Monday, February 9, 2015

Why I Took My (Baby) Boys to See American Sniper

If you normally read my ramblings, you will remember last time I shared the revelation that I am now a grown up.  At 37 years of age....tis a profound revelation, I know.  Yes, I'm a blonde.  Well....I use to be a blonde.....before all the children darkened my hair.  Now I pay to be a blonde.  Anywho..... 

I guess this brings me to my next revelation.  This next revelation, though, is actually profound enough that it could put my stomach in knots if I let it.  So, here goes........... 

Get this....not only am I a grown up.....I am now raising two 14 yr old boys and one 5 yr old girl. 

Correction: I am raising 2 YOUNG MEN....PLUS a tiny little woman with the hope and prayer that the end result will be two GROWN MEN and one GROWN WOMAN am trying my darndest not to raise 3 young people that will one day grow up to be 3 OVERGROWN CHILDREN.  Get me? I mean, I guess I've  known on some level that I had that responsibility from the moment the hubs and I nervously laughed and left the hospital with two baby boys in the backseat. I guess it just always seems like there will be time. Yet, here we are getting high school stuff in order for the boys for fall. HIGH SCHOOL. Sorry for all the capitalized words and bold print.  I'm not freaking out.  Really. But, I SO could. Yes, I know....growing up should be the obvious result but, as I mentioned in my last post....growing old is the only natural part of the process.  Growing up is not guaranteed.   

I was in San Diego a few months ago for a Beth Moore conference that was being held at San Diego University.  Standing in line with my girlfriends, there were kids (as in young men and women) walking in small groups all over the campus.  It hit me like a ton of bricks that I have just about 4 years left with my boys before they will, in all likelihood, be off in some similar setting...without me....pretty much on their own and man did I have a lot left to teach them.  It was time for me to stick a pin in the proverbial bubble I've kept them in and prepare them for the real world. How are they suppose to be well adjusted, well rounded adults, battling the forces of evil one day if they have no clue as to what the world is really like?  How are they suppose to have a heart for others when so much of their world truly revolves around themselves? 

{As a side note - I should say that when I say, "I", there is certainly a "we".  Their dad's words and actions, by design, carry so much more weight with them...especially the boys...than mine.  However, the saying, "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world", is understood so well because us mamas, by design, know our babies so well.  Even when some of our babies just turned 14.  We know them even better they to influence them and if we wanted to manipulate them.  That is an incredible responsibility that I don't want to squander. So, while I will be focusing on MY responsibility for this post, please know the hubs and I are very much in this together.} 

The Bubble Effect 
See, we now live in an area of Southern California that is referred to by the locals as, "the hill".  While it's actually a peninsula...for the most part, it is both figuratively and quite literally a bubble of protection from the typical LA/Hollywood scenes we've always seen on TV.  It was scary leaving our Tennessee bubble of close family and friends that we were so rooted in to move to California.  It was a huge leap of faith for me to take them from such an overtly Christian area to an area of the country not typically known for it's spiritual mind set. I could just picture them being devoured by the godless wolves! (So not true, by the way.  There are some great, God fearing, Jesus loving folks out here.  Granted, we aren't in Kansas anymore.  But, we have them in a nice, safe, little bubble.)  

I was convicted over this "bubble" thing several months ago.  The kids and I were listening to one of my favorite morning car ride songs, Higher, by Lecrae and 10th Avenue North.  Preston made the comment that this song made him sad.  Now, I listen to the song because it is an upbeat song set to rap music and SO uplifting.  I'll just give you a little snippet: 

Lead me higher, Lead me higher, And lift my eyes up, to the Light way, I can see all the pain coming to an end Lead me higher, into Your fire. Burn away all of the desires. And let my heart beat again. 

I was reminded that they couldn't understand that song because they really didn't know much about pain.  About real life.  How could they? They're only 14 (13 at that time) and really....they live in a bubble where their mommy feels sorry for them because they had to leave a nice cushy bubble to come to sunny California where they now have to spend a large portion of their evenings doing homework instead of playing.  Oh the humanity!  This conviction made me realize I had more intentional work to do on their emotional and spiritual I.Q.'s. and just like they are quite a ways from being intellectually ready for college, they're even further from bring ready for real life beyond this home. Now, I did simply explain the song in depth that day and they got it. Occasionally they'll even choose it when they have control of the music.  Which, is a win. But, the conviction didn't stop there.  Therefore, I didn't stop there.   

Why I Took My Boys to See American Sniper: 

Now, let me first say....this is not a recommendation for you to hop in the car and take your kids to see this movie.  They are all at different stages and there's no need to traumatize them! However, yes, I took my 13 yr. old boys to an actual movie theater to see a R rated movie, chalked full of violence and bad language, when I rarely let them watch anything of the sort at home. Some of you may not see it as a big deal at all and others may be saying, "I can't believe she did that!" Either way, I, for one, didn't take the decision lightly.  I even consulted with some of my most trusted mamas before I went. Why did I decide to deliberately take them to this? I could say that it was a rare Friday when they were out of school and Jude was in pre-school, it was a week before their 14th birthday, their dad had already seen it with a friend and ok'd it and I just wanted to take the rare moment to do something with just my guys.  While that's all true... that wasn't the entire reason.  The real reason I took them was because, though it was full of violence and foul was REAL.  That is something I'm continuously trying to find the balance in...sharing the real world with them while protecting their hearts from shear ungodliness.  How can I expect them to stand strong as grown men when they are face to face with reality one day and not shrink back to the fetal position? The answer is simple....I can't shield them from everything....I have to prepare them for battle.  

Taking them to the movie, my goal initially was to reinforce to my boys.... who love to spend time on the weekends playing the war games that I caved on long ago.... that they must not take the act of war and the act of pulling a trigger lightly.  That there are actual wars being fought.  Actual bad guys, actual people being hurtand actual brave men and women who have to do some really hard things in life. REAL LIFE.  Real pain, real suffering, real sacrifice, real love.  I'll just say that I got my money's worth and so much more 

In making the decision to go and even driving to the movies that morning, I had concerns running through my head that went a little something like this: Satan has such a grip on so much of our society in America.....there is less and less talk of right and wrong, self discipline, self sacrifice, and the greater good.  Now there is much more focus on personal choice, to each his own and "my" rights, etc.  He has us right where he wants us.  Full of pride and concern for ourselves.  You know the saying..."pride comes before a fall"?  God opposes the proud, y'all. Is that what we're setting our children up for? 

See, there are bad guys out there.  They're all over the news....We all know ISIS is real.  There are many others who aren't part of their gang but are just as bad.  How many of our children are going to want to come out of their bubble to protect others if the need arises?   

How many of them, if their bubble is popped, would simply fall to pieces?  (How many of us would?)

There are wrongs and injustices that need to be righted every day, every where we turn. Who among their generation (and our self absorbed generation for that matter), will be willing or even able to lift a finger much less risk themselves for the greater good?  

There are people all around us that need to be restored to Jesus. How many of them are going to even risk rejection for the sake of another's soul 

Are we raising our children to be grown men and women prepared to take their place in their generation or are we raising a bunch of self absorbed, overgrown children that can't see past the ends of their noses 

Oh....we need warriors.  I, for one, know that God will equip my children and I fully accept the responsibility of preparing them for battle. No, I do not want my children to join the armed forces.  (If they feel called to do that later on, I will respect them for it.  But, you won't see me bringing home recruiting pamphlets for them!) They will still see all kinds of battles in their sweet lives, though. As for the movie.... Sure, there were some scenes I could have gone without them seeing that certainly didn’t help them mature spiritually. However, there was a powerful theme specifically focused on in the movie that I wasn't expecting............... 

Value others more than yourself.   

It is a resounding command to us and theme woven all throughout Scripture with Jesus as the ultimate hero, taking up OUR cause and paying the price we could never pay.  Yet, there will always be the enemy that keeps us in an earthly mindset by using a thousand different ways to keep us from focusing on eternal things.....and focusing on ourselves.  

Oddly enough, or divinely enough I should say, I've been working on this blog a few minutes here and there since I posted part 1....... though, it's been on my heart for monthsA couple of months ago, Steve and the boys were asked to go on a mission trip this summer to Guatemala. He's been thinking and praying on it but I really didn't think he was going to say yes. But, a few nights ago, Steve surprises me and tells me he thinks he's going to take them. The boys seemed a little hesitant about the idea. The mama bear in me wanted to get my bubble wand flowing again. But, I didn't. They need this. So, I encouraged them tonight and will continue to if they indeed get to go.  

See, I can teach these boys lots of things.  I can teach them how to clean, cook, make their beds, write an essay, shoot a gun (or their dad can anyway), spike their hair, eat a balanced diet, talk to a girl, mind their manners, treat their friends, iron their clothes, etc. etc.  But, if I don't use my influence as their mother to prepare their hearts for Kingdom purposes, then I've failed them and they will be ill equipped for the real world.....and our world will continue to be the poorer for it.   

I will never be finished with this mama gig. But, for this particular teaching opportunity, I'm glad I took them to see the movie.....they were deeply moved. I'm thankful for Chris Kyle and all the men and women who serve and the families who lend them to us. I'm prayerful over the men, women, and children who live in these war ridden parts of the world that most of us rarely consider. I'm hopeful that God will set a fire in our babies' souls that will only grow stronger as they grow each and every day.  
Now, I realize most of this post focused on our young men and, at the beginning, I had mentioned our little woman....who, by the way looks just like the boys but with blonde hair.  Well....she gets her own blog post.  I should say....she requires her own!  That's a whole other can of worms and that one will be coming soon!:) Subscribe via the email link above to have new posts sent straight to you! Thanks so much for reading and sharing Roots with me! 

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