At the end of the Mother Son Banquet.... Grumpy and the 39 boys and chiefs from camp closed out the evening with a song (the video clip above) - as a tribute to their mom's. This is just a portion of the song, but the meaning is clear - we have this moment: yesterday is gone and we are not promised tomorrow.
I will say that traveling to camp yesterday I was talking and talking talking to myself. Oddly, or maybe not, I found myself answering as well. While I had worked on my "speech" for these boys and moms, I was still not satisfied with the flow. I thought I had the content down, but was just struggling to make is seamless.
Clearly, if you know me, you know I have no problem speaking to anyone, about anything, but this group had me a bit on edge, because while I wanted to encourage, I did not want to preach. While I wanted to share my hope in Christ, I did not want to make anyone angry that I made living life so simplistic. I wanted to express the complexity of life without harping on the hardship of life. This is something that the moms and the boys all know too well. Oh the things that I wanted! You do know how this will go --- God wins, His words were my words and all that work, simply diminished, as I spoke from my heart to the mom's of broken clay pots.
Humbly with tears in my eyes I stood before a room of moms at all different stages in the process of hurt and healing with their sons. I recounted how I got to this place before them.
How I was never going to get married, never have children. How in the 12th grade, I met a blond haired blue eyes young man that made me change my mind about at least the marriage thing. How after four years of high school, college and the military for him, we wed, and that four months later we were expecting our first child. How there was a big break (5years) between child number 1 and child number 2 because I really was not interested in having any more. How after #2 child number 3 was born 2 years and one week to the day later. That that is when I told God I was done with children and sent the Prince to the doctor to have the situation taken care of. For good.
I then shared how God surely laughed a big belly laugh that day, as he alone knew what was to come!
I simply shared that in a million years I never thought I would be standing before a group sharing my adventures in parenting and offering words that I hoped they could find comfort in or encouragement in.
I indicated that while one of my cracked pots was there at Bald Eagle, at home life was not smooth sailing, as there were still 7 hot messes that lived at home with us. An over planner, a three toe tree sloth, one with self esteem issues, one that is content to be a fence sitter, an artsy fartsy, a young adult with the mind of a 2nd grader and a brilliant frustrated child learning to work and live with autism.
However, what could I expect from these hot messes, since they are being lead by a flaming hot mess, the queen of the cracked pots, ME! I cry out to the Lord at the end of the day often asking him to throw me a bone that I can hang on to, so that I know I am making a difference in their lives, and while sometimes that bone comes in the form of a note from camp or a teacher at school or a kind word from a neighbor, more often than not I met with silence. It is in the silence that I hear from the Lord.
I am reminded that I am a broken cracked vessel but that Proverbs 3:5-6 says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lean on your own understanding. In all my ways acknowledge the Lord." When I do things my way - I mess it up - but when I trust God I know that cracks and all, God is going to use me for his glory.
I am reminded also, that my kids are also the same as I; cracked and broken vessels, yet Psalms 104: 24 says "O Lord how plentiful are your works! In wisdom you made them all, the earth is full of your creatures." Myself and my children are all God's creatures and we are all different. I am rejoicing in that, because how boring would our world be if we were all the same!
I know that my God doesn't make mistakes! The scriptures are full of stories of men and women that were less than perfect and God choose to use them, despite their flaws for His glory.
Often times when I look in the mirror I am overcome by my flaws, I am overwhelmed by the flaws in my children, but God made them the way they are (or allowed them to develop the way that they are) and that is not a mistake! If I could snap my finger and fix them, as a mom, I would. But I trust that like God continues to refine me, He is at work in the life of each of my children. Often times their actions cause consequences, but life is learned most often not by telling or living by example, but first by making mistakes and learning from them. Some of us have to go through the struggles multiple times til we get them message, but know that God is not going to give up on us!
Finally, I shared the Cracked Pot Story. It goes like this:
A water bearer in India had two large pots, one hung on each end of the pole that he carried on his back to and from the stream to his master's house. One of the pots was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk form the stream. The second pot always arrived half empty.
For two full years this went on, with the bearer delivering only one and half pots full of water in his master's house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end which it was made.
But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream, " I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."
"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"
" I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because of this crack in my side that causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws you do not get the full value from your efforts." the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot and in his compassion he said "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."
Indeed, as they went up the hill the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.
But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, " Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the the path, but not on the other pot's side? That is because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back to the master's house you have watered the plants. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."
As we all progress through life, with our unique, but not surprising cracks and flaws, God is going to use us all... For His Glory!
Insert large sigh here --- God's thoughts for the evening delivered, by me a cracked and broken pot!
Dinner was wonderful! My son served me. We got our photo taken, we laughed, shared stories. He wrote me a wonderful letter thanking me for being his mom, and asking forgiveness for the times that he treated me "like crap". He hand crafted two intertwined cedar hearts and carved our names in them, Grumpy and Mom...
Do we have a long way to go... you bet. But is there progress, Oh my yes!
After 20 months we are now closer to graduation from camp than ever before. Grumpy is strong and healthy, growing taller with every session. (as evidenced by the fact that his list of needs before returning to camp Tuesday includes 2 pairs of shoes, pants, socks, etc... ) He is healing, he is sharing and he is learning to trust. And I rejoice that God made him just the way he is. No mistakes. Flaws and all.
I applaud the boys that attend this camp. They live life out loud. Their struggles unlike ours that we have learned to clean up or cover over and mask from most of the world, are out in the open for everyone to see. Out in the open for correction, directions and instruction.
I applaud the families that make the sacrifice to have their boys there - they are working hard on the home front to pay for this camp, sacrificing time and energy to see that their boys get the care that they need to heal and grow.
I applaud the camp staff and their families for their compassion, love of the Lord and their desire to stand in the gap for all of us parents who's boys are there. The job is hard, round the clock work, living outdoors, 24 -7 to ensure that life lessons are learned, taught, followed up on, re-taught, re- learned and re-enforced daily. Sometimes at the sacrifice of their own family time and commitments.
May the Lord continue to bless this organization, it's efforts and the campers past present and future.
This is life...and you really can't make this stuff up!