Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Organized Cabinets and Training Older Sons

As we returned from the Family Economics Conference more than a week ago, I continue to be challenged and encouraged by the messages we heard. Most impacting was a talk by Kevin Swanson where he put affirming words to what has only been a quiet thought in my heart.

When Elliott and Oliver were in their early teens, I sensed an overwhelming need for someone besides me - their mother - to prepare them for what would be the next chapter in their lives - that of becoming men.

From the time they were old enough to begin homeschooling, I had felt confident in overseeing their academic studies and routine household responsibilities. But as they matured, it seemed that in my effort to keep them busy and productive, I was filling their days with projects and activities more suited for the training of girls.

Who would expect any differently? I
am a girl!

I don't know how to train boys in manly things like chopping down trees or installing new brakes on a car. I don't know how to wire an electrical outlet or replace a piece of rusty pipe while on my belly under the house.

What I do know how to do is organize the canned goods in my kitchen cabinets - so that's what I had my boys doing after school. Straightening cabinets, an occasional changing of a light bulb, cutting the grass, laundry, and house cleaning... these jobs didn't keep two strong boys busy and productive for very long at all.

Surely the challenge to find manly, industrious activities for growing sons was not just a problem in the Alexander household. I imagined if I were still part of a homeschool group, we'd all be talking about what to do with these sons who needed to be trained in manliness. Of course, most of the moms stopped going to support groups when the kids got bigger because our experience helped us feel more confident with homeschooling.

However, as the kitchen cabinets became neater, I become increasingly concerned.

I remember vividly the day I poured my heart out to Timmy, telling him about my concern for our maturing sons and their need for a man in their lives who could mentor them throughout the day in manliness while discipling them in godliness. As our discussion ended, I began praying that God might open a door for our sons to be taught by a man who could best lead them into the next phase of their lives.

After two years of praying, the door of opportunity finally opened and an instructor stepped into my boys' lives who is not only the most qualified to lead them in manliness, but who also cares more about them than any man I know.

April 20th will mark four years since God let Timmy come home to mentor his sons full time.

I have no greater admiration than I do for Timmy who left a challenging, fulfilling career that he enjoyed so that he could invest in the training of his sons. He left the praise of supervisors and the camaraderie and respect of his subordinates so that he might pour himself into the lives of his children.

While at the Family Conference, my suspicion was confirmed that ours was not the only family sensing the need for sons to be mentored by men in a close, daily, working relationship.

As it turns out, fathers working with sons daily had been the practice for all of civilization prior to the last few hundred years since the Industrial Revolution that lured men away from home and into factories and a working world separate from their families.

As I listened to the historical overview, I was overwhelmed with thankfulness that God, in His mercy, allowed Timmy to come home to work with his children. From a financial perspective, with our past foolish business decisions and pride-filled motives of past endeavors, we don't deserve to have an at-home dad. Yet God is allowing Timmy to work alongside his family every day.

In Kevin Swanson's closing, he challenged the men both young and old with a powerful charge that I hope my sons won't soon forget. It is especially relevant to Timmy and me as we stumble through the parenting of these older sons - barely figuring it out before it's time for them to leave us. Swanson said, "Rather than lament the many failings of your father, instead build on whatever small foundation he laid for you. Stand on your father's shoulders so that you'll be that much closer to the goal. Some of you have fathers who stood ten feet tall - stand on their shoulders and become great men of God. Some have fathers who could barely stand six inches from the ground - stand tall and proud on those six inches and become a great man of God."

Although we may only be lifting our sons a few inches off the ground, I pray they will stand on their sincere father's shoulders and become great men of God.

I'm certain of this, it's a much more attainable goal than when their mom had them alphabetizing canned goods!


Graham Donahue said...

Wow! It's hard to believe 4 years has passed already! What a blessing and encouragement your lives have been to us!


His bondservant said...

Our family went to the Family Economics Conference. I was so hoping to meet you all since my daughter was such a fan of Meredith's blog and then I found yours. We tried to get into the session that your family was doing, but it was too full. We did buy the CD's though and will be looking forward to hearing your words of wisdom. My husband is a Chaplain in the military right now, but we are praying and looking toward the future to see what God would have us do in terms of a family business. May the Lord continue to bless your family as you seek to serve Him.
In Christ,

Davene Grace said...

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about this. I, too, have wondered how I can possibly train my boys like they need to be trained. Now if I had daughters, that would be easy, right? ;-) But with sons??

Praise God for husbands who are devoted to their sons!