The Good Life

I am sitting at the front of an ocean liner looking out over the most beautiful expanse of blue one could ever lay their eyes upon. I’ve been told this part of the ship is called the bow. (That’s for you curious ones out there.) The wind is lightly blowing my hair and I’m nice and comfy sitting in the shade. There are folks buzzing all around me and laughter is bubbling up in every conversation that is within my capacity of hearing.

Life is good.

I just had an employee by the pool where I am sitting ask me if I needed anything. My answer was “no thanks.” I am in need of nothing. I just left a buffet where every type of food that I always want but am never willing to cook at home is available to me. Pan after pan of delicious delights just sitting there at the perfect temperature beckoning me to taste them. And, of course, I reason, I should taste them, someone worked hard to prepare it for me. Well, for me and the four thousand other folks that are on this floating city.

As I am gingerly balancing my plate that is ready to topple over from all of the food piled on it, I am stopped by yet another employee, “is there anything else I can get for you, ma’am?” She parrots the question of the previous employees. I look at my ridiculously filled plate and sheepishly say, “No, thank you, I’m fine.”

What else could I possibly need?

the cove coffee

Unexpected discovery of a fabulous coffee shop on board!

 

This morning I started the day with a yoga type stretch with a nice young fellow from New Zealand named Gert.   He was cheery and peppy and helped us tie ourselves into a pretzel promising it would wake our senses and make the day feel so much more “alive.” As I was in down dog all I could think was “I’m floating through the ocean, the sky couldn’t be bluer, I have people with me that I love dearly and I don’t have to lift a finger to do any real work for a week. How much more alive can I get?”

Thank you Gert for the morning pep talk, I’ll definitely be back for the pretzel stretches tomorrow.

Yesterday, a very nice lady introduced herself in the hallway right outside our stateroom and told us to let her know if there was anything else we might need she would be happy to comply. My mind immediately spun with the thought “lady, you’re cleaning my room, making my bed and sanitizing the bathroom. What else could a person want?” But I quickly said, “Okay, thank you, we’ll let you know.”  Not to mention she leaves chocolate on the pillows at night. She’s my favorite.

Is this real life?

I find myself thinking how wonderful it would be to have this kind of treatment all of the time. I daydream and wish I were part of the rich and famous. The ones who don’t have to clean their own bathrooms or clean up the kitchen after a long day at work. You know the ones who don’t have to pump their own gas in the car or wash their own clothes.

The ones who live the good life.

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I’ve never actually seen one of these people in person, I’ve heard of them and watched shows about them on TV. You know the show I’m talking about, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” What was the guy’s name who hosted it? I can never think of it. Did you watch it? And did you wish you could live in that five gazillion square foot mansion with the swimming pool the size of a small lake in the back yard? And of course it all comes with a ready to please you staff, including gourmet chef, and Gert for your morning pep stretch.

Those people certainly live the good life.

But, even as I sit here and write about what life might be like if I were more like someone else, or had more things or more of this or that, I am convicted to stop and really consider what it means to have the good life.

I’ve always thought of the good life as exactly what I’ve seen here on this floating lap of luxury, or on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” But, with age and loss and maturity I’ve begun to see things a little differently. There is certainly nothing wrong with having things or enjoying life, but I’m convinced that none of those things is what defines the good life.

So, what is the good life?

This afternoon we went into Cozumel, Mexico and rode in dune buggies along the countryside. I’ve never been there before. After a short drive, we stopped along the way to snorkel. It’s the first time I’ve ever snorkeled and I freely admit I was a little unnerved by the idea. But, lately my mantra has been, “you only live once,” so I went for it. I went through the short tutorial that showed me how to use my mask, inflatable life jacket and flippers. Then he showed us the hand signals in case we got into trouble and needed immediate attention. I paid special attention to this part.

dune buggy pic.jpeg

This was really fun!

 

 

Once the tutorial was over, we headed down to the sea. When I stepped into water I nearly lost my footing on the uneven bottom. I had to sit down in the water on the rough rocks to put on my flippers all the while balancing my mask and trying to keep it from going under water. I am not sure why this mattered to me as I could have easily emptied the snorkel, but I was determined to keep it up. Why didn’t I put it on my head you ask? Good question. I cannot even imagine what I looked like, but, I find comfort when thinking back on it at the unflattering fact that I was in good company. There were plenty of us sitting there being tossed around by the current trying to get our flippers on.

Stay with me here, I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

When flippers were finally donned and with mask and snorkel in place I began to try and walk to join the rest of my group further out in the ocean. All I can say is Daffy Duck, that’s what I must’ve looked like trying to lift those now fifty pounds apiece flippers up and down and make forward progress under the water. “Walk backwards” the guide had said, so I tried turning around, can you guess what happened next? Yep, fell straight back, the snorkel went under water and it was at this moment that I decided to take a deep breath. I came up out of the water coughing and spitting water, but because I was too embarrassed to be noticed or “helped” I nearly strangled in utter silence. No using the international “help” sign for me.

It’s amazing what pride will do for a person. Nearly killed me today.

It took a few false starts, but I finally got out to the group and began to snorkel with the rest, not the best, of them. Before I put my mask covered face under the water for the first time I was really wrestling with thoughts of “is this really worth it?” But, once I looked at the bottom of the sea, all the effort, strangling and work was suddenly a dim memory. It was totally worth it. I never knew the bottom of the sea was so incredible. God has placed beauty all around us everywhere, even the bottom of the sea where so few will ever see it.

He is amazing.

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We spent a while discovering the mysteries below us and then it was time to get back into our dune buggies and continue our ride around the island. We drove along a highway surrounded by trees for quite a while and then suddenly our view opened up to the expanse of the ocean. The water was so clear and blue, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Miles and miles of it. More beauty and again I thought how wonderful our God is to create this magnificent, powerful ocean. As our drive continued, we passed more trees and more water and finally into a populated area. It was a stark contrast to what we had just seen. Homes that were barely standing, rubble, debris, old rusty cars stacked up along the side of the road.

It was quite a shock.

And yet, nearly every one of the people I saw were smiling or engaged in a conversation with another. Not at all what I would expect to see in what I would’ve defined as poverty. Folks were walking their pets, riding their mopeds, shopping, and walking the streets; the fabulous smell of homemade tortillas filled the air.  My heart was struck by how shallow I had been earlier.

I love when the Lord keeps me straight. Well, I love that he loves me enough to keep me straight, that’s a more accurate statement. And that’s exactly what he did in the moments that followed. He began to open my mind and heart to an old truth that needed to be refined in me.

I’m not sure I can adequately define what the good life IS, but I can tell you what it is NOT.

It is not having a fabulous mansion in the best part of town, it is not about having the most popular clothes and brands, and it is not about what you drive or how much you’re pampered. As a matter of fact it is not about things at all.  None of the above mentioned are wicked or bad, but they are not what fill us with laughter, peace, fulfillment or love.

No THING can do that.

 

So, for me, the good life is MY life. My regular, very “unglamorous” simple life. The one where I get up and go to work so I can help provide for my family. Where I come home and pretend I can cook and then clean up the kitchen afterwards. Where I clean my own bathrooms and make my own bed. It’s the life that I live every day, the simple, the complicated, the gains, and the losses, all of it. It all blends together to make a beautiful story. Maybe yours is big and beautiful and obvious to those around you just like the gorgeous Caribbean Sea that we drove by today. Or maybe your life is quieter and more private like the bottom of the ocean that I glimpsed today. Just as beautiful but not as obvious. It is all good.

Because LIVING life IS the good life.

We get a short number of years on this planet, I’m purposing in my heart not to spend them looking around me wishing I had something more or that I could live someone else’s life.   I have so much in the people that the Lord has given me and the lives he allows me to be a part of. And I bet if you looked around you, you could say the same thing. Give it a try.

Well, I’m going to enjoy every last minute of this vacation and then I’ll post pictures on social media so my friends can see some of the sights I saw. And I’ll be so appreciative that they care about me and my life. Then I’ll get up on Monday and go to work and keep on living. Hopefully go on appreciating the life God has given me.

Sadly, I won’t get my morning pep talk from Gert, he has to stay on the ship. Maybe I’ll record him as a reminder to keep stretching and trying so I can feel more “alive.” Why not?

After all, life is good.

Jeff, Sandi and Travis on cruise.jpg

Life is good!

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Courage

I stood behind my dad, my hand on his back while he allowed the tears to flow. We had just finished packing up the clothes on Mom’s side of the closet. He was finally ready for that step and it hurt as bad as any physical injury. With tears on his cheeks he said to me, “How can a lifetime fit into a few cardboard boxes?” I had no answer. I knew the boxes were only clothes, but it felt like we were packing memories as we folded each piece and tucked them away.

Life after loss has been hard.

We cried together while I assured him he wasn’t alone, Mom had left him with a big family and we would always be here for him. But, even as the words left my lips, I knew we weren’t the ones he was missing.

No other person can fill that void.

It was on the drive home that I began to really think about the courage it takes to keep on living after the loss of someone you love from the depths of your being.  How brave one was to keep going on day after day. But, then, probably because I needed something to put my mind on besides loss and pain, I began to wonder what it really means to be courageous verses being brave. Were they really the same thing? I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew there was a difference.

So, I began to do some reading.

What I found was so interesting. Although the two character qualities are similar, there is a distinct difference.   Both bravery and courage have this in common: to face and overcome an obstacle that seems bigger than the person to whom it is looming over. But, there is an underlying difference that will keep me from ever using the terms interchangeably in a sentence. I am now convinced that the two should never be confused.

So, what is the difference?

Well, I can’t really word it any better than one of the summaries I read, “Bravery is the ability to confront pain, danger or attempts of intimidation without any feeling of fear. It is strength in character that allows a person to always be seemingly bigger than the crisis, whether he is indeed more powerful or is lesser than what he is tackled with. Courage, on the other hand, is the ability to undertake an overwhelming difficulty or pain despite the eminent and unavoidable presence of fear. More than a quality, it is a state of mind driven by a cause that makes the struggle all worth it. Unlike in the case of bravery, a person fueled by courage may feel inevitably small in the face of peril, pain or problems. The essence of courage is not the feeling of being certainly capable of overcoming what’s one is faced with, but rather is the willful choice to fight regardless of the consequences.”  Difference Between Courage and Bravery | Difference Between | Courage vs Bravery http://www.differencebetween.net/language/difference-between-courage-and-bravery/#ixzz49O3uAMKr

Bravery is being fearless and courage is not letting fear be the deciding factor.

Lion

I look around me and so many are living courageously. But, I think the person to whom I would award the courageous medal, if there were such a thing, is my dad. I have watched him over the last year-and-a-half since mom died and he perfectly personifies the essence of courage.   He’s never sure he can take another day of the loneliness, but he gets up anyway. He’s never sure he can eat another meal by himself, but he does it anyway. He’s never sure he’ll be able to get up and face one more day of the hurt that has found residence in his heart, but he dresses and faces the world anyway.

Not because it is easy, but because he has courage.

All these years of living have brought him to this moment, a moment of truth. Think about it, what if the one person who meant more to you than anybody was suddenly gone? What if you had prayed for healing and then watched them suffer and die? Would you still believe in God’s goodness? I know that’s a tough question to think about over your morning cup of coffee, and who really wants to think about sad things anyway? But, we will all face loss someday, if we haven’t already. It’s in that time of loss and suffering that your faith will be tried and tested, will you still believe? My dad does, he really believes in a greater plan, and lives it every day.

And his unwavering, sometimes messy, trust has made a difference in how I live my life.

He is “driven by a cause that makes the struggle worth it;” his faith. He has been a man of faith since I can remember; he tells the story of getting saved when we were only small children. Since then he has believed in a greater purpose, a divine Father who knows what is best. He has told us on more than one occasion that sometimes you just won’t understand why God chooses to do things the way He does.  But, you need to trust Him anyway. You see, he and mom raised three girls, he was most definitely outnumbered, but to hear him tell it he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

They raised us to believe, and we do.

He doesn’t wake up in the morning without fear of paralyzing emptiness, he doesn’t dare the events of a day to try and overcome him, and he fully knows he is no match for what’s ahead. Yet he humbles himself and faces it all anyway. He laughs through tears and quietly packs up a life time of love in a few boxes because he has courage that there is still life left to be lived. Hopes and dreams to invest in, love to give and joy to find.

This road he’s been placed on is a slow painful daily walk. But, he has courage so he gets up “ready to fight for life regardless of the consequences.”

Seventy years on this earth has taught him much.

Not long ago I heard Celine Dion sing a song called “The Show Must Go On.” She recently lost her husband and is deeply grieving the love of her life.  I watched her sing with passion and joy and with tears streaming down her cheeks.   You see, she too understands what it means to live courageously.

Some of you live with courage each day. Loss or deep hurts have devastated you. I want to honor you today, to recognize your willingness to weather life in the “face of peril, pain or problems.” You get up each day and face whatever is coming no matter how incapable you may feel. I hope and pray you are discovering that the Lord is enough. He knows the level of your pain and he sees you as you pack away those precious belongings or visit the hospital again, or whatever it is that is hurting you so deeply. He has not forgotten. He is working and healing your heart no matter how it might feel at this moment. Hang on to that truth!

And remember, “The Show Must Go On.”

Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Matthew 19:26 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

The Rope Swing

We are almost to the end of the school year, and we’re exhausted. This year has had its highs and lows and, honestly, I’m ready for summer. So many times in years past we get to the very end of the school calendar and I find myself sad and not wanting to admit the obvious; another year has passed us by.

But not this year.

I’m not completely sure why, but I think I’ll be doing a happy dance once the last bubble is colored in on the last scantron.   Once the last assignment is turned in, the backpack is put away for the summer, and my son’s car pulls in the driveway for the last time of his junior year, we are going to form a conga line and dance around the house! It has been that kind of year and I am not sorry to see it end.

We’ve worked hard, played hard and now it’s time for sweet summertime.

It’s a time for feasting on watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, squash, peas and okra; my mouth is watering just thinking about it. There are not too many things much sweeter than the long days of summer; empty days just begging to be filled with camps, fishing, swimming, lazy hours and late nights. I can remember as a kid being gone many a summer day only to return home for food or drink; the whole day without a hint of a schedule or a single spelling word.

It was Heaven.

We had a creek near our home as a child; we called it “Pond Creek.” I have no idea if that was really the name of the little river we swam in, but we fondly called it that and everyone seemed to know what we were talking about. The most distinct childhood memory I have of this place was how extremely cold the water felt. I have thought about going back as an adult and putting a thermometer into its swirls and swishes to see how cold its waters run.   Why is it that cold temperatures are so much more bearable as a kid? I cannot even imagine sticking my big toe into it today, much less submerging my whole body.

I get chills just thinking about it.

But, swim we did. We swam and played and swung out over the murky water on a rope tied to one of its bouncy branches. I’m sure as we swung out from the bank it must’ve looked like an orangutan’s poor attempt to swing from one tree to the next. It wasn’t for the faint of heart. As soon as your feet left solid ground, you felt the wind in your face and your legs dangling beneath you. If you were brave enough to look down you’d see the water passing swiftly below you and then your heart rate doubled. Finally, when the rope was at its farthest point, the time came to let go, you released your hands and plummeted the twenty or more feet into the icy cold bath awaiting you.

It was exhilaration like none other.

Once you hit the water, you went into immediate frozen shock from the drastic change in temperature. Or at least that’s how it felt. But, that was no matter; all that crossed your mind was getting out and doing it again. Oh, there was fear, but the excitement and the sheer fun outweighed the risks.

I think that’s what it must be like to live fearlessly.

To be willing to stand on the edge of the life’s “bank” and jump into that decision that is so daunting, or that relationship that has been so hard but worth it, or the new job that seems overwhelming. Facing and jumping into the fear, understanding that it will feel like a crazy ride, but when you let go the cold exhilarating water and the sweet taste of success will be worth all the stress and work.

But, first you have to jump.

I remember one time during those carefree days I jumped and I was too afraid to let go of the rope. (I know you cringed as you read that last sentence. Maybe some of you have held on to the rope too long too.) I was horrified of the fall but it didn’t dawn on me until it was too late that hanging on would hurt more.

I went swinging out over the open water with all my good buddies on the bank chanting “let go, let go!” But I was too afraid, so I squeezed the rope even tighter. My knuckles turned white and all the oxygen left my lungs. I could hear the scream that escaped me, but I didn’t actually remember telling myself to scream. I was having a kind of out of body or maybe mind experience.

But, the rope does not care that you’re scared, it just keeps swinging.

Once it reached its farthest point and started the quick return, and with “let go” hammering in my ears, I resolved to ride the thing back to safety. But, I quickly found out that it doesn’t work that way. Oh, I made it back to the bank, but not quite close enough to put my feet on solid ground before I went back in the opposite direction.   Back and forth, this cycle repeated itself until I was suspended in midair.

Hanging there, I thought in my childlike mind, “I’M GOING TO DIE!”

It wasn’t until I had no more strength in my hands to hold me up that I HAD to let go. I hit the water in a sprawling position grasping desperately at thin air in hopes to soften my landing. Yes, I think you know how this ended;, belly flop of all belly flops. It stung like the dickens and my hands hurt from the knuckle white exertion.

But, I did it, and in that moment, that’s all that really mattered.

As my head emerged from the dirty creek water, I could hear my friends at the top of the bank cheering for me and beckoning me to come up and try again. I’ve decided that is one of the sweetest sounds on earth, friends cheering you on even in your most humbling and ungraceful moments. So, shivering from the cold and teeth chattering, I swam to the bank and started the climb back up to the beginning.

Thanks to the encouragement of another, I didn’t give up.

By my next turn it was a little easier to let go, and the ride down to the water’s surface was less eventful. And the time after that was even better until I was one of the ones on the bank calling out to other swingers, “let go, let go!”

Sometimes fearless doesn’t look like abandon.

Sometimes it looks like trying again and again until we start to get it right.

Whatever is in your life these days, don’t give up on it. Keep trying and praying for God to give you courage and strength to come up out of the water and climb the steep bank again. And when it’s finally your turn and your feet leave the bank and the wind is blowing in your face, remember…

“Let go.”

God will be there and he will help you to face whatever is at the bottom or whatever it is you’re swinging into. You won’t be alone.

Trust me, practice makes perfect.

90 Seconds of Light: What Really Matters

I’ve shared with many of you my campaign to fight old age. I guess what I mean is, I want to age gracefully, and not immediately. So, I’ve been working hard. Yoga, Pilates, running, all with the idea of keeping myself in the best health for my ever increasing number of years; it has been a challenge. I am also a person who likes to see results right away. As you can imagine, the two don’t mix. Once you start making a concerted effort to get yourself in a better place, it seems that you live noticing every little change or lack thereof.

In my case, it feels like a lack thereof.

I was voicing my disappointment this morning to my husband. Honestly, the man deserves an award for all he has endured these twenty three and a half years of marriage. As I said I was talking, well whining, to my husband about how little change I was seeing. It was truly a discouraging moment. He was doing his best to lift me up and remind me about the positive changes I had made that would eventually pay off, and I was arguing every point he made declaring that things would never change and it was all for nothing.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, real uplifting read here, bear with me.

This went on for a few minutes when my son came to the door of our room. I really didn’t think he could hear because he was getting dressed for school in another part of the house. If I had thought this through I would’ve remembered that he has bionic ears and misses nothing!  What happened in the next moment changed my view of all I was thinking and feeling. I think I’ll remember this moment forever, seriously.

He said, “Mom, you can’t place your value on what you weigh, how things fit or any of that external stuff. You just have to keep trying your best and know that it is making a difference.”

I just sat there and listened as he elaborated his point a little more, but mostly the words blurred together as I saw this six foot three young man trying to console his mom with wisdom that he had heard somewhere. It was humbling. It was wonderful.

It made me shut my mouth, which is exactly what I needed to do.

Life is full of disappointments and hardships, I needed a better perspective and he gave it to me. So, tomorrow morning, I will get up and do something that is really hard and that I have yet to enjoy, so I can be in better shape. I’ve decided not to worry about the results but instead focus on the energy it takes to look at the bright side.

Because my seventeen year old reminded me of what was really important, and I think I’ll take his advice.

Prayer:  Father,  I am so thankful for your goodness in my life. Thank you for sending me reminders in all shapes and sizes that I matter to you.  I am good enough just the way I am.  There is no perfect way to look, we are all beautiful to you.  Help me to remember what really matters.  You have known me all the days of my life and have good in store for me. Let me be a blessing to others today and to offer them love and grace.  In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Scripture:  139:14-16The Message (MSG)

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.”

Boy Talk

We had a wonderful weekend following our high school junior up to Montgomery for track sectionals.  It is very surreal that this is my youngest child and he is winding up his second-to-last year of high school.  I have LOVED following my three kids around for the last sixteen years.  Sometimes I wonder what I will do with myself when they are all out of the house and on their own.  I tell myself often that the Lord will fill my days, and that brings me comfort.

I love being their mom.

Yesterday, our college sophomore drove over and joined us in Montgomery to watch his brother, undoubtedly hoping to obtain a free meal in the process.  That is always an incentive for college kids to visit, offer them free food; works like a charm every time.  So he and one of his friends made the short trek from where they attend college to the track meet.  It was so very good to spend some time with them.  The conversation sounds so different when I’m with them verses my girl and her friends.  I never cease to be amazed at how different boy talk is from girl talk.

I’ve realized throughout their growing up years, in order to speak “girl” talk and “boy” talk, one must be bilingual.

Christian and Travis

At least that’s how it feels.  I was raised with only sisters, so this whole “boy language” thing has been a discovery for me.  I am amused constantly at how many special effects and sounds they use when in the company of other boys.  A conversation can get quite lively with noises and reenactments that could compete for an academy award by anyone’s estimation; true story.  I just lived it yesterday as my two were reunited and it was a real competition to get a word in edgewise.

They love the language they speak.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but my boys have a dramatic flair.  One loves the stage and can honestly compete with anyone in his ability to formulate accents.  You want a French accent?  Got it.  Spanish, Russian, British? Got that too.  And it’s totally believable.  The only one I don’t think he’s been able to master is German, just can’t get enough saliva in the back of the throat to make the throaty choking up a lung sound that it takes to convince an audience.

The other is shyer, but is shameless when it comes to competing with his brother in comedy, quick wit, and foreign accents.  One might think, if they listened in around our house, that we are either entertaining foreign guests or we are crazy.  I’ll let you decide which one is more probable.

It does make for a lot of laughs.

travis and friends

After the track meet yesterday we went and ate with the team and then decided to do a little shopping.  We spent some time in the bookstore and then clothing stores; never ending entertainment the whole time.  It felt so good to have them together and to feel partly whole again.  We are so rarely a family of five anymore, I’m just thankful when several of us are able to get together.

I’ll take whatever I can get these days.

As we were wrapping up a delightful afternoon, we decided to get ice cream before parting ways.  Our group headed to Sonic knowing we could sit outside and maximize every last minute of our time together. I envisioned us lingering over meaningful conversation, talking until the sun went down about our feelings, hopes and dreams and then saying a sorrowful good bye.  Well, I was thinking that.  I’m pretty sure they were thinking, “Ice cream? Did you say ice cream?”

We just don’t think like they do.

Christian and friends

Once everyone got their ice cream and our conversation changed from the silly to the more serious, I began to get a glimpse of what was in the heart of these boys of mine.  Oh, they put up a tough, funny front, but when they feel safe, it’s amazing what you hear.  They talk about girls and cars and plans and frustrations.  They really do feel stuff.  Sometimes, and I’m talking as a girl here and not as their mom, I think we forget that boys have dreams too.  They get their feelings hurt, they cry, they feel broken-hearted, get depressed, laugh their heads off, just like the girls.  Of course, they may make farting sounds at any random time, and then bust out laughing as they see the reaction of the unsuspecting and startled audience around them.

Very unlike girls.

I have read many articles written to young women reminding them to guard their hearts and to stay pure, and I agree so much with that advice.  But, I am a little surprised at how less often I see the same type of articles written for boys.  As though it’s just assumed that young boys and men don’t need to hear the same message because they are only after “one thing.”  And that one thing means more to them than the heart and soul of any girl.

What a mistaken philosophy.

Wouldn’t it be an amazing thing if we spent just as much time training our boys to think along the same lines?  Instead of focusing so much on the girl making the right decision and leading the way to purity and transparency, we should remember that the boy really could and should be making the same decisions.  The whole  “boys will be boys” stigma can just be an excuse to let a young man get away with behaviors and attitudes that are completely the opposite of what we hope they will grow up to be.

True, it may take a different approach to reach into the minds of these guys; most need the message to be presented in their “language.”  But, it is most definitely possible to raise young men who respect the boundaries of young ladies and even have boundaries of their own.  I’m praying for a young man like this for my own daughter.  There is something very attractive about a man who knows who he is and to Whom he belongs.  It will win the respect of most ladies.   Even the goofiest of guys who live by a standard will win themselves the lady of their dreams.  Girls love a guy who lives in step his convictions.

It is a great sign of what’s in his heart.

And when it comes to the heart, you are talking in a universal language.

That’s right, the heart and ice cream; ice cream breaks down the walls of language as well.

Travis with bunny ears