Greater Love Hath No Man

The yellow linoleum and dark paneled cupboards bore testament to the age of the kitchen and its want for a remodel. I sat, gangly frame perched on a wooden stool as my brother broke the news. He would be enlisting in the military–the Marine Corps, to be specific. As he explained his plans to family member after family member, they each, in turn tried to persuade him away from his choice. He was determined to go and would not be swayed. I was twenty-one when Patrick left for Parris Island and as I watched him promise to support and defend the Constitution, my own son swirled in my belly. I cried as a sister for her only brother, with no comprehension of how my mother must have felt.

Greater Love Hath No Man — Happy 4th of July from The MOB Society

A month or so later, as most mothers do, I held my wee son in my arms and in that moment I cried not only for my brother, but as a mother knowing that I could never let this little boy go. And yet every day, across the world, mothers give their sons, wives give their husbands and sisters give their brothers so we can be free. Every soldier that has shouldered the mantel of protecting the US from the War for Independence in the eighteenth century until today has been someone’s child. My blond-haired, light-eyed boy looks at me and all I can think about this Independence Day is that Avery Brown entered the Civil war at the age of eight years and eleven months. He was only accepted because he lied about his age and said he was twelve.

I know we don’t allow eight and twelve year olds to enter the military, but the only difference between twelve and eighteen is six years and my goodness, don’t tell a mother sending her boy away that he is old enough, because there are not enough years in all of the millenia combined to justify sending our sons and daughters to war and yet we know in our hearts the same ardent love for freedom burns in their breasts as did in Patrick Henry’s as he exclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death!”

The fortitude, the determination that brought our patriots to the door of death and the fervor that stanchions them against the buffets of the enemy is not born overnight. No, it is cultivated in the heart of a young boy, by moms just like you. No one births their son or daughter and hopes that one day they will pay the ultimate sacrifice, but I humbly thank and acknowledge each and every mother whose life is now divided into a before and after narrative. Thank you for raising such a loyal, determined man or woman, that they would embody the truth of John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

This Independence Day we here at The MOB Society say a resounding, “Thank You” to all the members of the armed forces and emergency services who daily sacrifice their lives for our freedom and safety. And to the mothers and fathers who have raised them, we say “Well done and thank you.”

We’d love to acknowledge your family member if they have served in the military or emergency services. Please leave a comment on this post with their name and branch. Thank you and God Bless America.

Greater Love Hath No Man — Happy 4th of July from The MOB Society

 

Parenting Playbook: Tip 1

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Summer is for Taking a Break from the Norm (July Series)

I’ve been praying a lot about what to put on my family’s calendar this summer, and keep feeling like the Lord wants me to keep it mostly free. We’re still recovering from a crazy spring sports season—running here, there, and everywhere…barely ever eating at home…forgetting where we live—you know what I mean.

We know many of you are detoxing from the crazies, too, so as we put our heads together about our topic for the month of July, we thought it might be nice to take a little break from our normal posting schedule.

Starting Wednesday, our plan is to post on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays in the month of July, with excerpts from our latest ebook, The Parenting Playbook for Christian Moms of Boys.

Raising Boys? Get this free ebook from the MOB Society with wit and wisdom from your favorite moms of boys!

For those of you who don’t have it yet, we know you’ll enjoy this month’s sneak peak behind the cover!

The Parenting Playbook for Christian Moms of Boys is filled with practical, spiritual, and hysterical wisdom from your favorite moms of boys! Get your copy absolutely free by entering your email address below! When you do, you’ll also receive a free top-secret bonus, just because we love you!

How to Love in a Broken World

There’s a little girl in our neighborhood.

She’s beautiful, and precious, and precocious, and she comes from a background my boys find very difficult to understand.

For some reason, she latched on to my boys. Maybe it was because they’re so handsome (at least mama thinks so), or maybe it’s because they just listened to her story. Regardless, they were her safe place. In the midst of her struggles and trials, they loved her, and wanted her to know Jesus, and this blessed my mama’s heart like nothing else could.

But I slowly began to realize that their tactics for sharing the gospel needed some finesse.

Several times, as I watched them play through my front window, I noticed them huddled together, talking deeply about this or that. And like a flash of lightening, she would get up and run away. After some prodding, I realized my boys were cornering her on her faith. Pressing her for details to prove she was a Christian.

Over the breakfast table, we dissected their approach (this is a slightly abbreviated version of the conversation, but you’ll get the main points).

Boys: “Mom, we just wanted to talk to her about Jesus. We asked her if she was sure she was a Christian, and she just said, ‘leave me alone!’ and ran away! We wanted to tell her about how Jesus can change her life.

Mom: “I’m so glad you want her to know Jesus so badly! I do, too…But boys, tell me about the way you behave when you’re playing together with her. Do you fight, argue, and bicker with each other?” (Of course, mama already knew the answer…).

Boys (hanging heads in shame): “Yes.

As we continued, it became clear that a lot of time was spent arguing over who was right, who got to go first, who got their own way, and who was best. And as I listened to them defend themselves around the table, blaming each other for not playing fair, being selfish, or showing off, a light went off in my heart, and I knew what was happening.

Mom: “Boys, what I’m hearing you say is that your friend looks at you, the way you interact with and love each other, and sees absolutely no difference between how you treat each other and how the rest of the world treats her.

Crickets.

We can't hide under a blanket, wishing things were different. We have to find ways to live in the world we live in, being the hands and feet of Christ the whole time.

In light of Friday’s Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, we felt like you might be trying to figure out how in the world to begin having these conversations with your children. As my friend Amanda said, this seems to be THE issue of our generation, and friends, my boys are old enough now that I have to begin having these conversations with them. They notice the two men holding hands at the mall. They read billboards. They see the news.

We can’t hide under a blanket, wishing things were different. We have to find ways to live in the world we live in, being the hands and feet of Christ the whole time.

But how do we do that as it concerns this issue? Any issue that differs from our beliefs? How do we love in a broken world?

Let me start by saying that my boys got it wrong. While their friend wasn’t gay, and didn’t (as far as I know) come from a gay family (really, her story has nothing to do with the gay marriage issue), the way they interacted with her is a perfect illustration of everything we’re doing wrong as a culture, and a call to do it right.

I want to focus on two main verses and four main points to help us change our focus as we interact with the world around us:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

1. We must love others more than we love ourselves.

Woven into the conversations on social media about yesterday’s rulings is a thread of, “well, what about me?” Christians are starting to talk about their right to have their own opinion, and how the world is increasingly doing to us what we’re no longer allowed to do to others. They’re hushing us, taking away our rights in favor of giving rights to others. We can barely say the word “gay” and “God” in the same sentence without being accused of hate. It’s frustrating, but I don’t see it as a problem. We’ve been broken from the beginning…we’ve just been very sheltered from it in America.

As my friend Bryan put it, “for far too long American Christians have been coasting on the cruise ship known as Christendom…ahh it was comfortable…we had our day of ease with an insulated and isolated faith.”

The freedom we’ve experienced as American Christians has been wonderful, but it isn’t what God promised. Quite the opposite. Jesus promised us that “in this world we will have trouble…” He promised us trials and tribulations, and challenged us to “count them all joy” because it meant we were getting to sacrifice our lives for the one who sacrificed his for us.

American Christians are getting a taste of what Christians in the rest of the world have been experiencing for years. Our season of comfort is coming to a close, and it’s OK because Jesus said it would happen. We have to stop worrying about our rights, our privileges, our comforts, and truly begin loving others into the Kingdom.

2. I knew what yesterday’s ruling would be before it ever happened, but that’s not the point.

Legislation has turned away from the favor of Christians. Maybe a different government would’ve prevented it, I don’t know. I’m not an expert on government proceedings. But I knew what was going to happen yesterday, and as much as I wish our country did a better job of honoring God in every way, I don’t think the ruling was the main point.

The main point is this: God has called us to make disciples of all people, and the way we do that is by being true disciples ourselves.

We can have all the knowledge of the Gospel, and know 100 different ways to share it, but unless we are living it no one will believe us. Yesterday’s ruling, more than anything else, is a call to embrace Christ, live Christ, and love like Christ.

3. There must be something different about Christians.

No matter who we’re trying to reach, we have to do it through our lives. I’m afraid we’ve fully entered into a time when words won’t matter, because we’ve used words, God’s words, to shame, and try to justify our prejudices and judgements. We’ve used them to hurt, and not heal, and how we treat people is more important than what we say.

What my boys did wrong, as they tried to reach their friend for Christ, was act just like the rest of the world. Their bickering, and arguing, and fighting amongst themselves showed her they were no different from anyone else. They professed to be Christians, but when pressed, acted like the world.

Now is the time for us to decide whose side we’re on, and I’m not talking about whether you believe homesexual marriage is ok, or not. I’m talking about radical, sold out loving Jesus. Moment-by-moment pursuit of him. Sacrifice for the sake of others, living so that others see we have something they don’t…hope.

We have the only true hope.

4. You might be wondering what all of this has to do with talking to your children about what has happened in our country.

In my opinion, everything.

I’m not going to rush into deep theological, political conversations with my children because of what happened yesterday. Those conversations will come naturally, as they arise, and we won’t shrink away from them when they do. The Bible will stand in our home, and lead these conversations because we believe it’s true no matter how we feel about what it says.

Until that time, I’m asking God to give me and my husband strength to love others more than we love ourselves, to live as Christ, and be willing to sacrifice ourselves so that others can know. My prayer (God help us) is for the world to see we have something they desperately need because there’s something different about us.

My children are watching everything I do. Yours are watching you. If they’re going to learn how to live like Christ in a world of darkness, they’ll look to us to teach them how. Actions speak louder than words. Live what you want your children to believe. As St. Francis of Assisi is credited as saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.

Serving Together,

Brooke

Brooke McGlothlin

Brooke McGlothlin is co-founder and President of Raising Boys Ministries. She’s a mother of two boys who believes God has chosen her to fight for the hearts of her sons. She can be found most often on her knees in prayer, not because she’s so holy, but because God is. Not because she knows how to raise godly men, but because she believes so much in the God who loves them more than she does. To stay connected with Brooke, sign up for her free 5-day prayer challenge for mothers of boys!

 

 

Staying Close as You Let Go

I pulled my hands back and let him toddle around on his own.

I let go of his hand, watched as he looked both ways, and let him cross the street all by himself.

I took the training wheels off—sure it was too soon—and let him endure a few scrapes, but he rode like a big boy.

I handed him the keys and prayed; he and the car came back in one piece.

This mom has experienced those stages over and over again—hold on, grow up, let go a bit…and finally, I learned a few things, but not without some heartache and lots of prayer.

Staying Close as You Let Go via The MOB Society

When our boys start to grow, things get complicated. We’re anxious for them to grow and learn and branch out, but for me, fear loomed large. I thought of all that could happen and, for some reason, I thought I could prevent it.

My problem wasn’t lack of trust, it was misplaced trust.

I seem to think that what I do will be a determining factor and, in so doing, I discount the work of the God who loves me and my son and knows what’s best for both of us. It’s God I need to trust—not myself.

The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis has a lot to say that relates to mother love. Lewis identifies two types of love: Need love (love that we need) and Gift love (love that gives). As moms, our love is a gift love but it is also a love that needs to give; we moms need to be needed.

But, as Lewis wisely wrote, “The proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift…we must aim at making ourselves superfluous.”

Our sons do need us less as they grow, but there are still several practical ways we can stay close as they stand on their own. 

Handle it lightly. Having trouble with the fact he’s growing up? Give in to the humor of the situation—but laugh at yourself, not him. Send him a picture of your lunchtime sandwich cut with his favorite bear cookie cutter, just like his used to be. Let him know that, even though he’s away at summer camp, you check your watch at what used to be his naptime and wonder if he’s getting enough rest. Text him that you spent a few minutes in his empty room this morning praying for him as he starts college. 

Be supportive—say yes and “you’re right” as much as possible. This works all along the way, even if you have toddlers. If we want them to grow to be independent, self-reliant people, we do have to let them branch out a bit. “No” is so easy to say, and it tends to be our default. But give in to the yeses a little more every day. Let them learn from trying. And when they’re right, don’t just nod your head; tell them. Build them up; support them. 

Don’t want to be superfluous? I don’t think any mom does. So how do we stay close and needed but still let them grow? We shift our gifts. Yes, we need to give and be needed, but in different ways. Instead of fixing his lunch for him, team up. Show him how to pack his own lunchbox, or ask him to cook dinner with you once a week. Or turn things around! Instead of trying to solve his problems, let him help you with that app or get his advice about something. 

Don’t relinquish your role as parent, but realize that it’s changing. Yes, you’ll still have to remind of rules and enforce boundaries, but strive to remember you’re dealing with a son who’s older than he was a year ago.

Enjoy his independence. Ask God to show you the positives in this new stage. Make a list, and look for new ways to share your gifts with family or in ministry.

If you give him a chance to spread his wings and cheer him along, he’ll want you on the sidelines for a long time.

To read more about staying close as you let go:

Why This Pain of Letting My Children Grow Up? A blog post from a Christian mom.

Some words just for moms of teens.

12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid: Leading Your Kids to Succeed in Life by Tim Elmore

 

Laura Lee Groves is the mother of four sons and the author of I’m Outnumbered! One Mom’s Lessons in the Lively Art of Raising Boys, in addition to Pearl, a novel about international adoption.

Want to learn more about Laura? Make sure to…

 

 

 

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