were doing up in Michigan’s U.P. during our stay in the backwoods wilderness of that beautiful country.  Which leads me to the black bear story…..

As I said before, we all stayed in tents both times that we went up there.  The cabin sat on a corner lot of sorts, with the lake straight out in front of it and a thirty-foot wide tributary from the lake that passed the cabin on the left and became a smaller lake behind the cabin property.  So our tents were on one side of the cabin and the tributary was on the other.  An old bridge made of railroad ties, as I recall (as was the main dock into the lake), spanned the thirty feet of water and connected the cabin’s mainland with an island on the other side of the tributary.  This bridge was a good five or six feet above the water (as a sharp 25+ year-old memory reveals) with a very old wooden rowboat on the cabin side of the shoreline.

If you recall my mentioning Nate and Jesse (the same Nate who went fishing for some Kelly in a previous story), Jesse was about four or five years old at the time of our first venture up there.  Even though we were told to stay away from it, Jesse somehow miraculously found himself standing in the old rowboat.  Then it started to sink.  And he started to cry….loudly.  His Dad was clear across the other side of the cabin where the tents were when he heard his youngest son cry.  He was a blur of arms and legs as he came sprinting across the property to where his son was in the rowboat (don’t be too concerned–the water was only a couple feet deep where the boat was).  He leapt into the water as he lunged for his son and whisked him right out of the boat.  Once Jesse was deemed safe and unharmed…..well, then the crap hit the fan for why he was even anywhere near the boat to begin with.

That same bridge, it was said to us kids, could possibly hold a black bear or two, which meant that there were possibly black bear in and around the woods that surrounded the cabin.  We didn’t see any, but I’m pretty sure I heard one.  The bathroom was a two-hole latrine about fifty-feet into the woods behind the cabin.  Not much of an issue during the day, but at night that distance became a very significant obstacle.  I remember one night making that very long trek through the fifty feet of trail that was surrounded by trees on either side, armed with nothing but the flashlight in my hand.  The latrine was within sight at twenty feet away, but just as I came within sight of it, I heard significant rustling behind me just off the trail on the right.  I don’t think my feet touched the ground those last twenty feet, and I certainly didn’t have to use the bathroom anymore by the time I found myself safely inside the confines of the latrine.  I have no idea what I heard in those woods just off the trail, but I wasn’t about to go look.  I waited a few minutes and then ran like I was shot out of a cannon those fifty feet back to the camping area where my parents and safety awaited  me.

My fondest memories, though, are God’s nature that surrounded us up there.  We had blueberry bushes all over up there, so one day for lunch, all we had were fresh blueberries in pudgy-pies (with sugar, of course); Todd and I took a canoe ride clear to the other side of the lake where a little nook offered us such solitude that the hushed tones of our conversation sounded like we were shouting; no sounds of civilization in the morning, just loons out on the misty water as the sun came up; and more than anything else, for me the very presence of God Himself to meet me there every day in His beautiful creation that was all around.

Should you get the chance to vacation in Northern Michigan–anywhere from the top of the mitten or higher–you will create for yourself a very memorable experience!