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Stacking Stones

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My husband and I threw a dinner party Friday night. You might wonder at our audacity, since the last time I threw a dinner party, a rattlesnake showed up as the uninvited guest.

The Uninvited Guest from our last dinner party.

(Could I make this stuff up? And yes, this is the picture to prove it. If you haven’t read THAT post, it’s a doozy, and I suggest you skedaddle your way back over there and read that one as well, when you’re done here.)

But life is full of risks. And we are risk-takers. I even answer my phone that doesn’t have call waiting from time to time, because I LIKE to live on the edge. To a degree.

And so we decided to take our lives (and the lives of our guests, apparently) in our hands and throw a shindig for ourselves, celebrating the fact that our son has just turned 18, and neither one of us, his parents, have been thrown into a Tennessee Correctional Facility for charges of child endangerment, abuse, or neglect. From this point on, it is SO not our fault. Whatever happens. (Some moms brag on their kids. But I like to brag on myself.)

We knew our son wanted to celebrate his birthday with his friends. And he had done that in a large way. But this party was for US, and we were going to invite whomever we wanted. We knew this concept would cause him to run screaming in the opposite direction. So we promised really good food as a lure.

And it worked!

Steak (dry aged and salted), baked potatoes (meat & taters: man food), salad, bread, and for dessert? Chocolate cake. Magnificent chocolate cake. I promise you the recipe will be upcoming soon, if God gives me strength and help. And dark chocolate is my son’s favorite. And I know this. We knew we needed to make the payoff significant.

How to lure a young man: the bait.

We told him to choose a friend with whom he felt a spiritual kinship to invite, which he did. He chose a young man he has been friends with since they were quite literally toddlers. And we chose the other guests, with the same care and attention. We invited four men who have all played a significant role of spiritual leadership in our son’s life.

The evening began somewhat inauspiciously, even though the weather was perfect: a pleasantly warm, golden, sun-kissed spring evening. The food was all prepped, and I felt relaxed. Confident in the knowledge that the evening’s food and my home were ready for our guests. I went upstairs to get dressed in something a little bit nicer. (Read this as: to get out of my nightie. This tends to put our guests slightly off their feed, I’ve noticed. )

 And yet…wouldn’t you know it?

Just as it was time for our guests to arrive, our daughter came running up in the steps with that kind of “deer in the headlights” kind of look, and said in a quivering voice, “I think you need to come downstairs quickly. Something awful has happened.” I tore down the steps behind her, because the look on her face really frightened me. “What? What?” I called to the scurrying figure in front of me. But not a word did she say until I rounded the corner….and saw….

Four piles of dog dookie in the middle of my kitchen floor.

I could NOT make this stuff up.

Now, this time, mercifully for you, I have no pictures.

Even more mercifully, this is not smell-a-vision. Because the odor of dog crap permeated the air of the kitchen that was SUPPOSED to be redolent of home cooking and the wonderful aroma of freshly baked chocolate cake

Feverishly, I disposed of the …doo doo. How hurriedly did I spray the floor with vinegar water and the air with Febreze!

What IS it about me that I draw such disaster unto myself???

I prayed for the Febreze to do its magic, and overcome the odors of dog mess and vinegar.

And then…the guests arrived. Introductions were made, because several of them did not know each other, having known my son through different activities. (And, thankfully, no one began curling his lip or flaring his nostrils disgustedly. I do THINK we got away with it.)

And then, we all gathered around the table to eat dinner. We swapped a lot of stories, and shared a lot of laughs.

And then, after our lovely and delicious meal, I went upstairs with my daughter, so the men could relax in the living room. We had asked each guest to bring a word of wisdom that he wished someone had shared with him when he began his journey into manhood.

My husband had asked me to stay and be a part, but I decided I  felt like it was important for the men to be able to say anything they wanted to say, unhindered by my presence. I realize that one of my son’s chief jobs as he enters adulthood is to individuate from his mother. Since I’m the one who has been his chief instructor all his life (since I’ve been his homeschool teacher), it’s really important that I purposefully open my hands, and release him to be whoever it is that God has created him to be.

I realize that.

I’m just not sure that makes it any easier for me as his Mama to do that.

At the end of their time of sharing with my son, my husband came upstairs and got me, and we all prayed for my son. I was really, really glad to be a part of that portion of the evening. What a privilege to hear these men pray for blessings for my son. What a privilege for me to be be able to speak my gratitude to my Father in heaven, out loud, in front of men who themselves have poured love and energy and wisdom into his life.

Quite a moment it was.

I had asked the women that I meet with each Friday morning to pray that I would have wisdom to know whether or not to stay with the men in the living room for the entire evening, or whether to step out for a bit, to let them talk more candidly if they wanted to.

One of my friends wrote this prayer for me: she prayed that this moment would be like when the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River into the Promised Land, and they set up a stack of stones collected from the river bed, each tribe bringing a stone, as a memorial of remembrance to what the Lord had done for them.

I think my friend was right on, perhaps even in more ways than she even knew.

Crossing over into independence and adulthood is my son’s Promised Land. Each of these men brought their own Stone of Remembrance. Each remembered God’s goodness in the past in his own life, pointing to His trustworthiness in the future, as my son prepares to take his Promised Land.

I don’t know how much of this my freshly minted 18 year old man actually “gets” right now. It may be years from now before he understands the significance of what was done for him. How very much his parents love him. How great the weight of these “stones” were, that these dear men each carried to him.

Often in life, we learn our most valuable lessons in the areas where we have messed up in the most spectacular fashion, and where we have suffered the most. It’s sad, but it’s true. Our avoidance of negative consequences in our lives may depend on how amenable we are to heeding the warnings of others.

What my son “got”, at this point,  may have been that he had a really great meal, and that his Dad’s friend gave him his very own laptop computer. And those are some pretty sweet rewards.

But I hope that the sweeter, less tangible gifts that were a bit less obvious, may come back to my young man in years to come:  the understanding that he was loved, cherished, prayed for, and released to his destiny. I pray that he’ll see that he was launched, to do whatever good works God may have prepared in advance for him to do.

Friday night, we stacked some stones for my son.

Long may they last.