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Explorer, Warrior, Son

by Joy Cannis

“Don’t climb on that, don’t break anything, don’t be so aggressive, don’t be so noisy, don’t be so messy, don’t take such crazy risks. But God’s design-which He placed in boys as the picture of Himself- is a resounding yes. Be fierce, be wild, be passionate.” ~John Eldridge


Do the words in the quote sound familiar? I feel like I’m saying them all the time.

“Don’t do this, don’t do that.” When really, the last thing in the world that I want is for my son to be anything less than he was created to be. The first word that comes to mind when I think of my boys is, adventure.

They thrive on it.

They have to have it.

Journey WPC

This picture was taken at one of our favorite places. As we stood talking with friends, my 5 year old walked passed us and said, “I have to go on my travels.”

“Your travels?” I asked.
“Yes. My travels.” He said with a heightened sense of urgency.

I love this shot of him. It says it all. He wasn’t worried about who or if anyone would follow him, he just knew that he wasn’t standing around any longer discussing what was going to happen next. He was going to make it happen!

As we walked back towards the parking lot, I could tell that he was holding something rather tightly in his hand. When I reached to hold it, he said, “Do you want to see my treasures from today?”

“Absolutely.” I said.
He opened his palm to reveal his findings. He was very proud.


“Mom.” He said. “Take a picture so that we can remember them forever.”

These moments are fleeting. I know that I will one day look back at this picture of his small hand and think, “Wow, that seems like yesterday.”

Moms of boys, we have a big, big job that carries with it great responsibility. Who are we listening to when it comes to “training up” our sons “in the way they should go?”


I must constantly remind myself of the end result. And that is, I am raising men. I must let them experience things in a way that feeds that desire within them. To suppress it would be detrimental to their development.

John Eldredge says it well in “Wild at Heart.

“The recipe for fun is pretty simple raising boys: add to any activity an element of danger, stir in a little exploration, add a dash of destruction, and you’ve got yourself a winner. The way they ski is a perfect example. Get to the top of the highest run, point your skis straight downhill and go, the faster the better. And this doesn’t end with age; the stakes simply get higher.” ~John Eldredge


Mamas, are we allowing our boys to get dirty? Are we allowing them to run wild outside and scream at the top of their lungs if the urge strikes? Are we meeting them where they are and walking beside them instead of behind them with a big stick and a megaphone?

We need to let them know that it’s normal and good to act like a boy.

Are we encouraging the men and the boys in our life to be real men?

Men, are you a leader worth following? They are watching everything you do. How you treat females, other males, children, animals, people who look different from you. They are running behind you in your big footsteps. Are you noticing?

“A man needs a battle to fight; he needs a place for the warrior in him to come alive and be honored, trained, seasoned. If we can reawaken that fierce quality in a man, hook it up to a higher purpose, release the warrior within, the boy can grow up and become truly masculine.” ~John Eldridge

Will you commit, with me, to praying for our sons? If you don’t have a son, you know someone who does. Will you pray for him?

This is a different time and our boys are up against some outlandish expectations and ridicule.

This is the prayer that I pray with and over my boys;

“God, make him a seeker of You. May he find favor in Your eyes while pursuing You as if his life depended on it, because as he will one day see, it does. Thank You for entrusting me with this enormous responsibility. May I seek your wisdom and guidance every step of the way.” Amen.

What are your thoughts? Do you find it challenging to raise productive members of society in the world today? What is the best advice anyone has ever given you about parenting?



Joy Cannis is a writer at Even a Girl Like Me, an incredible photographer, a friend and career woman changing little lives with Buckhead Church in Atlanta, GA. She is drop-dead gorgeous, one wonderful encourrager, supportive friend to many – and she just needs to know that. And, one of the most fearless, raw, authentic blog writers I know. Keep up the great work, Joy. Let’s keep growing together.

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