Lessons at the Derby

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It is a few days before my boys will participate in their Boy Scout Troop’s annual Pinewood Derby, and pretty much everything in this house is focused on getting ready for the Big Race.

A few weeks ago, I came home to find four wooden rectangles baking in my oven. My oldest son had been doing research and discovered this is a good way to rid the wood of excess moisture. If we somehow manage to take home a trophy this year, baking the wood might be the reason.

Over the past several days, there has been cutting and sanding, painting and sanding, some drilling, weighing and a lot more sanding. Further research from our eldest has pointed to a need for excessive sanding.

Paul and I were marveling recently that we have become professionals at this particular scouting event. That’s not to say we are winners, certainly not in the traditional sense. We are heading into our sixth year of competing in the derby, and so far the only major award anyone has brought home was for “Most Fuel Efficient Car.”

Adding multiple years and multiple boys, Paul has been Chief Engineer on over a dozen derby cars. It’s a lot of hard work and, really, a lot of fun. We’ve learned about dealing with the thrill of victory, but mostly the agony of defeat. It’s a challenging but important lesson to learn.

The first year we participated in the Derby, it was our oldest son racing his very first effort. Before that year, Paul and I had barely heard of the Pinewood Derby. We certainly knew nothing about the need to bring extra graphite or the importance of sanding the axels, and it occurred to none of us to paint the car before attaching the wheels.

That year, I watched my son deal with a rickety car and sticky, bumpy wheels. We had no idea about any of it, and as I stood there in the school cafeteria and watched all the other cars zoom by, heat after heat, I wanted to grab my little boy and go home.

“Let’s just leave,” I remember telling my husband, mostly joking. I thought about going home, packing up the house and moving to an undisclosed location where we didn’t need to deal with disappointments ever again. We could just stay together, our little family, and I could protect my children from all the hurts of the world.

An older friend overheard my frustrations and offered encouragement.

“You can’t go put your head under a rock,” he said.

He was right of course. That day, I pushed through and saw the bigger picture of the race. This wasn’t just about winning, or even about losing. It was about learning to be gracious in either situation. It was about building character and having life experiences – and having fun in the process. My son certainly had a lot of fun that day, despite the setbacks with his car.

Here we are, several years later. I look back on that first Pinewood Derby and realize it was mostly a teachable moment for me. At that point in my mothering journey, I was still hoping I could shield my boys from any of life’s potentially painful experiences. Back then I might have even thought that was part of my job, that no problem should be bigger than my mothering capabilities.

Now I realize that while it is my heart’s desire to protect my children, there will be moments in this journey of life when I cannot. There will be times when they will experience hurt or sadness, maybe even times when they must shoulder a burden that Paul and I won’t be able to take from them.

In those moments, the problems will be bigger than a rickety wooden car, and maybe even bigger than me. But they will never be bigger than God. Our hope is in him. 1592″>


Must Have Item of the Month

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I’m pretty sure I need these stockings. They would be the perfect tribute to my favorite Catholic Southern Female Author, Miss O’Connor.

(More cool mod clothing over here, with a HT: Betty Beguiles) 1591″>


Henry’s View

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Someone gave Henry my phone while he was sitting in his seat recently, and he snapped a shot. He’s a genius, isn’t he Gramma?



Rest In Peace

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My heart is aching for Amy Welborn and her family this evening. I am so saddened to hear of the death of her beloved husband Michael Dubruiel.

Michael and Amy are two of my Internet friends that I’ve actually met in real life — I spent the day with them this past June at the New Media Celebration in Atlanta. They were both so gracious in listening to my questions and giving me advice, especially about book writing. Michael said one or two very pointed things to me that I still think about when I’m struggling to get words on the screen.

There are no words to say, other than we are praying for you Amy, for your family and especially those two sweet boys.

(l-r) Mark Shea, Amy Welborn, Michael Dubruiel, Guarav Shroff, me, Lisa Hendey 1589″>