“He’s 6. He loves games. How do you describe a kid?” Shawn Cramer smiles and laughs softly, thinking about his son, Jace.
“He’s really sweet and tender. He’s kind – not as loud as I make him seem,” he beams. “He’s just a great, thoughtful boy.”
Jace Cramer – light blonde hair combed sideways like his dad’s and a huge smile full of baby teeth – has been Shawn’s inspiration for his “Man Trainings” project since its conception 4 years ago. The project consists primarily of photos with Shawn’s words of wisdom – most of which are somewhat chuckle-worthy – addressed to his 6-year-old son.
What started as a random Facebook post is now a project with more than 600 entries and 3,614 followers. The “trainings” range from sentimental (Man Training #586 displays the boy, short one tooth, along with the caption: “Son, according to hockey players, today you have become a man”) to hilarious (Man Training #609 has Jace “roaring” at a taxidermied bear, and says: “Son, with black bears, make yourself as big as possible ... Or is that with grizzly bears.... No, it's black bears.... Wait...... It's Urghurgrrrrugh.... – Indecision and passivity seek to kill many a man. Beware”). But all convey the clear message of Shawn’s delight in Jace.
Shawn is a missional team leader for Cru’s Denver college campuses. He credits his project’s popularity not to his creativity or wit, but to the fact that it addresses “perhaps the strongest desire of our hearts – to be known and loved. To just be us and with someone.”
“It does stem from our relationship with God,” Shawn says. “I always saw my relationship with God as Master/servant. But God used Jace to reprioritize my life.”
“Conceptually, I knew that no matter what I did, God’s love for me wouldn’t change,” he says. “But now … I don’t want Jace to wake up to perform for me. I just want to enjoy time with him.”
Shawn also wants audiences to look at “Man Trainings” and see that God, our Father, wants to spend time teaching, delighting in, and experiencing life with us.
Here are some of Shawn’s favorites from his over 600 “Man Trainings”:
Friend Shawn Cramer on Facebook to follow the project.
This year, we challenge you to start a new tradition with your family by capturing moments and memories and sharing them with one another at year’s end.
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Walt and Ann Bealke have been married for a long time, just not to each other. They are now 5 years into their marriage (the third for each of them), and are seeing God redeem their pasts and build a Gospel-centered marriage.
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