Fun Friday…Defining Moments For Our Children

Posted by:  Jessica Cornelius

My son Mason turned 13.  This age is a big deal because it marks the teenage years, and in most cultures, it’s the day a boy becomes a man.  I wonder how many teenagers would make wiser decisions if they knew they were a man and didn’t have to prove it by doing something stupid or immoral (or both)?  Having said that, we decided to have a rite of passage ceremony at the beach.  A rite of passage denotes rituals marking the transitional phase between childhood and full inclusion into a tribe or social group.  We invited men that Mason looks up to and none of his friends, so that Mason could really focus on the importance of the event.  I didn’t get to go either, it was guys only.

We have always told our children that when they turn 13 they are going to have a rite of passage ceremony.  We told them it was all a secret, and they wouldn’t be able to find out anything about it until the special day.  We have talked about it so much over the years that they have built it up in their minds to this grand epic event.  After many hours of research, planning, and praying, it ended up being even more epic than I expected.  God exceeded my expectations!  I thought it was just going to be a special time to celebrate a milestone in Mason’s life.  Oh no…Mason came home that night with a fresh passion for the Lord.  I could tell from the look on his face that he had just had a life changing night!!!!  The best way to describe it is that something was unlocked in him.  Through tears he told me it was the best day of his life, and he will never forget it.  He said that he didn’t know everyone loved him that much.  In my mind I was thinking, “What?!?! How can you not know that?”  He also told me about all of the wisdom he gained from the men that were there.

Before Mason went to bed he asked if he could pray with us.  Then he said in his prayer, “I feel like tonight was the appetizer,” referring to the rest of his life being something to really look forward to.  What happened is really simple. The men in Mason’s life helped place destiny in his heart and he accepted it to become a man.  Here’s how it went down:

Mason is “kidnapped” in our house by two staff members. (We added this part to make it “epic”, as Mason would say).  It didn’t end up very scary because our staff guys got the wrong kid, and I started laughing.  Watch the video here.

When they got to the beach Mason was so surprised to see all of the men around a big bonfire, cheering for him.  They started with the Wisdom Walk.

The Wisdom Walk is where different men walk with Mason from the bonfire to a dune with a valley in it that they deemed the “Valley of Manhood.”  On the walk, the men shared a word of wisdom with Mason.  Then they watched him shoot an arrow at a target set up for him and then prayed with him.  Bil walked with Mason first.  They weren’t there five minutes before they were both crying.  Bil told him how much he approved of him, believed in him and shared that he is destined for greatness (which he has told him his whole life).  Then Bil prayed with him.  On the walk back, Mason said, “Dad, can we slow down?  I want this to last.”

After all the wisdom walks were done, two friends began to beat drums (very tribal!) while they all put war paint on.  Then they shaved some of Mason’s hair off with drums beating and all the guys hooping and hollering.  When I researched rights of passage I found that this is often done so that the person comes away looking different.  It represents a new beginning.

I had also read that there was usually a test of bravery.  So Mason had to walk into the ocean, in the dark, to pull out an anchor that one of the guys had placed in the water earlier.  Our beach is shallow for a long way out, but it is still creepy to go out sixty feet, in the dark, all alone.  I picked an anchor so Mason would always have a visual to remind him that God’s Word is an anchor in his life.  It keeps him from floating off and making unwise decisions.

After that, Bil talked with Mason about being a godly man and had him repeat a pledge that Bil wrote.  He prayed over Mason while weeping, and then talked about Exodus 20:4, mentioning God’s blessing extending to generations.  Then Bil asked his dad (Mason’s grandfather) to pray for Mason while all the men laid hands on him.  You can see the pledge here.

What have you done, or plan on doing for a special time in your child’s life?

40 thoughts on “Fun Friday…Defining Moments For Our Children

  1. Tiffany Cooper

    Jessica, I remember how touched I was when you told me this story. Reading it was even more powerful. I had to wipe away tears several times. What an incredibly epic, life-altering, God moment this was for Mason and your family. I’m not sure that I will pull the same thing off but I do know that I’m super thankful for your example!!! I have some time before I have to plan something this amazing:) Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Ebony

    So awesome! I loved reading this to start off my morning! I just heard God saying that He wants all of His children to have life changing epic days like that as we walk in His grace!

    Happy Birthday to your sweet boy!!!


  3. Lacey

    Wow! Thank you for sharing! Our daughter is almost 2 and after reading this my husband and I look forward to sharing these type of moments with her…and any children God has for us in our future! Love it!

  4. Jessica cornelius

    Joy, let me know what you come up with, because I want to do something different for our other son.
    One of the other things we did, that I forgot to mention, was have other pastor friends from around the country send Mason a video with godly wisdom about becoming a man. It was all men that he had met, and admired. That is one more thing you could do.

  5. Brandi Wilson

    I remember reading Bil’s blog post about this right after it happened and crying. Such a sweet gift you’ve given Mason as he moves into adulthood!

  6. Mary Beth Bradshaw

    How incredibly life Changing. I wish I could back 10 years and do this for our 23 year old son. Maybe for our grandsons… if we have any. 🙂

  7. Jessica cornelius

    Thanks Brandi, I hesitated posting it since Bil did post it, but then I realized there were so many new girls around here who probably didn’t get a chance to read it last year.

  8. Laura Anne

    This is such a fantastic idea. When I was studying Geography and Sociology I learned a lot about rituals (the one that disturbed me was when a girl started her period they would give her this alcoholic drink and everyone would pull all her hair out – OUCH!)

    Also love the video of Mason’s brother being kidnapped by mistake. Ha ha!

  9. Marisa

    Wow, Jessica! This is just such a beautiful image and great idea. I’m a total wreck after reading it and will for sure be doing this with both of our boys. Thanks for posting it!

  10. Brandi Wilson

    heck no, it definitely needed to be posted here… not that we all don’t read bil’s blog too! 😉

  11. Evelyn Kay

    This is awesome! This is exactly what my son needs and thankfully, we have a year to plan something life-changing for him. Thank you so much for sharing!

  12. Bryan Fiacus

    I had the honor of being a part of this powerful night and I can’t tell you how much this meant. At 38 years of age, it still touched my heart to see a son gaining his father’s approval publicly.(something every boy desires, no matter his age) It was a quite a night and something I highly recommend.

  13. Jessica Cornelius

    Bryan, it was so sweet of you to be there and pour into Mason. I am grateful that Mason has men like you in his life to look up to! One day Mason and Bil will be there when it is Will’s turn.

  14. Michelle Meeks

    This is awesome Jessica! I love that you and Bil are such intentional parents.
    I’m planning on having a “rite of passage” before my daughter enters Junior High this Fall. It will probably entail more pampering : ), but I will for sure have notes written from friends and family I will let you know how it unfolds.
    I am excited for my 3 boys to get to walk through a rite of passage with Ryan, thanks to you and Bil for being a great inspiration.

  15. Jessica Cornelius

    Michelle, I can’t wait to hear about it! Send me pictures too! Yes, it will be so different. 😉 My parents did one for me when I was her age. It is something she will never forget.

  16. Rebeca

    I just loved this…it moved me deeply..thank you for sharing, I dont have kids yet but this is one more thing Im praying for my future kids…
    Blessing to u and ur family and sweet Mason !!!

  17. Samantha Howe

    I am only 22, but am totally counting down the years that I will be able to do something awesome like this for my children! What a brave mama you are to see your “little boy” turn into a man in a matter of hours! I am amazed at that heart of your son to confidently take on such a calling!

    So excited to hear how God uses his life!

  18. Miriam Fleming

    Hi Jessica, I just started following Leading and Loving it and I’m so excited to find so many amazing women in ministry. I read this post about your son’s birthday, and although I don’t know you guys it moved me to tears. How amazing! I have an 8month old little girl and 3 year old boy and I can’t wait to be able to impart life changing and life impacting moments like these as they get older, although I know that even now all that we do is life changing already for them!
    We were able to meet your husband last year at C3 Conference with Ed Young and chat a bit with him, and my husband caught up with him again at Catalyst. What an amazing team the both of you must be together! Greater things are yet to come for your family! Love & Blessings, Miriam

  19. Heather Steinbeck

    Jessica-this is AWESOME!! We have a 10-year-old boy and my wheels are turning and this sounds like something that would speak volumes to his strong-willed, yet sensitive heart to the things of God. I love to hear how impactful it was for him and praying it will spur him on to great things for Jesus!

  20. Jessica cornelius

    Samantha, you are going to be a great mom if you are already thinking like this. 🙂
    I’m going to keep praying and believing that the Lord will do great things in Mason’s life as he grows older!

  21. Jessica cornelius

    Heather, I’m so glad this post gave you some good ideas! Anytime moms experience impactful moments for our children we can’t help but share, because we want that special moment for the other moms that we know.

  22. Reese

    I love this idea! My son turns 13 in a month. I have a lot to do!! I was trying to look at the pledge, but the page is unavailable 🙁 is there anyway you could email it to me?
    Thank you for your post and your heart for God and your son.

  23. Lisa

    I am looking for the pledge as well. Could you email it to me please?My son turns 13 today, and I am so glad I found this idea. Thank you!!

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