A Season of Permission

A Season of Permission

Oh yea, I like to blog only apparently I forgot how to type. That’s what happens when you move from one city to another.  My husband’s job relocated us to the DFW area and it has been rough. We sold our house in Houston in 24 hours. We packed and coordinated the move ourselves. We had to find a home in a market which had gone crazy and involved bidding wars that I never care to participate in again. We were in temporary housing most of the summer. I’m not complaining because I am thankful for those who opened their homes, but temporary can make one unsettled. The semester has involved new schools, new work, new home and new life. Unpacking has been way more difficult than packing. I shouldn’t complain. I know several missionaries who sold everything and moved to a 3rd world country.  I am thankful. We are in a beautiful home in a lovely town, but, for right or wrong, I am struggling. The move has brought a lot of loss for all of us. We miss our friends, our church, and I think we mostly miss the known, the secure, and the routine. We are in full on grief and not sure where to go from here. This is the first time in my adult life I have not decorated for the holidays. I put out a few things but the rest will wait for another time. This may seem insignificant, but it is big to me. I love holidays, love to decorate, and mostly love to celebrate. It’s one of the many signs of where I am now.  I am in the pit.

Like so many, I struggle with wanting to have it all together.  Unfortunately, I have certain behaviors in my head which reflect that I am doing a good job.  I would have finished unpacking and settled into our new life months ago. I would have housework and chores in a routine. I would be parenting with love and logic. I would be cooking and entertaining.  I would be volunteering and serving others. We would be participating in our annual Advent Jesse Tree and pointing our family to Christ in Christmas.   Most importantly, I would be walking with Jesus daily and be in sync with my Savior.  Well you know what; none of the above much describes me. I have been mostly crabby and struggled to do anything well. I talk to Jesus, but it mostly consists of “help please” and an inaudible whimper.

So this began my season of permission.  I had to give myself permission to try and fail - a lot! I had permission to take naps, gripe or walk in circles. I had permission to feel anger and sadness. Thankfully, others around me gave me permission too.  They gave me permission to show my humanity and tolerated my bad attitude. They listened on the phone and responded to my pitiful e-mails.  Fear not, I did not have permission to be rude or unkind. I have had to apologize and seek forgiveness during this season.  I needed permission to take deep breaths and be reminded that this is my current journey and it is ok!

However, I want you to notice a word in the title - SEASON. Season, by definition, has beginning and an end. There is a danger that this season will become life and that would be detrimental to me and my family.  As a result, I began to set goals.  I am making a list of task and activities I know will bring me out of this season. I am requiring myself to remain in contact with those who will hold me accountable. The goals will involve specific activities that will bring about friendship and outreach.  These activities need a date and time because I need to show up. I need a list of task around the home that requires completion so as not to stay in a perpetual trap. They need to be small at first, but getting small things done is such a victory. I must meet with the Lord regularly and often even if it is haphazard.  I am also working on activities of health and fitness that are always a part of forward motion. I am giving myself permission to be ok if the change is slow as long as I continue to move forward.

There’s another event happening during this season of permission. This one is quite scary. I am giving Christ permission to change my heart. I am willing to let Him mold and carve away that part me that is not of Him.  This, in fact, has furthered my sadness as I experience loss of comfort and self-reliance, but in turn seek sole reliance on Him.  As I cross over, I begin to experience what this season is all about. The thrill of hope! Reliance on Him is giving me a glimpse of His Hope.  I must be careful not to package hope with human interpretation but seek His vision of hope. The hope of Glory!

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

He enables us to abound in Hope.

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Romans 15:13

I am wondering as I write this if there is anyone else out there that needs a season of permission too? Is there one who needed to hear it is ok to give yourself a break? Possibly there may be some who have lived in their season too long and need to be reminded that there is hope. You too might prayerfully begin to seek ways to bring about your forward motion. Maybe you need to find someone who will give you the push you need.

I will leave you with a verse of a famous Christmas Carol, O Come O Come Emanuel that is ministering to me during this season. May you hear it anew and Rejoice!

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And deaths dark shadows put to flight

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel

 

What I Want You to Know: All Moms Struggle with Parenting By Laura McEntire

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At first glance you might think my title is a little odd. You may say to yourself, “Of course all moms struggle with parenting their children. What kind of topic is this?” But here’s the truth about the current culture in which we parent. Our concept of parenting is not formulated solely by observing those around us or influenced by how we were parented. Our parenting self-worth is heavily influenced by the world of social media. The major problem is that in the social media world parenting is AMAZING! Through all forms of internet socialization we assume that our friends’ children are wonderful. They score 10,000 on their SAT’s and have a full ride to the college of their choice. They win all their swim meets and they are on the honor roll for the 20th year running. They climb Mount Everest and learn to speak 4 languages while mastering calculus all by age 4. Okay, maybe the last part was over the top, but you know what I mean. By contrast, here is what you never see on the internet. My daughter barely squeaked on to honor roll because her dyslexia is so challenging that she attends tutoring 6 times a week just to keep up. My son is usually combative at home, but this week he only talked back three times and we are celebrating his progress. Ever read a tweet that says, “My youngest looked in the mirror this morning and was broken-hearted because her acne is out of control and kids are unkind?” You will never see a post that reads, “I yelled at my kids today for no reason. I am worried about finances, my husband and I are not on the same page, and quite frankly sometimes I don’t enjoy the duties of being a mom.” I feel pretty sure that has never been on a Facebook page.

Please do not misunderstand me. In theory I do not think it is wrong to share special things about your children or to celebrate their achievements with others. You will find some neat comments and great pictures of my children on Facebook. I enjoy seeing stuff about my friends and watching their families grow up. I am also not suggesting social media be turned into some type of public therapy sessions in which to vent the ills of life (for the sake of your kids, please don’t). I think our mothering journey should be one worked through within the realm of our private world. The core of the trouble is not the information that is posted, but is our perception of the information. Too often we perceive that our friends and their family are always successful. We find ourselves thinking “they have got it all together and I don’t”.

So, here is what I really want you to know. I am a struggling mom. My three amazing daughters are not always so amazing. They make mistakes and do not always choose God’s best. To make matters worse, sometimes I stink at being a mom. I forget to put peanut butter between the bread and only send bread to school (true story). I threaten and don’t follow through (also a true story). I yell at them sometimes and am often not the mom I want to be for them. Even more revealing is that I am a clinical therapist and women’s ministry leader who has been working with other moms for years to help them with their parenting. Yet, my journey is wrought with mishaps, fumbles and out-and-out mistakes that I wish I could take back.

Here is another important TRUTH I want you to know. I know a whole bunch of other fabulous mothers who are in the same boat as me. They too are “sometimes messed up moms” who are parenting” occasional messed up kids”. Even worse, sometimes we can hit a home run as a mom, parent them perfectly, and our kids do not follow suit. Our kids go their own way, and sometimes it is not the right way! THAT IS THE TRUTH AND DON’T LET YOUR PERCEPTION CONVINCE YOU OTHERWISE.

This is the last and most important TRUTH I want you to know. You are not alone! I, and you, can live under the guidance of the greatest parent of all. Our Heavenly Father is our perfect parent. He loves us with an everlasting love even when we are not so amazing. He is the one who whispers in our ear when we yell at our kids so we can model saying we are sorry. He is the one who picks us up when we are too tired to think. Most importantly, He is the one really parenting our children. HE has a future and a hope for them that you or I could never imagine. I pray you and I will desire to spend more time seeking Him and His vision for our mothering. To learn to Pause and look at Him instead of looking around. I encourage you find other moms to jump in the boat with you and plan times to meet face to face with them. Don’t think you know any? Just look around at the moms sitting next to you in church, the one who works in the next cubicle, and even your mom friends on Facebook.

After reading this, send a note to one of your favorite struggling moms and give them a word of encouragement on Facebook or send a sappy text. Better yet, do it the old fashion way. Write them a letter, call them or meet them for coffee. Pray, laugh and seek the Lord together as moms AND try to turn off your media a little more.


The Lord appeared to him from far away, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.  Jeremiah 31:3

I told you I was a mess!

Revere and Release

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I am tired, not just today, but everyday! Don’t worry, I have good reasons for my fatigue. I have 3 children going 10 different directions, a husband who travels and a household that seems to get more chaotic by the day even though no one is here. Why is that exactly? When I look around, I feel pooped!

(Why don’t my pictures look like the pretty one’s on Ann Voskamps page?)

So while I was doing the aforementioned activities, I was listening to northpointministry.org/futurefamily.   It is Andy Stanley’s sermon series on family. All five are worth a listen but this one message stuck with me. It was a game changer. If you listen to the whole message he talks about the need for mutual submission among our family. For all family members to learn to serve and ask “how can I help you?”. Now that’s what I am talking about! How can You help Me? Preach it Andy! I am considering piping it into their room each night. That way I will get a little help on that picture up there.

While I was busy dreaming of the ways my family was going to respond to this profound message that was surely intended for them, God was saying to me,” Hello? Anybody home?  Think, McFly. Think!”.  He revealed that the heart of some my of exhaustion is the extreme amount of energy I spend mothering on my own.  I am always serving and thinking, “how can I help their future,  or is this a teachable moment”? God impressed on me “these are good mothering traits but there is something you need to do first”.   Andy teaches in Ephesians 5 (you know, the wives submit chapter, working on it!) . However, this time I hear something new.  “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” Ephesians 5:22.  The Lord was urging me to serve others, including my family, just to honor Him?   Serve because Jesus got up under my burden and died for me.  Submit to others because “…Christ loves us (me) and gave Himself up for us(me again), a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” Ephesians 5:2. He was the one with all the power yet he washed the disciples feet.

Service is reverence and He is worthy to be revered.

Here is the coolest part! Reverence brought relief.  Worship causes me to align more closely with Him.  Revering Him reminds me that He’s got my back. He is watching out for me and mine like I could never do. Reverence gives clarity when those around me are irreverent.  It changed how I view my service to my family and others. It helped me not to just serve them so they will be more successful or so I will feel like a better mother. I submit to my family to honor the Lord and His fragrance dwells within me. Hopefully a little of that fragrance will drift into the lives of those I serve. Revere and release and He will take care of the rest.

What I Will Remember

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Here’s how it started. Last week is not what I would consider the highlight of my life. I had a parenting disagreement with the man I love and it left us at a stalemate which was most unpleasant for both of us. We mostly worked through it, but we were weary. The house continued to be in disarray as I seem to be slow to get things back in order after being out-of-town longer than expected. Most of the next day was spent dealing with very stressful issues regarding careers and future decisions. Although we were supportive, the issues weren’t resolved and left us both on edge. All of this and more filled the thoughts and wonderings in my mind and it was hard to think of anything else. So you might think this is what I will remember, but I know I won’t. One year, five years, and many more years later I will likely not remember the details of last week. I may remember the generalities of a difficult season but not the details.

However, this is What I Will Remember for the rest of my life. When I came home late in the afternoon, there were candles and a flower on the table. Two precious girls excitedly awaited my return and I was asked to hurry and put on a dress (mind you, I had not showered all day, not a stitch of makeup and my hands were full of groceries, but they didn’t care). After waiting for their dad to dawn himself in a sports coat and slacks (he had showered and looked way better than me), we were whisked aways to Fancy’s, a bistro located right in my own kitchen. We were served delightful hors d’oeuvres of cheese, crackers and cucumbers. Dinner consisted of a lovely salad and chicken. The finish was two wonderfully tasty desserts made by loving girls who insisted that one was not enough. We were serenaded with an array of music (Keely played two notes on her violin for 5 minutes) and allowed to watched a virtual broadway show created in the minds of 9 y/o twins. For the finale, we were given the bill that simply read “zero dollars, zero cents because we think you are great parents”. A tip was in order, in fact, the best tip I have ever given. Hugs were the best gift of all.

So that is what I will remember, each and every enchanted moment. The one that happened spontaneously and without cause. The truth is I did not want to set down my groceries and put on a dress. I wanted to give my typical answer “not now” or “maybe later”, but thankfully I listened. It made me wonder how many other moments I might have missed because I was too busy, too tidy, or too self-consumed to just pause. So just remember to stop and let your children whisk you away. Maybe it is just to hear a new song or something funny they read. The things you and your child/children will remember most is each other and not the stuff of life that can cause us to miss those moments. I am trying daily to remember it too. Unfortunately, my house is still a mess but that’s just ok!

What will you remember?

THE BEGINNING

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Hello World! That is a funny thing to consider. I am actually writing this knowing that someone else might read it. Well at least that is the hope.   So I guess I should write a little something to explain why I am starting this post. First, I love to talk and write. I especially like to talk about Jesus. He has changed my life.  His love is overflowing  and I must share what He has done and is doing in my life.  I am guessing that many of my friends are excited for me to blog too because they have had to sit in coffee houses for hours on end while I talked their ears off (you know who you are, thanks for listening).  They have encouraged me to share with you, so I hope they were right, or did they secretly not want to have coffee with me anymore. We shall see.

The other reason is that for many years I have been joining other women on their journey.  I am a clinical therapist and have worked in women’s ministry for the last 20 years. I am also a wife and mom who is trying to figure out how to best maneuver this thing called life.  Along the way I have experienced a lot of bumps and curves on my trip through marriage, children, sickness, job loss,  death and now entering middle age. I have also been blessed to walk along side many other women on this same journey some ahead of me and some behind with many different experiences.  Through this, I have gained insight and that is what I hope to share. Our time together will be spent sharing lessons learned and hopes and dreams desired. We also are going to need to laugh a lot!  The Lord will always be at the head of our ship and we will seek His heart first and foremost.  I hope you will join me as we ponder, laugh, cry and seek the Lords will for us.  I also want to encourage you along the way to see all that God has for you too.

Want to know about the title of my blog? Well I had to save something to say for another day.  Let’s talk again soon. BTW, I am a word skipper. No matter how many times I reread I may skip a word so bear with me and let me know so I can edit it!

Laura

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