Audra Krell

On Purpose

Archive for the category “Boys”

Almost doesn’t Count – College Edition

Gone to College.

It’s that time of year,  primary school starting, college students leaving and families grappling with big changes in the household.

We’ve got one son in the final semester of his senior year (graduating early, oh yes he is!) our middle boy leaving for his freshman year at PLNU and our third son entering his sophomore year of high school.

The third child, is the main reason for this post. I’ve already reminded you well meaning folk of what not to say to parents of college students in my post “Five Thing Not To say To College Parents.”

Turns out we’ve got more “don’t say its” regarding only having one child left at home. I thought we covered this in bullet number two in my 5 Things post. Go ahead and click the link above, I’ll wait.

Apparently now, people have taken it to the other extreme.

I cannot tell you the numbers of people that comment on how the empty nest is in sight. People encouraging us to” just hold on, the end is near!” Telling us we’ve “almost made it”, that we “only have one more to get behind us!” “So you’re not quite empty nesters, but pretty much!”

And sadly they say it in front of our son.

See here’s the thing, we have 3 1/2 more years to enjoy him while he’s under our roof.

Three-and-a-half.

I know of no scenario where 3 1/2 years is “almost”. Almost refers to situations of immediacy like “I’m almost over this cold, the chicken is almost done”, and the ever popular “I almost hit the target with the grenade.”

I guess we’re just different, but we are grateful for the gift of the next years to focus on our third child. Due to birth order, he’s been last to do everything. We certainly don’t plan to short change him now.

In the 5 things post I suggest if you don’t know what to say, that it might be best not say anything at all. I further suggest that you simply ask yourself what it would feel like if someone referred to you as “something to endure or get through” and then again, don’t say anything at all.

Go easy on us college parents, separation is one of the most challenging things we as humans endure.

 

Author Susan Cottrell On Men

Today I have Susan Cottrell weighing in with an excerpt from her upcoming book. I’ve written before about how men need to have their heart question answered and Susan agrees. I’m grateful she has taken the time to share her thoughts and I highly recommend her new book.

Susan Cottrell is a writer, speaker and teacher. Married 25 years, she and Rob have five (nearly) grown children. Susan homeschooled for some twenty years… until she ran out of energy! She is set to release her newly expanded book: How Not to Lose Your Teen: Raising Kids who Love God and You Too. Her second book, The Marriage Renovation, is soon to be published. She loves to lead retreats and seminars, teaching women, couples and teens about the freedom for which Christ has set them free (Galatians 5:1). She loves to travel, watch old movies and eat chocolate. Contact her directly at FreedHearts.org.

The following excerpt is from Susan’s upcoming book: How Not to Lose Your Teen: Raising Kids who Love God and You Too.

Men and Boys

Men are more vulnerable than we realize, and I believe that inside every man is a little boy who needs to know he’s enough. Boys need to hear, regularly and authentically, that they have what it takes to be a man. Whether your son is an athlete, a pianist, a writer or anything else, he needs constant affirmation that God has equipped him fully as a man, and God will faithfully complete the good work He began in him (Philippians 1:6). Dads especially need to engage with their sons – affirming, including and accepting them as the person God designed them to be.

Mom’s job is to let their boys grow up, let them separate, encourage them to take risks and trust them to become men. Tell them you know they can do it. Hold the crown above their head and let them grow into it.

I failed at this when my family was at a rock-climbing wall at the fair. Our David, barely four, wanted to climb. I immediately decided $5 was too much to pay for him to climb two feet and then quit. I foolishly told Rob that Dave was too little and could not do it. He said, “I can do it, Mom.” Rob paid the money and David did climb – all the way to the top. And when he got down, he said, “See Mom? I knew I could do it.” Risking my son’s view of his manhood is not worth $5.

Not only do our boys need to believe they have what it takes to be men and to succeed, they also need to understand that their job is to love and protect the women in their lives – mothers, wives, sisters, daughters. They need to esteem girls, encourage them, treat them with dignity, and not use them for their own pleasure. If boys would treat the girls in their lives as they hope their future wives are being treated, what a sweet impact that would make in our culture. Dads can lead their boys this way, by their own example of kindness and respect.

I learned disdain for men growing up, from my father who was constantly disappointed in my brothers for not reaching his impossible standards. God had to break that old paradigm so His love could prevail. I had to surrender to Him, to let Him do His great healing work in me. But He did. It’s what He does best!

Thank you again Susan. These short paragraphs are packed with great thoughts on what every man needs.

Question: What have you done lately to help the men in your life believe they have what it takes?

Even WowWow is A Boy

Candi Card Williams

My sweet friend Candi had a wonderful response to my posts last week and her thoughts are too good to keep to myself. She’s an amazing mother to a beautiful 5-year-old boy and wife to a hard working and godly man, Tim. Hailing from Tampa, Florida, I’m so glad she got out of the humidity and now calls Scottsdale home. I also love how she calls me Ms. and always offers one of her southern hugs. I’m just better whenever I’m around her. 

Ok, Ms Audra!!

I am loving your new series!!!!

I have had to wipe back the tears at some points and then at others jump up and say “Preach it Sista!!”

You and I have a lot in common. I was raised by a single mother with 3 older sisters – no boys in my house.

Now, I am the only girl – even my cat WowWow is a boy – well he used to be . . .

I read your last article and thought how gracious God was to give you a great husband and THREE sons!! And how thankful I am for my Tim and Wesley (ok and WowWow).

I think it’s really cool that what the Enemy intended for evil, God will turn out for good. Follow me on this . . .

I can’t speak for you, but for me, the Enemy broke apart my home of origin, yet God in HIS wisdom gave me a son. My prayer is that the generational sin stops with me and Tim, and that we are now ushering in a new generation of blessing with our LITTLE MAN.

I see your family and read your posts – what the Enemy intended for evil, God is turning to good. You and your husband are ending generational sin and ushering in a new generation of THREE YOUNG MEN that love our Heavenly Father.

Praise be to Jesus!!!

Hugs and keep the posts coming!!!

Candi

Doesn’t she just crack you up? I love the line that “WowWow used to be a boy”….hysterical. And Candi, you can speak for me anytime sister. You are right on. I was deeply inspired by your words, and it brings tears to my eyes every time I think about being intentional about ending generational sin. That God would give us a chance to help raise boys who will be a blessing, who will help not harm, who will love not hate.

And just so you know, we’ve got your little girl in mind. We want to raise boys who are tough but tender when need be, real men who know how to love and respect a lady. We’re praying for a generation of blessed young women to rise up. Women who want to be co-creators the way God intended, women who want to walk worthy and walk beside a good man.

So what’s your story? Is God showing you a new way?

Men on a Mission

Photo Courtesy @Experience Missions Facebook Page

There were many men on the medical mission trip to Valladolid this past July. I watched average men be great and great men humble themselves in average ways. It is the joy though, that will never be forgotten. The very exercise of ministering delighted them and the team deeply.

In the United States it’s easy to mistakenly believe life is all about us. Upon arrival in the Yucatan however, we found our purpose through the lives of others, through the love and life of Jesus. We could only find ourselves when we looked through the lens of purpose as we served.

In my ever inquisitive “journalistic” nature, I spoke to several different men over the course of the trip, ages 18-70. Most of them love to read, but went further to say that they were in Mexico to live a remarkable story, not just to read about one.

In order to fully live, they did things that made them uncomfortable. They viewed and performed procedures in medical, built structures they never thought they were capable of and did jobs with materials which weren’t what they wanted or needed or were used to. They wore the same clothes and poured sweat, tears and love into the people of Valladolid. They lived out Matthew 25:36 and had compassion for those in prison.

In short, they lived a great story. They found themselves and it wasn’t a coincidence. They discovered who they are in the hard things that tested them, the moments and experiences that turned them upside down and inside out.

A lot of the men got their question answered. You know the one, the one we all wrestle with, “Am I good enough?” A resounding yes was the moment-by-moment response they encountered in the Yucatan.

And then they went home. For some the story ended. They closed the book on that short story with a silent prayer they’d be able to live it again someday. Some closed it and filed it under science fiction, believing it was a seven day fantasy where they got to be the hero who lives deep in their heart. Others filed their story under the travel section and put it away in their “Been there, got the T-shirt” drawer.

But a few came home and decided to live their new story, right here in the USA. It isn’t easy. The culture continues to tell them who they are and all that they will never be. Old labels haunt their every day and sometimes that pervasive darkness just won’t shake. And then they remember. The sure, strong voice of The Father telling them this is what they were designed for, this is who they are meant to be.

This is where the ladies come in. We can emasculate our men, join with culture in oppressing and marginalizing them. Or we can have compassion. We can affirm the hero they are, their strength and courage.

If we choose the latter, we change the world. There are millions of fatherless kids, desperate to live their true story. The men in your life can continue their mission and come alongside our boys, offering them hope and a different way.

Your love for your men, is the encouragement and acceptance they need to show someone else how to live and love well.

On Choosing Well

Photo Courtesy @iStockphoto

One thing I’m very passionate about is men. When I started walking with God about 13 years ago, I wanted to be a minister to men. They aren’t catty, they don’t talk a lot and often just want a buddy to work or play alongside them. They don’t want to analyze everything and certainly have little use for the drama we women employ.

I see the inappropriate, ridiculousness of that desire; and now know that men become men in the presence of other men. They are designed to be ministered to, mentored and raised by men. As women, we have two choices. We either emasculate our men or can affirm them as great.

I’ve been married to an amazing man for 19.8 years and we have three teenage sons. I know a lot about men. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always understand them, but I know a lot about them. As an abandoned, fatherless daughter, I survived brutal years of trying to let every man know that they were useless and women were better at everything. It was a horrible way to live and I lost good people whom I loved.

And then God, in His grace, ended my anti-men campaign. Today I strive to affirm our men; all of them. So, I’m starting a written series on the topic of men and how we can stop marginalizing them. How us women, “ain’t what we used to be”. I’ll talk about how not all of us mind, if men want to hold the door open or pay when you take us out. How we aren’t weak and don’t desire to walk behind our men, but long to walk alongside, as a co-creator, the way God intended.

I don’t take a public stand on politics. I do however, take a public stand on what I know to be true.

See, we’ve got a defining problem in our culture. We’re a fatherless nation. We are told to look to and follow our leader, yet the government encourages a female dominated society and wonders why we don’t view our fathers in Washington with respect. We experience legislation that allows men to turn away from their children and wonder why they don’t turn toward their fathers. We are a culture brought up by women and everything they believe their rights to be and then blame our men for not knowing how to be fathers.

I’m so grateful for everything my mom has done to raise my brother, sister and I. But the truth is, I know what it’s like to grow up without a father and everything in my pre-teen body knew it wasn’t right. I’ve experienced the devastating effects of a single parent, fatherless home. The tragedy continues to play out even today, over 25 years later.

It’s never too early to be smart about voting in November. Children are our future. Vote for the candidate who values human life and agrees that all men and women are created equal. A leader who isn’t trying to find new ways to elevate women above our good men. I’m voting for leaders who know the value of children being raised by a mother and father.

November 4 isn’t about standing around shaking your head with a pitying look on your face.

That day is your chance to choose.

Crying in My Cruffins

Photo courtesy @Istockphoto

I emotionally “hung in there” until he walked thru the door with two chocolate chip pumpkin cookies. If you know me at all, you know I’m crazy for everything pumpkin. This blog should be called Pumpkin Lover’s Anonymous. But then it wouldn’t be anonymous I guess. Anyway. . .

Yesterday was Keegan’s last day at work; as he left for his sophomore year of college today. His boss brought in food to celebrate a great summer and to wish him well at school. So he stole TWO cookies, just for me. What 19-year-old does that? Keegan, that’s who. I ate my cruffins (cross between a cookie and a muffin) and choked back a flood of tears.

It’s moments like these that literally bring me to my knees. All the thoughtful consideration, the respect and love symbolized in two little nuggets of pumpkiny goodness. I’m so thankful and grateful to God for all that Keegan is. And being honest, I really don’t want anything to change.

I’m reminded though, of the words of the great British theologian John Henry Newman.

“To live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

I believe that Newman means “to have lived well” when he writes of being perfect in this sentence. As a recovering perfectionist, any chance to legally be perfect is one I’ll always attempt.

So in the spirit of a new school year, new dreams and the possibility of the ever elusive perfection, I’ll throw my arms around change.  Which brings us to our final quote from an unknown author.

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”

 I wish you cruffins, butterflies and every blessing as you all begin again.

I’m My Own Trapper Keeper

Photo Courtesy @Google Images

I wanted the Trapper Keeper so bad. But even with three jobs, for three kids, my mom’s budget didn’t contain coin for a Trapper Keeper. I needed it because well, it was just so fresh. And the matching folders, those were totally awesome. I felt like such a Joanie without the blue rainbow Trapper Keeper. Of course everyone had one, but me.

The other reason I needed one is because Carry Murphey had one. The most popular girl in school who always had the best of everything. Finest boyfriend, greatest smile, silkiest hair, and like the best school supplies ever. Hello Kitty pencils, Bionic Woman book covers and her own subscription to Tiger Beat. It came right to her mailbox every month. That was major awesomeness, Major. Carry’s TK also seemed like a golden ticket. The girl never did any work,she just sat in class organizing the mother of all binders. My inner organizer called at a very young age as well. I just knew if I could arrange all my papers in color coded folders, I could avoid doing classwork too.

But it was not to be and I went all my formative years without one. Frankly, I’m not sure how I survived. Even when my parents got divorced, the Trapper Keeper was not a parting gift I could weasel out of my father. Believe me I tried. I ended up with a Pretty Changes Barbie though, and while there was nothing pretty about the changes in my life, it was somewhat of a consolation prize.

Then I grew up and had my own kids. Did the “my kids will have everything I didn’t” thing. When it came time for serious school supply shopping, I proudly led our 3rd grade son over to the Trapper Keeper section. Waving my hand across the shiny rows of TK’s, I encouraged him to pick whichever one he wanted. He simply stared. No stars in his eyes, no excitement, nothing.

“Our teacher said we’re not allowed to have those.”

What? I mentally shook my fist at the man. I mean what teacher in their right mind would shun the beautiful organization of the best notebook ever made? And then my son. Did he not want to be most popular? Most likely to succeed due to his organizational skills? Did he not want the silkiest hair ever?

“She didn’t mean it. Pick one out.” I did another large flourish with both hands this time. “You love yellow, get that one.”

“They said it takes us too long to get things out and they can’t stand the sound of 30 zippers zipping and unzipping all day.”

“What about the sound of 30 losers who can’t find their papers and are unable to get jobs someday?”

Now it was his turn to be incredulous. “What mommy?”

“Nothing,” I grumbled. I couldn’t believe it, my chance to live vicariously through my son was being slowly snuffed.

I turned to our 4 year old, hope brimming in my eyes once again. “What about you? You need a Trapper Keeper. Pick any one you want.” He just giggled and jammed his hand inside a bin of glue sticks, displacing several onto the floor.

We didn’t buy any TK’s that day or ever.

Admittedly our boys don’t have the silkiest hair, but they’ve got good heads on their shoulders. Maybe they’re not the most popular but they are surrounded by faithful friends and family. Organizational skills are on the rise and they’ve enjoyed many successes at early ages. And all without a Trapper Keeper.

And me? Well obviously I can be the Trapper Keeper of Bitterness. Through this writing however, I’ve realized that by the grace of God, we’re all going to be more than okay.

One year later I’m not sure I’m ready for him to go again.

Audra Krell

That’s my “I’ve got 85 more days with my boy and I’m wearing a foam finger” smile. That was May 24.

Today I more resemble the boy behind me, sort of a dumbfounded look saying “what’s going on here?” combined with Keegan’s look of “is this really happening?”

Alas, it really is happening. He’s leaving a week from today.

I’ve found, that breakdowns can really occur anywhere. I have no shame.

No one is immune. Even the pediatrician, as we are discussing one of my other sons, might be the unsuspecting victim of the ugly cry.

Even in church, as they honored Keegan in front of thousands of people on Sunday, I bawled. A friend thought of calling 911, as I was almost prone in the vicinity of pew 10. Woman down.

What about the customer service rep at Bed, Bath and Beyond when I lost one of my coupons…

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ICU

Our last day in the Centro Medico San Lucas hospital was the most difficult. We had few patients in post- op for hours and then the unit exploded. Suddenly there were several discharges, four new patients and an emergency trauma sitting in the waiting room. I’d heard about him all day. His injuries were extensive and he only spoke Mayan. Not a bit of Spanish.

The boy was 18, one year younger than our oldest son. He’d been in a horrible fight; someone hit him in the face repeatedly with a broken beer bottle. A local alley war changed the young man’s life forever. A split second decision left him with vision in only one eye and deep cuts which will certainly scar. He’s the victim of a drama with eternal consequences for all involved.

When he came to the PACU, his face bore the tracks of a hundred stitches. Some curved in the shape of a bottle, some random and jagged, the way angry glass carelessly claims it’s real estate. Surgical bandages covered his eye, his expression passive.

I expected terror and even rage, but the boy was somewhere deep inside himself, far away. My momma heart broke, for him and for everything that would be different now.

But it was his father who took my breath away. His father’s eyes that made me want to cry out in pain. His father spoke a little Spanish, but there aren’t enough words in the world, in any language, that I could speak to comfort him. As a parent, I grieved with him, worried over his internal heart injuries and wished I could literally infuse him with hope.

All I could do was use my eyes. We took gentle care of the boy and heaped grace and mercy on him in the form of blankets, water and pain meds. I smiled at his father at every turn, praying he could “hear” me.

I still pray he can hear me.

I see you brother. I’m standing with you. There is something much bigger than us here. God is with us and has plans for your son, plans to prosper and never fail him. Amen.

Breakfast Club on Jazz

We attended closing night of the Phoenix Film Festival and saw Blue Like Jazz. The film opens nationwide on April 13.

Let me first say that I loved the book. God used it to change my life. Donald Miller gets abandonment. It was one of the first times I felt understood in my struggle with parental abandonment. Miller helped me to see that even though I didn’t feel worthy of people sticking around, I have a Father who has never left me.

In my ongoing heartbreak with subsequent familial abandonment, I return time and again to the truths I finally understood through Miller’s writing. God’s love lasts much longer than the stabs of current rejection. His love is the only thing that is eternal.

Now on to the movie. It’s not advertised for, nor is it appropriate for children or young teens. We took our 13 and 16 year old sons. I was embarrassed, and as mom to three teen boys, it takes some doing to make me blush. I also was uncomfortable with the mocking of Christianity. I get that for free every day out in the world, through all social media and especially on TV. My son lives it everyday at the University he attends, the other boys at their middle and high schools.

Some reviewers say the movie is a great conversation starter for Christian families and helps them transition their young adults to the next stage of life. I wonder where they think we live? Do they really believe all Christians live out in the country where the most violent act we witness is a calf being born? Where our biggest problem is what dress to wear to church on Sunday? No, Christians face the exact things the world does, on the same moment- by -moment basis. When I attend a film, I want to be taken away from the world, not forced to relive my college days in all their lewd glory.

Reviewers said the movie was going to have a hard time and comments like the one below tend to polarize viewers:

A challenging book to turn into a film due to its stream of consciousness narration, director Steve Taylor and crew have for the most part succeeded in turning out a generally entertaining film, but one that will probably be too centered on Christianity for those averse to religion and too “edgy” for those of the Christian faith who like their films Kirk Cameronesque. -Linc Leifeste, Smells Like Screen Spirit 

I agree, it was too difficult to turn Blue Like Jazz into a film. As a person of faith, an avid movie goer and someone who respects Kirk Cameron, I don’t prefer my films to be Kirk Cameronesque. I further don’t consider mocking Christianity for 95% of the film to be edgy in any way. It’s an effort to reach the masses with an attempt to entertain. Mocking anything is usually good for a sure laugh.

The central message of Blue Like Jazz the movie, is that every flawed creature is worthy of respect, which we know is the gospel truth. The film had the chance to go deep with that and ended up a glorified, modern day version of the Breakfast Club with a jazz soundtrack. Basically an “accept all sin now, just be certain to ask forgiveness later.”

I highly recommend the book, it’s a completely different experience.

Blue Like Jazz the Book

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