Here is a video my husband made of our son for his Affirmation of Manhood ceremony. It is set to Toby Mac’s song Lose Your Soul on the Portable Sounds album.

I took my son shopping for a suit yesterday. It was no great surprise that the suit he had worn to a wedding three years ago was too small, but I was hoping the jacket from last spring’s banquet would fit. No such luck. Teenage hormones kicked in over the summer, and he is at least four inches taller than he was last spring, so shopping we went.

As we browsed the racks of suits on sale (“Do I really have to try these on?”) and picked out jacket, pants, shirt, tie, and shoes, he mentally began adding up the cost of this outfit. He knows that most of his clothes come from the 80% off sales racks and are usually under $10. “Are we really going to spend more on this outfit than you spend on a month’s worth of groceries?” he asked, surprised. “No,” I replied, “but probably more than I spend for a week’s worth.” “Wow!” he responded thoughtfully. I turned and faced him, looking him in the eye, and said, “This is important and we want you to know that.”

Now, I do not intend to say that spending more money makes something more valuable, but I do believe that making the effort to dress more formally on some occasions lends an air of importance to the event. A bride will sometimes spend thousands of dollars on the dress she wears for a few hours to mark what should be the most significant event in her life. We want our son to see this evening of transition into manhood as a significant turning point in his life. Having everyone dress up makes the occasion more memorable and marks it as different and more special than an ordinary get together with friends.

Our society has become so casual that what were the markers of important events for previous generations have been lost. Casual Friday has become casual everyday, contemporary church services mean wear your blue jeans; no suits allowed, and when is the last time you saw someone dress up to get on an airplane?

I am all for any effort to reduce the number of days when I am expected to wear pantyhose, but I think we’ve taken this casual thing a step too far. Wearing uniforms at school and dressing nicely at work promote a sense of value for the effort put forth that day. Dressing up in suits and “special occasion” dresses will make our Friday evening celebration just that – a special occasion. Besides, just think how handsome my son will look. It’s enough to make this mother want to cry!

Scurry, scurry…frantic fury. The past month has flown by in a blur ! Despite continued attempts to keep our schedule manageable, there are still seasons of busyness because some invisible law dictates that once in a while, everything our children want to do and every event involving extended family or friends must all occur within the same limited time frame – and often at the exact same time. Ever been there? Thankfully we are nearing the end of a six week frenzy.

I regret that for me this year, Christmas seemed but a stepping stone on my quest to reach the end of the harried period. Since one major event is still looming on the horizon this week, it overshadowed in my mind what should have been a glorious celebration of Christ’s birth. I am grateful for the Lord’s mercy, even as the Martha in me continues to anxiously cook and clean in preparation for the big day.

No, I’m not talking about a fabulous New Year’s party ( though someday, I’d like to do that too), but rather a celebration in honor of my oldest son. Many other cultures have a wonderful ceremony affirming the growth of their children into young men, and my husband and I are trying to create a similar ceremony for our children. We believe in part that these markers help dispel some of the typical teenage angst, as these young people are affirmed as the maturing adults they are becoming. Our hope is that we can call our son to a higher path in life by surrounding him with adults who see him as he is, affirm who he is becoming, and challenge him to strive for greater things.

Our younger son asked if this was an “official” celebration and when I asked him to clarify, he replied, “Well, you know, a birthday party isn’t official because you have it at home; is this going to be at home or somewhere else?” In case you’re wondering, this will be an “official” celebration!

His next question was “Why are we cleaning and working so hard if the party is somewhere else?” Apparently, he was oblivious to the fact that even though the official celebration is being held elsewhere, Mom is still the official caterer, party director, and bed and breakfast hostess for out of town guests.

I am officially crossing things off of my to do list each day, recognizing my limits and dealing with the fact that I won’t get the bathroom repainted before my company comes nor will the expanse of thick wet leaves disappear from my backyard anytime soon. The constant rain over the last few weeks has seen to that.

But we will have a wonderful time with family and friends, our son will know he is loved well – and I will finally be officially off-duty for a while!