Posted by: mamaamy | March 31, 2013

ALIVE!

Three days after his execution, the son of the King is alive!  In a fantastic demonstration of perfect coherence to the infinite and indestructible energy that formed the universe, the Prince put on full display his power to rule.  Rule he does, resurrecting from an unquestionable death in the witness of many.

Last Friday the eldest son of the most ancient royal family was executed by an illegitimate, occupying force outside Israel’s capital city.  The death of the first-born left many wondering about who would inherit the kingdom.  In decisive fashion, the King legally consigned the inheritance to all of the members of his household.   His deliberate, legislative action established a royal priesthood and holy nation, apparently intended to annex the whole earth for his Kingdom.

Given the dramatic events of this Sunday morning and living presence of the now resurrected, rightful heir to the kingdom, some question the King’s decision.

Others close to the King indicate that the Prince, first-born among many brethren, will be joint-heir with his brothers.  However, his father, the King, has granted the first-born plenary authority in every realm and given him a new title that well describes the heretofore unheard of arrangement.  He is to be known, henceforth, as the King of kings.

The Prince’s amazing display of power and authority, specifically his resurrection from death, will no doubt be commemorated in perpetuity.

Those familiar with the history of the Kingdom and the values central to it’s culture are well aware that sacrifice has been a cultural norm since earliest records.  Given the Prince’s resurrection, many are suggesting that a new cultural norm has been established, and is expected to be upheld by the joint-heirs.  The new norm is: perfect coherence to the infinite, indestructible energy, what is being referred to as “eternal life.”

Those close to the Prince are saying that the events of the past three days were part of a plan to carry out the will of the King and firmly establish the Kingdom’s culture throughout the whole Earth.

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Posted by: mamaamy | March 29, 2013

ROYAL EXECUTED!

 ImageConcluding a series of violent acts of torture the eldest son of the most ancient royal family was murdered today amid on-lookers.  Unbelievably, the King’s first-born son was illegally apprehended and wrongfully accused by militants of a de facto government occupying Israel’s capital city.  By all accounts the Prince conducted himself in the most regal manner during the kangaroo court style proceedings.

Mocking justice, the judge deferred sentencing to a mob outside the courthouse.  Caught-up in the fervor of the mob the Prince’s captors hastened to execute the sentence.  Adding insult to injury, the prince was undeservedly disrespected at every turn, but witnesses say he maintained comportment, thereby honoring his father and the royal culture he represents.  At least one report claims that the Prince even spoke a blessing over his executioners.

The Prince’s death raises questions about heirs to the kingdom. Some speculate that the death of the King’s first-born son will prompt political unrest as opportunists posture for position.  Others assert that the King intends to consign the inheritance to all of the members of his household.  If this is true it would be unprecedented and raises questions about how this delegation of the King’s authority will effect the King’s plan to annex the entire Earth for his Kingdom.  Some speculate that the Prince’s death has made possible the establishment of a nation of kings.

Posted by: mamaamy | February 5, 2013

Easy Breakfast Recipes

Enjoy!
 
Dutch Pancake
Preheat oven 400 degrees
Put 2 Tbs butter in a13x9 pan and place it in the oven to melt while oven is heating
Beat until frothy:
6 eggs
1 C. milk
1 C. flour
1/2 Teas. salt
1/4 Teas. vanilla
Pour egg mixture onto butter in pan, place in oven, and bake for 20 minutes.
Cut info squares
Have lemon juice and powdered sugar for people to put on their pancake.
 
Oven Omelette
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Use a crock or some kind of high sided oven proof dish. Spray it with Pam and then line bottom of the pan with slices of cheese.
Blend until frothy 
8 eggs
1 cup milk 
Season with onion powder, salt, pepper or whatever else you would like.
Opt. add diced ham, bacon, more grated cheese, spinach, etc.
Bake 35-40 min.
 

Quiche
Use pre made crust or make a regular pie crust and line pan.  In preheated 450 degree oven, bake crust for 12 min.
Turn down temp to 325 when crust is cooked
Scatter ham or bacon across crust, then scatter 1 1/2 c. of swiss cheese across bottom of pan.
Beat 3 eggs, 1/4 teas salt, 1 1/2 c. milk or half & half, 1 Tbs flour. 
Add salt, pepper, and a good dose of onion pwdr.
Pour over ham and cheese in crust and bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes

 
Another fast bread item we like (adjusted from my grandma’s hard tack recipe):
Flat Bread
Combine:
2 cups Plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup agave or honey
1 teas. salt
Add:
2 cups flour (part whole wheat and part unbleached)
1/2 teaspoon soda
Mix well, then turn on to floured surface and knead briefly still dough is just stiff enough to roll thin.
Roll thin! and then cut into rectangles the size of big cookies
put on ungreased pan and bake 8-10 minutes until edges are brown
 
Granola
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
(I triple the recipe for my big group)
4 cups oats
1/2 cup oil 
1/4 cup juice or water
1/3 cup brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, or agave
1-2 teas. cinnamon 
1 teas. vanilla
opt. coconut, nuts, flax seeds, raisins, grated orange peel…I do the basic and let people add what they want later.
Spread thinly on pan that has been sprayed with Pam
Bake 15-20 minutes, stir, then bake another 15-20 minutes until it is no longer soft and raw feeling
(This makes the house smell delish!)

 

Back in March of this year I was corresponding with a friend of mine who is incarcerated in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system.  My friend is married and his young wife had various needs (housing, transportation, finances, etc…) that she was struggling to provide for.  Amy and I wanted to help her.  Moreover we also wanted to help her orient her life on a positive trajectory.  Given her history, we had concerns around the concepts of “enabling” degenerative behaviors and our responsible “stewardship.”  Given those concerns, we wanted to maximize the “return on investment” and provide her some oversight/mentoring/coaching in addition to meeting her material needs.

This essay is meant to invite the reader into my personal investigation of ways to provide support to those who need it and initiate a dialogue with like-minded individuals and organizations who are interested in considering ways to facilitate positive life trajectories for the generations.

Many readers of Training God’s Heirs are young parents looking for child training ideas, and this essay may not be, at first glance, of immediate interest to them.  Let me encourage you to reconsider.  A recent Forbes.com article highlights the fact the 15.8 million adult children now live with their parents.  If you think training young children is a profound mystery, then you must appreciate the challenges relating to a twenty-something child who may be ready to rule his domain autonomously, but, due to unforeseen socio-economic conditions, must live at home, or is a full-time student supported entirely (or mostly) by his parents.  With this in mind, let me encourage parents to keep reading.

Reading is thinking, guided by text.  This essay reveals my thinking around the ideas of generosity, giving, and support.  This thinking has evolved over time; as a result, I am including the letter that I sent to my friend as a proposition for providing support to he and his wife so that readers can follow the evolution.  Additionally, my hope is that the reader will be engaged by the transparency of this work.  Of course the names have been changed to respect privacy.

Initial Thoughts:

Dear Cory:

As soon as I received your last letter I rallied the troops on Tracy’s behalf (and yours.)  I sent a letter to Russ & Laura, Rick & Jen, Tyndall & J, and others you don’t know who might be willing to help you and your wife.  We are all working on a plan.  Amy has been in daily contact with Tracy.  Following is Amy’s last email to the gang:

 

Hello all,

 I just thought I would give an update and some more specific information about Tracy and Cory’s situation. 

Cory has been granted an fi6 for parole which means he will be transferred to a rehab program for 6 months, then be home after he’s done in late oct/nov!  The rehab could be in the Houston area or Austin, but we don’t know yet where or exactly when it will start. They are very excited to see the end to his time away from Tracy.

Tracy is no longer living with the man she knew from a former job…she is presently staying at an extended stay hotel–the same one her grandma is in.  She is not too far from her job and she likes being near her grandma, but it is expensive.  We are still looking for a place for her to stay until mid April that is free or super cheap.  In April, her grandma has been approved for a 2 bedroom rental in Conroe that she will share with Tracy…it will be at a reasonable cost for them if they share it.  Until then if any of you know of a room, garage apartment, mother-in-law’s quarters that is available, it would be much appreciated.  I have spoken to some references and the report is favorable.  Tracy is responsible, considerate, and trustworthy as a housemate.  (Andrew thanks for the offer of furniture…she is grateful and will accept it when she finds a place.) 

As far as her car situation, we have been working to help find a reliable vehicle for her.  We had her car checked out and apparently she was sold a piece of junk at a high price from an individual. Her contract says she is to pay $50 a week until the balance (orig.$3500) is paid. She owes $621 more on that amount, but the repairs are estimated at $2500–in fact the repair guy said it wasn’t worth repairing.  So we are in process of making an appeal to payoff the car at a reduced amount ($3000 total) and get the title for the amount of $121.  We are hoping the seller is reasonable and will accept this.  Then when we can find a reliable, cheap car, we will sell the one she has as scrap for $350-500. If you hear of, have, or see a decent car for sale for $500-$1000, please let us know.  

As far as the rest of her financial situation goes, she has a court cost of $205 and a balance at the probation office of $2337.00.  I have the info on how to make payments on these amounts if anyone is interested or able to assist with $$.  

All in all, we are working to get her

 1.) a safe, inexpensive housing situation

2.) a reliable, cheap vehicle

3.) out of the financial strain of the court and probation fees.

 Doing all this would give her the opportunity to live and work in safety and with much less stress until Cory is available to help.  (She would also like to finish her GED, but has been emotionally unable to keep that up do to all of the stresses surrounding her situation.)  We all understand that these are the consequences of many of the choices of her past, but she is desiring a positive, healthy future, and is working to make this happen. If you feel that you want to help her and Cory get their lives on track, it would be a blessing to many.  

 Thanks for considering how you might participate in this opportunity to help this young couple.

Amy 

To be sure, you and Tracy have friends who are willing to help.   However, our effectiveness is limited by the amount of authority Tracy and you grant us. 

Having said that I will ask you to consider authority:

Authority = Rights + Responsibilities

This equation must remain balanced. 

When the equation is out of balance disequilibrium is the product. 

Imagine someone who enjoys all of the rights, but accepts no responsibilities.  An example of this disequilibrium/disharmony producing equation is a man who enjoys the “rights” typically granted to a husband, but does not accept the responsibilities (provision & protection for the female) associated with those rights.  When real life follows this example, the result is often fatherless children, broken hearts, impoverished bodies and souls.  Disequilibrium for individuals, families, communities…societies.

To elaborate on the example above:  Though missed by most observers, the rites and rituals practiced in many western wedding ceremonies is meant to acknowledge the transfer of authority from a woman’s father to her new husband.  Specifically, the father walking the bride down the aisle, and then giving her hand to the groom is meant to signify this transfer of authority.  The traditional vows of the groom promising provision and protection are his declaration to the father and his community that he will commit to live up to his new responsibilities.  The valuable ring is meant to be a tangible representation of his commitment to provide and protect.  The party that is held after this serious ceremony is a celebration of the equilibrium (righteousness, peace and joy) that the couple, family, community is meant to enjoy through the proper delegation and respect for authority.

On the contrary, consider a situation where someone has all of the responsibility, but does not exercise their rights.  Uncommonly, this situation sometimes arises in marriages where the husband is denied his rights, but bears all of the responsibilities.  Certainly situations like this would produce disequilibrium, frustration, bitterness, resentment, etc…  Sometimes you hear of stories where husbands, broken by disequilibrium, try to “take” their rights. To be sure, rights that are taken by force establish a De Facto authority and a rebellion will certainly ensue.

More commonly, welfare programs and “enablers” come to mind as examples of the authority equation out of balance.  Imagine a young man in his late teens or early twenties who’s single mother works two jobs to provide and protect the both of them (and maybe other younger siblings,) while he sits around the apartment playing video games and getting high.  When she encourages him to get a job to help with the bills or to finish his schooling, he tells her to mind her own business. Disequilibrium!  The equation is out of balance. 

Consider how so many tax (responsibility) paying Americans are embittered by citizens and illegal immigrants who are exploiting the welfare systems (rights) sustained by those taxes.  Disequilibrium!

Let me bring this home: In order to maintain equilibrium, the more of Cory & Tracy’s responsibilities we (the group mentioned above) both corporately and individually accept, the more rights we must be granted by you both.  These rights must be granted as we have no intention and no desire to “take” them.  At the same time, you cannot expect us to intentionally enter into a state of disequilibrium, where we accept responsibility for you and Tracy without those rights.

Trust is the foundation of a legitimate authority.  Consider how a child trusts his loving parents, or a wife trusts her faithful husband.  In fact, there is a direct correlation between trust and legitimate authority (rights + responsibilities.)

You have a longstanding relationship with me and Amy and our community.  That relationship makes it easier for you to trust us and grant us authority in your life/domain.  Tracy has a very short and limited relationship with us and her trust in us is similarly limited.

Tracy’s limited trust in us will make it very difficult for her to grant us authority in her life/domain.  To be sure, for Tracy to grant us any “right to rule” in her life/domain would be an act of faith.  Faith in you.

That said, you and Tracy may want to discuss the level/degree of authority you are willing to grant to us.  How much you are willing to accept our responsibility for you/her and the corresponding rights associated with that responsibility.  As an example if we accept responsibility for Tracy’s legal fees what rights do we have in helping her manage her finances?  If we exercise responsibility to buy her a new car…what rights do we have in monitoring her maintenance of it?

During your discussion with her it may be beneficial to converse about some concepts such as freedom.  Freedom is closely correlated to authority.  For example, when you disrespect the rights of others…you may loose your freedom…that is,  your right to rule your domain autonomously.  You both understand this in an experiential, practical way, but maybe it would be worth exploring the concept more philosophically.  We all want to rule our domains autonomously.  We want to exercise our right to rule our lives the way we want to…we want freedom.  Especially in America.

That said, when an individual does not rule well or they fail to exercise their right to rule, when they abdicate their responsibilities…they loose their freedom to rule autonomously.  That’s tough for Americans who’s schemata were formed around a loose understanding of freedom.  Many young Americans believe that freedom is doing what you want when you want to.  That equation could be represented like this: 

Authority – Responsibilities = Rights

For example:  There existed an unwritten and maybe even unspoken contract between Ms. Smith and Tracy.  Underlying this implied contract were the concepts outlined above.  As Ms. Smith provided lodging (responsibility) she assumed she had certain rights to rule Tracy’s behavior.  Was she right to assume this?  Maybe not. Perhaps this contract should have been explicitly detailed, but it wasn’t.  It was implied.  Consequently, when Ms. Smith attempted to exercise her right to rule Tracy was offended.  Perhaps Tracy had reasonable cause to be offended?  I don’t know, but in speaking with Ms. Smith, Amy’s impression is that Ms. Smith’s confrontation of Tracy was not unreasonable.  Of course, none of us were present so we don’t know the details.  Only Tracy can know.

If Ms. Smith was disrespectful or threatening then perhaps Tracy’s response was appropriate, but if Ms. Smith was simply illuminating a breach of their implied contract then Tracy’s response may not have been appropriate. 

Cory, please be confident that we are on your side and working for your best.  Further, let me be the first to say that I have behaved inappropriately and made many poor decisions in my life, and had to reap the fruit of those poor decisions.  I mention this fact so that you and Tracy can know that I’m not condemning you.  How could I?  I’ve done similar things in my life.  What I am offering is an opportunity to learn from my mistakes so that you can avoid having to travel those same difficult paths.

My analysis of the situation is this: Tracy was offended by Ms. Smith “taking” her limited right to rule over Tracy.  Offended, Tracy ran away from the confrontation rather than recognizing Ms. Smith’s expectations and needs and assuring her that she was willing to make efforts to meet those needs.  Tracy could have also demonstrated her understanding that she has limited freedoms due to her past irresponsibility.  

I am not saying that anyone would be justified to disrespect, threaten, or abuse you or Tracy because you have been incarcerated.  I am not saying you are second-class citizens that must learn to accept and expect disrespect or abuse from others.  I am saying that everyone who has broken trust with society looses freedom and with that looses the authority to rule their life/domains autonomously…at least temporarily.

So, even though Tracy is “free” from the state, she is not yet capable of ruling her domain autonomously.  Specifically, her domain does not yet have the resources to provide for all of her responsibilities.  Said differently, she does not have all of the rights to rule over her life/domain because she cannot provide for all of her responsibilities.

Because, the above is true, Tracy, may do well to understand that, temporarily, she must submit herself, her life/domain to those who would be willing to provide for her responsibilities. 

 Before I get to bogged down in the details of your personal situation, I would like to revisit legitimate authority at a conceptual level.

Legitimate Kingdom Authority:

  • NEVER exploits
  • NEVER intimidates
  • NEVER manipulates
  • NEVER abdicates
  • IS disciplined…but not a disciplinarian (note that disciple and discipline share the same root.)
  • IS rigorous…but not ruthless
  • IS generous…ALWAYS rules in such a way as to generate “life” on behalf of the generations
  • IS generating equilibrium, righteousness, peace and joy for those who submit to it
  • IS generating opportunities to release control, to the delegation of its rights & responsibilities, to those who have been trained by it 

Said dramatically, but accurately…

The Legitimate Kingdom Authority is best demonstrated when it saves the lost (not in the way the Christian culture uses that phrase), when it heals the sick, when it restores sight to the blind, when it raises the dead to life.

With the above as our standard, we as a group or as individuals have no desire to “dominate” anyone.  Said plainly, we don’t want to control you or Tracy’s life/domain.  We only want to help establish a positive life trajectory (save), model and train you in the best practices for “ruling well” (restore sight) and enable (heal) and empower (resurrect) you and Tracy to rule your own lives…autonomously, but in equilibrium.  Said just as plainly, we also have no desire to put a “patch” on your situation so that your temporary sufferings are temporarily relieved, and perpetuate the disequilibrium that has been the modus operandi since your birth.

 Please allow me to remind you that I too submit to authority.  Though I am nearly 48 years old, have been married 27 years, have 8 children, have been gainfully employed for nearly 35 years, have a college education and generate a six-figure income, I still submit my life/domain to my pastor/mentor, Russ Marr.  I do this for at least three reasons:

    1. Out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21)
    2. To practice/exercise my faith
    3. To model submission to those under my authority

With these things in mind please consider studying authority in the scriptures.  May I suggest you and Tracy consider the story of the Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13) and the story of Jesus sending out the twelve (Matthew 10)

So, to go forward with the intentions of our hearts…we need to know what is the desire of yours (both you and Tracy.)  This is very difficult/awkward to work out in writing, especially, as it takes so long for me to respond to your letters and due to the fact that you and Tracy are separated by your imprisonment, thus making your communication very frustrated indeed.  In an effort to facilitate clear and direct communication on these important issues, soon as you can discuss these issues with your wife, please have Tiffany contact us with her decision so that we may know the intentions of her heart and yours.  Though it may speed things along, I am not sending this letter to Tiffany, though it is largely about her, out of respect for you and your position in her life.

In the mean time, please know that we are doing all we can.   Be strong and courageous.  Know that in you I am well pleased.  Fight the good fight of faith.  Don’t grow weary of well doing.  Run the race that has been marked out for you.

Keeping it Kingdom.  Your friend, 

Mitch

After sending this letter to Cory, I sent a copy to my eldest son, Matthan, to open a channel of communication and dialogue around this issue.  Matthan is 20 years old, attending college at the California College of Art in San Francisco, maintains a 4.0 grade point average and is fully supported by his parents. We had to converse via telephone.  As we spoke Matthan presented the following point-of-view:

“…If you give a gift (money or car), it should be a gift.  No strings attached.“

His point was well made.  If you give a gift it should not have “strings attached,” and I agreed with him.   He went on to express his concern for the proposition I outlined in my letter to Cory.  Matthan had reservations about the role of authority in a relationship like I have with Cory & Tracy.  He was especially concerned about the idea of an adult giving over some of their “rights” to another individual.  Having read Jean-Jacque Rosseau, Matthan’s position was grounded in ideas outlined in Rosseau’s The Social Contract:

“To renounce freedom is to renounce one’s humanity, one’s rights as a man and equally one’s duties (responsibilities).”

I listened to his arguments, which were compelling, and yet I remained unsettled about how to structure support of the nature I had in mind for Cory & Tracy.  Internally, I was experiencing some conflict around the concept of giving a gift that might not be a truly “good gift” for Cory and Tracy in the long run.

The following is a formal definition of gift:

Gift – A gift is the voluntary transfer of property or funds to another without receiving anything of value in return and without conditions attached while both the giver and the recipient are still alive. The gift giver (donor) must understand the nature of the act and have a voluntary intent to make a gift, called a donative intent. There must be either physical or symbolic delivery of the gift and actual or imputed acceptance by the donee.

So often givers of “gifts” maintain intentions other than, or in addition to the donative intent, and, consequently, thedonees are expected to understand and fulfill the “conditions” of the “gift.”  In the light of this definition it becomes clear how so many relationships are put in jeopardy or destroyed by the simple act of “giving” a “gift” that really isn’t a gift, resulting in poor communication, unmet expectations, nebulas terms, misunderstanding, and frustration.

The Dilemma:

I have given “gifts” to so many panhandlers, vagabonds and folks down-and-out.  I have had former drug addicts live with my family for extended periods and spent thousands of dollars trying to help people change their trajectories.  I have given hoping the gift was “good,” and sometimes, maybe, it was.  Many times the gift was not good.  I have observed people I earlier gave a gift to with a brand new case of beer, or doing something contrary to what they told me they needed the money for. In those instances I experience feelings of being deceived and taken advantage of. Experiencing those emotions reveals to me that I wasn’t giving a real gift at all.  I had some expectations associated with the support I gave.  There were strings attached.

Now that I have this understanding, it is clear to me that, in cases like these, I do not want to give gifts.

There are several reasons for this, one of which is my concern about “enabling” degenerative behaviors.  To be sure, I do not want to facilitate or participate in any degeneration.  Instead, I want to contribute to life…to generate opportunities and possibilities for growth and the generation of a positive life trajectory.  Further, I want to participate in behaviors consistent with my “household” culture.

One of the standards outlined in the Cowart Family Mission statement is generous.  The original meaning of the word generous is different than the current meaning.  Originally, generous meant “of noble birth.”  From this idea derived the words, gentleman, gentile and the modern meaning of generous.  The concept of nobility as I refer to it is not a bourgeoisie class of self-centered exploitation, but one of self-sacrificing benevolence.  The best example of the nobility that I refer to is Jesus, King of Kings, first born of many brethren who are members of a royal priesthood.

With that concept of generosity in mind, I have embarked on a philosophical journey in search of alternative models or structures for providing support.  The purpose of this essay is to investigate various models for supporting generous initiatives.  Following are cursory reviews of different legal structures that are investigations of various forms of support…beyond that of a gift.

Alternatives:

One such model that is growing in popularity is the microloan. Microloans are extensions of short-term credit to impoverished entrepreneurs for the purpose of facilitating opportunities for a positive life trajectory.  In consideration of this idea please refer to the following definition of loan:

Loan – something lent for the borrower’s temporary use. The money is to be repaid according to terms of the loan agreement, which includes any interest to be charged and a time frame for repayment. The lender has to bear the risk that the borrower may not repay a loan.

Given this definition I am confident that I don’t want to extend loans as a form of support.  The repayment requirement of a loan–burdening someone with debt–is not in harmony with my mission.  Nevertheless, I like the idea of investing in someone’s future.  With that in mind I began to investigate investment structures to see if there was a legal structure that would facilitate my vision. The following is a summary of an excerpt from a website:

Venture Capital – Venture capital is a type of equity investment usually made in rapidly growing companies that require a lot of capital or start-up companies that can show they have a strong business plan. Venture capital may be provided by individuals, or venture capital organizations who generally invest in private startup companies with a high profit potential. In exchange for their funds, they usually require a percentage of equity ownership of the company (between 25 to 55 percent), some measure of control over its strategic planning, and payment of assorted fees. Due to the highly speculative nature of their investments, venture capital organizations expect a high rate of return over a relatively short period of time.

Before providing venture capital to a new or growing business, venture capital organizations require a formal proposal and conduct a thorough evaluation. The most important thing an entrepreneur can do to increase his or her chances of obtaining venture capital is to plan ahead.

The terms “start-up venture” and “rapid growth” resonate with my mission, and I really like the idea of the person I’m supporting having a “strong plan,” and a “formal proposal.”  On the other hand, I don’t think this structure will work for me because the ideas of “controlling” or “owning” the person I am trying to serve are counter to my mission.  Nor do I expect any financial “return” on the investment.

Another structure I looked at was that of “Angel Investor.” The name alone conveyed some potential.

Angel Investor – Angel investors are wealthy individuals who provide capital to help entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed. They are known as “angels” because they often invest in risky, unproven business ventures for which other sources of funds—such as bank loans and formal venture capital—are not available.  In addition to their willingness to invest in a startup, angel investors may bring other assets to the partnership such as encouragement, they may be mentors in how best to guide a new business through the startup phase and they are often willing to do this while staying out of the day-to-day management of the business.

They do this in order to provide a resource that would have been helpful to them in the early stages of their own businesses. In many cases, the investors sit on the boards of the companies they fund and provide valuable, firsthand management advice.

In exchange for their funds, they usually require a percentage of equity ownership of the company and some measure of control over its strategic planning. Due to the highly speculative nature of their investments, angels eventually hope to achieve a high rate of return.

For many entrepreneurs, angels include friends, relatives, acquaintances, and business associates. Nearly 90 percent of small businesses are started with this type of financial help.

It is important to be very frank and honest when describing the business idea to a potential investor.  Ideally, the angels’ investment approach will be compatible with the entrepreneur’s needs. A partnership between angels and entrepreneurs is much like a marriage involving issues of compatibility, cash, and shared goals.

“Unproven” and “risky” ventures are appealing to me and offer the greatest potential for growth.  I also like the idea of being a “source of encouragement” and “mentor” while staying “out of the day-to-day management” of the venture.  I think the concept of a “board” of advisors is one worth considering, especially for “start-ups” and “risky” ventures.  However, I don’t think this structure, as it’s defined here, will serve my purpose due to the financial “high rate of return” expectations.

Maybe a type of partnership would work?

Partnership An association of two or more persons engaged in a business enterprise in which the profits and losses are shared proportionally.

The formation of a partnership requires a voluntary “association” of persons who “co-own” the business and intend to conduct the business for profit. Persons can form a partnership by written or oral agreement, and a partnership agreement often governs the partners’ relations to each other and to the partnership.

Each partner has a right to share in the profits of the partnership. Unless the partnership agreement states otherwise, partners share profits equally. Moreover, partners must contribute equally to partnership losses unless a partnership agreement provides for another arrangement. In some jurisdictions a partner is entitled to the return of her or his capital contributions.

Limited Partnership – A limited partnership is similar in many respects to a general partnership, with one essential difference. Unlike a general partnership, a limited partnership has one or more partners who cannot participate in the management and control of the partnership’s business. A partner who has such limited participation is considered a “limited partner” and does not generally incur personal liability for the partnership’s obligations.   A limited partner may lose protection against personal liability if she or he participates in the management and control of the partnership, contributes services to the partnership, acts as a general partner, or knowingly allows her or his name to be used in partnership business.

There are elements of the partnership model that align with my goals, but much of this structure conflict with my overall mission.  For example, the partnership model seems to apply only when the partners are interested in sharing profits and losses proportionally, and maintaining rights to manage or control.  That’s not what I’m interested in. I do not want a right to control.  In fact, I don’t want to control at all, nor do I want to share in any financial profits.

But this isn’t all about me, the other “partner” must be considered?  Perhaps, in keeping with Maslow’s Hierarchy, the partner “needs” to contribute “equally” to the partnership.  This contribution would provide the partner an opportunity to nurture self-esteem, self-confidence, and to earn respect of others.  This idea is in harmony with my mission, and seems critical to generating a positive life trajectory.  The question that arises is…

How can a “partner” who has limited financial resources contribute?

The Model Emerges:

Recently, my 16 years old son, Samuel, and I were discussing these ideas and during the dialogue he introduced the idea of sponsorship.  Samuel and I have raced bicycles since he was about 10 years old and have enjoyed being sponsored by a local bike shop.  We take this relationship very seriously.  We consider ourselves ambassadors of the shop and make efforts to promote the sport of bicycle racing and the shop specifically.  We wear their uniforms while training and racing, worked as ride leaders during youth rides, volunteered during shop sponsored events, posted Youtube videos that reference the shop, are extra courteous when we encounter hikers and bikers on the trails we train on, and during shop group rides we make efforts to make newcomers feel welcome.  The shop does not require that we win races as a condition of our sponsorship.  They only require that we represent the sport in a positive light and promote their business as we interact with the community.  As Samuel spoke, the idea of sponsorship emerged as a viable option of support.  Following is a definition of sponsor:

Sponsor –

  1. One who assumes responsibility for another person (sponsoree) or a group during a period of instruction, apprenticeship, or probation.
  2. One who vouches for the suitability of a candidate (sponsoree) for admission.
  3. A legislator who proposes and urges adoption of a bill.
  4. In the context of stocks, an influential investor who creates demand for a security because of their positive outlook on it.
  5. One who presents a candidate for baptism or confirmation; a godparent.
  6. One that finances a project or an event carried out by another person or group, especially a business enterprise that pays for radio or television programming in return for advertising time.
  7. One who assumes responsibility for salary, entry fees, travel expenses, equipment, supplies, etc… in return for synergized brand recognition.  Where the sponsoree adds value to the sponsor’s brand or serves to fulfill the sponsor’s mission directly or indirectly.  The sponsor reserves the right to cancel the sponsorship if the sponsoree misrepresents the sponsor’s brand, damages the sponsor’s image or frustrates the sponsor’s mission.  The relationship is often governed by a sponsorship agreement.

After doing some research, I became more intrigued in the sponsorship model.  Following is an excerpt from a U.K. government website meant to help their Olympic athletes obtain sponsorship after the London 2012 Olympics:

Remember, when a company commits to sponsor you, it is effectively making you an ambassador for their brand. It is a public endorsement in you and a show of faith by the sponsor that you are worthy of representing their brand. There is therefore a huge responsibility on you to uphold that brand image. You should take this responsibility very seriously. Some sponsors insist on including a clause in the sponsorship agreement, protecting them in case the athlete’s poor behaviour adversely affects the company’s image. An ‘opt out’ clause is not unusual, should an athlete cause such damage to the brand that the future of the relationship is put in jeopardy.

Given my appreciation of bike racing and the recent infamy of Lance Armstrong, I would like to discuss sponsorship while referencing Lance Armstrong’s career to help me make my point clear.

  • Lance Armstrong is a brand.  Of course, Lance is a person, but there is also an enterprise known as Lance Armstrong.  If you doubt that, then consider that Lance Armstrong employs many coaches, doctors, nutritionists, massage therapists, mechanics, agents, attorneys and others who work to maintain the brand.  The brand is (was) worth $100s of millions of dollars.  The brand’s image in the marketplace creates its value.
  • Lance has been building his brand over decades.
  • Armstrong has all authority over the Lance Armstrong brand.  He maintains all the rights and responsibilities for the brand.  Lance rules his brand with autonomy.  He controls it.  He manages it.  No one tells Lance how to run his business.  I am certain that he has advisers and counselors, but ultimately the final decisions are his.
  • Nike is a brand.  This is easier to conceive of for most people because Nike is a corporation.  The brand’s image in the marketplace creates its value.
  • Because the Lance Armstrong brand (his image in the marketplace) added value to Nike’s brand, Nike has been sponsoring Lance Armstrong for about 20 years (until recently.)
  • Nike does/did not manage the Lance Armstrong brand.  Nike doesn’t control Lance or own a share in the Lance Armstrong brand.

Within this structure the sponsor has the right to “leverage” the sponsoree’s image, “brand” in the market place as defined in the sponsorship agreement.  Given this fact, the sponsoree must add value to the sponsor’s image or mission.  The sponsoree, if he wants to maintain the sponsorship, should work continually to maximize his value to the sponsor.  It’s important to highlight the fact that, in the case of Armstrong, he had not won the Tour de France since 2005.  This is important to point out.  Armstrong’s sponsorship by Nike for the past 7 years was not contingent upon victories in bike races.  Clearly, it was contingent upon his continuing added value to the sponsor’s brand and mission.

The Sponsorship Model:

This model is in harmony with my vision for generous initiatives that serve to fulfill my family’s mission.  The reason I believe that this model is superior to the others previously discussed is:

  • The sponsorship arrangement equalizes the rights and responsibilities of both the sponsor and the sponsoree.  Neither party has the “upper-hand.”  Neither is in a position to oppress the other.
  • Importantly, the sponsoree retains freedom to “rule” his own “brand,” or image autonomously.  This is what Lance Armstrong did.  Nike didn’t have control over Armstrong’s business.  Armstrong made his own decisions about when to train, where to live, what races to enter (other than the Tour de France presumably) and when to dope.
  • The sponsoree retains complete “ownership” of his “property,” and thus retains control.  Armstrong clearly maintained “ownership” of the Armstrong “brand,” (even though now it’s practically worthless.)
  • The sponsoree only gives limited authority (rights & responsibilities) to the sponsor.  Of course I don’t know the details of Lance’s sponsorship agreements, but I’m sure they all had certain rights to include Lance’s image in their catalogs, brochures, magazine ads, websites, TV commercials.  Like this Nike commercial:

Lance Armstrong, famous for his exploits in the world’s largest sporting event, the Tour de France, has recently been in the news for less heroic behavior.  Here are some excerpts from recent news articles about Lance and his relationship with Nike:

Nike declined to comment on its endorsement deal with Armstrong or why it ended the relationship other than to say in a statement it released on Wednesday that it made its decision based on “seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade.”

 “Nike is about ‘just doing it’ and that doesn’t mean drugs,” said Atlanta-based marketing consultant Laura Ries. “It means hard work and ethics. And this flew in the face of it.”

Should the sponsoree’s image lose value, or present a liability to the sponsor’s “brand”, the sponsor retains the right to cancel the sponsorship agreement and discontinue support.  Of course this is exactly what happened in Armstrong’s case.  The Lance Armstrong “image” no longer adds value to the Nike, Trek, Giro, FRS, Oakley, etc…brands, and they all have cancelled their sponsorship agreements.

Following are excerpts from some recent news articles on Nike’s sponsorship of Lance Armstrong:

Recently, Nike said that it would end its relationship with Armstrong, a week after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a massive report that detailed allegations of widespread doping by Armstrong and his teams when he won the Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005.

The move by Nike followed Armstrong’s decision earlier on Wednesday to step down as chairman of the Livestrong cancer-fighting organization he founded. Armstrong, a 41-year-old who earlier in his career had overcome life-threatening testicular cancer, retired from cycling a year ago and announced in August that he would no longer fight the doping allegations that have dogged him for years.

Other companies quickly followed Nike. The beer company Anheuser-Busch, health-club operator 24 Hour Fitness, bike manufacturer Trek Bicycle and athletic products maker Honey Stinger all dropped Armstrong. Meanwhile, Oakley, a sunglass maker, said it would withhold judgment until the International Cycling Union decides whether to challenge the USADA’s findings.

“Based on UCI’s decision today and the overwhelming evidence that USADA presented, Oakley has severed its longstanding relationship with Lance Armstrong, effective immediately,” the company said in a statement. “When Lance joined our family many years ago, he was a symbol of possibility. We are deeply saddened by the outcome, but look forward with hope to athletes and teams of the future who will rekindle that inspiration by racing clean, fair and honest.”

The dominoes started to fall on Wednesday when Nike said it would terminate the cyclist’s contract moments after he announced that he would step down as chairman of his foundation.

That same day, he lost his deals with Trek bicycles, Giro helmets, 24-Hour Fitness and Anheuser-Busch. Radio Shack was more vague, saying that the company had “no current obligations” with Armstrong. Two companies that Armstrong has a stake in, Honey Stinger and FRS, said they would remove him from their packaging.

The following day, his contract with bicycle part company SRAM was severed.

These deals conservatively represented $35 million in future earnings for Armstrong, a source said.

Moving Forward:

All this is to say that I am interested in pursuing sponsorship opportunities.  I am interested in sponsorship as a model for structuring support based upon the following reasons:

  • Sponsorship recognizes value: in the sponsoree, and in the relationship.
  • Sponsorship generates opportunity.
  • Sponsorship is synergistic.
  • Sponsorship promotes autonomy.
  • Sponsorship respects authority.
  • Sponsorship is mutually beneficial.

I am interested in sponsoring individuals who have potential to help me accomplish the Cowart Household Mission.  I am interested in sponsoring individuals who are willing to commit to promoting the Cowart Household “brand” in the marketplace of popular culture.  For more information about that “brand” and its goals, values, ideals, and attitudes, please see the Cowart Household Mission Statement attached.

After reading this statement, if you or someone you know is interested in pursuing a sponsorship arrangement please feel free to contact me.

Posted by: mamaamy | November 12, 2012

The House of Cowart

Mission:

The House of Cowart exists to manifest the culture of the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven. The household will do this by upholding the cultural norms and standards of the Kingdom in every domain it exercises authority over.

Authority:

The Cowart Family understand authority to be best defined by the following equation:

Authority = Rights + Responsibilities

This understanding informs every relationship and every action, both internal and external to the household. This understanding is critical to the mission. To manifest the Kingdom of God on earth is to honor the sovereign culture and structures of governance modeled in the Kingdom of Heaven. Within this model there are clearly delineated principalities and ruling powers each with rights and responsibilities.

Like all equations this one must remain balanced. That said, no one within the Cowart family should enjoy rights without the corresponding responsibilities. Like wise, where there are responsibilities over a given domain there must exist the right to rule that domain. Further, everyone in authority must understand that he exercises his rights to fulfill his responsibilities for the generations. He shall not rule his domain for his own selfish ambitions or to the exploitation of the generations.

Cowarts acknowledge that trespassing is the unauthorized entry of another’s domain, and remember that Jesus encourages us to forgive trespassers.

Culture:

Culture is the synthesis of attitudes, goals, ideals and values. The culture of the Kingdom is best understood by considering Jesus and His teachings, not Christian culture, or church culture. That said, the members of the Cowart family will continually seeking to understand Jesus’s actions and teachings as they “seek first the Kingdom of God.” It is beyond the scope of this document to layout or define the culture of the Kingdom; nevertheless, the following values would undoubtedly be listed as cultural norms, and as such are held up by the Cowart household as ideals.

Ideals:

Love:

Meeting someone else’s need, especially when it requires postponing or denying the demands of your own soul.

Honor:

Conduct which rightfully attracts esteem, high respect, or special consideration; dignity; courage; fidelity; especially, excellence of character; high moral worth; virtue; nobleness; specif., in men, integrity; uprightness; trustworthness; in women, purity; chastity.

Respect:

Respect for and submission to authority. Respect for the law. Respect for the freedom and property of others. Respect for genius.

Propriety:

The quality or state of being appropriate or fitting; conformity to the prevailing standard of behaviour, speech, etc.

The Goal:

To manisfest the Kingdom of God “on earth as it is in Heaven.” To bring heaven rather than brining hell.

Standards:

The Standards of the Cowart Household are best understood by reviewing the Generative King Archetype word study by Mitch Cowart.

Gentleman: The True Gentleman
Generous: Of nobel birth
Generation: To bring forth, to produce
Genuine: Actually having the reputed or apparent qualities or character and having proceeded from the alleged source or author.
Genesis: Origin, Creation, Generation
Genius (Ingenuity:) Incarnation of generative power
Genial: Celebrating and exalting the covenant of marriage
Genus: Family, Tribe, Clan

Domains:

The Cowart family recognizes 7 domains that all revolve around leadership. The leadership of the Cowart family must exercise authority over these domains for themselves and each dependent, gradually releasing/delegating control until the delegate can rule independently or in autonomy while upholding the standards and ideals of the King:

Mind:

We must exercise the right and the responsibility to provide for the growth and protection of our minds. Within the GKA this means observing Genesis, and Genius, as well as Gendarme and General in relation to our minds. For example, the King of Genesis established a culture of growth (garden.) In keeping with this the Cowart house will uphold, nurture and maintain a growth mindset. This house will be known for learning and teaching. This cultural norm will be fostered through language that promotes effort and values struggle. Along with growth and development, we understand that we must guard and protect our minds, taking every thought captive; judging thoughts to be either generative or degenerative.

Will:

This house will exercise our right and responsibility to develop, train and manage willpower as a resource to be stewarded. Our will is subject to our autonomous rule (free will) within the parameters of the Kingdom culture. Those with authority will exercise their right and responsibility to train, coach, guide, and model willpower, self-control, and self-discipline gradually releasing their delegates to be autonomous in these areas.

Heart:

Cowarts will exercise their rights and responsibilities to foster emotional intelligence within them selves and in the generations. Members of the Cowart house acknowledge that the generations have real/valid emotional needs, some of which are: the need for relatedness, the need to be understood, the need for trust, the need for respect and love. Further, Cowarts consider the desires of the heart and purpose to provide for those desires for individuals within their domain. Cowarts will respect the borders of a sovereign emotional domain and avoid trespassing into the emotional territory of others. At the same time, the Gendarme and the General are to serve as protectors of the hearts of the generations.

Body:

Acknowledging that our bodies were generated as a complex and sophisticated system. The House of Cowart stewards their bodies by learning about health, and utilizing willpower to incorporate best practices (traditional and non-traditional) with regard to nutrition, exercise, rest, disease prevention, sex, reproduction and childbirth. We value proactive stewardship, but when a response to infection or injury is needed we will first incorporate those remedies that are consistent with and give honor to all of the complex systems generated by the King of Genesis.

Stuff:

The Cowart household understands that the material world is holy. The stuff made by the King of Genesis is good, and in keeping with the Genesis culture Cowarts make stuff. The stuff that is made (or acquired) by Cowarts will be the cultural texts of the Kingdom, conveying cultural norms like genius and ingenuity. These cultural texts should be modest in scale, give honor to the maker and user, and the making or acquisition of these cultural texts should be motivated by love. Cowarts understand that the purpose of life is not the generation (or acquisition) of stuff, but that the purpose of stuff is to facilitate the generation of life. Cowarts believe that stuff is useful for meeting a variety of needs…needs of the body, and soul. Stuff should not be held in such high regard as to be fought over or used to portray our identity or worth. Cowarts will be grateful for the stuff they have, and as an expression of that gratefulness will use stuff appropriately. Further, Cowarts will respect other’s stuff and practice responsible stewardship by maintaining and caring for their own stuff.

People:

The House of Cowart honors people as being made by God and in His image, and as such recognize that all people are designed for holiness. Cowarts understand that people have been given dominion and with that endeavor to respect the autonomous rule of each person outside of their domain. At the same time, Cowarts understand that the greatest in the Kingdom is a servant and with that people are to be served according to their needs. This service will take a variety of forms, the greatest of which will be the forgiveness of sins. More specifically, in an effort to participate in the culture of the Generative King, Cowarts will actively forgive people of their sins. The act of forgiveness is meant to facilitate peace, reconciliation and life. Further, as agents of the Generative King, Cowarts will actively participate in “raising people from the dead.” More specifically, our household will be known for restoring life to those who are without it, by generating opportunities, generating economy, generating environments (both material and soulful) that foster life.

Time:

The Cowart household understands time to be the physical dimension within the realm of eternity. Time is for learning, training, growing and generating. Time is not for finishing, arriving or getting results. Time is not to be wasted, but stewarded as a valuable resource (i.e. spending time wisely.) Cowarts believe that people have been given dominion over time and with that understand that the only way to know the future is to create it .

Leadership:

All of the above domains will be ruled according to the standards above by implementing the following leadership strategies: “Fanatical Discipline,” “Empirical Creativity,” and “Productive Paranoia.” This is exemplifies the leadership style of the Generative King and his rule maintains a genuine focus on others.

Posted by: mamaamy | November 12, 2012

The True Gentleman

The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceedsfrom good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.

– John Walter Wayland –

Posted by: mamaamy | April 8, 2012

120408 Easter Sunday News Article

120408 Easter Sunday News Article

Posted by: mamaamy | September 24, 2011

Book List for Mama and Baby

The books listed here are what we would consider essential reading.
The concepts that the books offer are pieces that have contributed to our overall childbirth and rearing viewpoint. They help to describe some of the elemental, indispensable values and practices that Mitch and I have embraced.

Please feel free to contact us at any time you have a question about our philosophy or applications.

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susun Weed: An excellent resource for caring for yourself and baby before conception until months after birth.

Healing Yourself During Pregnancy by Joy Gardner: same as above.

The Nature of Birth and Breastfeeding by Michel Odent: About the naturalness of birth and breastfeeding due to our being mammals.

Birth without Violence by Frederick Leboyer: A beautiful narrative about the beauty of natural birthing.

Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin: A holistic journey through the birthing process, technical as well as “spiritual.”

The Family Bed by Tina Thevenin: Describes the incredible benefits to parents and baby of co-sleeping.

The Power of Motherhood by Nancy Campbell: Inspirational encouragement as to the purpose and impact of motherhood.

The Family Meal Table and Hospitality by Nancy Campbell: Excellent scriptural inspiration for the beauty of the table and its influence.

To Train up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl: The concept of training children along the way rather than reactionary discipline.

No Greater Joy by Michael and Debi Pearl: books, newsletter and website: http://www.nogreaterjoy.org Wonderful continual encouragement.

Above Rubies by Nancy Campbell: newsletter and website: http://www.aboverubies.org Wonderful ongoing encouragement.

You and Your Child by Charles Swindoll: Book and cd series.

Mothering Magazine: Periodical for natural birth and childrearing info.

And for levity-especially for the husband: Babies and Other Hazards of Sex by Dave Barry: A humorous viewpoint on kid quirks and parental goofiness.

Posted by: mamaamy | September 29, 2010

Living with Intention: An Introduction

The Cowarts

For Easier Printing
Microsoft Word Version: Living With Intention Document

(First published March 2008)

We, Mitch and Amy, have been without a television for nearly 20 years. When we first got rid of it, we really didn’t know what to do with ourselves. I was getting my Master’s degree and Mitch was commuting to work, so we were busy enough to not notice the “loss” too much. We would sit in the evenings and talk about life, but nothing too deep. Eventually we became a bit bored and started reading. Mitch began reading books on technology and its effects and I read books on natural living. We began conversing about these topics and comparing the ideas found in both. Others began to join our conversations and we would have dinners and then talk late into the evening. Often people would come to dine or hang out and they would not know how to join in. They were used to being entertained, but not used to interaction and discussion. Some of them stuck with us. We kept talking.

Mitch, rather rebellious against all things accepted as the norm, constantly asked questions. Why does everyone do this or that?? Why do we have babies in hospitals? Is anyone sick or broken? Why not have them at home? In December 1991, I finished my degree and by March of ’92 our first baby was born. We had a midwife and began at home. We transferred to the hospital when the midwife felt that we needed to because of the baby’s position, but I birthed him naturally in the hospital. Mitch’s questions continued. Why feed babies formula? Why do they have their own room and bed? Why do we need “well baby” check-ups? Why do we shoot perfectly healthy babies with disease (vaccinate)? Why should we send them away to be taught by strangers? When the questions were asked, I began to research. I would study to find the pros and cons, present them to Mitch, and then we would make a decision based on what we believed was best. More questions followed: Why do we use birth control? Doesn’t God open and close the womb? Consequently we continued to have babies.

The questions were not only about babies, but about the church/religion and education and medicine. We challenged all of the world’s system and studied and decided how we wanted to live. We eventually had a buzz phrase that we used to describe this mode of operation. We called it “living with intention.” We didn’t want life to just happen to us–we wanted to know why we were doing what we were doing. We wanted to choose how we would live our lives and not just do what everyone else did just because they did it. We now have 8 children that were born in our home (with the exception of the 1st.) I nursed them all, including the twins, for 2-3 years each. We incorporated the “family bed.” Our children (5 boys and 3 girls) have never been to the doctor for anything but an emergency visit for a broken bone or stitches. None have been vaccinated. I have been home-schooling since ’94 grades K-10 so far. We have been meeting in homes with other believers for the past 20 years.

We still don’t have a television. Our discussion and reading continue. Now we spend our evenings engaging in discussions with our children (ages 3-16.) We often have people over to converse with us as well. It has been great!

We decided to start this blog as a continuation of this mode of thinking. Some of the posts are letters or e-conversations that we have had about various topics, some are articles that we have written in response to questions that have been asked, some are studies in progress, and others are just the things that we are seeing and want a way to get them out of our heads. We set up the site, not to avoid personal conversations, but to lay groundwork for further conversations. If we can share these things in a more general way, then perhaps we can converse personally in a deeper way. Our passion is to seek and challenge, but our greatest desire is to encourage and build up one another. It is our hope that this blog leads to that end.

Thanks for joining us.

Posted by: mamaamy | March 24, 2010

Boys will be Men

A while back, Mitch’s sister wrote to us about a terrible bicycle accident that a young boy in their neighborhood experienced. He is in the hospital with his intestines hurt badly. Mitch wrote this to her and I felt that it might speak to some of you who will raise sons, who are raising sons or have raised them. It gives some insight on our philosophy about the bike racing and its purpose in the life of our family. You may not all agree, but I put it out there for comment and discussion 🙂 Amy

Mitch wrote:

I am so sorry to learn of Jack’s injury. These things some times happen regardless of the sport/activity. Skateboarders, football players, soccer players, BMXers all take risks as you know. But does that risk compare with the risk of NOT allowing boys to participate in these activities?

Having grown up with my masculinity questioned regularly because of my size, I fear more how my boys might be hurt if I DON’T offer them the opportunity to prove themselves, test themselves. In my view, arms, and legs and intestines will heal, but a boy’s wounded self image may not. This is not easy to do. I wait with ALOT of anxiety as Matthan and Samuel race their bikes. What Matthan does is VERY dangerous, and there are times when I question whether or not we should be doing this, but so far I believe that this is what God is showing me to do for Matthan, for his development as a man. He thrives on the danger and the opportunity to test himself. The test is not so much about bike riding skills but about self-control and maturity. The downhill racing, that he does, lasts between 3 and 12 minutes and is usually won by fractions of a second. You can’t win if you’re lying on the ground…even for a second. So the challenge, the test is to go as fast as you can WITHOUT pushing beyond your limits. You have to stay with in yourself, no taking chances. You have to keep your head and not be controlled by your emotions. Those emotions will cause you to take chances that will cost you the race or worse. This requires maturity and self-control. He LOVES this challenge.

There are many lessons that we both have learned from this past season of racing. At the last race in Keystone, CO, he entered two events; downhill and dual-slalom. He had never raced dual-slalom before. It’s like a BMX course built on the ski run, where two racers race against each other side-by-side: the looser goes home, while the winner goes to the next round. They keep racing and eliminating racers down to the final two racers. Matthan was winning all his elimination rounds. Between rounds we talked about ignoring the racer in the lane next to him and just riding his own race…as fast as HE could go. Letting the other racer “push” you would cause you to make a mistake or go faster than you have the skills to go. To make a long story short…he got to the semi-finals and was winning the race when…out of the corner of his eye he saw the other guy closing on him. Matthan sprinted for the final jump as fast as he could…faster than he had ever sprinted for any jump. When he hit the jump he flew SOOO high. The back wheel came up over his head (Amy and I watched in slow motion, another kid had just been hauled off to the ER, we were terrified.) He landed on the front wheel. The wheel folded under the force and then broke in half. The bike stopped rolling and Matthan kept going…straight into the ground (I thought maybe he was broken…badly) Then he jumped up and ran across the finish line. I was afraid, then I was furious. He did EXACTLY what we had talked about not doing. He nearly hurt himself badly by listening to his emotions instead of keeping his head. He would have won without taking that chance. He was bleeding from his knees and elbows, hip, shoulder (even though he wore protective gear.) I handled it wrong, I didn’t yell or anything, but he knew that I was upset…instead of being proud that he didn’t lay there crying, that he jumped up and finished the race. THAT’S what he thought I should have focused on, not what COULD have happened. In his mind…he passed the test! He didn’t give up when it got really hard…he proved that he “has what it takes.”

If I could talk with Jack I would try to help him interpret this event. I would want him to know that it’s not his fault, that he’s not weak or stupid or foolish, that it was a “freak” thing, this doesn’t always happen when boys fall and it will probably never happen to him again–even if he chooses to jump bikes again. I would try to find a story or movie to share with him about a hero that is injured and then recovers to come back victorious. In short, I am more concerned for Jack’s self image than his physical wellness (not that I take his injuries lightly, just that I am increasingly aware of the “wounds” that boys receive to their self image.)

By the way, Matthan got fourth overall in that race and then went on to win the downhill in spite of his injuries. Later, we talked about it all and I was able to share with him how scared I was and how that affected me and how proud I was with the way he handled the whole experience.

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