Wild Things: The Art of Nuturing Boys with David Thomas

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I’d love to share “ALL THINGS DAVID THOMAS”  with you today, so you can get to know a little about a man who is not only an amazing counselor, author, speaker and expert on boys, but truly one of my heroes!  If you don’t know David and his work, hopefully this introduction can help you with resources that help you understand a boy in your family better. Whether you’re a mom (or a grandmother) of a boy ages 2-22, David can help!

I found a few goodies today that I want to share.First is a link to download an excerpt of Wild Things:The Art of Nuturing Boys. It’s “hands down” the best resource that I know of for a mom of a boy.  I also found a video clip on YouTube from a few years ago where David tells a little about the book.  If you don’t have time to watch all of it, I’d love to encourage you to listen to a few minutes starting at 2:33 where David explains why understanding our sons matters.

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Years ago, I attended a parenting seminar that was invaluable to me as a mom that Daystar Counseling held in Nashville featuring David who was my son’s counselor at the time. For years, David has walked through extremely challenging events with my family.  There were really difficult seasons in our journey that he was truly a ‘lifeline’ for us.  At other times, he was more like an older brother to my now young adult sons.   As a mom, I told people for years that David is a huge reason I’m sane after parenting two boys as a single mom for over 15 years.  In all seriousness on several occasions, I’ve said “should he ever need a kidney, I would gladly give him one of mine“….. that’s how much I owe him.

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2009 photo Kim, Graham & David 

All that to say, we have benefited greatly as a family from David’s work and his life and it is a huge honor for me to be able to share him with a handful of BoyMamas at the events I host at The Nashville Treehouse.  David is an “in-demand” parenting expert and I still pinch myself when I invite him to come and he answers, ‘yes’!  If you can’t make it to Nashville to our October 7-8 event, I’d encourage you to follow him at Raising Boys and Girls to find out about other speaking events around the country and their new book releasing soon.

I’m headed to see the last high schooler in my family, my nephew Drew, play football tonight.  I’ll get to cheer for my alma mater, Evangelical Christian School (Memphis) and Drew here in Nashville. Have a great weekend!

PS. If you don’t have the book yet, click below to order it today!

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Christmas Back To You

2014 Christmas card pic from Stanford football game Fall 2014

2014 Christmas card pic from Stanford football game Fall 2014

I hope you all are enjoying the Christmas season and having fun counting down the days with your family and friends.  I’ve been out on the road doing some Christmas concerts and celebrating Thanksgiving with my sons and the Stanford football team in California, so I’ve just finally put up my tree!

For so many of us, the Christmas season is bittersweet.  We experience the joy and the pain in technicolor as we hold sweet memories, sadness, songs and our Savior’s birth in our frail, very human hearts.  Just ten days ago, my family marked 10 years since my daddy went to heaven at the age of 65.  It hit me harder than I’d expected and I found myself crying on and off for days thinking about how much I miss him.

Since 2004, Christmas has never been the same for me and my family.  But, like many of you, we hold on to the hope that we will be together again.  That part of my story helped me realize that what we all are really longing for at Christmas is heaven.

No tears…no pain…EVERYONE we love in the room, and as we sing in the carol, O Come Emmanuel, “bid envy, strife and quarrels cease, fill the whole world with heaven’s peace”.  As my family waits for my 94 year old grandmother to head there soon, I’m again reminded of that reality.  No matter how pretty we make our homes, how perfect everything looks, it’s only going to last long enough to get some good pictures and hopefully build a few memories around the table with those we love.

Late last night, after a fun night with friends, I sat in the stillness by the tree.  I felt like a kid on Christmas eve looking at the lights and counting down the days until my son, Graham gets home from college for a few days.  Since he plays football, he’ll barely be here before he has to return to prep for their bowl game, Dec. 30th in the 49ers new stadium.

So many memories flooded my mind and heart and I just sat in those feelings for a while until I wandered off to bed.  I’m grateful to finally be at a place in my life where I can allow myself feel the joy and the pain of life on this earth for 50 years and all that it’s held for me and my boys. I hope and pray that you may be able to do the same this year… in the midst of it all, even if it’s mostly pain.  I’ve learned the hard way that if you “block the pain“, the also “block the joy, love and life” that helps us get up and face this crazy world another day.  (I know you’re probably bombarded with a million things today, so I’m trying to keep this short, but please know that I know it’s not an easy 1-2-3 process that I’m talking about.)

I want to share a few songs via video from my Christmas tour, Christmas Back To You.  I wrote the title cut when Graham was a Senior and I realized it was his “last Christmas” at home with me and Benji — just the 3 of us– as my “little boy”.   It’s a tear jerker…. even this past Sunday night, at a concert in Birmingham, I couldn’t sing it without crying at the end.

That’s why I’m also posting the second one, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas featuring my son, Benji (as a 14 year old who’ll turn 18 in a few weeks.)  We had so much fun recording it and when I do it live Benji appears via video and steals the show every night!  I’m also including a little video (Benji “Being Loud”) that I show before we do the song of Benji as a preschooler.  It should’ve been a major clue to me that one day he’d inform me he wanted to be a rapper! He was “free-styling” as a four year old!  Some big news will be announced in early 2015, so keep your ears open for more news on his music.

Click here for the Christmas Back to You video.

Click here for the Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas video.

Click here for Benji “Being Loud” video.

I truly hope that God’s peace and joy bring Christmas back to you this year.

Much love from my house to yours.

Bigger Than His Body

I know most of you know that my son, Graham is #52, the starting Center for Stanford Football.  It’s been such a thrill watching him play this fall live and on national tv.  It’s especially rewarding to see him stepping into so much of what I’ve always known he was meant to do beyond football as well.  Graham was “Red-shirted” his Freshman year, which means he practiced every single practice with “all that he had” knowing that no matter what… he wasn’t going to play in the game.  I really can’t imagine what kind of discipline that takes.  Especially, when you’ve been an All American in high school with more offers than you can count coming out of high school.

Graham’s worked really hard the past few years at Stanford and has learned several lessons the hard way.  His journey is his to share if and when he chooses, but as his Mama, I’m really grateful he’s made it to his “sweet spot!”  I’m so grateful to get to see him not only play his heart out on the field, but see him stepping up as a leader on and off it.   Graham’s always been a people person. He’s able to relate and talk to anyone and willing to help, so it’s not surprising to me that every time I go to Stanford, other parents tell me how much Graham has helped their son with the huge adjustment of college football.

This week, this video (Shuler on Stanford) was released by Stanford Football and I’d love to share it with you.  A friend of mine in Dallas tweeted me after seeing it that “Graham’s heart was bigger than his body” and it made my day because Craig saw what I’ve always known about my “mountain of a man”.   I was reminded again that God does above and beyond what we can ask or think when He opens doors for our sons that lead them to be the best versions of themselves and step into their own unique calling.

Graham would be the first to say it’s been a rocky road the past few years… again, his story to tell.  But, if you have a son enduring some of those times, I hope this encourages you to step out of the way and trust God with his journey.  I’m incredibly grateful for the coaches at Stanford, especially Head Coach David Shaw for creating a football culture that is as concerned with my son’s character and education as with his football abilities. They’ve raised the bar for Graham and his teammates and my son is benefiting from that environment in more ways than I can count.  It’s definitely helped me rest easier knowing that they truly care about Graham now and who he’s becoming as he enters adulthood.

This morning, I did a radio interview for WBYN (107.5 FM) for a benefit concert that I’m part of in a few weeks in the Philadelphia area.   The host started off our conversation telling me that he’d seen Graham’s video this week and wanted to talk to me about him and his perspective on being at Stanford.  Of course, a delight to this mama’s ears!  I’ve shared it on facebook, but it prompted me to write this and share it here too.

Last week, I was at their game against Notre Dame (tough game in horrible weather) and I tried to endure it in my ski jacket and rain gear, but wimped out and joined the old folks in the gym watching the big screens.  I’m grateful that Friday night, I can watch Graham in my pjs on ESPN 8pm CST kickoff vs Washington State.  I’m hoping for an easy win, though I know in the PAC-12 that doesn’t happen too often, but my stomach has just recovered from the tension of the last game.  My sweet mama is hoping for that too. She text me during the last game and said, “Graham needs to play a different position… this is too intense!”  My mom doesn’t watch football, but is watching Stanford this fall with her 94 year old mother.  They’re cheering for Graham along with all of our family and friends!

After the game in the 30 something degree rain.

After the game in the 30 something degree rain.

Hope you’ll join us cheering for #52 and Stanford if you’re home tomorrow night and are able to catch the game!

Peace and love from here, Kim

Next weekend, I’ll be hosting our last “BoyMama Weekend” at The Nashville Treehouse.  We still have a few spots available if you are within driving distance of Nashville, would love to invite you to join us.  David Thomas (Wild Things, The Art of Nuturing Boys) who’s my special guest is worth coming for alone!  We also have real conversations about parenting, great music, gourmet food and a wine tasting woven into a few days of R&R for moms of boys.  www.nashvilletreehouse.com/boymama 

worst blogger award goes to….

Well, so much for my attempt at blogging once a week! I think it’s been almost 2 months since my last post. Leaves are covering my deck and driveway as fall and October are coming upon us quickly here in Nashville.

I know, like me, many of you are overwhelmed by the events around the world that are like nothing we’ve known. I think that’s partially why I haven’t written. In the midst of some incredibly disturbing times, we have to keep going on with our lives in our little corners of the world. The anniversary of 9/11 and so much of what’s going on across the globe weighs on us in ways that I don’t think we’re even aware of. In cities like Ferguson, MO and in my hometown of Memphis fear and hopelessness are knocking louder and louder at our doors.

It’s unthinkable that while we were dumping ice on ourselves, Christians were being slaughtered. Tomorrow marks two years that Pastor Saeed remains in prison and in danger. It’s all too much to wrap our hearts and minds around on most days. Yet, we wake up to another sunrise on another day and look for reasons to hope while love those who come our way. Even though I try speaking out and doing what I can to stand against the evil that’s raging, I still have a helpless feeling as I watch it all on the news.

As I sat down to write on a perfect day in Nashville, I’m reminded of some of the “big moments” I’ve had as a mom the past 6 weeks against the backdrop of such heaviness.  I know that trying to “catch up” is pretty hard to do….it’s like trying to go back and fill in your journal, yet another place I’ve never been consistent in writing!

I’ve already been to California twice to see my son as the starting Center for Stanford. That first snap in the first game was pretty surreal for me. I don’t know when I’ll get used to seeing him on the field or on national television. I decorated our living room in so much Stanford swag for the second game that Benji made fun of me.  FYI, My tv is not this big, this was done using a projector on the wall.  This doesn’t look so crazy, but believe me, if you saw the dining room and the foyer, you may agree with Benji that I went a little over the top!

Stanford vs USC game on ABC

Stanford vs USC game on ABC

Benji’s almost fully recovered from his surgery and has some exciting opportunities on the horizon that I’ll hopefully be able to share next time.  The Nashville Treehouse is growing and brings more joy to my heart than I would’ve ever imagined.  In the midst of that we’ve lost members of our community and heard the news that the cancer is back with a loved one. Another reminder that life is such a mixed bag… it’s so bittersweet most of the time.

So, I wanted to at least write something today for those of you who’ve connected with me here. I have a simple truth to share with you that I’m sure is a reminder to most of you, but as I’m nearing the end of my “child rearing” days with my boys, I’m more and more convinced that the years I poured my life into them matter. Those years in the trenches…. THEY COUNT!!! Hang in there!!!!

As I watch from a VIP seat, I see my sons move towards their own journeys as young men. I’m becoming more of a “consultant” and especially with my 21 year old, learning to have an adult friendship with him.  Especially with Graham, my job as a mama is becoming simplified in many ways after almost 22 years.

A few weeks ago before I said goodbye to him in Palo Alto, I sat with him at breakfast and talked to him about how much I love him and believe in him with tears streaming down my face.  I was grateful that we had a seat that no one could really see me because as hard as I tried, I couldn’t stop the tears.  My job at this point is to speak life to him about who he is and to love him unconditionally regardless of whether or not I agree with all of his choices.  Strangely enough, it’s getting easier and easier to do.  As I tried to explain to him, the more I trust God with him, the more peace I have and the more pure love I feel for him that is not tied to anything that he does or doesn’t do.  As simple as it is, it’s always a huge reminder for me that if I can love my son that way, how much more does God love me that way and give me grace to love those around me? “Perfect love casts out fear” takes on a whole new meaning for me these days and as Rob Bell and Bob Goff both so eloquently say… “Love Wins” and “Love Does”!

So, love everybody you can today!

PS. Check out my “BoyMama Weekend” video and please consider joining us at The Nashville Treehouse in a few weeks!

https://vimeo.com/105068786