The Texas Homecoming Mum and Finding the Freedom to Love Your Kids Well

I live in Texas. I am not, however, from Texas. Over the past 6 years, there are few interesting things we’ve noticed that are different from other places:

  1. At school, my kids say the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag AND then they say a different Pledge of Allegiance to the Texas flag.
  1. Standard ornamental elements for houses and stonework often include the Texas star or even the shape of Texas itself. Yes, there are Texas-shaped patio pavers. Other states just aren’t going to do that — can you back me up on that, Wisconsin? (By the way, Colorado and Wyoming don’t play into this discussion – their square-ish resemblance to patio pavers is only coincidental.)
  1. The Homecoming Mum

Let me explain that last one. There is a uniquely Texas tradition that when a young man takes a young woman to Homecoming, the expectation is that he will arrive bearing a ginormous artificial mum that is often decked out in ways you simply can not appreciate without seeing it (you can see some examples here). If you are new to Texas and looking for lucrative seasonal employment, making these mums is a pretty good option – they generally range in price from $60 to $300.

Our teenage twins have a good friend who goes to a different high school. He made the decision not to go to Homecoming at all this year primarily because of the expense associated with all of the cultural expectations around Homecoming at his school (including the Homecoming mum).

Our daughters attend a smaller school that has a “no mum” policy for Homecoming. I’m not saying the mum thing is bad and that people shouldn’t do it. It’s part of Texas culture and they should absolutely feel free to do it. I will say, however, that the school’s no mum policy does provide a lot of freedom – freedom to go spend a fun night with friends and enjoy it without the financial burden, the anxiety of whether you bought your date a big enough mum, and the possibility of needed chiropractic care after hanging one of these things around your neck for an evening.

Just to be clear, I love Texas and Texans (and their traditions). All I am saying is that sometimes removing what are simply cultural expectations can be extraordinarily freeing.

Recently we were at our church’s support group for foster and adoptive parents. One of the moms who just recently brought home a sibling group of 3 from foster care was talking about just how much the state of the house was stealing her joy – specifically the dishes. Someone in our group immediately suggested she give herself permission to use paper plates for 3 months. She looked unsure (as a self-described “tree hugger”), but the rest of the group immediately chimed in adding their encouragement to try it.

She did try it and later commented that the group that night had spoken freedom into her life. She was given the freedom to give herself more fully to those 3 kiddos God has called her to love.

Likely there are some things you are not feeling very free in right now. It’s also probably likely that it would take someone else to even help you to know what those are. Here are few examples though:

– Youth sports – It’s hard in our culture when there are so many opportunities available to our kids. We feel that a good parent will take advantage of all of them. However, this simply isn’t true, nor possible. For example, we took baseball off for the fall season at our house.   While I honestly felt bad about it, my son hasn’t mentioned missing it once. And the extra time provided has allowed us to more fully engage with all of our kids in other ways.

– Ministry — There are seasons of life when you simply have to make the decision to say no to some ministry opportunities. When you do this, you are not refusing to do ministry, you are simply agreeing to allocate your ministry investment into the people and things that probably need it more right now.   We stepped back from some ministry activities we always do this time of year and couldn’t be more sure that it was the right decision. Ironically, we’ve actually improved our ability to minister by backing away from a few ministry opportunities.

– Your home – I was recently out of town and called my wife, Trisha. At the time, the house was not in the state she would have liked – especially for company. However, all the neighborhood kids were over playing and she was joining them in a light saber battle in the front yard. I think it’s safe to say she had chosen well. Or as Yoda would say “chose well she did”.

So consider these 4 questions:

  1.  What is one thing you can let go of today?
  2.  What is one thing you can let go of this week?
  3.  What is and one thing you can let go of this fall?
  4.  Who do you know that needs a little freedom spoken into their life right now as well?

This post originally appeared in our Foster Roster e-newsletter which is delivered each Friday. We keep it short and sweet and fill it with practical articles, videos, blog posts and other tools for leaders like you working to help kids and families in foster care.  To sign up, go to